How To Be An Awesome Date

A date is when you stand back to back, right? [Via Wikimedia Commons]

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and you are still in the Lonely Hearts Club? It’s time to get back out there, champ! Get on Tinder, OkCupid, or whatever the kids are using these days (or go the old fashioned route and ask a friend to set you up!) and scrounge up a date. I’ll wait.

So you’ve got yourself a date! Fantastic! Hopefully you know enough on your own to set a place and time to meet. May I take this opportunity to suggest doing something other than getting drinks or coffee for a first date? I could literally drown in all the first date cocktails I have had and anyone who comes up with something different (or agrees to my suggestions) is my hero.

  • If you are asking someone out, be prepared with a suggestion of a plan. Don’t do the “I dunno, what do you want to do?” dance.
  • If you are doing the online thing, make sure you exchange phone numbers so you can call or text if you are running late or have an emergency.
  • Call or text if you are running late or have an emergency.
  • Don’t flake out at the last minute.
  • Dress to impress. Or at least shower and make a little effort.
  • Don’t be late! In fact, try to be a little early so you can get settled and relaxed.
  • Hold up your end of the conversation. Be sure to ask close to as many questions as you are asked (i.e. don’t only talk about yourself). But also, do you best to not only just ask questions (honestly I’ve had dates that felt like interviews). Basically, just be a person talking to another person!!
  • Keep things light and positive. You’re trying to get to know each other, not your baggage.
  • Refrain from checking your phone, except when the other person is in the bathroom.
  • Don’t be rude to the people around you, especially wait staff.
  • Men, we’ve discussed chivalry a bit in the past, and obviously a little bit of the man holding the door for a woman and so forth can be seen as being “well brought up” but don’t go too far by ordering for her, insisting she wait in the car until you open the door, or making her walk on the inside of the sidewalk.
  • Always offer to split the bill. If the asker insists on paying, be gracious and accept.
  • If you aren’t feeling it, don’t text a friend to call you and rescue you that’s super obvious and tacky. Stick it out through one drink, or say, at least an hour, then say you need to run and leave.
  • I think it is acceptable, after a first date that is a flop, for both parties to just never speak again. However, if the other person gets in touch with you to arrange another date, you need to respond to them and let you know you aren’t interested (also, confession time: I am the worst about this and have gone against my own advice on NUMEROUS occasions. But I feel bad about it.) You can just say something like: It’s so great to hear from you and I had a fun time meeting you, but I’m not really interested in exploring this any further.

*Disclaimer: obviously all advice goes out the window when you believe that you are in danger from the other person or they are being truly offensive.

Is There Even A Polite Way To Casually Hook Up With Someone?

AGoodHook-Up_zpsf2c52e75Hookup culture is ruining our lives, right? It’s hurting women! It’s hurting men too! We’re all doomed to awkwardly take cabs home without washing our faces at 6:30 in the morning instead of getting married!

The thing about hookup culture is that it’s not for everyone, but many people won’t know whether or not it’s for them without trying. Sure, you may completely know what’s for you one way or the other, and that’s great! But maybe you’re one of those people who was incredibly nervous to have sex for the first time and then did and can now jump from lay to lay with no strings attached. Maybe you were ready to be that person only to find that strings keep attaching themselves, or that no strings makes you feel sad. Maybe you used to be one way and are now another, and maybe that’s good or maybe you regret some things. There’s no shame in any of this.

If you find yourself in a position where no-strings sex (or anything sexual) is something you enjoy, or want to experiment with, there are a few things to keep in mind.

If You Leave

I’ve never encountered anyone who felt offended at a hookup leaving after the encounter, unless they were convinced it was more than a hookup (more on that later). If you’ve gone home with someone and want to leave, thank them for their time and say you have to get going. You can leave your number if you wan’t, or just say you had a “fun time” and leave it at that. However, do consider the logistics of leaving: if it’s late and you’re far away from where you live without easily being able to call a cab or get public transportation, it might be best to wait until the morning.

If it’s your place and you don’t want the person to leave, say so, but respect their answer. Also, if it’s late, I’d suggest not kicking your hookup out. If you leave the bar at 2am to go back to your place, you should be ready for that person to be there until it’s daylight.

If You Spend The Night

Maybe you’ll be so tired that you just pass out and won’t notice you’ve slept over until your roommate calls you at 9am to see where the hell you are (ed: if it’s very unusual for you to stay out all night, maybe give your roommate a heads up so they don’t worry that you are dead. YMMV). This is ideal (sorta)! If you’re still awake but if it’s late, ask if it’s ok for you to spend the night (and as stated above, your hookup host should comply). Maybe you can ask if your hookup has a preferred side of the bed, or a tshirt you could borrow if you feel comfortable asking, but it’s not necessary.

