As you’ve probably discovered by now, men and women have very different concepts of what makes for a successful first date. If you’re male, just making it to the end of of the first one means you’ve practically scored date #2 already; women, however, tend to pay more attention to complicated stuff like courtesy, conversation, and charisma. To get some insight into the female perspective, we convened a roundtable of single, successful women and asked them to tell us the truth.
Moira, 27, junior account executive
Jessie, 27, sales coordinator
Kelsey, 32, non-profit fundraiser
Helen, 28, medical assistant
Rachel, 30, accountant
Laura, 33, assistant account executive
Q: OK, that man you gave your contact info to — whether online or at a party, or another place entirely — has just met you for your first official date. What’s the first thing you notice?
Moira: How mature or immature he is. One guy I met didn’t even know how to go out on a date — as in, how to ask me out, or what to say during the date. He wasn’t an initiator, and he seemed very young in that regard — he reminded me of my little brother.
Jessie: A little cockiness helps. If a guy talks too much out of nervousness or if his voice cracks, that’s a turn-off. C’mon, it’s just a date!
Kelsey: It’s important for a man to treat people well. If he’s really disrespectful, that’s a turn-off. I once dated a guy who was impatient in restaurants and actually snapped his fingers to get service.
Helen: How confident he is. That really comes through.Q: What do you mean by “confident,” ladies?
Rachel: Confidence means someone who’s OK with himself entirely — his looks, his personality, and his background. If you’re confident, you’re talkative, and women like a man who can be a smooth talker. A date either has to be relaxed and confident, or he has to be good at faking it.
Q: Does that have anything to do with what he does for a living?
Kelsey: No. Don’t ever name-drop where you work to impress a woman. Don’t just throw stuff out; wait until she asks you first. That stuff doesn’t matter as much as men think it does when it comes to making date-night conversation.
Laura: But what if you live with your parents?
Kelsey: That’s a huge thing in New York City (which is where I currently live), how much you earn. The expectations are much higher, and that’s just sad. I was never like this until I moved here and started dating.
Laura: But it’s not just resources, it’s ambition and potential, too. If he is working as a bartender, maybe it’s what he’s doing now, like “I’m bartending because I’m putting myself through law school.”
Moira: Not even a rich man is impressive to me if he doesn’t also have ambition.
Q: Does it matter where a man takes you? Or whether he pays for the date?
Kelsey: Paying for the meal is a must. On the first date, never let the woman pay. If you’re not willing to pay her way on a date, don’t ask her out in the first place. But it’s nice if she offers to pay for, say, parking — even though I think we don’t want you to really take us up on that offer!
Moira: Whether or not he pays for my part of the bill shows how the relationship will go if we keep seeing each other. I hate it when a guy’s like, “Why don’t we split this check?” College students are like that, and I am not trying to re-live those days.
Q: And the restaurant choice: Does it make a big difference to you?
Jessie: It depends on what type of date you’re having — if you’ve met each other initially in a casual atmosphere, going to a casual restaurant together is fine.
Rachel: I had a man take me to a five-star restaurant on our third date — I was like, you don’t take someone here this soon!
Kelsey: It’s also down to how he behaves in the restaurant. If you don’t open a door, you don’t know how to be a gentleman. Show concern. Pace yourself with drinking so you avoid embarrassing yourself.
Rachel: Oh, and if you pick her up in your car, make sure that it is clean before you arrive. If you don’t want to clean it up a little, ask her to meet you there instead.
Q: What about his behavior during the date?
Kelsey: If a guy’s not going to go out of his way to focus on you for the night, that’s a deal-breaker. I expect to be the center of attention. It’s like going to a job interview, except both people are nervous.
Moira: Touching is always a good sign — for me, it’s huge. Just a little touch on the wrist, that kind of thing. Not groping! And little compliments make a difference.
Kelsey: Whatever you do, don’t ever compare this date to your last date. That’s when you know someone has baggage. On the other hand, it is important to hear about past relationships, because that tells you what kind of man he is in general.
Q: OK, so the man doesn’t meet your standards on your first date together. What do you do next?
Moira: Phase it out. Let it die. After two or three dates, you don’t owe him an explanation. After a year, maybe you can tell him the truth if you have mutual friends.
Kelsey: You have to make excuses sometimes.
Rachel: I’ll say, “I don’t want a boyfriend right now,” which is true. I don’t want him as a boyfriend, but keeping it general — I hope, anyway — will be less hurtful than saying, “I don’t want to date you.”
Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on About.com, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
For the other side of this story, read: Best first-date moves for women.
Article courtesy of Happen magazine