Friday, January 09, 2009

Dating Game ...

I don't date often. It's not that I'm not social, but, well, you know that adage, "You've gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince?"

Yeah, I don't like frogs.

I'm not about taking the easy way out when it comes to most things. I know that the key to losing weight isn't sitting in an overpriced bottle of pills at Walgreens. I know that I have to eat right and exercise. Effort. It's such a vulgar word. I know that it will take time for me to learn how to play the guitar or knit or understand all the settings on a camera.

But can't there be a shortcut to finding Mr. Right? Are arranged marriages really such a bad idea? Well, yeah, OK, they are. But dating.

Ugh. Dating.

Do you know why dating is such an "ugh"? From this woman's perspective, it's because men aren't women.

Oh, if only I were a lesbian. I think it would be so much easier to find a mate if I were looking for a woman. Sure, we'd still have our differences, but the intellectual wiring would be essentially the same.

But no. I love my girlfriends but I don't want to love my girlfriends.

So this is a story about a boy. But it applies to all boys. So any boy readers may do with this information what they please. (Though I recommend making a mental note for future reference.) (Oh, and I don't mean anything derogatory by the use of the word "boy." I just like the word "boy" when referring to the males of the species. But I can use "men," too.)

First off, let me say that I understand that men carry the burden of getting the dating ball rolling. Men are expected to make the first move. Men have to bear the initial risk of rejection, it's true. But later, men get a pretty sweet deal in return. How many men in relationships out there can remember the last time they bought towels? Washed towels? Bought the soap with which to wash the towels? Paid the water bill and electric bill to ensure that the washing machine would operate? Dried towels? Bought the dryer sheets to ensure static-free, fluffy, fresh-smelling towels? Folded towels? Put away towels? Hung towels in the bathroom? I thought so. And yet, every day when you step out of the shower, there's a towel waiting for you.

Now multiply that by every other thing you do every day.

So, yes, you have to ask women out on the one yard line, but then sometime before the fourth down, we pick up the ball and run the other 90 or so. (And yes, there are men who pitch in with life's daily duties, but the split is almost never anywhere close to equal if my research is correct, and by research I mean asking a few girlfriends who are in relationships if their men do much around the house.)

OK, then.

So, let's say a man is vaguely interested in a woman and he makes a vague suggestion to her that they should think about getting together sometime. It's a low-risk suggestion on the Rejection Scale, right? It's casual, what he's suggesting. Dating isn't even expressly implied. It's just meeting up for a drink or coffee or something. It is, in guy parlance, "hanging out."

So let's say the woman says sure, that'd be fine, and says they'll find a time.

Now, this could be viewed as a vague assent by the woman who might have no intention of ever then finding a time. But in this case, let's say the woman then follows up and suggests not only a date and a general time but also allows that she's going to be in the man's neighborhood which used to be the woman's neighborhood but is the woman's neighborhood no longer, so the woman suggests that the man think about a place where they could meet up.

In the woman's mind, this is cool of her. She's suggesting a date and time so as to avoid the perpetual "When's good for you? Well, when's good for you? Well, when's good for you?" She's not expecting him to pick her up, because this isn't necessarily a date since it was suggested to her so casually. She's going to be in his neck of the woods, so he doesn't even have to travel far to see her. (Note: The woman recognizes that she might have made things too easy for the man, as men like to feel all in charge of things 'n' shit, but she also knows that men, in many instances, are kinda lazy, too.)

So let's recap: All the man has to do is think of a place in his own neighborhood. That's his only task in this entire scenario. That and showing up.

At this point, let's take a little quiz.

Does the man:
a) Respond with a suggestion of a kitschy coffeehouse
b) Respond with a suggestion of a cool bar with a good selection of scotch
c) Respond that he has no idea where they should meet

I probably don't have to tell you that the answer here is c).


Here, the woman thinks, "OK, this guy isn't really interested in getting together. Or he's not the sharpest crayon in the dating box. Either way, this doesn't bode well."

The woman goes on to think, "Seriously? All you had to do was suggest a place. Any place, really, so long as it wasn't a strip club or an overly rowdy sports bar."

This man will use the excuse that he's new to the area, to which the woman will think, "Didn't he move there sometime last summer? Wasn't the summer about six months ago?"

Because the woman is continuing to think, "OK, you could a) ask your roommate for a suggestion, b) surf over to and plug in your Zip code, see what the site spits out, and pick one of those places, or c) look around you the next time you're in your neighborhood, which should be just about every day."

Now, the man may jump to his own defense and pull out this old standby: "Well, I just wanted to do whatever you wanted to do."

Which is sweet, in theory. Except that women know that most men don't really want to do whatever the woman wants to do unless the woman says she wants to drink beer, watch sports, and play video games.

