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The Basics of Dating

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Monday, September 29th, 2008 in Dating Columns, Sex & Dating

I recently realized that I’ve never really written an article on generic dating- that is to say, we have a whole lot of articles in our “dating” section, but I’ve somewhat ambivalently ignored the fact I’ve never really touched on how to just date straight up. This, of course, bothers me, mainly because I’m sure a hell of a lot of our readers actually do care about this and have been sitting for the last year or so waiting for an article like this.

Here it is.

Dating is, essentially, the dance of trying to get to know a girl better and start romance- it’s that simple. Be it going out to a movie theater, going to dinner, or doing something much more ostentatious, dating is simply trying to set off the spark that is romance. Ignore all those little idioms you hear from different Disney movies and Lifetime TV commercials- dating is just dating.

The first thing you need to know about dating is that, simply put, dating is an excuse to get to know your partner and to connect on an emotional level. It is, quite literally, a catch-all excuse to “hang out” with someone and do something together. Dating is not about what you are doing so much as it is who you are doing it with. Dates can be as simple as walking around a park- and while doing that alone is boring and might get you arrested, doing it with a date is considered romantic and interesting. The goal, of course, is to extract information from your partner, provide information, and then generally try to see how you like each other.

That being said, dating is not something you have to do. Really, because it is a catch-all, dating is simply the nomenclature for the process of trying to get to know each other. It’s a temporary attachment.

With that being said, keep that statement in mind. What I will generally instruct you about is the best way to handle these situations- but they are never the same. Undoubtedly, you will have to formulate your own plan to your own style- but hopefully, with my experience, I can guide you down the path that is dating. Remember, dating is all about getting to know someone- so the goal here is to be the best damn person you can be.

Oh, and before I start, relax. Dates are not as big of a deal as they need to be. I’ve said it on here before and I’ll say it again: date lots of girls and date often. Only with that will you find the girl you really like. Focusing on one single girl and obsessing over her is the recipe for emotional disaster. Be willing to be a “serial dater”- even if it’s just flingy little dinner dates like a highschooler. Don’t worry at all. Unless you’re willing to be confident and not worry incessantly, you’ll always be stuck with awkward dates.

Part One: Preparing a Date

So let’s say you met some nice girl (yes, we’re pretty much heterosexual here) you want to date. Obviously, the first thing to do is probably the biggest hurdle- getting a date.

First of all, do some light planning. It’s always best to be prepared, so try to get an idea of your date before you make any moves. Is she a theatre buff? Take her to a play. Is she into music? Try to take her to a live music club or something. Essentially, try to come up with an idea that fits her like a glove- don’t just ask her on a “dinner and a movie” date unless she’s up for it.

Of course, I said light planning, not obsessive intricate militaristic planning. Don’t get some sort of hard and fast idea in your head and push it- just get an idea of some sort. In the long run, you should be able to compose the following sentence:

“Hey ______, would you be interested in going to _______ at _________? I’d like to go, ________ (it might be fun, etc)”.

That’s really it. Don’t make a reservation, plan it already, or just do something ridiculously overdone like that. Never make it an excuse- if you want to go with someone, don’t act like you’ll take them along- make it clear you want to take them and you want to enjoy their company.

That’s all you need for pre-planning. Just ask the girl after that. You see, at this point, you should always be flexible- trust me, you are rarely going to be able to definitively guess a time when she is genuinely free, so try to be open to change.

Addendum: Asking a Girl Out

I usually get this e-mailed to me as a question, so let’s go ahead and cover this.

First off, most women absolutely hate ridiculously complex or contrived things. They also hate falsely fake things. Hell, all in all, there is only one way to do it:

Just do it.

That’s it. During a conversation, slip it in or something. This is not a marriage proposal, don’t treat it like it’s some sort of world changing event. Just ask. If she says no, move on- otherwise, be happy and keep on going. It’s really that simple. The more you worry about being awkward or strange or coming across as “geeky”, the more you actually will. As silly as it sounds, firing from the hip is usually much more effective.

