Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let's Play Matchmaker

The biggest hurdle sites like face is that people have an incentive to paint an overly favorable picture of themselves. You’ll get fewer responses if you mention you have a fear of commitment, but it’s harder to find other people who have trouble settling down when you can’t advertise that facet of your personality.

Because of this, we’d like to try a matchmaking experiment in the DC area. It works like this: you email in your responses to the ten questions below (to, and we’ll match you up with someone we think you’d like.

1.     Do you have any post-secondary degrees (i.e., anything higher than high school diploma)? If so, from where and in what subject(s)?
2.     Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
3.     If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you spend your days doing?
4.     Describe your most recent relationship.
5.     What are you looking for in a partner?
6.     Why have your last three relationships failed?
7.     What are you most proud of?
8.     If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
9.     What could you spend all day talking about?
10. What could you spend all day listening to?
11. Anything else you want us to know?

Entries will remain strictly anonymous, but if you’re super paranoid you can send in the first round of responses from a fake email address. If we think you’d make a good match, we’ll ask you for a picture. Neither the picture nor your answers will be shared with the person we match you up with. We’ll e-troduce you (awww) and leave it up to you guys to schedule the first date. After the first date, we’ll ask you to send us a write-up of how the date went (what worked and what didn’t) and whether or not you’d see the person again (and why). No write-ups will be published, but we may use some of your insights in an upcoming post, but any identifying details will be disguised beyond recognition (if you want proof, ask our friends, whose love lives we’ve been writing about for more than a year now).

The more brutally honest you are, the easier it’ll be to match you up (and remember—no one else is going to see your responses).

For the time being, we’re going to limit entries to the DC area (sorry Bmore).

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why Two Dates Aren't Always Better Than One

When two 20-somethings go on a first date, it’s probably safe to assume that one or both parties has other similar outings lined up for later in the week.

After all, the vast majority of first dates won’t work out, and you’d be crazy to cancel on that guy you met at kickball just because your friend’s cousin finally asked you out, and you’d be just as crazy to say no to the cousin just because you’ve been on two dates with the kickball guy, who, now that you think about it, is 27 and still interning on the hill.

There’s nothing morally reprehensible, or skanky, or even just icky about dating multiple people at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with giving a guy your number when you’ve been on a few great dates with a guy from OK Cupid.

If you put yourself out of commission any time a new guy comes up, you might give up a lot for a guy you could lose interest in after a few more dates.

It only becomes an issue after you hit that murky double-digit date mark where you don’t want to DTR, but you’re thinking this is headed toward exclusivity. You hope he’s not seeing anyone else, but you’re not sure, and the impulse to ask is getting harder and harder to ignore.

There are all kinds of ways to overcome this urge to launch into a “where-is-this-going” conversation, which, as we’ve discussed, is a bad idea.

But one of the worst solutions is filling up your free nights with more dates.

It’s not because it’s unfair to the guy or unladylike—it’s because it’s unhealthy for you.

When you’re seeing someone you like and filling your social calendar with guys who asked for your number, you’re using these dates as a way to protect yourself if it doesn’t work out with the guy you like.

Rejection stings each and every time it happens, but when you try to preemptively ease the pain by giving yourself more than enough backup options, what you’re really doing is curing rejection with validation from other people.

The problem with this remedy is that it makes you dependant on what other people think of you. You can’t be happy unless someone else likes you, which is a really inefficient way to find personal satisfaction/contentment. If you can’t feel good about yourself unless someone else is showering you with compliments, you’re going to waste so much time seeking out people who otherwise wouldn’t be worth it.

When your sense of self-worth relies on other people, you’re setting yourself up for unhappiness. People flake out for no reason and lose interest over things you can’t control. The more weight you put on their validation, the bigger the letdown.

When you deliberately line up other dates when things are going well with another guy, you’re also setting yourself up for bad dating habits.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t go out with a friend of a friend that you’ve met a few times, who seems really great, and who you think might be a better match than your current prospect.

But when you’re handing out your number to anyone who asks and getting drinks with guys who set off warning bells before they even ask you out, you’re establishing a pattern of behavior that sets relationships up to fail. You’re learning to keep your distance, sneak around behind someone’s back,  and stay as far away from monogamy as possible.

We should say that most women don’t have this problem—if anything, some could use a lesson in not getting attached at the drop of a hat.

But for the rest of us, successful relationships usually don’t come from keeping as many options on the table as possible.

And if you stop relying on other people to tell you how great you are, rejection won’t sting as much in the first place.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Romance for Less

One of our astute readers sent in this money-saving tip for those of you who like the paid dating sites.

This reader’s account had expired, and she was trying to unsubscribe to sing up for a different website. Unsubscribing was a multistep process, and when she got to the end, they offered her the option to resubscribe for 50% off.

So if your match (or any other account) is about to expire and you do want to keep your account, it’s cheaper to pretend that you don’t, go through the process of unsubscribing, and then resubscribing at the end when you get the 50% discount.

Or, if you want to try out a site for the first time, it might be worth it to sign up for one month, try to unsubscribe at the end, and use the 50% discount to snag the 6-month subscription for less.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday News Roundup: Background Checks and Online Dating

While this article had a few good tips on safety (like always meeting first dates in public), but for the most part it felt like sensationalized nightly news, painting the world as a much more dangerous place than it actually is.

Yes, some people on these sites might have spouses, or criminal records, or dangerous intentions, but so do people that you meet at coffeeshops, bars, night classes, work, even house parties.

We seem to have this idea that rapists and criminals are drawn to the internet. It is, after all, easy to hide behind an assumed identity when you can post whatever picture you want, but it’s equally as easy to lie in person. Sure, you can’t fake your weight or age when you’re having a face-to-face conversation, but when was the last time you asked for ID when a guy gave you his name?

People you meet at bars have no incentive to disclose a criminal record, and just because someone said it to your face doesn’t mean it’s true.

The fact is, rape wasn’t invented by the internet, and you’re at just as much risk when you go around meeting people in “real” life too.

Unfortunately, this article provides no numbers, and it doesn’t seem like there’s been extensive research comparing criminals who target dating sites instead of deserted alleys, but we’d bet that the percentages are about the same, if not lower in favor of online dating. If there’s anything CSI’s taught us, it’s that a lot of criminals get their kicks from the challenges.

But the main issue with this article is that it fails to discuss the biggest potential hurdle for these companies that offer background checks on online users, which is that they rely on accurate information. If you want a background check on SurfBoy212, you’d need his full name and date of birth. But if someone’s trying to conceal a criminal history, he’s probably not going to offer up honest answers to your inquiries.

