Archive for March, 2008

Whoever said technology makes our lives easier was kidding themselves.

In this multi-part series, I’ll discuss how modern communication technology makes dating both simpler and more complicated.  “Wait,” you say.  “Simpler and more complicated?  It can’t just be one or the other?”  You thought I’d set out everything for you in nice, concrete terms, eh?  Ha!  I am merely a guide.  I leave the heavy lifting up to you.

Under the umbrella of “modern communication technology,” I include cell phones, e-mail, text messaging and social networking sites.  Cell phones are a gray area, as they operate much like the land line phones of yore, but they allow you to be reached at all times.  So they count.

I’m a sucker for old movies, so TCM is one of my favorite channels.  Robert Taylor in Camille or Laurence Olivier in…everything?  How does a girl decide?  Anyway, something I’ve noticed in a lot of the old romance films is situations that further the plot that wouldn’t occur today.  People don’t miss each other in a crowd, because you can just call the person you’re looking for.  Yet entire movies were once based on the premise of two ships passing in the night.  Maybe a days-long hunt for a girl you met once and can’t forget is more romantic than sending her a text message, but it sure isn’t as effective.

Is constantly being in touch more romantic?  Or does it raise expectations so much that we’re destined to be disappointed all the time?  I’ll be old-fashioned and make you wait for the next post, where I’ll discuss cell phones.


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A great way to meet people is through other people.  Much like asking a friend about a job opening at their company, getting inside information about a potential date is key.  Women in particular enjoy helping friends out in this regard.  We don’t find it intrusive or strange if you ask us for the phone number of our cute friend.  We love it.  It makes you look adorably vulnerable, and we’ll tell our friends as such.

It’s not hard to turn a female friend into a yenta, and I mean this in the Fiddler on the Roof matchmaker sense, not the gossipy old hag sense.  How do you do it?  Just ask if her friend is single.  Alarms will immediately go off in her head, and she’ll give you the girl’s number and then nag until you call.  The girl will likely be advised of the imminent date offer.  Note that the yenta sense is strong, and you probably won’t get a number if she doesn’t think the girl would be interested, or if she thinks it wouldn’t be a good match.  Think of the yenta as your dating resource: Friend, negotiator and gatekeeper.

That being said, I’ll address the topic of follow-through.  There are two vital components to this:
1. Yenta follow-through.  Yentas, take your single friend’s desire to find a solid relationship seriously.  Set them up with quality people.  Don’t make empty promises about “having the perfect person for them” if you’re not going to go all the way.  If you know of someone good for your friend, and your friend seems receptive to the idea, try and set them up.  Then it’s out of your hands, and you can sit back and hope they hit it off.  Don’t soil the yenta title by not acting in the best interests of your friends.
2. Dater follow-through. A few times a year, a friend or relative will tell me about a guy they know who just moved to my area.  They claim he’s wonderful, and they ask if they could pass my e-mail address along.  I give them permission, because I know and trust these people.  If they say a guy is nice, he’s nice.  Nine times out of ten, the dude never e-mails, which is odd because I’d actually give him a chance.  A blind date can result in one of four outcomes: It’s either great and you met your next significant other, the sparks aren’t there but you become friends, the sparks aren’t there and you never speak again, or it’s so bad that you have a hilarious story to tell your friends afterward.  What would I have to lose?  So I’m surprised that these guys don’t take their friends and relatives up on the offer of a set-up.

Good yentas are everywhere.  Know how to be one, or know how to get one to help you.  And when they tell you to ask someone out, listen.  It worked for my parents!

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The Rules Redux

Am I a feminist? Sure.  My goal in life is not to just push out some babies and greet my husband at the door at 5:30 with his slippers and a martini. But I also like being a woman: wearing skirts, shopping, and engaging in heated conversations about Project Runway (though I know many men who love the show, too). I suppose I’d label myself a third-wave feminist, maybe even a difference feminist. Since when did equality of the sexes mean women should act like men? I don’t want to act like a man. They scratch their balls in public.

