How Meta-Communication Can Make You a Great Flirt (Even If You’re Shy)

For years, I said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “I’m too shy to flirt!”

Then I got better at it, but I still said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “My flirting style is dorky and non-traditional, but still charming!”

Nowadays, though, I’ve learned more about flirting and the various ways it can be done – and I finally recognize that my approach to flirting is both valid and effective. My eyes widened when I first encountered the term “meta-communication” – i.e. communicating about communicating – with regards to flirting, because that is totally what I do. It has worked for me, whether I was engaging in monogamous or polyamorous dating, and I think it can work for you too!

Here are some of my favorite tips for flirting via meta-communication…

Acknowledge your flirting as such. This is effective for the same reason that it works well to use the word “date” when you ask someone on a date: it makes your intentions crystal-clear, sets your flirtee’s anxieties and uncertainties at ease, and – when done well – makes you come across as a smooth, bold, fearless flirt.

Examples:
“Is this a good time to flirt with you?”
“I’m really enjoying flirting with you; maybe we could do this more later?”
“Sorry, I get really flirty when I’m [tipsy/happy/super into someone].”
“Can I try out a ridiculous pick-up line on you?”
[cartoonishly over-the-top eyelash-batting, smouldering glances, etc.]

Acknowledge how you’re feeling. Flirting is so often portrayed as a performance, where you have to be an actor or a puppeteer – but it can be even more delicious to let your flirtee see what’s behind the curtain. You come across as more human and real when you cop to your emotional processes – and this also helps build rapport and trust, because your flirtee knows if you own up to your feelings, you’re likely to also tell the truth about other things later on.

Examples:
“I get really nervous around you ’cause you’re so cute!”
“If I wasn’t so shy, I’d make a dirty joke about what you just said, but…”
“I really wanna flirt with you, but I’m not sure I’m getting that vibe from you, so I’ll back off.”
“If I wasn’t so [tired/anxious/busy], I’d be flirting so hard with you right now… Maybe next time?”
“Sorry if I seem unfocused; I just can’t stop thinking about how good-lookin’ you are!”

Propose a hypothetical. This is a low-pressure way to gauge your flirtee’s reaction to things you want to do or say, or just to you in general. You’re giving the other person space to turn you down if they want to – but also giving them space to respond positively if that’s how they’re feeling.

Examples:
“What would you say if I told you you look super handsome in that suit?”
“What would you do if I said I wanted to kiss you right now?”
“I wouldn’t be mad if you gave me your phone number… In fact, I might even be thrilled!”
“If someone wanted to flirt with you but was really shy, what would be the best way for them to do that?”

Give them an opportunity to take things further. Consent is just as important in flirting as it is in sex, and you want to give your flirtee the same freedom to express or revoke consent that you’d give them if the two of you were bangin’. Much like the first-kiss technique advocated in the movie Hitch (“Go 90% of the way, then let her come to you“), this type of flirting clearly expresses your interest in the other person but leaves them room to decide how far they want to take things.

Examples:
“There are a lot of saucy things I want to say to you right now, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate…”
“If I have another drink, I’ll probably get reeeal flirty with you… Think I should?”
“Let me know if you’d ever want to go out on a date sometime; I’d love that!”
“I bet you’re an excellent kisser. Maybe I’ll find out someday; who knows?”
“I have to go [talk to another friend/do something else], but come find me later if you want to be shamelessly flirted with some more!”

Here’s what’s important to keep in mind with all of these suggestions: flirting is very dependent on context, environment, and preexisting rapport. A lot of these lines won’t work if you just bust ’em out unprompted. But if you already have a good connection with someone, they seem potentially into you, and you want to express your interest in them without overwhelming them, some good meta-communicative flirting can be just the ticket!