Even if they’re not trying to hide anything, how are you going to go about obtaining a DOB? It reminds us of the date-rape kit David Cross always carries:

That’s not to say that you should have to feel embarrassed/apologetic about looking out for your safety, but the main issue is that you’d probably have to be upfront about it to get the correct information. This probably isn’t going to create the most favorable impression for your date, which again, would be OK if the results would be accurate.

But because a guy with something to hide is probably going to lie in the first place, you’re risking a lot for a very unlikely payoff. The fact is, you never know when someone’s telling you the truth, and if meeting guys in real life gives you a false sense of security, that’s probably more dangerous than skeptically online dating.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Having "The Talk"

Sometimes, starting a new relationship can be more frustrating than perpetual singledom.

Obsession climbs to new heights, and so much feels open to interpretation. Is he seeing other people? Should you be? When is he going to start calling you his girlfriend? Should you ask?

We’ll address dtr (defining the relationship) first.

Simply put, it’s never something you should bring up. Nothing’s less sexy than starting a conversation with, “We need to talk…”

The problem with dtr is that it makes you look insecure and needy, like you can’t be happy or satisfied until you have a label. Who would you rather spend time with—a guy who’s cool and funny and laid back, or a guy who asks you to be his girlfriend on the first date?

And at the end of the day, a label means nothing. He could call you his girlfriend and spend his business trips macking on everything with a vagina, or he could insist that you go out to dinner with five of his friends before he’s started using titles.

The way he acts is much more important, and if he’s taking you out, calling to check in, and doing things that make you happy, it’s heading in the right direction.

And whenever one person tries to dtr, it automatically gives the other person the upper hand. The person looking for a title is going to seem more invested, more eager, and more interested in the other person. Why not give yourself the upper hand by waiting for him to initiate the proceedings?

OK, you say, but what if he’s seeing other people?

This is a very distinct possibility, especially at the beginning of a relationship. If he’s dating, it probably means he’s trying to meet as many women as possible, because most relationships don’t work out.

At a certain point, monogamy becomes the expectation, but that point is different for every person. You probably have crossovers you wouldn’t like to admit to in your past, but having a conversation isn’t the solution.

If he’s still seeing other people 6 months in, it’s probably not because you didn’t have “the talk”—it’s because he’s probably not that interested in monogamy in the first place. And a guy who’s still dating after half a year probably isn’t acting like your boyfriend or inviting you home to meet his parents.

That’s why it all goes back to actions. If he’s behaving in a manner that’s deserving of your affections, return his calls and accept his invitations. If he’s not, stop making plans with him.

And if you really want him to start calling you his girlfriend, the best thing you can do is act like he’s not your boyfriend. Introduce him to people as your “friend.” Don’t let your friends say, “I’ve heard so much about you.” Let him jump in and say, “Actually, I’m her boyfriend” or confront you about it later.

It might be that the dtr conversation hasn’t even crossed his mind. But when you do things like call him “my friend Derrick,” you’re forcing him to think about the issue.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You always find something when you’re not looking

When people are in the mood to dish out dating advice, many love to say, “You always find something when you’re not looking.”

The implication is that relationships only come along when you’re so frustrated that you stop looking, like the universe is taking pity on you or something. And the “advice,” if it can even be called that, is what—to stop looking for a relationship?

This relationship platitude is kind of like saying, “When you lose something, it’s always in the last place you look.” It sounds right until you think about it for .2 milliseconds, and then you realize this gives you nothing and you’d be better off burying a statue of Saint Francis upside-down in the backyard.

“You always find something when you’re not looking” also has some ring of truth to it—you’re more likely to find a relationship when you’re not spending 12 hours a day on—but it’s not because you’ve stopped looking.

The people who seem most attractive to members of the opposite (or same) sex are those who seem happy, well-adjusted, confident, and, most important—busy. When someone seems like she has a full and exciting life, other people want to be part of it.

When you “stop looking” (which we would translate as “stop looking desperate”), you’re sending these kinds of signals. Your life seems so cool and interesting that you’re not going to drop everything to look for a boyfriend, and that’s precisely why guys are going to want to be yours.

So the trick isn’t to stop looking; it’s to make it seem as though you’re not looking. To project a persona that seems too awesome to settle for just anyone, and to market your life as something that everyone should want.

This means not skipping your yoga class for a date with a guy you met at Russia House. It means not showing up for singles mixers (do they even exist anymore?) and not begging your friends to set you up.

It means building a life that’s totally fulfilling without a better half. And when one comes along, it means making sure he knows he’s not the center of your universe.

Side note: we’re doing some transpacific traveling from now until the new year, so apologies in advance if we’re not posting as much as you’d like. We’ll be back to our regular schedule as soon as we recover from our NYE hangovers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Survey the District: Online Dating Advice?

Today's question comes from one of our male readers (sorry if the picture was misleading for some of you).


Been searching for best way to meet new people for dating online. But is seems like there are so many losers out there and I just don' know where to start.

I've checked into dating sites like but they really don't seem to work that well.

What's your experience been. Any suggestion would be most appreciated.

Our regular readers know we’ve always been advocates of free dating sites.

The problem with Match, eHaromny, and other subscription sites is that, by requiring users to pay in, they attract people who are both so desperate to find someone that they’ll drop cash on the promise of potentially meeting someone they might like, and also more interested in cashing in their investment.

On the paid dating sites, everyone knows what you’re there for, and people are looking to make the most if it before their subscriptions expire.

This encourages unattractive behavior. People have an incentive to move fast, and, because they’ve paid money, they feel like they’re owed something.

On free dating sites, you’re more likely to get people who are just curious, testing the waters, and not overly committed to finding The One in cyberspace.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that users on the free sites will be more datable or desirable, but it does mean they’ll probably interact in a different manner. Their profile’s not going away if they forget to pay, so there’s no need to message you back immediately. They don’t need to arrange dates that week because they’re not even sure if this is the answer in the first place.

But it is important to realize that your zip code is probably the biggest factor in the success (or failure) in your foray into online dating.

If you live in a large metropolitan area, you’re going to find more potential matches than you will in a rural area. A bigger population means more options, whether you’re going to house parties or browsing the internet.

But why are you so quick to label other users as “losers?” In most cities, there’s actually a high percentage of “normal” people who have jobs, hobbies, lives, and, in some cases, dignity, that prevent them from attending singles mixers or hiring a matchmaker.

Diving into the online dating pool usually requires an open mind—after all, those of us who grew up with the internet were always taught to be on the lookout for pedophiles and other dangerous criminals lurking behind a mask of deception and online anonymity. 

You have to get past that, and realize that most of the people who sign up for these sites are probably more like you—looking to meet someone, but not interested in dropping everything for your search.

Online dating’s biggest selling point is convenience—it’s easier than getting set up and there’s a bigger selection than you’d find at a random bar (and meeting people in bars is a terrible idea to begin with).

