I recently went on a pretty great first date, but I worried that I unintentionally sent a bit of mixed signal at the end of the night. By the next evening--when I had not received a follow-up text from the dude who'd taken me out--I fretted, and asked my friend Harry Berkeley if I should send good-date guy a little note saying Thanks for such a nice time, or some such. Emphatically, Harry said "No! Let him do the work."
Yesterday, I found some evidence that Harry's advice was on the money. For her new book Have Him At Hello, Professional matchmaker Rachel Greenwald interviewed 1,000 single guys to find out what turns "marriage-minded" men on--and off. As she notes in a post she did for Huff-Po, she talked to guys who went out with her clients but DIDN'T call back after a date and also talked to happily hitched guys; she needled all of them, asking for detailed feedback about why they thought some women had immediate potential, and others didn't. In her post, she describes the three lessons she found most surprising. Let me summarize them for you.
(I'll give you the most interesting finding last, and the least interesting first.)
1. NEVER SAY NEVER
Greenwald found that men tend to write off women who say things like "I'll never move out of Brooklyn--I love it here!" Or "Not in a million years would I give up working full-time!" It seems that men like women who come across as flexible, and that those who say "never this" or "never that" seem too difficult and unyielding. So Greenwald advises you hold on to your opinions ... but never say never out loud when a date is asking you about your plans for the future. (Unless you're saying "You never know.")
2. NEVER FAIL TO OFFER TO PAY
Greenwald also learned that 84% of marriage-minded men expect to pay the bill on a first date--but that they don't like it when a woman takes their generosity as a given. Men appreciate the gesture when women offer to contribute to the bill--although if they're into you, they won't let you (though they might let you pay for the post-prandial drink). She notes, "If he allows you to split the bill, you probably won't be hearing from him again (or if he does call back, it's doubtful he's interested in anything serious.") I think she's right ... when it comes to men who are serious about getting married. (But maybe we can get a little deeper into the question of the paying stuff tomorrow, or later this week.)
A side note: I personally rarely say never--because as much as I love Brooklyn, and am fairly certain there is no other city I'd like better, I'd be willing to move to L.A. if I found a nice screenwriter, or to consider Ann Arbor if I found a nice English professor, or to try Scandinavia, even, if I discovered a sexy sculptor who resided there. And I usually offer to pay, because that feels polite. As such, the lesson that I found most helpful was Greenwald's third:
3. NEVER SEND A "THANK YOU" EMAIL (OR TEXT) AFTER A DATE
Here's why, according to Greenwald: "Men told me that while they appreciate the 'thank-you-email,' it ultimately causes them to lose interest in a woman, because men like the chase." And when they get a gracious message the next day, instead of making them think you have great manners, it makes them think you're a little desperate. "Even if he enjoyed your date, the thank-you-email is more deflating than endearing (on average) because, if he liked you too, he'd want to contact you first to pursue you," she says. "The fix? Thank him graciously at the end of the date, but don't steal his thunder the next day." She says if you don't hear from him at all, that simply means he's just not that into you.
I hate to say it, because I like to think we woman should be able to do whatever the hell we want to do ... but I think Greenwald's right.
Girls? Boys? What do you think? Ladies, have you had a good experience after sending a thank-you email?