Extra resources for flirting keeners:
• Reid Mihalko and Cathy Vartuli on being a better flirt, how to flirt when you’re shy, “the innuendo game,” and building rapport.
• Reid Mihalko talking about flirting on a swingers’ podcast.
• The School of Life on why, when, and how to flirt.
• Bex on being a flirting fetishist.
• Social anthropologist and “flirtologist” Jean Smith on the science of flirting.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

On Being a Slut Without Being a Jerk

“Watch out for Scott*,” my new friend Amanda warned me. “He’s kind of a perv.”

I had slightly zoned out of our conversation, but at this, I snapped back to attention. “Wait, what? What do you mean?” Women warning other women about men usually know what they’re talking about, and have an excellent reason for doing so. Joining a new social group often involves revelations of this sort – finding out the behind-the-scenes secrets is a rite of passage in any new social endeavor. It would be an understatement to say I was interested.

She rolled her eyes and breathed a long sigh, trying to choose her words. “I dunno, he just tries to fuck every girl,” she explained. “We slept together when I first met him and then he got weird about it. Just be careful.”

What Amanda didn’t know was that I’d already fucked Scott. The night before, in fact. My heart skidded in my chest.

This warning tripped some old, old detritus in my psychology. See, when I was a teenager and only fucking women, I was terrified of men. They made me nervous whenever I encountered them in romantic or sexual situations, in person or on dating sites like OkCupid and thesexchatsite.com. I worried sex with them would be bad and I’d hate it, I worried I’d be awful at blowjobs and handjobs and they’d judge me, I worried penises would be scary and gross, and – most pervasively and chillingly of all – I worried men only cared about sex. If I gave my heart – and also my hetero virginity – to a man, I worried he wouldn’t give a shit and would peace out as soon as the deed was done, leaving me regretful and alone.

I see now that these fears were ridiculous, for a few reasons. First off, men’s emotional cavalierness is a gendered stereotype, and therefore isn’t universally true. Secondly, there are plenty of women who are emotionally irresponsible about sex in the same ways I feared men would be. But thirdly: what is so bad about wanting to have sex with people?

Throughout my teenage years, a hard knot formed in my stomach any time I considered that a man might only want to fuck me and not date me. It felt like a humiliating betrayal waiting to happen. I got a taste of that betrayal when my first boyfriend broke up with me after only a few weeks of dating and then fucked four girls at a party the following week, to the gossipy amusement of seemingly the entire student body. I felt cast aside in favor of girls who “put out” quicker than I did, and required less emotional investment before they’d spread their legs. My apprehension stopped OkCupid banter and in-person flirtations in their tracks, because any time I developed crush-y feelings for a man, I’d remind myself: He probably only wants sex. And that felt like a good enough reason to cut it off, rather than risk bad sex and an even worse rejection.

Indeed, I’ve endured many such rejections in the intervening years. The casual hookup who broadened my kink horizons and then disappeared from my life without warning. The long-time crush who fucked me all languid and giggly in his cozy bed, and then took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner a few weeks later to tell me he didn’t think we should date. The fuckbuddy who I spent over a year wishing would ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Of course, he never did, because that was never what he wanted – as he had been telling me all along.

These searing letdowns hurt much more than I could have predicted, but I learned key lessons from them about sex and love and the ways in which those things do and don’t intersect. I learned that sex can be good even if one or both parties have no interest in anything more. I learned that the euphoric highs and romantic cravings for “more” I experience after hookups are mostly illusory, and will pass. I learned that only wanting sex from someone doesn’t have to entail being a dick to them: you can be an emotionally responsible, conscientious slut, by checking in on your partners, making sure they’re okay, talking about any feelings that come up, and being straightforward about your intentions.

There were many times when those old, sexist, scary voices crept back into my head. He only wants you because you have wet holes he can fuck, I’d think, or, No one wants to date you because sex is all you’re good for. These are evil fictions murmured into the hearts of women to make us feel worthless and desperate. Patriarchy and capitalism are in partnership, colluding to destabilize women’s sense of agency and self-determination, so we’ll keep trying and trying to impress men in any way we can. We’re told that if we just work hard enough at being “cool” and “pretty” and “sexy” (but not too sexy!), we’ll be able to interest a man with qualities other than just our sexuality.

