The Curse of the Analytical Thinker

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Single Life

The other day, I braved my bathing suit fears and went to the pool at my new apartment complex. I was looking around. Some guys were handsome, some were clearly married or age inappropriate, and some were too obnoxious to warrant a second glance. Back in Arkansas, almost every guy at my complex fell into the third category, so I was relieved for some eye candy rather than eye rolling.

While lying outside, enjoying the warmth of early summer sunshine, I had an epiphany: almost none of the two dozen first dates I’ve been on in the last few years have resulted in a second date.

I made a list, of course, of my dating history. This doesn’t count men who failed pre-screening. There are over 24 guys on the list… some of them I couldn’t even remember names. I struggled for 10 minutes to come up with names, only to realize I didn’t know them, so I gave them descriptors. They went something like this:

  • Effeminate guy at Mexican restaurant
  • Law school mama’s boy
  • Hipster grad student
  • Boring guy with great hair

Then my head was flooded with questions.

Am I not being picky enough in pre-screening dates? Am I being too picky on the actual date? I tried to focus on the guys who were interested in seeing me again… Sometimes it’s just highly evident and mutual that we’re not a match. But that hasn’t been the case many of the times.

The other day, I read an article claiming that most of the time, dates 1-3 aren’t indicative of your relationship because:

  1. You’re on your best behavior
  2. You’re so concerned about presenting yourself that you forget to analyze the traits and behaviors of your date
  3. You want the other person to like you and forget you have to like them too

I tend to be somewhat the opposite. The engineer in me gets highly analytical, and while I take the time to engage in conversation and enjoy the food or activity of the date, my mind is constantly taking data measurements. No wonder I rarely feel sparks! There’s zero romance in a date when all you’re doing is checking boxes in your head. My new goal is to try to just enjoy the guy’s company. I’m not going to ignore red flags, but I also know that by date 3, if a guy makes it that far, I have enough of a sense of their character to decide to proceed with caution or cut them loose.


Table Manners

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Single Life

A recent story from my girlfriend about her date eating off her plate, and then finishing it off while she went to the bathroom, has inspired this post. Her date also arrived weighing 150 pounds more than his photo showed and he ordered more than a few plates of food for himself, which he polished off before she could eat half of hers. He committed a number of table manner transgressions!

  1. Unless you ask first, or your date offers, do not take a sample of your date’s food. In fact, asking if you want to taste each other’s food is a great way to break the ice.
  2. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse (unless you have kids and then keep your phone on silent on the table and don’t look at it).
  3. Ladies should not assume the man is going to pay. Offer to split and be prepared to have your offer accepted. Men should deny the offer in most circumstances.
  4. Be polite to the waitstaff.
  5. Your first-date behavior should be your best behavior!

How to Live Happily Ever After

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

A great article in The Week titled “How to Live Happily Ever After, According to Science,” written by Eric Barker, the author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, gave one amazing piece of advice all couples should remember — whether they are new couples or veteran couples: rather than trying to fix the bad, instead try to increase the good.

The point here is that couples can argue about the same topic for years and never come to an agreement because neither one thinks they are wrong. Neither of you is going to change. Instead, accept that you disagree, and then focus on finding things you agree upon and things you have fun doing together.

Barker also says you can increase the excitement in your relationship by pretending you’re on your first date. Why? Because we were still making an effort to try and impress each other on that first date. Try it!


Last Minute Cancellation

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Single Life

I’ve talked about canceling at the last minute before, but how do you tell the difference between a legitimate excuse and a bogus one?

A legitimate excuse arrives by phone call – although text is acceptable – at least six hours before the time of the date, and the person gives you an explanation. Additionally, the call should include the intent to get together again by asking for your availability.

You can say or send an “easy-breezy” reply, something like: “No worries, I hope everything is okay.” If the person canceling the date is legit, they will likely respond right away and make new plans.

A bogus cancellation (a blow-off) usually occurs by text less than four hours before the date, offers no explanation except the need to cancel, and does not allude to making it up to you.

You can reply with the same as above, but don’t expect a response. Or, you can call this person’s bluff by not responding at all. If they are truly interested then they will try again, but don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them in the following days.


You Got Game?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Single Life

How can you tell when someone is playing the dating game versus being just marginally interested? How can you tell when someone is trying to act like they’re too cool versus actually thinking they are too cool?

Not calling until the second day is part of the game, but calling on the third day means the person is probably just marginally interested.

