ROMANCE WINGMAN: VALENTINE’S DAY DO’S AND DON’TS

So much has been written about Valentine’s Day that even the journalistically inclined are hard pressed to find a new way to tackle the subject. Taking the straight route, for example, dictates that we make some romantic comparison to a timely subject – like, oh…I don’t know…politics, as found here. Gosh, what a well-crafted argument, whoever wrote that must be pretty clever (or just shamefully self-promoting – your call).

Or there’s the statistical route, which isn’t flowery but still pretty damn interesting, like this compilation of cupid-related numbers. Eleven thousand children conceived on Valentine’s Day on average?! Ew, that’s more information than I needed…

But my personal favorite read as of late was about Valenswine’s Day, the day before Valentine’s when men take their mistresses out for a romantic tryst (hey, it’s better than double booking, right?)

This year, however, my contribution to the lovers melting pot is a 2012-themed Do’s and Don’ts list for both singles and couples. True, it may have been done before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun.

For the attached:

DO try to avoid flaunting your syrupy sweet relationship details on Facebook or Twitter. Uploading excessive pictures of your gigantic floral arrangement or giving us the play by play of all of the things “the very best boyfriend/husband/fiancee in the whole world” did for you today tends to get on people’s nerves. Also, please try not to profess your love in 140 characters or less. The words “marry me” should never come with a hashtag in front of them, in my opinion.

Men: DON’T pawn off a gift that really serves your purposes as something you think we’d enjoy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: giving lingerie and sports tickets is only altruistic if you’re dating Adriana Lima or Marv Albert. *Miss Wingman note - if you’re dating a woman who would love to hit up an NBA game on Valentine’s Day, marry her. She rocks.

DO recreate a fond memory with your beloved. If your first date was for Dim Sum in Chinatown and then a John Hughes revival at local theater, why not relive it? (And if it’s not possible, ordering in Chinese and Netflix’ing The Breakfast Club works, too).

DON’T be afraid to Do It Yourself for a gift. If you’re particularly good at something (cooking, playing music, etc.) now is a good time to showcase your skills. Just don’t go that route if you’re known for being notoriously cheap – homemade is endearing, but not if your reputation precedes you.

DON’T ignore the holiday entirely, even if your significant other swears that she hates Valentine’s and couldn’t care less about it. Fact: 53% of women say that they’d break up with someone if they didn’t receive a present on Valentine’s Day. So even if it’s just a card, give Cupid a nod. Or else.

For the unattached:

DON’T get drunk and text or call your ex. Likewise, don’t check their Facebook page or e-stalk them – it will not make you feel better – especially if they’ve moved onto someone else. The past is the past for a reason, leave it that way.

DON’T try to DTR (Define The Relationship) with someone with whom you’ve been casually hooking up. This is not to be confused with being DTF (Down To…you know), which everyone should be on Valentine’s Day. Right, Pauly D?

DO start fresh by eliminating painful reminders of your old flames on Facebook, G-chat or your mobile device (a clean slate is better than looking backward, after all), but DON’T do anything drastic, like overhauling your life. Joining every single dating website (and downloading dating apps), buying a whole new wardrobe and signing up for the next casting of The Bachelor is excessive, FYI.

DO turn the negative (read: a recent break up) into a positive. It turns out angst is great fuel for creativity, so find a way to channel it. Hey, it worked for Adele, didn’t it?

DON’T be a cliche. The idea of the embittered single female – or in rare cases, male – isn’t amusing, it’s just plain angry. Please avoid blasting “F*%k You” music or going to see a midnight showing of Carrie, it’s not helping your cause (or making the rest of us look good).

For both:

DON’T sext half naked (or worse) pictures of yourself to anyone, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Have we learned nothing from Anthony Weiner, people?

But DO spread the love. Remember how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid? You don’t have to write tiny cards to all of your coworkers, but dropping Hershey’s Kisses or conversation hearts on your neighbor’s desk is fun way to be nostalgic. Everybody loves a little kitsch once in a while, right?

