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 Match.com 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 Match.com. 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. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Survey the District: My Friend and I Want the Same Guy

Dear Date the District,

So I had a friend from out of town visit, she met one of my best guy friends, and they actually ended up hooking up one night drunk at a bar (all they did was kiss, and just on the dancefloor).  She left town the next day, and other than maybe a couple facebook messages back and forth the week after the hookup, that's all the communication they had.  She then returned to town a few months later, hoping to see this guy.  However, this guy was not interested in her because he told me so (and told me to keep her away from him so that kind of situation didn't happen again).  They both got drunk though and initiated another makeout at the bar (him actually trying to stop her, but her being forceful about kissing him) but that's it again.  This time, they didn't talk at all after she left town, as well as him saying he can't believe that he madeout with her again.  Fast forward a couple weeks later, and me and my guy friend are just hanging out on the weekend like we always do, but this time (we're both drunk) we started holding hands at the party, and ended up kissing (I asked him hold my hand that so this sketchy guy would stop hitting on me, but the kiss just happened).  He then asked me if I wanted to go back to his place, but I told him that it would be awkward and I went home myself.  Although we both do agree that it was bound to happen, there's definitely been some tension for some time.  For the rest of the week, we thought the situation that night was funny, and all of our friends thought it was cute.  We act as if nothing has changed.  The very next weekend, though, we ended up having sleepovers both Friday and Saturday nights, and got dinner and brunch double-date style with another couple (I paid my own share though, since the other couple was also splitting).  And now it's to the point where we talk even more than we used to, so it's literally all day over gchat and all that.  So at this point, I realize I may like him as more than just a friend, but am not 100% sure yet if I want to date him, but I could see it happening.  So my question is (remember, this is still at the point where I'm not sure what will happen, and I'm not expecting anything) if something DOES happen in the future, how should I tell my friend (who actually is interested in him) about it?  She's from out of town and doesn't visit that much at all, and they don't keep in touch or anything.  In fact, whenever she comes up, my friend always says he can't believe he made out with her another time.

OK, so maybe we could have edited down this intro.

The most important thing is, your friend got there first (and the fact that he kept telling you that he can’t believe he made out with her is, frankly, probably not something you should be harping on so much if she’s a good friend).

If you exist, you’ve probably been in at least one situation where you and a friend both like the same guy.

And it almost always comes down to one decision: who’s more important to you—the girl, or the guy?

In this situation, it sounds like the guy is a close friend and the girl is just a friend, so maybe it’s a pretty easy decision.

We know about a million bumper stickers and back-in-the-day AIM profiles would encourage you to put chicks before dicks, but anatomy has nothing to do with it. While putting speculative love interests before friends is probably going to make you lose more than you gain, most 20-somethings have more acquaintances than they know what to do with (for proof, look no further than the name game).

With close friends, it’s different—if you think about it, every romantic relationship in your life except one (or maybe two or three) is bound to fail, so why ruin a friendship when there’s a pretty good chance this guy isn’t the one?

And if this girl were just a friend and the guy were just her ex-boyfriend that you’d only met a few times, it’s also probably not worth the risk. In general, girls are far less likely to forgive and forget, and you’re basically gambling away a friendship that won’t be there to support you if (but probably when) things don’t work out.

But when you know the guy, and you’ve developed a friendship, and you have a sense of what kind of person he is/what kind of boyfriend he’d be, it’s a different story. The problem is, it’s probably much easier to overvalue your friendship with the guy (and downplay your relationship with the girl) when you’re excited about someone new.

You really need to think about this objectively (and probably enlist the help of a close friend with first-hand knowledge of your relationships with both parties). But the if girl’s more of a wall-post buddy and the guy’s on your speed dial, the potential payoff might be worth the risk.

Still, if you are going to go for it, you need to accept the fact that there’s a good chance this friendship is over. It’s less about your girl friend being selfish and more about the humiliation of being rejected by a guy and then having him choose the friend you confided in.

