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!!!NEW!!! The Problem With "Casual" Dating

!!!Brand Spankin' New!!! - Blow Job Week

5 First Date Faux Pas

Keeping it Cuming in a Couple

Taken because they're hot? Or hot because they're taken?

6.2.17

Seriously, though? What the hell does that mean?

You know that phase that America went through were it was uncool for high school kids to be smart? TV shows like Boy Meets World, Full House, and Family Matters would feature really cool, attractive kids who didn't do their homework and struggled with basic arithmetic, juxtapositioned against very uncool, extremely unattractive super nerds who were taking AP astrophysics and interning for NASA in the 10th grade. This is the phase that Americans are now going through when it comes to relationships. Real, actual, bonafide relationships are suddenly uncool. Commitment is for nerds. Talking about feelings is lame. Only geeks want to know where things stand. Better to let things go with the flow, no questions asked, not even about STI status. Americans are trying everything in their power not to end up like Urkel, and like that era of TV I fear it'll take a few decades before we look back at this unfortunate cool kid moment in cultural history and see how ridiculous we actually look.  

On the one hand it makes complete and total sense. America is a puritanical country, plain and simple. It isn't nearly as liberal is it would like to believe it is, still lets little girls play with Barbies who don't have vaginas (because vaginas are scary,) and would rather elect an actual harbinger of the apocalypse to the highest political office in the land - who is openly sexist and even predatory, I might add - than (gasp!) a woman. 

So yeah...it's bad. At least when it comes to the way men and women relate to each other, and expectedly so. Rather than actually improving the foundation on which men and women relate to themselves, each other, and sex in this country, America has been taking some sloppy short cuts to sexual liberation, one of which is casual dating. I see it as the equivalent of when an ultraconservative, 50-something year old who thinks being gay is a choice and premarital sex is a sin gets a cartilage piercing and thinks they're now radically progressive. 

So first, what does actual progression look like? 

It starts with an assumed equality between men and women, not in terms of believing that we are exactly the same (because we aren't,) or believing that we always want the same things or do things for all the same reasons (because we don't,) but simply relating to each other as human beings first. This changes the dynamic of dating at its very core. In societies that aren't predicated on polarizing the genders until puberty, and even then mingling only for the purposes of dating, hooking up and, effectively, breeding, men and women are actually friends. They don't socialize in odd same sex packs and date as though they're on the Discovery Channel trying to separate one lucky, vulnerable gazelle from the herd. They have actual conversations without agendas, and can enjoy things like sexual tension and flirtation without expectations, stigmas, resentments, etc.  

This realization is what caused me to start seriously studying French culture. After a while it was easy to see the root of the problem that leads to weird, hypocritical behavior in America. Behavior like, people claiming to be deeply religious, frowning on so called promiscuity, meanwhile these people are not virgins, they aren't married and need all fingers, toes and nose hairs on which to count their lovers. People who claim they are progressive and sexually liberal but still expect women to dutifully hide their tampons up their sleeves on the way to the bathroom, think period sex is gross, think a 3:1 oral sex ratio in a relationship is perfectly normal and despite their aversion to female fluids don't understand why women don't seem to want semen in their faces like the ones on the internet. And speaking of the internet, you've got the folks who watch aggressive, exaggerated porn to excess but simultaneously mark a girl's cards if she talks openly about her sexuality, has had "too many" sex partners or the wrong kind of threesome. 

It all comes down to one common denominator - shame.

Shame is at the root of American sexuality, which leads to really, really weird behavior. It leads to closet porn addicts. People who spend their adolescence in a perpetual state of involuntary arousal with no relief in sight, only to go onto more and more extreme varieties of sexual expression once they actually can. There's the unfortunate rape culture in the country, as the genders grow up so ridiculously separate and sheltered from all things sexual, so that by the time sexual expression and behavior finally is appropriate both genders have poor emotional schooling and maturity around the matter. Women become objects in society rather than subjects to be seen, admired, lusted after, catcalled and acquired. Boys are taught to brag about what base they got to in the locker room and eventually score (hello Grease) while girls are taught to keep their knees together lest their net worth decrease with every orgasm. Even those who are drawn to a more liberal lifestyle are aware of the problems that can arise from talking about it - because sex is not something you talk about, despite the obvious truth that people are dying to talk about it! Just look at most of the internet and the success of poorly written (sorry, E.L. but you know it was fan fic) smut such as 50 Shades.

