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The Dating Game

By Demetria L. Lucas

Do most women know how to date? This is the question that crossed my mind as I was sorting through the books that came across my work desk. It’s literally in my job description to know everything possible about men, dating and relationships. When I’m not poring over advice guides, I’m interviewing experts, probing men to figure out what they want, asking women if they’re willing to do it (and what they expect in return), on photo shoots with hot men, searching the city for men (aka “cutie run”) or, you know, actually editing my pages in the magazine. Thousands of interviews and pages read later, I’ve come to a startling conclusion: We don’t.

I first had this revelation when a woman, a single actress in her thirties, stopped by the office. She looked around at my cubicle, which is decorated with pictures of shirtless men in varying hues, and said, “You know where all the single men are, right?” She said it like we were co-conspirators in an illegal sidewalk enterprise.

I nodded. It’s also in my job description to find guys for ESSENCE’s Single Man of the Month page. I keep files under my desk, where men are sorted by age and location to make sure I never come up empty.

“Can you hook me up?” she asked after a long pause.

“Sure. What do you want?” I asked.

She rattled off the basics—he should be kind, funny, honest, attentive, blah, blah, blah. I interrupted her to find out what age range and physical traits she wanted.

“Oh…” she said, then paused to think. “Late thirties, anybody attractive.”

A 41-year-old cop popped into my head. He looks 35 and has the body of a CGI character out of 300. And he’s also really nice. I threw his profile out as a possibility for the actress.

She scrunched up her face. “A cop? No, his profession is too dangerous. That would never work.”

Blank stare.

It’s a date. Does it have to “work” beyond dinner?

That got me wondering what the point of a date is for most women. Is it to end with a white picket fence, two kids and a dog? Or is it a meal, maybe a stroll and hopefully a decent conversation? I argue it’s the latter. A relationship is the former.

You don’t have to marry a guy because you break bread with him or sit next to him at the show. I’m not saying have sex with him or go on a second date even. I’m saying go out with him. Once. It’s two to three hours of your time where you are doing something new with someone new. Even if it goes terribly wrong, you’re bound to get at least a good Facebook status update.

And if it goes wonderfully right? Even if he’s nice, but not for you, well, at least he was as good as a good movie. Maybe you can kick it and have fun another time. Maybe not. The End. Either way, is the potential for “just” a good time really a waste of time?

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