Simply put, our advice is to sign up for a few free websites and see how it goes. Message a few women and go out on a few dates. If it’s not for you, it’s not the end of the world. But we bet you’ll find it’s way easier than calling that girl your mother’s been talking up for years.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why We’re Just Not That Into He’s Just Not That Into You

We spend a lot of time throwing quick punches at the book all women were reading 5 years ago, He’s Just Not That Into You.

Today, we thought we’d finally explain why we don’t like this book, and why we think it does more harm than good.

Our problem isn’t with the message, which is, in its most condensed form, is basically this: if he’s not actively trying to make you his girlfriend, he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend.

That’s solid advice—too many of us spend hours obsessing about what a text means, trying to explain away the fact that he isn’t calling, texting, or telling you he wants to get serious. Sometimes we are wasting our time and energy on people who, for whatever reason, are never going to change their minds.

The problem is that this is where the message stops. He’s not into you, so get over it and move on to someone who is. And, most importantly, it’s not you—it’s him.

This isn’t always true. Sometimes it is you. Sometimes you’re clingy, or text too often, or talk about your ex, or tell him you’re on a diet, or engage in a variety of other behaviors that don’t reflect the awesome, amazing, self-confident person that you are.

HJNTIY would say, “Fuck him—wait for a guy who loves your neuroses!”

That’s certainly one solution, but a better one might be to behave in a manner that’s attractive to men. To make yourself less available. To project a friendly, confident, and independent personality. To make a guy work for your affection.

There’s definitely a point where you need to forget him and move on. But HJNTIY focuses exclusively on this point—not the before and after, which are usually the more important parts. The before is your chance to seduce, and the after is usually easier said than done. If getting over a crush were as easy as saying, “Oh well, he’s just not that into me!”, Facebook wouldn’t have expanded beyond Harvard.

It’s easy to obsess and hard to break the habit. It’s easy (once you know what you’re looking for) to figure out when a guy isn’t interested. But it’s much harder to avoid having to give yourself the HJNTIY pep talk in the first place.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Dating

One of our friends is going on a holiday dating hiatus. She’s locked her OK Cupid account until New Year’s and she’s postponing dates until after the ball drops.

When she first mentioned this to us, we were skeptical. It seemed arbitrary, and arbitrary rules are never the best way to make the most of a dating scene.

But then she explained her rationale. Holidays come with certain expectations for couples: awkward office parties, gift exchanges, dinner with his family. It’s tricky enough when you’ve been dating for a while, but when you’re still in the getting to know you stages, it can put a lot of pressure on both people (and the relationship).

Should he invite you to the holiday party? And if he does, how will he introduce you to his boss? Does he need to buy you a present? Are you going to buy him one? If he brings you home, will his mom get off his case? Will it freak you out if he asks?

If you meet a great guy at your friend’s ugly Christmas sweat party, we’re not saying you should tell him to call you after New Year’s.

But, if you’re like most people, this is probably the busiest time of your year. So if he calls you for a second date and you have to finish shopping, don’t be afraid to say so.

Don’t feel like you need to squeeze in too many first dates with a new person. If you space out your dates, there won’t be any ambiguity. He won’t show up with a gift, and you won’t obsess over what you need to get him.   

Friday, December 3, 2010

Making a Guy Jealous (Part III)

We spent the last two days talking about bringing up other guys in the presence of a potential partner, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the other side of the issue: what to do if a guy brings up his ex/other girls in front of you.

It’s a little more cut and dry, but if you’re seeing a guy, and he brings up a girl, it’s generally pretty bad news.

Let’s say, for example, that the guy you’re dating casually mentions going to a club with his friends last weekend and the hot girls who are “all over him.”

This is totally disrespectful, and while you might think you’ll look cool and nonchalant if you don’t make a big deal of it, you’ll also look like you don’t have a lot of self-respect.

He might not be testing you, but your response does reveal how much he can get away with. Don’t laugh or play along or point out his total lack of manners—change the subject as quickly as you can, but, more importantly, unless he goes out of his way to make up for this gaffe, you should probably write this guy off.

When you first start seeing someone, it’s unrealistic to expect him to stop looking immediately. But when he goes out of his way to bring up his extra-curricular activities, he’s basically bragging about being an asshole, and if he’s doing that on the first or second date, you don’t wanna see what he’s like 6 months from now.

Ex-girlfriends are a different story. Yes, it’s tacky and bad manners to bring them up, especially in front of a new girl, but the intent is usually far from malicious in situations like this.

If a guy spent three years with a girl, he’s probably going to have a lot of anecdotes that start with, “My ex…”

And while you might be too savvy to make this mistake, he might honestly not realize there’s anything wrong with talking about a person who was a huge part of his life for a time.

If he’s bringing her up every five minutes or giving you the impression that he’s still totally in love with her, that’s one thing, but if he’s just mentioning her off-hand, you just need to take control of the conversation and remove her completely.

If he says, “Yeah, my ex turned me on to 30 Rock,” get off the topic of Liz Lemon immediately—say something like, “Yeah, did you hear about her lifetime achievement award thing at the Kennedy Center?”

Don’t let him get into a conversation about her—you don’t have to be rude or abrupt about it, and don’t say anything like, “Let’s not talk about your ex,” just ask him a question that takes the conversation in a totally different direction.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making a Guy Jealous (Part II)

Yesterday we talked about why it’s a bad idea to bring up an ex/other guys to make a new guy jealous.

But casually mentioning other men in your life can be advantageous when you’re unequivocally dating, although we’re still not advocating using it to inspire jealousy.

Let’s say you want him to come to something with you—your office Christmas party. He kind of balks at the idea and seems totally uninterested. You could nag, but it’s better to say something like, “It’s fine—I can just bring this guy Jeff.” When he asks who Jeff is (or even if he doesn’t), you say something like, “Oh, he’s just this guy I went out with a few times last summer—it’s OK, I’m totally not interested in him in that way, although I wish he would get the hint, but he’s a really cool guy and I’ve been meaning to hang out with him.”

You need to establish that this guy wants you, but totally desexualize the relationship on your end (i.e., assuring him that you’re in no way interested). That way, it looks like you’re going out of your way to prevent jealousy (because there’s no way you’d initiate anything with Jeff!), but you’re still allowing your S.O. to imagine the possibilities of you spending the evening with a guy who has the hots for you.

If you are going to evoke competition, you have to make it seem like you’re going out of your way to do exactly the opposite. If you say, “Fine, I’ll go with Jeff—we’re totally into each other!” it makes you look petty, spiteful, and overly dramatic. The trick is to present it as something that seems like the perfect solution—Jeff is totally in love with you, so of course he’ll go, but don’t worry, you have absolutely zero interest in him, so nothing will happen. Everyone wins!

