I Broke My Own Rule: A (potentially) Romantic Monday Post

So, Nerdlets, I now have proof that sometimes, all dating advice has to be thrown out the window and a person has to follow their gut.  I broke my own rule.  And here’s the story.

I was at the club recently, and I was dancing all night, so by bar-close, I was a sweaty, disgusting mess (literally.  There was a tiny little tyrant on the dance floor who kept looking at me and saying “work it!” and I didn’t know what “it” was, but I sure as hell tried!).  I did what any rational girl used to colder weather would do, I walked outside without my coat and immediately took off my heeled boots and socks.  Now, it was somewhere around 30 degrees or so, but I felt perfectly fine, and as I was walking with my friend to my car (I had not been drinking, really, and was nowhere near drunk) I got stopped by a guy.  He was not my usual type, I tend to go for tall and skinny, but he was persistent, and we fell into conversation.  Now he had had more than a few, but I sincerely enjoy screwing with drunk people, so I started questioning him on everything from his views on life to his heritage. I’m an extremely fast talker and I’m pretty witty and smart (if I do say so myself) and this guy’s drunkenness couldn’t keep up with me (so says my friend and I), but despite his inebriation and my mind-fucking, he was gentlemanly.  He slipped my coat on my shoulders when I started to shiver without realizing it, and he told his friend to treat me like a lady when his friend was teasing me (little does this guy know that I’m a lot of things, but I’m definitely not a lady 🙂 )  Now, this man would not let me walk away, and I was about to give him a fake number, when he grabbed me, lightly pushed me into a window of the club, and kissed me.  That changed my tune. Apparently all I need is the thrill that comes with a little bit of force, and I’m a goner (Now, not all women are like this, and if I had said no and this guy had persisted, I would have given my friend the signal to get me out of there, screamed loud enough to draw a crowd, or clocked him and walked away.  Remember, a tiny amount of force only works on those who actually want it. If your partner doesn’t want it, respect that and move on).  So I gave this guy my real number and we are going out this week.

He seemed very nice when we were talking and he was sober, so I guess we’ll see what comes of me breaking my own rules. I figure there are enough outs to get this guy off my back if he turns out to be a creeper (remember, numbers can be blocked, last names shouldn’t be given out right away, and always take the long way home in case you are followed by the creeper, and creepers can be any gender).  And hey, it’s a date, not a marriage.  It was an interesting night, though, so hopefully another interesting night is in my future! Wish me luck!

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Confidence Building

Nerdlets, I think the best way to build confidence when you are approaching someone is to have a theme song playing in your head.  You know, that one song that makes you feel like a badass, like the most attractive person in the world. Be it “Eye of the Tiger” or “I’m Sexy and I know it” or whatever, everyone needs a song that makes them puff out their chests, walk with confidence, and not care what anyone thinks.

I have two main theme songs, and I have been known not only to sing them in my head on or after the approach, but also to dance and sing them as loud as I can in the car.  My first is a “Portion for Foxes” by Rilo Kiley. It’s just got the right beat and the right words, and it makes me feel so damn good!!! Have a listen:

I also really love “How to Be a Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds.  Seriously, who doesn’t feel like a bad ass after listening to this song:

We all have songs that make us feel awesome, so What are your theme songs?

Oh Sh–! A SOBER First Date?

So my Nerdlets, we have talked about ways to approach a person you are interested in and how to make first contact with the person, now comes the dreaded inevitability of all of these successful endeavors–the first date.  First dates are so nerve-wracking, right?  Figuring out what to do, where to do it, what to wear, what to smell like (yes, this is very important) is exhausting and stressful.  I have some hints that will help you have a great first date, because every first date needs 3 things, in my humble opinion: conversation, fun, and romance.

This might seem like a lot of work, but it’s really not.  The most important part of the date is the conversation.  How are you going to know if you want to go on a second date or pursue a relationship if all you do on a first date is sit awkwardly next to each other at a movie or lecture, not knowing if you should speak or touch, you watch and/or listen, and then leave afterwards?  You can’t.

Now I am not anti-lecture or movie going.  Having an activity like that on a date is a good way to break the ice when moving into the conversation portion of the date, but you want to have some time for some good one-on-one time either before or after it.  A good way to find good conversation is over food, coffee, or walking.  These activities all give you and your date the opportunity to fiddle with something or look at something during the conversation without seeming as if you aren’t listening. It’s good atmosphere, too. Keep the conversation light–no heavy topics, no mind-blowing revelations, just small-talk with a more personal touch. This is my problem.  I’m a really open, straightforward person, and I tend to tell too much, too fast.  Alas, I’m working on it. 🙂

Fun can be had in so many ways; it’s hard to help you with any suggestions, especially considering that everyone’s idea of fun is different.  It’s important to know, though, that fun does not mean “laugh until you cry” (but it could) or to go to some raucous event (though, you could do that, too).  Just, think of something original and do that.  Go to a funny play or go on a picnic or go play on a swingset or go ice skating or go to a lecture (if that’s your poison) or go smell some old books at the library (if that’s your poison), but do something fun.  Mostly, do something to take your mind off the fact that you’re on a first date.  It’ll help get rid of the jitters.

