My colleague Chris over at AiPT! was authoring his own article on dating tips for fervent fans of popular culture (or “geeks,” as we were once derogatorily derided), and I’d decided to add my two cents, given that my own fairly unique dating history has resulted in similarly unique insights. A few short sentences towards someone else’s Valentine’s Day story morphed into the following eleven pieces of advice on dating unlike any other you’ll find anywhere online. But first, a bit about myself…
I’ve gone the distance in the distant past, having attended a small Christian university in which most of the female student were there primarily for its “Mrs.” program, including the girl who’d become my fiancée for over a year. But breaking off that engagement, I’ve engaged ever since in the serial dating of single life. An abridged list highlighting a few of my more colorful former flames from the intervening seven years includes: a nun in training, a witch, a recovered(?) crack whore, an ice road trucker/dog sledder, a millionaire real estate mogul, a Disney parks princess, two professional models, the Thai ambassador’s daughter, several sorority sisters simultaneously, and a slew of college co-eds currently attending Rutgers. Yes, my life is indeed a sit com, replete with weekly guest stars and absurd situations.
I’ve had intimate relations with a respectable number of women – enough that I feel confident passing along advice as I am here – but they’ve all had in common this: I’d never known any of them longer than twenty-four hours before becoming intimate, nor did I keep in contact with any afterwards. There’s too many fish in the sea for that, especially when living in a college town with a healthy combination of class, cash, and a cool cowboy hat. Which lead me to my first point of advice…
1) Choose the location where you live wisely
No matter who you are or what you have going for you, you’re not going to meet many women if there’s simply not many women around to meet. My years spent in the suburban sprawl of Maryland drove that point home painfully, and after having dated every eligible twentysomething bachelorette in the area – including two girls I hadn’t realized were roommate till my philandering blew up in my face – I realized it was time for a change of scenery.
Hub City has proven practically a paradise in compare. Any college town with an active bar scene will suffice, as would the downtown of any major metropolitan city on either coast. But an environment that’s both collegiate and urban is ideal. Towards that end, as a thirty-year-old professional with no formal affiliation to Rutgers University, I nevertheless moved into their highest end dormitory, right in the heart of downtown and within a three-block radius of over a dozen highly rated restaurants and bars. Random encounters and first dates alike are a breeze, and my apartment is always in walking distance should such go well.
2) Further focus your search to bars and gyms
I took something of a shotgun approach in my younger days, going to a wide range of locales with the intent of meeting women, including bookstores, coffee shops, college classes (that I wasn’t registered for or even enrolled in), and several student organizations. One would think the last in particular would be ideal for meeting likeminded ladies who shared my interests in futurology, philosophy, politics, and puppies (yes, there’s an actual puppy raising club here at Rutgers), but while I’ve forged many friendships, few of those were ever “with benefits.”
Where I have found success is at bars and the gym. The former should be obvious. The women are there more often than not with the intention of meeting someone. That’s not the case with the gym, but that’s a hurdle easily overcome, even as you’re surrounded on all sides by muscle-bound meatheads. Demonstrate a bit of stamina, endurance, and a svelte physique that comes from constant cardio, and you’ll turn a surprising number of heads. Which leads to my third point…
3) Instead of obsessing over superheroes, emulate them
I’ve never understood others’ ability to live vicariously through the entertainment they consume. It’s the reason I despise spectator sports, as I do not personally share in the success or failure of the athletes on the field. I approach comic books and superhero films with this same mindset. I couldn’t care less about question such as “Which character would win in a fight, ___ or ___?” Instead, I look to superhero stories for inspiration, seeking to emulate their moral fortitude, indomitable wills, and physical fitness in my own life.
As my regular readers are aware, I had a brief stint as a real life costumed vigilante, but even before I had the idea to patrol the mean streets of Hub City, I started hitting the gym to get myself a body where my washboard abs could be seen through spandex. It’s a mindset to me that’s always seemed entirely intuitive, and I’m still shocked every time I see a morbidly obese convention goer sporting a size triple-XL Superman shirt. So even if you have no intention of ever putting on a cape and cowl and fighting crime, still spend less time talking about superheroes more effort into looking and acting like one.
4) Be buzzed, but don’t overdo it
Of course, heroes demonstrate more than merely good deeds and bulging biceps; they’re also brimming with bravado. Despite my narcissistic egomania, I’m not extremely extroverted. In fact, I’m the most introspective individual imaginable. This is an essential component to any success I’ve found as a philosopher, but is my greatest impediment in making the first move when talking to women. Fortunately, these mental hang-ups are easily medicated with a bit of liquid courage. God invented alcohol as a social lubricant, and in moderation it serves this positive purpose. But learn to walk the fine line between being buzzed and being drunk. With the former, spirits lift one’s spirits with levity and lightheartedness; the later results in the dual dangers of whiskey dick and praying to the porcelain throne all night, neither of which women find particularly attractive.
