As you know, I get a lot of Auntie Seraphic emails. And I think I must get some of the best-written emails out there because they are usually so crystal clear. They have an excellent narrative structure, dialogue, and lots of detail. I read along quite easily, and my mind says, "Uh huh, uh huh. Mm hmm. Good. Uh huh. Yes. Oh, wait. OH NO!!!!"
Sadly, there is all too often the great train wreck moment, which is all too easy to recognize because of the train wrecks of my own life of dating, which began when I was fourteen. Incidentally, I would never, ever, ever allow my daughter (if I had one) to begin dating at fourteen. My mother decided I could because she had been invited by an upperclassman to the prom when she was fourteen. In 1962 or whatever. Definitely before the world went to hell. Me, I would be like, "Darling, there is no point in you dating until you are of marriageable age. And if you have trouble finding anyone, your daddy will introduce you to historical house loving viscounts of clean life."
I would be the most awesome mother of the 2030s.
Anyway, I won't put the most recent email up yet. Instead I will harp on a theme inspired by its train wreck, which is "Never sound too grateful to have been taken out on a date."
Imagine a purely hypothetical reader--not the writer of this email I am thinking of--who is, say, 22, and hasn't dated all that much. Many of her friends--it feels like most or all--back at her super-religious college got married to their college sweethearts shortly after graduation, leaving her feeling like chopped liver. She is a pretty, intelligent, loyal, chatty, fun girl, so she doesn't know why she doesn't get asked out on dates. (Hands up all who identify with this hypothetical reader.)
However, then something great happens. She gets asked out on a date by an NCB. She isn't sure how she feels about this guy, but he's accomplished, good-looking, has a good character, goes to Mass. So she goes on the date, and it is a great date. They talk and talk and talk. And--huzzah!--they go out on a second date. And they talk and talk and talk and after dinner and the film, the guy still wants to talk, so instead of taking her home, he invites her out for drinks, and they talk and talk some more. And when he finally takes her home, your hypothetical fellow reader gushes, "You know, I never dreamed ever in my life that someone could be so nice to me."
No third date.
"What happened?" wails the hypothetical reader.
"What happened?" wailed my real reader, of her situation.
"What happened?" I wailed several times, of various of my own situations.
All over the world, resounding through the ages, are the voices of young women wailing "What happened?"
I'll tell you what happened. First, there was too much talking. Second, the dates went on too long. Third, the hypothetical reader sounded pathetically grateful, as if she had been lifted out of the gutter, hair matted, wounds festering, flies buzzing about, and bathed clean by Mother Teresa so that she could die in comfort.
That is no way to talk to men, m'kay? Men are horrible savages who are lucky that women pay them any attention at all.
No, I take that back. I love men. Men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. But a man who is completely deprived of female company is not the self-sufficient hero of individualism he might pretend to be. He is greatly to be pitied. If there is no-one around to pity a man who cannot get as much as a kind word or a hug from a woman, he pities himself. He is tempted to write bitter misogynist screeds on the manosphere and, worst case scenario, starts plotting to shoot women at his health club.
In short, if a man asks you out for dinner, or to a film, you are doing him a favour by going. He is paying you a compliment, and you are bestowing the pleasure of your company upon him. For up to two hours (maybe three), he has a woman's undivided attention, or at least her presence as you watch a film, play or lecture together. This is a big deal in Man Land, especially among men who can't ask women out, for a variety of reasons, or who have been refused time and time again.
However, this does not mean that men are itching to have big heart-to-heart, three-hour-long chats once a week with the same woman for the rest of their lives. That's what good female friends itch for. And, despite first and even second date evidence to the contrary, men get very bored by hours and hours of chat. It's like they have a limited number of words they can say and (especially) hear, and if you let them use them all up on the first two dates, there will be none left for a third date.
The solution to this problem is to keep early dates short. SHORT. Coffee date = one hour, and then you must dash. Dinner date = two hours max and then you must dash. Dinner and film date = no drink afterwards although you'd love to, but you really must dash.
Another wise thing to do is to keep a lid on your most private and personal feelings and memories. The idea, as in all entertainment, is to keep them wanting more. If Mr Date finds out enough about you on Date 1 to (wrongly, of course) thinks he has you figured out, he might not be curious enough to ask you out on Date 2.
And, for heaven's sake, you must not look or sound pathetically grateful to a man for asking you out because if you do, he will start to wonder if there is something wrong with you. Men look to each other for cues as to how to treat women, so if you give a man the impression that normal behaviour for men is to ignore you, then don't be surprised if he drops you like a hot potato.
This is not an invitation to go to the other extreme and act like a "princess." (Real princesses, by the way, are trained from birth to make other people feel special and happy in their presence.) This is just a reminder that as a woman you are more important to men then they generally want to admit, for fear of looking vulnerable or stupid or whatever, and it is perfectly natural for them to ask you out, if they do. It is a nice compliment to you as a woman, and you are paying them a compliment just by saying yes.
At the same time, you value yourself and your time as so valuable, that you have only so much to bestow upon any man not your kinsman or husband. Your most private thoughts, feelings and stories are for yourself alone, or to share with proven friends, because they are so valuable and you would like others to know you hold them valuable. Capisce?
Take it away, Stevie.