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Stalking is Sexy

I think we’ve already established that dates are like interviews.  Anyone on the dating scene knows this to be true.  And if you prepare for an interview, wouldn’t you do the same for a date?

But, today’s question is – how much “preparation” is ok?  And when does pre-date prep stalking research cross the line into a place that will actually HURT your chances at a successful date?

I’m a big believer in using the variety of tools at your disposal to be prepared.  But, how far is too far?

Many times, I will Google a guy before even agreeing to a date at all.  I don’t always have this privilege because it requires having some basic information (last name, where he works, etc.) that online dating doesn’t always afford you, but if I can – I do.  I will Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other available cyber stalk.  And what am I looking for?  I just like to get a sense of his personality outside of the profile HE wrote about himself.  I also don’t mind verifying that he actually has a job.

Honestly, I’m really not usually looking for “dirt,” I just want to get a broader sense of who he is!  Is his FB page full of political rants?  Photos of family?  Annoyingly “inspirational” posters?  What is he passionate about?  What does he like to DO?  Could I show his Facebook profile to my mother?  Does he play Farmville?  This is very important. I say yes to Words-With-Friends and an emphatic no to Farmville.  They’re very different sorts of guys…  It’s like the Bloods and the Crips…only less stabby.  But, back to our topic…

I know that some women will take it to the next level(s) as well:
– if they’re going out with an alleged millionaire, they can check out whether his company is registered with Companies House
– if the guy claims to be a musician, she can look for him on MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, etc.
– and I’ve even had women I know call in favors from law enforcement family members and friends to run background checks.

This is certainly not exclusive to women.  I know men pre-date-stalk too.  In fact, the impetus for this post was a guy friend who started reading the blog of the woman he was going to go on a date with and asked me if I thought that was inappropriate.
(Inappropriate, not because it was ‘creeper’y, but because…is there such a thing as knowing ‘too much’?)

The trend seems to be – women would rather know more about a man ahead of time and men would rather discover these things in person.  Why, you say?  Well…that may be enough fuel for a whole other post, but …it has to do with trust, insecurities, fears, etc…. cheery stuff.

Here is my stance on all of this.  I think it’s fine to collect as much information as you want to before a date.  But the tipping point of how it will GO for you, is in HOW you use your information.

First…know that every piece of information you have – you have OUT of context of the whole person.  So, while it may be integral  data to your processing, it needs to be paired with the REAL person.  Meeting and talking with someone face-to-face will ALWAYS shed light on who they are, no matter how much preliminary data you’ve collected.  And once you have a feel for the real person, every bit of information before and going forward is now filtered through that lens.

An innocuous example of this is my blog.  I’ve had people criticize its tone as being harsh or mean… but the people who KNOW me, “hear” my “voice” as they read it and hence, hear it as dry-humor or the silly rants of a woman who has a soft heart.  They’ve seen my face, heard my voice, seen the tilt of my head or the wink of my eye as I say things, and now when they read, THAT’s the Sarah they ‘hear.’  This works with people you date as well.  So – remember that all that information you gathered ahead of time is SANS real person.

Next…no overshares.  When you’re going on a job interview, you WANT the potential employer to know you took the time to research their company, learn about the history, management, stats, etc.  This impresses them.  This does NOT impress dates.  Just to clarify.

As in… do not lead in with any talking points, “So, when I read that article you wrote your junior year of college…inspiring.”  Or, “those pictures of you in the bathtub when you were four are just precious.”……. chirp…. wide eyes… not a great date-starter.

The trick is to USE your information wisely.  Remember…with great knowledge comes great responsibility.
(What…that’s NOT how it goes?  Well… consider that my own pithy rule of thumb then.)

Knowing tidbits about your date is a great insider edge when making conversation, but use it sparingly and mostly as information in the back of your mind that helps fill in the master portrait of who they are.

If people will get to know the WHOLE person in the dating process, we’ll be that much closer to living lives of authenticity.  And in then end… that is what will make a relationship work.

 


It’s so Ha-a-a-ard to say GoodBy-y-y-ye to Men Todaaaaayyy…

Neil Sedaka knew a great truth about the world of love.  Breaking up IS hard to do.

But, take heart – putting the kibosh on a budding romance these days doesn’t have to be the sad-song-mix-tape making, soul-crushing drama it was in your teenage years.
So, step away from the origami-folded note, stop belting out U2’s “One,” put down your mascara-stained ‘break-up’ pillow and listen up.

I’m gonna use the next few posts to talk about this process.  After all, statistically you’ll do WAY more breaking things off than not.  Let’s hope, for my sake, that I don’t have THAT many more “it’s not gonna work out” texts in my future before I can send the “Hey!  I really think this is gonna work out!” one.  But, until that day, I’ll share my “expertise” with you.

As much as Hilary Duff or the cast of “St. Elmo’s Fire” would love you to believe that ending a courtship must carry with it months of tortured grief, I’m here to postulate that times have, indeed, a-changed.

Now, duh…I’m not talking about the end of a solid long-term relationship.
Those are horrible to recover from.  Best in those cases to just to just stock up on stereotypical frozen treats, load up on youtube stand-up comedy clips to distract from the heart-wrenching pain and hunker down for the long-haul.  I don’t have any great advice for those.  They suck.  Plain and simple.

I’m talking about those situations where you’ve gone out with someone a handful of times (like…the number of dates is still in the single digits), and it’s just not what you’re looking for.

The beauty of dating as a grown-up is that… well… we get to act like grown-ups.
No need to dust off the ‘ol “It’s not you, it’s me” aphorism.  Men these days can usually (usually being an important caveat there) handle hearing that, in fact…. it IS them.  Let me e’splain…

People in their 30’s+ are, in my experience, more invested in the dating process.  This means they actually have given some thought to what they want, what they don’t like, where they’re willing to sacrifice and bend and where they’re not.  So, with that contemplation also comes a sense of self-awareness.  Thus – when you go to tell someone it’s not a good match, he (or she), instead of being a babyish whiney brat about it (a la high school/college), will probably do one of the following:

a.  agree with you, and be genuinely open to staying friends (see my next post on a recent “break up” of mine)

b.  be disappointed, and ask for an explanation.  This is where things get a little tricky…I’ll get into that later…

c.  be disappointed, but appreciate your honesty and bow out graciously.

Example:  Last week I told a guy that I didn’t think we’d make a good match.  Here’s his response:
“Well, I appreciate your candor.  I guess we all know what we want, and I can’t argue with that.  I would love to keep you as a friend and hanger outer!  I definitely enjoy my time spent with you and, while I’m optimistic about any new person I meet, if it doesn’t work (for whatever reason), I roll with it. …Life is too short to be with someone that does not meet our needs.”

And, friends – that is not an exception.  I get that kind of gracious response all the time!  It’s great.

In fact – I have assembled a hodgepodge group of singles that get together and hang out, and most of the men on the list are guys I’ve gone out with and, while it wasn’t a great romantic match, they’ve continued being my friend.   Being an adult…ain’t it grand?

So, stay tuned …tomorrow:  HOW to walk away from a “not so heaven-made match.”


McSmarmy 2.0 and the Loser Pips

Let’s take a trip to the jerk store. Every town has at least one (Houston has 14)…and there you can find all manner of misogynists, scoundrels, miscreants and generically rude persons. They come in every size, color and breed. In the last month, I’ve had the distinct displeasure of dealing with 3 different brands – and I’m here to share my tale with you.

First…and back by popular demand…. (and also, because of a rogue text…) – Mr. McSmarmy!

For those of you just now joining our show…back in May of this year, I gave my number to a guy online who hit me up for what I can only assume was casual sex (he offered, never having met me, to bring a bottle of wine to my house at 11:30 at night on a Tuesday). When I refused, he said some pretty nasty things. All the details can be found here:

http://andallthatsass.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/that-guy-mr-mcsmarmy/

So… I MAY have accidentally sent a text that was intended for a friend, to this guy. And when I say “may,” I mean that, much to my own shock and dismay, I did, in fact, send it. They have the same first name, and I didn’t have either of their last names in my phone (not to fear, the situation has been remedied). But before I realized my mistake, McSmarmy was texting me – “who is this?” Still thinking it was my unsmarmy friend, I played along with what I thought was a string of joking texts. Argh…before long he was calling and I realized, to my horror, what I had done. I apologized profusely and got off the phone, but – as you may have guessed – it sparked an interest with him again and he began texting…. again.

The texting continued from there. I reminded him of how horrible he had been to me in our last round of texts, and he (much to my surprise) apologized, saying he had been in a terrible place then and wasn’t himself, and that he was truly sorry. He asked if he could make it up to me.

Now,… if I didn’t write a blog about these things, I would’ve kindly declined the offer, but… as you all know… I’m wont to bait these situations to see what will come of them. Additionally, he’s a chef at a new popular restaurant near me and I thought I might get a free meal for a girlfriend and myself out of it. So, I told him I might stop by that weekend and say hi. More texts followed where he tried to convince me to meet up with him for a drink, but I was busy with other things and couldn’t.

In LESS than two days, he was already SO frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t met up with him, that he wrote me the “dear John” text. Ha! What?? Two days? This guy is unbelievable.

I’d like to say that’s the last we’ll see of McSmarmy, but… I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll make at least one more appearance…

One can only hope, right? 😉

———————————————————

The next flavor of jerkitude is the guy who wants to see ALL the goodies ahead of time before ever meeting a woman. It’s trés classy.

You’ll know you’ve found one of these gems when you start texting and he asks you for more photos. Now, if you only have one or two pictures on your profile, this is a perfectly fair request, but I have 15 photos up there – some close-up, some full-body shots, …so there should be no question of what I look like. So, it’s always a red flag to me when a guy asks for more. Still… not EVERY guy who presents a red flag is actually a dirtbag, so sometimes I’ll oblige.

I’d like to present to you exhibit A – a string of e-mails between me and one such particular jerk… just by way of example.

Here’s the backstory – we met online. He’s handsome, intelligent and funny. He’s an orthopedic surgeon in Houston’s med center and we share a lot of similar interests: guitar, wine, comedy, etc. So, you can see why I’d be so surprised to find he’s THIS shallow. Read on.

Before we begin – two caveats:
a. This is NC17 stuff, so if you’re reading this with younger audiences (not that I can picture a world in which a pre-teen would have ANY interest in my blog, but still…), you may want to censor first.
b. Yes – I baited this guy. I did it for you… you’re welcome.

