Dating: it’s an activity fraught with anxiety. Some people see it as a sport; some people see it at the sports day where you get picked last by some sympathetic class member who will ultimately become irritated by your inadequacies. And there’s no doubt that a date is one of the last bastions of hideously stereotyped gender expectations: if he pulls out your chair and offers to pay, he’s a good guy; if he comes to pick you up, even better; the media would have it that there’s a strict dress code involving cufflinks and cocktail dresses; gender politics is definitely not dinner table conversation, even if your job involves it. Luckily, MSN is helping us to negotiate this veritable minefield with some ‘top tips’ – one for gals, one for guys – which manage solve all of these problems in two incredible lists.
So let’s start with the girls, on ‘ten ways to get his attention’:
1. Tailor your conversation topics to anything he likes.
If he has a favourite sport, MSN suggests, which ‘news reports’ and other TV programmes about his team, and then use these as a basis for conversation. The idea that your conversation is entirely centred around his preferences will really get him going.
2. Keep his conscience in line
This actually features the advice ‘make sure he phones his mum when he said he would.’ And what’s wrong with functioning as your boyfriend’s PA anyway? Isn’t that what women are FOR? And because men don’t have consciences and also never feel emotions, you’d do well to train them to make a good appearance at having them. Maybe he’ll even send you flowers in the future as a reward for how well you’ve trained him!
3. Create false arguments
Men like a bit of sexual tension in the form of argument, reckons MSN, only two bullet points away from suggesting the complete opposite. You could argue about your real views – but who would bother? And, let’s face it, as a woman you probably don’t have any. So instead, ‘find out his views and brush up on the counter-arguments.’ This one’s going to be tough if he’s actually a nice person who thinks that homelessness should be tackled and marriage should be for everyone in a committed relationship, but just go wild! Get on the BNP’s website! Do what you have to!
4. Get better at touching him
‘Take evening classes in massage and then give him one.’ Anyone else got anything better to do with their evenings, girls? No? Didn’t think so.
5. Be funny – but y’know, like a woman
Because MSN knows you’re of the female variety and humour doesn’t come naturally to you, it advises that you ‘learn a few jokes. Or better still, practice doing impressions. If you can mimic soap stars, TV presenters or singers, he’ll want to show you off to his mates in no time.’ Well, weren’t you going to pre-date prep by doing your best Graham Norton in front of the mirror? All right then, just learn a few jokes. LEARN THEM. Because there’s not much hope that you’re going to make them up on the spot, is there?
6. Learn trivia
‘For most men’, says MSN (bearing in mind that all previous bullets have been introduced with ‘all men’) ‘intelligence is attractive.’ To appear intelligent, brush up on your trivia and then demonstrate it on the pub quiz machine. No, I’m. Not. Joking.
7. Run a race for charity
Because the appearance of ‘dedication and endurance’ will drive your man wild. I don’t even know where to begin with this incongruent insanity.
8. Be a game-player
If he’s ‘used to attention’, MSN reckons he’ll love it if you flirt with all his friends and ignore him entirely. Honestly, this will ‘put you on his radar as the one immune to his charms.’ Because your love life is an episode of Glee, and all successful relationships begin with manipulation.
9. Get back in the kitchen
It’s surely no mistake that this list ends with ‘feed him’, climaxing as it does at the ultimate 1950s expectation. You might be a little tired after running that race for charity that you entirely arranged to demonstrate your ‘endurance’ to a future mate, but don’t let that stop you. If you’ve been keeping his conscience in line enough, he might even help chop the carrots – if his favourite sports team isn’t playing, in which case dream on, sister! You can’t have it all, you know. This is just one man.
You might be saturated by good advice now – and who could blame you? – so I’ll give you a very quick lowdown on the men’s list of ‘how to impress a woman.’ I thought it best to just pull out the most choice quotes (yes, they’re all genuine):
1. ‘You’d be amazed at how many women read the ‘spotted’ section of the newspaper in the small hope that they might appear.’ Cor, she’ll be reading the politics section next!
2. Well, this one suggests that you should create a flash mob, so I’m just going to mosey on to number…
3. Learn a new skill so that ‘next time you go out clubbing, she’ll be amazed by your break-dancing skills.’ This ever happened to anyone?
4. Write a letter (but don’t make it too complicated, she’s only a woman)
5. Make a film (see the above bracketed advice. No Tarkovsky references or subtle nuances, now! Restrain yourself.)
6. Write a list of reasons that you should be together – but don’t use ‘I’m totally hot’ as a reason, cautions MSN. Instead, say ‘my mum thinks I’m gorgeous’ – because women go all gooey-eyed at the idea of mums and babies and gorgeousness and fluffy wuffy bunny cuggles. Ahem.
7. Serenade her
8. Give her flowers
9. Make a mix tape… keep it accessible and romantic
10. Personalise a poem by using ‘an existing template’ and adding in a few twists of your own. The potential for hilarity in this case is way too high. WAY too high. Anything by Edgar Allan Poe will definitely do.
So there you have it, ladles and jellyspoons: the definitive guide to dating. If you don’t have a boyfriend by next week, you’ll only have yourselves to blame.