Kathryn's Blog

Risking “Bad First Dates”

I had lunch the other day with Julie who is an *eMAIL to eMATE* reader and online dating veteran. She has a boyfriend now, happily, though not one she met online. While Internet dating sites provide the best possible way to meet lots of people who are single and looking like you are, it’s still possible to meet good mate candidates the old-fashioned way like Julie did.

Julie told me some great (or maybe not so great) first date stories. Since Drew and I went to “Must Love Dogs” (which also features rough first dates) just a couple of days later, Julie’s true life stories stuck in my mind.

One pleasant-seeming date went sour when the guy (who had good local family credentials) asked Julie if she had any daughters (she did, 17 years old), and then went on to talk about other women he had dated who had daughters, how much he enjoyed the girls, doing things with them. Especially the twins.

Another guy made it until date #2, when he told Julie that he had seven kids under 18.

Fella #3 seemed great—successful businessman, known in the community, and clearly interested in her. On that first date, he said he could see the two of them having a good time together, traveling, etc. (implying that he would be paying the bills), but that his relationships never went beyond 18 months.

The real point here is not disastrous date stories. What I think is so significant is that these guys told Julie just what she needed to know so that she could make an informed decision about proceeding in a relationship with them. AND Julie was paying attention. People tell you who they are. You just need to be willing to hear what they say. A skilled, close reading of a potential’s online presentation and profile essay and their email exchanges with you can yield a tremendous amount of information. Then careful listening and observing in your first meetings could very well give you all you need to know to decide.

And keep in mind: If you don’t risk “bad first dates,” you’ll have no chance at all to get a good second one.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord




Why would “the guy (who had good local family credentials) asked Julie if she had any daughters (she did, 17 years old), and then went on to talk about other women he had dated who had daughters, how much he enjoyed the girls, doing things with them. Especially the twins.” cause Julie concern?

On the larger issue ... I completely agree with your statement “If you don’t risk bad first dates, you’ll have no chance at all to get a good second one.”

However, as you know, I disagree that using Internet Dating sites is an effective way to meet people ... precisely for the reason that was stated on another blog on your site “... I also get the impression that online dating, as opposed to other types of dating, helps to make people overly unreasonable in their requirements. Because the technology allows people to screen easily and in detail, people go overboard. “If I can choose any type of person to date, why don’t I just screen out anyone who doesn’t fit the ‘perfect date’ profile?...”

This has been exactly my experience with internet dating. People are just not willing to take the risk of going on a date with someone they don’t know.


It’s not uncommon for men who have a taste for children to pair up with women who have them.  The real goal is the children and not the mother.  Julie was absolutely correct to see red flags.  That he was inquiring on the first date and so interested that she had a daughter is majorly disturbing.

And L, if you are so negative about online dating, then why are you hanging out here?

L.  Julie here.  When I went out with this guy, he had the most enthralled look on his face as he discussed the women he had dated who all seemed to have teenaged daughters.  He went on and on about the good times he had with the last woman’s twin girls. He talked about horseback riding, playing tennis, just hanging out, etc.  He never talked about how much fun mom was….just the girls. It was obvious to me that he did not desire a relationship with a woman, he wanted to live out some type of youthful fantasy or sexual fantasy (not sure which and was not going to expose my daughter to find out which one).

If you have a daughter or son for that matter, be very careful who you bring into your household.  I will tell you what someone once told me: the average pedophile looks just like one of your next door neighbors.

Good luck.


Hi Kathryn,

With regards to Julie, how would she know whether date #1 wasn’t genuinely trying to demonstrate that he relates well to kids, likes them, and would be supportive of them even though they are not his ... as a way of impressing her? Unless there was something else at play here ... for example ... this was 90% of the conversation for the entire date and there was very little conversation about Julie herself ... how could she possibly have known that the real goal was the children and not her just by his taking this posture?

