Dave’s answer to the burnout factor in online dating is the "step-up." "You want to quickly meet to gauge chemistry," he says. "After getting stuck for hours with a few losers, a girl learns to agree only to a coffee-screener, or some other 'step-up' date, before actually committing to an entire evening." He’s right, in theory, but I’m so done with the coffee date. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sexy in a Starbucks. I use the phone to screen out losers. But when, by phone or by latte, you’ve decided the guy is worthy, what makes a great first date? I ran a few of my own past Dave, and he picked three winning ideas.
1. Taking a new guy to a baseball game. This scored high on the Dave-o-meter. "Sports venues are an excellent way to experience straight men in their natural habitats," he says. "With their guards down, they’re likely having fun and feeling good. Plus, chances are you’ll get credit for being a good sport."
2. Meeting in the park on a warm evening for a bike ride. Dave totally approved of this idea. "Plan to do something that reveals your spirit," he advises, "whether it’s an athletic activity or an outdoor concert." So far, so good. The problem was that I’m a highly competitive rider, and the guy couldn’t keep up.
3. Going to a roller disco one night. The guy and I had already established an easygoing rapport by phone, so both of us were more willing than usual to make complete fools of ourselves on roller skates. It was a great first date, and got two thumbs-up from Dave: "Lively, spontaneous, unpredictable."
Dave’s three first-date no-nos:
Movies: There’s no opportunity to talk.
Black-tie events: The formality makes people stiff.
Places you’ll run into a lot of friends: It’s too much, too soon.
Dave is one smart cookie, and I’m glad he’s on my panel. Of course, that doesn’t mean I always like what he has to say. When we discussed my present sitch (roller-disco guy and I have been going out), Dave was appalled at my reluctance to heed chapter seven of Behind Every Great Woman, "Keeping Your Romantic Pipeline Full of Men"—which he also calls "having a herd."
"But it takes so much energy," I whined. Dave nodded sagely. "And I’m happy with my current let’s-not-talk-about-the-future-and-have-as-much-fun-as-possible scenario," I argued. "Mmmm-hmmm,” he said. I knew by his tone I was in trouble. "It’s a noble thing to be a one-man woman," Dave went on, "but when you’re dating, there are benefits to a herd. In your case, you don’t want to sleep with more than one guy at a time, and you don’t have to. But having a herd would offer your current ‘situation’ (dare I use the dreaded R word?) context and comparison."
Context and comparison? Well, it’s kind of hard for a reasonable woman to argue with that—even when she’s really got a one-man heart.