And there you have it, Miss Wingman’s take on this hot button holiday. Sure, some may hate Valentine’s Day because it, following closely on the heels of the other dreaded singles holiday, New Year’s Eve, provides the one-two punch we can’t avoid. It’s like a tandem assault-by-calendar, if you choose to view it that way. But I’d prefer to think of it as just another opportunity to make someone else smile – and there’s nothing wrong with that. And, if you still can’t get behind it, just know that your own Valentine’s misery is probably nothing compared to this guy’s. My love to you all, today and always.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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WIPE OUT: WHEN TO DELETE SOMEONE FROM YOUR PHONE AND FACEBOOK

The last time I took to my keyboard the morning after a big game, my post was brimming with Giants references and sports metaphors. Did I mention they won? Maybe you’ve heard, it’s kind of a big deal. So, today it only feels right that there be a similar tie-in, only perhaps this time I’ll wax poetic on the other side of the victory coin.

Just like I’m sure today millions of New York fans will rise and shine with a spring in their step (and most likely signs of last night’s celebration still visible), despondent Patriots fans will awake to the urge to blot out last night’s crushing defeat. You win some, you lose some. But if you’re on the latter team, sometimes you’d just as soon wipe all evidence of said loss from your memory – in real life, and in your virtual one.

This is germane to the topic of romance, too: If you’ve ever parted ways with someone post-hook up (however extensive) and you just can’t seem to erase all the evidence, perhaps it’s time to throw away their digits and de-friend them for good. Why do we collect these relationship relics? They never do us any good.

Case in point: ever notice how attempting to eliminate someone in your phone or Facebook triggers a prompt question like, “Are you sure you want to delete so and so?” It’s a cruel tease, but it speaks to our hesitation. If your gut says it’s better to say goodbye, go with it. We never go wrong when we listen to our instincts.

When should you do that, you ask? It varies. For some it’s best to expunge them from your relationship record immediately upon things going south – or silent. Whether the person disrespected you or things just plain fizzled, once it’s clear that it’s over, why wait? Just make sure you don’t add them back – that’s the tricky part.

I have a friend who periodically deletes guys from her phone so that she won’t be tempted to text or call them in moments of drunkenness, I mean weakness. For a lot of women, having that direct line to your past is like walking around with a live grenade in their purse on a Friday or Saturday night. It could go off at any time, and there will be damage.

Still others need to feel ready before pulling the plug on their old flames, even if their love has long since flat-lined. It’s like tearing off a band-aid – best if done swiftly – but often with a good amount of psyching up to do first. Whether it’s a week or a month that lapses doesn’t matter, just marinate in your misery as long as you need to until you’re ready to press the delete button – but make sure you do it.

Why am I so certain? Because if men are even remotely like women, you will not want a constant reminder and portal into the life of someone who no longer wants you. Whether it’s being forced to see her name as you casually scroll through the contacts in your phone book, or watching her come up in your news feed on Facebook, you’ll never be free if you don’t blot out these sucky little souvenirs, trust me. Why torture yourself?

If it suits you, you can do it in stages. I’ve actually vanquished people in graduated levels before. It’s like dipping your big toe into the Independent Badass pool to test the waters before diving right in – a necessary precaution from time to time. Sometimes these baby steps have involved changing the name in my phone book so that I don’t have to see it spelled out (before I’m ready to sever all ties – a wuss move, admittedly).

Other times I’ve just hidden someone from my friend list – an even bigger wuss move, and futile. You’ll still be tempted to check their page to see if they’re dating someone new – better to just delete them altogether and eliminate the drama.

In rare instances, I’ve just leveraged my disgust and deleted someone straight away. Anger is a powerful motivator, if you can get pissed and stay pissed long enough to make your departure permanent, I’d highly recommend it. You may or may not have had a say in how things ended, but this way you can at least cut the cord on your own terms.

