Advice from the Trenches: First Date Tips

Dear C;

I’m an attractive, intelligent woman with a wide variety of interests. I support myself as a freelance writer and I’ve read and researched extensively about every subject I’ve been assigned so I never run out of things to talk about. You’d think that all of this would insure that I wouldn’t have any problems dating, but I do. In the last year, I think I’ve gone out with at least a dozen men. My girlfriends think that I am dating up a storm, but what I am really doing is alienating one guy after another, and I can’t figure out why.

No matter where or how I meet someone, our connection always starts the same way. We start talking, have something in common and both want to continue the conversation. Then comes the first date. We usually go out to dinner or attend some event. Then another conversation begins. It’ll seem like the guy is stimulated by my enthusiasm and intellectual depth – men always say, “Wow, you’re amazing,” and when we say goodnight, they seem like they really want to get together again. But it never lasts more than a couple of weeks. After that –­ poof! They become mysteriously unavailable and that’s the end of it.

What the hell?

Lydia the Leper


Dear Lydia;

First dates are like auditions. Each person has an idea in their head of the role they want to fill and the sort of actor they’d like to cast in it. We all try a few lines to see the type of responses we get. On that first date, you are both casting directors feeling each other out to see if you’ve got the makings of a good movie. You seem to be passing that first casting call. Guys see some raw material to work with – probably the things you have in common. But the call back is where you are losing the role.

Relationships aren’t just about how fascinating and amazing that other person thinks you are. They are also about how fascinating and amazing you make that other person feel. I think you have the fascinating and amazing part down when it comes to your own personality, and if you wanted to haul yourself around the lecture circuit and collect a fan club, that’s all you’d need. But if you want to be able to really establish a connection with someone, you have to know when to turn the podium over to them. You also have to know when to applaud. A relationship is not a one-man show.

The next time you establish initial contact and get a call back, leave your own script at home. Make an effort to find out what your partner is thinking, what other kind of things attract them and what their big picture is. I know that as a writer you understand how to research subjects. How about looking at the guy as a research project? You’re going to have to report to your inner editor after this dinner or concert, and you are going to have to present a clear picture of who this guy is and what he’s about.

I can guarantee that if you switch roles and let your partner shine, you are going to get better results. There is nothing that anyone, man or woman, appreciates more than positive attention. Show interest in someone else, and it makes them interested in you. We all like to feel appreciated.

There’s no way to predict where the future will lead, but establishing a mutual line of communication is the starting point for every good friendship. If it’s gonna be a good movie, and it’s about both of you, you might want to write it together.

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