Sex in the 'Seo: The infamous first date

In the wake of post-Valentine's Day nirvana, most of us return to the awareness that winter is hardly fertile ground for romance. But for brave souls unwilling to let their hearts go cold with the weather, there may still be a few preventative measures you can take against the total collapse of your love life. Before thinking too far ahead, consider the following principles to guide you gently through a first date.

1. Set aside the obvious. Good grooming, fixed hair, tucked in tags, unpopped collars, personal hygiene, good manners and cologne and perfume in moderation will be lumped together for the purposes of this article as common sense prerequisites.

2. Also set aside any expectations. If the hidden agenda most people have on a first date was exposed, the entire courtship model as we know it would likely implode. These expectations span the full spectrum of fear, desire and ambivalence. Questions of whether your date will like you, reject you, kiss you, squeeze you, call you tomorrow or speak to you ever again are not only irrelevant and beyond answering in the moment, but they will also be distracting and rip your authenticity right out from under you. Adopt a policy of not caring how the other person feels about you - which is none of your business anyway - and instead focus on how you feel about that person in the moment.

On the other side of the coin, it's important not to blatantly impose your intentions on your date with false pretenses. Do not show up with flowers, gifts or any other item that is inherently tagged with your self-respect. It may be OK, or perhaps even charming, to sprinkle chivalry and romance into the interaction. But don't make these things showcase pieces. Open the door, pull out the chair and move on.

3. Avoid "death topics," the over-typical sound bytes that ring out like requiems to attraction. Death topics come up as a rare mix of hidden agenda and false pretenses. Among these tempting traps there are torture topics, in which you exchange strings of trivial information about yourself that your date had no interest in learning, and suicide topics, in which you bring up things like religion, abortion and politics to argue about. You can't bore someone or piss someone off into liking you. Resort to complete silence before you let these into your conversational repertoire.

4. Set up dates that aren't predestined to the internal chatter and the external facade. Set up dates, in fact, that don't feel like dates at all. Go places where money is completely out of the program. Take a walk through the Southside Arboretum or Letchworth Park. Go to whatever artsy or trendy exhibit Geneseo has up or play pool in the Corner Pocket. If money must be involved, do not pay both ways. Pay your own way and move on without making an issue out of it.

Interactions that come free or cheap generally also set the best context for natural, enjoyable conversation mixed with fun, physical interaction. Places that are inherently active and interesting will get both of you out of your heads and into each other. Save the romance for the relationship. Reduce the first date to the simplest terms: a good time with someone who might interest you. If this is your only expectation, you will fulfill it every time.