So the date’s going well and you’re invited back to the other person’s place—or maybe you’ve been on a few dates and it’s been decided the next one will involve staying in. The question that still seems to be debated is: how can you know if they’re expecting sex?
Here’s a quick breakdown of common situations:
“Come in and I’ll make some coffee.” – Assume they want things to get physical.
“Come on up and we’ll put in a movie.” – Assume they want things to get physical.
“Come to my place and I’ll cook dinner.” –Assume they want things to get physical.
“Come on over, I have Scrabble.” – Assume they want to play Scrabble—such a fun game.
It’s hard to direct this at either men or women or both, but social stereotype says the man is the one typically assuming things will turn physical. In fact, a common complaint amongst women is that men always expect something when they’ve been invited over or vice versa. Of course, another common complaint is that the man was too dumb to figure out the offer was on the table. Or the bed. Or the couch. Wherever.
As offensive or wrong as this may seem to a lot of people, the fact is that this expectation exists amongst singles wherever you go, whether you’re dating in Toronto or in New York or in Boston or in Montreal. Whether this expectation is conditioned, learned or innate, it’s there. How it’s dealt with is what causes issues.
The first thing to keep in mind is that if you invite someone to your place, you can’t be offended if they get the wrong idea. And when you accept an invitation, the same thing goes. Most sexperts would say the assumption is fair, or natural or “Where the hell have you been?”
The second thing to keep in mind is that just because one of you expects it doesn’t mean it has to happen, and it certainly doesn’t mean that inviting someone home has to have that added connotation. All it means is that you should be prepared and ready to deal with any unwanted advances, and not get angry, because there’s no reason to end a potentially great relationship because someone moved in for a kiss too soon in a situation like this.
Thirdly, even if you and your date are on the same page, it doesn’t mean you should jump on them the second the door closes. There is still something to be said for romance and emotional foreplay.
With all this in mind, there are a lot of ways that people deal with those unwanted advances and some are definitely better than others. For instance, while it’s nice to be able to be clear from the get-go, saying something like “I’d love to come up, but just for coffee, nothing else…” does nothing but setup an awkward tone for the rest of the night, and likely ends with your date defending themselves against something that may not have happened anyway.
You can always try being directly indirect. Ask your date what they expect when they’re invited back after a date. Chances are they’ll give you a clean and wholesome answer, after which you can say “Then would you like to come up for coffee?” It’s playful and it’s fun, and if your date gives the wrong answer you can at least respond to it just as honestly.
Also, at the end of the day you’re both adults. If your date makes the wrong move, just say “Let’s just stick to drinks for now,” or whatever it is you’re doing. It’s clear, it’s direct and it’s polite, and then you can get on with the date.
Of course, if all else fails, you can just break out the Scrabble.
How people get ready for a first date differs from person to person. Some of us are more comfortable than others and are used to gliding through dates with ease and success. There are other people who get nervous and even a bit worked up before heading out. If you’re already comfortable with this sort of thing, then keep doing what you’re doing. Otherwise, here are some pointers that will probably help.
Pick a busy and public place – This applies mostly to those dates with people met online. Big cities like New York or Ottawa offer singles hundreds of great date spots, so choose one where you know you won’t be alone. This is both for safety when meeting someone you don’t know very well, but also to ease any predate stress related to this issue. In other words, if you pick a place where you may not feel safe, the worrying you might have in the back of your mind will work against you having a good time.
Psych yourself up – What things tend to perk you up? Maybe it’s listening to a favourite song, maybe it’s chatting with a friend or watching something funny on TV. Anything that puts you in a fun and likeable frame of mind is what you should do before heading out.
Dress to impress – You may not normally dress well or even have any taste, but that doesn’t mean you should right off the idea of dressing up because you want to “be yourself.” You date isn’t going to assume that you are your clothes, so to speak, but instead they’ll be happy you made the effort. More so, if you don’t dress well they’ll be upset that you didn’t aim to impress. If need be, call up that fashion savvy friend of yours to go through your closet with you.
Clean your place – This probably applies to the bachelors more than it does the bachelorettes. The idea isn’t that you’re aiming to get someone back to your place on a first date, in fact that may be and probably should be the farthest thing from your mind; however, by tidying up for your date you’re telling yourself that things are going to go well. That’s a good frame of mind to be in.
Read the paper – Don’t normally follow the news? Scan the headlines, read an interesting article or two. Firstly, this will help you with a topic of interest should conversation start to lag. Secondly, if your date starts talking about the goings on in the world you’ll be better prepared to respond. Keep in mind though, in almost every circumstance, it’s a safe bet to avoid political discussions.
Refresh your memory – If you’re going on a date with someone you met online, go back over their profile, any emails you’ve exchanged or chat logs if possible. Chances are you’re corresponding with more than one person from the dating site and saying “Oh right, you’re the one who works in insurance” is bad form when on a date.
These are just a few tips and certainly there are many more pointers you’ve picked up along your way, and it would be great if you’d share them here.
Have you been single for too long? Some of you probably think this is a pretty dumb question (“I’m single. So yes.”). Things can get a little worse than that though. Some people take breaks from dating either by choice or by circumstance. These breaks can be healthy, sure, but when they go on too long things can get ugly.
Some signs that you may have been single for too long:
You’ve become too desperate – This is where you’ve been without a date for so long that you think standards are nothing more than old Sinatra hits, and you’re finding yourself willing to settle for anything.
You’ve become too picky – This might be even worse than being desperate. Here, you’ve started making excuses for why you’re single. It’s easier to feel good about yourself if you’re convinced no one is good enough anyway, and this lets you off the hook for having to try.
You’re completely out of touch with the dating scene – If you think twenty bucks can get you and a date into a movie with two cokes and a large popcorn to share, you’re about as out of touch with things as the guy who keeps giving Kevin Costner movie roles.
