Monday, October 3, 2011

Modular Dating

So I have some relationship advice columns that ran on my more normalized job for a dating website that I thought I'd repost here from time to time if I thought they were particularly helpful and/or popular since the advice might be good for people in relationships too and a buying a subscription to a dating website just to read my column might seem strange to your partner.

I'm sure my advice works for men, but I doubt many read my blog.
 Modular Dating

Dinner and a movie is a tried and true dating trope because it actually plays on a concept that I’ve been apparently practicing for years (and I just now labeled it, which goes to show how procrastinatory I can be about labels). Modular dating is the simple concept of having individual, wholly functional units of entertainment strung together to allow for continuation or discontinuation of a date with the least amount of fuss or awkwardness. If this all sounds highly technical, don’t worry, I’m a relationship expert, I spent a lot of time in my lab mixing chemicals in a lab coat to make sure it all works before I brought this to you.

We’ve all been a situation where a date was going so well that we wanted it to continue, but, at the end of the listed things set out at the start of the date, we kind of ran out of ideas and the date ended early and awkwardly because we just didn’t have anything else on the schedule, and you’re usually having a hard time thinking straight around the people on those kinds of dates, so thinking of something new wasn’t going to happen. Or, and this is probably more common, you were on an obscenely bad date and you just wanted out, but you’d listed X, Y, and Z as the things you were going to do at the outset of the date, and you both end up trudging through all those activities, even though neither of you want to, simply because that was the schedule and nobody wants to be rude. There’s a fix:  modular dating.

Regardless of who is planning the date, and as lesbians we have a lot more leeway with this than straight girls who are still at least somewhat required to defer to the guy as not to threaten his masculinity (ugh), both people can have a secret treasure trove of fun activities that can easily be transitioned to if a date is going well. If you’re the primary planner of the date, I would recommend at least four, with the last few getting increasingly close to your home if things end up going very well with the final stop being your bed/hot tub/front porch. The key is to only let her know about the first two or three ideas at the outset. This way, if the date is going badly, you can bail after the proscribed schedule without hurting anyone’s feelings. If things are going well and you suddenly pull out these great ideas of further fun activities, she’ll think you’re a bundle of impetuousness and fun when in fact it was all careful planning.

Confused yet?
 Let’s look at an example of what I mean…

Angela and Lisa are on their third date, but haven’t had sex yet. The first few dates went well, and they’re getting increasingly close. Angela plans a date that involves an early dinner at a sushi place (good for conversation) and then mini-golf since Lisa was on her college golf team (fun physical activity with lots of opportunity for contact). Now, if these two activities go well, and Angela has ever reason to believe they will, she planned two secret activities to follow if Lisa is interested in continuing the date. The third one is checking out Angela’s favorite independent bookstore, which has a coffee bar and a fantastic poetry section, as a quiet, intimate activity and is a scant few miles from Angela’s apartment. After the bookstore, depending on how things have gone, there are three options:  continue to the fourth activity, end the date, or head back to Angela’s place. Let’s say it went well enough to not end the date yet, but not well enough to start comparing appendectomy scars just yet. At that point, Angela could suggest the fourth activity, which is getting gelato at a stand she knows about and then walking by the waterfront to watch the sunset (obviously the most romantic of the plans should go last). At the outset of the date, Lisa didn’t necessarily have to know there was a third or fourth plan involved. If she had other plans for that night, they could have skipped the bookstore and walk without anyone feeling like they were canceling. But, because they were having such a great time and as a Romance writer I like writing about happy couples falling in love and having lots of sex, we’ll pretend like they needed the third and fourth activity to deepen their connection, which ultimately put the conclusion of the date at Angela’s apartment.

This is obviously the fifth step if everything goes well!
The key to planning good modular dates is thoughtfulness. The activities should be varied, tailored to the specific lady you’re dating, and require very little in the way of commuting since nothing kills the mood like a two hour car ride to an amusement park that turns out to be completelynot worth it. In the example above, Angela tailored the date to Lisa’s interests (golf), showed off aspects of herself (the bookstore), had a wide variety of activities (sitting/eating/talking, walking, reading, competition, and romance) so the date wasn’t just one note, and each element was not predicated on the one before it, making them all easily removable. This last part is important for if you’ve misread something. Let’s say mini-golf was a hit, and Angela had every reason to think it would be, but Lisa expressed absolutely no interest in the bookstore, then it would be a simple matter of moving on to the waterfront walk and gelato rather than simply ending the date for want of something to do. And this is one of the really nice features of planning modular dating—flexibility.

See how important flexibility is in all forms?
Now, you might be thinking, “Cassandra, you’re so scientifically gifted and have such nice teeth, but what if I’m not that good at thinking of activities?” Firstly, thank you, I can’t possibly be complimented enough on my teeth, and secondly, make good use of the internet. A simple Google search of “stuff to do in…” and then insert your location will bring up page after page of things people have tried and will usually include a corresponding Yelp rating (a review site where independent users can describe their experiences) to let you know if it’s worth the time. The internet is a powerful tool and will not only tell you what there is to do, but will also tell you how fun it is and will draw you a map to get you from one part of the date to the next without so much as a hiccup. There is far more going on around you than you probably realize. The added benefit to doing this is that there’s more going on than she’s probably aware of either so you’ll end up looking hooked up and on scene when you take her somewhere she’s never heard of and you both have a great time.

Modular dating can help lengthen out the good dates, cut short the bad ones, and will never leave you wondering what to do next. Be considerate, be creative, and be internet savvy in your planning.

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