Thursday, September 17, 2009

The (Sort-Of-But-Not-Really) Dating Game

In college, my best male friend (who doesn't read my blog, so he'll have no idea I'm talking about him) often accused me of not knowing how to "play the game." Yeah, you know the game - the dating one.

Quick overview: I haven't seriously dated anyone for more than three & a half years, not since my Epic Life Fail of Early 2006, a nightmarish era during which I alienated my boyfriend AND all of my friends in one fell swoop. (I've since reacquired the latter, thankfully.) Since then, I've dabbled in dating, but nothing worth talking about. I've been on a few stray dates & even technically "dated" someone for a whopping six months, though it was not particularly serious or successful (er, clearly).

As a result, I often claim that "I don't date," which is, I've noticed, a line that a number of single twentysomethings use as a thinly veiled defense mechanism for explaining away loneliness & incompatibility. In many ways, though, it's true about me. I'm not interested in going on dates, per se. In fact, I despise the stilted discomfort of going on actual dates, of having to prove myself. And I am distrusting of other people's intentions. Oh, & also, I can be pretty horrifically awkward.

My friend is right: Even when I know the rules, I often consciously neglect to abide by them. I don't like the rules of the game, so I just don't play it at all. In fact, while thinking about this recently, I Googled "rules of dating" & subsequently came up with the most archaic, offensive dating website in existence; I've selected a few gems of advice to berate for your entertainment. Your equally scathing input is, of course, greatly appreciated.
  1. Always look great, whatever your income. ["Easier said than done," you're grumbling? Pshaw. You need lipstick more than you need groceries. Forgo the copay at that doctor's appointment & get your hair did instead.]

  2. Never reveal information you don't have to. An enigmatic woman drives men wild. [Better yet, just become a mannequin. Then you never have to say anything at all. What's more enigmatic than that?]

  3. Keep dates brief, but your men interested. Less is always more. [Do not make attempts to spend time with the people you like. Less is particularly more when it comes to your own happiness. Wait. What?]

  4. Try & stay in shape & involve some fitness regime at a gym. However much you hate it, your Mr. Right loves your body as much as your mind. [In short, chubby chicks are doomed.]

  5. Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab. [I ain't sayin' she's a golddigger...]

  6. Ensure you receive flowers. If he doesn't know what a florist is, dump him. [Best case scenario? Date a florist! Whoever first said "It's the thought that counts" was probably some broke bastard!]

  7. Never, ever sleep with a guy until he has fallen for you. Sex early in your dating game plan will ruin everything. [Oh, hey, double standards are my favorite!]

  8. Always keep a guy waiting & never turn up early. [OK, I like this one. But only because I'm always late & it's nice to be given an excuse for it. "I didn't miss the bus, I'm just playing hard to get."]

  9. Never be at the end of a phone when he calls & always let him leave a message or two first before replying. [Communication is overrated. In the ideal situation, you are a deaf-mute. Men love deaf-mutes. Also, mannequins.]

  10. If he is available Tuesday, you are available Thursday. [Note to self: Pencil "mental manipulation" into my calendar.]

  11. Keep your man standing on quicksand by shifting landmarks & goalposts constantly. [I actually have no idea what this means. I don't even have any snark available. Hold, please...]

  12. Ensure you are a good kisser. Men will walk away if you cannot kiss. Practice on a mirror if you have to. [Better yet, pull a "Cruel Intentions" & practice on Sarah Michelle Gellar! Or some uglier female friend, if you absolutely must or if you can't get yesterday's gloss off your mirror.]

  13. Your ex-boyfriends are your business only. [So I shouldn't tell people that I have a dead one?]

  14. Never talk too much about your father. [I have a dead one of those, too. I'm on a roll! Aw, shoot, I'm gonna be hard-up for conversation...]

  15. Never, ever come across as too available or too desperate. He will run a mile. He is the one doing the chasing. [Never go for what you want.]

  16. If the guy in the corner is gorgeous, go get him & create the need in him for you. [Always go for what you want.]

  17. [When engaging in online dating,] post the best and most vampish photo you can find. [This piece of advice also applies if you're trying to advertise your night escort services or are a 15-year-old Myspace junkie.]

  18. Don't reply to instant messages with clever opening lines. [Oh, God. Capital offense. Whatever you do, DON'T BE CLEVER!]

  19. Make sure your humor levels come across in text. [Unless your sense of humor is of the clever variety, in which case HIDE IT AT ALL COSTS.]

  20. Come across as cool & sophisticated for best results. [This final vague piece of "advice" is my favorite. Would that we all could be cool & sophisticated, right? If I came off as cool & sophisticated all the time, I wouldn't have to Google my bullshit dating tips.]
OK, we can probably all agree that these are not the actual rules, whatever they may really be. The actual rules are largely unspoken & involve things like not being the one to send the Facebook friend request and the first contact message. The real rules involve things like "Don't text more than you speak," "Kiss sober sometimes," "Twitter is not a viable or acceptable form of primary dating communication," & "Stop being interested in guys who have girlfriends."

Needless to say, the real rules are as easily broken as the fake ones...
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