Making plans for the weekend on a Wednesday (for Friday) or Thursday (for Saturday) is acting cool, but waiting until the weekend to make plans is someone who thinks they’re too cool.

Waiting until the day before a date to confirm is part of the game, but waiting until the day of a date means the person is probably just marginally interested.

Playing the dating game is an unfortunate necessity in the beginning. It will help you take your time and not jump into anything too fast or come off as desperate. Call within two days of meeting someone, make plans by the middle of the week for the weekend, and confirm your plans the day before… otherwise you run the risk of losing your potential date by playing too cool.


The Ick Factor

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Single Life

When you don’t like your date, you don’t just not like your date… but you see every little flaw and every little tick and every little everything that bothers you.

It’s called the Ick Factor. Once someone bugs you, then you see all the things about them that wouldn’t have normally bothered you. When you don’t like someone, then you will either look for things wrong with them or things will just pop out and annoy you to no end. When you know someone is wrong for you, then you will notice and get icked out by the way they talk, laugh, chew, walk, sit, stand, and basically, exist. Those things wouldn’t bother you if you liked the person.

Realize that this is normal, this is not a match, maintain your dignity, and — after the date — thank the other person for a nice time and move on. Don’t try to see if the ick factor will go away — it won’t.


Flirting or Fun?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

There is a fine line between being fun and being flirtatious when you have just met someone and you’re in the beginning stages of getting to know one another. Texting will only make this distinction more difficult, so try to stay away from SMS for as long as possible.

After a good first date, you want to let your match know you had a good time without moving too far too fast. So, pick up the phone to tell them how much fun you had, engage in a little small talk, and then make plans for a second date. Make sure your voice is warm and you’re engaging by smiling when you’re talking. Also, be sure to make the call in a location where you are not stressed (i.e. at work or in front of people). Don’t venture into the gray area of talking about wanting to “continue a good night kiss” or “looking forward to seeing your sexy self” because that sounds like your intentions are not serious.

Build on the momentum of a great first date by calling the next day to make plans as soon as possible.


Over-Sharing

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Single Life

There are certain things that are not to be shared on a first date. If it has to do with sex, drugs, or any other illicit activity, then hold off… maybe forever. Lots of things fall under the sex category, including nudity, number of partners, pornography, strippers and so on. Anything along those lines should be considered over-sharing. Drugs include both the prescription kind as well as the illegal kind. No one needs to know about that on a first date! Money, why past relationships ended, and anything having to do with drama can wait for another date.

First date topics should start with continuing the email conversations you began, which usually address your commonalities. Just let it flow naturally from there. If you find the rapport waning, then revert to asking questions from the JDate profile. “Remind me again where you went to school/where you grew up/what you do for a living/how many siblings you have?” Those are always easy ways to get the conversation going again.


Respect the Text

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Single Life

Enough recent stories made me realize that everyone needs a reminder not to text before you are seriously dating someone… and especially not before your first date!

Unless you are texting to confirm the date or to say you’re running a few minutes late, do not text conversational or abstract things until at least after the third date! Your date does not want — or need — to know that you are on your way to the gym, or getting your haircut, or watching TV, or anything else before you’ve even met for the first time. Lay off the texting people!

Less is more before a first date; it creates a sense of mystery and allows you to build up excitement and anticipation, which are the emotions you want to experience before a first date!


To Thine Own Self Be True

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships

What do you do when you meet someone on JDate who has selected “Never” under the “Drinking Category” when you like your glass of wine or bottle of beer at night?

How do you handle flirting with a non-smoker when you love your cigarettes?

What’s your initial reaction when you receive a message from a cute vegetarian, but you pride yourself on being a carnivore?

You have to be true to yourself, and you can’t pretend to be someone you’re not when you’re looking for “forever.” Don’t hesitate to order a drink on your date just because he or she doesn’t imbibe, unless of course they are in AA and then you need to discuss how they feel about it first. If you never plan on quitting smoking, but your date is disgusted by the scent of cigarettes, then you might not want to light up, but you also need to make it clear that you don’t plan on stopping until you feel like it (quitting for someone else never works). Eating out with someone with differing eating habits shouldn’t be a problem, but be respectful of their choices when ordering on their behalf or cooking at home.

Some differences are good, others are a dealbreaker. Again, as long as you’re keeping it real and respectful, then there’s no reason it couldn’t work.