Friday, October 8, 2010

Hello all!

While it has been a fabulous journey for me to write this blog, it's time for me to move on to other projects. I am not, however, leaving you without the rest of my sex advice! Where's the rest of it? It's available! Free from me via a PDF of the whole book. Just write to me at and I'll send The Geek's Guide to Getting the Girl to you! Hey, and it's available as a Kindle book on for only 0.99! What a deal!

The remaining sections in the Sexploits chapter include:

Getting Her Off

Things You Need to Tell Her (or Not)

How to Tell if She Likes What You're Doing

Oral Sex Tips

So now I'll close with my words from the last chapter of the book:

As you bring your new dating skills into the world and embark upon some risk-taking, I have a few last words of advice:

Share your skills. You’re a computer expert? You can hook up a hi-def TV in sixty seconds? Let it be known! You’d be amazed at how many single women (well, people in general, but we don’t care about them) need help from time to time, even if they don’t want to admit it. Offering to help is a great way to meet and get to know friends of friends and workplace acquaintances.

Quit worrying about getting older. You may be losing your hair. At twenty-five. Or it may be going gray. Maybe you used to be skinny and now suddenly you’ve got this paunch. At your twenty-year high school reunion, it’s the men who are sneering at your lack of hair and your wrinkles, not the women. Women don’t care. Neither should you.

Don’t be a pushover. I hear men complain about women who say they want a nice, sensitive guy, but when they find him, they dump him. The truth? Women don’t dump nice guys. They dump pushovers. Don’t let being desperate turn you into a milquetoast. Have an opinion. Don’t let her get her way all the time. She’ll lose respect for you if you do.

Don’t settle. Resources are not scarce. Don’t let your state of desperation lead to marrying the first woman you date for more than a month. I’ve seen too many geeks marry their first girlfriend and come to regret it. And these same guys are too damn nice to divorce her. Which leaves the rest of us single women without hope of ever snagging you. Not fair to us, not fair to you. Don’t marry your first girlfriend.

And let me tell you a secret that I’ve hidden from you until now: Other men envy you. Yes, even the men with tanned, cocoa-buttered chests and devastating smiles. Why? Because women find you approachable. You don’t judge people by how they look and the world in turn treats you the same. The geek culture you come from is accepting of all kinds of people, so you’ll talk to anyone--and actually listen to them.

Other men envy you because you genuinely like life and have time to enjoy it. You have hobbies you pursue with a passion, not because you have nothing better to do with your time but because you love what you do. You have freedom most men don’t have at your age, precisely because you aren’t married and don’t have kids who gobble up all your leisure time.

Other men envy you because women find you interesting. You have a brain and you’re willing to use it even though you aren’t in college anymore. The best conversations most people have are the ones they had in college staying up late at night discussing some arcane theory. As a geek, you continue to engage in contemplating the universe while most people turn twenty-two and never again seriously think about anything. They’ve formed their opinions, they’ve gained all the knowledge about the world they think they need, and they’re done. You are not like that, and women find that attractive.

Other men envy you because of your technical know-how, scientific background and affinity for computers guarantee that you will get ahead and stay ahead financially. It’s a geek’s world now.

Start looking around and you’ll see it. Women (over twenty-five) are more likely to talk to you than the Charmer. And people are more genuinely interested in your opinion than in the opinion of the Man, whose thoughts are easily guessed and never deviate from the party line.

You’ve become the High-Functioning Geek and now nothing can hold you back. Not even an immovable object. Because you, as an irresistible object, cannot logically exist in a universe where there is an immovable object!

Good Luck! And feel free to email me at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sexual Etiquette, Part Two

Don’t scrimp on the foreplay. Foreplay will never go on too long for her. I don’t mean that no amount of time is too long, I mean that when she’s done with foreplay, she’ll be desperately pulling you on top of her and putting you inside, so don’t worry about doing too much of it. She’ll let you know.

Don’t put all your weight on her unless she says it’s okay. Most men weigh enough that pressing all of their weight on a woman will crush her ribs, or, if nothing else, make breathing difficult.

Don’t lean on her hair either with your hands or your head. Move her hair out of your way first.

When she’s doing something you don’t like, say something. But rather than say “no” or “stop,” which can be insulting, give her direction about what you do want. Directions during sex that are given in the affirmative (“I really like it when you xxx”) rather than the negative (“Doing xxx does nothing for me sexually”) are much more helpful (to both you and her), and won’t hurt her feelings because you’re not telling her she’s doing something “wrong.” No one likes to be wrong sexually.

Let her initiate going down on you. Do not pull or push her head down. Sometimes a woman doesn’t feel like doing it, and some women never want to do it. Never force or coerce her. This will set you apart from other men and show you as a better lover. Appalling that some men are so inconsiderate. But true.

Afterward, consider asking if you can get her anything.

Staying awake for snuggling afterward can be nice. If you are going to fall asleep (as many men do and most experienced women understand), say something so she doesn't feel ignored or used—like “You were so amazing, you've worn me out.”

Jumping up to take a shower or wash the smell of her off your mouth, hands, etc. will make her feel dirty, and like you really didn’t want to be going down on her/touching her. But don’t be insulted if she jumps up and runs to the bathroom right after. Some women get urinary tract infections quite easily and peeing after sex helps avoid UTIs.

Ask her what you could do more of next time and tell her what you liked in the afterglow of sex--not like two minutes after you’ve orgasmed but five or ten minutes. Don’t be afraid to ask more than once. Just not every time. Every time makes you seem insecure… You could say something like “You seemed to like [this particular activity], did you?” or “Is there anything I could have done more of?”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sexual Etiquette, Part One

Have trimmed, filed nails. And make sure the skin on your hands is smooth too. The last thing you want to do is scratch her tender, sensitive skin when you’re making love to her. She will not want you to touch her there again.

Make sure it’s warm enough in the bedroom for no clothes to be on. Close the window and turn on the heat if necessary. Conversely, if it’s a hot summer night, make sure it’s cool enough. Open a window, and turn on a fan.

Be entirely certain she wants to! Don’t assume that since you did it on your last date that she wants to continue in that vein. Ask “Is this okay?”

Do it in a bed, especially at first. Experimentation can be saved for later. The back seat of a car, the floor of a barn, on the ground in the woods is too rough on the back.

Music can be a nice touch, but some women, especially when first sleeping with someone, can find any sound or visual stimulation distracting. Forgo mood music until you know what she likes better. And leave the lights dim--not because she’s modest but because a bright light bulb shining in the eyes can be irritating and distracting from the activity at hand.

Compliment her body. Women love to feel powerful, seductive, sexy. Simply saying “You are so beautiful,” or “You have an amazingly sexy body” is perfect. Any woman will love to hear that. Or notice some detail about her body and say “I love this [part or nook]”--only don't say “I love this part on *women's* bodies.” She doesn't want to hear about other women—leave that part off.

On Tuesday: Sexual Etiquette, Part Two

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sexploits: The Basics

Wear underwear without rips in it. There are probably women out there who like the tighty whitey. I just don’t know any. Wear boxers or boxer briefs.

As to manscaping, being clean is really what is most important. If your pubic hair is particularly wild and crazy, consider trimming it. If you like mouth on testicle action, shaving down there will get you more of what you want. Do what you find comfortable in regards to hair removal in your nether regions. It's not that big a deal to most women.

When making love, like a boy scout, be prepared. You should have the following at close hand:

• Clean sheets, preferably 100% cotton and a high thread count (300 or higher) or silk or satin. Avoid flannel—it'll remind her of your grandmother.

• Condoms, in a new box if this is your first time with her. It’s way tacky to use condoms from a box that’s already open and missing some condoms. Yeah, she knows/assumes you’ve slept with other women, but she doesn’t want to have to be reminded of it as you are both lying there naked together.

• Lubrication. A full bottle--see reason above. Any number of brands are fine--particularly good are Astroglide and Slippery Stuff.

• A glass of water. Or two.

• Tissues and/or a hand towel. Do I need to be specific about why?

• Candles and a lighter, if you wish

Advanced items:

If you must have massage oil, get the kind that does not stain sheets. Most kinds commonly available do stain sheets. The brands that won’t are generally available at sex toy shops or, for the shy, on the Internet.

As to bubble bath and other bathtub accoutrements? Forget about it. It's really hard to get comfortable in a bathtub, even a large one, with another person, and she may not be at ease with you seeing her naked body exposed in that way and from those potentially unflattering angles.

Like massage oil and bubble bath, bondage tape, handcuffs, etc. are unnecessary. If you're into them and she is too, and you're comfortable with it, fine. But the reality is you don't need any of it.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Here’s the bad news: what some women prefer, others don't, and what some women don't like, others can't get enough of. And, oh, yeah, the same woman can *not* want the same thing she loved the last time you did it.

The good news: you can always resort to (surprise!) asking her what she likes. I know this concept is novel, but it actually works. Except with the woman who doesn’t know what she wants until you help her discover it...

While I do plan on writing about technique, remember that a woman is not a car engine, and she doesn’t want to be treated like a machine that needs to be figured out. Focusing on technique distances you from your partner. You may be stimulating her breasts exactly right according to some article you read in Maxim, but if you aren’t paying attention to how she is reacting in that moment to the stimulation, you may be annoying her.

Connect to your partner. Pay attention to the moment. And to her. *That* is what is important—not some suave technique.

You may be nervous, or you may be so tuned in to your own orgasm that you have your eyes closed the whole time you’re making love. Open your eyes. Look at your partner during sex. She doesn’t want to be your masturbation toy, and she doesn’t want to think that you could be picturing someone else behind those closed eyes while you’re inside her.

