JEN GLANTZ’S JDATE COLUMN
There are people who “try” online dating for a month or two, and then call it quits. They will go back and forth through a series of messages, venturing out from behind the computer screen for a date or two (which inevitably won’t go exactly as planned), and then decide enough is enough. They then throw in the towel and resort to living a lonely life of sinking into the creases of their living room couch, playing unlimited games of Xbox, and ignoring calls from Mom — because all she will nag about is why her kid is wasting their lives holding hands with a remote control. Here’s when you should give up… and when you should keep on, keeping on:
- Do: Give the online dating scene a chance. If it doesn’t work out, maybe take a short break, and come back to it refreshed and open to trying it out again. Sometimes it helps to just revamp your profile, or spend some time rethinking what it is you are looking for in a person and how serious you want to take this experience.
- Don’t: Go on one or two online dates and call it quits. Most first dates will be a little overwhelming or awkward, but that’s why there is sometimes such a stigma around first dates. Either decide to go on a second date with someone who has potential, or keep searching and corresponding with more people until you find someone else who sparks an interest in your head.
There is someone out there for everyone — the number of different types of online dating sites just reinforces that! Give it a chance, or two.
The scariest thing a person can say when they are in a bizarrely terrible and wrong situation is, “Well, I’m staying in it because I’m scared I’ll never find better.” There’s often comfort in chaos but there’s certainly not happiness. If you find yourself in this type of situation and can admit you’re still dating someone ONLY because you don’t think you’ll ever find someone else, you may want to remember a few things:
Do: Believe that you are a special and terrific gem. There are things about you that are beautiful and magnificent, things that if you suddenly forget your mother and even your grandmother will take less than 10 seconds to remind you of. If the person you’re with can’t acknowledge these traits or make you feel wildly amazing about yourself, why be with them? Always be confident enough to understand what you have to offer this world and never settle for someone who can’t see these things clearly.
Don’t: Doubt your gut. If your gut is feeling all mushy, like it’s experiencing never ending acid reflex, take that as a strong indication that it’s filtering the true feelings of your heart. Have the courage to walk away from situations and people that no longer respect you. You will find someone else.
Though I spend the majority of my time during the day at the computer, especially writing emails, when it comes to remembering to answer messages on JDate I’m simply the worst. Sometimes I won’t write someone back, who genuinely intrigues me, for over 2 weeks. It’s a tendency of a forgetful mind that has me reading a lovely message, smiling, and then quickly being distracted into doing something else.
Do: Answer your messages as soon as you feel like it. Don’t even bother trying to engage in some “I have to wait 24 hours to respond game.” It’s responding to someone, not getting proposed to. There’s no harm in responding quickly and if they find that to be “unattractive” and like a girl they can “chase”, well then move on. That’s just bizarrely bogus and there’s no time for a person like that.
Don’t: Try not to wait an extended long period of time to write back to messages. Keep the conversation flowing and interesting. It’s also very easy to lose a conversation in an overcrowded inbox. Either keep a list of people you enjoy messaging somewhere else to remember to follow up, or respond once you have opened the message to ensure you won’t forget.
After going out on a first date with a guy, that mid-devouring a plate of nachos, I realized there was absolutely no future with, I was overwhelmingly surprised to get a voicemail from him just two days later. Instead of asking me out on another date, he told me that unfortunately he doesn’t see this going any further and would love to remain friends. Though we didn’t click relationship wise, I admired his courage, his honesty and his class for picking up the phone and breaking up with me (post a rough first date).
Do: Let someone know as soon as you can that you’re not interested in going out with them. Leading someone on just delays the inevitable. The least you can do is set them free from your charming chains and allow them to go out in the world and cling on to someone else who is better suited to sort through their baggage than you are. If you have the courage, give them a phone call or do it in person—It’s a difficult, yet well respected move. If you find yourself shaking in your boots, a simple polite text will suffice—and give them bragging rights of calling you a coward for a few weeks to come.
Don’t: Post it on their Facebook wall, tweet it to them in 140 characters, snap a photo of you smooching someone else and tag them on Instagram. Don’t ignore their calls and messages. Be a champ and pull the Band Aid keeping the relationship together off.
