Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Gentlemen's Day (April)

First of all, happy birthday to my brother Nulli Secundus. Second, welcome to the eavesdroppers who are still clicking to my blog because they cannot resist my allure. In the words (or to paraphrase the words) of a repentant German scientist at Harvard, "I wouldn't have gone out with you, but you were such a good writer."

"What about my beautiful blue eyes?" is what I should have said in reply. But that's all water under the River Street Bridge, and now that I'm married, the bachelors of the world can take me out for a coffee without being haunted by the doleful chime of phantom wedding bells.

"I don't mind you having coffee," says my husband, "but you're not allowed to pay."

Occasionally a young bachelor of the world puts aside his natural reluctance to allow women tell him what to do and asks for my advice. Obviously I find this charming.  I am reminded of the time a very sharp man took me and a pal shopping for our friend, his fiancee. We led him straight to Tiffany's. He shelled out, our friend was happy, they now have two children, it's a wonderful world.

Okay, so here is a bachelor asking me how to negotiate a first date at a dance. I've edited the letter a bit.

Dear Auntie Seraphic,


I have a date on Saturday.  I met a cute girl at swing-dancing, and after dismissing all the reasons I was coming up with not to ask her out, I went ahead and asked. We're meeting up for dinner and then going out to the dance (not being from the area, it was the only thing I could come up with without access to a computer to do research). The fact that the dance starts at a particular time will prevent dinner from dragging on uncomfortably.

Of course, the fact that we're going to the dance presents an interesting question that I hadn't considered when I offered the date. Swing dancing is a social dance, and there is an expectation that you will not dance with the same partner every dance (although some couples do that). I'm not quite sure how to strike the balance.  

On Gentlemen's Day, a post on first date expectations or what not to do on a first day would be most welcome. I'd be interested in your readerships's perspective.

Best Wishes,
Eavesdropper

Dear Eavesdropper,

That sounds like an intense first date but because just having coffee is completely impractical, it sounds reasonable. Dinner and dancing is pretty traditional. 

I recommend saying something between dinner and the dance like "Save me the first and last dances!" That way she'll feel free to dance with other guys, and you'll feel free to dance with other girls, and yet the most psychologically date-like dances will be all yours. (By the way, if you see her ever all by herself during a dance, and you don't have a partner yet, you may want to rescue her. Technically, she's your guest all evening, so you're in charge of making sure she is always having a good time.)

As for first date stuff, all I can say at the moment is look good, open doors for the lady, help her with her coat, ask her what she wants to eat, don't complain about anything, find out what she's interested in, listen as much as you talk, pay the bill and help her with her coat again. Finally, it's your responsibility to make sure she gets home safely. 

Keep an ear out for any red flags, but also remember that almost nobody is truly their best selves on the first date!  

Grace and peace,
Seraphic


Incidentally, the opening-the-door, helping-with-the-coat stuff is a good way of determining if a girl likes you that much or  is at all worth your time. Any girl who protests on a date, on an actual date, that she can open her own doors (duh) is not worth asking on a second date. As for coats,  I almost always need help with my coat. And I am always charmed when I am helped with my winter coat in particular because frankly I cannot negotiate the sleeves without flapping around like a seagull with its head stuck in a tin can. And of course it is flattering that a man would be that attentive to my needs and act as though he were willing to assist me in any difficulty, no matter how small. Of course usually he is not, but a teeny-weeny bit of illusion brightens a girl's day.

Now let me see. Questions for the gentlemen.  Female readers should not respond to anything the gentlemen say until tomorrow. Stand back and allow them some oxygen.

Nzie the Rosy Gardener has asked:

1. Are there certain things that make you think a girl you might otherwise be interested in wouldn't be interested in you? 

I'm asking because my mom suggested, and I think she's right, that I often put myself in a sister-like role and short-circuit dating possibilities. I think it's a combination of the fact that I'm very used to being big sisterly, and I'm a bit nervous/shy. So if there are behaviors that give off that impression, I'd like to know so I can pay attention to my own behavior (and hopefully stop turning into everyone's sister). :-)

2. What do you consider evidence of approachability of a woman for date-asking purposes? Do these matter less the stronger you're attracted to someone?

3. Do you feel like adding in the shared faith element makes people less interesting than they normally are when they meet outside religious dating contexts?
(Context/Explanation: It seems to me people think because they share faith and values, they *have* to discuss it, show how well read or devout they are, etc... is that something you've experienced? is there a "good way" to do it?)

