Recently I was asked to weigh in on this topic and I’ve been reluctant to actually put pen to paper and make it so. Yes, I do most first drafts in pulp and ink because I am in fact a pilgrim, but you may begin to understand my quandary. My reluctance is not so much to violate Bro Code but in fact to reveal all the crippling insecurities of an old-fashioned quasi-educated man in his late twenties. However, there is a column due and I am out of options.
In today’s modern world you can connect with somebody through any of a dozen channels. You may be friends, friends of friends, colleagues, faces on a Tinder app or matches on one of a plethora of online dating sites. However you’ve met, once the date is scheduled the anticipation begins. Ladies, I’m sure you’d like to know just what a man’s thinking as you ease into the ageless drama of getting to know each other. Well…
1. Am I Handsome Enough?
Ladies, you may not know this but you’re all beautiful creatures. Yes, every single one of you. Don’t believe me? Museums across the globe are dedicated to the fineness of the female form. The curves, the hair, the delicate bits, the sparkle in your eyes, yes, we dig all these things. No matter what your personal hangups may be, when you get right down to it, if a guy’s on a date with you he’s probably thought about you naked. We can’t help it. But apart from the lasciviousness is a dreadful, accompanying doubt.
You may have fashion magazines and Photoshopped celebrities telling you what you should look like, but men also have ideals to stack up against. Because each woman is automatically desired, we’re wondering if we’re desirable to you too. Have we groomed ourselves properly? Will you overlook our worser features? Is my hairline too sheer, is that blemish noticeable in the cafe light, do I look like a dude she’d happily add to her Facebook timeline?
Dating is all about attraction and, believe it or not, we want you to be attracted to us just like we’re attracted to you.
2. Does She Want Me or Does She Want Dinner & a Diatribe?
I’ve been reading the internet long enough to know that some women out there think it’s a secret that agreeing to a date is sometimes just an excuse for a free meal. Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but we know. Why do we still go through with it? Well, two reasons: One, because it’s also no secret that we think we can change your mind. And two, see above. You’re beautiful creatures we are often powerless to resist. Even when we’re broke. Just as we wonder whether or not we’re good looking enough for you, we’re also wondering whether you’re really into the date or if you just want to eat and vent.
I have been on more than one date that seemed to be progressing normally until I was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of fury over an ex-boyfriend, -lover, -husband, etc. Or a sister or a father or a co-worker. A bad date is disposable and thus an excuse to unload the stuff you wouldn’t say to people who hold you to some sort of standard. Every guy is wary of becoming an audience to a conflict he had nothing to do with (we can start plenty on our own).
3. How Much Baggage Will I Have to Unpack?
Somewhat related to #2. The older you get, the more dating becomes less about exploring a new friend and more about bracing for the deal-breakers. There are certain things you like and certain things you don’t like and, by the time you’re out of college (or simply approaching your mid-twenties), hooking up becomes half detective work. You know what personal demons you’re bringing to the table but the mademoiselle across from you may have skeletons in her closet bigger than Godzilla. Though I’m sure that would make for an excellent story.
4. How Many Dates Will It Take?
Is this the sex one? This is the sex one.
Now some of you fortunate, frisky people out there may experience the thrill that is first-date sex – which comes with its own benefits and baggage. But for the rest of us (me), seldom are we host to such serendipity. Discounting hookups and booty calls and two-Pabsts-too-many at the local hoedown, a first date is a blank slate upon which to make your case for humpability.
I’d like to be fair here: I have plenty of input from the ladies in the audience that they’re just as eager to do the no-pants-dance as their Y-chromosoned counterparts – assuming, of course, they’re worth it. For men, well, see #1.
Is it crass to say that on the first date we’re wondering which date is her lucky number and, thus, our lucky number? It’s just the facts, ma’am. But there is one more thing we’re wondering.
5. Do We Have Anything to Talk About?
I’d love to say that sex isn’t an option when two people have nothing to talk about but between you and me and desperation we know that’s simply not true. However, guys do wonder if the evening will be a struggle to make small talk or if it will be a lightning round of cinematic banter.
Something funny happens between men and women going at it and it usually occurs somewhere inside the initial date. I refer to it as “the flip.” This is that magic light switch moment when the girl you’re talking to becomes someone you want to talk to.
Even the smoothest lothario will admit that engaging in conversation with the opposite sex is inherently nerve-wracking. This is because you care about what you’re saying and how you come off to someone you’re attracted to. But, apart from the potential for sexiness and apart from wanting to make a good first impression, and apart from the fact that she’s a beautiful creature and we are shambling apes, there is always the nugget of hope that the girl is something even more special.
Whether it’s something she says or a look she gives or any of a million subtle signs, there will come a moment when a date no longer seems like a chore but a genuine, enjoyable experience.
It sounds silly but it’s rare enough to call romance. We’re looking for it too, ladies.
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Pierce Nahigyan is a writer and performer living in the Southland. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Gazers News and SHK Magazine. A proud member of DearVagina's editorial staff, he is also a staff writer for the progressive newsletter NationofChange and a co-founder of the Orange County Improv Collective.