How to Date Me: A Field Guide for Men

Confidential to the guy who’s asking Amie Longmire out on a date: she wants you to succeed at dating her. Here’s how.

I will not pretend to understand what a man goes through when asking a woman on a date. I can’t speak for women everywhere but what follows are friendly reminders in case you find yourself about to ask me out.

1. My first date expectations.

I only have one. To get to know you better. I never say yes to a date out of pity or expecting an engagement ring. I’m treating the first date like a scrimmage. It’s not the big homecoming game. We’re not there yet. Getting to know me is going to be a long distance run not a wind sprint. I won’t be giving you enough information about me on the first date to make any life long plans. Even if our chemistry is clicking, I try to avoid hormonal decisions. It might not be romantic or polite to bring this up right now but, I need to know that we can actually be friends, that I can trust you with who I am, and trust you, that I can make you laugh, that I can genuinely laugh at your jokes. I fear I’ve used all my sports analogies in the first paragraph.

2. I have a no drama policy.

I love my life. I am not a victim and I don’t need rescuing. I’d consider rescuing a puppy. Never men. Leave your baggage at the door, be honest about its existence, and I will do the same for you. I don’t speak in “girl code” and I don’t play mind games. I’m sorry if previous women have left you feeling used and abused but I am not other women. You can take me at my word. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “You marry a sinner. There’s no one else to marry.” If this first date eventually turns into a trip down the aisle, we will be unpacking our respective histories together for years to come.

3. Reframing a successful relationship.

I believe that God brings us together for reasons we don’t always understand at first. Not all dates go well or turn into lasting romantic relationships. Some dates seem doomed and rally after some time has passed. You and I have both picked our way through rigorous dating terrain. Can we both agree to treat each other with kindness no matter what happens?

If we are being ourselves, our expectations mutual, and we find that one of us no longer wants to continue, we will have the guts to be honest about it. No dropping off the face of the earth, or suddenly losing your number. If we are honest from the beginning, determining that we cannot move forward is a way of coming to a successful conclusion. This is a difficult talk to initiate. It should be an open dialogue.

I don’t have a poker face. I’m a terrible actress. If it’s not going well on my end, I will not be able to hide it. On the bright side, if it is going well, you will know immediately.

4. Let go of your list.

You know the one … At some point you sat down and wrote out the list of qualities you want in a spouse. We’ve all done it. I did it. In my early twenties I made a comprehensive list (it was more than 2 pages). I folded the list and lost it pretty quick. Several years later, I found it again, read it, laughed, and made a new list in my journal (only one page this time). I’m pretty sure a few more years went by before I found it again. Rereading it, I noticed something. The qualities I asked for where all things that I wanted to manifest in myself. I want to be a better leader, a stronger communicator, financially responsible, faithful in the small things … Shouldn’t these be basic prerequisites for everyone?

You can save your list if you feel strongly about it but, I don’t want to hear of it for a long time (say years). Reducing me to a list tells me that you care more about your own agenda than you do about learning who I actually am. It’s a back handed way of telling me that I’m an object.

5. I am not an object.

Neither are you and I promise not to treat you like one. I’ll give you a tip. Most men are not chatting me up because they think I look smart. I live in Los Angeles. I’m tall. I’m blonde. I like to wear cowgirl boots. But there is so much more to me than these superficial things. You’ll win my attention and respect pretty quick if you can make me laugh and ask me intelligent questions.

6. Dynamic characters only.

I teach college writing courses and I find myself telling my students the same thing over and over. A story where nothing happens and the character never changes cannot be counted as a story at all. I want the story of my life to be filled with adventure, growth, laughter, love, risk, and whimsy. I think God’s imagination for my future is immeasurably larger than anything I could come up with on my own. I’m looking to spend my life with someone, possibly you, in such a way that when our lives merge, we are a force of nature the likes of which the world has never seen. This is a tall order, not for the faint of heart. Only dynamic characters should apply.

7. Be a gentleman and treat me like a lady.

I will say, “I got it” when you hold a door for me or help me with my coat the first few times. I’m my father’s fiercely independent daughter. You will need to remind me that you are doing this because you are a gentleman not because you think me incapable. I need your help remembering these things.

8. Avoid a post date freak out.

Are questions and doubts plaguing you after you say good night to me? Do not freak out on me. I’ve seen great guys get derailed this way. There is a phrase I’d like you to remember: object permanence. Object permanence is Jean Piaget’s idea that objects (or people – in this example only) continue to exist even when you cannot see them. Babies haven’t learned this yet. It’s the reason they love to play peek-a-boo.

