Serial dater Jed Ringer spent 9 years in the online dating game before finding the woman he loves. In that time, he went on many dates that may have gone further—but for the woman saying or doing something relatively innocent that turned him off. Chances are, they didn’t even realize they’d done anything off-putting, but since Jed noticed a trend, he decided to put together this guide.
In Jed’s own words, here are 3 things to refrain from doing when you’re in the early stages of a relationship. Now keep in mind, they’re kind of subtle, so we’re wondering: Have you been guilty of any of these?
WANT THE DATE TO GO WELL? HERE ARE THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO ON A DATE.
DON’T ENGAGE IN DIGS I’ve been known to forget the names of my own kids when I’m talking to them, never mind the names of spouses of long-time friends or of people I’m introducing. Consistent with this mind blip, I’ve sometimes mistakenly asked a date about her children or prior marriage, when she’s never been married or has no kids. Oops. Now my usual reaction to someone forgetting such details is to ease their embarrassment. I might tell them more about me so they don’t have to rely on memory, or share my propensity for forgetting details. However, in the dating context, when I forget, the most common response I get is You must be thinking of one of your other Match dates—a response otherwise known as a “dig.” Why this reaction? It isn’t very funny and obviously is going to make the other person feel even more awkward.
My guess is that “diggers” are trying to make the uncomfortable situation of a first date more comfortable by putting the other person on the defense. It doesn’t work.
DON’T BE A DELINQUENT DATER There are people who routinely arrive on time, and those who don’t. The former (me) may be accused of being slaves to the clock, inflexible, scared to be criticized, or overly concerned about others’ opinions. Whatever the motivation, being punctual is considerate and easy to do: Estimate travel time, add a “cushion” for delays, leave when you should and, voila, another punch clock hero is born. But when your date, who is routinely 10, 20, 30 minutes late, finally appears, you have little choice but to try not to look annoyed as you feel. It doesn’t help when they give that little oh goodness me smile. And your last vestige of self-control wanes when, without more, they launch into a discussion about themselves, as if, as with their travel planning, you aren’t anywhere to be found. Rarely, you’ll get an I was running late. But never a really excusing excuse, like the fact that a ghastly cold sore burst from their upper lip just as they left, and it took twelve pharmacies to find the cold-sore-masking shit they like, or they were settling some humanitarian crisis in Africa.
In my humble estimation, habitually late people get off on making other people wait. They’re controlling the situation, elevating their importance, or trying to prove to themselves that they can be bad and still be loved. Whatever the reason, please, don’t do it.
DON’T FORGET TO BURY THE VERY Too often, the woman I’m just meeting voluntarily describes herself with a bunch of phrases all beginning with I’m very—. These are not what I would call very interesting verys, like very thin-skinned, prudish, cheap, self-absorbed, lethargic, boring. They’re more like very complimentary, and very off-putting verys.
First come the very obvious. From those arriving huffing and puffing, or with perfectly done nails and exquisitely matched clothing, or with painfully thin bodies, it’s pretty easy to infer they’re very busy, or very attentive to detail, or very athletic (or very prone to eating disorders). Being told they’re very this feels like I’m being told “The city is very crowded” or “The sky is very blue,” viz, that I’m very unperceptive. Next are the aspirational verys, like very empathetic, sensitive, compassionate, easy going, flexible, perceptive.
With years of experience hearing people describe themselves one way, and watching them act the opposite, I take these verys with a very big chuck of kosher salt. It’s very likely that these people are stating what they aspire to be, thereby creating a false sense they’re making progress. Beyond creating confusion, aspirational verys put the other person in a very difficult position. Do you let the very just hang there, suggesting that you’re not that way, and/or don’t value that trait? Or do you say that you’re that way too, suggesting the highly-valued commonality that daters seek, though it all may be untrue, and you’ve been intimidated into saying it? Then, the meaningless verys, like “I’m very spiritual” and “I’m very intuitive.”
Are these followers of papal encyclicals? Fans ofThe Mentalist. Disciples of Uri Geller? Or, as is most likely, regarding spirituality, they’re just saying that they, like most of us, are just trying to do the right thing, and, as to being intuitive, they’re trying to convince themselves that they have good instincts, despite, possibly, a spate of very recent, very bad calls.
Daters, you need to show rather than tell. Here’s a thought. If you think you’re very intuitive, guess his sexual proclivities. If you think you’re very generous, pay the bill.
And hey, what about when you’re in a relationship that you think is working just fine—but may not be? Got a niggling feeling he may be cheating? Here’s how you can tell:
Jed Ringel is an Ivy League dropout who’s been a failed sculptor, a morally bankrupt Wall Street lawyer, and the founder of an IT company, the sale of which allowed him to retire at 50. A father, avid cook and award-winning gardener, Jed splits his time between Montauk and New York City’s Lower East Side–where, along with far-flung locales like Russia and Singapore, many of the events that inspired his debut published memoir, Stuck in the Passing Lane, take place.