First, let me give credit to my friend Tyler, who supplied me with the line of reasoning that if you’re looking for 100% outer beauty, you’re probably going to find just that…and only that. Good stuff.

But…yeah. And lest you think this is an anomalous situation, you’re sorely mistaken. This stuff happens all the time in the dating world. It’s a wonder any of the nice ones even make it to the point of falling in love, when we’ve had to wade through the waters of 100% loser to get there.

———————————————————

The final sort of sot we’ll study today – is the no-show. Yup – having a problem with commitment would be a monumental understatement with these guys. They’re the ones who talk a big game (“Oh my goodness, you’re adorable – I can’t WAIT to meet you!”) and then, when the time comes to put their bodies where their texts are… they’re MIA.

Yup – I’m referring to being stood up.
Left at the altar of first date blues…
Abandoned on the street corner of hope and disillusion…
(alright…enough of the sappy poetic restatements. Everyone knows what it means to be stood up.)

It happened to me for the first time a couple weeks ago. This guy initiated contact with me through an online site. We exchanged some e-mails and then went to texting. He was witty and sweet. He even canceled a meeting to be able to make it to the time/place we agreed on.

Then, I arrived… and he never showed. I texted once…didn’t hear back (until almost midnight that night…. our date was at 5:30).

Here’s what I don’t get. Why wouldn’t you just send a simple tiny text saying, “I’m not going to be able to make it after all.” Or even, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we’d make a good match, so there’s no point in meeting.” What? Too harsh? Really? Worse than forcing me to take my fully-dolled-up self to a bar and sit there like an idiot searching all over for a guy who’s never coming? I realize I may be a bit too traditional, but when you say you’re going to meet someone, you’ve made a promise. You’ve obligated yourself, for better or for worse, to the intention of your words. So, to simply not show up is such a black mark on your character… it’s essentially telling the other person, “Not only can I not be relied on, but I don’t even care about people enough to respect their time and spare their feelings.”

I WILL say this, though. If you’re GOING to be stood up – the place to do it is the Tasting Room at CityCentre, Houston. Here’s how it went down:
My deliciously adorable bartender, Cody (who’s now practically my BFF…ok, he doesn’t know that, hey… … I’ll wear him down in time… but, I’m getting ahead of myself) – Cody chatted me up while I waited and talked about the unfortunate woes of online dating. He poured me some pity wine and then handed me over to the equally charming Angel (yes…that’s his name. No he’s not literally an angel. Though… he DID keep pouring me wine and calling me “Preciosa,” so… not really that far off I suppose) who took care of me for a while after that. Between these two graciously urbane (and did I mention handsome? and funny?) men tag-teaming, I had ample conversation partners – undoubtedly more interesting than my would-be date, and I made friends to keep! Also, because I followed my own rule about the date being ‘drinks only,’ I wasn’t forced to sit all alone at a table for 2 – I could perch myself at the bar with a lovely Chenin Blanc / Riesling blend and two of Houston’s sweetest guys keeping me company. Not a bad date after all.

When I finally did hear from McPromise-Breaker (hmmm…doesn’t flow like “McSmarmy”…I’ll work on it), he was apologetic, but not enough. I think the level of displayed remorse should be commensurate with the transgression and he seemed only mildly upset that he “wasn’t able to make it.” He said he “really did want to see me again,” and would I consider it? Once again, if I didn’t have hordes of followers around the world waiting with bated breath for every riveting post, I would have just said no. I’m not going to waste my time/anticipation/blind hope on someone who has proved unworthy of those things. But… for the sake of good literature (or… self-indulgent drivel… whichever you deem this), I said I would. Give him another chance, that is. He thanked me and said we’d talk about the details the next day.

This is like one of those questions on the SAT where you have to decipher the pattern and fill in the next number/shape/what-have-you. Can you figure out what happened next?

(in her best cheesy talk-show host voice) “That’s RIGHT! You’ve done it! You guessed correctly. She NEVER heard from him again. Step right this way to claim your fabulous prize!”

Yup. Nada. Nunca.
What GIVES? If he knew he wasn’t going to try to make it work that second time, why even bother contacting me at ALL about the first-date faux pas? Maybe this guy gets off knowing he builds up hope only to disappoint…? Is that a THING? I’ll need to check my DSM-IV to be sure…

In any event… you now have a sampling of Houston jerkocity.
Perhaps instead of continuing to hope that “the one” is still out there, I should just take up a life of daytime drinking, putting a seed of bitterness in my children and obscene reclusivity? I’ve got quite a collection of pajamas that need wearing and I’m WAY behind on my Sudoku puzzles. Does anyone know of a good deal on cats?


Men are Mysterious Too

Men are always talking about how they can’t figure women out.  Well, guess what – YOU’RE confusing too!  For every fickle or flakey or frustratingly obscure quality women bring to the dating table, men have an equal contribution.

So, in that light, I thought it might be time for another installment of suggestions/questions for you guys – some of which are relational, some of which are tips/musings on profiles – it’s a hodgepodge sorta day, but …here goes.

Make up your mind whether you want a confident woman or a doormat.

I swear, I can’t win on this one.  One minute you want a woman who’s independent, knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it…but then, the second we show a little assertiveness in the dating process (like – initiating texts or calls about meeting up), you get freaked out and back off.  Apparently, texting a guy, telling him you really like him and then asking him out for drinks is ‘pushy….?’  Then, when we back off and follow your lead, you complain that we’re not “into” you.  Aaargh!  Who’s hormonal NOW?

In the last 2 months, I’ve literally missed out on three potential relationships because of this.  The first was going great – several dates, lots of fun, but I think I pushed too hard (telling him that I really enjoyed his company, being enthusiastic about hanging out more)…that I scared him off.  So, I decided to soften my style a bit.  Then, I apparently offended (or bruised the egos of?) two guys last month.  I went out with each of them and enjoyed the time enough to want to see them again.  I said so, but then I followed their lead on texting/e-mailing, etc., rather than doing the pursuing myself.  They were both bothered by the fact that I didn’t initiate more conversation or discussion about wanting to hang out again…and consequently didn’t ask me out for another date!?

One of them even texted…and I quote, “…. (wait..why don’t I just SHOW you?)

When I landed in Houston, I texted him…we bantered.  Then, he texted here and there over the next couple days, and I responded/chatted every time – but never with any mention of hanging out.  Then he disappeared!  A couple weeks later he wrote me to say he wasn’t sure I was interested…    WHAT?  I told him that I WAS!  Still… nothing.

I can’t win.  I’d LIKE to think I’ve mastered that fine line of being charmingly honest with my reactions/thoughts after meeting a guy, but apparently there’s some even more nuanced yet unattainably perfect sweet spot of “how to be” in this arena to keep guys interested without pushing them away…

You’re an easy-going WHAT?

Do you KNOW how many profiles start with this sentence:
“Im a easy-going hard working.  I like to…”  ??
At least 1/3 of all the profiles I read have this in there at some point.  No lie.
OK – time for a teeny grammar lesson…humor me for a moment.  If you use an article (the, an, a), you have to have a subject in there SOMEWHERE.
You’re an easy-going what?  Man?  Business man?  Guy?  Moose?  Pack of gum?  Pick SOMEthing, dude!
Argh…this gets so frustrating.  Apparently I’m an easily-annoyed.
(See what I did there?)

Teasing

This could have a blog post all on its own.  Listen up, men – flirting/teasing is ADORABLE.  It’s a great way to interact with us and bring a playfulness to the relationship.  But, tread softly!  It’s so easy for you to bypass the flirtatious/playful arena and shoot straight into mean-ville – and you don’t even realize you’re doing it!  Thankfully for YOU, we will tell you – just watch for the cues.  If we say something like, (in a pitifully girlish voice) “Hey!  Don’t be mean!” or we back off from the trash-talking convo, or we give you an obligatory, but disingenuous laugh – you’ll know.  And then, you can soften.

I have, in no uncertain terms, told guys when they’ve crossed the line and they’re being hurtful… and they think I’m being cute.  No…..I’m trying to offer you a window where you can still fix it!

Why do men DO this?  Is there some elementary school playground flirting rules left inside them, that didn’t get put aside with their Stridex pads and headgear?  Oy…

Beware the LOL

Men…use this sparingly.  For starters, it’s so overused that it seems false.  It’s essentially the ‘boy who cried wolf’ of the texting world.  Really?  Are you REALLY Laughing Out Loud?   If you’re not, then say what you ARE doing/thinking (e.g. “that’s hilarious!”).  Don’t use a phrase because it’s an easy go-to… that comes across as lazy.

Next, it’s not particularly masculine.  I’m here to tell you that every time you type in ‘lol,’ you’re chipping away at the manly persona just a little… inching closer and closer to friend zone.  This also includes:  ROFL, LMAO, etc., etc.  You are not really rolling on the floor (and if you are,…as in – if you’re the type of person who, upon hearing my witty humor, rolls on the floor – I’m pretty sure I don’t want to date you anyway).  You’re not really laughing a body part off…  Just say what you mean – it’ll probably end up being more complimentary anyway.  (To both of us).

Overly Sexual vs. Asexual

Why can’t men seem to master the nuanced in-between?  It seems like there are only two kinds of men/dates – those who look at you like they’re imagining you covered in A-1 sauce on a bed of chicken wings, or those guys who are so darn friendly that you feel like you’re having drinks with your little brother.  (Actually, my little brother is more fun than most of these guys…)

The biggest problem with guys being on one of the two ends of this spectrum, is that it forces women to have to play the extremes as well.  If we’re with overly sexual guy, we have to put the guard up (which, in turn, makes us come across like a prude or not interested in physical connection/chemistry).  If we’re with asexual guy, (and we’re interested), we come across like a friggin’ sexual predator, just trying to get a little bit of interest going…

Where are the guys who know how to use appropriately flirtatious touch to communicate a physical attraction without mauling you, creeping you out or making you feel like an androgynous decoration?

No Information

One of my biggest pet peeves with online profiles are the ones where the guy puts zero information on there, but then says something like, “Anything you wanna know – just ask” or “Ask me anything, and I’ll answer.”

I’ll tell you what I want to know… ANYthing!?  The entire point of having an online profile is that you get to provide information about who you are and what you’re looking for, to prospective partners.  If all I cared about was seeing muscled men with no details about their personalities – I could go pick up men off of Harwin…

I can find more details about a wicker patio set on Craigslist than I can of hundreds of men online – men who, by way of reminder, have PAID to ‘advertise’ themselves here.  To prove that I’m not exaggerating – I literally took (and I clocked it) five minutes and went in search of profiles with little to no information in the “My Story” portion.  In five minutes, I found three:

I DO wanna know more.  I wanna know ANYthing.

