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October 2010

First Date Conversation: Top 5 Dos and Don'ts

Bad dates happen. And more often than not, they're caused by someone saying something they shouldn't have. Even a perfectly nice person can make a mistake and say something completely inappropriate that ruins a date.

It's really very common, in fact.  Especially if you haven't dated in a while.

With this in mind, we've developed the following list to help guide you.


Don't talk about past relationships. Your date doesn't want to hear about your ex (and the problems with your previous relationships).

Do pay attention to your date - his/her interests and hobbies. Stay in the present.


Don't allow your discussion to turn into an argument.  Stay away from controversial or potentially heated topics, like religion or politics.

Do be respectful of differences.  If your date mentions a belief that you disagree with, find a way to discuss this openly without criticizing. Or, if you can't do that, change the topic.


Don't over-compliment.  Telling a person they're attractive once is flattering. Saying it 8 times in an hour is creepy.  Furthermore, don't compliment your date in a way that makes her/him feel self-conscious.  "You have lovely eyes," or "that color looks nice on you," are both respectful.  "I can't take my eyes off your amazing body," is less so.

Do say something positive or kind to your date.  An honest and simple complement will put them more at ease.


Don't put yourself down. A little self-deprecating humor is fine, but whining about your failures at work and your inability to stay on your diet are not OK.

Do have a sense of humor about yourself. You're not perfect, and you don't have to pretend that you are.


Don't brag about yourself. Confidence is sexy.  But a person (man or woman) talking endlessly about their achievements comes off as arrogant, not confident.

Do project confidence. Give yourself a pep talk before the date and feel comfortable mentioning something (one thing) about yourself that you're proud of.  

A Halloween Lesson for All Year Long?

It's Just Lunch recently  polled over 1000 singles on their thoughts related to Halloween.  The results revealed some interesting details about singles, Halloween and dating all year long.

First off, it seems that there are a bunch of people who'd be interesting in going to a Halloween Costume Party on a first date (51.8% of respondents).  And an almost equal number who don't think that's such a great idea (48.82%). So, perhaps it's best to stick to safer first date ideas and leave the costumes until that second date.

There's an eerily similar split between those who would and wouldn't go to a Halloween Party solo (52.43% and 47,57%, respectively). Seems like our singles are nearly split down the middle when it comes to Halloween spirit.

Our survey results get interesting when you look at the difference between these 2 sets of numbers:

A) At a Halloween costume party, men are more attracted to women dressed in:

a sexy  costume - 56.13%

an original costume - 24.85%

a funny costume - 11.04%*

B) At a Halloween costume party, men find it easier to approach women dressed in:

a funny costume - 41.96%

an original costume - 29.34%

a sexy costume - 18.61%*

So, while men are more attracted to women in sexy costumes (no surprise, there) they feel that women in funny costumes are much easier to approach.  

The numbers for women show a similar attitude. Women are most attracted to men dressed in hero in uniform (cop or fireman) costumes (40.23%). But they find men dressed in funny costumes to be easier to approach (41.96%).

We certainly can't make any definitive statements about attraction and dating, based on these results.  We were just asking about Halloween costumes.  But these results certainly bring up an interesting issue. For both men and women, there is a disparity between whom we find most attractive and most approachable.  

So here is the question for all singles, is your goal to be attractive or approachable? And if the answer is both (as it probably should be) how do you best accomplish this?

* there were additional responses with even lower % rates

An Interview with Andrea Syrtash - Author of "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)"

56726956 It's no secret that we're fans of Andrea Syrtash. Her latest book, "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)" offers women a unique perspective on men and relationships.   

1) Tell us a little bit about you/your background as a relationship expert and life coach.

I've been a journalist and life coach since 2002. In 2003, a publisher asked me to interview hundreds of daters across the country for one of their books. I learned a lot from the daters I interviewed, and the research I did, and applied the knowledge to the advice columns I started to write and to the dating advice show I hosted at NBC.  In 2006, I edited a book about how to transition into the 'real world' after colllege, and in 2007 I edited a book about how to have an effective relationship with your in-laws. I became a relationship writer unintentionally, but it's been a very natural fit. I'm passionate about helping people relate to each other - and to themselves - better. 

Now that I've been covering the world of relationships for eight years, I've heard many of the same themes and issues pop up. My recent book, "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)' was written for single women and my next (which will be released in 2011) is about marriage. In my books, I've covered how to navigate many different kids of relationships - but the principals are often the same. In any relationship, people want to be seen for who they are, celebrated, stimulated, challenged and accepted. It doesn't matter if it's an employer-employee relationship or a love connection; there are basic ways of interacting that apply across the board.  

I was drawn to life coaching as I've always felt that effective relationships start with the individual. If you're miserable and unbalanced, your relationships will be affected. Too many people try to find a partner to save them rather than focus their attention on how they can become complete on their own. When you are engaged in your passions and aligned with your values, you are more likely to find love, anyway. The formal training I completed as a coach (through The Coaches Training Institute) gave me the tools to work with clients 1-1 and to do speaking engagements.

2) What inspired you to write,"He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)"?
Many years ago a friend of mine called me crying and told me she had accidentally fallen in love with a great man whom she did not mean to love. I think the idea for the book was born then. Even through her tears, I could tell she had peace in her heart because she was following it.

I've seen clients and friends struggle with feelings for men who were not their 'type' but guys who they felt connected to. I think when we focus on 'type' too much in dating, we typecast (e.g - 'All guys in finance are selfish') and miss potential connections. Forget the packaging and follow your feelings. Is this person a good partner for you? 

