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Erika Ettin: Your dating questions deciphered

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 6/6/2018 By Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service
a woman smiling for the camera: Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge and writer of the RELATE-DATING-TIPS column. © Alexander Morozov/TNS/TNS Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge and writer of the RELATE-DATING-TIPS column.

Every day, clients and friends alike send me their burning dating questions. (It's one of my favorite parts of my job.) Today, I'd like to share two of these, both about first and second dates. And, as always, remember that there are no dumb questions.

Q: On Tuesday, the date went well and I just asked her out again, but it may just wind up as a friend thing too. We talked for like 2.5 hours, and it started out well, then there was a lull in the middle, then it ended well.

So how long should first dates be - should I hold them to just one hour, as opposed to interrogating these women with my interviewing skills?! But then again, if there isn't an initial spark, I sometimes hope that a spark may emerge.

- Gary, 48, Arlington, Va.

A: To answer your question about first date length, both of the dates you just had are much longer than the standard first date with someone you met online. It's always best to meet for coffee or a drink, have the "out" after an hour or so if you want it, but continue the date if you're not ready to go. There's nothing wrong with leaving something to talk about on the second date.

And I don't pick up on sarcasm very well, so I'm not sure if you were joking about interviewing them, but definitely, don't! Asking questions is great, but so is flirty banter and telling some stories. The interview-type stuff comes out the better you get to know someone. The first date is really just to see if you have chemistry, to see if you want a second "real" date. These are totally different rules for online dating versus, someone you met and clearly, there's already chemistry there since you agreed to go out.

Q: A problem I currently have with guys is the "date follow-through." Guys will ask me out on a date online, usually saying something like "Let's get drinks next week." I say something like, "That sounds great. I'm free on Tuesday and Thursday after work around 6:30." Then sometimes, they don't get back to me. Or (in the case of the one guy I had a great date with) he said, "Let's hang out this week." I gave him my schedule in the same way as above. Then he tells me that he's busy this week. I say "maybe the weekend." Two days later and no response.

I think that I might be too forward with guys. I'm a very forward and direct person in general and have to make sure that I limit this trait because guys want to be in control. When guys casually ask me out on a date online is there a better way to make it happen without scaring them off by being too forward?

- Nina, 27, New York, N.Y.

A: You actually remind me of myself in terms of being forward and being a planner, and there is nothing wrong with that - it's just your personality. (And they are still the ones asking you out, it seems.) Doesn't it annoy you when someone doesn't follow through or drops the ball? Well, if it annoys you now after one date or even before the date, it'll annoy you throughout life. So, rather than changing your tactic (giving two choices, like Tuesday or Thursday, as you did, I would recommend doing the following as well because it tells him when you're free but ultimately lets him pick the final date), it's more about finding a mature guy who actually takes the lead and doesn't just casually ask you out with no intention of putting something on the calendar. If you do want to soften it a little, you could say, "That sounds great. Tuesday or Thursday could work for me if that works for you." It's a little less forward and more "cool" with the word "could" in there and removing the time (after 6:30).

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(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH for updates and tips.)

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