In terms of my opinions on internet dating ... I apologize to you ... I didn’t realize that you were only an online dating coach ... I had the impression that you were a general dating coach. So it is understandable that you would be supportive of online dating. But I would submit to you that we tend to read a lot about the success stories and not at all about the failures ... why would anyone want to publicize that?

Do you disagree? I mean ... count up the number of people who have contributed to your blogs over the past month or so ... there are apparently two of us already that have the same experience or impression about online dating. And I can tell you of others. Funny ... I used to be a very selective guy. And I somehow realized as I got older that if I want to find a SO and get married, I need to be willing to go on blind dates and internet dates. After all, it’s only a cup of coffee or a drink ... what harm can come to someone? Yet ... there are so many who make such a big deal about it. So ... why if I seem to have developed a more open-minded philosophy and strategy ... is it so rare to find others on the female side who are willing to do the same?

To answer your question, I “hang out” here in the hopes that I can learn something and maybe contribute. I apologize if this has in the end brought a challenge to the idea of internet dating here. I guess I just feel that there is nothing like meeting the old-fashioned way.


Hi Julie,

Thanks for the clarification. So he really didn’t spend much time talking to YOU about YOU. I didn’t realize that, and I don’t blame you for feeling that way. After all, the primary reason that he is there is to date YOU ... not your children.

I was just trying to account for the possibility that he was trying to impress you with his ability to take an interest in his SO’s children. I would assume that this would be important for a woman with children. I am going to have to remember not to focus too much on the children when I date someone with kids.


Thanks, Julie, for contributing.  I couldn’t clarify as well as you did.  And L, apology accepted.  I couldn’t understand how anyone could hang out here and NOT realize how I advocate for online dating.  That does not mean that I am not in favor of all other kinds of ways to meet people—I am.  It’s just that Internet dating has opened up so much for so many.  It’s comparably so easy, and once someone starts saying “yes” to the possibilities online, then it becomes easier to see the possible “yes’s” elsewhere.

As far as failure stories, LORD! How can you say we don’t hear those?  I can refer you to lots, if you’ve missed them, but frankly, I prefer to emphasize hope and the positive.  They are all over the press and media, and just hang out with singles for five minutes to hear the horror stories pile out.

Success in dating, online or off, has everything to do with attitude.  If you expect and look for failure, that’s what you will find.  Then you will feel validated in your expectation and continue with it.  But it works in reverse, too: If you expect and look for success, the ones that don’t work out fade away as you focus on the possibilities. 

It’s easy to get discouraged, and I can hear that in what you write.  Maybe that’s the best you can get by hanging out here, is I refuse to court the negative.

BTW, here, as on dating sites, when people successfully meet their match, they tend to drop off and fade away, going off to live their lives.  So actually, I think you hear far LESS success stories than are really out there.  Take a look at my posting: https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/2005/07/havent-yet-attitude.html

I found this new blog where the blogger is chronicalling all of her first dates.

Dr. Janice

Ben, you’ve got it absolutely right about dating itself being no easier.  And that what the Internet does do best is make it easier to identify other likely singles.  That of course is a HUGE advantage.  Since I was last looking in 1997, before I had even heard of Internet dating, I know what a tremendous advantage that is. 

And unfortunately, the plethora of choice does tend to inflate expectations.  That’s the other thing online dating does well, because that’s what computers do well: sort.

One other plus: emailing first contacts is a lot easier than making first advances face to face.  And if you use email rigorously to get to know your potential date before a first meeting, you likely will be able to avoid so much of the “bad first date” syndrome by filtering out the not-so-good candidates. 

One way to think about mate finding is to use a marketing economy analogy.  The worth of an object is what someone else is willing to pay.  In dating, I may want a Rolls Royce, but when we get to the table, I can only offer up enough to get myself a Chevrolet.  These folks who seem to have such high expectations will likely get more realistic as they spend some time looking around and are not able to close a deal.  Either that, or they will drop out of online dating to preserve their ego, then bemoan their bad luck and complain about the poor quality of singles available.  Little noting that they were one of the crowd they are complaining about.

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