NAS: Dating and Social Media

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Linking up with Jen and Morgan!

Our lives tend to revolve around social media and knowing what’s happening in everyone’s lives. How has this affected your life? In your experience, has social media made dating easier? Harder? (Ex: not judging something you see about the guy you’re dating on Twitter/FB)

Fun, probably helpful hypothesis to start us off:

A greater percentage of the guys in the dating pool for young, single Catholic and Christian women have minimal, if any, social media presence/activity than the percentage of young, dateable men at large do. And this will make dating and living out an intentional relationship easier. In the admittedly small sample size of my dating past, I have mainly encountered:

–         “I don’t have Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter or whatever).”

–         “I hardly use FB, Twitter, Instagram or whatever.”

–         “Whether we are FB friends or not is a good indicator of where you stand.”

First, let me unpack that last statement. It is only from hindsight that I can tell you that if a guy you are dating (but not “official”) is on Facebook and does not request you or does not provide a climate in which you feel it okay to request him, then he is very likely not that serious about you. I was with a guy for three months who was on it, used it occasionally, but he never requested me, and I stupidly thought “Oh, we’re above that. We don’t need it.” Actually, it turns out, I did need it. A “need” not because I wanted to show everyone on my feed that I was finally in a relationship, but a need because if you are in relationship with someone, serious about discerning with them, and proud to be with them and unashamed about what they might see on your profile, then a declaration (after friendship) of “in a relationship” is a strong signal of one’s intentions and commitment to the other. In Ex’s breakup speech to me, he even cited that the fact we were not even friends should have been a sign all was not that great between us.

When guys hardly use social media, ignorance really is bliss. You have no idea if Mr. Last Saturday’s and Next Sunday’s Date is out, possibly with someone else. You won’t feel uncomfortable if your boyfriend says something really stupid or hotheaded that you’ll then have to explain to your family and friends. The guy who hardly uses social media typically likes to live life and be present. He also has strength and perspective so as to be above minute social drama. In not caring about trivial things, his heart can care about the more important things—hopefully you! (Note: if his lack of activity worries you, don’t consent to such fears. Simply talk to him and pray for trust.)

And the guy who never uses social media…well, while you don’t get the modern age’s version of love letters with a special Tweet or Vine from afar (if long distance), you do get a guy who might have a lot going on (hobbies and solid friendships are good and healthy). Or you might have a guy who sends actual, honest to goodness love letters, makes quality phone calls, and maybe even Skype chats. I’d only be wary if he isn’t online because has no connections outside of you (because social media can be a good way to keep in touch with others); tries to control your (appropriate) online behavior because he isn’t on it to monitor it; or doesn’t want to be held accountable because he knows he’d only use it for ill.

In other respects, dating in our online world can be hard, especially when you are privy to the profiles and presence of guy friends and “friends” (like, the regular Joe you talk to at Bible study or some such). You’re not dating him, but you might want to. You did go on dates, and while you can see you make better friends than discerning marriage partners, it still stings. This happened to me a few years ago. I was trying to get over a guy, saw on FB he was “out, out, out” and I wondered aloud “with who, who, who,” and then saw that same night a post on the wall of some new girl in our Bible Study about how she’d met someone, and I jumped to the conclusion the guy was out with her because previously he’d given her a ride to and discussed mutual love of a certain holiday and certain theme park. My progress in transitioning from date to authentic friend was set back because it was all TMI.

The moral of that story is not how it ended—he entered religious discernment for a while, left after temporary vows and gets married next month! (with God’s grace we are friends, but in a different way). And the woman met someone a couple years ago, got married, and is expecting a daughter in time for their first anniversary! No, the moral is that if I don’t practice emotional chastity and restraint with social media consumption, I can fall into negative thought patterns that seek to destroy, not build up, the relationships God wants me to have.

Now what about the guys who do post often? Well, I know a couple, and they fall into one of three categories: “here’s something funny, something religious, or something funny and religious;” “see how much I love my girlfriend;” and very rarely in my Catholic community, “I’m saying something stupid, hotheaded, or scandalous.” It’s very simple: don’t date the last guys and don’t look at their stuff. As cute or funny as they may be, if you don’t like how they are online now, it will only be a source of tension in a relationship with them. For the other types of posters, use this topic as a springboard for communication. Marriage, I hear, is essentially constant communication about everything. So get some practice now: how much usage is okay, what is okay to post, can I get veto power over certain posts, are either of us hiding things, are either of us sharing to much, are any of our actions making the other uncomfortable?