Or let’s say you’ve been wanting him to take you to Komi, but he won’t take the hint. Say something like, “My friend Jeff’s taking me to Komi on Friday—I’m so excited, because I’ve been really wanting to go but it’s wayyyy too expensive for me to pay my own way, but I need some guy advice. A few months ago, he told me that he was in love with me—he’s really awesome and cute, but I just don’t think of him in that way, and I told him, but I think he still thinks there’s a chance—am I leading him on if I go? I mean, I’m totally, 100 percent, not interested, but I know he won’t let me pay because he knows that’s like the easiest way to make a girl stick around—Oh, you didn’t know that? Yeah, paying for girls is like the easiest way to have her eating out of the palm of your hand—not that I’m saying you should do it with me—I like not being totally under a guy’s spell.”

This looks totally innocent—after all, you’re just asking for advice, and he’s being paranoid if he thinks you’re going to end up at Jeff’s place at the end of the night—how many times have you told your S.O. that you don’t think of this totally sweet, cute, amazing guy Jeff in that way!

But if the issue is that he’s not calling, flaking out, whatever, you need to appear unavailable and uninterested. That means you shouldn’t even be in enough contact with him to drop other guys’ names.

Let’s say he invited you to dinner on Saturday, but texted you at 3 p.m. to say that the restaurant lost the reservation and suggest just coming over to his place instead. You could either 1) head to his apartment and keep saying, “Wow, my ex used to take me to such great dinners!” while you’re making out on his couch or 2) say, “Ah no problem—let’s try for sometime next week!”

The problem with the first scenario is that, no matter how subtle you think you’re being, it’s not working. He’s either missing the point or totally turned off by how obvious you’re being—he gets it, you want dinner, but you’re giving him what he wants and he didn’t have to drop 80 bucks, so all he has to do is ignore your whining.

And Jeff won’t work in this scenario, because neither of you is committed enough for it to be an issue. If you’ve only been on a few dates, and he seems like he wants to keep things casual, it’ll look weird if you start talking about Jeff. He has no right to care if you’re dating other people, and rubbing it in his face makes you look a little skanky. And you don’t know him well enough to be asking him “guy” advice, and even if you did, his reaction probably wouldn’t be, “Wow, I need to take her to Komi,” it would be more like, “Wow, doesn’t she have someone else to ask about this?”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making a Guy Jealous (Part I)

Dear Date the District,

Do you think there’s an advantage to talking about dudes/exes to make a guy jealous?

First, we’d like to commend this reader on her brevity (not that we don’t love those of you who write in with page-long questions).

And then we’d like to dash her dreams of one-stop seduction with a resounding and unequivocal no.

It sounds so good in theory! How many times have you seen your cute coworker chatting up the girl from accounting and spent the next two hours plotting new and improved ways to get there first? Can’t you use that to put him in the same mindset?

 Here’s the thing: when it comes to crushes, guys can be a little more practical. That’s not to say that they don’t pine over one-true loves or spend hours looking at their exes’ Facebook photos, but if they haven’t made an investment, they’re more likely to abort mission if you seem taken.

Girls are more likely to develop crushes and obsess, spending hours trying to analyze what that nod at happy hour meant, why he asked them about their plans for New Year’s. Once the train leaves the station, it’s not going to stop, and it becomes really hard, if not impossible, to hit the brakes on those feelings.   

Guys, on the other hand, usually don’t spend as much time fantasizing about their 60th wedding anniversary—they’re more interested in the here and now. If a girl’s cute and she’s single, great! If she’s cute and she’s taken, it’s easier for guys to nip a crush in the bud before he gets attached.

If you try to bring up potential competition too early on (e.g., before he’s even asked you out), you could scare him off—not because he’ll assume you’re not interested, but because he realizes the odds are not in his favor.

This doesn’t mean you should make yourself seem available—definitely don’t bring up the fact that you’re single, looking, whatever. He probably won’t assume there’s a boyfriend if you don’t mention one, so there’s no need to reassure him that he’s on the right track.

If you drop masculine names, you also run the risk of looking too focused on finding a relationship. We’ve already talked about why using the term “ex-boyfriend” isn’t buying you anything, but there’s also the fact that the most attractive people are the ones who seem totally self-sufficient, satisfied with their lives, and over any past relationships.

When you start hinting at guy friends in what you want him to think is coded language, you’re opening yourself up to interpretations that aren’t conducive to great relationships.

For starters, you’re basically inviting him to assume that you’re dating other people.

Yes, it’s probably advantageous for most single 20-somethings to be dating several people at once if the opportunities present themselves. But drawing attention to your jam-packed dating schedule is more sleazy than sexy. We hate to have to drop this line again, but it’s the whole lady-in-the-street-freak-in-the-bed thing.

If you take it back to biology, it’s really important for men to find faithful partners because that’s the only way they can be sure to pass on their genes (when a woman sleeps around, she still knows she’s the mother of her child). There’s obviously more to it than that, but the bottom line is that most men aren’t looking for women who seem promiscuous (regardless of how committed they might be to their own promiscuity).

So when you mention your trip to the movies with your friend who just happens to be named Adam, you’re implicitly giving him the go-ahead to keep things casual (and a lot of guys are looking for any invitation to do just that), and you’re also drawing attention to your own lack of innocence, which, as unfair as it may be, makes you seem less desirable.

The bottom line is, if he finds you attractive, he’s probably going to assume that other guys do too. Reminding him that your powers of seduction work on other people does more harm than good.

That being said, there is a but. After you’ve established a relationship (i.e., you’re officially “dating”), it can be advantageous to mention other men—as long as you take steps to desexualize it. More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Vague Date

Sometimes you make plans with a guy that require a follow-up. Maybe he says, “Let’s get dinner Thursday,” but he doesn’t specify the time or the place.

Thursday rolls around and he still hasn’t contacted you to set the locale or tell you what time. And then it’s 6 p.m. and you still haven’t heard from him.

Now you’re faced with a dilemma: if he calls you at 7 and suggests meeting up at 8, you’re going to look pretty available/fine with being dicked around if you show up. But, on the other hand, he did make plans ahead of time, and maybe you do kind of like him, so your gut is telling you to show up anyway.

One of our friends handles this by texting the guy at noon to say something like, “I’m trying to plan my night. Where/when are we meeting?” This way she avoids 7 p.m.-bind, gets a date, and escapes with her dignity intact.

At the risk of sounding like our least favorite dating book (He’s Just Not That Into You), if he wants to see you, he’ll go out of his way to solidify the plans. When you hit it off with a girl on your kickball team, you don’t invite her to your birthday dinner and then “forget” to tell her where it is. It’s the same with a guy: if he really wants to see you, you won’t be in 7-p.m.-panic mode, because he’ll have called you the night before to tell you he’ll pick you up at your place.