The keys to being a great lover?

1. Act confident (even when you aren't confident).

2. Approach her and your lovemaking with curiosity. You don't need to “know” everything. Learning about each other through the process is fun and creates more intimacy than diving in and doing it the way you were told to by some supposedly very experienced friend (male or female).

3. Be present with her in the moment.

I will repeat this again: being a great lover is not about "perfect" technique or an encyclopedic range of "moves" or vast amounts of experience. It's about being present and connected.

Up next: The Basics

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Dry Spell

But what is the relevance of anything in these last few posts about identifying your your match if you can’t even manage to get *any* dates, much less find a mate or girlfriend? Let’s say a year has passed and you’ve implemented the recommended changes on this blog, and you’re still at home every Saturday night, looking at pictures of Jupiter on the National Geographic Web site with no dates in sight. Is it hopeless?

All of us have dry spells. Even yearlong ones. If you have a life you love and someone to bitch to (preferably someone in your same dateless circumstance--partnered people will have no patience with you), you can get through a dry spell.

If it’s more than a dry spell, be really honest with yourself:
*Are you making dating and socializing a priority? If you live in Alaska, you aren’t making it a priority. Which is fine if you really love Alaska. But quit your complaining about not being able to find a girlfriend.
*Have you done all you could to be available and attractive (i.e., followed *all* the advice in this book)? Do you have an online profile? Have you lost some weight? *Do you have interesting hobbies?
*Do you need a reality check from a brutally honest friend about what you do that puts women off? Ask a friend about the kind of first impression you make. Are you a loud, abrasive know-it-all? Do you tell stories that put you in a bad light--either by being painfully boring or by highlighting your least appealing traits? Do you give off an aloof, cold, unavailable vibe? Being shy can make a person seem distant and unapproachable.
*Lastly, do you have emotional issues that need to be worked out in therapy?

If you can be truthful with yourself and then *do* something about it, you will not want for dates.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What Do Women Want?

The Physical
Women tend to be less picky than men about looks and weight but we do have standards:
*Clean clipped fingernails. No one wants to get scratched with a rough nail.
*Thighs that are larger than hers.
*Two eyebrows. No unibrows please!
*A reasonable level of physical strength. Okay, so we’re a little shallow.

*Takes care of his health. Men typically die earlier--we don’t want you to make it worse.
*Shows public displays of affection.
*Knows how to give a massage.
*Is good in bed.
*Has a clean bathroom.
*Thinks and says her body is the sexiest thing ever.
*Doesn’t look at other women, particularly when you’re together. (She will find out if you’re looking at other women when she isn’t around.)
*Is a good storyteller.

Personality Traits
*Is silly, makes her laugh. Remember: quoting Monty Python is not funny. Neither are puns. (Okay, sometimes puns are funny but *you* can’t tell the difference between the funny ones and the un-funny ones. So avoid them.)
*Is verbally, emotionally expressive.
*Is spontaneous.
*Has some trait or accomplishment she can be proud of: really good-looking, successful, smart, entrepreneurial or nurturing. You don’t have to be all of those things. One will do. Women like to brag about their beaus. Give her something she can brag about.
*Is stable (financially, emotionally).
*Is fiercely loyal.
*Is thoughtful--once might have been called chivalry. Remember to have her favorite candy or chips on hand when she comes over to watch a movie. Ask about the work project she talked about last time you were together. Bring her hot soup when she’s sick.

That's what we want!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Values to Match On

The last item you must match on is not exactly a value. It’s the kids or no kids question. It’s okay to be undecided on whether you want kids or not, but if you have a strong desire one way or the other and you are dating in order to meet your wife, you need to find a way to make your opinion known early on. Online dating services are great because most of them have the kids question as one of the default questions that you have to answer when you set up your profile. A woman may run in the other direction if you talk about kids on a first date, but do drop clues if you start seeing each other regularly.

Look back at your description of the ideal woman that I asked you to write down several weeks ago. Are there qualities you would change, add, subtract? It should be clear by now that qualities like “must love The Decemberists” and “gets my Simpsons references” don’t need to be on your list, but qualities like “is politically active” might be essential to you.

Take into consideration that stability in a long term relationship often goes with having similar backgrounds, ideals and traits: for example, socio-economic background and current financial standing, religious upbringing, current religious/spiritual beliefs, level of formal education, level of intelligence and interest in politics.

Using the list below, think about the end of the spectrum where you fall. Then go back through the list and decide how much variation you can tolerate in a partner. Write it down. Maybe you don’t want kids, but step kids would be all right. Maybe you’re Christian but she doesn’t have to be as along as she has some kind of spiritual grounding.

Security ... Freedom
Closed social circle … Open social circle
Social butterfly … Homebody
Time with others … Time alone
Interdependence … Independence
Materialism … Spirituality
Apathy … Involvement
Avoider … Debater … Compromiser
Kids … No kids

So now you know what you want and what makes for a stable relationship, but...

What Do Women Want?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Her Fighting Style

How can you tell what her style is? If you’ve been together for a year, it’s probably easy to tell. If you haven’t had an argument during that time, she’s an Avoider (and you probably are too). If you’ve had several arguments where she has ended up crying or yelling, she’s probably a Debater. And if you’ve had calm conversations sitting on the couch where it felt like you were in a therapy session, she’s likely a Compromiser.
But how can you tell what kind of conflict style someone has before you get that deeply into a relationship? The Debaters are usually easy to spot. They bring up controversial topics in social settings and are likely to be the ones doing most of the talking (and loudly) during those conversations. You get the feeling from them that they like to be right all the time.

Compromisers are often the ones in the group that recognize if someone is uncomfortable (with the conversation topic or with social situations in general) or if someone has a headache or other physical malady. They are likely to ask about these things without the person having verbally expressed any discomfort. When others are arguing or debating a topic, Compromisers will make clarifying statements ( “so what x seems to be saying is…,” “do you mean…?”), and they will ask questions before expressing their own opinion on the matter.

Avoiders are more difficult to suss out because some Avoiders do enjoy intellectual debate but abhor arguments of the personal kind. Some clues might be bitching about problems at work that she has never brought to the attention of her boss, shutting down when someone contradicts her, and ignoring social slights or oversights, such as the host forgetting to make the drink that he said he would get for her.

Figure out what your style is and find someone who matches or is compatible with you.

Up Next: Values Wrap-up

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fighting Style

Another arena in which you'll need to find compatibility is in your fighting style. I wrote about this recently. But let's review.

There are different appropriate ways to handle conflict. Some avoid it. Some confront it head on and are very emotionally expressive in these interactions. Others negotiate. None of these styles is bad or wrong. But mix an Avoider with a Debater, and you’ve got a disaster on your hands.

Avoiders/Yielders rarely come into conflict with each other. They do get annoyed with their partner’s behavior. And they do disagree with their partners on various issues. But, for the most part, none of these annoyances or disagreements is important enough for the annoyed partner to bother bringing it up. And as long as the annoyances really are not that big of a deal to the partner, this is a fine way to deal with conflict. It means that there is a lot that this couple doesn’t know about each other since they keep silent about a lot of things, but the relationship is fairly placid, and that’s what is preferable for these couples.

Other couples are Debaters. They have loud, emotionally expressive conflicts about almost everything that they could have a conflict about. They enjoy pushing each other and value letting it all hang out over having peace in the home. This couple knows a lot about each other and may be more intimate emotionally than other types of couples but run the risk of saying things in the heat of the argument that they wish they could take back and can not.

The Compromiser couple largely practice all the techniques that you are “supposed” to when in conflict. They listen. They acknowledge the feelings behind their partner’s words and they work out a compromise.Sometimes Compromisers end up giving up a lot of what they want as individuals for the benefit of the relationship.

How do you deal with conflict? You should know from the previous posts on fighting what kind of fighter you are, but if not, think over the last year of your life, both at work and in your personal life. How many outright conflicts have you had with anyone? If your only expressed conflicts were with your parents or siblings, you’re an Avoider. There’s simply no way that in the course of a year, a decision hasn’t been made at work that you utterly disagreed with. And there’s no way a friend didn’t do something that pissed you off or hurt your feelings. If you can think of an argument you had over the past year, how would you categorize it? You’re less likely to be a Debater in a work situation, even if you are a Debater in your personal life, so try to think of a conflict with a friend. Did you get emotional? Were you accusatory? You’re a Debater. Or did you think long and hard about what you wanted to say before you said it? Did you talk through ways to resolve the issue? Did you walk away from the conversation enlightened by what your friend had to say? You’re a Compromiser.

Up Next: But how can you tell what her style is?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apathy vs. Involvement

Another value on which you'll want to match a long-term partner is your level of apathy/involvement, which shows up in different arenas: politics, your own health, the environment, etc.

Are you more of a laissez-faire sort of person? Do you think there isn’t much you can do to improve your health, that it’s mostly determined by biology, so why exercise, see a doctor regularly or eat healthy? Do you think it doesn’t matter if you recycle or take the bus instead of driving? What difference does one person make? Then you are on the apathetic end of the scale. Look for someone who shares your apathy.

Or do you vote, engage in local politics and write your senator on a regular basis? Do you try to do what you can to be healthy and keep the environment vital? Then look for someone who takes an active role in her community.

