Dear Sara: I’m a 49-year-old guy from Germany. I’ve done online dating now for about a year. In my case, the reason I most often hear from women for cancelling after the first or second date have been the sentences, “Sorry, I don’t feel anything for you” or “There are no butterflies in my stomach” or “I think the chemistry doesn’t work.” Ultimate killer phrases.
Is there anything I can do to influence this chemistry thing? Although it surely is a very individual thing, could you give me a hint or some examples of what makes a man attractive or interesting? Of course, I know the feeling of strong antipathy directly after the beginning of a date, that tells you to stop the whole thing at once, but I never had a feeling of “feeling nothing” for my counterpart during a date so far. Maybe it just takes me longer to come to such an assessment.
Right now I’m asking myself which way I should choose: Should I work more on my personal appearance by doing yoga, meditation or consulting a flirt coach? Or should I take the same point of view [as these women] and be picky, too? Unfortunately, I started falling in love with some of those women, because I thought the chemistry was right. This was the most frustrating experience—I thought I could read my counterpart and understand her and her body language, but she obviously didn’t feel the same or did not show it. — M
Dear M: The chemistry thing is so hard. There is really no way to explain why we feel attracted to one person and not another. I can assure you that during my dating years there were many men I felt wildly attracted to, and felt sure they must feel the same way, but … they didn’t.
There is a certain X factor that just can’t be explained. But the good news is that different people are attracted to … well, different people.
I also think there is at least one thing you can do to give your pheromones a fighting chance: Focus on your date, not yourself. Instead of worrying about whether or not she thinks you’re hot, just be attentive to her needs. Ask her questions about herself, and really listen to what she has to say. This might sound basic, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. So often we get caught up in trying to impress a date, bragging about our accomplishments or trying to make sure our hair looks good. And tragically, this usually has the opposite effect—you just come off as boring and self-absorbed. But if you listen and talk about her—well, then you’re the most fascinating person in the world! And when you’re focusing on the other person, rather than the impression you’re making, you’ll also be more relaxed—and thus make a better impression.
You sound like a nice guy, so maybe this isn’t your issue, but I thought I’d mention it just in case. I think it’s great to do things to make yourself feel good—yoga, meditation, etc. Consulting a flirting expert can be very useful—flirting is definitely a skill so if you don’t have it, why not consult someone who can teach it?
I’m all for doing what you can to feel healthier, saner, and more confident. But I would suggest not doing them with the goal of “being more attractive.” Just do them because they make you feel good, and don’t worry about having chemistry with every woman you meet. Just look for one person you have chemistry with, because of course that’s all you need.
Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.