So, I saw a post from @bosikowicz (that might be harder than Ciuksza) linking to this article called 31 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dating When I was 21 by a blogger over at I’ll admit to being a bit nervous throwing a rock at this hornet’s nest, especially since it’s against what would likely be considered my “personal brand”. I guess “showing a little leg” in the personal sense can’t hurt too badly, right? So here’s my list of 31 (my favorite number).

  1. The first date is one of the most painful experiences you can face. I forget who said it, but there’s a quote that’s roughly, “women are weird about food and men are weird about money, so why do we go on dates where we eat out and then fight about the check?” Do something different.
  2. Going out for coffee means an informal conversation because she can’t figure you out yet and wants an out if it doesn’t work. Being welcomed in for coffee means something completely different and is full of land mines. Be ultra-careful if the first leads to the second on the first try.
  3. You never know what you’re getting into once you’re “official”. I once said that “looking for love is the process by which you attempt to find the kind of crazy you can handle”, and little in my life has shown me otherwise.
  4. I should have come up with rote answers to the question “what are you thinking?” earlier. The answer is likely either “nothing” or something she’d rather not know … having a quick response to lean on helps. Otherwise they’re never satisfied.
  5. She’s always better looking. That’s fact (my profile picture suggests that it’s not that hard to do). And it needs to be acknowledged. Often.
  6. Little clues pop up from time to time (favorite ice cream or band or childhood memory). Get really good at keeping a mental database of those things — they might bail you out of a jam or score brownie points.
  7. Do your best to forget #6 when the relationship ends or you’ll drive yourself mad.
  8. Accept that sometimes she’s going to out-do you (a birthday gift, a thoughtful gesture). Don’t compete. Competition moves a gesture from the sincere box to the “have-to” box and no one wants to be a requirement.
  9. Get to know her parents. Not because you need to be aligned in some way (thought it helps) but because it helps you to know her better.
  10. You’ll never understand. Accept it and move on.
  11. While it’s inevitable, do your best to avoid taking for granted that she’ll be there. No matter how busy you are, it’s not too hard to remember to thank her for simply being in your universe.
  12. Admit when you’re not ready and let go. It’s the most painful decision you can make, but also the most fair.
  13. Take a walk down the “feminine hygiene aisle” when you’re by yourself as exposure therapy for when you’re called on to make an emergency Giant Eagle run for supplies.
  14. Keep an eye out for drama. If she says, “drama follows me”, it is almost universally of her own making. You probably can’t handle it. Run.
  15. Converse to the aforementioned link’s #21, don’t try to be a friend when you don’t want to be just friends. Spell it out. If it’s not there, it’s not there. You might have your shots, but you shouldn’t follow her around like a puppy.
  16. Roses are losing their luster since no one likes a cliche. Pick something that compliments her favorite color scheme and you win for both the flowers and being thoughtful. If she notices in the process that you happened to get her favorite flower, take credit even if you didn’t know it. Never let the truth get in the way of a good gesture.
  17. Appreciate that she has passions even if you don’t get them. And accept that she’ll never treasure all the things you do (I have a prized autographed print signed by Clyde W. Tombaugh. No clue? Exactly.). Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing hotter than a woman genuinely excited about something.
  18. Accept her vanity. It exists and you’ll never understand. Appreciate that she cares about her and leave it at that. In addition, never go into Sephora (see previous post) and use the boyfriend chairs (the chairs and couches made for men who have been taken on exhausting shopping trips) whenever possible.
  19. Establish early on that you’ll never offer an opinion on any of the three following topics: her weight; her family; or her friends. That whole “bearing false witness is a sin” thing is proof that God never had a girlfriend.
  20. You’re never as smart/attractive/fun as she says you are. It’s ok. Appreciate that she’s boosting your confidence and leave it there. I don’t care how rich Donald Trump is, some wife at some point said his hair looks good.
  21. There are days where you each need to clean, do laundry, pay the bills, wash the dishes and other mundane activities. Not everything is an exciting whirlwind of bliss. The better you are at accepting this, the better you’ll be at being in a relationship.
  22. If you’re getting her a practical gift, always pair it with something fun (but not necessarily vice versa). Practical kills whimsy and, by extension, the spark.
  23. By extension of #21 and #22, experience new, exciting and challenging things together. Study after study says this is what makes it all work.
  24. Hunt. I’ve been told by every woman I know that you have to chase. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nice little conservative Catholic boy, you have to show interest and show you’re willing to pursue. It’s not being disrespectful to say, “I think you’re really attractive and smart and would love to get to know you better.”
  25. There are subtle clues to know when she’s testing you. Let it go in the beginning because we all have our walls. Don’t let it go on forever — trust is incredibly important and if she can’t trust you, it’s simply never going to work.
  26. Men and women see conflicts differently. Women have two categories: things she’s not upset about; and things that she is upset about and needs to discuss. Men have three: things we’re not upset about (a considerable majority); things we are upset about and need to discuss (these are usually things connected with a felony she committed); or things that we’re bothered by but realize it’s not worth discussing. The third category has a multitude of reasons — maybe she’ll bring it up in a passive-aggressive way later or maybe the conversation will last forever and you don’t have the patience at the moment. That third category is also where resentment lives. The more stuff in category three, the more you’ll resent her and the less likely you’ll be able to stand another five minutes in her presence.
  27. It’s a whole lot of work but it has to be fun. If it’s not fun, especially in the beginning, try not to pull a hamstring while running away from the situation as fast as you possibly can.
  28. I’m a flirt. I flirt with old ladies and waitresses and bank tellers and the checkout woman at Rite Aid. Know the boundaries. Be yourself, but be sensitive, too. It’s easy to cross the line into “disrespectful” territory.
  29. You’ll catch yourself thinking about someone else. She does it, too. It’s not a threat, it’s human. As long as you know that you’ll be with each other in the end, it’s not worth freaking out over.
  30. Don’t ask about past relationships, don’t Facebook stalk and don’t read her text messages. If there’s a question in your mind, ask her. In the end, you really don’t want to know how she got to where she is, just that she’s who she is today.
  31. A bad relationship is never better than being single. Never. Ever. Never ever. You can’t let inertia be the only force in your relationship. While it’s never happened to me, I’ve seen it happen to others and it usually ends in having to split your assets in half.

Well, we’ll see how my first real foray into the “human” side goes. I welcome comments and rebuttals.