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12/16/2013

Here's One For The Ladies...

Hi ladies.  We need to talk.

I gotta tell ya gals, I've been single for a bit now.  I've tried various methods of meeting single women, and I've had more than my fair share of first dates.  In most cases, it simply boils down to a matter of chemistry (or lack thereof). 

But I've noticed some very alarming trends with a lot of you out there.  It used to be the minority.  But it seems to becoming more and more prevalent out there, and it's time to address some things with you all.

First off, disclaimer.

I consider myself a nice guy.  I appreciate family, education, honesty, and would like to think I can be funny.  I'm also insanely loyal.  Moreover, I'm not the average jerk who's just looking to get laid. 

Having said that, in spite of what I think are some pretty good qualities, a lot of you have treated me like some second-rate citizen, either before or after meeting.  I know dating is tricky, and I can understand that because of the enormous number of assholes out there, you might be a little gun shy about opening up to someone even if they do seem like a decent human being.

But that doesn't excuse you from basic human decency.  Especially if you really are dealing with a good person.  So, here are some basic tips for dealing with a nice guy.

  • Be honest.  You don't have to pour your soul on the table, but don't hold your cards so close to the vest that the other person doesn't even know if you're aware of what cards you have.  I'm not saying to give yourself away at all, but if you get the impression either before or after meeting a guy that it's not gonna work out, say so.  We're adults.  Personally, I get it if there's no spark.  And I would honestly say that it's about a 50/50 break on how many times I've been on the receiving end of that talk or the initiator.  Don't drag things out.  Just be genuine.  Don't fabricate stories or make up excuses.  Just be honest.  You didn't feel a connection.  You're not ready to date again.  You've met someone else.  These are all valid.  If you're dealing with a mature man, he'll get it.  He may get bummed out (I do sometimes), but he won't try to force it.

  • Keep an open mind.  I've had people cut things off before meeting.  And sometimes that's alright.  If you've talked over the phone a few times and you don't feel there's anything there, then be polite and honest.  But if you barely know this person, give it a chance.  Seriously.  I had someone pull this with me one time, and I questioned it.  She ultimately admitted she had met someone (this ties into what I said about being honest), which is a different story.  And I told her so.  But had she simply stuck to her original line, I really would have questioned it.  I wouldn't have fought her on it, but I would have made it clear that I don't get it.

  • Communicate.  This one is baffling.  I don't get why some people are adverse to communicating.  We live in a society where we have thousands of ways to reach out to one another.  I get that we're busy adults.  We have careers, personal lives, interests, etc.  But it takes two seconds to send a text.  Two.  If I write you to ask how your evening is going, don't wait until the next morning to write back.  Unless you see it very late and don't want to wake me up, just write back whenever you can.  If you disregard my attempt to reach out to you for that long, you're disregarding my interest in you.  What does that say about you?  As a person, as a woman.  Women wonder why they get bad reputations sometimes.  It's shit like this, ladies.  Straight up. 

  • Don't become a ghost.  Quick story.  I was supposed to meet someone for a first date.  We'd been communicating for nearly a month, and we were looking forward to it.  However, the weather was less than friendly, so we had to cancel and reschedule.  But before that could happen, this girl went dead silent.  Everything changed.  Short answers.  No affection in the communication.  And eventually, no communication.  I don't know what changed, because I didn't do anything.  And if I did, she didn't say a word to indicate that something was amiss.  Remember what I said about communication?  About being honest?  Consider this a dotted line to those bullets.  Do you want to know how you look when you suddenly just "shut off" like that?  Not good.  You look like an ice queen.  Or a coward.  Maybe even dishonest.  Before you go all monastic with the silent treatment, ask yourself if you want to look like any of those things.  You pull this stunt, and I guarantee you will have guys thinking they know exactly why you're single.