If the two of you are not near each other on this spectrum, it will drive both of you nuts. If you’re apathetic, she will worry about your health, and nag you about it, and ultimately she will not respect you for failing to do anything about the wrong in the world. If you’re the engaged one, she might find your optimism encouraging and even infectious at first, but ultimately your energy about politics, the world, health, etc. will grate on her nerves as all she wants to do is relax.

Next Up: Fighting Style

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Meaning of Life

Another Life Value you should share with a long-term partner is the Meaning of Life. There’s a larger difference between pet owners and non-pet owners than between cat and dog people. It’s a difference of kind versus degree. You don’t necessarily have to have identical ideas about the meaning of life and/or spirituality, but if one of you is a complete materialist and the other is spiritual (by whatever definition), you’re in a worse position than the couple where one is a Jew and the other is a Christian. You don’t have to agree about how the universe came into being or about who/what exactly God is, but you do both have to believe in some kind of God, or you both have to be atheists.

What is the meaning of life for you? If you’ve won this game of life, what would you have? Is it about power and money and having a nice car, a house overlooking the ocean and the ability to travel whenever you want? Or is it about attaining closeness to God? Giving back to the universe? Helping your fellow human being? Some people feel bad saying it’s about the material world. They feel they ought to say life is about altruism, religion or some other “lofty” ideal. But be honest. Look at your bank statement. What do you spend your time and money on? Do you give 10% to charity? Or do you spend your discretionary money on the newest technology? And how do you spend your free time? How you spend your time and money tells you what you truly value.

Up next: Apathy vs. Involvement

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Connectedness vs. Independence

Another "life value" that you'll want to share in order to have long-term relationship success is your preference for connectedness.

This area can be represented as a wheel with a series of spokes of different lengths. When you overlay your wheel onto hers they should be close to identical. Each spoke represents a different aspect of social connectedness.

One spoke represents how closed your social network is. Some people prefer a fairly closed system of interaction. They are very close to their family of origin and keep in contact with extended family as well. The friends they have outside of their relations are often people they’ve known for a very long time--from college, high school or even kids they met at the National Spelling Bee in fifth grade. The more open your system, the more diverse your friends are and the more people you come into contact with and develop relationships with. The more open your system, the longer the spoke.

The second spoke represents how much of a homebody you are. Would you rather stay in on the weekend or have a party or two to attend? When you go to a party, do you enjoy hanging around with the people you already know, or do you prefer talking to people you haven’t met before? Would you rather entertain in your own home, or go to someone else’s? The more of a social butterfly you are, the longer this spoke is.

The third spoke represents how much alone time you need. Do you prefer living alone to living with a roommate? Do you need a bit of peace and quiet and no social interaction when you first come home from work? The more alone time you need, the shorter your spoke.

The last spoke represents your level of independence versus interdependence. Do you prefer to complete work projects by yourself or with a group or committee? Would you rather fix the toilet by yourself or have a friend join you? If you’re trying to lose weight, do you do it quietly by yourself, or do you need someone to encourage and/or keep you accountable? The more independent you are, the shorter this spoke is.

The more similar you are along each of these spokes, the less you have to deal with the pursuer-distancer dance. If you both enjoy the same amount of alone time, together time and social time, then neither of you will feel suffocated by the other (the pursuer) and neither of you will feel alienated by the other (the distancer).

I'll be on hiatus for the next two weeks, but when I return, I'll discuss another Life Value, The Meaning of Life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Security vs.Freedom, What to Look For?

If you tend toward the predictable in your own life, you’ll want to look for the following in a potential girlfriend:

*Financial security: has no credit-card debt, has a stable job in a readily employable career, owns a house/condo.

*Calm demeanor: meditates, is in a job where she uses listening skills (therapist, mediator, judge, teacher).

*Planning: keeps a personal calendar, makes lists.

If you tend towards the spontaneous, you’ll want to look for the following in a potential girlfriend:

*Bubbly personality: emotionally expressive, gesticulates when she talks.

*Spontaneity: introduces friends to new restaurants, foods, music and people; is involved with new projects whenever you see her.

*Flexibility: doesn’t stay at a job for more than a couple of years, changes cars and apartments as often, manages to have the time/money to take long vacations/compete in a sailing race/volunteer overseas for the summer.

Next: Connectedness vs. Independence

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Security vs. Freedom

For a long-term relationship to work, you'll want to share your basic life values. Among those basic life values is whether you prefer security or freedom.

People who prefer security to freedom gravitate to jobs that offer good benefits and employment stability. They have an emergency fund in the bank. They love planning for events, vacations and projects. More often than not, they know what they are doing on the weekend before the weekend comes. Your anal geek.

Those who prefer freedom move from job to job fairly often. They care less about the benefits and stability of the job than enjoying the work, the people and having flexibility--flexibility in scheduling and flexibility to develop the job in different directions than originally foreseen. They would rather arrive in a city with no hotel reservation and no plan. Your entrepreneurial geek.

Of course, a security-lover can find a spontaneous person very exciting to be with for a period of time. In fact, it would probably be very fun for a tight-ass to date a freedom-lover for a while. But if you really are at extreme ends on this scale, over the long run it won’t work. What happens when one of you wants to quit her job and move to Bangladesh? Or what if she wants to spend your emergency fund on a tropical vacation or a business idea that has a very uncertain outcome?

No one falls completely on either end of the spectrum. And you may be more free and spontaneous in your work life but fairly rigid in your personal life. Or the opposite could be true. Maybe you love buying last-minute plane tickets for a long weekend in San Francisco and throwing spontaneous dinner parties but you’ve been at your government job for ten years and love having a pension you’ll be able to count on. Generally, though, people favor one side of the spectrum.

Which side do you fall on? Not which do you want to fall on. Be honest.

Not that you can’t be with someone who is more spontaneous than you are (or more secure), but a large difference in this area will not work in a marriage.

Up on Friday: what to look for in a date if your a security-lover, and what to look for if you're a freedom-lover.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What Do You Really Want?

Why am I addressing this so far along in the blog? Why did I not address it right off? Because what you want does not matter. At least not when you’re first dating. But as you progress along in your dating prowess, at some point you will be looking for The One and then you will want to be more choosy. And when that time comes (give it at least a year of dating practice,) you do need to be clear about what values are important to you and what you want in a woman.

So stop reading now and make a list of the traits of your ideal woman.

Done? Okay, that was probably pretty easy to do. Now ask yourself: is your list realistic? Do *you* have the traits you’re looking for in a woman? If you don’t possess a lot of them, why would the woman you’ve described be interested in you? Your partner is not going to “complete” you or make up for the things you suck at.

Does your description of your ideal women take into account your basic values? A person who is a good match can be very different from you on the surface. She might not read or watch sci-fi or even know the difference between fantasy and sci-fi. She might, God forbid, have a degree in English and have satisfied her college science requirement by taking “Chemistry for Humanities Majors.” Geeks tend to eliminate possibles based on superficial preferences, like having arcane knowledge about twentieth-century nuclear physicists, grieving the passing of Gary Gygax or being a Farscape fan. But it’s actually desirable to be “opposites” in surface ways. What a good match should have in common with you are your basic life values, not necessarily your preference in leisure activities. Having some separate interests allows you to retain your individuality and get some time apart while you engage in your hobbies, and it also means you can stretch each other and teach each other new things if your areas of interest are different. But you do want your underlying values to be the same if you want to stay together in the long term.

Next time: I'll begin discussing basic life values, starting with "Security versus Freedom."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fighting Wrapup

The Least You Can Do:

Identify your fighting style. Are you a Yielder? an Avoider? a Debater? a Winner? or a Compromiser?

Reflect back on your last week or month and identify a problem you have with someone that needs to be resolved. And then practice conflict resolution with someone with whom it’s less threatening to do so than an intimate partner, such as a parent, co-worker or sibling.

Identify your hot buttons. And realize that’s *your* issue, not hers. If shoes left under the coffee table send you into a tizzy, that’s your problem--not hers for leaving them there.

Honor Student:

Get assertiveness training.

On Friday, I'll start blogging about figuring out what it is you really want in a woman--and figuring out what it is women really want.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Breaking Up

What if this really is the end?

Do it in person. Never break up over the phone or via email. I’m not talking about a one date “relationship.” In that case, the phone or email--or even never calling her back--is fine because it’s not a breakup since you were never really together. It’s the coward’s way out, though, not to do it face to face if you did have a relationship. Also you’ll never get your key, muffin pan or favorite t-shirt back unless you do it in person.

Don’t break up in the middle of a fight when emotions are running high. It leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and you’ll feel like a jerk tomorrow.

Don’t start the conversation with “I think we should break up.” It’s jolting even if she’s been thinking the same thing. Start with something like “I’ve been thinking about our relationship,” or “Can we talk about where things are going for us?” This gives her the opportunity to come to the mutual agreement that things would be best if you went your separate ways. No one likes to feel she was dumped. Better that you both walk away feeling it was mutual.

No need to list the character faults that repulsed you, but do leave her with some explanation, especially if the break up comes as a surprise to her. Make some kind of general (but true) statement about why you’re not happy with the relationship. “I’m not interested in getting particularly serious at this point in my life.” Or “Our living habits are so different we wouldn’t be compatible living together.” Do not say “You wouldn’t want to live with me because I’m such a slob” because she can argue with that. And do not say “You are so disgustingly slovenly I can’t imagine living with you.” It may be true but it’s also unnecessarily hurtful.

If you both want to continue to be friends, that’s fine. But make sure that’s what you both really want, and make sure you aren’t staying in each other’s lives as a way of dragging out the relationship or giving the other person false hopes.

Next time: Fighting Wrapup

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What are fights about?

