The time for the regular phone calls is over. Internet chats have exhausted all the topics potential lovers would have. And the creativity on SMS is almost diminishing.
Yes, it is time for a first date, and in due time, he asks you out. The date is set. The adrenaline is rising. Finally, you are going to meet the guy you have convinced yourself is ‘the man to watch’ as far as your heart matters are concerned.
One of the things you will want to do is weigh your own level of attraction to him. Should you determine that he is worth your time, you will want to impress him with your dress, demeanour and face-to-face conversation skills.
How do you tell, at the end of the evening, whether you have made a good enough impression to get a call-back, or whether you should cut your losses?
According to Mrs Njoki Ngugi, a relationship counsellor, “expectations are normally high(from both parties) that all will go on well.”
On many occasions, however, all does not go well. In fact, a survey carried out last year by Match.com, an online dating agency, in which 35,000 adults were interviewed in four continents (including Africa), four in every 10 first dates go sour.
“Out of the four incidents, half of them resulted in the man not communicating again while the other half communicated for a while, with reduced enthusiasm, before the calls and the mails went silent,” the pollsters noted.
A non-scientific survey conducted by Saturday Magazine on 40 men aged between 25 and 35, in Nairobi, on what men use to judge whether there will be a next date, was quite revealing.
According to the survey, 25 per cent of the men will notice make-up and dress. Conspicuous lipstick and over-exposed flesh turn them off as far serious relationships are concerned.
The interviewees were emphatic that men go on the first date with ‘a potential wife’ in mind, and that is why they do not want a second date with someone they think cannot make a wife.
For Michael Saruni, a Second Year university student, simple dressing is the epitome of a woman you want to be close to.
“I first gauge whether a woman has overdressed or not,” he says. “If, for example, a woman has on bangles, earrings, bracelets, chains, lipstick and eye pencil, then I know we do not have a life longer than that day.”
Some 22.5 per cent of the respondents said they would first notice a woman’s communication mannerisms. They voted against women who talk a lot without giving the man a chance to drive the conversation. Speaking too much is seen as a sign of disrespect, they said.
“You will know she whether she is good or bad woman by how she talks to you,” Jibril Dunia, 27, says. “A woman who dominates the chat, often with stories about herself without giving you a chance to talk is particularly irksome. A good woman should listen more that she talks and the more soft spoken, the better.”
It’s even worse if she keeps on receiving phone calls.
“You sit there and listen to another man talking to her on the phone on matters that are not business. If I notice this I know it is the last time we are meeting. It ignites a sense of insecurity in many men, not just me,” says Jibril, who runs a modelling firm.
And any woman who has preconceived notions about men sends alarm bells ringing.
“If the word ‘men’, as in ‘men are like this’ or ‘men always do this’ keeps coming up, it reveals a social disorder that leaves an impression of a woman who lacks respect,” says Saruni.
So you want to come along with your girlfriend for your date? Think again. Some 17.5 per cent of the men interviewed say they detest a third party in their maiden encounter.
However, they are split on the reasons. More than half confessed that the third party was an ‘extra expense’ while the rest suggested it indicates that the woman lacks confidence.
“You feel like the third person is the ultimate judge of the direction the relationship should take.”
Contrary to popular perception that men are obsessed with women’s figures, the survey showed that only 10 per cent would determine the future of the relationship by someone’s body shape.
Those particularly keen on body shape are those with extreme shapes themselves, meaning tall men say they prefer shorter women while big men say they would choose a slimmer woman.
But how much can a man know about a woman in one meeting?
Brian Ogana, a computer engineer, says one meeting can give you a good idea of someone: "Within our first chat, I can tell if a woman (is easy). Any woman whose speech is sexually explicit will only be useful for as long as she is not bedded. This is the type that will not have their calls picked the following day.”
Ogana has no time for a woman who does not easily play second fiddle to her man.
“I expect her to listen more than she talks, to make orders after me unless I ask her to do so first and to consult me every time we are asked a question, either by a waiter, bouncer or just another customer. That is how a male ego is built,” he says.
Ogana values eye contact and will notice if a woman is avoiding looking at him.
“Confidence and honesty are virtues that are best exhibited by eye contact. Anything else and you start doubting her statements.”
Commenting on the statistics, Mrs Ngugi said, “What a man notices first makes up the final conclusion about the date. It is important, then, that the first impression should actually last, if the relationship is to survive.”