Thursday, June 24, 2010

News Roundup: Do Men with Accents Have an Edge in Dating?

The other week, an astute reader sent us a CNN piece called “Do Men with Accents Have an Edge in Dating?”

It took us a while to wrap our heads around this report (and also our office blocks streaming video), but we finally worked from home gave it some thought, and here’s what we came up with.

First of all, to answer the (obvious) question posed in the title, the answer is, duh. Any guy who finds himself outside of his region of birth will tell you he’s never had an easier time getting in girls’ pants. One of the guys CNN “interviewed” basically said just that: he explained that women on the street will just come up to him and say, “I’ve always wanted to be with an Aussie,” and if they’re lucky, they’ll get their wish.

But CNN redefined investigative journalism with this one: they went to a speed dating event open only to “men with accents and women who loved them.” (But there didn’t seem to be any men with Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. accents.)

When the reporter asks the organizer if speed dating works she pauses and then says, “Of course! Because chemistry is instant.”

This has to be the dumbest justification for speed dating that we’ve ever heard. If we had to market speed dating, we’d focus on the fact that it’s hard to meet men. And when you do meet them, there’s always something wrong with them. If you can meet 10 men in 30 minutes, your chances of success increase.

The problem is that speed dating (like paid dating sites) tend to attract women who are desperate for a relationship and men who are all too happy to milk that desperation for a few easy blowjobs.

And this really comes out in these women. The reporter (who’s significantly less attractive than all of the women he interviews) jokingly tells one women, “OK, we’re dating.” Her response: “Where are you taking me tonight?” Followed by: “Are you married?”

A confident, self-assured woman would probably say something more along the lines of, “Well, we’ll see about that,” and then flash a playful smile so we’d know she was in on the joke.

But let’s get back to the title question, which the report makes no attempts to answer.

Men with accents know they have an edge in dating. When a group of British guys approach a group of American girls in a bar, they’ve done it a million times before, and they know what kind of reaction they’ll get. The girls will giggle and ask them to say certain phrases and generally throw themselves at these men, seemingly oblivious to the situation at hand.

If an Irish guy tells you he’s been here for three months (or even three days!), do you really think you’re the first one who’s noticed his accent?

When men with “sexy” accents approach you in bars, be wary.

But if we’re talking about dating, asking if men with accents have it easier is like asking if men with freckles have better relationships. Once you get past the accent, it has a lot more to do with the person.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missed Connection of the Day: You flagged me(police) down

You flagged me(police) down - m4w - 40 (DC (SE))

I was eating my lunch in my cruiser by the stadium. You flagged me down about a woman smacking her kids as she drove. She made it through the light & you were not sure what kind of car she drove. Honestly, I could barely pay attention to what you were saying. Your eyes were captivating and as an officer, I had never felt more like a victim…..of your beauty. If I call 911, will you rescue me?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Missed Connection of the Day: My Eye Doctor

My Eye Doctor - m4w - 38 (Rockville)

You asked me if I needed some help as I was standing in the store. I told you I was there to pick up my contacts. When you gave them to me, I indicated that I wanted the 2 week contacts and not the monthly ones. You insisted that I have you reorder another 3 pairs for me. I finally accepted after some persuasion from you.
Just wanted to let you know that I could have stayed lost in your eyes forever...If you read this and recall the moment, do please respond.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to Keep Things Casual (Without Getting Hurt)

We usually advise our readers to stay away from casual dating.

A lot of hearts get broken in that gray zone between committed relationship and platonic friendship, and most 20-something women have outgrown the highs and lows that come from just hooking up (even if they aren’t willing to admit it) and, deep down, they’re looking for something more serious.

But sometimes you’re six months away from moving to a new city, or you just got out of a really serious relationship, and you just need to have some fun!

If you know what you’re getting yourself into (and this involves more than just telling yourself that you know what you’re getting into and that you won’t get attached—namely, spending some time figuring out what you are getting into and when it’ll be time to pull out), casual dating doesn’t have to be a scarring experience.

