"We tend to over-intellectualize everything."

Age 25, Los Angeles.


People always say that no one dates in college. Let me clarify. Cool guys always say that. I wouldn't know—I didn't even have the option of dating. There were basically two types of Harvard men: the cool guys who wore baseball caps and were in final clubs, and the rest of us. The cool guys had lots of sex in high school and were very popular. The rest of us did lots of homework in high school and were shunned. Cool guys could have dated in college, but instead they just went to parties and "hooked up." Why date if you could do that?

Thankfully, we've all graduated and the dating field is finally level. Even the coolest guy at Harvard is still a nerd to the rest of the world. In order to hook up now, we have to date—and everyone faces the same problems.

Say you go to a party and meet a nice girl. If you want to call and ask her out, first you have to wait. Nobody knows why, but a guy is supposed to wait two or three days before calling to make the girl think he's not as interested as he really is. (Girls have told me they love it when a guy calls immediately, but I don't believe them.) My personal strategy is to call only one day after, but to aim for a time I know her machine will pick up. Then I drop the "Let's hang out, or something" line, thus leaving the ball in her court to call me back. (The "or something" is key because it conveys a general air of indifference. What do I care if you don't want to hang out with me?)

If she does, we do have to speak, but I'm usually so busy trying to come up with smart, funny things to say that there's no time for an actual conversation. No one really listens during those initial adrenaline-pumped calls because you're both working so hard to present a persona your date can be attracted to. Forget getting to know each other.

For now, the goal is selling yourself, and Harvard guys (unless they went to the B School) are much worse at this than one would expect. We're more self-aware, we lack confidence, and we tend to over-intellectualize everything. Our minds spin with self-doubt and worry over what our dates are thinking. Very few girls on the planet find this sexy. If you're lucky enough to meet one, the best thing you can do is RELAX. If you're constantly wondering, "Does this girl think I'm cute? Should I try and kiss her? How about now? Will she push me away? Scream?" then she won't think you're cute or funny, or anything. Dates are like dogs—they can smell fear. That's why alcohol is often essential. You don't need it to drug your date into liking you; you need it to drug yourself into liking to date.

Nothing causes more anxiety than sitting opposite a stranger you like without knowing whether that person likes you back. It's akin to going uphill on a roller coaster. The car clicks and ticks as you near the top, and then you plunge, terrified and amazed. A good date leaves you feeling the same way. I suppose that's why we all keep lining up for the ride.          

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