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In Defense of Men Who Don’t Drink On The First Date

January 6th, 2015 6 comments

When I was in college, I went on a date with a girl who I had my eyes on weeks before I got up the nerve to actually ask her out. It was one of those situations where I liked her before I even went on the date. She just had to show up and I would already be into her.

Show up she did. We went out on a Saturday afternoon to a huge Romare Bearden exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. At the time, it was the largest collection of Bearden’s work ever produced, and even though I was familiar with Bearden, I really was just trying to impress the girl by choosing a cultural activity for our date.

We spent two hours there, and by the end of it, I felt like I was actually getting somewhere with her. To keep things going, I suggested we go for a late lunch, and she agreed. I decided on a bar not far from campus that specialized in beer and burgers. We went inside, sat down, and looked over the menu. The waiter came over and, as is customary, asked us what we would like to drink.

My date chose their seasonal ale, I said I would take a water. When the waiter walked away, I turned to my date and saw she was looking at me with horror. “You’re really going to make me drink by myself?” she said. I was taken aback by her question. Not only did I not know I was in violation of some unspoken dating rule, imbibing just wasn’t something I enjoyed doing at that time in my life. I especially didn’t like partaking in it during the day, and though it was late afternoon, the sun was still out, which meant the only beer I would be having, if I had one at all, was root beer.

The reason I didn’t like to drink, is because I have an allergic reaction to alcohol. This doesn’t mean I can’t drink, but what it does mean is even if I take a small sip of alcohol, my face turns beet red and my eyes get bloodshot. A half-drank bottle of beer can make me look like I just downed a whole six-pack. This made me insecure about drinking in public. Whenever I went out, I usually wore a hat low to mask my face. It was the only thing I could think of to detract attention away from the reactions I had and the incessant questions from others about my state of fucked-upness.

I explained why I was having a water instead of a brew, and did so with a laugh because I thought her reaction was in jest. As it turns out, it wasn’t. She still didn’t get it. To her, it was no big deal that my face turned red, and it was rude of me to make her drink by herself. In her defense, when the beer arrived at the table, a top-heavy glass of amber-colored liquid with a frothy head, standing right next to my regular-sized glass of water with a lemon wedge, it did look like one of us was having a harder day than the other.

But rude or not, I had to stick to my guns. This wasn’t a pride thing, it was a comfort issue. I was still trying to make a good impression on our date, and I was convinced whatever points I lost for not joining her for some libations, I made up for them by sticking to my guns.

We never went out again.

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How To Use Groupon On A Date Without Her Knowing

May 21st, 2014 2 comments

It’s always a point of contention between team thrifty and team ball-so-hard: To use Groupon or not on a first date.

If you’re on Twitter, like I am, you will see this debate pop up every six weeks or so. Some men and women agree their should be no shame in using a Groupon or any sort of discount available to them when out on a date. The opposition feels differently, with women thinking it’s tacky, and the men who are on their side saying if he really cared about the girl, he’d pay full price.

I fall somewhere in between both of these groups.

Do I think Groupon is acceptable to use on a first date? Yes.

Do I think it’s tacky? Yes.

Do I use it based on what I feel about the girl? No.

Did I use it on my first date with my girl? No.

But on our first date, we had Ramen at a glorified food court called Gotham West Market, and before you judge, even the sophisticated palate of Chrissy Teigen digs it.

I only bring up my first date with Gina to make a point: You don’t need to use Groupon to have an affordable date. Most places offering Groupon deals are expensive and giving you an option for it to be less expensive, which is not necessarily the same as affordable. Ivan’s Slurp Shop was a good deal without a Groupon, and if you’re trying to save some money on a first date, I highly suggest you seek out the charming yet budget-friendly places instead of deals on the high-end place.

Nonetheless, I understand some of you have a penchant for real tablecloths and linen napkins. I also understand the dilemma of having champagne tastes, or maybe that’s not you, but those are the type of women you like, and you have an orange juice budget. In your case, Groupon or companies like Groupon such as LivingSocial, are a game-changer, a life saver. I get it, and I encourage you to thrift on, kind sir, but must you be so reckless with it?

