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Dating Advice from Someone Who Doesn’t Date

July 29, 2013

So apparently having an email temper tantrum, evidenced by typing much of it in ALL CAPS, qualifies one to be a dating/hookup advice columnist. I base this shameless generalization on the fact that Rebecca Martinson, she of viral sorority-sister-shaming fame, has an advice column on dating and mating on that sagacious and eloquent font of courting wisdom,

No, I am not going to do a full-on, curmudgeonly deconstruction of what I think sucks about her advice on getting dudes to text you the day after a date or mate, because my basic position on that game is that either the other person likes you and wants to get to know you better or doesn’t, and that if it’s the latter, there isn’t fuck-all you can do to get them* to change their mind. 

*Just before we go on here, I would like to make clear to my fellow prescriptivist linguists in the audience that I am perfectly well aware that using “they,” “their,” and “them” as singular third-person pronouns is currently frowned upon by 99.99999999 etc. % of English teachers. However, at one point back in Ye Olden Dayes, using the third-person plural pronoun as a gender-neutral singular pronoun was perfectly acceptable, and for very good reason: other constructions in use (e.g., s/he, he/she, xe, etc.) suck more dick than a Republican congressman fighting for “traditional” marriage. So I am here adopting colloquial usage with the hope that in this, language will prove cyclical, and we’ll once again see the gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun that everyone knows and loves welcomed home from academic exile.**

**Also, if anyone knows of a way to create linkable footnotes in WordPress, that’d be awesome. For me. But probably not my readers, because then I could really go all David Foster Wallace on your asses. 

So why bring Rebecca Martinson up at all if I’m not going to thrash her the way she thrashed her onetime sorority sisters for not putting out enough? Why (she answered rhetorically), to prove that if this chick can offer tips on navigating the sex and relationships bullshit, anyone can! 

I’d say I’ve got at least as many qualifications as Martinson. Babies have been born and entered kindergarten since the last time I went out on a first date. And if we’re talking about dates as occasions on which you and a romantic partner go out together and enjoy each other’s company, babies have been born and are now being potty-trained since the last time I had an encounter that met all criteria, including the “enjoying each other’s company” one!

So without further ado, here are some pointers based on my personal experience with dating that give you enough information to infer why I have not done so recently and would like to never do so again.

1. Arrange your own transportation.

Never, ever, EVER (see, again I prove I have just as many qualifications as a snitty sorority sister!) allow your date to pick you up or drop you off at your home. Cars are a really awkward place to make conversation, and you don’t want your date to know where you live if they assume that things are going better than you think they are. So make sure to meet them at the location of your choice (see below for what a good choice constitutes in my world) and bring enough cash or change to take public transit back if that’s what you took to get there. Even if taking public transit can lead to its own set of circumstances in which a prospective suitor thinks things are going swimmingly and you feel like you’re drowning

2. Meet at a coffee shop.

Coffee dates are great! If Cupid hits the both of you, the coffee shop is almost certainly located near a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, whatever where you can continue making eyes until you make out. If Cupid fired but managed to strike gold on a Republican Congressman standing next to a big bruiser at a urinal, well, it’ll only take you five minutes to gulp down the coffee, and then you can look at your watch and exclaim, “Oh, I just remembered! I have to wax my ingrown toe hairs tonight!” and make a hasty exit. 

3. Have a backup plan arranged.

Some guys and gals are better at picking up hints than others, and if you happen to have arranged a date with the one who responds to your getaway attempt by whipping out a half-used candle and saying, “It just so happens I have a waxing kit on me!” and winking, you’re going to need reinforcements. Make sure you have these lined up. If you’ve got friends who have plenty of good books and/or an interest in collecting awful dating stories for their blog about why they’ve chosen to be single for possibly the rest of their lives, have one of ’em agree to be your “chaperone” and come rescue you after a prearranged signal.

If America’s Got Talent or Dexter happens to be on the night of your date, compromise by getting them to call you at a certain time. Ignore the call if you and your date are getting as steamy as Mr. Sanctity of Marriage and Bubba the Bruiser; hang up with an exclamation of, “I have to go. My mom’s on fire!” if not. 

If you’re pathetic and have no friends and that’s why you’re trying to fill the void by dating, use an alarm on your phone. The iPhone has you use a ringtone as your alarm sound, and as long as you set it for a random-seeming time (times ending with a 2 or 3 are better than those ending with a multiple of 5) and use a fairly common ringtone, no one will know the difference if you wind up being just as lonely and pathetic as before but at least having dignity and standards.

