Monday, July 15, 2013

Check your baggage at the door, please!

I’ve been spending a lot of time interviewing men lately – “seasoned” single men in their late 40’s to 60’s -- and much to my dismay, I have been hearing the same thing from all of them. When I ask them to tell me stories about their first dates, (too) many of them say the same thing: women dump.

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When I probe further, I discover that these women appear to be very well-adjusted, upbeat ladies with good careers, etc., but when they sit down in front of a man who listens and shows genuine interest, they tend to dump their troubles and stories of woe on them. Bear in mind, this is a first date (aka “first impression”), not two old friends getting together... (To be fair, I know that men are guilty of the same bad habit; some have given new meaning to the idiom “bending one’s ear”).

We all know that there are a lot of options out there but actually consenting to a date with someone with whom we’re interested doesn’t happen all the time. When it does, we get excited at the anticipation of perhaps he / she being ‘The One’. So what do we do to prepare for that adventure? Meh. We just show up and bring ourselves to the table. It doesn’t seem to matter if the “self” we bring isn’t the best version of ourselves.

 Why is it that people spend so much time and energy preparing themselves for a job interview – by networking with everyone they know, updating their resume, practicing their conversational skills, buying new business attire – but when it comes to (potentially) meeting the person with whom to spend the rest of their life, they are unprepared? They wing it. They barely think about what they’re going to talk about or disclose ahead of time.

 If you’re having a lot of first dates that aren’t leading to second dates, you need to pay attention. While there is nothing better than leading with authenticity, please make sure that you’re bringing your best self , not your tired self, or your worried self or your apathetic self or your way-too-serious-for-a-first-date self.

A first date is a beautiful opportunity to shine and show the “gifts” that you’re bringing to the table. It is not the time to air out your not-so-fresh laundry. The person on the other side of the table already has their challenges and issues of which they’re dealing. Initial dates are meant to be light, playful, spontaneous, fun and honest…Being honest doesn’t mean you need to tell someone about your bulimic bank account or share stories about your sad childhood, abusive ex or tricky health issues. Do not ever forget that your date is still a stranger; he / she is still someone who’s figuring out if they even want to see you again. So while the verdict’s still out, turn on the charm, turn up the laughter and tone down the drama

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