Now the romance can be hard, but if you balance it with the fun you can do wonders.  The romance on a first date should be small, so you don’t look like a creepy stalker, and just sweet enough that your date thinks about it when he/she has gone home and hopes to experience it again.  Little things work the best:  touch your date gently on the hand or arm, a small compliment (example: You look great), smile thoughtfully, not creepily, look into his/her eyes, (when dating a woman) tuck her hair behind her ear, and really listen.  All of these are small, tiny things that can bring out the romance in any occasion.

Oh, and remember, sober doesn’t have to mean sober.  Just say no to the beer-goggles, and you will be fine!

I think my most memorable first date happened a few years ago.  I’m a theatre girl and met a man through a mutual friend, and he took me to a show, and then we went to a 24-hour restaurant and had breakfast at 11 o’clock at night and talked.  It wasn’t grand, but it was exactly right for our personalities, and we had our first kiss in the parking lot.  Simple, romantic, and pretty much perfect.  The relationship, however, went to hell in a hand-basket, but at least I have the memory of a great first date.

What was your most memorable first date?  Any advice to add?

Break the Ice, Don’t Shatter the Ice

So, you’ve me the guy/girl, you get the guy/girl’s number, it all finally worked for you.  You weren’t an idiot, you  might have been nervous, but you were always yourself.  Now, how do you make the first contact after that initial sweaty-palmed masquerade that is meeting new people?  Well, this is pretty simple, but can still be really weird.  It doesn’t matter the medium, thebest thing to start with is, “Hey, it was great meeting you yesterday” (if you just met, obviously) or “Hey, it was great seeing you again/running into you yesterday” (if it’s a person you’ve already met).  It’s nice, straight-forward, and non-committal.  It doesn’t say “All I want to do is talk about me” (a big no-no) and it doesn’t say “Ithinkaboutyouallthetimeandsometimesfollowyouhome.Pleaseloveme!” (again, uh uh).  Now, this approach works only if you are just meeting someone for the first time or you run into someone and tell them you’ll look them up on Twitter or Facebook.

Another way to approach someone you’ve known for a while but want to know in a different kind of way is just a simple, “Hey, how are you?”  This is super simple, and generally leads to a Here’s-what’s-new-with-me-What’s-new-with-you conversation.

The main goal of the first contact after you meet someone is to find time to spend together face-to-face, and getting to that is much trickier.  It’s hard to not sound like a creepy stalker, so a little tiny bit of creepy stalker is okay.  Generally, I would say you need to say something short and sweet but make sure the person knows you’re asking them out.  In the same way that people on the receiving end need to not be an idiot, so too do people doing the asking.  Saying “we should hang out sometime” is an idiot move, and it’s vague and annoying as hell.  “We should hang out sometime” is too friendly and can be really confusing.  Now, if you were to say, “You know, I’d like to spend time with you, we should hang out sometime,” that sounds much more like a date because you are being specific. You are saying you want to get to know the other person better and it’s much more obviously about the other person and a one-on-one situation.

Personally, I’m a fan of being straightforward.  Saying, “Listen, would you want to go out with me sometime” or “Do you want to go on a date with me” would work wonders on a girl like me and a lot of other women.  It’s very direct and it takes a lot of courage to come out and say it. For someone to put themselves out there like is very brave.  Also, if you’re nervous and it shows, it can be very endearing to the person you are asking out.   Most of all, you want to break the ice but not shatter the ice. Say “Hi, how are you, nice to meet you” keep it simple, make small(ish) talk (meaning get to know the person but no big hot-button topics), and ask the person out.  Don’t get too creepy or too needy, that would shatter the glass, make you look ridiculous and weird.  Just try to be natural, be yourself–because that’s the important part.  If you aren’t yourself, you’re selling yourself short and the person you’re interested in short.

Keep it flirty, too.  Make sure you’re slipping a little bit of flirting into the conversation, subtle compliments, things like that.  Remember not to go creepy stalker, and all, “You’re so pretty…hehe” because, well, that’s just weird.  It’s fun to find ways to flirt and update at the same time, flirt and meet someone new at the same time.  And you’re palms should sweat and you probably should stumble a bit over your words.  That’s endearing, and keeps it interesting. This stage is a balancing act, and if you balance right between feeling like an idiot (not ACTING like an idiot) and being direct in your approach, you will breeze passed the first contact and into your first date.