Much like the thirteen year old girl whose parents refuse to talk about sex and acknowledge sexuality to the extent that she doesn't own a real bra even though she needs one and is restricted to maxi pad use only, America is like that thirteen year old girl who desperately wants to look and be mature but just hasn't been given the tools. Thus, rather than showing up to school in a flowing silk top, form fitting jeans and a proper fucking bra, America comes to school in high button tops, itchy sweaters and long pleated skirts, only to change into low rise jeans, midriff baring tops and too much eyeliner in the bathroom. Because when you refuse to acknowledge that sex is a natural part of life, it proceeds to manifest in the most unnatural of ways. 

Casual dating is just one of them. 


Do not confuse casual dating with casual sex. They are not interchangeable

Casual sex actually makes sense. It's sex...with no strings attached. Under this umbrella falls one night stands, booty calls, booty calls on repeat, hooking up at parties, getting drunk at bars and making out (and more) without a care, sex with a cute stranger on vacation, basically anything in Vegas. You get the point. 

But casual...dating? How exactly does one date without strings attached? 

The problem with dating is that it carries certain expectations. Dating is relationshipping in its preliminary stages. We have very clear cut, American ideals surrounding not only what dating is, but what it means. Coffee. Dinner. Dinner and a movie. Drive through movies. Necking. Going steady - not that anyone goes steady and exchanges letterman jackets anymore. This is what dating looks like. And in terms of what it means, or rather, what it's for, it's a discovery phase, or a vetting process. If you're asking someone on multiple dates, or getting asked on multiple dates (by the same person) and things are progressing, ask any red blooded American and they can tell you where things are typically progressing to, whether that destination is spoken or not. It doesn't have to be spoken because there are literally hundreds of years of precedent - dating leads to relationships. Dating rituals are as deeply ingrained into our society as our awkward, shameful feelings about sex, and it would be one thing to simply abandon the old structure and adopt another, or make new rules altogether. But casual dating seeks to merge two completely different sets of rules surrounding sex and dating that fundamentally contradict each other. 

A healthy example of not quite dating:
I was seeing a French man for, oh let's say, three months. It began very simply. We'd been hanging out, watching a movie, and then we had sex. And then began this thing that Americans call dating. Except it wasn't. Not exactly. It included brunch, breakfast, dinners, more movies, bars, social gathering and lots and lots and lots of sex. But very early on, probably one of our first nights out after said sex, we had a conversation that established that despite our arrangement we were not exclusive, or necessarily looking for exclusivity. This conversation wasn't negative or discouraging. Quite the opposite. It allowed things to flourish within clear parameters without anyone getting jealous, confused, angry or hurt. Now granted, during this time we never spoke of other lovers - at least not other present lovers - and when things came to a platonic end we remained good friends. But this is very different from the behaviors that many consider to be casual dating today, because at no point was one of us unsure about where things were headed, or if they were headed anywhere. The terms, if you will, were always clear, which is perfectly sensible and necessary to have a successful relationship of any kind. When the terms changed (i.e.: when things became platonic) this was expressly communicated, not vaguely implied via a serious of unanswered text messages or awkward off the cuff remarks here and there. 

Many take casual dating to mean a zero responsibility/benefits only version of the thing. It means expecting that emotions will not exist, or if they do that because both parties understand that it's casual, they won't be talked about. Or if they are talked about this is grounds for ending the "casual" relationship, because no one wants to talk about feelings. They're too messy. It means operating on shaky ground forged of loose assumptions and unasked questions, because until one person comes out and says, "do you want to be boyfriend/girlfriend," anything goes. It almost always means one party wanting and expecting more than the other is prepared to give, but having no idea their feelings aren't reciprocated because, again, talking is the enemy. It relies on an uncomfortable zone of vagueness and mystery which is not all that sexy when you consider the STI's out there that even condoms can't guarantee protection from. (Get that HPV vaccination, folks.) 

