Con Survival Guide, Post #10 –
Dating How To
or I Am An Alien; Would You Like to See My Spaceship?
This is going to be a guide for the entirely clueless and those who are new to fandom. So if you haven’t gone to conventions before or have never tried to meet a member of your preferred gender at a convention, then this was written for you.
Okay, I’m either the best person to write this article or the worst. You’ll have to decide for yourself. I have not tended to hook up with people at conventions because usually I was either there with a current girlfriend or wife or had a girlfriend back home. Even when I was in an open relationship I rarely got together with other people at conventions. Partially this was due to the fact that I’m just not that kind of guy, but mostly it relates to me being supremely naïve. An awful lot of my conversations over the years have been followed with: “Hey dude, you know she liked you right?”… “What? Why didn’t you let me know before she left?”… “Dude, she was pretty obvious. What do you need, for her to say ‘Hey, want to go to my room and…?,’”… “Well yeah, that’s how I usually hook up.”
I realize that that makes me sound like I’m either bragging or totally clueless. I prefer to think of myself as having other important interests. I am a bit of a nerd, and as an intellectual I can become so obsessed with ideas and intelligent conversation that I will fail to notice race, sex, and possibly species. I can guarantee, however, that if a girl rips off her clothes in front of me while making suggestive remarks I will notice. I’m not dead yet! Ooh, have you seen this latest post by NASA?
One of the great advantages of dating at conventions or meeting people through fandom related activities is that you can almost guarantee a higher IQ and a larger vocabulary. If, on the other hand, you are attracted to the sound of whistling between the ears, may I recommend that you purchase a sheep.
Many of the same rules apply inside a convention as would apply outside. However, since many fans don’t know what any of those rules are I will start with even some of the most basic.
As I mentioned in my previous blog General Hygiene: or Why Does The Convention Give Out Soap With Dice In It?, use of Axe body spray, perfume, cologne, or rubbing dead skunks all of yourself is not going to make you popular at a convention. A large percentage of the people at conventions have allergies and they are going to want to kill you if you stink to high heaven of synthetic chemicals. Almost as bad is having a soured dirty body odor. You might get away with the dead skunk, actually, at least before the other two options.
Guys, wash your hair and comb it at least once. The first day of the convention would be okay but Saturday would be better. Girls, we don’t care what your hair looks like. Okay, the writhing snake thing and turning people to stone is a slight turn off; still, you should find plenty of guys willing to take the risk.
Take a bath, and use deodorant, it’s not expensive… For convenience, I would tend to recommend Lavilin because with regular use you only have to apply it every week or two and it is an all-natural herbal deodorant that kills germs.
While pickup lines are stupid and ineffective and therefore a bad idea, this is the one place where the opening line of, “So, what do you think of posi-muons?” would work. However, a really horrible line like, “Haven’t I seen you in a dream?” will get the response it deserves up to and including having yourself thrown in the pool in the middle of winter.
Intelligent conversation or really silly conversation is your best bet. You can discuss science or your favorite book or show. A combination of these is always good. For example: “The real problem with a steampunk rocket ship is building up sufficient pressure without having your tanks rupture…”
Hanging out with your friends who already go to conventions is a good way to get introduced to people. Wearing costumes for your favorite show is also a great icebreaker. Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen anyone in a costume dress up as someone from Ice Pirates.
Acting like a drunk redneck is always a popular turn off whether you are a lesbian, a straight guy, or a drunk woman. So is going up to people you know or worse yet complete strangers and groping them whether they are male or female, wearing a kilt or pants or anything else even if you are at FroliCon.
Grabbing people’s clothing and exposing them to the crowd is also highly unacceptable. Another thing that should be obvious but apparently is not is the ever popular “can’t get a hint.” For some people, a subtle hint can be as obvious as, “Get the fuck away from me, weirdo,” and they still don’t get it. If they say no and move away from you four times in a row, you are past the point where you should have stopped.
I have, in fact, had to stop people from throwing someone who acted this way off of balconies above the 10th floor on several occasions. I have not, on other hand, stopped people from breaking someone’s arm.
If the suggestions so far seem very obvious, then you’re way ahead of probably up to 10% of the people who go to conventions.
Don’t be a hypocrite! So now I’m going to digress into telling one of my stories. People who know me realize that I am overly prone to tell stories about things that I’ve seen happen or I’ve done. So a few decades ago I was walking through a convention when I saw three guys that I knew lying down on chaise lounges next to the pool. Their hair was messy and greasy and they had all put on a few too many pounds. They were sitting there critiquing girls that walked by on the other side of the pool. They were also expressing the opinion that they were interested in only the prettiest, most well groomed girls who, in their opinion, should be throwing themselves at them because they were smart. Now, I have to admit these guys were smart, but they weren’t smart enough to be wearing clean clothes that were not wrinkled all the hell or to get up and go talk to some girls. If they weren’t interested in whether or not the girls were smart, I don’t really see why they would think that the girls would care whether or not they were smart. They certainly were not muscular or fit and if the girls were using the same criteria as they were then they were working on becoming evolutionary dead ends.