It’s easy to blame these problems on social incompetence. After all, we tell ourselves, guys aren’t good at this stuff.

It’s true that guys can be totally spacey, forgetful, and bad with social conventions that come much more naturally to girls. But this is rarely going to prevent them from making a first (or second, or third) date. If anything, the more “awkward” guys are going to be even more forward in the beginning.

Someone you know (possibly even you) has probably been in a serious relationship with someone who, from an outsider’s perspective, seemed a little lacking in social graces. But think about how he was at the beginning. He probably seemed weird because he was too forward, called too often, tried to make too many dates.

So if he hasn’t given you any concrete details by 7 p.m., there’s something wrong, and it doesn’t bode well for your future together.

But when he does call, you don’t want to say something like, “Well, I didn’t hear from you, so I made other plans.”

This makes it look like 1) you were waiting around for his phone call but too afraid to call him and 2) you have certain “rules,” i.e., he has to set a meeting time at least 24 hours in advance.

This isn’t what you want either—the message you’re trying to send is, “I’m too in-demand to pencil an asshole into my calendar.”

The easiest way to say this is to realize that a guy who hasn’t checked in before 7 p.m. isn’t getting the pleasure of your company that night, and he needs to make a huge gesture if he wants you to agree to a more specific date in the future.

The best way to say that is something like this, “Crap, I’m actually really tired/busy/dying to go to a yoga class—could we reschedule for another night?”

Let him propose the make-up date, and remember that it’s not your job to explain how dating works. Don’t say, “Next time, give me more of a heads up” or anything else that betrays the fact that he’s the reason you’re canceling.

If he’s smart, he’ll figure it out on his own. If he’s not, he’s not worth your time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meeting the Family

The holidays can be hard enough when you’re dealing with your own family, but the Thanksgiving/Christmas vacation sometimes provides an (unwelcome) opportunity to finally meet your boyfriend’s family.

So what should you do if his mother asks you to come to Christmas dinner? Or if you’re bringing him home, and you want him to make a good first impression?

1. Don’t show up empty-handed. Nothing makes a more favorable first impression than a present. Bare minimum is a nice-ish bottle of wine (plan to spend at least $30, brands like Yellow Tale are off-limits). If you’re going to be staying for more than just dinner (or if you just really want to kiss some ass), bring something else too.

You never want your host to feel obligated to serve whatever you bring, so don’t bring something like a fresh-baked apple pie (or really anything ready-to-eat), especially if you’re just staying for dinner. If you show up with a green bean casserole that won’t last more than 24 hours, your boyfriend’s mom is going to feel like she has to put it on the table. But what if she made a green bean casserole herself? She either has to serve both (which means the guests are going to compare and her offering will be found either superior or lacking—both of which are equally unappealing) or skip hers.

(Along the same lines, throw the bottle of wine in a nice bag so that the family doesn’t feel like they have to open it (although, in most cases, they probably will).)

But wait, you say, I make this amazing tiramisu brownie sundae that there’s no way my boyfriend’s mom is planning on serving! Doesn’t matter—it might not go with her menu, or Grandpa Nelson might be deathly allergic to chocolate. A food offering adds stress to an already stressful occasion for the hosts, so even if you’ve competed on Top Chef, no bringing perishables unless you’re asked.

Chocolates or, if you’re traveling, regional specialties from your home state, are OK as long as they’re gift-wrapped and clearly not meant for immediate consumption. Maple Syrup for New Englanders, cheese for French people, whatever.

But ask your S.O. for suggestions—unusual board games can make a great gift for some families, especially around the holidays when we’re desperate for entertainment that can appeal to three or four generations.

Don’t make it too personal—or too extravagant. No fancy picture frames, no jewelry, no candles you’ve been meaning to regift. Try to find something that the whole family can use.

If you’re really stuck, you can always bring a nice bouquet of flowers.

2. Ask questions. If you’re meeting his family for the first time (or even if you’re tight with his family but taking the plunge with the aunts and uncles), you might feel like you need to tell them your life story, to sell them on how wonderful you are. You don’t.

You’ll actually make a much better impression if you try to get to know them. Chances are, your boyfriend’s given them the low-down on your education level and current career. No one cares what you do on a day-to-day basis, and no one wants an hour-long rendition of the summer you spent backpacking through Thailand. If they want specifics, like what your parents do for a living, they’ll ask. If they don’t, you’re better off charming them by showing them how fascinating you find them. Ask cousin Suzy about her college applications, get his mom to tell you about her degree in art history. It’s flattering when people take a genuine interest in you, and once you’ve flattered them, they’re more likely to remember you favorably.

3. Don’t dominate the conversation. You may be the novelty at this year’s table, but the family still has traditions and catching up to do. Go with the flow, and remember that you’re there for decorative purposes. Sure, they invited you for a reason, but their holiday comes first. The more you smile and stay out of the way, the less you disrupt them.

Holidays are a chance for people to wax nostalgic, to celebrate the one thing that stays the same no matter how many new wrinkles each guest brings. Even if it’s fucked up, there’s comfort in the fact that nothing’s getting better, and the more you shake things up, the less your presence will be appreciated.

4. Send a thank you card. Yes, it might feel old-fashioned, but no one’s going to be upset/offended if you don’t send one, and everyone will be, at the very least, flattered if you do.

This means snail-mail—even if the invite came electronically. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dangerous Dates?

One of our friends recently met a guy on OK Cupid. For their first date, he suggested dinner, which went well. He mentioned hiking a few times throughout the evening, and at the end he suggested they go for a hike the following weekend.

Our friend didn’t think anything of it, but when she mentioned it to her mother a few days later, her mom freaked. Meeting a guy from the internet in the woods?? To her, it sounded like the intro to a Dateline special.

While it’s always better to err on the safe side, hiking with a guy you met on probably carries about the same risks as with a guy you met in a bar.

A friend of a friend has the advantage of being, at least minimally, vetted, but don’t statistics show that women have a higher chance of being raped by someone they actually know? And if sensational news is any indication, serial killers succeed because they’re always the man that no one suggests.

We’re not saying you should put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation just because you’re fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t. And if a guy suggests meeting in an abandoned parking lot for your first date, there’s no reason to go.

But if you’ve met him, and you’re comfortable, the fact that you met him online doesn’t have to factor in to your decision.

Like we’ve mentioned before, online dating sites don’t really differ that much from Adams Morgan. If you’re single, you’re there for a reason. It’s like getting set up by a computer instead of a friend, but when you combine sex with the internet, people get scared.

Some creeps show up in your real life, and some drop $100 to post a profile on All forms of dating involve weeding out the people that don’t meet your standards, and while the internet’s wider selection might mean a higher number of weirdos, proportionally, it’s probably about the same.