The first blind date I ever went on also happened to be the shortest date I ever went on. I was greeted by a guy in a twisted baseball cap, tripping over his own feet and stumbling over words to say hello to me as he came to meet me completely intoxicated. He was so wasted that after 15 minutes of sitting across from him clogging my nose from inhaling the awful smell of whiskey on his breath, he passed out on the table. He full on took a little nap while I paid the check, for my water and his lemon drop shot, and suck asylum in a nearby ice cream store.
Thanks to this debacle, I established a two drink maximum rule I like to stick to when it comes to first dates.
Do: Limit yourself. Even if you adore drinking and believe that you have quite the bottomless tolerance, stick to a two drink maximum. That way you will ensure that your words are not being sloshed together and you can still have meaningful conversations that you will remember in the morning.
Don’t: You may think that double fisting a few beers or throwing down some shots before a first date may help alleviate tension or those nervous shakes you’re beginning to get, but showing up all topsy turvey to meet someone will be an instant turn off and will automatically make them lose respect and interest for you. If you’re going to have a drink before, also have a breath mint. No one wants to hug someone hello who smells like tequila.
I’ve learned large fragments of stranger’s lives stories while sitting, alone, on my couch sifting through text messages that read more like short stories than quick back and forth “what’s up” banter. While getting to know someone through text message chatting before going out with them on an actual date is helpful and a great first step, too much “foreplay” with text messages can be an easy way to turn someone off.
Do: When texting someone you’ve never met in person, it’s perfectly okay to dabber in conversation over how their day was and to go back and forth, for a little, in order to get to know some of the things they enjoy and a few things that are important to them. When it comes to the best time to text someone, do so in the same hours that you’d communicate with your parents. Would you ever text your mom at 2am? Apply those same rules with date texting.
Don’t: Save your life stories, your epic monologues, your day to day play by play for the in person conversation. Don’t divulge in excessive texting of a person you’ve never met before for three main reasons: they may not get your humor before they meet you and be instantly turned off, it’s best to save some game and hot topics to speak about when meeting in person, and too much texting may make it sound like you’re placing them in a ‘friend zone’ with no intention to set up an actual date. Keep the texting to a minimum and to just a few days, then, go for the gold and ask the person out.
Just the other day, while on my way to meet a strapping gentleman for our first date at a restaurant in Chelsea, I found myself flustered and in a bizarrely terrible mood. I was running over 15 minutes late, stuck on a conference call for work, and though I had enough time to take a shower I didn’t have enough time to dry my hair, forcing me to exit my apartment with a wet mop of tangled split ends resting awkwardly on my head. When I finally stumbled my way into the arms of my date for a friendly “hello”, I was still huffing and puffing and feeling like a 5”7 catastrophe.
I noticed that when I started unloading my hectic day on the salad plate of my date, he began looking soggy, uninterested, and unsure of what to say or to do to cheer me up. I realized this complainer was not who I was! I quickly apologized and vowed to never again unleash these kinds of dragons during first impressions. Instead, I decided that next time I’m faced with chaos before a date, here is how I will deal with it:
Do: If you had a tricky day, call a good friend before you head out on your date and spend a few minutes venting to them. You should always try to put your best peep-toe forward when marching into a date, so a good a venting session will help clear your mind and bring you back down to earth.
Don’t: Leave your problems at the door. If you had a terrible day at work, just got into a screaming match with your darling parents or are finding yourself overwhelmingly tired, check these things with your coat and don’t bring them with your handshake when you go to meet your date. It’s okay to allude to them briefly, in a joking matter, mentioning the tough day you may have had, but why harp on it? The point of a first date is to get to know someone, so show off the things that make you energized, happy, inspired and motivated on a daily basis.
Read more of Jen Glantz here: www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com
They say first impressions count for a lot. If anything, the first couple of minutes that you spend meeting your date is a moment that won’t ever leave the wiring of your brain—for both good and sometimes really, terribly bad reasons. On a recent first date I recently went on, the guy turned to me just after we ordered our drinks and said, “I’m sorry, I just woke up from a deep nap and didn’t feel like changing.” There was no need for an explanation as the wrinkles of his white Hanes shirt and zip up jacket said it all. His look was fine, except it was a Saturday night and he had never met me before. The least he could do was comb through his fallen, dandruff hair.
