Getting a Date with a Woman in Silicon Valley: For Men Only
How to Meet Terrific Women in the Silicon Valley: Savvy Tips from a Professional Relationship Therapist
By Dr. Andrew Gottlieb
Copyright 1999 Andrew Gottlieb, All Rights Reserved
Introduction: Is dating really so hopeless in Silicon Valley?
Peter W. was feeling frustrated again -- a miserable, hopeless kind of frustration that's visible from two blocks down the street. It's been five months since Peter moved to Silicon Valley, and during that time he's had exactly one date -- and afterwards the woman didn't even show him the courtesy of returning his phone call. "It sure wasn't like this back home in Atlanta," Peter often tells Jack, his best friend and fellow software engineer. Peter often finds himself wondering if the extra salary and more interesting job he found in Silicon Valley are worth the difficulties he's experienced in finding love. He wonders if it's possible for an average looking, medium height, and medium build guy to find a date in Silicon Valley. He decides to go back to work tonight and write some more code -- at least he knows he's good at that!
Is it really so hopeless? Recent media coverage has suggested the demographics of California's Silicon Valley have produced a great excess of single men compared to single women between the ages of 20 and 45. Supposedly, this is the worst imbalance in the United States including even Anchorage, Alaska, long known as a town full of men. Article after article in newspapers and magazines suggest the same thing: that for a man, getting a date in Silicon Valley is harder than making a billion dollars in a start-up. According to these articles the women of Silicon Valley are blessed with a great abundance of rich, successful, good-looking, tall men to choose from. Attractive women in Silicon Valley supposedly have no difficulty whatsoever finding dates or mates.
The only problem with this information is that it is just plain wrong. The numbers lie. Worse yet the conclusions drawn from these numbers don't even follow. If you go out to any singles event particularly those that cater to men and women in their 30's or 40's, you quickly notice that there are just as many women looking for partners as men. How can this be if the odds are so stacked in women's favor?
The answer is that although there may be 5000 extra men in Silicon Valley, a good number of those men are not exactly what you would call "out there". Remember, Silicon Valley is a place where people start companies and work 90 hours a week. If you are starting a company your top three priorities are work, work, and work. There are very many shy, quiet, workaholic male engineers in Silicon Valley who don't go out, and who don't date. So subtract 10 percent of the men because they are working all the time.
Silicon Valley is also known for being full of engineers and programmers who are not known for their emotional sensitivity or warmth. If you subtract another 20 percent of the men for being emotionally closed, then you end up with a great shortage of good men. And this fits my experience as a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley. My single women clients, attractive, interesting, and successful, all complain how hard it is to find open, warm-hearted, and connection-oriented men.
So the truth about dating in Silicon Valley is that the news is good. If you understand the savvy way to meet and date women and learn how to develop the attractive sides of yourself, you will have no problem in Silicon Valley. In fact, you will have an advantage over most of the nerdy, clueless men whose only redeeming feature is that they make plenty of money. Although women like men who make money, given the choice between a rich, nerdy, disconnected, lousy lover versus a middle-class, warm, connected, funny, talented lover most women will choose the latter. After all, if making a lot of money made men popular, then the majority of men in Silicon Valley would be very popular.
In this short and simple guide I will teach you, step-by-step, how to figure out what kind of woman you are looking for, how to develop the sides of yourself that will be most attractive to her, how to plan a strategy for meeting eligible, attractive women, and how to meet enough women so that you have a good choice of women from whom to select a girlfriend or partner.
The information I will present is based on several sources. The first source is my extensive experience in my clinical psychology practice working with a variety of single men who were struggling with the same issues that you are. Over the years I've worked with dozens of single men in their 30's and 40's who had successful careers but couldn't seem to manage to connect successfully with women. Much to my surprise I found that it was fairly easy to teach these men strategies that led to them being able to connect and get involved with quality women. A number of marriages resulted from the work I did with these men.
The second source of information is my own extensive experience of being single in Silicon Valley for occasional periods extending over 15 years. I never experienced any difficulty finding quality women to date or have relationships with, even though I was never rich, tall, incredibly good-looking, or famous.
The final source of the suggestions in this guide is from my extensive counseling work with single women in Silicon Valley. They provide an interesting perspective into what women are looking for, what their turnoffs are, and what their preferences are. Since women are the target market for most men seeking relationships, women's insight and input into this report was essential. Without naming names, I would like to thank all of you who talked to me.
You need to know who you are before you can find someone else
Before you can embark on the process of meeting women and connecting with them you first need to figure out who you are. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a potential dating partner? What are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of appearance? What do you have to offer in terms of your personality? Why would a woman want to date you or get involved with you?
Now these are tough questions. To the answer them you need the help of a few trusted friends. If you don't have any friends then ask a colleague who knows you well or go to a therapist and get their feedback.
Ask a friend, preferably a woman, to give you some feedback on your strengths and weaknesses as a dating partner. Here are some questions to ask her.
How would you rate my appearance on a scale of 1 to 10? What are my best physical features? What are my worst physical features? How attractive is my face on a scale of 1 to 10? How attractive is my body on a scale of 1 to 10? How would you rate how I dress on a scale of 1 to 10? Do I move in a sexy way? On a scale of 1 to 10 how masculine do I seem? How is my weight? Am I too skinny or too fat? How is my breath and body odor? How is my hair, my haircut?
(Obviously these are potentially painful questions to ask anyone and you should ask someone you feel safe with. If you like your sister she would be ideal. Even your mother might be helpful. Don't ask an ex-girlfriend unless you feel very comfortable with her.)
How would you describe my personality? How funny am I? Do I seem like an interesting person? How interesting am I on a scale of 1 to 10? How good a listener am I on a scale of 1 to 10? What is my best trait in terms of personality? What is my worst trait in terms of personality?
Do I have a bad temper? How good am I at being flirtatious? How intelligent do I seem by the way I present myself? How warm and kind do I seem on a scale of 1 to 10? How confident do I seem on a scale of 1 to 10? How successful do you see me as on a scale of 1 to 10?
SKILLS AND EXTERNAL ISSUES
How good a dancer am I on a scale of 1 to 10? How good athlete am I on a scale of 1 to 10? How would you rate the appeal of my car on a scale of 1 to 10? How would you rate the appeal of my house or apartment on a scale of 1 to 10? How would you rate the appeal of my friends on a scale of 1 to 10?
WHAT DO I DO NOW THAT I KNOW I HAVE ALL THESE FLAWS?
Once you have done this task with several close friends you will have discovered things about yourself that probably will upset you. You've gotten some feedback that you didn't expect and found out that you have some significant strengths but you also have some significant weaknesses.
Welcome to the club. Most people have strengths and weaknesses in their appearance, personality, and their style. The secret is to strengthen your strengths, to ameliorate some of your worst weaknesses, and to play from your strengths not your weaknesses. If you don't have much money, but you are a terrific dancer, then accentuate that talent and you will find women for whom a good dancer is more appealing than a guy with a fancy car. If you have an impeccable taste in art and a large collection then work on meeting women in venues where that particular strength would be valued such as museums, art exhibits, painting and drawing classes, etc..
Let's talk about some of the things that are easy to improve.
Improving your appearance
The first thing you should focus on is your appearance. If you're overweight, start a diet and exercise program today and concentrate on losing some weight. More importantly, design a wardrobe that will de-emphasize your weight problem. For instance, most men with weight problems have most of their weight on the stomach. Yet most guys with stomachs wear tight pants and tight, form-fitting shirts that show off their big bellies. Find a friend or a helpful salesman or saleswoman who can teach you about clothing and what to wear if you've got a stomach.
Typically you want to wear well-fitted slacks that are neither too tight nor too loose, and wear them at your waistline. Don't let them slide below your stomach where they will simply accentuate the belly. Wear loose fitting sweaters or shirts that drape rather than hugging your stomach. Borrow a trick from the famous comic Richard Harris, and always wear dark colors such as black. If you are short and overweight never ever wear horizontal stripes. You may want to wear vertical pinstripes that will accentuate your height rather than your girth. If you are below 5 ft. 7 try to find a comfortable pair of boots with at least a 1 inch heel so that you can be a little bit taller. This will help your confidence.
