So how does this dating thing go?: The Sequel
July 1, 2010 9:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm pretty new to dating, and I feel like my lack of experience and ideas is making it hard for me to be spontaneous and natural. Can you help me cure some of my ignorance with your anecdotes, personal experience, and wisdom?

I'm a guy in my 20s who (in my opinion) waited way too long to start dating. I've met several girls through dating websites, but now I'm in a bind: I have so little knowledge about what's possible on a date, what I could do and what they could do, that I feel like I'm acting unnaturally because I have too much on my mind.

I would like to just be myself, but I think I'm still trying to figure who I am when it comes to dating. I imagine that when many people started dating, they had the benefit of friends and often older siblings to give them advice and guidance, but I feel that's closed to me (I would feel uncomfortable because my friends are coworkers and they're all several years younger than me). I hope the hivemind can help me out, and fill my head with ideas and possibilities that I can try on to see what fits.

I asked a similar question a week ago, but I feel like I wasn't clear and didn't phrase it well. This time I'm going to try to be more open ended.
  1. Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?
  2. What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?
  3. Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?
  4. What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?
  5. What's your best dating anecdote?
  6. What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?
posted by dogcat to Human Relations (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
2. What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?
3. Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working


As you imply, some awkwardness is inevitable and OK. But exactly what kind of awkwardness is OK? The good-natured kind. The kind where one person makes some mistake, and when it's pointed out you can laugh about it together and move on. What's the bad kind of awkwardness? The kind that's serious and embarrassed or oblivious, with no humor, laughing, or smiling. Or, if one person is consistently making fun of the other person for their awkward moves but this isn't reciprocated or mutually enjoyable.

4. What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

This is such a huge issue, and it's so tied to your specific personal qualities, that I don't know how we can answer it in this form. Maybe save this up for a whole other post with details and context that would allow us to answer this.

5. What's your best dating anecdote?

This is chatfilter.

6. What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

A hug.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:21 PM on July 1, 2010


1. I would want to get along with them, we would make each other laugh, and we would have enough sexual chemistry to be getting it on by this point.

2. Heh. All kinds of awkwardness from calling people old, to telling them they remind me of my ex and that my ex is funny looking, to having them insult something I really like (or vice versa).

3. It's not the awkwardness itself but how you both handle it. Relatively cheerful? Sense of humor? Able to bounce back? All good. Does it ruin things or put you/them in a horrible mood? Anyone get defensive or critical or nasty?

4. You know it when you see it, but personally, I want to sex them is a requirement (if I don't it's a friendship), I have to want to spend time with them, they have to be nice to other people, they have to be compassionate and kind, they have to be able to deal well with change and preferably enjoy it.

5. Can't pick one, not sure if you mean the moments I treasure or the moments that were WTF but hilarious? Oh! I have one! The guy who fell asleep while we were doin' it. Sigh.

6. "Can I have a hug?"
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:23 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]



Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?


You don't meet people on the internet, you meet people from the internet.

Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?

They say they have to meet a friend. It's a nice way of saying, that they don't want to hang out. There's probably no friend to meet, but they're trying to be nice. Also, if they bring a friend, they really didn't want to go out with you, but are again, being nice about things.


What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

What is this hangup with physical contact? Go travel, even to Europe. I get introduced to people in France, and we kiss on the cheek. Doesn't matter if it's a dude or a femme.

Don't want a kiss? How about an extended hug? Just let it linger.

Just don't like, shake their hand.




Stop pickin' our brains, go get some, Cowboy!
posted by alex_skazat at 10:35 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What were you doing in all that time that you weren't dating? Were you laying on the couch watching "The Bachelor" and eating cheez doodles? No? Well, then you're OK to start out.

