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Savvy Dating 101: How to Enjoy First Dates

Updated on August 9, 2017
The date as interview scenario? Best not to go there.
The date as interview scenario? Best not to go there.

Ever noticed how dating, American style, often feels like a job interview? Two people sit across from one another at a predetermined site and ask all manner of questions ranging from, “What is your pet's name" to, “Where do you think this relationship is going?"

The pet thing? Cute. The relationship question? Please don't go there. There is no relationship. This is a date where you decide if a relationship is even an option!

Let's be clear. First dates are something we do to find out if we want to have a second date. No one needs to be talking about "the future" this early on. While it is true that serious questions must be asked at some point, the first date is NOT the time to probe into questions about a possible commitment. Asking questions about where the relationship is going, right away, is a sure-fire way to make the person you are dating do the famous MAGIC DISAPPEARING ACT!

Poof! Now you see him; Now you don't. It's a remarkable act, when you think about it. The irony, however, is that most people fail to realize how they made their dates to disappear!

In any event, a first date has been secured. During the course of the date, we proceed diligently onward to create (mostly inaccurate) assessments in our minds about the person we are sitting across from---usually within one hour or less. Nevertheless, if we believe most of our questions have been answered in a satisfactory manner, we grant the opportunity for a second date. Yes indeed, another "interview" has been secured.

Two words: KILL JOY!!

Mr. Extreme Interviewer Man (or Woman)

It is no wonder that so many men and women dread dating. Clearly, the 'date as interview' paradigm purports judgment, which does not and cannot lend itself to feelings of intimacy and pleasure---which is what a date is supposed to do! Yes, dating should be fun. The date-as-interview technique is a real bummer for the person being questioned. For example, I know a woman whose date maintained that he could not proceed with the relationship unless the following questions were answered to his satisfaction. True story. The following were his questions:

  1. What is your religious affiliation?
  2. What are your politics?
  3. What is your financial status?

He was Mr. Extreme Interviewer Guy---the one with an inflexible checklist who, by the way, will never find the perfect woman because the perfect woman does not exist. Rumor has it, he didn't get the memo: "No One is Perfect, Least of All You."

Needless to say, Extreme Interviewer Man totally flunked Savvy Dating 101.

So, this nice lady went home thoroughly depressed, poured herself a glass of wine (probably several) and called her ex-boyfriend who is still available, but whom she doesn't even like anymore.

Patience is a Virtue

Dating needn't be a miserable experience. To be successful in dating, men and women really have to ease up a little and practice some patience. Obviously, we don't want to welcome trouble by dating any insensitive person who comes along. Rather, once we've decided to date someone we think is worthwhile, we must give the dating experience a chance to grow by allowing some time and space for the person we are curious about to reveal themselves---at a reasonable pace. It is important that dating couples learn to let go of preconceived notions about "The Perfect Date." In short, we must not have such rigid expectations if we truly want to date successfully.

Average time to make a first impression on a man
Average time to make a first impression on a woman
Percent chance that a guy will call after a first date if he hasn't called within the first 24 hours
15 minutes
1 hour
12%
Dating/Relationship Statistics; Source: MSNBC Survey, eZine; Research:11.20.2014
Darn. Her 15 minutes are up already.
Darn. Her 15 minutes are up already.

Chill Out

Another misconception about dating is that we must only date someone we are pretty sure we can eventually marry. "Non," as the French would say. At what point during dinner do we determine such a thing? First, we must learn to lighten up and have fun with our dates--as if we are just friends. Simple concept, but it works because it removes much of the sexual pressure between individuals. Besides, there is plenty of time down the road to determine whether our date may one day become our lover or our spouse.

Our immediate goal should be simple: To learn a bit more about the person we are dating without making them feel as if they have to pass a test.

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth? Not So Fast...

At any rate, when asked, most people try to give "correct" answers to questions which are not necessarily truthful answers. In fact, there is no way most people will give "wrong" answers if they can help it. It's practically un-American. In other words, just because someone asks a direct question, doesn't mean they're going to give an honest answer. Thus, asking interview questions defeats the purpose of getting to know the real person, when all is said and done.

The fact is, the few brave souls who are willing to reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth also happen to be the one's who almost never get a second date. As Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men, "You can't handle the truth." Anyway, what person in their right mind really wants to know about their dates psychotherapy sessions; how much it hurt to pass a kidney stone, and how much they hate their mother---all this before you've even had a chance to finish your salad. Do yourself a favor. Don't go there.

Three Easy Rules: It's Not That Complicated!