Which brings us to this KEY PIECE OF DATING ADVICE: Men, you can make the "Well, I just want to do whatever you want to do" gesture worthy by amending it with a few simple words up front, e.g., "I was thinking we could do X, but I'm cool with whatever you want to do, too."

That's it. Just a few extra words. Now, the X should, ideally, demonstrate at least a vague understanding of the woman in question. If a man is asking out a dyed-in-the-wool city girl, suggesting sport fishing for marlins would not demonstrate a vague understanding. But so long as one idea is offered, the guy is in the clear. Because here's another key: there's a good chance the two of you won't end up there anyway, yet you earn points just for suggesting it. Because a suggestion implies what? That's right: effort. Minimal effort, but effort.

And that's all women are looking for at that stage of the game. Because Greg Behrendt has made a mint by making we women realize that if a guy isn't trying, he's just not that into you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...if a guy isn't trying, he's just not that into you."

Or he's a dork.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. A guy saying he "has no idea where you should meet" is a guy who is just not that into you. Cf. your original characterization of this hypothetical guy as "vaguely interested in a woman" and making "a vague suggestion to her". Vague = not that into you.

Quite simple, really.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

Well, actually, I have to disagree with you, Beth. Most guys I know have to do a lot more than getting the dating ball going. They do wind up buying towels, doing towels, washing towels, et. al. And I have to agree with Anonymous. Vague=not that into you. If a guy is really interested, he will choose a time, place, and date. At least I know I always have. Sadly, we see where that has gotten me....

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mercurie and the previous Anon. I also question whether one can consider the guy's vague suggestion to get together sometime to be even an invitation to "hang out." I think it's the stock expression of a guy who's non-committal in the extreme.

I.e. it's his way of saying he had a nice time tonight. Period. No intention of getting together at any future point in time. As such, "Let's get together sometime" is so purposely vague, it's a step lower even than "I'll call you." And we all know what Greg Behrendt has to say about THAT.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, “suggesting a date and time” is not “cool,” it’s controlling. It immediately narrows the boundaries of choice available to the man, and he responds by resisting, digging in his heels with the [patently asinine] claim that “he has no idea where you should meet.” (BTW: designating a specific date and time registers as DATE in a man’s mind.) Read the signals!!! A woman who fails to recognize male resistance when she sees it and instead doggedly pushes for the outcome she desires (and he doesn’t) shouldn’t be surprised that men repeatedly disappoint her.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

"... doggedly pushes for an outcome"? Oh, come on. We're talking about the woman saying, "Hey, I'm gonna be in your neighborhood? You free?" since he's the one who suggested that they meet up sometime. How is that controlling? In the end, he "dug in his heels" apparently, since he didn't suggest meeting anywhere, so she's shrugged it off.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I have to disagree with the last Anon. I don't think suggesting a date and time is uncool, at least so long as the guy makes it clear that's not the choice (okay, you don't like Delmonico's, then we can go some place else....). And I really don't think women "...doggedly push for an outcome..." that they want. I think it's a natural response to "We should get together some time." From my stand point what women need to realise is that if a man does make such a vague comment as "We should get together some time," then he really isn't that into her and is simply letting her down easy. That to me is far more uncool than giving a time and date.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Scribe Called Steff said...

A) I think the towels comment is a little unfair; I know enough guys who've bought 'em and don't rely on girlfriends/wives for laundry and stuff. It's a bit sexist, but hey.

B) Yeah, if a guy can't muster enough interest to make a suggestion, it's hard to believe he's all that interested at all. I think it's dangerous to just jump to that assumption, though. Who knows, maybe he doesn't get out much, maybe he's not comfortable suggesting the places he likes. I'd call him on it and say, "Look, your lack of enthusiasm leaves me thinking maybe we both have better things to do, so if I'm wrong on that, let me know, make a suggestion where we should hang, and we'll figure something out. Otherwise, all the best to ya."

I'm really tired of dating simply for the fact that everyone just jumps to conclusion and no one really gets clarification on assumptions anymore. Everyone's just doing what the current social model is. But it's wrong. It sucks. It's taking the fun out of everything.

I find it all very frustrating, the lack of communication, etc. But when you're just starting out, there's a perception that too much communication is too much. So, instead, there's less than there ought to be.

Sigh. :P I get both sides of this, I do. It's frustrating all the way around.

But when I have nothing invested, and there's nothing to lose, and there's little interest being shown, it's hard not to make the assumption that I might be better off looking for something is likely to be less work than Current Option "A" offers. Prying a coffeehouse suggestion out of someone with great effort typically doesn't bode well for how much they might contribute in the future, which is a bigger concern to me than whether or not they're that into me, methinks. My life's hard enough already without adopting Mommy-hold-my-hand roles in my relationships, I tell ya.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of this reminds of Charlotte's best line ever on "Sex and the City": I've been dating since I was 15. I'm tired. WHERE IS HE?

3:45 PM  

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