If she doesn’t care, great, but you need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and not resent her for it/talk shit about her behind her back.

That doesn’t mean you should disregard her feelings when you tell her. Wait until there is actually something to tell her (no sense confessing in a few makeouts if you both decide it’s not going to work out a few weeks later). But if you start dating, she deserves to be the first to know, and you owe her a phone call/in-person explanation.

Say something like, “Look, I’m in a really shitty position right now, and I wanted you to hear it from me first. John and I realized we both have feelings for each other, and we’re going to start dating. I don’t really know what to say, except that I’m really sorry—I know you guys had a thing, and trust me when I say that I wouldn’t do this to you unless I really thought John was the one.”

Do not mention the fact that he regretted making out with her. Don’t reassure her that he didn’t like her anyway. Don’t excuse your behavior or put her down in any way—just apologize. Grovel. Do whatever you can to make her feel better.

Don’t let on that you had inside information on the situation from both ends—don’t say anything like, “John feels awful too—he just didn’t want to get involved with someone from out of town.” She’ll feel even shittier if she knows you both talked about their fling. Don’t ask John to get involved either (i.e., Facebook message blaming it on the out-of-town thing). This is between you and her, and if you want to salvage your relationship, you need to keep it that way.

Yes, it’s a hard convo, and yes, it’s a little bit awkward, but it’s really the best course of action in a shitty situation. If she hears about it from someone else first, or, even worse, if she sees something on Facebook, she’s going to feel even worse.

There’s a flip side to this. You may find yourself the friend in this scenario sometime in the future. Remember how shitty you felt about this, and remember that it wasn’t about her, and maybe you can find it in yourself not to hold a grudge—or, at the very least, not to forward those incriminating photos to her would-be boyfriend.

Monday, November 8, 2010

When He Can't Get It Up

Sex with a new partner can nerve-wracking, intimidating, awkward, and sometimes flat-out awful.

You’re nervous and excited, and both of your expectations are based on completely different sexual pasts. Maybe he thinks sex should always start with a male strip-tease, and you want it to end with oral sex.

Suffice it to say that there’s a high potential for a first-time hookup to not be the best you’re ever had.

But what happens when he can’t sustain (or even achieve) an erection?

This can be very upsetting the first time it happens. You wonder if it’s you, you wonder if it’s him, but mostly you wonder if there’s a fast-forward button you can press to get the hell out of this situation.

Maybe it happens again the second or third time you try, and now you start really wondering what’s going on.

Let’s start with the basics. We know Jennifer Anniston’s character on Friends begs to differ, but it really is normal and it really does happen to most guys, at least once in a while.

But Trey was totally normal and good-looking and if he had erectile dysfunction, gulp, couldn’t this guy too?

Probably not. You wouldn’t initiate sex on your period without warning the guy ahead of time, right? In the same way, a guy with ED probably isn’t going to jump into bed after a few dates and hope for the best.

A man suffering from erectile dysfunction most likely a) knows he has a problem and b) has come up with a few ways of dealing with it, none of which include trying to have sex with a girl he just met and not telling her about it.

So if it’s not physiological, what it is?

More often than not, it’s nerves, alcohol, or some combination of the two. Some guys are shyer than you’d think, others feel pressure to perform, and all should be aware of the whiskey-dick phenomenon, but some seem to delude themselves into illusions of immunity.

The best cure and prevention is comfort, and the more you provide him, the better his better half should perform.

If it happens, don’t make a big deal about it. This should be a no-brainer, but brains sometimes have the annoying habit of turning off when we’re thrown into awkward situations.

Don’t point it out. Don’t ask questions completely unrelated to the task at hand (e.g., has this ever happened before?). In fact, don’t ask questions at all—chances are, if there were something you could do, he’d do it himself, and asking just draws attention to the issue.

Try going down on him for a while. Be gentle, focus on the balls, and be sure to intersperse well-lubricated hand jobs.

