Beliefnet
Make Your Relationship Work

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A lot of guys ask me “Alex, how do I know if a first date went well?” It’s an important question. The first date sets the template for all future dates, but sometimes it can be difficult to interpret.

People often have a hard time revealing themselves to strangers—they have their guard up, and at the same time may act certain ways just to be polite, making it easy to get things wrong in either direction.

Follow these cues, however, and you’ll be sure to know whether she thinks you’re the man… or a monster.

1. Study the Body… Language

The body will tell you far more than words ever will. Was she sitting close to you? Did her legs lean toward you? Did she appear skittish? Did she touch you at all? Was she spending a lot of time checking her phone? (The most promising answers, for the record, are yes, yes, no, yes, and no.)

2. Monitor the Conversation

Chatter between two people who don’t know each other that well can be a little strained at first. However, as a date progresses, things should start flowing more freely. If things are awkward and strained throughout, you didn’t have a very good date, regardless of how attracted you felt toward the person. This is one of the biggest red flags on a first date.

3. Listen for Laughter

Laughter is the ultimate tell when it comes to whether or not you had a good date. If she laughed a lot, that’s a strong sign she enjoyed herself. The opposite isn’t necessarily true. That’s why you also have to watch other things like body language and how well the conversation flowed. Now seems like a good time to insert the following video, which raises a whole different set of questions…

4. Watch for Post-Date Contact

If you get home and see a Facebook message that says “I had a great time,” don’t get too overjoyed. It might mean she had a great time or it might mean that she’s being polite. On the other hand, if you get a text message that says “I had a lot of fun. Let’s do this again sometime next week,” that’s a stronger indication. If she messages you referencing some little joke that you guys have because of the date, you’re in like Flynn. It’s all about how much personalization and energy she puts in when she contacts you.

5. Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

After you go on your first big date, it’s time to follow up. If she doesn’t follow up, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. As a man, it’s your job to pursue and initiate. Shoot her a quick note the morning after to let her know that you had a great time and that you’d like to do it again. Have a date idea with a time and place at the ready. If she’s hesitant to go on a second date or commit to a specific time and place, you know that things didn’t go well. If she’s excited, on the other hand, you should be too.

andrew-neel-218073-unsplashMixing business with pleasure is risky. You have one too many drinks at the holiday party and, suddenly, that sexy young blonde you’ve been eyeing from across the office is in your bed. Maybe you realize you don’t even like her personality in the morning. Or you’re into it, but you’re worried about what people will say. The whole ordeal can be a distraction in the work place, and so it’s highly frowned upon. Here are six tips for pulling off an office romance with secrecy.

Shut up about it.

This is the biggest rule of all, because without it, nothing else matters. You can be together, then quit and hate each other or be friends, but if other people in the office know, any hope of privacy goes straight out the window. So if you’re going to go through with it, don’t get drunk at the office happy hour and tell your coworkers your dirty little secret. Your truth will only become a mix of twisted rumors that make you, or her, look bad.

Don’t arrive at work together.

You’re going to shack up with your hookup for the night every now and then. This means eventually dragging an overnight bag along, sleeping over, getting ready for work together, and then making your way to the office… also together. But the rule here is to show up separately. Get to work on time, but one of you should show up a few minutes before or after the other. Don’t ride in the same cab, or even head up in the same elevator. Someone will catch on.

Don’t converse through your work email.

There are just so many mistakes that can be made here. First of all, if your boss is suspicious, they’ll make sure to access your email threads and find what they need. You may also find that your work boo is on an email thread you’re a part of, and you suddenly get the urge to send her a sweet or sexy message, but accidentally click reply all. Not a good look

When you’re at work, be at work.

Perhaps your connection flourished over common connections while sitting at side-by-side cubicles. But when things get really real, it can be very transparent at work. Don’t go from talking a lot to barely talking, of course, but try to remain casually friendly while focusing on your priority: work.

Choose discreet hangouts outside of the office.

Don’t meet at the bar next to your office for happy hour. Don’t go to a restaurant in the neighborhood for a romantic dinner. Either keep things at home or choose discreet neighborhood hole-in-the-wall restaurants. There’s nothing more awkward than a colleague, or your boss, walking into an establishment to see you two locking lips.

Don’t tell anyone about it until it’s serious.

Work flings can be just like any other fling. They come, they go and they may be totally forgotten. But if everyone in the office knows about it, you’ll never live it down. Your reputation may even be destroyed. That’s why it’s best to keep things on the low as much as possible until you both know it’s legitimate. And if it gets to that point, then make sure your work even allows you to date coworkers before spilling the beans.

With everyone plugged in to Facebook and Buzz, blogging and Tweeting and updating their BBM statuses, it’s pretty difficult to avoid finding out what your crush is up to. But there’s a fine line between curious and creepy. So … how should you reveal your stalking to members of the opposite sex?

A lot of people choose to pretend they don’t stalk on Facebook. And maybe they don’t. But pretty much every guy and girl I know stalks the crap out of every guy and girl in their lives, especially someone who they think of banging/have ever banged/almost banged/know they are going to bang soon. And that’s fine. Since we all do it, why not just admit it?

Because the thing is, Facebook and Twitter do the stalking for you these days. Just log in and you’re going to see what someone has been up to. Fine, perhaps you don’t see it on her status (“Shannon is GOING TO THE BAR TONIGHT!”) and you avoided seeing it in her photos (a new album called “MY NIGHT AT THE BAR!”) and you missed it on her Wall (five new posts saying, “OMG it was SO GREAT seeing you at the bar last night!”) and sure, maybe you didn’t see her Tweet, “I LOVE GOING To THE BAR!” … sure, it’s possible. But on Monday when you ask her what she did over the weekend, she’s going to think you’re either not into her, or you’re full of BS.

