After spending some time on the other coast, I’ve realized that the dating scene – at least on surface level – looks different depending on what city you call home. New York and LA might as well exist on different planets.

But, there are two fundamental truths that ring true in both places: people (for the most part) just want to find someone to call their own, and that person will almost certainly not be found at a bar. This idea is hammered home this week by Matt from LA’s tale of dating gone wrong. I hope you enjoy it.

The Swap: “I don’t know if this story can technically be considered an ‘online dating’ horror story exactly, but since it started out that way I think it fits. I met this girl online and after emailing/talking on the phone for a week we decided to meet. She’d seemed cool right up until that point, but then when we finally had a conversation face to face it was just…crickets. She was cute but not terribly high energy and we were struggling to think of things to say. So, we parted ways early and my friends met me out to salvage the rest of the night.

Turns out I met another girl at the same bar later that night who seemed pretty cool (OK hot) and she was with some friends, but she promptly ditched them and we started taking shots. Second girl seemed normal enough, she told me she was in grad school, was 23 and had moved out here a year ago. We started talking about how bad my first date had gone and she and I hit it off comparing bad online dating experiences with each other. I guess we both got pretty drunk (at one point she disappeared for a half hour), but by the end of the night she and I left together and went back to my place.

We hooked up for a while back at my apartment and then she excused herself to use the bathroom. When she didn’t return right away I went to check on her and found her nodding off on the toilet (not hot, by the way). Even though she was embarrassed she came back into my room. Nothing kills the mood like seeing a girl with her pants around her ankles, things were pretty much done after that.

I must’ve passed out not long after, because when I woke up in the morning she was already gone. I guess at some point she must’ve migrated out of my bed to the family room, but I slept through it. I didn’t realize it until I headed to the kitchen and saw a huge wet stain on the cushions where the girl had obviously peed on my couch. Yup. What girl does that?! I also found out later that one of my friends made out with her at the bar accidentally before he realized that she’d been talking to me. She was coming out of the ladies room when it happened. Pretty sure that qualifies as a horror story in my book.”

Ohhhhh Matt… Where do I begin? Yes, that qualifies, you’re right. But here are my observations, in no particular order: 1) The girl you met online wasn’t terribly “high energy?” Totally fine if there’s no chemistry, but what were you expecting, cartwheels? 2) What 23-year-old has online dating stories to compare? That’s ridiculous, like those women on The Bachelor who say they’re looking for a husband straight out of college. Be young! Worry about the other stuff later.

Thirdly, her passing out in your bathroom should’ve been her cue to leave, not sure how one recovers from that frankly. 4) Destruction of property, albeit gross and alcohol-driven, usually warrants a stealthy escape, that’s hardly shocking – even I’d support it 5) Your friend “accidentally” made out with her? Sounds suspect to me 6) Why is this chick all about bathrooms? And why do so many of these stories involve peeing, while we’re at it? 7) Sounds to me like whatever bar you found this girl in wasn’t exactly going to yield you any classy or high caliber of woman (Not that any bar will, in my opinion).

If someone were inclined to say “I told you so,” (which I’d never do, of course) they might say that’s what you get for not setting the bar higher. Just a thought for next time. I realize sometimes you just want to go out and have a little fun, but if you end up with a pee-soaked couch and swapping hook up stories with your friends about the same girl in the same night, probably don’t be surprised. Better luck next time, man!THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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It’s really hard to follow up yesterday’s Stamos-themed cuddle posting, but I’ll try…Big things are brewing here at Miss Wingman, starting with a little travel this week. Yes, starting today I will be bi-coastal for a bit – not to be confused with bi-curious, which is another posting entirely – but in the airport travel interim I’d like to leave you with some bits and pieces today. If we were playing Jeopardy, consider this, “I”ll take knowledge Potpourri for $1000.” Which I guess would make me Alex Trebek…bad analogy.

Anyway, with Valentine’s Day now less than a week away, I’m sure every attached male that is scrambling for ideas/gifts, if he hasn’t already. But rather than rehashing gift ideas we love once more, I thought it better to just refer you to my Fail-Safe Girl Gift Guide from the holidays, since most of those still apply. Turns out, judging from your feedback, many of you found great ideas in there, so feel free to revisit them again.

Here’s what women would want to unwrap if she’s into something: sparkly, sentimental, serene, sporty, boozy or intimate. If you’d like, you can resurrect something in the culinary idea vein, but be careful – the only things that are Valentine’s Day appropriate from that list are the glasses and the classes – and again, only if you take them together and she’s hinted at wanting them (otherwise it could be a very lonely holiday for you, my friend).

