What a coincidence, I keep mine out by the dumpster too. (Photo by ChazWags)

In the media recently, a pair of dating articles and a piece on plants that even you might not be able to kill. Read on…

Cry Me a River

First comes the news that men apparently suffer significantly from relationship stress. Based on a study in this month’s Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the study looked at young men and women (18-23) only, so keep in mind that this stress may partly be the drama of youth, and even the study abstract cautions about this. (Of course that hasn’t stopped the media from proclaiming “Men More Prone to Heartbreak Than Women,” which actually seems to be the opposite of the findings. Reading is fundamental…)

But even within that small age range, there’s a specific type of stress that affects men more: stress within a current relationship. Women were found to have the largest emotional swings over breakups and lack of relationships.

Essentially, this study seems to suggest men have more of a negative reaction to drama in relationships, which makes sense: women often feed on drama in their lives, while men prefer an even keel. And men apparently react to that drama by self-medicating. Hopefully, as these men get older, they might turn to meditating instead.

Girls Love Lists

Before you can stress over your relationship, you have to get one. Those overactive lasses at The Frisky have posted a new diatribe on what they don’t like about men—this time it’s a laundry list of the awful that online daters do.

Right at the top: “TMI.” I would have to agree with this one after hearing endless complaints about guys spilling their guts (sometimes to the point of tears—think the Radisson restaurant scene from Fargo). A smart guy lets the good stuff slip, but without braggadocio (the list’s #7 and #8 also cover aspects of your life you shouldn’t boast about).

Other items include #4, “The Dealbreaker,” and #5, “Body Obsessed”: dude, if you’re going to have high standards, keep them to yourself. The world will know when you’re actually seeing that incredible woman you wanted.

It does look like the Frisky ladies ran out of ideas right around #5, though. #2 (“Mr. Eager”), #6 (“Stalker Boy”), #9 (“The Black Booker”) and #10 (“Chill Out, Dude”) are basically the same guy. Yes, you should maybe carry yourself as if you have a life outside of this date, but it sounds like the authors have had an inordinate problem with overeager suitors. (You know what readers like? Author photos. Preferably in something that shows a little leg.)

If a Cactus is Too Much Work

There are multiple great reasons to maintain living things in your home. First, it shows women you’re capable of nurturing something. Second, it adds ambiance to your place—even when you’re there alone, it’s there to let you know you’re not alone. And finally, if it’s a plant, it can actually be beneficial to the air you breathe.

But what if you don’t have a lot of light in your place? Apartment Therapy offers some options that they bill as excellent low-light plants, and yes, the list includes a fern (but one with “frilly, fun leaves!”). And if that or a mint plant (decorative, and you can chew the leaves!) is too much for you, consider the ultimate suggestion of a moss terrarium. That’s right, moss.

Seriously, there’s no excuse to not have a plant or two in your place. If these are too rudimentary, check out AT‘s previous post on hard-to-kill houseplants, as well as Day 12 of my Ultimate Spring Cleaning, which has some excellent suggestions for hardy, manly greenery.

Nonmarital Romantic Relationships and Mental Health in Early Adulthood [Journal of Health and Social Behavior]
Men More Prone to Heartbreak Than Women
Guys’ top 10 online dating mistakes
[The Frisky via CNN]
5 Overlooked Plants That Can Survive The Dark (Almost)
[Apartment Therapy]

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Just nod your head and say, "yes, I can rappel." (Photo by David Compton)

Meeting women is easy—except when it’s not. Those times when it’s not tend to be the moment you get tongue-tied, or when she says something completely confusing, or when she goes silent. It’s then that you could use a wingman with answers.

Well, I can’t be with you every time you stumble, but I can help you figure out what happened so that you can soldier on. With that, let’s look at some recent questions guys have had about the women they’ve approached. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

From Ben:

This girl is perfect: a 10 for sure. She’s in a few of my classes, and she approached me after some eye contact. She asked me about my iPad and we talked for a few minutes. It looked like it was on. About a week later I approached her after class and we talked for quite a while, until I had to leave for an appointment. Then after the same class the next week we talked again, and I got her number with the idea that we could study together.

Well, at the study date the next week, we seemed to really “click,” but she really didn’t make a move to touch me. But I was satisfied with the progress. Then after the next class we hung out yet again, walking and talking for quite a while. She even touched my arm. We e-mailed back and forth during the next week, and even talked on the phone a couple of times.

Finally, I decided to ask her out to see a band I had been making plans to see, but unfortunately she was going to be going out of town. At that point I joked nervously about a few things, but it really felt like the wind came out of my sails. I hung up with a bad feeling, and after that she didn’t reply as usual to my joky text messages. What do you think I did wrong?

Well, Ben, first off I always get a little suspicious when a guy refers to a girl as a “10,” because it usually means he’s putting her on a pedestal from the start, which means you devalue yourself.

And I think you definitely put her right there on that pedestal. The first sign is that it’s taken what, four weeks to get up the nerve to ask her to do something that is remotely close to an actual date? You also mention the fleeting moments when she touched you, but never once talk about making a move to touch her.