  • Give and take.  This is just a rule of thumb.  It has to be balanced.  Remember that there is another person at the table with you on that first date.  That person also has interests, hopes, dreams, and stories to share.  Don't monopolize the discussion.  A few years back, I went on a first date with a girl; drinks only.  I kid you not when I tell you that this girl had more stories than Aesop.  Every story had a subplot.  Every subplot required exposition.  That exposition led to another story.  She dominated 85 percent of the conversation.  There was a point where I had to go to the bathroom.  Bad.  Cross your legs bad.  I couldn't find a way to interrupt her verbal onslaught without being a jerk.  I waited 15 minutes (I'm not exaggerating) for her to complete this never ending story (cue the song) before I could finally excuse myself.  It ranked in the top five pees I've ever taken in my life.  Look, we all have lives and tales to spin.  But don't make it all about you.  Make sure it's justly laid out and not one-sided.  Show a guy that you actually care about things like his career, his family, his interests, and you'll be more likely to become one of his interests. 

  • Be sure you're ready.  This is for those of you who are coming off a recent split.  Either a long-term relationship, or a divorce.  Heartache sucks.  We all know that.  Especially if the last person was incredibly difficult.  And there's no timetable on how long it takes to get "well enough" to throw your name back in the dating hat again.  So for God's sake, take your time.  Don't force it.  Reconnect with the people in your life first and foremost; your family and friends.  Be with them, get your head on straight, and if you need professional counseling to get through the hard times, there is zero shame in that.  An objective third party helps a lot.  There are bound to be conflicting emotions of a wide variety swimming through your head and through your heart.  It's OK, really.  Take care of them before you prepare to mingle again.  Rebounds do not work.  If it's been a month after a two or three-year relationship detonated in your face, you probably shouldn't be on match.com.  Take some time and figure things out.  Then, when you're comfortable, get back out there if you see fit.  You'll be less likely to find yourself in another complicated situation, and much less likely to impact an innocent bystander just looking to meet a nice girl.

  • Know what you want.  Take stock of your values.  Does religion matter to you?  Do you want a family?  Are you willing to move?  Would you change careers if necessary?  These are all valid questions that you should ask yourself.  And y'know something?  Whatever your answers may be, they're right.  It's your life.  You have every right to feel the way you do about the things you want.  Unless you're completely out there and insist on working in a traveling sideshow or something bizarre, there is no wrong answer to any of the above.  Just be aware of how those answers might affect your ability to meet and be with another person.  But know them going in so the risk of surprises and misunderstandings is minimized.  You'll avert disaster every time.  Promise. 

  • Be guarded, but don't be in a shell.  Like I said, it's OK to be cautious.  Guys are jerks.  We've all been burned.  So don't go bearing your soul off the bat.  But don't keep your guard up so high that the guy you're with can't see your face.  If a guy thinks you're not willing to open up after a reasonable amount of time, he's gonna try harder to get you to open up.  Guaranteed.  Sooner or later, you have to.  Because if not, problems are going to emerge in one way, shape or form.  And if a guy thinks you're "turtling up" way too much, there's gonna come a point where he considers leaving you that way, because there's little he can do.  And if he does, I'm sorry, but it's on you.

  • Don't be cold.  Seriously gals, do not be frosty when you're dealing with a guy.  Short, one-word texts, snarky responses, dodging questions, all of this adds up.  And all of it is unappealing.  For the love of Christ, show some warmth once in a while.  Throw in a smiley face, an exclamation point, a friendly comment.  If a month has gone by and things are going well, take initiative once in a while.  I'm not saying cook a three-course meal or something like that.  Once in a while, you be the one to say good morning.  You be the one to say "I miss you," or "have a great day."  Show a guy you care.  Show him you're interested.  Show him his efforts to get to know you and make you happy are appreciated.  It'll go a long way.

  • Don't be hyper-aggressive.  This is in contract to my previous statement.  There's a happy medium here.  If you're too forward, a guy will definitely run.  I went on a first date a few years ago that was pleasant.  Attractive girl, good conversation, things were looking decent.  I go to the bathroom.  She texts me from the bar, and says, "I like you," punctuating the statement with a smiley face.  How am I supposed to react to that having spent a mere two hours in this girl's company?  It's one thing to like someone, it's another to come on too strong.  When I got back to my seat, she asked me if I got her text.  I'm not making this up.  This was just too much.  There was no second date, and I was polite, but honest in explaining why I didn't want to see her again.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be careful about what you're willing to share.

