Several years ago, wanting to gain notoriety as a dating and relationships author, I began a blog called “Boobs & Balls: Love Advice You Can Grab Onto.” The concept was simple: Readers submit questions about their love lives, or their lack-of love lives, and I and one of my three female cowriters provide the straightforward insight. “His response, her response,” it was set up, and things went pretty smoothly.
What I enjoyed most about the blog was the questions. Sometimes they favored the more serious side of dating: Should a woman ask a man on the first date? Is online dating worth it? How do you get over the one that got away? And sometimes they were a bit more entertaining: Is it ok to look at cleavage? If I’ve slept with 37 guys, should I tell my boyfriend? And, my personal favorite: What do you say to a girl who, after going down on you, leans back and releases a loud belch?
To this I kept my response short and to the point: “Be polite. Ask her, ‘Would you like to see our dessert menu?’”
All in all, over the course of four months, we answered about 12 questions, the bulk of which coming in the first eight weeks, when interest was the highest. From there, my passion for the site dwindled. Without degrees in counseling or psychology, I lacked the credibility to gain serious momentum in the dating and relationships world. There was also the glaring fact that I was single as fuck. And this wasn’t one of those, “Oh, it’ll just be a few months,” kind of singles, either. This was one of those droughts that, arid and hopeless, leaves your penis asking to be traded. “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” it said to me each morning as I brushed my teeth.
“Take me with you,” I garbled back. “Please.”
Even still, I flirt with bringing it back. Namely because I’m always finding questions to answer, like the one I overheard last year. “How do I tell my girlfriend her birth control is making her batshit crazy?” That, my friend, is dangerous ground on which to tread. Particularly if she’s a card-carrying member of the NRA. My advice to you is this: avoid the topic all together, or invest heavily in Kevlar. It’s up to you.
But most of the time the questions aren’t this difficult. Take the one I received in August of 2012, for example, from a Mr. Michael Boob-Less. “Man, I’ve tried meeting women in all sorts of places,” he wrote, “bars, parties, social clubs, speed-dating. None of them have worked. Where can a guy go to meet decent women? Thanks.”
While I wish I had an exact answer for you, Mr. Boob-Less, your guess is as good as mine. I can, however, offer you at least one bit of consolation: a short list of places where you shouldn’t go to meet women. There are four of them I’ve found in my ten years of professional dating experience, and they go as follows:
I didn’t realize it before writing this piece, but looking back, six out of the last seven girls I’ve dated were involved with sororities at some point in their college careers. It’s gotten to a point where, when describing a new girl I’m dating, my friends say, “Oh dear god, she’s not a sorority girl, is she?” As if it’s some kind of destructive behavior I’m engaging in, and they’re moments away from staging an intervention.
It’s not a conscious decision on my part, either. I don’t wake up every morning and think, “Let’s do some pushups then go for a stroll down Greek row and see what we can pick up.” It’s more of an accidental pattern, the product of simply being attracted to a certain kind of woman. And why shouldn’t I be? Sororities are a dream come true for straight men. Their members are usually beautiful, can afford orthodontia, and sometimes have fathers who use the phrase, “We keep our horses in the stable.” All the girls I’ve dated have also been intelligent and hard-working, leaving very little room to find yourself wanting.
The downside is this: If you do something you don’t want the 100 other members of her sorority to know, don’t date Greek. I spent a year working at Victoria’s Secret (which I’ll get to in a minute), and in that time I was horrified to find out how much women tell each other. As a man, you naively assume that every interaction you have with a woman is going to remain in a vacuum. Sure, they might give their friends the outlined version of their experience—Roman numeral I: “We had dinner.” Letter A: “I had fish.” Roman numeral II: “We watched a movie at his place.”—but never would it expand to lower case Roman numerals and lowercase letters; that would just be indecent.
