Act Like an Idiot, but Don’t Be an Idiot

Alright, Nerdlets, here is the most important thing to remember when you are dating someone or in a relationship with someone.  Don’t. Be. An. Idiot.  Now you can act like an idiot all you want, hell, it’s inevitable and might be endearing, but don’t actually become an idiot.  For example, while on a date with someone, you can stumble over words or do the awkward do-I-hug-her-or-kiss-her-goodnight dance, but don’t spend all night on your phone or talk about yourself all night.  Those actions MAKE you an idiot and not worth your date’s time.  The easiest way to not be an idiot is to pay attention.   In all relationships, either casual dating or not, people want to feel like what they have to say and what they do is important, and you prove that to your date by paying attention and ACTIVELY wanting to know more. It’s give and take, you give a little and then you get a little. You’ll know that you’re just in it for the possibility of going home with your date for meaningless but hopefully enjoyable sex if you don’t care even a little bit about what they are saying.  And if that is happening on a first date, don’t expect the relationship to go anywhere.  I hate it when I feel like I’m doing all the giving and getting nothing in return. I mean really, really hate it!  Now, if you and your date are just starting to text or chat on a social medium, then it’s not as big of a deal, but don’t leave a person hanging.  Not only does it make the person doing all of the giving or initiating the conversation think he/she is going crazy and making a bigger deal of a potential date than it should be, but it isn’t exactly conducive to future bliss.

Now here is a fairly common scenario: I recently asked a gentleman out via Facebook (a medium I approve of because it’s not the medium that counts as much as the message).  I’m almost positive I was clear about my intentions, and he did say yes to going out and getting coffee, but I’ve not exactly heard from this person in a few days.  This is the way it should go.  One person initiates the conversation, presumably to ask the person out to some kind of social situation so they can get to know each other better.  After the initial contact and agreement to go out, it’s the other person’s turn to start a conversation so that it doesn’t feel completely one-sided.  Yes, this sounds very much like a bunch of elementary schoolers playing kickball on the pavement, but, honestly, people need to realize when it is their turn to initiate conversation. This is the give-and-take part to the beginning of a new dating relationship.  A lot of people don’t understand this, that despite the fact that people get busy or have a ton of things to do, it takes about 10 seconds, give or take, to answer a text or message of some kind, and not only does it relieve some of the anxiety in your date (especially if they asked you out on a date), but it shows her/him that you are interested in what they have to say. It shows you’re paying attention and taking a few seconds out of your day to think about her/him. That’s what really matters.

And realize when you are being asked out on a date!  Don’t be an idiot!  If you meet someone once, they friend you on Facebook, and then ask you out for lunch or coffee or a movie festival or something, you are being asked out.  If you get someone’s number in a bar and they text you the next day, they most likely want to get to know you better and either expect you to ask them out or will eventually ask you out.  It’s harder to know if you are being asked out if you have known the person for a while, but if you have any questions about whether you are being asked out, ask! I’m a big believer in being honest and upfront.  If you are unsure if you are being asked out, a simple “like a date?” or “is this a date?” can easily be answered, and if you are asking someone out saying something like, “You know I’m asking you out on a date, right?” or “So it’s a date!” works really well.  If you slip the word “date” into the conversation, like a “coffee date” or a “lunch date,” then you are being really clear if the other person is not being an idiot.

Remember, it’s really hard to ask someone out. It’s scary because you are putting yourself out there in a pretty vulnerable way, and, yes, you might feel or think you’re an idiot.  That’s very normal, but if you never put yourself out there, you’ll live your life watching old reruns of Boy Meets World and writing blogs about dating rather than actually dating. Take a chance, realize when you are being asked out, and act accordingly.  Don’t be an idiot.

