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Getting creative in love

Sex and Dating

James Love, Ph. D.

Issue date: 1/21/11 Section: Focus
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Is going out for coffee or drinks a date? Sexperts say no. It is more appropriate to say you "meet" for these things, because meeting for coffee or drinks is just that­­-a meeting.

Such a meeting typically follows one of two modes. It can either be a screening session in which you get the chance to have a face-to-face conversation with another individual, or, especially in the case of alcohol-related meetings, it is merely a segue to doing the no-pants dance. Whether you want something real and serious or someone to help you stay warm during the harsh Cleveland winter, the first step is finding someone who wants what you want.

So what makes a date? If he buys you dinner, it's a date. If she's leaning toward you, engaged in what you're saying, it's a date. In real life, a date should involve monetary compensation for time spent; i.e. if you ask someone out on a real date, you should pay for the movie, dinner, or whatever activity is decided on. However, during college, there is no question that money can be difficult to come by.

Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as a combination of empathy and self-awareness, can compensate for the lack of dead presidents in your wallet or purse. In grown-up land, paying for a date signifies that you are serious about getting to know the other person. You are spending your money, time, and effort on the experience of getting to know someone. You don't know if this person is secretly a superhero, a serial killer, or just Bob from accounting, yet you find something alluring about him. Whether it's his curly red hair or his hilariously bad puns, something inside of you says "Maybe he's the kind of person I want in my life." So you decide that there is a chance that the few dollars you invest in him now will return a lifetime of support in the form of friendship, romance, or even love.

Thus, if you don't have money, you have to find another way to show Bob from accounting or Sally from sales that you are truly interested in something more than just what's on the surface. This may not be easy, as college is a time in which people don't know exactly who they are, what they want, or who they want to be. If you are emotionally intelligent, this is easy. You're honest with yourself and others, you keep people informed but not over-informed of your thoughts and feelings, and you pay attention to other people's wants and desires as well as your own. When the invisible historical figures who run society say "it's the thought that counts," they mean that thoughtfulness and effort go a long way in demonstrating emotional intelligence.

So then how is it possible for those with only minimal dating experience and/or emotional intelligence to express legitimate interest without seeming creepy or douchebaggy? The simple answer is to treat people with respect and not to make assumptions. You can be successful by being a good listener, being friendly and positive, and taking time to plan out activities on or off campus that don't just involve drinking coffee at Starbucks or watching movies in your dorms. Be creative.
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    Harvey Deutschendorf

    posted 1/22/11 @ 7:51 PM EST

    If you are creative and open you can find things to do which cost no, or little money. Campuses are places where there is lots going on, a lot of it free or at low cost considering the fact that the typical student is short of disposable cash. (Continued…)

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