It’s special guest star day over here at the blog! Another male reader (ladies, where are you?) has written in with his totally subjective rules on dating. Here they are below (and thank you, Gavin White, for giving us girls some insight into the male brain):
There are two kinds of dating: dating with interest and dating with intent. One can lead to the other, but not necessarily. And both men and women get confused between these two types.
In the former, you want to connect, to join neurons and see if they fire. It’s an experiment, it’s worth a try, but there’s not that much to lose. These events are usually public, daytime, when there’s little to compete with them, or when you already have a backup plan (out with friends, early drinks, etc.).
In the latter, we have already bought into the idea, something has gone off in our heads, and we are cautiously, precariously, maybe beautifully leaping towards greener pastures. Or maybe, like a newborn foal, collapsing towards our future, stumbling to stay upright. Either way, there’s sheer determination, and that alone can be amazing. Or awkward. You pick.
But I’m fumbling with metaphors here. I’m awkwardly rushing ahead like a teenage schoolboy sharing a seat with the hot girl (or boy) in science class over an “experiment.” So let’s get back to basics.
My basic rules for dating:
Rule 1: Turn up
The greatest asset you have is you. Your most valuable asset, therefore, is your time. You have a very finite amount of it, and we just gave a chunk of it to each other – massive gift! There’s a saying that 90% of being a dad is just showing up, and I tell you, it’s pretty close to the mark. Dating is the same. Be there. Show up. Do the thing you planned. Make a plan and stick to it.
As a dude, I’m gonna say it. Turning up is hard. I mean really turning up, not barely existing in space (although sometimes that’s a challenge also). Which leads me to the next rule.
Rule 2: Pay Attention
You can’t just be there, you have to be there. Your second most valuable asset is your attention – so offer it as an additional gift. A guy will appreciate nothing more (well, maybe one thing).
You thought turning up was hard? Paying attention can be agony. And before you self-righteous assholes get all “how hard can it be???” on me, try meditating for a full hour before a job interview. Right, you’re no Pope Francis of focused attention. There’s noise everywhere (I highly recommend watching Sherry Turkle’s “Connected, but Alone” TED talk). And us guys are like the A.D.D Jack Russell Terriers of the universe, ready to chase down any distraction like a cosmic Frisbee in the park of life. That doesn’t make us lame. It makes us adorable and in need of two walks a day, minimum. But offer that, and:
a. we wont tear up your sofa
b. we will love you unconditionally
c. we’ll be too tired to hump your leg
But you can’t fake your attention, because we need the next rule, also.
Rule 3: Be Honest
Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to tell us everything. Just be a “little” transparent. We don’t want jellyfish transparent – because some of your shit is terrifying (date #347 material). But be you, be yourself, it’s fine. Sure, we might want you in 35 positions before we’ve ordered our macchiato for that innocent mid-afternoon “meet & greet,” but that’s because we didn’t get our two brisk walks today (see above), not because we don’t want to know who you are. We do. And if we aren’t a great fit for each other, that will be pretty obvious. It is said that in interviews the selector makes their mind up about a candidate in less than 5 seconds. For dates, it’s probably half that. But that won’t hurt so much, becaaaause….
Rule 4: Be Kind
You can give me your time for a date, pay attention to my lame stories, then be brutally honest telling me what a god-awful moron I am… and I will think the whole system is a shitty loaded scam that makes me the cynical prick that I might be… or am. But if you are kind, genuinely so, it won’t matter. If we aren’t meant to be, I’ll think you are awesome anyway, and we’ll be allies for life. If we aren’t sure, I’ll want more, because I wasn’t put off or humiliated the first time. If we are all systems go, well, you get the idea. Kindness is love’s outer peel, so allow a tiny bit to peel off – don’t be a love pineapple! But for Christ’s sake, don’t peel the whole thing, not for a while at least.
There you have it – easy! And while you’re at it, my extra rules on dating:
1. Make suggestions – in fact, anything you can do to make this easier for me will just make me like you – guys are ruthlessly lazy and like instructions.
2. Don’t be a control freak. Don’t demand we need to do this or that. Be easygoing.
3. Laugh. Even if we aren’t as funny as we think we are.
4. The stronger your personality, the more sensitively I’d like you to wield that strength. It shows perception, empathy, and consideration. Guys are ridiculously and inanely sensitive, just not in the ways you expect.
5. Remember that a coffeeshop, a lunch or early drinks is “getting to know you,” or “dating with interest” – while dinner, a concert, a drink out is more like “dating with intent.” So if we are doing the “getting to know me” thing, you’re more likely to get casual me. Don’t hold that against me, and don’t assume I can’t transition into dating with intent.
6. Please don’t overplan. Don’t make this into something. I haven’t met you yet, and I already feel like you’re organizing my sock drawer.
7. I know you have visions in your head as to how things should or might go on a date. But don’t write me off because I have flaws. You may be looking for perfection that doesn’t exist. Douchebags hide it long enough for you to fall in love with them. Others show it right up front. If we hit it off, I’ll definitely want to hear about ways that I can please you, but don’t dismiss me merely because I wasn’t the hexagonal peg in the hexagonal hole.
8. Remember, you fought for >10,000 years for the right to be treated equally and you won. Congrats, you rock! So, now own it. Offer to pay first, suggest what we should do. It will shock the shit out of me, it will indicate you are solvent, and that while everyone likes to be paid for, you are prepared to buck the system to be strong and independent like the rock star you are. Trust me, I’ll pay for you way more times to make up for it.
9. Finally, let’s not forget that 9 times out of 10 it was us that asked you to a date – so maybe edge those stats a little our way. Or better yet, say yes. Say yes and turn up. Pay attention and be kind. And forgive us when we occasionally hump your leg. Remember, it’s because we didn’t get our two walks.