Sunday, September 09, 2007

A sex writer's top 15 first-date tips for guys.

A male friend recently asked me for some "first-date advice." I haven't had a first date in about six years, but that didn't stop me. Here's what I told him:

1. Remember these words: "Swiss boarding school." Deport yourself at all times as if you attended an elite Swiss boarding school that emphasized manners and deportment. You don't have to bow or address her as "Milady," you just have to pay attention to #2.

2. Chivalry is not dead. Open doors for her. Pull out her chair. Help her on and off with her coat. Don't make a big deal of it, just do it. This tells her that your mother brought you up well and that you know how to treat a woman.

3. A tip for the Internet age: Don't email (or IM, or text message) back and forth for months without asking her out. Once you've established some basic rapport, seal the deal. Suggest meeting in person with a specific time and place. "Wanna meet for coffee sometime?" is lame. "Would you like to meet at the Savoy Cafe in North Beach on Saturday afternoon?" shows that you have some class. This benefits you, too: you won't waste weeks developing a deep online connection, only to discover that you have the chemistry of two Pet Rocks when you meet in person. (You do remember Pet Rocks, don't you?)

4. Don't call her on a Friday to see if she wants to "hang out" on Saturday. That's just disrespectful. She has a life. Give her some advance notice. A week is nice, but don't call her any later than Wednesday for a weekend date.

5. If you're meeting for dinner, MAKE A RESERVATION. A guy once asked me to the symphony, but neglected to make dinner reservations and so we did the Bataan Death March around the San Francisco Civic Center looking for a place to eat. I failed to see this as the first of many red flags, and my relationship with Evil Neal is now the stuff of legend.

6. Offer to pick her up (Evil Neal had me meet him at the local Starbucks for our second date, lame-o), and make sure to walk her to her car.

7. Pay for her. I'm a raving feminist, but this is the way it is. You ask her out, you pay. Even if she asks you you, you pay. Whether it's coffee or dinner, YOU pay. Comprendez-vous? If she's got any class at all, she'll reach for her purse (if she doesn't, that says something right there). But don't let her pay. Don't expect anything in return, although it's nice if she offers to pay for coffee or a drink later, if there is a later.

8. Treat waiters and other service people with extreme politeness. Nothing will turn a date off sooner than someone who's an asshole to the waiter.

9. Ask her questions about herself without turning it into an interrogation. I don't need to belabor this. You know how to carry on a conversation with another adult.

10. On the flip side, some women--especially those with training as journalists, not that I'm mentioning any names--are very good at drawing people out. Do not, under any circumstances, violate Cynthia's 20-Question Rule, wherein she asks you 20 questions before you've asked her a single one. Yes, this has happened to me. I counted. By the time our appetizers arrived, I could have written his biography.

11. Relax, and be yourself. Do not try to impress her or be someone you're not. Even if it's not a love match, it's nice to make a friend because it is a very small world. My husband tried way to hard to impress me on our first date, and I almost sprinted out of the cafe. Obviously, I gave him another chance, but that's another story.

12. Do not under any circumstances complain about your ex(es), unless you happen to find yourself talking about relationships and you can turn it into the world's funniest story without revealing the slightest trace of bitterness.

13. Relax, and be yourself.

14. A hug is perfectly OK at the end of a nice evening. So is a quick kiss if you can tell that there's mutual attraction. Note: on my second date with the man who is now my husband, I totally thought we were going to play tonsil hockey (the bottle of wine may have helped), so I went and brushed my teeth. He could tell, and gave me a hug instead. By being non-sluttish, he actually created intrigue. Nice strategy, and too bad he's forgotten.

14a. As for anything else...well, obviously one hopes for that, but perhaps not after a first date, even if you bought her a really, really nice dinner. I would worry a bit about anyone who jumps in bed with you too soon ("you" being generic because of course, you're irresistible). No matter what a woman says, assume that she will expect a relationship after you have sex.

15. Last but not least, relax, and be yourself.

I hope this helps my friend, who is inexplicably single despite his keen wit and well-developed biceps. I hope it helps you, or someone you know. Because even if you're one of my six married female readers...well, sometimes our hubbies need a reminder. Or 15.

Next up (eventually): A sex writer's top 10 first-date tips for gals. (You want sex tips? Buy the book.)

And now, because I can't get enough relationship angst, I'm off to watch "Tell Me You Love Me" on HBO.


zhadi said...

Can you add 'if guy takes you to a Ren Faire, drinks lots of beer, insists on standing in the sun watching joust and yelling "Huzzah" every minute' and ignores your rapidly developing case of sunstroke' you shouldn't give him a second date?

One of my only cases of blind dating...

Cynthia W Gentry said...

That's why I don't go to Renaissance Faires. ;-)

Although it's not like the guys I met in bars were much better, come to think of it.

Hope you recovered from your sunstroke--and the blind date.

nickolai said...

Nice list! Although, I've tried the whole "being yourself" thing -- i think it's highly dependent on who "yourself" really is.

For me, I've found that it's much better to pretend I'm someone else. You know, someone interesting.

nickolai said...

btw, nice blog!

Cynthia W Gentry said...

Thanks, Nickolai.

The problem with not being yourself is that he/she will eventually find out who you are. Or, as I like to say about some of my exes, "The cloud cover will finally clear, and you'll witness the devastation below."

nickolai said...

Yes, good point Cynthia (and nice quote). Fortunately for me though, I've been able to postpone the inevitable clearing of the clouds. Not that being married means it's too late for her to divorce herself from the devastation that is I, but having kids should help tether her to me for good...

Sabina said...

It's also important to just be yourself and comfortable in your own skin :)

Cynthia W Gentry said...

Yup, Sabina, exactly! That's #15, but probably should be #1. Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

This would have to be the only dating post that linked to the Wikipedia article for the Bataan Death March.

Thanks for the laugh, and the good advice.

Cynthia W Gentry said...

@Anonymous: Yes, I like to reference military history in any discussion of sex. ;-)