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Sometimes it helps to provide some metaphoric imagery to get our point across when it comes to dating.
Imagine yourself on the African savannah. If you were a male antelope, you might very well be the type to line up alongside other male antelope, in discrete “mini-territories,” waiting for females to arrive on the breeding grounds, so that you could court them.
It is not unlike when men line up at a bar waiting for a prospective date to walk through the door. The scientific term for this is called arena or “lekking” behavior. It’s a strange word—so it’s no wonder that it hasn’t caught on, or yet found its way into Urban Dictionary. But a handful of animal species do it, and human males attempt to do it all the time, especially at the bar.
In breeding season, male antelope and males of other species have a few options when it comes to courting potential significant others.
They may defend and protect harems, or guard property and possessions. Some may choose to dominate other males. If those options don’t appeal to them, they may choose to “lek”, just like you would at the bar. In fact, if you walk in the bar and aren’t already accompanied by a bevy of attractive women, didn’t just leave your Bentley with the valet, and aren’t an alpha male, you may consider it your only option.
And if you do choose to lek, like an antelope, you will have to do your best to look as confident and attractive as possible, while females approach at the bar. You may even have to look like Matthew McConaughey or have game that defies logic to get the attention of women at the bar. Although the lekking or bar option may be of benefit to a handful of species of antelope, fruit bats, and sea lions, it doesn’t seem to be working too well for a lot of men out there these days, and it is certainly not an atmosphere in which many of our clients excel.
Yes, many women may converge upon the bar, but meeting them at such a venue rarely leads to something substantial like a relationship. We hear about unsubstantial, and perhaps, sordid flings all the time, but even those are usually few are far between, in reality.
Without getting into too much detail concerning mating systems of the animal kingdom, the occurrence of lekking seems to be density dependent. By that, we mean that finding success by sitting at the bar stool is really a numbers game. Hence, the success of lekking depends on how many men vs. women show up to a given venue. It seems to work as a courting strategy when there are a lot more females than males converging upon a given location. Reality-based TV shows like The Bachelor showcase the benefits from lekking when there are 20 girls to each guy. Real life—not so much!
Most men tell us here at Linx Dating that on any given weekend evening there are usually a lot more men hanging out at bars than women. Even if there are just a few more men than women, the most confident alpha male still has to work really hard to attract and court a prospective mate. This is why lekking at the bar is generally a poor strategy for humans out on the dating scene.
If you are back on the market, we suggest that you extinguish the arena behavior and leave the lekking venue (i.e., the bar) behind. One way to do this is to develop a hobby or passion that draws a particular type of person to an event of mutual interest. Trust us, if antelope had time for hobbies they would much rather lure a date to do something fun and of mutual interest, than try to prove themselves on the one day out of a whole year that the females are in heat.
These hobbies and passions could be literally anything from: coed hiking clubs, coed book clubs, embracing your inner geek with continuing education at Stanford University, or sailing class. Maybe it means sweating your way through regular spin class at Soul Cycle. Bring your A-game and friendly attitude and introduce yourself around the room. If you’re a novice at something like spin for instance, admit it, smile, ask for help getting set up, and make new friends. Survey the room and plant yourself next to someone of the opposite sex. Adopt the mentality that he/she might not be “the one” for you but maybe that new spin buddy has friends and can open your world up to new opportunities and connections. You gotta work it and work at it to get ahead in your personal life!
If you have always wanted to learn how to cook or perhaps are already an experienced cook who enjoys learning new techniques and recipes and you live in the Bay Area check out cooking classes through Sur La Table or Dragers Market.
As you make plans this weekend to grab drinks at the local wine room with your single friends, remember to not date like an antelope! Leave the bar behind and try something entirely new. You might very well meet that special someone you never expected!
