So this week I’m going to let you in on a few dating tactics The Big E employs when choosing a suitor. Some of it is just personal preference, some of it is just for practicality’s sake. But I find it makes the dating process, painful as it can be at times, a little more bearable. And I think it’s good advice to boot.
1. Know your limits. Now, I am all for giving it the old Casey Kasem try by attempting to “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” as it were, but sometimes you gotta realize that the stars may be out of reach and you’ve got to be happy hanging out in the troposphere. And by that I mean you have to be realistic about what you look like and what your date looks like, and try to stay within the acceptable range of what you can attract. I know, I know, personality counts for a lot, and looks are subjective. And what’s attractive to one person is different than another person. I understand all that, and I’m not saying exceptions don’t occur. But let’s face it: if you don’t see some kind of cute in there initially, it’s going to be a tough row to hoe. It can be a spark, a hint, a variation of hotness, but it has to be there. I have plenty of guy friends who fall into different categories of hotness—one is baby-faced hot, one is quirky hot, one is tall, bald, and hot, etc etc.—but the fact remains that I, and ostensibly other girls, see that brand of hotness. If they are not the least bit cute, then you might think it’s cool to date them for a little while because of the personality, but that will wear thin quickly. Trust me; I’ve been in this situation a few times. I thought to myself, well, he really really likes me, and thinks I’m pretty, and even though I am not attracted to him in the least physically, perhaps his personality can win me over and make up for it. And initially, things were ok. But I either got a wandering eye after a while or I never stopped letting my eye wander, and I knew it wasn’t going to work. The personality did not make up enough for the lack of physical attraction. I mean, I’m no Christie Brinkley, but I’m no Billy Joel either. I am what guys label as “cute” and “funny”, and though I don’t know how far that will get me on any given evening at the bar, I do know my limits. And though I lust after the impossibly hot guys with the chiseled abs a la Paul Walker, I know for a fact that my looks alone would not be enough to bring him over to my table and offer me a drink. So I set my sights a little lower on the hot scale but a little higher on the intelligence scale. I’m cute enough to land somebody in the same category of cuteness or possibly slightly higher, but I never, ever want to settle for anything lower or a “talk myself into it” situation. And you shouldn’t either. Yes, I have dated guys I thought were way too hot to be with me, and yes, I have dated the Billy Joels. I’m happiest when I’m on an even playing field. And I think you will be too. Because the last thing you want people to think, in the immortal words of my mother, is “it MUST be all in her/his pants.”
2. Abide by the rule of two. In a beginning-to-date situation, like a few weeks in or a couple, three dates in, I try to always stick to the “rule of two”—as in, don’t call/text/email more than twice without a return call/text/email. Accidents happen, so the first call/text/email could have not gone through or been deleted or what have you. Sending the second one should give the hint. A third one just makes you look desperate or needy at best, stalkeresque at worst. I actually had this situation happen to me very recently. I was in communiqué with a lad via email that I had met on the dating site, and we had discussed quite a bit in written form, so I figured things were going well. As luck would have it, he ended up having jury duty on a Thursday. He emailed me during break that day, and I emailed him back, offering my phone number if he chose to communicate that way since jury duty is a little restrictive on email privileges. I didn’t hear from him all weekend. So I sent one more email on Monday, just a single sentence “more jury duty today?” email, to test the waters. No reply. So there’s where I left it. He knows where to find me. I gave him two means of communication. If he can’t employ one or the other or both, that’s not my problem. He either changed his mind or died. Either way, I’ve got to find someone new to buy my drinks, so I better get crackin’!
3. Define your boundaries. You need to know what you are and aren’t comfortable with on the first few dates and what your time frame is for certain activities. I personally have set myself a new rule to try not to kiss on the first date, or to not let it get too Hustler too fast at least. I think if the person is worth seeing again, they’ll get over the fact that you didn’t spit-bath them right away. A nice, lips only kiss sends a good message, one that shows you’re a respectable person who’s interested but not trying to push things too far. But if you’re not feeling your date, or you know things are not going in the right direction, don’t pressure yourself or let them pressure you into thinking you have to kiss them. A nice handshake or a hug gets the point across. You’ll save your dignity, and you’ll be glad you don’t have to worry about getting mono. The same principle applies to subsequent situations in dating. You have to decide before it’s too late how far you’re going to go, when. Nothing’s worse than waking up the next morning and thinking, “GAWD! Why did I do that? I didn’t want to do that yet!!” and then feeling awkward. Plus, suspense and anticipation is a powerful dating tool. If you stick to your guns, it’s not only a show of character, but it can act as an aphrodisiac. Let them work for it, ya’ll. Because once you do it, to borrow a phrase from Juno, “it’s one diddle that can’t be undone.”
4. You are your own best editor. I am the kind of person who has “flaws” that are sometimes embarrassing in public. My volume dial goes up to 11, and I tend to drop the F-Bomb like I’m the Enola Gay flying over Hiroshima. But I know this about myself, and therefore have the ability to kick it down a notch when necessary, namely when I’m trying to impress a date. Now I’m not saying you have to be someone you’re not, because that kind of behavior only comes back to bite you in the end, but a little bit of editing on the “areas of improvement” you may have is never a bad thing until you’ve gotten a feel for how your date will react. The last thing you want to do is tell an off-color joke about the very socioeconomic group his/her grandparents belong to, or have him/her employ the back-up plans early because you are a social menace. Everyone wants to be the best-smelling, best-looking, most intelligent version of themselves they can possibly be. And it doesn’t hurt to give someone glimpses of what a fun, exciting, lively date you are. But take your mother’s advice and be on your best behavior until the comfort level gets a little higher. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll probably get another date out of it.
So that’s it! Let me know what you think, comments, suggestions, rants and raves.