Does it work to play hard to get?
By Sherry Amatenstein
First dates are a necessary evil in the lives of singles. They combine the pressure of job interviews with the artificiality of plastic flowers. You’re willing to do practically ANYTHING to make a good impression; all the while you’re observing each move your date makes with the suspicious air of a judge looking down his/her nose at a defendant.
With all the high hopes, expectations and fears men and women bring to the table on a first date, it’s a wonder anyone makes it to the second these days. To aid in the progress of l’amour au courant, here are some first date do’s and don’ts to follow:
Be yourself. Let me amend that to be your BEST self. This is not the time to admit to all the vulnerabilities and insecurities that regularly beset you, nor to share the story of how the shock of catching your fiancée in bed with your brother landed you in a mental institution. Trot out the tried-and-true tales that showcase your sweet and sparkling personality.
Be a good listener. The purpose of this strategy is twofold. A man likes a woman who isn’t a conversation hog. He wants the opportunity to shine in your eyes by trotting out HIS tried-and-true tales. Plus, allowing him to orate gives you the chance to discern what makes him tick. If he talks about how ALL of his ex girlfriends are bitter, selfish, man-hating crones, imagine their side of the story. If he admits to not being the marrying kind, that’s valuable information to have early on as well. (No, you won’t change him!) If he talks about how the thing that gives life meaning for him is being involved in a love relationship – well, isn’t that good info to know?
Try to have fun. Your life does not hang in the balance. It’s just a date. All you’re really doing is hanging out for a few hours with a new acquaintance. Lighten up.
Pretend to be someone you’re not. If you eat meat and he’s a vegetarian, fess up to your carnivorous ways. Ditto if you’re a two-pack-a-day gal and he’s a non-smoker. The truth will always out eventually: Sooner is truly better than later.
Make a snap judgment about your feelings toward him. Unless he’s a TOTAL boor or potential nutcase, give him another try or two before writing him off. Rush to first date judgment and you’ll have lots and lots of time to regret the hasty rejection of someone who might have been the love of your life.
Leave him hanging. If you’d like to see him again, say, "I had a great time. The time really flew." Yes, you can kiss him goodnight but don’t act desperate to set up a second date on the spot. If the first date is all she wrote for you, say, "It was a pleasure meeting you. All the best." Don’t dilute the message by engaging in kissy-kissy.
The most important first tip of all:
Date safe. Don’t take risks with your safety. Just because your cousin’s friend’s boss introduced you to this guy doesn’t mean you should invite a virtual stranger in for some wine and music. Besides, not rushing into intimacy gives you something to look forward to on future dates.