Social media doesn’t have to make dating harder. In fact, it can make it easier—there have been marriages made between forum posters, blog commenters, and I think even Instagram. But emotional chastity and emotional virtue (check out Sarah Swafford!) are the key to keeping social media and a dating life in check.

NAS: Making Friends

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We LOVE the NAS community, but creating a real-life community is essential to our lives! What have been your struggles in making friends as a young adult? Do you have any advice for those struggling to build community post-college?

Link-up is at Jen‘s. And say Hi to Morgan!

“Make new friends,

but keep the old.

One is silver

and the other’s gold.

A circle’s round:

it has no end.

That’s how long I want to be

your friend”

I believe friends are the first loves you choose. Unlike affectionate love forged by bonds of the family or romantic love aroused by hormones and emotions, friend love is an act of the will (charity/self-sacrifice is the other, if going by C.S. Lewis’s definition of the four kinds). As we get older, the social structures that helped us choose start falling away—no more school, maybe a lackluster or older parish community, no longer living with roommates— so both maintaining the friendships of yesterday and making new friends really becomes a willful action.

As women, we are also built to seek and succeed at emotional and relational bonds with each other, which is why if we’re out of school, but not married and possibly with children, it can be a real challenge (hopefully a joyous one) to feel we’re “not alone” because we are solid in friendship with others.

It’s been five years since I’ve graduated from grad school, and I’ve found three areas of advice for those about to leave a defined community of friendships for the larger community of the real world, where it can be hard to forge new bonds and keep the old ones strong. Of course, I’m no expert, and I don’t always practice what I preach, but in the past, the following advice is what I’d give to my past self if I had the chance:

Making New Friends

  • For faith-following friends, seek out parishes with young adult groups or local universities’ grad student/young professional groups for those of your creed.
  • Volunteer. Some organizations may let you do a la carte projects, which means you’ll start to meet new people ach time. Or signing up for a regular commitment means you can get to know your co-volunteers in depth.
  • Join a MeetUp group based on favorite hobbies, and if interested in foreign languages, find a conversation partner.
  • Join a group to hone your skills or take a class to learn a new one. As a writer, I’ve made friends of various stripes through our monthly meetings.
  • Interact online: obviously, physical presence is awesome (hello, Eucharist).But that seems harder these days, especially if school, work, or other obligations have you isolated from your “people.” Even though emails, social media, and maybe even Skype visits are not as high quality as in-person get-togethers could be, you can foster real relationships with the people you met online, like posting on forums. What’s really great is if you take that act of the will and plan to meet in person at least once a year (why, like the NAS weekend in July! So bummed to miss out on that).
  • If a possible new acquaintance is male, really, really discern making a deliberate decision to befriend a new guy in your life. Yes, some beautiful and holy marriages arise from “We were friends first,” BUT if you know you could never marry the guy, strongly consider how you will interact with him. If he wants to befriend you, be clear about his intentions. My singular knowledge of some types of men tells me if guys want to date you, they won’t befriend you; they’ll simply ask you out. If they want to befriend you as a possible opening to a potential relationship down the road, have some kind of emotional timeframe, and know if you’ll be okay that you’ll never end up together, or that he’ll be okay if you find you aren’t that into him, or one day he reduces the friendship because he’s chosen a different girlfriend.
  • Be open—while it’s great when your friends are in the same state/vocational discernment as you, it’s also pretty enriching to develop relationships with people of different ages, different experiences, and different perspectives (NB: of course, don’t pursue friendships that are not good for your soul).