Ben, this is veering uncomfortably into the “friend zone,” and when she told you she was going off to have fun without you (out of the blue, even though the two of you supposedly had talked in the meantime), it really hit home.

An extremely important part of getting to know a woman in the way a guy wants to know a woman is to actually let her know your intentions. You don’t have to tell her, “I want to take you home now and get you naked,” but you do have to gradually make her comfortable with you as a man. And you had the opportunity: if she’s touching your arm, touch her right back. High-five her and hold onto her hand for a moment. Guide her with your hand at the small of her back. Have her take your arm to cross the street. These are all very simple, non-groping ways to introduce touch. From there you can escalate into holding her hand or putting your arm around her.

You could have also introduced plans for something other than study before the one-month mark. Listen, I know you want to take it slow and careful, but taking things this slowly really make it seem like you may never make a move, and well, a girl’s not going to wait forever. I can’t think of a single girl I’ve dated who I didn’t kiss well before the four-week mark. The secret for me, I guess, is that if I don’t want to just be her friend, I don’t try to be her friend.

Too many men spend time being friends with women they really want to be with romantically because they don’t want to somehow frighten her, but it will frighten her worse if after months of friendship you suddenly try to play tonsil hockey. Get closer sooner, and I mean physically.

Moving on to this one from Derek:

So I’ve been trying to meet women, mostly on the street (the weather’s nice here and the streets are always buzzing). It’s not going so well. I start with an opinion opener like, “which of these stores would be your favorite to get a gift from?” Unfortunately, soon afterward I lose the conversation and I end up having to bail, and then I can’t approach another woman for a while after that.

I was wondering, I tend to, um, take care of myself before I go out. I’ve heard that some pickup coaches tell their students to “ban the hand” until they’ve started to make successful approaches. Do you think that might help me stay focused?

Normally I’d say something about TMI right here, but you bring up a valid suggestion. The reason it’s valid isn’t necessarily because not, ah, waxing the dolphin has any real effect on the brain, but that it’s more like the pro athlete who has to wear the same undershirt every day during a winning streak: the ritual is what helps him focus on the task at hand.

So in that spirit I’d say yes, don’t punch the clown for a few weeks, and see if it makes a difference. And not to downplay the sexual frustration aspect either: not training your dragon for a while might subconsciously prod you to move forward so that you can get some satisfaction already.

Just don’t let superstition get in the way of learning. Make sure you’re always thinking about what you could have done better or differently. If your attempts are dying in the middle, think of some better questions or observations you could make at that point. Look at your body language and correct it if it’s weak or too threatening. Practice thinking on your feet when you’re in situations where you’re not specifically trying to meet women. Try a direct approach and see if that helps.

After you’ve procured two or three phone numbers, you can reward yourself by hoisting the scimitar again. Just don’t get carried away.

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How to Begin and End a First Date

May 14, 2010 Mating & Dating

The first date is often the most awkward time an any potential relationship. I often work on the blog at a local coffee shop that’s a frequent meeting place for first-time daters. I frequently observe the awkward way guys greet their dates, and the awkward way they say goodbye. (First-date kiss? Forget it!) If they’d […]

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The Secret to Getting the Date (Not Just the Number)

February 3, 2010 Mating & Dating

If you’ve ever had a girlfriend with Netflix, you probably had to watch the seminal ’90s slacker dating movie Singles. One of the minor characters was David, best friend of the main character Steve. David was all about meeting as many ladies as possible: David: Man, check it out. My new Gor-Tech watch. I can […]

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The 3 Things You Must Be to Attract Women

January 21, 2010 Mating & Dating

Last week we began the series on what you need to meet the woman of your dreams with the three things a woman must feel before you can magically transport her from coffee shop to bedroom. Later we’ll discuss the methods you can use to unlock those feelings, but first let’s talk about you. To […]

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Would You Date a Smarter, Richer Woman?

January 20, 2010 Mating & Dating

The New York Times this week raises an interesting point: as women earn more than they used to, own their own businesses and seek ongoing education, they’re increasingly “marrying down.” And having a hard time finding the men to do so, apparently. (Well, when Gawker is calling you a “leech with a penis” it kind […]

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How to Get Girls, the Howcast Way

December 11, 2009 Mating & Dating

If you haven’t heard of Howcast, you’re missing out. From how to escape from kidnappers to how to play rock-paper-scissors, it’s a treasure trove of video advice. Often dodgy advice, sometimes advice you really didn’t need in the first place, but advice nonetheless. They try hard. How to be Better at Small Talk For your […]

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Chivalry is Not Dead, You Just Don’t Know What It Is

December 10, 2009 Mating & Dating

The argument about whether chivalry is or isn’t “dead” has been raging for, well, about as long as there’s been a definition for the word “chivalry.” Unfortunately, the biggest problem I see is that no one’s really sure what it is. Today Steve Santigati (the guy who supposedly inspired The Ugly Truth, to which I […]

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