....OR, Nina (alone a lot)'s Guide to Dating....
I thought I would keep the theme of the week alive by offering a boatload of advice on dating to a bunch of people who almost have to be doing a better job getting it done than I am. (Since I am not).
Inevitable Disclaimer: The only man I have kissed in the last two years is my slave, a man who does what I say, when I say and dares not object for fear of losing the opportunity to kiss me twice (or thrice) a year. In case you are confused, that's not relating; it's dictating; and therefore, it counts for nothing. I am therefore wholly unqualified to give the advice below. Keep reading if you want to know what an unstable, emotionally paralyzed, (reportedly) female droid has to say about dating.
Dating happens when people meet and spend spend time together in order to "see if it works out". What the man means by this is "sexual intercourse" and "fun times with a cool girl"; what the woman means is "marriage" and sometimes "children". It is no wonder, then, that so many women CALL men, thinking that they are being modern and emancipated - when really they are losing at the game. It is no wonder, then, that men DON'T CALL women, thinking that they are keeping the upper hand, when really they are making the woman more certain, with every passing second, that she will not be removing her underwear for a man who goes a whole four days without thinking about her.
If the above rings true for you at all, you’ll realize that dating, the vehicle people board in hopes of finding love, is about power. Power, in case you are confused, it the exact opposite of love. Dating is about the worst way to find it, but unless we want to all move to India and find adoptive parents who will find us spouses, we’re stuck with dating. How unfortunate.
Because I believe that men and women are wholly different creatures united only by sexual attraction and about ten common vocabulary words, I offer different advice for each variety of creature.
Ladies first, of course.
1) Don't call men. Exception one: if you are going to be significantly late for a date - or can't make it at all, call. Exception two: if you in an established relationship, you can call to offer him an opportunity to do something he will find easy - but will make him feel like your hero for a day. Example: "Dearest _______, when you come by this weekend, would you please bring some WD40 and see if you can't get the screendoor to stop squeaking? That’d be great. Thanks!" Keep incidences of exception two to a minimum – two a year at most. Oh, and by the way, keep phone calls short. Rambling about your feelings and your existential anxieties? Be talking to your girlfriends about that stuff. Not. Your. Boyfriend.
2) Tell him what you want. He cannot read your mind, nor does he wish to try. If you secretly think that what you want is unreasonable or illogical or that you are perhaps not good enough to get what you want, go to therapy. It doesn’t matter WHY you want what you want, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s reasonable.* And guess what? Most men are so relieved to have actual instructions for how to make you happy that they will overlook unreasonableness or lack of logic – or forgive it. If you are forthright about what you want, he can choose whether to deliver - and you can choose whether to stick around if he chooses not to.
3) That thing about telling him what you want? Once, as in ONE TIME, is sufficient. Twice is a scratch on the record. Three times is nagging. If he does not care what you want - such that you must repeat yourself - stop dating him. If he doesn’t care what you want while you are dating, he will openly thwart your ever desire when you are married, not because he is evil, but because marriage is much harder than dating and people’s capacity to sacrifice is seriously challenged once the papers are signed. So stop dating him if he does not care about making you happy. If he doesn’t care now, he never will.
4) Don't pay for dates. Ever.** If you feel he has spent a lot of money on you and you want to reciprocate, buy tickets to xyz and tell him you have an extra ticket - and take him along. If you see a xyz at the store and you are pretty sure he'd like it, get it and give it to him, and don't make a big thing of it. If he asks you out for a Saturday night dinner and you can't bear to watch him spend another hundred bucks on you, tell him you'd like to cook for him. If you've reached the spending the night phase, you should absolutely be making him breakfast and it should be better than decent. If you can't cook, learn. It’s one of the only things you can do for him that doesn’t involve the incredibly scuzzy introduction of paper money passing between you. And if you are thinking, oh wait! There’s that other thing!
4) Do not EVER sleep with a man until YOU want to. This is so obvious it hardly needs saying, sure. OK. But you know what? I still know women who sleep with men for the wrong reasons, ie: he won't like me anymore if I don't, or he might think I am weird if I make him wait longer. On the other thand, it may very well be that you are perfectly ready fifteen minutes into date one - and are so eager to get started that you unbutton his jeans with your toes under the table in a crowded restaurant. Oh, happy times!*** But if not? Do not spend a moment thinking about he expects or what the current "standard" waiting time is in your culture or region. Don’t spend a moment feeling guilty as you calculate how much money he has spent courting you. He can stop calling you – and taking you out – any time he wants. If you think you might want to go all the way – not because he has spent a lot of money or you – and not because you don’t want to look like a weirdo because who makes a man wait six whole months? - consider the following - not when you are making out with him in the driveway - but in the cold light of day, with no estrogenic interference:
a) If this creature gives you a disease, curable or incurable, will it have been worth it? Do you love him so much that you want to share everything, including his _______ or his _______? If so, consider:
b) If you find yourself pregnant, despite all that condom and spermicide, will you have a plan for coping that doesn’t include him? As in single parenting, giving up the infant to adoptive parents, or having an abortion? Think hard about it. Sure, it's possible that when you say, "uh, dearest one, I appear to be harboring a rapidly growing uterine parasite. I'll be over here weeping uncontrollably until you are ready to talk about it" he will say, "aw, sweetie, that's the best news I've heard all week! Let's get married and start looking for a suitable home to raise our baby!" But if he doesn't? You need to have a plan and you need to be prepared to execute it.