1. Date: "So, dogcat, what have you been up to lately?"
You: "Well, I've been in school/work/volunteer situation/hanging out in nature/learning how to draw/snowboarding/cleaning up the Gulf/lifting weights/playing around on this cool website that I'm a member of."
If Girl is cool, you can ask her the same question and she will have the same number of answers. I'm a girl, and all of my most ideal first dates have gone roughly this way. It's not like anyone prepared a speech or anything, it's just that the guy was interested in what I spent my time doing, and I was likewise, because we both did, you know, things. That's what the first few dates are about. Getting to know what the other person likes, does, and is passionate about, and showing them the same thing from your end. PLEASE do not fake this part! If you like watching reruns of "Cheers," tell them! At the same time, if Date tells you they like to sit outside and wave at passing cars, well, don't judge them!

2. Well, I guess just the normal kinds. Not really knowing the other person that well, getting all giddy and laughing at nothing at all (that's a big one), kind of not knowing what to do at the end of the date even thought you both just want to make out SO bad!

3. Had this, too. Stories aren't that funny, you start getting embarrassed for no reason, you feel this: "OMG I must say something RIGHT NOW to fill the void because I'm SO uncomfortable!" You'll know it when you feel it. When you do, it's time to politely excuse yourself.

4. See #1

5. No way, dude. I get long-winded on these things anyway. Do you really want to hear about the time I was on the second date with this guy who I still (7 years later!) am in touch with and hang out with every now and again? How we had our first kiss (and it was a GOOD one, I was all bent backwards and everything) in front of this restaurant/bar and all the people sitting outside gave us some applause? In a genuine, "thank you two for that" kind of way? Didn't think so :)

6. Same guy, on our first date we shook hands*. I LOVED it. I found it to be classy, suggestive, and friendly all in one. I'm not the norm, but I totally still have a thing for that guy and, yeah, it's been 7 years.

If I may: I think you have this thing where IT'S A DATE OMG IT'S A DAAAAAAAATE. Don't think like that. You're looking for friends, right? You met this person online for a date, sure, but that doesn't mean that if you don't click romantically right this very instant that the time was wasted. Have fun! Talk about your stupid college roommate! Talk about what songs you can't get enough of right now! Personally, I wouldn't like someone whom I felt was trying too hard to "impress" me or do the "right" thing. I would WAY rather go out with someone who was comfortable in their own skin, had random things to talk about, and shook hands with me at the end of the first date :)

*Not everyone goes for this hand-shake thing, evidently.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:27 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


dogcat, I feel your pain. And while I'm not exactly all-together myself when it comes to non-platonic dealings here's my .02


1. This is highly individualized, but as I have gone on a fair amount of they-came-from-the-internets dates I'd say that at least during the first one you're judging based on looks/chemistry. Pictures can never do a person justice, and people do lie. So on the first date, I was always thinking-- "Do I really want to see this person naked?" And unless the answer was an overwhelmingly resounding YES, I had no interest in anything more than a hug... if that.
Subsequent dates were always one of two things: 1) I wasn't sure about them yet and figured, why not try it again. 2) I had a good time, let's see if this goes anywhere.
I think second dates are where you're really going to find if you want to invest yourself more in pursuing something.

3) If one person is doing all the talking! I'm a nice person, so I'm not going to point out that you haven't asked a single thing about me... though I am going to sit there in awkward silence hoping you'll figure it out. If I ask you basic questions about yourself but never tell you anything of substance about me. If no one ends up sharing a story about themselves.
All not good.

5) umm. don't somehow manage to blurt out that you google-stalked them and that you have mutual friends on facebook. ...kinda a mood killer.

6) A hug is probably a safe bet, but for your own ego and the girl's comfort be very clear that a hug is what you're going for! Don't just come at them or start leaning towards them suddenly; maybe gesture for a hug or specifically ask for one instead of just doing it.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by elleyebeebeewhy at 11:28 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?

I went on a few internet dates. But this was after I'd learned the ropes in non-internet dating, so I was already pretty confident on dates. OTOH, I never went on more than two dates with the same (internet) person because I didn't find anyone I clicked with.

But all that aside, what will happen on the first few dates is HIGHLY dependent on location, culture, and personality. With the people I know (IRL, not from dating websites), it's become a kind of running joke that at this point it would be weird if you didn't have sex with someone on the first date. That doesn't actually happen 100% of the time, but it happens a lot. This is with people I know from non-internet life--who are mostly artists and musicians in their twenties in a large city, FWIW.