In the past few weeks, Amy and I have seen so many examples of dating foibles and relationship failures that probably could have been avoided with the right kind of pacing. In one instance, a couple had about fifteen dates, a break up, a reunion, and another break up all in the span of roughly three weeks. In a totally opposite situation, one couple never managed to meet at all because they started to play phone tag like increasingly adversarial business associates. And several other relationships just got off track as a result of two people moving at completely different speeds. We all know the importance of pacing ourselves with work, with exercise, with food, and even with family; if you binge you make yourself sick. And if you don’t pay attention to your needs, you can starve in all sorts of ways. Here are some of the ways in which the team at Linx thinks pacing is absolutely key:
When Planning Dates:
Start small. We know plenty of guys who are very eager to prove how serious they are about being in a relationship, so they book first dates at restaurants with tasting menus, show up in suits and order Krug, and on the following morning, they send a huge bouquet of roses. In theory, it seems like a great idea (and a romantic one) but here’s the problem… if you set the bar that high initially, how do you go up from there? If your first date is at Meadowood, where do you have your second? Or your third? Or your fifteenth? How do you signal an increasing level of interest and investment when you start with such a strong opening move? A relationship should build gradually, and your date choices should reflect that; it lets a woman see that you’re not just serious about being in a relationship, but that you’re serious about being in a relationship with her. You can certainly still be a romantic (and we encourage that) but start with someplace like Chapeau! or South Park Café instead of Coi, wear a good pair of jeans and a loafer with a great blazer, and if you must send her roses the next day, send her just one. Imagine how much more meaningful it will be when you can finally send her a dozen. 😉
When Having a Conversation:
We know; this is a hard one. There are few things more nerve-wracking that talking to a complete stranger for the first time… especially when you throw in some hope, excitement, and attraction. We really do get it. It’s hard. But when opening up for the first time in a conversation, you need to go slowly. If you have a tendency to bulldoze your way through a first meeting (ask a good friend if you do this) then feel free to say to say something to your date like “I sometimes get a little bit nervous around handsome men and start talking too much. Feel free to tell me if I start doing that.” With that statement you do three really useful things: you stop worrying about the problem because you’ve admitted it, you pay your date a very nice compliment, and you allow him to be partly responsible for making sure that it doesn’t happen!
If your problem is more one of divulging too much rather than saying too much (i.e. talking about your last bad relationship vs. blabbering about your dog) simply ask yourself “Would I want to know this about another person on a first date?” and “Do I know this person well enough to feel comfortable with them having this knowledge about me?” Some of us have had some really rough experiences – whether it’s a hard surgery or illness, a difficult divorce, or a rocky employment history, for example. And we sometimes get really worried about being rejected for this part of our past. Here’s a tip to keep that in check: if you’re on a date with the right person, they’re really only interested in connecting with you in the present to see if the two of you might have a future. We all have a past, so leave it behind you unless and until a discussion of that topic becomes absolutely necessary.
When Moving Ahead:
As adults who are serious about relationships, we can sometimes let the idea of ending up with someone become more powerful than the reality of dating them. It can be so easy to project and plan, to anticipate and forecast. We are so anxious about finding the missing pieces to the puzzles of our lives that we sometimes try to force a fit that should never happen. Lots of people look good on paper and great in person, but that doesn’t mean they look right when cast in the movies of our lives. We don’t get to script our relationships. We don’t get to decide what other people should feel and when they should feel it. All we can do is focus on ourselves; we can listen with our hearts, but hear with our heads. And we should never let the way we feel about someone and the way we think about them become too discordant. You can’t really have a healthy relationship with someone you don’t respect. You can’t respect someone you don’t trust. And whether we like to admit it or not, learning to truly trust someone takes time.
Too often, we hear clients say that they can’t wait to be done with dating and “get to the good stuff.” Guess what? Dating IS the good stuff. So start small and aim high, but tread slowly at first. Take bigger steps as your connection deepens, but pace yourself; in the best relationships, the happiest married couples continue to actively date each other for the rest of their lives!
If you are interested in our private date coaching sessions, we would be delighted to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
We get inquiries all the time about date coaching from men and women of all ages. This week I coached a early 20-something female who needed a confidence boost around early stage dating. I talked to her about her concerns, gave her insights into the minds of men, and helped shift her perspective from leading with fear (and assuming the worst outcome will happen on her dates!) to feeling much more positive and remembering that dating should be fun! One major point I reinforced with her was to “get out” of her head. Don’t over think things and worry what he is thinking. Also, since she is more introverted I explained that the first date will be inevitably exhausting as she is going to have to give it an extra push to express herself on the date and be perceived by him as someone who is interesting and passionate. Chances are she will get home and feel tired- having given a 150% effort energy wise.
Many older men and women write to Linx asking about help with their online profiles and general assistance with conversation starters and keeping the connection going. We’ve helped countless individuals this way and in fact, are gearing up for a busy next week date coaching a 70-something female and a 30-something guy. She’s a widow who was married for nearly 5 decades and he’s a divorcee who lacks confidence around women. It’s so easy to “assume doom and gloom” when you’ve experienced major loss and heartache in the past. It is especially a different ballgame for the baby boomer generation who dated at 19 and 20 years old, got married, and then are single again 40-plus years later. Modern dating couldn’t be more different for these folks and often, it is described as not for the faint of heart.
Dating is a very mental game and preparation is key. Like you’d outsource a fitness trainer to stay in shape, or an accountant to get your ready for tax season, date coaching can be extremely useful for your personal life. We offer our coaching in the privacy of our offices and welcome friends of Linx and clients with open arms. Our approach is warm, inviting, comfortable, non-judgmental, and often very invigorating. All coaching is customized to exactly the needs of you. Sessions are typically two hours and trust us- the time flies. It is not uncommon for clients to hire us again down the road for a reboot and refresh.