Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game

I recently asked a question on the Ask Penelope group on

Will a girl come over to my house for dinner on a first date? Versus meeting for drinks? I’m trying to keep it real and skip the BS.

What I thought was basically an innocuous question (okay, a little provocative…hey, it’s me) got me massacred on the forum and again on comments in Honey’s post How Safe is Too Safe? Which was totally fine because it got everyone thinking.

A little background. I communicated with this girl on, we emailed back and forth, and it turned out she worked at the same firm as one of my best friends. Her and my friend went out to lunch for work (which they do occasionally), and at one point during the meal they talked about me. I was vetted. Not only that, but she and I were already Facebook friends so she had a wealth of information. I figured at that point it was pretty safe to skip the “normal” first date of drinks/coffee and just go for a dinner at my place. We lived within walking distance of each other, so in my mind it made a lot of sense. I was thinking: grill-out, bottle of wine, hang out on my porch, talk about literature, movies, travel, etc.

This is my idea of a perfect date. I like this because it’s comfortable, it encourages fantastic convo, there’s no wrangling over checks, she can see how I live, and it’s a kickass meal. Time flows easily. It’s even a little romantic. AND, if things are going well, we can always play tonsil hockey on the couch. Yeah, I said it.

This isn’t me trying to seduce a woman and get her into my bed as quickly as possible. This isn’t me using my house as a weapon. This is me honestly trying to have intelligent conversation and breaking bread with another human being and making a no bullshit connection, something that I really want to do and is a little harder to do over expressos at Barnies. Am I being too idealistic here?

Almost everyone threw safety and the specter of date-rape in my face. I got called insensitive, callous, a douchebag, and it was even suggested that making dinner might make me a psycho. People, please. I get the safety issue. I’m not a fucking idiot. I’ve had one girlfriend who was sexually assault at gun point while on a late night run (sisters, don’t ever do this), and another girlfriend who worked at a women’s advocacy center. I listened to horror stories about domestic violence and rape every night for a year. I respect this issue and understand the seriousness of it.

Here is the frustration I want to express. The market for 20-something, attractive, high value women is highly highly competitive here (and most other places). If you don’t hit it out of the park right away, you will not get a second date. If she’s online, she is talking to 10 other dudes and has dates lined up from here to Thanksgiving. Remember, on, 41% of users are female…but a far smaller percentage are attractive, high-value women. Think something closer to 10%. (And no, I’m not talking about perfect 10’s here, I’m talking about run-of-the-mill cute, smart girls.) If she doesn’t have dates stacked up, she’s probably sleeping with somebody: an ex-bf, a fuck buddy, a rich guy, her attractive bartender friend, whatever, which further muddies the picture. If you’re short and fat, you’re not getting the date. If you’re broke, you’re not getting the date. If you’re ugly…you’ve got problems. That’s the no-bullshit reality of dating for someone at my age. It’s crazy competitive. Coffee dates and sipping Bud Lights simply will not do. You must hook and make an intellectual and emotional connection immediately.

I think all the women who flamed me on Penelope’s forum are women who don’t have dating problems. They’ve got boyfriends or husbands and they don’t get what a jungle it is, just like Honey doesn’t get it any more. They advise to meet for coffee, when the reality is coffee dates are boring as hell, it’s hard to make any kind of headway, and you’re probably going to get dropped because she met someone with a) better game or b) higher up the social ladder.

What I would like to see are solutions for men and women to get to know each other and make real, deep connections. Dating should not have to be a callous, war-like activity where the first things we think about are rejection, violence, and fear. It should be safe. It should be heart-centered, focused on relationship building, about exploring ourselves and making deep connections with another person. It isn’t, but it should be. That’s what we all want at some point, I think.

If that doesn’t work, I’m going back to using game, wielding attraction, and making out scoring same-night-lays with girls in bars within the first hour of meeting them. I’ve done that plenty of times before and I know it works just fine.

More Goodness:

  • Ozgirlkim

    I totally get where you are coming from and if I was the girl in this scenario I would probably go over for dinner. Your scenario is very different to most online dating situation.