4. What are you most worried about girls judging you based on? Looks? Money? Job/car/etc.? 

22 comments:

thisjourneyofmylife said...

Can I add a question too?
Growing up in the evangelical church, I heard a lot about the man being the 'head of the household' and, well, just being in charge of everything. I haven't really heard anything like that in the Catholic Church (yet) and I wonder how young Catholic men look upon this.

Sensitive Woman said...

No, no, no! If he doesn't dance with her the whole time, she may not ever go out with him again (I wouldn't).

Personally, I would think it is so inappropriate for him to ask other women to dance on OUR first date.

Young man, please stick by your date's side, and the chance remains that she may love you forever :)

Bernadette said...

I've been swing dancing for years, and have gone to dances both with dates and on my own. It really is the norm in swing dancing that you dance with everyone, regardless of who you are with. It would be somewhat rude not to. Going to a swing dance, and only dancing with the person you came with would be like going to a party and refusing to speak to anyone except your date.

Honestly, I would feel suffocated if my date insisted on dancing with me and only me the entire night. The main difference, for me, when I go to a dance as someone's date is that I dance with them more often - more than just the first and last dance - and return to them between dances. And then, when one of those songs comes on that I just *have* to dance to, I tend to look for my date to dance with. But the point of the dance is that you go there to dance with everyone.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite. Eavesdropper - I would tell my date I will not be dancing with any other girl, so that I am available to dance with her for any dance she wishes, but she can dance with others if she would like to. If there is a severe shortage of guys, you could ask your date if it's okay to dance with other girls, but... hmmmm. My feelings are similar to Sensitive Woman, but Bernadette's expertise suggests otherwise, so it seems okay to dance with others if your date doesn't mind. Otherwise, what Seraphic said.

This Journey of My Life - I am a cradle Catholic attending ordinary form Mass in a pretty liberal town (for perspective). I always thought the 'husband is head of the family' thing had to be balanced by love of your spouse; see the reciprocity in 1 Peter 3:7 and 1 Corinthians 7:4 and Ephesians 5:22. Most Catholic men I know would not see themselves as 'being in charge of everything', and their girlfriends/wives would quickly set them straight if they did ;)

Nzie - do my best:
1. Not really - only if she showed contempt or sneered at me or was constantly disagreeing with anything I said! Nervous & shy girls are actually very attractive to many guys, so I wouldn't worry about that putting guys off. Of course, I know it may make it harder for you to respond to attention from guys, but so long as you don't actively shun them, that shouldn't put them off. And if you do freak out and put him off, just later tell him 'sorry, you startled me before, but I'm happy to talk now'.

2. If she looks at, smiles at, and speaks to me. Pretty minimal, but surprisingly often absent. We blokes can (mostly) distinguish between aloof/haughty girls and shy girls - the latter are fine, the former not so much. And the stronger we are attracted to a girl, the more we hope for such positive signs of interest (looks, smiles, talks with)! Most guys I know look for some sign of interest before asking a girl out. No sign of interest, no ask out. We really don't want to waste your time asking you if you are not remotely interested in us, so we look for some clue. Perhaps we need better glasses :)

3. Interesting question. Can't help really, as I haven't had such conversations! Few Catholics here seem to have deep theological conversations (sadly). Life isn't all about that, but we are Catholic, right?

4. Obviously, we have to provide a 'spark of attraction' to a girl, so judging us on looks is fine, but if you loudly and unfavourably compare us to your vampire heartthrob of the week, we may get a tad miffed. And I know girls want to feel a guy can provide for her, but some woman can be stunningly crass about material things. Asking how much we earn (on a first date) was rude in any Western culture, I thought. Apparently not.
Money/poverty is an interesting criteria, esp. given how many women earn more than men now. Many guys I know earn so little they don't ask girls out, because they feel Christian women would expect a bit better. Thoughts?

Hope this is of some use.
Southern Bloke.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nzie,
1) I would never ask a women out who did not smile at me. Also, if she does not laugh or seem engaged by whatever sort of conversation we've had then it is unlikely that I will pursue her since it seems obvious that I have nothing to offer her. I find shyness both attractive and frustrating, but shyness is different from "big sisterness." The latter, at least in my mind, involves giving advice very freely and often with imperative undertones - NOT attractive. :-) I do like those women but only as friends.
2) If she smiles at me and seems interested in speaking with me, I'm much more inclined to approach her. This needs to be balanced, however, against a sense of neediness. It is one thing to be interested and open to future conversations that I initiate; it's another for the woman to pursue me. (I recently had this occur at a dance. There was a girl that was interested in our conversation and there was one who was very proactive in pursuing more conversations with me despite it being a social dance. I wanted to talk with the former much more than the latter.)
3) I love discussing matters that actually matter. I find it intrinsically interesting and a good gauge whether there exists any intellectual chemistry. I know of others who use religious conversation as an opportunity to show off their rubrical knowledge, etc and am not very attracted to that.
4) Weakness. Most people, I believe, assume I'm something of a non-entity.