In general, dress up. The Silicon Valley look is wrinkled jeans and a T-shirt, mismatched socks and a pair of old tennis shoes. If you want to stand out dress better than most men. If you own some nice suits don't be afraid to wear them. Or wear dress slacks and a nice sports shirt and beautiful leather shoes. Have you ever noticed how every man in the world looks good in a tuxedo? That's because when men dress up they look handsome and sexy. I have always gotten more attention when I wear a suit and a tie than when I wear shorts and a T-shirt.
If you're not a good at ironing clothes or you tend not to iron your shirts at all, let me make a suggestion. Invest the small amount of money it requires to have your shirts professionally laundered and pressed by a dry cleaner. This will improve your appearance immensely. Tell the dry cleaner to use light or medium starch. That way your shirts will stay unwrinkled.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Several years ago my friend Kathy invited me to a party in San Francisco, full of her attractive, single, women friends from the city. I wore a pair of nice dress slacks and one of my better sport shirts. There I flirted with a variety of women.After the party I called Kathy to thank her for the invitation. She said, "You are welcome." Then she asked me if I wanted some feedback. I hesitated, but being the brave soul that I am, I said, "Sure." She told me that her women friends had thought I was quite cute but... none of them could figure out how such a successful professional would be wearing a shirt that looked like he had slept in it.
She said that I should make sure that my shirts were ironed, and if I could not iron them myself, then I should have them professionally ironed.
This was particularly embarrassing because I had ironed the shirt, but I am such a bad ironer, that I suspect I put more wrinkles in than I took out. The following week I started taking my shirts to the dry cleaner.
So to summarize these tips on dressing, get some help from someone who knows more about dress then you do. Get them to help you pick out a wardrobe that works. Have them help you go through your closet to get rid of any clothing that makes you look fat, unattractive, or nerdy. Dress up a little bit because that will attract more attention. Get your haircut by a professional, and ask them to make suggestions about the most flattering cut for you. If you're overweight try to lose some weight, but before you do that, get some clothes that disguise your belly.
Another thing to consider is your hair. If you are balding you might want to consider hair restoration using medications or even hair transplants. For $5000 to $10,000 you can have a hair transplant using the newest hair transplantation techniques which work quite well and are undetectable. So consider selling some of your stock options and in six months you will look great!
Now you might be thinking what is the point of all of this? If a woman really likes me she will like me in spite of my bad clothes, my bad haircut, my potbelly. Unfortunately this is absolutely incorrect. She will never have a chance to like you if you make a negative first impression. Contrary to public opinion, women are just as shallow as men when it comes to judging people based on appearance. The woman you are interested in meeting will make a snap judgment about you in the first five seconds of seeing you, and will we spend her time and energy meeting a man who looks good.
Yes, it is true that if she knew how wonderful you were, she might overlook some of your visible flaws. But she will never get to know you because she won't give you a chance unless you pass her appearance test.
Remember, dating is like getting a job. When you go on job interview you have to look your best and act your best, because you're competing against many other applicants, and any obvious negatives will eliminate you from consideration. What is the purpose of a job interview? To get the job, right? Wrong. The purpose of a job interview is to get the second interview, and a purpose of that interview is to get the next interview, and so on until you get the job offer. Dating is the same. The purpose of the first meeting is to get the first date. The purpose of the first date is to get the second date. The purpose of the second date is to get the third date, and so on. It's not until you had four or five dates that you should be even thinking about a relationship.
A conceptual overview of the dating process
Engineers like flowcharts and algorithms so I'm going to give you some of those in this section. What I would like to do is to present an overall view of the dating process to help you think conceptually and strategically as you go through this process.
The Purpose of Dating
What is the purpose of dating? For men, there are three major purposes of dating. The first purpose is entertainment. It can be fun to date, to talk to different women, to experience different sorts of people. To flirt, to laugh, to seduce.
The second purpose is sex. Most men like sex, and enjoy the thought of having sex with a new woman. Unless you are going to pay for sex, dating is the best road to sex.
The third purpose of dating is to find a woman to have a relationship with. This can mean a casual dating relationship, a more serious relationship, a live-in relationship, or even marriage.
The first step in dating is to really figure out what your purpose is. It doesn't matter which dating goal you have, as long as you know what your goal is. The above goals are not exclusive either. One can approach dating from an attitude of looking to have fun and then meet someone who excites and you can then decide you would like a more serious relationship.
What is the purpose of dating for women? Surprisingly enough, it is the same three purposes. However, the ratio of women who have each goal is different than for men. The majority of women are looking for a relationship, and many of those are looking for a serious relationship that leads to marriage and family. Only a minority of women are looking just for sex, although this is a sizable minority. All women are open to fun and entertaining dates.
The Dating Process Step By Step
Let's go over the whole dating process step-by-step. The first step is the initial meeting. There are a thousand ways in which people initially meet. It might be through friends, at a party, in the grocery store, at work, in a bar, at a club meeting, on the tennis court, on a blind date, or even through the Internet or a personal ad.
What happens during that initial meeting? The first thing that happens is that the two people look at each other and decide whether they are attracted to one another. This is why it's so important to pay attention to your dress and grooming.
The second step is the initial conversation. In that first five minutes of conversation numerous judgments will be made as to the other person's intelligence, integrity, sense of humor, and sexiness.
The next step in the dating process is the middle game. You have gotten past the first five minutes and now you are discussing things, laughing, perhaps involved in some activity like dancing, talking, and sharing information about yourself. During this process both of you will be evaluating how much interest you have in the other person. You also be evaluating whether you want further contact with this person in the future. This process will typically take from 15 minutes to an hour, at which point both of you will have made a judgment about whether you would like to have further contact.
Most of the time women will not initiate that further contact. So it's up to you as a man to initiate further contact.
The next step is that initiation of further contact. You suggest future contact and either get the woman's phone number or make specific plans right there and then. In certain situations, such as meeting at a bookstore with an attached cafe, you might suggest further contact right then and there, "How would you like to join me right now for a cup of coffee at the cafe here?"
Assuming the woman says yes to your suggestion of future contact, you have started the dating process.
Then what happens? The next few dates are all very similar. During these dates you are both continuing to evaluate how you feel when you are with this other person. Do you have fun? Do you feel comfortable? Do you laugh? Do you feel sexually attracted to the other person? At the end of each date there is an implicit decision made by each person -- "do I want to continue seeing this person?" Once again, it will be the man's responsibility in most cases to initiate further contact. But the woman will decide whether she is agreeable to this future contact.
Let's assume you have had three dates. In most cases by the third date if things are going well there will be some physical affection or sexual behavior. Perhaps you hug, perhaps you hold hands, perhaps you even French kiss passionately on her couch. This takes the dating process to a new level, the sexual and romantic level. Once again there is an evaluation process that goes on. If she has enjoyed your humor and wit but hates the way you kiss, guess what? She will not be dating you further. So there is a whole other evaluation process which occurs during this initial sexual stage of dating. "Do I like the way this person feels, smells, tastes, touches, kisses, makes love?"
By the fourth or the fifth date in many cases you will probably be having sex. Once again the quality and comfort level of that sex will have a big impact on whether you continue to date and enjoy each other. Now let's assume you have been seeing each other for nine or 10 times, you are having fun together, you are having sex, enjoying it and feeling comfortable. The next stage is the relationship decision. "Do I see this person as relationship material? Do I want to have a relationship with him or her?" Once again this is another set of decisions on both people's part.
The factors that influence this decision about whether to have a relationship are different than some of the other factors that influenced previous decisions. For instance you might be a charming and pleasant lover, and yet a woman might choose not to get seriously involved with you. Why is this? Perhaps it is because you don't have a good career or you lack ambition. Or perhaps it's because you have repeatedly told her you never want to get married or never want to have children.
So this is another layer of evaluation which you must pass before you can get into a serious relationship. Once you're in a serious, committed, monogamous relationship then what happens is that the relationship develops. During this period things may go well or you may develop problems in the relationship, at which point one or both of you might decide to end the relationship. If the relationship goes well and continues to go well at some point the two of you will begin to think about living together or getting married. Once that happens congratulations! You are out of the dating pool, at least for a while. You have found love in Silicon Valley!