    But I understand that some people don’t agree. But I also agree that it is a cut throat world in dating land.

    Maybe a a good compromise is a double date with the mutual friend. 4 people and a grill could achieve the same as just the two of you without being intimidating to the girl.

    Did you actually ask the girl or was this a hypothetical? Ask her (or any girl) to dinner explain your motives (in the non sleazy I am just trying to wow you way) and then say but if you prefer I can just take you out for dinner… and see what she has to say.

  • Me Thinks

    Okay, I gotta go with Penelope’s comment. If I don’t know someone it is less the fear of violence than it is the fear of BOREDOM. I don’t want to spend a whole night isolated at some dude’s house unless I know we hit it off already. Who wants to invest that much time in a first date?

    Lance, there are a MILLION other things you can do on a first date besides coffee or a drink! That is how you are going to set yourself apart from the other dudes out there in a competitive market.

    Now on your comment about going back to game and just getting laid – is that what you really want? Because guess what, going that route you are going to find in a few years when it gets old the dating market is even more competitive. Wait until you are getting close to 35, its like the apocolypse is coming if these people don’t get paired up fast. I think you stick with building quality relationships now and that means figuring out options for a first date.

  • Maria

    Lance, I love your take on this and how you have framed this evening and the way it will , in all likliehood, play out. I think she is a lucky girl, as most guys do not think about those goals (deep emotional and intellectual connections)on a I don’t think the field is as competitive there as you might think. (I am an attractive chick BTW and speak from experience.)My point is, however, why don’t you think an equally great connection about the same topics you mentioned can be made at a coffee house/ bistro or bar ? I have had some amazingly good convos and connections, that have spanned hours, just hanging at a coffee house with a dude? does the setting make that much diff to whether you get a connection or not?

  • Lance

    Hi, Maria, thanks for commenting. I’ve been on tons of first dates, some were at vanilla locales, and many of them were at unique, really interesting places. I’ve tried them all. What you and others are saying is correct, it’s about the mental and emotional connection you establish, regardless of the location. The location DOES help or hinder you, though. Just consider: part of sparking attraction is touch. If you’re sitting across a table from each other, there’s no touching. At a concert, you can touch. At my house watching a movie, touching. That’s just one of many ways to progress a date.

    The sense I get from Me Thinks and Kat Wilder and others is that first dates shouldn’t be that intimate. There should be no touching. No deep connections. I disagree. I disagree precisely because the market is so competitive. If you can’t use all of the tools at your disposal to create attraction, build comfort, and develop rapport, you’ve got nothing. You’ve simply got two people who had a nice conversation and then moved on to the next date where there was touching and sexiness and making out. Which one are you going to stick with? Who gets dropped in this scenario? The nice guy at the coffee shop gets dropped. That’s the nature of the game.
    .-= Lance´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • Lance

    Ozgirl, I did ask her to dinner, she balked, we did drinks at a bar instead, we had a great interaction, no physical. I haven’t been able to get another commitment for a date yet. She’s 28, hot, and doing online dating. She has options. If I have pitch perfect game over email, text, and Facebook, I might get a second date but I’d handicap it at around 15%.

    Hosting a double date at my house is an excellent alternative, it takes care of the perceived safety issue and makes for a more intimate setting. Thanks for the suggestion!
    .-= Lance´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • Maria

    well, the next date had better have some great convo too, cos as we know, great convo is the best foreplay there is. Are you suggesting that there is no touching at the coffee date all ? Because if you are using touching and the privacy of sexy contact as the criteria for picking your house over the coffee bistro, then I am surprised ! I can imagine, you, Lance, a legend to all your devoted followers(of which I am one) would know that you can have all kinds of decent touching and sexy(ish) contact at the bistro. Within, public limits of course, but still, babe, just saying don’t rule it out just cos you are not at home. That way your girl gets the “safe ” public forum to meet she is looking for and you can still kind of get your contact in there. Its not all or nothing with coffee date vs home cooked meal date..

  • dadshouse

    I’m totally with Lance on this one. I would much rather go hiking on a date, or have a woman over to my house, cook her dinner, sit and chat – than order another $10 martini or $15 glass of wine (each!). Not just because of the cost of dates. Dates aren’t real. They are these pretend, fairy tale settings.

