This era of my Dating Amelia column (which has been a fixture on this site, off and on, for a couple of years) is not going to last long — just this one post, actually — as I am not really dating anymore. After taking a two month dating/sex sabbatical, I sort of fell back into the dating pool when I unexpectedly met someone awesome and it’s been, for lack of a better word, on ever since. But! Over the course of my sabbatical, I thought a lot about how I would approach dating once I started back up again and I consider following a few different rules that I had either never really considered before or failed at entirely. Here are five of them — two that I have kept and three that I tossed out, not because they may not be right for you, but because they weren’t right for me.
RULE #1: Be yourself and nothing less.
One of the things I’ve written about a lot has been my knee-jerk instinct to be the “best” version of myself on dates, the “best” version being whatever aspects of my personality I can amplify that the guy would like best. Super Funny Amelia! Totally DTF Amelia! Ambitious Career Woman Amelia! I took a break from dating so I could re-familiarize myself with the importance of being my whole self, all the time. That doesn’t mean I planned on being a complete open book with everyone I met — everyone should approach that with a pace that is comfortable for them — but I also didn’t want to present a false or misleading version of myself just to acquire approval.
RULE #2: Don’t sleep with him on the first date.
Let’s be real here. This is not exactly a rule I’ve followed in the past with much commitment. The times I did follow it, I was either A) hyper aware of the fact that I was following a rule I had made for myself, B) didn’t have an interest in having sex with the dude anyway, and/or C) did everything but have sex and just saved nookie for Date #2. During my dating sabbatical, I vowed to stick to this No Sex Right Away rule because usually I found myself using an initial sexual connection as a way to get to an emotional connection and it doesn’t really work that way. And it was such a good plan! I was so drop-dead serious about it! Truly! But I threw it out the window on the first date with the person I’m now with, the first guy I went out with post-dating sabbatical — let’s, for consistencies sake, call him M. — because, well, it was different. The emotional connection, somehow, was there at the forefront right away, and the sexual connection was intertwined with it. I got wrapped up in both, with no regrets.
RULE #3: Let him contact you first.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard, “If he’s interested in you, he’ll call” and while that may be totally true, another thing is fact — if I’m interested in you, I’ll call. Or, rather, I’ll text, because I hate talking on the phone. Anyway, once back in the dating pool, my plan was to temper my enthusiasm and emotion a bit, only welcoming men into my Circle Of Caring who prioritized getting to know me before I prioritized getting to know them. This was based on having prioritized getting to know every dude ever and dealing with the crushing disappointment of having only .001 percent of them give the same amount of care back. But here’s the thing — I am an enthusiastic person and dammit, I have a lot of enthusiasm and love to share. It’s not in my nature to hold it in, at the same time, I don’t want to be giving it to people who don’t deserve it. When I met M. I could feel immediately that he was someone worthy of the enthusiasm that was bursting from my pores and, so, I texted him first. But if I hadn’t, he would have texted me.
RULE #4: Don’t get wasted on a date.
On my first date with M., I am proud to report that I consumed just two glasses of wine and that I had a filling meal to soak of the booze beforehand. I have continued to maintain a solid level of sobriety every single time we’ve been together and I am so happy to be able to remember all of our interactions vividly, without the haze of booze. It is an especially good thing, too, as M. has a superhuman memory so I want to be on top of my game. I have a lot of time before nature intervenes and I develop my mom and grandmother’s habit of telling the same stories over and over.
RULE #5: Be “mysterious.”
I am a Scorpio. This is supposed to come naturally to me, like giving mind-blowing blow jobs and exacting revenge on my enemies. Alas, I think the rare few who would find me mysterious are just those who are too far away to see how absolutely transparent I am. In dating, being mysterious means not always being available, playing coy, “leave him wanting more.” More of what, you ask? Who knows. But as I wrote in an essay last week, I don’t and have never found that mystery in someone else to be exciting, only anxiety-inducing. Still, I did toy with the idea of trying to me more mysterious this next go-around, but then I wouldn’t have been being true to myself and being true to myself was the first rule I made for myself that I vowed to keep. I’m 31 years old and I am not mysterious. Go read an Agatha Christie novel if that’s what you want.