Oh, I’ll send you a message, alright.  The message will be my silence.  Can you decipher that?

Really?  Why did he even bother to CREATE a profile?

I wish there were a search filter on these sites for “stupid.”

So there’s your random line-up of suggestions (read: complaints) about the not-so-fair sex.  I’d like to say it’ll be the last… but… as long as men are strange, I’ll be here to broadcast the list of failings…

(AAaaaaaand…she loses half of her audience).

Tell you what – in the interest of fairness, I will write a post later this month on the things that WOMEN do, which drive me crazy. So, stay tuned long enough and I’ll offend every possible people group.

Over and out, peeps.


Mile High Dating Club?

An airplane flight contains within it all the worst parts of dating/relationships without ANY of the perks.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been in the following situations – and no, these weren’t dates.  With the luck I’ve been having lately, I can see how they’d sound awfully similar, but…no.  Had they been, at the very least I could’ve escaped with my Early Dismissal Program.  But as it was, I was stuck – enduring all the most disadvantageous pieces of monogamy with none of the sweet reward.

I sat next to one gentleman who apparently didn’t “believe” in deodorant and kept insisting on reaching up and over me to adjust his air vent.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, his breath smelled like a series of dry heaves, viciously invading my olfactory space.  Yummy.

Then, there was the guy who “needed something from his pocket,” and as he fished around in a pair of pants inexplicably squeezed onto his portly shape, his fingers uncomfortably caressed and harassed my hip and thigh.  Nice.

On the next flight was a girl who played her music annoyingly loudly, but her angry facial expressions, front neck tattoo and multiple facial piercings made me nervous to confront her about it.  And I ended my aviation adventure with the man next to me snoring in my ear.  Now, I’m not up on the etiquette in this situation, but if we were in a relationship, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d be (lovingly, of course) elbowing him in the ribs to roll over and hush.

When you fly, you’re forced into close quarters with all kinds of miserable humanity, and without so much as a possibility of a snuggle or a kiss.  I’ve sat closer, smelled more Axe cologne and Walgreens hair gel, felt more skin-to-skin contact and heard more heavy breathing in my latest flying mates than I have in all of my most recent dates.  So…why not parlay this inevitably awkward situation into an opportunity?  Here’s what I’d like to see happen:

Speed Dating flights.

Yup.  If I have to suffer the travails of proximity to these lower life forms, then I say we turn it on its head and make it work FOR me.  And other singles.  But, mostly me.

It’s a perfect set-up.  You already have the environment to cultivate relationship building and getting to know each other.  All that would need to happen is someone to come in and organize the existing chaos.  I’m happy to be that girl.  So, be sure your seat backs are in their upright position and any pessimism is stowed away…  Here’s how it’ll work:

You’d pay a small extra fee to be put on a Speed Dating Flight.  Of course, flights would be segregated by ages – 20-somethings, 30-somethings and so on.  We’ll use planes with the two seats on either side of the aisle layout and put the women in the window seats.  Men will sit on the aisle and every 5 minutes, your friendly airline host will come over the loud speaker and instruct the men to move.  Every man will move back ONE row and sit in the seat behind where he just was.  And the two guys in the back will come to the front row.

This is everything you want in speed dating AND air travel.  Think about it:

  1. No crying babies or annoying preteens.
  2. No having to guess if that cute guy you’ve been tracking stalking ’noticing’ since gate E5 is, in fact, on the market or not.  So WHAT if he got a whole wheat bagel and a yogurt/fruit parfait at “Taste of Atlanta,” he’s sporting a dreamy MacPro in a weathered leather satchel, and you definitely heard hand-washing after he used the restroom…he COULD still be taken.
  3. There’s already a bartender/server coming around bringing you drinks and snacks.  It may not be wine flights from Crü, but a CranApple/Diet Sprite combo, served in a tiny cup filled mostly with ice, can really help take the edge off.
  4. You get to devote time to dating that doesn’t take away from your life.  You’re multi-tasking with a necessary domestic trip, so you have nothing to lose.  If none of the guys work out, you’ve at least passed the time in an entertaining way, en route to PowerPoint presentations and stale Chai lattes.
  5. You already have a seat-back tray table to use for jotting down notes.
  6. You have built in conversational material as you ask each other about where you’re flying and why.  If that runs stale in the first minute, you’ve got in-flight Sudoku puzzles and SkyMall to peruse together.  You can even feel free to use the Crossword at the back of the airline magazine to determine his intelligence level.  “No, I’m sorry ‘Tate,’ but 3-down’s four-letter “therefore” is not “Eggo.”  Thanks for stopping by.
  7. If you ARE seated next to a loser, don’t despair!  He’s moving in less than 5 minutes!

Ultimately, we’re just killing two birds with one mechanical bird.  You’ve got to fly to Newark for business ANYWAY… so why not rack up a few dates and digits as you soar to your destination?

And you know the airlines would have a heyday with this idea.  Maybe they’ll even offer incentive programs where, for every name/number you request, you earn valuable frequent flyer reward points!  I’m just spitballing here, but this idea has got some teeth.  I can hear the flight attendants now…(and please – for the love of all that is literarily snarky – please read the following in a subtle, yet noticeably nasal and personally detached internal voice):

“Ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome aboard flight 5683, with service to engaging banter, and continued service to true love.  Be certain you have stowed all sensitive topics under the seat in front of you.  Heavier conversations about exes and lists of dealbreakers should be placed in the overhead bin, and please do not delve into them as emotions may shift in flight.  All narcissistic, self-absorbed discussion should now be turned off as it may interfere with your partner’s internal relational navigation systems.

If you are seated in a speed-dating seat, you must be able to demonstrate a modicum of cleverness and charm, without causing harm to yourself or others.  Men acting like teenage boys may not sit in a dating seat.  If you are seated in a dating seat and do not meet these requirements, please notify a flight attendant at this time.

Cellular phones and other approved electronic devices may only be used to settle playful bets or show photos of your adorable dog/cat/child/ferret/prize-winning okra.  Smoking is not allowed on any flight or in any situation where you think you MAY give/receive a smooch.

To fasten your image in your current partner’s mind, place the most witty banter firmly into her memory, using interesting stories and clever jokes/entendres.  To release, simply use crude boy humor.  For your safety, we require that you not use words like “booyah” or “boobies.” Federal regulations require you to never discuss body part sizes or try out  cheesy come-on lines.

We appreciate your business.  We know you have options for your airline dating needs, so we thank you for choosing Affection Airlines.”


7 Highly Ineffective Habits of Manly People

From the sea of singledome, if you listen closely, you can hear the quiet cries of women everywhere – often too individually timid to talk to men about some of the most infuriating behaviors we encounter in dating – often too scared to confront these issues for fear that the man will run – often too insecure in our own identities to claim the love and care we deserve.  But, if the goal of this search for love is to find someone who will truly know you and then genuinely love you, then shouldn’t we be completely authentic with ourselves and our partners?

First, I’d like to go on record as fully acknowledging that for every annoying or hurtful behavior men demonstrate, women have something equally exasperating that we bring to the table.  And hear me on this – for MOST of these issues, it truly is a blind spot.  It’s UNintentional.  None of us (well, except for the sociopaths and meanies out there, but I’m assuming (naively?) the majority of my readership are normal and kind people who really want to live lives that bring happiness to themselves and those around them) – none of us wants to hurt other people.  These are areas that, for some reason – whether because of our own past hurt/damage, or due to our unwillingness to dig inward and conduct some necessary self-reflection – have not yet been changed/honed/smoothed out – and are hurting the people around us.  So – today’s installment is about men, but – if any of my male readers want to weigh in on women’s blind spots – feel free to post comments or contact me!  Ok – here we go…

The Commitment Fake-Out:

Men are wont to throw around words and phrases that foreshadow a commitment they’re not actually prepared to offer.  I don’t know if it’s the warm fuzzies they feel ‘in the moment,’ or if they just really don’t realize they’re doing it… but they need to know this:  women take that stuff to heart.  We internalize those words and ‘bank’ on them.  Even when we know that men say these things without meaning them, and that we ought NOT to do that, we can’t help it – it’s like a built-in security mechanism.  Our love-thirsty hearts hear something that sounds future-thinking and we let hope bubble up that the guy sees a real future with us.  Sometimes these are subtle and sometimes men must just not think at all when throwing around such weighty words…

Here are a few examples.  These are phrases that a man might toss out during conversation in the initial courtship phase (think – dates 1 through 7):

“Oh, I can’t wait for my mom to meet you – she’s gonna love you!”
      translation:  I’m significant enough to him to meet his family.

“Oh my gosh, when we visit [fill-in-the-blank-city/country], you’ll have to try the…”
     translation:  He likes me enough to want to travel with me.

“Your [fill-in-the-blank household appliance or electronics] stinks.  Don’t worry, I have a great one we’ll end up using.”
translation:  We’re going to end up living together (married) one day – so I don’t need to buy a new wifi router/flux capacitor/whatever.

“I love you.”
translation:  He loves me.  (weird, right?)

And you WONDER why women seem so “marriage crazy?”  It’s because men go around talking as if they’re going to marry you and then act shocked when you look forward to settling down with them!?

Men – don’t say more than you actually think/feel.  We’d much rather take things at a slower pace and forego a little of the fireworks/drama if we know that the messages we’re receiving from you are authentic.  If you really DO see a future with us, then by all means, say so!  That’s exciting to hear – duh.  But, if you’re on the fence, don’t let a flirty momentary spike betray your true intentions toward us.  We can handle a slower clip.  We can’t handle falseness.

Inconsistency:

Any woman reading this already knows what I’m going to say.  This is one of the classic blunders.  The most famous of which is never get into a land war in Asia.  But only slightly less well-known is this: never go against a woman when mixed messages are on the line!  We may hate this more than any other thing…I’m not ready to fully commit to that statement just yet… I mean, there are spiders, bad breath, crooked gig lines and improper uses of the words you’re and your… but still – this MAY trump all of those.

This is that awkward and confusing jump from a certain level of communication or affection or generally being “into you” that waxes and wanes without explanation.  And we’re left to our own internal devices to try to decipher the behavior.

