Things to Avoid

How to be sure the real you is not some creepy stranger.

by Frank Morgan

Looking back at the last couple of articles I wrote, I got a bit sidetracked. I’d originally started this thing as a way to sort of offer my perspective on dating, love, romance, etc. And as an excuse to tell a few funny stories. I figured I’d go into beauty, women’s first move, mild dating advice and see where things went. Right about the time I planned on doing the advice thing, I had a hilariously terrifying evening that I wanted to write about. Then I got sidetracked by pickup artistry. Now that I have those out of my system, I think I should get back to what I set out to write. I’ll try not to ramble too far.

I’ll assume that you’ve had some experience dating. As I’ve said before, a date’s just a chance to get to know someone, maybe do something interesting. So I’m going to skip all the drunken hookups, awkward introductions, online setups, smoke signals or however you met Mr. or Ms. Hypothetical Date. I’ll also assume that you managed to get past the first couple phone calls/texts without any creepy breathing, prank calls or fake numbers. So now you’re trying to figure out what to do.

A date isn’t a date unless something happens. It could be a walk on a beach, an overpriced, dimly-lit meal, a pretentiously subtitled movie, anything really. After a few conversations, you should have a halfway decent idea for something you both can have fun doing. If not, movies and dinners are a pretty safe bet. Try to avoid religious functions or anything overtly political. Unless you both like arguing or agree on hot-button issues and spirituality, it’s not good to start a relationship on an argument.

Another thing to avoid are crutches — alcohol, spending more money than you own, fake accents (even if they work). All these things are fine in small doses, but relying on them for every date will end badly. I love chemical romances as much as the next person, but having a date who’s always shithoused gets old fast. The problem I found with all those little dating crutches is they became habits. The habits became things I hid behind out of fear I wasn’t interesting/ruggedly manly enough for whoever I was dating. It got to the point I couldn’t see people without that little safety blanket. If you aren’t comfortable enough to date a person without outside help, it ain’t gonna work. I’m not saying that a funny joke or a glass of wine is dating kryptonite, but being unable to date without them is. Sooner or later your personality’s going to slip out. Don’t make the real you some creepy stranger.

The other stuff is pretty obvious. Body language is important, so don’t fidget so hard. No creepy stalker jokes until after the fourth date, unless s/he likes your sense of humor. Don’t take a vegan for veal (trust me on that one). Remember to relax. You’re here to have a good time, maybe even romance it up a little. The more stuff you try to control, the worse it’ll turn out. One of the best dates I ever had was a complete disaster. We went to a restaurant that was supposed to be amazing, only to find it closed. Then we got lost in a terrible part of town, finally found a restaurant. It catered to a post-retirement crowd, so we ate geriatric food and boiled meat. Eventually we wandered into a random bar because we heard live music. The music ended up being rockabilly covers of 80’s hair metal, which was the saving grace of the entire evening. We laughed at ourselves the entire time, ended up having a blast.

So, as I sit here, listening to Iron Maiden (don’t you dare tell me Maiden’s not romantic), the best advice I can give about dating is to relax. Unless your date’s attracted to anger management issues or inventive cussing, freaking out won’t fix anything. You’re here to have fun with a person; they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t at least mildly interested in you. Don’t rely too much on good luck charms or massive amounts of somewhat-legal chemicals, unless that’s your thing. And, if it is, well, knock yourself out.

Someday, Frank will find someone who thinks Iron Maiden’s romantic.

Indoor Boys

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