Authenticity is a beautiful thing – especially in men. Women in general are attracted to men who are themselves. No one likes a sugar coater, liar, or hider. Tell us what gets you out of bed in the morning. Revel in your passions. We want to know about you, or we wouldn’t have said yes. Just don’t tell us everything. Not yet.
There is a distinct difference between being genuine and laying all your cards on the table in the first few dates. For instance, I am a very health conscious woman. I like to know that living a healthy lifestyle is equally important to a guy I go out with. Touching on some healthy eating habits and telling the hilariously sad story about falling off your bike during your first triathlon is both engaging and reassuring that our values align. Do I need to know that you get on a scale and weight yourself every morning? No. Do I need to know that you were a chubby kid and really struggled with your addiction to food and you overcame it through cycling? Maybe, if it’s said in a clever and endearing way. Should you detail the exhausting extent of your dietary restrictions? Probably not.
I use food as an example as it’s relatively harmless and in most cases, doesn’t provoke flashbacks and post-traumatic experiences in either party. The broader suggestion is an ideal balance between sharing enough to create rapportwhilst maintaining some mystery and intrigue. Achieving this balance is an essential element of moving a relationship forward. Still, the balance between vulnerability and mystery certainly takes practice.
I went on several dates with a guy who always ordered fish at dinner. At first I didn’t notice that we went to a lot of seafood-centric restaurants. I thought the guy just really liked oysters. He had ordered steak frites at the adorable French bistro we had lunch at last Saturday, I remembered when I started to notice the fishy trend. About six dates in, we were discussing what we were going to order for dinner as I am on of those who insists on sharing every meal. I suggested we share the filet. He candidly and coolly said he preferred fish for dinner because red meat before bed upset his stomach and he didn’t like to go to bed with an upset stomach. Plain and simple. No more detail about what might happen should he eat a late night prime rib. I certainly did not want the juicy details of his digestive system. He shared just enough explanation that I didn’t need to wonder. That was the first night we ate completely separate meals, and I much enjoyed it. His small share(not overshare) created the space for me to release my paleo tendencies. I ate the filet. He had the rockfish.
A few dates in, still intent on impressing each other, we talked cooking skills and casually one-upped each other’s stories of culinary expertise. He reminded me that when he makes dinner, he cooks either fish or vegetarian dishes. Being an Italian woman with a passion for Mexican food, most of my specialties involve a meat course or carnivorous quesadillas. Sure, I can bake a salmon and sear a tuna, but I have never dated a man who didn’t want meat for dinner and therefore, didn’t have as many pescatarian recipes up my sleeve. He did. He offered to make me dinner and wowed me with halibut steaks crusted in mustard panko that were so delicious I begged him to make me another dinner. He made salmon pasta, seafood gumbo, and an eggplant parmesan that would give my grandmother a run for her money.
Had he told me on the second date that red meat gives him “digestive issues” and he doesn’t want to be “up all night” because he ate a steak for dinner, I would not have gone out with him again. That is way too much information and paints a graphic view of his bodily functions that I prefer not think of. It also makes him sound like a worldclass wimp. Rather, he was a bit private at first. Not so private that I felt awkward asking and not too forthright that I didn’t want to know. The mystery created intrigue.The intrigue gave him space to turn a restriction into a strength.
I am certainly not promoting hiding one’s convictions. (See sentence one: Authenticity is a beautiful thing!) Your convictions define you! And I don’t want to know detailed digestion disorders whilst ordering dinner on a first date. Sure you might slip one or two awkward overshares. Everyone can become a bit nervous and jumbled up especially on a first date. Suddenly you just said you wet the bed until you were twelve or accidentally referred to your mother’s boobs. Take a minute and breathe. Certainly don’t linger on the slippery overshares. Rather, move on from those quickly and seamlessly. We won’t obsess over the weird thing you accidentally said if you don’t make it a big deal.
Please do leave out the little overshares that make women uncomfortable especially if they are gross or otherwise unattractive to think about. That you had dental work done last week. You had a foot fungus. You wait weeks to do your laundry. Dairy gives you explosive diarrhea. You can’t change a light bulb. You get dirt underneath your fingernails. Anything involving chaffing. Injuries related to extreme athleticism are okay in very small doses. Details about spraining your ankle walking to your car and slipping on a patch of ice can be left out unless utterly hilarious. Don’t eat donuts. But don’t tell us that you don’t eat donuts.
For first date fodder, stick to your passions.If it helps, compile the top three to five tangible strengths and/or passionsyou can speak to comfortably and in concise story format. Um, yes, you have these strengths. Everyone does. Listen to the little courage voice telling you what you are good at. Write it down. Say it out loud! Repeat ten times! Then expand on your strengths and passions. If you are an amateur botanist, tell us the heroic tale of how your ability to spot poison ivy saved your boy scouts troops from misery. When anything related to these strengths comes up, come armed with a short story that speaks to what you are proud of.
Nobody likes an ego machine, but it’s nice to know that the man sitting across from you has a handful of things he is proud of.Even if it happened in boy scouts.Even if your uncertainty is trying desperately to drown out your strengths.Even if you are shy. Even if you are one of those self-doubters who thinks he isn’t good at anything. You are. Write that shit down. Put it in your pocket. While she’s in the bathroom remind yourself that you are the New York Times crossword king, cook a mean pasta con broccoli, and can play the banjo. You are the practical jokester in your office. You know the capitals of all fifty states. Strengths create intrigue. Knowing and defining these strengths will keep you from the weird overshares that send women running for the hills.
My commitment: to make this worth the read. Humorous, fun and introspective. I welcome your thoughts, ideas and feedback via email at email@example.com