Changing Friendships

  • Prepare your heart for when a friend’s state of life/vocational discernment path becomes different from yours.
  • Do try to mutually plan a way to stay connected when exterior factors like a husband, a novitiate, a baby, a move, etc. will necessarily (but not negatively) separate you from old friends or new acquaintances. I really regret not keeping up with a letter-writing friendship with a lovely woman I’d known a couple months before she entered the Nashville Dominicans.
  • Pray for a spirit of acceptance when changes mean you must shift how you relate: maybe you’re sporadic about social media updates, but your newly faraway friend hates the phone. Love is sacrifice, and if you are important to each other, you will naturally make them.
  • Understand friendships with guys will definitely change: either one of you may get into a new relationship or develop unrequited feelings or have different relational needs (he doesn’t want to hear about how your biological clock just got turned on or you’re sick of hearing about his conquests, ie). While yes, you can still be friends, how you are friends is very different from how you are friends with your gal pals.
  • Be aware that even in their twenties, friends can change their philosophies or behaviors (or they don’t change from their old ways and you have) and you may not have the same things in common anymore—is Jane partying just as hard as college days while now you’d like to be home by 11? Or has your spiritual sister from high school suddenly reneged on Church teaching while now you’ve upped your religious Facebook posts from every now and then to daily? Discern your limits and assess the quality of the bond. C.S. Lewis also writes that friend love is when two people stand side by side and see the same world together. Ask yourself how you feel if now your old friends don’t see the same world—what else can hold you together?

Seasons Passing

  • Know that sometimes friends are in your life for only a season. Know that it’s okay if for appropriate reasons they’re not around for the next. Friendships are not marriages. While it is very sad when friendships end, you are not bound to do whatever it takes to stay friends or to hang around if it is too hard and the relationship becomes a detriment to your emotional and/or spiritual life.
  • But if you find that too many friendships seem to come and go, perhaps do an Examen to see if you’re really giving what you’re capable of in the relationship and in what ways you might improve.
  • Your season may end and change into a new one. Suddenly your core group may become all married women when you marry; and when you’re a mom, the most women you talk to regularly are moms. This article the Orthogals posted todescribes in a great way how friendships shift from a married woman’s perspective. Witnessing the changes in my sister’s friendships over the years as she went from single to married to mom of 3, I’ve gathered I should have an inner understanding of not just how others may change, but how I should expect that I will, too.

Like the song above, friends old and new are precious, and the idealistic hope is that soul-satisfying relationships will last a lifetime. But the last bit of advice I have for making new friends is this: pursue friendship with the Trinity. God is our friend; Jesus is our friend; the Holy Spirit is our friend. if we don’t treat Him as our friend now, but relate to him in some other way, try seeing Him in this new light.

NAS: If I Discerned the Religious Life…

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Linking up with Jen and Morgan!

Let’s all take a step back and pretend that God IS in fact calling us to the religious life.  While most of us feel called to marriage, it is important to see the beauty in all vocations! If/when you were discerning religious life, which communities interest(ed) you? What do you see as the positives of that vocation?

 

 

“Britt?
(Knocking: Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock)
Do you wanna be a religious sister?
Come on let’s go and pray.
I never hear you anymore
Come out the door
It’s like you’ve gone away—
We used to be best buddies
And now we’re not
I wish you would tell me why!—
Do you wanna be a religious sister?
It doesn’t have to be a religious sister.

 

Go away, Holy Spirit.
Okay, bye…
(Knocking)
Do you wanna be a religious sister?
Or consecrate yourself to give your all
I think a vocation is overdue
I’ve started talking to
the saints about their call—
(Hang in there, Joan!)
It gets a little lonely
All these empty rooms
Just watching the hours tick by-
(Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)
(Knocking)
Britt?
Please, I know you’re in there,
Jesus is asking where you’ve been
I say “have courage”, and I know you’re trying to
I’m right out here for you, just let me in
We only have each other
It’s just you and me
What are we gonna do?
Do you wanna be a religious sister?”
– Lyrics adapted from Frozen’s “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”

My discernment of the religious life lasted about as long as this song on two separate occasions, and was just about as casual. Once, in prayer, after meeting with the Daughters of St. Paul at an exhibit and failed interview to work for them, and then a couple years later when mentioning the momentary ping of “Hmm, should I do this?” to my temporary spiritual director. He rather quickly sussed out “No, not a true calling.” I think that’s because he could tell, what I now definitely can tell, my attraction was to the work they did, not to be consecrated to Christ as a mystical spouse who happens to do a particular work.

If I were not with Mr. Sweet and were not so convicted of marriage as my likely vocation, I would hope that what would be attractive about consecrated life is that very giving up of one’s “life” (career and possibly closeness with family and friendships if seriously cloistered) to be in active relationship with Jesus. And then the way in which I serve Him, my husband, would be secondary: contemplative prayer in a cloistered community, public apostolate in an open community, or a kind of hybrid (I think those exist—out in the world sometimes, but also with limits on relationships outside the community and focused on prayer/interior work).