Moreover – and this should go without saying – never drink and drive. I limit every one of my dates to New Brunswick, Manhattan, and Philadelphia for precisely that purpose. I can walk anywhere here in Hub City (confer entry #1), as well as to the train station. And not drinking at all is just crazy talk.
I’m not an alcoholic. Really.
5) Be cognizant of the persona you put forth
Beyond being fit and confident, if you want to emulate your favorite four-colored comic characters, you’re going to need to adopt a dual identity. Clark and Superman are – in most interpretations – both real sides of the same individual. Neither is a mere mask or a lie, but both put forth a different part of his personality to suit whatever his present purpose is at the time, whether that’s saving the city or empathizing with humanity.
Likewise, unless you’re absolutely sure that a girl is genuinely interested in geek culture and that she finds such to be an attractive quality in men, relegate that aspect of your personality to the secret identity that she doesn’t necessarily know about. Instead, find out what her passions are, and as seemingly opposite to your own as they may be, there’s bound to be some common connection. I’ve dated the extremely liberal aid to a democratic state senator as well as a confederate-flag-bikini clad high school dropout farmgirl who spent a portion of one of our dates outrunning the cops in her old pick-up, and as different as those two girls were from one another, I still managed to find common ground with each.
I’ve personally found a great deal of success as an urbane, classy cowboy particularly because its true to various sides of my actual personality while having the fluidity to appeal to many different demographics. The good ol’ gals fixate on my Midwestern roots and killer rendition of Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” part serenade, part public service announcement. The sorority types see my signature headwear less as Western apparel and more as an indication of a guy who knows how to party, a suspicion confirmed as I buy them all rounds of shots and sweet, fruity, brightly-colored cocktails. And the more sophisticated souls see everything below the cowboy hat: the well-preserved face (always moisturize!), the stylish sartorial sensibilities, and the exacting palate of a former food critic.
The “classy cowboy” persona fits me, but find one that’s true to you. Of course, if that does happen to be any variation on the cowboy theme, do so outside the city limits of New Brunswick. This town ain’t big enough for two of us. Seriously. We will take it outside the bar and I will throw down.
6) Use dating apps as supplement, not a replacement, to real life encounters
If you follow the above advise – stay in shape, dress sharp, go where the women are – you’ll be meeting plenty of women in real life, because it will be immediately evident to them that you’re worth their time and attention. But there’s still a place for dating apps in your daily routine as well. Limit yourself to free services such as OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Tinder. Pay sites actually offer less prospects for meeting potential paramours, as the paywall limits the active user base. It’s a numbers game, and the sheer scale of active users on free sites almost always dwarfs the likes of Match or eHarmony.
When creating your profile, keep the details vague and achieve the most universal appeal possible. Even if you have certain absolute deal-breakers, such as not wanting to date a smoker, omit that detail from your own profile and merely filter out the matches which identify themselves as such. Also to that end, be especially selective with your profile pictures; it’s better to have just one or two particularly attractive photos than to include even a single unflattering shot that will cause an otherwise interested woman to swipe left on you.
7) Message to meet, but keep text conversations to a minimum
When you do match with a woman in online dating, your entire exchange should be with the aim of scheduling an in-person meet-up as soon as possible. The total number of texts sent back and forth should never reach double digits before you propose a concrete time and place for which to meet, with the date being within a week of the first message sent. You’re not looking for a pen pal, after all, and the more information you divulge to one another, the greater the chance of stumbling upon one of her own deal breakers, at which point the energy expended on the exchange will prove wasted. Instead, your messages should break down like so:
The first should make mention of some particular piece of trivia tucked away within her profile, to indicate that you read it. You may want to compliment her appearance in her pictures, but sincere as this may be, it’s usually taken as tacky. End with a question to prompt the direction of the conversation.
The next few messages should be inquiries as to when she is free, as well as what style of cuisine she prefers, or what activities she’d find fun for a first date, with a follow up soon after suggesting the time and place to meet. Once you are confirmed, exchange phone numbers so that she is able to text you in the event that she is running late to your date.
After that, text her cell on the night before or the morning of the meet up, expressing that you’re looking forward to such, mostly as a reminder to her about the date and as final confirmation that it’s taking place. Even so, catfish swim in that big blue sea, and you will find yourself at times sitting at the bar, waiting on a woman that will never arrive, either because she’s a character created by some troll to torture you, or because she was real but flaked out, never having intended to be anything more than an online correspondent. Dating is always a gamble with no guarantees. But like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.
And never, ever, for any reason whatsoever, send an unsolicited dick pic. Nor should you be the first to solicit nudes, especially prior to meeting in person. It lacks class. Which leads to my next point…
8) Keep it classy
Class is how you flash your cash, without being tacky, or even wealthy per se. And while few women are actual gold-diggers, classiness is one of the most universally attractive qualities a man can posses. There are even times when demonstrating class doesn’t cost a penny, such as good manners and courteousness. Holding the door, getting her chair, polite language, “please” and “thank you kindly”s: all are free, and demonstrate you were raised right. The rest require an investment, but it’s well worth what you put in up front, not merely for the payout of amorous affections from the fairer sex, but also all the ways in which a bit of class will make you a much better man. Staying classy is an end in itself, not just a means.