2. What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?


Oh wow. With people you don't click with, it will be awkward. With people you have instant amazing chemistry with, it will be awkward. Everything in between, it will be awkward. You just totally fake it till you make it. You push your way through awkwardness. If it gets awkward or you're not engaging with each other and the other person starts to tune out or makes a joke about the awkwardness, engage it to a point but really try to take the responsibility to push through it--OTOH, I've found that saying (not right at the start, but a ways into the date), in a lull, if it seems appropriate, something like "So... I was really nervous to meet you on my way over here. I was nervous all day actually, I barely ate" (provided it's true, or fill in the blanks according to how you actually felt) can really create a connection between two people who don't know each other that well. Because the one thing you have in common right now, if nothing else, is that you're both on a date with someone you don't even know and you're probably both really nervous. You're allowed to talk about that. Depending on the person, this might become the starting point for a really good conversation.

3. Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?

That no matter what tack I take, she doesn't engage. If we can't talk, for me, it's already over. If you're bored with what the other person is saying and they don't want to talk about what you want to talk about, it's important to remember to not feel bad in this situation. This is nobody's fault, you are not a boring person, you are not an unattractive person, you are not bad at dating. You are just incompatible with this person. Push the little button on the side of your seat and eject through the roof.

4. What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

Compatibility? See above. Being able to talk. Although I said it will always be awkward even if you have incredible chemistry, your natural desire to get to know each other better will, ideally, effortlessly bulldoze through the moments of awkwardness, if you're compatible. Judging interest? If you are interested in her, that's it, but I assume you meant judging if she's interested in you. This maybe isn't the most helpful answer, but this will be extremely
obvious. You'll just know. It'll be the way she looks at you, mostly. You'll notice a vast difference between how a girl who isn't interested in you looks at you and how a girl who is interested in you looks at you. I don't want to make too many generalizations because one has to account for shy girls vs outgoing girls, but even taking that into account, it'll be very different from how any girl usually looks at you in say, a business setting or something. In my very humble opinion, how a girl looks at you is the single most important thing that tells you "It's on. I want you." If you haven't been getting these looks, I would be wary about making any "moves."

5. What's your best dating anecdote?

No one thing in particular comes to mind, but if you'll allow a broader definition of "anecdote," basically, I was like you about three years ago. I'd only ever had longish relationships that started while in school (when meeting people is an entirely different kettle of fish), or short-lived "things" that I just sort of fell into, mostly from, I guess, traveling. I had to learn how to date people in the real world from scratch, also, like you, without the benefit of friends or older siblings. I basically did it through trial and error. I'm not incredible-looking but I have the benefit of being able to talk and I'm not overly shy about asking girls out. I found that basically, you have to learn the mores of the place you're in. That is: very broadly speaking, there will be, eg, expectations about how "formal" vs how "cool/casual" a date will be (and what that means in the place/culture you're in). Just typing that actually makes me feel like I'm misleading you, and the only real advice is "just be yourself." But nonetheless it's true that mores are real--societal mores, dating mores, sexual mores. And as you gain more experience dating, you'll pick them up. Or maybe you won't. Maybe the next person you go out on a date with will be your future and forever wife, and you'll never have to learn what I'm talking about. But assuming you don't, prepare for a learning curve. But don't worry too much. You can be yourself and learn what's expected of you at the same time, and as you learn what others' expectations tend to be, you can decide for yourself how much you want to modulate your personality to meet those expectations. Or more like this will all happen unconsciously and will just manifest in you becoming gradually more confident on dates.

