Had dinner tonight with some girl friends of mine. They’re nosey and I tell them everything, so the subject of my recent object of affection came up. I wanted their perspective on the dating thing and I didn’t even have to ask. One asked almost immediately:

“You asked her out?” and she was serious, continued, “How does that go?”

“I had gotten to know her, asked her out, got her number, called a few days later…” I said.

She looked legitimately confused.

“So you asked her out…on a date?”

She dismissed me like I was speaking fucking sputnik. I also knew exactly why.

“Look” I said, “I’m not saying it’s the best way to go. My best relationships started after a night of drinking and fucking.”

They lit up in agreement. For the next hour we traded dating horror stories. Not a single relationship began with a date. We all agreed that dating is the fucking worst.

I’m honestly more confused about this than anything I’ve been in a while.

More About Young People and Dating

Like that awesome title? Took me two seconds to think it up.

//pro move

So last week I expressed some shock over what I’d found regarding what young people do instead of traditionally dating. More and more are resorting to hanging out. Less pressure, not as awkward, doesn’t feel like a job interview. I get it.

But I still thought that if a girl did meet a guy she liked and he offered free food then she’d probably accept. Apparently not.

I asked a friend, 25, if she or girls younger than her dated. “No” was the answer I got.

Then I did what all guys do when confronted with a question regarding women (or girls, more accurately): I asked a guy that doles out fantasy football advice on the internet. His response to my particular situation:

I have no idea. I just turned 33, and my girlfriend is [REDACTED], close enough in age to be on the same page from jump. By the time I reached my late 20s, I realized I couldn’t find much common ground with a woman younger than about 26, not unless she was on at least her second job since college and had life stories to tell that didn’t happen on campus. So I’m not exactly tuned in to the young folk outside of the emails I get for the mailbag and the brief glimpses of the CW and MTV I get while writing about TV. So I don’t know.

But if I had to guess… maybe younger people think of a “date” as something more antiquated than it really is? Whether you want to blame the societal move toward sexual equality or the pussification of our nation’s young people, there are fewer strong male role models in America, and as the chivalrous “strong, silent type” archetype has crumbled, so too has the notion of a “date” where the man shows up to the door holding flowers and drives the woman to dinner and a movie. Kids grow up hanging out in groups and making out at parties, not going out on a traditional dates. So even though taking a woman out to dinner is the most normal thing to do with a girl you’ve met and hit it off with, it’s possible — even likely — that it’s a foreign concept to her.

Anyway, that’s my theory, and if it’s true, young people are even stupider than I thought. It’s free food with someone you like! Fucking say yes!

Moving forward, perhaps it would be better not to say the words “date” or “Can I take you out?” I like the question, “Would you like to meet up for a drink?” It’s not as formal as a full-on date, it doesn’t sound immature like “hanging out,” and it offers both of you several options: you meet on neutral territory; she has the option of leaving after a harmless drink; you have the option to be chivalrous and pay for her drink; and — best of all — a drink can become several drinks, which could lead to anything from dinner (!) to sexy bad decisions.

Probably good advice. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have asked her out. “Meet up”, “get a drink”…whatever. It probably accomplishes the same thing, whether it’s called a date or not.


#87 – Heart – Alone (1987)

#87 – Heart – Alone (1987)

Why it made the list: Because…because……son of a bitch. SON OF A BITCH.

In my last post I made reference to feeling disappointed when finding out how a song was written. Well, I could have easily gone the rest of my life without knowing that not only didn’t the Wilson sisters write this song, their version is actually a motherfucking cover, originally performed by i-TEN (who?). Hell, by the time Heart got a hold of it, the song had been performed by John Stamos.

Is this real life? Seriously, I feel like my whole world has been a lie.

Ugh…anyway, Heart was one of my earliest favorite bands. I loved Michael Jackson, then I loved Heart. I still remember the first time I heard them. My uncle took me trick or treating in Eau Claire when I was young, and on the way from Rice Lake he played Heart’s 1985 self-titled album that had songs like “What About Love”, “Never”, “These Dreams” and “Nothin’ at All”.

Being young and impressionable, I’m going to blame that night for shaping my musical tastes for the next thirty years. I love me some female fronted bands.

But Heart’s version of Alone would be their biggest single ever. It also marked the moment I realized that I was into girls. Seriously, I had crush on Nancy Wilson for like two decades after seeing her in the below music video.


#88 – Madonna – Crazy For You (1985)

#88 – Madonna – Crazy For You (1985)

Why it’s on the list: Because like a couple other songs on this list, it was a favorite when I first heard it and stood the test of time.

Have you ever heard a song and became disappointed when you heard how it was written? No? That’s just me? Shit.

Well anyway, in my ideal world Madonna had a one nighter and wrote this the next day. In reality a couple movie producers wanted to capitalize on Madonna’s insane fame back in the mid-80s and employed a couple writers to write something for her to which it would be used on their soundtrack. That was really long and shitty sentence.