Aside from those offerings, be on the look out the next few days for a two-part list of stellar activities to do with your beloved. I’m covering everything and, since I’ll be out west, I’m including some love for the LA lovers this time, too. And yes, that’s how New Yorkers think, there are only two cities in America, and a whole lot of flyover stuff in between (or just refer to this map of our mentality). I kid, I kid!

Moreover, if you want a little extra Miss Wingman next week, you’re in luck. On Valentine’s Day, if you pick up an issue of USA Today and turn to the editorial page (or just check their website), you will find a love-themed Op-ed written by yours truly, as well as tuning into CosmoRadio’s Wake Up! With Taylor at 8:40am eastern on Sirius radio where I will be a guest that day. If you’ve never listened to Taylor and Kenny’s musings before, you’re missing out – and might I suggest starting on Tuesday…

Finally, since I would never just give you an entirely recycled post, here’s a little something – two little somethings, actually – that I stumbled upon in regards to starting your own company (How old is too old to be taken seriously? Ask these guys) and being at the helm of something huge as a youthful CEO (Are young CEO’s up to the job? Find out!).

Not only are they both interesting reads, but as someone who took the career plunge, I can appreciate the wisdom in both. Also, I know I’m not alone in dreams of lofty job pursuits, so maybe these pieces speak to you…. Go big or go home, that’s what I say.

So be good, kids (don’t fight with your brother), read up and I’ll be posting from sunnier skies before you know it. I’m contemplating provoking the TSA just to get some fun content out of it, but maybe that’s not such a good idea. I don’t play Words With Friends, either, so at least the plane leg of the trip should be smooth sailing. But probably not as good as this guy’s.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little slice of awesome for your mid week enjoyment. Because no one ever went wrong with a little Led Zeppelin.GEEK WINGMAN

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You know what time it is: your favorite procrastination point of the week. Otherwise known as “delight in the romantic misery of your fellow man.”

After a brief hiatus last week, this time we have a tale of woe from Gretchen in LA (a different city! yay!) who proves that douchery isn’t geographically exclusive to NYC. And here I’d been convinced otherwise…

Tim, the studio exec: “This guy’s picture was hot but super cheesy. Like, with his car and hair/sunglasses styled just-so cheesy, but I decided to give him a chance anyway because everyone out here is fake like that, so whatever. He suggested dinner at 6:30, which seemed a little early for my taste but I agreed. Then he took me to “this great Ethiopian place” he knew about. Um, going to a restaurant where you eat with your fingers isn’t exactly ideal for a first date. It’s hard to look civil when your hands are a mess.

We talked about his job and “the industry” and briefly grazed over what I do for a living, but he kept checking his watch and it was starting to bug me. He seemed pretty normal aside from the bad manners, but I couldn’t help but notice he was distracted. After dinner he suggested this really loud, kitschy bar that no one in LA would really frequent. Total tourist trap. I mean, it has a mechanical bull in it – a little too spring break for my liking. We could barely hear each other.

After one drink I was about ready to call it a night anyway when his phone went off (he’d left the table to hit the men’s room). The message showed up from whoever his next date was asking where he wanted to meet her that night. Actually, it was from a “Melissa” and said, “Hey, should we meet at someplace on Sunset or closer to your work? Excited to meet you!” I nearly fell over.

Guys – Don’t double book! And if you’re stupid enough to double book dates on the same night, at least don’t leave your iPhone where date #1 can see it, moron. Needless to say, I got up and left before he even returned to the table.”

Wow. Sounds like you dodged a bullet there, Gretchen. If his photos were any indication, he wasn’t going to be terribly considerate, but double booking is a big no no. Plus, I’d be pissed that I was given the earlier shift – just saying. Thanks for sharing, the lessons are many: Go with your gut – if the person seems lame they probably are, don’t take people to awkward ethnic restaurants on first dates, and never, ever stack two dates on the same night. Even if you’re extra smooth, the odds of it turning out well are slim.

Have a story to contribute? Send it my way: Remember, the only up side to a bad date is being able to publicly make fun of them afterward.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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What’s better than scoring a date with a woman? Getting her back to your place for the first time. Well actually, scoring a relationship with her would be better, but we’ll start out slowly. Baby steps.

