Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some tips for formals

Let's say you're a guy and you have a very good friend who is a girl. Let's also say you are one of those guys who hops around from one girl to another, dating one for a while and then dumping her to pursue another girl, and always are convinced the girl you're not dating wants you back so you go back to her; mostly you are kind of a player, but to be fair, a nice player. But let's say you decide to take your good girl friend to your formal, for any slew of reasons which could include a) you think you'll have a better time with her than one of your hookups; b) you feel bad that she hasn't been to your formal before, although she "should have gone last year" and you're "really sorry about that"; or c) you don't want to go alone. Or maybe all of those reasons, who knows.

Great, you have a date who should be a good time, because trust me, she knows how to have a good time at formal dances. But for the whole evening, you can't stop thinking about last year's formal and how you went with the love of your life who then broke up with you last summer, destroying your heart in the process, and has completely changed and blah blah blah. Your good girl friend knows this whole story; she's been there through the entire thing (remember? the entire thing) so really, you don't need to keep telling her the story. She's a very good listener, her one redeeming quality, and she doesn't forget things easily. So really, stop telling her the story. Especially at dinner. Especially when you are the one who asked her to the formal out of your own free will; she is not one of those girls who goes around begging someone to take her just so she can go to a formal. Especially when she was super excited to be going to this formal and had been looking forward to it for a while. Especially when she has just spent several hours getting ready in order to look really gorgeous to make you look even better.

So here are a few tips that you should follow if you want your date to actually have a good time at the formal. Recognize that I am a traditionalist and not all girls would want all of these things, but these are the things I wanted. It's probably going to sound like I swiped it straight out of a '40s women's magazine. Sorry, that's how I want to be treated. My apologies to all the feminists out there. I hope that most people would be in agreement with many of these things, though.

- Bring your car around to pick her up so she doesn't have to walk to your fraternity house in heels. Open her door for her. Shut the door for her (but make sure her dress is out of the way first). When you park, open her door for her and help her out of the car. Shut her door.
- Open any doors for her that you guys will be walking through.
- Offer to take her jacket. Even offer to help her get it off.
- If you actually mean it, compliment her on how nice she looks. Make sure you notice any special things she did, like if she figured out how to put a flower in her hair. Don't wait until it's 1am and she is frustrated with you and has to point out that she has a flower in her hair. Don't say that you didn't mention it because "it's not a rose". You should have given her a rose in the first place. She would have gladly replaced the non-rose with a rose.
- If you don't enjoy getting your picture taken, at least put up with it and humor her. She just spent a lot of time and effort getting ready and she wants there to be good pictures of the event.
- When you go to dinner, pull her chair out for her to sit down. Also offer to take her jacket here.
- Whoever did the inviting to the event should pay. So yes, you should pay for her.
- She should always thank you for everything, including holding the doors, paying, and helping her with the jacket.
- Ask her how her food is. Offer her a bite of yours if she wants. She should ask you the same and offer you a bite as well.
- Engage her in conversation. If she doesn't know someone at the table, introduce her so it's not so awkward. Don't just assume she knows everyone, even if she does.
- When you leave dinner, offer to help her put her jacket on.
- After getting back to your fraternity house, help her out of the ridiculously high van that you went to dinner in. The ground is soft and she is wearing heels.
- Don't take a nap on the way back from dinner unless she is also going to take a nap. It is not as fun for her to stare out the window the whole way back.
- Let her enjoy the decorated, festive walk up to the fraternity house.
- Introduce her to other people she might not know in your fraternity. Introduce her to their dates. Just because she spends a lot of time there doesn't mean she knows everyone, especially not the freshmen.
- Get her a drink.
- Be willing to dance at least one song with her, especially if you know she loves dancing (and you do, because she told you), especially swing and ballroom dancing. Stop being so afraid to look bad. Be willing to accept help from several of your brothers who are quite good dancers. Stop thinking it's always a competition.
- Don't tell her you'll "be right back" and then never come back. If you want her to leave, tell her so.
- Don't leave her by herself for too long. Everyone else is always with their dates, either talking, dancing, etc. She doesn't like constantly being a third or fifth wheel in conversations because you disappeared somewhere. She doesn't like sitting by herself. She doesn't like standing by herself by the food table. She doesn't like that you think because she knows most of the people in the house, that she can entertain herself for hours. You asked her to the formal; you should be willing to spend a good amount of time with her. She is not going to prevent you from going to talk to your other friends and brothers, but she would like to accompany you so she isn't alone the whole night.
- If you're going to sit outside, make sure you pay attention to how cold she is. Remember, you are wearing a lot more clothes than her.
- Stop talking about your ex all night and how much fun last year's formal was and how this formal just doesn't compare. She will feel like a terrible date. It doesn't matter if you try to soften the blow with, "You're a great date, and I wouldn't have wanted to take anybody else but you, but...", because that will actually just make her feel worse. She will think about the fact that actually, you probably did want to take someone else because with someone else you would have the opportunity for a drunken after-formal hookup, and you know you don't have that chance with her. Also, your being so moody and depressed is really killing the night. She really wanted to have an awesome time tonight and you are completely ruining it. She was succeeding, because generally she has a pretty positive, upbeat attitude about things, but you are so negative that it will eventually wear her down and she will get depressed too. Great job.
- If you are going to go off on a "much needed stroll" that's going to last more than 5-10 minutes to clear your mind about all that stuff, freaking tell her. She thought you were coming right back, so she sat outside and had to deal with one of your really drunk brothers for about 15 minutes, where she worried that he was going to either pass out, throw up all over the couch, or fall of the couch and break his head. Then she probably spent another 20 minutes trying to find you in the house, just in case you had simply gone somewhere else, or gone to get another drink, or something. When she finally gave up, went to your room, got her phone and texted you to find out where you were, you probably should have apologized for literally leaving her for over half an hour instead of merely saying you were on a walk. When she replied that she wanted to go home, you should have come back to take her home.
- After the night is over, walk her back to her place. It's 2am, dark, she's in heels and a dress, and who knows who else could be wandering about. Yes, she can take care of herself. Yes, she was completely sober. Yes, she's made that walk a million times before. But it's the principle of the matter. Also, she ran into a group of about 11 guys ranging in age from about 20-50 on the way back, and that could have had bad results. So walk her home.

I'm sure there are other things that need to be mentioned but I can't remember them right now. Most of these things are "the principle of the matter" type stuff, and most of them are just common courtesy and being nice. But she would have appreciated it, trust me.

Sorry this was so long. I'm tired of selfish guys who don't like dancing and who spend what should be a really fun evening just complaining about everything. I am pretty sure I would have fared better back through the 30s-50s.


  1. Holy crap! I'm sorry you had to go through that.

  2. To be fair, he did open and shut the car door, and he did pay for dinner. Haha.

  3. That's awful! I'll hang out with a couple guys from salsa, who always (and I mean always) open doors for me (I always thank them too) and then I'll meet some freshman and he has no idea. It's cute, but frustrating.