In your dating career you will encounter more than your fair share of sticky situations. For instance:
- A blind date you've met for coffee whom you hate on sight is under the impression that you're spending the whole evening (if not your entire lives) together.
- That awkward first-date moment when the check comes and you don't know whether or not to reach for it.
- Your uncertainty of whether your date should play by the old rules: pick you up at your door, plan the evening's activities, etc., or whether you should have equal say all across the board.
- A date who is so rude, thoughtless or obnoxious that you feel like hitting him with a verbal 2-by-4.
The number one way to insure that confusing or crazy dating dilemmas don't make you take leave of your senses is to keep your sense of humor. It is the situations that make us roll our eyes and ask, ''Why, God? Why are you doing this to me?'' that ultimately offer the greatest opportunities for us to grow as individuals. Look at it this way: At least you'll get great stories to share with your friends.
When faced with an awkward situation, tell yourself (repeatedly if necessary): ''This will not change the course of my life. It is no big deal!'' Reinforcing the temporary nature of your discomfort should help you keep your aplomb.
Also maintain your self-respect. You want to be civil, but you also deserve to be treated with civility. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And don't do unto them what you would hate them to do to you. My personal code is to treat others with respect, diplomacy and kindness and to expect the same treatment in return. And although I try not to lie, when I'm convinced it's in the interest of the greater good, I'll bend or shade the truth a tad.
Armed with these etiquette tips, let's explore how to handle the scenarios presented at the top.
Next page: How to handle a pushy blind date, and more.
- The pushy blind date. The most important point is not to be alone with someone you don't know well, especially someone who has made it clear he wants to see more of you than is presently meeting the eye. That said, if it's clear that this delusional sap sees the two of you skipping together through eternity, just let him down gently. This is where the ''I'll sometimes bend or shade the truth a tad'' proviso comes into play. Tell him, ''Gee, it's been really nice meeting you. I'll have to thank (name of person who set you up) for suggesting it. But our plan was to just meet for coffee. I'm busy the rest of the evening so I can't hang out. I have such a crazed, tight schedule -- lots of stuff going on in my life -- which is why it's difficult for me to commit to plans. But if I see my way clear to getting together again, I'll let you know.'' Then offer to pay for your coffee. Which brings us to:
- The check quandary. I am retro in my belief that a guy should pay for the first date. A man who expects you to dig into your wallet is cheap. However, there's nothing wrong with you filling the awkward silence when the bill comes with a pleasant, ''Do you want any money for that?'' If he says yes, fork over your share. You've paid a bargain price to pick up invaluable information about his personality.
- The New Road Rules. It's the millennium, not the Stone Age. You have free will and a strong mind of your own. You should have a say in the date-planning details. If he suggests a steak house and you're a vegetarian, pipe up! His demonstrating an ability to compromise coupled with a desire to make you happy is a definite plus. However, you also want to be treated like a lady. If you're comfortable having him pick you up at your home, go for it. Otherwise, meet him at a restaurant or theater and take it from there.
- The Jerky Date. If he's obnoxious, I advise getting out while the getting is good. Sticking it out or (even worse) trying to get his goat will lead him to prolong the date to prove he can get the better of you. Just tell him straight up. Say, ''The fact that you're trying to pick up another woman while you're on a date with me proves that we have nothing to build from. So I'm outta here. I wish you good luck in all your endeavors. Ciao.''
Okay, dating divas, you're on your own from here. Just remember, good humor, good sense and good manners will carry you through any dating dilemma -- with style.