A Beginner’s Guide to Romance 

Design by Karela Palazio

Born of my own first date experiences and the behaviors of the men I’ve dated, the following guidelines will teach you self-preservation. This guidebook is my attempt to shield you from tragic first dates like the ones I’ve been on—which, among other mishaps, have ended in a guy clutching a vanilla ice cream cone as he describes his type as short gingers. I’m a 5’7” black-haired girl. But thank you, Jason, for letting me know. 

Rest assured: I do not hate all men—only the ones I’ve interacted with. This makes me an expert at navigating female-male interactions. How will I save you from the fatal first date disappointment that Reddit user u/somanybutts claims describes 90% of her first dates? Prepare yourself.

First, let me clarify. You should NEVER ask them out. If a friend of the man who you’ve been crushing on for the past two years confronts you with the question, “Do you like [insert romantic interest’s name]?” deny, deny, deny. The key is to remain as ambiguous as possible. As a matter of fact, you might as well introduce yourself as a married woman pregnant with her second child. 

This is all light work. We haven’t even gotten to the heart of the performance yet. This might start at the local minigolf parlor. Or maybe their favorite contemporary art museum. (Warning: successful museum first dates are contingent upon you yawning every five to ten minutes.) Wherever this first date takes you, follow my lead:  

  • Arrive late—at least 15 to 30 minutes late. This will intrigue the man you are trying to woo as he spirals into self-doubt and humiliation.  
  • Do not engage in conversation. Refer to my first date with a guy named Jerry. Once we arrived at Pepe’s, any recollection of our late-night conversations about his hopes and dreams, how many kids he wants, and his fear of becoming his father seemed to have slipped his memory. He exclusively said “yes,” “no,” and the occasional “hmm… not sure.” After observing his behavior, I now understand that this tactic presents you as being so captivated by the conversation that you’re actually unable to form complete sentences.
  • Adopt a new persona at the half-way mark. When the conversation eases into silence, rip your shirt off and start belting “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
  • Do not offer to pay. Also, ask for monetary compensation for the sacrifice of your time. 
  • Do not text after parting ways. In fact, block them on all platforms. Including LinkedIn. 
  • Do not look in their direction after this first date. If they are in your class, disguise yourself with a fake goatee. 
  • Do not wave at them when in a group setting. Rather, pull their best friend close to you and make out for at least 2.36 minutes. More is always better.
  • Do not acknowledge their existence. 
  • If possible, kill them to eliminate the possibility of a second date. 

**A special thanks goes out to the boys who inspired this piece. Thank you for your endless support and for your existence.

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