6. What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

Hugging? To me, that doesn't send the right signal at all, and furthermore is almost never what I would feel like doing in that situation, and it's important not to do what you don't feel like doing. Just smile and say "See ya," and send a nice message the next day about how you enjoyed the night and you'd like to do it again (if that's true). However, in my experience, in the times after a first date when I haven't gone in for a kiss, usually because I didn't think they wanted me to, I find out one way or another that they actually did want to. People like kissing and sometimes it's only then, at the end of the date, when you kiss, that you find out that you actually do have real chemistry. Don't be afraid to be rebuffed when you go in for a kiss. Going in for a kiss is a whole skill unto itself, but you'll figure it out, and if you do and they pull away, don't let it destroy you. It's only awkward if you make it awkward. Smile a little "who me?" smile and move on. If she likes you but just didn't want to kiss right then, she'll be as motivated to move past it as you will be, and she'll probably be nice about it. Assume good faith, take her at her professed intentions, and don't let it worry you. Say "See ya," and send a nice message the next day, etc. Do not apologize for "that awkward almost-kiss" or something like that. That's awkward. Just don't mention it. Same goes for any other awkwardness.

Okay well I'll wrap it up here. That's just my experience, I'm sure you'll figure out your own mojo. Good luck!
posted by skwt at 11:57 PM on July 1, 2010 [13 favorites]


1. Functionally: Coffee, dinner, movie/show/gig/night time activity, day time activity in more or less that order. Internally: Excitement about seeing the other person, some contact between dates.

2. Not knowing what to say would be the most common. Also things like physical awkwardness. (Are we holding hands? Not holding hands? Kissing hello? Not?)

3. When you feel like the other person just isn't helping move the inherent awkwardness along. It's hard for everyone, it should really be a joint effort to smooth it over.

4. Similar lifestyle aspirations (I hate to say it but it's a big predictor), politics, religious views or tolerance for them, humour. Not in that order, and YMMV.

5. They are all as different as any two people are. I've gone to dinner, gone to bed, gone to Paris and gone out the back door of the kitchen, all on first or second dates.

6. "Thank you so much for agreeing to come out with me." Followed by a, air-near-the-ear cheek kiss or, you know, an arm pat.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:02 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


a hug? what the hell. no way. - a kiss on the cheek goodbye is pretty standard on a first date i reckon.
posted by mary8nne at 2:24 AM on July 2, 2010


I have just two quick things to add:

First, you don't have to hug or cheek-kiss anyone when saying goodbye - and there may be dates when you end up not wanting to touch the person at all. Just end with "I had a good time, thanks for coming out with me," and if you want to see them again, "I'd like to do this again next week."

Second: I suspect, like most people who are a little socially awkward, that you're more than willing to attribute any and all dating awkwardness to yourself. Keep in mind that dates have a naturally high potential for awkwardness, and nearly everyone who's gone on multiple first dates has had a really awkward experience at least once, and it's not your fault and it's not any sort of indicator of failure. Learn to be comfortable with awkwardness and not to fear it, and you're most of the way there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:41 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


6. "Thank you so much for agreeing to come out with me." Followed by a, air-near-the-ear cheek kiss or, you know, an arm pat.

Heck no. That makes it sound like they were doing you a favor. You were going on a date together. If you had fun, something like "I really enjoyed this evening. I hope we can see each other again." is way more appropriate.

No arm pat. That's just weird. If it's not the right time for a kiss yet, you can hug I suppose (although that might dangerously be interpreted as friendom). I always liked significant eye contact instead. With a small smile to let them know you like them.

Also, I suppose if you want to go slow, go slow, but if you haven't at least kissed this person by the end of the second date you haven't really introduced physicality into your interactions, and physicality is very important for establishing a romantic/sexual connection.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:31 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you have this thing where IT'S A DATE OMG IT'S A DAAAAAAAATE. Don't think like that.

Yes, exactly! The fact that you felt the need to post this question a week after the previous one suggests you might be obsessing, which is counterproductive. Try to imagine you just met this person at a party and got involved in an extended conversation.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:02 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hug, pat, cheek kiss, funny dance--as long as you're within the range of normal FOR YOU, and you like each other, whatever you do will be perfectly fine. If it isn't, and it's weird, act like you would when you so something weird in any other context. Apologize? Make a joke? Whatever your thing is, do it!