Whatever. Great song.


#89 – Taylor Swift – Tim McGraw (2006)

#89 – Taylor Swift – Tim McGraw (2006)

First heard: 2008

Why it made the list: Because it’s Taylor Swift and she had to be represented somewhere on here for Christ’s sake.

I was relatively late to the Taylor Swift bandwagon. Sort of. Our Song, her third single, was the first song of hers I’d actually heard. It was impossible to avoid.

But it wasn’t until mid way through 2008 that I became a legit fan. I was home in Marshfield, staying at my parents place. They were playing CMT and the music video for Tim McGraw came on. Immediately loved the song. I downloaded her first album that week and sorta loved it.

Later that year she released Fearless and became the biggest crossover star on the planet. Since then I’ve probably listened to her stuff as much as anyone else. I can’t help it; it’s all so goddamn catchy.

If I were the type of person who had any embarrassment over the kind of music they listen to, this would bother me. It might even be shameful to admit that if this was my top 500 songs of all time, I could probably include over a dozen Taylor Swift songs.

But it’s the top 100, and this is the only one of hers that made the list. It’s a good one.


#90 – Corey Hart – Never Surrender (1985)

#90 – Corey Hart – Never Surrender (1985)

Why it made the list: Because the song came out over 25 years ago, and it still finds its way onto my iPod consistently.

Around the time MTV was getting huge, there was Night Tracks and Chart Busters, two blocks of music videos found on TBS. My folks used to tape them, almost weekly, and my brother and I would watch. We didn’t listen to the radio and this was before CDs were mainstream, so it was our only source of music outside of what our parents played.

For some reason Ben and I really loved this music video, and by extension this song. It wasn’t the only one we could say this about from that era, obviously, but it’s one of only two that made it onto this list. Never Surrender is hella cheesy, but sorta classic.


Dating Died, and I’m Only Finding Out a Decade Late

So dating died (apparently a while ago) and nobody had the good sense to tell me. The signs have been there, the evidence plenty. But it took a long holiday weekend rife with boredom to make me realize how little I knew.

I thought the steps to a relationship were still pretty standard. Boy asks a girl for a number. He waits a period of time before asking her out on a date. After drinks or coffee, boy tells the girl he’d like to see her again and they go for dinner and movie. That’s the second date. The third date…well fuck if I know because I haven’t one in years. As I understood it that third date is the serious one.

In the interest of full disclosure, I loathe traditional dating. It feels too much like a job interview, something I’d probably rather do because it feels like it serves a purpose. It’s not that I think I’m bad at the traditional date; I’m not even sure I’ve been on a bad one. But there’s just something very, “OK, what are we even doing here” about spending an hour talking bullshit over a cup of french roast. If it were up to me, something like that would come long after she’s spent the night and left a toothbrush at my place.

So it was with a bit of awe and a whole lot of delight to learn that the rest of the world shared similar sentiments. No, really. It’s true. I read it on the internet.

Googling “Is Dating Dead” will bring up a seemingly endless amount of data to support the notion that, yes, it is. From the time students enter college to into their late 20s and even 30s, dating is out and “hanging out” is in.

From a USA Today article on the subject, this was particularly interesting to me.

“For the majority of students, they’re not going to dinner and a movie unless they’ve hooked up with someone. Some physical interaction comes before the dating,” he says. Often, “dates happen after a relationship, rather than before.”

It’s easy to say that this is a college thing and dismiss it. But think of the people you’re trying to date. How many years removed are they from this time in their lives? What if this is all they know of the modern relationship?

This isn’t confined to people in college. It was the same story when I was in my mid 20s. My friends and I would meet people, there would be a hookup or a series of hookups, eventually we would be comfortable enough around them to actually go on a date.

From an odd source, yea. But I think they hit the nail on the head here.

As dates become fewer and more elaborate, this seems to create an expectation that a date implies seriousness or continuing commitment. That expectation discourages dating even more. Gone is the clumsy and inexpensive phone call your parents and grandparents and I used to make. That call went something like this: “What’re ya doin’ tonight? How about a movie?” Or, “How about taking a walk downtown?”

Think about that for a moment. What if a simple date is being taken as a sign of serious commitment? I thought a first or second date was something you do for the hell of it. What if it’s instead seen as, “Oh. This guy really likes me.” Who the hell wants someone thinking that so early on?

This 31 year old details the trouble she’s found when trying to jump back into the dating universe.

But it seems anymore that dating has taken on a new term—hanging out. Hanging out seems so casual, involves less commitment, less wow factor, and comes with less expectations. My office mate here at Kiss, who shall remain anonymous, is 25 and when I ask him what he’s doing this weekend his response is, “hanging out with fill in the blank”. Hanging out like you are taking her on a date? Nope just hanging out…

What happened to the old days when a guy would call you or ask you face to face to go to dinner and he’ll pick you up at 7? Instead it seems like people are either looking just for a hookup or just to “hang out”. Things are seldom planned anymore. It’s like hey I’m bored, wanna come over?

