It’s time for another Post Mortem, where we take a look at reader’s recent dates or relationships and pinpoint just what went wrong and why. This time, however, it’s the good Doctor who’s getting his time on the examination table.
Yup, we’re going to dissect one of the dating misadventures from my past, look at what I did right, all the things I did horribly wrong and just how I might have recovered from things. And let me tell you, there were mistakes a plenty to be had here. Certain details have been changed to protect the innocent1 and keep the guilty2 from being sued into oblivion.
Incidentally, this is why I frequently recommend that you document your approaches with women, whether you’re coming in cold with a stranger or making a “warm” approach with someone you already have a social connection with; being able to look over what happened with a critical eye can help you pinpoint the areas where you’re having problems. You can’t fix your trouble spots if you don’t know what they are in the first place.
But I digress. I give you the case of the Lonely Soldier Girl.
Doc, you gotta help me.
Last night was one of the weirdest nights I’ve had in my life and I’m not entirely sure what just happened.
I’d moved to Austin about six months ago and I still don’t have much of a connection here. A I only have a couple of friends in the area, I’ve only been on a few dates from OKCupid and I work from home so I’m spending a lot of time on my own. It’s a little difficult meeting folks when you’re not in college anymore.
This is actually a surprisingly common complaint. Hell, they’ve made movies about this. It’s not surprising; college is one of the last times when you’re tossed in amongst strangers around your age and actively encouraged to make new friends. After graduation, most of your active time is spent at work… and some folks are understandably not interested in letting their work lives and social lives mix.
The best thing you – or anyone else in this situation – could do is to find an activity or hobby that interests you and find a group dedicated to it. Join an amateur rugby team, volunteer at any number of charities, find a writer’s group… something. Find people or groups who share your interests and join in.
But that’s another matter. Let’s get back to the subject at hand.
Not complaining, just setting the tone for the sort of mood I’d been in for a while.
So it’s Mardi Gras, and apparently Austin goes all out for it. I’m interested in going but neither of my friends in the area are available so it’s either I go stag or it’s another night alone with the xbox. I’ve got nothing better to do and I’ve never been to any Mardi Gras celebrations ever, so I figure this is as good an opportunity to get to know my new city a little better. Even better, my apartment’s within walking distance to 6th Street3 and all of the parties. I say screw it and decide to let adventure find me.
This is good. This is actually very good, especially if you’re willing to let go of some inhibitions and just talk to people around you.
It’s only 6 in the evening and it’s already crazy. Between my place and the first event, I’ve had a very large frozen Hurricane and somehow ended up with beads – I don’t really remember how I got them other than I’m fairly certain I didn’t pay for ’em. I got lucky; with the first party I hit was awesome. I’m there for ten minutes before I’m getting flashed by cute co-eds (I swear to God I wasn’t expecting that),
… someone else buys me a beer and I finally see one of my favorite bands live. By 9:30, I’m kind of buzzed, I’m having a great time and I decide it’s time to wander over to 6th Street and see what’s happening.
Before now, the times I’ve been down to 6th Street before have been… well, pretty crappy. I’d hang out at a couple of the bars downtown with my sketchbook nursing a beer and hoping for something interesting to happen to me. And by that I mean for cute girls to want to come up and ask to see what I’ve been drawing and hope things move on from there. It usually doesn’t happen and I end up shuffling back to my place alone and dragging the tattered remains of my self-eseteem behind me.
Well… yeah. You made two big mistakes every time you did this. To start with, you’re clearly expecting someone else to do all the hard work for you, which doesn’t work for guys. As a general rule, girls aren’t socialized to take the initiative when it comes to mind; they’ve been taught that the proper order of things involves guys coming up to them. You can get away with this if, say, you’re Gerard Butler or Brad Pitt… which you aren’t.
Secondly, even allowing for girls who do prefer to be the agressors, everything about your body language screams “stay away.” You’re hunched over your sketchbook and only looking up to take drinks… not exactly a posture that reads “come talk to me.”
And if you are looking up – sketching people in the bar, let’s say – well, you’re either staring at people, which is creepy, or you’re taking furtive glances before looking back down – which reads either as someone desperately trying to avoid being noticed. Not exactly something that screams “confidence.”
Plus, let’s be honest. Just about every girl in the bar knows damn good and well that you’re hoping that they’ll come over and ask to see what you’re working on. And this is telling them that you don’t have the guts to go up to them and introduce yourself.
So yeah, you’re kinda screwing yourself when you do this.
Tonight everything feels different. I’m feeling more alive than I have in a long time and I’m actually starting to have fun! Everybody’s having a good time, everybody’s talking to everybody else and I keep having these little mini-conversations with everyone around me. For the first time I don’t feel weird about going up and talking to strangers.
Ok, this right here? This is an example of how your outlook and attitude will affect your night out and why when you head out to meet girls you should do whatever it takes to get you in a relaxed and social frame of mind. Have dinner with friends, hit up a happy hour with some drinking buddies… something social that puts you in a good mood.
