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May 17, 2011

An Ounce of Assertiveness is Worth a Thousand Pounds of Punishment

There are a lot of bad date stories out there. The main protagonist, a beneficent man or woman, goes on a date with an ill-mannered, tactless, inflexible or otherwise unsuitable partner. Or, in another version, there is some embarrassing or unlikely series of events that, in retrospect, seems not only highly improbable but tremendously comical.

I had a first date at a restaurant that ended up costing me upwards of $100, but I learned nothing from it. Was I being punished? Am I the ill-mannered, tactless, inflexible antagonist in some woman's dating story?

For all eternity, I will never really know. Conversation flowed well, I was -as usual -careful to be respectful, sensitive, inquisitive and to genuinely listen. Still, I was a exhausted from weeks of hard work and nights of little sleep, so I may not have been my best. Without any feedback, I can never really know what I did or didn't do right or wrong.

What is right or wrong for a particular woman? Different women have different beliefs, attitudes, preferences and each is an individual, which means that I won't know whether she'll respond positively or negatively unless she asserts herself and her preferences. In dating, my choice is to simply be myself, and see how she responds.

But I have come to realize a few things. First, that restaurants can be really expensive dates. Secondly, it is better to postpone then go out when I'm exhausted or tired. Thirdly, an expensive date or bill may not mean I'm being punished. Fourth, that an ounce of assertiveness is worth more than a thousand pounds of punishment.


  1. I would feel terrible if I ever went on a date and the guy ever spent $100!

    You probably did not do anything wrong. Sometimes people don't click. I don't think I have ever said no to a guy because he did something wrong- it was just a matter of the fact that I could see we would not work well together.

  2. One more reason to restrict first dates to a short, inexpensive, low pressure activity. Coffee anyone? It works when I need to meet someone for business, seeing as how we've turned shidduchim into a veritable business, I see no reason why it shouldn't be the standard first date.

  3. @ SternGrad: I was discreet about the bill, in part because of that potential reaction.

    @ PNN: I agree. I do sometimes like to bring a board game or two along, if she's the type of woman who might appreciate Guess Who (or the personality questions variant) or backgammon (a favorite among many Sefardi cultures).

    @Sefardi Gal: Don't ask. I may have unconsciously blotted the memory out...

  4. Just don't go to a place where you are likely to spend $100. If you live in NYC, you can find prices on