Dating Master Class
Let's be honest boo, if you're plumbing the fathomless depths of the internet for dating advice, right now, then you've found what you're looking for. Given the fact that I'm a lifestyle consultant, author and humorist, I've decided to combine all of these skills into one ginormous mega skill. This post includes acerbic sarcasm, true facts and realness. It also requires the necessary life skill of reading. If you're not for that, then I'd like to gently invite you to consider the possibility that perhaps you're not ready to start dating--successfully--just yet. And if that's the case, that's okay, but when you're ready to join the world of real dating and real human interaction, this post will thankfully still be available for your perusal. You're welcome, by the way.
Do you feel bad? Pathetic? Upset? Are you simply bummed that you can't seem to find the right partner/bummed about striking out with women (or men)? If that's how you feel, I think it's time to work on your approach, because the "hi's" and the "how are you's" and the coming across as a friendly teddy bear thing isn't working. It's not that you can't be a teddy bear, and if that's you, then by all means, let's make it work for you! It's just that you need to be a sexy, desirable teddy bear, and contrary to what the movies, books, tv, and social media tell us, the best way to do that is to showcase our truest qualities in their most naturally appealing forms. Unfortunately, problematic social norms which tend to cause more problems than they solve tend to get in between us--who were are as individual humans at our core and the communication of those beautiful truths to others in a way they can understand, digest and consider in a romantic fashion.
The whole being a cute, emo wallflower thing isn't working. The "being the scruffy dude/dudette looking like they fiercely DO NOT CARE what anybody thinks (except you do and it hurts you every single time you're passed over in favor of someone else)" thing-you guessed it-ISN'T WORKING! Purposely eschewing other people by embracing self-limiting beliefs that you are somehow "not like other guys/girls" is often the culprit in terms of why some of us struggle in the dating world. But let's change all that. If you're with me and you're open to taking this journey of self-discovery, then congratulations! We can start by having you avoid saying and doing things that give the impression that you lack value. Among other things, this means not letting on right away that you are totally into whatever girl/guy/person you're asking out to the point that there is no time limit on your offers to hang out. So...let's start there...
Make specific offers. As women, especially women who work in stressful professions and have demanding jobs, some of us quite like it when you take charge-not in an irritating, condescending ("she'll have the lamb--rare, with very little mint jelly") way, but in an assertive-not aggressive (i.e. roided out freak Jersey Shore reject-"come at me, bro," not abusive husband-y), but not passive (umm do you wanna maybe hang out sometime? It's okay if you don't), take charge way-in a way that shows that your attention is focused on the woman in question and that you've been listening to what her likes and dislikes are or if you've not made it to that point in the discussion, she'll want to see that you can read her and that you understand the type of woman she is.
If you're still at a loss and the time has come to ask her out, CALL ME! Comment! Reach out! Really--this is literally what I do for a living. I take calls all day every day answering people's most dire dating and relationship questions. The best thing of course, if you're at a loss, is to simply fess up. "Hey, you seem like a great person, but I can't get a read on you and I would like to get to know you better while doing something we both enjoy." You could always use a gem like this, "you seem like such a dynamic woman with a ton of extremely cool interests. I'll admit it, I'm having trouble figuring out which cool as hell thing we need to do when we go out next Tuesday at 830pm (wo/man up, show your confidence by setting the date and time and putting a firm "ask" out there. I promise, if you phrase it this way, she'll be so refreshed with your honesty and so impressed with your confidence and so generally caught off guard in the moment, that she will likely immediately follow up by listing a few of her interests, whether she was thinking of going out with you before or not--and you're welcome, because now she IS thinking of going out with you and she's thinking about it very seriously). You'll have a great time without having to fall back on the planning of some boring, generic date AND you'll have at least one more subject to talk about when you do go out, and she made it easy--super easy for you by providing you with that subject herself before you even went out on your first date! Yay, you! Rock it out!