Fights are often not about what they appear to be about at first glance. Does it drive you nuts when your partner corrects your pronunciation--even when she’s right (which she always is)? What is that about? Does it bug you because being wrong in the household you grew up in meant that you were stupid? Or did your family correct each other with sarcasm and demeaning comments, rather than correcting to be helpful? When you notice yourself getting angry or hurt, ask why the behavior or comment of the other person bothers you. (Hint: it’s not because she is an asshole. Which she may be. But that’s not relevant.)

Sometimes fighting about not taking out the garbage is about the annoyance of the stinky, over-filled trash can, but sometimes it’s really about how your partner interprets the garbage. She may not say “You didn’t take out the garbage so I know you don’t care about me.” She may refrain from saying it because she doesn’t want to admit how hurt she is and she knows intellectually that it’s ridiculous to let it bother her that much. But that may be exactly what she is feeling (that you don't care about her because you didn't take out the garbage). If there is a lot of emotion from her or you on a topic that, from the outside, seems silly to be so wrought up about, figure out what the fight is *really* about because it ain’t about the garbage. It’s something deeper. Ask yourself and her: what does the garbage symbolize? Lack of ambition in life? Inconsideration? Absence of true love? Sounds silly, but then why are you yelling about the garbage? These "silly" arguments are going to keep coming up if you don't at the root of the real issue.

But what if this isn't just a fight? What if this really is the end?

Up next: How to Break Up

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Notes on Fighting

Keep in mind:

(1) No fight, except maybe some fights between Compromisers, will follow all of the rules set out in the last few posts. You will almost never get a fight right. And that’s okay. You always get a second chance to make the fight right. Don’t avoid the touchy subject because it caused a fight that had no resolution. It can be hard to bring the topic up again later when you’ve calmed down and no longer feel the overwhelming emotional need to vent, but you need to address it again later if the issue was not resolved. Take the second chance. Bring the issue up again under better circumstances and resolve it (if you can).

(2) People exaggerate and overgeneralize their accusations and complaints during fights, especially if the complaint has been stored up for a long time. So don’t get distracted or offended by the extreme way the complaint is being lodged. Listen for the truth in what she is saying. Don’t dismiss the complaint because it was overstated.

(3) The relationship isn’t over if you fight. How many times have opposing protons smashed into each other in the Hadron Collider? Millions. Billions. And no black hole has been created. Yet. That we know of. I don’t know of any relationship that ended because of one bad fight. Fighting is a good sign. If you agree all the time, one or the other or both of you are not getting to express your individuality. If you haven’t had a fight in the first year, either there is something wrong or you’re both Avoiders, which is fine but you *both* have to be Avoiders.

And the relationship isn’t necessarily over if the issue about which you were fighting does not get resolved. Some problems are not resolvable. This doesn’t mean the relationship can’t work. Ask any couple who has been married for more than five years (under five years and they’ll lie). Every couple has at least one area of conflict about which they do not agree and can not come to resolution on. They may be forced to compromise, but that does not mean the problem has ceased to exist. Examples of these kinds of irresolvable conflicts? Being at opposite ends of the continuum on desired frequency of sex. Being a neat freak paired with a slob. Being religious and wanting the other one to participate when the partner is an atheist. No one is changing his/her mind. And no one’s behavior is going to change radically. The slob will never be neat enough, and the neat freak will never be relaxed around messes. You’ve got to decide which irresolvable problems you’re willing to live with and which are deal breakers.

Up next: What are fights really about anyway?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight, Part 3

Avoid sarcasm. It’s demeaning. Also avoid the martyr’s version of sarcasm: “Fine, fine, I’ll just shut up and never say another word since I clearly can’t get anything right. No, no, I’m saying you’re absolutely right. I’m a terrible person.”

Don’t tell her she shouldn’t be angry or hurt because you weren’t trying to piss her off or hurt her. You did piss her off and you did hurt her. It might not be your fault that she misunderstood you, but she has a right to her feelings.

It’s also a good idea to inoculate before expressing your concern/complaint. This is a technique used by therapists. Sometimes you have to say things that you know could be hurtful or could be taken the wrong way. Instead of blurting them out, prepare the person. Preface your comment with “I need to say this even though I’m concerned about saying it because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…” And don’t wait to say it. Say it right then. Dragging it out is cruel and painful for the person who knows she is about to hear something she may not want to hear but knows she has to.

If you are the one who’s angry, you’re more likely to be heard if you *say* you’re angry rather than *express* your anger by yelling, breaking things, etc. And you’re even more likely to be heard if you express the hurt or disappointment behind the anger.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight, Part 2

Continuing from last time...

Stay on point. When she complains about your dirty dishes, maybe you have a complaint too. You might leave dirty dishes in her sink but she leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor. That is irrelevant to the conversation. Yes, it’s a slob’s behavior as well, but it is not the present topic of conversation and you’re only bringing it up because you feel defensive. If you have a complaint, address it later. Right now the topic is dirty dishes and what you can do differently so that she doesn’t get annoyed.

Remember: In most cases whatever the argument is you probably had a part in it too. Maybe she was the one who left the dirty dishes in the sink, but you didn’t need to yell at her for it or accuse her of being a slob or accuse her of not really caring about you. Apologize for the part you had in causing the argument.

Be explicit. Just as you shouldn’t be mind-reading and thinking that you know what her intentions were, don’t expect her to know what you’re thinking or what your intentions are. Be direct. And paraphrase back to her what you hear her saying. If you don’t know what her intentions were and she isn’t saying, ask.

Be clear about what it is you want. She leaves dirty dishes in your sink and that’s a problem for you? Be concrete about what it is that you want. Do you want her to wash them and put them away as soon as she’s done with them? Do you want her to put them in the dishwasher? Do you want her to take care of them by the end of the evening? It’s like when you write a letter to a company that ripped you off. You can write and complain about the pack of batteries you bought that were all dead when you took them out of the package, or you can complain and then end your letter with a statement about what you want in return for your trouble (a coupon, a cash refund, new batteries mailed to you). If you don’t ask, the complaint will be read and the company will do nothing. Ask for what you want. Do not assume she knows what that is.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight

Everyone loves the overgeneralization in fights. Don’t go there. I’m not just talking about the “you *always* leave your shit lying around” or “you *never* initiate sex any more” (or “*everyone* loves overgeneralizing”). Always and never statements are obvious no-nos. The more invasive and sneaky overgeneralizations involve using one instance of a bad behavior to ascribe a personality trait to her or using an instance of a bad behavior to make statements about her intentions. For example, if she leaves dirty dishes in your sink and you want to address this with her, it’s best not to say “You are such a complete slob [attack on a pervasive personality trait].” Address the single instance before you: e.g., “I just cleaned my kitchen and it would be really helpful to me if you put your dishes in the dishwasher.” No need to get pissy and attack her personality. Maybe she intended to clean them up at the end of the night. Besides, dirty dishes aren’t that big a deal. Maybe the reason it bothers you so much is because you are making an assumption about her intentions. “It is so inconsiderate of you to leave your dirty dishes in my sink. I think you don’t really care about me [an attack on her intentions].” You aren’t a mind reader. You do not know what her intentions were or what the real meaning of leaving dirty dishes in the sink is to her. To you it comes off as inconsiderate. In her family it symbolizes a level comfort with the other person that you no longer have to behave like a “guest” in his house. Or maybe the value in her house is to spend time with people, not spend time cleaning things...

Don’t get defensive. If she is the one accusing you of being inconsiderate and leaving the dirty dishes in her sink, apologize. She’s right. You shouldn’t leave dirty dishes in her sink. It annoys her. Only after you’ve apologized for your inconsiderate behavior should you explain your side.

Next up: More Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Fight: Soothing Yourself and Your Partner

Learn how to soothe yourself and your partner.

Do you know what calms you down emotionally? If you don’t, you need to figure it out so you can have emotional conversations.

You also need to find out what helps your partner to calm down. Are there things you do in a fight that cause her emotional distress, e.g., talking too loudly or yelling, bringing up sensitive topics without inoculating (e.g., warning her that something bad/upsetting/possibly hurtful is coming)? Are there things you could do that would help her calm down? Give her a massage, hold her hand, don’t touch her at all, lie in bed naked while you fight, etc.

Be creative!

Next Tuesday: I begin a series on Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Fight: Timing

Timing. People pick bad times to have fights as a protective measure. They start fights when the time will be limited (when the other person is on his way out the door to work or during the commercial break of a favorite TV show) so they know there is a definite end time to the discomfort of having a fight. Or they pick fights at social occasions because they know their partner won’t be a complete dick in front of other people. Or they pick fights right before bed when they are tired or after they have knocked back a few drinks, and their state of mind is relaxed and uninhibited enough to talk about things they are usually too afraid to bring up.

None of these is a good time to fight. But the problem with waiting for the perfect circumstance is that people have a tendency to talk themselves out of bringing up their grievances if they give themselves any amount of time to reflect. Sometimes fights have to be brought up in the “wrong” circumstances because otherwise the grievance wouldn’t get aired at all. Remember, though, that without enough time or energy or wits about you, the fight will not resolve. If you pick a fight at a bad time, you have to be willing to go back to it later to resolve it, otherwise the fight will be a dumping ground of bad feelings. And bad feelings spewed out without an airing of the other person’s “side” and without a resolution (even if that resolution is agreeing to disagree) breed resentment and hurt feelings.

A good time to fight (or revisit a fight started earlier) occurs when you have enough time to discuss both sides and come to a resolution. So not before bed, not when you have to be somewhere in fifteen minutes and not at a party.

