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Men, Set a Fucking Day, Time and Place When Planning a Date

I had to learn the hard way, but it’s the sexiest (and most considerate) thing you can do

Last Thursday, humor writer Michelle Markowitz went semi-viral with the following tweet.

Like all great jokes, Markowitz’s touched on a universal truth, and women poured into her mentions with their own stories of feckless male dating behavior.

https://twitter.com/baileyharris/status/979530349364445184

Markowitz — who co-authored the upcoming book Hey, Ladies!, based off her and Caroline Mosspopular humor series on The Toast — herself was surprised by the reaction. She dashed off the tweet on Thursday afternoon while grabbing coffee, thinking it might get a few likes and retweets. By midday Sunday, it had generated nearly 10,000 engagements.

The tweet simultaneously made me laugh and left a vague discomfort in the pit of my digestive tract. Why? Because I realized I was guilty of the very behavior Markowitz was making fun of. As in, directly guilty. I briefly dated Markowitz a few years ago, and I’m sure I subjected her to this low-grade shitbaggery when I did. (Fact check: Markowitz confirms. “Uh, yeah. You were one of the flakiest men I’ve ever dated,” she tells me. “And I lived in L.A.”)

It wasn’t that I thought this conduct was fine; it’s that I didn’t think about it at all. I was focused on my career and “casually” dating women, which in my mind meant there was never any obligation to make firm plans (let alone follow through on them). I’d meet up with women… whenever. And by that I mean I’d meet up with them whenever was most convenient for me.It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized the error of my ways. Not making a plan isn’t being actively shitty, but it’s being inconsiderate of a person’s time and feelings, and that’s just rude. And if the replies to Markowitz’s tweets are any indication, this kind of non-committal plan-making is shockingly common among men. “The coolest thing about the response to the tweet is my friend, the one who received the text message, has found it vindicating and cathartic that so many women have been there themselves, and are outraged on her behalf,” Markowitz tells me. “There’s a feeling of ‘We’re all in this together.’”

Markowitz graciously agreed to speak with me about the tweet despite my past dating indiscretions, and she rejects the idea this is a generational phenomenon unique to millennial men and the proliferation of casual dating/hookup culture. “I don’t think it’s a millennial man thing at all!” she says. “In my mentions, there are a lot of women saying: ‘Oh, in the pre-cell phone era, I used to wait at home for a guy to call me from a payphone.’ Can you imagine anything worse than waiting for a payphone call? I imagine there used to be a lot of: ‘Oh, you didn’t see the message I left on your cave wall? Let’s try to hang next week instead!’ Human behavior has always been the same.”

https://twitter.com/Katerade/status/979463299724177409

I countered that maybe the man in question was just trying to be honest about his schedule and communicate effectively. Markowitz doesn’t necessarily disagree. “Sadly, he probably thought he was doing the right thing! He was telling her he wasn’t committing to it.”

But that’s not the issue. The problem with not making a firm plan is that it attempts to lower the expectations of the non-relationship to the point the guy isn’t accountable for anything. “I’m sure in his mind, [the man who sent the text] was both giving himself the option to do whatever he felt like hours later, and let himself off the hook if/when he did,” Markowitz says. “He can point to that text and say, ‘See! I didn’t give you the expectation that we were hanging out. It’s in writing!’”

Men who do this are essentially trying to have it both ways, she adds. They want the fun of being in a relationship with a woman, but without its complications and considerations. Because if you were really into someone, you’d make sure to carve out time in your schedule for them, no matter how busy you are at work or in other aspects of life.

So here’s a public service announcement to straight dudes, from a straight dude who’s learned the hard way: If you want to impress a woman, make a fucking plan. In particular:

  • Pick a place. A bar, a restaurant, a bowling alley, a hiking trail, a Dave & Buster’s, an art gallery, a concert venue, a park, an intersection — any location that would make for a good date setting. Preferably not far too from where she lives.
  • Pick a day. Options include Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Pick a time. For weekdays, anytime between immediately after work, and no later than 9 p.m. — scheduling a 10 p.m. weekday date communicates, “I’m just trying to get laid.” Weekends, there’s a little more leeway, but the later the time, the more suspect your intentions.
  • Communicate all of that information into one coherent text.
  • Send it several days in advance.
  • Have back-up plans ready if she’s unavailable.

Here’s a template you can feel free to use:

“Hey do you like [insert cuisine]? I know really good spot in [insert neighborhood]. I was thinking we could grab [dinner/drinks/dinner and drinks] there on [insert day]. Say, [insert time]?”

Send her that, and she’ll be bragging to her friends about you, as opposed to subtweeting you.

Again, Michelle, my sincerest apologies.