While these guys were later able to get girlfriends, it was not until after they had changed their behavior and grooming habits at least a little bit.
If your tastes are, shall we say, a bit on the unusual side, involving say for instance the whole chicken, you might want to hang out with other people of the same persuasion. Like so many things, this would not be difficult to find at a convention.
You can also throw a themed room party anywhere except perhaps at an Anime convention.
Many people wear buttons which indicate their interests and that they’re looking for a relationship or a hug or… I would assume that these probably work most of the time but they tend to embarrass me and I go away. I am overly shy. However, the convention could probably have a panel for overly shy people and fill the room without even telling them what it was supposed to be about.
Playing Cards Against Humanity is probably not the best way to meet people unless you really are kinkier than a broken slinky, but it is hilariously funny and oh so very, very wrong. Other types of games such as role-playing games and board games, while of limited social value, can still be a good way to meet people.
If it is your interest, a LARP (live action role-playing game) such as Nero, SOLAR, the SCA, or Dark Passages is a fun hobby that can help you make social connections, but if you stand around talking with people about the game in front of other people who aren’t involved it’s very similar to when programmers talk in front of people who are end-users. If you are a LARPer and a programmer, this problem may be compounded.
Occasionally, someone, usually a guy, will take it upon themselves to grab a whole bunch of random people and play matchmaker as part of a game-like setting. Don’t count on this unless of course you’re the person who’s going to be playing matchmaker.
Just hanging out and talking is the best way to meet people most of the time. It does not matter whether you’re working the convention, a guest at the convention, a dealer, or just an attendee; the best way for you to make connections is to talk to people and treat them like they are other human beings worthy of respect until proven otherwise.
A little self-confidence also goes a long way. Learning to speak well, and by this I mean proper enunciation, pronunciation, and syntax, will help you with relationships and getting better jobs.
Pretending to be drunk or actually getting drunk is a much less effective way to hook up at a convention than anywhere else. On the other hand, discussing the socioeconomic forces which led to civil war in the United States and how this problem was avoided in the Soviet Union may well get you laid at a convention.
If you are a little bit clueless, get a point man or woman to let you know if you have attracted a group of men or women, depending, who are interested in you so that you don’t just fail to notice. Also, do not hang out with a member of the opposite sex when you are trying to get hooked up with somebody you don’t know. My best friend is a woman and we have a tendency to hang out together, which tends to decrease the probability that I will make a connection with someone new with an asymptote that approaches zero.
Another tends to be a shortage of women at conventions, so if you are female and available that gives you a great advantage. While women care about whether a man is married, in a relationship, or even just dating another girl, men are rarely as picky. If you don’t believe me just ask my ex-wife. I have seen a woman walk through a con and point at guys and say, “You’ll do; follow me,” or “You’re a maybe, come on,” and end up with a group of guys dutifully following them around and following their every instruction. Women who are looking to get married generally tend to be quickly successful at conventions. I am available to perform the ceremony if necessary.
You don’t have to pre-screen for stupidity; stupidity and shallowness is less of a problem. Ladies, be more blatant. All the things you take for granted as flirting will go over the heads of most nerd guys. They may also require more training than other guys but are more willing to make the necessary changes. Nerd guys are also more likely to be willing to make a commitment to your relationship than mundanes.
Guys, there is a time investment necessary in a relationship with women.They are not like a videogame where every time you stop there is a save point and you can come back whenever and be exactly when and where you stopped. If you neglect the woman, you will lose her.
Pretty much the same rules apply to relationships if you are gay or lesbian as apply to straight relationships. People need to be upfront about whether they are looking for a hook-up, a committed relationship, casual dating, or a perversion of the laws of nature that would make Cthulhu blush.
For everyone, you have to give your significant other enough space and time to themselves without neglecting them and you have to pay enough attention to them without smothering them. This is rather tricky because to a certain extent this is something that varies on a case-by-case basis.
I had a relationship a number of years ago where I was ready for commitment but I was dating a woman who was more afraid of commitment than your average redneck guy. While this caused a lot of problems, what did in our relationship was false assumptions we each made about the other.
You have to communicate with people and let them know what you really want.
So in conclusion, there are many advantages to dating people who have the same interests as you, although it works best if not all of your interests are absolutely identical. To sum up, what I’m really saying here is, “Eugenics is really just being picky who you sleep with,” but if you’re not picky you’re definitely not going to have any problem getting dates, especially if you’re female.
Copyright © 2012 Julian Thomas Reid III