The Dating Game – Advice on Playing the Game While Dating

Dear E. Jean: So. Is it true I have to play the stupid game? Do I have to follow flirting protocol to make sure a guy sticks around? I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE THIS! I’ve tried to duck the rules since high school, but you can’t—can you? You really do have to smile at the appropriate times, make the “cute” mistakes, insert a joke here and a laugh there, right? Ugh! I want to go on strike! —Fed Up

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Dear Fed: Did you say…strike? You charming half-wit. Don’t you know that chasing guys is the greatest pleasure there is? Didn’t you grok in high school that your rebel’s attitude was a cunning (maybe the cunningest) move in “the stupid game”? Hasn’t it dawned in that big head of yours that the reason you’re here…that the future of the human race depends on you playing the game as the greatest rebel on planet Earth? Come on.

You want to be a zeitgeist grappler and defy the game? Good luck. Mother Nature will almost always force you to smile at the “appropriate times.” I say “almost,” because I just saw a BBC documentary in which British scientists tossed 100 single women and men into a speed-dating experiment. Several of the women did curb their instincts to smile (so as to look cool) and came off looking like the cadavers on Cold Case. However, a rather plain-looking woman, a brain type who simply followed her instincts, listened to the guys, laughed at their jokes, and cast them a quiet stream of compliments (she also happened to be wearing a very pretty dress that showed off her tiny waist), got three times—three times—the number of date requests as the other women.

My advice: Get out of your own way. Let your natural predilections loose, and just be yourself.

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.

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