When you’re going out convinced hoping to get “lucky”, you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment. You’re already anticipating that the night is going to be a bust – that the only thing that will make a difference is *luck*. When you’re of the mind that you’re going out to have fun, you’ll be more focused on the fact that you’re enjoying yourself rather than obsessing about the negatives. You’ll also look like you’re having a good time, which will encourage others to respond to you when you talk to ’em. Everybody wants to talk to folks who’re having fun… they tend to be fun people.
As opposed to, say, the sourpuss in the corner with the sketchbook who doesn’t make eye contact.
The fact that there’re boobs all over the place isn’t hurting things either. So that’s about when I saw her.
I guess I should pause this to say that I’ve only had a couple of girlfriends up until now and I’ve never really had much success at trying to pick up girls. Like…. none. Ever. Just so you understand, everything that happens from this point on is complete terra incognita for me.
Hang on, I’m going to be shocked.
Ok, over it.
Anyway, so she’s standing there by herself. She’s cute as hell and tiny. Like, 5 foot nothing and maybe 98 lbs sopping wet and looking more than a little confused and scared. So I end up standing next to her and ask her whether she’s ok.
Oh shit. Can I just leap ahead several paragraphs and assume that you’ve got White Knight syndrome? Nice guy, scared girl, rescue her from her dangerous situation and she’s more or less obligated to pay you back with sex?
She tells me that she’s up from Fort Hood with some friends of hers, but they’ve disappeared on her and she has no idea where they are.
Yup, White Knight.
I offer to hang out with her to keep her company and keep any creepy guys from hassling her while we wait for her friends to come back.
Creepy guys like you, huh?
While we’re talking I find out that she’s in the Army, this is her first time in Austin, she can’t remember where they’re staying – just that it’s a Marriot somewhere, that she left her phone in the hotel room, and that her friends are all guys from her unit. I let her borrow my phone to see if she can get ahold of her friends but none of them are picking up. After an hour of standing there we agree that her friends don’t seem to be coming back any time soon and I suggest that we get off the street and hang out at a bar for a bit while we think about what to do next.
This, at least isn’t a bad thing. The fact that she’s willing to come with you – a total stranger, in a city where she doesn’t know anybody – is a sign that she trusts you and is at least somewhat into you. If I didn’t suspect what was going to come next, I’d say you could at least get a solid phone number from her.
We end up at a piano bar half a block up from where we met and grab some beers and listen to the cheesy piano players.
It wouldn’t be my first choice, but you can do some interesting things here. At the very least, you can set up a sort of “us vs. them” role-play where the two of you are a secret society apart from everybody else; they’re there to enjoy the cheesy piano players, you’re really there to mock ’em.
By beer three (and hers were Michelob Ultras, keep in mind) this tiny girl who’d been terrified by the crowds and looking like a lost kitten is sitting on top of the pianos with a couple other random dudes belting out “Proud to be An American” at the top of her lungs.
I’m going to be very generous and assume that getting her stinking drunk was not part of your game plan. Because if it was, we’re gonna have to have a conversation about the meaning of things like “inability to give consent”.
She hops off the bar and insists that she wants to go dancing, so she drags me back out to the street. We’re there for thirty seconds before dudes are offering her beads. I’m getting ready to chase them off – she’d been freaked out by all the dudes and boobs earlier – when she yanks up her shirt and starts flashing folks.
Hang on: let me predict your future:
So, did you look?
Yes, I looked.
Of course you did.
Of course I did.
This goes on for a few minutes before she remembers that she wants me to take her dancing so she’s alternating between snuggling up to me and pulling me to a club up the street that I knew had a dance floor. I don’t dance really but she’s cute and I’m willing to humor her, so I go along with it. Suddenly she’s grinding up against me like she’s trying to screw me right on the dance floor.
Word to the wise: if you can’t dance, it’s best that you don’t actually try. Girls perceive guys who are bad dancers as being correspondingly bad in bed. So unless you’ve got some serious moves (and you’d better be talking “Step Up 3D” level), stay the hell off the dance floor. You’ve got enough working against you as it is.
Also worth remembering: the dance floor is the dance floor and should not be confused with reality. Just because a girl is willing to grind up on you on the dance floor does not necessarily mean that she’s looking for a pants-off dance-off later. Some people will dance like that and be honestly confused when you think that they were actually coming on to you.
This is awkward enough at first but then I’ve got another dude trying to grind up on her and she’s kind of digging that too. I figure I’ve promised that I’m going to make sure she gets back to her hotel safely, so I’m having to try to cockblock this dude and the only thing I can think to do is keep rotating us so that she’s not in front of him anymore. Finally I end up just picking her up and taking her back to the bar for another drink. The dude followed us to the bar, but I keep trying to put myself between the two of them and he gives up and goes off somewhere else.