How the morning goes depends on a few factors. If this is a friend or mutual friend you’ve gone home with, it may feel perfectly natural to hang out or grab breakfast before leaving. If it’s a total stranger, this may not feel right. Also, consider your hookup’s plans for the day. If they have work or some other engagement they need to get ready for, thank them for the night and leave (or thank them and let them leave). If they’re hungover and you have nothing going on, get them some water and let them chill for a while.

However, no matter how hungover you are, if you are asked to leave you need to leave. I once had a hookup that refused to leave my dorm room after I asked three times and explained how I needed to move that day, and he kept saying how hungover he was and it was too much effort. He lived two blocks away. I even went to the cafeteria and said he needed to be gone by the time I came back and he was STILL THERE. Do not be this person.

Sneaking Out

I hope you never feel the need to sneak out of anywhere! Seriously, if you’re going to leave, just leave. If your hookup is asleep, maybe nudge them awake and go “Hey, I gotta run, it was nice meeting/seeing/fucking you, later” and that’s all you need. If you do go home with someone and think you’ll need to sneak out later, make note of easy egress routes as you enter.


First off, safe sex always. You should never be ashamed to be equipped with a condom, or anything else you need. We should be long past the days where the thought of “expecting” sex is a bad thing. Being prepared is great, even if you never think you’re going to hook up with someone!

There are other things you may like to have on your person if you think a hookup is imminent. Perhaps you want to have a toothbrush, or your contact lens solution, or a spare pair of underwear. This is actually great for any night out; I’ve spent many a night on a friend’s couch where I wish I had some clean underwear with me. Don’t let anyone make you feel awkward for having things like this. Unless maybe you’ve brought the entire next day’s wardrobe with you on an “unexpected” encounter, because that’s just creepy.

If You Develop Feelings

As I said before, there are levels of hookup, from total stranger to friend-you-started-making-out-with, from one night stand to ongoing thing. Ideally, any more-than-once hookup will be someone who you get along with, and with whom you clearly have some connection because most of the time fun sex happens when you actually get along with the other person. But the general definition of a hookup is that this is not a relationship, and unless explicitly stated, will not become a relationship. Do Not Hook Up With Someone Expecting It To Turn Into Something Else. Many of us have been there—you keep going home with the same person, you get along, you start wondering if something could happen, and then are heartbroken when they don’t want a relationship, even though they’ve never expressed that desire.

The heartbroken in these situations tend to blame their hookups for “leading them on,” and we need to get away from that. Yes, there are people out there who enjoy toying with emotions, promising one thing and delivering another, and they are the worst and you should stop sleeping with them. But developing feelings for someone doesn’t mean it’s mutual, and no one is obligated to be in a relationship, even if you get along and have great sex.

It can be terrifying to find yourself developing feelings for a hookup, but for your own heart’s sake, speak up if this happens. Tell your hookup you’re having a hard time keeping it casual. Maybe they’ll feel the same way, or maybe they’ll really want to keep it casual, at which point it would be best to stop the hooking up.

(Yes, there are hookups that have turned into relationships, and if that happens to you and you’re both into it, cool. Just do not start hooking up with someone you have a crush on thinking “this is how I make them love me” because that will more than likely end terribly.)

If You Want To Keep Feelings From Developing

On the flip side, if you want to keep things strictly casual it is best to be mindful of how you act. Do not act like you’re in a relationship and be surprised if the other person thinks you’ve developed deeper feelings! Keep it to just hooking up: no cuddly movie nights, dinners out, or anything that could be generally considered dating.

This may take some maneuvering if you get the feeling your hookup is developing feelings. If the person suggests getting dinner, don’t pretend “yeah that would be great, give me a call on Wednesday” and then ignore their calls and texts. You can say you’re busy, though if your hookup keeps pushing for a plan, respond that you think it’s best if you kept things casual and that you’re not looking to date, and be prepared for any answer you get. If you find yourself in a regular thing (say, 5 or 6 times or more in a couple of months) and aren’t feeling it anymore, while you don’t “owe” anyone a breakup, it would be kind to just say it isn’t working for you anymore instead of, again, just ignoring their calls until they give up.

In general, ongoing hookups require communication–possibly more communication than traditional relationships. Do your best to ensure your intentions are clear, especially if they change over time, and then go out and have fun.

A Vague Guide To Maybe Hitting On Someone

when-you-try-to-flirt-with-someoneI’ve attempted to write a How To Hit On Someone post for a while now, and man, it is impossible. I now fully understand why the only options out there are either the dangerous “physically pull a woman into your lap and make her push you away” or the vague “say hi, see if you have anything in common, and then move on if there’s no spark.” It’s because any middle ground is so personal and circumstantial. Some people like having drinks bought for them, others consider it an insult. Some people enjoy being approached, while others prefer to do the approaching. There’s almost no way to write something for everyone. Which is a shame, because neither “SEX IS A CONQUEST” nor “I don’t know, do what you want?” is helpful for anyone.

