Avoid a Date with Disaster Couples
M Y UNDERTAKING WAS A BIT
sneaky, sure—but so is most
every other woman’s first-date agenda. We rarely ask a
question for the sake of conversation; there’s often some
veiled reason behind it, says
Helen Fisher, Ph. D., a Rutgers
and the author of Why Him?
Why Her? How to Keep and
Find Lasting Love. In other
words, with one slip of the
tongue, you could be mentally
dismissed before the check—
or, in the case of Chad,* his
When Chad so rudely hollered at a passing waiter, “Yo,
can I get some chicken fingers?” I knew we wouldn’t be
swapping honey mustard–
flavored saliva later. I wasn’t
just playing the harsh critic:
“On the first date, the woman
has little information to go
on, so she overweights the
few things she does know
about you,” explains Fisher.
My fieldwork could save you—
and help you secure date #2.
*All men’s names have been changed.
FIRST-DATE QUESTION 1
“What are we doing
Half of my dates were at the same
brewery. Why? Because it’s close
to my place, and the guys left the
prep work up to me. Your planning, or lack thereof, is the first
signal of your interest level, so
avoid the extremes. If you leave it
to her, “she’ll feel like she’s just
taking a number,” says Yvonne K.
Fulbright, Ph. D., the author of Sultry
Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover.
But if you sound desperate to
impress, you’ll probably just make
her a little uncomfortable. “When
men spend a lot on a first date,
women wonder, ‘ What do I have
to give in return?’ Don’t put that
pressure on her,” says Fisher.
Play it safe by offering two
options—one traditional and a bit
upscale (say, steak dinner), the
other adventurous and less pricey
(say, sushi and a walk downtown).
Just don’t suggest a movie. You
can’t assess chemistry—the kind
that involves conversation—in a
FIRST-DATE QUESTION 2
“What do you do for
Yes, we’re probing for intel about
your position and income. But it’s
not because we want to dip into
your savings. Rather, as an Australian study found, women value
the traits—intelligence, ambition,
drive—that often accompany
wealth. We interpret your success
as our future stability.
Even so, when one of my dates,
a federal air marshal, announced
his income and then said, “You
probably think my job is pretty
badass,” I dismissed him. Instead
of leaving me to infer his success—
and trust me, women can—he
recited his achievements résumé-style. I wasn’t impressed.
A better move: Tell her your job
enables you to spend time doing
what you love (like vacation in
Paris). It’s a way to unobtrusively
flash your resources while showing that you have interests. If you
hate your current gig, simply say,
“I don’t love my job,” and then
explain what you really want to do.
FIRST-DATE QUESTION 3
“What’s your type?”
I’m Southern, which to many guys
translates as cute and sweet. And
I’m still wearing my jeans from
high school. Still, the guy who said
he liked “cute, skinny, sweet” girls
freaked me out. “Even if you
describe her, it only makes her
think, ‘ Wow, I’m like every other
girl he goes for,’;” says Fulbright.
“She doesn’t feel special, and it
makes you seem a little rigid.”
The same goes for detailing
your dislikes. (“I won’t date a girl
who has a kid. Or who didn’t go to
college.” A real response, by the
way.) “You’re just going to make
the woman nervous,” says Fisher.
Focus on your ideal areas of
compatibility—say, an interest in
road biking or travel. And be sure
to show some flexibility. Your line:
“I’m looking for a woman who
shares some of my interests and
who has some of her own that I
might adopt.” That way she won’t
think you’ll write her off if your
love of the Yankees isn’t mutual.