It's trying to fit the ideas of casual sex inside the structure of traditional dating. Unfortunately, one of these things is a triangle, and the other is a fucking square.

We're in a place now where we know that we don't want boring old vanilla sex, and we don't want to spend night after night getting off on elicit websites, but most Americans do not have the emotional schooling and sexual maturity to effectively manage the kinds of relationships that would fulfill them sexually. So instead they rely on shame to facilitate unavailable relationships that almost always end in various levels of disaster due to an inability to do a very simple thing - just talk honestly about their sexual/romantic desires. 

To be clear, I am not by any means trying to say that if you aren't out there courting for marriage that there is something wrong with you. What I am saying, however, is that if you're out there courting for sex, you aren't dating. That just isn't the inherent meaning of the word, and while I am a bit of a stickler and firmly believe that, yes, words matter, it is much more a matter of precedent than that of vocabulary. 

To be fair, the French don't have a word for dating, so Americans don't necessarily need a word for...whatever the heck it is that is happening in that messy grey area between single and in-a-relationship for those that are not necessarily looking to transition from one status to the other. But regardless of whether we can neatly define it in a quick word or phrase, what we do need, and what I fear we do not have, is the mutual care and respect for each other as human beings, not opportunities or options for sex, and the emotional maturity to first identify our own desires for ourselves so as to be transparent with each other about whatever the hell we're doing, regardless of what we decide to call it. 

Two adults participating in the same activity and either defining it differently or not knowing how to define or describe it at all is not adults dating "casually." It's the equivalent of first graders sitting in the SAT and drawing stick figures all over their multiple choice, or writing plotless stories about unicorns and trees with their twenty world vocabulary in their blue books. And to an extent, yeah, it isn't their fault they don't know how to write a proper essay yet. But it's also understood that until then they stay the heck away from the SAT.  

It's not that you can't have fun and enjoy life. But the reality is that even the most detached, emotionally vacant human beings have emotions in there somewhere, and however easy it may be for some to jump into bed sex is just not inherently safe enough these days to be taken lightly. If you're one of those that can't stand convention and you want to go against the grain? - Great! This is for you! Get out there and exercise some emotional maturity. It isn't even trending yet, so you can say you were doing it before the hipsters. 

You can absolutely take every relationship as it comes, whatever that means, but you don't get to skirt the work involved with any interpersonal interaction, down to basic communication, and then let yourself off the hook for such negligence because "it's casual," "millennials date differently nowadays," or some other lame variation of but everyone is doing it. Hell, if Kathy contracted HPV from some guy because she didn't know he was sleeping with other women but she never asked and he never brought it up, would you go out there and do it too?

Didn't think so. 

I mean, hopefully in a decade or so American "dating" culture will graduate from high school. But until then, I beg you, please do not resort to being the emotional equivalent of a cool kid in Saved By The Bell. Communicate carefully and deliberately. Treat your fellow humans with respect. 

Basically...do your damn homework.  



31.1.17


5 Things On Early Dates That Kill Your Chances


First dates are tough. I get it. If you're dating for more than short term sex it's an odd predicament. It has all the personal stress of an audition or a job interview, as you realize that to an extent you're being evaluated. But it also carries the responsibilities of being that casting director or hiring manager, as you are also paying close attention to the person in front of you and deciding whether you want to go out with them again. 

As a result a funny thing can happen on what should be an otherwise pleasurable experience. Feeling pressure from both sides can cause people to treat early dates a lot more awkwardly than they would treat, say, just a casual hangout. Normally balanced, confident people can find themselves being suddenly passive and insecure. Maybe they find their date intimidating, or maybe they're insecure about something like their height, weight or salary. This can cause them to seem boring when really they're just super nervous. Alternatively, some people take the audition angle way too far and approach first dates with boisterous entitlement. They make comments throughout the evening literally letting their date know they are evaluating them, and how they measure up to their expectations. Now this normally laid back person comes across as arrogant and kind of rude.

At the end of the day, no one is going to go on a second or third date with you, or consider turning things into a relationship if they don't enjoy being around you.

