Each spring, Uncle Lou — the director of Camp Tamakwa, where I spent five summers — sent out a "What to Bring" list. The first category, before Clothing and Bedding, was Yourself. It comprised three items: a sense of humor, a desire to learn and a willingness to share. That list, along with three other "must haves" I've since added, has served me well in my adult life, particularly with dating. Here is my What to Bring list.
1. A lack of paranoia
We are who we are long before we date. For example, the guy who ranted about his crazy ex-wife did not just become a candidate for anger management classes after we ordered drinks. And the one who complained about the food, ambiance and service was a kvetch before our scrumptious meal. If someone acts obnoxious or negative or turns you off in other unpleasant ways, do not personalize. His behavior is not your fault.
Now, if all your dates are angry, kvetchy or whatever, take it very personally. You are not picking well.
After a rotten date or six, you might consider getting a cat or additional cable stations. After a miserable date — I had years of miserable dates — I used to call my friends for sympathy and maybe we'd share a few laughs. "I cannot do this anymore," I said at least a hundred times. The truth is, we don't click with everyone. We are not supposed to. Fortunately, I had a mother who expressed disdain for taking the course of least resistance and taking easy ways out. "Good things take a long time to develop," she said about everything, including my being a writer, which meant frequent rejection and a lifetime of honing my craft. Endure!
Endure, but don't wait for "it" to happen. Good things may take a long time to develop. They don't arrive on your doorstep. Despite my saying "I can't date anymore" to my girlfriends, I got back out there and kissed many more toads and iguanas. You have to hang in and stay focused despite wanting to stay home. No one hands us what we want in life. Take charge. Make it happen. You can.
Next page: Just how much should you reveal on a date? »