Dating over 40: The 30 second judgement

Dating over 40: The 30 second judgement

So you’re heading off for that first date with the chick you met at work/ online/ walking the dog (yeah, cos that happens) and you arrive keen to make a good impression. You went to the ATM, you took off your Tevas and you arrived early. You order a drink and your date joins you with a smile and a cheery ‘hi’. She looks at you briefly, and glances at the cocktail menu

She’s just decided whether you’re making it past the first date.  

Yep. It’s that quick.

Sure, we’re women, we might change our mind – but, no, not much changes our mind. Women, we hold the land speed record for a 5 second looks/character/personality/shoes/jeans assessment before you’ve finished your ‘hello’.

Women, we’re kind of judgy.

So you might be asking yourself how do we make such a speedy assessment in less time that it takes to say your first and last name? You might think, ‘ but she doesn’t even know me?’, ‘but she hasn’t heard how awesome I am’ or ‘people take a while to warm up to me’ .. Bullshit. Women decide immediately. The only consideration she’ll be mulling over while you sip your drink is how long she’s going to make you wait for the second date.  If you’re on her list, a) congratulations and b) don’t fuck it up.

Sorry. Its just how it is. 

So how do you impact a woman’s snap decision? Make sure it falls in your favor when that judgement happens so. damn. fast? Well chemistry and how you look to her factors into it … but there are other factors, less well known, that can flip a woman’s switch to ‘Off’ before she’s even put her purse on the bar. Let me break it down for you. 


1. Your attire. 
No, I’m going to tell guys to wear a tuxedo or a suit. This isn’t GQ. And to be honest, unless you’re in Vegas or you work in a bank, either of these on a first date is wayyyyy overkill. Unless you’re Daniel Craig. And even Daniel Craig isn’t always Daniel Craig.
However dressing appropriately on a first date is critical.  It says whether you’re a boy or a man (joke t shirts and trucker hats are the fast track to ‘no’), whether you are actually interested in her (un-ironed, wrinkled, holey or stained are all no-nos) and a little about your personality -high maintenance metro man (skinny pants, styled hair, moisturized skin, tucked in shirt) or more easy going relaxed sort (jeans, flip flops, bitten fingernails, faded tee). That first impression should reflect who you are … just not the worse version of who you are. Since we – women- don’t show up on dates in our sweat pants and sneakers with a  greying bra and hair in a scrunchie.. maybe you should give it a second thought too.

Its hard to go wrong with a button down and jeans; roll up the sleeves if its hot and if you insist on flip flops, don’t go for any color other than black or brown. Nothing says ‘questionable’ like a man in purple flip flop and a college t shirt. (FYI, if you’re still really into your college past 30, you’ve outed yourself as a Peter Pan) If its cold, wear a sweater or a jacket, but not the one your grandmother knitted back in 1985, and certainly nothing that Bill Cosby would approve of. And no, don’t ever consider wearing a hat. No, not even a fedora. You’re not Justin Timberlake, and its not 1940. Wearing a baseball cap to a first date is only appropriate if a) you’re a member of the Yankees or b) you own the Yankees. And backwards caps..? Beiber. That’s all I’m saying.

‘But my clothes don’t mean anything‘ you might be thinking. ‘I don’t want to date someone who’s so shallow’ or ‘It doesn’t say anything about who I am’

Well to you, maybe not. But to us, all of us, .. we notice. Oh boy, do we notice. What you wear says whether you care about yourself, whether you’re current in your thinking, and yes, if your relationship with your mother might be a little too close. Your attire can imply that you’re cheap, conservative, a free thinking hippy, a pretentious snob or just an average, normal, respectful jock. Its tells us that you still wish you were in college, that you aren’t as wealthy as you’d like or that you want to date 30 yr olds. Yes, we can get that from jeans and a tee.  So be who you are, but be a good clean, your Mom’s coming to dinner version of that.

Bad glasses, wife beaters, shirts from 1990, ironed jeans, man sandals with socks, frayed t shirts and anything by Ed Hardy. Sorry guys, you might as well save yourself $30 and just go home. Game over.. and you didn’t even get to open your mouth.