In summary, the dating process is like a series of job interviews. Both people are constantly evaluating each other at each stage, and deciding whether to proceed to the next step. At almost any point in the process you can commit errors which cause the other person to terminate the contact. I say this not to worry you or make you anxious but really to encourage you to be very conscious of how you present yourself, what you say, and what you disclose at which point in time. A very good general rule of thumb is that the first few dates should be noncontroversial, non-argumentative, pleasant, fun and light. The purpose of those early few dates is to have fun and get to know each other. Don't tell her your secrets or your flaws. Don't tell her about your failed relationships. Don't tell her all of your worries and anxieties. Don't tell her about the psychiatric drugs you are taking. Mostly be a good listener for her but also steer her onto light and fun topics so that she does not end up telling you about her psychiatric medications or failed relationships. Because if she does she won't really enjoy the date, won't really enjoy you, and won't really want to see much more of you.
Another important part of this conceptualization of dating is that different stages of the dating process emphasize different issues. In the earliest stages of dating a woman's decision about you will be mostly determined by how you look, how you dress, how you carry yourself, and by your initial comments to her. If you're well-dressed, well groomed, carry yourself confidently, are relaxed, and can make reasonable conversation, you will pass this stage. You don't have to be gorgeous or brilliant or incredibly witty.
On the first date these factors still play an important role but other things begin to influence her choice. For instance, how do you listen to her? Are you a good listener? Do you talk about yourself too much? What are your goals and aspirations? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? How is your sense of humor? How do you treat her? Are you cheap or generous? Are you a gentleman? Do you open the door for her? These will all influence her decision about whether she wants to spend more time with you.
Later dates will call into question the other variables. How good are you at planning innovative fun dates? Can you respond well to adversity on a date? Do you have interesting topics to discuss or do you tend to repeat yourself? Do you strike a good balance between being flirtatious and sensual versus being overly sexual or grabby?
As the dating process continues still other factors come into play. How do you kiss? How do you touch her? Do you seem like a confident and comfortable lover? Are you selfish or giving in bed? Do you cuddle after lovemaking? Or do you turn over and begin to loudly snore? Do you call her the next day and tell her you were thinking of her?
Money and dating in Silicon Valley
For many men issues of money and dating offer a bewildering puzzle. "To pay or not to pay", that is the question. If a woman offers to pay should you accept her offer? When is it okay to ask a woman to share expenses of dating? Why do women always expect you to pay? What is fair? What will work or not work?
Let me tell you a couple of secrets about money and dating. First of all, forget about fairness. What I am about to say will strike you as patently unfair. It is. But to be effective in the dating world you have to forget about what is fair and instead focus on what works.
The unfairness of dating is simply this: women will always expect you to pay for the date. Women have an interesting belief system about this. They believe that since you asked them on the date you should pay. This ignores the basic fact that dating is about two people who choose to spend time together in order to get to know each other. It also ignores the fact that because of tradition and our culture, few women ask men on dates. So for most dates, since men must ask, women will expect men to pay, which is unfair but true.
Women will also argue that since men tend to make more money than they do that it is only fair that the man pay for the date. This is absurd, as nobody ever claimed that dating was a welfare program.
In a just and fair world men and women would share the expenses of dating, starting on the first date and continuing throughout a relationship. But unfortunately we do not live in a just and fair world. You should forget all the points I have made in the above several paragraphs because worrying or thinking about them will only get you angry, which will get in the way of being an effective dating partner.
Here is the reality. Virtually all women, regardless of income or wealth, will expect you to pay for all of the expenses on a first date. Most will also expect this on the second date. During the date, many women will make a half-hearted offer to share expenses. As the check arrives, they will say something like, "Can I help with this?" "Should we share this?"
Do not fall for this trap. It is a test. What a woman is really asking is, "Are you a cheap guy?"
That is the only thing she is asking. If you agree to take her money she will think you are cheap and probably won't date you anymore. In any case, she won't put down half of the dinner cost, she will probably only put down the tip, so you will still end up paying for most of dinner, while ending any future romance potential.
So if she says can I help with this, you should simply say, "No, thank you for asking, but this is my treat."
What to do when she wants to pay?
What if she insists on sharing the cost? You should still fight her on this. If she absolutely refuses to let you pay, it means one of two things, one of which is good and one of which is bad. The good possibility is that she truly is an egalitarian woman who believes in sharing expenses. This is extremely rare, but it does happen, in fact my partner was like that. The other possibility, which is bad, is that she has already decided she has no interest in you, and does not want to feel obligated in any way. This is a very common thing that women do. If they like you they are happy to take your money, but if they don't like you they feel guilty about letting you pay.
Because you will be paying for most dates this means that you should consider how much money you will be expending on a typical date. If you take her to an expensive restaurant, order drinks, go out for dessert afterwards, you can easily spend upwards of $100 for the date. If you don't want to do this, then pick a cheaper restaurant without a liquor license. Or plan a date that doesn't cost anything, such as a hike or playing tennis together.
Dating for the Rich
What if you are really really really wealthy? Well, congratulations! This is a wonderful state to be in. But why are you single then? Just kidding!
If you are really really wealthy you may want to think carefully about how to employ that wealth in the dating process. For instance, if you're wealthy you can afford to take a woman to Paris for a long weekend. Should you? That depends.
If you are really wealthy and money is not an issue for you, then I would suggest you date at a level higher than the typical guy, but not as expensive as you could afford. The key thing is to seem affluent and generous, without seeming to buy the woman's love or affection. Take her to a nice restaurant, but don't take her to the most expensive restaurant on the first date. Save that special restaurant for a special occasion. And don't order Dom Perignon, that is just showing off. On the other hand, you could order an expensive bottle of wine, but first learn something about wine so that you don't look like someone who just orders based on price.
Sex and dating in Silicon Valley
Sex is Good
To mis-paraphrase Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, "Sex is good." But if you are single guy in Silicon Valley, and you are struggling in the dating game, then you are probably not having much sex. What I will tell you in this section will help you to behave appropriately and to avoid making the most common mistakes men make in terms of sex.
Forget about sex!
First of all, forget about sex when dating. I know you're probably thinking, "Forget about sex! Is this guy crazy?!" Trust me, sex will come later if you follow my advice. The reason I say forget about sex in dating is that women like guys who seem interested in them more than sex. No woman wants a man pushing her towards being sexual before she is comfortable with him. Even if you succeed and seduce a woman in most cases they will resent you for making them do something they did not want to do.
The best way to act in terms of sex is to communicate that you are in no hurry to have sex with her. In fact, you would prefer to wait a little bit so that you can really get to know her first. No woman will ever disrespect you for this attitude, and most women will really appreciate it.
Sex and the first five dates
Let's go through the first few dates step-by-step in terms of typical sexual progression.
The first date there will most likely be little or no sexual or romantic contact. If the date has gone really well and woman seems to like you at the end of the date when you say goodnight you could kiss her lightly on the lips. Or give her a big hug. But that is all. Don't get involved in a long kissing session on the first date.
If you have a second date and it goes well you may want to hold her hand at some point, for instance, while walking or sitting in a movie theater. You may want to kiss her goodnight again, this time kissing her a little more passionately. But once again, this is not a time for deep soul kissing, nor is it a time to be grabbing her breasts or any other part of her body.
The third, fourth, and fifth dates are typically similar to the second date. The kissing may extend itself slightly, but once again you should go slowly, letting her set the pace. If she asks you if you would like to spend the night, then consider yourself lucky. But if this occurs on the first or second date, I suggest you refuse in a polite and tactful way. Tell her, "I would be delighted to spend the night with you, but I would like to know you a little bit better before we take that step. Is that okay?" Don't worry, if she really likes you, I guarantee you will get another invitation.
One very important rule of sexuality. If a woman is drunk, or stoned, and encourages you to make love to her, don't! Not only is this ungentlemanly to take advantage of a woman who is in no state to make clear rational decisions, but it may also expose you to potential date rape charges. Wait until she is sober, and if she still wants you in the sober state, great!
Somewhere between the fifth and the tenth date you will probably be having sex with her, if you are still dating. When you do start having sex, here are a few tips.
First of all, make the first time you have sex a special occasion. Preferably it would be on a weekend night when neither a view has anything to do the next morning. In fact, if things get hot and heavy on a weeknight, you may want to say, "Let's wait until the weekend, when we really can relax and enjoy each other without worrying about work the next day."
Second, spend the night. Nothing is more of a turnoff to most women than a man who has sex with her and then leaves. If you can't spend the night, don't have sex with her.