Good! This is a classic way of dealing with a guy trying to horn in on your action. Boxing him out via back-turns and physically moving your girl away from him means that he’s going to have to walk around you to get back to her, which dramatically decreases his social standing.
Meanwhile she’s pressed up against me straddling my leg and goddamn it, I’m only human, so I’m trying to figure out how I’m getting her back to my place.
I ask if she wants to get out of there, she says “yes”.
I’m already feeling a little weird about how drunk she is
(she’s literally trying to pick a fight with the cops… who’re wearing riot gear and have their batons out) so I suggest we stop at a 24 hour deli on the way back to my place.
Well, at least there’s that.
I’m trying to keep things going, so I make a half-serious observation that she’s flashed everybody but me – and then I have to grab her hands because she’s about to actually flash me right then and there. I said something about “wait until later” and then tried to convince her that she should have some pancakes while I’m beginning to wonder what the hell I’m doing.
OK, on the one hand, I’m giving you credit for not taking advantage of her… so far. On the other…
Look, right about here, if she weren’t drunk off her ass, I’d tell you that you’re bleeding emotional momentum. The longer you linger between the moment where she agreed to go back to your place and actually making a move on her, the more likely that you’re going to find that the moment has passed and second thoughts have started to creep in.
But again: drunk off her ass. So at least you’re giving her a chance to sober up first and actually be in a state where she could consent.
We get back to my apartment eventually and as we walk in, I take her by the hand and said “Hey, I’m gonna totally be kicking myself if I don’t do this”, and I move in to kiss her.
A. NEVER USE THAT LINE AGAIN.
B. Honestly, you probably could have tried to kiss her a lot earlier. Just remember: you don’t have to wait for “the moment”. There is no moment. You just go for the kiss. If she doesn’t slap you and/or leave, she’s willing for you to try again… later.
Which is when she bursts into tears.
I’m already confused as hell – this came out of nowhere – but I walk her over to the couch to sit down and try to comfort her. Over the course of the next 20 minutes I find out that this is literally the last weekend before she shipped off to Iraq and she’s terrified out of her goddamned mind because she’s convinced she’s going to die. I’m used to having girls upset over inconsequential fears, but this is the first time I can’t honestly say “Hey, you’re being silly, there’s nothing to be afraid of, nothing’s going to happen.” But somehow I manage to calm her down and find out that 1) she doesn’t want to sleep with me because she’s afraid I wouldn’t respect her and 2) she wants to go back to her hotel… which she still can’t remember where it is. And her friends still aren’t answering their phones.
…aaaand you’re done. Not only is the moment gone, but she’s already justifying her decision not to sleep with you, so there’s no going back from this. Trying to keep her around is only going to end in tears.
Long story short,
I eventually twig to the idea of her calling back to the base in hopes that they had to let someone know where they were staying and it finally works. We get the address and I drive her back to the hotel, still trying to think of some way to convince her that she really did want to sleep with me and she’s frantically explaining that she’s a good girl who doesn’t do this sort of thing and really she likes me too much to try.
Hint: She’s lying. At this point the social conditioning is kicking in and she’s trying to let you down without hurting your feelings. It’s the blue-balls version of “It’s not you, it’s me”.
So we get back to the hotel and I’m hoping to make a last minute appeal for a quickie in her place when we get to the room… and find her friends drunk and sitting on a bench that they’d recently “liberated” from a city park. And that’s when I learned that she’s sharing one room with four drunk dudes. I make a final appeal that she can stay at my place if she wants without any worries, but she insists she’s going to be fine. So she heads into the room with four dudes and I’m left in the hallway with my metaphorical dick in my hand and absolutely convinced that I’ve been dumped by a girl who decided to let a bunch of drunks run a train on her instead.
So is there anything I could’ve done to save this night, Doc?
Well to start with, you could have not gotten her completely shit-faced drunk. She was already showing indications that she was interested in you; she was willing to chat with you for over an hour before you moved her to a new location and the fact that she was more interested in you than the other dudes hitting on her was a good sign that she preferred your company rather than being horny and willing to take on anyone that offered. Plying her with alcohol is a sketchy move. I’m not saying you did, but I’m willing to bet that the possibility of her being more willing to fuck you after she’s had a few crossed your mind more than a few times. ‘cuz it really doesn’t seem like you were trying to stop her from getting smashed.
But you were willing to let her sober up, so I’ll give you a pass on intentions there.
The other problem is that you took what would have been an easy single, possibly even a double and tried to steal home. You easily could have gotten her number and possibly even a few dates out of this evening… allowing for the fact that she’s active duty military anyway. Hell, if you had made your move earlier – before the drunken boob show and the dance club – you might have gotten some make-outs out of the situation, even (or especially since) you weren’t likely to see her again.
You let it run too long and then you pushed too far. Next time, be less of a Nice Guy and a little more assertive.
And – again – don’t get them so drunk that they’re trying to pick fights with riot cops. That never ends well.