I can't tell you how many times I started this blog post only to scrap it. Dating is such a touchy and confusing subject to me, so let me just start by saying the first thing that comes to mind when I think about dating: it sucks. It more than sucks, actually. It blows. Especially dating in the 21st century.
Perhaps if I became an adult in another era, I'd feel differently about dating. In some ways, our parents and grandparents had it easier. There was no technology or dating sites/apps to be found. Instead, people met other people in person. They went to big band dance halls, bars, bowling alleys, roller skating rinks and baseball games. They made eye contact. They smiled. They flirted. Sometimes a friend or coworker would introduce them to someone interesting...because back in the day, it seems lots of people knew single people who were interesting. Maybe the marriage was even pre-arranged. The only bad thing was, women often felt the pressure to get married by a certain age lest end up an old maid. And if things went sour once they were married, divorce was frowned upon. So many unhappy people stuck it out in unhappy marriages, for the sake of their kids and their reputation. But for the most part, at least meeting someone kind and attractive enough to date seemed like a cinch.
Today? Good grief. I read a couple of sites written by dating coaches and I can never say I feel any better about dating after reading the comments left by many of my fellow single comrades. Guys don't seem to have it any easier; earlier tonight I read a comment left by a young man who was very disheartened that the beautiful, intelligent woman he met on Tinder and made out with vanished on him without a trace. Here's what he had to say:
I'm turning 32 next month. Apparently from what some of my 22yr old friends say, kissing someone means nothing these days. Im old school..I dont lock lips unless I see fit and she's worth my effort to pursue her…but I guess times have changed? Apparently now its "sleeping together’" for it to mean anything significant..and even THEN it could still mean nothing, just a fling.
Dating in your 30s isnt what its cracked up to be. Where are all the women who want a good man with a stable career who knows what he wants out of life? Seems like in Long Island they dont exist. :(
It seems the sexual revolution of the 1960s, while a great thing initially, now seems to have gone so far off the deep end as so many people think nothing of hooking up with a new person they barely know.
My biggest complaint with so-called modern dating are the numerous sites and apps that are marketed to supposedly help people find a long-term, meaningful relationship. Tinder, that the young man above used, pulls in Facebook profiles and shows the app user other supposedly single people within a specified radius. The problem is Tinder quickly gained a reputation as a hook-up app, which is how it was used by athletes during the winter Olympics, who apparently weren't fazed by the possibility of contracting the clap from a cute Swedish bobsledder.
I've tried a few different online dating sites through the years with lackluster results. To be honest, I really don't like online dating...but will go back on a site because I can't see any other possibility of how to meet men. That's always been a mistake. The last time I was on one, which was
The other reason I hate it is because it has made people lazy , socially inept, and dissatisfied even when they find themselves with a quality person. Maybe a better person is around the corner? they ask themselves. And they go back online and keep searching.
Ugh. What's a single person to do, other than adopt numerous cats and spend their free time watching Downton Abbey? (Or, for us Go Retro fans, Three's Company.) Well my friends, that's why it's high time I present what I call Go Retro's Retro Guide to Dating. This blog post is long overdue. It's time for many people to take a back-to-basics approach to dating, because this technology-addicted society is not doing us any favors. Granted, this advice is already well known among those of us who have our s*it together in the dating arena. However, if I can get even just one misguided soul who is making other people extremely uncomfortable in their presence see their misguided ways and inject a little old school common sense into their dating life...well, then my job is done here. I'll kick back on my shag rug with a martini and call it a successful day.
Here we go.
Learn the art of conversation.
Who would have thought that in the year 2014 we need instructions on how to talk to other people? Yet I fear that texting and conducting any kind of social interaction online is causing us to lose major amounts of cells in the area of the brain that deals with conversation...as in speaking out loud to another person in person. As a result, when they're out and about in the real world they don't know how to converse with other people. I've met guys in Meetup groups and at speed dating events who simply sat and stared at me without saying a word. It was up to me to introduce myself, ask them their name, and begin the conversation. Do you know how creepy and unsettling it is to have someone stare at you and literally be at a loss for words? I believe that anyone can learn the art of conversation, and it really is not rocket science. Ask a person friendly--but not too nosy--questions about themselves, and respond with something about yourself. Don't interrupt them when they're speaking; wait until they finish. Keep politics and religion taboo subjects until you get to know a person better. Nod and smile once in a while when they're talking, and give them personal space--don't stand right next to them and move closer again when they take a step back.
Don't even think about dating if you're not actually single and/or your life is screwed up.
These are the people who have no business dating. I don't get why so many people do this. A man will be "recently separated" from his wife and the first thing he does is put a profile up on Match.com. Why? Why should another woman get dragged into your drama? Wait until the divorce papers are signed and dry. If life is currently complicated by matters that can be fixed and you know you must fix them, then DON'T DATE until they're over and behind you.
Remember that you must love yourself first before anyone else can love you.
