Oh, there were so many times when I wished I had just talked
(or e-mailed) instead of making a date...
There was the over-eager mogul, good-looking, with a house
in Bel Air, and married five times. Before our first date
was over, he was all over me, and his response to my rebuffs
was to proposition me to move into his guest house and write
there -- to be his pet writer-in-residence, I suppose.
Another time, I picked up a tall, handsome carpenter in a
cowboy bar. I knew he wasn't exactly my type, but I agreed
to go out with him anyway. As I climbed into his pickup
truck on our way to get donuts (yes, donuts), I told
myself it didn't matter what he drove or where we went. But
by the time we got to the donut shop, he had already told a
racist, sexist, anti-semitic joke. I told him the donut was
giving me terrible indigestion and just barely escaped.
Another time, I went out with a well-known actor from a
television series. He too was tall, dark and handsome, and
he drove a Bentley. I was impressed, but not for long. We
soon wound up in a gay bar where he and his "decorator"
proceeded to tell me how I needed to redo myself.
Then there was the cute, clever film director who seemed so
sweet and safe I drove with him out to the desert to see the
wildflowers. He got so drunk I had to drive his camper all
the way back to L.A., with him belching and barfing and
ranting in the back.
My first-date misadventurees were pretty mild, actually. It
was a safer time then, but I was still lucky that my
recklessness never led to being raped or haunted by a
stalker. While men as well as women have their share of
first-date horror stories, women today have to be
particularly cautious about first dates.
So this article assumes you've either met the person you're
about to go out with or you have mutual friends. If not,
if your only contact has been e-mail, this is the wrong
first-date article. Please read
"Going beyond E-Mail" first.
Even if you know someone (or know something about them), a
first date is full of uncertainty and pitfalls. If
uncertainty turns into love at first sight, great.
Otherwise, to minimize those pitfalls, here are some tips
for both men and women.
First Date Rules
If you make a date and then realize it's a mistake, don't be
afraid to cancel, as long as it's not at the last minute.
Better to be honest and disappoint the guy or the lady than
subject yourself to an evening you'll hate.
If it's a blind date set up by friends, or for some other
reason you've never actually met the person you're going out
with, keep your escape options open by meeting in a public
place for "just a cup of coffee." Be "on the run" when you
show up, to be pre-excused for a fast getaway if you don't
like him or her. If you can tell in the first fifteen
minutes that there's no way you ever want to see this person
again, don't prolong the agony. Say something like, "Look,
something tells me we're not a match made in heaven. I'm
glad we met, but I really don't want to waste your time.
Let's both get back to our busy lives."
On a first real date with someone you've previously met, do
something that's informal, not too expensive, and enables
you to talk. Don't just go to a movie together, unless your
only mutual interest is Woody Allen; if so, allow time for
coffee later. Avoid heavy-duty, full-evening first dates.
Lunch is fine. Just meeting for coffee or cocktails also
works fine for a first date. If you've talked a lot on the
phone and feel very comfortable with each other, a Saturday
breakfast can turn out to be an open-ended date for the
Don't get led into jabbering away about yourself. Instead,
focus on him or her. Concentrate on finding out the answers
to the questions in "Qualifying
Someone". Throw in a little self-disclosure, ask the
questions with good eye contact and sincerity, and he or she
will be flattered by your interest.
If your date asks you about your ex, and you can't avoid the
subject, talk in a gracious and kind way. If you badmouth
your ex, (or exes), the person listening thinks "Why were
you so stupid as to be with someone who was such a jerk?"
Or, "Were they that awful when you met them, or did you
drive them to act that way?"
Men and women both are drawn to people who are enjoying
their lives. Your date is not your therapist. Don't go
into your troubles. As I've explained elsewhere, no one
wants to be around a depressed man or woman, unless they
themselves are too sick to have a good relationship with.
Don't be shy about cutting a first date short if you don't
think you'll get along. If you just know that the person
isn't right for you, and you're having a terrible time, you
aren't stuck. Say something like I suggested above, then,
as you're leaving, be friendly and offer to help each other.
"You know, I do have a friend who might be right for you,
and I'll be happy to fix you up. Maybe you know someone who
would like to meet me."
Related Keywords: Meeting People, Dating Strategies, Qualifying Someone
Return to Library Top Page
Return to "Ask Dr. Tracy" Home Page
copyright 1995-2011 Tracy Cabot