Here is the truth, though: some people are only interested in sex – whether that priority, for them, is temporary or lifelong. They may be shaken out of that pattern at some point when they meet someone whose brain and heart clicks with theirs in a beyond-just-sex way, but that type of connection is not something you can force with charm and willpower. It happens, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s not a reflection on you, or your desirability, or your value as a person.

I know this because, in my journeys as a sex-nerdy and usually-conscientious slut, I’ve encountered my greatest fear from the other side of the coin: I’ve occasionally been the person who only wanted sex. There have been friendly hookups and torrid one-night stands who made perfectly good company for a night, but who I would never, ever want to date. Our interests were incompatible, our senses of humor didn’t jive, we didn’t “click” – or maybe, at those particular times in my life, my priorities were just not romantic. And that’s okay.

I truly don’t think there is anything wrong with being the person who “just wants sex” – as long as you’re not an asshole about it. Pursuing someone with false compliments and thickly laid-on charm, just to get into their pants, is a gross behavior regardless of the genders involved. Pretending to want something you don’t, or lying to someone about your intentions, is emotional fraud and cannot be condoned.

It used to cause me a lot of pain that I couldn’t “read” when men were interested in just sex or something more. But now, years in, I know what to look for. Casual hookups and would-be fuckbuddies will often drop phrases like “hang out,” “low-key,” “just for fun,” as they ask me out for drinks at a dim bar, or even straight-up invite me to their apartment. Folks with more romantic intentions will typically pile on the compliments, pointing out my intelligence or humor instead of just my physical qualities, and will invite me on more date-like dates: dinner, comedy shows, fancy cocktails. They often don’t push for sex as quickly, and I can feel that difference of pace somewhere deep in my brain even if it’s not always consciously evident to me. My “gut feelings” about what men want from me are right more often than they’re wrong, these days.

I’ve also learned how to recognize in myself whether I want to date someone or just fuck them. My favorite litmus test at the moment is to ask myself: am I more interested in making this person laugh, or making them come? True, humor is vital to my attractions, including sexual ones, but this question is always at least a good starting point for me to decipher my feelings. Patriarchal scripts still make me feel like I “should” want to date someone I’ve banged, so sometimes I need to step back and ask myself whether that is actually what I want, or if it’s an illusion I cooked up to justify my own “bad,” “slutty” cravings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sex – wanting it, pursuing it, having it. There is nothing inherently wrong with no-strings-attached, unromantic sex. These things only become problematic when you go about them in a problematic way.

If you’re gonna be a slut, be a kind, conscientious, empathetic slut. Be upfront about what kind of slut you are, and what that means for your partners. Let them decide for themselves whether they want to enter your orbit.

You might still end up the butt of warnings like “Be careful of that guy; he only wants to fuck you” – but hopefully, if you’ve spelled out your particular brand of sluttiness clearly enough in advance, those warnings will simply be met with, “I know. And that’s fine.”

 

 

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

25 Things I Absolutely Must Do This Summer

It is, at long last, warming up here in Toronto. I have been Googling “When will it get warm?!” for months, so I’m thrilled, obviously.

While Canadian weather leaves a lot to be desired, it does make me especially grateful for new seasons when they appear. I am always making dreamy lists in my journal of the adventures I hope to go on when the weather changes. Here are 25 activities I endeavor to embark on in the coming months…

Drink a mint julep on a patio. Mint juleps are my summertime boozy go-to. They are so refreshing and decadent when it’s balmy outside. Last I checked, you could get a good julep at Clinton’s during the warm months. I also keep hearing good things about Bar Isabel, and I love the classic cocktails and cozy vibe at Northwood. Here’s to lots of cold drinks on sunny patios this season!

Read lots of books. Speaking of patios: there are few leisures more pleasurable to me than sitting on a café patio with a big iced coffee (or mango smoothie) and a fascinating book. I’ve got plenty of good ones to work through this season: Love, Sex, and AwakeningThe Remedy, and I Love Dick, to name just a few!

