Saturday, October 31, 2009

Down From the Hills

Be prepared, Readers … the Sunday at Noon Blog is going sexual. Ok, don’t get too excited, we’re not talking Kama Sutra, but there are real issues to be raised and explored. How, after all, can the topic of sex be divorced from dating in NYC anyway? And we might as well throw the topic of money in there too…

So for this week’s cerebral sexual blog, the pressing question being raised is: What is a cougar? Where did this term come from? How old does a woman have to be to be considered a cougar? How large does the age difference in the liason have to be for the term to apply? (e.g. 38 year old woman with a 36 year old guy – applicable?) … Does the woman have to be “hot?” Does she have to be financially successful? Is she someone so desperate for food she has to go out and get it when it used to come to her or is she a smart, confident woman who is simply comfortable ordering what she wants off the menu? Is being called a cougar an insult or a compliment?
[1] Does its invention signify a positive turning point in the recognition of women’s sexuality or is it a disparaging, derogatory view on women as they age?

Though I personally had never heard of the term until two years ago, my understanding is that this term has actually been around quite a while. Now, through the media and Hollywood examples such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, it’s the connotation that’s changing. To provide a window into the parameters of this term, the following definitions of a “cougar” are among those offered in the Urban Dictionary:

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or
milf. Cougars are gaining in popularity -- particularly the true hotties -- as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her shit together.

A 35+ year old female who is on the "hunt" for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or other cities) waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path. "Man is cougar's number one prey."

An attractive woman in her 30's or 40's who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc. She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. End state, she will be going for the kill, just like you.

A woman who is 35+, sexually cunning, that prefers to hunt rather than be hunted.

The proffered definitions go on and on, but I think you get the point. What came to interest me most was not so much the specific definition of the term (starting age 30 vs. 35 … or is that a “Puma?) though that is also quite intriguing, but even more so the term’s implications for the concept of women & sexuality.

So much has changed in the past few decades in regard to men and women’s roles in the “dating” game. In times past, you had a prescribed way that men should act and that women should act and, though it was founded on a system of inequality, it made for easy guidelines. Here you go, Readers, this is where the sex and money come in.

Often I hear from men who tell me that they do not want to be with women who are looking to “date a wallet.” These male friends, acquaintances, clients, etc. complain about women expecting the man to pay for everything when she may make equal or more than he does. I have had several requests from men and women to write a blog about this topic (e.g. at what point in dating should the woman start paying for things? What should she pay for? How often?) - and rest assured it is in the line-up (timely, baseball reference for fun. Go Yankees!).

Some might respond to the men who lament this feeling of being expected to pay for things, “But you are the man. The Provider.” In fact, I know some men who will not let a woman pay for anything in their presence. Whether the woman is their friend, their sister or their love interest. It is just their personal guy code of conduct. And they are not “old” (many of these guys are in their late 30s/early 40s) or even that wealthy (certainly, they are successful, but not moving around on their lear jets). I know there are guys reading this shaking their heads, branding these guys pushovers and thinking NFW.

So while the guys are rebelling against a set of rules that used to work when their fathers (accountants, businessmen, etc.) were courting their mothers (nurses, teachers, [insert any profession previously viewed as a “woman’s profession” and for which women were paid significantly less]), women are also responding to a set of rules and roles generated in an age that treated women as “less than” and which also no longer works. Society has changed. Because women are more career minded than they were twenty and thirty years ago they are marrying later and, as a result, there are more single women in the 30+ age group. It’s an aspect of our culture that is very different than it was in the 60s, 70s or 80s. The sexual revolution that started in the 60s didn’t wrap things up in a nice and neat bow. Rather, it paved the way for change but there’s no doubt that the path is still under construction.

