Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My unsolicited and hypocritical dating advice

I have a bit of a secret-- I've never really dated.

As I've remarked before, my adult dating history has been marked primarily by either being in a relationship, or out of one, with not a lot of time spent in the space in between. Of course, being with the same man from 18 to 24, and then, however ridiculous it may be, finding the man of my dreams soon after that relationship ended sort of takes away much of the possible time in the gray zone.

My first year in college was the only time I tossed around the idea of *just* dating. When a friend I'd known since elementary school and I impulsively kissed one night, I insisted on keeping our label as "seeing each other" for the first month, fearing the effects of too much romantic pressure on our friendship. (Ironically, we did the "exclusive" thing for a month after that, then broke up due to contradictory summer plans, and pretty much never spoke again. Perhaps I should have stuck with "dating" thing a little while longer.)

I also had the one month of "real" dating, aka. seeing more than one person at the same time with no semblance of commitment. Though it was fun, it failed miserably, as college aged guys couldn't seem to comprehend what I meant when I said "I'm not looking for a relationship". One assumed this meant I was an easy lay, and seemed shaken up when I told him "not in a relationship" was not equivalent to booty call. The other couldn't fathom that I wasn't trying to secretly trap him into a relationship, when, truthfully, I wanted nothing of the sort.

So, yes, I may hardly be a dating expert, so you may take my attempts at expertise with a grain of salt.

However, I do have something I would like to say to a number of my female friends:
Dating:You're doing it wrong!!

I can only speak of the members of my own gender, but I can't help but be surprised when I see the same seemingly evident errors being made repeatedly.

So, please ladies, take a lesson from this wholly unqualified lady.
(Ed. note: I have not read any of the following: The Rules, He's Just not That Into You, anything by Dr. Phil, aka. the Devil, or, in fact, any self-help book ever. It is against my psychologist's pride. As such, any similarities or contradictions are completely accidental.)

If you are looking for a relationship, do not sleep with the guy before you have seen him in the light of day.
I am not anti-booty call or friends-with-benefits. If that is what you are looking for, this may be a good first step. I'm also not one of those people who thinks sleeping together on the first date is necessarily a make or break thing.

However, if you meet him at a party/the bar, and have yet to meet him sometime during daylight hours, banging him that first night is not the best of steps if you are thinking/hoping it could turn into something resembling an exclusive relationship. At least wait until breakfast, and the fact that you know he is at least willing to have a real date with you, and then jump him.

I am not saying it can't happen-- one of my best friends is marrying a guy she met at a club. However, she jokes as much as anyone that she fully expected it to be a one-night stand. She didn't go home with him assuming a second encounter, let alone to spend the rest of her life with him.

I am just shocked by the fact that I see friends actually get hurt by the fact that this guy does not call them back. How's he to know you want something more than a one night stand? How do you know he wants something more than that?

If you have a FWB/ booty call situations, you can't expect it to transition into a relationship simply because you want it to.
You started with an exclusive no strings attached stipulation. This doesn't mean that you may not fall madly in love and discover you want to be formally together. However, by entering into such a NSA agreement, you have kind of expressed that you are okay with doing the naughty sans relationship.

If your feelings are getting in the way, by all means, express them-- but don't call him a real jerk if he doesn't reciprocate. And, for heaven's sake, if that is the case, get out before your feelings get too raw and the whole situation explodes.

(If he sleeps with you while pretending to want to be in a relationship with you, and then says he isn't in a relationship mindset, however, then he is a deceitful douchebag.)

If you meet a guy on the weekend, and you get along really well, don't delete your online dating profile and cut loose all the boys you have within the next week.
That is wayyy too much pressure to put on one person, and on yourself, to make it work. At least give it a few weeks to make sure you are both going in remotely the same direction!

If you are already unhappy in the first month of dating, end it.
There are lots of issues you can work through once you have a solid foundation. But, in the first month, you should all be on your best, shiniest behavior. If the problems are coming up before you've grazed the honeymoon stage, you are missing out on the whole fun of being besotted in the first place.

Don't rush "the talk", but don't avoid it completely, either.
I've seen bitter extremes on this one. Some women want to know within the first week if "this is going somewhere", which is a surefire way to bring overanalysis to every stage of the getting-to- know-you process.

On the flip side, if you've been seeing each other regularly for months and you still are afraid of freaking him out by using the word "boyfriend", plus you don't know if he's sleeping with others-- I think it might be time for a chat.

This is the one I know has been rehashed in dating guide after dating guide, but, seriously, a little hard to get doesn't hurt.
I'm not saying you need to be systematic about it, like never calling him, ending the calls first, counting days, and so forth. In fact, I hate any quantitative rule like that.

However, don't throw your all into a budding relationship. Keep on making plans like you would if he wasn't around. Even if you would rather spend Saturday night with him, it doesn't do you any good to hold it free "just in case" if you haven't heard from him and there is a great party going on. It will do him some good to see that you still have an active social life and he isn't the only thing on your priority list. Well-rounded is an attractive trait, after all.

I hope these all seem reasonably self-evident, but then again, over the past few weeks I've witnessed several occasions in which these needed to be reiterated.

Are there any ones I've missed? Any you can think of for the men? Guys, what do you think?


Tough Girl 101 said...

I have a dating history rather similar to yours... soooo... I dunno dude. I've had 3 relationships and very few "dates". I basically dont want to waste my time by "dating" to feel out if i want a relationship, so i've only ever dated friends.

Mandy said...

Ohhh, "the talk" is always a big one.

alexa - cleveland's a plum said...

oh this is a great post! very good advice.

confession: i've never dated - like ever. ever.

