This started as a What Not To Do On a Date list for men. But the more women I spoke to, the more clear it became that there is one chief complaint which comes up with women over and over again. A Dating-Don’ts common denominator, if you will.
The complaint is: “Don’t be a cool guy”. In other words, don’t present a vibe you can’t maintain.
We have all experienced dating someone and as the date progresses, or as you go on more dates with this person, their “true self’ finally seeps through. To mixed results.
For the record, women do this too. Cool Girl becomes Crazy Girl. But likely, the only reason she’s deemed (the now very un-PC term) “crazy” is because, as it turns out, she’s not all that chill with you not calling for days. Nor does she—shockingly—actually enjoy spending hours on your couch mastering Call of Duty, chowing down Doritos with you and your buddies. Or going camping in an ACTUAL REAL LIFE TENT, or care to break down the seven wonders of Tom Brady. As it turns out, like many girls, carbs make her spiral, glamping at a yoga retreat is more her jam, and she would, in fact, like you to check-in when you’re out. And that’s OK. That’s allowed. And it’s certainly better than feeling like she needs to be “cool” for you. (On a separate note, I cannot fully confirm she doesn’t want to marvel at Tom Brady.)
A friend of mine once went on a date with a dude who used a fake accent. That’s right. He showed up to the date with a British accent.
By their 40s most men have come to realize that the Anna Faris character from Lost in Translation who’s just “one of the guys”, sings bad karaoke, and shamelessly smells her pits in public doesn’t actually exist—and if she does, let’s be honest, she is probably pretty disgusting. And the Manic Pixie Dream Girl beloved in the early aughts and so perfectly portrayed in movies like Garden State by a borderline pre-pubescent Natalie Portman, in real life would probably make you want to lay in a bathtub with an appliance after about 3 months. Oh, and the laid-back, raspy-voiced ultimate chill girl played by Mila Kunis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was, clearly, written by a man.
All this to say, we are as guilty as men when it comes to presenting what we think you want to find in a girl. But this isn’t about us. For once, this is about you. Just don’t get used to it.
A friend of mine once went on a date with a dude who used a FAKE ACCENT. That’s right. He showed up to the date with a British accent. Alas, the longer the night went on, the more drinks he consumed, the more American he became. By the end of the night, he was just a guy from Ohio who forgot about the shtick he was putting on for his pretty date. As they were saying goodbye, upon realizing he had let his guard down and actually spent the better half of the night speaking as his own dumb-American self, he quickly threw in a good “Cheerio!” for good measure. Really, guy?
To be fair, I realize most men know better than to claim overseas citizenship, but many seem to NOT know how to just be themselves. Feeling comfortable being your most authentic self while newly dating someone can be hard. For men and women. But it is important if you actually want a girl to stick around for the long haul. Assuming you want her to stick around. If you don’t, by all means, go full Alfie.
So, assuming you might be into her, here’s a more common example: what happens if you meet a girl you actually really like, but you showed up spending way more money than you have? A friend of mine who was good enough to cop to having fallen into this trap told me he would take a girl to a fancy dinner well above his means in an effort to woo her, then felt the need to keep up with this baller appearance. When in fact, he was just a normal guy with a normal income. Nothing to be ashamed of. At one point he found himself having to come up with excuses as to why they couldn’t hang. And when the hiking date option got old, things started to fade out. He wanted things to progress but he couldn’t afford, literally, to keep up the false pretense. This was surprisingly not the first time I have heard a story along these lines.
There are a lot of versions of this. The PA who sells himself as a producer. The desk clerk who says he’s a lawyer. The guy living in the mansion his ex-wife’s parents paid for. Or, simply, the dude who pretended to have it all together, but really he’s working hard at getting it together, has a few roommates, and is on his way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things. What is wrong is presenting yourself as something you are not. Eventually, the jig is always up.
Would you want to go out with someone who said they loved sports, but come to find out she doesn’t know her NBA from her MMA and resents you for watching them?