If you've talked about vegetarianism or healthy eating, then maybe suggest a healthy place. (For people in my area only: Seasons 52, Duke's, Cary Alehouse or even Expressly Leslie's). If you talk about sushi and how much she enjoys sushi, then that's where you invite her. If you talk about how much she loves a certain band or if you're listening to music together and discussing that music or dancing to/singing karaoke to that music the first time you meet, then you ask her to that band's concert. If you're talking about how much she loves to hike, then you take your athletic self and you go on ahead and invite her to a nature preserve for a hike (preferably somewhere beautiful, public and close-by). But bottom line, when it comes to a first date, you really need to do something that you both enjoy.
Style and Appearance:
Avoiding saying and/or doing things that imply that you lack value also includes nixing the scruffy clothes, hair, and potential makeup. Coming across dirty, smelly or unkept are not the sort of things you want to do. You might adamantly defy social conventions and norms in all their false, cretinous, existential glory, but the fact remains, like it or not, that when we show others that we don't respect ourselves, we, in turn, give them permission not to respect us.
Now, I try my best to respect all people as should you, but that doesn't change the fact that gross, scruffy clothes, knotted, greasy hair, sweaty skin, etc. are simply not attractive qualities and that in this day and age, being in possession of one or more of the former might lead people to believe that you lack the necessary tools to care for yourself-including but not limited to running water, a washer and dryer, a toothbrush and a hairbrush. That's simply not appealing. Although no one is suggesting that you go through the elaborately silly grooming, fashion and/or makeup routines of a bro from Jersey or a woman from central Texas, what I am suggesting is that you find a style that suits you, because argue as you might, you're never going to convince me that "unkempt" or "uncombed hair and clothes that look like they could stand up on their own without the benefit of you being in them" is a style that you willingly and purposefully chose to affect. Odds are, you have a demanding job, not a lot of self-esteem and maybe not too much money and that's how your look came about.
Thankfully, we can all still put out best foot forward--even on a budget. If you don't even know what your personal style is, how can you expect anyone else to? If they can't identify it, they likely aren't going to be attracted to it. Now, no one is saying that you must fit into a certain style group (i.e. preppy, jock, boho chic, street, professional, tailored, elegant, etc.), but I am saying once again because it bears repeating that you must start finding your own personal style. No matter what your shape, your size or your budget, you can find something that works for you and start building on that. Looking like you're getting ready to go to Club Karma or A Night At The Roxbury isn't appropriate either. Nor is, dare I say, looking like an 1870's lumberjack or a Civil War general, but I digress. As I mentioned before, what matters the most is finding your own personal style.
Avoid having bad breath, uncut nails (or un-manicured/cared for nails), messy (unwashed/un-styled) hair or facial hair, having gas or belching (when you think you're going to have to pass gas of any kind, especially while getting to know someone, and for some, even once you're in a well-established relationship, you excuse yourself to another room or outdoor area where you won't be overseen or overheard--bathrooms are the perfect retreat during just this sort of development--go figure).
Other First Date Guidelines:
Make sure that a first date isn't simperingly sweet or disgustingly romantic. Acceptable first date material:
•dinner at a restaurant you both enjoy
•a walk in a pretty public are is something I've suggested to my clients in the past that is easy on the budget, romantic and which gives you and your date time to get to know each other and either end or potentially extend your time together. I would suggest taking a walk where you'll be able to stop for coffee or hot chocolate somewhere nearby, or if it's warm outside, somewhere where you can grab an iced mocha or an iced tea while you walk. I always suggest ending walking in an area where there's a nice view to be seen. Your date will appreciate your romantic nature (without you overdoing it) and your attention to detail. It might even seem as if you've simply stumbled upon some sort of natural wonderland. This is the perfect date for you romantics out there, and it's also the perfect date for someone who really doesn't want to overdo it as well as those of you who might be on a budget. You can't go wrong with this one. *If you have an area close by like New York's Central Park, Chicago's Magnificent Mile or even a nice boardwalk of some type, these are great areas to walk, talk, grab food and find some spontaneously interesting things to do.
•Ice skating and coffee or hot chocolate (there are indoor rinks during warmer months). During warmer months, this will be completely unexpected and seem really sweet and creative.