Let me elaborate. Despite the strides made in many other areas - workplace, politics, etc. - men and women often still do not stand on equal sexual footing. Women’s sexuality is often still seen as a prize to be taken (gotta love the old adage “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”), and there can still be the lack of understanding of reciprocity - i.e. the concept that most women enjoy sex as much as men and that plenty of women would sometimes like to have sex/intimacy simply for sex’s sake.
[2] So if the man wants to be the “hunter” but the woman has zero desire or need to be “chased,” or in fact might do the chasing herself, then she has altered the “man’s role.”[3]

This is revolutionary in many ways and it brings with it the associated defensive judgments when the status quo is threatened (i.e. the words in the Urban Dictionary definitions listed above re: cunning, calculating, etc.).[4] An effort to categorize this type of female behavior. Therefore, it’s important to note that the term is not applicable to a younger female (let’s say 25) who is on the hunt. That girl might be called desperate or easy … it seems that the green light on a robust sexuality has to be associated with an older, more experienced woman to be seemingly sanctioned.[5] Though one of my guy contacts recently told me that he has seen several 20 something years old sporting "cougar in training" t-shirts. Perhaps this suggests that even younger women in their 20s are embracing the concept of a strong, aggressive, and financially self-sustaining persona.

Of course, if you look at any of those definitions I listed above from the Urban Dictionary, you’d be describing most of the men hanging out at a bar in NYC on any given night. What term is applicable for the old dudes hitting on the 20 year olds? Vultures? Or the young guys chasing tail – dogs? (who will hump just about anything put in their path – your leg, a stuffed animal, the cat…). Sorry guys, I love you but you know it’s true.

Being called a cougar may or may not be considered a compliment - is it the equivalent of saying to a woman that she is officially “old” or is it an appreciation for a woman who is comfortable in who she is and who brings some life experience to the table? - however, the more I analyze the term I find that the creation of this concept is in fact a positive development and reflects the continuing evolution of the recognition of a woman’s sexuality.

The strong sentiment that many men feel that women should be contributing more to the financial equation and women’s rejection of being held to a sexual double standard are just two examples of the shift in norms that is turning the dating world upside down. And rest assured, this blog will tackle many more examples of this shift in the weeks and months to come. It’s clear to anyone in the industry or in the trenches that the Rules of Dating are being rewritten and, unfortunately for those who find it all quite perplexing, the release date for the new edition is still undetermined …



[1]An article I came across about “Cougar” Singles Parties quoted many women embracing the
term. "'Me, a cougar? I love hearing that,' she purred, flashing a mane of blond hair and a white smile." See http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/18/LV23156LPD.DTL.

[2] I haven’t had an opportunity to watch Courtney Cox’s new show “Cougar Town”, but I understand that one of the main characters breaks up with her younger love interest after he proclaims his love for her.

[3] Someone recently told me a story where a friend of his spent the night with a “cougar” who then rolled over in the morning and stated with a smile: “good morning, my little cougar snack.” Embellishment or truth, I have no idea, but still it’s pretty funny.

[4] And it’s important to note that, as many people understand the term, a cougar is a woman who isn’t looking for a guy to support her financially. In this definition, she doesn’t need the guy to pay for anything – she may even be the sugar daddy in the duo.

[5] Also, you probably wouldn’t call a 45 year old woman who “hunts” a 46 year old man a cougar. They would just be two people having sexual relations, dating, what have you. It seems that there is a judgment in the term “cougar” of a younger male not being safe because of a woman’s overt and unchecked sexuality.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dracula, May I Introduce You To Elvira?

In case you weren’t checking your calendar lately, Halloween is next Saturday.[1] This statement may elicit a large grin from my readers who relish the opportunity to dress up in their most outlandish costumes and get their sugar fix for the year. Others may react with a shake of the head and a sigh, thinking “great, another Amateur Night just like New Year’s Eve” (not, of course, if you are making it to my Halloween Bash as anyone who knows me knows I take pride in throwing upscale and fun parties).