Here are five dating faux pas to avoid if you want to make sure your texts are returned, and not with some weird excuse about having to stay home to apply the gerbil's fungal cream. 

1. Making physical evaluations about your date to their face

This should be obvious. It should be really, really obvious. But alas...it is not. 

On the one hand, yeah, it's really disappointing to meet someone online, go out on the date, and realize that they misrepresented themselves physically. When it's a clear and deliberate misrepresentation and the thing that was misrepresented is of importance to you, it's easy to be hurt and angry. 

On the other hand, not everyone is quite as focused on the physical aspect of dating. If that's the case, they may not think of their profile pictures the way a more looks oriented person might. They're not headshots, they're just pictures of them living their life. Who cares if their hair is shorter now, or curly today, or their mustache is gone, or they're doing Novembeard. 

For example, if your date turns up without the thick beard you thought was so sexy online, it's kind of rude to point that out. The same goes for saying you thought they'd be taller, or thinner, or thought their breasts were bigger, etc. Or the opposite - that you're glad they're tall enough for you, in shape, or have a "feminine" figure. And this isn't just limited to online dating. Maybe you met them through mutual friends, or at work, or at a bar. Maybe they're exactly what you look for physically in the opposite sex. Still, sharing your criteria and how they measure up is not first date conversation. It's one thing to say, "you look great," or the classic, "you clean up nice." That's a sweet compliment. But looking over your date's physique with a tiny clipboard and golf pencil in hand is never the move.

If your date is more prone to insecurity they'll be hurt and uncomfortable. If they're pretty secure, you'll come off as a superficial jerk. 

Either way, they're probably not going to want to go out with you again. 

2. Being Rude

Again, isn't this obvious? 

Well...apparently not. 

First, if you have to concentrate on not being rude in general, it may be a good idea to forego dating until you become...well...a better person. But let's assume for the purposes of this article that rudeness is not the rule, but an odd exception that happens to you due to nerves and pressure on dates.

If this is you, focus particularly hard on not being rude to these two people:

- Your server (or the waitstaff in general)
- Your date. 

The Waitstaff

People come from all different walks of life. Just because someone has their own marketing business now doesn't mean they've never bussed a table, tended bar, or worked a holiday overnight in a retail store. Particularly if you've worked or currently work in the service industry, seeing someone who is rude to waitstaff or enters with an unreasonable sense of entitlement is highly unattractive. 

If not for personal reasons, the waitress test is a pretty well known first date test as well. The theory is that how a person treats service workers is indicative of their true character, so regardless of how well they're behaving with you today, what you see in six months will be closer to how they treat the staff.

But what does rude look like exactly? Basically being rude to your waitstaff is anything you might do to suggest that you be prioritized over others, that exceptions be made for you or that your expectations haven't been met, particularly if you directly communicate this, and particularly if you do so in a negative tone or with negative suggestions in an attempt to put extra pressure on the staff and gain special treatment.

First, even if the service is bad, you'll get a lot farther with the staff and with your date if you handle this gracefully. So, if you've shamelessly told a different server, the hostess, and the person cleaning up the table across from you that your drinks haven't arrived yet, you may want to slow down. If you find yourself saying the words, "but it's your job," or "but it's their job," you've gone too far. If something arrives at your table and you use the word finally - yeah, here's looking at you.

A little secret about the service industry. They know how long you've been waiting, because, as you so gracefully pointed out, it is their job. They don't enjoy snide comments from strangers any more than you enjoy waiting a long time for your dinner. Chances are it isn't personal and they're doing the best they can to catch up and service everyone.

And in the rare instances that the service is personal - guess what? That attitude isn't helping.

More importantly, you have not been sent by Open Table to review the restaurant. You're on a date! Your job right now is to ask questions, tell your stories, get to know each other and generally just have a good time. If you think someone's idea of a good time is listening to you berate the waitstaff, you've got another thing coming.

Or rather - you probably don't have another thing coming.

Like if that thing is a second date. 

Your Date

Regarding your date, this should be a no brainer but somehow it is not. Perhaps it's the pressure of the word date that makes certain common courtesies go out the window? But regardless of why, avoid these rude mistakes. 