But successful casual dating is less about getting attached and more about respect and honesty.

Honesty might seem counterintuitive when you’re engaging in nonmonogamous sex, but the key to getting the most out of something neither of you is putting a lot into is making sure that you feel comfortable.

But to understand how that works, we need to talk about respect. The problem with most noncommitted relationships is that they can be the worst thing to happen to a girl’s self esteem since middle school happened.

When a guy engages in typical blow-off behavior (e.g., responding to a text two days later, only calling when he wants sex), the girl has a tendency to blame it on herself. She thinks that if only she were prettier or blonder or skinnier, he’d be showing up at her door with flowers every night, when in reality it’s probably her behavior, and not her looks, that are driving him away.

If a guy expresses sexual interest in you and then falls off the face of the planet, it’s probably because you made yourself too available. If you’re going to be engaging in casual sex, you have to realize that, and when it happens, you need to examine your behavior, not spend an extra three hours at the gym.

Casual dating can sometimes wreck havoc on your self-esteem. You meet a guy, hook up a few times, maybe come off as a little too eager, and then he starts blowing you off. So you think, “Oh, OK, he’s too hot/rich/smart for me—I need to focus on guys who are in my league. But also maybe he didn’t realize that I was interested, so he went off to find someone who was.” So then you start seeing this guy who maybe isn’t as good on paper (or in person). You hook up a few times, but you’re not going to make the same mistakes you did with the last guy. You start telling him how much you like him on the third date, and then he never asks you out on a fourth. You decide to lower your standards and up the eagerness. You’re miles out of the new guy’s league, and you tell him you love him on the second date, and when he tells you he doesn’t want to see you anymore, you can’t believe you got dumped by the unemployed 40-year-old your friend’s aunt set you up with.

Sometimes you can avoid this by being upfront. Tell him that you’re not looking for anything serious.

But if he does start blowing you off, or mentioning other people he’s seeing, or doing anything else that makes you feel shitty about yourself, break it off.

It’s not worth your sense of self worth—and this is what vibrators were invented for.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to Approach Online Dating

Our regular readers know that we’re huge proponents of online dating. When it’s used properly, it’s a great way to meet someone who shares your interests and values, which is pretty much the opposite of meeting guys in bars (i.e., is he cute enough? am I drunk enough?).

But sometimes it’s hard to figure out how, exactly to navigate this social stratosphere that no other generation has really used. What should you put on your profile? Should you message him first? What’s too sexy for a profile picture?

In our opinion, online dating works better as a conversation starter than it does as a matchmaking service. Think of it this way: you’re probably more likely to sign up for one of these sites when you’re new to a city and desperate to meet anyone—platonic friends included.

In fact, one of our friends who’s had the most success with online dating has a huge circle of friends that she meet on dating sites. This might not seem like a huge deal, but when you consider the fact that most people who sign up for these services are looking for love and come in with the highest of hopes and then quickly learn to move on at the first sign of incompatibility, it’s pretty remarkable that she keeps in touch with, much less befriends, people she romantically rejected.

But in the real world, think about situations that produce the most successful couples. How many couples meet at dinner parties or work events where they aren’t looking for love? And how many met at speed dating?

This is why we prefer free dating sites to paid subscriptions. When you sign up for OK Cupid, you’re testing the waters, seeing what’s out there. When you drop $200 for 6 months of, you’ve made a pretty big financial commitment to get what you paid for.

Guys are more attracted to women who seem laid back, casual, fun, and not too obsessed with the idea of finding “The One.” So your OK Cupid persona should project this persona. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ignore messages from guys with facial piercings if your entire wardrobe is Lily Pulitzer. But it does mean your profile and messages should be more of a conversation starter than a marriage proposal.

Don’t look at your profile as the place to capture your personality so that the person on the other side of the screen can get to know the real you, deepest, darkest secrets included, and then decide whether or not you two would be compatible. In the real-world dinner party scenario, you wouldn’t tell the guy sitting next to you that could absolutely, positively never date a smoker and that you fall in love too easily. Instead, you would drop tiny tidbits of information in the hopes of drawing him in to the conversation.