But for whatever reason, spending an afternoon with a guy that we met at a bar seems safer to some people than going out with a guy who messaged you online.

It’s not. If you’re getting bad vibes, that’s one thing, but the amount of information you can garner from one dance-floor makeout is probably less than what you’d get from reading his OK Cupid profile. So, in some ways, you know more about IrishCutie23 than you do about the guy who’s saved in your phone as “Dave Front Page guy.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Survey the District: How Can I Make Concrete Plans?

Dear Date the District,

I met a friend of a friend a couple of weeks ago, and he invited me to his birthday party the night after we met. I was tentative about being able to make it, so I told him I was busy. He fell of the face of the earth for a few days, and then the next Saturday around 5, told me he was going to a specific bar that night, and wanting to know if I had plans. A friend of mine from college was in town, and I had plans with her. Again, we texted back and forth a bit. Fast forward to this Friday, and I get a text from him in the afternoon, asking what I'm up to that night. I told him I was going out with co-workers and where we'd be, also asking what he's up to that night. No response, but text again this morning, saying he fell asleep early but he's going out to Fenway tonight and to let him know if I wanted to meet up for a drink. I suggested a bar, since I was going to a party there later that night, and he wrote back saying that he has to be in Fenway for a friend's birthday so he can't come to Cambridge. And then I ended up saying that I'm probably not going out because my dinner plans were running late and I'm kind of tired, and we texted back and forth again a bit. The past few weeks, our text conversations ended with things like "yes, let's hang out next week" but not this time, instead talking about something about our mutual friend.

So the real dilemma is that this has turned into this stalemate, with neither of us wanting to budge--I don't really like playing by his "you can come meet me where I am" rules, and the lack of notice. I feel slightly awkward going to a bar and meeting all his friends (since I'd have to gather a bunch of my friends too, which is not that easy to do on like 4 hours notice). I'm pretty busy, and I don't want him to think that I don't want to hang out with him, and I don't like feeling guilty about having to constantly say no, but I'm not really sure how to express this to him. Really--I'd just want to get coffee and chat with him for an hour. Should I just suggest that outright? Thoughts? 

This problem comes up a lot when you meet someone new—guy or girl, friend or potential love interest. Once you’ve been living in a city for a while, you have friend groups, haunts, habits, and it’s hard to figure out where this new guy will fit in.

You’re right to avoid going to a bar alone to meet up with a group of his friends. That’s just begging for things to get awkward, for you to get clingy, and for him to feel like he has to entertain you when he might want to talk to his friends. Plus there’s the fact that when guys go out with their friends, they tend to get wasted, and nothing ruins things like watching him puke and rally.

The ideal situation would be to bring a group of your friends to meet up with a group of his friends. But it can be hard to pull a group together so last minute, and even harder to convince your friends to venture out of their neighborhoods (plus, doesn’t the T close at like 9 p.m. these days?).

You’re doing the right things so far. You’re busy, and you’re not dropping everything to spend a few minutes with him. Which shows him that you have a life, that you have tons of people who want to hang out with you, and, most importantly, that you’re not desperate. This is probably why he keeps texting you—if you’re so awesome that you have plans every night of the week, who wouldn’t want in on that?

It’s great that he suggested meeting up for a drink before he went out. And it’s great that you suggested a bar on your turf. Make him come to you, so that he feels like he has to work for your company (and appreciates it all the more when he gets it).

Keep things going in this vein. If he suggested a drink before, he’ll probably bring it up again, and maybe this time you can suggest a place that’s a little closer to his side of the river (without venturing into the territory that celebrates Evacuation Day).

But don’t text him and ask him to get a cup of coffee. That’s asking him out, which we never advocate because it makes you look super available, and super interested (which is super not sexy).

Guys usually don’t agonize about this stuff as much as girls do. So definitely don’t verbalize (or textualize) your guilt about not being able to hang out with him. Like we said before, your unavailability is probably part of the appeal—wanting something he feels like he can’t have.

He’s probably not obsessing over why you’re busy, and if you show him that you are, you’re also admitting that you spend a lot of time thinking about him.

If he wants it badly enough, he’ll head over to the People’s Republic of Cambridge. And the only way you’re going to inspire that kind of lust is by keeping up what you’re doing—living your life, and letting him adjust his schedule accordingly. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Call Him Your Ex

When you invest time and energy into a relationship, the person you’re dating becomes a part of your life. This person/experience usually changes you in some ways, and even if the relationship ends, you still have new memories, ideas, and maybe even outlooks as a direct result of the time you spent with this person.

These things don’t stop being relevant when the relationship ends. Let’s say you spent the last summer at your boyfriend’s house in Edgartown, and coworker starts talking about a Vineyard trip she’s planning. Of course you want to tell her the best ferry parking lot, but somehow it comes out like this, “My ex has a place on the island—I used to go there all the time. The thing is, when you drive in to the ferry parking area, they’re going to direct you to the lot…”

What information wasn’t relevant? The fact that he’s your ex-boyfriend. From your coworker’s point of view, does it make one iota of difference whether it was your ex-boyfriend or third cousin who summered on the liberal man’s Nantucket?

When you call him “my ex-boyfriend,” you’re drawing attention to the breakup. For no reason. It makes it seem like you’re not over it, like you still think of him romantically (which, if you’re describing him in terms of your past relationship, you probably do), possibly even like you’re bitter.

There’s nothing less attractive than someone who seems hung up on a failed relationship. You never hear, “There’s nothing sexier than a guy who won’t shut up about his ex.”

Dwelling on the past is never something we look for in new partners.  A new relationship is nothing if not hope for happiness in the future. And while dropping the ex bomb might not be the same thing as spending three hours crying about it to a total stranger, it’s not helping anything either.

You’re not gaining anything by calling him your ex, and you’re not losing anything by using an ambiguous term, like “friend.”

“Ex-boyfriend” is a word with negative connotations. “Friend” is, at the very least, neutral, and usually positive.

So why not tell people it was your friend who got you tickets to the Modest Mouse show, who introduced you to Gogol, who let you crash at his parent’s apartment in the city.

At the very least, you’ll come across as more of an optimist, and you won’t get branded as that crazy girl who starts every sentence with, “Well, my ex-boyfriend used to say…”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kissing on the First Date

First-date protocol is always tricky to navigate. What do you wear, what do you say, do you offer to pay, how many times do you insist on paying?

But there’s one thing that should be pretty straightforward that somehow isn’t: the first-date kiss.

No one ever wants to do it (unless the date’s going spectacularly well, which, as we discussed before, rarely happens), and yet both sides tend to assume it’s expected.