Oh, that’s right, and if you’re a male reader, you may also be thinking “are you kidding, I can’t wait to see all the cute girls running around in their skimpy hot nurse costumes.” For the men, on this night, less is definitely more. I started my Halloween costume shopping the other day at one of the huge Halloween supershops and stood in amazement at the bags and bags of skimpy costumes that would make any hot blooded male grin. Super-sexy French maid, sexy policewoman, sexy ladybug, sexy popsicle
[2] … I would love for someone to ask a woman what her costume is and have her respond matter of factly: “I’m just going as plain hot.”

And I had to laugh the other day when one of my friends (who is in her late 30s and in killer shape) recounted her recent Halloween costume shopping experience with her mother and her aunt. The screening process consisted of mom and auntie tossing back the ones with too much material and pulling out the tiniest of costumes for her to adorn. Her mother, who used to implore her to cover up, has adopted a philosophy that is in essence: you’re in the market for a husband, after all, and this is the one day you can get away with flaunting what you got.
[3]

In my view, the interesting thing about Halloween from a single person’s perspective is that you meet people stripped of their day to day attire and, therefore, the normal assessments typically at play are missing (e.g. observing whether someone is a conservative dresser, prepster, fashionista, etc. and making the corresponding judgments we all tend to make). For one night, everyone is on an equal playing field so to speak. So, the guy wearing the very masculine construction worker costume might be completely different in real life, but for tonight the ladies are lining up to check out his hardware (note to men – dressing up as a woman could be the least sexiest costume out there. Have fun borrowing your sister’s dress but don’t expect your purse to be overflowing with numbers). And of course, if someone is wearing a mask for the entire night then he or she might give you a real spook when you meet for your mocha latte.

Moreover, let’s not overlook the fact that Halloween can be a Freudian wonderland where concepts and images that would typically only play out in dreams or the subconscious are brought to life on the streets of Manhattan. Whether he recognizes it or not, the straight-laced lawyer who dresses up as Ozzy Osbourne probably chose a costume that speaks to his inner fun side as much as to his appreciation of the music. But let’s not overdo it – sometimes a pitchfork is just a pitchfork.

If your forte is your creativity, of course, this is your moment to shine. As we all know, a costume that makes everyone think “now, why, didn’t I come up with that!” gets a lot of attention (in the right way). And of course, it provides an incredibly easy opener for someone to strike up a conversation. Something to think about as you get your creative juices going.

Of course, getting into the character is also half the fun and can be very strategic. If you’re Scarlet O’Hara you can seduce with your sexiest Southern belle accent. If you’re going as Michael Jackson and you can actually do the Moonwalk, kudos to you. Just be careful not to overdo it. I remember a few years ago, I met one guy at a Halloween party who was dressed as Billy Idol. Until I realized that his giving me the finger was part of his “costume,” I was not a fan.

So, instead of waiting until the last minute to throw your costume together, why not take a moment to put some real thought into it? Who knows – it may significantly help you increase your chances of winning over that sexy vixen in the Superwoman costume or that bad boy Gangster by the bar. And maybe next year you’ll be going as Bonnie and Clyde, Hans Solo and Princess Leia, Adam and Eve, or even Plug and Socket (yes, listed as one of the most popular for 2009) … ok, you get the picture.

Happy trick or treating!



[1] I am pretty confident that my erudite readers are aware that Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, but if you were curious to read about how this ghoulish day was celebrated before the advent of candy corn and shaving cream, the History Channel’s website provides an interesting (and short) account. See http://www.history.com/content/halloween/real-story-of-halloween

[2] This is really not a stretch. I actually saw a costume for a Sugar Baby that consisted of a teeny-weeny skin tight dress with just a picture of a Sugar Baby on it. Really?

[3] And she’s right on some level – Mother Superior may be a comfortable outfit but it’s not necessarily going to be a guy magnet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sing It, Billy …

The other day I started doing some clinical research regarding online dating. To be frank, it isn’t that complicated and I won’t be getting any grants for it. I simply set up a bare bones profile (no photo, no commentary) so that I could search both Match and JDate freely and I was off to search to my heart’s content (Yahoo Personals, Plenty of Fish, The Right Stuff, etc. will be next in the research project).