Do not trivialize and/or critique your date's values. Whether it's religion, politics, diet, whatever, this is not a place to determine the validity of these things. It's to get to know the other person. A playful debate that is mutual? Sure. That's fine. But asking someone to justify a belief to you does not belong on a first date. It's just disrespectful. What's the difference? Okay...

Regular Questions:
So what made you decide to become a vegetarian? 
How did you feel about the election?
Oh, no carbs? Have you always avoided them, or?

Inappropriate Questions:
So you don't eat meat but your bag is leather? 
It doesn't make you feel weird to have voted for a racist criminal? 
You know no carb diets aren't actually healthy. There are better ways to lose weight.

Forcing someone onto the defensive isn't playful banter...it's rude. Especially when it's about something they clearly care about. The difference can be as subtle as semantics, but it may make the difference between, "yeah I know a great coffee shop down the street," and, "actually, I need to get home to feed my cat." 

Do not ignore and/or cross your date's boundaries. Maybe you're out at a restaurant and some couples get up and start dancing. You love to dance, so you ask your date. They decline, and explain that they don't like to dance, or maybe they do but they don't know how to dance to this music, or maybe they know how but they consider it a more intimate experience and would prefer not to do it with a near stranger. Standing up, grabbing their hands and using your full body weight to yank them out of their seat and onto the dance floor might seem hilarious and fun to you, but it definitely isn't fun for them. Or maybe they confide something that they consider embarrassing or private, and you shout it out to the restaurant as a "joke." Or maybe they tell you they prefer not to talk about money on dates but you keep talking about your salary and bonuses, how much your car costs, ask them how much their apartment costs, etc.

When in doubt, just ask yourself this simple question: Am I making my date feel good or bad?

And then ask, if I'm making them feel bad, why would they want to ever see me again?  

3. Exploitative Behaviors

Taking an interest in someone's hobby, interest, or job is one thing. But taking an interest for your own personal gain is another. 

Examples:

Yeah, so I'm a doctor up at Lenox Hill.
Are you? That's really great because you know what, I have this pain in my foot. What do you think that could be?

I'm a bartender over at this cigar lounge in the Meat Packing District.
That's amazing, I've been looking for a place to go with my buddies for my birthday in a month. You think you could get us a discount?

I'm a physical therapist. 
Nice. So that means you give good massages?

I mean come on, it's obvious. In case you don't watch Curb Your Enthusiasm - asking people to essentially do their jobs for free when they're on their own time is not cool. Some people will politely answer one or two questions or attempt to change the subject. Others will just let you have it after a while, and I can't blame them. This is annoying even when it comes to random strangers at bars, but on a date, leave alone a first date? Come on! You're supposed to be showing me a good time, not requesting my services for free off the back of what is beginning to amount to a bad date. 

More importantly, people don't like being used. So how about just...don't.

4. Inconsiderate Behavior

So when you're single, it's really easy to imagine you and your significant other doing all your favorite things together like it's some kind of movie montage. But trying to copy and paste a person into a vacant slot in your own life, as opposed to figuring out who they are and creating a path together does not a great first date make. 

Example:

You like to make an impression with your first dates, especially when you're excited about someone. Something elegant and high end. A fancy steak house is usually your restaurant of choice.

Unfortunately, your date is a vegetarian. Now true, steak houses don't only have steak, but think about how your date feels as you pursue a three page menu and they are forced to decide between two fish entrees (if they even eat fish, which they may not) or try to group together a salad and a bunch of sides and call it a meal.

If you're not a vegetarian you might think that vegetarians are in this position all the time. But on the contrary, most vegetarians don't just eat salad, or put themselves in limiting positions like dining out at restaurants that are primarily known for their meat options. If you're not sure, just ask, but don't assume your date will be content to scrounge up scraps to make a meal while you live it up in your comfort zone.

Other similar dietary restrictions may include but are not limited to: food allergies, gluten free, organic only.

Do not assume that these things are trivial. A gluten allergy is serious - no they can't just have one slice of pizza because they are with you. The peanut allergy will be an issue in the Thai restaurant. Your date with the seafood allergy doesn't need to order seafood, true. But they also don't need to sit across from you itching all night because you just had to have crab cakes. And you might find it pretentious that someone refuses to eat fast food and think inviting them to a Dos Toros, a Papaya Dog or an Applebees is some kind of challenge, but forcing someone to eat unhealthy food or, if they refuse, sit there with a soda as you eat is highly inappropriate behavior.  