One minute you’re blowin’ up our phone with flirty texts, the next – we go for days without hearing from you.  One minute we’re getting “good morning” phone calls, then you fall off the map.  One minute we’re hanging out at a steady rate (say, twice a week?) and then it inexplicably dies down.  And the strangest part is, often it’ll pick back up without explanation.  And we’re left dumbfounded.  What gives?  Are men this fickle?  Are they waffling back and forth between being “into us” and then not?  I really don’t know.

But here’s what you need to know, men.  When you set a certain pattern of communication into motion, we use that to gauge the “tone” of the relationship.  So, when you suddenly change it, we’re left to wonder what the HECK you’re thinking about us!  And usually, we go to a pretty pessimistic place.  In man speak, I think it goes something like this… don’t cruise along in 5th gear and suddenly shift to neutral and expect us not to emotionally go flying through the window.
(How’d I do on my automotive metaphor?  I’m ‘gearing’ up to be able to handle a sports metaphor…but we’re still a long way off…)

Teasing:

This one is such a FINE line.  Most well-adjusted women dig a healthy amount of jabs/trash-talk/teasing – IF it’s done in a friendly and flirtatious way.  In fact, it can spice up the relational banter considerably.  But it is SO easy for men to take it to a mean place without even realizing it.  One minute they’re talking smack about being a better ping-pong opponent (though…to be fair, no man can actually say that about me – I’m basically a ping-pong MASTER), and the next, they’re taking it to a more personal level where teasing becomes mocking/belittling.  I just had a friend ask my advice on this issue this morning.  Her guy will unwittingly join in with a mutual friend and tease her to the point of bullying.  He thinks he’s being funny, but she feels ganged up on.

Men, the best way to diffuse this particular blind spot is to pay attention to her non-verbal cues.  If the laughter becomes less authentic sounding, if her face falls, if she avoids eye contact, if she grows quiet – she’s not into it anymore.

Here’s the great news on this one.  There is a FOOLPROOF solution, men.
You CANNOT lose if you do this.  Ahem…here goes… (I still can’t believe I’m just dishing these pearls out for free…):
If you even think you MAY have crossed this line… (now this gets very intricate and tricky, so try to keep up) – ask.
Ask her.  Yup – that simple.  And you’ll come out on top, regardless.
Soften your demeanor (always a plus in just about every encounter with a woman) and approach her kindly with something like this:  “Oh, sweetie…did I go too far?”  or  “Oh – I’m sorry – did I upset you with my teasing?”
Boom.
Done.
You have just reset the entire system here.  Because of your perceptive skillz – she’s now back to being enamored with you.

This can only go one of two ways.  She’ll either admit that it DID go too far, but she’ll be touched by your sensitivity and kindness.
Or she’ll assure you that you didn’t actually take it too far – that she was totally into it and having fun – but she’ll still be touched that you checked in, just in case.  It’s win-win, guys!

Bragging:

Men have a tendency to want to to show off things that most women don’t care about as much as you all think we do!  Now, some women care more than others, so I may be a bit of an outlier here… but I honestly do not care what kind of car you have.  I care if it’s relatively clean (though, that’s entirely hypocritical, because my car is a disaster – it’s basically an extension of my purse… peppered with various dried-up markers, empty water bottles and a few rogue shriveled-up sweet potato fries in the mix there…), I care if it has a/c (c’mon – this is Houston, peeps – if there’s sweat dripping down my back, I don’t care HOW cute you are…love isn’t in the air), I care if there’s a working radio – I mean, how else are we supposed to have a rousing go at the radio game?  But other than that, I couldn’t care less.  And – to make matters worse, I pobably won’t even NOTICE if it’s something fancy.  After a ride in your car, I’ll know what color it is and if it’s comfy.  That’s about it it.  You know when someone calls themself a “car person?”  Well I’m the opposite of that.  I’m a person person.  (Hmm…that doesn’t sound very exciting.  I’m definitely gonna have to work on that title…)

So, I don’t need you to go on and on about your car, or your watch, or your expensive trip to Italy (unless we’re going to talk about the delicious FOOD you ate when you were there – that’s fair game), or any other topic that’s solely intended to impress me based on fiscal success.  If you’ve done well for yourself, it’ll show in time – let it come across organically.  Don’t force that idea on me… it makes you look insecure or like you have your priorities outta whack.

Another way this issue can surface is in simply talking TOO much about yourself.  And this includes false humility too.  Talking too much about how you’re “not that good at ____” or about how humble you are – counts.  Ugh.

Begging:

This is another area where there’s a fine line.  It would be overly simplistic of me to say that when a woman says no to something (and I am talking about a broad range of things here, not just physical stuff), that she definitively means no.  We’re all experienced enough in the nuanced dance of man/woman relationships to know that often women say no, but hope to be chased a little.  Or even when we don’t hope to be chased, if we happen to find ourselves on the receiving end of a hot pursuit, it’s exciting.  If I turn someone down (say, for a date), and he doesn’t give up – it can really go either way, depending on his approach.  It’s ALL in your style, guys.  Having a “I see something worth fighting for” attitude can be mighty sexy.  Desperately begging for us to give you another chance is like seeing a wounded animal on the side of the road and wanting to see it put out of its misery.

The two tips I can give you on this – and again, this is a tricky road, I’ll be the first to admit – are:

1.  Read the room.  Really.  (OK, not ‘literally’ …you can’t read a room, that’s just silly).  But you CAN decode the verbal AND non-verbal cues here.  If you’ve asked for something (anything from “let’s grab a drink!?” to “one more kiss?” and more), and she says no – HOW did she say it?  Was it coy?  Was it uncertain?  Was it playful?  Or did she look like she’d rather be stabbed in the eye?  I know it’s a gray area, but really think here – Playful?  Or eye-stabbing?  They are SO similar…

2.  If you DO decide to press the issue, and I cannot stress this enough – do it in a winsome way.  No, not a “whinesome” way…definitely don’t whine.  Don’t succumb to baby talk (I’m not making this up).  Don’t poke your bottom lip out.  Please don’t be that guy.  Be a man.  Be a man who she could say no to, but just can’t say no to.  You can offer up (in a charming and flirty manner) compelling reasons why she should go out with you, or stay out a little longer, or whatever it is that’s on the table.  How do you do this without coming off desperate or smarmy?  Be clear on the fact that you CAN accept defeat, that she CAN stick to her “no” guns, but that you have something to offer that she can’t resist.  Don’t be the guy who says over and over, “please? C’mon!!?!”  (and…I feel like a broken record here, but this is all coming from either personal experience or from stories close friends have related to me).  Be the guy who wins her over by mentally seducing her with your charm, wit and adorable persistence.  Begging is not sexy.  Confidence IS.

Not Complimenting:

What is it with men on the dating scene these days…it’s like pulling teeth to get a sincere compliment.  I’m not suggesting that compliments should only go one way.  No – I’m the queen of telling you what I like.  If you’re handsome, you’re gonna know it.  If you’re funny, or smart, or a great dresser, or you can recite the quadratic formula – you’re gonna be praised, don’t worry.  But – we girls put a lot of thought into how we look, what we say, heck – the WAY we sit on a date even… so, throw us a bone every now and then.  If you like something, say so.  And here’s why.  It’s not because we need our ego stroked.  It’s because it shows a vulnerability and softness for someone to take a one-down approach and acknowledge a good quality.  An insecure man doesn’t compliment.  But a confident man can step outside of himself to recognize a characteristic that’s admirable or likeable or attractive and then has the boldness to call it what it is.

Not Planning

No matter how liberated we are, women want a man who will take charge and initiate spending time with us.  But, so often, in this lazy, postmodern dating world, men just sit back and wait for women to chase after them.  And, hey – I’m a chaser.  I’m not afraid to go after something I see as potentially valuable.  But, oh, man – to be pursued… and well?  MMmmmm…

Whether you are a planner by nature, or you’re a take-life-as-it-comes kinda guy – you can impress and ultimately show love/care for a woman by having the forethought to make plans with her.  Trust me on this.  Every woman loves the spontaneous stuff too.  But, give us a guy who takes the time to text/call/e-mail to ask us out – more than 24 hrs. in advance, and we may very well swoon right into a full-on fainting spell.  I’ve said before that the root of real romance is effort and thoughtfulness.  Planning requires both of those… hence, planning is romantic.  I know, I know…in the movies, the romance always happens on the fly.  And I don’t want to dismiss that kind either.  If a guy I was seeing just showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and a movie – I would LOVE it.  (well, as long as he was ok with the possibility of finding me with a green mask on my face in my pjs mid-self-pedicure… hey – that’s what you risk when you just show up.  But if you can deal, so can I).  We LOVE the spontaneous gestures.  Love.  But we also really love being thought of.  And it lets us know that in the future, you’ll be the kind of guy who will THINK about us even when we’re not right there.  Oh, that makes my heart feel smooshy just thinking about it.  Finding a guy who will think about you during his day, and then take the time to make a plan with you – because he’s so excited to see you – that’s relationship butter.

And let’s not kid ourselves, …there are countless other things that people do to impede relational growth.  I’m not trying to fix the whole world in one post.  But these are the ones I hear  or experience most often.  The very fact that there are successful dating relationships happening out there is a testimony to the fact that
a.  there ARE still some good guys left (there ARE some good guys left, there ARE some good guys left, there ARE…  ), and
b.  people (women included) are forgiving.
That oughtta keep hope alive for a while… right?

Here’s hoping.


Tips & Trends

Since so many of you have asked my advice on how to make your profiles REALLY ‘pop,’ I thought I’d dispense some more of my color commentary on all things profiles, including a continued look at what’s hot right now, so you can stay on trend.  Here’s what’s new and in vogue.

1.  Headless shots.  You REALLY don’t want to give the whole cow away right from the get-go, you feel me?  So – keep the intrigue alive by eradicating any hope a viewer has of seeing what you truly look like.  After all, beauty is within, right?

If you can’t eliminate the head altogether, at the VERY least, tuck your chin, stand far back from the mirror
or  hide in the shadows – very Phantom of the Opera-esque.


Now, if you want to really up the mystery-factor – don’t include a photo at all,
but give yourself a username that suggests you’re mighty hunky…

2.  Glamour, glamour, glamour.  Set yourself apart by taking it old-school glamour shot.
Don’t be afraid to go full-tilt here and  sport a fauxhawk, a mullet or some zipper earrings.

Photo submitted by my friend, Nancy

If you get in a pinch – maybe your local mall doesn’t HAVE a glamour shot studio anymore (as if…) – one fallback idea is to post your prom photo.  Don’t worry at ALL that it’s extraordinarily outdated.  That only adds to the excitement.