Nevertheless, we still have to communicate and the only way we stand a fighting chance to date well is to realize three things:

  • It is important to ask interesting and fun questions instead of interview question: Questions should be interesting and intriguing; the kind that cause people to ponder a bit, to feel happier somehow, and also to feel a bit wiser. Good questions draw our dates toward us and make them want to open up even more.
  • Patience is a virtue: In other words, stop trying to control the future. After all, there is no way to know for sure, right now, if this man or woman sitting across from you wants to love you forever. In the beginning stages of dating, we must learn the art of leaning into the process of relaxing and actually enjoying someone's company, almost as if they are a friend. In time a person's actions will reveal all we need to know about their true character.
  • We inject some easy humor into an already awkward situation: Humor always helps, but you don't want to go overboard. Your date also needs to know you can take serious things seriously.

Good Questions Lead to Good Conversations.

It's not a bad idea to take a cue from the Zen Masters, by living in the present. Yes, Americans are fond of instant gratification and we want the future now, but love doesn't work that way. Anything worth having is worth waiting for. Romance must have time to flourish like a beautiful, healthy plant. Having said that, we still need to figure out some things about the person we have chosen to date.

A good way to do just that is by asking unusual and interesting questions, not job interview questions. E-Harmony, a respected online dating site, is smart about suggesting good questions for first dates. Here are some of them:

  • What's one thing about you that would surprise me?
  • Do you have a nickname? What's the story behind it?
  • What is your favorite movie of all time?
  • Where do you feel most relaxed?
  • What would you do if the sky is the limit?

Pleasurable dating must unfold naturally and proceed in stages if we are to allow romance a chance to thrive. In the beginning, keep the conversation on the light side. Any talk of sex, finances, and politics can and should wait. There really is no rush to dig into these topics on a first date. After all, people are all a little complicated and only time will allow a romantic narrative to unfold into something marvelous---maybe even into something as wonderful as lasting love.

Therefore, it is very important that we stop projecting into the future and in having inflexible expectations about how our dating partners must behave. That being said, if your date isn't showing proper respect and manners, or is even acting like a total jerk, then you have every right to walk away or call them out on their behavior.

Good questions make you ponder life---in a good way.
Good questions make you ponder life---in a good way. | Source

If you ask good questions, you're going to get revealing answers. That's the way it works. If your conversation leads you to believe your date really isn't for you at all, that's OK. There are other fish in the sea. On the other hand, if your communication has revealed to you that you and your date have some wonderful things in common, then you have a decision to make. Is a second date in order? If you're not sure, sleep on it. But if there is a chance for something special, don't wait too long to make up your mind. It really is possible that love is just a phone call away.

Happy dating.....Savvy

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  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 8 months ago

    Hi Cam. Are you referring to the topic of interviewing your date? Well, in any event, I am glad you found the information familiar and useful. Thank you for stopping by.

    By the way, it appears you have quite a few interesting articles. I'll be back for more visits. :)

  • cam8510 profile image

    Chris Mills 8 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

    Yes, this sounds very familiar. You've provided some helpful insights. I like the questions you suggested. I find it helpful to smash the fake atmosphere of a first date by bringing up that very topic. The worst thing I could do is to misrepresent the real me. I don't want to spend the rest of my life trying to be what I told her I was on our first date if that really isn't me. Great topic, and hub.

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 11 months ago from Australia

    Thanks Savvy

    I got into the habit of giving out cards as I meet so many women who claim to be interested when they hear me at piano gigs and want piano lessons or some kind of "follow up". If I phoned them all it really would be a waste of time as there are too many.

    In my experience if I "call them first" the success rate is much lower than if I let them call. My last long term relationship started by her calling me etc. If "she "makes the first call then I definitely pursue with several calls and invitations.

    The current lady I mentioned did not work out, but I got the feeling I am one of the "next cabs off the rank" and that she may be in a relationship she wants out of. To me that is a potentially dangerous situation. She seems like a good person. Even after realizing it wasn't happening I noticed she took enormous trouble to decorate my brunch plate with over the top patterns. Strange but true.

    As much as I dislike the Country song "the Gambler" you really do have to know when to fold or run.

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 11 months ago

    Oztinato....I never received notification of your question, but I see now that you wrote me two weeks ago. This happened once before. So strange!!

    Anyway, the answer to your question depends upon how important instant attraction and chemistry are to you? (I have a feeling it is very important) If that is the case, do not follow up. You would be wasting her time and yours. In my experience, men need to feel lust for a woman or forget it! The getting to know her and respecting her generally comes right after that.