Your profile should do the same thing. Your “About Me” section doesn’t have to be an autobiography. It doesn’t have to sum up your personality or list your flaws. It’s supposed to give the person looking at your profile something to message you about. And that’s why vague, abstract descriptions of your personality are actually a terrible idea, because a) they’re pretty boring to read and b) what’s he going to message you—“I procrastinate too!”?

Talk about things that are more on the unique/interesting side of things, but universal enough that someone can respond with his own experience. Things like travel, hobbies, etc. Try to be both specific and open-ended so that he can ask you about it. Something like, “I once backpacked through Guatemala and resorted to eating live fish.” Specific story that naturally leads to when/how/why you ate live fish.

Same goes for messages you send potential matches. Don’t say, “I also love The Big Lebowski—I bet we would get along really well!” Try more along the lines of, “So I’m a little new to this and not really sure how this works, but I just moved to DC and I see that you do yoga—do you have any suggestions for a good studio?”

Keep it short and sweet, like you would at a dinner party.

And treat the ensuing banter like a dinner party. Don’t provide unsolicited information. Don’t send overly long messages. Keep it light and casual. Online dating is just like meeting guys at any other place—this isn’t your only shot at love, so don’t act like you think it is.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Missed Connection of the Day: Farragut West Stop---Blue & White Plaid Shirt Man

The picture makes this post.

Farragut West Stop---Blue & White Plaid Shirt Man - w4m - 18 (Farragut West Metro Stop)

I entered the same metro car as you at court house around 11:45am, headed to my internship at national geographic. you were already sitting, listening to music, but glanced up at me when i entered. i almost chose to sit next to you, but your bag was on the seat beside you...*sigh* you were handsome with wavy dark brown hair, brown eyes [i believe], and were wearing a blue and white plaid shirt. we both got off at the Farragut West stop...and both took the elevator to the 17th street exit. i smirked b/c you were walking behind me. we should've walked together! i'm attaching a photo of myself so maybe you can identify me...i'm assuming you work around the area that i do, so maybe we could grab some coffee sometime. dunno how old you are...i'm thinking early 20 to mid-ish 20s. if you see this, verify what color clothing i was wearing...i was only wearing one hopefully you remember.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What to Do When A Guy Offers to Split the Check

Last week, a friend of ours met a guy at a party. He asked for her number and called a few days later to invite her to dinner at a swanky sushi place. On the actual date, he ordered all the food—which was a major turn-on for our friend. When the bill came, she politely pulled out her wallet and offered to split. He paused. “It’s up to you,” he said.

Our friend instantly lost all interest in her date.

There are a million reasons why a guy should pay on the first date, and why you might want to rethink things if he doesn’t. But here’s the SparkNotes version: on a first date, you’re seeing the guy on his best behavior. He should be going out of his way to impress you and show off his good manners, and he knows going into it that the guy picking up the check is what society calls good manners (just like you know that you need to offer to split it). So if he doesn’t even want to go out of his way to make a good impression by picking up the check on the first date, there’s a good chance you’ll be eating at Wendy’s (and picking up the tab) six months from now.

And then there’s the issue that, in this case (and on most first dates), the guy does the inviting. Which means he picks the restaurant. Which means the girl has little control over the price. And when the guy orders everything, she has zero control, and letting her pay half the bill is like asking her to subsidize his splurge.

But this guy did something even more manipulative. When our friend offered to split, he told her the decision was hers to make. This might seem nice, but what he was really doing was making it seem like she had a choice when really he was dumping an awkward nondecision on her. When he says, “It’s up to you,” what’s she going to say? No, you pay?

But our friend actually handled this very well. She said, “I’m gonna let you pick up dinner, and I’ll buy you a drink.”

If you’re under thirty and working in DC, chances are, you’re on a pretty tight budget. And when a guy pulls a move like that, you probably don’t want to see him again. So why blow rent money to pay for a meal you didn’t order just to avoid a potentially awkward situation with a guy you don’t care about?

