Frankly, I was starting to wonder if my old tried-and-true dating tips have gotten stale, so I decided to take a break from my own online dating experiments and waxing poetic about dating apps to listen in on what the gentlemen had to say about what works and what doesn't when it comes to the art of romance. Here are their honest answers for single men and single women navigating the world of dating.
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My roommate's boyfriend, who asked to be referred to by his stage name, "Bruschetta Veuve Clicquot," insisted that it's all about engagement on the apps, and don't be afraid to make it weird. Clicquot explained, "Any content can be made funny or personal. Compulsively make jokes until they're so bought in, they have to go on a date. By the time you bring it up, they're having such a good time, they've already said yes in their head." Perhaps he's onto something; it worked on my roommate.
In that same vein, put something unique in your profile that the other person can work with. If you love your friends and family, that's great, but what's the other person supposed to say to that? Something about you that is just a little weird provides excellent fodder for conversation. Stuff like "I go ape sh*t for a good sunset" or "I still watch Boy Meets World reruns" are just nerdy enough to also be endearing and excellent conversation starters, according to a guy I recently went on a handful of dates with — whose actual best move, by the way, is to take a lady to wine country for the day. Bravo, sir.
That Second Message Tho
When it comes to back-and-forth exchanges, there are many reasons you might fall off someone's radar. The good news is, according to data collected from Hinge, sending a second message can reengage that person more often than not. Here are a few of the highest-quality reengaging texts I've come across from the guys:"This is so us, me doing all the talking and you just sitting there looking cute." Flattery. If it doesn't work, at the very least the recipient of this will smile. "Whoa weird autocorrect! I meant, 'Would you like to get a drink on Thursday?'" Whatever question you asked or topic you raised didn't land, so throw a Hail Mary; what have you got to lose? "I think I just saw you. Are you in my neighborhood right now?" Make them wonder if they almost just met you IRL.
Dating Data Collection
"Gather as much data as you can right away," said an economist I used to work with. This brilliant advice came when I was debating bringing a new guy I was dating to my work Christmas party. "It's a waste of time to wait and see how someone interacts with your friends, family, coworkers etc.," he explained over lunch. "As soon as you know you like someone, find out how they are in fancy situations, in nature, in dive bars, and anywhere else you like to go. Data collection should happen fast so you don't string someone along longer than you need to."
My friend Ryan likes to do this to the extreme by getting into the nitty-gritty topics like politics, religion, and sexuality on first dates. "Off limits? More like required discussion," Ryan said. "On a first date, I liked to bring up typically taboo subjects like religion, politics, mental illness, toilet humor, racism, drug use, periods, etc. to see how they react. Sometimes it scares women off, but sometimes you have a better connection with someone who's willing to get into things right away." To be clear, this would never, ever work with me, but it did for Ryan. He's currently dating someone who was willing to talk about poop with a stranger.
Creative Date Ideas
"Do something crazy like fly fishing," said a guy I went on three dates with who asked to be referred to as "no comment." (Not everyone is comfortable dating a writer.) His point was that you should pick something totally crazy that you like to do and see if there's a stranger out there willing to do it with you. Everyone can go out for a cocktail, but suggesting something you like to do will at least ensure one of you has a good time.
"Best third date ever is finger-painting," according to someone on my trivia team. After you've done a first date drinks and second date dinner, mix it up with something that's fun, tactile, and, most important, unexpected. Apparently, this move is a good one to repeat regularly because at worst it's a fairly inexpensive way to fill your home with original art and at best it could lead to a fourth date.
Long-distance dating? Find something you can do together that you can work on separately. "My boyfriend and I trained for a half marathon together when we lived in different cities," said a longtime cohort of mine. It gave them something to talk about on the phone and a shared goal they could feel great about completing together. When it came time for the race, I won't share who beat whom, but let's just say the boyfriend-now-husband likes to gloat about this dating tip all the time.
You'd be surprised how low the bar is. When I asked guys for their most creative tips, it took longer than expected to gather what I just shared. When I realized it would be tough, I asked the ladies in my circle about the best things guys had ever done on dates, and the responses were bleak. Here's a brief list of what the incredibly smart and talented women I surround myself with recalled as some of the "best" things from men on dates:Made plans and stuck to them (that's right, the best thing a guy has ever done is show up). Asked me about me instead of babbling about himself all night (also known as human decency). A subtle touch when things were going well. A brush against a shoulder after a joke or a light stroke on the hand can go a long way (note that's desired physical contact). Remembered something random I mentioned offhand and then turned that into a date (so . . . listened). I'm drawing a blank (exactly).
The dating tip of this section is: realize how low the bar is and be man enough to rise far above it.
In general, dating isn't about finding as many people to like you as possible, it's the one with whom the interest is the most mutual. With that said, don't be afraid to be a little quirky and communicative right off the bat. And don't forget your manners. Raise that bar, and good luck out there.