Archive for March, 2012

Budget Date Planning 101

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Male clients often ask me for inexpensive date ideas in the DC Area since they generally are the ones who plan and pay for dates, and after a while of “trying to find the one” costs can add up. This article focuses on dates outside of your home (as opposed to cooking for her or watching DVDs).  As such, I’m talking about beginning dates, such as first or second dates, although some of the date ideas could work later on as well.

What is important is that you do your research, be prepared, and get an idea for the kinds of activities or foods your date would enjoy.

Check with some of your favorite restaurants and see if they have daily or happy hour specials. This area has enough going on that you can probably find very affordable burger nights, live music, wing nights, salsa dancing, trivia nights, karaoke nights, etc.  somewhere on nearly any night of the week.

You also want to research areas that have appropriate venues for dates. So, if you are taking someone on a date for drinks, look into places you can take her afterwards for dinner, dessert, or just to see the sights. I tend to focus on Gallery Place/Chinatown, Eastern Market, and Clarendon, but you can research areas that are convenient for you, keeping in mind that your dates may not live near you. When I’ve had to choose a Maryland neighborhood for dates, I’ve chosen Bethesda.

Part of doing research is finding out about the person with which you will be going on the date. Knowing her interests, what she likes to drink or eat, and where she either hangs out, lives, or works can be helpful when it comes to suggesting particular places. Even then, you are selling the experience and your knowledge. So, if after researching where the restaurant bargains are on a particular night, you can get across that you know a place for great tacos, sangria, beer, or coffee, she will be more interested in the venue because you are being more specific and have knowledge of the venue or menu item.  This may explain why many of my suggestions in the below list are Latin. J A great art opening, live band, or book signing can work just as well. Know your audience and the venue.

So how can you be prepared? If you’ve already researched several places to get drinks, coffee, and inexpensive food in several neighborhoods, you are prepared with other options if you suggest something that she isn’t interested in. Maybe she doesn’t like sangria or tacos. Or maybe you get to the venue and it is closed for a private party, out of business, or packed with people–have other options ready. Depending on where you both live and the date venue, you may need to think about transportation logistics.

Here are some examples of inexpensive date ideas:

1. The National Zoo, music shows at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, free outdoor movies (National Mall, Capital Riverfront, Crystal City, Rosslyn, etc.),  Smithsonian museums, and art openings at galleries are good arts and/or culture options that are free.

2. La Tasca in Chinatown has $3.75 glasses of a variety of sangrias and (specific) appetizers in the bar area during happy hour, 4-7pm daily. You want to get here early to get a bar table, so you may wind up waiting for your date. I get there at 5:15 pm, and read a book till my date shows up at 6:00 pm.

3. Zengo in Chinatown has a happy hour that is 7 days a week 5-8PM, and features $5 Latin-Asian Cocktails and $5 Small Plates.

4. Mate in Georgetown has Half Price Sushi, $6 martinis, margaritas, mojitos and glasses of wine, and $4 beer during their happy hour, Monday-Friday 5-7pm.

5. El Centro D.F on 14th Street NW has a year round rooftop happy hour 5-7 pm daily with $4 margaritas, Mexican beers, red & white wine. They also have a $2 taco night featuring chef’s choice of 3 special tacos all Tuesday evening in the Taqueria & Tequileria.

6 & 7. Either Teaism in Penn Quarter or Northside Social in Clarendon are good options to offer along with a bar option like La Tasca or Mate.

8. Eastern Market is a good option for a date on a weekend, when everything is open. Eastern Market works well because you can walk together looking at the stands (joking about the wilder merchandise), and take a break at a coffeehouse or get inexpensive food nearby.

9. Activity dates like hiking, playing pool, or bowling can also be good options, if you are both interested in the activity.

10. Book signings work as well, as long as the date in question is interested in the topic.  Some book signings are free, while other venues (such as Sixth & I) charge for their signings. The authors are often celebrities, making the experience even more memorable. Sixth & I sometimes gives you a discount on the book with the purchase of tickets to a signing.

Now get out there and plan some good inexpensive dates that both of you will enjoy!






Are Your Deal Breakers Truly Deal Breakers?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

If you walk into a Dating Coach’s or Matchmaker’s office with a laundry list of qualities you must have in a mate, expect the Dating Professional to either physically light your list on fire (Millionaire Matchmaker), or give you a lesson in statistics (Tough Love Miami, Why Am I Still Single?).  While unrealistic standards certainly can be an issue with both men and women, this is often a tremendous problem for women, so I will focus on women in this month’s column.

Many of my female clients are what people would call “a great catch,” and their friends and coworkers are shocked that these women are still single. Often, a main issue these clients have is unrealistic expectations.

Some of the common deal breaker’s or standards I have come across in female clients include height (6 feet +), religion (type and observance level), race (must be white, not be white, not have an Asian fetish, have dated Asians before, etc), sense of humor, income (six figures +), divorce (must not have been, have been), kids/pets (must have them, not have them, want them, be tolerant of them), and profession (must have a certain type of job, be ambitious, have time for a relationship).

How do statistics work? If you are a woman and you walk into a room of 50 American men, only 6 of them will be at least over 6 feet tall (statistic from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink).  Add any other deal breaker other than really basic ones, and chances are there is nobody left in your dating pool.  There are actually far less American men making at least a 6-figure salary than those who are 6 feet or taller. The combination of things you are looking for should not eliminate your entire dating pool.

Shouldn’t people have deal breakers and standards? Absolutely! You need to screen out inappropriate matches, and screen in appropriate ones. Religion, whether someone wants kids, and where they want to live are examples of completely legitimate deal breakers.

Yes, you should be attracted to potential mates, but this works differently for men and women. Men generally know instantly (visually) who they are attracted to, while a large part of what makes a man attractive to a woman is how he makes her feel. So, give people a chance—as long as the person in question is within the range of possibility, put aside stereotypes you might have based on their appearance and have a conversation with them to see if there is chemistry.

I have more detailed exercises I do with clients in person, but for now I want you to think about the following things: (1) What are the top 5 qualities I need in a mate, and in what ranked order. (2) Does the list look realistic, with men existing in sufficient quantity for you to be able to find them? (3) Think about how you would screen (ask questions, tell stories that highlight characteristics and pay attention to his response, tell him what you want, etc) for whatever qualities are on your list. Keep in mind that the trap/pattern that a lot of people fall into is going after qualities they want instead of qualities they truly need, so prioritize needs before wants. Make sure the qualities on your list are not duplicated (such as 2 ways of saying honest) or conflicting.

If you are serious about men who have a particular quality, think about where you can find them. So, if it is really important to you that your man is extremely athletic (such as a runner), you would go to the specific events/venues (marathons, runner’s meet ups, specific gyms), dating events (speeddating for fit professionals) and websites (including themed community or dating websites) that they would frequent. It helps to meet as wide a variety of people that could potentially have the qualities you are looking for as possible, since you never know exactly who you will connect with.

So, go out there, meet some new people, try some new things, and have fun!


BTW, I wrote this article for my monthly DC Life Magazine column for February, but the magazine is late in posting it to the website. I believe it is already in the app version of the magazine.