But this post is not specifically about feminism. It’s about men, women, and their roles in the dating process. I stated my beliefs, complete with handy links to Wikipedia, and you can feel free to disagree with what I’m about to say: I think, that when it comes to courting, men should be men and women should be women. “Oh no!” you exclaim. “Am I reading the blog of a Rules girl?”

Uh, no.

The Rules are a bit extreme. Don’t stare at men? Don’t go Dutch on a date? Always end phone calls first? Some make sense, like the one about not dating married men (duh), but the one about rarely returning calls is sure to get the boys to fawn over you. Or give up on you. Whatever.

I do believe in rules. Not The Rules, but rules. Etiquette rules exist so that everyone feels comfortable. Dating rules should exist so everyone knows what’s expected of them, and people stop missing out on opportunities because they didn’t know how to proceed. I’m not saying that men should pay for everything, or that women should sit around waiting for attention to be lavished upon them. But there’s a dance, an innate courting ritual, that somehow makes itself evident to us in high school. Go with your gut, people.  Ladies and gents, we have to help each other out.  Let’s meet halfway. 

Girls, don’t play hard to get.  Guys don’t understand our passive-aggressive codes, so let’s save those for cat-fights with our female friends.  Instead, show interest.  Flirt back!  Hold up your end of the conversation!
Guys, man up and ask for her number.  Then (gasp!) call it.  Don’t wait a minimum of three days so as not to seem desperate.  You can call the next day!  Really!  Women find this flattering.  Don’t call five times an hour, though.  That’s messed up.
Girls, don’t let the voicemail pick up and then wait 48 hours to return the call.  If you like the guy, return their calls or e-mails as soon as you’re physically able to.

So, in conclusion:
1. Show interest if you’re interested.
2. If you want to see them again, make it happen.
Upon meeting someone, if you follow that simple formula instead of playing some cat-and-mouse game, you’ll have a date planned within a week.  Or you could feign disinterest to retain an air of mystery, or wait a month to call because you want to seem laid-back.  But then you’d never date.  Your choice.

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Or: How to read social cues

Last night I discussed how to fix yourself if you’re scaring people off. Tonight I assume you’ve gone through months of self-reflection, yogic breathing exercises and hypnotherapy, and you’ve emerged a delightful and interesting person. You have to fight ’em off with a stick. Sometimes, though, no matter how good a first impression you give, you’re not going to win them all. It’s better you learn this sooner than later.

This has happened to me and many friends of mine. You meet someone and you think you hit it off, but somehow it never materializes into anything. You pine, you whine, you sit by the phone or toy with the idea of sending a friendly e-mail. Alas, you’re ignored. Or you’re at a party or a dinner or something, and you strike up a conversation with a cute stranger. You might think you’re well on your way to scoring digits, but then: the dreaded cockblock. You don’t talk to them again that night, and they leave with someone else.

In either case, cut your losses and move on. Someone who doesn’t return your e-mails isn’t interested. Someone who allows another person to get in the way of their conversation with you isn’t interested. Believe me, if they wanted you, they’d find their way back to you. They’d rebuff the cockblocker. They’d Facebook-stalk you and send you a surprise message. Other people in the room might recognize your greatness. Go talk to them instead.

I like to make lists, so here is a list of quick ways to tell that you’ll never get anywhere with someone:
1. Observe their body language when you first meet. Are they smiling? Leaning toward you? Touching your arm? Mirroring the way you’re standing? Good signs. Do they keep their arms crossed? Are they standing as far from you as possible? Are they just letting you talk while they make “rescue me” faces at their friends? Bad signs.
2. They flirt with you, and then spend the rest of the night on the arm of someone else. These people are mindfucks, and they are to be avoided.
3. They get your phone number or give you theirs, and might even make vague promises to “meet up sometime” and then you don’t hear from them, or they don’t return your calls.
4. Then the next time you run into them (because, little-known law of physics, you always run into people you don’t want to see), they either ignore you or neglect to mention any meeting-up promises they made.
5. Worse, they lock you into phone tag, saying you’ll go out “when I get back to town” or “when this project at work is finished” or “once I get settled in my new apartment” and suddenly you realize that you’re chasing them and they keep giving excuses.

