When I was driving once, I saw this painted on a bridge:
“I don’t want the world. I just want your half.”
– from Ana Ng, by They Might Be Giants
The quote has nothing to do with the post, but I’m listening to the song now and I just love that line.
Virginia Belle has started another of her series posts. This time, she is trying to teach men how to date. No offense to VB, but I’m going to instruct men to take the series with a grain of salt. To be fair, I’ll also instruct men to take my rebuttal with a grain of salt. One statement, however, which appears in both her posts and this one, is an absolute truth and should be taken seriously:
Everyone is different.
Her post is written based largely on her own experiences, and serves, primarily, as instructions on how to date her. You will find that not all women are like her. My post will be based on my own experiences, and not all men are like me. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get to it.
How to Get the Number
1) VB cautions us to make sure “it’s a good idea to ask her out in the first place.” This caution comes from her being a woman, and we all know women like to get blood samples and background checks and three references before they’ll consider a first date, right? All joking aside, she has a good point. When you’ve spotted a girl that you’re interested in (hereafter referred to as “your mark”), it’s advisable to get some backstory before you make your approach. However, in a realistic situation, you’re not going to have access to the crime lab, so you get what you can, as you can. Check out how she acts with her friends as opposed to how she acts with other people. Check out how her friends act. You can learn a lot about someone simply by watching them for five minutes. (Wow, that sounded kinda creepy stalker-ish…)
2A) (If you are in a public place and she is a complete stranger.) Once eye contact is made, you have exactly two minutes. Exactly. If you approach any sooner, you come off as too eager. Any later and you come off as too insecure. Some women will tell you that coming over right away shows confidence, but I’d wager a large portion, if not all, of those women are still single. Also, make sure she gives an indication of interest when eye contact is made. This can be as simple as a smile, or as complex as VB makes it out to be. Once you’ve started the Stranger Approach, you’re committed. If you veer off course, the mission is a failure and you will have No Shot. Walk up and position yourself as if you might walk off at any time. I don’t mean look as if you might run. I mean do NOT position yourself in any way that could be perceived as trapping your mark. (You know the guy in the movie who puts his arms against the wall on either side of the girl he’s talking to? No one likes that guy. He doesn’t get phone numbers.) I also don’t mean as if you aren’t interested. It’s harder to achieve than it sounds, but once you’ve got it, it comes natural.
2B) (If you know each other through a friend, or work, or some other situation which will make it awkward once the relationship goes sour.) Do not go the fourth grader route on the Approach. Do not tell a mutual friend to relay a message of attraction. Do not send an email stating this attraction. If it can be avoided, do not use a phone call. Try to arrange thirty to sixty seconds that you can express your interest in person.
3) You’ve got her attention. From here, your objectives are simple.
a) Be Present – This means, in a nutshell, Pay Attention. When she talks, listen. Give feedback. Don’t just repeat what she says. But don’t get lulled into a long conversation, either. You’ve got three more objectives to cram in before your minute (your time may vary, but don’t take longer then five minutes) is up.
b) Be Amazing – You’ve got a very short time to show that you’re worthy of her interest and make her remember you. This can be something as simple as a magic trick, or a profound statement slipped into your mini-conversation. Something that will make her remember this minute (or five) at the end of the night. Something that will make her curious as to whether or not you have any more tricks or profound statements hidden away. This also does not mean be someone other than yourself. (Unless you’re just looking for sex, then I suppose it’s fine to be someone else. You pig.) Everyone has something that they can use to impress someone. Find that something and use it. (And if it’s something perverted or disgusting, find something else.)
c) Close the Deal – You’ve got somewhere else to be, so you can’t hang out and talk, regardless of how much you’re enjoying it. Maybe you could call and arrange to pick up the conversation later? Put her on the spot and ask for the number, because you have to go/get back to your friends/sweep the parking lot. (This is why you only have a minute.) You’ll either get the number or you won’t, and if you don’t then you don’t want to hang around and be the desperate guy trying to convince her how great you are. That’s what your first minute was for.
d) Disappear – Whether it’s “Congratulations” or “Better luck next time,” you have to live up to your statement of needing to be somewhere else. Move on. Do not immediately move on to another girl. I repeat, DO NOT immediately move on to another girl. I say this because I have had two women come to my table later on in the night, after not giving the number, and give me their number. (Not on the same night.) If you’re in a hurry, or if you want more numbers, then you’ll need to move to another bar and find a different set of women.
VB advocates the stalker approach if you miss out on getting the number. Looking her up or meeting her by happenstance at her favorite deli, that sort of thing. I am going to say don’t do that. It’s too much work for a random girl that you really know NOTHING about, and nine times out of ten, you’re going to creep her out anyway.
It’s really that simple. If you start overthinking it, you’re going to hesitate, and that almost always comes across as insecurity. Picking up a woman is pass/fail. Don’t fool yourself into thinking there are second chances.
The First Phone Call
So you got the number last night? Wondering when you should call? There is no definite answer to how long is acceptable because, remember, Everyone is Different. I have grown to think that 2-3 days is the best time. If you’re eager and can’t wait 48 hours, you can use a little trick I’ve picked up along the way. Call them the next day, and tell them that you’re going to be out of town for a few days but didn’t want to appear disinterested, so you’d rather call too early just in case she was wondering if you’d call.
Do not call until you’ve done the following:
– Decided on a what you’d like to do
– Come up with a fallback plan in case the primary one is a problem (“Oh, you just went to the Cotton Museum last week? Well, we could take a tour of the Pepsi Bottling Plant.”)
– Have two calendar dates you’ll be available on (If both are bad for her, ask when she would prefer.)