So, knowing that I can’t speak for anyone else’s experiences or tastes, I want to relate some times where I have been approached by a stranger in a bar, at a concert, or in another public setting  and how it worked out, since when you’re single the general idea is that you’re supposed to meet people in public settings. Many of these were in the successful range, others were not. Take from this what you will.

Do ask what I’m reading: Once I was at a bar alone, reading a book, waiting for my boyfriend. A guy came up to me and asked what I was reading, and at that particular moment I was feeling conversational, so I started talking to him. Within 15 minutes I was drinking beer with him and all his friends at his table. If he was sincerely hitting on me it didn’t work out because, duh, my boyfriend showed up, but all in all I think we had a pretty good time.

Don’t neg me about my race: If you’re not familiar with negging, it’s the process of insulting/ignoring the person you want to woo in the hopes that they will be confused enough to sleep with you. Yeah, I don’t get it either. But once a guy outside a bar kept saying out loud to his friends while pointing at me “She’s so hot, I don’t care if she’s hispanic.” 1. I’m not hispanic 2. It doesn’t even matter what race I am because holy shit what are you talking about?? I was drunk enough to get pulled into a conversation (argument) with him, in which later he insulted my friends’ intelligence and looks (“They’re not smart like you”), and was then baffled when I wouldn’t go home with him.

Do find common interests: When I was 22 I found myself in a weird bar in New Zealand (I mean, on purpose, I did not wake up on my 22nd birthday unable to remember how I got to this country), and everyone was dancing to really clubby music and it just wasn’t my scene. A guy apparently noticed this, and began talking to me about how it wasn’t his scene either. We got some drinks, sat in a booth in the back and talked for a really long time, and then made out for an even longer time. Common interests doesn’t have to be boring!

Don’t be surprised that we have common interests: I once was with a guy who basically sent flirting into overdrive once he discovered that I could quote The Blues Brothers and agreed that the best Guinness I ever had was in Ireland. The night went well, but in hindsight I find it sort of disturbing that his reaction was less “wow, I love that thing too!” and more “you’re so cool because most girls don’t like that thing!” Lots of people like lots of different things. Girls like video games, guys like fashion, gay men like football…etc. It’s a great moment of luck if you find out someone shares your tastes, but it shouldn’t be surprising because of their sex.

Do be honest if you’re attracted to something: If you find something attractive about someone, tell them! This can be physical, like telling them they have a nice smile or you like their hair. The whole point if this dating thing is that you’re supposed to find something attractive in the other person, so that’s nice to know! In early-on flirting situations I’ve had guys compliment some aspect of my body, and it’s usually felt pretty nice. If I’m starting to become basely, lustily attracted to someone, it’s nice to know it’s mutual.

Don’t focus entirely on the sexual: If you think this person has beautiful eyes, great, but for the love of god do not make that the entire thing about them. Feeling lusted after is nice, feeling like everything you’ve been saying for the past hour has been ignored because your partner cannot ignore their attraction is another.

Unfortunately, there is an infuriating key to this, that I cannot describe any other way than don’t do any of this as anyone other than yourself. I know, the “be yourself” advice is so frustrating to hear, because duh you’ve been yourself, how you can you be anyone but yourself, but “yourself” isn’t working. But yourself will work, I promise. Being yourself isn’t about being every aspect of yourself all at once from the get go, it’s about doing things in a way that feels natural to you while still being able to test the waters with someone new. So go forth and talk to people you find attractive! It’s ok, I promise!

Have you’ve ever been successfully wooed by a stranger? Let us know how it went!

Thank Goodness We Don’t Have To Follow These Crazy Dating Rules

Via Random_fotos

Pheasants make very romantic gifts Via Random_fotos

I think I have only been on one date in my life. I was 16, he was the 19-year-old half-brother of a friend, and we saw Master and Commander and then got pizza. It all happened because he asked me. He straight up asked me. Ok we had been making out on my futon at a party, but afterward he asked if I wanted to go out sometime, and I said yes, and then we went on a date. And even though that was the only date, how fantastic is it that he could just ask and I could just go? Obviously this was not always the case because if not for an elaborate system of rules, someone might get the wrong impression.