When you’re getting ready for a first date, please wipe the nap-time crud out of your eyes and pull together a nice, simple and memorable (for a good reason) outfit. Here are some tips:
- Do: Wear something that you’ve worn before. Now is certainly not the time to try new outfits. Neither is it a good idea to pair two pieces together if you’re unsure how they will look on you. Girls, put on light makeup and simple accessories. Boys, just one spray of cologne is all you really need.
- Don’t: When picking out an outfit, it’s a good rule of thumb to select something to wear that your grandma would approve—in other words, be modest. Don’t wear something too revealing, something with too many wrinkles in it, or something that could easily turn into a wardrobe malfunction and have you channeling your inner Janet Jackson circa the 2004 Superbowl. Guys, it’s best to change out of your work clothes, or something that you’ve had on all day. Keep it fresh and clean.
I have gone broke from a first date more than once. Somehow, going on a date just extracts the paper bills from the inside of my pleather wallet without me realizing what’s happening. Once, a few months ago, going on a date even forced me to overdraw my bank account. Talking about who should pay for a first date should be on the list of topics for the next presidential debate (just kidding), as it warrants much emotion, opinions and even deal-breaking decisions by those who have rules and guidelines tattooed in their minds.
Here’s my breakdown on the payment plan for a first date—this one is targeted to the girls:
- Do: Always offer to contribute on the first date. You both mutually decided to go out and “meet” each other on this awkward rendezvous and it’s only right you offer to shell out the cash for your half of the meal, or your gulp of a full glass of Pinot. You can follow your own rules on dates two through infinity. However, you should use your manners and offer to pay on the first round.
- Don’t: Turn your shoulder on a first date who makes you pay. Yes, it’s lovely to be wined and dined on occasion, but it’s best to consider a first date with someone as a friendly meeting. A “let’s get to know each other—on a surface level and go from there” kind of thing. Don’t be upset or feel as though you’ve been stiffed.
I always imagined that the more first dates I would go, the more immune I would become to the awkward situations and clingy moments that come with meeting and spending time with a stranger. But, no matter how many takes I make my couch potato bottom go on, I find that there are two parts of the evening that never get any easier. First, when the bill comes and second, when it is time to say goodbye.
Both situations make my heart race like it’s trying to keep up with a techno song and my palms get so sweaty that if the poor lad reached for my hand, he would quickly slip away.
Here’s what I learned when it comes to parting ways on a first date:
Do: Leave in a way that you feel comfortable. Whether that means with a hug or a handshake, bow out in a way that makes you feel at ease. Always say thank you and if things went well don’t be shy to tell them that you hope to see them again.
Don’t: expect a kiss. When meeting someone for the first time on a date, they are practically still a stranger to you. Remember, we don’t kiss people we don’t know so don’t rush into this sacred and beautiful thing. Take things slow and say goodbye in a thoughtful and memorable way.
There is a language for love and then there’s a language for finding love online—both, I whole-heartedly believe, take trial and error, and countless embarrassingly syntactical mistakes to master. But when learning how to present yourself and tame your feelings for a person you have just scrolled upon online, there is a certain etiquette to foster if you want to rendezvous in the real world.
Just like it took me some time to understand when to use the “Poke” button on Facebook (which is never), it also took me a bit of time to understand when to use and when to respond to messages in my JDate inbox that are “Flirt Messages,” (the standard template of one-liners JDate provides users).
- Do: Send a “Flirt Message” if you want to make someone smile, for a second, to show that you are thinking about them or interested. Follow up with a personal message that showcases a bit of your personality, and above anything else, that you took an extra couple of seconds to browse more than just their selection of glamour shot photos.
- Don’t: Use it as a cop out and send someone a “Flirt message” over writing your own personal note to them. Remember, your first message to someone doesn’t have to be a novel of questions or a five-paragraph essay. It can be a simple remark about something that caught your eye about them on their profile. Your chances will skyrocket that someone will respond back to a personal message over a standard template message.
For all of us 9-5’ers (but really, 9-whenever we are able to swim our way out of the piles of to-do lists that overcrowd our desk and go home), weeknights are a precious time where we are able to garner up just enough energy to plop our tushes down on the couch and fall asleep to the rumbles from the television.