5) If you find yourself following advice items 1-4, and you are delaying the consummation of the not yet married relationship, relieve the tension by telling him with complete candor and sincerity that he is welcome and, nay, encouraged to see other people. After all, you are not sure about him, are you? And how, exactly, is he supposed to get sure about you if he is spending his time and energy trying, pointlessly I might add, to get you to remove your underwear? Turn him lose until you are sure. If he finds himself unable or unwilling to spend time (and get laid) with other women, then revisit item four. If you are still not sure a) flatly refuse, telling him you will let him know when you are ready, or b) have the talk about the consequences you will bear if the unthinkable happens – an unwanted pregnancy or a raging case of _____________. If he can’t have that conversation because it’s all too grown up and serious and he just wants to get laid and why is that such a big deal? He is a jerk. Get rid of him.
6) Do your best not to ask him "where this is going". If you find that you cannot help yourself, ok. But get a straight answer and believe what he says. If he says "I don't know" or "I don't care" and you care a whole lot and have already named your nine children, stop dating him. If he says "I love you and I would like to get married next year and how do you like the idea of a baby in two years?" and it scares the crap out of you, recall that I said you really ought not to ask. The answer is almost guaranteed to flip you the fuck out. You've been warned.
7) Trust him. Believe what he says until you have reason to believe otherwise. If the otherwise happens, it's over. Don't even look back.
8) Trust yourself. If your intuition starts sending you danger signals, I am sorry to say it, but your intuition will prove right in the end. If you think 7 and 8 cancel each other out, think about it for a minute. That intuition thing? It’s based on data. We call it intuition because we can’t figure out what the data is… but just because you can’t figure out what it is doesn’t mean that data doesn’t exist. If he makes you queasy and you don’t know why… goodbye.
9) Measure twice, cut once. No, I am not talking about the Bobbit maneuver. If you are considering getting out of the relationship, don’t end it in a moment of rage or sadness. Think it over. Make sure you know that it is done. Once you break up with a guy, you are not likely to be able to reverse it, nor should you try. Contrary to popular belief, the second time around is rarely better. Three times is the opposite of the charm. So measure twice, cut once. And don’t look back.
Gentlemen, are you still reading? Good heavens, it has been a long, cold wait, eh?
1) If you want to see a woman, call her. Call her three or four days before you'd like to see her. If you are thinking on, say, Friday evening that you'd like to see her the next day, don't even try it. If you do, you will put her in a terrible position, especially if she likes you. She will have plans because you haven't given her enough notice. And she will have to turn you down. And then she will have to wonder whether the fact that she turned you down will be interpreted by you as lack of interest. Don't even go there unless you are in an established relationship.
2) If you ask a woman out, pay for the date.**** Don't even give her the opportunity to glance around for her handbag. Have your credit card out and in the hands of the waiter, without delay. If she offers to pay, don't let her. Persist in your refusal all the way up to the point where she is either a) crying or b) screaming at you for denying her equality or her agency or some shit like that. If she exhibits either of these behaviors, let her pay. And never call her again. If you are confused, email me and I'll tell you all about why she is not worth another date.
3) Do not assume that making out or obvious chemistry is the same thing as consent to going all the way. Every undesirable thing that can happen as a result of sex will be borne by her, not you. If you feel you are being made to wait too long, date other women. If you find you can't, then roll up your sleeves and work at proving yourself to the one you want. If you feel this is horribly unfair, think about how she feels. She is crazy about you and can't call you. Ever. Think also how she feels about the fact that YOU are being allotted months and perhaps years of her reproductive life with no promise of marriage and children and she is powerless to do anything about that, except leave you. No orgasm for you? Aw, poor thing. Get over it (and get some ass elsewhere, if you must).
4) Never, ever, ever, ever pressure a woman to have sex with you without a condom. Everyone hates condoms, including her. You might hate them .6459345% more than she does, and well, ok. Sorry. Do you want sex? Yes or no? Ok, then. If she looks at the condom and giggles and says, “oh honey, I am on the pill” then tell her care about her too much to take even THAT chance. If she thinks you are being unromantic or that you don’t trust her or that your persistence means you definitely have a disease, she is an ignorant slut, and you should not be dating her.
5) If you are sleeping with her, and also sleeping with others, stop. It’s reckless to sleep with multiple partners from a medical perspective, if not an emotional one. If neither of those considerations matter to you, be sure of this: they matter to her. Tell her if you are determined not to give up your myriad other partners and then let her choose whether to continue sleeping with you. And then respect her decision. Best bet, however, is to stick with one woman, especially if you would rather not lose her. Duh!