The NY Times has had its say.

Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date.

A female professor of psychology weighs in.

Last week I was having lunch with a girl friend and we somehow ended up on the topic of romance and the current dating scene. By the end of lunch, we reached the conclusion that romance is pretty much dead. I was devastated at the thought, but I think we’re right.


If romance is dead, what comes next? I really don’t know, but it’s looking like the routine is to have sex and then hope that there is some emotional connection afterwards. This pattern is not true for everyone, of course, but it is becoming more prevalent among the women I’m talking with these days.

A 27 year old woman lays it out in the Huff Post why “Everything You Believe About Dating is Wrong“.

Long story short: dating is dead. Oh sure, we all end up on a date every once in a while. But traditional dating is no longer the primary path to love.

I love the weekly NY Mag Sex Diaries.

3:30 a.m. I text Mike … that I had a good time and would really like to hang out. Ten minutes later he texts me back saying the he would “be down” for hanging out and that we should do it on a weeknight when things aren’t crazy with the parties. I text him back saying he is confusing. He asks how. I felt daring and told him because I can never tell what he want from me. I haven’t heard from him since.

The Diaries are filled with these kinds of casualties and near misses. (“I love this man,” thinks one Diarist mid-coitus. “Mental anxiety attack when I realize I almost said this out loud.”) The commenters have no sympathy for these emotional miscalculations. This, by contrast, from one of the most well-received Diaries (“The TV Producer Who Knows Everyone”) that ever ran:

3 p.m. Already received two texts and countless Facebook IM’s from the Brit. Am slowly starting to realize I have a Stage Five Clinger on my hands. He asks me to hang out again this coming Sunday. I do not respond.

Notice a theme there?

Study: Young Adults Have Sex Before First Date.

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD author of the NY Times Reader’s Choice Award for Best Dating Book 2010 Make Up Don’t Break Up expresses concern over the trend that young singles are dating less and hooking up more for sex before they even go on a first date. “This trend results in women lowering standards, and singles are not learning how to get a relationship started.”

Alright, enough of the references. If this thing reads like a college term paper, what with all the sources, it’s only because I’m legitimately excited. The reasons are obvious, namely that they explain away the last two or three years of my life. The women I’ve been involved with (if you can call it that) range from ages 22 to 27. They’re exactly the demographic the articles above reference. Hell I’m in that demographic, but them more-so. When Jess (the bartender who bungled things with) asked me out, she didn’t say “Hey would you like to go to a movie some night?” She said, “So when are you and I gonna get together for some beers?” It doesn’t get a whole lot more casual than that. When I did try and make up for blowing it I got her number. But instead of asking her to hang out, I asked if she wanted to get dinner. I’m still waiting for that first date.

Things with Lindsay stalled after a second date. She was more than willing to get drunk and stay over at my place, but dinner and a movie was out.

I actually managed to get two dates with a girl named Rachel. There wouldn’t be a third. She told me that she wasn’t really thinking about a relationship at this point in her life but we should definitely hang out sometime. I took it to mean that we wouldn’t be seeing each other again and stopped communicating. But hell, what if she really did mean she wanted to hang out in the sense that it means from the above links? I doubt it, but at the moment I’m questioning everything I thought I knew.

This brings me to the girl I asked out a few weeks ago. When I got her number and asked if she wanted to get together, she seemed legitimately into the idea. I called her on the phone, asked her out to dinner. I didn’t get the sense she was overly into it. When I followed up on the weekend with the text asking her when I could take her out, I probably only further confirmed with her that I was trapped in a time she wasn’t used to. Date? Who the hell does that?

Even movies and TV are pushing this revolution. The best rom-com of the year involves little dating, more hooking up, less emotion.


I’m a mission to test this theory. I still talk with the girl in question from the last few weeks regularly, though I stopped chasing because I assumed her level of interest in me was non-existent. I’m going to find out if that’s the case, or if she simply wasn’t into dating. At some point I’m gonna ask her, “So, wanna hang out tonight?”

#91 – The Gin Blossoms – Til I Hear it From You

#91 – The Gin Blossoms – ‘Til I Hear it From You

Why it Made The List: The Gin Blossoms were my original favorite band. I owned other CDs and liked other music back then, but New Miserable Experience was the first album that seemed to speak to me and only me. When Hey Misery and Alison Road and Until I Fall Away came on the radio I’d look around to my friends with a look as if to say, “Hey! ASSHOLES. DO YOU NOT HEAR THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS INVADING YOUR EARHOLES.”

Til I hear it from you came towards the end of my interest in the Gin Blossoms. It was apparent that they were done and the music landscape was shifting towards boy bands and RnB. I used to be pissed that the only way to hear it was on the soundtrack to Empire Records.

Still, it was an amazing song. According to wikipedia…

Billboard magazine called the single “the closest thing to a perfect pop song to hit radio in recent memory”

I agree.