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Tag: first dates

Being Openly Affectionate

This is a problem most commonly faced in American culture: the inability to be openly affectionate. Americans are often looked upon as “cold” and “passionless” by other countries. We tease one another rather than say how much we mean to each other. We go through intermediaries — social media, notes through friends, etc — rather than confront the ones we’re interested in. We are told that “confidence is sexy“. Yet most Americans lack the confidence (or courage) to simply walk up to another human and say, “I think you’re attractive.” Why?

I believe it is because Americans have been brought up in culture where failure is looked down upon. People don’t celebrate the team that loses the Super Bowl. People don’t celebrate the small business owner that goes out of business. People don’t celebrate the actor or actress that went for the part, but didn’t get it. Of course not! We celebrate people’s success. Only when they win the Super Bowl, create a billion dollar business, or get the lead in a movie do we pay any attention. However, there is a LOT of growth that occurs in each of these “losing” situations. It is this fear of losing and rejection that prevents us from simply expressing how we feel. In fact we go to such extremes as forcing affection in settings such as cuddle parties or even speed dating where time is limited so you have to be open and forward.

However, being openly affectionate much just be the prescription:

In dating, when I find a woman attractive, I almost always walk right up to her and tell her that a) I wanted to meet her, and b) she’s beautiful. In America, women usually get incredibly nervous and confused when I do this. They’ll make jokes to defuse the situation or sometimes ask me if I’m part of a TV show or something playing a prank. Even when they’re interested and go on dates with me, they get a bit disoriented when I’m so blunt with my interest. Whereas, in almost every other culture approaching women this way is met with a confident smile and a “Thank you.” – Mark Manson

So try being a bit more forward, a bit more blunt, a bit more honest, a bit more confident (without being arrogant) about your affection towards another person. The worst that happens is that you suffer temporary embarrassment (no one has ever died from being embarrassed), and you’re exactly where you were when you started. However, you never know, something might come of it.

“Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of the heart.” – Basil Rathbone

A Lack of Hobbies are Killing First Dates

Let’s part, be real smart and not start with this romance
‘Cause outside of both having stars in our eyes
And outside of sighing the same kind of sighs
We’ve got nothin’ in common at all

“Nothing in Common” – Frank Sinatra with Keely Smith

Merriam-Webster defines hobby as, “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” This is a pretty inclusive definition, allowing things like watching TV or updating your Facebook status to be considered as a hobby. If you consider watching TV as a hobby, sadly, you’re not alone. In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked how Americans age 15 and over spent their time. On average, Americans spent 5.3 hours a day on “Leisure and sports.” Included in this category is “Watching Television” (2.82 hours a day), and “Socializing and Communication” (0.71 hours a day) which comes to two thirds of leisure time being spent pursuing what I would consider non-hobbies, or at the very least, boring hobbies. This brings us to failed first dates.

The basis of a good first date, besides physical attraction, is having something to talk about. This usually means having shared interests or hobbies, or at least having the other person be interested enough in your hobbies to allow you to talk about them. If you’re going on first dates and finding it hard to carry on a conversation, then it might be because your only hobbies are watching Netflix, listening to music, and “the outdoors”. The same is true with online profiles. If most of the messages you receive are something akin to, “hey baby, how are you?” It might be because you haven’t listed anything of substance in your profile. Here’s the typical boring online profile, taken at random, from Plenty of Fish:

I like to do a lot of things for fun such as dining out/trying new restaurants. I love to cuddle. I like going to the beach. I love to watch movies and listen to music. For movies I like drama, horror and romance. Some of my favorite movies include all the SAW and Halloween movies. Some other favorite movies are The 40yr old virgin, wedding planner, the notebook, joy ride and more. For music I like to listen to anything but country. I like 80’s and 90’s music. Some of my favorite bands include Linkin Park, Disturbed, Metallica, Seether, Aerosmith to name a few. I also like going to concerts.

There are some specific movies and bands listed, but it completely lacks anything that can start a conversation. You like “The Wedding Planner” and “The Notebook“, just like 90% of all women in America! As a total aside, and to slightly contradict myself, not enjoying the same shows or movies could actually be a strong indication that a relationship won’t work. After all, the folks at OKCupid found out that the questions which gave the highest chances for long-term success included, “Do you like horror movies?” But I digress… you need substance in your profile and things to talk about on first dates. The only way to obtains these things is to go and find a real hobby so you have experiences and interests to discuss.

Drawing a blank on what hobby you can try? Wikipedia has a list of a bunch of hobbies. Try something like knitting, woodworking, pottery, dancing, amature radio, orienteering, or even foraging. At the very least you’ll have something more interesting to talk about on a first date than, “Did you see the latest episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’?” Who knows, you might even find someone else that is interested in this same hobby and hit it off with them. Meetup is a great place to find people who are interested in similar hobbies.

So put down the remote, take the earbuds out of your ears, and try something new!