Some people seem to be confused about exactly how to handle dating in the Twenty-Tens. There’s no doubt that our thinking has changed, aided and abetted as usual by the ubiquitous media, but is that for the good? Are there really new rules?
Well, considering in the 1800s dates were almost unheard of—after getting permission, men could only see their crushes under the watchful eyes of their parents, and the closest thing to a “date” consisted of playing a few tunes on the piano in her family’s parlor—things have definitely changed. However, the idea that most women want to get to know you at least a little before they bring you home and start getting busy—well, that hasn’t changed.
So, how to date right, right now? Simple: be the man.
Have a Plan
The most important part of the date happens before you go on the date—or even before you ask her out. If there’s one thing that turns women off, it’s a guy who can’t come up with a plan for their time together. The words “I dunno, what do you want to do?” should never, ever, come from your lips. You should not only have a plan for where to go and what to do, but a few good conversation topics, and maybe a surprise or two. You should be able to visualize the date from start to finish.
I’ve gone over some of this before: first, have an idea where you might want to take her before you even suggest meeting up. That way you can skip the awkward phone call by asking her out there and then when you meet her. Second, have a plan with more options than just your initial meeting spot. Be able to bounce from the coffee shop to the beach or from a walk in the park to a sidewalk cafe. This brings us to the second point…
Have a Backup Plan (or Three)
For a lot of guys, it stops the date cold when that museum is closed for a private event, or the romantic beach walk is spoiled by rain. Resourcefulness is a prized quality, and if you’re able to deal with a major hitch in your plan and keep a smile on your face, you might just be more attractive to her than if everything had run like clockwork.
If you’re not good at thinking on your feet in a situation like this, no worry. Plan two or three alternate, nearby venues before the day comes. That way, when a roadblock pops up, you can laugh about it as you move smoothly to your backup.
No First-Date Dinner*
By now this should be a well-known rule: never take a girl out to dinner on the first date. It sets up too much pressure, it’s too expensive, and it doesn’t give you the chance to show off as much of your personality. It’s also hard to touch a girl from across a table. Instead, take her somewhere you can be active, or see or do something interesting. An active date also gives you the opportunity to work in the occasional touch, to guide her or lead her.
Now you’ll notice the asterisk. While dinner should never be the date, dinner can be part of a date. After you’ve done something physical or engaging, if the chemistry is there, you’re getting the right signals and one of both of you are hungry, it’s a perfectly good idea to ask if she’d like to grab a bite. Just don’t make it a fine-dining restaurant. Have a funky cafe or bar and grill scoped out in advance, and make sure it’s either conducive to conversation or includes another activity you can enjoy together (for example, if you both like karaoke you might pick a nearby karaoke bar with a kitchen).
You know how it goes: you like this girl. She might like you, or she might just like you as a friend. You propose “hanging out” or otherwise going to do something non-threatening, because heaven forbid she thinks you’re interested in her. On the is-it-a-date date, you keep a respectful distance, and talk only about “friendly” topics (hey, TV shows are always good!), steering clear of any suggestion that you’re interested in her, because that would be creepy, right?
Then, maybe bump into someone she knows. Maybe it’s a guy she knows. She introduces you as her friend.
C’mon. You’re a big boy now. A date is the place to make your intentions clear. In fact, if you did your job right when you met her, she should already know that your interest isn’t platonic. That doesn’t mean making crude jokes, or coming up behind her and feeling her up. It means escalation: topics deeper than the weather, a touch on the arm when appropriate. Offer her your arm when you walk down the street. Look into her eyes when you speak to her. Be chivalrous. If at the end of the evening you move in for the kiss and she turns away, you now know where she stands and can move on.
Tip: don’t wait until the end of the date to suddenly swoop in. After an evening of keeping your distance, suddenly lurching in lips-first can be unnerving. If you’re going to kiss her, you should have been working up to that. Watch her body language. You might even be ready for that kiss well before the date is over.
Do you get all nervous around women? If so, you’re not alone. I used to get nervous myself. All I can really say is that the less dependent you are on an outcome, the more relaxed you’ll be.
So don’t get hung up on whether she’s going to take you home with her, or marry you, or whatever your goal is. Instead, make this your goal: having a good time. Enjoy what you’re doing together right now, instead of worrying about what’s going to happen later. That’s the beauty of having a solid plan—you already have an idea what’s coming, so you can enjoy what’s happening. When you can have a great time on a date even when the evening ends in a handshake, you’ll have become a dating ninja.
Having fun yourself will also make her more comfortable with you. Just don’t become the hypercaffeinated human pinball, or Mr. Instant-Party-Just-Add-Alcohol. Neither one is especially attractive. A smooth and relaxed demeanor is very masculine.
Don’t Put Up With Crap
Many, many guys get blinded by an attractive girl, and they’re willing to put up with a lot of crap if they think that doing so will get them somewhere. And there are a lot of women who know this, and have no problem pushing a guy’s buttons, or complaining about everything, or sitting there like it’s your job to entertain her. Don’t get so hung up on the outcome that you demean yourself just to try and get lucky.
All of these behaviors are just a taste of what a relationship with this woman will be like. Remember that a date is your opportunity to screen her, and if she can’t treat you with the same courtesy and integrity you show toward her, you need to cut her loose. Don’t wait until the end of a long, uncomfortable night. And please don’t wait until she’s made you angry. Simply finish up what you’re doing, pay the check if necessary, make sure she gets to her car okay, and say, “thank you for your time, but I don’t think it’s going to work out.”
I know it’s hard to push a beautiful woman away, but trust me, there are lots more where she came from.
Dating is a skill. Skills take practice. With a plan in hand and a sense of fun and adventure in your heart, you’ll be the confident, engaging, interesting guy she’ll want to know better.
Got anything to add? Any tips that have worked for you? Let me know.