Going out on dates on a weeknight have become a challenge for my exhausted, over-worked self. Just recently, I was enjoying myself on a date when I could feel my head slowly tilting to the side, longing to gracefully fall onto my plush pillow. If ever there was a time to say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” this would have been it.
I’ve found it equally as awkward as it is difficult to find the right way to end a date and call it night without making it seem like you’re uninterested, or trying to cover up mid-sentence yawns. Here’s some ways to do it.
- Do: Be perfectly upfront and honest. Say you have to wake up super early for work, as I’m sure they do as well, and explain how it’s getting a bit late. Throw in a bit of laughter and say something like, “I can’t believe we’ve been chatting for 3 hours already!” Be bold and tell them you’d love to continue this conversation, or this date, another night—maybe even on the weekend.
- Don’t: Be rude and cut them off mid-sentence and say you have to get going or stage a fake escape by having one of your friends send you an “I need your help ASAP” text message. I’m guilty of doing this once in my life and I ended up looking like a pathetic fool.
No one wants to get their heart broken, and likewise, no one wants to intentionally break anyone’s heart. That’s why many of us decide that when it’s not quite working with someone, when the stars just aren’t lining up, instead of getting fireworks in our belly, we get indigestion — it’s easy for us to tip toe around the brutally honest truth and try to hide our true feelings behind polite one-liners that we hope will do the dirty work for us:
- It’s not you, it’s me.
- I’m terribly busy and this really isn’t a good time.
- I’ve started really, seriously, seeing someone else.
The only thing worse than throwing one of these sentences onto a person you don’t want to see again is having them not get the hint. There’s no trick when it comes to figuring out if someone is not interested in you, it’s just being able to accept the truth. Follow their words, but ultimately trust your gut.
Do: Follow up with someone you enjoyed going out with on a date. See how they are throughout the week, then ask them if they’d like to go out again. If you are feeling unsure whether or not someone would like to see you again… or you are getting too many wish-washy responses from them, pick up on their signs and swallow their constant “I can’t” as an indication that, unfortunately, they are not feeling this (Don’t fret, there are plenty of other people out there that will have goo goo eyes for you)!
Don’t: Be overly persistent or pushy with your follow-ups. Don’t sign off your text messages or emails with “Please go out with me one more time, I promise you’ll be impressed” or threaten them with a “I won’t give up on asking you out.” If you’re feeling that you are the only one who is excited to see you again, don’t force it. Bow out gracefully and search for someone else who will be your true match.
The best part about being on JDate is having other friends who are on it as well and can fully understand what you’re talking about when you start to vent and run away wildly into an online dating story.
The other day my friend was telling me about how she met this guy on JDate and things were going smoothly. I nodded my head in happiness and sighed with a bit of jealousy, hoping that one day soon I could say the same. But then she told me after each date she texts guys saying, “Thank you” and that she “had a lot of fun.”
My eyebrows immediately raised and I let out a giant, “WHAT!” I had always thought it to be girl code that you wait until the guy texts you first after the date. My friend, who is a couple of years younger than me (but obviously a few years wiser), told me no way—that is how you lose them!
She couldn’t be more right.
- Tell someone you had a good time with them — both in person and then after — via a thoughtful text or a quick phone call. There are so many anxieties that cross our minds before, during and after dates. Alleviate the tension, the guessing and the what if’s through positive affirmations — if you are indeed having positive feelings.
- Hold back. You took the giant step of putting yourself out there, and then, you took an even bigger step by going on blind dates with people you’ve briefly conversed with by chomping down sentences on your keyboard. If you promise yourself not to hold back, to break some of those age old rules, you will have nothing to lose.
Why is this day different from any other day? A day where love birds bat their eyelashes on top of one another and gallivant around providing an ungodly amount of PDA that’s seriously crowding your comfort zone.
You may find yourself asking that Passover-like question this week as the glimmering red tissue paper and stuffed bears haunt you as you’re just trying to make it through another Valentine’s Day — alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. For us, the ones who are on a holy quest to find a mensch that can warm their frosty winter heart (as much as a quick slice of pizza can), it’s day that warrants us to feel special.