Best,
JJR

P.S.
Thanks, Seraphic, for another Gents' Day. Though tomorrow's feast would have been keeping with the St. Joseph's theme. :-)

P.P.S.
I would advise dancing with others at a first date. Show that you have real social skills. Give her a chance to see you interact charmingly with your erstwhile partners (though not too charmingly). Of course, give her especial attention and try to dance special songs with her ("This is my favorite song... even if it Sing, Sing, Sing at 800 bps."), but I think it would be stifling on a first date to stay by her constantly. I usually dismiss those couples as boring. Why come to a dance if you are only interested in sitting together?

We'reNotReallyHere said...

4. I think all guys have insecurities that they deal with. Job situation is probably a common one--certainly the one I've dealt with the most. But honestly, I think the biggest thing that most guys worry about is that they'll just look like nervous squabs when they approach a woman they are attracted to. I think there's actually scientific evidence suggesting that men actually have trouble thinking straight when they are around someone they consider particularly attractive. So that's honestly the biggest worry I have with regard to women judging me. I'm afraid I'll choke and look like a spineless mumbling jellyfish whenever I ask a girl out or ask for her number.

I would humbly suggest to the women out there that, even if a guy tends to nervously mumble while asking you out, try to give him a chance. Confidence is obviously very attractive, but the nervous mumbler who just asked you out may very well be a highly confident individual in his day-to-day life. He might not be, but he might. What I'm saying is, I suggest giving that guy a chance.

Also, many shy men (and women) are also very confident people. (And many introverts are not shy, they're just introverts). Men all have insecurities, so a woman who affirms him and builds him up will go a long way towards breaking down those mental blocks. IMO there is nothing more attractive than a woman around whom I feel safe letting my guard down.

I threw this post together quickly on my lunch break, so hopefully it makes sense. ^_^

Anonymous said...

@ This Journey of My Life - thinking more about it, perhaps Catholics are (hopefully) influenced by Marian aspects of our faith? Maybe the centrality of Mary as Queen of Heaven in the Catholic faith, influences the way Catholic men see their spouses?

@ JJR - 2. Was the latter girl, the one trying to drive further conversations, too pushy or domineering? Or was it the tenor of her conversation that you disliked? Just curious, as I'm not so offput by girls pursuing conversation, so trying to understand.

@ We're Not Really Here - YES! Thanks for that; agree with everything you said. I clean forgot how tongue-tied a guy can get (exclusively) around the girl he is interested in. Linguistically loquacious around other ladies, but addressing the lass he likes....different story.

Mind you, I wonder if all this is kinda academic? How many single Catholics in their 20s/30s/40s are there in your parish/diocese? I can count those in my parish (1,500-1,800 Sunday massgoers) on my fingers. Hard to ask a gal out on a date if you never meet 'em. How do others find that?

Signing off (different time zones and all),
Southern Bloke.
P.S. Thanks for the invite Seraphic.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Hi Seraphic! Great to see another day for us guys to answer questions. :) I do not have too long today, but I will answer what I can in the meantime.
(Truncated introduction, since I introduced myself last time: I am fairly young, engaged, getting married this July, and I consider myself fairly strongly to be a traditionalist Catholic.)

"Are there certain things that make you think a girl you might otherwise be interested in wouldn't be interested in you? "

I will go out on a limb here a bit. I think that if a girl is not actively sending 'available' signals, the guy will assume she is not available. *Unless* he has really really fallen for her and intends to pursue her through hell or high water. I think that guys need some encouragement if they are going to ask a girl out. Basically, for the average guy (at least in my opinion), absence of evidence of attraction is evidence of absence. Haha.
So, I might suggest that if you feel you are accidentally 'short-circuiting' the advances of guys in your life, it might be worthwhile to come up with a few things you might do to encourage their attention, and if you have some interest in them at all when you meet them, use a couple of those signals and see if they respond.

"Do you feel like adding in the shared faith element makes people less interesting than they normally are when they meet outside religious dating contexts?"

