Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dating 101 (Because clearly some of you need it)

WHAT has happened to dating?

OK, I know I am veering off the series of my last few posts dealing with men that are keeping you single, but I have had an overwhelming amount of people (men and women) that have asked me the same question:

WHAT has happened to dating?

It seems since we have entered the age of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and every other means of communication we have forgotten how to, well, communicate. It seems that no one knows how to date anymore. The days of a guy calling a girl, asking her out, taking her to dinner, and then calling for a follow-up date have been replaced by vague, "Wanna hang out?" texts.

What does that even mean? Is it a date? Are we buds? Are you 12? Are we hanging out one on one or in a group? Are all of your friends going to be there? Should I invite mine? The simple text leads to a myriad of questions and frustration, and rightfully so.

To help out my single guys and girls out there I have developed a set of dating guidelines:

Rule #1: Ask her for her number, and then call her.
Don't get it through a friend or hit her up on Facebook or whatever various form of social media is your favorite. Be an adult. If you can't do this, then you are too young and immature to date. Grow a set, call her, and if the conversation goes well, ask her out.

Rule #2: Make it clear that you want to take her on a date.
Don't be vague and invite her to "hang out" or "kick it" (seriously, what are we kicking?) with you and your friends. Again, you are not a 12-year old. You're not asking her to go to the mall and walk around because you aren't old enough to drive. A date is not a marriage proposal. It is a date. Something designed for you to get to know someone. No contracts are being signed. No rings are being exchanged. Don't freak out or get all weird.  If you meet someone and you like her, ask her out on an actual date.

Rule #3: Be respectful.
Don't wait until Thursday to ask her out on Friday. It implies that you were waiting for something better to come up before you decided to settle for spending time with her. It also implies that you think she has nothing better to do but sit around and wait for you to call at which time, she should drop everything to spend time with you. It is disrespectful and arrogant and starts the date off on a bad foot. If she drops everything to go out, it sets a precedent that you can always call her last minute. If she tells you she is busy, it makes you feel like maybe she isn't interested enough to go out with you. Do the right thing and ask her out giving at least 3 days notice.

Rule #4: Have a plan.
Don't call her or show up to pick her up without something in mind. Discuss a specific time and place. I always recommend having 2 or 3 ideas to choose from that you can present. Speak about it on the phone so she can dress appropriately. You don't want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt only to find her wearing a dress and heels. If you are going to do something outdoorsy, let her know. If you are taking her to a nice dinner followed by dancing, tell her. Whatever you do, make sure you take into account what she likes. Just because you are a hardcore baseball fan, doesn't mean she is. The first date should be about going somewhere that you both feel comfortable.

Rule #5: No group dates unless there are extenuating circumstances.
If possible, try not to make the first date a group date. Again, the first date should be about getting to know each other. If you go out in a group, your date may feel self-conscious, like they are being placed under a microscope. This may cause them to clam up. After all, she doesn't even know you yet. Now she has to dazzle your friends. Sure you may be comfortable and your pals may be warm and welcoming, but unless she gushed when you mentioned plans you had with a friend to go see a concert and happen to have an extra ticket available, make the first date a one on one thing. Or if you do decide to go out in a group, take her to grab a bite before (or after) with just the two of you.

Rule #6: Dress to impress.
Put some thought into the date and what you are wearing. Whether you are going to a 5-star restaurant or a football game, take pride in your appearance. I'm not saying you have to bust out a 3 piece suit, but show her that you cared enough about the date and seeing her to not just put on whatever wrinkled clothes you grabbed off the floor because they smelled the least offensive. Shower, wear deodorant, comb your hair, and look presentable for the date. That means no holey shirts or pants.

Rule #7: Make the first date casual.
Yes, it is great that you can afford to go to the fanciest restaurant in town, but if you start off with that, you kind of have nowhere to go but down. Plus many people behave differently when they are dressed up and in an environment where they are expected to act a certain way. If you want to get to know someone, you should do so in a relaxed atmosphere. That way you focus less on where you are and more on who you are with and what is being said.

Rule #8: Touch base before the date.
Look, it is awesome that you called her and made plans in advance, but just about every woman has that fear that she will get all dolled up, be sitting there waiting for you to pick her up (or meet her somewhere) and then, (Gulp!) you won't show. It's true. When it comes to first dates, our insecurities start to peek from the recesses of our brain. We get nervous and think, "he's not going to show" or  "what if he forgets?"

So if it is Monday and the date is on Friday, and you haven't talked or texted at all throughout the week, give her a quick call or shoot a little text the day before or the morning of that says something like," Looking forward to tomorrow (or tonight)." It calms the nerves and lets her know that you haven't completely forgotten about her. If you have spoken to her between the time you made the date and the actual date, this isn't necessary, but if you have had a crazy week or are just the type that doesn't like to talk much before a first date, touching base is a basic courtesy.

