M Bating makes everybody feel like a dummy, whether you're 15 or 115, going out on your first date or rejoining the dating scene after your grandkids have started dating. "It's still the same old story" — as sung by Dooley Wilson in Casablanca — "a search for love and glory," and there really are some fundamental things that do apply. I lay them all out for you, not so that you can be a stud muffin or the hottest kid on the block, but so that you can understand a bit more about yourself, your date to be, and the whole process. Then maybe the old palms will sweat less, and believe it or not, you may actually have some fun.

After all, dating should be fun. It's not like your whole life or livelihood depends on one date or several dates. The purpose of dating is simple: getting to know someone and letting them get to know you so that you can decide whether you're interested in spending any more time together. Nothing more, nothing less. Put aside the notion that you're looking for a mate or a one-night stand or someone to please your mom. You're just dating so that you can get to know somebody a bit and let them get to know you.

So what are the ironclad follow-these-steps-and-you'll-never-fail, step-on-a-crack-and-you'll-break-your-mother's-back rules of dating? They don't exist. There are some guidelines, suggestions, and observations, but this whole experience is a bit free form since you're unique and so is everyone you'll ever date. So this book is about helping you understand who you are, what you want — some commonly held assumptions, traits, and perils that will allow you to be exactly the person you are. That way, if you're having fun and your date is having fun, you're going to want to do it again.

So why such sweaty palms if this is supposed to be fun? Men and women have been getting together for thousands of years after all. No, it's not because you're the nerd of the universe, and everybody else is way cool. It's because the way people date — their expectations and assumptions and goals — have changed with the times.

Adam and Eve were the original blind date (and we know who fixed them up). It's been a lot rockier ever since (ever wonder who Cain and Abel dated?). In the caves, dating was mostly who had the biggest club (no, not that club) and could carry off the choice woman. I don't think flowers and candy played a very big part. A few eons passed, and we moved from caves and plains to hamlets to villages to towns to cities, and our courting rituals evolved, but still dating really wasn't allowed. Marriages were arranged by families for political and economic reasons. Not only did women have no say, but neither did the men.

Today, not only do we get to pick who we want to marry (at least in this country), but we get to audition them, which brings us to dating. In its purest form, dating is auditioning for mating (and auditioning means we may or may not get the part). Not only has dating gotten complicated (women can ask guys out), but mating has gotten really complicated as well. And then there's romance, truly the plague of the 21st century. Romance has made expectations completely unrealistic.

With dating, we're talking individual style — you and your little quirks, which are going to change over time and from person to person, at least a bit. You're going to be a slightly different soul depending on whether you're going out with somebody you met at a bus stop or your best friend's little sister, or your mom's law partner's nephew. So don't go for somebody else's style. If you're determined to mimic your incredibly cool friend, adapt the moves to your style and your partner. The key is to stay light on your feet, be willing to improvise, and believe down to the bottom of your shapely toes that your style is the one that's right for you. (And if it hasn't worked so well in the past, this book can help you figure out why and what you need to do to fine-tune your style so that you're cookin'.)

Before you find yourself hyperventilating over the prospect of dating, remember that there is no single, right way to date or to ask somebody out. And there is no such thing as a perfect experience that will make someone fall madly and passionately in love with you. A date is a unicorn, an imaginary beast that is unique in every situation. But not to worry: This book helps you get it all sorted out so that you can feel like you know what you're doing, have some sense of direction and some idea of what your date is doing and thinking, and even have some fun.

Continue reading here: About This Book

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