If you wake up the morning after our date and wonder how it went or you’re doubting the effectiveness of a punchline or if something I said confused you, know this: If our motives were clearly stated, mutual, and honest, there is no reason for second guessing yourself or me. You are free to proceed with confidence. I hope that you will.

Good luck. I’m rooting for you.
P.S. I’ve always wanted to try kayaking.

 

Read more: What Does Your Online Dating Profile Secretly Say About You?

Image credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives / Flickr

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About Amie Longmire

Amie Longmire currently teaches writing at Biola University. She recieved her Masters in Professional Writing at USC. Her work has recently appeared in Divine Caroline Magazine and Darling Magazine but you can read more of her work at AmieLongmire.com.

Comments

  1. meistergedanken says:

    This article is pointless because it violates the cardinal rule of understanding women: don’t pay attention to what they SAY, only what they DO.

    Aside from that, it feels like I wandered onto “The Atlantic” or “Salon”‘s website.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    Has anyone tried the gender flip test on this yet?

    When I did it, I was embarrassed to discover that I have internalized some double standards of my own. When I imagine a man publishing a comparable field guide to dating him, I picture a man who is egotistical. I picture a man who is not nearly the catch that he thinks he is, a man who has perhaps overinflated what he has to offer to a relationship. I can clearly see a man who will be roundly denounced for being too full of himself.

    Maybe I’m just jumping to the conclusions I want to jump to. I’m curious to see the results when other people run the article through the test.

    • @wellokthen: I tried to flip the script, but found that I was unable to get anything out of the exercise since taking that position is so foreign to me. I do have standards, but reality has taught me that standards without flexibility makes me just as narrow as those others.Besides, this is where my experiences as a man of color maybe gives me an advantage as I have always known that my way or the highway isn’t always a good position to take. I have had to learn to share and take a backseat to the needs of others. Most of these women who feel this way are likely white/upper-middle class women or are women who aspire to that lifestyle.

      These women are among the most privileged and pampered( relatively) in the history of the world. I proudly come from a slave class who just was able to win a questionable freedom only 147 years ago–historically, the equivalent of a drop of water in a tsunami– and only got the right to vote, that was protected and enforced, since 1964–a full one hundred years after so called “emancipation”.

    • Why is it that when we see a guy pay for a billboard on the freeway expressly so he can find a wife we call him a desperate loser, yet when a woman essentially posts her dating profile on a blog (with far more visibility than a billboard) we take it as sage advice?

  3. QuantumInc says:

    At first glance this seemed to be excellent advice, (from a socially liberal POV anyway), though on second glance I see how she contradicts herself with some more…traditional..advice, not to mention how it could be confusing. Her ideas on dating are not as well thought out as say Scarlateen or really anyone who regularly blogs on the subject. (I may have been substituting ideas from other blogs as I read it that first time).

    The most obvious contradiction is #7, where she notes “I will say, “I got it” when you hold a door for me or help me with my coat the first few times.” She was raised to be fiercely independent, but you look back to the title “7. Be a gentleman and treat me like a lady” So basically her instinct is to be independent and open her own door, but she expects you to push through that in order to be the traditional chivalrous guy. She sounds conflicted. It seems that she was raised to be men’s equal, but somewhere along the way she was told that dates are supposed to work THIS way. However chivalry comes from a time when women, or rather high class women, were viewed as being like golden idols, super valuable worthy of care and protection, but not as capable of men.

    There are A LOT of people calling her out. With the above contradiction and a few others, it is partly understandable. However many people seem to think she’s incredibly entitled and delusional because she asks things of the men she dates. Well, DUH!! Any relationship, and I don’t mean any romantic or sexual relationship, even friendships, has to provide SOMETHING for the people involved. Even if that is just an opportunity to joke and laugh with someone who understands your jokes. You don’t have to pay for dinner, but you do have to keep your promise to show up, and resist the urge to eat her food, and other things that are all part of not just being a decent date, but being a decent human being.

    To me it seems fairly obvious that this isn’t meant to be advice about dating Amie Longmire, but rather women in general. Amie Longmire is merely the author and a case study. Yes I know what the title says, but if you took that literally you are an idiot. She would have to be massively narcissistic and delusional to write an article thinking the majority of the GMP readership wants to date you. The title implies that, but the circumstances (an article on a blog) contradicts it. Of course some people prefer to see woman as narcissistic and delusional.