Look, things happen - grandmas die; bosses make you work late, people get sick. You don't know her so it would be very easy to get wrapped up in something and just blow her off. It's good to be certain everything is still a go. And if it's not a go for some reason or another, have the decency to let her know. Don't just stand her up. That's so not cool!

Rules #9: Don't be text needy.
Ladies, I know you are super excited about this handsome, funny, smart new guy you met. So far, he has done everything right. Don't screw it up by texting or calling him 500 times  If you are texting him every day, you are already coming off as needy and insecure. If he hasn't talked or texted you since you made plans and you want to shoot him a text the night before or the day of just to confirm, that's fine, but keep it to a minimum. You don't need to tell him every thought that pops into your head. If you do, you'll scare him away.

Keep a little bit of mystery and give his mind time to wander, think about the date, and get excited about it. He can't do that if you won't leave him alone. And do NOT under any circumstances, friend request him on FB. Nothing says, "Crazy Stalker Chick" like friend requesting him right after you meet him. There is no need to comb through his page, friends list, and decipher every post with your friends before you even go on one date. Besides, you don't know him. For all you know he may be a serial killer. You don't need to give him free access to where you live, what school you went to, where you are and who you are with, or your daily routine just yet.

Rule #10: No inappropriate texts.
Men, do not, under any circumstances text her a picture of your junk. And do not ask her to send pictures of her boobs or anything else. Let's just go ahead and say that any parts that would be covered by a bathing suit are off limits. I can't believe I even need to say this, but unfortunately, I had a guy I just met send me a full frontal naked selfie of himself and have friends that have met guys that thought this was appropriate to do.  It is not.

Rule #11: Don't expect an immediate commitment.
You had the best date. Seriously, people will probably make movies one day about how it was the perfect date. That's great. But now the date has been over for like an hour and you haven't heard from him. Now it's been a day... or two and you still haven't gotten a call or text. Or maybe you have and have even gone out on 2 or 3 more dates and they have been fantastic. Now you can't help but wonder, is he seeing anyone else? Are you exclusive? Where is this going?

Before you go updating your relationship status, take a second and breathe. I get it. I'm not the kind of person that dates 5 guys at once. If I like a guy, I like him and am probably not seeing a handful of guys in addition to him. Still, there is no need to rush the whole relationship thing. Take the time to get to know someone. Go out with him a few times, meet his friends, see what he is all about before you decide this is the person you want to spend the next 2 months, 6 years, or the rest of your life with. Enjoy getting to know him.

Now, that said, he doesn't have the right to string you along forever. If you have gone out on 5 or 6 dates and you really like him, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what he is looking for before you let yourself get too attached. Is he looking for a relationship? A booty call? Or maybe he just got out of a toxic relationship and is just trying to get his dating feet wet. He doesn't have to commit to you right then, but it is a good idea to make sure you are on the same page before one of you gets too serious.

Rule #12: 3rd date schmird date.
Recently, one of my friends went on a few dates that were very promising. She called me before date number 3 and was extremely nervous. They had only kissed once but she was afraid the 3rd date meant that he would want to get intimate. While she really liked him, she wasn't sure how she felt, how he felt, or where they might be heading.

Whether it was conversations among friends or polls done in a magazine somehow, people got the idea that the 3rd date = sex. Sure that may be true for some people, but it's not true for everyone or every relationship. Sex shouldn't be based on the number of dates; it should be based on how you feel. So if the 3rd date comes, don't stress or feel pressured into doing something you aren't ready to do. And while sometimes sex can be just about 2 people together in the moment, if you really like someone, talk to them before you take it to that level. Is it just sex or do you expect to be exclusive after this? Are you the only one he is sleeping with? While it might not be sexy, discussing your expectations before you get down and dirty can help to keep things from getting ugly afterward.

Rule #13: Don't expect him to pay.
Yes, it would be lovely to be taken out and not have to pay, but this is not the 1950's. Back then, most girls (women) didn't work, so it was customary for the man to pay. But today, both sexes work, the cost of living is high, and, in most cases, the pay isn't offsetting the extra money we are putting out. So if you go out, offer to pay your half. If he accepts it, fine. If he declines, be gracious. If you are uncomfortable with not paying your share then let him get dinner and offer to pay for something else like snacks at the movies. But don't, under any circumstances, let him chintz out on the bill.

One of my friends had a guy ask her to dinner. After they finished eating and having drinks, the guy told her he didn't have any money and asked her to pay for the entire dinner. There is one word for this guy - Mooch! He knew before he asked her out that he didn't have any money, but instead of canceling, he decided to put her in an awkward position. He could have told her he was broke or picked something inexpensive to do, but he didn't. He just scammed her. If a guy can't at least pay his share, then he can't afford to date.

I hope these help clarify some of the expectations and guidelines for dating in the age of technology and social media. These should get you through the first few dates. After that, you are on your own.

**Don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single women now available for Kindle and IPad at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com**

Amazon book linkAmazon Link to Why Am I Still Single?