If you do what our friend did (i.e., tell him you’ll “let him pick this up” and offer to buy him a drink), you avoid the awkwardness. But if grace under pressure isn’t your forte, it’s still better to hold your ground. He got himself into this bill, he can pay his way out. If he insists on your paying, you can say something like, “You know, I didn’t order any of this food, and this is way out of my budget. I’m happy to give you thirty bucks, but I can’t afford to split this with you.”

A guy who acts like this on the first date only gets worse as the relationship goes on. So don’t worry about what he’ll tell his friends and congratulate yourself on getting out early.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are You a Romantic?

After yesterday’s post, we asked a few of our friends for feedback.

These were the same friends that we’d mentioned yesterday, the ones who profess to believe in love, and they all responded in pretty much the same way: “I guess I’m just a romantic.”

But these friends don’t really come off as romantic. One has a degree in Gender Studies. Another wants to have sex with as many women as humanly possible, and rarely finds any that hold his interest for more than two dates.

Why are these realistic, practical, and intelligent people looking for a chick-flick ending?

To us, a romantic is not a person who stays true to his values and embarks on a journey to find his holy grail in a world of one-night stands and Craigslist casual encounters. Instead, a romantic is someone controlled by his emotions, abandoning logic and reason to chase the highs that come with infatuation.

Because that’s what makes someone a romantic. You fall for those feelings and don’t stop to examine the person that’s triggering them (note that the person triggers, not causes, these feelings).

If you’re really looking for a happy ending (and not the kind you find at a rub-and-tug place), the answer is in you, not another person.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Women in their 20s often talk about dating as the process of “finding Mr. Right.”

Men fall victim to this delusion too: in fact, over the past few weeks, we’ve had countless conversations with our otherwise rational friends (of both genders) who are convinced that “love” is something more than compatibility, that it’s a feeling that can’t be described or controlled.

And that got us thinking: maybe Raymond Carver was on to something.

The single biggest flaw in most people’s approach to dating, may, in fact, be the language they use to describe it.

When we use the word “love,” are we talking about that heart-pounding, all-consuming sensation that we feel when our hot neighbor says, “What’s up?” Or are we talking about the way we feel about our friends and (sometimes) our families, a duller sense of gratitude towards and happiness about this person’s presence in our lives that accepts imperfections and grounds expectations in reality?

We use the same word to describe both (“I’m in love with the UPS guy” and “I love you, Mom”).

But they mean two very different things. And the problem is, we’ve been using the same word to describe two very different ideas for our entire (English-speaking) lives.

So when we say we’re looking for love, we chase the thrilling romantic sensations that tend to be more fleeting than the durable, platonic variety.

This, in and of itself, isn’t an issue (especially when we’re young), but if you look at successful long-term relationships, they don’t look anything like a typical second date for Katherine Hiegel.

It’s a scientific fact: those intense emotions and feelings fade after a few years, and once they’re gone, something else has to sustain the relationship. And because we’re using the same word to describe two things, and because we desperately want both of these things, we tend to assume that one leads to the other. Desire must breed companionship, because that’s the only thing that makes sense.

But no matter which meaning of the word “love” we’re after (romantic or platonic), we’re still talking about something we feel. Not something that someone does to us, but something that we, essentially, impose on ourselves.

A certain bone structure may have a tendency to make your stomach flutter, but when it comes down to it, your cute coworker isn’t the one firing neurons in your brain. You might not have any conscious control over that process either, but, in the end, your amorous feelings say a lot more about you than they do about the person on the receiving end.

You love that funny, blue-eyed banker because you (for lack of a better word) value blue eyes and a good sense of humor and a healthy bank account, not because the combination of these three characteristics casts an irresistible spell over all who encounter it. If men were able to cast spells, the concept of taste wouldn’t exist. You wouldn’t look at your best friend’s boyfriend and go, “What does she see in him?”, because if he’s casting a spell, you’re under it too.