    Also, maybe it's a European thing, but no way would I call a man who simply handed over his card with the expectation that I make the next move because He Doesn't Want To Waste His Time. That's just not cool and not "hot." (Sorry dear, you know I love you.) Well, Okay, I did call a man once after he gave me a note---almost as an experiment. I even wrote about it here on HP. It was a disaster!!

    Anyhoo....my recommendation is that you begin "wasting your time." But only go after women who make you feel "weak in the knees."

    Hope this helps. If you ask another question, hopefully it won't take two weeks to find it. Lol.

  • Laurinzo Scott profile image

    Live To Write 11 months ago from Phoenix, Az.

    Amen, well we can always agree to disagree; but I can't dispute your experience or knowledge... and I think that your point is valid in certain circles... thanks for responding..

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 11 months ago

    Perhaps there is some research on that. I have had a range of experiences with men of various ages. In my case, the older one's were not always the most attentive. But an interesting thought to bring up, Laurinzo.

  • Laurinzo Scott profile image

    Live To Write 11 months ago from Phoenix, Az.

    Yes, I agree however, it is important to note that as a man get's older he does get a wee bit more into the spirit of a woman as well, at least some do... it is depending upon the age bracket too I think!!!

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 11 months ago

    Hi Laurinzo....It's actually a thing of giving herself more time to assess who this man really is. With men, as you know, he either likes the way she looks or he doesn't, for the most part. Women dig a little deeper. :)

  • Laurinzo Scott profile image

    Live To Write 11 months ago from Phoenix, Az.

    Very good hub, and I find it very interesting that it takes longer to make an impression upon a woman... WOW... there is definitely a difference in our thinking patterns

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 12 months ago from Australia

    Dear Abby I mean Dear Savvy

    today a big positive hint was dropped to me by a lady working at my favourite breakfast joint. I also dropped a hint to her several weeks ago.

    Although I have a bad head cold I cheered up and gave her my contact number and told her to contact me.

    This has become routine for me as I leave the first call to "her" if possible to avoid wasting time.

    I don't feel an overwhelming lust for her but I would feel stupid not following up on this. Shouldn't I be feeling powerful lust in order to follow up correctly?

    Thoughts?

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 14 months ago

    Dating can be highly enjoyable, but only when we date people we might actually like. Sounds simple, but I know people who will go out with someone just for the heck of it. I find that quite strange.;) Before you became a happily married woman, I'll bet money that you were definitely someone who knew how to date well! Thanks for visiting, Nell.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 14 months ago from England

    I often look back at dating and think how the hell did I do that? lol! I love all your advice, and yes I wish I was back out there!

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 14 months ago

    Thanks, Flourish. Dating can be challenging. The trick is in having the patience to read between the lines and to be observant before getting too involved with someone. That often means walking away more times than one might like. Lol.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

    I'm so glad I'm not in the dating world, but if I were I'd be following all of your advice. Especially when you interview people for a living like I did in HR, it would be exhaustive to do so on a date.

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

    Savvy

    thanks for that. It's what I was thinking too.

    Men often have a problem with not overly doing the courting as many women don't like it.

    In my experience there are big cultural differences.

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 16 months ago

    Oztinato, I replied to your comment, yet it isn't here. I don't know what's up with all the email delays.

    Anyway, I think your sending her an email would be an appropriate action to take. You can mention your appreciation for the Chinese culture, certainly. It could be she is the type of woman who prefers that men put a bit of extra effort into "courting" her. Nothing wrong with that.

    As an aside, I think there is a lot to be said for meeting people the old-fashioned way. In truth, I prefer it. I wish you luck with this lady. I'm here to help if you run into any glitches. ;)

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

    Savvy

    I'm trying to use "traditional" methods as opposed to the internet mainly because of the scammers etc.

    I invited one of these "possibilities" to my new piano gig at a prestigious venue. She came and we chatted. She immediately told me she brought her brother too. I felt she did this so I would know she wasn't "with" anyone. I followed up with a bunch of flowers sent to her work (her own business). She loved them. I'm trying to take it to the next level and asked her out to a dinner date. It now seems to have stalled. She says we'll talk soon. I think she's realized how freakin old I am. When I first met her she insisted she was not "as young as she looked" so I took the bait. She is Australian/Chinese so I'm familiar with certain cultural habits. I'm happy to "wait and see "because I'm also very cautious. I am tempted to send her an email about myself as a quasi reference because I know how Chinese people think.

    Any vibes?

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 16 months ago

    Oztinato, I just saw your email about handing out cards. (My notification that I received today stated that you sent it out three weeks ago. Weird. Sometimes comments are not received right away---an HP glitch, I guess.

    Anyway, that's quite an interesting method. LOL.