In our experience, girls are more likely to feel like they owe it to their dates, while guys seem to feel the need to assert their sexual vitality.

And yet it’s always forced and rushed, something one party initiates just as the other is about to get in a cab or on the metro.

There’s nothing worse than a bad kiss. It makes you feel like you don’t have chemistry and aren’t attracted the other person. It makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable, and in some cases even violated. We’re not sentimentalists, but there is something intimate about having another person penetrate your body (even if it’s only your mouth), and when it goes badly, you feel like you let someone into a place he didn’t belong.

But what makes a kiss good? And more importantly, what makes it bad?

At this point in our lives, it’s rarely technique. Unless you’re trying to emulate a helicopter with your tongue, you’re probably OK. (But if you’re unsure, use less, not more, tongue.)

A great kiss is usually just great timing, and a bad kiss is rarely more than a horribly inopportune moment.

Think back on the best kisses in your life. They probably all share one thing in common: anticipation. The longer you wait, the more you build it up, and the more satisfied you feel when you finally get it. It’s like the boots you saved up a year to buy versus the ones your mom gave you for Christmas.

So if you want to be a better kisser, you have to make the other person wonder if/when it’s coming. You have to build up the sexual chemistry. And you don’t want to spring it on someone after a few awkward drinks at the Ritz.

There’s no need to hug or initiate any sort of conciliatory contact either. The key is not to rush it—wait until the right moment hits you on the head, rather than worrying about keeping your eyes peeled for a perfect opening.

Unfortunately, there’s no telltale sign that says it’s time. But you should know each other a little bit before you lean in for the magic moment. And that’s probably not going to be on the first date, and there’s a good chance it won’t be the second or third date either.

For girls, think of it this way. How many times would you have to meet/hang out with a new girl (space) friend before you started hugging her when you ran into her? That’s probably about how long you should wait to kiss a new date.

For guys, we can only say this: it’s longer than you think. And it’s definitely not a first-date maneuver. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Situation Loves Abstinence

OK, today we’re taking the day off from salvaging your sex life to talk about something serious.

First, watch this:

Abstinence is probably one of the most dangerous messages we’re feeding our children. It’s, hands down, the worst form of birth control out there (look how well it worked for “B. Palin”).

Yes, it’s nice that there’s someone telling kids who aren’t physically or emotionally ready for sex that it’s OK to wait until you’re responsible enough, but the message can’t end there. Safe sex has to be more than just an afterthought, which is how it’s treated in this PSA.

Most kids aren’t going to wait till marriage to have sex, which makes abstinence pretty unrealistic. And when they stop living in the fantasyland where sexual desires are something to be overcome, they don’t know how to protect themselves from the very real consequences of unprotected sex.

Trying to prevent pregnancy with abstinence is like trying to lose weight by limiting your diet to carrots. It works when you stick with it, but it’s unsustainable in the long run, and when you do start craving “sugar,” you don’t have the tools (like portion control and calorie counts/condoms and oral contraceptives) to indulge without destroying your waistline.

Then there’s the absurdity of having Bristol Palin as a spokesperson for abstinence. But not because she got knocked up two years ago, which seems to be everyone else’s complaint, but because it’s absurd to believe that she’s back to saying no today.

How many people do you know who have sex and then swear off it? If sex wasn’t an enjoyable pastime, the human race would be in serious trouble, and if people could decide it just wasn’t for them, China wouldn’t have to tell its citizens to do it less.

There’s no way this girl is “not going to get into a situation before she’s married,” which means she’s probably practicing safe sex herself. For someone who’s realized that safe sex is the better alternative to push young girls down the path she’s already been down (i.e., saying no until you do and then not using a condom to pretend it isn’t real) is fucked up.

Refusing the condom at the end is probably the worst part. Having condoms doesn’t make kids have sex, but it does protect them if they end up in situations they didn’t plan for.

Having sexy ads coupled with abstinence PSAs is the worst thing a company can do. It’s selling kids sex and then telling them not to have it. Which message do you think prevails?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Survey the District: Why Do Guys Lie for a One-Night Stand

Dear date the district,
I am a college senior and throughout my experience in the college hook up culture, I've found that pretty much all the guys I hook up with always feed me the same line in bed.  They usually say I really like you or something along those lines.  It infuriates me because in most cases its a one night stand and we both don't know each other.  It's an outright lie.  And its not like they are saying it to get what they want...they are in bed-they've got it.  Why do they always use this line? It's not a matter of hurt feelings or emotions but of annoyance.  Any ideas?

You say it’s not hurt feelings, but it kind of is. At the very least, it’s upsetting to realize that someone is lying to your face and infuriating when you’re cognizant of the fact that someone’s trying to manipulate you.

Why are they saying these sweet nothings? Who knows. And honestly, does it change anything?

When you’re having one-night stands, your partner might as well be speaking a foreign language. You have no way of knowing what he means, but his intentions will usually be something along the lines of, have sex, keep in touch if he feels like it.

With a one-night stand, you’re there for the sex, and lies come with the territory. So don’t do it unless your sole intention is to get laid—and if you’re just after the physical stuff, why do you care what he says?

If the lies are upsetting, you might want to reconsider how comfortable you are with casual sex.

Anonymous sex really hits the spot every once in a while. But sometimes you’re after something more, and that’s when you start noticing everything a one-night stand isn’t.

It’s not companionship, it’s not love, it might not even be a crush. And if those things are bothering you, it’s probably indicative of something more.

If you’re looking for a relationship, one-night stands aren’t the first step. This can be a common misconception, especially in college, where casual hookups do sometimes turn into something more.

But more often than not, they don’t. People don’t go to Wal-Mart when they’re looking to buy a new Louis Vuitton, and in the same way, guys don’t go prowling for commitment-free sex when they’re looking for a girlfriend.
But if you’re really just upset about being lied to, just don’t encourage it. Don’t respond when he feeds you lines, and kick him out when it’s over. Give him a taste of his own medicine. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soooo Awk!

This weekend, we took to OK Cupid to see how women were portraying themselves to potential suitors.

We’ve posted before on OK Cupid’s interesting research into what does, and doesn’t, make a profile successful, but today we want to talk about something we saw again and again on women’s profiles: “being awkward.”

Women listed it as one of their talents, as one of the first things people noticed about them, as a main point in their “about me” sections.

American culture definitely rewards self-deprecation. A person who mentions his accomplishments is seen as stuck-up elitist, while a story-teller who manages to make himself look as clumsy or getting by on luck alone is called “down to earth.”

But when you’re trying to attract a partner (or really even friends, for that matter), it’s much harder to make yourself look desirable when you’re so busy pointing out your flaws.

And “awkward” is a particularly hard flaw to sell.