I’m not going to waste my time outlining a list a possible date activities, because there are a million books on the subject. Just pick something fun that allows for conversation (so no movies) and allows you to show off a little bit. (You’re still trying to impress this girl, remember?) A solid suggestion is meeting for drinks one evening, because this means you get to continue your one-minute conversation without committing to an entire evening out and avoids a lot of planning. Also, ask whether or not she would like you to pick her up. Driving separate gives both parties a means of escape if you realize you don’t click.
The First Date
If you take everything else as horseshit, remember this. The purpose of the first date is to secure a second date. Make it public. Make it comfortable. Make it easy to talk to one another and find out if you are worth each other’s time.
A lot of people will disagree with this belief, thinking that the initial pickup is when this should happen. How much can you honestly learn about someone in a bar, with the music too loud and her friends standing right there waiting on you to leave so they can all talk about you? I’m not going to deny that people can click on the pickup and that turns into a first date, but if it does, you will need to make it official. I’m going to backtrack a second, for those of you that didn’t follow the pick-up advice and turned a one-minute conversation into a date. Leave wherever you met, together, and go somewhere more personal. If you’re at a bar or a bookstore, move to a coffee shop or something. This makes it an official date, even though you haven’t gotten a number yet. Just be sure to ask for the number before you part company. (If you’re planning on getting her in bed, who cares about the number? Try and take her to at least two settings other than the one you met in before getting physical. It makes it feels like more dates.)
VB hit the nail on the head here: If you agreed to pick her up, be on time. If you’re late, she will think you don’t take this date very seriously. (Even though you shouldn’t. The second date is when you should start getting serious.) If you get there on time and she makes you wait, however, then this shows you something about her. Deny it all you want, ladies, but it shows a lack of preparedness. You’re a grown woman. You should know exactly how long it takes to shower, get dressed, and apply make-up. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t expect us to be on time. Ever.
Also, if you’re driving both of you, clean up your ride. Personally, I would pay to have it detailed. If you drive a motorcycle, you should have mentioned this to her on your phone call and made sure she’s cool with riding.
If you are meeting her somewhere, be early. I’d say about ten to fifteen minutes early. This gives you a chance to pick out a good spot to sit where you can be somewhat alone. Just be aware that if you’re fifteen minutes early, this makes it feel even later if she’s running five minutes behind. Don’t sweat five minutes just because it feels like twenty.
Ten years ago, I would’ve said hold the doors and pull out her chair for her without hesitation. I’ve noticed that many women have started racing to the door so that they can open it. Chivalry is dying, so I’m going to say it’s best to ask what she’d prefer. I’ll also say that if she finds my holding a door for her offensive, she isn’t getting a second date. But that’s personal preference. I’m well aware that a woman can open her own doors. I’m just saying she shouldn’t need to.
Engage in conversation. This is something I’m pretty terrible at. While I seem to manage fine when I’m writing, my voice is lacking in practice. What I have learned, through my lessons in conversation, is that the 20 Questions game is not acceptable conversation. 20 Questions is when you just ask each other questions back and forth that are blatant information-seeking questions. “So have you ever been married?” “What’s your favorite color?” Don’t ask these questions unless they come up in a natural segue. Instead, ask questions about other things, and use their responses to learn about them. Current events, entertainment, music (my personal favorite), or any other light-hearted topic is acceptable. Do not bring up anything that could spark a highly controversial discussion, such as religion and politics. Reserve that for the second date at the earliest. The first date is only to decide whether or not you want a second date. Keep it light.
Who pays the check is a subject of much discussion. In the South, we men have been raised to pay. According to the majority of dating etiquette authors, however, whoever asked for the date is responsible for paying. The best advice I can present is to offer in a non-offensive manner. “Is it all right if I pay?” If she wants to pay for hers, let her. If she wants to pay the full bill, let her but suggest that the next bill is on you. Which, of course, brings us to the other importance of settling the bill: Arranging the second date. By the time you’re paying, you should both have an idea as to whether or not you want to see the other again. This is when you suggest it. You don’t need to have the date planned out, but it helps. If you don’t, be sure to have the plan formed before you call to arrange it.
At the end of the date, if you drove separate, walk her to her car. If she rode with you, walk her to her door. Walk beside her, and talk as you walk. Let her know you enjoyed yourself and thank her for making it enjoyable. She might initiate physical contact here, and you can respond in kind, but do not, under any circumstances, be the one to initiate it. If you do, she might respond out of a sense of obligation and throw off your reading. If she initiates it, you get a better feel for what she’s thinking.
Men and women will both argue with me here, but do NOT kiss her. If there is crazy chemistry and you really, REALLY want to kiss her, then tell her that, but follow up with “but I have a policy against kissing on the first date.” So why do I have this policy? Because a really good kiss can lead to more than kissing, and you don’t want to fuck up the relationship this soon. (If you’re only interested in sex with this girl, then go ahead. But this guide is assuming you’re not a pig.)
So, if not kiss, how do you close the night? A hug? A handshake? A swift slap to the ass? I don’t really have the answer. I think it’s a case-by-case basis. I can say that a handshake or ass-slap is probably out of the question. A hug might send the wrong impression… the “I like you, but not enough to kiss you” kind of message. Personally, I will go with a lingering hug and maybe rub her back. It’s more than a friendly hug, but not overtly sexual. This might work for me because of my Teddybear Physique™, though. Your mileage may vary.
If you had fun and agreed to a second date, call her the next day. This isn’t like the initial phone call, so there is no window of delay. If the date went well, she wants you to call her the next day. Give her that.
For the second date, I’m going to say you’re on your own. It’s needs to be more personal the first, and create a relaxed “together” feeling. (Not necessarily romantic, just “together.”)
When I was driving once, I saw this painted on a bridge: