Having dinner at home alone again? Blame her boss. Women are more likely than men to cancel dates because of work-related issues, according to a new survey by It’s Just Lunch, a personalized dating service for busy professionals.
In the survey, ladies admitted that they “always make time for dates” only 36 percent the time, compared to 50 percent of men. But that doesn’t mean that the foxy CPA is more psyched about tax brackets than cocktails with you. “Single women are more focused on their careers than their personal life,” says Irene LaCota, spokeswoman for It’s Just Lunch. “They have worked hard to obtain high-level positions and don’t want to lose this status.”
Want to get her attention? Tweak your game plan. Here are six things you need to know when dating a busy career woman.
1. Choose the Best Seat at the Bar
The new survey pointed out that 44 percent of business women prefer a post-work cocktail as the ideal first date. (Only 5 percent chose the cliché dinner-and-a-movie.) If you’re choosing the bar, skip the loud hotspot and the overly quiet cafe. Aim for a place that lets you hear each other, but retains social energy. When possible, avoid the high barstools (not the most comfortable for sitting in a pencil skirt) and find a corner with cushy ottomans. “Since you don’t have much time, use it wisely,” says Nick Savoy, president of LoveSystems.com, a coaching group for men. “Don’t make a pass at her right then and there, even if you find her very attractive. You need to prove that you’re someone worthy of a Friday night outing.” Drink at her pace and cap it at three cocktails—otherwise you’re entering pub crawl territory.
2. Don’t Be Her Shrink
Forty-five percent of women ease into conversation by talking about business, so feel free to do the same. But if she starts to vent about her day or office problems, resist bombarding her with solutions or unleashing your inner Dr. Phil. Instead, listen attentively and show interest. “The best thing you can do for a successful woman is act as a sounding board as she talks through these concerns,” says Marcia Reynolds, author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. “She might come up with a solution just by talking to you. That is priceless.”
3. Fuel Your Inner Nerd
Take advantage of what you know and excel in. “Listen for cues regarding areas where she can use a little nerdy help,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Long Beach, Calif., and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. Is she complaining that her laptop is always crashing? Or, maybe she has a jam-packed commute? Tell her about the Beat the Traffic app, or offer to run a virus scan. She’ll appreciate both your smarts and goodwill. Your biggest asset, your brain, has an exponential attraction factor—especially when geekdom can make her life easier. “Even fascinating movie trivia will work,” adds Tessina.
4. Respect Her Schedule
Know her calendar. When Monday morning meetings are set in stone, don’t tempt her with a new episode of The Walking Dead on Sunday night. Avoid a potentially guilt-ridden situation where she has to choose between you and preparing for work. And keep track of her stress barometer during the day—she may sound abrupt when you call during lunch, but chatty after dinner. “Give her time to disengage from her work-self and re-engage with the rest of her personality,” says Joseph Cilona, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and personal coach in New York City.
5. Treat Her Like a Woman—Not a CEO
She’s got plenty of guys who consider her a head honcho and relentlessly talk business. “Don’t fall into the category of the men she deals with all day long,” says Savoy. Once she clocks out, show her that you can take care of her other needs by servicing the dinner table or servicing her in the bedroom. “Work won’t keep her warm at night,” says Patti Stanger of Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker. “She wants to know you can give her something she can’t attain alone.”
6. Grow Thicker Skin
Although the majority of the busy women surveyed make an effort to date, don’t be surprised if she cancels for work reasons—and don’t take it personally. “The most self-defeating thing to do is advertise your insecurities. Roll with the punches,” says George Loewenstein, Ph.D., professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. Give her the benefit of the doubt and act as if a good friend opted out at the last minute. Remember, she’ll definitely reschedule if she likes you, and your sympathetic response will likely score points—and that’s capital money can’t buy.
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