Ask Erika: How do I make a spark!?

erika e-1405-4We called, and you answered! Thank you so much for the overwhelming number of questions in response to “Ask Erika” a few weeks ago. Continue sending your questions my way! I’ll be addressing all of them in due time, but I wanted to start today with a question from a reader that I get a lot as a dating coach:

“I’ve been told multiple times after a first date that I’m a great guy, but that she just didn’t feel that “spark”. If you are meeting someone for the first time – what recommendations do you have to make that spark?”

In other words, is there a way to create chemistry with someone?

The long and short of it is, unfortunately, no. You can’t create chemistry, or a “spark,” from nothing. If one person is simply not physically attracted to the other, then it’s hard to move past that. I do, however, recommend giving it a second date if you’re on the fence about someone.

About 10 years ago (oy—I’m getting old), I went on a first date to a Mexican restaurant. (This is before I knew that you can always add dinner, but you can’t take it back!) At any rate, my date was, well, boring. At the end, I thought to myself, “Nice enough guy, but no chemistry.” The next day, I sent him a “thank you” email (he did pay for my meal, after all), and he wrote back about how he had a good time, and then he actually wrote something funny! I thought to myself, “This guy wasn’t funny at all on our date.  Interesting.”  And then he asked me out again. While I didn’t have a particularly good time on the first date, this guy seemed interested, and I knew he could at least communicate in written form. Why not?

For date #2, we met at the Metro, and he wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  In fact, he was kind of cute.  And then… against all odds… this guy was funny! I liked this guy, and sparks were flying. We ended up dating for a year and a half.  I found out many months later that he was nervous—very nervous—on the first date.

People often expect fireworks and rainbows on a first date, but the likelihood of that is only 100% in Disney movies. I encourage both men and women to give people a second chance if there isn’t a “spark” initially to see if one can grow. For the reader with the question, despite the lack of interest on their end, I am glad that these women are at least declining another date tactfully rather than saying nothing at all.

Now, onto the question at hand… while you can’t create a connection, there are subtle ways of increasing the “flirt factor” (not a scientific term by any means) on your dates by using simple body language cues:

  1. Notice where you’re facing.

Are your legs facing towards or away from your date? The more you point them towards your date, the more likely you are into him/her, and vice versa. Generally, if people turn their legs away from someone, it’s because they are trying to create some distance.

  1. Are you within spitting distance?

I hate two-tops. You know what I mean—the tables where you feel like you have to yell across it to have a conversation. If given the choice, either sit at the bar, or sit at a square table catty-corner from each other. This way, you’re more inclined to have an intimate conversation since you’re close enough to hear each other.

  1. Where are your hands?

Do you like your date? If so, a playful touch is generally a sign of interest. Let’s say you’re out with someone really funny. He or she cracks a joke. You might touch your date’s arm briefly while saying something like, “That’s really funny.”

  1. You looking at me?

If you want someone to know you’re truly listening, then make the appropriate eye contact. Speaking of keeping your eyes on each other, please put your cell phone away during your date. There’s nothing worse than interrupting someone mid-sentence to check a non-urgent text. If you’re expecting an important call or email, let your date know in advance that there’s a possibility you might have to step out for a minute.

  1. Pay attention to the end.

How do most of your dates end? With a hug? A kiss? A handshake? Unless it’s so clear that you’re on the same page (basically, the make out page), I would recommend a hug, and the quality of the hug actually matters. Just like in a business meeting, you don’t want to have a “dead fish” handshake, in dating, you don’t want to be the person with the weak hug. Now, I’m not saying give your date a great big bear hug that you’d give to your mom on Thanksgiving. What I am saying is to give a real, earnest hug that shows that you care.

What you say on a date is obviously important, but it’s often the more subtle things that people remember. So, while you can’t create chemistry, you can certainly do things to improve the art of flirtation… and if you’re not sure, give people a chance.



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