I’ve spent Valentine’s Day squeezing teddy bears filled with chocolate given to me by my parents, on first dates at fast food restaurants, over a glass of Pinot with good friends, and even, occasionally, face-to-face with some ice cream cake while turning the pages of a book of Neruda poetry. Whatever it is that will make you feel extraordinary, do it. It’s just one day out of the year that you absolutely deserve to be dazzled, just like everyone else.
Valentine’s Day Dos:
- Ask someone out for a rendezvous on Valentine’s Day (even if it’s a first date) and make them feel as special as you would on any other date.
- Add a little bit of flair with a single rose, a selection of chocolate, or any other type of simple acknowledgement that here you are, together, on a day that’s designed to make people feel exotically special.
Valentine’s Day Don’ts:
- Sit at home alone and sulk.
- Send messages out of desperation to an enormous amount of people online because you are eager to experience any type of in-person connection on this holiday.
- Consume too much wine, chocolate, or episodes of Sex and the City (alone).
- Turn down a potential suitor just because you find it “pressuring” to go out with them on Valentine’s Day.
There used to be a time when we were all not so scared of using the telephone.
Do you remember the days when you used to have your best friend’s phone number memorized? Or how you’d beam with excitement and your tummy would swarm with nervous butterflies when your mom would shout from the downstairs corridor, “Jennifer, there’s someone on the telephone for you.”
Today, I have friends that don’t even know their significant other’s phone number by heart. While they do know their Twitter handle or their Instagram name, that won’t help them one bit if they were to be stranded somewhere, face-to-face with a payphone. They’d only be able to communicate by typing a message in 140 characters, or less.
With the cold weather making us want to hide underneath a blanket (note: if you live in Florida, or somewhere else tropical, that blanket has holes and those holes are nicely filled in with sunshine—so enjoy!), it’s often difficult to muster up the amount of clothing and energy required to leave the heat that radiates from between our couch cushions to attend a first date. And if we do make that first move, we often spend the first couple of “getting to know you” minutes defrosting, or like me on my most recent first date, dealing with an unattractive case of a nonstop running nose.
How about breaking the ice (until summer time can do that for us) with a preliminary get-to-know-you phone call-date before meeting in person?
Do: Phone your new friend during appropriate hours. No one appreciates an energetic “HELLO, I’m Jen!” as their early morning wake-up call at the dreadful hour of 8am, or as a late night booty call at the lazy-eyed hour of 11pm. If you’re going to make the move of dancing your fingers on the keypad, do it at a respectable hour.
Don’t: Stray away from rehearsed “about me” speeches, or a set of designated job-like interview questions. On the phone, you should give off an inherently relaxed tone, as if you were having a conversation with someone in person. Carry a casual and flowing conversation, taking a deep breath during natural pauses and creating an infrastructure that will be easy to build on top of once you meet up in person.
Read more of Jen Glantz here: www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com
Back in the day, when it was more standard to receive letters in the mail, I used to go bonkers at the site of an envelope addressed to me, decorated with carefully placed postage and saliva-sealed edges. Through the years, that excitement carried on through the finger-print stained notes I’d get passed during class, “You’ve got mail” notifications for new emails (minus, I will add, work emails), and now JDate messages.
The prospective “what-if” that dazzles my imagination when I see the flicker of having a new message lying idly in my JDate inbox is enough to make online dating become an obsession — or at least a mid-afternoon pick-me up!
But not all JDate messages are created equally. Some are laced with time consuming references that some charmer took from my profile in order to prove to me they took the time to “learn more about me” and to critique me, past my selection of selfie-posted pictures. And some, the ones I normally don’t reply to and instantly press delete on, are practically blank messages, one worded, or the absolute worst, contain a scrambled together use of punctuation resulting in a ; ) symbol.
Do: When you’ve landed on someone’s profile who makes you sneak a smile, and while dabbling through their “details” your heart flutters, and your mind travels to frank possibilities of a future with them, or more simply put, a first date—send them a message! Send them a message that has personality, one that uses a variety of punctuation, admiration, and thought. Tell them about something on their page that made you pause and become momentarily intrigued. (This “Do” is also for all my single ladies. It’s acceptable and impressive for you to send a guy that makes your heart wiggle a message. Don’t play hard to get, play go out and get them.)