It's pretty hard to keep two people apart, if they want to sex each other and snuggle! So be polite and considerate, but there's no need to analyze little behaviors to this extent.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:16 AM on July 2, 2010


Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers! I think this is going much better than my last question.
What were you doing in all that time that you weren't dating? Were you laying on the couch watching "The Bachelor" and eating cheez doodles?
Pretty much actually: about all I was doing was working at the job I'm still at and spending time at home. Lots of monotony, without a whole lot of interesting anecdotes or stories.
a kiss on the cheek goodbye
This is exactly the kind of advice that I was hoping for with this question: an idea that wasn't really on my radar.

Do you guys think that a cheek-kiss is OK after a first coffee date? In Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin? One of the big dilemmas I've been struggling with is that, if things go well after the coffee date, there's this period where she seems to be waiting for me to do something, and for a second I'm like a deer-in-headlights waiting for a prompt from her. I've been trying hugs recently, but I feel those aren't really working well, though my anxiety/uncertainty in the situation may be making them a little half-hearted.
The fact that you felt the need to post this question a week after the previous one suggests you might be obsessing
Yes, but mostly about "I don't know what the f*** I'm doing feeling I have that starts right about the time I have to part with someone I want to see again after our first coffee date (and extends forever from that point). I want to have some idea, so it's not such a distraction.

I probably should have mentioned this in my question, but the only people who I have been getting dating advice from are a generation older than me, and think I've been sensing a disconnect, in a vague and hard-to-pin-down way.
posted by dogcat at 6:17 AM on July 2, 2010


My "trick" as far as first coffee dates goes (where I've never met the person before, usually setup from online dating) is to have an idea for a specific second date in mind before we even meet. Then, if I like the person (and that's a big if!) and the first coffee date goes well, I can end it with "Hey, I'm going to this gallery/movie/show on Thursday night, do you want to come along?". I find this helps to make things non-awkward and helps to get rid of all the ridiculousness around "when you should call" etc.

I usually end first dates with a hug, but if there's sexual chemistry it is important to establish physicality early on through flirtatious touches. There's not much you can do if you're literally just sitting and having coffee with someone, but if you do something after the coffee part (take a walk in the park, go to a museum etc) usually there will be an opportunity to be playful and (ever so slightly) physical—putting your hand momentarily on her back as she walks through a door in front of you for example, or sitting close together on a bench so that your legs ever so slightly touch. It really does not take much, but it's important to set the right tone and to communicate that you're feeling chemistry early on. This makes it far easier and less scary to "make a move" later as well, as (in most cases) you can tell if someone is into you by how they respond to these subtle touches. (The often recommended SIRC guide to flirting discusses this at length)

Regardless though, you need to do what's comfortable for you, and keep in mind that internet fraud detective squad's advice is spot on—if she's into you, it's very difficult to communicate that you like her back "wrong". She's not going to care if you're a little awkward. If she's not into you, there's probably nothing you can do to make her like you, so either way, just be yourself and if it's meant to be, you'll know soon enough. Goodluck!
posted by dyslexictraveler at 7:15 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


1. Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?

Why, I did meet someone on the internet! And we are still dating. I consider our first 3-4 dates to be pretty ideal. Some things that happened: on the first date, rather than staying put at a coffee shop, we set out for a walk. Made it easier to talk, because we didn't have to stare at each other. When he wanted to kiss me, he asked (this was incredibly cute, and also gave me the chance to say no if I wanted to [I didn't]). On subsequent dates, we did different things each time (a movie, a museum, dinner) so we got to see each other in a variety of contexts.

2. What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?

Not always having something to say when a line of conversation has ended. Taking walks while you're talking helps with this, because it's easier to let the silence end naturally if you're doing something. (A museum date is good for this, too.)

3. Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?

I dunno. When I've gone on dates that didn't work, they were mostly painfully obvious to both parties.

4. What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

How much he listened to me. Whether or not he responded within a reasonable amount of time to my emails. How he talked about his friends and his job.