Part Two: Preparing a Date Part II: Wrath of Preparing a Date

Okay, so let’s say the girl has accepted (lucky you). This is when you need to kick into planning mode- and this time, it won’t hurt to go a bit overboard in some respects.

The first rule is to know where you are going and prepare accordingly. If you are going out to dinner, know the menu (generally, menus can be found online nowadays). Know the dress code. If the restaurant is usually crowded, make a reservation as soon as you can. If it’s a production or some sort of other entertainment venue, get advance tickets.

The second rule is to clean up your act, in every applicable way. Before you go on a date, obviously, make sure you are well groomed, well dressed, and ready to go. Most girls tend to lock on to smaller things (fingernails, body hair, etc) if they are dirty, so don’t get lazy. Make sure that your place is clean (in the words of Alfie, “you never know where the day will bring you”) and ensure your car is especially clean (because even if she’s not going to go back to your place, she may need a ride home). Of course, don’t go insanely overboard (avoid being ridiculously clean, as in, don’t make it too obvious), but it’s better to be too clean rather than too dirty.

The third rule is to prepare during the day. Try to avoid doing anything that will screw up the date. Try to make sure your idiot friends won’t incessantly text message you, make sure you don’t have anything else that will interfere. In a more crude way, avoid eating anything that will kill your breath (see: onions) or give you other bodily odors (beans), unless you can handle it. Just avoid doing something incredibly stupid and you should be fine.

Part Three: During the Date

Of course, I can’t tell you what to do on the date (other than “talk when appropriate and do whatever you planned to do”), but I can tell you what will help.

First off, listen and talk and be attentive. Do not try to push conversation in certain ways. Ask questions and be genuinely interested. Don’t slide your eyes down to her cleavage, look around bored, or rant about yourself- people love talking. Trust me, you can learn a lot more by watching her eyes and listening to her words than you can staring at her breasts or looking at the floor or something- though women claim otherwise, guys can be incredibly receptive to smaller details when they want to be.

Second off, be a gentleman and keep your space. She is dating YOU, and obviously you should take advantage of it. This is not prom night, general courtesy demands you hang around with her and be as polite as possible while doing so. Open doors, keep your arm around her when moving through crowds, and generally act as the lubricant to whatever you are doing- make it painless for her. Handle monetary transactions discreetly and quickly- don’t make a big show over paying for a meal or leaving a tip (that’s actually something that should be unspoken and somewhat hidden).

Third off, be intimate without being creepy. Touching is actually a good thing. Trying to cop a feel is not. It’s entirely appropriate to brush against her or touch her hand casually (and I mean casually, DO NOT PLAN THIS)- but it is not appropriate to do it blatantly or otherwise to force the interaction. Avoid making sexual touches (i.e. touching her ass, lower stomach, breasts, upper legs, etc)- it comes off as too manwhore-y. Simultaneously, avoid being the “friend” by hanging on her or patting her on the back. Find a middle ground- and never plan to do it. Let things go naturally.

Finally, know when things get boring. Don’t overextend your welcome. Is she bored at a movie, or is she absolutely begging to go home? Don’t push it- sometimes, it’s best to have a nice short and wonderful date rather than to have a long mediocre one. Leave her wanting more, not feeling full. Of course, you don’t have to end the date if she gets bored- for example, after dinner, you can always get dessert or simply walk around town- but keep things moving. This is where planning comes handy.

Part Four: After the Date

So let’s say you had a slam dunk of a date. Everything went well, you had her interested, and you didn’t screw up (which is 95% of the work, really). What do you do then?

First off, don’t expect sex or, well, anything. Don’t ask her to “come back to your place” for obvious sex- it’s nice to invite her for a drink or something and that’s about it- don’t really expect sex even if she does come back. Don’t ask her if she wants to “fool around”. Don’t try to steal a kiss at the door. By all means, take things as they come (and enjoy them), but don’t force them. By the end of the date, you should know if such a thing is possible. Clearly, if she’s tired and basically clawing to go back to her place, you aren’t going to get anything but slapped if you go for a kiss.

