Everyone has expectations for first dates. Some singles expect Hollywood levels of romance with a tangible feeling of electricity in the air, magnetic sexual attraction, and a sense of having been made for each other. Others expect disappointment, a lack of chemistry, connection, or excitement.

The reality is that although most first dates fall short of both these high and low expectations, they can be time consuming and tiring. Fortunately, a research team at Stanford University (MacFarland, Jurafsky, and Rawlings) has identified the key ingredients for a successful date through scientific analysis. 

The researchers recorded and examined 1,000 speed dates between graduate students to learn what flies and what flops. Here is what they found: 

 

Advice for Men

Pay attention to her. A common mistake is for men to think that they will win women over by impressing them with their accomplishments. In fact, the women in the study elected to go on second dates with men who let them speak and who showed interest in what they said. The men who scored the most dates expressed support, empathy, and interest. 

Interrupt her. Obviously, don't overpower the conversation, but men who interrupted women to voice agreement or understanding fared better than those who listened passively. Some men were so in sync with their dates that they even finished their sentences. Here's an example:

Female: I’m feeling a little silly. This is like— 

Male: A little silly. It’s fun. 

Laugh with her.  Women are often instructed to laugh at men's jokes, and it turns out that the opposite works just as well.If you think she's funny, let her know. Also, pay attention to your environment on the date, and find humor in situations together. 

Compliment her. Unsurprisingly, the women in the Stanford study liked when men made flattering observations about them. On a first date, try to compliment her appearance and her personality. Don't overdo it, but a few well-timed remarks can go a long way

 

If you follow these four simple guidelines, your first dates will lead to exciting second dates! 


Elana Averbach is a dating coach and licensed therapist who teaches private clients how to date more effectively. She helps people optimize their online dating profiles, overcome approach anxiety, challenge negative self-concepts that are holding them back, and hone skills for building attraction. Learn more at www.kickstartlove.com/coaching.