It’s the first date and both of us are on our best behavior. The temptation will be to build on this first impression as an accurate representation of character and charm; however, this is how all of my disastrous encounters have begun: a great first impression. The secret that I am discovering at this point in my life is to allow a succession of encounters to meld together and then to sift through all of the minute gestures, nuances, inflections in speech, and personal intuitions to formulate a realistic composite of the true personality. I especially focus on how he treats other people (women) in service-oriented roles. I have learned that if he is condescending, or over-the-top endearing, these may be signs of a narcissistic male and that I need to pay microscopic attention to my gut instincts. Not always easy if I am charmed by his ways and really want to like him.

The meal has concluded and he has passed the etiquette and food-handler test. Now for the true indicator of this man: how does he handle the check? Is he a good-tipper or a cheapskate? The latter is definitely a deal-breaker. Of course discerning this information is not always easy and has to be handled delicately and I have found that one way to get to the facts is to observe how carefully he pours over the check; if he goes through every little item and has an idea of the prices and what he thinks the bill should be, watch-out. If however, he pulls out a coupon (which I have experienced), high-tail it to the nearest ladies room and start coming up with plausible reasons to be taken home as soon as possible. (I wish I would have!) But should he not even glance at the check but just reach for his wallet while still engaged in conversation, he is second date material. I realize, of course, that the current economy has everyone hard-pressed for cash, but going to a less expensive establishment is a viable alternative. In essence, if he doesn’t have compassion for the hardworking server of your meal, he will most likely not have compassion for you when life’s circumstances have you over the edge.

So, back to the man; he is not a penny-pincher and I have determined that he is definitely charming and intelligent enough to go out with again; how will he handle the closure of the date? Will he swoop in to kiss me as if he has paid for it? Or will he wait to see what my lead suggests? Will he be a shy and uncomfortable schoolboy? The last two options are clearly great road signs leading me to where I think I would like to go with this candidate. Let’s see what he does…he walks me to my door and stands there looking at me in uncomfortable silence and I know he is aware that this will be a gamble either way; I decide to have mercy on the poor guy and I lean in and give him a one-arm hug and tell him that I had a great time and would like to do it again if he feels so inclined. Relieved, he deposits me at my door with the glimmer of future possibilities in his eyes. Only time will tell…