Erika Ettin: The First Date

By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two single folks share their first date experiences with dating/relationship expert Erika Ettin. Ettin follows up with a few tips on dos and don'ts before and after that first meeting.

Tribune News Service

As a dating coach, I get question upon question about first dates, the length, the venue, the hug versus handshake (hug, please!), the potential kiss, the outfit ... you name it.

This week, I wanted to share two real client questions about the all-important first date. One relates to the date itself, and the other sheds light on what it takes to agree to a second date.

Q: I've been texting back and forth with this woman for a while now (kept having conflicting schedules), and we'll finally meet this Thursday. What should we be talking about on the first date? In the past, I've talked to dates about our experience with the online dating sites, especially the one we met on, like how many people we've met, bad/good experiences, etc. Do you think that's something that shouldn't be brought up? And is there a certain length I should keep the date to, or does it just depends on how well the date is going? -Jason, 29, New York, N.Y.

A: These are all good questions. If you're meeting someone for the first time from an online dating site, it should always just be for drinks or coffee or something casual where you can get to know each other and hear each other. As for the length, I recommend staying through at least one drink (that would be, oh, 45 minutes or so?), even if you know it's not a match for you. If you're having a good time, of course, you'll want to stay longer and perhaps order some food. I don't have a rule about cutting the date off at a high point, as you may have heard from other people. Just enjoy yourself, and don't try to "game" the parting scenario.

In terms of what to talk about, I wouldn't lead with the question of how online dating is going, unless it's under the guise of how well this date is going compared to others, accompanied by a funny story. This question generally leads to negativity, and the focus is shifted from getting to know each other to potentially badmouthing someone else. Just be yourself and be natural. Keep things light and in the present, versus talking about anything like past relationships. A first date is to determine whether you have any rapport. Talk about your hobbies and things you like to do to see if you have any of the same interests. And women like when you ask them questions to show that you're interested in learning, what she likes to do, etc.

If, at the end, you do like her, tell her that you'd like to see her again, then you can either line up the next date just then if she agrees, or follow up afterward. If not, a simple, "nice meeting you" will do the trick.

Q: I was a little surprised you tried to talk me into seeing her again. The problem with a second date, especially if we go to yoga, as she proposed, is that it probably isn't going to add much information and won't change what I already know about her. Why would I want to go? -Chester, 46, Denver, Colo.

Answer: It's less trying to talk you into something and more trying to get you to see that you don't have to make these big "decisions" after a first date. A second date is just a second chance to get to know someone. (And I disagree that no new information will be added.) Coming at dating as an interview for a potential partner is not what I recommend.

I recommend just taking it all as a chance to get to know people. You can't know everything after one date. And why I am pushing you on her; is that you didn't say anything negative about how you related to her on the date. Had you said, "We had no rapport," or, "I didn't find her attractive at all," that would be a different story. What's the worst thing that happens? You decide after date No. 2 not to see her again. And the best, you both loosen up (literally!) and see things in each other that didn't come out on the first date.

All of that said, if you still say no, then the best thing to do is to reply, "I had fun, too! Thanks again for meeting me. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to pass on meeting again – I just think our lifestyles don't align how I'd want, but I only wish you the best! Namaste. ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.)

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