Editor’s note: Trained as a social worker, Mashpee resident Peggy Wolman has a matchmaking business based in Boston (Peggywolmanmatchmaking.com). She works with her husband, psychologist Richard Wolman, to introduce people and coach them, for a fee, on dating and relationships. For Valentine’s Day, they came up with these six steps to romance and more.
Every cookbook has a variety of recipes for making delicious and nutritious meals. It could be French, Italian or American cooking, but each of us knows that whatever cuisine we choose, the options are almost endless.
It’s the same with finding love. No one recipe is right for every occasion, but each has a unique flavor or appearance that makes it tempting and appealing based on your experience and desire to take a risk.
A successful recipe starts with, “What am I in the mood for, and what will please my guests?” You can choose something tried and true, or strike out with a more adventurous approach. You obviously need to choose what the dish will be, you don’t make every dish you know, or use every ingredient, when you invite someone for dinner.
So for this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re never married, divorced or widowed, 30+, 40+, 50+ 60+ or 70+, here’s our recommended Valentine’s Day recipe for finding someone special:
Step One: Be selective. Choose someone with whom you think you have enough in common to begin a meaningful conversation. That person may be from a very similar background or 180 degrees from your usual date. Decide what you want to wear to present yourself as upbeat.
Step two: Meet in person. Whether you have met someone online or a friend has fixed you up, beware of the trap of an electronic pen-pal. Some people like to email back and forth with long, sometimes revealing messages, as if that communication will give you as much of a sense of who the person is as seeing him or her in the real world. There is no substitute for meeting in person.
Step three: Manage your expectations. On any first date, there may be nervousness. Sometimes this is reflected by trying too hard to make the conversation flow and sometimes it is reflected by trying to be too good a listener and not injecting opinions or comments about yourself. It’s important to give your date a chance to show you who he or she is, and that you reciprocate by letting your date know who you are. What are you passionate about and what experiences do you especially enjoy? Often singles look too hard for “red flags” right away so you can dismiss the “candidate” sitting across from you. If you focus on getting to know someone, you will enjoy your dates and see them as opportunities to meet new and interesting people, even if he/she is not “the one.” As one lovely woman told us recently, “I was online for six years and met a lot of very interesting men, two of whom I invited to my wedding!”
Step four: Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. After the first date, some singles say, that there was one comment, or one gesture, or asking too many questions made it clear that the first date was the last. Unless there is an egregious red flag, look toward having a second date. We encouraged one of our clients to go out again with a gentleman who was, “nice, but not enough of a sense of humor,” to give him a second chance. She did. And the second chance turned onto a third chance, and then a fourth chance… they are currently on chance number 1,000 and beyond.
Step five: Create meaningful conversation. Share your spiritual values and beliefs as well as your favorite Broadway shows, or movies or favorite recent book. And remember: Conversation flows more smoothly if you don’t ask too many questions. Instead try making “I” statements. “I like” rather than, “So, what do you like” is a much more engaging and inviting way to start a dialogue. You take responsibility for the topic of conversation rather than shifting the responsibility to your date to talk about a topic you have chosen for your date to respond to.
Step six: Take your time. Relationships need time to evolve and grow. As the song says, “You can’t hurry love.” Find ways to engage with the other person in activities and adventures. Lunch and dinner can be limiting. Research shows that people are better communicators when their bodies are in motion. Take walks, go for ice cream, visit a museum. We also advocate just having coffee, and then deciding on a next activity together.
With these six steps, this recipe will create meaningful dialogue and satisfying experiences with your dates, one of whom you may choose, and who may choose you, for the longer lasting relationship you’re hoping for. Your open-mindedness will guide your success in meeting and dating someone special. An open mind leads to an open heart – and is sure to be a prize-winning recipe.