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Trish McDermott
Making A Good First Impression...There are no second chances at making a spectacular first impression. Those first few seconds of contact become a benchmark for every subsequent impression you make.

We are a world in a hurry, an accelerated pace keeps us competitive, instant assumptions often lead to immediate decisions to accept or reject a job, a deal, or even a potential lover. In romance many of us, especially anyone who has been around the block, take a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) approach.

Why second-guess the obvious? In just under ten seconds, enough time to read the first few lines of an email, glance at a profile or extend your hand and offer a friendly "hello," someone is forming a first and lasting impression of you. Is it a good one?

Your Profile As A First Impression

Your profile is a uniquely personal introduction. Think of it as equivalent to not only what you say when first meeting a potential date, but also what you are wearing, your posture, eye contact, the firmness of your handshake--even your makeup, perfume or cologne. While there is no one profile style that suits everyone, a charming, humorous, poignant, creative or otherwise distinctly unique approach may improve your results. Likewise, there are some general breeches of romantic protocol and self-expression that should be avoided. You wouldn't show up late, wear a soiled jacket, or chew with your mouth open on a first date at a fine restaurant, so don't behave inappropriately or to your romantic detriment in your profile.

* Use an uncommon or striking headline. Avoid boring demographic descriptions like "SF Seeks SM for LTR." Instead, have some fun. Be daring! Elicit an emotion! Express yourself!

* Proofread. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are as important as content. Think of the presentation of your message as a way of dressing for a date. While clothes don't make the man (or woman), no one wants to appear shoddy or unkempt.

* Say it with style. What you say may not be as important as how you say it. Play with language. Write poetry. Tell a story. Perform stand-up comedy.

* Be less-than perfect. Regardless of the style you choose or the language you use to express yourself, be careful not to extol your many virtues to the point of boredom, or even suspicion. No one can be that perfect. Your minor faults and charming inconsistencies make you human, interesting and approachable.

* Avoid sending up red flags. Don't whine, complain or drivel on about any problems in your life. Refrain from casting yourself in the role of the victim, the egregiously wronged, or the emotionally mortally wounded. Never use the word "desperate," or bring up war stories from past relationships. Be positive and optimistic. Chaos, depression and drama aren't attractive attributes.

Your Email As A First Impression

Your first email is like the beginning of a cocktail party conversation. Introduce yourself appropriately. Listen as much as you talk. Show interest in the other person. Be confident, but also genuine. Make eye contact. Connect.

As with your profile, first emails should follow basic rules for presentation and content. Experiment and find a style that works for you. Use the subject line like a headline, proofread, be creative, positive and genuine. Avoid anything canned or trite. Pick-up lines don't work and you will rarely make a good first impression, or get a response using one. First emails should always be individually written and work best when conversational in style. Mention something about the recipient's profile. Where did you sense a connection? Ask a question or two and include some brief information about yourself. It's OK to flirt or tease a little, even during your first contact, but keep things light and friendly.

First Impressions In The Real World

If all goes well, your spectacular profile and carefully crafted emails will eventually lead to a first date in the real world. Although you may feel as though you already know each other, you have yet to become familiar with each other's physical presence, and that can take some getting used to. First face-to-face encounters can be awkward or even shocking, regardless of the positive feelings you already have for each other.

You make your best real-world first impression by being calmly and confidentially yourself. Try to enjoy the nervous energy you are feeling. Have fun. Remember to smile. People are perceived as more attractive when they are having a good time. Your date will form an immediate first (physical) impression of you, usually in under ten seconds, based on some combination of these attributes:



body language


physical characteristics

smile/facial features




eye contact

perceived confidence

Perceived comfortableness

Inside Information On Positive And Negative Impressions

Several hundred single men and women attending dating and flirting classes were asked to list the attributes they find attractive and unattractive in a potential partner. Below is a list of the most frequent responses. Although many of these attributes may not be immediately apparent, most will show up sometime during a first date.

Attributes Leading To A Positive Impression:


sense of humor






body language

conversational ability





Attributes Leading To A Negative Impression:


closed minded and judgmental

lack of manners

poor conversational ability

negative life attitude

lack of education


indecisive/without an opinion

lack of integrity

war stories from past relationships

whining and complaining


only interested in sex

power games and manipulation


There are no do-overs when it comes to first impressions, yet many of us fail to put our best foot forward during early romantic encounters. We want to be loved for who we are and are leery to "package" ourselves in any way. This is understandable, but not always realistic. Dating is a numbers game and, like it or not, dating occurs in a competitive environment. The next positive, first romantic impression you make may turn into life-long love--not a bad return on a relatively minor investment.

Trish McDermott

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