Initially, I was going to read “x” amount of profiles (300, 400, etc.) so I could ascertain certain statistics regarding (1) what people were writing about themselves (e.g. how many men write “I work hard and play hard”
[1] or how many women write my other favorite “I am as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as I am in a little black dress) and (2) what people are writing regarding their “ideal match” (e.g. the limits of age difference the majority of people are ok with, how many people are ok meeting a smoker, etc.).[2]

[Note to my loyal readers – while we all know people who have had great success with online dating and have even met their spouses, we also know many others have found it to be a tremendous waste of time. This particular blog is addressing solely the latter experiences.]

Back to my research. While I was perusing the profiles of various singles, I came across several profiles of guys who contacted me when I tried on-line dating five years ago. Of course, it’s not an indictment of their desirability that they were on the same sites again – it’s possible that several of them were in serious relationships between now and then and just got back on. Ok.

But what truly galled me and served to remind me why, after the minimal trial period, I was off Match and JDate faster than you can say “I want my $39.99 back” was the fact that these guys had the SAME photos up as they had FIVE years ago. Now, it could be that they have not aged one bit in the past five years and that they look exactly the same. It’s also possible that the parents of the kid in Colorado really thought he was in the balloon when it “accidentally” lifted off.
[3]

As would be expected, I came across profiles of a sizeable number of people I know (I hate to feel like a peeping tom, but when you put your profile online you know it is out there for the world to see). As I read their profiles, oftentimes I would mentally exclaim: “This is so right on! Well done, Joe!” or “I love Jane. She really describes herself perfectly.”

And other times I would come across profiles with “not accurate” information such as:

A guy saying he is 44 when I know he graduated from high school the same year as my friend … who is 48.

A woman saying she is 34 on Match when she is at least 39 (on JDate she is 37) (Note to online daters: if you’re gonna lie, try to keep it consistent or it might blow your cover. Many people are on both JDate and Match).

A guy writing extensively about how he loves his job in private equity and has little spare time when I know that he was, unfortunately, laid off seven months ago (and has not yet found a new job).

A woman describing herself as petite when she is significantly overweight.

A guy writing that he lives in NYC when he no longer does (perhaps he has just forgotten to update his profile – is that the same as a lie?).

A woman listing that she speaks a language that I know she does not (so that she can meet someone who does).

A guy listing that he has a certain level of education that he does not (something people would not typically question because he is quite
successful financially).

Non-truths small and large. And for the sake of all the NYC online daters out there, I am going to “out” these twisters of the truth right here:

On Match, Greeneyes35 really has brown eyes.
On JDate, Fun4You is really very dull.

Just kidding.

But seriously, after reading all of these profiles, I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Honesty” … The online dating anthem.

If people actually wrote the truth in their online profiles, what a wonderful thing online dating would truly be.
[4] The answer to all single people’s prayers. I think I’ll just order up a great looking, smart, successful 38 year old, with dark hair and a keen sense of humor who is athletic and toned, has a passion for art and loves boating.

But as anyone who has tried online dating knows, when “great looking, smart, successful 38 year old, with dark hair and a keen sense of humor who is athletic and toned, has a passion for art and loves boating” shows up he is in fact 44, with virtually no hair, a decent belly, has not been to a museum in 10 years and has been boating once in his life … but he did love it.

While a good number of people who are online state that they are looking for a relationship when, in fact, they are really looking to simply go on countless dates/hook up, the following questions are directed at those who are truly looking for the “One” - i.e. for the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with and share all that life has to offer (the tragedies, the bliss, the mundane). Why are they not being honest in their profiles and instead presenting themselves to their potential future spouses with information that is just not true?
[5] What do they think they have to gain?

As can be expected, the most common complaint I hear by far from men about on-line dating is that women just do not describe their physique accurately and that they do not post accurate photos. I simply don’t understand why if you’re a woman who is overweight and the guy states clearly he is looking for a slender/thin woman you would want to be deceptive in your description of yourself and/or your photos? Do these women think that once they get the chance to meet the guy he will suddenly change what he is attracted to? Ultimately, what is more likely to happen is that he is going to meet you in person, be annoyed that you weren’t honest and wasted his time and not contact you again. I’m sorry, this is just the truth.