    Maybe that’s why some women like real dates so much. The fairy tale is alive and well.

    On that note, maybe the women flaming Lance on that forum were women who DON’T get enough dates, who AREN’T high value. If you take away their fairy tale dates, what do they have left?

    When I wrote about online dating expectations, there’s a reason I picked a fairy tale castle for the image in that post…

    Keep breaking bread the way you want to, Lance! You’ll find a quality woman who shares your life view.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog …Sorry My Son Kicked Your Son’s Ass =-.

  • Maria

    sorry, Lance, don’t mean to be another flamer on ya..i totally understand being at home with your date is the best, if you can get it..

  • Janak

    This story makes a lot more sense with your background clarification. I wish what you wish, I think, but I don’t see how to overcome the social and cultural obstacles that exist. Anyone else have any ideas?
    .-= Janak´s last blog … review =-.

  • Honey

    I really like the suggestion of having another couple over as well – it addresses the safety issue nicely and helps alleviate the potential boredom aspect. You could even have her invite her friends, if you felt comfortable being scrutinized that early (might even give you bonus points!).

    I don’t think the fact that I’ve been in a relationship for however long makes me “not get it” as far as what type of dates are likely to create connections. Just the opposite – I’ve spent 3.5 years connecting deeply with someone, all of which I’d draw on if I were ever single again. I certainly wouldn’t *just* go on a coffee date or just grab drinks at a bar. Here’s what I’d be interested in doing (these things are of course predicated on my own interests and what’s available in my town):

    A museum (I know of at least 5 in my area)
    Botanical gardens
    Friday’s artwalk
    A used bookstore, a regular bookstore, or a reading by an author at either of the two previous locations
    A farmer’s market (there’s on Thursday nights and one on Saturday mornings)
    Paddle boats
    A volunteer activity (there are several rescue organizations in my area that just want people to walk the dogs around the neighborhood surrounding the rescue)

    Basically, anything where 1. you’re not sitting down so there’s opportunity to intereact and touch, and 2. something that will stimulate conversation even if one or both parties are nervous/shy. The things above are all of those things, and if you started a date off like that then I’m sure that it would increase the likelihood that the girl’d go home with you – maybe even on the same date.

    Questions I can imagine asking in most of the scenarios listed above: what’s your favorite book/painting/sculpture/plant/dog here? what’s your least favorite? why? if you could buy anything here for yourself/your date/your mom/your best friend, what would it be?

    Anything that shows you can have fun and demonstrate depth at the same time has got to make you a shoo-in, and everything except the museum and the paddleboats are free (and even museums usually have free admission the first weekend of the month – and just imagine if you had a membership at one of those places and but offered to pay the (fairly minimal) cost of her admission. If I’d ever gone on a date with someone who was a museum or botanical gardens member, I probably would have had an orgasm right there.
    .-= Honey´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • Sara

    OK, the background in this post clarifies a lot. It’s totally different than a date with someone you’ve met online and have no friends in common with or any additional info that would make someone more comfortable. I would have definitely gone to dinner at the guy’s house under these circumstances.

  • Me Thinks

    Honey, I *love* your suggestions! Exactly stuff I was thinking about. (btw, hit me up if you become single!) Even going to gallery opening night is an amazing way to connect.

    In all seriousness, Lance you are not understanding:

    The sense I get from Me Thinks and Kat Wilder and others is that first dates shouldn’t be that intimate. There should be no touching. No deep connections. I disagree.

    NO! My best first dates have been ones with some kind of touching and real connection. But just because a stranger cooks you a meal doesn’t mean you are connecting. Hell, the best initial connection ever for me ended up AT A BAR. You never know…

  • ozgirlkim

    I have been thinking about this a lot more, maybe because I am in the situation where I am going on a date with a guy who I met on rsvp but he works at a place where a bunch of my mates (note more than one) so v similar to your scenario. He wants to meet at a bar at 8 on Friday. He doesn’t know where to suggest and so asks me… And thats just annoying… You asjed me out buddy. You choose the time and the date, so use choose suitable venue!

