Dating coach Connell Barrett answers your questions on where to go on a first date, why “alpha males” aren’t a thing, and the dating-app opener that never fails.
Now that the pandemic is ending—I hope!—do you have any tips on where to go on a first date? My go-to date is dinner, but that gets expensive.
—Devlin, 27, Birmingham, Ala.
OK, pop quiz! Which of these first-date propositions sounds more inviting?
A) “Hey, how about a couple glasses of wine and some stimulating conversation?”
B) “Hey, how about an elaborate, three-hour, white-tablecloth dinner where we sit across from each other, struggle to hold a conversation, and try not to make weird chewing noises?”
Ding, ding! If you picked “A,” you’re correct! The more fun and low-stress you make the date sound, the more likely your potential partner will be into it. Drinks are a classic option, as is coffee, smoothies, or ice cream. Activity dates like bowling, karaoke, or trivia nights can also be a blast and give you built-in stuff to talk about.
For first dates, stay away from doing dinners—they’re too expensive and time-consuming, and you’re liable to feel stuck if there’s no chemistry. No movies or group dates, either. Make it just the two of you.
Avoid big and elaborate gestures as well. No gifts, poems, or standing outside her window with a boom box playing Peter Gabriel songs. That kind of rom-com stuff reeks of desperation. (There’s an Onion article titled, “Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested.” There’s a reason for that.)
Remember that the most important thing to do on a date is to have fun together. So, ideally you want to choose an activity that you really enjoy doing and at the same time, allows you to connect.
For a LOT more first-date ideas, check out my new book, "Dating Sucks but You Don't."
I see a lot of videos and articles about how women want to date alpha males. Is that true? What if I’m just not an alpha guy? Is there hope for me?
—Barnes, 47, Boston
There’s no hope for you. Sorry. Forget your hopes of finding a soft, warm girlfriend—unless she’s inflatable.
I kid, Barnes!
I was once in a BO-drenched Las Vegas conference room, watching a strutting “pickup artist” on-stage praising the supposed panty-dropping powers of being a dominant man. “The Alpha male gets all the tail,” he said with Johnnie Cochran flair.
But there’s a problem here: Alpha males aren’t a thing. It’s a big old myth.
The idea of the alpha male first gained credence in the 1970s when wildlife biologist L. David Mech, an expert in wolves, published a book that documented the existence of alpha wolves in the wild. Two decades later, he tried to replicate his findings, but he couldn’t.
He was horrified. It turns out, the “alpha” behavior he thought he’d observed was simply mom and dad wolves caring for their pups. Mech renounced his original findings, but it was too late; the myth of the alpha had cemented into conventional wisdom.
It’s also informed a lot of bad dating advice. There’s no concrete, scientific evidence for “alpha males” getting to mate with all the females—in any animals, including humans.
Take our close relatives the chimpanzees. Studies show that the aggressive chimp doesn’t necessarily become the group leader, and that smaller, more docile chimps become dominant by completing more feminine tasks, such as grooming other chimps. And our closest biological relatives are bonobos, apes that live in a matriarchal society. (Humans and bonobos are the only species that French kiss.)
Traits like assertiveness, courage, and boldness are absolutely essential in dating. A woman must sense your strength. But the idea of the alpha male is a myth, and a troublesome one.
At worst, alpha-male behavior stifles growth and encourages men to view women and “beta males” as inferior. At best, it leads to wearing Axe body spray, chest bumps, and saying things like “brah” and “baller.”
Reject the “alpha” mask. It just doesn’t work, plain and simple. Yes, there are times when you must take decisive action, “man up,” and make a move. But studies show that non-alpha qualities like kindness and generosity are the key indicators of fulfilling relationships.
My openers on Tinder rarely get a reply, and it’s driving me nuts! Any all-purpose openers that you can recommend? I’m so tired of getting all excited by matches, and then never having the women reply to me.
—Max, 23, Utica, N.Y.
Behold, the dating app opener that (almost) never fails. It’s two simple words that we all know from childhood: joke-telling.
I know, I know. This shouldn’t work. But the knock-knock opener is super effective because it’s both playful, and it creates curiosity. Plus, we’re all conditioned, Pavlov-style, to reply, “Who’s there?”
The cheesier the joke, the better. I like this one, myself.
No bell! That’s why I knocked.
She will groan, and possibly mock your joke selection. But she WILL write you back.
Want some tips on how to get more swipes on Tinder or how to talk to women? Read Connell's column here and subscribe so you never miss an update!
Connell Barrett is a dating coach from NYC that specializes in actionable advice for men. He helps men all over the world find their dream woman. In fact, he's been called one of the best dating coaches in the world. Connell's dating advice has appeared in Maxim, Cosmopolitan, and more. In addition, he has been featured on Access Hollywood and the Today Show. Ask Connell a question below!
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