A friend of mine, we will call her Sally, once went on a date with a guy, let’s call him Jim. Jim made the first move and asked Sally out which she was thrilled about. They had met in a coffee shop; he was kind and genuine, so she took a chance. Jim asked Sally to meet him for dinner at 8 pm the following night. Sally arrives at 8 pm and waits until 8:33 pm for Jim to arrive. Not knowing whose name the reservation was under and with Jim not responding to her text, Sally was embarrassed for having waited this long. When Jim arrived, he gave her a cool kiss on the cheek and failed to apologize for the 33 minutes she just spent in hell waiting. He then proceeded to walk in front of Sally, not offering to open the door, and said, “I gotta get a drink now. Am I right, my babe?”
So to recap, Sally met someone who seemed genuine just the day before. He was relaxed, laughing, complimenting her and there was no pressure for either of them. Sally felt a connection to that version of Jim. Just one night later, Jim shows up late, offers no excuses or apologies, and is already calling her a nickname he had not earned. Sally was confused. But OK, maybe he was just nervous in a dating environment.
However, as the date went on things got progressively worse. Jim ordered for Sally without consulting her, commented on her body, and droned on about his great self. Needless to say, Sally did not go out with Jim again. She figured she must have just been fooled by him at the coffee shop. By a twist of fate, Sally ran into Jim a few months later and he was the sweet, unassuming guy she had originally met. He confessed that he had been nervous that night, late because he thought that was the cool thing to do, and flashy because he didn’t want to appear boring.
So with that, Jim ruined his chances with Sally and, as we well know, timing is everything. He had missed his shot with a great girl. The saddest part is he ruined his chances with someone he liked, who had actually liked him for who he really was.
It’s no coincidence my best relationships have been with guys who started out as my friends. I knew them and they knew me—as the real versions of ourselves. Worts and all. In friendship, there is rarely room or reason to pretend to be someone you’re not. There’s also very little room for the romance of mystery; some things are admittedly better not overshared, ie. Carl, I didn’t need to know which newspaper you like to peruse on the toilet for hours on end. But that’s another topic for another day.
The nonsensical part of all this is that no guy actually wants to be liked for his job, social standing, or money in the bank, any more than a girl wants to be liked for her boobs, per se (as a crude example). Yet that’s always the first thing we lead with. On a separate but not completely unrelated note, I don’t actually think any guy would mind being liked for his pecs. But that’s a topic for another day. My point is, wouldn’t it save us all a whole lot of time if we just came in as our real self, and save everyone the trouble later?
An argument one could make is that you need a hook to get your foot in the door. Sure. There’s something to be said for that. My brother once told a girl he, too, liked to paint, just to meet her at her art class. In fact, he had not picked up a paintbrush since the sixth grade in Mrs. Dalloul’s class and couldn’t paint you a bowl of fruit. No matter, once there, he charmed the apron right off her, and years later they were still together. The point is, once he showed up, he showed up as just one hobby short of his truest self.
I suppose men don’t have that ticking clock women have. Maybe they don’t mind taking the time to experiment with the various versions of themselves, any more than they mind trying on different color-haired avatars.
Regardless, would you want to go out with someone who said they loved sports, but come to find out she doesn’t know her NBA from her MMA and resents you for watching them? No. Let the girl who hates sports date the guy who doesn’t spend his Sundays glued in front of ESPN. Would you want to go out with a girl who spouts off about Dostoevsky and Rembrandt only to find out later she really just wants to sit around watching The Kardashians instead of cozying up in a cabin with a good book or going to a museum? No. Let that girl date whoever that douche is, and give those clever bookworm gals a chance.
Be the guy who has the balls to show up and talk about the things you are actually interested in no matter how nerdy or obscure they may be. Passion is captivating. Be the guy who talks about what you ARE doing in life—-or even, God forbid, NOT doing. It’s okay to not have it all figured out. It’s even okay to fail or to struggle. Let us be a part of that. That’s how you make a connection. And the girl who doesn’t respond to that should be with the guy faking his accent in a bar because he’s watched Love Actually one too many times and hopes to get into a threesome with Denise Richards.
Be brave men. Be yourself because when you’re not, you’re wasting your time and ours. We eventually will see through it or you eventually will get exhausted trying to keep up with a façade of your own making, and completely unable to connect. Whether you’re willing to admit it now or not, you most likely want to end up with someone who likes you. It starts with the simple step of presenting the world with exactly who that is.
Unless you is the bro in the affliction shirt making direct eye-contact in the gym, but that’s a topic for another story.