But I’m here to tell you that’s not how it is at all. Folding panties one evening, I heard two girls discuss the vein on a man’s penis, and eventually describe it as looking like “a spiral staircase.” Even more recently, I’ve heard women consistently complain about the noises men make during sex–high-pitched squealing, or “he sounded like a little girl crying”–making me sure as fuck to remain absolutely silent during intercourse.
I’ll leave you with this: I once dated a sorority girl, and was pretty serious with her. But being young and unsure of what I wanted from my future, I broke up with her and began dating someone else. When I say that she turned her entire sorority against me, and even the other sororities on campus, I’m not exaggerating. Even years later, I felt like a communist trying to get work in the ‘50s. I was blackballed—or, in this case, blueballed. Thus, date in sororities if you want, Mr. Boob-Less, but be careful. If you do something wrong, they’ll know everything about you–the bad, the weird and the ugly–all the way down to the veins.
A few years ago, when I took a job working at Victoria’s Secret, one of the questions that burned through my mind was: Will women date a man who sells thongs for a living? This came to me from a friend who, a few days after I’d applied, said, “You do realize you’re going to be single the entire time you work there, right? No woman’s going to date a guy who works with panties all day!”
In my stunned, semi-depressed silence, I had to admit he was right. Lack of income aside, dating a guy who works at Victoria’s Secret is the closest thing you can get to dating a gigolo. Only Tom Jones and Wilt Chamberlain have handled more panties than me.
It turned out, however, that girls will date a guy who works at Victoria’s Secret. I’m still not sure if it’s because they liked me or my panty discount, but it doesn’t matter. I spent my days advising 40 different women which panties they should buy, then went home at night to a girl who thought nothing of it. What else could you ask for as man?
But I’ll say the same thing about Victoria’s Secret that I did about sororities, except with the added cautionary statement: Don’t shit where you eat. Victoria’s Secret is essentially, itself, a giant sorority. Ninety percent of its employees are women, meaning that if you date one of them, and something goes wrong, your life in the store can become miserable. I once made out with two of my coworkers at a party (who were both not single), then proceeded to tell the entire store about it. I found myself on the shitlist for the next two weeks–just for making out with my coworkers. I never found out what would happen if I’d done something worse; I didn’t want to. But I’d advise not testing those waters.
From the outside looking in, dog parks seem like the kinds of places that romantic comedies are built on. You bring your dog, he humps the shit out of some cute girl’s dog, you apologize, then, when you’re dating, you later admit you weren’t really sorry, because you wouldn’t mind humping the shit out of her. The girl, not the dog, that is. That’s at least how I pictured it when I got a dog in July of 2012.
One of the first people I met at the dog park was a girl named Muriel. At the time, we’d known each other for about two years, but had never hung out. Then, one afternoon, I suggested we take our dogs to the park and become better friends. I had no intention of dating her by doing this; I just thought it was time to get to know this person I’d been following on Twitter. And she agreed.
This began the longest and most entertaining text-thread of my life. After asking me what kind of dog I had, and his name, she texted me to inquire, and I quote, “Are his balls big?”
I have a toy fox terrier. He’s nine pounds, and though his balls are generous for his size, they’re nothing anyone would label as “big.” So, not wanting to disappoint her, I found a picture of a dog with large balls and sent it to her.
“You literally googled ‘big animal balls,’” she responded. And, wanting to begin our relationship on honest ground, I replied, “‘Huge dog balls’ actually.”
This would become a kind of theme with her. Most people look at life and see it for the sunsets, or the sunrises, or the time spent with friends and family. And Muriel sees it for these things, too, except when she’s distracted by balls. That’s why the morning her nephew was born, it didn’t surprise me when, instead of announcing his birth weight and length, or even just his arrival, the first thing she texted me about him was, in all-caps: “THE BABY’S BALLS ARE MASSIVE.”
“I think,” she added, unsure of herself. “Like idk what’s normal.”
Muriel and I dated for six months, and the best way I can describe the relationship is to compare it to the First World War. Except for brief moments of peace, like the Christmas Truce of 1914, we mowed each other down mercilessly. Which is why—thank the Lord—we eventually broke up.