    I have been spammed with Match.com, but don't remember if that happened with eHarmony. However, I did not get any viruses. Hopefully your first date has since turned into many more dates. Ha! You're a character.

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 17 months ago

    Hi ezzly.....Sounds like a fun show! I also love to observe how people interact on 1st dates. I basically put into words how I have dated---as this method has worked out quite well for me. So glad you liked the hub.

  • ezzly profile image

    ezzly 17 months ago

    Wonderful read ! I am a huge fan of a British show called 1st dates...people meet up in a restaurant and its filmed. Great watch!

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 17 months ago from Australia

    Savvy

    update: I started to fill out the e harmony questions but the site froze and I immediately got several computer viruses. Fortunately I have protection on my phone (!). This is typical of all my experiences with dating websites. To be honest it's probably the fastest for viruses to date.

    On the other hand my game plan to find someone "naturally" bore some fruit today. Let me explain: on the 1st of January I figured all the females who didn't get lucky on new years eve would be out so I hung out at the "mall" and used the hunting technique of the frog. That is I simply remained seated in the same position and let the prey come to me. There were a lot of obvious single females out but no males (all hungover) so I was able to meet several women. I handed out my card (if they want to phone they can etc) and had three positive "card acceptances". Today of these females (a prize catch) contacted me and we planned a date.

    So tell me, do you use e harmony and do you get spammed and hit with a tsunami of viruses?

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 18 months ago

    You will be fine. Any smart woman would be lucky to meet you. Seriously!

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 18 months ago from Australia

    Thanks for that. I'll try to put aside my shattered dating nerves.

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 18 months ago

    Morning Oztinato.....eHarmony is unusual in that it takes you through a series of questions with those you choose to get to know. In other words, there is a series (about three) of back and forth communications before you even have the opportunity to email one another, free style. (They do make the option open to email immediately if one party asks. and the other accepts. However, it is wiser to wait.)

    Also, in the profile page, you can answer hundreds of questions (short form) which gives others further insight into who you are.

    eHarmony also supplies an online 'Book about You' which is rather fun to read. They develop the book by asking you a series of interesting questions about yourself in order to assemble your individual profile---thus, the idea of matching you with compatible personalities.

    Long story short, eHarmony helps people to delay gratification a bit. That's a good thing.

    Best of luck in the dating arena. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have along the way----and thanks for dropping by.

  • Oztinato profile image

    Oztinato 18 months ago from Australia

    I'm enjoying reading these dating hubs as it gets the wheels moving again. You mentioned E harmony. After trying several dating websites over the years I was shocked by the instantaneous horrors I experienced. The tsunami of computer viruses for one and people trying to make money etc. I'm terrified to try E harmony. Is there something you can tell me about E that would calm my fears?

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 2 years ago

    I'm so pleased that you got something out of this article, ezzly. What you say about stress is true. Whoever said "not to sweat the small stuff" sure had the right idea. Thank you so much for visiting!

  • ezzly profile image

    ezzly 2 years ago

    Wow this takes me back! Thanks for this insightful article. What wonderful advice to "ease up a little". We put so much emphasis on that first meeting , the second meeting etc. It's a lesson that could be carried over to all aspects of life, from learning to enjoy nature more rather than stressing how much work we have to do . Thanks for this great piece!!

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 3 years ago

    Hi DDE. Yes, it's all in how we change out perception. Mostly, our expectations are too high when entering into a first date. In reality, successful dating is all about enjoying the process, and not rushing.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    First dates are great experiences and can end in disaster. You explained in detail and with such helpful ways this sounds less stressful.

  • savvydating profile image
    Author

    savvydating 3 years ago

    Nice to see you here, Marisa Wright! Yep, I agree. I talk a lot about the desperate thing on lots of my hubs. Women like to have all the answers about a man right away, but it doesn't happen that way. Time tells all. Ultimately, his actions will tell a lady everything she needs to know. That's where having patience comes in handy.

    Although I get a fair amount of views on this hub, but no one has ever commented before you. I'm thrilled to get such a nice comment at long last, especially from the Most Helpful Hubber. :}

  • Marisa Wright profile image

    Marisa Wright 3 years ago from Sydney

    Love it. I've been through the dating mill myself as an older divorcee, and I do think most women are their own worst enemies. They won't join a dating site because they don't want to "look desperate" - yet when they go on a date, they immediately ACT desperate.

    The fastest way to kill a potential romance is to expect to make a decision on the first date. If you can learn to relax and take first dates for what they are - a chance to get out of the house and meet someone new, who may or may not be interesting - then you give yourself a much better chance.