I do not think so. For me the shared faith acted as a context I could be confident in, which meant I could say certain things without (or at least with much less) fear of offending. At the same time, some of my biggest interests are theology and the liturgy, so I kind of 'needed' a Catholic girl to be around so that I could talk about those things.
I am more of the opinion that mixed marriages are tricky. I know that many people make it work, but I am not sure I could have. I feel like if I am going to spend the rest of my life with someone, we should share the things that are most important to me.

"What are you most worried about girls judging you based on? Looks? Money? Job/car/etc.? "

That is a great question, and I am having trouble answering it. My gut reaction is "all of the above", and for any individual guy his biggest worry will be whatever thing he is most self-conscious about. For me, my biggest fear was always embarrassing myself and coming off as awkward, and I think that is a big one that tends to get overlooked. I also know a lot of guys are self-conscious about how they look, because there is a wide perception (I am not sure whether or not it is true) that a girl has a much easier time getting a date than a guy does, so they have to really stand out.
I am fairly young though, so most of my interaction with people is in an academic context, where grades are generally more important than jobs. I have a feeling that one's job will be a much bigger issue after I have finally left school.

"Growing up in the evangelical church, I heard a lot about the man being the 'head of the household' and, well, just being in charge of everything. I haven't really heard anything like that in the Catholic Church (yet) and I wonder how young Catholic men look upon this."

It might depend on who you are talking to. Those of us with more traditional preferences are probably more inclined to talk about this. I do think that in a certain sense the man is the 'head of the family', but I certainly do not believe that puts women into a subservient role or something like that. I really enjoy Alice von HIldebrand and Gertrud von le Fort for subjects like this one.


Thanks for the opportunity to sound off, Seraphic.

Irenaeus

Anonymous said...

Dear Southern Bloke,
Now that I consider it more, it was a combination of her pursuit combined with the teasing of my dancing friends (both male and female) that made me reluctant to talk. The conversation was interesting, and I was enjoying learning more about her field of study. When someone tells me to get a phone number, however, I immediately resist. If I ask a woman out it is because I am interested and not because some (however well intentioned) friend pushes me into it. I'll immediately begin pushing the other way.

JJR

Anonymous said...

While I think of it, I have a question for y'all. What, Ladies, do you focus on the most when a man is first introduced to you or approaches you for a date? This will vary case by case, I'm sure, but I'm curious whether looks, confidence, charm, etc tend to blend into one overall impression, or does one trait become more important than the others?

Thanks!
JJR

amlovesmusic said...

JJR: I think it is a combination of all of it, with looks coming first. I know when I meet a guy, I immediately try and categorize him into "friendzone" and "possible future boyfriend material" after the first conversation or two. I know, a horrible habit, but it is unconscious. If you look like the man a woman thinks is attractive, you have a good chance of getting a "yes" within a week to a month of meeting her. If you don't, and don't get the vibe that she is interested in you, friend-zone her. Keep up contact, but not too much. She might turn around later, but don't hold your breath for her. Sometimes for us girls, as we get to know a guy, anything that may have put us off in the looks department may suddenly become endearing.

In that vein, I have a question for you men: If you have been talking to a girl in a purely group setting, and gotten to know her in a group setting, and gotten to be friends...and you are shy....how would you go about asking her out? Would it take longer and MORE courage since right now you are "just friends"? Would it take some sort of sign or encouragement from the girl to get you to try and move it forward? Does it even happen that way?

c'est la vie said...

@JJR:

To me personally, confidence is most attractive when I meet a man.I guess this is bad news for the men whose knees turn to jelly at the prospect of approaching a female, but I wouldn't mind if a man was a bit nervous when asking me out as long as he projected confidence about other aspects of his life. I think there are some fairly simple ways to do this.

For instance if his interactions with other people present were confident and friendly, that would help. If he carried himself well and dressed well, that would project confidence. Also, a man who shows that he likes his occupation seems more confident than one who acts as if his job were stupid or boring. Discreet kindness to people other than the girl he is trying to impress shows he has the confidence to forget about himself.


Confidence with a bit of charm trumps looks for me every time.

Katie said...

JJR, I would say the first things that make an impression are demeanor, smile, and eye contact. If a man seems at ease and like he is confident and engaging, I'm more likely to feel that I'd enjoy going out with him. it's kind of unfair, but a a lot of it is how he views himself.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Thanks to all the fellows for your answers!

Eavesdropper, it appears to me people better in the know than I am have answered; I guess I'd just add in that if I'd appreciate being talked to when not dancing (take a drink break or something so it's clear I'm a date and not just a partner in a couple dances.

