Keep Your Pants On by Kate Kotler and Elliott Serrano: Getting Back in the Dating Game

Elliott Serrano and Kate Kotler write for Bleeding Cool;

This week Elliott and Kate give advice to a geeky divorcee seeking to get back in the dating game. Has dating changed significantly since our advice seeker has last sought out romantic company? Let’s find out…

Dear KYPO:

Do you have any dating tips about getting back into the dating game after a long and unhappy relationship? I’m a recently divorced geek (with two young children) who has been on the bench since the mid-90s when it was considered creepy to hook up with someone online. I’d love to start meeting people with similar interests again, but have no idea how to go about it. Halp?

Geeky Divorcee

Elliott says:

First off let me commend you on your courage to go and get back into the social scene. These days it can seem rather daunting to try and ‘get back on the horse’ as it appears that so much has changed over the last decade or so in regards to dating. But here’s the thing, while times may change, people don’t. And the same goes for the ‘rules of dating’ in the 21st century.

It baffles me that with all the technology we have, that allows us to communicate with people across the globe, we still have such a difficult time connecting with the people right next to us. With that in mind, I would encourage you to follow one simple rule: “Don’t let social networking BE your social life.”

By that I mean while you may use sites like Facebook, OKCupid and Match.com to meet new people – yes, it is quite acceptable these days to do that – also be sure to utilize the old-fashioned method of just getting out of the house and being social. Go to comic cons, join a book or gaming club, anything that gets you into groups of like-minded geeks in a social situation. You want to develop the confidence that comes from getting comfortable in social situations. See, guys find confidence to be very attractive. If you come across as needy, as always on the prowl for a hook-up, that can work against you two-fold: First, it turns off the guys who are looking but don’t wnt to get rushed into a relationship; and second, it attracts the predatory types who want to use your willingness to jump into something for a quick hook-up. As the title of the Elmore Leonard novel goes, you want to “Be Cool.”

And I say be daring as well. If in all your social gatherings you meet a guy who strikes your fancy, don’t be shy. Strike up a conversation. Be confident. And if you feel compelled to do so, ask them out. I know that some folks have hang-ups about women asking men out, but personally I really dig it.

I know this falls under the “easier said than done” category, but the more you get out, the easier it will get.

Good luck, GD. I’m rooting for you!

Kate says;

I pretty much agree with everything that Elliott has advised, GD. I think it’s extremely important to recognize the boundaries of social networking/online dating – while those are good way to get introduced to people, you have to take it into “real life” at some point, otherwise it’s all just creepy innerwebs dating… and, really, that’s not very satisfying. Trust me.

So be bold and daring, go forth into frontiers that few geeks have ever entered before…

However, as I am the queen of innerwebs dating, I have some advice for you if you’re going to use an online service to potentially put you in contact with compatible geek dates:

#1 – Check out a bunch of different sites before you settle on a primary site to use for this function. There are a ton of online dating services – ranging from the ultra conservative eHarmony to the seedier (and NSA sex/amateur porn oriented site) Xtube. Each attracts it’s own subset of people, who you may or may not be interested in meeting. Create an invisible or trial profile and cruise around the site a bit, checking out what goes on, etc. before investing in too much time in creating a profile.

#2 – Get yourself at least one good, flattering, current picture. Here’s a hint on a simple way to get a GREAT picture. Have someone stand on a kitchen chair and take a picture of you from above, with you looking up at the camera. The result will be flattering, showing your best features, but will not give the illusion of you being something you’re not.

#3 – Be clear about what you want in writing your profile. If you want a FWB, say that. If you’re only interested in dating people with long term potential, say that. This will help narrow down those who respond to your profile and hopefully will connect you with some individuals who you’re actually interested in spending some time getting to know.

#4 – Use good judgement and set responsible boundaries and stick with them. These are different for everyone – for example, mine are: I won’t let anyone meet me at my home on the first two dates, I always let friend I trust know where I’m going and when they can expect me to next check in with them and if I’m going to be drinking on a date I make sure I have a sizable meal before hand (because I am a lightweight and not doing so leads to unwanted behavior on my part – such as the lip locking on date #1 that I described in our previous column.) Further, I don’t introduce people I’m dating to my family or close friends until we’re in an exclusive relationship. Even then, I’d have to be dating you for quite a while before I introduce you to my actual family, as I’ve introduced way too many idiots to them over the years and I’ve put a ban on bringing guys home unless we’re living together. Boundaries and judgement are especially important if you have children and/or a persnickety ex-whatever. You don’t want to expose your kids to someone you’re dating until you’re sure they’re going to stick around. And, you don’t want your ex using your dating habits as reason to be an asshole.

#5 – Internet dating – you get out of it what you put into it. You cannot just create a profile, upload some pictures and expect awesome dates to come rolling in. You’ll need to surf around and “level up” using the site’s system (example, OKCupid makes you ask and answer questions) and send out messages to people you find on the site that you would be interested in meeting. Also – be prepared for a fair number of creepy-stalker responses to your profile. It’s just part of the landscape, you can’t avoid it – you shouldn’t be weirded out, you should just click “delete.”

Most importantly: Remember that a date isn’t a commitment. It’s just a couple of hours you spend with someone new, hopefully finding enough common ground and interest that you can rinse and repeat enough times until you have something more meaningful. At the best you’ll make a romantic connection, at the medium you’ll make a new friend and at the worst you’ll be able to go home eventually and block his/her email and phone number.

Good luck, let us know how it goes!

Until next week… or, month depending on how busy lame-ass Kate gets with her new job… KYPO!

(Say it “KAPOW,” not kungpow!)