6. What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

The cheek peck is great, so is a quick hug. If you feel you can pull it off, bowing and kissing your date's hand could be really fun. (But that has the potential to come off weird, too.)
posted by ocherdraco at 7:29 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another thought about "date." People often recommend on AskMe to think of the first date as the "zeroth date." If that works for you, great, but I think it's pretty silly. That's implying that you have to reserve the word "date" for some grand event. I prefer to do the opposite: deflate "date." It's just a word. How would you write a dictionary definition for it? Would you say "An enchanted candle-lit dinner where everything goes smoothly and it ends with a perfectly timed kiss?" Nope, that's not real life -- that's how to set up a "date" scene on an SNL skit or something. The way I would define it is: "people socializing with a mutually understood interest in possibly having it lead to something romantic or sexual." If it leads to that, great. But even if it doesn't, you can still see it as an overall positive because you at least got dating experience and had a fun night out.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:34 AM on July 2, 2010


The cheek kiss isn't on your radar because it's more of an East Coast/old school thing. My more midwestern friends never do the cheek kiss. My East Coast guy friends often do.

I think it's OK if you're willing to have her be a bit awkward and maybe miss her cheek and get her hair. There's nothing creepy about it. It's just not done as often there, but I think it's nice. It's good in combination. Cheek kiss, "I'd love to see you again." Also, smell good. If you smell good and she's into you, just getting close enough to kiss her on the cheek will make her YAY YOU SMELL SO GOOD OH MAN YAY.

The end of the first date is always awkward as hell. It just is. I don't know how to make it less awkward. I tend to say "this is awkward". By the second date though we both know we like each other a decent amount (there was a second date, after all) so the physical affection tends to happen during the date itself.

This is why movies can be such good dates even though you don't talk. It's perfect for hand-holding with minimal self consciousness (because you can't see each other!)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:37 AM on July 2, 2010


Here's the first hurdle you have to overcome: stop thinking of dating as some completely new social arena that has a bunch of established rules that you must abide by. People get hung up on the idea of dating and forget that what they're really doing is just spending time and getting to know somebody. If you go into a date with this mindset you're going to be tense and nervous, and that kind of person usually isn't very fun to be around. I'll try to address your questions one by one.

1 - Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?

You and the other person get a feel for each other's personalities and if you like hanging out with each other. You figure out if you're physically attracted to each other, and most likely, have some sort of physical intimacy by date #4.

2 - What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?

Unless you're The Most Interesting Man in the World, there's going to be awkward silences, awkward moments of physical closeness, etc. Awkward moments are going to happen, the important part is to not get so hung up on them that you lose all confidence.

Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?

If a date ends awkwardly, that's usually not a great sign. When I'm on a date and it's going well, I don't want it to end. If your date seems to just fizzle out and it seems like your date can't figure out how to end the night...not a good sign.

What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

I really just use one metric: am I having fun with this person? If you're having fun, there's a really good chance they are having fun as well. Is conversation natural and easy or does it feel forced? Are there any deal-breakers that have come up (common ones can be politics, religion, etc.)

What's your best dating anecdote?

Plead the 5th. :-)

What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

I think a hug is pretty benign and friendly way to end a date. I hug my platonic friends of the opposite sex without it being weird. Why should a date be any different?
---
I hope this helps. I'm not the most experienced dater in the world, but when I was dating I enjoyed myself and for the most part avoided disaster dates. Bottom line is relax and have fun, because that's what dating is supposed to be about.
posted by DrDreidel at 8:22 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been on a few dates, mostly through OKCupid. Man, do I have some stories to tell, but this is not the place for it.

Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?

I second oherdraco's good example of how to do this. I especially like the bit about different outings and will be stealing that in the future.

In a more ephemeral sense than "where do we go", I try to steer or set up my conversations in a way that allows me to get a feeling for what type of person they are during the first few dates. Compassionate, intelligent, and funny are my three most important qualities in another person, so that's what I'm going to be looking for. YMMV.

What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?