JRR: I can understand what you're getting at about smiling and being engaged.. I'd just say maybe let it be more than one conversation - someone could be having an off-day or struggling with something. And I don't know about this non-entity stuff, but I have noticed as I got into my middle 20s, the definition of "attractive" got a lot more meaningful (more personality as an influential plus factor) and broader (less fitting a particular mold).

As for your question, I think it really does vary. There are some men who are extraordinarily handsome - that is obvious and attention-grabbing. If someone is friendly and confident that stands out. But between confident and friendly, I'd take friendly, since someone can be a confident jerk, and a friendly but shy fellow will I think find a way to work up his courage. All of the factors you mention are positives, but it's a totality of the circumstances sort of thing (can you tell it's exam week at law school? *shudder*).

Btw, your initials keep making me think of LotR... I hope you like Tolkien's work, because otherwise that could be an annoying association.

Southern Bloke: Please tell me that someone who fawns over a vampire heartthrob is out of the running whether or not she compares someone to them. I can't bear the thought of Twihardery proliferating in a Catholic home. ;-)

We'reNotReallyHere - I'm pretty impressed with guys who get up the nerve to ask a girl out. On the other hand, there are some situations where a girl may feel uncomfortable, so keep in mind the context (e.g., a car pulled over and made me late for class the other day - I thought I'd be a good samaritan and give directions, but I ended up accepting a compliment... I would not have gone on a date with that man - no context, isolated, and, frankly, in a hurry.) It may be good to keep in mind that many girls have had uncomfortable experiences with the less respectful members of your sex and may not be reacting to you personally. That said, in general I'd give a guy a shot if he asked me out or for my number. Come up, introduce yourself, and see what happens. I know some girls can be rude or unkind, but I think it'll pay off in the long run (and better to know to nix the nasty girls right away anyway).

As regards my questions, all of your answers were helpful. A bit more info on a couple:

For the sister thing - I can get shy, so then I just try to be normal and friendly (I'm friendly but a bit introverted) - so I think because I don't feel confident with the flirty stuff it just goes straight to friend(ly) zone/sisterly feeling (sisterly because I'm basically a softie and people like to tell me things - I left nagging behind as I grew up, thank goodness).

For the religious conversation thing, I certainly like discussion those topics, but I'm worried that's all that gets discussed, or it becomes an orthodoxy test, or if someone's much better read than the other person it could become awkward (or worse, competitive, or less worse, one-sidedly boring). I guess it may also be some of my own insecurities - I have no philosophical background and am somewhat intimated by the church fathers, etc. (I was amazed to start Confessions but I never got far - felt very out of my depth).

healthily sanguine said...

The way a guy speaks is a big thing I notice when I first meet a guy--i.e., whether he speaks intelligently, his kind of conversation, even the sound of his speaking voice and the way he looks while talking, all those things are big for me.

And to the dancing question, I side with Bernadette completely and totally against Sensitive Woman and anonymous 1. Is this a sanguine/extroverted thing? I expect to dance with a wide variety of people at a dance, and if I ever had a date, I would expect him to do the same.

Usually pseudonymous, this time anonymous said...

To answer Nzie's questions:

1. I hate to answer a question with a question, but what sort of things are you thinking about when you say that you take on a sister-like role? Generally speaking, a woman should not act motherly or big-sisterly toward a man in whom she is romantically interested.

2. Evidence of approachableness would include smiles, light arm touching, open body language, and multi-syllabic answers to questions. The stronger a man is attracted to a woman, the more willing he is to construe something as evidence that a woman is willing to be approached. It is rare for a man to be so smitten that he will approach a woman who shows no interest or shows hostility, but it can happen.

3. I tend to assume that the women I meet in young adult Catholic circles are serious about their faith, so I tend to be more interested in other aspects of their life when I first get to know them. If I met the woman outside that context I might probe a bit to make sure she attends Mass weekly and is pro-life, but I'd be indirect about it. I've found that a shared faith commitment is a necessary, but not sufficient, basis for a solid relationship.

4. There are two things I'm worried about girls judging me on. One is that I have a huge amount of student loan debt and only a middling job at the moment.

The other is that I'm a bit afraid of her meeting my parents; they're married, but are in a pretty toxic relationship. I'm worried that she'll think we could end up that way too.

------

Quite apart from Nzie's questions, Bernadette is absolutely right about swing dancing etiquette. There are few things more annoying at a swing dance than a ferociously coupled pair.

Calendula said...