Other examples:

You invite your date to a fancy wine bar knowing they don't drink. You figure, they don't have to order alcohol. 

Your date told you via several pre-date conversations that they aren't into parties and clubs. So you invite them to a loud club. You figure they can just try it out. Then when they're visibly uncomfortable you ask them something like, "so what do you like to do for fun." 

I could go on. 

If finding common ground is so difficult that you can't find something to do that you both enjoy, it might boil down to basic compatibility issues and maybe the two of you shouldn't be going on a date at all. But if it's possible to find common ground - do it! Your date should not feel like they are serving out a sentence for being out with you.

Personally, I have a rule. I do not date down. When I say that, I'm not talking about weighing my own status against that of my date's. I mean, I don't date someone who makes me less happy than I am when I am on my own. If I'm sitting across from someone at various levels of discontent, chances are I'm going to opt not to see them again.

Note: Down the line it is appropriate to expect a certain level of compromise. Relationships are all about compromise. However, due to very important factors like, oh say, love and respect, these compromises tend not to include things like moral beliefs, health/safety concerns, and core values.

That said, expecting a first date to push those things to the wayside because the pleasure of your company is worth it is unrealistic.

Also selfish and...egotistical? Kind of universally unattractive qualities, especially when you're dating if you know where I'm going with that...

5. Spouse Shopping

This is a really easy trap to fall into when you realize you're ready for a serious relationship. Maybe you've been playing the field for a long time, or maybe you were in a long term relationship that wasn't quite right and you're ready to find the right one. You're excited about eventually settling down. You've got close friends in marital bliss and you're ready for your own. These are all awesome things.

But this very mindset can often translate to treating dating like an audition process.

What does this look like?

I've been on some pretty terrible first dates where people asked me questions that seemed innocuous and conversational at first, but were later revealed to be very specific questions designed to determine whether I would be an ideal wife or mother to their children. Questions like how I felt about women who keep their own last name after marriage, people who refuse to vaccinate their children, stay at home mothers versus working mothers, daycare centers versus live in nannies. I've been asked whether or not I cook because the man I was out with couldn't marry a woman that doesn't cook. Or whether I knew when to curb the fierce proclamation of my political beliefs, because the man I was out with wondered if I'd be a good partner to take to his work functions.

On first dates!!!

These are not first date questions!

One of the consequences of gender inequality can be seen in the dating dynamic, where men tend to see themselves in the driver's seat doing the choosing, and women are conditioned to want to be chosen in a general and often indiscriminate way. But the problem here is that these issues are things that will come up naturally in relationships at an appropriate time. When you're actually in love and engaged you can discuss what to do about last names, and children, and religion, and politics. People with different beliefs wind up in happy marriages all the time. But these discussions are facilitated with, again, love and respect, so that the people involved come to agreements they can both be comfortable with. These marriages do not arise from one person sitting there like a Meryl Streep wearing Prada and the other jumping through conversational hoops to prove they are the ideal candidate for the job.

Furthermore, as unpleasant as it is to realize your date is interviewing you for the position of girlfriend/wife, if you engage in this behavior you are actually doing yourself a huge disservice. You are not allowing your date to get to know you, or even to get to like you, and you aren't getting to know your date either! You're bypassing the most important part of the thing you claim to want - foundation.

Bottom line: Maybe you already know - or think you know - that you want to marry a Jewish person, who is a fantastic cook, who wants four kids, who wants to live in San Francisco, who you'll have two dogs and a cat with. But by treating your date like an interview or audition and measuring them against what amounts to be premature criteria for a hypothetical marriage, you miss out on the actual person sitting across from you.

Also, you're very likely going to miss out on another date with them.

So for the well meaning folks out there, I hope this helped. Please avoid these faux pas and keep yourself in the dating game.

And for those of you that are possibly a little head strong, if you see yourself in any of these five faux pas...

C'mon hun.

Do better. 

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