Have you ever wondered how you came across after a first date? Did you ramble too long about how much you love your pup? Should you have avoided touchy political topics? Did you ask enough questions—too many, perhaps? One dating service can provide all those answers. Three Day Rule (TDR) is bringing back old-fashioned matchmaking in a fresh new way, by combining technology and dating expertise to help singles of all ages find true love. The best part: It provides full-service date coaching. During its post-date lowdowns, which happens after every occasion, a personalized matchmaker calls both parties and asks them to list what went well and what didn’t. Like The Millionaire Matchmaker for the masses, TDR wants to bring back quality—not quantity—in the dating world, by reporting quirky behaviors back to the person concerned.
We were curious to know what the top first-date offenders were, so we sat down with TDR's New York–based matchmaker Nora Dekeyser to find out what really grinds the gears of singles everywhere. You can imagine the type of insight these professionals have on dating pet peeves. Are you guilty of being a résumé reader or a serial dater? Find out what behaviors to avoid on your next meet-and-greet for love everlasting.
Even if your #squad is blowing up your group chat, resist the urge to check your phone. Instead, treat your date like an important meeting. “Even if the person sitting across from you isn’t exactly lighting your fire, being polite and giving the date your full attention are really important,” says Dekeyser. “Focusing on the person you’re with is good practice for future dates,” so practice your most charming self every time.
Just as airport dress codes are a subject of debate, how to present yourself on a first date is a controversial topic. Some may call in the Glamsquad and prep for hours; others are of the school of thought that a first meeting should just be over and done with, and they will comfortably squeeze in a meet-and-greet after a sweaty gym session. Dekeyser believes in a healthy middle ground. “You don’t need to show up straight from the makeup chair at the salon, but it is important to look nice on a first date,” she says. If you’re coming straight from work, freshen up your makeup, brush your teeth, and swap out your work blazer for fun pumps or a moto jacket. After all, you wouldn’t expect your date to show up in stained sweatpants, right?
The person you haven’t even gone on a first date with yet is not the right person for your late-night chat sessions. “I encourage my clients to take the conversation offline as soon as possible,” says Dekeyser. “Your impression of one another is probably going to be different in person, so it’s better to meet in real life,” she says. So much can be misconstrued via text, so don’t let yourself fall for someone or write someone off before you’ve even met.
In the age of girl bosses and Beyhives, it’s tempting to want to take charge and be fiercely independent. But it seems our male counterparts haven’t completely caught up yet. Dekeyser reports that her male clients often actually want to be gentlemanly but get turned down. “If he offers to walk you to your car, order you an Uber, and pay for drinks, don’t stop him!” she says. “Your independence will be sexy to him without needing to show you can pay your own way.” It seems that chivalry is not dead, after all.
We get it—first dates are a high-stakes game, and everyone reacts to nerves differently. For some, first-date jitters translate into feeling the need to blurt out their entire life’s worth of accomplishments in order to prove worthiness. “I have heard this time and time again,” says Dekeyser. “A guy seems great via text, but the second you meet for dinner, he is essentially reading his résumé to you … in a pretty ostentatious way.” No matter the count of someone’s Ferrari stables or the name of their exclusive prep school, all of these qualities do not necessarily make someone more attractive, and might actually have the opposite effect when presented in bulk. The door swings both ways too—instead of talking all about yourself, ask questions and get to know the person sitting across the table. You will seem more genuine and interested.
While you may have knots in your stomach and sweaty palms going into a first date, Dekeyser recommends checking your nervousness at the door because shyness is not an attractive quality to most people. She says that insecurity is one of the most common concerns in post-date lowdowns, particularly for women. Conversely, being open, honest, interesting, and fun is the most common box on our checklist. Confidence is key—even if you have to fake it to make it.
Dekeyser warns all her men that a staggering 80% of her female clients reported that having to pay on a first date is a deal breaker. “If you let her pay on the first date, she is going to think negatively about that for a long time, and you most likely won’t be getting a second date,” says Dekeyser. While women are all about going Dutch down the line, the first date is not yet a Venmo-friendly situation. “On a first date, the man should really be picking up the bill—it goes a long way.” Think of it less like a case against feminism and more like a random act of kindness. Just like you would never show up to a dinner party empty-handed, some rituals are still here to stay.
Especially in a city like New York, options are seemingly endless, and scoring a first date can be as easy as ordering late-night Seamless. But even if your meet-and-greet spot is swarming with beautiful people, resist the urge to look around. One of the biggest first-date turnoffs is if the other party is checking others out. “When you take time out of your schedule to go on a date with someone, show them that you are excited to be spending that time with them, not someone else,” says Dekeyser. If you have a wandering eye, put your blinders on before entering the date.
It’s 2016. If you’ve been single for a while, chances are you’ve tried your fair share of dating apps and have become a bit of a first-date “expert.” That’s great, but don’t bring it up during the date. “I have heard a lot of stories of men bringing up stories of bad dates and frustrations with online dating,” says Dekeyser. Why are you still single? is not an appropriate first-date question. “Although this can be meant as a compliment, don’t do it. There are lots of other ways to get to know someone,” she says. No one wants to hear about your past dates on a current date—be in the moment!”
In an effort not to look too overeager, some people fall too far on the other end of the spectrum and end up coming across as aloof and disinterested. “Even though being distant and ‘cool’ can work in some scenarios, on a date it never does,” says Dekeyser. “Be yourself! We want to see you be goofy, make fun of yourself, and let loose.” Just like it was hard to connect with the popular crowd in high school, it feels tiring to try hard at connecting with someone who is playing the uninterested card. Trade your indifference with passion.
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