But I kind of can’t blame you. If you say, “So how was the bar this weekend?” and you’re not someone she’s thinking of banging/have ever banged/almost banged/wants to bang soon … she’s going to think you’re the biggest creeper on the planet.

Some guidelines for what it’s appropriate to reveal:

Admit to stalking your friends and your “friends.”

  • If you are comfortable calling or texting a guy, it’s OK to admit to looking at his tagged photos.
  • DON’T admit to stalking someone whose phone number you don’t even have. And on that note, DON’T pull phone numbers off of Facebook without permission. Yes, it’s out there, but a simple, “Hey, is it cool if I call you this weekend?” — either in person or via Facebook message — is pretty much required.

Check yourself.

If you say you saw it on Facebook, but really you saw it on Twitter, she’s going to know you’re stalking her from all angles.

  • DO accept that everyone uses Facebook a lot.
  • DON’T pretend you didn’t glean your information from it. If she says she went to a party dressed as Wonder Woman and you respond, “Oh, yeah! I … think I heard that … somewhere …” she’s going to wonder why you don’t just fess up.
  • DO come off as less weird/creepy by just admitting you are a little bit weird/creepy. She says: “So I was walked home by the cops wearing a Wonder Woman costume…” You say: “Ohh. Yeah, don’t think this is creepy but I saw pictures of that on Mini-Feed.” Easy-peasy!

Get caught.

Let her catch you stalking her from time to time if you really like her. If she is already into you — we’re talking third date here — and she says, “Oh I had such a great time at the beach last weekend, I can’t wait to go back,” and you say, “Yeah, your pictures made it look like a total blast! Do you go there often?” she’ll be flattered and she’ll blush — and when girls are flattered and blushing, people get laid. If she’s not into you, she’ll still be pleased that you caught something important to her.

Stalk her fan pages

If someone is a fan of, “I hate when people send texts that just say ‘k’”… don’t send her a text that just says “k”! Then she’ll just think you don’t care. But DON’T go out of your way to reference obscure things that you read she’s into. Some people just accept everything Facebook suggests or don’t update their hobbies very often.

When you’re the stalkee:

  • DO make her feel more comfortable about stalking you by assuming she already has. (Because … she has.) If you’re chatting with her about your awesome vacation and you just uploaded 300 pics, just say, “Did you see the pictures of us white water rafting?” Then she knows you’re cool with a little creeping.
  • DON’T retell a story that’s been all over Facebook and Twitter without a disclaimer. “Yeah, you may have seen it on Facebook, but I got a new job!” Again, this just assumes that everyone is stalking and says it’s OK. If your whole life is on the internet, then try not to go into major detail over something the other person already probably read about in great detail on your blog.
  • DO feel OK with not accepting a second date because someone’s been all up on your Mini-Feed with Farmville updates. Yeah, we’re sure finding pumpkins and selling virtual goats is fun, but sometimes stalking leads to judging, and certain updates are deal breakers.

Ultimately, most people log into Facebook and Twitter a lot and stalk without even trying; those people are going to be really flattered when they hear the person they are into was stalking them back. There’s a fine line between good stalking and creepy stalking, but if you can perfect this, your next status update is going to say, “Shannon is now In a Relationship.”

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Twitter got it right. When this micro-blogging service came to concept, many people weren’t impressed by the idea of using only 140 characters to express something. But the social networking site took off to become the fastest growing in history. And when it comes to online flirting, the Twitter model might be the right way to go. Long messages, texts and e-mails are less likely to get a reply than something a little shorter, and, well, a little sweeter. Just like with social networking, social flirting should be simple and quick.

Remember to save the long stories, explanations and history for real life meetings. Like with anything on the internet, most users are only likely to read the first couple paragraphs of a profile or watch the first 30 seconds of a personal video. Be thoughtful about what you say up front. Get the important details – like your areas of interest, goals and ambitions – out quickly or they might not ever be read. Don’t think of your dating profile as you, but rather as a sleek, edited representation of yourself. You need to impress quickly in order to be competitive, even in the online dating world, and you can save the gory details for a real life encounter.

The same rules definitely apply when sending a message or an e-mail to a potential lover, friend or date. Obviously make sure to show an interest in something the person said previously or posted in their profile, but don’t drone on and on about yourself. Each message or e-mail should be thought of as part of a conversation – just say enough so that the conversation can continue, no need to write a novel. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the days of the long love letters is over. Even these days, soldiers overseas look forward to Skype chats with their loved ones as opposed to letters that take weeks to arrive. So there’s no reason for you to send a 12-paragraph e-mail to someone you’re trying to date. Remember, a little bit of mystery goes a long way. Save the intense conversational topics for a first or second date, not a first or second message. Unless you’re a novel writer, your life story will be a lot more interesting coming through a face-to-face chat or broken down into several back and forth messages.

Essentially, the key to the internet is to remember that the shorter, the better – and this rule applies to the online dating world as much as anywhere else. When it comes to personal interactions, people may have longer attention spans, but the medium of the internet substantially shortens people’s attention spans, so limit yourself to a short witty repartee, a quick piece of a conversation saying just enough to leave them wanting more. After all, isn’t the point of flirting online just to make sure you get to test your skills in person?

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