2. Your smell.
Step away from the Drakkar Noir, CK One and D&G. No, aftershave is not an all over body mist. And no, it doesn’t hide the fact that your clothes were pulled out of the dirty laundry basket 5 minutes ago and you didn’t have time to wash up after your work out.

Take a shower. 
With soap.

Brush your teeth
With a toothbrush.

That’s all it takes. We love a man who smells good, but all we need on a first date is for you to not smell bad. In fact, if we can’t smell you at all… perfect.
But if we can smell you before we can see you, if your breath curls our eyelashes or you see tears in our eyes as you lean in for an introduction.. you probably need to take your leave. If you’re date is leaning away from you at a 65 degree angle.. take the hint. Take a shower.

3. Your drink. 
You wouldn’t think this matters would you? I mean whats it to us what you drink?
You really want to know? We’re totally extrapolating your personality as soon as we spot that umbrella or shot glass. So sure, go ahead and order what you want.. just know that what you drink, as the ads say, says everything about you.

  • Lemonade: Unless you just got done working out, its 106 degrees or you’re under 18, Lemonade says ‘AA’ or ‘I don’t trust myself’. Either of which means you’ve probably got questionable judgement and we’re on high alert. No-one needs to drink lemonade on a date. The only exception being breakfast. When you can drink coffee like every other normal person.
  • White wine: Totally acceptable if its the height of summer, its before 5pm or you weigh less than 150lbs. White wine is the limp wrist of drinks. The only men who can drink it on a first date are those blessed in the pants department or those seeking a same sex partner. 
  • Domestic Beer: If you’re ordering a Bud, anything with the word ‘Lite’ in the title or suds the color of cat piss, you’re either 18 or clueless. Domestic beer says ‘I like to spend every Sunday in the parking lot of the football stadium’  and ‘you’re never too old to funnel’. And no, ironic hipster beers like PBR and Old Style don’t cut it either. We know you think its cool, but it says ‘trying too hard’. Plus they taste and smell like musky urine, so we’re not coming anywhere near your mouth anytime soon.
  • Microbrews: Always acceptable, even mass marketed micros are a good choice for saying ‘I’m not an idiot’ and ‘I have some taste’. Just try to avoid one which requires a piece of fruit being stuck in the bottle, in which case, you might as well go for the full monty and ask for an umbrella and a cherry.
  • Cocktail: This one is tricky. A mixed drink is always a solid choice, but anything that you need to describe to the wait staff or which involves more than 4 ingredients yells ‘pretentious douche’. If its on the drinks menu, order away, but only if it doesn’t involve drinking out of a pineapple, fruit on cocktail sticks or anything pink. She’ll be looking for moobs before you even suck the mint from your teeth.
  • Red wine: Always acceptable, red wine is the new ‘beer’ for guys. If you don’t want to drink beer, drink red wine. It doesn’t matter what type, it says ‘I’m a grown up’ unless you’re holding the glass in your fist or drinking straight from the bottle. Never, I repeat, never order a bottle of red before your date arrives. A bottle yells ‘over-confident’  and if it sucks, you’re both stuck drinking vinegar for an hour. By which time she’s hates you, even if she thought she was going to sleep with you.
  • Scotch: ‘I love scotch, scotchy scotchy scotch’ . The only men who can order scotch with panache on a first date are a) Sean Connery b) Ron Burgundy or c) an alcoholic. I love scotch, but as a first date, first drink, it implies that you’re trying just a tad too hard.  If you want to project suavity, wear good shoes and stand up to greet her. It costs less and you won’t have a horrific hangover the next day.
  • Tequila shot: You’re a devil may care wild man who may or may not have a bike parked outside. You definitely have a tattoo (or seven) and you might be carrying a strain of drug resistant gonorrhea. You certainly aim to get drunk. A woman who approaches a man doing shots on a first date is probably going to keep on walking. By 7pm, he won’t remember what he was doing at the bar in the first place.

So there you have it. take a shower, leave the stained tees at home, and order something appropriate to drink. Your first 30 seconds are a go. The rest is up to you.

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