6) Do not lie to her. Ever. If the truth is ugly, oh well. But if you lie to her and she finds out, she will neither trust you or respect you, and once that's the case, you are done anyway. If not lying involves having painful, embarrassing, or awkward conversations, then state the facts in plain language and let her respond. Most women are forgiving creatures, especially if your crimes have been committed in the past - and against other people.
7) If she asks you "where this is going," tell her. If the answer is "I don't know" or "I don't care" - tell her. If she stays with you after you've said so, she is either a) suffering from low self esteem or b) doesn't think much of you either. But the point is, you will not have been a liar, and she will know you are not serious about her and will be able to make a good decision about sticking around or not. If your answer is "I love you but I am not ready to get married " - saying exactly that is fine. If her response is "I need to get married in the next two years" and you can't promise you'll want to, tell her. And let her leave you if that's what she needs to do, even if you'd really appreciate it if she'd stay. Bottom line: truth. Plain language. Women are under the gun to have children, and no matter how much you think you "get" that- you don't. There are plenty of other women out there who don’t care about having kids – and don’t care about getting married. If you are similarly inclined, go find one of those women. You deserve to have what you want, too.
8) All that said about not rushing a woman sexually – let me say what a very bad idea it is to rush her emotionally. Be honest about how you feel. But for God’s sake, if you are fantasizing about your wedding after the third date, enjoy that giddy happiness and keep your mouth shut about it. She is under the same orders (see above). When you share your giddy fantasies of marriage on the second date and offer to buy her a pony on the third*****, she will think one of two things: one, that you are gay and want to run for congress or two, that you are so desperate that you will take anyone who will stand still for your cheese-tastic insincerity. If you are really into her, be nice. Smile at her. Hold her hand. Tell her you are looking forward to seeing her again. But don’t get all puddle eyed and sloppy about your feelings until you actually know her – and if you are getting sloppy, be proposing marriage, not a weekend getaway at the Nascar Fantasy Park. All clear?
9) Measure twice, cut once. No, I am not talking cutting her head off because she talks too much. If you are considering getting out of the relationship, don’t end it in a moment of rage or sadness. Think it over. Make sure you know that it is done. Once you break up with her, you are not likely to be able to reverse it, nor should you try. Contrary to popular belief, the second time around is rarely better. Three times is the opposite of the charm. So measure twice, cut once. And don’t look back.
Now would be an excellent time for you to note, dear reader, that I am single as single can be. That guy who kisses me two or three times a year? It’s nonsense. Married I have never been. But damn, I have had some nice boyfriends. If I ever date again, never have another relationship, I can look back and say without reservation that I’ve had a good run.
* Don’t ask for a pony, or a tennis bracelet or a $50,000 car. It’s your responsibility to get the “stuff” you want, not his. If you doubt this, ask yourself how you’d feel if he asked you to buy him a helicopter as proof of your love for him. Used, perhaps? If, on the other hand, you want him to open doors for you – or to drive whenever possible – or to not pick his nose in front of you - speak up. That shit isn’t hard to deliver, and everyone will be happier.
** exception one: his birthday. Take him out on his birthday and take him to the best place you can find. Spare no expense. . Exception two: if he takes you on vacation, at his expense, one night while on said vacation, take him out and again, spare no expense. If he wants a $300 glass of brandy, order one for you, too. It's one of the maybe two times a year you get to pay. Enjoy it and make sure he does too.
*** I am unqualified to offer advice as to when the time is right. I know more than one happily married woman who had sex with her husband on the first date - one I know slept with her husband way before he ever asked her out. Different people, different choices. All clear. But please, ladies, think. It's all very lovely and good to have sex with him in the parking lot on the first date - or whatever hotness you happen to be cultivating - my reason for cautionining you is only that I beg you to think of consequences. Consequences cool by you? Awesome. I find a dimly lit parking lot, gravel, and a few broken streetlights hotter than hot, myself, and have an actual anecdote to prove it. (Just not for today). Proceed, if you choose, but proceed like a grown up. It is not his responsibility to take care of you. He is not your husband, and even if he were, in this day and age men don't consider the health, safety, and happiness of their wives part of the marital contract. Oh I am sorry. I was in full digression. Sincerest apologies.
**** I am afraid this will make me very unpopular with you, male creatures. Paying for the date signals romance, couplehood, and that you consider her company worth something. It also says you are not a cheap bastard. If you can't afford to take her somewhere expensive, don't. Take her somewhere you like and that you can afford. If she is the sort of woman who gets a little frisson of pleasure out of watching a man drops hundreds on her, she is a piece of garbage and you shouldn't be dating her. Oh, and one more thing: there are lots of things to do that involve two people that are free - or cost very little. Spending money doesn't create intimacy. If she is worth dating, she knows that too.
***** I fucking hate it when this happens. I attract this very sort of bumbling, emotionally incontinent dork with startling regularity. They are dispatched instantly and without ceremony. Ladies, if you meet one, dispatch him. He wants a relationship with whoever will take him… and do you really want to be just whoever? I think not.