There’s also another way to be a religious, but not professed to a community: to be a consecrated virgin. Much rarer a calling, consecrated virgins, to my understanding, profess vows to their bishop, have Jesus in Exposition in their homes, but have “normal” jobs in addition to service to their community. Kathy Reda in Boston, is a nurse.

Over the years and with some pondering, practical interactions with one community (a public apostolate) in particular, I believe I’d actually be more attracted to consecrated virginity than the other forms. While there are many beautiful aspects to living in a community, living as a hermit, being out in the world, or being in prayer but always exclusively devoted to God and His Church, there are also some aspects about each of those ways of life that for particular people, including myself, that partaking in them is not actually their path to holiness.

And that is what is positive in any vocation: God calls you to the path of holiness and expression of His love in the world that is right for you. God knows how you love Him and what would help or hinder your growth in that love. I believe that if you love Him enough but find some aspect of the call challenging or scary, if it’s truly where He wants you to be, He will give you the grace to know you can do it anyway. And what’s more, you will be confident that you’ve received this grace or not.

What is beautiful about the professed or consecrated life is that you are in a spousal relationship with the Trinity. to those who find it hard to understand, life as s sister or otherwise consecrated might seem rather one-sided—the woman is giving her all and not receiving anything in return, when in marriage, both spouses are giving and receiving love. But actually, I’ve heard that the brides of Christ do receive that self-donative love from God—they are brimming full of it. How gorgeous a sight—an imaging of God’s love from someone who received it directly.

The site Vocation Network has a really helpful series of articles—even quizzes on if you can hack the celibate life and what spirituality you are to narrow down a community. There are a great number of different communities to explore and research. God’s knocking. What do you say?

NAS: Favorite Saints for Singleness, Chastity, Marriage, Etc.

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Don’t forget to link-up with Jen and visit Morgan!

Saint Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla: Married Love

As you could probably tell from my post two Tuesdays ago, I LOVE the love letters between this couple. Having had the privilege of reading an advance copy of The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Saint Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla (Pauline Books and Media, Summer 2014), I got an intimate look into the engaged and married lives of these two modern holy people. What I love most about Saint Gianna is the totality of her life, not the act she is most known for (not ending her risky pregnancy). As one of the other ladies pointed out, she was a rocking single lady we can relate to today: educated, driven, but delightful with a servant’s heart, given her ministry work. Then throughout her engagement and marriage to Pietro, she lived out the virtues we all seek for our own relationships: piety, humility, beauty, and love. What’s more, she and Pietro give witness to how working married parents can hold on to joy and faith even amid the ordinary struggles of modern life. Pietro’s cause for beatification is being put forth, now, too.

Pope Saint John Paul II: Chaste Love

Say what you will about the process to canonize the dearly beloved Papa, but I frankly LOVE that he is among the cloud of witnesses up in Heaven. It may not be entirely theologically accurate, but my belief is that how his writings on the theology of the body and the philosophical underpinnings of chastity in Love and Responsibility inspired a generation love more authentically and bear their own fruit with expanded understandings of the human person is a miracle in and of itself. When thinking about the single life and living out the call to chastity and understanding God through my own physical creation of body+spirit, I look to him and his incredible grace-filled mind. There are any number of saints we ladies can call upon for intercession with regard to the single life, relationships, marriage, and virtues like chastity.

There are also some not-canonized but beatified/venerable people too:

Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin: Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Martins have a unique love story with an incredibly holy ending: all of their children went on to enter the religious life.

Venerable Fulton Sheen: Go look up his essay Love Dreams. Oh man do I love that piece. And while I haven’t read his book Three to Get Married, it’s a perennial recommendation for any couple discerning marriage.

NAS: Marriage

Happy Easter!

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Linking with Morgan and Jen!

Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage…but what is it exactly that you’re attracted to? What have you seen in others’ marriages that you’ve learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)

In previous posts, I’ve touched upon why I feel called to marriage: It’s the answer to the discernment question, “Where does God live for me?” And yesterday, I wrote about a couple songs that I think capture the essence of what marriage is. Also, the theology of marriage makes the sacrament an incredibly appealing vocation. I can think of nothing more awesome or wondrous than two people whose union gives witness to the love of God. It is a way of modeling heaven on earth. It is a sacrament—a sign of God’s grace. It is not the completion of self, but the gift of a whole self given and received. Just think: a way to know God and purify your soul is in loving another person—and not just the “hard” loving of self-sacrifice, but the romance of eros, the camaraderie of friendship, and the affection after years together.