    Actually there are a lot of comments here who have a problem with the mere idea of a woman giving men dating advice. However if you are trying to date women, who better to learn about women then someone who is in fact a real live woman! That is no guarantee that it will be good advice, but again, the average woman knows more about women in general than the average man. This should be obvious and self evident. Yes, advice for dating women will mention the things women want, but that’s not the same as saying that women deserve the world. If you don’t think women deserve X, then fine, just take a moment to double check your logic, sport.

    If you feel that she is being entitled, what things do you think she’s being entitled to that are beyond the realm of basic human decency? I explored the opening of door, other “gentlemanly” behavior, and then there’s Kayaking, or is that enough to swear off dating her?

  4. I love the tone and information of this article. The “I want you to succeed” attitude seems great to me throughout and encourages authenticity and confidence (contrary to what some of the PUA community will teach men about dating). I like how this piece emphasizes that it’s about getting to know the person, slowly. About a real connection, slowly building trust, not do-or-die. I worry that many men put pressure on themself that the first date HAS to be Earth-shattering to the other person to feel okay.

    “If we are being ourselves, our expectations mutual, and we find that one of us no longer wants to continue, we will have the guts to be honest about it. No dropping off the face of the earth, or suddenly losing your number. If we are honest from the beginning, determining that we cannot move forward is a way of coming to a successful conclusion. This is a difficult talk to initiate. It should be an open dialogue.”

    I love this part- two adults, honest, straightforward, be yourself, and if there is a genuine connection, things will work out. If being yourself doesn’t work, thank goodness it won’t progress to something further.

    Well written all the way through.

  5. I am a little surprised at all of the negative comments in response to this article, which is largely positive in tone and fair-minded in its analysis of the pitfalls of dating. And guys, in case you are not aware of it, there are all kinds of websites out there that offer women advice regarding “how to understand men,” “how to figure out what men REALLY want,” “how to decipher what it means when he emotionally withdraws,” “how you can attract him and keep him,” etc. etc, etc. I could go on for days. And my attitude is: Why must this be so complicated? Why do I need a guide? Why can’t we just be honest and straightforward with each other, regarding our needs, wants, and desires?

    And that’s all that this writer is trying to do: be honest about her needs, wants, and desires. And I get the sense that she is the type who would listen if you offered the same in return. But, too often, men are not looking for that woman who will be honest and straightforward about her needs and then be patiently attentive to their needs in return. They are, quite frankly, looking for someone who turns them on. As long as that is the number one priority . . . well . . .

    My point: It cuts both ways, guys.

    • none of it has to be that complicated. we all make it complicated.

      really, though, people have been surviving without these articles for thousands of years. these people are all just trying make a living writing.

  6. PUAs seem to aim for quantity… Trying to treat one girl as special seems antithetical to their dogma— “one-itis” is something that should be rejected…. Because if it is easier to score with drunk party girls at the local bar or club, then why bother taking the time getting to know someone and making a deeper connection because you think she is one of a kind?

  7. Notice (ladies and gentlemen) how the onus here is on the men to succeed in winning over the woman.

    “I want you to succeed. Good luck”…etc, etc, etc.

    Let’s queer it up to clear it up: Gay men and lesbian just don’t talk to one another this way, as part of their own dating/mating monkey dance. The onus is on BOTH to be the woo-er AND the woo-ee.

    I want you to SUCCEED? Good LUCK? Are men applying for a JOB here?

    The truth is, Amy, that until you disabuse yourself of that old-school sort of thinking that others have rightly dubbed “patriarchal”, you will probably continue to have as few dates in the future as you have in the past. And the reason that is so is because the old school sort of thinking really SUCKS – and is confusing as hell for men and for women.

    When I say “queer it up to clear it up”, I’m being REALLY serious. I think het men and het women can learn an awful lot by taking an open and curious look at how homo-normative people are living out their dating/mating lives – and how much easier it is for them than for hetero-normative people, because they’re just not schlepping all this ridiculous historical baggage.

    And no, none of us are victims here. We all have the ability to drop that baggage, and learn new ways of being alone and together, whenever we are ready. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

  8. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I liked this a lot. I’ve been married a few years, so it doesn’t really pertain directly to me anymore. I do have one issue, and it’s probably sort of a Myers-Briggs type of thing, however. It’s the no drama business. Let me give you some context. When I was on the market, I was frequently quite attracted to lady scientists. I had two long term relationships with this type of woman. They were both very attractive, good conversationalists, and not particularly hung up. I’m a sociologist, but I’m a feeling type on the MBTI (scientists tend to be thinking types.) I probably have something like a therapist personality. I know that this is generalizing from an N of 2, but both of these women had an unfortunate tendency to label any expression of feeling (even small ones) as “drama.” Needless to say, I didn’t wind up with either. Maybe it all depends on what your definition of “drama” is.