Make out on a sunny hillside. Look, no summer in Toronto is complete without kissing a cutie in Riverdale Park at sunset. It’s one of the prettiest views in the whole city, and being there with someone I adore always fills me with a sense of renewed hope and optimism. (The Chester Hill lookout, pictured, is also a great spot for makeouts if a picturesque view is your idea of romance.)

Swim naked. I spent several evenings this past winter making out naked with cuties in the heated pool at a sex club. Being naked underwater just feels primally right somehow, when you’re in the right environment and headspace for it. Hopefully I’ll be invited to some lascivious pool parties or beach days this summer. Or maybe I’ll just invite a handsome suitor into my bathtub with me. Whatever works.

Buy a great new lipstick. Summer is traditionally when I rock my brightest pinks and weirdest purples. Having a new lipstick to wear can give you a whole new lease on life. I love going shopping with fellow femmes, trying out a zillion shades on the back of my hand, and buying the one that makes me happiest.

Go dancing. You can really do this year-round but there is something particularly hedonistic about summertime dancey nights: you can wear a short dress or tiny shorts, adorn your face with a healthy sprinkling of glitter, and boogie til you break a sweat. Clinton’s has frequent themed dance nights, and there’s also the Queer Slowdance and so many other spots. I want the unmatched exhilaration of moving my body to beats well into the wee hours!

Get a tattoo. I’ve gotten new tattoos two summers in a row, and maybe I’ll continue that streak this year… I have some ideas percolating but I’m not totally sure yet. Hmm!

Host a party. My get-togethers are usually simple affairs involving pizza, cider, sex gossip, and maybe a few rounds of Use Your Words or “Which Would You Rather Bang?” But low-key though they might be, they’re still nourishing to my soul. Laughing with good friends on the reg is so important that you should pre-schedule it if that’s what it takes to make it happen.

Go on vacation. My main trip of the summer will be for Woodhull, but I’m going to try to get away at least one other time as well. Maybe I’ll go visit friends in Hamilton, Kingston, or Montreal. Maybe I’ll trek down to New York to see Bex. Wherever I end up going, I think it’s critical to escape one’s home for at least a few days in the summer, just to shake things up.

Stay up all night. This is a habit I picked up during high school, when my loosey-goosey summertime schedule enabled me to fuck up my sleep patterns all summer with no repercussions. Now that I’m an adult with responsibilities (not to mention an aging body), this is less possible – but it’s still doable if I time it right. Here’s to watching sunrises from rooftops with babes I adore, and fuelling my jangling brain with coffee that makes my teeth chatter when I smile.

Go on first dates. You can spark new romances any time of year, of course, but they feel particularly salacious and fresh when it’s warm out, I find. I plan to hop on Tinder, OkCupid, or SwingTowns and find some new cuties to romance. Even if none of your rendezvous lead to anything beyond one date, you can still make the most of those dates and have a fun time. Getting to know someone new is an exercise in empathy and communication skills, at the very least.

Celebrate Pride. There are certainly valid criticisms of Pride – its corporatization, its predominant focus on cis gay white men, its tumultuous relationship with police. I still love it, or at least the idea of it. It’s tradition. I love putting on a ridiculous outfit, slathering myself in sunscreen, and shimmying down the street with other rambunctious queers, shouting proud slogans and singing silly songs. I love taking up space as a queerdo and insisting on our importance in this world.

Get breakfast at a diner with someone cute. Grabbing an all-day breakfast after a night of bangin’ (or just platonic hangtimes) is one of my favorite simple joys. Eggs, toast, homefries, coffee, sausage, bacon, and good conversation. What’s not to love?! (My favorite spots for this are 7 West and the Detroit Eatery, but you knew that already.)

Go to an outdoor movie screening. Toronto always has plenty of these in the summer, at Yonge-Dundas Square and in Christie Pits Park and various other places. One of my fondest summer memories is laughing my ass off with a bunch of strangers at a public Anchorman screening years ago; I dressed up like it was the 1970s and we chorused our favorite lines at the screen. Communal movie-watching is so fun!