4. Be Yourself.

I picked up my favorite dating expert Rachel Greenwald’s advice book while at the library the other day. It hurt my stomach so much just browsing the first chapters that I couldn’t even bear the thought of checking it out for research purposes, because it was basically an extended, print version of her ulcer-inducing video series: try to make yourself seem like a flowery, feminine princess who wants to bear your date’s babies. But don’t be too boring in your conformity, tee-hee!

Yeah. I say fuck that. It may have been a while since I’ve been on a date, but I can tell you that all of the men who have dated and wanted to continue dating me never got the wussy-ass trial version with all the bugs and glitches carefully screened out. 

Nope. The only difference I made from my normal behavior was that I tried not to fart too loudly while indoors. Otherwise, they saw the jeans-and-hiking-shoes-wearing, makeup-free version who would happily start a debate and/or tirade about religion, politics, baby-hatred, or sex, and in spite of (because of?) that lack of give-a-fuck, they still called or texted back. Might not have been the next day, but more often than not, I’d soon get a text saying, “Hey this is [dude] from [whenever the date was]. Had a good time, wanted to know if ur up for more.” Sometimes I was, most times I wasn’t, but suffice to say that my charming personality wasn’t the bro repellant Greenwald and Martinson would expect it to be. 

5. It’s okay to text the next day.

Yeah, guys are “supposed” to wait three days before texting or calling. And girls “aren’t supposed” to text or call at all. Again, I say fuck that. If you enjoyed the date, send them a text later: “Had a great time. Let’s do it again.” [add emoticons and exclamation points as you will]. You can then follow it up the next day: “Wanna go out again?” If they don’t respond to either one, assume they’re not interested and go back to the dating site of your choice, rinse, and repeat. If they do respond, and positively, they’re grateful that you took the initiative. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship, hopefully one that ends without one of you gingerly applying Neosporin to your exit passageway while your political career burns just as ferociously around you, you flaming hypocrite.

Actually, now that I look this over, I might very well have compelled myself to date again, if only because giving people unsolicited advice is awesome! So go ahead and give me a text or call, Cosmo, Marie Claire, YourTango, BroBible, or seddit. I’ll get back to you in a maximum of three days, sooner depending on the size of the check, I promise. 



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  1. You really should put yourself out there, if for no other reason than to see how your advice or advice from others works in real world applications. I for one am glad to not be dating in this day of constant communication. I used to have to ignore the phone ringing even before caller id if I went on a date that was unpleasant and didn’t want to have to talk to the loon again (I know, be a fucking man, right?). Now these singles have to worry about when to change a FB relationship status or know when it’s ok to send naked body part pics, etc. Too much for me.

    • Gee, Don, you sure are heavily invested in me getting back on the market! :p Actually, I have considered going on dates for pure scientific inquiry before. I already know enough to answer the “when it’s okay to send naked body part pictures” question already–as Anthony Weiner proved, NEVER! Otherwise, it’s just as much of a mystery to me, and my inner sociologist is a little curious to see how it would go.

      Oh, and being a fucking man is overrated. Of course, so is being a woman, so I’ve got no help on that one. I do know, though, that it’s usually best to ignore the crazies as much as possible. They’ll take anything, even, “I’ve constructed an electrified moat filled with sharks around my house. I’m also working on a way to tase people on my blocked-call list via phone if they try to call again. LEAVE ME ALONE!” as encouragement. :/

  2. I completely agree coffee shops are best. If the vibe is good you can continue things over dinner or drinks…and if there’s no chemistry you can walk away with relatively little awkwardness. I’ve been locked into too many dinner dates where I knew there would be no chemistry after the first second…and sometimes you really don’t want to be committed for an hour and a half! And I also learned it’s best not to drink too much when you first meet someone…you may end up thinking you like them more than you actually do!

    • Ix-nay on the drinking and dating (although some of my first dates have gone so well, I’ve contemplated mixing the two)! I remember one guy in college who wanted to date a friend of mine, but he was so nervous before their “date” (actually just an informal get-together at another friend’s party) that he got totally plastered, realized how bad an impression he was giving, and tried to apologize by stealing some of his roommate’s Xbox games and throwing them in a pile on the floor. And he didn’t seem to realize that all of us were gently saying, “Sweetie, we don’t even have an Xbox.” So yeah. Coffee all the way.

