From what I learned in my seventh-grade Confirmation class, here is what makes Lutherans different from Catholics (and I promise you this will be relevant to the ongoing drama of the man from Marshalls; stick with me): Lutherans believe in justification by faith alone. According to Martin Luther, this means your eternal salvation is based solely upon on your faith, not your good works, but because you’ve been granted salvation you should want to do good works. As I understand it, Roman Catholics, and others, tend to invert this equation: you should do good works in order to make sure you get “saved.”
What does this have to do with dating? Well, it all comes down to karma. Do good things and good things happen to you or, in my case, share your dating wisdom with the world (or at least with Date #15) and the cute guy from Marshalls will ask you out.
Of course, in order for karma do its thing, I should have posted the results of my “consultation” date before responding to the text message from a certain someone, but I like to think I’m just taking the Lutheran approach. Despite two months of dating disasters, awkward evenings and wasted Friday nights, I’ve kept the faith. And I’ve been granted my “salvation” (a lunch date with you know who at Black-n-Brew on Sunday) so now it’s time for me to do some good works.
Here goes: The Modern Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing Women.
(Please note that even though it was Date #15 who asked me to assess his dating skills, these guidelines are an amalgamation of the past two months and do not reflect any one date in particular.)
1) If you’ve been introduced before, either virtually or in person, greet your date with a kiss on the cheek. And by “a kiss” I mean one. No more, no less. I love pretending to be French as much as the next person but two kisses scream pretentious, unless of course you’re in Europe or from Europe but even then you should take it easy, especially if you’re going out with an American girl. Chances are she’ll only be expecting the one and two will invariably lead to head banging (head banging, of course, should be avoided unless you’re at a heavy metal concert). If you’re too shy to go for the kiss on the cheek, consider the following: women like confident men. If you think you’re not good enough/cool enough/suave enough to kiss the woman you’re going out with, chances are she’s going to sense that, and she’s probably going to agree with you.
2) Mind your manners. Open doors. Offer her the better seat. And for goodness sakes, don’t leave her sitting alone in a bar while you circle the block looking for parking. Especially not on a first date. Also—this should go without saying—if it’s raining, offer her your umbrella. Even if you’re pissed off at her.
3) Pay for the first date in its entirety. I know I may get some flak for this one, especially in this day and age (and yes, I do consider myself a feminist), but there is nothing romantic about going Dutch on a first date. And if you happen to be a serial dater yourself, do not complain about how much your love life is costing you. (That said, if you end up on a second, third, fourth or fifth date, and the woman you’re attempting to woo tries to have a serious conversation with you about the fact that your paying for everything makes her uncomfortable, please listen to what she is saying and let her pick up the tab).
4) Be polite and courteous to the wait staff. This includes leaving a proper tip.
5) If the opportunity presents itself, be generous. The woman you are attempting to woo will notice. (Example: Date #15 needed extra quarters for the parking meter so we popped into a CVS to ask for change on our way to buy hot chocolates. He handed the cashier two dollar bills and asked, “If you could have any candy bar, what would it be?” She shrugged and replied, “An Almond Joy I guess?” After pocketing his quarters, he walked the entire length of the registers to find the Almond Joys. “Do you need more change?” she asked. “No,” he replied, handing her another dollar to pay for the candy bar. “This is for you.” I was floored. So floored, in fact, by his kindness, that I didn’t even mind the fact that he didn’t buy me a chocolate bar. Well played, Date #15).
6) Do not talk about your ex-girlfriends. And if for some reason you simply cannot help yourself, for goodness sakes, don’t talk wistfully about them. I can’t believe that I even have to address this issue but until you graduate from the first date phase (and even then), ex-girlfriends should not be mentioned.
7) Keep your hands to yourself. (I’m also inclined to say that if your first date happens to include a kiss, keep your tongue to yourself too but maybe that’s just me being a bit of a prude who is still suffering, years later, from the traumatic effects of her first open-mouthed kiss). An occasional touch on the arm is okay, and you might be able to get away with slipping your hand behind your date’s back under the pretense of escorting her down the sidewalk or telling her some sort of private joke, but pace yourself.
8) Compliment your date on her appearance.
9) Offer her a ride home at the end of the night, or call her a cab, or escort her to the bus stop or whatever the case may be (you never know; she might invite you in for a “cup of tea…” and yes, I’m speaking from personal experience here). Even if she insists that she will be fine without a ride/cab/escort, offer again. And when she refuses you once more, send her a text message to say you had a lovely time and that you hope she made it home safely. (Date #4 scored himself major points in this department, as did Dates #13, #9, #5, #6 and #12. Well done, gentlemen.)
10) Be enthusiastic without being over eager. Women like intrigue. (Why do you think most of us are still swooning over Mr. Darcy, a fictional Jane Austen character, nearly two hundred years after his inception?) Do not, however, be so “intriguing” as to leave your date in the dark. Be upfront. If you like her tell her. But be subtle. And if she does not return your feelings (or your text messages), don’t delude yourself into thinking that she’s been just too busy to get back to you. I have never, in two months of dating 15 men, been too busy to respond to a text message. If I want to respond, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. Move on, and don’t worry about what you did or didn’t do or what she did or didn’t like. Her loss.
And thus concludes my good works for today. Go forth and multiply.