Try something new sexually. I first received oral sex one balmy July night in 2008, and I lost my PIV virginity on a sweaty evening in May of 2011, so I guess summers are entangled with sexual “firsts” in my mind. Maybe this’ll be the summer I finally get fisted, or go down on someone who has a vulva, or fuck on top of a grand piano, somehow…

Go on a long walk. I love exploring my city when it’s warm enough that I can do so without a coat. Podcasts or songs keep me company in my earbuds, and I go wherever my feet want to take me. Walks always calm my mind and sate my body – and I often have flashes of creative brilliance mid-walk that lead to fantastic blog posts, articles, or songs!

Visit a nude beach. I’ve never been to Toronto’s clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point Beach, and I can already hear my local friends groaning their dismay as I type that. Surely this is the summer when I finally make the trip! Being casually naked around other people is so good for your body image and self-acceptance.

Devour a TV show. In summers past, I’ve gorged on How I Met Your MotherThe OfficeThe L Word, and various others. It may sound trivial, but immersing myself in a fictional world always leaves me fulfilled and inspired. Each new lens through which you view your life gives you new tools and new ideas. I am always trying to broaden my horizons in any way I can, even if I do so by becoming temporarily obsessed with fictional romantic storylines!

Journal at sunrise. I don’t know why all my thoughts feel so much more poignant and important if I have them while the sun is coming up, but they do! I like sitting on a rooftop, café patio, or hillside as the day begins and meditating in my journal about whatever’s bothering me or whatever I’m grateful for. I always feel so cleansed and productive afterward.

Pose for gorgeous photos. Sometimes I think I hear the voice of Future Me whispering in my ear from decades ahead; she always tells me to appreciate what I have now. Part of that, I think, is appreciating what I look like now, because – shallow though this may sound – I’ll never look this young again! I’m lucky enough to have lots of photographer friends; maybe they’d like to indulge me in snapping some sunny glamor shots sometime this summer.

Go out for ice cream. This doesn’t have to be a date, but gosh, it’s cute when it is. You get to debate the best ice cream flavors and make fun of your date’s questionable tastes. You get to giggle at them when they get melted ice cream all over their lips, and then maybe kiss it off ’em. You get to banter wittily, or sit in comfortable silence, while crunching your cones. Like many food-related dates, it’s more about the ritualistic glee of it than the food itself – although, let’s be real, Baskin-Robbins’ peanut butter chocolate ice cream is a damn fine treat.

Wear high heels. I normally hate doing this, but hey, summer is the time for it. Even if I just end up gallivanting to the corner store or local café in my Sofft T-straps or Zara wedges, wearing heels in summer still feels crucial somehow.

Seek out new music. Spotify’s various music-discovery tools make this super easy, so I have no excuse! I love having specific soundtracks for particular times in my life, both because new music makes life feel more exciting and because it can act as a sensory time capsule when I listen to it again months or years later.

Get together with old friends. I have several pals who go to school in other cities but come back into town each summer, and I love catching up with them when I can. We go see improv shows or outdoor theatre productions, get dinner or drinks, and reminisce about old times. It always feels so necessary and uplifting!

Experiment with different identities. Summer is always the time when I try new perfumes or clothing silhouettes, push the limits of my personality, and consider launching bold new projects. The more relaxed climate lends itself better to identity shifts, somehow. I’m looking forward to seeing who I become this year.

What do you hope to do this summer, my loves?

 

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

How to Deal With Pre-Date Nervousness

Oh, I can just picture it now. It’s almost every first date I’ve ever been on. My anxiety swells. My heart pounds. I obsess about my outfit, hair, and makeup – like I’m trying to dress as a “cool girl” for Halloween. I debate whether to text my date upon leaving the house; maybe a “See you soon!” text isn’t chill enough, but maybe radio silence is too cold. So many choices!

As I walk up to the bar, my mind races. What if we start talking and he mentions that he thinks feminism is a waste of time? What if he only wants to “find some easy pussy” or “grab local slags here” and doesn’t actually find me interesting at all? What if – horror of horrors – he thinks Adam Sandler is funny?!

