After the Perfect Date

After you've said goodnight and the ideal date has come to a close, both of you are high on life, awash in good feelings. You grin, sigh, kiss your dog on the top of his head, or nuzzle with your cat. If you're a girl, you want to do what girls do — talk about it; you want to lie down on your dorm bed or curl up with the phone and tell a good friend every glorious detail. If you're a guy, you feel all warm and fuzzy, too, but you probably carry those feelings more internally and quietly; you do your homework, turn on the TV, wash the car, read the paper, dribble a basketball, burp — your normal life stuff — all very satisfied that your date was a success. You don't need to fret. You've won.

Inside your heads, however, a lush fantasy is brewing. Or, I should say, two lush fantasies. One female, one male. This is where things can get a little sticky if you expect your date to have the very same vision that you do. See Table 18-1 for what I mean:

Table 18-1 Post Great-Date Fantasies

Girl Fantasy

Guy Fantasy

The color of your bridesmaid's dresses

The color of her lingerie

Moonlit walks on the beach

Midnight sex on the beach

A great date every Saturday night

A great date for Super Bowl Sunday

Love

Lust

Adoration

Acceptance

Someone to watch over me

Someone to watch me

Along with these fantasies come the inevitable expectations that your date

will act the same way you'd act. Table 18-2 shows how expectations vary:

Table 18-2 Expectations After a Great Date

Girl Expectations

Guy Expectations

He'll call the minute he gets home.

I'll see her again soon.

He'll call the next morning.

I'll call in a few days.

If I call him, I'll seem desperate.

If I call her, I'll seem needy.

If he really had a good time,

I only send flowers the day after we

he'll send flowers.

have great sex.

If he was thinking about me,

She's on my mind so much, I don't even need

he'll want to talk to me.

to talk to her, and I don't want to wimp out.

If he doesn't call within two days,

Relationship?!

the relationship is over.

See the communication problem here?

Testosterone Versus Estrogen Central

Really, the biggest potential for post-date communication glitches involves time. Guy time and girl time, that is, baby. They're not the same. Einstein was right. It's all relative. Here's what happens: You go out to a great dinner or a concert or the movies. You giggle, share popcorn. You both have a fabulous time. Sweetly kiss goodnight. Then he whispers, "I'll call you soon." Or she whispers the same. You both nod and head home.

Now, she assumes that soon means on the cell phone on the way home, at a pay phone the next morning, or at the very latest, within the next two days. Soon to him means "if I have a minute in my busy schedule," "when I get that new job," "when I have my fall class schedule in order," "when the football season is over." Or soon can mean "never," "if my mom pressures me," or "if the Knicks are out of contention." Problem city:

1 Female is hovering by the phone; male is flipping channels on the remote control.

1 If she calls right away (as she said she would), he thinks, "Whoa! She's really into me. Sex city!" She's really just saying, "I had a nice time and I'd like to see you again."

1 If he calls when he gets around to it (as he said he would), she's an ice queen because so much time has elapsed (a week, a month, a year, a decade). How dare he leave her hanging! Suddenly, she's too busy to see him again, and the budding relationship blows sky-high.

What's wrong with this picture? In a word, the word soon.

Guys: Don't say "soon" when you're whispering in her ear or any other time.

Girls: Don't believe it if he should slip. (And your being vague doesn't help much, either. Take it to the bank — he'll expect a much longer passage of time than you, most likely.) If he does say, "I'll call you soon," try one of these responses:

1 "I'll be out of town for a couple of days. Could you call me after that?"

Even if you're not leaving town, this blows that whole "waiting by the phone" thing right out of the water.