  • Don't be a social media crybaby.  I've seen some girls on Facebook who constantly bemoan their lot in life.  Or they post these cryptic messages about trusting other people, or how happy they are, etc., etc., ad infinitum.  Girls, here's a tip: keep your private stuff private.  If you're not willing to spill your guts to a total stranger, don't spill them all over social media, either.  Say you meet a nice dude.  You go out a few times and become Facebook friends.  If he sees you're forever posting this kinda stuff, he's going to start wondering two things: 1. How stable is this girl?  And 2. How long before I become the subject of one of these posts?  You're only as good as how you're willing to portray yourself.  So don't pin the blame on everyone else and don't go sounding off like that every other day.  Massive turn-off.

  • Be mindful of how you represent yourself.  Selfies.  Gang signs.  Duck faces.  Red Solo cups.  Scantily clad photos.  If your match.com profile or Facebook page has nothing but the above images plastered all over the place, it is a turn-off for a nice guy.  Maybe you'll attract some juiced up meathead with a million dollar body and a ten cent mind who's just looking for something quick and easy.  If that's what you want, fine, I guess.  But if you're serious about attracting a nice guy with values and ethics, think twice before you post all those pics from your Vegas trip with the girls.  And if every pic is taken from an upward angle looking straight down at your well-displayed cleavage, guys are gonna make assumptions.  Just or not, they will.  Oh, and please smile.  A permanent puss is such a turn-off, no matter how "sexy" you think it looks.  (And if you're wondering why I put that in quotation marks, just stop reading right now.)

  • Be mindful of the fact you're dealing with another person.  This is the golden rule, plain and simple.  Unless a guy proves himself to be an outright piece of garbage, don't treat him like an afterthought.  For that matter, don't treat any decent human being like an afterthought.  Karma exists.  It'll come around and bite you in the ass sooner or later.  Here's a little tip about nice guys: they have hearts.  Some are sensitive.  Don't treat him any differently than you would like to be treated, no matter what the situation.

And if you really want to know what a nice guy is looking for, I'll tell you.

A warm personality.  Strength.  An open mind.  A love of family.  A sense of humor.  Self-respect.  Dignity.  Honesty.  Loyalty.  The willingness to compromise.  And maybe a dash of affection from time to time. 

If I'm looking at a match.com profile, I take notice of a girl who smiles.  Maybe she posts some pictures of her and her girlfriends, but there are also shots of her with her family.  Parents, nieces, nephews, hell, even pets.  I like it if she has more than a paragraph written about herself and what she's looking for.  I like it if she's a little goofy in some of her pics; no one wants someone to take themselves too seriously.  These are the facts.

Remember gals, it's a big world out there, and there are lots of fish in the sea.  But despite the metaphor, that doesn't mean you should treat them as a fisherman would by gutting them or throwing them aside if they don't fit the bill.  Treat a man with respect, and he will respect you, even if it doesn't work out. 

When in doubt, ask yourself, "how would I want to be treated?"  Be fair, be genuine, and don't play games.  Because when you fail to meet any of the above bullets, you're officially doing just that, whether you realize it or not.  It doesn't look good, ladies.  Never. 

And before you go trampling us with that one big unified chorus of "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," hold back on your battle cry and remember that a guy will gladly put a ring on it if he feels you're the right match for him.  Trust me.  I'm all for feminist beliefs and empowering women, but that does not equate to diminishing men. 

So please, be thoughtful.  Show us you deserve to be cared for, and wooed, and above all else, loved.  Because many of you do.  But if you put the wrong message out there, it's going to be a while before your single days are a thing of the past.  And I'm sorry, but that's no fault of mine.

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