In the wake of Muriel and I not working out, I decided that I needed to try something new–the last frontier of dating that I’d so long resisted: online. I’d always hated the concept of it, the desperation. “I’m such a loser that I can’t meet anyone in person,” it seemed to say. But when you’re a writer who spends most of his time in sweatpants in front of a computer, your standards quickly change. “I’ve got at least five decent profile pictures,” you begin saying. “This could be fun.”
What people don’t tell you is how strange of a world online dating is. You’re all on their for the same reasons–to find that special someone–but everyone acts shy. At least they did to me. The site that I went with gives you three options for beginning conversation: Send a smiley face; send 5 pre-written questions; or send them a message with whatever the hell you want to say. In my four months on the site, I sent a smiley face once–by accident–and have never been more embarrassed by something in my life. “Ok, I didn’t mean to send that,” I wrote the girl. “I swear I don’t live in my mother’s basement.” With this she said, “Lololol ok,” then never spoke to me again. I tried sending the pre-written questions a few times, but they felt so boring, like asking someone you’ve just met what they do for a living. I hate when people do that, so I began messaging matches with questions of my design.
“What was your most recent trip to Target like?” was an early favorite, but no one responded to it, so I switched to, “As a presumably single, 24-year-old woman, what are you views on jorts?” This got a few chuckles, and some response, but nothing in the way of success. No phone numbers, no dates, nothing. I was baffled.
Then one day I was listening to 50 Cent’s “21 Questions,” a rap song in which he asks some unknown woman 21 questions about what would happen if they dated. Immediately I knew what I had to do: Send the lyrics to as many of my matches as possible. “If I fell off tomorrow, would still love me?” I wrote. “If I didn’t smell so good, would you still hug me? If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century, could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?” Apparently none of them would support me mentally, as not a single match responded.
Frustrated, I began sending girls the opening line I was using on Tinder, a dating app that essentially matches you with local singles based on whether or not you find each other physically attractive. “What’s the difference between a Camaro and an erection?” I’d write. And when they’d say, “I don’t know, what?” I’d respond, “I don’t have a Camaro.” To this, one match said, “Lol,” three didn’t respond, and four blocked me within an hour. I was as good as done with dating at this point.
Sometimes your actions are for naught, Mr. Boob-Less. Sometimes you go into things with the best intentions, thinking you know what you want, or that you’ve finally done something right. And sometimes both of these notions are wrong. Sometimes you end up frustrated and lonesome, wondering if you’re ever going to get it right, or if maybe your future is a house full of cats and smelling like tuna. It terrifies you.
But sometimes it doesn’t happen this way. Sometimes you breakup with a sorority girl, who unleashes her wrath upon your reputation, and is friends with an Attractive Dark-Haired Girl You’re Almost Certain Hates You Now. Sometimes, heartbroken and lost, you take a job working at Victoria’s Secret, where you hope to learn everything you can about women in an attempt to protect yourself from future mistakes. Sometimes, there, one of your coworkers introduces you to her friend named Muriel, who you eventually go to a dog park with and end up dating. And sometimes this doesn’t work, but while grabbing dinner one night to catch up, she tells you about a dating app called Tinder. “It’s funny,” she says, “you should get it.”
And sometimes you laugh at her when she says this, but get it anyways. Then, one night in late December, bored and over the whole dating thing, you go on the app and get matched with the Attractive Dark-Haired Girl You’re Almost Certain Hates You Now. “Oh, this is going to be good,” you say, and send her a joke about a Camaro and an erection. Much to your surprise, she responds.
And sometimes, on your fourth date, you look at the Attractive Dark Haired Girl (who apparently doesn’t hate you), and realize that every mistake you’ve made, every moment you’ve felt like a complete failure, was just a draw of the same breath, the same movement that eventually causes you to look up from your menu and say, “So…what are you gonna have?”