In Which We Want To Embrace Our Dates

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


I have been going out on first dates with a lot of women from a fairly well known dating site with a maritime theme. Even if I think things went well, they usually disappear in the ensuing months. I try to be respectful and consider the first date a getting-to-know you experience. What could I be doing wrong?

Alex J.

Dear Alex,

The first meeting can be really tough, especially for the man. A lot of guys are either too wary to make a move of any kind, which can make a woman feel you are not interested, or take certain things for granted, which can make a woman feel like using her taser.

It appears you are of the first variety. Here are some things you should absolutely never do on a first date:

Pay. Do not pay for her. Subconsciously, a woman who lets a man pay for her on a first date is wondering why he is doing this. You’re not a couple; there should be no expectation of this. Pay for what you each consume. You can buy dessert if it gets that far (it shouldn’t).

Compliment her. I mean if she wrote an article or something that was rather insightful, mention that. You can also be like, “You look great” when you see her. Don’t start moaning about her eyes unless the timing is clearly right, e.g. you are both hammered and eating one another’s faces.

Invite her to your home or apartment for any reason.
Especially do not cook for her, unless you are Bobby Flay or close friends with such.

Wait to have sex. If it is there, make it happen. No one wants to feel unloved or unwanted. Sex only brings people closer together. Look at Brad Pitt. One second he was feeling a tongue in his anus, the next he has beatiful adopted children with confusing last names for first names.

Finally, don’t seem overly interested. It’s a first date, not a lifelong committment ceremony. Don’t text afterwards or tell you want to see her again before a day or two goes by. At that time, don’t text her. If she texts you, write her an e-mail that says you’re not going to have your phone for 48 hours for reasons and remark that she can’t get enough of you. Women love negs?


A few months ago I met a Jewish guy named Sanders (not his real name). Things are going very well, and he says he has no problems dating a non-Jewish woman. His family seems fine with things as well, but with Passover coming up, he has invited me to spend it with his family. This has entailed a lot of preparation about the seder and education in general.

It’s not so much learning this stuff that bothers me if it’s a few days a year. My greater concern is that I am an atheist and God seems to be a big part of Sanders and his family’s life. Is it possible to be in a relationship where you don’t agree on these issues?

Melissa B.

Dear Melissa,

How good are you at telling white lies?

What seems to trouble religious people most about non-religious people is that they don’t have an easy way of finding out what they believe in. As long as you can cogently express what you do believe in, you’ll be fine.

People get turned off from organized religion for a number of supremely valid reasons: emotional, physical and sexual abuse, cult mentality, epousal of bigoted or anti-feminist male headship-esque views. Jews of all people should understand why these aspects all of religions might be a turnoff to you.

However, if he says his family is fine with it, they probably are, and you’re making more of a deal out of it than it needs to be. Lots of mildly religious Jews wear these costumes:


Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s mobile site at


“Chasing Time” – Azealia Banks (mp3)


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