The thing is, while my anxiety disorder runs me through the wringer before every date, it doesn’t have to. The dates themselves are never as bad as I worry they will be – and this whole nervous rigamarole could be avoided, or at least mitigated, if I had a great pre-date ritual solidly in place. Here are 10 of my best tips for shaking your jitters before you walk out the door to meet a new potential beau!

Have some go-to date outfits on hand. This just makes everything so much easier. Prepare a “uniform” of sorts (or a few different ones) that you can grab in a hurry when getting ready for a date, so you won’t have to waste precious mental energy on outfit composition. Oh, the geeky sartorial bliss of it!

This ensemble should have a silhouette that flatters your shape and makes you feel babely as hell, and maybe one or two “conversation pieces” – unusual garments or accessories that a date is sure to ask about. (“Oh, this old thing? I bought this from a loud, flirty man on a beach in Gozo just before we leapt into the Mediterranean sea…!”)

If you want to get extra nerdy about it, you can have different date uniforms for different types of dates. For example, I’ll often wear a low-cut dress and a cardigan if I’m going on a fancy dinner date, or a tank top tucked into a skirt if we’re just ducking into a dive bar. If you show up at your date feeling hot and neither overdressed nor underdressed, you’ll have won half the battle already!

Listen to great music. So basic, yet so effective. I have a Spotify playlist of all my favorite pump-up tunes – mostly a lot of up-tempo pop and hiphop – and it helps ease me into a foxy, energetic brainspace. I love to shimmy into my panties and stockings to a sexy Drake jam, bop around doing my eyeshadow while One Direction croon at me, and fluff up my hair while Frank Sinatra sings compliments in my ear. Ah, what a dream.

Prep your bod. Whatever body-prep makes you feel attractive, desirable, and ready for sex (if that’s a potential item on your to-do list for the evening), do that. For me, this would involve showering, shaving, and moisturizing. When I’m all clean, smooth, and soft, I feel practically unconquerable.

Breathe. “Fear is just excitement without the breath,” according to psychotherapist Fritz Perls. I don’t know how much of this is hippie-dippie psychosomatic silliness versus an actual effective treatment (and, let’s be real, sometimes they are one and the same), but I find breathing deeply helps circulate my anxious energy all around my body and thereby diffuse it. Shallow, fast breaths are a classic sign of anxiety; you can trick yourself into calming down by elongating and deepening your breath. Oxygenate your body and brain!

Load up on conversation-starters. My conversational skills drastically improved when I went to journalism school, and I’m convinced it was partly because I had to read the news so often at that time, so I had plenty to talk about! Still to this day, before a date, I’ll take a look at trending stories before heading out the door (if I haven’t already encountered them that day on Twitter or in podcasts I listen to), so that if my date’s discussion skills leave something to be desired, I can pull out a fascinating new topic at a moment’s notice.

You can also glance at their online-dating profile again (if that’s where you met them) and mentally note a few points to ask them about. (“I see you went to school for English lit; how does that help you in your current job?” “You said you like The Office, but what did you think of the finale?” “Is that dog in your profile picture yours?!”)

Tell a friend what you’re up to. Before leaving on a date, I like to text the following info to a friend: my suitor’s full name (if I know it), phone number, any other relevant info I know about them (what they do, where they live, and so on), where and when I am meeting them, and what time I anticipate I’ll be home. I’ve been lucky enough that a date has never made me feel unsafe, but it certainly helps my anxiety if I know I have safety measures in place. And if the date’s not dangerous but just boring or awful, you can have your friend call you and fake an emergency you need to go attend to immediately.

Channelling my inner pinup girl.

Choose an alter-ego. This is not to say you should be inauthentic on your date, of course – but pretending you’re someone else can help you play up the best parts of your personality while banishing the parts that hold you back.