Bayjb said...

I've not really dated either. It's been a date or a relationship. Never anything in betweetn

Babs said...

true..... not sleeping with him right away is HARD though (hahahaha, no pun intended)

insomniaclolita said...

"If you have a FWB/ booty call situations, you can't expect it to transition into a relationship simply because you want it to."

I completely have that problem, seriously. And clueless on what to do.

Hope said...

This list would have been helpful a month ago. It is spot on!

But I do believe that when you're in it? And you're a certain type of person (i.e you hit all the low self's--esteem, confidence blah blah) that its hard to NOT find yourself doing one of those on your list.

I'm guilty of a couple of them. I am aware I am doing them when I am doing them though. That must count for something right?

Yoda said...

You left out the most important one.

Under no circumstances should you feel it is appropriate to text the guy three times in the middle of the night to say how great the date was.*

I think this fits in with your "hard to get" advice tho.

* = from personal experience said...

Spot on.

benjibopper said...

mostly sound advice; don't know about the hard to get part though. honesty actually works pretty well.

as for 'the talk', what i found works well is to talk not in terms of 'what are we?' but more using 'if...then' scenarios, like 'if i was to take another woman to the movies then you would...', which nicely establishes the parameters of the relationship without labeling it.

Surfergrrl said...

All very good advice. From someone in one of those, FWB, situations, I can say it takes a LOT of open communication from both parties about the guidelines, boundaries, etc. The expectation HAS to be as such that NEITHER parties think this is "going anywhere." That said, do I think that someone's feelings might be hurt when it's all said and done to some extent? Probably. We are only human. My guess is I'll be the first to end it being that I want something more, from someone, not him.

myself said...

You're bang on with most of that.

I've only really dated after my marriage went bust 8 years ago. Which ends up being really hard when my dating history was like yours (I dated 3 people prior to my marriage).

And probably hence why I'm single. I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

Tigerlily said...

I usually find that dating advice seems so self explanatory. But I've watched my girlfriends (and me too) doing the stereotypical things that we do. I've been "dating" for about 3 years and guys never cease to amaze me, dating can be a minefield and not matter how nimbly you try to negotiate it sometimes you step on one.

dmb5_libra said...

Spot on post! It kills me to hear about girls that sleep with guys on the first date and they wonder why they're not in a relationship....

ps. i've haven't really dated very much either.

Jacqueline said...

A few weeks ago I read some really simple, but wise, dating advice. The article said that you should approach dating from the top down: head first, then the heart, and then know.

Like you, I've never been much of a "dater" because I tend to prefer committed relationships. Because of this, I try not to judge the decisions of those who are dating, but I always find myself thinking the same things that you've outlined in this post.

verybadcat said...

I'll just add what I've told my sister.........

Don't pretend to be something you're not, and this goes for everything from heavily padded bras to pretending to like sports.

There are men out there who like every different type of girl. Don't waste your time trying to win the affection and/or attention of someone who is not attracted to you for who you are, as hard as that may be....

Make room in your life for the men who are attracted to the real you.

Paula said...

So much good advice in there! Like you, I've never really "dated" but I've often though these same things myself about others out there.

theoddduckling said...

First let me give some unsolicited advice to other guys who stumble across this.
A.) No amount of physical attractiveness will be able to get you over how much you can't stand a girl.
B.) Don't cut out your other friends just to make a clingy girl happy.

I'm sure they are others but those are the two that jump out in my head right now.

- Kendall

P. S. I think I have developed a bit of a crush on you if only because you called Dr. Phil the Devil. : )

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

From someone who's dated a lot... I agree with pretty much all of this and I think a lot of this advice could be applicable to women AND men. I've definitely had my share of guys push me away by getting too serious/clingy too soon.

I understand the feeling people have about honesty v. "playing hard to get" but I don't think it's really about that-- I think it's about being solid in yourself and not depending on someone you just met to supply your entire life's validation/goals/meaning. I honestly feel that in most cases I've seen-- myself and others-- when someone is being "clingy" it isn't about them just genuinely loving the other person. It's about them not being solid enough in themselves. And that? Reeks to the other person like moldy cheese. Believe it.

brandy said...

Um, I'm just going to go right ahead and 'ditto' Overcoat's comment. That girl is 800 shades of genius.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

What a fantastic blog you have going here!!
Yeah, I never dated much either but when I started.....I really started :)
Please drop by to visit my blog if you get a minute.

Steady On
Reggie Girl

sonrie said...

sounds like good advice to me...I dated a little before my boyfriend, but they were mostly duds. I also had one friend that wanted to be FWB, and the more I turned him down, the more he wanted me. Go figure.

JD said...

I like it.

I went to see He's Just Not That Into You and cringed half the time...

In my experience, I've been a little too lax on things. Like, oh we've been dating for 6 months and you still don't want to be my boyfriend? I don't need labels. Ha! I know now that you have to have SOME sort of backbone or you get walked all over.

I would add that the 3 month and 6 month mark are essential reevaluation periods (like your "if you're not happy in the first month" comment).

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I think all men and women are broken. It isn't up to one to "fix" the other, but a little bit of effort can go a long way.

As for FWB, NSA, and the like...they aren't meant to be long-term, so enjoy them for what they are, and for as long as they last.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

From a girl who had years of dating experience, you hit this one spot on. One I'd add ...

+ Be honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself about who you are and what you're looking for, how can you be honest with the person you think you love?

chasinglibby said...

sensible tips that i completely agree with! i don't get the appeal of dating and i haven't even done much of it, either.