The Dame’s Tips for mating season

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The Dame Tips are a monthly guest series by wntta's resident Don Draper: an elegant hedonist who suffers no fools, The Dame herself, writer Ali Schofield.

Ahh, spring: such a time to be alive. No matter where you are, the (yet coming) winter thaw means mating season is upon us – for rabbits, other *waves hand dismissively* wildlife, and for humans already wet for a summer romance. This month I’ve decided to impart wisdom that will help you pair off, and hopefully get off, in the new old-fashioned way: online.

I think by this point the yesteryear embarrassment of saying to your friends “we met online” has mostly evaporated; indeed, I bet you have myriad friends who have coupled, wed and bred this way. Sure, it lacks a Hollywood meet-cute, but real romance is what comes after you find a date, darling.

Despite how long it’s been around, I know many of you are still daunted by looking for love via the internet. Fortunately, I have extensive experience in this area, and it only seems right to share the things I’ve learned with you, my dear, sweet disciples. I’m so serious about it I’m going to use a numbered list.

  1. Pick Your Platform – These days there are endless apps to help you find a mate, so I suggest before you begin, do some research and answer these two questions: who are you looking for and what do you want to do with them? For instance, Tinder might help you find someone to fuck your brains out, or at the very least rattle them a little; Bumble is perfect for ladies who want more control over who “slides into their DMs”; and Hinge may just help you find something slightly more meaningful. Each platform has its own flavor, gimmicks, and audience generally looking for the same-ish thing, though many people still use all of these apps indiscriminately. For instance, The Candidates I surveyed on Hinge were generally a little more dating-oriented, though I did still match with one guy who suggested we go to Oasis Aqua Lounge for our first date. Swinger aside (naturally, he gets no judgement from me), this is how I’ve met most of my Manfriends. Oh, my dear, did you think that ‘Manfriend’ was one person this whole time? How provincial! There have been a few, and they’ve all been marvelous in their own special ways, but after all this time I have found a truly exceptional partner – my dearest, sweetest Beloved – and dare I say, I think I will keep him. (Sorry, is my mushy centre is showing?)

  2. Acknowledge your ideals – Darling, let me start by saying that it’s acceptable, nay imperative, to have standards – I would advocate for nothing less – but understand the difference between a standard and an ideal. Over the years it’s natural to formulate some dream person that we’d like to share our lives and our beds with. But I can tell you, one of the most successful practices in online dating is casting a wide net. This means talking to plenty of people and prioritizing the qualities you want in a partner over their height/race/gym schedule/Harry Potter house/whatever. The more superficial ideals you have, the shallower the pool will be when you go searching – and who knows, they could all be assholes.

  3. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered – Are you surprised that The Dame is a Murderino? Like all things in life, online dating demands safety first. Here’s what you do: when you make a date with a prospective lover, take a screenshot of their picture and information and send it to a friend along with where and when you plan to meet. I recommend meeting in public places, naturally, even better if they’re places you’re already familiar with. Be smart and listen to your gut – if you get a weird feeling, fuck politeness and leave. It really, honestly, truly is that simple.

  4. Accept that there will be bad dates – My dears, I do understand if you still have hesitations about beginning or returning to online dating: just like the real world, there is scum to be found in dating apps, and naturally there will be people with whom you haven’t an ounce of chemistry. Accepting this is fortifying, truly. You must approach dating with this mentality: having a bad date means gaining a good story. For instance, I went on a date once with a man who very seriously confused Hawaii with Cuba and announced that he had to go “pee pee” before shuffling off to the bathroom. That the man got to spend an hour over beers with me is a wonder, truly, but it happens. (Note: this is not the worst date I’ve ever been on. My bad date stories are innumerable and hilarious, and I’m happy to dish if you buy me a cocktail or six.)

  5. REMEMBER: DATING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. DO NOT TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. I MUST CAPSLOCK. To me, this is absolutely the ultimate key to successfully dating online and in general. Dating can be emotionally exhausting, and if you take it too seriously you won’t be your true self when you’re with your date. Believe me, you want them to know the real you, because that’s who you’ll be long term. Don’t try to project a future onto them from moment one or become someone else you think they might like. (You may describe your commute to work as “a hike” but that’s not what your date means.) Besides, having different interests from your date can be an asset, and if they don’t think so, then Next them (anyone else remember this show on MTV, or am I the only fabulous elder millennial around here?) I know this is going to sound weird, but dating should be fun. Remember that. Getting to know someone, sharing random stories, doing unusual activities, it should be a good time.

Can’t relax? Try this: before you meet your date, I suggest you take a minute to smile to yourself and say, “this doesn’t matter”. If you’re more optimistic, “this will be fun.” I know, that sounds a little corny, but it will help you, and that’s all I’m trying to do.

All this said, being single doesn’t mean you have to date. I LOVED being alone. But sex aside, I think I challenged myself to try to find someone who I like spending time with as much as I like spending time with myself (and for many years now, I really didn’t think there was anything better than, well, me.)  So how did my first date go with my Beloved? Well, it started at a tiki bar, found us later at my favourite spot for pho and cocktails, and ended after last call with a kiss in the cab. My Beloved was a gentleman, interested in me and interesting to get to know, and we had a playful banter from the very start. We have some opposite interests – my deep seeded love for opera vs. his for the Patriots, for instance – but the important things are the same. Sometimes, my love, you get lucky. But only after you date Hillbilly Jason for a of couple weeks – you know, kissing toads and all that.

This will be the only time you’ll hear me admit I don’t have all of the answers, but I sincerely hope that sharing what I’ve learned encourages some of you to get out there, should you get the itch. And for those who want to stay put I salute you. You are fabulous company.

Until next month my sweet, sweet dear – keep your expectations low, standards high, and maybe carry a little vodka in your purse.

xoxo,

The Dame