Sometimes I like to pretend I’m Amanda Palmer, Zooey Deschanel, or Rosa Diaz. How would they get ready for a date? How would they walk into a room? How would they greet a person they found attractive? Usually I hold my “character” in mind for the first little while, just until I get settled, and then I cast ’em off and let the real me shine through, unencumbered by anxiety.

Remind yourself what a catch you are. Glance at your most smokin’ selfies. Look through compliments people have given you in the past (I keep a file of mine!). Think about the best dates/makeouts/sex you’ve had, and remember that you are, at least partially, what made those experiences so fantastic!

This kind of mental reflection – whether you do it in a journal, out loud to a friend, or just in your head – can also help you get some perspective. This probably isn’t the last or most important date you’ll ever go on. If it doesn’t go well, it isn’t the end of the world. There are so many more people out there, and so many more experiences you’re gonna have. Go into every date with the attitude that it’ll be a fun adventure, and anything else that comes of it will just be a bonus.

Admit to your nervousness! This can be super charming and disarming in some contexts. If you and your date exchange some texts before meeting up, maybe tell them you’re a bit nervous because you find them so cute. Or, after you’ve showed up and talked for a few minutes, you could mention, “I get so nervous about first dates!” Good people will often try to reassure you when you make admissions like this – and at the very least, you’ve just backhandedly confessed that you find them attractive. Everyone wants to feel attractive. See – nervousness can be a plus!

What are your favorite tricks for mitigating pre-date jitters?

 

This post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

My Perfect First Date

Dates never quite go the way you expect them to. There is always a discord between the date you pictured before it began – whether glittering and gold or precarious and scary – and the date that actually unfolds. You can plan and play out every plausible permutation in your head and your date can still throw you a wildcard. That’s part of what makes it fun.

That being said… I still sometimes fantasize about very specific dates. I know that they’ll never happen in real life, because if they did, they’d be as boring and predictable as a rendezvous with a sex robot you programmed yourself. But they’re still fun to think about.

Whether your meet-cute happens through Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, mutual friends, a party, a chance encounter on the street, or you just click here for sex tonight, I hope one day you get to have your ideal first date. Here’s mine…


I spend a couple hours slooowly getting femme’d up at home: prancing around my bedroom, trying on outfits, blasting upbeat tunes, texting friends selfies for their approval. The outfit I ultimately settle on is a colorful fit-and-flare dress, thigh-high socks, a leather jacket, and leather boots. I smoke a little weed to help me relax. (It’s a family tradition.)

On my way out the door, I check my lipstick in the mirror and impulsively send a selfie to the suitor I’m about to go see: “I’ll be the chick who looks like this. See ya soon!” He replies with a thumbs-up emoji followed by a heart-eyes emoji.

I get on the subway toward Ossington station, heart thudding but not as hard as it would be if I’d skipped the weed. My best friend floods my phone with encouraging messages. I listen to a funny podcast and mess around in my Scrabble app; this always calms me down.

Once at Ossington, I skip down the street to the Bad Dog Theatre, where we’ve agreed to meet. I trot up the stairs, nervous but ultimately excited. Our Tinder banter earlier was good – a rarity in the sea of bro-y dullards that is the online-dating scene – and I’m confident his charm will translate to the offline world as well. I’ve developed a pretty good sense for that, I think.

I spot him in a booth, beer in hand. He flashes me a broad, goofy grin and a wave of acknowledgment. I slide in across from him and our conversation sparks to life immediately; he’s witty, quick, and rambunctious. They say a woman decides within 30 seconds of meeting a man whether she’s going to sleep with him or not, and right now I’m feeling a magical, hard “yes.”

I get a pilsner of my own and we keep talking. He’s interested in my work, my life story, and I in his, so we talk about my writing and music and sex ed, and his various impressive creative vocations. The pre-show minutes zoom by, amid animated stories and bad puns and silly voices. (Gosh, he’s really very funny, isn’t he.) The theatre usher du jour announces that the house is open, so we shuffle in with the rest of the crowd. He wants to sit front-row centre, and so do I, and we commiserate about how other people always think it’s weird when you want to sit that close.

