Last Tuesday, I found myself nestled upon the ultra plush sofa whilst killing time between appointments at my friend’s Lower East Side apartment. I was watching her get ready for a date.
A Tinder date, with a boy she had never met in real life.
She informed me his name is Austin, he allegedly had a thriving career in finance and, according to his four Tinder pictures, maintains an impressive beard -- and that’s about all the information she had gathered about this mystery boy creature she was meeting uptown for an adult beverage in approximately two hours.
Her process of getting ready was nothing short of acutely intense. Her usually immaculate living space had transformed into a turbulent sea made up of tangled blow dryers, unplugged flat-irons, teasing combs, mascara wands, crop tops, open-toed heels, cracked nail polish bottles, a slew of bronzers, body lotions and half-smoked, stress-induced cigarettes.
I watched in utter amazement as she embarked on an elaborate date preparation:
Her outfits were ever-changing, as she kept switching between wrap dress to distressed denim to pencil skirt to bohemian maxi. With each new look, a massive, palpable grimace would dance its way across her face as she stared disapprovingly in her mirror’s reflection.
She would sigh, rip off her clothes, sigh again in resignation and start the routine over.
She nervously sipped on a “personality cocktail” as she tormented over red lipstick vs. a sheer shimmery gloss.
“I don’t know if he likes red lipstick. Lots of men don’t like red lipstick, right? Will he think it’s too sexy? Am I too old to wear a crop top? Is this dress provocative or slutty?
What does curly hair say about a person? Should I tell him I’m newly single? Or is that a giant red flag?”
She was tossing rhetorical questions at me with a rapid-fire speed, leaving me no time to digest her unanswerable questions, let alone muster up a semblance of a response.
I watched in wide-eyed amazement as my usually self-assured, hyper-confident, mega-successful friend deeply agonized, tortured herself over how to impress this random guy she didn’t even know.
Was it about the guy or was it simply about gaining validation by winning him over?
The most disturbing part is I came to the hard-to-swallow realization that I do the same thing when I get ready for dates.
Watching my friend get hyper stressed and mega twisted over a stupid online date was like looking in a mirror -- and I didn’t like what I saw.
It's a date, NOT an audition
Why do we girls treat dates less like dates and more like auditions? It’s become less about enjoying ourselves (isn’t that supposed to be the whole f*cking point?) and more about scoring a “callback.”
I can't help but feel like the whole ordeal of dating has become highly competitive and really silly.
After all, we’re NOT there to impress the directors and producers for the lead role in the next blockbuster Hollywood film -- we’re there to flirt and have fun and ponder whether this person is worthy of spending more time with.
What is our insanely competitive spirit about? Why do we care so much if a stranger likes us or not?
Don't try to be liked by your date; see if YOU like your date
Remember, my precious ladies: It’s not all about impressing the boy (or girl, depending on which way you swing).
I do it too -- I go on a date and get so incredibly caught up in trying to “charm” my date that I lose sight of why I’m there to begin with -- to see if I actually like the person, not to merely be “liked.”
Try to take the focus off delivering the picture perfect answers and being an irresistibly charming entity -- and pay attention to your date instead.
Hone in on your date. Ask questions. Check him or her out.
Is your date cute? Interesting? Smart? Does he or she have opinions that are cohesive to yours? Is your date worth blow-drying your hair for? Do YOU want to go on a second date?
Don't put on a façade; be authentic
The time has come to get down with your real self. People are magnetically drawn to fearless individuals, anyway.
You can smell it from miles and miles away when people are trying too hard be something they’re not in order to be "liked" by the masses. It's a massive f*cking turn-off.
It’s so much sexier to be someone who owns her individual style, fierce opinions and outrageous personality quirks than it is to be someone who is trying and failing to "fit in" (what does "fitting in" even mean, anyway?).
Also, why would you ever want to date a person who simply likes the idea of you -- and not the real you?
No one has time for that, for life is too precious and too short to waste a lone minute not being YOU.
Express your opinions honestly
Let me reiterate: It’s not a job interview. It’s not an audition. It's not an open casting call. It's a DATE.
Remember that you absolutely do NOT need any validation from your date, for he or she is a stranger who means absolutely nothing to you. Don't allow strangers to inform your self-worth, ever.
Express your real thoughts and real feelings. Be honest, and if your unabashed honesty scares your date away, then he or she is a spineless loser.
And you don't date spineless losers, right? RIGHT?
Don't rehearse lines or jokes
Don't rehearse witty responses and intelligent answers and clever quips before your date. It’s such a waste of time and totally transparent.
You are so much better in the moment than you are when you're stuck in your head and reeking of the stench self-consciousness.
Think of a conversation as a game of Ping-Pong: You don't know what's coming next, and that's the fun part.
Plus you will have so much more fun when you accept that life is one great giant improvisation exercise and not a well-rehearsed performance.
Don’t spend all day getting ready
While I completely, truly understand wanting to look pretty for your date, there is no need to spend the day buffing your skin and ironing your hair.
In fact, you are so much more of an attractive human being when you're in your natural state. It took me far too long to realize this.
Throw on some lipstick, run out the door and go! No one cares if your hair is perfect and your nails are filed to perfection, especially when you have so many interesting things to say.
In the words of the always-wise fashion icon Simon Doonan:
Wear what the f*ck you like
If your date thinks you're a slut because you're wearing a crop top, f*ck what that person thinks.
If your date thinks your button-down shirt makes you a boring conservative, your date lacks imagination.
If your date hates your red lipstick, then your date is a loser.
If your date can't handle the fact that you're towering over him or her in your high heels, he or she lacks serious confidence and needs two more years of therapy before he or she is ready to be on the dating market.
Wear what you like because the bottom line is this: You look so much hotter when you're comfortable in your skin. When you feel sexy, you are sexy.