Dating For Intelligent People Who Want More Information: A Less Insulting Dating for Dummies

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Um, Ms. SM, I’m back. I think I’ve replaced Lucy with you. So I’m gonna do it – I’m gonna go and ask my little Red-Haired Girl out (in reality she’s a dirty blonde freshman). Now I know this sounds pathetic/elementary but how should I act/conduct myself on a date and what counts as a “date” at Swarthmore? Do we have to leave campus? Can I just ask her to some campus activity? And if the latter works how do I ask her in a way that she doesn’t misconstrue as me asking her on a friend-date. Charlie Brown has been friend-zoned far too many times. It’s time for me to finally win (at baseball of course)
– The Barber’s Son

(Asker will be referred to as male and askee as female as the questions were asked with these genders in place. As always, the situations should be applicable to all gender presentations and sexual identities.)

Hey TBS, I’m sorry your question kind of got pushed to the wayside for other time sensitive articles, but I hope this is still relevant. And dates seem like a perfectly fine way to springboard back into our regularly scheduled, less politically-charged programming.

First off, nothing is too elementary. I’m sure there are others out there who aren’t totally sure about dates either.

The beauty and frustration of the matter is that this is Swarthmore, so pretty much anything can be considered a date – walks through the Crum, lectures, even study time. But if you’re worried about being friend-zoned, your best bet is probably to suggest an activity that is not on campus. It is possible to convey that school events are dates, but it’s usually in the tone and body language you use during your ask. Ideally, you’ll display the look most people give a particularly juicy looking burger before they eat it, combined with the tone of Samantha Jones saying “I’m in PR” (3×12 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). I have never been able to do this without giggling or looking like Liz Lemon’s attempt at being a hooker, which I feel is probably pretty common among Swarthmore students. If you feel like you’re up to the challenge, more power to you, but otherwise it’s easier to stick to more exotic activities.

Exotic does not have to mean a weird idea. I would strongly discourage everything suggested in last week’s column. You can get there eventually if it really floats your collective boat, but they’re all either horrible ideas or really specialized for a first date. Exotic really just means something that Swat students don’t necessarily do all the time, from going out to see movies to playing hopscotch to eating food that was not mass-produced.

There’s a lot of pressure to make dates totally unique, and while that’s great as a bonus, the real point of a date is to get to know each other and gauge romantic/sexual interest. I have had some unusual dates, but the ones that I remember most have a lot more to do with how great the person across from me was than what exactly we were doing.

And sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. One of my favorite TV episodes ever is the Bones episode (2×07 The Girl with the Curl. Yes, I watch a lot of television, and no, I did not have to look up the episode or title) when Angela and Hodgins ride on swings for their first date. That’s it. Just swings. It was endlessly adorable and poignant and probably the only time I have ever seen something and had the urge to scream “Be with each other forever and have tons of awesome sex and babies!” You don’t have to come up with or execute an idea that no one has ever thought of before to have a great date.

I could tell you not to be nervous, but that would be like telling you not to get an itch – it’s kind of outside of your control and telling you so will just make you think about it and probably annoy the heck out of you. I have been guilty of the 20-outfit-changes predate routine and memorizing innocuous yet interesting conversation topics, but the thing to remember is that if someone agrees to go on a date with you, she already knows what you look like and enough information about you that she decided she wanted to go out with you.

Telling you to be yourself may sound totally afterschool special, but it’s still true. It doesn’t mean that you should reveal deep personal secrets, talk about all your exes, or describe your bathroom activity, but within basic social reason, you shouldn’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Basic social reason does include things like making eye contact, not being overly handsy, and chewing with your mouth closed, but hopefully these things were covered somewhere along the line as basic manners for all social interactions.

If your date likes you and you lied, without a doubt eventually that’s going to become an issue. If your date doesn’t like you and you were being yourself, it’s better that you both know where you stand earlier rather than 6 months in when you’re having multiple weekly sleepovers.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that dates should be fun. Whatever you’re doing and however you do it, it should make y’all happy. Cheesy? Yes. Accurate? Also yes.

The Phoenix

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