I recently set up a couple – let’s call them Boaz and Rut. After the first date, Rut tells me, “Nice guy but I just don’t feel it.”

This raises many questions:

  1. If you are over 27 and unmarried, when did you feel it…at a time when he felt it too? Clearly that never happened because you are still single.
  2. Why do you think that you will “feel it” on a first date? That is not how relationships get developed. You expect to feel it without any emotional depth or intimacy in your relationship? And if you say you have emotional depth or intimacy on a first date, I will say you have no idea what it is and it would be completely inappropriate to have until at least a third or fourth date.
  3. Who decided what you should feel on a first date? When do you plan to stop expecting a Hollywood love story, where in under 2 hours a couple falls in love and lives happily ever after?

Let me state a scary and sad fact. As a shadchan for more than 20 years, I see – proportionately – fewer people over the age of 30 getting married in the past decade. In fact, I believe 50% – yes, fifty percent – of women over the age of 30 won’t get ever married…unless there is a drastic shift in how people date and what their expectations are.

Most of the couples whose marriages I played a role in did not “feel it” until several dates in. Here are some suggestions for what you should expect from a first date:

  1. Go on a first date with one main goal: to have a decent enough time to agree to a second date.
  2. Unless there is something really bad, such as s/he is rude to a waiter, came an hour late with no explanation, didn’t stop checking his/her phone the entire date, or picked his/her nose non-stop (or some other extreme behavior), go on a second date.
  3. On the first date, only look for the positives. This is not a date to decide if you could marry the person. It is not to determine if you think he or she is attractive. This is only a date to decide if you should take time to get to know them better. Ignore the negatives (see #2 above for exceptions) and focus on the positives.
  4. Keep it light. The first date is not to discuss life plans, how many kids you want, your hashkafos, or deep personality insights. It is to see if you can make conversation, laugh at the same things, etc. Keep the conversation to light topics – where do you like to vacation (and why), what you are doing this summer, etc.
  5. Most important – do NOT go into the first date to “check out” the other person, to critique, to decide if s/he is a match for you. Go into the first date to impress the other person, to “wow” him/her. It’s your job to make a good impression for the other person, and ensure that your date will want to go out again. Think of it like a job interview. On a first interview, you want them to like you and want a second interview in consideration of offering you the job. Once they are into you, then you can start negotiating salary, vacations, or coming in at 11 am instead of 9 am every day. But you wouldn’t walk into the first job interview with your list of demands.
  6. Remember that Hashem has chosen your bashert. He has not promised you a great looking spouse, or someone who went to an Ivy League college. With each date, ask yourself, “What if this is who Hashem chose for me? I have personal choice with whomever He chose for me. If this is my designated soulmate, would I rather try to make it work, or walk away and chance being single the rest of my life?” Your question should not be,”Do I feel that this is my soulmate?” But rather, “HOW do I invest in this date so if it is my soulmate, I am doing everything possible to turn this date into a marriage-oriented relationship?”

Needless to say, I could not convince Rut to give Boaz a second date. Sadly, there is a 50% chance that she rejected her soul mate instead of agreeing to meet him a second time for a one-hour coffee meeting. My advice to singles: If you have the choice between spending your future alone with 3 cats or going out for a one hour coffee date with a nice guy/lady, go for the latter!

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