There’s nothing worse than being on a date with someone who can’t make conversation. He says the wrong things, he gives one-word answers, he makes you uncomfortable just looking at him. No one wants to go on a date with someone who’s so awkward she has to warn you about it ahead of time.

But, of course, these women probably aren’t that socially inept. They’re just trying to be funny, or “real,” or they think it’s a hip thing to put on a dating profile—to show that they don’t care as much as you might think.

 We’re not going to devote a whole post about how absurd we find the whole concept of awkward, of how the people who are sensitive to awkwardness are rarely the cause of it, about how as soon as you decide that a situation isn’t awkward and carry on as though you couldn’t be more comfortable, the person/people you’re with feel immediately at ease.

But we will say this: “awkward” never appears on a list of traits people are looking for in a partner.

So not only are these women guilty of false advertising, they’re making themselves out to be less desirable than they really are.

Do yourself a favor: if you have the word “awkward” anywhere on your OK Cupid profile, go in and delete it, immediately.

If you don’t, we might just have to edit your profile for you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Conversing via SMS

A reader recently wrote in to ask us about ending a text message convo with a guy she’s interested in.

She and the guy exchanged numbers, and whenever one texts the other to see what’s good, they end up having an extended conversation via text message. For example:

Guy: What u up to tonite?
Girl: Think I’m gonna watch a movie and head to bed early, u?
Guy: Nice. What movie?
Girl: Not sure… have any suggestions?
Guy: Inception.
Girl: Already saw it.
Guy: O ya, what did u think?
Girl: It was OK but the plot didn’t really go anywhere.
Guy: Yeah, I thought it was aight. So what did u do today?
Girl: Just work
Guy: Niccce

The reader worries that this type of communication is too “awkward,” and she wants a way to nip it in the bud.

OK, so the guy she’s texting isn’t as bro-y as the one we imagined above, but the point is, this really isn’t an issue.

We agree that texting may be one of the worst things to happen to dating, but we don’t see this kind of conversation as particularly problematic.

Yes, it’s probably a waste of time, but it’s not screwing anything up, and if you don’t want to converse via SMS, just say so.

The next time you find yourself discussing the weather over BBM, say something like, “Ahhh OK I gotta run… ttyl!”

And if you are stuck in the middle of a texting discourse, don’t feel pressure to respond immediately. You’re not gaining anything by responding immediately, and besides, accessibility isn’t really a boon in the early stages.

But too much texting is just one of those things that’s easy to obsess about when you’re not sure where it’s going. But the medium isn’t as important as how you’re portraying yourself (which should be as a person with a busy, interesting life who doesn’t have time to have a 30-minute-break-between-texts back-and-forth).

If you don’t want to engage in textual conversations, don’t. But don’t worry about what this means, or if you’re scaring him away. Because for the first, you’ll never know, and the second, if you’re focusing on what you want instead of what you think will lure him into a relationship, you’re definitely on the right track.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

News Roundup: How to Have the Most Satisfying Sex (Hint: Don't Do It for Money)

Gawker recently posted on what seems like the biggest waste of tax dollars ever commissioned--apparently some people in Texas (and by “people” we mean University of Texas at Austin) studied “college-aged” men and women to figure out what made for the most satisfying sex.

First of all, let’s talk about how satisfying the sex lives of college students are. This is the period in life when most people lose their virginities, engage in drunken hookups, and spend a lot of time trying to impress their peers and partners with their sexual prowess.

So they’re drunk newbies who don’t want to admit that they don’t know what they’re doing. Couldn’t we, perhaps, survey 30-somethings, who’ve probably figured a few more things out?

We’d argue that very few women have satisfying sex lives at this point in their lives, mostly because they’re still getting over 18 years of upbringing that taught them that female sexuality was icky. They’re too shy to ask for what they want, some don’t’ even know what they want, and a large majority have probably never had an orgasm.

But, OK, here’s the list of dos and don’ts Gawker compiled.


-have sex for love and commitment. This probably showed up on the list because, as we mentioned before, so many college kids are having one-night stands or hookup buddies with whom it’s hard to achieve the level of trust and comfort required to really figure out the mechanics of sex (penetration aside). It’s probably less that these people are finding sexual satisfaction in love and commitment and more that they’re comfortable having sex with people they love and are committed to. When you have a boyfriend, you can talk about what is and isn’t working for you, and you can create a sexual to-do list. But when you bring a guy home from a bar and you’re convinced that the only way to get him to stick around is to be the best he’s ever had, you’re probably not going to get a lot out of it.

 -have sex to "express something to [your] partner, like gratitude or apology."
Apparently women were more satisfied when they used sex as a way to say “thank you” or “I’m sorry.” We would love someone to explain this study to us in terms of the scientific method, but if we had to guess, we’d say, again, you’re more likely to be thanking or apologizing to someone you know pretty well. So it’s less about getting in fights to have better make-up sex and more about finding a relationship, which usually involves arguments and presents.


-have sex to raise your self-esteem. This is actually probably the only interesting/relevant point this study makes. College women in particular seem to use sex as a method of validation (or, yes, a quick-and-easy self-esteem boost). After all, if someone has sex with you (or even makes out with you), that means you’re doing something right, right?

Actually, no. Men (and women) have sex for a variety of reasons that include things like being horny and taking too many shots of tequila. So if a guy’s having sex with you, it doesn’t even mean that he likes you, but, more importantly, sex is one of the worst forms of validation out there.

If you’re having sex for self-esteem, it’s no wonder you feel unsatisfied, because after you have sex, you’re not magically a more confident, out-going person who loves herself and is totally comfortable in her own skin.

Sex is pretty good at delivering physical pleasure and babies, and that’s it. So if you’re trying to use to for something else, it’s not going to work, and you’re just asking for disappointment.

-have sex "to get goods, favors or other resources." What college kids are having sex for money?? Or a boost on their chem exams? Apparently a lot has changed since we universitied, but we’re not surprised that literally whoring yourself out might not make your toes curl. But when you’re having sex to get something, sexual satisfaction probably isn’t your top priority.

-have sex "to have a new and exciting experience." This one is kind of surprising, and, we’re calling it, kind of bullshit. Neither Gawker nor the original article provide any specifics on this, and our question is, who’s having sex to have a new experience?

If you’re having sex for the sake of having sex, you’re probably losing your virginity, and research that suggests that the first time is rarely the best time isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

Or maybe you’re trying keeping a to-do list. Maybe you’ve always wanted to have sex with a rock star, or a European, or a redhead. Again, it’s not surprising that the pay-off is rarely as good as the build-up.

But what people looking to experiment with role-playing or having sex in an unusual location are also after a new and exciting experience, and a lot of them like the thrill that they get from pretending to be someone else or taking sex outside of the bedroom.

So if any of this research is “news” to you, maybe you need to go back and read our archives.