The show is hilarious as per usual, but more than that, I notice my date’s laugh. He has a big, generous laugh that makes every joke seem funnier, every improvised choice seem deliberate and brilliant. We keep catching each other’s eye in our periphery, sharing in mutual delight over the discovery that we both laugh like loons. One of the comedians calls us out for sounding like goofs and we just laugh harder.

After the show, Mr. Cutieface sticks around for a minute to congratulate the performers on a great set and say hi to the ones he knows (because, of course, he’s friends with half the cast). Then he asks me – a courageous veneer draped over some hidden nerves I almost don’t notice – if I’d like to stick around, have another drink, and keep talking. “I would love that,” I say, and his ensuing smile is all fireworks and disco balls. Blam, pow, zing.

He tries to buy my next beer but I don’t let him. We settle back into our booth and get into a heated discussion – not so much a debate – about inclusive comedy, consent in improv, and the importance of “punching up.” Every once in a while, when I make a particularly salient point, he goes quiet and wide-eyed for a moment and says, “Kate, you don’t even know how right you are,” or, “Kate, you genius, you should teach classes on this stuff.” I know he’s being hyperbolic but his unabashed flattery still melts me a little. And each time he says my name, my proverbial ears perk up and I feel entirely focused on, like everyone else in the bar is just a hologram but he and I are absolutely real.

When it gets late and the crowd is starting to thin out, he asks me, “What do you wanna do now?” and I’m just tipsy and comfortable enough to fire back, “I kinda wanna go somewhere and make out with you.” He doesn’t miss a beat, all wiggly eyebrows and roguish smiles. “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s go do that,” he says, and reaches for my hand.

As we’re throwing on our jackets and scampering down the stairs, he asks if I’m more in the mood for park makeouts or alleyway makeouts. I half-joke, “Which one’s closer?” and he gives me a sidelong mischievous glance, takes my hand again, and leads me into an alley.

Moments later, I’m up against a wall and his face is heart-haltingly close to mine, but I’m a chronic punster and can’t resist the opportunity. “Making out with you would really be… up my alley,” I squeak between giggles at my own bad joke, and he rolls his smiling eyes and presses his mouth against mine.

We kiss for long minutes, slow and exploratory, like we’ve got nowhere else to be but here. He hints at an inner domliness in the way he keeps me pinned to the brick wall with his arms, his thighs, his mouth – but whenever he kicks up his fervor, he always backs off for a moment to ask me, “Is this okay?” or “Do you like that?” I always breathlessly reply in the affirmative.

Drunk people keep walking by the alley and half-spotting us in the dark, and every time it happens, we giggle – not embarrassed, just amused. Eventually he stops kissing me and says, soft and low, “Okay, Miss Sloan. I think we should call it a night pretty soon.” He’s pinging my kinks and doesn’t even know it yet. Or maybe he does.

I could invite him over to continue the evening. I could inquire about going back to his place. I could offer him a blowjob in this alley. But I don’t – not because of stigma about sex on the first date, but because I like him so much, I want to savor things as they come. (Pun only partly intended.) And I can feel how much he likes me radiating off his skin, so I know this isn’t the last night we’ll share, not by a long shot.

“Would it be weird if I texted you right away?” he asks as we walk to the subway station together. “That’s probably not very ‘chill,’ right?”

“Ehh, fuck ‘chill,'” I reply, and link my arm with his like we’re a lady and a gentleman in an old-fashioned movie.

“Okay, good, ’cause I like you a lot and will definitely want to text you right away.”

Sure enough, I get a text from him that night, after we’ve said our goodbyes and parted ways at the subway and I’ve started my walk home from the station. “Did anyone ever tell you you’re a fantastic kisser? Holy cannoli!!” the text says. Its brazen enthusiasm makes me giggle so loud and so suddenly that an old lady across the street gives me a stern look.

I go home and collapse into bed, visions of alleyways and loud laughs dancing in my head.

 

This post was sponsored by LocalBangs.com, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!