I did most of my dating when I was in college. In high school I had a steady girlfriend the whole time, and after college I had already settled on who I was going to marry, so ages 18 thru 20 were my primary dating years. Like most men my age, I found women a fascinating puzzle. I had plenty of sexual experience from high school, but I didn’t have much of any experience learning how to attract women.

However, I have always been exceptionally good at puzzles.

What I did in college was figure out what worked, notice what didn’t, and gradually honed my approach to finding mates. Since this was long, long ago, and I don’t expect to ever be in the dating pool again, I think it’ll be OK if I give up all my secrets.

The college I went to was not exactly a target-rich environment. I don’t know the exact ratio, but it was like a 70/30 male/female split. It was an engineering school, and although things are a lot more balanced now, they were very unbalanced then. There is no way for me to comment on the variety of choices among the 30% without it sounding like a cruel stereotype of women who go to engineering school. So let’s just say it was a very competitive dating situation. I was not a tall frat boy with a square jaw and a six-pack. I was a short, emphatically non-frat boy, with soft features and a cute little round belly. So any success I had in college speaks to the effectiveness of my “game.”

So, without further ado, this is the alfageeek college dating how-to:

1. Set the hook

Once I found a woman I was interested in, I had to get her attention. I did that using a combination of being extremely nice and helpful, and looking her straight in the eye. I found academic stuff very easy, so finding a candidate who needed help with her studies or wanted a lab partner was my ideal. That allowed me to be nice and helpful. And any woman you can get to look in your direction is someone you can look straight in the eye. Once you have their attention, a small knowing smile should capture their interest.

After that, I would use tricks to ensure they don’t just move right on. For example, a woman I met in a Jazz lab was a good candidate for me. She was nervous, and I gave her a “you’re doing fine” look. This little act of kindness made an impression. Along with the straight-in-the-eye thing. After the lab, we chatted and I suggested I could lend her some cassettes to listen to. This was a contrivance designed to ensure a second meeting, since she had to return the cassettes.

2. Impress them

After meeting and talking and charming her as best I could, I would ask the young candidate out to dinner. Assuming she said yes (which they usually did), I would get a reservation at a very fancy restaurant. I had my own software company, so I had some money in my pocket. But I wasn’t really trying to impress her with the money. Rather, I was impressing her with the quality and style.

This usually went well. Although once when I was home for the summer, I tried to impress a local girl by taking her to a jazz club in Ann Arbor. My brother and I had been there many, many times, so it didn’t even occur to me that they might have a 21-and-over policy. Apparently they did, and they decided to exercise it the night I took her to the club. Oy. There was no recovering from that. I didn’t have a plan B. Sigh. That night ended with an awkward cheek kiss, and they didn’t make the sequel.

But most times I was taking candidates to fancy French or Japanese restaurants, and ordering well, and that worked out just fine.

3. The massage

The preferred lubricant of 1986

The preferred lubricant of 1986

Once I get the candidate back to my place, I suggest a massage. These days I know a lot more about massage than I did then. But in those days a massage consisted mostly of pressing baby oil into her back. After a while, when she was relaxed, I’d suggest that she turn over. This was pretty much the point at which she is deciding whether we are going to have sex. Or, that’s what I thought back then. Now that I understand women better, I realize that she already knew how the evening was going to end before we even went to dinner. But to 18-year-old me, this was the moment of truth.

So maybe she would turn over, or maybe she would decline. If she declined, I played it off as no big deal, and I would keep going on her back for a while, and eventually she’d put her shirt back on and I’d take her home. If she turned over, I’ll let you use your imagination about how that would play out.

4. Move in together

Well, not really. But I’ve never had a one night stand. The shortest relationship I’ve ever had was at least 3 months, and most lasted much longer. So while I was a “player” in that I was definitely approaching the whole mating ritual as a non-linear multivariate optimization problem, I was not a “player” in the sense of trying to land as many women as possible. I always preferred exploring and expanding within a single relationship.

When I fell back into the dating pool at the end of the 1990s, I went back to this old formula. Except that since dating would start online, the first step was quite different. And being an actual grown-up, I wasn’t impressing anybody by taking them to a nice restaurant. And by that time I realized the massage was completely unnecessary as an enticement, although it was still a nice thing to do. So, in summary, I was back to not having the slightest idea how to solve the female puzzle. The wiser you get, the less you know.


One thought on “Conquest

  1. You had much more action than me. And my husband gave the best massages til he fell off the roof in October and I found him unconscious laying in the driveway in a pool of blood. I thought he was dead for sure. Luckily, the only lasting effects are some cool scars and a stiff wrist. Which has resulted in me giving him more massages. (Sorry…just went off on a tangent there.)

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