If we look at “love” as something that’s about us, not them, it becomes clear that dating isn’t about finding the right person, it’s about figuring out what that person looks like. You’re not browsing OkCupid to find a person who inexplicably makes you feel a certain way; you’re doing some serious soul-searching to figure what qualities trigger those feelings.

Yes, our (otherwise) rational friends say, we get that infatuation isn’t love. You see a guy and your heart starts pounding but that feeling goes away as soon as he opens his mouth. But how do you explain the overweight drummer you fantasize about even though you know that you’re looking for a guy with a regular paycheck and a workout regiment?

Mostly with biology. We all watched that pheromones video in Bio 101, with the women smelling men’s t-shirts and being most attracted to the scents of men whose DNA was the most different from their own.

Because we can’t control fluttery-stomach feelings, they’re probably as hard-wired as our instincts to inhale and exhale. And it’s just like feeling like you’re going to explode when you hold your breath for too long. Your brain is making your body feel a certain way because it wants you to react—sexually.

When you fantasize about that drummer, you’re not picturing the white house with the picket fence and 2.8 offspring. You’re picturing him giving it to you hard and fast on the desk in your boss’ office. You’re using the word “love” when you really mean “sexual desire.”

And when that “spark” isn’t oozing sexuality, it’s probably worth listening to. Maybe the drummer really listens to you when you talk, and maybe that’s more important to you than you thought it was. Maybe you have a hard time admitting to yourself that, for you, a BMW isn’t worth to you as a well-written poem, even though all your friends tell you that it is.

But again, it’s about you. Not him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Not to Put on Online Dating Profiles

Filling out a profile on a dating Web site can be more stressful than college applications. You want to come across as sexy, but not slutty; funny, but not at your own expense; and desirable, but not desperate.

How do your capture your wonderful, intriguing personality when sites impose character limits? We’ve posted tips from OkTrends before, but those writers seem to be on a permanent vacation, and as the weather gets warmer, you’re probably more tempted to see what’s out there.

But what’s should you say when you’re trying to attract a potential partner?

That’s hard to say, but we came up with a few don’ts while pursing sites this weekend.

The first (and perhaps most important) is: don’t talk about sex. Period. Don’t mention it in your likes or interests. Don’t joke about it or make references to past sexual experiences. The word “sex” shouldn’t show up on your profile at all—even as part of a compound word/modifier.

Unless you have something on your profile that suggests otherwise (i.e., “I’m waiting for marriage”—which probably isn’t worth mentioning, even if you are), it’s pretty much a given that you like/enjoy/engage in sex. So there’s no need to prove your sexuality.

And have you ever noticed that the people who spend the most time talking about sex/how good they are in bed tend to be really bad at sex? People who have healthy sexual appetites don’t need to talk about because they have nothing to prove. When you’re satisfied with something, you don’t brag about it.

So when you talk about sex, you run the risk of looking a) unstable, b) a dramatic oversharer, and c) someone who feels the need to talk a big game to make up for other sexual inadequacies.

Don’t make a list of attributes you’re looking for (even if the site asks for it). Anything specific enough to describe in a few words (i.e., I like blondes who make six figures) can easily be ascertained by looking at the guy’s profile. And chances are, you probably signed up for a free trial because you’re sick of meeting the same guys with different names at bars. When you make a list of must-haves, you risk coming off as superficial and materialistic, and you limit your options. Even if you wouldn’t dream of dating someone who didn’t have an Ivy League education, a guy from Harvard might be turned off if he sees that on your profile. And the guy who shares your dreams and ambitions may have graduated from BC. The point is: you probably don’t really know what you want. So keep it off your profile.

Don’t be overly negative. You don’t have to fake a nauseatingly sunny disposition, but don’t talk about things you don’t like (even if you’re trying to highlight your hip irreverence), personal flaws, or anything else that’s more on the negative side.

Your mother always told you that you catch more flies with honey, and while we always hated this analogy because we’d rather just open a window than have to deal with dead flies, but people tend to want to spend time with people who seem like they’re having a great time. Negative declarations are probably going to scare away more people than they’ll attract, so keep them off your profile.