Dating is really hard. That's why it's usually over drinks.
You can take a shower, pop a breath mint, and be relatively well-versed in small talk, but then your mom texts you "don't mess this up." You immediately get in your head about it, when all you want to do is find that special someone who shares your love for Will Smith movies and Thai takeout.
I've been on a lot of bad first dates in the past year. I met a musician who listed all of his ex-girlfriends for me chronologically, then said he forgot his wallet at the end of the meal. I met up with an entrepreneur who introduced me to his mom, then told me he'd just thrown up multiple times from food poisoning. Oh, and there was that actor who described a porn film shoot for me in graphic detail but didn't care for the fact that I'm not religious.
These are only a few examples of several that end with me going home alone with a $3 bottle of Trader Joe's wine and some women's magazines, wondering what I could have done differently—like I could have willed that guy to stop vomiting throughout our meetup.
I'm the type of person who will put in a ton of research if I think I can improve at something. That includes Beyoncé dance tutorials on YouTube, and yes, dating how-to books to "up my game."
So I thought a great way to spend Friday the 13th, which was also the night before Valentine's Day, was to make a list of the common dating tips I've found for ladies and execute them rapid fire while speed dating for the first time. It's a Kate Hudson romcom in the making, except it was set in a sh--ty dive bar in Koreatown playing way too many DJ Mustard remixes.
There were only a half dozen women for over 15 men to rotate through, and every time a bell rang I embarked on a new 5-minute conversation where I tried a different dating mag method to charm these gentlemen.
Please enjoy the highlights of my evening, and let me preface by saying, I will not be streaming Bad Boys II on Netflix over a cocktail and spring rolls with any of these gentleman in the future. Oh, well!
1. Just One of the Guys: On my first date of the evening my goal was to be laidback and maybe a little tomboyish—to seem like a lady who would get along with his pals. I kept bringing the conversation back to my love for sports. I told him that I played tennis, loved hiking and co-ed rec activities, and was very active in fantasy leagues. Approximately four minutes in he asked, "Why do you keep talking about sports; were you raised in a family of all men or something?" That's right. Not only did he disapprove of an athletic lady, he couldn't finish the date and just not pick me—he needed to tell me, to my face, something was wrong with me. Lesson: Don't be into "guy things?" Haha, I'm kidding! He just sucks.
2. Be Agreeable: On my next date I aimed to please. If he liked a thing, so did I! It can be nice to point out common interests, right? Well... when I told him I liked hip-hop music and named a few of my favorite rappers he responded with, "Really? You're just some white girl rolling around to rap? Sure, whatever." So I switched the topic of conversation to work... what was his job? The hip-hop snob told me he worked in finance, so I said "Oh, cool! My favorite podcast is Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal. I don't own stocks or anything, but I love following the latest business and trade news." His response to this: "You're telling me you understand finance? Right, OK." Lesson: If you agree with someone they may try to inflict needless conflict for funsies? That or this guy actually hates everything he said he loves... but that explanation is probably too deep.
3. Ask for Advice: The next gentleman seemed excited to be able to help me and answer all my questions. What is his favorite place in Los Angeles? Where can I sample the best local brews? Only problem with this date: He lied to me—he lied a lot, actually. One of my few "talents" is that I know when someone is fibbing, probably because I'm so good at it too (obviously... considering my new hobby is speed dating aliases.) This fellow would get just enough information from me that he could make it seem like we hung around the same kind of people and places. We don't, however. I've seen enough marathons of The Pickup Artist on VH1 to know this guy's deal. He was going to say whatever it took try and win me over. Lesson: If you seem very eager, a guy will literally say anything to get those digits!
4. Laugh at Everything He Says: Laugh within reason, of course. You don't want to seem crazy. I LOLed like I was watching Richard Pryor in his prime during my brief date with this guy, and spoiler alert, even though he was not a very funny person, he was on Cloud 9! Granted, his jokes just got worse, because he thought he was killing it for his new No. 1 fan, but the lesson here is if you want to boost a person's ego: pretend like they actually have a sense of humor. They'll love that! Flattery first!
5. Flirting 101: This one is all about body language. Since most of my talking dates seemed to make men insult me or lie to me, I thought I'd make one date all about hair flips, eyelash batting, and playing with my clothes and jewelry. Lesson: When all else fails, draw attention to your boobs!
Overall experience: Two hours. 15+ dates. No soulmates. One Corona Light. Dating magazine tips are like normal life tips: Smile, play nice, try to be a people pleaser. There are no magic bullets when it comes to meeting people and retaining their attention. It's a numbers game, and hopefully if you talk to enough people, at least one of them will be semi-normal. Looking back on the evening I see now that my opening line should have been to ask what their favorite Will Smith movies is... Damn it, I'm going to have to do this again. Wish me luck!