Question: “Being in my early 40’s, successful, not sure I’m going to have kids and single, I’m finding the qualities I seek in a man have shifted from those I sought in my 20’s and 30’s. I’m meeting some great guys, mostly online. They have their stuff together; they’re successful, maybe have kids and possess a lot of what I look for in a partner (fantastic on paper)…but, there’s no chemistry, no romantic connection and no physical interest. As much as I try to be open, I know a second date won’t stir that spark. If he asks me out again after that first date, what do I say and how do I be honest without hurting his feelings?”
Sherri’s Response: I admire you for not taking the mean girl route out of this dilemma. The good news is that it’s easy to let a guy down after just one date respectfully, but the key is that you must be direct from the outset. Since you are meeting most of these men online, you can simply extend a “nice to have met you” message and wish them the best of luck with their search. This can be done at the scene, via email or by phone depending on the circumstances, and always gets the point across politely as long as you avoid text messaging. If things get uncomfortable, as they sometimes do, avoid taking the blame. Saying things such as, “It’s not you, it’s me” or “I’m just in a really bad point in my life right now” only keeps the door open for persistent suitors who will say they want to “fix” you or the disgruntled ones who may in turn trash talk you. Instead, you should be friendly and firm in letting them know it’s a not a love match.
It takes a lot of courage and self-awareness to know exactly what you want out of life and in a man, but after careful review, I think it may be working to your detriment. Yes there are times, for reasons even we do not know ourselves, when a person just “doesn’t do it” for us. But, often those knee-jerk reactions of disappointment or lack of inspiration that we get on first dates are just as impulsive, irrational and embedded into our subconscious as the electric connections that can ignite passion. Sometimes, a second date suddenly inspires, and sometimes that early passion is short-lived. The point is that while we should all believe in love at first “site;” love finds many, and in often unexpected avenues in which to blossom.
One of the problems with Internet dating sites is that they churn out matches at a high-speed and high volume, making it easier than ever before to forego second chances. In order to perpetuate stay-appeal, you may just need to see a person in his/her element for more than just a quick cup of coffee. In fact, studies prove that people who see each other consistently “grow on” each other, which is why romances often unfold in the workplace and turn into successful long-term relationships over time.
For years, Cindy Hazan, an associate professor of human development at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has been looking into why people pair up. Her research has proven that humans connect to people who are nearby and familiar to them. This is precisely the reason why the same tech geek you turned down initially may turn you on over time if you saw him in a different element, like industry events, the local bar or on a regular basis in spin class.
When you have repeated contact with someone, the potential for attraction to them increases, which cannot happen if you dismiss the perfectly good-on-paper-guy before date number two. Now this may not be the words of wisdom you were looking for, but I know from firsthand experience that it’s worth a second try.
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