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Home / Interview with J. Courtney Sullivan, Author of Dating Up – Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man (Part 2)
"Just be yourself, be thoughtful, and remember to breathe."

Interview with J. Courtney Sullivan, Author of Dating Up – Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man (Part 2)

Just in time for Valentine's Day, for good or ill, is the second part of my interview with the author of Dating Up. This is good news if you are a "quality man" and bad news if you are said schlump. If you have not already I would suggest reading the first part of this interview before reading this second part.

I like some of the author's advice about dating, especially this analogy:

When you apply for a job, you want to put your best self forward, but you also want to know what you’re getting into. There are plenty of jobs that you could get in a heartbeat that are completely beneath you. And so it is with men. A first date is not a relationship, just like interviewing for a job is nothing like actually doing the job. In both cases it’s a chance to get a little more information so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

And now, part 2:

Scott: One suggestion you make is that before a first date you “call on your fan club” for a good pep talk. Is that something you have done? Does it work?

Courtney: It definitely works. I used to get ridiculously nervous before first dates, so in the cab ride on the way to meet a new guy, I’d call one of my closest friends and have a chat. This always served to calm me down – who better than your best friends to remind you that you’re great, and that a date is just a date, not something to lose your head over? 

In your restaurant etiquette section you list something which I have not even heard of: “Used silverware. Never put it down on the tablecloth. Instead, place the knife and fork side by side on the plate in the upper left hand part of your plate (at the eleven o’clock position.)” I’ve heard of leaving silverware on the plate to indicate to a waiter that you are through with a meal but your suggestion sounds like you are saying that should be done during the entire meal. Am I misreading you or have I been raised by ill-mannered apes?

Not to worry – I’m sure you were raised just fine. I think this is simply a communication problem. I meant that used silverware should be placed on the plate once the meal is through, not during it. I’m glad you cleared this up, though. Otherwise, you might get some very interesting looks on a first date if you continuously placed your knife and fork in the eleven o’clock position every time you wanted to take a breath between bites 🙂

I think I’ve broken, at one point or another, almost all of your “top ten conservation topics to avoid on a first date”: 1) Ex files (Don’t talk about your exes); 2) Sex Files (don’t talk about your sex life); 3) “Don’t talk about a future together; 4) Don’t get too serious; 5) Don’t talk about money and don’t act enamored of his wealth; 6) Don’t say anything disparaging about your family, friends, or boss; 7) Don’t mention how piddly (or impressive) your salary is; 8) Don’t fight over the bill; 9) Don’t talk about how close you are with your mother – apparently this freaks guys out; 10) Don’t talk about getting ready (for the date). Do these topics also apply to guys on dates? Because I know some women who take it as a good sign when a guy, like me, is close to his mother.

I think most of these rules apply to both men and women. It’s important to be engaged and have fun on a first date, but you shouldn’t spill too much information about yourself upfront. A first date should be sort of like a job interview – you should be personable, but not overly personal. This is your chance to get to know about one another and to show off your best assets. That said, I think most women are quite pleased when a man is close to his mother (as long as he’s not TOO close to her…), so it’s fine for guys to mention it.  

I like that you include in your book some realistic problems that occur with dates, such as what to do when someone is running late to a date. What was your rule again? If five minutes late then don’t be too profuse with your apology?

Exactly. When I was writing Dating Up, I thought it was important to include tips for how to bounce back from dating disasters. Whether it’s showing up late, putting your foot in your mouth, spilling soup on your lap, or accidentally getting drunk, we’ve all been there. The important thing to remember is just to relax and move on – don’t be overly apologetic or embarrassed about any of these things. Just be yourself, be thoughtful, and remember to breathe.

Thanks again for the interview.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin.He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one.He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle.He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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