4 min read

Excerpt from 121 First Dates

by Wendy Newman

There are many schools of thought on what and how much to say on a first date.

Relationship expert Alison Armstrong advises daters to “state your relationship purpose” right out of the gate. Right there, on your first date, be yourself and tell him what your point is for dating— your endgame. For example: “I want to be a married stay-at-home mom and have lots of babies.”

Or, “I’m looking for a husband. I want to be married, buy a house with a big front porch, and live in the Hudson Valley for the rest of our lives.”

Noooo, Alison, no. She tells women to do this because she did this with her husband on their first date and it worked. What’s different about her situation is that her first date was not a blind date or an online date. By the time they went on their first date, Greg had known who she was for a minute. He’d seen her in action, and based on their volunteer work together he assumed he knew what she was about and what mattered to her. And the most important detail? He was already in love with her. You don’t have that same luxury when you’re on a meet-and-greet coffee date with Mr. Match.com.

Think about it: a date is to get to know each other. You know, like a friend. You wouldn’t tell a woman you met as a new friend on your first coffee date together that you were dying to be married, have tons of babies, and be a stay-at-home mom. Okay, maybe you would. And that’s not bad because you’re both women and many of us love to reveal and listen to these details, but to most men, it seems a bit over the top. I mean, he doesn’t even know if you own a bicycle, if you like cooking, if you’re willing to travel to Ohio every Christmas to be with his family—and now he has to figure out if he is suitable to be the daddy of your children? Brakes, brakes, brakes! Remember when we talked about not including all the details of your happilyever- after in your profile, right up front? Same situation here. This is when men say things like, “She came on like a Mack truck!” and “Speaking of marriage on a first meeting is scary!”

I tried it Alison’s way—with disastrous results. I am always up for a good science experiment, even if it means blowing up the lab, so I tried it over and over. After my not-so-stellar personal results with this approach, I did a ton of research with men.

In one of my interviews, I heard the story of a man in his late thirties and looking for a wife in New York City. He was elated when the woman he’d been eyeing at the gym said yes to his dinner invitation. They’d barely slid into their seats when she announced, “I’m looking for my husband. I’m thirty-four and I don’t have much time left. I want babies. So if you’re not interested in that, we should leave now. I want my husband, and I’m sick of wasting time.” And in that moment, the date was over.

Here’s the thing: as far as he could tell, she had the goods. He wanted to get to know her and potentially give her what she was asking for, just not the first week. The abrupt and direct approach did them in.

As I mentioned before, if on my first date with Dave I’d told him I was only willing to date men who were interested in a serious relationship right now, he would have said, “Check, please.” And we were never—and I mean never—casual in our dating. We were locked into the love bubble somewhere between the second and third date.

Seattle Nate, forty-six, went through a long phase of hunting for a wife. On a first date he’ll give you a seven-page list of deal-breakers, hopes, dreams, and desires. So he appreciates all that information right up front. Know this: he is a rare exception. We used to joke that in our friendship, he was the chick and I was the dude.

I’ve learned there’s something to be said for letting things unfold naturally, as one would with any new friend. You have a million other interesting things to talk about, and he does too. Your date will tell you what he’s looking for if you’re willing to listen for it. The answer comes out within the first or second date anyway.

Telling a man on a first date that you want a wedding ring, children, and a white picket fence (or any equivalent) so you can live happily ever after is as sexy to a man as talk of a prenuptial agreement probably is to you. Don’t lead with the endgame in mind.

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