There are plenty of guys who will like the real description/photos you post – and when you meet for your date they are going to think you look even better in person! And that is always a great thing. In fact, I know of one woman with a lovely J-Lo booty who got tired of seeing men’s crestfallen faces when they arrived on their online generated dates. She then decided to put up a picture of herself in a wetsuit and … you guessed it – she met her now husband online (true story).

And men, if you’re annoyed at the women for not being honest about their weight, it’s high time you stop showing photos of yourself when you were in college with a full head of hair when you know you now look more like Samson after he lost to the Philistines. It’s not to say that she won’t like you if you’re balding a little (or a lot) – it may very well be fine by her. But what’s not ok is showing a picture you know is inaccurate (oh, and also lying about your height) and thinking it’s irrelevant. And, by the way – if you do “tweak” the truth on the height, hair, etc., then you really have no right to be annoyed when she fails to meet the “active and in shape” description you thought you had made very clear was a requirement.

Ok, the age issue. What I came to see in my research is that both men and women lie about this. I understand that if you are above a certain age you may get bypassed simply because the age group you are looking to meet is putting a cap that leaves you out in the cold. And I know that some people think that this is just an innocent "white lie" to get them in the door and then they will come clean. But I know for myself that if I learned that someone lied to me about his age (in person or in a profile) I would not go out with him again no matter how much I originally liked him. Readers? Bueller? Bueller?

It’s hard to think that people can have a solid relationship when it starts off with some level of dishonesty. The odd thing is, a good number of people who feel comfortable tweaking the truth online are otherwise generally honest people in real life. After enough online dates (or enough research) you come to understand that many online profiles are not so much a reflection of what people really are, but rather what they aspire to be.

[1] This would also include its cousin “I work hard and play harder.”

[2] I actually really enjoyed reading through the profiles. Many times I wanted to email someone with a comment regarding something I loved about their profile or something they could improve. But I resisted the temptation – reminding myself that these people are not my clients and after all they didn’t ask my opinion.

[3] I actually wrote to one friend that I made from JDate and shared with him that I was doing some research and came across his profile and that he might want to post some new photos as they were the same as when I met him five years ago (and even then they were not current). He wrote me back saying that he is virtually never on JDate and we thereafter engaged in lighthearted email conversation. When I moved to doing my research on Match (and saw the same photos of him there) it showed that he had been on within the past 24 hours (JDate does not provide this information). I really don’t understand his reluctance to add current photos as he still a very nice looking guy (though he most definitely looks older than in the photos on display).

[4] When I ventured to try online dating, I was honest to a fault. And I know I am not the only one who believes in truth in advertising. In my research I also came across a good number of online profiles of friends and acquaintances that were totally honest (as far as I could tell). But more than half the profiles I read had something that, empirically, was not true in them.

[5] Now, someone saying that they are “the best catch” on Match (men and women beware – the people who need to assure you of this are typically the people who make you want to ask for the check the minute your waiter arrives to take your order), or that they "love to travel" but never go anywhere, or that they are considered good looking by all of their friends (I never understood the need to say this, I think the pictures speak for themselves, no?) cannot be considering to be lying per se. We are discussing empirically false statements here.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light - Go!

The beautiful thing about getting older is life experience (despite some people’s argument to the contrary, in my opinion it’s definitely not the wrinkles, balding and cellulite).[1] Most people I know would never switch their lives now to be their 18-year-old-self again. Indeed, you never hear of the wise young man doling out advice on a mountain top.

So if you’ve lived long enough and dated long enough, then you’ve likely experienced and seen enough to say under certain circumstances – “I’ve been here before.” And, hopefully, you are able to recognize the familiar landscape early on so that you can get out of terrain that you didn’t care for the first time around.

