The anticipation before a date is a magical thing for any guy: the butterflies, the excited buzz, the possibility that this could be “the one” — or at least, the one who ends the night back at your place! But before the big rendezvous, there is work to be done. There’s cleaning, clipping, sweating, stressing, and even research. Yes, ladies, the men you date go to great lengths to become your Prince Charming, if only for one evening.
Of course, we don’t all run through the following checklist before a night on the town. In fact, I’m hoping the majority of my fellow male suitors don’t do most of this stuff, because a lot of it sounds at best exhausting, and at worst borderline psychotic. So throw back a pre-game shot and get ready, because these are some of the weird things guys do before a date.
Immortalized in comedies like American Pie 2 and The 40 Year Old Virgin, the concept of guys removing unwanted body hair has become pretty commonplace nowadays. In fact, a 2013 UK poll of 2,000 adults (via AOL) found that “tidying pubic hair” was among the top three priorities for male respondents’ pre-date prep, including a three percent outlier of dudes who get a full Brazilian in anticipation of the big night.
That’s a bit extreme, and also pretty risky, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, which was researching grooming-related injuries, found that over 25 percent of participants reported “grooming-related injury.”
There is also, of course, the consideration of the heroic optimism it takes to even anticipate the presentation of one’s down-low fro during the course of a date. Combine that with the fact that the UK study also revealed that “45 percent of the ladies said they preferred a man to be ‘ungroomed and very hairy’ down below,” there is now strong scientific data to consider when deciding to shear one’s southern situation.
Buy new undies
Tacking right onto the manscaping concept, the aforementioned UK study also cited the purchase of new underwear as one of the top three expenditures men are willing fork out in anticipation of a date. While it’s nice that these dudes are confident their undies will be making a brief cameo sometime in the evening, this begs the question: what are these men doing to their underwear that just putting on a freshly washed pair isn’t an option? On second thought, I don’t even want to know.
On top of that, The New York Daily News cited another UK study, conducted by Debenhams department store, that claimed “the average man only buys new underpants when he is about to start a new relationship.” Obviously, that is a wide, and frankly disturbing generalization that I hope is not true, but the study also suggests that “men only take responsibility for buying their own underwear for about 17 years of their lives. The rest of the time it falls to their mothers, and later to their wives or girlfriends.”
What this means, essentially, is that some guys go through underwear like Kleenex while dating, then as soon as they get serious with a woman, they rely on her revulsion to land a fresh pair of skivvies. Centuries from now, when human beings exist only on alien labor camps, they will be able to point to this dynamic as where the entire species began to decline.
Cram in a workout
Washboard abs happen the first time you do a set of crunches, right? Well, apparently some men think so, which is why squeezing in a desperate workout before a date is also on this list. Of course, if you regularly work out, and going to the gym is a good pick-me-up for you, then it makes perfect sense, according Women’s Health. “A pre-date gym visit helps boost our self-image, and a good self-image leads to confidence. Confidence goes hand in hand with comfort, and comfort leads to a good date,” the mag suggests.
But if you’re normally a couch potato, there’s no amount of burpees that’s going to instantly alleviate you of your Netflix and pizza gut. In fact, according to Body Recomposition, going too hard after a significant absence from the gym can lead to injury and/or “crippling soreness” that’s so demoralizing it prevents a return to healthy training.
My advice? Skip the pre-date pump unless you’re a regular gym rat, otherwise you could end up walking into that restaurant, coffee shop, or bar looking like you just rode a horse cross-country to get there.
A little manual labor
Another pre-date ritual, cemented into the modern zeitgeist by the “hair gel” scene in There’s Something About Mary, is the practice of pleasuring oneself prior to a possible romantic encounter. Believe it or not, there are experts in the field of sex research, like Debby Herbenick, who has a Ph.D. in Health Behavior, who have extolled the general virtues of getting down with your bad self.
In an article for Maxim, Herbenick writes that on top of being a great way to initiate a conversation with your partner about mutual pleasure, masturbation has also been “linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer,” meaning it saves lives! So, maybe this one isn’t so weird after all.
Although, Herbenick includes a few caveats that are worth mentioning. “Unless you’re causing yourself pain or discomfort or you’re turning down work and social opportunities to stay home and self-pleasure, there’s no harm in masturbating every day, if you feel like it (or several times per day),” she writes. So there you go, fellas, fire away! And if it happens to make you late for your date, you can now say that you were engaged in a very important preventative health practice.
Try to smell like her dad
Hands down, this is the strangest practice on this list. Granted, it’s a singular claim from a completely anecdotal Buzzfeed list, but the fact that one guy even thought to “find out a girl’s dad’s cologne before a date and wear that to smell familiar” is borderline psychotic. And I’m even willing to admit that there is sound science behind this, like the University of Chicago study that “revealed that women unwittingly prefer the smell of men who have similar genes to their dads.”