And, no QUESTION he gets extra points for matching the vest, tie, boutonniere, her dress and corsage.  Whew!  LOOOtta pink.

3.  Be purposely enigmatic in your writing style.  Now, there is a fine line between coming across as stupid or uneducated and simply mysterious and cryptic.  I think these examples will really shine a light on that perfect balance:

You’ll note this guy’s poetic artistry and use of expressive phrasing like, “after you know what it was he a man,”
and “help create the bomb I need to play on people’s spirits.”
This guy – THIS GUY gets it.
He knows just how to craft his philosophical musings in such a way as to make women scratch their heads in that “I’m SO intrigued!” sort of way.  Niiiice…

Here’s another in this vein:

He thinks women ‘or’ the best thing God ‘every’ made.  See what he did there?  Do you see the genius?  He could have gone so many other orthodox (read: boring) routes.  He COULD have just actually written about himself in the section designated for talking about yourself.  He COULD have simply used traditional words like “are” and “ever,” but he really mixed it up by going “or” and “every.”  He COULD have, under “Perfect Match,” said “someone who can give as much love as I give,” but no – he chose to go with the artsy “igove.”  Brilliant.

4.  Mug shots.  Mug shots are ALL the rage this season.  If you have an actual mug shot from a recent booking, that’s best, but if not, feel free to improvise and create the illusion of one.  Posing with an angry face in front of fence posts or any corrugated backdrop/structure can drive home the criminal-chic look.

5.  Show the ladies what you USED to look like in your glory days – you know, the 70’s – when you were peaking.  Including photos from 40 years ago will not only show how much you’ve aged and wrinkled up (and who doesn’t love that), but it demonstrates a range of “looks.”  These are two photos from the same profile, to make my point:

6.  Get artsy.  Photos of you in everyday life are so passe.  Play with new and exciting backgrounds and effects.

You can also use photoshop or other manipulative software to superimpose your photo into optimal shots like this one:

7.  Opt for zero punctuation.  It’s just getting in the way of the art of your written word.  Punctuation is so yesterday.

8.  Change the perspective.  Think outside the box here – why choose a regular right-side-up shot, when you can take it to the side?  This forces the viewer to have to bend her neck uncomfortably to the side, giving her a horrible strained muscle, putting her RIGHT where you want her – at your mercy to step in like a sideways knight in shining armor and rub the crick out.  Well-played, sideways man.  Well-played.

9.  Show the ladies what you’re capable of “bagging.”  This works especially well if you’re old and leathery.  Photos of you with a sexy 20-something model by your side really send a positive message about who you are and what you want.  If you are lucky enough to get a shot in a parking lot with an 8-wheeler unloading its wares, …double score.

10.  Use photos of random objects or scenes that have nothing to do with you or your lifestyle.

This is not my caption.  This is how it was listed on this guy’s profile.

I guess it’s not every day that you see a parrot (macaw?  I never know…) perched on a handicapped parking sign, so, I mean – this guy really had no choice BUT to post this.  It was just the right thing to do.

Once again – not making this stuff up – this guy really did have this as one of his profile photos.  But you know WHAT?  That’s great.  It let’s me know a few things:  a. he has a foot fetish.  Fair enough.  b. He spells ‘probably’ the alternative way – such an independent thinker.  THIS is the kind of innovation you need to make your profile stand out.

11.  One last trick that should bring the women running…

Superimposing interesting text over your photos.  Check it:

He’s got the front, folks.  And now everyone knows it.  VERY classy move.

He’s started the conversation FOR you!  This guy is a real go-getter.  Admirable.

Well – these aren’t ALL the tricks at your disposal, but it’s certainly enough to get you started on the right track.

Trust me – go fishing with these lures, and you’ll be reeling in the women in NO time.  Would I lie?


Let’s Get This Party Started…QUICKly!

Yes… Yes I did pull out 90’s rap lyrics for my two-part title.  That’s how I roll.  Apparently.

Ok – so – we’re going on dates now. (See part I of this post).

But, where to go?  What to do?  What to talk about?  
How to come across the best version of myself that I can?

Whoa, horsie – calm down!  I’m not a MIRACLE-worker, for cryin’ out loud!!

But I may have a few tips/tricks up my sleeve.  I can’t believe I’m sharing these for free…

Also – if you’re “shopping in my aisle,” I forbid you from using any of these suggestions.  
You know what I mean, right ladies?  When you’re at the clothing store and you see another woman encroaching dangerously close to the dresses you MAY be interested in – what do you do?  You give her a quick once-over to determine if she’s your size.  If she’s not, she’s not a threat and you can carry on as you were, at a relaxed clip.  
But if she’s a similar shape, then you’ve gotta broaden your stance, assert your alpha female-ness and box her out of your shopping zone.  Same goes for dating, doesn’t it?  I can bring certain friends with me when I go out, because we’re shopping for different kinds of shoes…I mean, men.  But, if I find a curvy, sassy brunette looking for a charismatic, funny, Jesus-lovin’ guy – we will NOT be wing-manning together.  Too dangerous.  So – like I said – if you’re shopping in the Sarah aisle…move along to another post.  These gems are soley intended for my NON-competition.

Where to go.

I can speak to this globally and I can even throw out some ideas for those of you in the Houston area. [see list at the bottom of the post]

Generally speaking, (and remember that I think the first meeting should be easy and quick), unless you’re meeting for lunch, I think you should avoid national chains.  Now, obviously, meeting for lunch at Panera or the Corner Bakery is fine.  But if you’re doing Happy Hour or drinks/apps – don’t hit up Chili’s.  (Unless, of course, you live in some podunk rural area where Chili’s is as impressive as it gets…if that’s the case, get the Southwest eggrolls, and surrender to the mediocrity.)  Choose a spot that has a good “vibe” – a healthy enough energy that you can’t hear the guys in the back washing dishes, but not so loud that you have to scream into each other’s ears to be heard.  Wine bars are great for this.  Restaurants that do Happy Hours are also optimal (and a note for the non-drinkers.  Why don’t you drink?  No, I’m kidding.  My last boyfriend was practically a tee-totaller.  I mean, it IS why I finally broke up with him – to be clear, but… he’s a great guy nonetheless.  If you don’t drink alcohol, Happy Hour spots are still a great idea – they usually have deals on appetizers and the Happy Hour ‘feel’ makes it not as high pressure as dinner.)

What to Wear.

I wear the same outfit on almost every first date.  I’ll just tell you – it’s a black knit short dress – strapless, but with a halter tie with wooden beads.  I wear it with black espadrilles – not super high, but a solid 3 inches of “help.”  It’s everything you want in a first-date outfit.  It’s sassy without looking like I’m trying too hard.  It’s an LBD, but because it’s knit, it’s casual enough for Happy Hours, It shows some skin, but not too much.   It’s a solid 8-outta-10.  It’s perfect.   AND – knowing it’s my go-to first date outfit makes it so easy – I don’t have to toil over what to wear.

A note to men – women toil.  We worry and obsess and toss-and-turn over what to wear.  We want to look attractive, but we don’t want to give off the desperate vibe that we’re trying too hard.  We will often consider, if not actually do it – buying a new dress/outfit for a date.  And we have to consider the activity too – if we’re playing pool or going bowling, we can’t wear a maxi dress.  If we may end up dancing, we have to have the appropriate footwear, if we think there will be any kind of snuggling/hugging/smooching, we can’t be all spanxed-out… it’s a lot to think about!  So – if you think a woman looks nice – tell her.  And we’ll tell you too.  🙂

Honestly – as long as you THINK about what you’re going to wear and you have a morsel of an “I care” attitude, you’re probably fine.  Probably best to stay away from your work coveralls, though… (yes – I actually went on a date with a guy who showed up in coveralls.  COVERALLS, people.  With the name of the company embroidered on the ‘shirt’ pocket and everything.)

What to order.

I usually commit to one drink and one snack.  It doesn’t cost a lot and it gives me something to DO.  Plus, sometimes this sparks interesting conversation about wines/beers/teas/food.  Now, the biggest problem of date-eating is this…there is almost NOTHING you can actually eat.  Not if you want to come across as sexy.  Let me unpack this.  
You can’t eat a salad because taking bites is cumbersome…pieces fall out, they don’t fit in your mouth in nice neat bites, so you’re rolling along in conversation, and there’s a spinach stem dangling out of your lips or a rogue heart of palm stuck on your cheek…it’s just not pretty.  
Then, you can’t eat anything with cooked spinach, broccoli or ANY herbs – because they’ll be caught in your teeth and without knowing it, you’ll smile at Mr. Wonderful only to look like you’re missing a tooth.  And unless you’re dating in Montgomery county, that’s frowned upon.  
You can’t order anything with onions or garlic.  Even if you know there won’t be a kiss, you don’t want to be breathing dragon-burp breath on him while you’re trying to make a good impression.
And lastly, you can’t drink red wine because it’ll turn your teeth an ashy-violet color that doesn’t exactly spell out “come hither.”

So, what’s left?  Not much!  Cheeses are safe (and delicious).

Then, there’s…well… just get the cheese.

What to talk about.

I would like to, once again, offer up some more of my printable communication materials for my readers here. 
Below is a handy list of suggested talking points you can bring with you and hand to your date.  Again – make this your own.   Feel free to print several of these – even laminate them.  Pick things that are so ridiculous that he or she can’t HELP but laugh and then you’ve got things started on a funny note.

talking_points (pdf for easy printing)

[aside…if you are offended by me including Joel in the camp of ridiculous topics, feel free to message me and we’ll go toe-to-toe in a fascinating theological sparring… trust me – it’ll increase your chances at living your best life now.]

Ok, but seriously – here are my three biggest suggestions on this front:

Ask questions, meta-communicate, and don’t set up taboo topics.

First – ask questions.  Not in that ‘I’m gonna pepper you with so much interrogation that you feel like you’re in a war-time P.O.W. situation,’ no – just in a ‘I’m interested in you’ way.  Now, the true test of a good date is if s/he reciprocates and asks YOU questions about yourself.  If they do, just answer them honestly!

Next – meta-communicate.  This is a fancy way of saying, talk ABOUT the talking.  Or talk above the talking.  I’m using the term loosely because literally it means to talk about the nuances of language, so I’m referring more to Meta-commentary, but let’s not get too academic here.  This method has worked really well for me in dating because it takes the conversation to a much more authentic place where both people can rest easy in the shared nervousness or unknown.  Both of you are trying to impress the other one while still being true to yourself.  You’re both excited and nervous.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to admit to the other person that you checked out your panty-line in the car window before walking in or tested your own breath while in the bathroom.  But, you CAN talk about the fact that first dates are tricky.  Talk about the fact that there’s almost nothing a woman can order to eat and still maintain some degree of poise.  Talk about the fact that online dating brings with it so much room for disingenuous information.  Talk about your own funny or horrific dating stories.

