Jennifer Lopez, 48, is not an easy woman to win over. Fierce, successful, and fully aware of what she’s worth, she’s been proposed to five times (three of those resulted in marriages, one in a broken engagement, and one she just flat-out rejected). As a retired Yankee superstar, Alex Rodriguez, 42, is quite the catch himself. So how does the power duo, who made their red carpet debut as a couple at the MET gala last spring, make it work? Here are some of their best tips, courtesy of their brand new joint cover story for Vanity Fair. And if you think you’ve met your own personal J.Lo or A-Rod, try one of these irresistible first date ideas.
Ladies, don’t be afraid to make the first move.
If it surprises you that international siren Jennifer Lopez was the first one to approach A-Rod, that’s OK, because it surprised her, too. “It was just one of those things where you feel compelled to do something you wouldn’t normally do,” J.Lo said, of seeing Rodriguez walk by one day last winter when she was having lunch in Beverly Hills and deciding, all of a sudden, to come over and tap him on the shoulder and say hello. Like most women, the move didn’t come as easily for her as it might for some men.
“I almost yelled out ‘Alex,’ but I am the shyest person when it comes to things like that,” she says. When she walked up to him, he was still facing away from her. “I could literally just have walked away. But I walk over and tap him on the shoulder and say ‘Hey.’ ”
Men, build upon that move.
Given that it’s uncommon for a woman, even in today’s day and age, to be the one to approach a man, it’s in a guy’s best interests to reciprocate as soon as possible if he wants to make magic happen. Forget the “three-day rule,” which is outdated anyway. A-Rod called her up only a few hours after they bumped into one another, and pretty soon, they had dinner plans that week.
Don’t forget the compliments.
This seems like an easy one, but it’s something that guys nowadays tend to forget (or intentionally avoid because they don’t want to seem objectifying). And there’s an art to it. If J.Lo had been dressed super sexy and A-Rod said, “Whoa girl, you look fiiiiine,” she would have undoubtedly turned around and walked away. But, instead, she was dressed, as she puts it, “like a boy–Timberlands, jeans, curly short hair,” since she was coming off of a promo for her show, Shades of Blue, in which she plays a cop. Alex took one look at her and immediately said, “You look so beautiful.”
Giving a compliment like that when a woman clearly hasn’t put in effort to look attractive gets a guy lots of points because it lets her know that she’s the one you think is stunning, not all the makeup and hair products and glitz and glamour. Also, if you’re struggling to find the right compliment, you can’t go wrong with “You look so beautiful.” “Beautiful” is a lot better than “pretty,” “cute,” or “hot.” “Beautiful” means there’s space for love. And if you’re looking for some tips on what compliments to say, be sure to check out the 13 Sexiest Things You Can Say to a Woman.
Remember the details.
The reason J.Lo was comfortable approaching A-Rod in the first place was that they had met 12 years earlier at a Mets game in which her then-husband, Marc Anthony, threw the first pitch. When they went out for their first date, she asked if he remembered how they first met, followed by, “You don’t have to say you remember if you don’t,” which is obviously a trap, because women like to know that you not only remember how you first met but what you outfit you had on and what perfume you were wearing because it was such a monumental occasion in your life. Luckily he passed and said, “Shea Stadium, during a subway series.”
Take it easy on the first date.
Stars, they’re just like us! Despite being major celebrities, neither of them were 100 percent sure that their dinner at the Hotel Bel Air was actually a date.
“I didn’t know if it was a date,”A-Rod said, “Maybe we were seeing each other at night because of her work schedule. I went in uneasy, not knowing her situation.”
“I don’t know if he thought it was a date,” she said.”I thought it was a date.”
It ended up being a good thing because they got to know each other organically, without the pressures of what you’re “supposed” to do on first dates.
Men, don’t be afraid to let your guard down.
One of the things that seemed to really endear J.Lo to A-Rod is that he didn’t put up a front, but instead let himself be vulnerable and honest and a little insecure. Women like that, especially women like J.Lo who are strong, independent women who have been through the games.