Third, the day after you have sex you must call her and tell her you had a wonderful time and you can't wait to see her again. (Assuming this is true.) If you do not call her the next day 90 percent of the time she will be very hurt. It doesn't hurt to also send flowers, but it's not necessary. The phone call is necessary.
Condoms, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases
In this day and age is absolutely essential that you take sexual precautions. This means using condoms with any woman you have sex with. No exceptions! You should use condoms regardless of what the woman says to you. Even if she says that she is on the pill and you don't need to use a condom, you still should. Simply explain to her that you believe in using condoms until two people really know each other well to protect both of you. If she is offended by that, it's her problem, not yours.
This is to protect you and to protect her. Not only do you want to avoid giving or getting sexually transmitted diseases, but equally importantly you should be worried about getting her pregnant. An unplanned pregnancy can really alter your dating life. Remember, if you get a woman pregnant, you are responsible, without exception, for 18 years of child-support! That can mean up to 40 percent of your income will go to this stranger with whom you had casual unprotected sex. Don't assume that because you do not want a child, a woman you impregnate will have an abortion. It is up to the woman, and many women either do not believe in abortion or are at a point in their life, mid or late 30s, where they would like a baby even without a partner. If you make a good living and can provide lots of child-support, even better!
So you should take contraception as seriously as disease prevention. Perhaps more seriously. After all, AIDS will probably kill you in less than 18 years, so child-support might be a more painful fate. (Only kidding!)
Make sure that you own condoms and know how to use them. The condoms should be next to your bed where you can easily get them. You should also carry condoms in your car, in a small toilet kit, in case a woman asks you to spend the night. Carry a condom or two in your pocket if you anticipate sexual activity on a date. Don't keep condoms in your wallet though, because they won't last.
How do you talk about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases? First of all, I recommend that you sidestep the issue at first by simply using condoms to prevent disease transmission. But if you are going to be sleeping with someone on a regular basis then you probably want to find out about their sexual history. How do you do this? Don't do it in bed. That is not the best place to have what is basically a very unromantic conversation.
A good way to approach the topic is to say, "You know, I think we should talk about some issues related to our sleeping together. Things like AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), and pregnancy."
Next you can ask her if she has been tested for AIDS and other STD's. If you have been tested, you should share that information with her. You also want to find out when she was tested and if she has had sexual activity since then.
A nice option is to offer to get tested together. There are two ways to do this. One way is to go to an anonymous testing center together, and go back several weeks later and get your results together. Another way is to purchase two home HIV test kits at your pharmacy, and do the test together. (The way it works is that you prick your finger and put some blood on a test pad, which then gets sent to a lab for analysis. A week later you call an 800 number and get your results. It's all anonymous.) This is a convenient and fairly inexpensive option, costing between $30 and $50 each. You can get tested for other STD's at your doctor's or at any Planned Parenthood for about $100.
Another topic you should discuss is pregnancy. Ask her what she would do if she accidentally got pregnant. Discuss this. If she tells you that she would be uncomfortable having an abortion, then you need to think carefully about using multiple means of birth control to prevent a pregnancy. Using condoms is not enough. At the least you would want to use condoms and foam, or condoms and the birth control pill.
If you do have a birth control failure such as a ruptured condom, don't just pray, use the morning after pill. This is a variant of the birth control pill which can be used up to 72 hours after a birth control failure and will prevent pregnancy in most cases. Contact Planned Parenthood in this situation or talk with your physician.
Remember, if you can't talk about these issues with her, then you are not close enough to be sleeping with her.
A simple five-step process for meeting women
Let's get down to the basics: how do you actually meet or pickup a woman?
Here is a simple five-step process for meeting any woman.
Step 1: Deciding Who You Want to Meet
The first step is to find a woman you are attracted to. This means you have to be someplace where there are women. There are two types of situations where one can meet women. One type of situation is one in which you will typically be fixed in one spot. Examples include classes, concerts, lectures, plays, airplane trips and so on. You arrive, you sit down, and you stay put.
The other type of situation is one which women are moving around. Examples include museums, bookstores, the mall, parks, zoos, and so on.
Each type of situation requires a slightly different strategy. When you are going to a situation where you will be fixed in one position once the activity starts, you should arrive early, and observe women as they arrive. When you see a woman you would like to meet, you should try to sit next to her. This will give you your best opportunity to meet her. For instance, let's imagine that you're taking an airplane journey someplace. You arrive at the airport, check in, and ask the agent if the flight is full or mostly empty. If the flight has empty seats, then you should wait until everyone else has boarded, and then walk down the aisle in the plane and sit next to the prettiest woman you can find who seems to be traveling alone. Try not to sit next to someone whose husband or boyfriend is sitting next to her. This is a great strategy, because you have anywhere from one to twelve hours to connect with her. The worst that happens is you don't connect and you sleep the rest of the flight.
In situations where women are moving around you have two options. You can circulate around and find someone, or you can sit in one place where you can see people and wait for an attractive woman to walk by. You can also try both of the strategies.
Places to find women
In my practice, I'm often asked, "where do I go to meet women?" I often respond by saying, "anywhere but your apartment in front of the TV!" The secret to meeting people is to get out of your house. The more time you spend out and about, the more opportunities you have for meeting women.
That said, there are some useful tips for places to go. There are two types of places or situations where you can meet people. One category is those places or events that are designed for single people to meet other single people. Singles bars, singles mixers, singles hikes, classes on how to flirt, etc. are all examples of this type of situation. The advantage of these types of events is that they have a high density of single women. The disadvantage is that there is also a high density of single men competing against you. Because these events are often stressful for everyone they bring out the worst in people. Women become judgmental, impatient, and superficially focused on looks and appearance. These events are not terrible to attend, but realistically you may find that you have a hard time really connecting with people. When I used to go to singles mixers, I found that about one out of 10 events led to meeting someone special. But it only takes one person to make a special connection, and if you consistently attend various singles events you probably can meet people and connect with them.
The other category of events or places are those activities that are not specifically for single people. An example of this would be a hiking club, or a tennis club. Or just going to a cafe or a mall. The advantage of these kinds of situations is that often you have no competition whatsoever. If a woman is sitting alone in a cafe or at an airport, you have no competition for her attention. The disadvantage of these kinds of situations is that you can't really know whether or not a woman is single or available. But you can check that out pretty quickly.
Ideally, you would go places where there are more women than men. Some examples of this include museums, especially art museums, art classes, sometimes dance classes, some book lectures, nursing school, and being a schoolteacher. Art museums are particularly good for meeting attractive intelligent women.
A friend of mine had a wonderful technique for utilizing an art museum to meet women. He joined the San Francisco Museum of modern art, which entitled him to free admission and free art tours. On a Saturday he would go up to San Francisco, and take the first tour of the day. On that tour he would chat up a woman he found appealing, and by the end of the tour would ask her if she would join him for a cup of coffee in the museum cafe. Most of the time she would agree, and he would spend another hour chatting with her before asking her for a date. Then he would say goodbye to her, and go back upstairs to the museum, where he would take the next tour, and repeat the process. Since they usually gave three or four tours a day, he could often meet three or four new women in the day!
Road trip: There is life outside of Silicon Valley
So you complain that you are not meeting enough women in Silicon Valley?!
Take a road trip in that beautiful car you own. San Francisco is full of lovely, single women complaining about the shortage of men. So is Berkeley, Oakland, and Walnut Creek. There should be a busing program to take busloads of lonely guys from Silicon Valley to San Francisco on Saturday nights, and busloads of single women from San Francisco to Silicon Valley.
If you do find a girlfriend in San Francisco or Berkeley then you can enjoy spending time in a more interesting urban setting than sunny Silicon Valley. Some of my best relationships when I was single were with women in San Francisco. I used to love the opportunity to spend weekends in San Francisco.
Step 2: Getting Close to Her
The second step is to get physically close to that woman that you have found. There is absolutely no way you can meet a woman without being speaking distance from her. As long as she is across the room, you cannot meet her. What are you going to do? Shout across the room, "Hey baby, what's your sign?" You have to get close to her so that you can start a conversation.
This may be scary to you. A lot of men will see an attractive woman, think about meeting her, but never walk across the room or the street to get close to her. She may notice the man staring at her, but there is no way she can meet him unless he walks over to her. Women hate when men stare at them from across the room. It sends a message that you are timid and scared.
