Superficial Vs. Substance- What Makes a Better Date?

Written By: Alex G. Smith

As I was standing in line at a local grocery store, I couldn’t help but get bombarded by the unbelievable amount of women’s magazines in my sight. All I wanted to do was buy some orange juice and a pack of gum. Now, I’m wondering if I need to know the “secrets” to perfect hair, perfect skin, and which foundation will match my fake tan. I am so proud of my generation’s priorities. Not one of these magazines can tell you how to be more confident or accept your body type without trying to sell you something.

“Your mouth isn’t big enough? Buy this lip plumper—He’ll be dazzled by your big and pretty pucker!” Or “Loose that flab by following our cardio workout. All you’ll need is a yoga ball, weights, and a mat—He’ll compliment your tiny waist.”

Give me a break…

No wonder it’s hard to find a real and true person to date when everyone is brainwashed with idiocracy, bullcrap, and having little else to connect on. It’s one thing to want to appear put-together and sexy to gain that initial attraction, but you cannot build a relationship based on being attractive. I could be on a date with a male model who read every subscription of “Muscle and Fitness Magazine,” but if that is all he can really talk about, the date will be very short and I will be very bored. In my experience, there are a few simple things that you can do to make that first date follow with a second. Even if it is not a first date, there are general guidelines to becoming more confident and make better decisions when trying to find the right guy or girl to spend your time with.

First, put down the Cosmo and the Glamour—these magazines, though entertaining, are built on stereotypes that men would be very disappointed in hearing. Men are not from another planet, as these publications would like you to believe. I promise they are from Earth, with problems and hopes and insecurities like any other person. They are also not simple animals that just want to get lucky or be complimented on their muscles and eye color, although everyone enjoys praise.

On a date, you are meeting and engaging with another person, with a past and hopefully with some future aspirations. These are much more interesting things to discuss. One of the magazines I saw stated something to the effect of, “Men can become very bored when you begin talking about yourself. Try to keep the conversation low key—talk about music, a movie you just saw, or a book you just read.”

Sure, these are fun things to discuss on a first date, but at the same time, there’s only so much you can do with recapping every scene from “The Hangover.” Having similar interests is vital when connecting with someone for the first time, but they could also just become a friend if you cannot open up with more personal revelations like funny stories from your adolescents or the last trip you went on to San Diego.

You both probably want to know about what events in your past made you who you are, and even though every women’s magazine would argue with me, it’s okay to ask about what happened in their past relationships. A lot of personal details aren’t necessary, but it is still a good talking point because you both want to know anyway. The point here is that you should not underestimate the guy you are with. You might have a nice lacy top to show off your cleavage, or you might have mastered the whole “smoky eye” thing because a magazine told you that this is essential when finding a soul mate, but I can guarantee that if you are just something pretty to look at, your relationship is already over.

Like it or not, there are tons of pretty men and women in the world, and if you aren’t interesting or engaged with the world around you, he will eventually need more substance. We are just creatures constantly interested in finding the most unique, rare, and exceptional person, and it could probably be you if you allow that side to show and stay true to your opinions.

Another essential key is to try and figure out what type of person you are on the date with. Even before you go on a date, there are signals into what he or she is about before you even go out to dinner and a movie. There have been many times where a guy has come up to me on the street and said, “Hey, can I have your number?”

If you’re looking for a fling or a fun night, then giving out your number to this guy might be a fine idea. But if you are looking for a more serious venture, don’t do it. These guys who walk right up and ask for your digits before he even knows if you’re a serial killer is not a good sign. I want to be careful not to stereotype, but get real—this guy has asked for a lot more number before you wondered into his peripheral vision. Maybe you looked nice, and that’s all it took for him to approach you, but is that someone you want to have your personal information? To him, you were just someone pretty who caught his eye. But in another five minutes after you leave, he is probably already looking for the next girl who will give out her number.

That’s how it is sometimes, but luckily you have the control in that situation to make a smart decision.

This may sound cliché, but stick to a guy who you’ve met at least once. Even dating someone you hung out with at a party or club is dangerous territory, because you have no idea how many times he’s already hooked up with someone in that environment. And if you feel you’ve outsmarted him by asking, “Do you normally pick up girls here?” he could very easily bend the truth to get some of your “sweetness.”

Also, there have been a few times where I’ve met up with people at a party and gave them my number out of drunken stupidity. If it’s hard for you to say no, or you want to be “polite” for some reason, then take his number and once you sober up, decide if you want to hang out with him again. Otherwise, he now has your number and can call or text you—then you have to ignore him until he gets the point or write a friendly, “I don’t think I felt any chemistry with you the other night besides a good buzz.”

No one likes to write or receive these types of messages, so keep the ball in your court and have some control over whom you give your number out to so that when a date actually happens, it is with a person who you decided to go out with based on what you want.

When on a date, I liked to think about how I was presenting myself, outside of the superficial. You don’t want your date to go to his friends after and say, “Well she’s dumb as bricks, but she’s got a great mouth/ rack/ body,” unless you’re looking to date one of the guys from “Laguna Beach” or “A Shot at Love.” In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Before you start dating, and even before you rush out to whiten your teeth and pick up a lip-gloss and some Altoids, think about yourself. What are you trying to do with your life? Do you have room for another person or are you too preoccupied?

It’s okay to not give out your number to every person, and it’s okay to focus on your own future before anyone else’s. Being selfish, against common rule, is okay because no one else is going to affect how you feel about yourself more than you and your actions. If more people were selfish and took care of their needs before anyone else’s, then there would be a lot less blame and resentment towards others who you feel stunted your personal growth.

Ask yourself these questions, and decide what type of “dating” and companionship you’re looking for before you even go out. Do you have time to waste with boy-men who don’t want to grow up while you are trying to get a job or finish school? That’s perfectly fine, as long as you go in expecting this and not expecting to change him; he’s young at heart and not looking to get tied down by a go-getting-girl whose going to suck all the fun out of him with serious life changes, so expect him to be looking around at other girls, and expect him to get annoyed when you confront him about looking around. If you aren’t looking for something like that, though, then look in the right spots.

A lot of the good guys are off the general dating radar by working all day, going to school, or hiding out in their apartment to ponder the universe. They are probably as equally fun, attractive, and spontaneous as the men in the common dating scene, but they are just taking care of themselves and waiting for a chance meeting with an equally passionate person. In my experience, it’s quality over quantity. You can find dozens of eligible single guys at “Club Dance” and you won’t risk any rejection because they are there for the exact same reason—to have fun. You dance with him, he thinks you’re hot, you have some drinks, and maybe you end up loosing your favorite bra on the floor of his bedroom.

But as you move on, past just having fun and begin looking for something more regular and substantial, you might need to move past what your favorite club song is and patiently wait for a one of the keepers to come out from under his rock. I feel embarrassed, and almost empathetic, with the desperateness I see in my fellow women. Have a little pride in who you are, what you want to be, and understand that the more superficial and uninteresting you are, the more replaceable you are.

Every woman reads “girlie magazines,” but not every girl has shot a gun or learned another language, and the more well rounded and interesting you are, the more indispensable, mysterious, and desirable you become. Show them that you have pride in yourself, not just your body and your loose waves, because the good guys will be impressed, and the disposable guys will disappear like a magic trick. At this point, know yourself and your goals, so that you can share them with another person. After all, that is what dating is supposed to be—finding an equal, a partner, and a friend who you can share your immediate life with. It makes this whole “living” thing a lot more bearable, and a lot more fun.


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