If you give yourselves time to discuss thoroughly the issue you may find yourself in a full-blown fight, with your heart racing and your palms sweaty. If you are experiencing these physical symptoms, or you notice that your partner is, take a time out. Some people enjoy yelling and the intense emotion of a “good” fight, but most people get emotionally overloaded. And once you are emotionally overloaded, there is no point in continuing a conversation because, literally, you can not think correctly. Your heart rate is too high and too much adrenalin is pumping through your body for your brain to process language. Taking a time out doesn’t mean ending the conversation. It means asking for a break for fifteen or thirty minutes while you calm down. You might take a walk. But tell your partner what you’re doing or she might think you’re not coming back. You might write down the points you want to make. Do whatever you find that soothes you. But then come back to the table to finish the discussion. And honor her when she asks for a break. Don’t push to have resolution if she’s emotionally overloaded. Be patient.

Which leads into the next post: Soothing Yourself and Your Partner

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fighting Styles Wrapup

The Compromiser. A pair of Compromisers are the classic “perfect” couple. They know how to listen to each other, validate the other person’s feelings, reflect what they hear accurately and are able to state their own feelings and desires in clear and direct ways. At the end of an argument, the couple comes together with a compromise, or one or the other partner yields, though the yielder is not the same person every time. The Compromiser wants to be with another Compromiser but can get along with a Yielder.

The plus
: Each person feels heard and conflicts have resolutions.

The minus: Compromise and the best interest of the “couple” often get priority over the individual. Also the relationship may be missing a certain level of passion.

With the exception of the Winner (described on Tuesday), any of the styles I've written about in the last couple of posts is workable in a relationship, provided that your partner has the same or a compatible style and provided that you are willing to live with the minuses of that particular approach. The Winner, however, is a different matter. The level of control they need to have in their lives doesn’t allow for partnerships of equals. And most women these days, even if they are Yielders, want to be thought of as equal. And Yielders want to have their yielding considered a moral sacrifice of a kind and giving person, not a nod to the superior/correct partner by the inferior partner whose opinion is never right.

So if your style is the Winner, embrace being alone or change your ways. In a relationship you will sometimes (not always!) have to yield to the other person *even when you are right*. That is not a typo. I said “right.” And you will sometimes (not always!) have to apologize even when it was more (or all) her fault, not yours. Because sometimes an apology is not about who was right but about who was hurt. Because sometimes an apology is about the way something was said and not about the content of what was said. The question comes down to this: would you rather be right all the time or in a relationship? It’s your choice.

Up next time: The first in a series on How to Fight

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fighting Styles

The Debater. The Debater, a common style for the higher-functioning geek, likes to argue. He enjoys the fireworks, the mental challenge, the energy of a fight. Like the Compromiser, he is open and direct about what he thinks, feels and wants. Unlike the Compromiser, where resolution is the goal, the fight itself is the goal for a Debater. Conflicts don’t often get resolved with the Debater. Debaters get along with other Debaters, Compromisers and Yielders.

The plus
: Passion and fireworks. And you always know where you stand with a Debater. Also, individuality does not get subsumed in intimate relationships between Debaters.

The minus: The individual will not bend for the benefit of the couple.

The Winner (subset of the Debater). The Avoider’s opposite, the Winner, is the second most common geek conflict style. The Winner is a subcategory of the more emotionally stable Debater. The Winner, like the Debater, relishes conflict in all arenas of his life, intellectual, emotional, at work, at home, with family, with friends, you name it. But unlike the Debater, who enjoys the process of argument, the Winner enjoys the end product of the argument only if he “wins.” All statements, particularly categorical ones, are up for debate, and conflict energizes him. The Winner, surprisingly, enjoys being with other Winners, especially initially. The insecure Winner also gets along with Yielders, but Yielders, though likely to stay with the relationship, won’t be happy over the long term in a relationship with a Winner. Winners also get along with Debaters--for a while anyway.

The plus: These relationships tend to be very passionate and Winners are very honest with their partners.

The minus: They are very honest with their partners… and they always have to win. Their partners tend to end up resenting them, and with any amount of ego development, those partners leave.

Up on Friday: Fighting style wrap-up.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Save, or a Punch in the Face?

Geek culture has this weird dichotomy. On the one hand, geeks will directly take on a controversial intellectual topic, while, when it comes to emotional conflict, especially if it is in person and not online, geeks are Avoiders. Geeks can argue into the wee hours of the morning about the validity and relevance of string theory and can mercilessly nitpick someone’s grammar online all night long. But, God forbid, they should break the rule never to confront someone directly about a personal injury, particularly someone who is a friend. (The rule is more relaxed around people geeks have no emotional investment in.) And if such a confrontation does happen, it’s usually a one-sided accusation or a back and forth of monologues wherein neither person registers what the other person says or feels. Note: An emotional argument between friends or lovers is not a timed debate where your goal is to win and not be moved in any way by the arguments of the other side.

Know Your Fighting Style

The Avoider. This is the most common geek style in personal relationships. The Avoider withdraws from emotional conflict altogether. It is so uncomfortable for him, he would rather not express how he really feels or hear how the other person really feels if it means disagreement. He rarely, if ever, has conflicts with anyone, especially those close to him. This avoidant tendency works fine if he is in a relationship with another Avoider.

The plus: His intimate relationships are generally smooth sailing.
The minus: The relationships lack real emotional intimacy.

The Yielder (subset of the Avoider). Avoiders can become Yielders when not in partnership with another Avoider. For him, yielding is a way to avoid conflict, which he does by giving in. The Yielder is a strongly emotional person who is affected deeply by the emotions of those around him. He is empathetic and quickly sees the validity of the other person’s argument, and, at the expense of the validity of his own side in the argument, he yields to the other person’s point of view. This puts a stop to the discomfort that he feels about being in conflict and also puts an end to the discomfort of his partner, which the Yielder also feels because he’s such an empath. The Yielder gets along well with the Avoider and the Compromiser (addressed in a later post).

The plus: His partner feels very understood and accepted for who she is.
The minus: The Yielder is never really “known” since he puts his emotions and opinions second to his partner’s.

Up next time: More Fighting Styles

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sharing Your Life

If you are sleeping together, birth control and disease prevention are both of your responsibility. It’s not just up to her to use birth control. And if you *know* you don’t ever want to have children, get a vasectomy.

As you begin to spend more and more time together, you will become aware of the assumptions that you make about life that you didn’t even realize you were making. You will realize you make these assumptions because she will do something that violates your assumption, or rule, about how things are done in life. She’ll drip on your bathmat. You believe in completely drying off before stepping out of the shower. She believes that the purpose of a bathmat is to drip on it. It may never have even occurred to you that someone could think that way. She’ll talk about money and how much she makes and how she invests it. You will feel uncomfortable because you were taught, and still believe, that it’s tacky to discuss finances. But there are other ideas, legitimate ideas besides your own about how and when to talk about money. No one you date will have grown up with the same rules as you. (Unless you date your sister.)

Despite the fact that you think you have grown up and away from the ways your parents did things, you are very influenced by what was modeled to you growing up. Right now, list ten “rules” that you were taught growing up in your household from the superficial to the serious. Not the explicit rules, but the tacit rules that everyone abided by. Such as ‘The only emotion that is okay to express is anger’ or ‘What someone asks you to do, you do’ or ‘Leave the toilet seat and lid down when not in use,’ etc. Some of these rules when made explicit sound ridiculous or wrong or merely subjective. But you may still find yourself uncomfortable when they are broken. The longer you’re in an intimate relationship, the more you will understand that there is no “right” way to do things, and that compromise will be the rule of the day. Simply being conscious of these “rules” will help you be less rigid about them.

You will also discover as you spend more and more time together that she has some really annoying habits. So do you. You have to make a judgment call about what you bring up and what you choose to tolerate. In the next few posts, I’ll discuss conflict and how to fight.

The Least You Can Do:

Practice sharing space with someone. If you don’t have a roommate, invite an out of town guest to stay, or stay with them.

List your life “rules.” Make your assumptions explicit, from ‘Mom will pick up if I don’t’ to ‘Ordering dessert at a restaurant is a waste of money.’

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sharing Space

Now that you are part of a couple, or potentially part of a couple, you need to keep in mind issues of sharing space and sharing decision-making.

You probably live alone and have lived alone since your days in the dorms. Not having a roommate is a good thing. It says to the women you date that you’re grown up, financially stable, etc.

It also breeds some bad habits. Like selfish control of the remote. Like only stocking food in your fridge that you like. Like leaving your porn out in plain sight. Like thinking it’s acceptable to wipe your boogers on the carpet because it’s beige. And a certain rigidity may have set in. Like never watching any TV shows that you don’t already like. And preferring things arranged a certain way in your bathroom. But if you’re going to be in a relationship, when you grocery shop, you need to take her into account. Even if you are not living together. And if she’s spending the night on a semi-regular basis, you need to make space for her in your bathroom and your bedroom. She will want to have a razor, some tampons and shampoo at the very least, so give her a shelf. And she will need a drawer in your bedroom for pajamas if nothing else.

Of course you like your set-up at home. You’ve got all your amenities. You’re comfortable there. But don’t always insist on going to your place. She likes her place, too. And it’s more convenient and comfortable for her to be at her place. Try to be even-handed about where you spend your time.

