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