Lastly, if you’re being honest and appropriate for the level of connection happening, you can talk about just about anything.  I don’t think certain ‘hush hush’ topics necessarily need to be off-limits.  I think it’s OK to talk about your ex.  Now, obviously – be smart about this.  You’re not gonna blubber into your napkin and whine about how he never really appreciated what he had… But you CAN tell some of the basics of the story or share how difficult it was to get back out there.  Chances are your date has been in the same boat in some season and this is a point of connection.  We’re all human, right?

And for those of us who are divorced – I dare say this is a GOOD thing to talk about.  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s really important to know WHY the other person is divorced.  Did he fight for his marriage?  What are her views on divorce?  How long ago was it and what was the healing process like?  How are the children doing?  These are all hugely significant to me to learn.

Another side note – a reader asked me to discuss how long to wait after a divorce before getting back out there.  And, my answer comes much more from my own personal reflection on this and less based on a therapeutic standpoint.  I think this all depends on the nature of the end of the marriage and your own personal grieving time.  Some people’s marriages ended with an abrupt quick death – e.g.  the husband came home one day to announce that he’s been having a long-term affair, he no longer loves his wife, and he’s leaving her.  3 months later they’re divorced.  That woman is nowhere NEAR ready to look for love again – the amount of healing and processing she’ll need is immense. On the other end of the spectrum is the marriage that had been in the relational ICU for so long that it finally died a long slow death.  Whatever besetting sins/addictions/issues plauged them had been happening for years, there had been extensive attempts to save the marriage, including therapy, leaning on the community of faith, etc., and then the divorce itself sat in legal red-tape for years.  In this case, so much of the necessary mourning had occurred as the couple struggled, that the time of healing may be less.  I hate saying it because it sounds so wimpy, but it really is different for every person.  Here’s what I DO suggest: 
1.  Surround yourself with wise counsel, and
2.  Don’t open your heart up to anyone new until the ghost of your former failed relationship no longer casts doubt on your true identity and will not haunt the halls of your potential new love story.

Alright – back to the land of first dates…

How to END the date

First – don’t say you’re going to have another if you’re not.  Be very careful with your words here.  You do NOT have to bring the death blow to this burgeoning friendship while still on the date, but you also shouldn’t inflame false hope.  If you know (and – of COURSE you know – if you’re being honest with yourself, you knew within the first 10 minutes) that you don’t want to see this person again, just say something like, “This was really fun, thank you.”  You can even say, “Talk to you later!” because you WILL have to talk (or text) to let him/her know that you don’t think you’d make a good match.
Note:  The more you date, the easier this will become.  People appreciate honesty.  No one wants a second date born out of pity.  So – if there’s not spark, say so and move on. 

Kiss or no kiss?  There is no rule here, folks!  Now…as many of you have deduced, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to sex, so I can unequivically say that you should NEVER have sex on the first date.  That’s not just me being all Christian-prude-y… that’s just good economics.  Only 6% of first dates that end in sex actually blossom into long-term relationships.  You know what happens to the other 94%?  SOMEone (usually the woman, but not always) gets hurt.  Like – really hurt.  Like – I gave my whole vulnerable self to someone and s/he thinks of me as disposable.  Crappy feeling.  MUCH worse than walking away sexually frustrated!  Embrace the cold shower and be valued.
But, the smooch?  Well – I say, if you’re feeling it – go for it.  Why not?  Kissing is fun and it’s also more information.  If you walk away from a first date that’s obviously gone well, wouldn’t it also be nice to know if s/he is a good kisser?  I’m just sayin’…

So – there you have it.  My thoughts on first dates.  Go on a lot.  Make ’em quick.  Be yourself – be honest.  Smooch but don’t give away all the goodies.  Rinse, repeat.

Some Houston suggestions for first date spots:  
All the restaurants in CityCentre:  The Tasting Room, Yard House (take a beer lover here!), Cyclone Anaya’s, Ruggles Green (great for non-drinkers), Flora & Muse (more of a coffeehouse feel), etc.;
Benjy’s (either in Rice Village or on Washington – one of my most FAVORITE places to go -( lots of good energy, delicious mojitos, $5 wines and $6 apps);
Cafe Brasil in Montrose;
The Boom Boom Room in the Heights (very charming and quiet), Boheme (a great hipster/chill feel);
the Arbys in Pasadena…just checking to see if you’re paying attention – ha ha!  
No, but seriously, that is a NICE Arbys;
the bar at Vic & Anthony’s downtown (dark lighting, comfy chairs…ahem…);
Absolve Wine Lounge – small, chill – good apps and wine;
Branch Water Tavern in Rice Military;
Max’s Wine Dive on Washington;
any of the cafes in Rice Village (Black Walnut, Mi Luna, etc.);
DownHouse in the Heights;
The Tasting Room in Uptown Park (more single professionals vibe) or on Alabama (more coffeehouse feel);
Vintropolis on the west side,
Winetopia near Memorial/Galleria;
Cedar Creek cafe in the Heights,
El Gran Malo (relaxed patio and yummy tacos) in the ‘dirty Heights’;
Fleming’s steakhouse (Happy Hour only);
the restaurants at West Ave in Upper Kirby: Cru, Ava, Pondicheri;
Anvil (fancy mixed drinks);
Sambuca (bar) downtown;
The Grove at Discovery Green;
OPorto Cafe near Greenway Plaza – fantastic apps and wine in a casual atmophere (basically a less-noisy Max’s);

I could go on and on, but now you’ve got some ideas.  And please leave comments with suggestions for other places…after all – I’m out there too!


Let’s Get This Party Started….Riiight!?

A couple of friends have asked me my advice on getting started (or…in their cases, restarted) in the online dating world.  So, I’ve decided (as part of my cyber charity work) to write a 2-part post on getting back in the game.  Apparently I’m a love doctor now?  I’m more than ok with that.  The Doctor is in.  The first post will be about creating a profile and communicating with potential matches, etc. and the next one will be tips and suggestions for actual dates (including, but not limited to: talking points, how to eat “sexy,” etc.)… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – first we have to GET the date(s).

(Cracks knuckles, clears throat, does some basic lunges…)

Ok – if you’re wanting to ease back into the scene, I suggest taking an evening to create the perfect profile.  Obviously I don’t think mine is perfect, but I DO think it represents me, and thusly – it constitutes “perfect.”  So, crack a bottle of wine, put on your comfiest PJs and enjoy painting a picture of who you are and what you want.  This is the fantasy portion of the process. Isn’t it fun?  We’ll get to the debilitatingly disappointing portion later…after all – I want to give you something to look FORWARD to.

First – which site to choose?  If you’re wanting to dip your toe in the online waters of love, I’d suggest a site that lets you do a fair amount of “shopping” – like Match.com.  I know I talk a big talk about Match being full of men trolling for sex (and I stand by that), but it also has a lot of men (and women) to choose from – and seems to have the highest percentage of “normal” on there (which…to be fair, is still a pretty small margin…but still.)

[Update – Coming back to this post months later and I would NOW suggest…if you’re just dipping your toe in the uncertain waters of online dating – to do OK Cupid.  It’s free, easy to use, and has a decent smattering of singles.  Trust me – go try it.  And answer lots of their questions too – it helps them match you up!]

A note about eHarmony.  Some of you who know that you can only be with someone who shares your faith may be thinking – “why use a ‘secular’ site and not eHarmony, where I’m ‘guaranteed’ to find a Christian?”  eHarmony may be great for you LATER, but it doesn’t allow you to hunt/shop with the same ease and anonymity that Match does.  eHarmony does the work for you and at their own pacing…so you’re kinda held hostage to their methods, whereas Match allows you to navigate your own search in your own timing and style.  Just my thoughts…

First things first – do NOT start by putting a photo up and then writing your profile.  They’ll approve your photo and then, within moments, the smarmiest of men will start descending on you like a pack of rabid hyenas, based on nothing but physical attraction.  Those are not the animals…er…”men” you want.  Begin with the words and add the pictures last.

Some tips for writing your profile (and to be fair, many of these suggestions have come from comments made by some of my guy friends including John and Kevin…you know who you are):

– Don’t SAY that you’re smart or funny – just BE smart and funny.  Anyone can say that they’re witty or clever, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  And, as a woman, when I see something clever on a guy’s profile, it grabs my attention so much more than someone claiming a rapier wit, but never demonstrating it.

This begins with your tagline.  This is what will show up when people see your profile in a list – so don’t put something generic like “single mom looking for a nice guy”… snore…no, seriously – I just took a nap.
Put a funny line from a movie that you’ve tweaked, or a random fact about yourself, or even just plain ‘ol goofiness.

– Don’t put a list of things you DON’T want in a potential partner.  It’s fine that you HAVE this list – of course – we all do!  But, it’s off-putting – moreso to men than women, I’ve found.  They are particularly sensitive to negative energy and I think their ears perk up to the motherly tone found in that “If you…… then we won’t work out” kind of language.  So, be positive about who you are and what you want.

– There’s no need to list the same junk EVERY person has on there – all that does, is basically say, “move along to the next profile, because I’m boring.”  You don’t need to write on there that you are looking for friendship that turns into a relationship – anyone worth their salt is looking for that.  You don’t need to write that you’re looking for someone friendly, nice, honest, etc. – everyone is!  You don’t need to spell out the fact that physical chemistry is important…der…  No, instead, spend MORE time writing about what sets you apart.  Talk about your life – are you an extravert?  What are your hobbies and interests?  Are you a word nerd?  Into politics?  Artistic?  Musical?  What are some interesting random facts about you that, while not important in the grand scheme of things, are endearing to read?

– If you’re a parent, don’t put a line in there about how your kid is the most important thing in your life and that no one will ever take priority over him/her/them.  This may very well be true (and I’m really resisting opening up a hearty debate about the roles and priorities partners/children eventually play in a monogamous and committed relationship…resisting…but it’s hard!) – but when you say it this way, not only does it read negatively, but it gives off the vibe that your heart is closed-off for anyone else.  What guy/girl wants to initiate conversation if s/he thinks they’ll only ever make it to second place in your heart/life?  All of us parents know that we’re not going to neglect our children for our dating life – we wouldn’t be good parents then.  So – you don’t need to specifically state this.