Absolutely not.

Let me show you how to pull of a Groupon without getting caught.

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Why Single People Should Hang Out With Couples

May 20th, 2014 1 comment

First, a story:

I was 13-years-old, and everyone in my crew had a girlfriend. Everyone, except for yours truly. I did not notice this at first; it took me a while before I realized I was an outcast even though I was plenty welcome to hang out. My friends did not treat me differently than they had before, their girlfriends were plenty nice to me as well. The feeling, at first, was nothing more than a larger friend circle. But after awhile, even with my group’s good intentions in play, I began to feel like an outcast. Over time, that feeling carried itself from the school grounds into my house, where I came home sulking noticeably in front of my mom and Richard.

My mom pressed me to tell her what was wrong, but I knew even back then, as much as it sucked to be the only single person among my boys, it was a really silly reason to be moping around looking like Eeyore. When I finally confessed to her why I was sad, she was nice enough to let me have my moment, but also reminded me that it wasn’t important. I too would have my day with a girlfriend of my own, but my focus should be on my studies anyway. I knew what she meant, even though it didn’t ever make sense to me why I couldn’t study hard and have a girlfriend at the same time.

Then Richard came in, and he saw my face, still pouting. He looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong?”

I already had a hard enough time telling my mom, so I damn sure didn’t want to tell Richard that I was a little sad over the fact that all my boys had girlfriends and I didn’t.

He turned to my mom to ask her, “What’s wrong with him?”

Now I thought my mom had my back, and wouldn’t out me to Richard, but boy was I wrong. She probably thought I needed someone else to tell me how absurd I was being, so she snitched.

“Oh, he’s sad because he doesn’t have a girlfriend while all his friends do.”

There was an awkward silence in the room. I think Richard understood like only men could what I was feeling. It’s not so much I wanted a girlfriend as I wanted what a girlfriend represented: Approval from the opposite sex. I was young, pubescent, and I liked girls, which meant all I really wanted was for girls to like me back.

But my Pop thrived on teachable moments. He never wanted to see me fail at something, but he knew if I wasn’t successful there was an opening for him to teach me a lesson. Me tripping over the fact that I wasn’t the flavor of the month according to the girls at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School was that kind of moment.

“Boy, you actually have two girlfriends,” he said.

Confused, I looked up at him, “Huh? How?”

“Put your right hand out,” he said.

I did as instructed.

“Now keep that out and put your left hand out too,” he said.

I did as I was told to do.

“Those two hands, those are your girlfriends, and when one of them gets tired, you have the other one right here.” He then made a half circle with both hands and started moving them up and down through the air.

My mom was shocked and yelled, “RICHARD!”

“What,” Richard said. “I’m telling him the truth.”

Then he walked away, while my mom told me not to listen to him and go do my homework.

Again, I did as I was told, but Richard’s advice was still lingering in my head. I had no idea what he meant, but at 13-years-old it didn’t take me long to figure it out.

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Why I’m Not Attending Church With My Girlfriend

April 15th, 2014 3 comments

On our very first date, Gina and I were already talking about our faith. She is Catholic and I am a former Catholic who now identifies as a practicing Baptist church goer. Even though we attend different churches of different faiths, I appreciated how both of us had a very similar outlook on the way we felt about our religious activities. Like me, Gina doesn’t evangelize to others nor sees a need to do so. Like me, she sees her faith as a personal thing that she keeps close to her chest. Like me, she doesn’t need to debate with other people who disagree with her faith, nor justify it to anyone, and she doesn’t need other people to attend church every Sunday with her.

Only two or three weeks had gone by before Gina started asking me if I wanted to go to church with her. This was right in the middle of the football season, and for years I have a tradition of going to my brother’s every Sunday to watch the games. It is he and I’s quality time, and I never have any qualms about choosing to be there instead of a service. Gina understood this, but to her credit, she never let it detour her from asking week in and week out. The one time I agreed was because the church she attends is literally around the corner from my brother’s and she was joining me to watch the Super Bowl at his place (and to meet him for the first time), so we went to a 5:30 mass that was so quick, Gina was convinced they ended it early because of the game.