Don’t: Don’t start and end a message with only three letters: “Hey.” If you’re going to take a humorous or cliché route, like a recent message I received that said the following, “Judging your book by its cover, I’d love to curl up and read the rest,” include more context and more details that begin a fluid conversation (including your name). I would like to be able to respond and not be utterly creeped out.
When I first told a small group of my closest friends that I was going to join JDate, one of them (who has spent a couple of months on the site), turned to me with endearing and enthusiastic eyes and asked, “What’s your plan?”
Plan? What kind of plan did I need? Don’t I just set up a profile with my “who, what, where, why, and when,” and just wait? Did I need to make a to-do list, or a color-coded chart to handle my new wired up dating life?
I told my friend that my plan would include simply emailing any guys I had interest in to set up a date. “Email?!” she said with a non-stop laugh. “That wont go over well.”
Before I joined the site, I was wary about giving out my number. I have a very close-knit relationship with my phone, it goes everywhere with me, even the bath tub (thank you overprotective phone case). The last thing I want is a swarm of text messages from a jumbled mess of men I wouldn’t be able to place a face to a name to… yet. My “plan” of action would be to give out my phone number to a guy, but only after we met in person, and only if we really hit off.
After spending a week on the site, and having several requests to exchange numbers, I quickly realized the only sense of a “plan” I had going into this was suddenly an ultimate failure. I was even turning off guys where I thought there might have been potential. When someone intriguing asked for my digits, I’d say something awkward and nonsensical, making me seem mistakenly distant or uninterested.
So, here’s what I’ve uncovered about sharing your digits:
Don’t: If you’re still not sure you like someone you’re chatting with, and feel as though you need to go on bantering a little more online before handing over your digits. Keep the conversation flowing and casually mention you’d like to keep getting to know more about them before meeting up. If they are turned off, or make you feel uncomfortable, accept this as a possible red flag.
Do: Give out your digits if you feel like you’ve hit it off with someone and wouldn’t mind a quicker chat to occur via the dancing of thumbs on your cellular phone. Also, do give them 500 bonus points if they take your digits, and instead of admiring them, they actually pick up the phone and call you to ask you out on a date.
It’s been almost one year since I stuffed my entire life into two 50-pound suitcases, smooched goodbye a life underneath the Florida heat waves and moved to New York City. And throughout my adventure here, having to navigate my way around cohorts of tourists and consciously avoiding getting swiped by speeding yellow taxi cabs, the two most popular and regular questions my loved ones back home dare to ask me are: “Are you surviving the weather?” and “Did you get married yet?”
My constant response to both always comes decorated with a deep-pitted sigh and a fumbled laugh: “NO!”
Let me rewind for a second. I moved to New York for the same reason most 20-somethings drain their savings accounts: to live inside a shoe box, eat the crust of days old bread here, and to flirt with adventure. I came here to jump start my career and be spoon feed a constant reminder that every moment I spend swallowed between my couch cushions would set me back an indefinite amount toward reaching my wildest dreams. However, with quite a large number of people cha-cha sliding around such a small city, if I did, by chance, meet a guy who would look at me with the same kind of goo-goo eyes that I only save for a delicious slice of street pizza, well then that would be a great added bonus, and a exhale of relief for my mother.
I always thought I’d meet someone naturally. Perhaps while reading through 100 pages of a Norah Ephron novel in a bookstore, or while tapping my toes in line to get a fresh, hot bagel with some strawberry shmear. I’ve spent my Friday nights in a cesspool-like environment, covered up as a West Village bar, making small talk with guys that reek of Whiskey and then lost track of my Subway stop because I was gazing into the eyes of a cute straphanger. But nothing. There’s been no connection worth writing home about — and most of my first dates end with me wallowing on a warm bench alone, declaring my love to a pint of Chunky Monkey.
It’s been almost a year. Now that I’m finally settled into working at my 9-whenever-the-day-ends-job, and can finally traverse the city (or at least the parts of the cities with numbered streets), without whipping out Google maps, it’s time to focus on navigating my heart.
And in the process, I fancy to share all the gory and beautiful details with you, my new JDate friends, about the dos and don’ts of first dates (the awkward hellos and the even more awkward goodbyes).
All to finally be able to bring a mensch home to my darling parents, all in the name of hoping to find “Love at First JDate”.