•Pedicures and coffee! Men, if you haven't had a pedicure yet, I highly suggest getting one. Spoiler alert: you don't have to wear nail polish! I realize that many men see this as a "girly" thing to do (that's the misogynistic sort of standard you ought to ditch if you ask me), but it's really not. Any woman (or man) who possesses even the slightest sense of humor, kindness, fun, adventure or whimsy is going to appreciate your ingenuity and your sense of adventure and fun as well as your confidence.
•Take an art class (preferably a class where you can spend time talking and getting to know each other, relaxing and having fun)
•Take a cooking class together (again, one where you can talk and get to know each other)
•Go to a hibachi grill or a Japanese steakhouse (assuming she likes that kind of food--this would require some knowledge about the things she likes and doesn't like). These types of restaurants are very communal and public. They give you a chance to get to know each other in a more laid back, pressure-free setting.
•Go to a museum or an art exhibit. This gives you time to get to know each other and it definitely helps you to learn more about each others' tastes and interests.
•A fun park, carnival or amusement park: note, if you like the crazy rides and your date doesn't, nix that whole situation. You don't need to be ditching your date while you ride Iron Wolf. Get your faces painted, walk, talk, grab some food and something to drink. Make sure that you don't plan on spending the entire day there however, since this is after all a first date.
**Whatever you do, keep your experience short and to the point--even if one or both of you don't want it to end (this is a big one!). Leave them--and you--wanting more.
Bad First Date Ideas, topics and more--to be avoided:
•Going on a helicopter, plane or boat tour. Hey, buddy, this is a first date. Your girl/guy could very well be afraid of flying, boating or getting into a small, confined space with only you for company. That's creepy. Stop it. Seriously. Stop. You wouldn't believe how many of my clients think that these are romantic ideas. They're really not. These are "we've been dating for several months and we're feeling comfortable with each other" ideas. When planning a first date, always make sure that you have an escape route. Don't lock yourself in the cockpit of a plane or a helicopter or even inside of a moving bus or trolley with someone you may well want to escape from or who may want to escape from you Safety reasons may apply here as well. You don't know this person. If this or any date/experience/outing makes you feel unsafe, it's okay for either of you to leave and leave now--without ANY explanation. Bottom line, both of you need to feel safe and you need to meet on neutral territory.
•Going anywhere where you're going to be picking your date up or vice versa. It is so important that we meet each other on neutral ground when going on a first date.
•Making racist, sexist, ageist or any other sort of inappropriate jokes. Look--it may have sounded epically hilarious in your head or in that book you read, that meme, gif, movie or tv show you saw, but I can pretty much guarantee you that holocaust/porn joke that you saw on Amy Schumer once, that Jew joke you saw on Curb Your Enthusiasm, that black joke you heard on Kevin Hart's latest comedy tour or that lovely compliment about how your date is "not like other girls/guys," is tall for an Asian woman, smart for a latinx person, pretty/beautiful/handsome for a dark-skinned person is NOT going to go over well AT ALL--even if they pretend to laugh or don't mention anything about feeling confused, upset or offended. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE. DON'T SAY IT. Some self-deprecating humor is fine on a first date, but overdoing it or making your date the butt of your jokes is not okay.
•If you work in a stressful profession or have an illness of some sort, I'll give you a pass on this next one (or if you're lost--I had an experience one time with being horribly lost for a first date even though I left ridiculously early to make sure I arrived on time), but do your best not to be late, and if it's unavoidable, let your date know as soon as humanly possible so that they can decide whether to wait or reschedule. Coming in late with no appropriate reason and without having communicated your potential lateness to your date is just bad form.
•DO NOT chew with your mouth open, smack your lips, belch, fart, pick your teeth, pick your nose, scratch your crotch, spill your food, cough or sneeze without both turning away AND covering your nose and mouth, make any weird noises (I dated a guy once who used to make this really weird throat clearing sound that sounded like someone starting a riding lawnmower--we can just refer to him as lawnmower man for our purposes from now on--he did it loudly and often and for what seemed to be no apparent reason and this was an extremely attractive man-what a disappointment THAT was), answer calls or texts (one call or text if you work in a high stress, demanding job, or if you have a sick relative or a serious emergency, but finish it quickly and if you need to, reschedule the date to a time when you won't be interrupted)
•Whatever you do, do not show your idiocy, racism or fervent support for Donald Trump on a first date.