So as soon as you see a woman you are attracted to immediately move to be close to her. In some situations, you won't need an immediate opening line. An example of this might be a museum or a zoo where it is completely appropriate to be looking at the same exhibit as she without conversation. In other situations such as singles mixer it's awkward if you walk over to a woman and don't say anything to her. In these situations you will need to have a prepared opening line to use so that you can immediately begin a conversation.
A psychological trick to help you build your skills
There is a simple psychological trick to overcome your fear of getting close to pretty women. Break down the process into simple baby steps. At first, just focus on scanning the environment and selecting appealing women. Once you have selected them you don't have to do anything. This will get you in the habit of noticing and selecting appealing women.
Next, focus on the step of getting close. Practice getting within speaking distance of attractive women. You don't have to say anything to them, just get close.
Once you have gotten comfortable with this step, then you can focus on simply saying anything to them -- "Hello, how are you, nice day, etc." Don't worry about continuing the conversation. Only when you have mastered and are comfortable with these steps are you ready for the next step of starting a conversation.
Step 3: Starting a Conversation
The next step is to begin a conversation with that woman. Now it doesn't really matter what you say to her as long as you say something. Almost any opening line is better than nothing. You don't have to be brilliant or witty or funny. A simple, "Hi, how are you doing?" will suffice in many situations. One suggestion I have is for you to plan some opening lines that you can use in various situations.
The opening lines don't have to be original or brilliant. For instance, if you are in a museum, a great line is, "What do you think of that painting?" If you are at a zoo make a comment about one of the animals. If you are at the beach make a comment about the weather or the waves. If she is wearing an interesting piece of clothing ask her where she got it or where it is from. In a grocery store ask her for advice on how to select a good melon or grapefruit. If you are in a club ask her what she thinks of the music.
I am hesitant to give you opening lines because that implies that there are right lines and wrong lines. The truth is that a line only gets you 30 seconds into the conversation and that even simple openers like "Hello" work just fine. Use the lines below as some ideas, but create your own lines.
Some Ideas for Opening Lines
"Don't I know you from somewhere?"
"Hi. I'm Andrew, and you are...?"
"Some weather we are having!?"
"I hope the rest of the day looks as good as you do."
"You look like one million bucks after taxes."
"You have very pretty eyes. Are they real?"
"Hello. I have no life. Please have pity and talk to me."
At a club. "I didn't realize they were having a beauty pageant tonight. Where are the rest of the contestants?"
In a very loud music club, shouted into someone's ear, "Do you think the music is loud enough?"
Step 4: Getting to Know Her, Keeping the Conversation Going
Extending the conversation
The next step is to extend the conversation. Here the secret is to just talk, and don't worry much about her immediate response. When first approached by a man many women will get shy. They may not seem very talkative or friendly at first. But you should not interpret this very much. Unless they tell you to get lost, you should keep talking with them. For instance, in a cafe you might ask a question about a book she is reading. When she answers your question, you say, "You know, that is really interesting. I would love to hear more. May I join you for a few minutes?" Don't let her answer your question, but instead just sit down and without pausing introduce yourself and find out her name.
It might sound like this:
He: That book looks pretty interesting. What's it about?
She: It's about cases from a famous neurologist, Oliver Sacks.
He: What's the best case in the book?
She: There's a case about a man who thought his wife was a hat!
He: Wow! That's really interesting. I'd love to hear more about that. Can I join you for a few minutes? (Man stands up and sits down at her table.) My name is Andrew, and you are...? (He holds out his hand to her.)
She: My name is Susan.
He: So tell me about this case of the man who thought his wife was a hat.
Notice that in this situation you have already sat down with her, you've introduced yourself, and you have learned her name, and you are already into a conversation.
Getting Information So You Can Contact Her Later
While you are having a conversation with a woman, there are several things you may want to think about. The first concept is to get some information that will help you to contact her later in case for some reason beyond your control your conversation with her is interrupted before you can get her phone number. Get her first and last name if possible, and find out where she works. (If you introduce yourself by first and last name typically she will respond similarly.) This will make it possible for you to reach her later.
This is particularly important in situations such as when you are waiting in line at the post office where it possible you will get to the front of the line quicker than you expect, and she will leave before you have a chance to ask her on a date.
So get some information that will enable you to contact her later.
A great example of this was actually done by a woman I met a number of years ago while Christmas shopping for earrings for my mother. Carol and I met when I asked her for her advice on buying earrings for my mother, in a store at the local mall. We chatted for a while and I told her my first name and that I was a psychologist, and that I just come from across the street where I was seeing the patient at Stanford hospital. She was a veterinarian, seemed friendly, and I was going to ask her to join me for a cup of coffee, but when we got to the checkout line, she suddenly became very quiet and distant. So I paid for the earrings and left, somewhat disappointed.
A couple of days later I was visiting my patient at the hospital, when I found an envelope with my name on it stapled to my patient's chart. I opened the envelope and there was a note saying: "Dr. Gottlieb, call your veterinarian", and a phone number. I was astounded. I called her immediately and asked her how she had found me with only my first name. She said that she had called Stanford, and asked them which psychology wards were across the street from the Stanford Mall. Then she had called the two wards and asked if there was a psychologist named Andrew. One of the nurses knew me, and passed the message on. She told me that she got shy when we got to the checkout line, and that's why she had been so quiet. We dated for six or seven months and I was very happy she had found me.
Finding out if you are interested, and if she is available
The next step is to talk with her and to find out more about her so that you can decide if you're interested in dating her. Find out where she lives, what kind of work she does, if she is single, and anything else that would be important to you.
Why is it important to ask where she lives? Let me give you an example. I used to go to singles mixers sponsored by the Stanford Bachelors club, which was a singles organization. They would have these huge mixers in various parts of the Bay Area. Sometimes women would travel great distances to go to these parties. I remember once spending most of the evening dancing with a very appealing woman. At the end of the dance I got her for phone number, which was outside of the Bay Area. I was disappointed when I found out that she lived up in Northern California, about three hours north of San Francisco. I could have found out that in the first five minutes if I had simply asked her where she lived.
If you meet a woman in a context that is not a singles event, you should definitely find out whether she is single and available. Another experience I had was going to a Cajun dance festival up in the Oakland Hills. I met a wonderful woman I will call Jennifer. She was smart, beautiful, a terrific dancer, and we spent the whole day dancing and flirting. She told me about her recent trip to Thailand, and never mentioned any other man. I was in love. I thought I had found the magical woman. The only catch was that at the end of the day when I asked her for her phone number, she got very quiet. She reluctantly gave me her number. After she left, I was talking with a friend of hers, who informed me that she had a very serious boyfriend who she would probably marry. In fact, the friend told me that when Jennifer had gotten very sick in Thailand, her boyfriend had dropped everything, flown to Thailand, and nursed her back to health.
When I heard this I was very upset. I had spent the whole day getting close to this woman and getting my hopes up. Even though I did call her subsequently to ask her out, predictably she never responded. Again, if I had simply asked her if she was single at the beginning of the day I could have saved myself a lot of pain.
Now you might wonder, how do I ask a woman if she's single. There is a very simple way to do this. After you talk to the woman for a few minutes, you can complement her, saying, "Wow. You are terrific! I hope your husband or boyfriend really appreciates how special you are!" At that point she will either say that she doesn't have a husband or boyfriend, or she will tell you that her husband or boyfriend does (or doesn't) appreciate her. In any case you have gained valuable information.
The "Trial Close" Technique
Another strategy is one I learned from a salesman friend of mine. Matthew was incredibly good with women. We had gone to a singles mixer and we were waiting on line to buy drinks. Two women standing behind us were very attractive. He began a conversation and then included them by asking their opinion on some disagreement that he and I were having. Within a couple of minutes we knew their names, where they lived, and what kind of work they did. When we got to the front of the drink line Matthew bought drinks for all four of us. The women walked away and sat down at a table and he and I then joined them. Since we had bought them drinks they could hardly refuse.
We talked for a few minutes about this and that. Then Matthew said in a loud and enthusiastic voice, "Wow! We are having fun! The four of us should go bowling sometime. What do you think ladies?" This was, in sales terms, a "trial close". A trial close is an early test of whether someone is willing to buy. The women immediately told us they could not go out with us because one of them was engaged, and the other had a serious boyfriend. My attitude at this point was to ask them what they were doing at a singles event. But Matthew, who was wiser than I, simply spent about one more minute talking with them, and then politely excused himself to mingle with other, more available women.