I did not attend the mass kicking and screaming. There was no hesitation in my accepting her invitation, but if I’m being honest, I did feel like I was being put on the spot. I know that wasn’t Gina’s intent, that her timing was more a matter of circumstance than trickery, so I went, because if I declined, I knew it would send a message I was not entirely comfortable sending: Going to church is not important to me.

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Three Dating Tips For Guys I Gave on ‘Sway In The Morning’

April 11th, 2014 4 comments

Last week, I had the privilege of appearing on Sway In The Morning on SiriusXM Channel, Shade45 for a segment called First Aid with Kelly Kinkaid. I was brought in to discuss dating during the Spring/Summer season, but as with most live radio, things can unexpectedly go into a different direction.

I’ve gotten to the point now where most appearances don’t make me nervous, but admittedly, sitting down with Sway had me rubbing my hands on my jeans to get the sweat off. Personally, Sway has been one of my media heroes. His most remarkable trait is how straightforward he is with all his guests, no matter who it is. From the rapper we have never heard of to Barack Obama, Sway’s questions may change but the guy doesn’t. There is no code switching going on. He was sitting to my right, as you will see, and Kelly was on my left. Props to her as well for making me feel like I had the credibility to be given the platform to speak on this topic.

So I’m sitting in between both of them, and waiting for the questions come to me. I’m expecting us to talk about how to navigate the dating scene during the warmer months when folks start seeing more skin. This is a conversation I’ve prepared for in my head, but out of nowhere, Sway hits me with a question for which I was not prepared.

“What are three things, as men,we should be doing?”

I had no time to prepare for this question, but I have been asked a variation of this question so many times, I confidently listed the first rule I have. But no sooner do I say my first rule (more on that below) do I hear a bell. And all of a sudden, in my head, I’m thinking, “Oh, this is serious! I don’t even know if I have two more.”

Fortunately, I know how to think on my toes, and I was able to rattle off the other two. Admittedly, I liked these rules I came up with, so much so, I am now going to share and expound on them a little bit more here. You can watch my entire interview on Sway in The Morning with both he and Kelly Kinkaid at the bottom, but get these dating vegetables first!

Here are my three dating tips for guys:

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On Dating Exit Interviews

March 25th, 2014 1 comment

HuffPost Live invited me on a segment to discuss the idea of exit interviews for dating. For those who are not familiar with this practice, it’s pretty simple:

Two people go out on a date. One person feels as though the date was good enough for a second date, but the other person declines when asked or just never bothers returning calls or texts.

What gives?

Asking this question to the person who has declined the second date would qualify as an exit interview question. The purpose is to figure out what was so wrong with you (or them) and why there won’t be date number two.

If you watch the segment (embedded at the bottom of the post), you will see I fall on the side of being in favor of exit interviews. I don’t know if this is a trend in the dating world, but in my life, asking for an exit interview has always been the wave and if any of you knew what was good for you, you’d do the same.

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On Kissing: Just Go For It

March 11th, 2014 2 comments

There is a video being passed around today of strangers kissing in front of a camera. If you haven’t seen it, watch below before you get into the rest of the post.

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The people are real, but the scenes are a fantasy. They all know the cameras are watching them, and they all know why they are there. In real life, two strangers never get down like that, at least, when they’re sober. So we can take this video for the entertainment that it is, more than the chemistry experiment some have made it out to be.

If you pay attention, you will see there are some revealing things here; lessons from which we can learn. For instance: Women can make the first move too. At 1:13, notice she is brushing up on him, and the way the guy is such a bundle of nerves, he stalls. In all of the scenes, watch the hands. As a professional kisser, I’ve always paid attention to what her hands are doing. You can’t see them, but they’re a good indicator for when things are going right. As intimate as lips pressed against one another can be, hands – touching the face, wrapping around the neck – tell us what pressure from lips cannot.

Perhaps the most important lesson each scene teaches is the value in just going for it.

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On Being Racially Ambiguous and Dating as Nobody’s Type

September 18th, 2013 12 comments


This is not the 2013 version of the
Tragic Mulatto.