– In the more directly pointed questions about musical interests, movies, books, faith, etc. – DO put as much information as you can here – partly because it’s your chance to show your personality, but also because any little thing you write could be the “hook” a guy uses to spark up a conversation with you.  Think about it – if you write something generic, like “I love music,” there’s not much there for someone to follow-up with, but if you mention that you have an unhealthy obsession with Jimi Hendrix, then a guy can write to you and say, “you love Hendrix, eh?  What’s your favorite album?”  and you’re off to the races.

– Don’t lie.  You might think this is obvious, but when you start writing…you may be tempted to “embellish” the truth (ahem…lie.)  Resist.  This will invariably come back to bite you in the more-ample-than-you-represented-hiney later on.  Don’t say that you’re taller than you really are (*coughs* – MEN…); don’t say that you’re skinnier than you are; don’t say that you love (fill-in-the-blank – animals, sports, etc.) if you don’t; don’t say you’re younger than you are; don’t purposely leave out the fact that you are a parent; don’t say you’re “never married” if you’re actually divorced – that MATTERS; don’t fudge your income or embellish your job description; and any other arena where you’re tempted to tweak the reality of things… resist.  The purpose of this is to find someone who will know you and love you for who you are, so – how about this novel idea – BE who you are from the get-go!

– Ok – let’s talk profile pictures.

DO have at least one close-up shot of your face where you can actually see what you look like.  No sunglasses, no face in the shadow… just YOU.

DO have at least one full-body shot that is recent and accurate.  A guy would much rather see a curvy woman who owns it, than see a photo of you from your “Spring-Fling” in 1992…all pre-baby and Spanxed-out.

DON’T crop your girlfriends out of photos.  Men like to see that you have a vibrant social life and pretty friends!

DON’T have a photo of you with a guy who could be misconstrued as competition (boyfriend, unlabeled brother, etc.).  Conversely, don’t have a picture of you with someone prettier than you!  Come on…this is just good common sense.

DON’T have more than one photo of you with your kid(s).  Your profile will say if/that you have children, but you don’t want to display this too much as it is a little intimidating right outta the shoot.  If the guy falls in love with you, he’ll fall in love with your children.  But we don’t need to throw that in his face from the beginning.

DO have multiple shots of you so he can see different facial expressions and settings.

DON’T have shots of you with your iPhone/Android in the picture.  Extra points deducted for duck face.

DO have a pic of you being goofy.  People like to find other people with a sense of humor and playfulness.

DON’T have a photo where the whole point is to show off your fabulous cleavage, or – for men – the shirtless pic.  If you have a great photo from the beach or lake, that’s fine, but don’t adjust your clothing “just right” to show off your ‘assets’ and then snap photos of you with your ‘Blue Steel’ face and upload them.

– Proofread

Once you’ve completed everything – go back and reread it.  If you’re going to be picky (which I think you should), then you can’t very well have a profile riddled with grammatical errors.  Check those yours and you’res, make sure every I’m has an apostrophe, for you men – make sure it doesn’t say, “I’m looking for a women who…”  – that kind of thing.  Spell check, have a friend read it – whatever it takes to make it correct.  This will allow for the greatest level of superiority and entitlement when shopping later.  🙂

– Commit to the membership/subscription.  Don’t do the whole free deal-y-o… where you can only see certain parts and can only “wink” or “flirt” or whatever your site’s version of lame-sauce is.  Be all in.  And only communicate with others who are all-in.  After all – if they’re not willing to shell out the $30 to find a soulmate…that’s a whole other kind of information.

– Communication.

OK – so your profile is up and running and all sorts-a-fabulous.  Now, you have two things to do:

1.  Read the messages that come in and respond to those worthy of a response.  Now, listen – every person is different about who they will and won’t reply to.  For me – if the photo looks like I could be remotely attracted to the person, and the profile is decently written and has even in a modicum of interest to it, and if the guy lists his faith as “Christian/Protestant,” or “Christian/Other,” I’ll reply.  I figure everything else is subject to further investigation/interpretation.  Now, I’m much more likely to give a longer more thoughtful and witty response to someone who’s profile is especially intriguing or unique, but I don’t require 10-outta-10 charming to send a Match.com e-mail.

On the other side of things – you have ZERO obligation to reply to all the messages that come in.  For those guys who don’t interest you, you have three options:
1 – write them back and just say honestly that you don’t think you’d make a good match, but best of luck;
2 – use the Match.com “no thanks” link, which sends this cute little note,
“TexasGuy1976 doesn’t know a good thing when he sees it….. etc. etc…. rejection with a condescending throw-away message about finding love in other places…blah blah blah”
…I mean… I’ve HEARD that’s how they go…(shifts nervously)…I’ve certainly never GOTTEN one of these messages…
(read: I’ve gotten plenty of them.);
3 – Do nothing.  It is OK to ignore messages.  Men will ignore you too.  Them’s just the shakes.

2.  Go hunting!  This is the fun part.  Go to the Search option and put in all your parameters.  Be as picky and snobby and racist and age-ist as you want to in this part of the game…your ‘I-only-want-to-date-men-who-speak-Tagalog’ secret is safe with Match.  Use the “Advanced Search” option so you can put in items under education, faith, etc. and then start reading!

Check it out, ladies – you will have an advantage if you’re assertive and send messages to the guys who pique your interest.  Because, if you read my last post you’ll remember, men message women MUCH more than the other way around.  Men don’t get that much attention in this way, so if you put yourself on his radar, you’re already miles ahead in the race against the other ladies out there.  And don’t just click the “wink” button – have the bollocks to send an actual message.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Just find something in his profile that caught your eye and say so.  It could be something like this:

You had me at Texas Country.  I could listen to Chris Knight the rest of my life and be a happy girl.  🙂
Your profile was refreshing to read – you seem like an authentic and intelligent guy.  I’d love to chat more…check out my profile and let me know what you think!  Cheers.  – Sarah- “

Note:  you may want to change the name.

That’s not hard, is it?  Obviously – make this your own.  Be more flirty, be more succinct, include an open-ended question, whatever matches your personality.  And hopefully – watch the responses roll in!?

– Take it to the next level.

Rewrr…. that sounded saucy…

No, I just mean – once you have a dialogue going on Match.com’s e-mail system, I think (and this is purely my opinion, but it IS based on interactions with lots of men in this world) it’s best to quickly take it to the phone – either text or talking, pick your poison.  I’m a texter, but that’s just me.  And I’m also quick to propose meeting up.

I want to take a moment to talk about my philosophy about dating – and how it affects the MANNER in which I date – and why I move quickly to the meet-n-greet.

Let’s return to the shoe shopping metaphor.  I am in a season of searching for the perfect shoe.  I’m trying on lots of pairs, but I’m eliminating quickly the ones that I know aren’t the right fit.  That’s the key – eliminating quickly.  I’d much rather go on lots of quick dates (coffee/drinks/lunch/etc.) and assess if there’s sufficient interest/potential connection to warrant a full-on date-date.  Think back to the shoes (sorry, men… feel free to insert your own tool metaphor in lieu of footwear.  Unless you’re all in-touch-with-your-metro-chic-ness and can hang with this).
There are the ones that are SO pretty… but they’re way too expensive (for those of you who can’t crack the code – I mean to say that the guy is dreamy and makes you feel good, but it comes at an unfortunate cost…(critical, short-temper, etc.).  There are those that seem like they’ll go PERFECTLY with your outfit, but they’re prohibitively uncomfortable (we’ve all bought these shoes, haven’t we?  And halfway through the next day we’re cursing our earlier impulsive selves that strapped our feet into tiny torture chambers of pain.  Do I need to spell out the metaphorical corollary?)  Then there are the shoes that are sensible.  They feel good – you know they’ll last.  They’ll walk you faithfully through Disney or your trip to the Burgundian countryside… but darn it they just have no razzle dazzle.  I’d like to say – unequivically – that I am DONE buying those shoes as well.

No, I want THE PERFECT pair.  Gorgeous, versatile, comfortable and make other women insanely jealous.  Ok, ok… perhaps I’ve pushed the metaphor a bit past its prime…

And I haven’t yet grown so cynical about love that I think this is an impossible dream.  I DO know there isn’t a perfect pair of shoes out there – I have a healthy grasp on the flawed (dare I say it, ..sinful) state of man, but I DO believe there’s a perfect pair out there FOR ME.  And that means two things as far as the shopping and ‘trying on’ phase:

1.  I’m going to try on lots of pairs (don’t go gettin’ all naughty on me here… I just mean interacting with a fair number of men).  And I’m probably going to have a lot of first-dates-only because I know pretty quickly when the pair isn’t a good fit.

2.  When I find a pair I like – I’m going to use all the tools in my arsenal to wear them, enjoy them and decide if they’re worth buying.

I guess what I’m saying is – take the online interactions quickly into the land of the living – where people have no choice but to be their real selves.  Don’t WASTE your TIME sending e-mails back and forth or texting for weeks – the most accurate representation of a person – is the person.  In person.

So – don’t be afraid to just say – “Let’s meet up for a drink!”  or “I’d really love to meet you – wanna grab coffee later this week?”  It’s innocuous enough.  Contrary to what that nagging fear in the insecure part of your brain says, “Let’s do drinks” does not, in fact,  mean, “I want to have your baby.”  So – go for it.  Enjoy the drinks/lunch/coffee and take it from there.

…to be continued.


You’re NOT Perfect Just the Way You Are

I’d like to become a professional dating consultant.  No, not a matchmaker.  YOU find the girl, I’ll help you keep her.  Sort of like Hitch, but …white, and with more estrogen.

The thing is – I’ve been on enough bad dates or heard about them or have even witnessed them from a table over, that I feel the world is ready for me to make it better, one clueless guy at a time.  Think of it like a makeover, but more for your personality.  Hey, I’m not here to sugarcoat.  I’m like the SuperNanny of courtship.

My services would include, but not be limited to the following:

– helping you reassess your strategy in connecting with women.  If there are more people like me out there compelling the men of the world to make contact with women the way we dream of, then maybe we really WILL start seeing more of those RomCom encounters we want – preferably without the com.  For instance – if there’s a girl at a coffeeshop with no wedding ring and she looks over at you and makes eye contact, even if just for a second, that’s your invitation to go talk to her.  That’s it.  Simple, huh?

