Can’t Get Past The Third Date?

Our dating experts point out the five habits that may be interfering with your romantic progress. Follow their advice to help your budding relationships reach full bloom.

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

irst dates can be obtained somewhat easily. And, barring any horrific events during that rendezvous, you’ll likely land an encore — whether out of curiosity or genuine interest. You’ll never get much further, though, if something about you is a major turnoff. The problem is, you may be blithely unaware of exactly what that turnoff is.

Allow us to intervene. If landing a phone number is no problem but progressing past the third date is all but impossible, read on. You may be guilty of one of these five easily overcome habits. Read on to embark on the road to relationship success.

1. Complain much?
Motorheads love to spend weekends under the hood of their vintage roadster. For such personalities, a high-maintenance mate may be as delightful a challenge as restoring a 1964 T-Bird. However, many budding romances are clipped early by whiny fussiness over sauce-on-the-side food preferences, noisy bistros, and supposed “fast” driving, not to mention bemoaning a minor drizzle or change of plan.

Course correction: The best way to make it to the fourth date is to quit complaining about everything during Dates 1 – 3. Take a fresh view of some of your favorite conversational topics — are they really just rants? Consider finding a topic that involves enthusiasm and good news instead. In a nutshell, be a trooper instead of a pain in the derrière — don’t fret, you’ll have 40+ years to bitch should wedding bells ring.

2. Too little physical contact
Despite your Senior VP status and glistening online profile, a lack of romantic fervor isn’t enticing. Many first dates are feeling-out sessions that never reach the feeling-up stage, and that’s okay. But, if Dates 2 and 3 lack the spice of suggestive body language, table affections, flirtation and an overall grand romantic scheme, then chances are your date won’t be back for lackluster Date 4 and after.

Course correction: Whether a light touch on her arm as you’re chatting or a game of footsie at the movies, a little physical contact will communicate your affection.

3. The too-strong personality
Have you ever been called rude, reactionary, or self-righteous when airing your viewpoints? Aha! Strong personalities can quickly become intolerable to an unsuspecting date who isn’t used to your quirks.

Course correction: Treat your date as neither a political opponent nor a potential recruit for your pet cause; back off the intensity or risk getting the cold shoulder. Completely covering up a Type-A personality is a lie, yet a little prime-time editing will boost early wooing success. Start with a light dose, and give your date a chance to warm up to your charisma before unleashing it at extra-strength.

4. Poor manners
You will never get to enjoy the fruits of love’s labor if you fail Dating 101. Bad manners, fish-market body odor, shoddy shoes, rampant tardiness, and unreturned voicemail/email will land you alone on the couch in perpetuity.

Course correction: Nix the tableside ear picking, slurping, and all-too-obvious groin-shifting that brands you the type one can’t take home to Mother. Note: There’s a good chance you may not be aware of some of these less than desirable gestures. Invite a trusted friend to dine with you, and ask him or her to gently point out any poor manners that could benefit from polishing.

5. The too-close/too-distant dilemma
Achieving the right degree of attachment and the proper dating pacing can be a challenge. Overworked, overbooked chaps who can’t muster two consecutive dates within the same calendar month never attain necessary momentum. On the other hand, static cling is not just a laundry problem. Especially after a long dry spell or a bout of self-imposed celibacy after a breakup, beware of portraying the over-doting, smitten puppy.

Course correction: For workaholics, make room in your date book for dates. Once a week, at a minimum, with phone or email contact rounding out the week. And, for those who tend to bond too swiftly, heed this advice: Even if the rapport is splendid, stay in the present and don’t muse about marriage and matching red Miatas — at least, not aloud.

Phineas Mollod traded his J.D. for the editorial life and is often found riding the congested E train with his wife and daughter in New York. Jason Tesauro pushes pen and ink by day and leads the lifestyle seminar series by night, ne'er far from his sweetheart and a Brady Bunch houseful 'o tots in Virginia. Together they are the authors of The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy and Vice and The Modern Lover: A Playbook for Suitors, Spouses, and Ringless Carousers.
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