•Do not talk over your date
•Do not neglect to talk at all
•Do not mention your horrible boss, your itchy hemorrhoids, your failed marriages, yoir psoriasis, your tendency toward flatulence, your horrible ex or exes (side note: if your date mentions horrible exes on the first date or even just often, run like hell because this person may be a narcissist or even sociopath at worst, and at best--I'm talking BEST possible scenario here, they're likely a severely immature and/or dysfunctional human being).
•Everyone is different, but my advice is never to have sex on the first date. Now, I don't say that out of prudeness or any misplaced, outdated or subjective religious or societal sensibilities. I suggest this to my clients because there's just too much you don't know about each other. We're all guilty of trying to make ourselves look and sound awesome on a first date and either or both of you might consent to something you really aren't comfortable with either at this moment or later on down the line (and for you misogynists out there--that's a bad thing--for both of you), you
might wake up next to someone you didn't bargain for and worst of all, you might ruin a great potential sexual relationship with a potentially great partner by diving in too soon and ruining the vibe. You also don't know this person's sexual history, you don't know whether they could be emotionally or mentally unbalanced or whether they could try to target you as a stalker or worse (God forbid, but it happens more often than you might expect) and on top of all of that, you've just likely shown this person where you live or conversely, you've gone to their place of residence where you may or may not feel safe. That is not smart, folks. If you're just looking for a casual hookup, you have no business being on a date in the first place. Be honest with the person in front of you and don't lie about your intentions. Whatever the situation and whenever you do decide to have sex, always be safe. Neutral ground is key when possible.
•Do not invite this person to meet your Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa/Cat/Dog/Best Friend/Child before (yes, that's happened), on (that too) or after a first date. That's weird and stalker-y and it shows astoundingly poor self-control, not to mention MAJOR boundary issues.
•Don't discuss your health issues (unless you are allergic to some sort of food or item that is or might be present during your date).
•I think that religion and politics, in general, are fair game, but telling someone about your high cholesterol is messed up. And, again, telling your date about your strong support of Donald J Trump because he's building a wall to keep out the bad hombres or feeling moved to share your latest noteworthy bowel movement probably isn't the best. That may be one of those thoughts that would be happiest if left to grow and flourish where it belongs--inside your head. Just. Don't with that.
•Don't kiss and tell. Despite what you may have seen in tv or the movies or what your curious friends tell you, this is actually a sign of immaturity and a breach of trust and is in very poor taste. Don't do it.
Misfires--These Are Doozies, So Dispense With Any Of The Following Habits At All Costs:
First and foremost, and men, listen up, because this often applies more to you than it does to us women--dispense with lazy texts like hi, how are you?, whatcha doin'?, what's up?, how is/was your morning/day/evening/night? These are extremely lazy conversation starters that people (often, but of course not always) men employ in order to start a conversation with as little emotional, time, energy or thought power investment as possible in the hopes that the woman will continue the conversation/entertain them when they are bored, have nothing to say or are too nervous to come up with anything memorable or interesting or worse yet, when you don't know the man or woman you're talking to too well and don't want to bother to have to.
*Its important to remember, guys and gals, that we women, in particular, are often on the receiving end of a barrage of boring, inappropriate, weird and/or disrespectful pickup attempts and conversation starters day in and day out. It is so important to make a good and lasting impression by saying something of value that will be remembered, that may even bring a smile to our faces when we look back upon that text or social media message later on, or better yet, when we proudly show it off to our friends--"omg, you won't believe the cute/awesome/hilarious/adorable text this cool guy or girl (you) just sent us *swoon*." This is absolutely crucial and can be a complete game changer! Guys (especially), it really doesn't matter whether you look like David Beckham or Beck. When you send us a thoughtful message that shows you to be a classy, possibly funny, assertive guy, all bets are off. You're already at least halfway there.* *Note: it's never appropriate to show more personal texts or messages from a date or anyone else to your friends or others. This is okay once in awhile when the message is sweet, benign and not too personal.