But if ire is your catalyst, always make sure to let it go immediately after. Life’s too short to hold grudges. Moving on is the best revenge…well, that and looking awesome next time you see them. Even if there’s no ill will, sometimes it just feels good to clean house. Whatever the impetus, I implore you – be like Nike, and just do it.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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NETIQUETTE NO NO’S: THINGS WOMEN DON’T WANT TO SEE ON FACEBOOK

Let’s face it, social networking is the best thing to happen to guys trying to get lucky since the invention of…well…women, frankly. With just a few keystrokes you have a bevvy of beautiful women who you either want to get to know, already know, or never knew you wanted to sleep with until now. It’s a world of possibility at your fingertips – literally.

But, just as social networking sites like Facebook work in your favor, they can also work against you if you don’t know what to avoid (sorry, blame Zuckerberg). Whether it’s you who’s engaging in marks of bad behavior or your friends/past relations working against you, it doesn’t really matter – it’s all filed under the heading “game killer” in the end. As I’ve said before, women have a tendency to e-stalk, so if she unearths any of the following on your profile, don’t be surprised if she starts running for the virtual hills.

Cringe-Worthy Photos: There are so many things that fall under this category, I hardly know where to begin. Oh no wait – yes I do – with anything that involves vomit, bodily functions, shotgunning/funneling beer over the age of 25, shirtless poses in bathroom mirrors or photos of you flexing in any way, shape or form. What this tells us? You’re either still pretty immature, don’t realize that you’re a narcissist, or that you have no understanding of/concern for the Internet and all that lives on it. And this is coming from a girl who’s own male friends’ immature behavior is a source of much entertainment. I may laugh, I just won’t date you. Also, I don’t care if you have The Situation’s abs, put a shirt on please.

Debbie Downer Status Updates: No one likes a person who’s negative all the time, and this goes double for Facebook. Are you constantly complaining about your life? Do you let little, fickle things get to you or love unleashing your rage to your social network? Lighten up, man. Glass half full is way sexier. I guarantee you that if you’re the All Misery All The Time Network, we’ll want to change the channel. Fast.

Friend Poaching: Under no circumstances is it acceptable for you to reach out to people on our lists and friend request total strangers. If you know our friends, that’s one thing (but still dicey, only add them if you’re certain you’re close enough for it not to be weird). Otherwise it just looks like you’re either A) potentially trying to get with our friends if it doesn’t work out B) trying to keep tabs on us and who we’re out with or C) just a social-climbing opportunist – but that one’s primarily for girls, it rarely goes the other way.

A Visible Imprint of Your Ex: Guys who keep pictures of their ex on their Facebook are a huge red flag for us. It’s understandable if you’ve just recently broken up and she was a large part of your life for an extended time, and you haven’t had a chance to pull them down yet. But once that time is up, if you want to move on and have a fighting chance with new girls, you should probably ditch the vacation shots, arm around each other photos or anything that screams that you used to sleep with another woman. Just a suggestion.

Any Women Who Like To “Hover” On Your Page: As I’ve also said before, women have a tendency to mark their territory by writing on your Facebook wall and other such stupid acts of possessiveness. It’s not terribly mature, but it’s common practice – and it’s meant to ward off other females. By constantly “Like”-ing your photos, commenting on your status updates or posting things on your wall like it’s her own personal doodle pad, women are trying to establish themselves as a formidable presence in your life, even if you don’t feel the same way. These actions are off-putting to normal girls, who will likely bow out before trying to engage in competition for your affection. Sad but true.

