Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The First Date

A dear friend of mine recently went on a first date with a guy she was particularly keen to.
He was smart, good looking, interested in the same things she is, etc...

I don't know how the date turned out, because I haven't caught up with her on the subject, but it brought together an interesting thought. How does one behave on the first date?

Take for example, my recent job hunting extravaganza, aka, freelancing i.e. trying to impress everyone you meet within a minute time frame in order for them to think, wow, I want her to work on my next project.

So this column should more properly be called how the first date is like a job interview, but alas.

Step 1. Finding someone to date aka. Networking
In order to find potential first dates you have to do something the business world calls networking. This involves putting yourself out there in a room full of potentials and floating around the crowd. Talking to this one. Talking to that one, and making sure to get names, remember names, find out basics, and give (or take) numbers.

In the majority of situations, people normally find jobs through common connections. Much like one would find a potential date through a friend. Your friends are always a good resource to tap into. Make sure, though, that your friends know what you're looking for. What your type is, and your intentions. For example, you could be looking for an ambitious dreamer who looks like Forest Whitaker but only wants to boink, because you're not into that long term dating stuff. But your friend, who took your asking about potentials as a long term investment, starts setting you up with skinny white guys who like investment banking and long walks on the beach, which would be fine for you if you were going to be with them long enough to walk on the beach, but I digress.

For shy people networking might be a bit hard to do face to face, which is where online dating comes about. Online dating also can assist those too busy to network properly, those who don't know where to network, and those who have exhausted all options around them (see 75% female to 25% male University Ratio).

Step 2. Dressing for the date aka dress to impress.
Now I'm not saying break out the one of a kind gucci formal dress, ladies, and guys, a full blown pin stripe might be a bit much, but it should take you longer than 2 seconds to figure out what to wear. You're trying to put your best foot forward so that the potential thinks wow, I need to see them again Not, 'damn is that a hole in the crotch of his pants?' Consider the environment you're going to be entering and then dress for that situation. AND REMEMBER if it's your first date, but you agreed to go hiking, leave the heels at home, dress for the environment, but still dress to impress with your best/favorite color because the confidence from wearing that color will help you be the best you, you can be.

Step 3. The Date aka Interview
While on the date it should be assumed you know a little about this person, as you would know a little about a potential company. Try to engage your potential by asking intelligent, thoughtful, and genuinely interested questions. If you find yourself asking 'how many hours a week are you looking to date me,' you might want to reconsider your structure. This is your 1 hour-or-so-opportunity to find out as much about this person as possible. Don't barrage them with a constant slew of questions ranging from childhood fears to condom size, simply ask them about who they are. Where they're going. What they're passionate about. Where they grew up, and if you find something that interests you, don't stick to your list of questions let the conversation go where it may. Remember it's a date. It's a conversation between two people trying to figure out if they're compatible. Go with the flow and be yourself.

Step 4. After the Date aka Followup
A lot of people ask me, "when should I let my date know that I had a good time?" Well in some cases it's appropriate right then. If one of you says I had fun and then the other reciprocates, it's only natural to follow up with well what are you doing XXXday night! If it went really well but you were a bit shier with instigating another date, then text them when you get home and let them know what you thought of the date and how you'd like to do it again soon. Much like an interview, it's only polite to include a thank you for their time and stating how you enjoyed the time together (only do this if you actually enjoyed the time). Granted you dont have to send a hand written thank you, but a text that night or a phone call the next day is properly appropriate.

I do think that the old adage of wait three days is no longer applicable in today's society. With the constant communication whizzing through our phones and email, it's no longer proper social etiquette to wait to call after three days, instead this mindset has now become rude, because if someone waits three days now, your potential will think that you don't have the decency to step up to the plate and will instead find you to be rude and demeaning to the time you spent with them.

On the other hand, if you did not enjoy the first date and have no urge to go on future dates with that person, let them know. If they call you answer and explain that while they're a nice/fun/interesting/ambitious person, you just don't see your futures aligning. Remember be polite, because one day someone might be saying the same thing to you, and even if it's just the first date, being rejected at any stage is still painful to someone's pride.


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