A classy fellow always asks a lady out on a proper date. When you get a girl’s number, never “booty call” or ask her to “hang out.” Maybe the evening ends in enflamed passions, but first fan the fires of romance right by wining-and-dining her with dinner or drinks. You don’t have to break the bank, but the nicer the restaurant the better; there’s no place inherently too fancy, even for a first date. If you can afford a Michelin three-star rated restaurant, go for it. Hole-in-the-walls might have amazing food on occasion, but you’re not just there to fill your stomach. Find a spot with alluring interior décor and exquisite presentation of their plates, in addition to appetizing cuisine. You want to impress upon her that you possess good taste, both in terms of what pleases your palette and in terms of what pleases your eye. Surround her with beauty, and she’ll infer (quite rightly) that you find her equally beautiful.
Likewise, the demonstration of your aesthetic appreciation should be evidenced by your own attire as well. Not even in the blistering heat of the hottest, most humid summer day should you ever wear shorts or sandals on a date; long pants only. A dark pair of designer denims from Armani Exchange, Express, or somewhere similar is acceptable, but never light blue jeans, and never Wranglers, Lee, or the like. Real pants work well, of course. A collared, button-up shirt (slim-fit) is perfectly fine on its own, but better with a blazer, and if you feel a necktie brings the whole ensemble together, I won’t stop you. But if all you have in your wardrobe are plus-sized superhero tees, just don’t even leave your house; delete your dating profile, and see entry #3.
Before before even getting dressed, it should go without say that you shower and shave (or at least trim your ‘stache and beard to a presentable length). If you’re visibly balding, take that razor to the top of your head as well – better to be Mr. Clean than Mr. Costanza. And if your face is breaking out or otherwise blemished, apply concealer to cover up the blotches – as much as necessary, but not so much as she would notice. Let her think you’re naturally well-preserved. And last thing before leaving for the date, musk up.
Finally, never split the check; always pay for all her food and drink, plus any other entertainments on the agenda that evening, and tip well on top of that. Don’t even offer to pay; just presume it falls to you, and do so without comment. If she asks about going dutch, suavely explain that you’re the old-fashioned type that still believes in chivalry. If she’s a more modern, progressive dame, don’t debate her or become argumentative. Simply smile politely, and when the server comes with the bill, hand over you debit and instruct, “All on the one card.”
Trust me, that’s classy as fuck.
10) Be selective and never settle
At this point, you may be wondering whether all this effort is absolutely necessary, perhaps objecting that you know of guys who got girls without slimming down and suiting up; who didn’t take her out at all, let alone picking up the whole check; who didn’t try so hard, maybe even weren’t even looking.
Whether women, or wealth, or fame, or anything and everything else, sometimes life hands these things on a silver platter to a rare and lucky individual. But most men have to work hard to earn money and try hard with women, and there’s no shame in either. And if you’re not trying hard, you almost definitely can and should do better. Don’t be bumping uglies just because you found the one and only woman in the world willing to be with a loser like you; become better and trade up. And up and up and up, until you can’t go any higher; until, like Icarus, you fly too close to the sun and get burned and fall down.
Because contentment breeds discontent, settling today dissatisfaction tomorrow. The Millionaire? The Model? I stopped calling them. And what came after was better than what came before. Now, most every superhero film I watch I look at the female love interest and think to myself, “I’ve done better.”
11) Nut up and die alone
Much to the chagrin of my married friends’ wives, I’m a confirmed bachelor. Sure, I chase tail once or twice a week, but it’s just for sport. If I’m looking for anything to last, to comfort and console me in my old age, it’s the memories I’ve made and continue to make. It’s not that I’ve never experienced the real deal. I couldn’t have become the greatest poet of our generation had I not experienced the kind of love most men only every read about in literature or see in cinema. But learning what love really is likewise taught me what love is not. It dispelled the illusion deluding most modern men that “true love” is a mere admixture of friendship and lust for one and the same woman. “Amor” is more than “philia” + “eros.” Unfortunately, like the Matrix, I cannot tell you what it is; you have to see it for yourself.
Thus, why this article is entitled “Dating Advice for Geeks” and not “Love Advice for Geeks.” Because not even I – who stand in tradition with Petrarch and Dante and Spencer – can share with you those secrets. But I can exhort you, if not to see as I see, then at least to do as I do. Go through life alone, unshackled by the chains of matrimony, uninhibited and unhinder by any will but your own, all the while knowing there’ll be one name engraved upon your tombstone, one casket in your plot.
But maybe avoid telling her that on your date.