Three Dates to Weed Out the Losers
Once you get a few relationships under your belt, and perhaps a few one night stands, your priorities start to shift. You're thinking long term; you're thinking marriage and even though you'll never admit this to him (let alone to yourself), you're starting to think babies too.
So how can you tell? Men like cars, and in many ways men are like cars: you have to take them for a test drive before you decide. These three dates will let you know if your man's a good match for the long haul.
A PicnicA picnic is an ideal date in that combines two of life's greatest pleasures: eating and sitting around doing nothing. Whether you combine your picnic with a little jaunt through the woods, or slip into your stilettos for an urban feast in one of your city's most romantic squares, you'll quickly determine if your man has what it takes.
Does he bring anything to the table, or in this case, to the picnic blanket, or does he rely on you to supply the victuals? Chances are if he's not willing to pitch in for a simple afternoon outing, you're going to spend the duration of your relationship slaving away in the kitchen while he watches football.
Next up? The picnic blanket. I tend to err on the side of caution so far as my derriere is concerned, so you'll never see me picnicking without a blanket but if you're feeling intrepid, go without and see if he'll offer you his jacket to sit upon. If he does, it means he's observant and concerned about your comfort. More importantly, you'll be able to determine whether he's a neat freak or able to handle a little dirt.
While you're eating, be sure to take note of his dining habits. Does he savor the food or simply scarf it down. Does he enjoy the outdoors or does he spend the entire time complaining about the bugs, the breeze and birds chirping nearby? By paying attention to his reactions, you'll be able to figure out if you're dating an outdoorsman who's able to go with the flow, as opposed to an uptight, indoors type.
Be wary, however, if he brings his own basket and blanket; he may be more interested in your brother than he is in you. But if he's manly enough to carry your basket back to the car, despite its feminine floral motif, then by all means: he's a keeper.
The Art MuseumFor his next test, invite your man to meet you at an art museum or gallery. Check out your city's cultural institutions to see if any offer a late night program; many museums stay open late one night a week and offer live music and a cash bar to spice things up.
It's hard to strike the right balance between complete Philistine and total art-snob. A quick spin through the galleries, however, will reveal if you're dating a neophyte or a connoisseur. What does he think of modern art? Does he "get" the squares and squiggles or does he think they're bullshit that his nephew could have painted (ten points if he gets you to laugh while expressing his opinion)? Does he make you feel stupid because he happened to spend a semester in Paris as an undergrad or does he elicit your opinion on Toulouse-Lautrec? (You want to be with someone who cares about your opinions, after all, and keeps an open mind even if your thoughts differ from his.) Finally, is he game for slipping away to some forgotten corner to create a scene of your own or is he too prim and proper for a dangerous liaison?
Most men would rather spend the evening cheering on their favorite team than contemplating modern arm but if he's willing to give it a try, consider yourself lucky. It means he's open to new experiences and trying new things.
That said, simply accompanying you to your museum of choice is only half the battle. Does he get in the spirit and try to enjoy himself does he spend the whole time complaining? Does he try to understand what makes your favorite works so special to you or does he keep looking at his watch and checking his phone for his team's score?
I once went to the Victoria and Albert museum with a Russian businessman while I was living in London. He took me a new exhibit on baroque architecture, presumably to woo me with his knowledge of eighteenth-century interior design. Unfortunately for him, I've always been a bit of a history nerd and - God forbid - I knew more about the exhibits contents than he did. He never called me for a second date and that was fine by me: if a guy can't handle not being the expert on everything, then there's really no need to pursue anything further.
An art museum will also tell you a lot about a man's interests and cultural knowledge. You'll quickly discover if he's travelled abroad, if he's used to nice things or if he won't mind furnishing your first apartment with DIY from Ikea.
Get PhysicalLast up is the sports date - and no, this does not entail going to a sporting event but rather participating. Try skiing or hiking, or ice skating or even something lame like bowling, preferably something at which you yourself are fairly adept but by no means an expert. Let him teach you how to play tennis, or row a kayak, but pay attention to his body language and tone of voice.
Is he condescending or encouraging as you try to learn the ropes?
Is he overly competitive or does he focus on your enjoyment?
It's a pretty safe bet that if he can teach you how to rock climb without making you cry, he'll be able to teach your future children to ride a bike or drive a stick shift. If he leaves you stranded halfway up the wall, however, you might want to reconsider. And, worst of all, if he gets bent of shape when you beat him to the top, repel down that wall as fast as you can and run, fast. There's a time and a place for macho behavior but that time and place is with his buddies, not with you.
You might want to let him pick the next date if he's survived your trifecta, and if he's made it this far, he just might be the one.
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