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Mating Rituals, or Why We’re All Screwed

So, here’s the thing: dating might just possibly be the worst, most awkward experience anyone has ever had to deal with.  Your palms sweat, you get the butterflies in your stomach, you say the wrong thing, you can’t stop staring a certain part of the other person’s anatomy, your brain moves two seconds too slowly.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking through sand when I try to approach someone, like I’m having some kind of out-of-body experience.  Now, some people are really good at dating, really good at knowing exactly what to say when, and, personally, I think those people are rare and possibly a little bit scary.  More often, there are people like me, and probably you, who just suck at the whole experience.  Some people might call it insecurity; some people might call it lack of social skills.  I prefer to call it normal.  It’s absolutely normal to suck at dating, to suck at connecting to a stranger because so many of us have a select group of people we talk to on a regular basis and limited contact with strangers.  Especially sober.

But here’s why: we live in a society that not only says that the most important person in the world is yourself and promotes selfishness, but also keeps the genders entirely separate.  Still in our twenties and thirties, we act as if we are at a middle school dance, where the boys are on one side of the gym, the girls are on the other, and only a daring few will cross the basketball lines etched into the wooden floor to ask someone to dance.  The bar scene is eerily similar to a middle school dance–girls dance together and guys generally watch from the sidelines. Seriously, the only difference between adult daters and middle school daters (hopefully) is the advent of alcohol-induced courage.  With this courage, men feel like they can get any person in the room, women feel like, finally, they are desireable and able to make the first move.  Be honest, we’ve all done things and said things and taken items of clothing off of our bodies while blitzed. “Take a shot, man, then you can go get some!” a man says to a friend at the bar who is about to approach an attractive young woman on the dance floor. I’ve said, and heard several other women say, “I’m so shy most of the time, but get a few drinks in me, and I’ll talk to anybody (with or without clothing).” Reading just these two examples, can you see how alcoholic dating doesn’t generally foster long-term or meaningful relationships?  Because this is how it goes: men and women go to the bar, men and women proceed to drink their body weight in alcohol, men meet women/women meet men (or any variant in between), they seem to hit it off, go home together, have consensual sex (if neither party passes out or becomes afflicted with a whiskey dick), hopefully reach some kind of orgasm, and pass out.  Now in the morning, one of three things can happen: 1) One party sneaks out early and forgets the night ever happened, 2) Both parties part ways satisfied that they will never see each other again, or 3) In order to fill a loneliness within (and not feel like a floozy or philanderer, god forbid), the parties decide to try to form a relationship based on one night of booze-induced sexual haze. Only rarely does option 3 end well, and that’s why I’m here to help.

This blog really is for all the little Nerdlets in the corner, all the people who actively want to pursue a relationship but just don’t know how to begin.  Now, dating sites take away a lot of these little intricacies that make dating scary, but they also take away a lot of the appeal and the interesting aspects of dating.  How do I approach a person?  Can I approach just anywhere or only in specific places?  What if I get rejected?  What do I say? How do I express my interest without sounding like a creepy stalker? What if we have nothing in common?  When should I make the move towards the bedroom? Personally, I think a major part of dating isn’t reading a list of what the person makes a year and what that person’s interests are, but finding out in person.  True, you might find more people who are incompatible, but think of the life experiences you’ll miss out on.  This blog will also focus on some of our societally induced habits of dating and how detrimental they can be for the eventual happiness in personal and professional relationships.  What should you do when you go on a date with someone a friend has feelings for?  What the hell is the “Bro Code” anyway?  Why don’t I ever get a second date when I don’t call for days after the first?  All of these are merely teasers for what’s in store, and I’m always open to more suggestions about different areas of dating I haven’t covered yet.

Now, when I titled this “How to Date Sober,” I didn’t mean stone-cold sober.  If, for whatever reason, you don’t drink, good for you, I sincerely hope this blog helps you find someone to care about based on the tricks, tips, and knowledge I have gained through various life experiences.  If you drink only a few and can form rational and coherent thought, then I wouldn’t consider you drunk. A good rule of thumb for deciding whether or not you have beer goggles on is to gauge how nervous you are during the approach. With or without one or two drinks, you should still feel a few nerves when approaching someone.  Those nerves signal that you are still alive, still able to feel like a pimply faced teenager trying get the cutest boy/girl to look you in the eye, smile, and say “Hi.” That feeling of mind-numbing terror will tell you whether or not you’re doing it right.