  3. Oh girl, you always make me laugh! “Suck more dick than a Republican congressman fighting for “traditional” marriage.” Bahahaha. And the rant about singular third-person pronouns was awesome. The advice is sound – you should totally have a column : )

    • Why, thank you! Now, how to pitch this to a women’s magazine in such a way that they won’t notice that some of my head shots make me look like a cantankerous English teacher… hmmm.

  4. As usual loved IT. And fell out laughing lol LOL .. I am just about ready to put myself back out on the market and will remember your tips . And? Will probably busy out laughing while ON the dates as I recall your tips ! So my dates will probably think I find their jokes hilarious .. Lets just hope they’re not saying something serious when I begin to laugh my fanny off

    • Well, let’s just hope you don’t take a page out of my book and somehow only wind up on dates with guys who have nothing resembling a sense of humor! Although you’ll probably just encourage them, since they’ll likely look at you all misty-eyed at the end of the night and say, “No one’s ever laughed at my jokes before!” And then if you two hit it off, I can take credit for giving really amazing first-date advice. 😉

      • Total deal-breaker right out of the gate is someone with little to no sense of humor..I care less how HOT they are; thats an instant turn off for me..And trust and believe if NO one’s ever laughed at someone’s jokes; I probably won’t either. Can you imagine life without a sense of humor??? Just thinking that gives me the chills..I don’t ever want to know what that feels like

      • I have met guys who take everything very, very seriously. I don’t know how they get out of bed in the morning! I hope you don’t encounter any of them in your journey through the obstacle course known as dating; even if the date only lasts five minutes, it will be the longest five minutes of your life.

      • UGH…Guess what? I will NOT last even five minutes through a date like that…In my most polite , sweet voice(comes naturally…) I’ll say I’ve got an urgent matter to take care of..I’ll say I was beckoned by my muted cell phone..And then I’ll haul-ass out of there before he can ask IF I’ll call him later..As IF. OMG when I think of things like that, those type of funky encounters, it makes me realize this could BE a daunting task..And I don’t want it to be a task! I want it to be what it should be fun and enlightening..Maybe even meet a couple new friends along the way that aren’t a complete match to be my, The One..I tell you one thing I’m going to have fun whether they like it or not. Lollll oh the things I’m going to be able to blog about! Jaded to already be thinking of that part..But since I’ve been blogging everything is subject to wind up as a blog topic

      • Well, I’ll be living vicariously through your blog, then! And I hope you do have fun and don’t run into my humorless exes on your dates!

        It’s funny you should mention turning it into a task. For me, dating someone, especially someone I’d only had online contact with, was ALWAYS a task. I suspect a lot of it has to do with my introverted streak–I can only be around even my closest friends for so long before I need a break, even if that’s just five minutes hunching over my phone so I can read FML. Being in “performance mode” for strangers (i.e., making conversation about things that aren’t related to Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, sociolinguistics, road maps, meteorology, skiing, fourteeners, or anything else that could be deemed “weird”) drains me the way being in roaming mode drains a cell phone battery. Hence why I would rather read about your experiences than have any of my own!

      • Nothing is “weird” when around the right people or person..But I hear ‘ya loud and clear..It can often be tough to just “BE” ; around others..For some it can be stressful wondering what others think of them; what they say or do..I think one of the most lovely things about being 50? (and even the past couple years before I made 50..) I just don’t give a hot dang anymore what other folks truly think of me! And I really mean that..BUT I used to. I also used to be a very, very big people-pleaser..And now? I still love to treat my loved ones & friends like gold; but now I’ve learned the first person I have to please is me. Being a people pleaser used to DRAIN me like I-don’t-know-what..

        As for when I start dating again..Which I have to admit I can hardly WAIT(and if it weren’t for surgery next week I’d start NOW) because I’m just going to have fun regardless if my dates I think are princes turn out to be frogs or not..One thing I can admit to? I’ve always been pretty comfy on dates..Always. I don’t “pretend” I don’t like to eat food either LOL I can’t tell you how many guy friends have remarked how fake they think that is..and are glad to see a woman who doesn’t “act” like she doesn’t like food. I love good food and I will eat in front of a date..(I do however choose not to eat fried foods often at all; nor do I eat pork often at all; and I will NOT eat in a restaurant that I either can’t smell good food or that is dirty…so yep I can be a bit picky; but I will stilll EAT)

        Have you ever thought or tried double dating with a good girlfriend? That way IF your date turns out to be a boring no-humor type of guy; can always resort to chatting it up with your girlfriend..Just a thought.