JJR,

I would say that I notice the way a man talks--his voice, the expressions he uses, and the way he talks about things (and what that says about his character). Also, I feel that overconfidence is worse than bashfulness. For me, looks factor in, but are less important to the overall impression.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Usually pseudonymous- I gave a little more detail above (comments pending at the same time so you couldn't see mine), plus I think because I do have a lot of younger siblings, and I was a teacher who couldn't rely on supplies, and I wish I were MacGyver, I tend to notice when something would be helpful and often have it on hand, or notice when something's wrong and ask. I will have to talk to mom and sibs about this.

Regarding your answer to 4 - I don't have the same concerns as you, but I share similar ones. I think everyone our age is going to have a lot of debt getting out of school (at least in the US) and for families, I wouldn't lay it out there early, but I think if the girl knows you, and you don't hide it but also don't overemphasize it, she'll be able to separate you from your parents.

Seraphic said...

Bottom line: don't offer to solve men's problems for them, and don't tell them what to do.

Unless you are married to them. Then knock yourself out. Many men only ever go to the doctor or dentist because their wives make them.

Anonymous said...

Dunno how long you want this Gentlemen's Day thread to run Seraphic, but if you are happy to still take comments:

JJR - thanks for the clarification. Sounds like it was the infamous mates - aren't they just sooo helpful? They pressure you to ask her out, then you go into 'cat' mode - no matter how good the food on offer, if pushed towards it, the cat backs away furiously. I hate getting pushed into asking a girl out too.

amlovesmusic - yes, I would ask a girl out who I got to know in a group of friends, but would want to be *really* sure she was interested, so as not to mess up a friendship. If I only see her in a group setting, the hardest thing is talking to her one on one without interruption so as to ask her out! (face to face is best for me - not keen on phone asking out). It does take more courage though, as our mutual group of friends means any 'feedback' she gives her girlfriends is known by all my friends too. Ouch. So the more she shows interest in me over and above our mutual friends, the more likely I am to ask.

Nzie - yeh, sorry; bad vampire analogy on my part. Girls in these parts mostly fawn over the ripped abs of sports celebs. Normal guys inwardly groan and think 'doesn't she know what a rodent he is?'

Re: your sisterly attentiveness. I see what you mean, you may have to curb those instincts to 'mother' your peers a bit ('mothering' kids is fine though). On the plus side, any man will be able to see how much you care about others - a very big plus. :)

Southern Bloke.
Thanks to all - very useful insights.

MaryJane said...

Re: attractive things about men: I would agree with "confidence" and "speech." (How friendly is he? Does he ask questions like he's genuinely interested? Or, is he always talking about himself and contradicting everything I say, with a false bravado rather than confidence?) I would assume it is similar for guys towards girls, but when an attractive man says something stupid or rude, his attractiveness diminishes, while a regular-looking guy's attractiveness can go right up when he says something intelligent and friendly.

T said...

Okay, about the swing dance thing, if it's her scene, let her lead in terms of how often you dance together (you should actually SAY something, like, I know this is a date, but it's also a swing dance, please feel free to dance with others if you'd like, but definitely save the first and last for me or whatever). If it's your scene (or if you're the most experienced, longest in swing dancing, and/or know the most follows or whatever), then you don't need to suffocate her, but do take pains to make sure she feels comfortable—introduce her to other leads, to anyone that you know and talk to, to anyone you dance with, don't ever leave her sitting by herself and so on. I went to a New Years' swing dance as a date and it was awful. I danced maybe four dances, most of those with my date and he otherwise circulated the floor, dancing with lots of different follows. I didn't know anyone and was mostly left by myself, and he couldn't understand why I felt miserable. If it's a date, treat it like a date. If you're datING and going to swing dances, that's different, but if the dance itself is a date, then it should be treated as such. If you must dance with other people to fend of awkwardness or social liabilities, at least make eye contact with your date regularly, ALWAYS seek her out after your dance is done, and again, if you are leaving her so that you can dance with someone else, make sure she's not alone. At the very least, at the end of the dance, say to your partner, "come meet my date". Even though the social aspect of the scene is well understood by swing dancers, this is a small thing that will make her still feel like your date. If its her scene AND she knows lots of people there, this will be less of an issue, and you won't have to go as much out of your way to make her feel comfortable... but if it's a date, make it a date. Don't smother her (especially if she seems like she wants to dance with other people), but definitely don't ignore her, don't forget where she is and who she's with, and definitely do make her feel like the most important person in the room (which, as your date, she is or should be to you for this one evening at least).