These are just a few examples. If you find you’re experiencing any of the above situations: give up, give up, give up.

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Dater, heal thyself

In this, my first post, I won’t give you fun date ideas or fashion advice.  If you’re looking for a really wonderful person, you have to do some work on yourself first.

Our Boomer parents taught us that we could be and do pretty much whatever we wanted.  This led to a host of kids in the late ’80s proclaiming that they were going to grow up to be teacher-astronaut-ballerina-rodeo clowns, and, years later, an equally large number of 20-somethings who have loud personal cell phone conversations in restaurants.  Our parents said that if someone doesn’t like us for who we are, it’s their problem.  Lovely theory, but if multiple people dislike you, that kind of becomes your problem. After all, maybe they’re on to something.  Before you get all huffy and walk away from your computer, hear me out.  You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.  Wouldn’t you rather get to the root of why you’re not getting any, rather than be alone in your self-righteousness?

Self-righteousness won’t keep you warm at night.

Suppose you’re “being yourself” at a party. You’re making the rounds and chatting up attractive people, but everyone you meet gives you the “Uh, I have to go…stand over there” line. It becomes evident after some time that entire groups of people are pointing and laughing at you. Such jerks! You go home and cry to your cats. They like you. Why doesn’t anyone else?

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But don’t rush to blame others, as mean as others might be (that’s a lesson for another day).  Think: What can you do differently to turn into someone who’s enjoyable to talk to? Here’s my take on the matter: When you’re striking out, you’re not “being yourself.” You might be telling cheesy jokes, relying on weak pickup lines, or talking too much out of nervousness. Odds are, you really are a great person, but no one will notice that because you’re trying too hard.  It’s time to change your approach.

You totally know you watched that VH1 reality show, The Pick-Up Artist.  You can continue to deny having seen it while I make my point.  I don’t suggest guys wear nail polish, eyeliner and weird hats, nor do I think “Did you see the fight that was just outside?” is a line to use on every woman you meet (dude, a little creativity?).  But Weird Hat Guy did teach the contestants about approaching people with confidence, and about engaging women in interesting conversations without coming on too strongly.  Letting the ladies try on your hat might also be fun.

And here’s my point, as promised: Eventually, you want to show people who you really are.  But to get to know them long enough to do that, you have to make a good first impression.  This doesn’t mean creating some fake persona or lying about owning a private jet.  This means learning conversation skills and reading social cues (I’ll get to that in a later post).  A healthy dose of confidence can’t hurt (note: confidence and arrogance don’t mean the same thing).  If you think you’re worthless, perhaps it’s better to hold off on dating and spend a few months working on self-esteem issues.

It’s so easy to blame other people for not liking you, and it’s a lot harder to come up with reasons as to why that might be.  But, dear readers, the work it takes to become a fun, interesting, confident person is what happens in between dates.  So get to it.

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Dating is hard.

I have tons of fabulous single friends.  I’m also single (and fabulous).  Yet we all claim to have trouble getting to date two, let alone finding The One.  After experiencing my own collection of disappointments and counseling many a confused dateless wonder, I realized that I give good advice.  I should write this stuff down!  So I am.

Come here often?  I hope you do.

“Fail” is a harsh word, but I’m going to use it anyway.  We fail at dating because we fail at communicating, honesty, recognizing social cues, and timing.  We over think every move until we’re rendered immobile by fear.  We lie or avoid confrontation so we don’t “hurt anyone’s feelings.”  We get scared of something that could be good, so we don’t give it a chance.  We follow nonsensical dating rules and end up missing out on something that could have been great.  Why do we sabotage our own happiness?  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid to succeed.

My goal here is to discuss dating issues and offer my opinions and advice in a non-Cosmo-like fashion.  No cutesy euphemisms for body parts, no “Unleash Your Inner Jungle Cat and Watch Him Purr,” just realistic advice.  Hopefully, along the way, I’ll help you and me find what we’re looking for.

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