– Recording your date and, in my post-date consultation, doing a cooperative video analysis.  There will be a whiteboard, X’s and arrows, and …if you pay for the deluxe package, even an inspiring pep talk.

– For those in need of intensive help, I will even come along on your dates.  I’ll sit one table over (hey, I’m that girl anyway), eavesdrop, and use our own pre-coordinated complex taxonomy of visual cues and hand signals to help you navigate the tricky waters of women.

– In cases of extreme emergencies, I will step INTO the date and rescue the woman.  This may or may not involve me asking you to just go, but it will certainly include profuse apologizing, topic-changing and basically an entire structural reorg.  (That’s corporate talk for starting from scratch).

But, if you’re not ready to sign up yet, let me whet your appetite with some teasers of truth.  These are pearls, so – my publicist would kill me for just giving them away for free… but, what can I say?  I’m feeling generous today.

Things girls do NOT like:

– licking your lips or doing weird things with your tongue.  Gross.  Do you want to date me or eat me?  Please don’t answer.

– Talking about yourself the entire time.  And here’s the thing – this is true even IF you’re an interesting guy.  But, let’s be honest – most of the culprits of this crime are not.  Interesting.  So we’re left to our own internal devices to make the time pass.  My personal fantasy involves me scooping my eyes out with a melon-baller.
* In related news, if you hear yourself use the phrase, “to make a long story short,” the ship has already sailed.  Abort.  Abort!

– Too much cologne.  This is not an irreparable issue, but it’s not gonna help your game either.  Even if it smells good.  A little goes a long way.  When in doubt, err on the side of the woman not being able to smell the cologne at all than to smell too much.  A good rule of thumb should be – we should only be able to catch a whiff of it if we get very close (e.g. hugging, kissing, whispering in your ear, etc.)

– Speaking ill of others.  We don’t want to hear you talk about what a *&%# your ex-wife is, we don’t want to hear about the guy in your office that you can’t stand, and we don’t want you to bash another people group – unless it’s a group – of people – who are mean…then I guess you’d have a double negative on your hands, wouldn’t you?  I went on a date with a guy who said, “gay people are so GROSS.”  Yikes!  Just like that?  An entire population of people – summed up with such ignorance… good grief.  Such a turn-off.

– Chastising your date.  I had a guy tell me once – on a second date – that I really should relax my “rules” of not sleeping with a guy on the first couple of dates.  Oh really?  You think I should relax that rule, huh?  What a shocker!  And, no.
But, to be clear – now that you went all parental tone on me and let me know I’M the one who’s off for not wanting to sleep with someone I don’t love, I’m SO much MORE attracted to you!  (read the sarcasm)

– Checking other women out.  I am embarrassed for us as a society, that this still has to be spelled out.
Look, I know men are visual.  But, are they also completely unable of exercising self-discipline?  If you had any idea how it made your date feel to see you eyeing a pretty woman who walks by, I wonder if you’d think twice before the next time.

– Being late.  Check it: this is the first and simplest way you can show a woman you care about her – respect her time.  If you’re late, it tells her that you think she’s important enough for you to try.

– Laughing at everything we say – but not because it’s funny.  Because you’re trying to impress us.  I’ve had guys laugh even when I’m not saying something funny.  Now, granted, I’m hilarious.  So, it’s hard sometimes to tell when the wit stops and the “regular” stuff starts, but still.  When you’re doing that nervous giggling after every sentence I say, it makes me think you don’t have a backbone.

Things girls DO like:

– Winking.  Not in that cheesy “what would it take to put you in this car today?” kinda way, but a sweet or flirty wink… will send our hearts racing.

– Sensual touch.  Touching the arm or the knee while you’re laughing or talking, shows us that you like us and steps up the confidence a little so we can continue to feel free to be ourselves.  I mean, this is simple conditioning.  If the rat pushes the lever, it gets a fruit loop…and it’s gonna push the lever again.  Yes – in this scenario, women are rats.  In hindsight, I might have chosen a better metaphor, but here we are.

– Eye contact.  Again – not the creepy kind where too much of the whites of your eyes are showing and your chin is jutted out like a crazed psycho.  No – just maintaining enough that we know you’re interested.  Now, if you wanna take it to the next level (when the moment is right), brush our hair away from our face while looking at us…and we’ll be yours for life.

– Dressing well.  A double-breasted suit isn’t necessary, but just make it look like you care.  A shirt half tucked in, half out or a tee-shirt with bleach stains all over it don’t send the message that you’re particularly excited about meeting me.  A clean gig line is halfway to love, baby.

– Pay.  I know, I know…it’s archaic.  But, I’m sorry, it’s sexy.  This won’t apply to your entire courtship, obviously.  But that first date – if the guy pays, it sends a message about his character.  Now, listen, single women aren’t just trying to get free drinks/dinners, as much as whiny embittered guys would like you to believe.  Do you really think that we think it’s WORTH a free drink to put up with someone we have zero interest in?  No.  If we’re there, we WANT to be there.  You paying just shows that you think we’re WORTH buying a meal/drink/pony.  (just seeing if you’re paying attention).

– Fresh breath.  When a guy leans in to talk to me and I can smell minty deliciousness, he gets major points.

– Interest in our lives.  Ask questions!  (One of my services is providing lists of appropriate questions, based on prior level of contact, number of dates, etc.).  And for those of you advanced enough – ask questions within the questions (this is SO Inception-y).  In other words, if you ask her what church she goes to and she answers, don’t just move on – ask her why?  What is it about that church (fill in here – job, hobby, music, etc.) that she enjoys?  And with each answer, dig into the conversation more, until you feel like you’re really getting to KNOW her.   People yearn to be KNOWN.  This is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  Much better than buying an expensive dinner.

[Sidebar – as I sit and write this at a coffeeshop in Houston’s Heights, there are two people right across from me who met for coffee for the first time.  She’s talking, and he’s leaning in with a look of interest on his face, making eye contact and asking follow-up questions.  Beautiful.  I feel like a National Geo explorer who just discovered some amazing new bird…]

You could basically boil most of this down into this simple rule…and it’s pretty complex, so – concentrate…

TRY.

That’s it.  Effort.  Women love a man who gives THOUGHT to us.
Effort is as the root of romance <– not gonna lie, this is good stuff here…

So, if you’re interested in my services, let me know and we’ll see what sort of package suits your particular situation best.  And I am certainly NOT doing this to add another pool of single men into my sphere of contact.  Nope.  That would be selfish and opportunistic…


The leave behind… and not the good kind

So… I’ve decided I should invent some dating “helpers.”  And I’d like to share these ideas with you.  They’re patent-pending, of course, but if you get in a pickle, feel free to print them out and use them – just give me the credit when it goes over smashingly…which it undoubtedly will.

The first is a simple form (you can carry a couple copies in your purse at all times…just in case) for those times when you’re on a date, and you know it’s going nowhere.  You know the ones… you’re five minutes in and you realize you’ve slated over an hour of your precious time for a dud.  (Now, before you go getting all mad at me for calling this fictitious character a “dud,” keep in mind that one woman’s trash is another’s treasure.  I’m not saying he’s a “dud” for everyone, but – for you and what you’re looking for…he doesn’t make the cut.  OK – disclaimer over).

You may have even bought a new outfit, maybe just new shoes, just for the occasion.  At the very least, you took the time to carefully select your ensemble, get your hair just right, do your makeup “date quality” (that is – you actually use the eye-shadow ‘base’ that you never put on for work and you bust out the sparkly eye-liner…Juuuuuust in case…), shave your legs, squeeze yourself into at least one pair of spanx, all the while listening to whatever your personal choice of pump-you-up music is (mine, depending on my mood, includes such artists as:  Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Girl Talk, Ingrid Michaelson or some sexy Bossa Nova…but I digress…) – you’re all set to go… heart racing just a little quicker on the drive there – because… “what if?”

But then you get there and ….you might as well hear the record scratch… he is (to put it mercifully) – underwhelming.

I’m not even talking about looks (though… isn’t it fun when he looks NOTHING like his profile photos?  That’s always a tricky minefield to navigate in conversation…”Oh, I didn’t recognize you there…you!… you look so…different from your picture!”  (you’re sporting a smile that you’re hoping conveys the message:  “in a good way!  Boy, you sure are handsome.  So much more than that picture of you on your profile where you were 100 pounds lighter with all your hair and teeth…”)).

No, I’m talking about him being one of “those guys.”  What guys you might ask?  (And let’s be honest – if you’re a single woman on the dating scene…you don’t have to ask…you know exactly who I’m talking about).  By way of example, my girlfriend Nancy just told me about a date she had recently….join me as I recreate the scene.  She was excited because he was a handsome European man who seemed intelligent, had a job he loved and was genuinely interested in her.  But every time he would ask her a question (e.g., “What did you do today?”) and she would give her answer (e.g., “I worked… we had a huge conference call…etc., etc.”), he would begin this uber-condescending slow clapping with his head cocked ever so slightly and a smug teasing (not in a good way) look on his face.  Slow clap?  The slow clap.  Are you serious?  Unless some handsome preppy college guys are standing one-by-one and chanting “Oh Captain, My Captain,” this does NOT work.  And he did it multiple times!  The first time, she laughed it off because she could tell he thought he was being funny.  But after it continued through the night, she was just frustrated (probably had her feelings hurt a little – like he was mocking her answers), and knew the date was going nowhere.

So – for all the “Slow Clap” men out there – those who “seem” like a good idea, but end up being a colossal disappointment in the first few minutes of the date – I propose what I like to call – an Early Dismissal Program (EDP).

Because – why should we have to endure the rest of the time we COULD be home cracking a bottle of wine, slipping into our PJs and watching episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, appeasing a man we have zero interest in?  I mean… my kid-free time is so precious little, that I have to think about this economically….and to spend any more time with Mr. Slow Clap (yes…that has now become an archetype.  (Holla, Jung fans!))…. well, it’s just bad biz.

So – here’s what I suggest:  excuse yourself from the table to use the restroom, go to said restroom and pull out one of my handy pre-made forms from your purse, check the reason for the EDP , and give it to a server to hand to him after you’ve snuck out the door to your car.

Date over leave behind form (pdf for easy printing)

(Obviously you’ll change the name at the bottom of the form.  And you can even print them in index card size for ease of carrying… make this your own.)

Now…feel free to modify this form to fit your specific needs or pet peeves.  And also don’t hesitate to direct his attention to the backside where you can choose to leave additional comments or suggestions.  After all – this is a growth edge for him – make it count.

Never say I didn’t offer my helpful dating services, friends.