But if that’s not working, and he can’t fix it himself, it’s time to abandon ship. To let him off with his ego intact, ask him to go down on you.

Here’s how it works: you’ve tried with your mouth, your hands, his hands, and the heart monitor’s still a straight line. Don’t say, “It’s OK!” or “Let’s try later.” Instead, put on your best coy expression and say, “Will you go down on me?”

And make sure you get really into it.

This will make him feel sexually desired and, more importantly, fulfilling, which might actually help him get hard, if not now, for sure next time.

Make sure to stroke his ego during and after. If you were able to get a glimpse of the ship with full sails, compliment him on his size. But not in a, “I’ve seen them all and even I’m impressed,” kind of way, more in a, “Wow, I must be super inexperienced because that seemed huge.”

If you didn’t get a sense of the size, tell him what a great kisser he was, how good he made you feel, whatever.

The more sexual experience you feign (or admit to) with a guy who’s having trouble performing, the worse it’ll be for both of you. He’s already intimidated, he doesn’t want to be reminded that other guys have rocked your world before him. You want him to feel like he’s the expert, the one who knows what he’s doing,

Channel your inner girl-next-door. That doesn’t mean you have to lie about your past or pretend you’re a virgin, but don’t bring up sex outside of the act itself, and don’t leave your strap-on lying around.

The goal is to make him feel safe and comfortable—not to reassure him. The line between reassurance and pity is pretty thin, and it’s better for him to feel like you didn’t even realize something was wrong.

But give him another chance. Chances are, it’s not you and it’s not him—it’s normal beginning-of-the-relationship jitters, and it will disappear when you guys get to know each other better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Halloween Effect

Halloween is a single person’s best friend.

There’s something about a holiday that allows you to justify showing up at a bar in your underwear that’s conducive to more one-night stands and dfm (dance-floor makeouts) than any other day of the year.

Everyone seems to get a new phone number on Halloween, and the first few weeks in November usually pass in a flurry of subsequent first dates.

But why do the guys never seem as cute when their Chilean miner costumes come off, and why was the conversation so much easier at Heaven & Hell?

Halloween offers two advantages for single people that have nothing to do with adding the word “sexy” to an otherwise unglamorous profession. The first is confidence.

When you’re wearing an Ed Hardy tank top and a mile-high poof, you have to own it. And that creates a boost in confidence (and a drop in inhibitions) that makes it a lot easier to talk to people.

Who cares if you say the wrong thing when your face is covered in bronzer?

It’s the one night a year where everyone fits in, regardless of what you’re wearing. And you have a perfectly acceptable opening line with anyone who catches your eye. This creates an atmosphere that’s conducive to conversation, and if everyone wasn’t getting blackout, a lot more people might have a “We met in Fell’s” story.

The problem is that people are wasted, and alcohol is never the best way to meet a guy.

But if you can come up with a way to fake the kind of social graces everyone seems to possess on Halloween, you’ll have a much easier time meeting guys the other 364 days of the year.

It might be kind of weird to show up at a party in a cheerleader’s costume in May, but there’s no reason you can’t act like your bellybutton’s exposed.

Channel the extroverted side of you that only comes out on October 31. Introduce yourself to friends of friends (we still wouldn’t recommend walking up to strangers in bars), repeat names, smile, and engage in conversation. Don’t worry about coming across as too socially aggressive or saying the wrong thing—people are always flattered when you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say.  

The other advantage Halloween provides is an easy way to break a lull in conversation. Run out of things to say? You can just point to someone’s costume.

There isn’t an obvious substitute for this in a sea of polo shirts and business casual, but there are other ways of keeping a conversation going.

When there’s an awkward pause, don’t stress about coming up with something to say, focus on finding a question to ask. You can come up with a few stock questions to ask. “Did you hear about X random current event” (stay away from politics), what are you doing for Thanksgiving, etc.

Try to figure out what it was that made you so charming on Halloween (or what made the guy you were talking to seem so suave). And bring that back the next time you’re in a social setting.