  9. So let’s step back a bit and have a meta-conversation about this blog from Amy, and all the clearly disapproving comments it is getting from a lot of men, and all the surprise women are expressing about these disapproving comments.

    What’s going on here?

    Well, the first thing that’s going on is that we’re reading yet another in the apparently endless parade of blogs, articles, etc etc etc in which women (and sometimes other men) feel it is their responsibility to “help” men up their game, and go from being sub-standard overgrown children to being (in one of a thousand ways) up to par.

    And the advice is ENDLESS. Just the other day, a blog here from an evangelical Christian woman was written to tell her married evangelical men friends how their “half-hugs” were inadequate. Someone else wrote a blog advising men that wearing a Trilby hat was a terrible thing to do, and no one should do it. A few weeks back, another blog was written telling men that they should NEVER, EVER compliment a woman on her looks, or what she was wearing. I’ve read several blogs that have insisted that men needed to identify themselves as FEMINISTS, and other blogs that implied, and sometimes outright stated, that committed, monogamous relationships were really the best.

    And that’s just the recent past here at GMP. If I start listing all the stories I’ve read on other websites, like Huffpo, I could literally compile an entire book.

    So the first question to ask – if we’re having a meta-discussion – is this: Is there any other demographic in which the members are being treated in this way? And specifically, are WOMEN being treated this way, by men, or by other women?

    Nope. Not at all.

    What I see is that women are being given a daily dose (actually a gazillion daily doses) of “You GO, girlfriend”. They’re being told that whatever they want and whatever they like (as long as it’s not homicide or the moral equivalent thereof) is their right and their entitlement, as free beings in a free world.

    But somehow, in the unconscious shadowy minds of a whole lot of folks – including a whole lot of folks who write and edit for the Good Men Project – that’s just not the case at all.

    So that’s the first part of the meta-discussion that I want to have – and am having, in any number of comments to any number of articles and blogs that I’ve been reading here for the past several months. My take is that a lot of people – including the people who write these sorts of articles and blogs – are really UNCONSCIOUS around this issue – just as a lot of people used to be unconscious around issues of the partriarchy.

    So what’s the antidote to such unconsciousness? Of course, it’s consciousness raising – the key pivotal act that defined feminism, and has led to the better conditions that we have today – and will continue to lead to better conditions for women all over the world (thank you, Malala) as we continue to raise consciousness around women’s rights.

    Similarly, I think that the GMP needs to be a THOUGHT LEADER in the area of raising consciousness around not telling men what to think, say and do – unless (once again) we’re talking about homicide, or being rapey, or some other obvious moral error.

    This should be The Good Men Project – not the Good Yente Project. That’s my view, and I will continue to advocate for it.

    >>>

    Next, I want to address Amy directly, assuming she is reading the comments. And even if she is not, I want to address all the women who are – and who really don’t get what is wrong with the latest iteration of Amy’s List – which she now reframes as “suggestions for dating me”.

    Here’s the deal, Amy – and yes, I am MANSPLAINING this (another contemptuous term, that I am co-opting, just like gay people co-opted QUEER).

    The reason that you’re getting so few dates is not because you are intimidating men because you are so smart. Really, there are a whole bunch of men who are just as smart as you (or smarter), and there’s a whole bunch of men who may or may not be smarter than you that find smart women VERY sexy. (I’m one myself).

    But what I don’t find sexy is being told what to do, or how to behave, when I’m with you – unless what I’m doing is really and obviously OFFENSIVE.

    So…if a man is acting MEAN, or OBNOXIOUS, or RAPEY – by all means play that assertiveness card, and either straighten him out (because he needs it desperately), or call SHENANIGANS on the entire date and flush him out of your phone and your life.

    But you’re not doing that.

    By your own admission (ie your list of “suggestions”) you’re both thinking poorly about him (or men in general) and acting poorly as well.

    Let me give you a simple example: When I go to the gym, a lot of times someone will hold the door open for me. It might be a man or a woman. It might be someone old, or someone young. It might be someone I might think about trying to date – or someone I would never think about dating.