If you approach women (or men) with confidence, it doesn't matter whether they say yes or no (okay, it matters, maybe just not as much). This rule is best demonstrated when out at a bar or a party, although it will also be a HUGE help when asking out that girl you've had a crush on all year). If you walk up to a woman and immediately leer at her or interrupt her conversation with the group of friends or co-workers (hey, you don't know, she could be taking a client meeting rather than out with girlfriends or on a date. It's so important never to make assumptions.), you're going to come off as a creep, plain and simple.
When you are rejected though, no matter how appropriate or inappropriate, deserved or undeserved you think that rejection might be, you move on. On to the next one. Shake it off, giving the impression that though you're a classy guy or gal and you'd never rub it in the face of the man or woman you were interested in. You aren't bothered. You'll keep it moving and it's their loss that they weren't interested--that you just have better things to spend your time on when you're rejected (even if you really don't). If you do this, it will be them-the person you struck out with-who will feel like they're missing out-even when they're really not available to date you. You don't need to concern yourself with why they're unavailable.
They could be shy, struggling with their sexual identity, pregnant, they may have just lost their job, they may be trying to leave an abusive relationship, ill, just diagnosed with an illness, caring for an ill family member, they may have just lost someone they loved--heck, they might've just received that or other really devastating news. The fact is that YOU DON'T KNOW and truly, it's none of your business. A classy, mature guy-or gal (that's you btw)-isn't going to spend time moping around with the weight of the world on his or her shoulders, assuming that a "no thank you" or even a plain old "no" is a tacit indictment of your character. Often times it has nothing to do with you.
Start a conversation only when you have something to say.
It doesn't have to be something lengthy like a treatise on social justice in the modern age. It can literally be "you, me, sushi (or whatever kind of food she likes), Kyoto restaurant, 7pm, next Wednesday." The only thing it really shouldn't be is hey or heyy or hi or how are you or what's up (or anything that screams "I'm bored and in need of entertainment/attention and I'm putting the conversational onus on you while I sit back and be lazy). I've seen clever men who really know how to text me as a friend in such funny, clever, laugh out loud, awesome ways who turn around and text a girl they really like heyy, whatcha doin or hii. I'm here to tell you that you're capable of so much more. Also, don't answer texts or calls right away. Wait a little while. And if it's more than a few hours, a quick "what a busy day" or some such short remark will be sufficient. It may even leave her the person you're texting with thinking "hmm s/he must be important" and "maybe even wow, I'll bet s/he's been dealing with other men/women and damn isn't it cool that s/he's still making time for me?"
Now, I'm not suggesting that you wait for exactly the length of time s/he did to text or call you down to the minute, just give the impression that you're keeping your life moving and when you do text, make what you say personal, but not creepily personal. An example of what not to say:" I like that green shirt you're wearing to work today" could be a pleasant compliment if that person you're interested in has shared a selfie with you of them at work, wearing a green shirt. However, if your compliment might give this person the impression that you are perched outside of their place of business with binoculars and vaseline in a conveniently located bush, the very same intended compliment could come off as a bit creepy. Make your compliments appropriately personal, engaging, short, and, most of all, true. If you have a conversation-even by text, or even if you meet up for coffee or a bite to eat or something, it is super important that you stick to whatever time frame you set and be the one to end the conversation or date first. You need to project value and class with everything you do and say as well as everything you choose not to do and not to say. Once you start acting accordingly, you are going to feel so much more confident and on top of things.
If, however, people see you charging indiscriminately from one man woman in the room to the next, they will catch on to your not-so-subtle master plan and may not be too happy to be your next target. A classy wo/man/a wo/man who has some idea of her/his worth will not be impressed by this behavior. Conversely, someone who is impressed by this sort of behavior likely won't turn out to be someone you want to know. People of both sexes and all genders want to feel special. The subject of your interest will want to know that you've approached him/her because you saw something special in them, not because of what you feel s/he can do for you by talking with you or because s/he's another warm fe/male body in the room.
And last, but not least, even if you do hit it off with someone great, it's always important to leave time for yourself, your hobbies, your work, your loved ones and your friends--in essence, your life. It's so important for both of you to have and live your own lives. Even married folks have their own lives to live.