        Now IF I run into a humorless dude I’m going to immediately think about YOU. Lollll

      • Yeah, I would not want to contemplate returning to the dating scene with an upcoming surgery! Actually, when I did have surgery, I found it hard to concentrate on anything except my own mortality, which I’m sure made me a general font of fun for about a week.

        I have gone on double-dates before, although not as first dates. Personally, I like to always have an escape plan for just about every scenario in life, and it’s easier to bail on one person than three. But it’s an option I might consider IF (and boy, does that word ever need to be in 150-point font) I ever do try dating again. Of course, if I’m already going out with friends, the date seems somewhat redundant to me. I’m already on the town with people I enjoy. Why would I want to feel it necessary to restrict myself when I clearly have people with whom I can indulge my desire to take in a little nightlife?

        But if you do run into those humorless guys and think of me, just keep the phrase, “I’m not laughing AT you, I’m laughing WITH…ah, screw it. You weren’t even in my thoughts at all!” on hand.

      • Not contemplating dating till after surgery..My first ever surgery is this coming Monday..Mortality isn’t my main concern; for I’m prayed UP. What is my concern is the level of pain I’ll face post-surgery(and how my body will re-act sans ovaries) To distract myself from such thoughts; I’ve planned on my return to dating! And by September post-surgery/post-recovery I’ll be ready..I’m a planner for sure 🙂 And planning for lovely things is a wonderful thing. I’m a bit excited about returning to dating..Its a must for me because I just wasn’t born to not be part of a love union..Though I can respect those folks who don’t choose that path..And I’ll certainly remember the WITH phrase about laughing..Lol, lol! Hoping I don’t run into that scenario though. It would be a first if I do…

      • If your surgery experience is anything like mine, you’ll spend the first few hours after surgery high on the remaining anesthesia, convinced that you are one tough mother for not feeling any pain. Then when it all wears off, you’ll be sobbing into your pillow as you yell at the Vicoden for not kicking in fast enough. As for your body’s further reactions, all I have to go on is my mom’s reaction to a full hysterectomy and oopherectomy, and all I can say about that is my mom was nuts, but she was nuts before the surgery, so I guess there’s a good chance you’ll be the same as always?

        Either way, keep thinking about dating, if that’s what’s helping! You’ll definitely find someone awesome!

      • I always dig you words..You’re a straight shooter & I for one can/do appreciate that…Guess what??? Amazing as it sounds(and probably far-fetched) I ran smack into someone on HERE (WordPress) last night that just(and I mean just days ago..) had the very same surgery..She wrote about it in detail! And she was walking the very next day..She explained in depth how she felt right after and for the next few days..Wow, huh? After reading her words I feel relieved..Doubled with my prayers(and prayers of countless family/friends from coast to coast and even your words I feel much better..It will all be just fine..

        And yep, future dating is one of the “happy” thoughts that will be on my mind Monday..I’ve got a list of happy thoughts to take me into a euphoric mental state.of mind for surgery..I’m looking forward to being the same as always post-surgery..A little zany/plenty of sunshine/tad squeamish/full of love/lust for life/full of laugher/pinch of human fragility/but always uniquely real. That would be me. Thank you for caring enough to respond about this. Matters to me..Hugs!

      • Oh and I re-blogged ‘herstory’ last night to maybe help someone else as her words helped me..

  5. Have to say for #3, it’s just better to be direct. Saying, “Thank you for meeting with me but I don’t think this is going to work out for me. Have a great night.” and exit stage left. Works better than trying to be subtle and spare feelings.

    • Yeah, I’d say “be direct” for about 90% of cases, but I’ve used the indirect route in fear of the other 10. Not only have I had guys completely blow off the “I’m not interested” line as though I’d never opened my mouth, I had one who reacted in a spectacular manner when I finally said it enough for it to sink in through his thick skull. Had we been speaking in public rather than online, it would have attracted quite the crowd. Frankly, there’s a large reason I don’t want children–I can’t deal with public temper tantrums. So when I did date, I made up stories about having a ton of homework or needing to call some relative who wasn’t feeling well so that I wouldn’t risk getting an earful about how I was “a lying [insert sexist epithet of choice here]” or a “cock tease” or “totally wasting [his] time” after our fifteen-minute coffee date, etc. The direct route is an awesome way of getting things done for the guys who aren’t complete dickwaffles; I just have enough awareness of my own social awkwardness that I don’t really feel like drawing any more attention to myself in public than I have to.

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