So particularly in situations such as singles events don't waste a lot of time talking with a woman before you find out where she lives, and whether she is single, and whether she is even open to dating you. A trial close in the form of, "Hey, it would be fun to do _____together some time, what do you think?" is a good test of whether the woman is even remotely interested in you. If she says yes that would be fun or that could be fun, then you know that she is at least potentially interested. But if she gives you three excuses why she couldn't go out with you, then you know she's not interested and you can move on to someone else.
Step 5: Making the Date or Getting Her Phone Number
The final step in this process is to actually make a date with a woman or to get her phone number so that you can make a date later. This is where a lot of men screw up. They can do everything else pretty well. They can meet a woman, they can talk to her, but they can't actually ask her for a date or for her phone number.
When should you ask for the date?
Let me give you some tips on how to do this gracefully. First of all, let's discuss timing. When should you ask a woman on a date after you have met her and talked to her for a while? Answer: it depends. In a singles setting such as a singles mixer or a singles bar, you don't have to talk to a woman for a long time before asking her for her phone number or a date. It's perfectly appropriate to talk to a woman for 15 or 20 minutes and then ask her. Women expect this, and they have enough information at that point to decide whether they want to see you again. In other situations where there is no competition, and no great hurry, such as sitting in a cafe in the afternoon, you can take more time. For instance, if you met a woman in a cafe you could speak with her for an hour before you asked her out.
The biggest danger though in waiting too long is that you may find out she is either not available or not interested, and you will have wasted the time. It depends on your philosophy, though. If for you spending an hour having an interesting conversation with an attractive woman is pleasant in itself, even if it goes nowhere, then by all means do it. But I think most men are interested in finding women they can date, and to do that you should be somewhat goal directed. At the least, use a trial close after 10 or 15 minutes talking to the woman. The other problem with waiting too long is that you may get more and more anxious. "Will she go out with me? When should I ask her? How should I ask her? What should I say?" In general, if you have not asked a woman out after talking with her for 30 minutes then you are probably procrastinating.
How to ask for a date early in the conversation
A good tactic for asking a woman out early in the conversation is this. Look at your watch, and say, "Oh my, I'm going to have to leave, I'm supposed to meet a customer." Then ask the woman for a date by saying, "This has really been fun to talk with you and it would be great to continue this. Could I call you can set up a time for us to get together again, maybe lunch?" If she says yes, get her phone number, and tell her you will call her in the next day or so to set up another time to get together. If she says no, you have already said you need to leave, so there is no awkwardness.
If she has said yes, and you would like to spend more time with her, here's a suggestion. Say you are going to check your messages, go to a pay phone or use your cellular, and then pretend that your next appointment was canceled, so you can spend more time with her.
But it's always better to understay your welcome rather than overstaying it. It's better to spend 30 minutes chatting and then have another date, then spend three hours together and never see each other again.
The "Sometime, Something" date
Another tip is to avoid asking for a specific date. A lot of men will make the mistake of saying to a woman that they have just met, "How about having dinner with me next Friday night?" This is too specific, and often the woman may not want to do the specific activity although she would like to see you again. I think it is better to propose a "sometime, something" date. The form of this question would be, "How would you like to get together again sometime?" Or, "How would you like to play tennis sometime?" Or "Would you like to have lunch sometime?"
These questions all ask a general question: Is she interested in seeing you again? If she says yes, then you have 3 options. Option 1 is to make a date then and there. If you do this, be sure to get her phone number so that if there's any snafu, you will be able to contact her. You may also want to give her your phone number for the same reason. Option number 2 is to say something like, "Great! Let's do that. Let me get your phone number, and I will call you on Tuesday and we can make plans." It's best to specify when you will call her as that reduces her anxiety about whether you will call or not.
Remember, most women have had multiple experiences of giving their phone number to a man who never calls. If you're not going to call her then don't get her phone number. Because women are so sensitive about this issue, I recommend you not ask them for their phone number. Instead, ask them if it would be okay if you called them to invite them to do something. Say something like, "Would be okay if I called you at work tomorrow to set up lunch for later this week?" Then call her when you said you would. If no specific time for calling is agreed-upon, then call her within one or two days.
Don't make her wait three or four days because each day she will be wondering if you're going to call, and by the time you do call she will be angry at you for taking so long. A lot of men worry that they will appear over anxious if they call a woman the next day. This is ridiculous. If she likes you and she wants to see you again she will be delighted to hear from you immediately. And if she does not want to go out with you, it won't matter whether you call her the next day, three days later, or three weeks later. She still won't go out with you.)
The Immediate Date
The third option is to ask for a date that begins immediately. For instance, let's say you met a woman in a bookstore and chatted with her for 15 minutes. You could then ask her to join you for a cup of coffee in the adjoining cafe. Or if you met a woman at a singles mixer, and you seemed to be hitting it off, you could invite her to go out for a midnight snack. My friend Jason told me the following story:
One of my favorite dates of all time began on a beach by the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle. There was a woman lying near me on a towel who had a gorgeous body. I didn't know how to meet her. Finally I saw her standing in water looking up in the sky. There was an unusual cloud formation. I walked into the water and stood next to her and made a comment about the cloud formation. We started to talk, and when we got out of the water I joined her by her towel. We continued to talk all afternoon, and when it got late I suggested we get some dinner. She said that she had lots of food at home and invited me back to have dinner there. I offered to cook for her, and she was delighted. I ended up not leaving until very late that night, and we started a relationship immediately. (We later realized that the unusual cloud formation was actually the volcanic eruption of Mount Saint Helen's! I guess you could say our relationship started with a bang!)
Ugh! Jason and his puns!
Lowering the probability of receiving a no
Here are some tactics for lowering the proportion of no's you receive when you ask a woman out.
One issue to be aware of is a woman's concern for safety. If a woman has met you in a situation where you are a stranger, she may have some concerns about who you are and whether you are safe to date. In these situations, such as at a singles bar, the grocery store, etc. the date you suggest should be a low-risk date for her. The ultimate safe date is lunch at a public place such as a restaurant. No woman would be afraid of this date. In general safe dates occur during the daytime, in public places, and involve meeting her at the place rather than you picking her up. To be a gentleman you can offer her an option and say that you will either meet her there or you can pick her up, whichever she prefers. That lets her choose, which lets her feel safe.
There is another issue, which is comfort. Women are not always comfortable with the dates that men propose. For instance, if you meet a woman at a bar, and then as your first date you suggest she come to your house so you can cook her dinner, she will most likely be uncomfortable and refuse the date. Another issue with comfort is how long the date is. For a first date, most women are much more comfortable with a short date such as coffee or a drink or lunch rather than a long date such as driving three hours to go to an all-day music festival.
One way of addressing these comfort issues is to give a woman options. Suggest having dinner or lunch, her choice. Suggest a short or a long date, again her choice. For instance, you might say, "we could go to the beach for the day or if you'd rather, we could have lunch." This gives her choice about how long to spend with you. Or you can offer her a drink or dinner whichever she would prefer. The point is to be sensitive to these issues of safety and comfort.
Another issue of comfort is how elaborate and expensive the date is. If a woman is not sure she likes you then she's likely to be uncomfortable if you propose a very expensive or elaborate date, such as dinner at an expensive restaurant followed by theater tickets. So give her as many options as possible and let her tell you what she's comfortable with. That's the best strategy.
How to be a fun date
Once you have learned how to get a date, then you need to know how to be a fun date if you want future dates. It's amazing how many people just don't get this simple concept!
Recognize this pattern? You go on a date and you complain about your job, your boss, your subordinates, your car, your friends, etc.. Or you listen to your date tell you about every bad relationship she's ever had. Or she tells you about her various health problems and the medications she's taking to correct each one. Or worse yet, she tells you about her therapy. Is it any wonder that so many first dates don't lead to second dates?
One of the secrets to being a great date is to be extremely upbeat about your life and about hers. On a first or second date it's really better not to talk about your ex-girlfriends or your dating experiences. When people share their dating tales of woe they are signaling that they are not going to be romantically involved with the person they're telling. Think about it for a minute. If you meet a woman who you are really attracted to, and really interested in forming a relationship with, do you tell her about all the other women you are dating? Of course not. It's only when people are ambivalent about their dating partner that they share such information.