When seasoned singles go on a first date (and in particular ones generated on-line) they tend to be like a detective solving a whodunit - looking for every clue as to whether this person is normal, worthy of a second date and potentially good partner material.
[2] We are not necessarily talking about assessing traits and qualities such as whether a person has good table manners or is dressed in outdated tapered light blue jeans – that is a different level of assessment which goes to whether a searching single wants to work with a diamond in the rough.

Rather, we are talking about red flags. And orange, yellow, blue and green flags too. Yes, for those paying attention, the Homeland Security Advisory System works quite well as a point of reference here (the levels of security alerts being as follows: red = severe condition, orange = high condition, yellow = elevated condition, blue = guarded condition, green = low condition). Ok, here I will take a little poetic license and make green = highly favorable condition.

A red flag is one that should make a smart single stop in his or her tracks and say – I’ve seen this behavior before and it ain’t good. The last person who did this, said this, had this "story" was “x, y and z” (none of “x, y, z” being positive). The presence of a red flag (on par with the “severe” condition indication) should be met with a similar reaction – get the hell outta there and don’t look back.

What is a “red” flag? Sometimes they’re gender neutral (e.g. virtually every male and female client tells me that a date being rude to waitstaff is a no-go), while other times the flag is obviously gender specific.

A red flag indicating that a guy has a violent temper (i.e. getting into a physical or verbal fight with another guy while you’re on a date) is a clear red flag to a woman (one day that out of control temper could be directed towards her). Among other red flags that most women I know look for (or should notice) are flags that would indicate that her date is just in it for sex, that her date has zero interest in settling down any time soon (if settling down is what she’s looking for) or that her date has zero career ambition.

When someone chooses to show you a red flag early on it is a blessing. Take, for example, my friend “Lisa” who told me about a guy who took her to a very nice dinner on their first date, acted like a perfect gentleman but then afterwards asked her multiple times to go back to his apartment to “listen to music” (by the way, the he chose a restaurant conveniently located a block away from his apartment). Lisa made it clear several times that she had no interest in doing that and suggested continuing the date at a nearby wine bar. Her suggestions were apparently met with dissatisfaction and continued insistence on the night cap at his place. Lisa proudly recounted her response as she ended the date and hopped in a cab: Thanks for the red flag – very much appreciated. Sorry, no music, no nightcap, no second date. Good guys – guys with the right intentions - just don’t act like that.

Of course, men tend to have their own red flags. Typically, on a first date they are looking for any flags indicating that their date is emotionally unstable, a gold digger or potentially non-discriminating sexually.
[3] The difference between men’s red flags and women’s red flags is that the man won’t necessary follows Lisa’s quick exit strategy even if he perceives enough red flags to adorn a fort. Thus, he might see what he can make of the date but he isn’t sticking around long after. So, if a woman asks what kind of car the guy drives or whether he owns or rents his place (it’s hard to believe, but apparently there are women out there asking these questions over their first sip of Chardonnay), the "gold digger alert" siren has gone off but it still might not be a death knell. A sign of mental instability on the other hand, now that is usually an effective one - “Joe” has been there before and it isn’t worth going down that path again no matter how hot his date is.

Ok, here are just a few examples of flags to consider based upon my own experiences and the constant input I have received from both men and women:

· A guy even talking about anything sexual on a first date if unprovoked by the woman = RED FLAG.

For example, if the guy is asking you very personal questions about sex and you haven’t even kissed yet. Most women who have dated enough realize that the guys who have done this in the past have turned out to be creeps. Sure, to some women it might be a green flag – I guess, it depends what you’re looking for…

· A woman who gets hammered on the first date … by herself = RED FLAG

More than women realize, serious men are looking at the women they are meeting as potential mothers of their kids. So if a woman gets wasted on a first date it usually makes the man think that she exercises poor judgment and is not responsible. My guess is that every woman who drinks has had at least one instance where she drank too much on a first date with a guy she liked and regretted the impression she made. That can happen when you’re younger, but if the woman is over 35 it is probably going to be perceived as a deal breaker. The guy is now thinking she may do something similar at a family wedding/party with his friends…

If both parties get drunk on the date, however, then she’s likely in the clear – or only waving a yellow or blue flag. If they are many dates into their relationship when she has one cosmopolitan too many, it’s probably a non-issue.