It sounds really sketchy, but has nothing to do with physical attraction at all. It’s actually a function of “a poorly understood evolutionary game,” in which genetic markers in the immune system are attracted to similar markers in potential mates for the purposes of developing “greater resistance to disease, or an unconscious ability to spot distant relatives in a sea of strangers.”
Scientific analysis aside, I’m also willing to bet any woman would immediately run for the hills if you texted, “Sorry I’m running late. I couldn’t find the bottle of Brut I obtained by sneaking into your dad’s house and stealing it with the hope that by wearing it you’d find me sexy on an oddly evolutionary level.”
Clear their digital history
This is another purely anecdotal claim, but according to “Kenny,” who confessed his pre-dating ritual to Elite Daily, he does a digital sweep of his phone before stepping out with a new lady. “I’ll be honest, I still text back and forth with my ex,” Kenny admitted. “I always like to make sure I clean up my phone before a first date, in case the new girl sees my phone. I go through and delete text message history and even clear my search history on Instagram.”
I’ll go ahead and be honest as well and say that Kenny, or any guy who fears someone seeing his phone, seems kind of shady. Not to mention, who cares if the girl sees something and freaks out? Odds are, you’re probably not going on a second date with someone who rifled through your text history the first time you met.
However, the practice of snooping through a significant other’s cell once the relationship is established is actually fairly normal. According to yet another UK survey (those Brits and their dating research) conducted by MobilePhoneChecker (via The Telegraph), it’s actually men who are more likely to peek at their partner’s phone. Twice as likely, in fact. This practice of snooping, according to Director of MobilePhoneChecker, Adam Cable, “may be a sign that mobiles are either making it more difficult for couples to build trust in a relationship, or simply making it easier for people to spy on their partner’s actions.” So, I guess Kenny’s phone paranoia is slightly justified, but still — clearing his Instagram search history? What could he possibly have been looking for?
Become amateur private investigators
Again from Elite Daily‘s pre-date confessionals, here’s another odd admission — this time from “Lucas” — who said he does a bit of cyber-sleuthing ahead of any new rendezvous. “The scary part of online dating is, you never know who you’re going out with,” Lucas lamented. “I’ve had so many bros who were scammed and ended up going out with a girl who catfished them or who was off-her-rocker crazy. I do a quick Google search before the date, and if I find out anything bad, like she was arrested or seems strange, I cancel right before.”
This is a bad idea for several reasons, one of which being that it’s impossible to gauge a romantic spark online, according to Eli J. Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, who shared the findings of his online dating research with Glamour.
“You’re trying to suss out: Will this person and I have a connection? Actually, there is no evidence that we can assess that online,” Finkel said, adding, “You think you know what you want, but what you really need is to sit across from each other and get a beer.”
The bottom line? Don’t be like Lucas or his bros, and don’t make Google the third wheel on your first date.
Learn how to have a conversation
I understand that being properly prepared for any new encounter helps to ease one’s nerves, but I feel like having a mental list of conversation topics would inevitably come across as slightly stiff. However, according to Sarah Jones, a certified life coach and founder of Introverted Alpha, having a conversational roadmap is a great idea, and not just for introverted men, who are the normal target of her dating advice service.
Jones offers three broad conversation topics to focus on: the environment, her, and you, with suggestions for each. Honestly though, if a guy is too nervous or awkward to come up with “Nice night, isn’t it?” on the spot, I really don’t see how stuffing his brain with canned chat subjects like he’s cramming for a test is going to help.
Men’s Fitness takes this concept even further suggesting topics like “What are 5 things you want to accomplish before you die?” and “What’s been the most significant or best year of your life so far?”
I am no dating expert and, truth be told, I’ve been out of the dating scene for quite a while, but I don’t think reminding someone of their mortality or making them catalog and rank every year of their life sounds like fun. Remember, this a date, not a job interview.
Text way too much
Given the plethora of online dating services and apps, there is now an endless number of ways to digitally communicate with a potential mate. While that’s a nice mechanism to get to know someone a little before an IRL encounter, a lot of guys are taking it way overboard, according to Elle.
“Texting gives men a non-committal form of validation whenever they want to feel connected,” Matthew Hussey, a relationship expert, told Elle. According to Hussey, guys incessantly text women because it fills the void of an otherwise lacking real-life social network, as well as possibly allows them “fleeting moments of connection” over the more terrifying prospect of actually starting a new relationship.
That’s a pretty dismal view of guys’ approach to new relationships, and one that I feel is an over complication of the simpler explanation, which is: they’re lazy. Regardless, if women are saying men do too much pre-date texting, they should listen to that, and save their wittiest one-liners for the face-to-face meeting. Also — and this is based on no research data whatsoever — I’m confident no woman has ever been turned on by an emoji.