So you’ve managed to lure her back to your lair with your smooth-talking ways, or better yet, your genuine honesty and likeable personality. But no matter – she’s there – good job. What you might not have realized is that as soon as a woman walks into your domicile, she immediately does a visual scan of the premises.

What is she looking for? Anything to give her further insight into who you are – for better or for worse. This is your chance to make a winning impression – or totally blow it – depending on the circumstances. So, a list is in order to break down the good, the bad and the you-should-probably-hide-that of what she’s thinking when analyzing your bedroom:

Cleanliness: The first thing she’ll ask herself – Is it messy? Don’t worry, most guys are messy. We can handle it. But is it reeeeeally messy? Like, she’ll be wondering if someone from Hoarders lives there messy? Oh dear, this is a problem. There’s a difference between clothes strewn about and mold growing on half-eaten snacks stuck to plates. If you can’t be bothered to at least clean up a bit before having company, we may not be inclined to visit twice.

Framed Pictures: This one’s a no-brainer. Pictures of your family? Good. Very good. Pictures of your ex? Check please! Pictures of you with your friends? This is favorable, just make sure you’re not doing anything horrifying in them. Oh, and if you have pictures of you holding babies, with children or doing anything volunteer-related, she may just sleep with you right then and there. We’re suckers for that stuff.

Bed linens: I think this one is better illustrated in photos. If you own this:

Or even this:

…if she’s like me, she’ll laugh. I think any guy who would own this is hysterical, and pretty awesome for what it’s worth. But that’s just me, and I definitely don’t represent the whole female population on that one sadly. Would I sleep with someone who owned these sheets? Probably not. And I think I DO speak for all women on that point, sorry guys.

Maybe it’s because we expect anyone who owns these sheets to also own a race car bed, a la Rick Schroder on Silver Spoons, but in general you should keep the nostalgia to a minimum.

And speaking of nostalgia…Trophies/Awards: These are great if they’re relatively recent or just for something really impressive. If your baseball team were state champions three years in a  row and you were the pitcher – even in high school – it’s still a pretty big deal. College and post-college achievements would be preferable, though.

Kindly avoid displaying things like your Perfect Attendance award from tenth grade or even your Cleanest Desk on the Sales Floor ribbon that the nice people in your office gave you last year. Award displays in general walk a fine line between being proud and narcissistic, just be careful which side of the line you’re on.

Visible Signs of Other Women: If we see any vestige of other females in your bedroom, it’s lights out – and not in a good way. Whether it’s finding discarded underthings from last week’s fling to spotting…other things (I will not elaborate, you get it), this is usually our cue to leave. Lipstick on your pillow, a number scrawled on your desk, these also fall into the same category: Thanks for playing, adios.

Speaking of women, if we spot things that are Obvious Ploys to Impress Us: rows upon rows of sneakers lined up like you’re a one-man Nike factory, a guitar that just so happens to be laying on your bed (and then you launch into a Mayer-style unplugged concert), expensive watches on display, etc., don’t think we don’t know what you’re doing there. Humility is a good thing – remember that.

And finally, your Wall Accents speak volumes. My general feeling is that men shouldn’t own posters – strike that, no one should own posters – after college. Unless you’re an extreme sports enthusiast and it’s of some snowboarder mid-insane air in some jaw-dropping stunt, it’s hard to justify. Sports are pretty much the only type of poster women would tolerate, if that. But if you display any images of scantily-clad girls, Pink Floyd album covers or Scarface imagery, you’ll probably be sleeping alone. We don’t require you to be sophisticated with your artwork (bonus points if you are!), but having a room that looks like it was decorated by Tucker Max won’t work in your favor, either.

That’s about it in terms of your boudoir, boys. I don’t want you to think that we’re constantly judging you (even though some women ARE constantly judging you), I’m just urging you to consider what impression of yourself you’re giving off to the world. No one says you have to live in Derek Jeter’s digs, just be a gentleman if you find yourself with female company. And please, whatever you do, don’t forget to make your bed.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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Did you know that Miss Wingman takes requests? It’s true. It’s like Christmas (and Hanukkah) year ’round over here. And it just so happens that my latest topic request was already on deck, but now can be brought to you with one particularly funny reader’s insights into the problem. I’m talking about what to do when you think you’re being phased out of a “relationship” – or what you thought was the beginning of one, at least – when she pulls a disappearing act and you didn’t see it coming. Sniffle… It’s a common problem, but one that’s delicate.