    It is hard to find a bar in a major city the isn’t over populated on a Friday night and frankly the other thing is that I just wish a man would just harden up and be ballsy and say ‘let’s do this, this and this’. I would swoon if a guy could just man up and be organised, which is why your dinner at home idea appeals to me Lance.

    This happens more times than I can count. I am sick of having to make all the plans… There is a certain amount of sexy in being told what to do.

    Is this a useless aussie male thing or do others have this prob?

  • dadshouse

    I love Honey’s suggestions – don’t sit; do something that stimulates conversation. Most of her ideas are great. But I don’t like the Farmer’s Market idea – men hate shopping! At least I do. I can’t imagine shopping or browsing on a date. Paddle boats are a little sketchy too – if the conversation sucks, you’re stuck.

    Museums are GREAT for dates. So are botanical gardens, used book stores, and Friday art shows (decidedly different than a weekend art festival, in my mind.) Things that bring out your personality are fabulous ideas.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog …Drunk Texting Marriage Proposal =-.

  • Honey

    Well when I thought of the farmer’s market I was thinking of buying all the fresh food to make a great dinner…I think buying it with him in public might have made the girl more likely to go home with him and help cook it!

    It’s not all men – Jake likes shopping way more than I do…
    .-= Honey´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • Lance

    How old is the guy? It’s pretty common for younger guys (and wussy guys) to be indecisive when making plans. The thinking is that if they’re super nice, ie let her “help” decide the plans, it’ll be more attractive. But it’s not. Generally, women want decisiveness on their first dates. They want the guy to have a plan. I was that wussy guy when I was 20.
    .-= Lance´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • ozgirlkim

    He is 32. I am 30.

    And hell yes I expect more from a 32yo.

    It is is not a being nice thing they actually admit they have no idea ‘so why don’t you choose’ BORING!

    BTW I also love Honey’s Farmers Market idea. Meet for coffee/breakfast there (ours do great breakfast rolls and stuff) and then say oh look at this it would be great on my grill would you like to come over for dinner/lunch later.

    Also when asking the girl over for dinner how about suggesting she get a friend to call twice during the night to ‘check in’. It can be a blatant phone call ‘Hi how’s it going?” Good, thanks for calling’ hang up scenario. May ease her fears, and most girls have a back up phone caller anyway. May as well be out in the open about it.

  • Holly Hoffman

    My initial instinct as single female is to say no to any meeting where if something did happen, everyone would say it was my own fault for putting myself in that situation.

    But I wouldn’t call you a douchebag for thinking it should be OK.

    The irony is that most of those women on that forum have probably gotten drunk & gone home with a guy the first night they met & had unprotected sex with him. So, it’s a little hypocritical, isn’t it?

    With that much background info on you & the work connection, she should be able to meet you at your place as long as she uses some sense – tell a friend what she’s doing & where your place is, and to expect a text an hour in & when she’s leaving. If you don’t hear from me, then do X.

    But c’mon, ladies. You’ll sleep with someone the first night you meet them in a bar, but won’t go to a vetted guy’s house for dinner?
    .-= Holly Hoffman´s last blog …Start from here =-.

  • Honey

    Haha, you’re right about the hypocritical thing, Holly. I got drunk (though not bombed) and had unprotected sex on my first date with Jake!

    But some of it isn’t hypocrisy, it’s being in a different place. When I was in my early 20s, I did that kind of stuff (get drunk, have unprotected sex). Now that I’m in my 30s and have my head on straight(er), I just don’t think I could be the person I was back then. And I think that’s a good thing.

    Personally, if I were single again I’d rather wait 3 months, get tested, and have sex without a condom than I would to jump into bed with a guy…
    .-= Honey´s last blog …Keeping it Real vs. Playing the Game =-.

  • Tanay

    You did a great job in getting the right balance between head and emotion.It was as if everything was tailormade for you but the scenarios that match your case hardly matches for others.Moreover all the girls would mind visiting boyfriend’s house on the first day.But its worth a
    dating tip for the newbies