Don't talk about other dates or ex-girlfriends
Also, talking about your ex-girlfriends or listening to your dating partner talk about her ex-boyfriends is an equally big mistake. The problems with talking about ex-relationships is this: 1) you reveal too much about your patterns in relationships, 2) these discussions often put people in touch with sadness or with anger which is not the most attractive thing on a first date, 3) you make the other person anxious because they are wondering if you will do the same thing in your relationship with them. Remember the key concept of the first date is to have fun and to get the second date. It's not to interview the other person and find out every flaw that they have.
Yes of course they have flaws, but you don't need to know them on the first date. If the two of you are capable of connecting and having fun together then, and only then, should you start to explore each other's past.
Don't interview her
Too often what happens on first dates, especially blind dates, is a process that is more like a job interview than a date. Both people are busy trying to find out all of the things that are wrong with their dating partner. The bottom line in doing this is that if you search hard enough for what is wrong with another person, you will always find it. And you will reject virtually everyone. The other problem is that while you are doing this, the other person is very aware of your implicit criticism. They know what the right answers are and what the wrong answers are, and they know that you are trying to find out what's wrong with them. This is not conducive to them liking you or enjoying your company. I've never heard anyone describe a job interview as a pleasant experience, and neither is a dating interview.
So do not ask people a lot of qualifying questions on the first date. If you ask them about their job, ask them what they like about it, not how much money they make. Don't ask about previous relationships, and certainly don't ask them why they are single. This question: "If you're so great why are you single?" is the most insulting question of all. It's absolutely absurd. After all, you are single too, so the same question could apply to you just as well!
Don't assume there is anything wrong with them because they are single. If they seem terrific, maybe they are. In any case, it is not your business to ask them what is wrong with them.
Negotiate and compromise
Another important aspect of being a good date is being flexible and being able to compromise and negotiate. On every date there are small decisions that need to be made. What restaurant will you go to? Where will you sit? What will you order? What will you do after dinner? What movie will you see? Showing decisiveness combined with flexibility is key. A woman wants to know that you can make decisions. Don't act like Mr. Namby Pamby. Make a couple of suggestions and give her some options. If you suggest a Chinese restaurant and she hates Chinese, respond by saying, "that's fine, what about this Italian restaurant?" Show that you are good at negotiating and good at compromising.
Don't criticize or complain
Another issue is to avoid criticizing or complaining. Most people are so sensitive to criticism that if you criticize them even once on a first date they will never want to see you again. In a similar way, complaining can be interpreted as criticism. For instance, suppose the woman suggests a restaurant and you complain about the food or the service. She will experience this as implicit criticism of her. She will think you are thinking, "You picked a bad restaurant.!" Once again she will not want to date you further. Avoid criticism or complaints at all costs.
Pick conversation topics carefully
Pick your conversation topics carefully. In general you want to avoid talking about anything heavy or depressing. Don't tell the story of your sister's long fight with leukemia. Don't discuss your herniated disc or your irritable bowel disease. Good topics to avoid are politics and sex. Avoid politics because a disagreement over something like abortion can easily be a stopper on a first date. Avoid sexual topics because comments can be misinterpreted and in any case most women are not comfortable discussing sex on a first date.
Show the best parts of your life
Optimism is another important quality. Everyone wants to date someone who is upbeat about their life. They don't want date someone who hates their job or hates their friends. So find the aspects of your life that you are most satisfied with, and talk about those. If you hate your job, don't focus on it, instead talk about other parts of your life that you are enthusiastic about.
Don't act cheap
Another important concept is to communicate a clear message that you're not at all cheap. If you are going to pay for things, pay for them cheerfully, without reluctance or hesitancy. That is much more appealing than sending a message that you are a cheap skate. Avoid doing things like carefully adding up the bill or questioning every little charge -- this sends a message to the woman that you are cheap.
Plan fun and innovative dates
Another aspect of being a great date is planning innovative and exciting dates. Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the traditional dinner or dinner and a movie date. After all, the major purpose of early dates is to simply have a chance to talk and find out about each other. Unfortunately, the traditional dinner date puts a lot of stress on both people to come up with topics for conversation. Other types of dates, where you engage in some sort of activity, may be preferable. Here are some good ideas for some alternative kinds of dates.
Here is a fun one. If you have a little lake near you where they rent paddle boats, why not plan a picnic lunch on a paddle boat.? You put the lunch together, and meet the woman at the lake where you have prearranged a paddle boat rental. You paddle around the lake, eating lunch and talking. Maybe you drink some wine. That can be really fun date.
Picnics in general are a wonderful date. Plan lunch in the park catered by you. If you really want to impress woman get a picnic kit with a wicker basket, tablecloth, wine glasses, plates, etc., and cater a beautiful lunch on the grass. This shows creativity and the ability to plan and organize, both attractive attributes for most women. It's also a lot cheaper than buying her dinner at an expensive restaurant, and will impress her more.
Another option is to take a walk or a hike. For those who enjoy hiking, this can be a very pleasant way to get to know another person.
Or plan a trip to hear some live jazz music, or some other type of music. Preferably select a music venue where it's possible to talk -- a heavy metal club is not a good place for a first date. Although going dancing is a lot of fun, it's probably not the best date for the first or second date, where you want to talk.
Another great option which is easy to do in almost any major city is this: check with your local Barnes & Noble's or Borders bookstore, and find out when they have scheduled book talks by famous authors. Then suggest that the two of you go and hear an author speak and afterwards get dinner or coffee. The nice thing about this date is that not only is it interesting, but it also gives you something to discuss over dinner or coffee.
In a similar way, a better date than dinner and a movie is a movie and dinner. Go to an early twilight movie, and then catch dinner afterwards. The advantage of this date is that you can discuss the movie over dinner. If you do this be sure that you select a good movie, because there is nothing more awkward than trying to discuss an awful movie over dinner.
Learn to Dance: Invest some time and money, meet women forever
Another way to become a fun date, as well as a great strategy for meeting women, is to learn how to touch dance. Touch dancing is dancing which involves a man and woman holding each other while they dance. The reason why this form of dance is better for meeting someone then free-form rock and roll dancing is that you can actually have a conversation while you are dancing. Free-form dancing doesn't really lead to any connection, and it usually done in a loud club atmosphere which makes it hard to communicate.
Investing $1000 or so in dance classes and dance lessons, and spending six months practicing, will yield great dividends in your dating life. Here is what I recommend as a strategy for utilizing dance to supercharge your social life. First of all, you must decide what type of dance you want to specialize in. There are three primary options. Option 1 is country-western dancing, Option 2 is ballroom dancing, and Option 3 is Latin dancing -- salsa, mamba, etc.
There is a fourth type of dance that it is even easier to learn and to do, and that is square dancing and Contra dancing. Both of these forms of dance are extremely easy to learn, and can be fun. The biggest disadvantage of them is that they are not partner dances, so it's more a group experience when you go to a square dance. However, the people are usually friendly and it can be very easy to meet women.
How should you choose which type of dance to learn? First of all, you should explore the different venues in your town where each type of dance is done. There's no point in learning country-western dancing if there is no place to go country-western dancing, or if the demographics of the people who country-western dance don't fit what you're looking for. So spend a few evenings and go to some different dance clubs that offer country-western dancing, ballroom dancing, and Latin dancing. Talk to people and find out how they like doing the various dances and how hard it was for them to learn. Check out the scene at each club, and also whether there are attractive women, and what the ratio of men to women is. Only then will you have enough information to decide which type of dance training will pay off the best.
The other thing to consider is the difficulty of the dances you will be learning. The best types of dances to learn are ones that are fairly simple for both you and the woman. For instance, although West Coast swing is a wonderful dance when danced by two experienced partners, it takes more than a year to become proficient in this dance, and you will be limited to dancing with women who are equally proficient, as it is very hard to follow unless the woman is trained. Even if you are an excellent West Coast swing dancer most women will not be able to follow well, so it won't be a pleasant experience for them to dance with you.
The best dances are those that once you learn them you can lead them easily so that even if the woman doesn't really know what she's doing, you can make her look good. Many ballroom dances and some Latin dances fall into this category. East Coast swing and some country-western dances also fall into this category. However, much of country-western dancing consists of line dancing, which is fun, but not a good way to meet women. Line dancing is complicated and difficult to learn and doesn't really help you in your quest to meet women.
