Dating is hard. Advice is supposed to make it easier. It usually doesn’t. Well-meaning people spread dating falsehoods that aren’t merely wrong — they’re actively preventing you from getting what you want, whether what you want is a lifelong commitment or a dive-bar bathroom snog.
But you’re in luck, because I’m about to debunk some long-cherished myths that stand between you and a fun three minutes in a dive-bar bathroom. Buckle up.
People will say they don’t believe in this myth anymore. Consider that another myth. Most people adhere to a strict men-lead-the-way doctrine that would make even the most traditional Southern belle spill sweet tea on her crinolines. Listen: there’s a nasty little voice in your head whispering, sure, in theory a woman could ask out a guy, but in practice that would mean the man is weak, the woman is domineering, up is down, and potatoes can learn calculus. Equality is just dandy — for everyone else. But you choose to party like it’s 1959, and aren’t you entitled to that choice?
No. You’re not. If you think it’s okay for women to take the lead, you need to lead by example. Straight ladies: you’re probably into a dude who doesn’t know it. Ask him out. Straight dudes: Know that if a woman expresses interest in you, that doesn’t make her desperate, it makes her into you. Gay people: as usual, you’re fine, carry on.
Sure, every now and then first dates will get hot and heavy in public and you’ll get thrown out of a bar, the proprietor shaking his fist after you like a panel in a newspaper comic strip. Far more likely outcome: you have a really fun convo, you’re laughing at each other’s jokes, you actually do find it adorable that they named their cat “Shadowfax,” you both realize it’s really late and you have work tomorrow, one person walks the other person to someone’s car, there’s a super awkward side-hug or some shit, and you goofily part ways before pounding your head into your steering wheel for six hours shouting “Whyyyyyyy?!?!?!?”
Relax! This is a totally cool ending to a first date!
Don’t go into the first date expecting a kiss. First dates are weird. Your goal is to have a weird, fun time. Did you do that? Mission accomplished.
Now, if you get through the second date and still no kiss? Yeah, move on dot org.
Don’t play any “games,” adhere to any “timelines,” or obey any “rules.” Communicate with the frequency that feels right to you. Doing what you want will only push away the people who should be pushed away.
Life is short. There is no such thing as “the one.” (Myths dropping like flies!) If you can have a fun, casual, but ultimately non-permanent thing with someone, you absolutely should seize the opportunity. Because, guess what? You’re not a fortune-teller, and even if you’re ultimately looking to start a family, there’s no telling what might happen with this mysterious stranger. Which leads us to…
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a casual thing. But for every friend who tells you, “Oh no, sweetie, don’t put out on the first date, he won’t respect you,” you have another friend opening a joint checking account with someone they met on Rando, the hot new app that helps you hook up with randos (disclaimer: not a real app).
Attractive people attract. What’s attractive to you differs from what’s attractive to me, but you definitely need stuff in common if you’re going to see someone more than once. And by “stuff in common,” I mean more than “We both love music and sunsets!” You need to at least love the same TV shows. Like Casual on Hulu, the new original comedy series that explores just what it’s like to date as a grown-up. New episodes are available on Wednesdays. Honestly, you should use it as a litmus test: if your date isn’t into Casual, maybe reconsider. Plenty of fish in the sea, right?
Tony Carnevale is a senior writer for Studio@Gawker, who soars on wings forg’d of molten silver. Oh wait, that’s yet another myth.
Illustration by Alex Cannon.