1 "How 'bout I call you in a week or so?" Then be sure to add the reason (when finals are over, after work lets up, as soon as I accept the Nobel Prize) so that it doesn't sound like a brush-off. Mark at least ten days to two weeks on your calendar and call him then.

i "Instead of calling, let's e-mail each other from work." This narrows the call time to 9-to-5 and takes some of the intensity out of the exchange. E-mail is pretty public, so neither one of you can get too hot and heavy with the boss watching.

i "What does soon mean to you?" Though this question may sound a bit overeager, asking for a definition is okay. Your date's response tells you a lot about the future of this relationship. Whatever you hear, be calm; don't panic or get hysterical.

If you're a guy: Don't wait quite as long as you ordinarily would. If you do intend to call her "soon," you'll score major Brownie points if you make it more sooner than later. Women eventually write off the guy who never calls, but they never forget the man who calls right away.

If you're a girl: Wait at least twice as long as you ordinarily would. Give the guy a break. When he does call, warm up that cold shoulder, or he'll never call again. The appropriate response to a guy who calls a week after a great date is, "Hi. How are you?" — not "Hi. Who died?" He'll be so pleased with you he just may call later that night for more of your tender, loving acceptance. Stay cool. Don't notice. Life is long; phone calls can be short.

The best way to avoid the whole call/don't call scenario is to arrange date number two before date number one ends. Plan to get together again no sooner than a week, no later than two weeks. If your date doesn't bring it up, you can. No gender rules here.

Pager etiquette

Beep when you had a great time and are pretty

Don't beep when you left something at your

sure your date did, too.

date's place.

Don't beep when you want to know why your

Beep when your date gave you his or her

date never called you again.

beeper number.

Beep when you have concert tickets for that

Don't beep when a friend of your date's gave

night.

you his or her beeper number . . . after you

Don't beep when your mom wants you to bring

begged for it.

your date home for dinner.

Beep when your date left something at your

place.

SlUFf

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SlUFf jJtSAKi jJtSAKi

Nine hints for limbo and surviving the wait

There's a reason the first streamlined, easy-to-cradle-beneath-your-chin telephone was called a "princess" phone. It was designed to be talked on for hours in comfort — something little princes just don't do. Sure, guys call their buddies, but let's face it — they look like amateurs when it comes to the real phone talkers: girls. Girls grow up on the phone. So the day after a great date, the telephone in a girl's room or house or apartment or car or office takes on a sort of golden glow. Women, if you're not vigilant, the phone will take over your life. Don't let it.

Assuming you're waiting for this great guy you met to call you for date number two, don't panic, don't write him off, don't obsess. Instead, follow these nine guidelines for handling the waiting period:

1 Don't stop showering. I know, I know — the phone could ring while you're all sudsed up, and baths are quieter. But changes in lifestyle and hygiene don't need to begin quite so early. There are answering machines and voice mail. People call back. Hygiene is more important. You never know — he could drop by.

1 Don't call the phone company. If you hear a dial tone, the phone is in perfect working order. Besides, the phone would be engaged while they checked the line anyway, and are you willing to take that risk?

1 Don't go shopping for new equipment. You don't need a new phone, answering machine, beeper, doorbell, or e-mail server just because yours refuses to ring, beep, or announce, "You have mail!" Be patient.

1 Don't put yourself on house arrest. This is not the time to develop a deep and lasting friendship with the pizza delivery guy. Get out. Get air. The phone will be there when you get back.

1 Don't change your answering machine message. Your old voice sounded sexy enough. Detailing on tape exactly where you are and where you'll be each day is an invitation to burglars, not daters.

1 Stare at something else. A watched phone never rings.

1 Stop watching the 24-hour news channel. If he really was abducted by an alien or caught in a 20-car pile-up, you'll hear about it soon enough.

1 Get a life. If you don't have one already, now's the time to live. Go to a museum, volunteer, enroll in NASCAR driving camp, whatever. Carry on with any version of existence other than an amoeba life form sitting by the phone.

JSSSAKi

1 Don't worry, be happy. Even if it's your mom each time the phone rings, hey, at least it's a human voice. Remember Dr. Joy's prescription on dating: It's one date. Take it easy. Nothing, besides nuclear holocaust, is the end of the world.