Do not ever give out a key to your house or apartment unless there is a really good reason to. Like you’re engaged. Like she’s pet sitting for you and you know she doesn’t have a criminal record. There’s almost no reason why another person needs to have a key to your place. Do your friends have keys? Okay, I stand corrected if your friends do. But listen very carefully to this: if you break up, the majority of the time you will not get your key back. She’ll forget. Or you’ll forget. Or she’ll dump you over the phone and never see you again. If you’re comfortable with that, feel free to hand out keys. Is she going to be insulted if you don’t let her have a key? Carrie on “Sex and the City” was, but she’s neurotic, insecure and self-centered.

Okay, so maybe she will.

I leave it to your judgment.

Up on Tuesday: Sharing Your Life

Monday, June 14, 2010

Caring and Sharing: Money Matters

How Much to Spend on Gifts.

The first time you buy her a gift is tricky, especially if it’s for a holiday like Christmas where you will both be buying a present for each other. You don’t want to look like a cheapskate if she gives you much more than you got for her. And you don’t want to make her feel bad (or weird) by giving her more than she gives you. Early in a relationship, I suggest that a first gift for a birthday or Christmas not exceed $50 and should be only one item. If it’s Christmas where she is also giving you a gift and she spends less than you, it’s not so awkward if all you’ve given her is one item. And if she spends more than you, take her out to a nice restaurant and pay. Or take her to The Nutcracker or other holiday-related show.

Other Money Matters

Unless there is a very large discrepancy in your incomes, which happens only rarely, it should pretty much come out evenly. It may not always be a straight dollar-for-dollar exchange. Maybe you take her out to a nice dinner, and she cooks you a nice dinner at her house. That’s even. If you really want to go on an expensive vacation with her and you know or suspect she can’t afford it, it’s appropriate for you to offer to take more than half of the financial burden if you can afford to. How will you know she can’t afford something? Even if she keeps her money matters private, she’ll say “I can’t afford to do that right now.” And you should do the same: tell her if you can’t afford to fly to Hawaii. Don’t make a big deal out of it. She doesn’t necessarily need to know the ins and outs of your financial status and why you can’t afford to go.

Up on Friday: Sharing Space

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sharing and Caring: Gifts, Part Two

Gifts Suggestions for the Woman You’re Dating

A nostalgic gift, such as an old edition of a book she loved as a girl but doesn’t own or a CD (digital download) of a cheesy band she listened to in high school. These gifts make for great conversation. They also show that you really listen to what she says, since you remembered her talking about how she read The Boxcar Children twelve times in second grade and how she wanted to live like they did.

A book or music that you are sure she’ll like. If you get this one right, she could fall in love with you. I do not exaggerate. Showing that you are that in touch with her taste in music and literature is the best form of flattery, and it means you really get her.

Flowers, especially if you send them to her at work. I know flowers seem like a generic present--after all, you get them for your mother every year on Mother’s Day. But women like other women to be jealous of their thoughtful lovers. And it breaks the monotony of the work day.

A gift card to a lingerie store (*after* you’ve started sleeping together) can be nice, but give it in tandem with an item from that store. This will show you put some thought and time into the gift. You probably do not have enough tact to buy her lingerie--so get a silk robe.

A gift certificate for a spa day or massage at a *conveniently located* place. (Convenient for her.) This is the other exception to the no-gift-certificates rule. You can’t go wrong with this.

A cashmere sweater. A word of caution here: pay attention to the kind of necklines she wears. For example, I don’t wear crewneck shirts because I don’t have the hips for it. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, I am merely proving my point that you really need to pay attention to what she wears and not wing it. Also note the colors that she wears and that look good on her. Word of caution: if she wears blue all the time, don’t just get her any blue cashmere sweater you see. Make sure it’s the right shade of blue. I look great in navy blue but would never wear baby blue. There is a radical difference.

An evening out at a really nice restaurant or cultural event (a play, the ballet, etc.).

On Tuesday: How Much to Spend on a Gift and Other Money Matters

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sharing and Caring: Gifts

Other than flowers, gifts are overkill until you have established that you’re in a relationship, not just casually dating. Unless it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re spending it together or a birthday or Christmas/Hanukkah.

How Much to Spend. The first time you buy her a gift is tricky, especially if it’s for a holiday like Christmas where you will both be buying a present for each other. You don’t want to look like a cheapskate if she gives you much more than you got for her. And you don’t want to make her feel bad (or weird) by giving her more than she gives you. Early in a relationship, a first gift for a birthday or Christmas shouldn’t exceed $50 and should be only one item. If it’s Christmas where she is also giving you a gift and she spends less than you, it’s not so awkward if all you’ve given her is one item. And if she spends more than you, take her out to a nice restaurant and pay. Or take her to The Nutcracker or other holiday-related show.

What to Avoid at Any Stage of Your Relationship

Generic gifts. It’s fine to bring over a bottle of wine for dinner or a party but if it’s meant to be a gift, like for a birthday or Christmas, don’t give her wine, unless it’s a particular wine that has meaning for her. Other generic gifts: fruit baskets, videos, scarves, magazine subscriptions, frames with nothing in them, and anything you would get a teacher, your mother or a female coworker.

Gift cards. You might as well hand her some cash. It’s tacky. Exceptions to be noted on Friday.

Gifts that imply criticism. For example, a cookbook, an instructional video, a how-to book.

Clothes. You don’t have good enough taste. Exceptions to be noted on Friday.

Something you like because you want her to be into it too--unless she has specifically shown real interest in it.

Joke gifts. No one needs more stuff that’s funny for two seconds and then takes up space and gathers dust.

Up on Friday: What You Should Get

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sharing and Caring: Meeting Friends and Parents

If you’ve been dating for more than a month and you haven’t met and spent time with any of her friends, she’s not that into you. You say “But we’re sleeping together!“ Is she recently divorced/separated? Does it seem like you are her masturbatory toy more than a sexual partner? She is not incorporating you into her life. She may even be ashamed of you and not think you are really good enough for her. She likes you well enough, but don’t expect this to get serious, and don’t expect it to last past her meeting someone who is a better fit.

The same goes if you have been dating for a couple of months but have never spent any of the holidays together (including your or her birthday). If that’s okay with you, no need to end it, but if it isn’t okay, have some self-respect and break it off.

But maybe the time has come and she is going to meet your parents or your friends. Meeting your really good friends can and should happen fairly early. Once you think you might want to be exclusive at some point in the future (or even before that), it’s best to start incorporating her into your regular life. See what your friends think of her. And what she thinks of your friends.

When she does meet your friends, or family, remember that she is new to your world and will not understand the in-jokes or know what you are referring to when you talk about your chemistry experiment that went so very awry at Cal Tech. When these references, incidents or code words come up in conversation, explain them to her. She shouldn’t constantly have to interrupt and ask questions in order to be able to follow the conversation.

Meeting the parents can wait until you’re exclusive. First, you don’t want your parents calling you every weekend asking how Joan is and if it’s serious. (And you know your mom will do this.) Second, meeting the parents has certain cultural meanings attached to it. Like “We’re exclusive,“ like “We’re serious and you better get used to her being in my life.”

If you are meeting her parents for the first time and are going over to their house, do not bring alcohol as a host(ess) gift without checking with your girlfriend first. While people of our generation are still deep in our alcoholism, people of their generation have figured out they have a problem and stopped drinking. You want to know for sure before you introduce liquor into someone’s house if it’s acceptable. And if you bring flowers, bring them in a vase. A host(ess) doesn’t need another task to do (cut the stems, hunt down a vase, pour water in, etc.). Other than that, take the lessons you have learned from the chapter on conversation and put them to work.

After a first meeting of the friends or parents (hers or yours), be prepared to talk about it with her. First impressions are endlessly fascinating to women, and fresh observations about people she’s grown used to can be enlightening to her. Not having any observations to share translates to her as “I don’t care enough about the people you hold dear in your life to have an opinion about them.” You can be honest, but don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the person you’re talking about to overhear. Because she may just tell them. And you don’t know everything about the person and you’ll come off as a jackass if you only say negative things about the person. She will want to talk about your friends, too--who’s dating whom, why they seem to make a good couple or not, why so and so engaged in some weird behavior, etc.

Up on Tuesday: Gift-Giving

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sharing and Caring: Exclusivity

You’ve had some practice dating whomever says yes. You’ve gone out with a bunch of different women and now you think you’ve found someone you could have an Actual Relationship with. You’ve been seeing each other for a few weeks, you’ve investigated the signs and believe that the two of you are clicking and she is as interested as you are.

Now what?

You’ve moved into the next stage of dating called A Relationship, which brings up a slew of issues that don’t typically come up in casual dating.

First, though, a word of warning:

Relationships of adolescence and young adulthood tend to get obsessive and exclusionary. And you, being new at dating and very excited about the prospect of having a girlfriend, will be tempted to ignore your friends and spend every free moment with your new love interest as teenagers do. Do not do this. It’s rude to your friends, it doesn’t leave time for you to pursue your hobbies and ultimately makes you boring. I mean, what the hell are you going to talk to her about if you’re never apart to have any experiences to tell her about? Pace yourself. I’m not talking playing hard to get here or trying to predict blindly what amount of time is the perfect amount of time so she doesn’t feel suffocated and doesn’t feel ignored. I don’t have a specific frequency of seeing her in mind. I’m talking about living with this relationship in a normal way that allows for your other needs, like doing your laundry, going to the dentist, playing chess, calling your mother, hanging out with your friends, having alone time, and vegging out. If you don’t have time for all those things in a given week, you’re spending too much time together. You can’t live the rest of your life that way--don’t do it now.

That said, let’s plunge into the particulars of a relationship.