And finally, Annoying Relationship Blasts Of Any Kind: This usually applies to guys who fall hard for girls way too easily and then have things like the following written on their pages: “In a relationship” as their status after one or two dates, photos of them wearing matching sports gear with a girl at a game, references to having “the best girlfriend in the whole world,” etc., etc., gag. Also falling in this category are things written by a female you may or may not be formally dating, like “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” or “Miss youuuu!!” or “Can’t wait to see you,” “Awwwww, you look so cute in this pic!” or anything that emasculates you publicly. Also, it will have us thinking that if you could ever have been attracted to such a complete tool (if girls can even be called that, which I believe they can) then there’s no way you belong with us, we’re better off.

I know some of this sounds harsh, but it’s for your own good, men. If Miss Wingman is all about creating opportunities to showcase to us how great you are, then committing the sins on this list only make you get in your own way. A Facebook faux pas may not seem like a big deal, but it doesn’t help you out, either. Just remember these reminders when you sign on, or else the next time you may find the ladies logging on and losing interest.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

*And yes, before you point it out, the quality on this clip is bootleg, at best. Sometimes Youtube videos are pretty hoopty. Sigh…

 

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COUPLES WITH JOINT FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS: CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE WHIPPED

Let’s face it, social media is to relationships what the Big Bad Wolf was to the Three Little Pigs’ houses – if not built of something strong, any old breeze can topple them to the ground. So, with the creation of Facebook granting people access to everyone they could ever want to reconnect with (or it’s more accurate description, “All of the people you never got the chance to sleep with in high school”) provides a never ending supply of opportunities for bad behavior.

It’s no surprise, then, that some couples are reticent to have each other’s Facebook profile out there for the world – and potential romantic interests – to see. So, they swing to the opposite end of the trust spectrum and opt for a joint account, like SarahandJason (Fill in a last name here). Two people, one “We’re Just So Happy That We’ve Sacrificed Our Own Individuality” profile. Bleh, no thanks.

Congratulations, men, if your woman makes you one half of this social media merger, you’ve just admitted to everyone you know that you’re pretty much whipped. But, among the litany of issues that have just been uncovered, that one’s the least of your worries. The bigger problem is that you don’t trust each other.

No man would willingly choose this mashup unless goaded into it by a woman worrying that his natural behavioral tendency might get him into trouble without supervision. It’s a sad state of affairs. Call me crazy, though, I don’t want to act as mother or police officer to any man I’m dating, that’s not my job. And it’s not hot, either.

Still, increasing the volume of opportunities to stray increases the likelihood that your significant other could one day have a moment of weakness, I can’t deny that. But the amount of temptation or access to new people only matters when it comes to fidelity if one or both of you hasn’t fully matured yet, in which case you’ll definitely make mistakes you’ll think better of down the line.That’s not a prediction, it’s an inevitability.

Let me be clear: just because I said volume and access *shouldn’t* matter, doesn’t mean that they don’t. I’m a realist, after all. Following that logic, sites like Facebook open a Pandora’s Box of trouble, but only if your relationship is lacking something to begin with – communication, validation, sex, whatever. You wouldn’t look for others to satisfy something if you were 100% fulfilled. Why go elsewhere for what you can get at home, after all?

One could argue that people cheat out of boredom, but I disagree. People cheat because something is missing – and it’s not always something missing from their partner, often it’s missing inside themselves (back to the maturity thing). Or, you’re just a really inconsiderate person, but let’s hope it’s the former.

If you’re on solid ground, women could hit you up all day long telling you how great you look, friend requesting you, or dangling photos of their summer at the beach and, if you were in a committed relationship, you might engage briefly. But eventually you’d put an end to the banter, for fear of losing something more important as a result (one would hope, at least). Momentary bursts of flattery or excitement are human, but if you really love the one you’re with, she’ll be sharply in focus, while everyone else is blurry.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the cause, however. Being nervous about the stability of one’s relationship is normal. But if your love is that easily rattled, then maybe it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in the first place. Further, if you have to wonder if your significant other is exchanging messages with, chatting up or flirting with those who present competition for you, why would you be with someone like that in the first place?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If I can’t trust you or have to make excuses and/or explanations for your behavior, I just don’t date you. Flat-out, simple as that. I wish that every female lived like that, we’d all appear a hell of a lot less crazy as a group that way. I’ll reiterate that this philosophy means that you don’t ever have to be possessive, jealous or the least bit controlling of someone’s time, because when he (or she) isn’t with you, you don’t automatically think they’re up to no good.

