(Or “The Rules Redux!”)

A few years ago, the number one selling book was a dating book called The Rules. In it, a couple of ladies gave their “old-fashioned” advice, things your momma should have told you, and it resonated with folks. Well, I thought I’d give it a stab since a friend of mine set up another friend on a blind date (always a recipe for disaster: you put your reputation on the line for two friends and hope that neither prove you to be an idiot with poor taste or match-making abilities). It didn’t end well. (Obviously they didn’t read Marc Davidson’s advice, in part one or part two). So let’s try it this way: a few first date tips.

Before you even ask:
Get a job. Don’t ask someone out if you can’t afford to go anywhere. You don’t have to be rich or even have a lot of money. Thought and creativity can do wonders. However, at the very least, do have a sense of direction about your life.
Be the kind of person that you hope to attract. A bar ho can’t complain that they can’t seem to find a Christian guy at the local bar and club scene.
Ask in advance. Be considerate of her schedule. (READ: pretend that she has a life and isn’t sitting at home watching re-runs of Friends and eating Cheetos while waiting for the phone to ring in the vain hopes that someone, anyone, will ask her out).
Don’t, I repeat, don’t have a friend ask her out for you. While most of the rules we learn about dating and liking each other we pick up is in junior high school, no one wants to be reminded of that.

The Arrival:
Guys, please, for the love of …, shower.
Time. Look, fellas, when the lady invites you over for dinner and says 6:30-7:00 pm, it means 7:00-7:30 pm. This doesn’t mean show up at 5:00 pm because you’ve been waiting on her doorstep or around the corner since 4:00 pm. She has to cook and get ready.
Bring something, especially if she’s invited you over for dinner. Flowers, wine (pop), a card – something. Don’t show up with just your appetite. Wash your hands and pitch in to help. Don’t just hop up on her counter or kick your feet up on her furniture as if she exists to serve you.
When you pick up a lady for a date, don’t honk. Go to the door like you’re a gentleman … after you pick up the food wrappers that litter your car.
Guys ought to pay. Though I tend to think whoever did the asking ought to do the paying, you can’t go wrong being a gentleman.

The Date:
Have a plan. Know what you want to do that evening. It shows that you’ve thought about it and that you’re a leader (alright, it might not give that impression, exactly, but every little bit helps). As a sub-point here, don’t order for your date unless you’ve consulted them. Don’t presume to know their tastes. You only reveal yourself to be a control freak.
You have to be genuine. A friend once suggested that men should keep pictures of their nieces and nephews in their wallet. It shows an interest in kids and a commitment to family. Good in theory, but it may be going too far when you decide to just keep pictures of kids that vaguely look like you.
Monologues aren’t conversations. Dates aren’t an interrogation. Don’t just sit there and grill someone, especially about their theological viewpoints. Actually, arguing theology, politics, or anything isn’t conversation.

Top lines to not use on a date/dating faux pas (actual things that have happened on the first dates of some friends of mine):
-stare at “the swing on her back porch” or otherwise reference another woman’s anatomy
-“So, you want to go to Hooters?” It doesn’t matter how good you think the wings are.
-don’t talk about ex-girl/boyfriends
-“Did you used to be a man?” is probably not the best way to kick off conversation with a woman.
-“Do you want to go half-sies on an illegitimate child?” – um, no.
-by the way, a tip from Uncle Maurice for those of you exploring interracial romances, lines completely inappropriate at any point during the dating relationship: “I think my family used to own your family” (I swear, a line used not on a first date, but at the first, and last, time this woman met my mother).

Know when to call it a night. Don’t linger.

The next day or that week. Thank her for dinner, even if it was crap or she ordered in, she still had to work to host you. If you had a good time, let her know. It’s just common courtesy.

Remember, desperation is not attractive, but nor should it be an excuse.

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