It sounds so cliched, but it's so true. No one else can truly make you happy--you are responsible for your own happiness. That means learning how to be happy even if you're single and aching for someone special in your life. Start with the special someone you see in the mirror everyday. Treat yourself kindly, and treat yourself to something nice once in a while if your budget allows it: a cup of cappuccino, a new pair of shoes, a facial, etc. Think kind thoughts about yourself and focus on your positive qualities. Make a mental inventory list everyday of what you do have in your life to be grateful for and don't give any attention to what you feel is missing.
|It worked for Molly Ringwald because she already knew the guy!|
Seriously, it's not. Don't let any dating "expert" tell you otherwise. They're just perpetuating everyone's social aloofness. Use online dating as one way to meet someone, but don't think of it as the only way. Join social and specific interest groups, such as those listed with Meetup. Take a class in something you've always wanted to learn, travel with a group, or try a new hobby/sport/exercise that puts you into contact with other people. And remember that it's possible to meet someone anywhere that other people happen to be--the grocery store, the gas station, your office parking lot. Yes, it could happen.
If you're going to have an active online dating profile, don't be a Pinocchio!
For crying out loud, don't lie on your online dating profile, especially about the basics: age, height, weight, etc. If you lie drastically about these things online, there's no way you're hiding it in person, and that just makes you look deceitful. Don't be listing your height as 5'8" if you're 5'6". Not only that, but why would you think anyone will give you a chance at a second date if you can't be truthful about the physical details?
Put down that *%$ing piece of technology and make eye contact with other people already!
It's bad enough seeing people walking down the street with their head down, staring at their phone, but if I hear another story about people sitting down at a bar only to whip out their mobile phone to play with, I'll lose it. Yet, this is what is happening all over the country. It's like Linus' security blanket or something. I can understand if you need to check something quick on your phone, especially if you're waiting for another person to arrive. However, what's the point of going out if you're single only to ignore your surroundings for the whole evening? Again, we are losing our ability to communicate--and that includes eye contact and other body language--because of our dependence on technology.
Learn how to flirt.
Again, eye contact and smiling. Most men won't approach a woman unless they see some kind of signal that it's OK to do so. A genuine smile, a friendly expression, and lingering eye contact usually does the trick. Even more so when accompanied by "hello" (if you're within speaking distance.) Guys: this is your clue to approach, if it wasn't obvious (another common complaint in the dating scene seems to be that men won't approach women anymore.)
Learn how to dress appropriately.
You can always refer to a recent blog post I did on this very topic, but try to show up for a date looking pulled together and wearing flattering clothing. Leave the shorts, baggy chino pants, and t-shirts with logos, graphics, or sayings on them at home. And ladies...be mindful of anything your clothing might be revealing (cleavage, too much leg way above the knees, etc.) Wear something flattering and sexy that shows off your figure to be sure, but leave a little something up to his imagination.
Gentlemen: show some chivalry on a date. Hold the door open for her.
We love it. Yes, there are some strange women who would call it sexist. Personally, I do not. I call it being a gentleman. By the way, there's something to be said for courting...women still do like to be wooed. That means planning dates, getting to know the other person, remembering their likes and dislikes and bringing flowers on occasion.
Ladies: act like one to get treated like one.
Getting drunk in clubs and posting the photos on Facebook is so...well, 2014. You may attract men that way but you won't necessarily attract gentlemen.
Did you ask her out? Then pay for the d*mned date!
Remarkably, this behavior from men is something I'm hearing about more and more these days. A woman gets asked out for a meal by a man...and then they're stuck with half of the bill or worse, the man flat-out refuses to reach for the check. I have no problem with a woman splitting or paying for a date after it's been established by both parties that they're actually in a relationship, but when it comes to courting, call me archaic, but I believe the man should still pay.
Don't do the horizontal tango on the first date.
It's an odd conundrum: for all the cheap, quickie sex people seemed to be having in the 1970s, they still got married. Today it seems a lot of people just want to have a good time with a different person every weekend for the rest of their fertile years.
I say be old fashioned. Everyone seems to be hopping into the sack right away these days; why not go against the crowd? I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me. They're screaming "how dare she judge me!" right now. Honestly, if you want to have sex with someone on the first date that's your business. However, your chances of seeing them again if you're after a relationship with them are kind of slim. I'm not a prude, but if you want someone to respect you and get to know you as a person first, then the both of you need to wait. If you're afraid saying "no" is going to cause a person to never contact you again, then so be it. You just weeded out someone who is not the right one for you. And if you do have sex--whether it's on the first or the tenth date--be sure you're using protection that will protect you from STDs and pregnancy (unless getting pregnant is what you both want. (Notice that I didn't say, "unless getting an STD is what you both want.")
There are some things you should never, ever do via text. Breaking up is one of them.
Talk about taking the coward's way out. I'm also not a fan of being asked out via text, either. Email is marginally better but a telephone is best. I want to hear a man's voice!
Some final words of advice...remember that anything good usually happens when you are not expecting it. You need to determine the type of partner and relationship with them that you want, write it down, and let it go. Live your life and enjoy it. The right person will surface when it is right. Love is a battlefield, so soldier on, my fellow singles!