You’re full of excuses – “The New York single scene isn’t what it used to be” is a lousy excuse. This is doubly true if you live in Philadelphia.
You won’t give up on your routine – If you can’t go out with a friend because that’s the night you do the load of whites, things have probably gotten a little bad.
Your friends never say to you “Isn’t it sad that so-and-so is still single?” – Friends gossip and talk and judge. It’s going to happen, we have to accept it. If they aren’t coming to you with talk about so-and-so, it’s quite possibly because you are so-and-so.
You read into things – Does the slightest smile, most mundane comment or simplest gesture make you think that some random person wants you? This is where you think the barista has the hots for you just because they’ve offered up a free sample.
You can no longer read signals – This is where those subtle flirtatious come-ons like lustful smiles, sensual touches, or the dropping of a room key into your pocket completely misses evades your attention.
Long stints in the single world happen, but don’t become a victim to the psychological tricks it can play on you. If single isn’t what you want to be then admit it. Step back and look at yourself and if you fit into these types of categories, it might be time to make a change.
Weddings can be torture, can’t they? It can be hard being there with all those happy cheery people living it up in their blissful coupledom while you’re sitting alone in between social calls on the bartender. It’s one thing to be single and loving it, it’s another thing to do it with an audience.
One of the worst moments a single can have is staring down at the invitation, being mocked by the unchecked square next to the plus one. If you’ve been actively trying to find that special someone but still can’t check off that box, it’s like having to admit your failure on an official document—kinda like the census, only you know your friends or family will see it. Relax. Being single at a wedding is a survivable experience.
Forget the plus one – Okay, if you’re content with the situation and just want to kick back and relax, then maybe inviting someone along for the hell of it is alright. Otherwise, don’t go scouring the streets of Toronto, or Chicago or wherever you live in hopes of finding a one-night stand in. Weddings can be a hotbed for singles and a great atmosphere to make a connection. Bringing along your best friend or bored neighbour will just cramp your style and send out the wrong message.
Look good and look happy – You’re going to the wedding to enjoy yourself and feeling like you’re set to turn a few heads is a great first step. Superficiality be damned—let’s not pretend you don’t get more of the good attention when you’re looking your best. More than this though, if you show up to a wedding looking like you’ve given up you’re going to attract the wrong kind of attention. Even if they’re miles from the mark, if people start looking at you in that “Oh, how sad that they’re all alone” kinda way, it will start to affect you until you’re making friends with the bartender again.
Look for the singles. Why not? – Okay, at the reception this can be somewhat of a no brainer, and chances are you’ll be tossed in with the single group anyway—good ol’ table nine, hidden in the back where you can gorge on desserts without drawing attention. At the ceremony itself though, wait ‘til others have found seats and then look for a place far from the couples. Sit in a row made up of singles if possible. This is where someone will be dying to lean over to someone and say “Doesn’t she look beautiful?” and, well, that someone might as well be you. If all else fails, sit with people you’re close to. First impressions are everything, and you don’t want the other hot singles spotting you looking all sad and lonely in the back row.
Don’t just sit there – Get up. Don’t just sit down at your table as if you’re selflessly guarding everyone else’s place cards. Stand and be seen. Mingle when you can, join the dancing masses for the fast songs, and let everyone see what a great time you’re having. If nothing else, think of it as advertising. Make other single turn and ask “Wow, are they here alone?” while they drool on the beautiful while table cloth.
The answer to “Would you like to dance?” is always “Yes” – When you’re asked to dance, say yes. When you have the chance to ask someone else to dance, even if it’s not the night’s best catch, ask them. It gets you up, it puts you out there, and things are simply far more fun that way. Also, when the night’s best catch does see you out there all the time, it’s easier for them to say “Me next!” or a more charming variant thereof.
The summation of all of this, I suppose, can simply be: enjoy yourself and good things will follow. Certainly there are more well-learned tips for being one of the singles at a wedding, and we’d love for you to share.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being single. There are tons of great things about single life and many members of the unattached club are quite happy being long time or permanent members. The lifestyle and the freedom can be great. No, there’s nothing wrong with being single at all—it just feels that way sometimes.
Now, when you’re young and single it’s easy because half the people you know are in the same smooth sailing boat, and so when Friday nights come around, as they tend to do most every week, there’s always something to do and someone to do it with.
When you’re an elder single however, which seems to be anyone over 25 and without a ring these days, things start feeling a bit different. Suddenly you find that all of your once single friends start coming out with strange and unknown beings hanging off their arms. As nice as those beings may be, they end up hogging the spotlight, stepping all over good conversation, and then laughing at little inside jokes you’ve never been let in on.
Welcome to being the third wheel. No matter how much you love your life, no matter how great being single may be for you, it’s easy to start getting down about the whole thing once you start feeling like the tag along. It doesn’t help matters much when you pick up on that little hint of pity in your friend’s eye when you only buy one movie ticket.
The life of the third wheel differs from person to person. If you carpool for your evening plans it means losing that coveted shotgun seat, if you go out to the movies it means your vote loses weight, and if you’re out for dinner the conversation just doesn’t seem to be the same as it used to.
Sometimes being the third wheel doesn’t cause any rifts and things go fine, but when it doesn’t there’s really no way around it. We third wheels just have to learn to live with it, or live around it.
This is where it helps to start going out on a random date now and then, if only to put a break in the same-old. Another tendency here is to start branching out of the known social circle so as to find other elder singles who are tired of being the third.
When all is said and done we can take solace in knowing that soon enough, when our friends’ perfect relationships have gotten worn, and they see us getting out with new people and trying new things all the time, that unfounded hint of pity in their eyes will turn into a big bright glow of envy.
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