    I can tell you that in 100% of the cases where someone is gracious enough to hold open the gym door for me, my response is THANK YOU, along with a nice, brief look in their eyes, to let them know I really mean it.

    I can tell you that in ZERO % of the cases, I actually tell the other person, “Thanks, I can hold the door myself”, thus making them feel foolish for making a decent gesture to me as a fellow human being.

    Do you get my drift here?

    If you’re carrying around that crap inside of you, you’re exuding VINEGAR energy rather than SUGAR energy. Even before you open your mouth and say one word to a prospective dating candidate, you’ve sent a whiff into the air that many men will subliminially smell, and it wil make them turn away from you, even if they thought that perhaps you might be datable.

    So what can you do instead? In two words, GROW UP. Make up your mind that you are going to be gentle and gracious in your dating interactions with men, just as you would be if you were travelling as a missionary or a diplomat to a foreign country. Because – truth to tell – EVERYONE is a foreign country to everyone else when they first meet.

    If you have THAT pre-existing consciousness and attitude, you will – without saying a word – exude more HONEY and less VINEGAR. And that’s how you can start to catch more flies.

    Let me give you one other example of how your pre-existing attitudes – as defined in your own list of suggestions – is causing you to exude VINEGAR rather than HONEY.

    You are demanding (yes, demanding) that any candidate who wants to approach you should be a fascinating sort of fellow. Well…OK. That’s certainly your right.

    But you know what? Most of us aren’t really very fascinating, in that superficial sort of way. Most of us lead average lives rather than spectacular ones. Most of us (men and women both) cluster in the middle of the ubiquitious bell shaped curve.

    But here you are, DEMANDING and FEELING ENTITELED TO the attention of men at the high end of the curve – and of course the flip side of that demand and sense of entitlement is that all the other guys are (wait for it) LOSERS.

    Once again, as stupid and clueless and emotionally unintelligent as so many women think so many men are – the truth is that a lot of us have just as highly developed instinctual sense as women do. So (once again) we can smell that kind of filtering attitude a mile away – and (for many, if not most of us) it is a total turn off, rather than a turn on. It’s just more vinegar, and we smell it, and it lowers the interest of MOST of us, immediately.

    And of course, a lot of the guys who remain interested after smelling that vinegar are exactly the sort of guys you don’t want to be bothered with: PUA’s looking for a challenge, who get their ego strokes by “bagging” a tough sell.

    So…once again…if THAT is the problem (or at least YOUR part of the problem), what might be a solution?

    How about this:

    How about you get rid of the list altogether? How about you dump the suggestions? How about you let go entirely of your implicit and explicit demands and requirements above and beyond the requirement that he thinks, talks and behaves with integrity – as a man, and not a boy?

    How about you make a CONSCIOUS DECISION that you will go into each dating/mating encounter with an open mind, an open heart and EMPTY HANDS?

    How about YOU deciding to meet him in that place of full integrity, without any sort of sex or romance agenda – simply meeting as PEOPLE – and letting the relationship unfold itself the way it wants to – for both of you?

    Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. We are all carrying an IMMENSE amount of baggage, from our personal lives, and our lives as member of this late stage hetero-normative capitalist dating community – men and women BOTH.

    A lot of it is PERSONAL baggage – whatever personal wounds we have experienced as either children or adults, that makes us close our minds, close our hands, clench our fists – be anything but open and spacious.

    And a lot of it is the baggage of the MATRIX in which we have all been immersed, with the various memes of women’s rights, men’s rights, men are from Mars, women are from Venus – the whole thing is an incredible suck factory that makes us enter any new relationship with all the suspicion that you can see in the comments on this blog, or the comments on Jezebel or XOJane, or the comments on any of the MRA or MGTOW websites.

    There really IS a better way. But – for men and women both – it has to start with REALLY growing up, healing the old wounds, rejecting the old armor – and being willing to encounter THE OTHER with compassion, with an open heart, an open mind and empty hands.

    Now…if that seems like too much to ask, based on your own personal story, then I would say you’re really not ready to date yet. Do something to fix what’s still broken: therapy, life coaching, some sort of spiritual practice. Do what you need to do until you really can come to the hetero-normative dating experience with open minds, open heart and empty hands – and no other identity besides that.

    Take the time you need – and make the effort you need to make – to fix you, so that you’re not demanding anything from anybody, and you’re not compulsed to give anybody anything that feels like it’s being given without your own personal moral approval.

    Forget the list…once and for all. If you’re going to meet someone, just meet him or her with open mind, open heart and empty hands. Otherwise, do something else.

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