· A man who has no relationship with his mother = ORANGE FLAG

If a man has cut his mother out of his life it is typically a given that he has issues establishing close relationships with women. This is very dark orange flag to the point where you are scratching your head – “is it orange? maybe it’s red, no maybe it’s orange …”). Do you really want to take on this person’s issues?[4]

· A woman revealing intensely personal stories on the first date = ORANGE FLAG

One of my guy friends told me about a first date where the woman shared with him the fact that she hasn't had her period in seven months. She assured him she wasn’t pregnant and she was just having some health issues, but he could only conclude the girl had an eating disorder. A woman who shares intensely personal information on a first date typically sends a flag to a man that she is unstable and has issues. What’s the Homeland Security translation again … oh right, “heightened condition.”

· A man or woman who is over 45 and never married and claims that he or she wants to be = YELLOW FLAG

Ok, I know I am going to hear it from my readers on this one. But it is a flag – notice I didn’t say “red” flag requiring immediate withdrawal. Maybe this person has just been incredibly focused on his or her career, maybe he or she wasn’t really ready or interested in marriage until the past couple of years (obviously, you can’t just snap your fingers and make it happen once you’re ready), maybe he or she lived with a significant other for several years and lost valuable time with someone who turned out not to be the “One.” All legitimate reasons.

Or maybe the guy hasn’t really grown up, doesn’t in fact want to get married, or maybe the woman has unreasonably high expectations which can never be met, or maybe … you get the picture. The presence of this yellow flag calls for “elevated” sleuthing.

· A guy who makes up a totally unbelievable job when you ask him what he does for a living (e.g. ice cream truck driver) = BLUE FLAG


Such a ridiculous response is typically a sign of immaturity. Even though some guys will say they do this to deflect gold-digging women who just want to figure out how much money they make, one would hope they have other capable sensors. A mature man just answers this question in a straightforward manner (e.g. “I am a lawyer, doctor, professor, etc."). This guy may be a fine guy, but proceed with slight caution.

· A woman who orders the most expensive thing on the menu = BLUE FLAG

Women, just so you know, when a man sees you doing this he may start to wonder if you are out with him just for the money and/or if you are extremely high maintenance (usually a turn off for men). Or maybe he thinks "she just loves lobster crepes adorned with caviar and sauted with truffles …"

· Someone who shows genuine interest in you on a date with the clear intent of getting to know what you’re really about = GREEN FLAG

No explanation needed here.

Unfortunately, when we really like someone we often develop a strange and temporary affliction of colorblindness. We’ll talk ourselves into believing red flags are orange, orange flags are yellow and so on until we ultimately realize they were always crimson ...

Ok, it’s audience participation time – men, women, your (relevant) thoughts are always welcome!



[1] It is my experience since writing this blog that no matter what you say (or how basic or well-founded), you will always find someone who will argue the contrary. That being said, there’s no question that differences of opinion keep it interesting!

[2] Mind you, even if people do not go on a date consciously “looking” for red flags (perhaps an optimist would respond that is just too cynical of a way to approach a date), they should certainly be paying attention when one of those flags comes waving in front of their smiling visage (a fun word for my language people out there).

[3] Yes, the unjustified double standard exists – as no man would consider himself a slut in any negative sense of the word for sleeping with a woman “too soon” (does that concept even exist in regard to man?) but they are happy to pass this judgment on any girl who actually thinks they are worthy of sleeping with without strategic game playing. I’m the messenger here – disagree with it all you want but it’s a reality (a reality that’s changing, however. More on this in another blog).

[4] If he has severed a relationship with one of his children, please see red flag protocol.