Once you get to be a good dancer, you will have many options in terms of meeting women. If you discover an aptitude and talent for dancing you will have a tremendous advantage over other men. You can take group or private lessons, but I recommend group lessons because you will meet women in the classes, and you will have the experience of dancing with many different women.
Learning to dance gives you a tremendous advantage over most other men. Most men do not dance at all or if they do dance, they dance poorly. I remember when I used to go to singles dances, there was one man in particular who exemplified the advantages of being a great dancer. Robert was a short, dumpy man who was not particularly handsome, was a few pounds overweight, and who was about 5 ft. 6 inches tall. But he dressed very well and he was an incredible dancer who seemed to know every dance ever invented. He was particularly gifted at the various dances that were popular at the time. When he danced with women they looked great on the dance floor. He had no problem getting very beautiful, tall women to dance with him, because they had all seen him dance with someone else. As far as I could tell he was constantly dating beautiful women, primarily because of his dance skills, not because of his personality.
Learn to dance, become a good dancer, and this will stand you in great stead for the rest of your life.
Common mistakes men make in dating
Waiting until the right moment to approach a woman
There are number of mistakes men make at each of these stages of dating. A common mistake is for men to wait until their courage builds up before they approach a woman. Waiting to get your nerve up is always a mistake because what invariably happens is that the longer you think about it the more scared you get. Men often will have thoughts like, "She's so pretty, she would never want to go out with me." Or, "She is taller than I am, why would she want to date me?" Don't give in to these thoughts. You don't really know what a woman is thinking, and you shouldn't try to mind read. Get in the habit of when you see an attractive woman just go up to her and get close to her, and say something to her. Don't wait, because the waiting just makes it harder.
Failing to ask for a date as soon as possible
Another mistake men often make is that they do everything well but they fail to ask for a date at the first opportunity. There are many situations where if you do not ask for date quickly, a woman may depart unexpectedly. A classic example of this is the singles mixer. The dance several fun dances with a woman who you are attracted to. Then one of her friends pulls her away and you think later you will dance with her more and ask her out. But she leaves unexpectedly and you never see her again. You should always get in the habit of asking a woman on a date as soon as possible. This gives you the maximum opportunities and sends a powerful message to the woman that you are brave and courageous. (Not to mention sending the same message to yourself!)
Failing to get her phone number
Another big mistake men make is failing to get a woman's phone number. In these situations a man will ask a woman out on a date and then make arrangements to meet someplace, but then get too shy to ask for her phone number. Then the date comes, the woman is late or doesn't show, and the man has no way to reach her. Or a man meets a woman at a bar and asks her for future contact. Instead she says why don't you come back next Friday and we will dance some more? But what happens if the man is suddenly sent on a business trip? Without her phone number he has no other way to reach her, unless he has followed the advice given earlier of getting enough information about her so that he can reach her at work. Even if you make specific plans with a woman, always be sure to get her phone number. You may also want to give her your phone number as well.
Making erroneous assumptions based on her body language
Another big mistake that men make is to make assumptions about what a woman wants or doesn't want. There are a lot of books that tell you how to read a woman's body language. Men will look at a woman and see if she is making eye contact or smiling at him. Most men are intimidated when a woman doesn't smile or doesn't make eye contact, and will wrongly conclude that there is no possibility of meeting her. This is completely ridiculous!
Women are trained from birth not to make eye contact with strangers, especially men. Most women are very shy about strangers. They don't even consider the possibility that they might meet a nice man out in the world. This has nothing to do with you, but simply is cultural conditioning. It runs very deep.
In general, you should completely ignore a woman's nonverbal signals. Even if she looks completely unfriendly and completely uninterested in meeting anyone, if you find her attractive, you should still try to meet her. In most cases you will find that these women who look totally uninterested are actually quite friendly. I've done the following experiment with many of my single men clients. I've asked them to predict, based on body language, women's reactions to them. Then to follow-up by approaching and speaking with the women, and ascertaining how accurate their predictions were. In almost every case the predictions are more negative than the reality.
Believing that beautiful women won't date you
A similar mistake men make is to make various assumptions about whether a particular woman would want to date you. Men have all sorts of crazy theories about this. For instance, most men assume that if a woman is beautiful she will only date a beautiful man. Even a cursory look around any public place will quickly tell you this is absurd, as you will see many beautiful women with much less attractive men. Similar assumptions are made about height. Short men assume taller women won't want to date them. Although this is sometimes true, it's also sometimes not true. One thing you should know about tall beautiful women is this: they get asked out on fewer dates than less attractive woman. This is a very important truth.
Men are intimidated by beauty. But beautiful women are just as insecure as other women. In fact, most beautiful women are quite shy. Most beautiful women think they are much less attractive than you do. Most women think they look old. In fact, most beautiful women have less choices for dating than more average-looking women. The reason for this is that most men assume that a woman who is a "10" will only want to date a man who is a "10". Therefore they don't even try to approach a beautiful woman. Even the men who are "10's" will usually avoid approaching beautiful women. Most beautiful women don't realize how beautiful they are, and have all sorts of neurotic beliefs about their looks. Beautiful women have all of the same problems that normal people do: financial, emotional, family, and work problems. So don't be afraid of approaching a beautiful woman.
I remember being at a conference in Hawaii where I met this very nice guy named Michael. Michael was a little overweight, and very average looking. But he was fearless with women. His specialty was talking to young beautiful women. They not at all intimidated him. And he would initiate conversations and be funny and witty.
His sense of humor was a powerful tool. His lack of intimidation was also effective. After a couple of days of hanging out with him I was amazed at how many women he met. He would talk to a woman for 15 minutes and she would be inviting him to a party. I asked him what was his secret. He said he treated beautiful women like they were normal people, and that was so rare in their experience, that he always impressed them.
I felt like I was in the presence of a great master.
In summary, don't make assumptions about whether women want to date you. Just find out by getting close to them, starting a conversation, and asking them out. You may be surprised that you are very bad at predicting who will go out with you.
Not Playing the Numbers Game
The real secret to success in this game is numbers. The famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky, was asked how he scored so many goals. He told the interviewer that his secret was quite simple, he took a lot of shots. He then went on to say his philosophy was if you did not shoot you were guaranteed to miss. The more shots you took the higher your chances were for scoring.
A similar attitude is great in the dating game. I am always amazed when I ask my single male clients who are having trouble finding dates how many times they've asked a woman out in the last year. Typically they will answer never, or once or twice. And they wonder why they don't have a girlfriend. There is no great secret to success in this game.
I'm reminded of Albert Ellis, who is one of the founding fathers of cognitive behavioral psychology. Albert Ellis is a tall, gangly, and fairly unattractive man with a heavy New York accent. In one of his books he writes about being a college student and not having any dates. He decided to change this by simply approaching and asking out every woman he could find. Although at first his rejection rate was almost total, he persisted, began to get dates, and gradually his confidence increased. He said, "Although I was rejected quite often, I was also accepted fairly often, and I had a great time."
Even if your success rate is terrible and only 1 in 10 women will go out with you, if you ask 10 women out each week you will have a date every week. Most men don't have 100 percent success rate. If you follow the guidelines in this report I suspect you will have a success rate of between 10 percent and 70 percent. Where you fall may depend on a number of factors. These include your physical attractiveness, your sense of humor, and your skill level in using the techniques I have outlined. But even if your success rate is only 10 percent, if you ask enough women you will have plenty of dates. Since I believe that you probably have to date at least 10 to 20 women before you meet someone wonderful enough to get involved with, then this means asking out up to 100 women. The only thing that will really stop you is not trying. Meet as many women as you can, and before long you will find someone wonderful.
And drop me an e-mail and let me know how you did!
Copyright 1999 Andrew Gottlieb, All Rights Reserved
Dr. Andrew Gottlieb is a psychologist who practices in Palo Alto, specializing in relationships. He has worked extensively with single men and women in Silicon Valley who are struggling to connect, and now shares this knowledge through this valuable report. He has a BA from Yale University, a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford Medical School, and has practiced in Palo Alto since 1986. He can be reached at (650) 324-2666. Or at DrAndrew@DrGottlieb.com