I am writing this post at the behest of numerous girlfriends (and a couple of guys, too, believe it or not) who have indicated my “Nine Rules of Dating for Clueless Men” post needs an upgrade—a serious upgrade. As one of my close girlfriend’s boyfriend put it, “Dating is all about information control and perception management.”
Understand that I am not advocating “game playing.” Rather, I’m cautioning you to remember that first impressions are hard to undo. Very few women will give you a second chance if you roundly screw up on date number one. And pretty much every single one will bail if you continue to screw up on date number two. Because then your understandable anxiousness at meeting a new person is no longer an excuse. If you’re still acting like an idiot on date number two, you probably are an idiot and need to take up rock climbing or something instead of playing Nintendo all weekend and expecting it to improve your social skills. Read on….
- Jean shorts and pleated pants are a no-no. And honestly, this is probably the case for women, too, though I’m still trying to convince a girlfriend of mine that I really can pull off Daisy Dukes. Seriously, there is no man on the planet who looks good in jean shorts (and if you’re wearing jeans, please make sure they are fitted—you are not going to entice any woman to your bed if you’re wearing baggy jeans). And with regard to pleated pants…honey, they make you look fat. Unless you are seriously skinny, you cannot pull them off…or should I say on?
- Toss the tighty whiteys. If I need to explain why, you probably need to invest some time reading fellow contributor Susannah Herrada’s post, “Sex, Suitcases, and Tighty-Whiteys.” Seriously, your date’s only experience of tighty-whiteys is likely seeing them in her dad’s laundry basket in the 1980s.
- No serenading without an invitation, please. I don’t care if you can croon on the scale of Luther Vandross. Do not trap your date in a car in a parking garage and serenade her to the radio if she hasn’t requested firsthand experience of your vocal abilities. It’s awkward, and if she’s polite enough not to bolt at that very moment and make a mad dash for her car, I promise you, she’ll be spending the rest of the evening trying to figure out how to ditch you without traumatizing your ego. If you play guitar, you can get away with a little more, but still NOT on date one, or two, or three.
- Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Pick her up on time. If you say you’re going to call, then do it. If you make plans with her, keep them. This is just basic respect. And if you don’t respect her enough to do the basics, you don’t respect her enough to be dating her. And if you fail on the basics persistently, any woman worth her salt is going to dump you anyway.
- Save your BDSM proclivities for later…much later. Trust me, you will never have the level of intimacy on a first date that is necessary to make it anything but unacceptable to slide your hand up under your date’s blouse and twist her nipple. As a girlfriend of mine put it, “This is not a radio dial. Twisting it to the right is not going to increase reception.” Or get you another date….
- Don’t regale your date with endless stories about your ex. First, it’s just not polite. And second, it makes it look like you’re still pretty invested in all that baggage you’ve got strapped to your left ankle. As a male friend of mine puts it, “The only time I ever talk to a girl about my exes is when I’m about to have her join their number.” (Note: this rule does not apply once you’re in a long-term, committed relationship and you are into deep sharing mode—but deep sharing falls under the “information control” tab in the initial stages of dating.)
- If you have Facebook pages for your cats, you shouldn’t even be dating. Enough said.
- Do not ever tell your date, “You look really good for your age.” You may think this is a compliment, but it’s not. If you think your 35-year-old date looks like she’s 29, then say, “You look like you’re 29.” It’s all about semantics, gentleman. Learn how to use them.
- If your date has bigger balls than you do, it’s time to reassess whether you should be dating at all. Strong and confident women like strong and confident men. If you aren’t brave enough to be yourself, disagree politely when you think she’s off-base, and stand up for yourself or for her when it’s called for, you should probably go back to building Facebook pages for your cats….