I am not the archetype for such a story. I have experienced devastating loss and heartbreak, but tragic wouldn’t be an accurate word to describe even the most difficult times in my life. Furthermore, I wish my story was as easy as being black and white, but it isn’t. It never has been and never will be. I’m mixed, and I’ve been mixed for 32 years, but I’ve only gotten used to how that sounds for like the last three or so years.

But let’s not start there. I want to go further back and discuss what it means to be a mixed race boy who liked girls and wanted girls to like him.

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The Second Date Is Her Turn To Ask Me Out

September 12th, 2013 1 comment

The first date was a car show, because in the city of Detroit, that’s a good date. I learned this quickly, when I moved to the D in the Summer of ’02 to do an internship at the Detroit Free Press. She was a hairstylist, because in the city of Detroit, a good woman does some hair (even if it’s on the side of whatever other career she has) but she just so happened to do it full time.

We met through a coworker of mine who was a friend of hers. I just wrapped up writing a whole package on the car show, which made my date activity choice even more impressive. On our way there, I told her about all the things they had going on at the show. “You did your research on this car show, didn’t you?” she asked. “Well, I wrote about it actually, it’s in today’s Free Press,” I said.

Points, baby. Count those.

In Detroit, everyone is either very into cars or into cars. No one is not into them, at least no one I met, and this girl was no different. She knew her stuff and as much as I wrote about that car show beforehand, as we were walking around, she became the brains of our operation. She could spot 18s, 20s, and 22s without a ruler. I was impressed and for whatever reason, falling for her.

While we sat down to eat some typical festival fare, two gunshots rang out. We got up and ran to the nearest exist, equally fast, and when we got there, slowed down to a speed walk holding each other’s hand. In spite of that brief brush with gunfire, the two of us had a great time. We said our goodbyes, I got a kiss on the cheek, and I went home high on this new girl.

I was 20-years-old at the time, still preoccupied with silly things like not trying too hard, and appearing as though I’m just chilling. This meant I didn’t call her for the rest of the weekend, even though I wanted to talk to her the next morning. Instead, I waited until Monday, after work, to ask her out on date number two.

No sooner did the clock on my computer hit 6:00 did I gave her a call. “Heeeey,” she said. She was happy to hear from me, I could already tell. I, of course, acted only mildly enthusiastic. “What’s up?” I said. After catching up on each other’s weekend, I was ready to deliver the request for a second date, but she stopped me. “So listen,” she said. “I don’t know if you’re free this coming week, but there’s a cookout, and I’d like you to come with me if you can.”

For the second date, she was asking me out. I was shocked. This was unprecedented, and because it was coming from a girl I was actually digging, I think I said “Yes” at the same time she said “can.”

Since I know you’re curious, that date went well. A couple of other dates followed and those went well too. It wasn’t a full Summer romance, more like a June one, and it was fun while it lasted.

The only reason why I’m telling this story is because it was with her I discovered a distinguishing mark of a mature woman: The fearless approach to asking a man out on the second date if the first date went so well.

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I Got This, Woman: Why She Needs to Stop Reaching for her Money on the First Date

August 14th, 2013 17 comments

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of appearing on Huff Post Live to discuss one of the most popular dating topics: Who should pay on the first date?

I know there are as many people tired of talking about this as there are people like myself who are always up for discussing it, but the rules keep changing so the conversation continues. What prompted yesterday’s discussion was a recent study done by Chapman University, which found the following:

Consistent with conventional norms, most men (84 percent) and women (58 percent) reported that men pay for most expenses, even after dating for a while. Over half (57 percent) of women claim they offer to help pay, but many women (39 percent) confessed they hope men would reject their offers to pay, and 44 percent of women were bothered when men expected women to help pay. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of men believed that women should contribute to dating expenses, and many feel strongly about that: Nearly half of men (44 percent) said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. A large majority of men (76 percent), however, reported feeling guilty accepting women’s money.

I have included the segment at the end of this post, so you can see me along with my fellow panelists and host Caityln Becker discuss the topic in full. But I want to expand on a particular point I touched on in the show about the first date and why I take issue with women who go for the reach to pay half.

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