How do you know when the relationship has become exclusive? I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever had to make this explicit with anyone I’ve dated, but there’s nothing wrong with clarifying this point with the woman you’ve been seeing. If you are interested in dating only her, tell her so and ask her how she feels about that. You can’t go wrong with being explicit, which is probably a good idea for someone new to dating who won’t necessarily recognize the cues.

If you’re seeing each other every night of the weekend, you’re exclusive. When does she have any time to be seeing anyone else? If she does do things on the weekend without you and doesn’t tell you what she’s doing, she’s seeing someone else. Even if a woman is doing something personal, like seeing her gynecologist for an annual exam, she’ll tell you she has a doctor’s appointment. Not giving any hint as to what she’s up to is often indicative of another man.

Most women will assume you’re exclusive if you’re sleeping together. If *you* don’t want to be exclusive and you’re sleeping together, you must tell her this explicitly (preferably before you sleep together for the first time) because she will assume you are monogamous if you don’t say anything.

Also, introducing you to her parents or co-workers or referring to you as her boyfriend means you’re exclusive.

Up on Friday: Meeting the Friends, Meeting the Parents

Friday, May 28, 2010

Things Never to Say to a Woman

Never say:

* “You do look like you’ve gained weight,” or “You look heavier than your photo. Was it taken like five years ago?” Yes, even if she has clearly gained weight and is heavier than advertised.

* Criticism of her hair, her wardrobe, her driving, her cooking, her decorating, her dancing. Really just don’t criticize unless she asks for constructive criticism. Which she doesn’t want from you until you’ve been dating for at least three months, even if she says she does.

* “Don’t you shave your legs?”

* Jokes in poor taste, such as “If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” Of course that one is more than just in poor taste. It hasn’t been funny since 1902.

* “Quit crying, I can’t talk to you when you’re crying.”

* “You’re just crying to manipulate me into doing what you want me to.” No, genius, she isn’t trying to manipulate you. She’s angry. Or sad. Or fearful. Or humiliated. That’s what tears mean, idiot. Also she’s probably embarrassed that she’s crying in front of you, so quit drawing attention to it.

Time for some action!

The Least You Can Do
Pick a first date outfit.
Ask two or three women out.

Honor Student
Ask two or three more women out after the first two or three reject you.

Next week: Sharing and Caring, or How to Be in a Relationship

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to End a First Date (If You Liked Her)

I’ve talked a bit about first dates in posts in December 2009. I have a few more thoughts on the early stages of dating, then next week I’ll begin blogging about Actual Relationships.

If you’re still interested at the end of the date, a kiss on the cheek is okay but nothing more unless she seems interested (e.g., she goes for your mouth when you’re aiming for her cheek, or she invites you to her house, or the date has gone on longer than either of you had planned). But don’t feel you have to do anything if that’s just going to make you nervous the whole date. She won’t mind (probably). I used to say don’t shake her hand at the end of the first date--too impersonal and will leave her wondering if you’re interested. But it may not be a bad idea to shake her hand if you’re too anxious and if you express your interest in some other way--like by setting up a next date or by telling her you had a really good time (if you did) and saying good night.

If things went well, then she laughed at your joke about what Spock found in the Enterprise’s toilet (no, really, don’t tell that one on a first date), she smiled a lot, and the conversation wasn’t a back and forth of monologues that didn’t interact with one another. If it went well, ask her what she’s up to the next weekend. This gives her the option of telling you she’s busy if she doesn’t want to see you again. If she really is busy but she likes you, she’ll suggest another time to get together. Do *not* ask “Can I give you a call this week?” unless you’re certain it went well. Most people are not going to say no to that question even if that’s what they want to say. It gives you no clue about how she really feels. If you’re not sure how she felt about the date, stick with “I had a good time talking with you” and wait for her response. If she responds in kind, give her a call that week. If she smiles and nods but doesn’t say she had a good time, too, wait for her to call you. In either case, have a date already set up with someone else. It will hurt less when she isn’t into you if you have another date looming with someone else. And if you weren’t into her, it’s less disappointing if you have other options. And if you are into her, having the other date will help keep you from obsessing about her and thinking that you have found love at first sight. Which doesn’t exist. I know your logical brain knows that, but your emotional brain might not. Hence the dispersal of attention by dating other people.

On Friday: Things Never to Say to a Woman

Friday, May 21, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part Six

Why, you ask, can’t women just be direct? Why, all of the women of the world ask, can’t men just be direct? Why can’t people say in actual words what it is that they have on their minds?

Let me defend the indirect.

If you start listening to people, even the people you think of as direct, you’ll realize that humans are almost never truly direct. It almost never occurs that a person says what s/he really means. I hate to break it to you, but communication is not solely an act of words. Let me give an example. Woman says to man “Can you close the window?” Does she literally mean “Can you close the window?” No. At the very least she might mean “I want you to close the window for me.” But, of course, this doesn’t even tell us why she wants it closed. (Let’s even put aside the instances where something much deeper and conflicted is going on--like “You’re so inconsiderate--you know I get cold all the time and here you go leaving the window open again.”) She is leaving out a lot of information. Is she cold and getting sick? Can she not hear you over the lawn mower next door? Does she want to have noisy, raucous sex without the neighbors listening in? The need for having the window closed could mean all sorts of things. And usually a person does not need to spell out why because usually it’s obvious why and it would take a lot of time out of our lives if we explained everything we said or wanted. A person who did that would be an open book to you, and you would never be confused about where she stood or what she wanted.

You would also be bored to death and would find yourself constantly interrupting her because you would want her to get to the fricking point some time in this decade. In fact, this kind of person is usually the butt of jokes in television shows. Woman to man: “I would like you to close the window so that we can engage in uninhibited and possibly loud sexual concourse without the embarrassment of the neighbors hearing. I do not want the neighbors to hear because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses and would be appalled at the premarital physical consummation of our relationship, and I do not wish to cause them discomfort.” Shut up already and take your clothes off!

For the most part, people assume that other people are a lot like them--since they often are--and that what they are saying will be readily understood without them having to spell it out. And if you do come from similar cultural backgrounds, this is a pretty good assumption. Until it isn’t a pretty good assumption and you say something that you don’t fully explain and it gets taken the wrong way.

There are, of course, instances where people are intentionally indirect to soften the blow. For example, “I don’t feel comfortable giving you my phone number” is some times a nice way of saying “Fuck off and leave me alone.” Most people would rather hear the former even if they know it means the latter.

And there’s the reverse, where a person is trying to find out how you feel without backing you into a corner where you have to say to them “Fuck off and leave me alone.” Most people would rather figure out indirectly that you want them to leave you alone than be told to fuck off.

Even your friend Ms. Di Rect is saying something more than “I think your position on xyz is utterly moronic” when she says “I think your position on xyz is utterly moronic.” These words sound direct and without need for interpretation but sometimes verbally “direct” people are the most defended people, not the most open. What is so threatening to Di about this other world view that she expresses her opinion in such extremes? She might give a reasoned and logical explanation for her stance, but that’s rarely the whole story. When people phrase their opinions in such forceful ways, what they are really communicating is not the literal words they say but “Don’t you dare disagree with me.” And then your guess is as good as mine as to why a person would be that insecure that s/he can’t deal with differences of opinion on a given subject.

So, you see, even when people are “direct,” they are actually obfuscating.

Deal with it.

You’re that way too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part Five

More translations from the Woman-to-Geek Dictionary…

“What do you say you take a break from the computer and we go and get some dinner?” = “Turn that fricking thing off and pay attention to me already!”

“I don’t like it when you… .” = “Don’t do that. Ever.”

If she asks some kind of random question that seems out of the blue (like “What did you want to be when you grew up?” or “If you went on a game show, which one would it be?”), unless you’re at a speed dating event, she is probably getting ready to psychoanalyze what you say. But you knew that already, right? Which is why you always respond to such questions with non-answers. Wrong answer. If you avoid answering it, or ask “Why do you want to know?,” those responses put you in a more negative light than just about any real answer you could give. Not answering says to a woman that you are emotionally shut down and unavailable. A “Why?” response will be interpreted as paranoia. You aren’t avoiding the “trick” of the question by not answering. This may come as a surprise to most men, but those types of questions are not “tricks.” Nor are they directed at psychoanalyzing you in order to diagnose you--unless you don’t answer the question, then, as I said earlier, you will be charged with paranoia and emotional shutdown. She isn’t trying to get you to reveal something you don’t want to reveal. She isn’t looking for chinks in your armor to then criticize behind your back with her friends. You should be flattered she asked. It means she wants the relationship to become more emotionally intimate but isn’t sure how to bring your conversation to a deeper level.

If you’ve been in the relationship for a while (a year or so) and she needs to replace her refrigerator, stereo, washing machine, etc. and she keeps procrastinating doing so or asks for a lot of your input on the fridge (as if you cared), it’s not because she can’t pick a large durable good on her own. And it’s not because she’s indecisive. The question in her mind is: why spend a bunch of money on a new stereo when you have a really good one and the two of you together do not need more than one? Hint. Hint. She’s trying to figure out how to broach the topic of living together and/or getting married, but she hasn’t figured out how explicit she wants to be. Major appliance purchases aren’t just major appliance purchases. Sometimes they are about one’s emotional future. At least for a woman.

And after all these blog posts dealing with translations, why, you ask, can’t women just be direct? I’ll answer this on Friday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part Four

So I’ve covered the one issue of interested/not interested, but what about all the other ambiguous behaviors and phrases of women? For the most part, translation becomes easier the further you get into a relationship. I mean, we are adults here, right? If you don’t know what your girlfriend means, you can ask.