Dating as we know it did not even really exist in more western culture until the 1920s, when first-wave feminism and cars collided to pretty much invent the modern teenager. You could get a lot more necking done in the backseat of a model T than on your parent’s porch, and young people in general were rebelling against the Victorian models of etiquette and decorum solidified by their parents. Furthermore, with more women entering the workplace, the idea of what marriage meant was beginning to change. Women began looking for a friend and companion with sexual chemistry in a potential husband, not just someone to provide a house.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before the radical drunks of the ‘20s, there was courtship. You’ve probably read about it in a Jane Austen novel. A man and a woman of the same social circle are introduced formally, the man makes clear his intentions to woo this woman, and after some supervised interaction they agree to plan a wedding. Romance was not really in the picture the way we experience it today. Cassell’s Hand-Book of Etiquette (1860) states “According to the strict code of our forefathers a gentleman should ask the consent of the parents or guardians before he endeavours to win the affections of the young lady.” Because of that, “parents should be very careful whom they receive as intimate friends,” especially if they have daughters. (However, it was not just men who were in danger. Men should “beware the lady of unmeaning attentions.”)

Once a man decided he wanted to woo a lady, there were a few options. He could hang out at her house. He could hope to run into her at a ball. He could take her out with a chaperone (more on that later). He could also send her gifts of fruit and flowers, though according to Cassell, “in fashionable life, game is almost the only present that acquaintances make of each other.” For the love of god, why has nobody brought me a “Thinking of You” pheasant?

Later, if he wanted to propose, he could do so in a handwritten letter, provided he had received permission from her father first.  However, Gertrude Elizabeth Campbell mentions in her 1893 book Etiquette of Good Society that “it is said in the olden times of [England], the women made the advances, and often became the suitors.” She also mentions that “In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it seems to have been the height of gentility to hold the lady by the finger only.” In case you wanted to go retro on your next date.

Anyway, back to the more modern age of 100 years ago, when “dates” began to be a thing. How do you know when you’re ready to date? How do you ask someone on one? How do you know when it’s over. Various etiquette books over the years had advice, though some rules are unbreakable. Putnam’s 1913 Handbook of Etiquette says “is it necessary to state that a young lady who desires to hold an enviable position in smart, ceremonious society does not, whether motherless or not, go to restaurants alone with young men for any meal?” Surely it is not!

By the 1950s things had changed even more. Amy Vanderbilt says that parents know when their boy is ready to date when “his shoes will be shined to a glassy polish” and he starts paying attention to all of his ties. However, Vanderbilt offers no advice on just how this boy will ask a girl on a date, saying they “bungle through somehow in the early years of dating, eventually acquiring a certain polished technique only experience can bring.” Great. Once he does ask her on a date, it is the girl’s responsibility to signal when the night is over. To do this, “She places her napkin unfolded at the left of her plate, looks questioningly at her escort and prepares to rise. If he suggests they linger she may do so if she wishes. However, her decision must be abided by.”

Even if you were an adult with a career and your own place, some old rules still applied. Vanderbilt wrote in 1952, “A career girl, from her twenties onward, can accept such an invitation [to a single man’s house] but should not stay beyond ten or ten-thirty. An old rule and a good one is ‘Avoid the appearance of evil.’” No word on what to do with your napkin if you’re a career girl in a bachelor’s pad; we’ll get back to you on that.

Thank Goodness Men No Longer Need to Walk on the Right to Keep Their Sword Arm Free

For some reason, it persists among (some) men that to be chivalrous, they need to walk on a particular side of a woman when walking down the street. Historical reasons cited for this include:

  • When knights existed, their right arm was their sword arm and thus is needed to be available to defend the lady.

  • When people used to throw garbage out the window, the woman needed to be on the building side of the street so it wouldn’t hit her.

  • The man needs to be on the street side of the sidewalk in case a car splashes water.

  • Having the lady on the wrong side implies she is a prostitute

This often results in some ridiculous running around the lady to get to the correct side creating awkwardness all around. From a quick Google, men’s dating sites are strongly encouraging this practice though it should clearly die out. The fact of it is there is no really good reason for the man to be walking on the street side, danger is just as likely to come from the other side.

Granted, most old etiquette books (right up through Emily Post) do instruct the man to take the curbside position (or the married lady should take it if walking with a single lady), but they all also say that a gentleman should always defer to a lady’s preference. This means no pouting like a petulant child if a woman refuses to let you act the gallant.

There are any number of acceptable chivalrous practices that you can participate in if you wish to feel like a knight in shining armour:

  • Hold doors (but don’t insist she wait in the car while you run around to open her side!)

  • Offer your jacket (but only because it is likely you are wearing a long sleeved shirt and she is not)

  • Hold the umbrella (because you are likely taller)

  • Go to the door to pick her up instead of honking (or calling/texting) from the car

  • Give the lady (or anyone!) a hand or elbow if they are unsteady on their feet from illness/drunkenness/ill-advised heel heights