How to Turn your First Date into Your Last Date (Speech Excerpt)

Shomrim Laboker Singles Shabbaton / Montreal / December 3

Shomrim Laboker Singles Shabbaton / Montreal / December 3

Hard work usually pays off right.

I would dare say that hard work, wherever you choose to apply it in your life will pay off.

If you put in hard work at the gym, you’ll get those rock hard abs

If you put in hard work at the office, you’ll earn an impressive title and a six figure salary.  

So ,what happens if you put in hard work in your personal life?

I bet you are all thinking “what does that even mean?” Isn’t dating supposed to be fun? Why is this chick calling it work?

Well, I thought the same thing as you until recently when I had a conversation with a newlywed woman. This once perpetually single woman told me that on the eve of her 39th birthday she resolved that she would get married before turning 40… and guess what? She did.

She explained to me that she approached her mission like she would anything else. She set trackable goals, dedicated the majority of her waking hours to accomplishing them, and planned and prepared and perfected all this. She learnt about herself, she zoned in on her must-haves and her deal-breakers. She created a dating profile to reflect that and signed up to every dating site and app out there. Jdate, Jmatch, Jswipe, JCrush. You name it. She was on it.

 She also told her friends and family that she was welcoming set-ups…. and she went in with an open mind and an open heart -date after date after date.

You already know how this story ends. I told you at the beginning - she got her prince charming.

So, why am I telling you this? Well this isn’t the topic of my speech, but there are two major takeaways from her story that I think everybody needs to remember.

The first is that you must always be an active participant in your love life.

This applies to both men and women. ….  You can’t surrender to the idea that fate will sort out your romantic destiny.

You can’t wait for your soulmate to interrupt your Netflix  binge, you need to get out there, connect, smile and meet as many people as you can because…. and this is my second point: Dating is a game of numbers. The more numbers you play on the 6/49 lotto the more chances you have to win. Same thing holds true when it comes to dating, the more men or women you meet, the more likely you are to strike a match.

So, now you know how to land a date. It’s quite simple really:  Just put yourself out there.  But I don’t know why I’m even telling you this because it seems like you all got that down pat. You made the effort to be here tonight. You took the first step and I commend you on that. Bravo!

Now let’s talk about what you really want to know. How to turn that first date into a relationship? How do you make it into the real deal? How do you make it stick?

I wasn’t sure myself so I turned to my friend Rob, a very eligible bachelor and a serial dater by his own admission and I said “ Hey Rob! What makes you decide to a take a girl on a second date” and without skipping a beat he said “if she asks me questions about myself, if she shows genuine interest  in ME that goes beyond little trivialities, I’ll usually ask her out again to get to know her better.”

Hmmm… Not bad, I thought.

So, I did my research I found out Rob wasn't the only guy feeling this way. Before Rob, way back in 1997, there was a psychologist at SUNY named Arthur Aron who conducted some more controlled studies and came up with the very same theory. Arthur Aron paired strangers up and gave them 36 questions to see if it would build intimacy between them, if it would develop closeness AND IT DID. The questions were designed to encourage self-disclosure and were presented in order of escalating intensity. They ranged from silly questions like "do you ever sing to yourself" to very serious ones like “if you knew you would die in a year, what would you change about the way you’re living” and they included just about everything in between.

When I was dating my now husband I came across a reprint of the questions in the New York Times Modern Love section one Sunday and the article was called "36 questions that lead to love." I found them truly thought-provoking and interesting and so we played around with them... and needless to say here we are a few weeks short of our wedding anniversary.

The study’s questions are great, they are worth a quick Google search after Shabbos, but its not the questions per se that interest me it’s the effect that asking such questions have on a first date. Like my friend Rob said, they show a genuine interest and curiosity in your date that is attractive and act as a breath of fresh air in our narcissistic selfie-stick day and age.

They open the conversation to far more interesting topics than Montreal weather and Montreal traffic, all of which require more than one word to answer.

They level the playing field. They foster mutual vulnerability.

And most importantly, they give you a fair amount of insight into the person you are sharing a meal with to help you determine if you might want to do it again. If you have shared goals, values, interests… etc. etc.

I’m not recommending anybody show up on a date with Arthur Aron’s 36 questions as a script but I think taking cues from this study is a terrific idea.

Aside from asking questions to convey genuine interest, on your next date I'm going to ask you to do me a really big favor, or rather do yourself a solid:

Be Positive.

Nobody likes first dates, or even second dates. We already established that dating is hard work. But I’m asking you to forget what it is for the duration of the evening and just to consider it a night out, a delicious dinner and the opportunity to meet someone new …. SO treat it that way.

Put on your brightest smile. Enjoy every moment and invite your date to join in on the fun.

Share a laugh. Tell a joke. Live in the moment, because its just that- a moment.

If it works out, you will look upon it fondly for years to come... and you’ll probably end up telling this story again and again when people ask you about your first date.

And if it doesn't work out then you want to leave your date with a fond lasting memory of you. Nobody wants to be remembered as a complainer, or stuck up or boring.

And don’t forget your positivity will be reflected as much in your speech as your tone, as your body language. Uncross your arms, express enthusiasm, maintain eye contact. Those are rules they teach in MBA school so people can go on and be leaders in their industry. But the same holds true on a date. I promise you it will draw your date to you in ways you never dreamt possible.

And it will be reciprocated.  People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want your date to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

And just like that you will both be having a great time and I have no doubt it will warrant a second date.

Now there’s a giant chasm between the end of the first date and the beginning of the second date that so many people fall into because of broken telephone (literally) and encrypted text messages, but I’ll entrust the ginormous task of how to survive all that to the very sharp and capable Ms. Danielle Taylor tomo rrow afternoon.