There is a right way and a wrong way to handle being phased out by someone post-hook up, and contrary to popular belief, men, you are not the only ones to employ these tactics. You just need a little refresher course on how to conduct yourself if she stops answering your text messages and doesn’t call anymore. Of course there are extenuating circumstances – she might be going through something unexpected or just buried in work, family stuff, etc. But this is the exception, not the rule.

But generally speaking, when the romance has ended and she’s moved on from Could Be Into You-ville to Please Lose My Number-town, here’s what NOT to do, in a nutshell.

Text/email/call persistently: Even if a woman was still into you, a high volume of contact would be a delicate balancing act between “I can’t get enough of you,” and “OK you’re starting to drive me nuts now.” But when she’s already put distance between you, this type of behavior just repels her even further. And, as my reader pointed out: “If the roles were reversed and a girl was sending the “haven’t heard from you and just checking in” messages to a guy, she’d be labeled a Clingy Psycho.” Amen, sista. Right you are.

It’s a rare instance when my male readership will hear me rail against unfair double standards in dating behavior. In fact, most of the time I see more eye to eye with the guy’s side of the story and cringe when I hear about female behavior gone loco. But in this case, I’m 100% behind Reader Girl and I emphatically repeat this statement: If a woman initiates contact with you or, God forbid, tries to DTR – that’s “Define The Relationship,” for the uninitiated – she is immediately labeled a Stage 5 Clinger and has to wear a scarlet letter “P” (for psycho) amongst your social circle.

So when men engage in persistent behavior, it’s not only annoying but it also makes us mad, because it’s a reminder of the corner we’ve been painted into by the actions of the crazy outlier members of our sisterhood that we had no control over. Moral of the story: Read her Radio Silence Technique as just that – silence. And if you do reach out before you’ve caught on, definitely don’t…

Pose any contact under the guise of concern: I’m going to let Reader Girl take this one, she sounded off on these “She’s Fine” situations best by saying: “Please address when a guy starts attempting to contact you because he’s ‘concerned for your well-being.’ As in, ‘I’m concerned because I haven’t heard back from you in a while and I just want to make sure you’re okay.’

Yeah, I’m fine. If a girl wants to respond to you, she will.  If she’s stopped responding to you, and it’s been 2 days or 2 weeks, or a month, and you’ve ‘been concerned’ with her well-being at least once, if not multiple times via email, text, and voicemail – just let it go. Odds are she’s not lying face-down in a drainage ditch somewhere, she’s just not interested. She also probably tried throwing polite hints if not blatantly spelling it out for you already, and you just haven’t picked up on it yet.”

Well said, lady, well said.

Also, try to avoid getting angry if you sense you’re being phased out. Look, in the course of every person’s dating career they’ve probably both phased someone out and been phased out themselves. It happens to all of us. (And if it’s never happened to you, then consider yourself lucky. Also, the rest of us hate you now, thanks). But sending any clear signs that you’re bitter or infuriated won’t accomplish anything in the vein of endearing yourself to us further, even if it does make you feel better. Lashing out will only reinforce to us that we made the right decision to eliminate someone so immature from our lives in the first place.

So what can you do, you ask? Nothing. That’s the thing with being phased out, you can’t do anything about it other than recognize it and bow out gracefully. If you really must know what caused her to sell your stock (for educational purposes, or for your own ego – whichever) you could always ask her friends. Just realize that they might not give you a straight answer, and they’ll definitely tell her you were asking – unless they’re your friends, too.

Getting cut loose by someone, in a word, sucks. It’s a cowardly move no matter who pulls it, because what it says is, “I care more about avoiding confrontation than about your feelings.” Ouch. It makes the person who does the phasing out look bad, but if the phasee lets it go, he or she saves face – the only upside to the story. I’m not foolish enough to suggest that all men stop employing the Radio Silence Technique, though, because A) it’ll never happen and B) we do it, too. Just know that if you’re on the receiving end of it, the best thing you can do is walk away with your dignity intact by doing just that: walking away.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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They say love is a battlefield. Well, Pat Benatar does at least. But I prefer to think of love as a football field, to use a timely example, in which you can experience crushing defeats, unexpected turnovers or forge legacy-making victories that alter the trajectory of your career. In love, and in sports, the stakes are high and it’s anybody’s game.