Granted, if your relationship is open enough that you’d share Facebook or email passwords regardless, or if only one of you has a (single name) account but both parties log onto it (as I know couples who do, totally fine), that’s one thing. But it’s not really who I’m addressing.

Further, I’ve found one notable exception to the “How Does It Feel To Be Whipped?” rule, and that is when the couples have been married for decades or are our parents’ age. For this population, joint accounts are sometimes a result of being less-than tech savvy, or just plain having the exact same group of friends after all that time. They’re the exception, not the rule.

The fact is, there will always be someone out there better looking than you. Someone with cooler hair, more chiseled abs, longer legs, a nicer car or a bigger bank account. And, they will probably be on Facebook, too. But if you try to compete with them for the sake of hanging onto your significant other, you’ll run yourself ragged. And you’ll never find any peace.

When choosing a girlfriend, wife (or husband to turn the tables on you boys a bit) common sense dictates that you need to love them for the thing that no one else has to offer but them – the thing that you’re lucky enough to have been shown, and with which they have entrusted you.

Until you find that game-changer, you might end up tangling with a whole lot of Miss Wrongs or, in the case of joint Facebook accounts, a whole lot of Miss I’m-Trying-To-Change-You’s. Whatever your relationship status, remember: there are lots of things in life that are wonderful to share. But please don’t let your profile be one of them.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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MORE GIRL FACTS

The last time Girl Facts dropped, I revealed some of our most hard-hitting truths, like how to make us really angry and that our underwear rarely matches our bras. Not to mention the tidbit that we know immediately whether we’d let you touch us or not. (This seemed to astound several of you boys). This time it’s about the differences between the sexes – and believe me, this list could go on forever.

Girl Fact: When you’re sleeping in bed next to us, if it is at all humanly possible in the morning for us to sneak away to brush our teeth, put on a little makeup and fix our hair without waking you up, we will. In the beginning of the relationship, at least. None of us wakes up looking this cute.

Girl Fact: If we like you, we find subtle ways to touch you. Is she brushing up against you? Leg touching yours? Playful punch in the arm? Yup, all this means we’re into you, you stud.

Girl Fact: Some girls (read: insecure ones) like to find ways to mark their territory. Their most obvious move? Writing on your Facebook wall.

Girl Fact: We know when you guys pee/blow your noses in the shower, and it really, really grosses us out.

Girl Fact: We wear high heels, short skirts or plunging necklines for your benefit, not for ours. Most of us would prefer jeans. So if we’re sporting it, please tell us we look nice. Thanks.

Girl Fact: Some of us love getting dirty even more than you do. So invite us along next time you pull together that game of pickup football or hit the mountain bike trails.

Girl Fact: We enjoy male attention while out at a bar or at dinner, but you can bet that we’re probably busier scanning the room sizing up other women, not men.

Girl Fact: We always remember the name of the best kisser we’ve ever met and can tell you exactly when/where it took place.

Girl Fact: Guys, you touch your junk and scratch yourselves often, but you will probably never see a woman tug away at her breasts. Any adjustments are strictly for creating more cleavage in cocktail dresses and tank tops only.

Girl Fact: I have never met a girl who doesn’t love getting lightly kissed on her forehead or nose. There might not be anything sweeter.

Girl Fact: Men fantasize about being with two women at once. We dream about being double-teamed too, only it’s by one guy doing our hair and another massaging our feet. Not the same. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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GOOGLING YOU – YES, GIRLS DO THAT.

