Sheryl Sandberg on the one question every woman should ask on a first date

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Moya Crockett
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Beyond her glittering career as Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg has made her name doling out hard-earned advice on everything from getting ahead in business to coping with grief.

But one area the 47-year-old executive has rarely delved into is the murky world of modern dating – until now.

Sandberg, whose husband Dave Goldberg died unexpectedly while the couple were on holiday in 2015, started dating again after encouragement from her in-laws. (She is currently in a relationship with fellow tech boss Bobby Kotick.)

In a recent interview, she reveals what she believes single women should look for in a relationship – and how they can hope to find it.

Women, Sandberg tells Hannah Kuchler at the Financial Times, should aspire to date “the guys who want an equal relationship. Guys who want to support your career.”

But how, asks Kuchler, is a woman supposed to tell if her date is one of these “good guys”? How can she know, in a relationship’s early days, whether a prospective partner will take her and her career seriously?

The businesswoman’s response is characteristically direct: just ask them.

“You ask and you ask early and you are not afraid of offending,” says Sandberg. “If they’re going to be offended… you don’t want to date them anyway.”

Yes, it’s possibly a pretty intense question to ask on a first or second date – but hey, you don’t get to the upper echelons of Silicon Valley without knowing exactly what you want.

Sandberg adds that she doesn’t advise against dating people who you know, deep down, aren’t quite right – revealing that she once dated her share of “bad guys”. But, she says, a long-term relationship requires rather different qualities.

“You can date whoever you want,” she says. “But you should marry the nerds and the good guys.”

Watch: How to win a feminist argument at the pub

Sandberg recently released a book, Option B, about her experience of dealing with grief. Speaking to Stylist, she revealed how her friends supported her in the aftermath of her husband’s death. The couple had been married for 11 years when Goldberg died after collapsing and sustaining a head injury in Mexico, and had two young children together.

“The best thing my friends did was just be with us, whatever that meant at that particular moment,” said Sandberg. “When I sobbed, they held me. When I had nothing to say, they sat with me quietly. When my kids wanted to talk about Dave, they joined in the reminiscing with gusto.... Again and again, they showed up and they keep showing up.”

She also revealed the words of comfort she found most effective in helping her come to terms with her loss. “For me, [the best thing my friends said] was, ‘We will get through this together’,” she said. “Not ‘You will get through this’, but ‘We will get through this’.

“Through this tragedy, I learned the amazing power of the word ‘we’.”

Images: Rex Features