Remember, women crave intensity; men crave comfort. Carry that thought throughout your life and you'll always understand why the other side behaves the way it does.

Men's ten-day rule

This ten-day rule explains why guys wait ten days to call, even if the date's terrific.

Assuming your first date is on a Tuesday or Wednesday night:

1 Guys don't call the next day; they see it as too needy. Girls don't call the next day, either; they see it as too desperate.

1 Now you're butting up against the weekend. You don't want to appear dateless. No one calls Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

1 Now you're at Monday. No one calls anyone on a Monday.

1 Tuesdays or Wednesdays are good days to call, but if work gets too busy, you leave the number at home, or you're out of town, then forget it — you're already to Thursday.

1 Thursday. Too close to the weekend. It's too late to ask someone out for the weekend or to admit you don't have a date. Besides, a second date on a weekend rather than a weekday ups the ante too much.

1 Now it's Friday. Calling on Friday is the same as Thursday.

1 Ditto Saturday.

1 Sunday is still the weekend and a refocus on work, not play.

1 No one makes any important calls on a Monday.

1 Tuesday. Ahhh. That feels about right. Work is calm, your head is calm, your heart is calm, and your conscience is still clean. Now pick up the phone . . . 'cept it's now been nearly two weeks. Yikes!

Guys: Win many more Brownie points by calling before ten days. Girls: Chill. The problem is the pattern, not you.

The farmer's daughter

When a friend of mine was stationed overseas in the army, he met the young daughter of a French farmer. The generous farmer offered my friend, Brian, a home-cooked meal, and he accepted. That evening, and several evenings after, he dined with the family and slowly became smitten with the young girl. But she was only 14, and only Elvis Presley was allowed to indulge such fantasies.

Fast-forward 30 years. Brian was back home in the States, divorced, and the father of two girls. On a vacation to France, he decided to look up the farmer who was, by now, an elderly man, but he still remembered Brian and invited him over for dinner.

"How's your daughter?" Brian asked casually, as they were sipping port in the family vineyard after dinner.

"You can ask her yourself," the farmer said. "She's dropping her son off later this evening." Which she did, and she nearly lost her breath when she saw Brian standing in her father's doorway. She, too, was divorced and had never forgotten her first crush. The years melted away, and now as two adults, they fell in love. This summer marks their 20th wedding anniversary. "It was just meant to be," Brian often says, sighing.

So leave the phone alone. Get out of the house. Get on with your life and be pleasantly — and genuinely — surprised when he or she really does call.

Believe in fate

Believing in fate helps you chill out a bit. It gives you perspective. If the relationship is meant to be, it'll happen. If your parents hadn't decided to have another kid and your dad hadn't been transferred to a new town and you hadn't skipped second grade, you two never would have met. If it is meant to be, if the two of you are meant to be, relax — it'll happen.

Nix the gossip

The temptation to blab about your great date will be intense, especially as the clock ticks while you wait for the call (or wait to call). But be very careful here.

^SVUFf Bragging to your buddies about your date's bod or huge libido or exaggerat-

ing her affection for you is totally uncool. What if the two of you end up together? There's no way to erase an image once it's planted in someone's head, and your friends won't treat her respectfully if you don't.

Dr. Joy's mini quiz

Q. Why should you put off having sex until you know someone really well? A. All of the above.

STUFF

Sharing every intimacy is also uncool. Give your date a break. He's entitled to get to know you without all your friends getting to know him first. Keep your expectations limited.

This is a fragile and vulnerable time for both of you and any potential future. An audience ups the ante, the intensity, the curiosity — and you're better off without it. You'll be glad you didn't blab too much about your date before your date began once you experience the emotionally charged post-date waiting period. Who needs everyone and their mother asking you if he called yet or if she left you any messages on your e-mail? All the way around, it's best to keep info close to the vest until your relationship really gets going. Even then, discretion is the mother of true trust.

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