Was it really a bad first date or were you just communicating all wrong?
You have a first date scheduled and you're so excited! However you met (online dating, friends, blind date, co-worker, church, etc.) tonight's the night you finally get to sit across a table and get to know this someone special.
But, by the end of the date, disappointment has taken over. All of your excitement is gone. What happened?
I often hear from coaching clients how awful first dates are because "the other person did all of the talking and didn't seem interested in learning anything about me." Or "I had to do all the talking and ask all the questions because getting them to talk was like pulling teeth."
A great first date requires both of you to share something real about yourself while also creating space for the other person to communicate, as well. How else will you know if you want to go out with this person again? Knowing how to smoothly accomplish this balance is a very common problem causing many singles to be dissatisfied with their first date experiences.
What I've learned as a dating coach is that men and women approach first dates (and dating, in general) very differently. I believe that if men and women just knew the inside scoop on the other's point of view, plus a few simple techniques to cultivate better first date communication, they would each begin having fantastic first dates again (the kind that lead to second dates, and third dates, and on).
A first date from a man's point of view:
Men often tell me that on a first date they feel like they're on a job interview. The woman asks a stream of questions about the man's life and, to be polite, the man answers those questions, feeling as though he'd better do so correctly and sell himself to the woman, highlighting all of his best accomplishments and virtues, just to be considered for a second date (much like trying to land that second job interview).
Women, it is vital for you to know that if a man asks you out then (listen up and believe this, ladies) he is attracted to you. And because he doesn't assume that you're equally attracted to him, he feels the need to impress you so you'll want to go out with him again. And to achieve this he continues to answer all of your questions. But that does not mean that answering that string of questions feels at all good to him.
What I let my male clients know is that women talk a lot on a first date to feel connected. They ask questions because they are genuinely interested in finding out more about the man and (here's an inside scoop for men) women are waiting for you to ask them the same questions in return. This is surprising to men because they think if a woman had something to say, she would just say it (because that's what men do).
Men report that, at the end of a date like this, they actually feel mentally exhausted. In addition, they feel disappointed because they didn't learn much about the woman they are attracted to. The man was hoping to get information about this woman to likewise decide if a second date is desired. He went on the date hoping to learn more about what the woman thinks and how she feels about him, about things in her own life, etc.
A first date from a woman's point of view:
Ironically, what women most complain to me about regarding their experience on first dates is feeling as if they have to carry the entire conversation. Just like men are being polite in answering the woman's questions, she is also tryng to be polite in asking them. She is trying to show her interest by hearing about his life, but she ends up feeling like he isn't very interested in her because he never asks those same questions in return. When a woman is trying to show genuine interest in another person, her inclination is to talk because (to a woman) this conveys caring and respect. And so, when a man asks questions of her in return, this is perceived as him showing genuine interest in what she has to say. And a woman who feels cared for is far more inclined to desire a second date.
Also, some women find silence very uncomfortable, so they chatter on a bit to fill in the spaces with questions and conversation, while (inwardly) the woman is wishing her date would ask her something about herself.
The bottom line is, when a woman talks a lot (whether asking questions or sharing information about her life), she believes she's showing interest in her date. When her date doesn't reciprocate, she walks away believing the man was uninterested in her. When I explain to women why men answer their questions but don't ask any questions (as explained above), the women are relieved to learn that men really do care (and want to hear about) what they think.
Communicating well on the first date:
Most men are truly relieved to stop talking and listen. So, on your next date, ladies, ask him a question and wait until the end of his answer but then lean in and share a story of your own that relates to the topic of discussion. Women I coach, who have perfected this technique, tell me they now feel listened to and heard on their dates.
And, gentlemen: your solution is easy, as well. If you crave back and forth conversation, finish answering the question she just asked you and then ask her the same question. She likely asked the question because it's an important point or topic to her and she'll be happy to tell you her point of view. Men I coach who finally learn to ask questions on their first dates are having far more second and third dates now.
Just using these two simple techniques can create the opportunity for a back-and-forth discussion where each of you shares information and feelings and learns about the other person. The result? More fun and definitely more interesting first, second, third dates.
Goal Setting + Purposeful Dating = Satisfying Relationships. Learn more about finding "the perfect catch" from Dating & Relationship Expert Christine Baumgartner .