What I have witnessed in strong marriages also draws me to desiring this sacrament. There’s an incredible book coming out later this year called The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla. For the first time in the U.S., both Saint Gianna and her husband’s correspondence will be printed together. The letters are rich with the joys of marriage and the kind of love I hope my husband and I to have for one another:

“It’s true that love is the most beautiful sentiment that God has given to us.”[3]

“Thank you for giving me Gianna as the sweet companion of my life.”

“You are the valiant woman I begged heaven for, and whom our heavenly Mother has

given me…I entrust my whole heart to you forever, and I will receive everything good”

“Gianna, I want to be the husband you always dreamed of in your most beautiful dreams,

the one you desired in your most joyous and holy dreams, a husband worthy of your
virtues, your goodness and your great love””

I also love witnessing marriages that live out that little ditty you sometimes here in church or about families: that the spouses “laugh, cry, play, and pray together.” When I see or hear of spouses who take up their own crosses or more especially the crosses of  their spouses with strength and grace, I get hopeful that one day God has this kind of love in mind for me. Or when spouses face challenges with each other and find their way back again, it encourages me to believe love really can last a lifetime.

As for what I think I’d do differently, it’s hard to say. I don’t want to get into the details of the challenges I’ve witnessed, nor do I think I’m in a position to be certain that my different way would actually be the right way. Because I think that a marriage’s successes and joys or challenges and frustrations is partially determined way back when you decide whom and why you’re marrying, I’ll say what I’ll do right right now. What’ I’m doing differently from Past Dating Me is preparing myself to be the kind of spouse who can love well, as well as using the time while dating to see if my man is the kind of spouse who will love well.

But I can tell you for sure one thing I’d do differently as a married woman is never, ever let the first words out of my mouth to an aspiring singleton be “Marriage is hard work.” Rather, I hope I can say the following knowing it is the truth I’ve lived: “Marriage is incredibly joyous—both the very human ways we think of it: romance, fun times, happiness, sex, maybe children, peace—but also the spiritual joys: choosing to sacrifice and being okay with it, purifying your soul, and growing closer to God. Sometimes doing those things won’t feel good—that’s the hard work people tell you about. But the fruits are worth the labor.”

NAS: Selfish Singles

First, if I may ask, could you all please consider taking a moment of silence and prayer at 2:49 pm EST or any time today? It’s the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Thank you.

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Don’t forget to link up with Morgan and Jen!

Selfish Singles

How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it’s easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend’s kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with “sharing” you time with others?

Hmm…to be honest, my first reaction when reading this prompt was to get a little defensive: “I’m not selfish! I thought common conception of the single life was how wonderful it was to be free to serve and less time to ourselves…how can we be called selfish?!?” But I thought about it some more and used it as a chance for a little Examen. How do I use my time? Did I refuse help to someone who asked? Did I help but inwardly grumble? Is the Lord calling me to take on more and I am ignoring him?

I think we can all agree that every person, regardless of state of life, should have at least some time to themselves to sleep, eat, be with their families, or even recharge without having to constantly justify how much is appropriate to their individual needs. And we can all agree that everyone “works” or serves. But the time we’re blogging about today is not any of the above; and the attitude is not of needed self-care but of false desire or possession. Whenever I realize I am too possessive with my time, I try to remember the real meaning of certain words:

Selfish: thinking only of the self: my wants, my desires, I, I, I; and has nothing to do with actual needs.

We should not be selfish. If asked to do something for another, we should evaluate the character of what we were going to do (actual need vs. a want): “You know, I suppose I could take the New Year’s Eve shift, because my plans were to dance and drink at a big party, and Carol’s are to fly out to visit her invalid aunt.”

Love: choosing to sacrifice something you want for the true good of another

We are called to love, and love looks like saying to the harried mom: “Yes, I’ll help stack the chairs after praise and worship,” instead of being home in time for Doctor Who.

Charity: generosity of self; giving of self in thoughts, words, actions

We should think, speak, and act generously. If the first reaction to a roommate’s offer to edit her paper is “But I’m in the zone writing/reading/blogging,” then that’s not really charitable. If the response out loud is “Sure, I’d love to,” and then actually do it, then we are exercising charity.

JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself.

We have access to true joy, but it’s not found in nights in, getting caught up in projects at the expense of people, or indulging in solitary activities. Even if we are helpful when asked, sometimes we can reject God’s offer of joy by coming up with excuses for why we don’t take something on—like a volunteering commitment or regular date with our favorite kids—even though we totally could. Joy is found in serving the Lord, serving our families, friends, and church, and serving our souls.

Evaluating our responses and reasons for why we do or don’t give of ourselves now while we’re single is actually great practice for marriage and parenthood when our gift of self is to our husbands and children. Thanks for the examination of conscience, topic suggester! 🙂

NAS: Dos and Don’ts of First Dates

Hello again! Apologies for the lack of blogging. I draft these on work breaks and lately just haven’t been able to post them. Plus last week I kinda sorta maybe didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t progressing very much with my healthy, wealthy, and wise goals. But I soldier on!

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This week’s NAS topic: First Dates!

What are those things that we should be doing, and the things that we shouldn’t be doing? They can be from the physical parts (clothes to wear, places to go, things to say) or emotional parts (talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc). We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

First and foremost, DO be sure that this is a date—not a “come to this party where I might mack on another girl later;” not a “I’m going to the mall for a present for my mom, want to tag along?”; not a “I got a spare ticket to the game, and my buddies will be all around us”; but an honest to goodness date—he is taking you out to get to know you better.

Do wear a flattering outfit appropriate for the occasion and what you are comfortable in—but punched up one notch above your everyday clothes, either with accessories, shoes, or something. Spring is coming for the northern gals, and you will be a wonder and delight in a skirt or casual dress next to those still in jeans or yoga pants. (But if you absolutely do not want to wear a dress or skirt, at least wear a pretty top over a dressier jean—think dark wash—and accessories). Some may want to revoke my feminist card (the one that says women are cool, treat us with equal dignity) for what I’m about to say, but I really believe many guys appreciate it when we dress in a feminine way. Let’s put it this way: I’ve always gotten compliments, second glances, eye twinkles in skirts, dresses, lacy tops; and almost no attention when in jeans and an unremarkable sweater or top.

Do go somewhere slightly active and that expresses a common interest, public (especially if you met the guy online), relaxed enough to talk, and with both an escape hatch to leave early if needed and a proximity to another venue to continue a great date. Mr. Sweet and I went apple picking and decided to have lunch at a food truck and do a zip line course.

Don’t go to a movie that eats up the time available to actually learn about one another. Don’t do anything too intimate like cooking dinner at one of your homes.

Do explain the whys behind specifics and engage him in the conversation: “I like Mumford and Sons because…who’s your favorite band and why” not “I like folk rock. What do you like?”

Do ask open-ended, fun questions that reveal a little about the person: “What was the most memorable experience you had while traveling?” Don’t get stuck in a “yes-or-no” rut and don’t forget to ask follow-up questions.

Do show your character: be courteous to wait staff, say thank you, etc.

Don’t mention the following words unless you’ve known the guy, the subject comes up, and you’re speaking about issues generally and not personally or specifically: wedding, marriage (to you), babies, your ex’s name, his ex’s name (if you know), sex, money, politics.

Do speak up if something is a deal breaker and would compromise your enjoying the rest of your time together. Do be honest at the end of the date that the deal breaker (if not an action, but mentality) probably precludes a future for the two of you. Thank him for the time together and wish him well. You don’t want to waste your time, or his for that matter.

Do know that you can leave at any time if the situation merits it. I don’t think it’s necessary Houdini it out the bathroom window, force your friends to accompany you to the mall or even receive fake emergency calls. Simply say: “That makes me uncomfortable. I feel it best I should go. Have a good evening/day.”

Do end the date when you realize you could continue the conversation into the night. Don’t tell all your stories. Save something for dates beyond the first.

Do offer to pay. After surveying several guys of all different stripes, most like the “wallet grab.” They have every intention of paying, but want to know that a) you’re not taking them for granted or b) they get a chance to show off their chivalry.

DO take them up on his offer to pay. Don’t protest. And then if you are moving on to drinks after ice skating or dessert after dinner or are already planning the second date, do say that you would like to treat him. Hopefully y’all will fall into a natural rhythm of mutual treating and charity.

Do smile!