Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Touchdown or Off-Sides?

Everyone knows that the Super Bowl is this Sunday. Though some people like me didn’t know until yesterday which teams were actually playing, certainly that won’t stop even the most indifferent or clueless of us from attending a Super Bowl party this Sunday.

And of course, with all of the Super Bowl parties this weekend, somewhere between the fumbles, touchdowns and Bud Light commercials there will be ample opportunity for a love connection to strike . . . “Hey, who are you rooting for? Them? Forget it, I was about to propose but now I see we have irreconcilable differences. At least let me get you a drink being your team is about to lose – By the way, I’m Joe.” It’s that easy. We fell in love over nachos. Or at least “like.”

But one lament I have heard from some men which invites discussion for this blog pertains to “the girl who knows too much” or the close relative of the girl who knows too much, “the girl who thinks she knows soooo much.” Forgive me my female counterparts, I mean no offense and I certainly don’t mean to be a throw back to the Victorian age. Clearly, men and women both participate and enjoy sports equally in these modern times. That’s a given. Nevertheless, men and women are different on some fundamental levels and most guys I know are not looking to date their tomboy buddies.

Let me give an example. Everyone has come across the girl who prides herself on knowing every stat on every team on every sport. Let’s call her Suzie. Suzie thinks it’s cool because she can hang with the guys, order a draft, and yell at the television - that’s just who she is. You’ll never find a lipstick ring about her beer mug. No question Suzie will always be invited out with the guys, but my guess is that’s where it ends: beer with the guys. What Suzie doesn’t get is that men have an innate desire to teach the girls they like about sports. It’s fun for them. If the woman comes in knowing more than they do, you’ve deprived them of that joy. If the woman is teaching the guy about a sport, forget it. You might as well castrate him.

Now, let’s go with “Jane”, a fun, smart single girl I knew who was looking to meet her Mr. Right. However, every time Jane played a drinking game and it was her turn to pick a topic she would invariably pick a random sports related theme to show off her limited knowledge: e.g., all baseball players whose names start with the letter “Q.” After a while, the guys would inevitably get frustrated and her ploy was transparent. Of course, most guys are interested in more than just sports. Instead of accomplishing what she wanted, that is to show the guys she’s a girl who can look great in a little black dress (Jane is definitely a lipstick girl) and hang in a dive bar surrounded by 10 flat screen tvs, she just came across looking like she was trying too hard.

I’m not telling women to play dumb. If you are a die hard fan, go and have a great time. I think most men agree that a girl looking sexy in their favorite team’s jersey would be enough to steal their attention even on Super Bowl Sunday. I’m simply cautioning women don’t be a Suzie or a Jane – or you might just get the Heisman. And men, I don’t think I need to tell you that this is a once a year opportunity – so use it wisely. Ok, I’m waiting for the onslaught… Men and women, as always, feel free to weigh in.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd - It’s a Date After All!

As long as we are on the topic of technology, I thought I would address the old adage that still remains quite true: two’s company, three’s a crowd. In this instance, it’s the Blackberry/Treo/name any other handheld device that’s the unwelcome company at the dinner table.

In this day and age of being accessible 24/7, everyone is so obsessed with checking who’s trying to get in touch with him or her, that it’s quite easy to let technology distract one from the wonderful dating opportunity across the table. In the past, a person went on a dinner date and that was it for the night – the two people at the table were the sole focus of each other’s dinner/drink conversation. Now, you can often spot one of the two parties at a restaurant sipping his or her pinot noir while the person across the table thumbs away crazily on his or her Blackberry. Most of the time the offenders means no harm by it – they may very well be reading a message from their mother reminding them to call their sister for her birthday, or they may be making sure the project they just left to the junior associates hasn’t created panic and utter chaos in the thirty minutes since they left the office, or … perhaps they are just letting a friend know that they can’t make it out for a drink because they are having such a great time with you. All of these are admirable reasons to be attached to one’s palm device, but regardless of how noble the reason for the distraction, it is a distraction none the less.

Certainly, if you were on a date and the person you were with asked you to “hold on a sec,” then proceeded to take out a book and started to read, commenting “I’ll be right with you”, you’d be highly offended. And the date would end right there. Ok, the analogy is a far cry from texting or emailing during a date, but I think the point is made. If you’re sending a message, you’re sending a message. Being at the mercy of your Blackberry, e.g. immediately checking it the minute you hear a sound like a Pavlovian dog, shows lack of attention or interest – even when you are interested. One may easily leave thinking that his or her date was rude, bored or has a serious case of Attention Deficit Disorder. Any way you look at it, it’s not the message you want to send (even if you’re not interested, I know your mammas raised you better). And I’m not talking about the occasional email, text message check done swiftly and tastefully – offenders, you know who you are!