But what would you do if, by some miracle, you found “the one?” How would you feel if you found your perfect match, or more importantly, would you recognize it at all? Sometimes when we least expect it, when the clock is counting down and it looks like it’s not going our way, your person appears out of nowhere. Call her your Victor Cruz (in which case she’d actually come out of UMass as an undrafted free agent, which is basically the same as coming out of nowhere, but still). Sorry, still basking in our Giants win. Stay with me, non-fans, there’s a point here.

And when you find that receiver and connect, there is no better feeling in the world. Am I right? The idea is, you don’t know when it’ll happen or how, but at some point it will happen, so you’d do well to be prepared. Also, much like the Cruz analogy, she may not be perfect in every way – sometimes us women are scrappier than you expected – but something about her makes her perfect for you. And that, my friends, is why she’s your game changer. The trick is not letting her get away.

There are three things all men should know in regards to the not-so-mythical creature known as the game-changer, and they are the following. Get out your play books, boys, and write this one down.

Recognize: No, this isn’t in a “y’all better recognize,” urban threat kind of way, this is a plea for the men of the world to be open-minded and identify when this woman comes into your life. Like I said, whether it’s at the perfect time for you, or the most unexpected moment of your life, you should be able to identify the woman who is standing on mountaintops while everyone else is way down below on level ground.

Tricks to help spot her include that she doesn’t try to change who you are, you feel like it’s easy and natural with her – like she’s always been meant to be in your life, and that she makes you want to be a better version of yourself. Once you’ve processed that such a creature exists, put her in your sights, take a deep breath and…

Decide: You need to decide two things here. The first is whether you’re ready to be the man she deserves. Are you still immature, sewing your wild oats or just not in the correct head space to properly value her? Maybe it’s a rebuilding year for you, we’ve all had them. Ask yourself that question seriously though, it’s a big one.

If the answer is that you’re not ready, then you should know straight away that you seriously risk losing her, in fact it’s likely that you will. Timing is everything, and your loss could be someone else’s gain.

If the answer is yes, however, you next need to ask yourself whether your current set up is worth disrupting in order to properly align yourself with this woman. Committing to someone requires compromise, sacrifice and a whole lot of life reorganizing sometimes. But if you decide that this woman is worth the inconvenience, then that puts you even closer to scoring position.

And finally, GO ALL IN. Is this another shameless Giants reference? Maybe, but it works for our purposes too. Once you’ve determined that your relationship with this woman could be the stuff legends are made of, you need to make it clear to her that you’re on board. The matter of timing is also tricky here, because if you identify this woman as your game-changer early on (as in, before you’re really seriously dating her), you don’t want to profess your love to her straight away. That type of confidence could scare her off.

But if you’ve been in each others’ lives long enough to be really comfortable with her, you shouldn’t have any reservations in telling her that you’re not going anywhere. Not if you can help it, at least. Once you do that, if she feels the same way, she will be yours without question.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever heard a man give a woman was that she was, “the type of girl you’d give it all up for.” Wow. I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to say that about a woman in your life, but if you have, now you know what to do. You don’t need to be the league MVP to come up big in the game of love – there are Tebows among us, it’s true. You just have to be man enough to appreciate an opportunity and do something about it. Have faith, aim high, and go out there and lock it down.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

*Miss Wingman note: I nearly posted the scene where Damon asks, “When did you know she was the one?” and Robin Williams launches into his, “Gotta go see about a girl” story because having no regrets is oh-so so pertinent – especially for the numerous sports references in this post. But, as a lifelong NY sports fan, a Red Sox reference just didn’t feel right here. Sorry, Fisk.

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In all of the time that I’ve been collecting your stories for this feature, I’ve read some pretty amusing/horrifying things. The lesson, other than the fact that you people are surprisingly forthcoming, is that we’ve all been there. Treading water in the dating pool is fairly universal. But, never once have I come across this next story, sent in by Stephanie from Brooklyn. You’ll see what I mean…

“I signed up for an online dating site after a series of failed relationships, because I was beginning to lose hope that there were any good guys left out there. My best friend helped me write my profile, I checked my computer every day for replies, and waited for the impending love connection.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning, waiting for notifications. Then when I got word that the service had found my top matches, I practically jumped out of my chair in anticipation. I logged on to see who it would be and….

Wait for it….

They’d matched me up with my brother. Turns out there are still good guys out there, unfortunately they also happen to have shared a Jack-and-Jill bathroom with me growing up. Needless to say, I canceled my membership after that.”

*Miss Wingman note: Dear Stephanie – Game over. You win.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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