So, guys, has this ever happened to you?

You go out with this great woman. You spend some time with her over drinks or dinner; discover that you’ve got lots in common. There’s a physical spark. She’s attentive, she’s into you. You have a great time.

So you call her the next day (or, if you’re old school, a couple of days later). And you pop the question: “I really enjoyed our date; when can I see you again?”

“Thanks,” she says. You’re pretty sure you can hear her smiling. “I had a nice time…. You’re a totally great guy. But…”

You don’t hear anything after the ‘but’. She’s telling you what a great catch you are, trying to let you down easy. Meanwhile you’re doing a play- by- play in your head. Trying to figure out

What went wrong?

The answer? Nothing. She liked you. She was interested in learning more about you. And she genuinely wanted the date to go well, for both of you to have a nice time. So now you’re asking yourself, “Why did she even bother?”

Why? Easy. Because she knows how to play nicely with others.

In an age when meeting someone new has become so casual, playing nicely with others is awfully underrated. But think about it for a sec: how excited would you be about going on a more-or-less blind date if you knew the chances were really, REALLY good that your date would check out within the first few minutes? Okay, so maybe she wouldn’t get the obligatory ‘emergency’ text message, or actually walk out on you, but she would more or less phone it in. It’s a no-brainer, right? If it were me, I think I’d just give up online dating altogether. Because the truth is, even though I meet lots of really great guys, the percentage of them that I am interested in seeing again is in the single digits. Not something I’m proud of, but in the interest of dating philanthropy…there you have it. So what if most of us are like that? How do ninety percent of our dates unfold?

For me, at least, ninety-nine percent of my dates are really fun. I’m social anyway, so I love dating. I like the dance, the mystery. And of course, I do have an agenda. (Oh, stop. I hear you!) Yeah, an agenda! But it’s not what you think. For what it’s worth, here’s my agenda, and man or woman, it should be yours, too:

Agenda: Both of us enjoy the date

It’s easy to like someone that you’ve just met; we’re hard-wired to connect. But really relating to someone new becomes Sisyphean if you start out trying to decide where they rank on your ‘Rest- of- My- Life Probability Index’. My advice for all us singles? Take your big-ticket items off the table. Lose the long-term. Play nice, and mean it. Go for seconds turning into minutes turning into hours. That person sitting across from you genuinely wants to enjoy your date, just like you do. Relax, and make it happen. Just enjoy your date.

And what about the other one percent? Write ‘em off and walk away. Sometimes ‘nice’ just isn’t in the cards. So here’s a carefully name-changed cautionary tale for single women of a certain age dating in the Tel Aviv area:

Samson was handsome and charismatic. A former professional athlete, he suggested we work out together one morning. We chatted very briefly online, and exchanged phone numbers. A week or so passed, and late one night Samson sent me the following text message:

05:30 TOMORROW, UNDER THE YARKON BRIDGE AT NAMIR ROAD, SOUTH SIDE.

‘He’s German,’ I thought. ‘Maybe not so big on the small talk.’ So I responded with:

Assuming that you don’t want to drown and dismember me, but are proposing a morning run, I have to pass since I ran early this evening. How about breakfast later on?

A deal was struck, a date was made, and I showed up at the appointed time to meet Samson in a coffee shop on Yehuda Maccabi. I recognized him right away, sitting next to the window, and watched him watch me as I crossed the street. He didn’t stand up as I came over to the table, but motioned me to sit.
Somehow I already felt I was about to be interrogated. I remember folding my arms across my chest and angling my chair away from him as a barrage of questions hit me. Here’s one choice item:

Him:       You’re American. Why did you come to Israel?
Me:        I met my ex-husband in the States, and moved here to be with him.
Him:       Really? Are you Jewish?
Me:        Yes, I am. Actually, I converted.
Him:       Converted? Why? What, is he Shimon Peres’ son or something?

The waitress took my order for whole-wheat toast and coffee, and Samson wasted no time pointing out that there was no value in eating whole-wheat anything. Then, when my toast came and I was just about to butter a piece of it he pointed an accusing finger at me and said, “That’s the worst thing you can eat! Remember, an instant on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!” I held his glare, very deliberately slathered my toast with butter and jam, and took a bite. “For the pleasure that you are feeling right now,” he intoned, “you will pay later!” “Oh,” I answered, standing up so fast that my chair actually toppled over backwards, “you are sadly mistaken if you think I am experiencing ANY pleasure whatsoever.” Wordlessly I turned and made the World’s Most Dignified Departure, leaving my toast behind and paying for my order on the way out. Truly, it would have been the perfect exit, except that I got to my car only to discover that I had forgotten my car keys. I had to slink back in to the coffee shop and snatch them off the table, where Samson was already on the phone (probably arranging his next ambush). As far as playing nice goes, at least he and I were both on the same page.

And by the way, here’s what I do with my one percent: Turn ‘em into anecdotes. The other ninety-nine? All mine, and pretty much golden.