Of course people have to check their Blackberries for work – most professionals don’t have the luxury of sitting down on a week night for a few hours and ignoring any email that choses to intrude upon their date with the hot guy or gal that they have been dying to get together with all week. One suggestion to resolve this dilemna is to make it simply a policy to wait 15 minutes after you’ve sat down for drinks to check your personal technology. Really, does anyone like to be with a person who shows his or her attention is being pulled away from the get-go? Perhaps a thoughtful comment can make a difference, maybe something like “I am so sorry, and I hate to do this, but I have a big deal going on at the moment. I didn’t want to cancel our plans so I just have to stay tuned to the office every now and then.” There is always the bathroom break where one can go to make things less obvious and intrusive.

If you make it just about you two, chances are you will have a better shot of getting your date’s undivided attention back. And I think it goes without saying, if you’re headed for a night cap, the Blackberries need to find a date of their own.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Technology as the New Post-It Note

Happy 2009 to everybody! It’s a new year and a brave new world. It remains to be seen what 2009 has in store for us all, but in my line of work I wait with bated breath to see what new technology is going to make New Yorkers' dating lives easier … and far more complicated.

People are now truly accessible 24/7 either by phone, email or text. Maybe you’re putting long hours in the office or vacationing in another hemisphere but there’s no more legitimately being MIA, because we all know you saw our email or text come in. (Add the happy face to know the comment is recipient friendly.) In this age of personal technology and instant gratification, in many ways it’s your choice of how and when to respond that carries the message. So what does all this technology mean for dating? It has opened a whole new can of worms.

For example, let’s start with text messaging. What does it mean if a guy actually calls to make the first contact after getting a girl’s number? What was taken as a given only a few years ago (i.e., a voice-to-voice communication) is now laden with meaning. Wow – he must be interested. OR, he is a gentleman. OR, he is from the “older” generation. OR, maybe he simply hates text messaging. But the act of calling is likely to be interpreted as saying something. Text messaging also says something. It has become the easy/lazy/”rejection-minimizing” way to make that first contact. Text messaging ensures you don’t look too interested – it’s casual. Like, “hey, I am going here … we should meet up. If you don’t, it’s ok. I don’t really like you that much. Well, I might, but I need to see if you like me first before I make that disclosure.” So in the end it just reads “hey, I am going to be at [x]. You should come by.” If there’s no reply, one wasn’t really rejected. It’s not like a phone call with a loud and clear “No, thanks” on the other end and the uncomfortable pause. It is a pause, but a pause that has the possibility of getting broken some day…

Emily Post would certainly have had a field day with this new age of technology-related behavior. Is it rude to booty text someone at 3am? I am guessing she would have answered with a resounding yes (regardless of whether the booty text is actually welcome). Is it rude and immature to break up with someone over a text (the more current version of Carrie Bradshaw’s being broken up with on a Post-It note)? I think we can all agree that Emily Post would have frowned upon this complete lack of etiquette. The same goes for canceling a date via a text (we’re not talking about impromptu plans here or plans with your buddies, but a true, certifiable “Date”) – it is simply bad form. Women and men – walk away from such a situation – you have learned all you need to know!

But what about some far more complicated questions that leave room for 21st Century uncertainty? Let’s start this maiden blog with one I have discussed with men and women alike and I have heard opinions from all over the spectrum: The Next Day “Thank You Text”. Here is the scenario. A guy has asked a girl out on a date. They have a lovely time and the man, having been the one to extend the invitation on this occasion, pays for the dinner. The woman thanks him graciously and sincerely, more than once, and the night ends.

Before texting and emailing I don’t believe too many men expected the woman to pick up the phone the next day and call. But now, with the age of fast and brief communication, there is an expectation among some men that the woman should send a thank you text (or email) the next day to say once more, thank you AGAIN. Is this simply a pure “thank you email” to the guy or really code to men who need reassurance saying “I really like you, now you don’t need to guess at all, I have completely tipped my hand and you can feel free to ask me out again. You are safe.” Is the failure to send such a text or email considered bad manners and a possible reason to not have a follow-up date? OR, if a guy really likes a girl, will he call/email/text/send a message via a carrier pigeon regardless of whether the woman sends a follow-up email (and they won’t hold the lack of a next day thank you email/text against her) because that is just what men do when they like a woman? The answer is yes, they will. The next day, most likely. Before you have even had a chance to send the next day thank you email/text. If he hasn’t, it’s not because you didn’t reach out to say thank you, again. As one author would say, it’s because he’s just not that into you. But that topic’s for another day … Men, feel free to weigh in on this (though keep it nice and clean, or you will be edited!). Women, chime in too – both sexes are part of the equation. Wow, this is going to be fun…