Lots of uh, ums, and ahs. Consider it a good sign if a date doesn't have too many awkward silences, consider it a bad sign if this is because either you or your date is acting like they're at a job interview or one of you is monopolizing the entire conversation.

Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working? What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

In the first date, I don't think there's really any "normal" awkwardness that I wouldn't excuse. That said, I would be hesitant to go on a second date if s/he guffawed annoyingly at every single joke I made, was overly sarcastic, mean, bitter, or angry, or showed up drunk.

I touched on what I'm looking for earlier, but I'll reiterate a little bit. Compassionate, intelligent, and funny are my three most important qualities in another person, and so I'm going to be trying to get stories out of them that speak to those qualities. Even ask them, if conversation is flagging, "So, what's the funniest story you've ever had to tell?" or something along those lines.

(It's also nice if you can get an admission that they had a pretty normal childhood out of them, because that acts as sort of a screening out the severely emotionally fucked up who tend to have bad childhoods. Plus, as an adult, one hopes that one's date doesn't blame their parents for everything that's gone wrong in their life.)

Ideally you should know from the conversation whether or not you're compatible.

As for interest, I'd look for physical contact, laughing at your jokes, standing closer than public distance (18-36 inches is the "close personal friend" range, see proxemics), interest in what you're saying even if you're being a little boring, mirroring your body language, casually mentioning future contact... that sort of thing.

What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

Physically, ideally, first date = kiss or hug. If you think she's hot and have made this clear to her (touching her on the arm a lot, laughing at her jokes) you may be able to pull off a kiss. If you're worried about it, you should probably go for the hug.

Do not cheek kiss, unless you're European (or apparently from the East Coast). WTF. I live in Iowa City, Iowa and have for almost my entire life and if someone did that here I would really think either They're not from around here or if I knew they were from around here, Wow, am I sure this guy is straight?
posted by saveyoursanity at 2:27 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few things before I answer your questions:
I feel like my lack of experience and ideas is making it hard for me to be spontaneous and natural.
How are you with other people? Friends? Transfer those experiences over to dating. You may not have experience in dating, but you do in life and with other people.

Can you help me cure some of my ignorance
Hey, you don't have a disease. And there are lot of different ways to learn about any given topic: reading, doing, talking to others, observing… I don't think you're ignorant, but maybe you need to believe in yourself a little more.

I imagine that when many people started dating, they had the benefit of friends and often older siblings to give them advice and guidance
I didn't have this either (I'm female, but were friends with people where talking about dating wasn't a priority). I learned through reading, learning more about myself and what I liked/disliked and believed that I could handle this dating stuff.

1. Date 1: meet for coffee, see if there's chemistry. You're seeing if you like her and she likes you and whether there's enough to meet up again. It's possible that feelings from either party may not be reciprocated, or you mutually feel there isn't chemistry. That's fine.
Date 2: Go see a movie and get something to eat; I think in the daytime works better. If you go in the evening, it feels too formal somehow. YMMV.
Date 3: Another variation on eating, followed by walking around.
Date 4: Go to either person's house. Cuddle on the couch while watching a movie; cook dinner or order in.

Basically, the first date is to meet the person, see if there's enough chemistry for another meeting. The first 3-4 involve variations on eating and walking around (i.e. go to your favourite place, or hers, or try out a new place) with maybe a movie or other event (that you or she wants to see) thrown in. Whenever you feel it's comfortable, you can invite her over, or maybe she'll ask if you want to go to her place. You can set a date for her to come over, or you can invite her while you're on the date ("It's a little chilly, do you want to go to my place and I'll make you my/your favourite tea?" or something like that).

2. There will be awkwardness as you're getting to know each other and get used to each other. You won't always know what the person prefers or likes. For example, you might offer to pay the bill, but she wants to split it; that can create an awkward moment but it may not necessarily be bad. It's a way to learn more about someone.

3. As you're getting to know each other, you find out something about her that you really dislike. E.g. maybe she's just too negative. Realizing that and not being able to say "Wow you're really negative" because you're a more tactful person than me may create an awkward moment in that you don't know how to deal with a particular comment, or what to expect next in this emerging pattern you're seeing.