Second off, if there are rules about calling girls back, I sure as hell don’t know them. God bless text messaging- nothing kicks rear like getting a “I enjoyed myself” text only hours after a date or something. Be it instant messenger or by cell phone or by carrier pidgeon, there really is no rule so long as you don’t do it too obsessively. If you don’t know what to do, at least wait one day so you don’t seem stalker-ish.

Finally, relax. You don’t need to obsess over doing a “perfect” date- if there’s anything that can be said about dating, it’s experimenting with yourself in relation to other girls. Even if you screw up, it can generally be remedied- and even if it can’t, some girls find screwups cute (I’m not sure why, but whatever).

Final Points

As many of you probably know, I love having an open spot for bullet points of miscellaneous thoughts and addendum that don’t fit into my articles. So, to close, instead of ending it with a nice little ending paragraph, I will end with some extra points- so in the future, I can always come back and add more and more as I learn more myself. You know. Because I’m lazy.

  • The idea of a first date is getting to know each other, not flashing cash. If you’re spending a ridiculous amount of money on a restaurant, event, or god forbid, a LIMO, you are going overboard. Way overboard.
  • If she’s coming to your place even for a second, clean it the hell up, ESPECIALLY the bathroom and kitchen. Girls tend to check the bathroom. I’m not sure why.
  • In the words of a good much older friend of mine, “A lady will never sleep in an unmade bed”. Learn from him and make your damn bed.
  • Dress well for a date, but not too well. Wearing a suit is ridiculous, but do dress up. Dates are fun if only because they are excuses to dress stylishly for no real reason.
  • Splitting the check is really only fine in a relationship. For christ sakes, don’t appear cheap. Tip well, too. (Note: This applies generally to the Southern US and more “traditional” areas- if you have a girl who wants to pay half, by all means, spare yourself)
  • Dates never have to be in a public place, but most (savvy) girls will not want to do a first (or even a second or third) date in private, like at your place. No matter what you do, remember that a girl coming to your place does not imply sex.

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11 Responses to The Basics of Dating

  1. FATSO says:

    This is actually helpful. Thank you!!

  2. amomynous says:

    I disagree with the ‘splitting the check’ part.

    As long as I’ve gotten them to agree beforehand, then it’s all gravy. There’s no shame in going Dutch, especially if you don’t have the money or she’s uncomfortable with you paying for everything (strange concept, I know).

    Dutch treat all the way.

  3. Cameron says:

    This is great but I must say a bit nebulous. Anonymous needs some input here. It is good indeed, but rather bare bones. I have only been of a few dates myself so I don’t have much help but this is without a doubt, guide worthy material. i think that improvements can be made here.

  4. Krono45 says:

    I think this’ll be really useful for some guys who don’t have an older brother to tell them from experience or very many friends. I think in the bullet about cleaning their bathroom, it has to do with hygiene, whether you’re a pervert and NOBODY likes a dirty bathroom(unless it’s your own and you’re lazy). The only point you need there is if you want to get chicks, you can’t live like a slob.

    Question: Is a date always supposed to be at a public place?
    also, food can be a really awkward way to date sometimes, y/n?

  5. Kirk says:

    I just added some answers. Also, I removed your e-mails- obviously I imagine you guys don’t want to deal with spambots.

  6. Six of Spades says:

    This is pretty straightforward and useful, thanks! I can imagine the occasional anon misunderstanding the invitation template, though.

    “Hey YOU FINE PIECE OF ASS, would you be interested in going to SCREW at MY FILTY APARTMENT? I’d like to go JIZZ IN YOUR HAIR, (it might be fun, etc)”.

  7. Changeling says:

    I really liked the template. Thanks for that. I’m gonna use it.

  8. RooZ says:

    Now I just need to find a girl, forgot they existed for a moment.

  9. Jacob says:

    Best dating guide I’ve ever seen.
    But.. the “Unmade Bed” TRUE comment, comes off in a way that was almost obscure. I understand what it means, but I almost didn’t.

  10. Tyciol says:

    I love the Star Trek reference in this, it makes me trust the writer.

  11. Pingback: The Ultimate First Date Guide | Wellcultured

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