True story: I have a friend who met a guy, (through a mutual friend – a fact that still stuns me in this anecdote) they hit it off and were hanging out for more than a month. Everything was great until he dipped off the radar completely – no calls, no texts, the whole nine yards. He finally resurfaced when she saw his name pop back onto her G-chat list and, feeling emboldened by her desire for answers, she sent him a message.

He responded that he really liked her and also thought that things had been going well, but it wasn’t a good time for him to be talking to a girl or starting something up because…get ready for it…he was about to stand trial for manslaughter.

All together now, everyone say it with me: “What. The. F-ck.”

Whoa! Needless to say, that ended her fascination right there, she signed off…for good. Yes, this is a story about how girls almost always “Google” a guy they meet if they’re interested in taking it further. I use that example to punctuate the argument that it’s necessary to do so not because I think every single day people stumble across potential murder defendants, I use it because this is the very thing that could happen if you don’t. Sure, it’s a long shot, but it can happen.

I’d love to say that women are totally sane and don’t feel the need to e-stalk any potential suitors, but that would be a bold-faced lie. In fact, most of them do. The truth is, however, that there are levels of Internet stalking that are acceptable, and areas that most definitely are not. It’s a vast spectrum of crazy.

The object of the game is to try and find a girl on the high-functioning side of the sliding scale and avoid the one-woman Inspector Gadgets of the dating world. The winner gets some privacy, and the loser has to enter witness protection.

So, here are some things to look out for, just in case you think you might’ve snagged a “Fatal Attraction” fish on your line. If she knows any of this about you without you telling her yourself, undo that hook and toss her back in. Then lace up your shoes and run like hell.

– Where you went to elementary school, what your JV football jersey number was, or what color the shutters on your childhood house are (I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason Google Earth was created for, ladies). These are all too much detail to glean from a garden variety Google search.

– The name of every member of your family, where they live, where you live (city or neighborhood is fine, street address = creepy) or how many cousins, nieces, nephews you have and their ages – also an e-stalking red flag. It’s OK if you accidentally scratch the surface (Facebook outs most of that anyway), just don’t start digging to China please.

And speaking of Zuckerberg’s baby, Facebook really changed the landscape of female Internet stalking practices, it’s a whole new game now. Personally, I think the natural curiosity a lot of women have to quickly scan some of your pictures – looking for any obvious signs of a girlfriend typically – is fairly harmless. I generally think most women don’t A) bother to look through all of them and B) don’t care unless they come across something really egregious – like an album called “Our Honeymoon” or “Broads I’ve Sacked.” Then you can’t blame her, obviously.

But, if she’s taking mental notes of who your closest friends are and how hot your ex-girlfriends appear to be, that’s a bit much. I’ve also known women who click on the names of any suspicious-looking females on your page – which I think is taking it way too far. Putting photos of your own life or status updates of your habits on display is one thing – that’s what you choose to share with the world – but tracking down your friends is not cool at all. I cringe at the very thought.

So basically, anything more than one could learn from a cursory glimpse at your profile or a Google search (to find out if you’re a defendant or a fugitive, of course) where they only looked at the first page or two of results is pushing it, in my opinion. Granted, this may turn up some information unintentionally (like that you were a star point guard in high school or once organized a food drive), but those tidbits are harmless and come with our indelible Internet legacies. Consider it a sign of the times we live in, and it only stands to get worse.

If you can manage to avoid the girl who pays a service like Spokeo or Intelius to run a background check and tell her everything from your salary to your blood type, you should be good.

Obviously there will be exceptions to these rules – she generally won’t Google you if you already knew each other, or if one your mutual friends can vouch for your sanity/marital status. But mainly, just go with your gut instinct if you feel like she’s too knowledgeable or involved in your business.

I live my life by the mantra, “If I can’t trust you, I just don’t date you.” That eliminates the need for e-stalking, jealousy, control issues and drama of all kinds. It would be a beautiful thing if we all did the same one day, but in the meantime boys, remember to close your shades and set your shizz to “Private.” THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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