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First Dates: I Gotta Have More Cowbell

Scot McKay

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First and foremost, if you are unfamiliar with the classic Saturday Night Live piece that inspired the title of this week's newsletter, take five and enjoy the video courtesy of YouTube. Keywords “cowbell" and “Will Ferrell" ought to help you find it quickly.

I've been giving considerable thought lately to why so many first dates go awry. Based on some of the emails I get you would think that the concept of a first date going well is about as rare as an ‘86 Yugo in running condition. Are half of us really that deficient in making a solid first impression? Or is it the OTHER half of us who are that unreasonable in our expectations?

Here's exactly as bad as it gets. I can tell you with a straight face that I think most of us are BOTH. “C: All Of The Above". Ironically enough, these days people want immediate gratification even as the concept of “customer service" is all but extinct. So in a world of short attention spans and expectations of disappointment we make dates with people. Assuming we have enough integrity to show up rather than flaking out, we expect to be “entertained" even as we feel perfectly free to leave our “A Game" hanging in the locker.

We're going on dates, but simply put we are not “bringing it". And to complicate matters, thanks to online dating many of us are going on more first dates than ever with people we haven't even MET before. In such situations “going big or going home" takes on new meaning.

So then, like Christopher Walken, “I got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell. "

Here are eight ways we fail to put forth our best effort on first dates:

1) Failure To Communicate. . . AT ALL

Maybe you're nervous. Perhaps you're playing it conservative so as not to “blow it". But if it takes four dentists, two rocket scientists and a small boy to extract words from your mouth when you are sitting in front of someone you just met don't come whining to me when the date doesn't progress the way you want it to.

2) Interview Questions

This is obvious and you've heard it a million times before, haven't you? Yeah well, the problem is that we STILL KEEP DOING IT anyway. So instead of repeating the problem for the seventy-leventh time, here's a practical solution: Take careful note of anything interesting that you happen to see or read during the day of the date. When you meet the person, casually begin conversation using the topics you've already invested time in preparing to talk about. Tease a bit-whether you are a man OR a woman. Use the “banter" skills you've learned. When you start hearing “I've known you for ten minutes but it's like we've know each other for years" then you know you are on the right track.

3) Don't Feel Like Being Here

I've actually heard horror stories where someone's date actually SAID this at the front end of the date. Lookit. That's practically tantamount to soft-core dating terrorism. “Hello, A. I'm B. I really don't want to be here. No really-I have better things to do. " You know, I'm beginning to think that flaking out on someone at the last minute-or even flat-out standing them up-isn't as bad as it gets.

4) Distractions

Can you put down the cell phone for however long the date is going to last? Can you handle it? Can you trust that the house isn't on fire? Better yet, can you hold a conversation without spacing out.

5) Mentally Detached

I'm going to dogpile “tired", “stressed", and “preoccupied" onto this category. Dates that happen over lunch or at the end of a work day are particularly prone to “compression sickness". If you aren't completely present you aren't, well. . . you aren't all there. At least that's what the other person is going to be forced into assuming. This can even go so far as to creep someone out, which we all know is the Thing That Must Never Happen.

6) Rushed

Yeah you may go so far as actually wanting to be on the date. You may even have had a good night's sleep and a caffeine fix. But if you are trying to shoehorn a planned 2-hour experience into 25 minutes because “something came up" then you're stacking the deck against anything good coming from the date. At least the ordeal is an abbreviated one, right?

7) Apathetic Towards Appearance

Emily commented about this to me recently. She noticed, and I agree, that people in general are much more cavalier about how they dress and clean up than they used to be. Maybe the “business casual" revolution has DE-volved into the “post-casual" debacle. Sure you don't want to telegraph some needy fixation on “impressing" someone. But that's not at all related in concept to making no effort at all to even look good.

8) Sex Focused

Objectifying your date early and often invariably leads to indifferent response. And no, this isn't necessarily a purely male phenomenon anymore (as if it really ever was). Stop focusing on sexuality and start igniting masculinity or femininity instead and you will discover life-changing secrets to getting second dates. If this doesn't make sense, send me an email.

Remember, this once again-as is usually the case around here-comes down to deserving what you want. Are you expecting to meet exciting people who you are actually attracted to? Stop arriving for dates expecting to be “entertained" and start putting some focus on being excellent. Gotta have more cowbell, baby.

Scot McKay's dating strategies for those who refuse to settle for anything less than the ULTIMATE relationship are found at: . Stop by right now and grab a FREE e-book ($20 value) when you sign up for the X & Y Communications Newsletter, which is always packed with unique and practical dating tips.


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