Dating can be unpredictable in fun and exciting ways. Of course, there’s an equal chance it can be painfully predictable and seem like a waste of time. But, if love’s what you’re looking for, dating is a necessary evil. As matchmakers, we arrive at the office on Monday morning in anticipation of hearing our client’s dating stories from the weekend. How many matches did we make?!
An important distinction to point out - when we hear these romantic recaps no two people have the same recount of the date. It’s critical to know we are each the center of our own world, so our interactions and perceptions are skewed - especially when we’re dating. There are; however, a few general personality types that rear their ugly heads quite frequently on a first date making the experience a disappointing start. Instead of quietly suffering through a bad first date with these difficult types, the Kelleher matchmaking team has a few pointers for making the most of the interaction and hopefully turning the experience around.
Oh, the One-Upper! We've all been on a date with the one who asserts their dominance about anything and everything with each passing conversation. This personality type is exhausting, but when you know their actions come from a place of deep insecurity, it helps put things in perspective. Don't try to one-up the One-Upper. Instead, try to have fun with the situation. Abruptly change the conversation each time they one-up you. They'll either get the hint or instead you'll have a great story to tell your friends about mixing up the "date dialogue" and slowly deflating the One-Upper's ego.
What if you like the person other than this one ugly trait? Kelleher Matchmaker Nahla Grafer says, “You have nothing to lose, take a chance and be honest. Ask a few gentle questions to see if they’ll engage in authentic dialogue about life. See if you can help them get to the bottom of their need to be the best at everything. If you can’t, run!”
Have you been on a date with Mr. or Ms. Distracted - checking their phone every few seconds or looking over your shoulder checking out the room or television? This behavior is happening on an increasing basis. We are more dialed in, connected, and digitally stimulated than ever before. And the fear of missing out robs us of being present and making the most of our “right now.” Next time you find yourself sitting across from a distracted date, say something like this and lead by example:
"It's nice to unplug and connect one-on-one and not be distracted by phones all the time. I'm turning mine off now, so I can focus on you,” suggests Kelleher Member Liaison Courtney Barber. And then visibly put your phone away. This action will give your date the hint to do the same. They might be overstimulated and appreciate your suggestion. If he/she doesn’t, it’s a red flag that you don't rate very high on their list of priorities.
The Power Player
As matchmakers, we often see men and women so wrapped up in what they do rather than who they are. Are you the Power Player who arrives on the first date with a résumé of accomplishments as if to prove you are smart, worthy, and professional? Don't do that; it's a date! Leave the briefcase at home - you're looking for love, not a new job.
And if you find yourself on a date sitting across from the Power Player, try lightening the mood by asking their favorite hobbies or how they let loose away from the office. Matchmaker Erin Soskin advises, "When they say something that makes you smile, put your hand on theirs. When they pause for just a moment, give them a playful compliment. This gesture will bring the tone of the conversation to a flirtier, softer level.”
The Passive Aggressive
It doesn’t seem entirely fair to label someone as passive aggressive on a first date. As matchmakers, we encourage you to be open and suspend judgment but also be very aware of the date dynamics. If a sarcastic remark or combative exchange with a stranger or waiter makes you uncomfortable, take note - it’s not nothing. Perhaps it will be an isolated incident you can soon forget. If it’s not, and you’re trapped for three hours with The Passive Aggressive, we have a few suggestions.
Passive-aggressive behavior is typically born of deep feelings of powerlessness and is triggered in environments where the person’s voice feels challenged or diminished. Unfortunately, a first date can be a trigger for someone who struggles in social situations. Ask open-ended, nonjudgmental questions about your date’s past. It will give you the opportunity to learn more about them and do some investigating into their passive-aggressive side. If what you hear is more “angry victim” dialogue your next best bet is good, old-fashioned humor.
“You will not win with The Passive Aggressive so lighten the conversation and have a few laughs to get through the evening. Always have a joke or two and a light-hearted personal story you can share in a dating emergency situation like this,” Matchmaker Kira Crelly proposes.
Dating is unpredictable so creating matches can be a tricky business. It’s easy to get excited about someone who seems so right on paper, and via text, and even on the one or two brief phone conversations you had. But, the in-person experience must create space for chemistry and these downer personality types make that nearly impossible. Keeping a level head and leaning on your sense of humor are the biggest keys to remember if you ever find yourself in a dating disaster.
What other personalities have you encountered out in the dating wild? Share in the comments below, and we’ll offer our best advice for making the most of your experience.