Everything was crystallized for me, of course, when I fell in love with my own non-type (my husband, Michael) and had the same reaction (i.e 'I can't be with someone like him!').  After hearing many women say something similar and having the experience myself, I realized that so many of us prevent ourselves from being with men because they don't add up to the picture we had in our heads.  The book is not about settling (or forgetting the role of attraction, which is certainly significant in dating); it's about being open to the fact that the love of your life may come in a different package than you imagined. Unlike some other dating guides, it's not about changing yourself to meet a man - it's about knowing yourself so you can meet the right one for you.

3) You write about different categories of Nontypes.  Can you give us a quick explanation?

In the book, I divided the nontypes into 3 sections: 

  • The Departure NonType: the opposite of your usual choice - so if you think you only date extroverts, you may be surprised to know an introvert is better suited for you.
  • The Superficial NonType: this is a guy who doesn't add up on paper for superficial reasons - he earns less than you do, he's shorter than you etc. You may say you would *never be with a guy under 5'10 and realize that height isn't a dealbreaker
  • The Circumstantial NonType: this is a situation in which a guy adds up on paper, but his circumstances don't. For instance, you may think you would *never date long distance and find yourself confused when you fall for a guy who lives in another state.
There are so many 'types' of guys - the key is not generalizing about any of them! You may find your match with one of the types (e.g - "The Artist") who you swore you would never be with if he brings out great qualities in you. 

4) What's next for you?

Great question! Some of the best parts of my career unfolded organically, so I'm open to whatever comes my way. In the meantime, I have a bunch of things cooking: I'm working on my next book (which will be released by Rodale Books in 2011), I'm planning to do more speaking engagements this winter and I'm in development to host shows about dating and relationships. I'll continue to coach clients individually and write advice columns, too. 

7 Questions for a Matchmaker

One of the many things that sets It's Just Lunch apart from the competition is the strength and experience of our matchmakers. Recently, we reached out to longtime IJL Columbus matchmaker, Pamela Lanier to see if she could share some quick tips with us.  

1) What's your best dating tip?

My best dating tip is to ask questions. This makes the other person feel important. Also, you'll find out what your date's interests are and see if you can have fun together. IF YOU DON'T PLAY TOGETHER, YOU WON'T STAY TOGETHER.

2) What are men looking for?

Men are interested in the visual first. It's how they're made.

3) What are women looking for?

Women are interested in the whole package.  A woman can meet a man who may not look exactly like what she thought her special someone would look like, but after she sits across from him for an hour and hears what's in his heart he automatically becomes soooooo handsome.

4) How many serious relationships have you started?  Any marriages?

I've been doing this for over 33 years so I've lost count of how many relationships and marriages there are. They call me about their kids now.

5) What's your favorite client story?

There was a woman with young twins. She was struggling to meet a good guy, and had actually had men get up and leave the table on dates when she told them about her kids. I told her, 'No problem', because the men I match you with will know in advance about the twins and they will only be men who love kids. She went on her first few dates and had fun. Then I matched her with Todd.  They hit it off immediately. He'd also been left to raise a young child on his own. As an executive for a major company here in Columbus, I knew he was busy but still made time for his son. They married two years later and she still calls me every year to say thanks. 

6) What's the best place in Columbus for a first date?

The best place in Columbus for a first date is the Short North. You have any kind of restaurant and food you want. You have galleries and shops, and you can finish off your date at one of the famous ice cream or coffee shops in the area.

7) Why should singles call IJL?

Singles should call IJL because we are great at what we do.  

Dates on a plane: How to make a love connection at 30,000 feet

Air passengers can be divided into roughly two types: those who chat up their seatmates and those who doggedly avoid it.

I put myself in the latter group, not because I'm anti-social, but because once a conversation starts, I'm worried there'll be no turning it off and I usually have other things to do.

But I know quite a few people who've struck up friendships -- or more -- from encounters at 30,000 feet. My friends Dave and Daphne met on a flight from Boise to Phoenix 20-some years ago and they're still happily (as far as I know) married.

PJ Osgood, founder of the matchmaking service It's Just Lunch was in the no-chat camp until recently when she met a guy from a flight between Houston and Chicago and they decided to share a cab into the city.

"We had this great conversation and we exchanged business cards and the next day we went out to dinner," Osgood says.

A love connection was not to be (no chemistry, she says), but he was worth meeting, and this got Osgood, a frequent traveler, thinking she's been missing opportunities aloft.

First off, if you're a busy professional, she reasons, your chances are high of meeting other busy professionals while flying. And since being on a plane is "like detention, you've got all this time when you can connect with someone," you might as well put it to good use.

The last time I was seated next to someone attractive enough for me to entertain any notions of connectedness, it was on a flight to Salt Lake City and he was a Mormon father of five. But being a professional matchmaker, Osgood is way ahead of me on this.

Among her strategies:

  • When open seating (a la the Southwest Airlines' model) is an option, go for it. Board somewhere in the middle of the pack so by the time you're walking down the aisle, you can assess who you might want to sit next to. Then, take the middle seat. (Oh, yeah, she adds, check the ring finger; she's not advocating adultery.)
  • Carry business cards. If you do hit it off, exchanging cards is a natural way to exchange information.
  • Be generous. If you have free drink coupons, for instance, offering to share is a great ice breaker.
  • If you're headed in the same general direction once you land, consider sharing a cab or shuttle.

"It's important to look approachable by putting away the laptop or turning off the iPod," Osgood says. "You never know when you're going to find that person you connect with."

This post, By Jayne Clark, originally appeared in USAToday Travel. Click here for the original.