4. This is going to be different for everyone, but for me, I'm looking for similar values, outlooks, experiences, to see if they get what I'm saying. Similarly, I'm looking to see if I can relate to what they're saying, and their experiences.

5. Dating can be fun because it's fun to meet new people and get to know them. It can be annoying if you don't know where you stand with that person and you don't appreciate unreturned calls. It can be a little contrived too. Books I think you'll like: 1, 2.

6. Hug, as in the small embrace kind of way, but not the kind where you press yourself super close together.
posted by foxjacket at 5:32 PM on July 3, 2010


I'm posting a little late, but I thought this was a good post and the answers have all been really helpful. Not sure how much I'm adding to the fray, but here's my opinion.

1. Lets say you meet someone on the internet and start dating. You're interested in them. In an ideal world, what would you like to happen on the first 3-4 dates?

First date, just coffee or a beer. Just to see if there's starter chemistry. Second/third dates can consist of dinner or walking around town or a more active date like hiking if you're both comfortable with that. Fourth date...at this point, it doesn't matter, but I like to establish physical intimacy by this point. Doesn't mean sex, but physical chemistry is important.


2. What are some examples of normal kinds of awkwardness that you've experienced in the early dates of a successful relationship?

Awkward silences, miscommunication. Just don't do what I sometimes do...which is to blurt out that I'm an awkward person. Duh, they already understood that, I didn't have to point it out! Oh, well.

3. Also in your experience, what kinds of awkwardness subtly signal that it just isn't working?

If there are many many awkward silences. If you find yourself being really bored and you're actually yawning more than two or three times in the span of ten minutes. It was really that bad, I was trying to hide it but my body was rebelling or something. I also have gone out with (different person than the boring person) who obviously didn't have a sense of humor...I mean, he thought I was funny, but reminded me so much of Dwight Schrute from The Office.

It's different for every situation and pair of people, but in my experience, they were early signals.


4. What are you looking for to judge compatibility and interest?

I have no trouble deciphering physical attraction, it's physical proximity and the way their eyes and faces relax and how at ease they are. There's more, but I can process it intuitively. Mental/emotional attraction is harder for me to discern. Obviously if you're on a date with them they were interested in you to some extent. Humor, intelligence, sincerity, and emotional stability are all important. Oh, and no meanness. Compliments are a good gauge, but then again, it's not a guarantee--some people can throw them around like Hersey's kisses but I can't do it unless I'm being honest and even then, I won't just say it out of the blue, there has to be the right moment/context for it.

5. What's your best dating anecdote?

My best date was definitely with my ex from college, we're still good friends. Our first date was right before college started and he moved in to town a few days before school. We got sandwiches at a local deli and ate them on the steps of the local courthouse overlooking a park(we live in a small college type town, it wasn't sketchy or busy on the steps). It was 70 degrees F and the sky didn't have a single cloud and there was a breeze going through the willow trees around us. Afterwards we went to watch...I'm pretty sure it was Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and then we walked while holding hands back to his apartment to just hang out. It doesn't sound like much, but it was so fun. I've had more humiliating and funny and exciting dates, but this one was perfect. I met him in one of my lab classes, so it wasn't as a result of online dating, though.


6. What's a classy way to part ways if you feel it's not time for a kiss?

Hmm...there's nothing wrong with a hug. I usually like to go for a hug or a nice, firm handshake (I'm a girl, by the way...the firm handshake shows that my short stature is not to be trifled with) when I'm meeting someone. As for a sendoff, like I said...hug is good. But if the date went well and I'm attracted to the guy and there's an obvious mutual attraction, a kiss is fantastic. Ironically, the best first date I can think of is with a guy who was like at least a foot taller than me, he leaned in, and gave me a fantastic kiss. I wonder what happened to him?


Hope that helped and was not too long-winded!
posted by skybluesky at 10:17 PM on November 28, 2010


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