“He was sitting there in his white shirt, very confident and manly, but then he was just so talkative!” she said. “I think he thought I was going to be this loud person, but I’m not. I just listen. So he’s talking, talking about his plans, about how he had just retired from baseball, about how he saw himself getting married again, all these things you wouldn’t normally talk about on a first date… Then I knew he was nervous because he asked me if I wanted a drink. I said, ‘No, I don’t drink,’ and he asked if I minded if he had one. He was nervous, and it was really cute.”
Appreciate what she can bring to your life outside of just sex.
In one of the most woke things that a pro athlete can possibly say, A-Rod explained why he felt grateful to have dinner with J-Lo, even if it wasn’t a date.
“It would be incredibly productive for me to sit with one of the smartest, greatest women in the world, especially for a guy like me who is coming through tough times, rehabbing himself, re-establishing himself to folks out there,” he said. “I thought it would be a win-win no matter what.”
That’s pretty mind-blowing because there are a lot of guys out there who would say they’d never have dinner with a woman they found attractive unless they thought there was a pretty good chance of sleeping with her, but A-Rod realized that just talking to an incredible woman could greatly enrich his life.
Read. Her. Signals.
If we had had a camera recording their date, I’m sure there would be a whole lot of body language coming from J.Lo to indicate that she was starting to find A-Rod attractive, and he probably picked up on that. But what we know for sure from the interview is that there was one reasonably subtle signal he could not ignore:
“She told me around the third or fourth inning that she was single. I had to get up and go re-adjust my thoughts. I went to the bathroom and got enough courage to send her a text.”
What did the text say? “You look sexy AF.” Boom! And from there we’re firmly in date-land.
Having things in common is important.
It seems kind of obvious, but as romantic as the ideal of falling in love with your polar opposite is, research shows that the most lasting marriages take place between people who share a similar background and the same core values.
“We are very much twins,” A-Rod said. “We’re both Leos; we’re both from New York; we’re both Latino and about 20 other things.”
Shared trauma–and how you handle it.
There’s something to be said about having had to face the same kind of emotional challenges in the past, as it helps you really understand one another and help each other cope.
“I understand him in a way that I don’t think anyone else could, and he understands me in a way that no one else could ever,” Jennifer said. “In his 20s, he came into big success with the biggest baseball contract [at the time]. I had a No. 1 movie and a No. 1 album and made history. We both had ups and downs and challenges in our 30s, and by our 40s we’d both been through so much. And more importantly than anything, we had both done a lot of work on ourselves.”
Both of them have had their fair share of emotional setbacks and personal failures. In 2003, J.Lo was, as she puts it, “eviscerated” by the failure of Gigli. Shortly afterwards, her engagement to co-star Ben Affleck very publicly fell apart. In 2008, A-Rod’s marriage to Cynthia Scurtis imploded over an alleged affair with Madonna. Then, in 2014, his career was in shambles after being put on a year-long suspension from the Yankees.
Like J.Lo, he grieved his loss but then picked himself up to start again. In all of the similarities they share, perhaps the most important one is that they’re both fighters. “The most impressive thing to me was how he did pick himself up and take that opportunity to make himself a better person,” J.Lo said. “The hardest times prove who you are. That’s what I love and admire the most about Alex. He doesn’t let anything beat him. He just comes back stronger.”
Remind yourself—and each other—of how lucky you are.
In relationships, it can be really easy to get used to a good thing, and that’s when people take each other for granted. That’s why J-Rod make an active effort, every day, to be grateful.
“We’re really good at reminding each other [to show gratitude],” A-Rod said.
To give an example, J.Lo recalled a time when she was sitting in the bathtub, while A-Rod was sitting near the fire in robe. When he got hot and went outside to cool off on the patio, she came outside and asked what he was doing. “Living the dream” he answered.
Be your best self.
Among A-Rod’s list of mentors is the great Warren Buffet, who once gave him some words of advice that he carries with him always:
“Number one: Be the best baseball player you can be. Number two: Always be a gentleman. Be the best guy you can be.”
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