However, there are those times when a woman is trying to communicate something and it doesn’t even occur to the man she’s with that she *is* trying to communicate anything other than what her literal words say. And for these instances, the women of the world will appreciate my bringing them to your attention and translating.

“I don’t know if we should.” = “I don’t want to.” Uncertainty is certainty in the negative direction.

“I don’t know (where I want to go to dinner, which movie to see, etc.).” = “I do know but I’m deferring to you.” She’s being polite. If she really doesn’t know and this happens all the time, I would wonder how much of a sense of herself she has if she never knows what she wants. I’d also worry if she says this all the time and when pressed reveals that she does have an opinion. Why is she so unsure of herself that she can never share her preferences? Sounds like a martyr. Sounds like resentment down the road.

If she asks you if you like something that she clearly likes and she doesn’t say she wants your real opinion, she wants you to agree with her. Now I’m not advocating lying when you really don’t like something. And I’m not advocating hiding your true self and your true opinions. But hate and dislike of something is never the whole story. And hate and dislike are usually the lazy person’s response. The culture of the Internet that you love so much is about negativity and tearing down and attacking, and you really need to move away from that approach to the world. Seeing the positive is so much more creative and interesting. It’s easy to say what’s terrible about a Michael Bay movie. It’s much harder to say what’s good about it. So if the woman you’re with asks your opinion about something or someone you know she likes, address the positive first. Say what you appreciate about soap operas, the weird color she dyed her hair, her annoying friend from high school. If she presses for more, then she’s inviting criticism, so go ahead. But don’t start with the negative. It’s an Internet habit that you need to unlearn.

If she talks about her ex-boyfriend all the time, she is not ready to get involved in general and not with you in particular. If she really is interested in you, but is still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, she would make more effort to cover up her obsession with the old boyfriend.

“Take off your coat. Would you like a glass of wine?” = The evening has potential. If she invites you in as you’re dropping her off or when you go to pick her up, this is a sign that she is letting you in, literally and symbolically.

“I’m cold.” = “Put your arm around me.”

If she offers you a back rub, she wants to put her hands all over you in a “safe” environment. She is attracted to you physically but isn’t necessarily ready to engage physically with you in an outright sexual manner. If she puts her face close to you as she’s rubbing your back or wraps her legs around you from behind as she massages your shoulders, you’re an idiot if you don’t take advantage of this situation. She wants you to.

Up on Tuesday: More Translations

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part Three

A couple more signs she’s interested that I forgot to include last week:

She laughs at all your jokes. No, you are not that funny, so this is a pretty good indicator.

And, of course, the old leaning-so-you-can-see-down-her-shirt move.

And now…

Clues She Isn’t Interested

You suspect she isn’t interested.

You’re not sure if she’s interested and you’ve discussed whether she is or isn’t interested with more than one other person.

She says “I don't feel comfortable giving you my number.” This means “Please don't ask me a third time. Also, quit talking to me.”

She says she will call (or makes any kind of promise, small or large) and doesn’t follow through.

She says "Actually, I'm busy tonight. And this weekend. And next week."

She makes long excuse stories for why she hasn’t called you, including “I’ve been so busy at work/with the holidays/my parents’ visit” and “I moved last weekend.” I am not suggesting that she is lying about being busy or having moved, but if she’s interested, those things would not matter. She would have called.

She takes a long time calling you back. A long time is more than two days.

“I just want to be friends” = “I just want to be friends.”

She says “You remind me of my brother.” This means she does not like you *that* way. Unless her family was really weird.

She turns you into a friend. This is concretely manifested by the following: you go out on group outings instead of one-on-one dates; she talks about other guys (ones she’s interested in or not); she brings up women she thinks you would like; she talks about future plans, trips and events she’s going to without including you or finding out what you’re doing then.

Up on Friday: More Translations from the Woman-to-Geek Dictionary

Friday, May 7, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part Two

More Clues She’s Interested

She reveals personal details early on. Personal details might include emotional events like her parents’ divorce or her last breakup or personal information, such as where she lives. ‘Early on’ is within the first three dates. But don’t put a lot of stock in this one. Some women are naturally very open with anyone about their lives. So look for this clue in conjunction with others.

She initiates contact. She calls you. Calling you back does not count as initiation. Don’t always initiate the first email, the first phone call. Give her a chance to show some effort and you will have a better idea where you stand.

She responds right away to your calls and/or emails. Right away is within 24 hours.

She gives you her home phone number or personal cell number. Or gives you her personal email address--not a crappy hotmail or yahoo account, which she uses for junk mail. But again this is an iffy sign as some women give out personal contact information to anyone.

“I like your tie.” = “I think you’re kind of cute.”

Her pupils dilate when she talks to you. Just be sure that she isn’t a drug addict. Most drugs and alcohol will dilate the pupils. (Heroin is an exception.)

She bats her eyelashes when interacting with you. Humans blink more when they are excited. This is an autonomic reaction and will not seem like the classic, overly dramatic batting of the eyelashes.

She touches or flips her hair.

She makes direct, sustained eye contact.

She wears makeup and cute outfits when you go out. But women are vain and often dress for other women, not the men they are with, so this could be meaningless…

Up on Tuesday: Clues She is Not Interested

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part One

Women are complicated creatures. They look for symbolism, nuance, and secret messages in everything the men they are interested in do. This is not because men act in symbolic ways or give off nuanced or ambiguous messages, but because women act in symbolic ways and give off nuanced and ambiguous messages. Women assume that because they themselves do that, men will also. Hence the revelatory nature of the book He’s Just Not that Into You. At least it was a revelation to womankind.

Women also like to lie. Women tell themselves that they are being “nice” or “modest” but what they’re really doing is refusing to be adults and express clearly, and take responsibility for, what they want. In the one case, she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by saying she isn’t interested and, in the other, she doesn’t want to get her own feelings hurt if you’re not interested in her. And this, as you may have already noticed, is why it is sometimes difficult to tell if a woman likes you. Unless she’s crazy infatuated with you, she is unlikely to flat out tell you she’s interested. And unless you are actively stalking her and it’s freaking her out, she’s unlikely to tell you she’s not interested. And even then, she might call a cop and have the police officer tell you for her.
So how to tell?

Some Clues that She Is Interested

She initiates touch. But pay attention. If she’s touching you on the arm or knee, that’s a pretty good indicator in your favor. But is she that type who hugs everyone? If so, then her touch is meaningless. Sorry.

Physical closeness. “Accidentally” bumping into you.

She smiles when you casually touch her. Let’s not be groping her at this stage. You don’t even know if she likes you. I’m talking about touching her on the shoulder in the course of conversation or touching her back to get around her at a crowded party, etc.

If she asks you “What is the difference between +10 Intelligence and +10 Wisdom?,” she really, really likes you.

Up on Friday: More Clues That She’s Interested

Friday, April 30, 2010

Throwing a Singles Mixer, Part Four

Here’s a sample plan for throwing a party for the anal retentive among you.

Three Weeks Ahead.

*Draft a guest list and gather together the email addresses.

*Send out the invitation. Using Evite is an easy way and it will automatically send a reminder a few days before your event.

A Few Days Ahead.

*Plan your menu and make a grocery list.

*Grocery shop for the items that don’t need to be fresh.

*Pick up extra chairs, if needed.

The Day Before.


*Pick up grocery items that need to be fresh (bread, berries, etc.).

*Prep food that can be done beforehand.

*Dress tables and re-arrange furniture if necessary. Not that you’re necessarily the kind of guy that has throw pillows, but if you do (have them), get rid of the pillows for the duration of the party to allow for more seating.

*Set out an extra roll of toilet paper and clean hand towels.

*Stash valuables, prescriptions, firearms.

Half an Hour Before Party Time.

*Turn on the porch light if your party will extend into hours of darkness.

*Put on music. Set the volume so that someone sitting in the chair nearest a speaker won’t be distracted from the conversation.

*Set out food, and put ice in an ice bucket.

*Chill white wine in the fridge. Take out when the first guests arrive.

*Pre-mix a pitcher of martinis or other mixed drink.

*Set out any refrigerated alcoholic mixers or garnishes: grenadine, lime juice, lemons and limes (with a knife and cutting board), etc.

*Set out a book for mixing drinks if there's no bartender.

*Set out “conversation starters”: “The Book of Questions,” runes/tarot cards (you don’t have to believe any of that crap for it to be fun--get the stick out of your ass), board games, photos.

*Light candles, and turn on any indoor lights that are needed.

When Guests Arrive.

*Take their coats, and tell them where their coats will be located.

*Offer to make them a drink, and show them the lay of the land (where the food/bar is).

*Introduce them to the people who are there (when it’s a small group); if the group has gotten larger, tell the new guest about other attendees that she would be interested to know are there, such as a friend of hers or someone you think she would find interesting.

*Talk to everyone. As the host you have a good excuse to talk to everyone. As a shy person myself, I find hosting a party much easier than attending a party. It isn’t weird/rude for a host to join in (interrupt) any conversation (it *is* your house), and you can easily extricate yourself from dull conversations or dull people with your other host-ly duties. So introduce yourself to the people you don’t know. Ask how they know whomever they came with. An easy default is to talk about the food or drinks. And everyone likes flattery. For more advice on mingling see the blog posts called Moi? Boring? earlier this month as well as the blog posts called What to Say in December 2009 and January 2010.

And that’s all there is to it!

Up next week: Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part One