The Best Pick-Up Line

Now that we have covered how hard and somewhat nauseating dating can be and how not to be an idiot, I think it’s time, my Nerdlets, to discuss making the approach.  Now, this is the worst part.  As I previously said, you should feel your palms sweat and possibly a brigade of butterflies in your stomach when you approach someone you would like to go out with.  That makes you normal. If you don’t feel that, you might be a sociopathic dater, and you might need serious help. 😉

I want to start this post with some advice: be confident in yourself, but expect nothing.  That’s right, you need to be confident in who you are, because I’m thinking that person is probably pretty damn awesome.  People can sense someone who is not as confident as they seem, so if you walk up to someone without confidence, you are walking up to failure.  But, if you square your shoulders, look the other person in the eye, and walk tall (no matter your height), then you are already doing better than others who are in the same predicament as you.  Now, being confident is important, but I tell you to have no expectations because then it makes the interaction more fun and less crappy if the person you are approaching says no (for whatever reason).  If you have no expectations and the person you are approaching brushes you off or says no, you won’t be angry or crushed with disappointment.  Same goes if the person you approach is already in a relationship or not looking for a date or whatever reason he/she gives you for saying.  Don’t be angry if you get rejected; obviously, you just didn’t have something the other person wanted, and if that’s the case, the dating relationship wouldn’t have worked to begin with. Without expectations, you can approach someone and be happily surprised if they respond positively, but it’s not skin off your nose if they say “thanks, but no thanks,” or even “Get the —- away from me!”

When you make the approach, you want to make sure you look and act your best.  Now, everyone’s style is different, so there are different kinds of looking and acting, so use whatever works for you.  This is important because we live in a culture obsessed with looks.  I don’t expect to be hit on when I run to the store in baggy sweatpants, a dirty shirt, and crocs, or in my sweaty gym clothes (so it’s always a happy surprise when I am), but I have more confidence in myself and in my ability to approach or be approached when I look good.  Now, this doesn’t mean you always need to go around in your best clothing or with perfect hair and/or makeup, but it does help in the confidence department, and it does help if someone wants to approach you.  Also, and I’m going to try and say this as gently as possible, don’t reach too far when you approach someone.  This is why a lot of people get shot down at the approach.  For example, I personally think that on a scale of 1-10 of beauty, I am a solid 6 (on the scale of awesome, though, I break it : ).  Now, if I were to try and approach someone, I would look for other 6’s or maybe 5’s to 8’s.  I wouldn’t try to go for a 10, or if I did attempt to approach a 10 I really wouldn’t have any expectations going in.  Basically, if you’re nervous, stick with your own level.  Yes, this sounds shallow, and it might be shallow, but this looks-obsessed culture we live in shows us images on our tvs and movies and magazines of beautiful people meeting beautiful people and falling deeply in love forever.  But we don’t all look like movie stars, tv stars, or models.  We look like people, and I like people, but I, and most likely you, have felt the sting of rejection when you approached someone who was outside of your scope.  It feels like a high school dance, when the nerd asks the star of the football team to dance.  It, sadly, just doesn’t happen or happens so rarely that it is the story you remember, but not the norm. If you stay close to your own level of beauty and brains, you have a better chance of meeting someone who you can date and enjoy on equal terms.  If you aren’t looking for equality in a relationship, take a good look in the mirror, and ask yourself why you think you deserve less than who you are in a person you will be spending time with.

Now, for pick-up lines, I have to admit that they don’t generally work.  Personally, I love them.  I’m the type of person that, if someone came up to me in a bar and said, “Damn, if being sexy was a crime, you’d be guilty as charged!” or “Do you have a map?  I’m getting lost in your eyes,” I would laugh hysterically and ask for more, engage the person in conversation.  I love them, but most people don’t.  Most people see pick-up lines as cheap and lazy.  Pick-up lines don’t make you seem smooth, they make you seem unoriginal.  However, I have the best pick-up line for you.  It’s so good, it will work every single time.  It goes like this:  you see someone you want to talk to, you make eye contact with them, you walk over, and you say, “Hi, my name is (insert your name here).”  Most likely, this will make the other person tell you their name, and then you start your conversation as if you were talking to an old friend (meaning relax, don’t get fidgety or weird, and try to find some common ground to talk about- ask about the place you are approaching the person, maybe, or what you both are doing, like drinking coffee, beer, wine, or dancing).  Another way to approach someone is to watch them for a while, not in a creepy-stalker way but in a gentle way, notice something about them, say they are reading a graphic novel or drinking a specialty beer or wine, and then approach them with a planned topic in mind.  That also works, because it keeps the topic on something external and breaks the ice, but you will still have to use my line, “Hi, my name is…” at some point.

From this point, you will want to watch for body language to see if you can ask for the person’s number.  If they are actively listening to you, leaning toward you, and, maybe, touching you lightly as you speak, you can ask for their number or ask if you can go out sometime. You might just get yourself a date.  If, during the conversation, the person you approached doesn’t seem to be listening or won’t make eye contact with you, then you may want to lower your expectations.  You can still ask them for your number, but don’t be surprised if you get a fake number or get told no.

If you keep all of this in mind, approaching someone will get easier.  It should never be completely easy, or you have gotten jaded about dating.  That never ends well.  Personally, I would love to go out sometime and play the “Have you met Ted?” game, as seen on How I Met Your Mother.  Do you know it?  If you don’t, the wingman (wingperson?) walks up to a potential date and says, “Have you met…” and then walks away.  I have a friend who says he will be my wingman to try it, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Have any of you tried it?  I would love to hear your stories.  How have you all approached someone or been approached?  What has worked and what hasn’t?

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.

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.