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In recent years, the art of dating has begun to die slowly. Back in high school and college, dates were simple yet charming. A movie and IHOP was enough to acknowledge romantic interest, and considering young people relied heavily on a limited income (a.k.a., we were broke), something as simple as a $10 action flick and sharing a stack of pancakes was considered sweet and thoughtful. But as an adult, some men just aren’t courting in sweet and thoughtful ways. Nowadays, too many guys I’ve met online or IRL exert considerably less effort, despite having fatter pockets, and will eagerly invite a woman on a drive-by date instead of planning a well thought out show of affection.

In this meet online and “let’s grab drinks” generation, passing off an hour-long convo and a few drinks as romantic is as easy as swiping right. A few of my guy friends justify these “pre-dates,” or mini meet-ups, as a vetting process to determine whether a woman is worth investing a considerable amount of money or time on in the future. They view spending $50 (or less) as a come-up if their date turns out to be a better Mrs. Right Now then Mrs. Right. But even though they regard this behavior as completely normal, I view it as extremely juvenile and corny.

I’m not alone in my opinion either. At least once a month, Black Twitter erupts over this dating tactic. A good amount of men denounce $200 dates and women reply with 140 characters that basically translate to “I’m worth an expensive outing.” Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my fair share of pricey rendezvous: five-star restaurants, concerts, and trips. And of course, I like the idea of a guy spending a little bit of money as he pursues me. But it’s not about how many Ben Franklins he drops on the check. I simply expect him to extend himself, whether monetarily or creatively, to express his interest. In short: How far did you go out of your way to get with me?

I want to spend quality time with someone I’m attracted to in an environment where we can vibe and wax poetic about everything from politics to family values. The spectrum of things that can be considered a nice date is vast since it mainly depends on the interests of the individuals. However, for me, nothing about chit-chatting over caramel macchiatos in a noisy Starbucks sounds like you want to date me. Sure, we can have great conversation, but a quick meet-up sounds like a business meeting, not a pleasurable outing. Why not find out if I like music (I do) and take those same caffeinated beverages to a record store where I can sift through Prince vinyl? That’s a good date idea and a good indication that a guy is not only paying attention but also likes me. Spontaneity goes a long way, too. So, if all I can expect is a couple of shots of Henny at some free before 10 struggle rap show, my curve game will be strong.

Granted, not everyone falls in love at first sight, and some people need a buffer before they dive into dating. So I say, gain some familiarity via text, not during a “hi and bye” sit-down over glasses of chardonnay. Whatever that initial spark was that prompted you to ask for someone’s number, explore it earnestly. That onset attraction, however minimal, is as sweet and honest as “Lemonade,” so why spoil it with something uninspired, unoriginal and as mindless as “Netflix and Chill”? It’s lazy really, and no litmus test for real chemistry. Even though my savage nature makes it a bit harder for any guy to impress me, I guarantee that for any man, an invitation to happy hour won’t cut it. In fact, that pre-dating trick is merely a precursor to an unhappy dating experience altogether.

I’m in no way saying a flight to Costa Rica is a required show of affection. In fact, bowling for two, a trip to a local fair or even IHOP are all still endearing dates without a hefty price tag. Dates women can appreciate I’m sure. The bottom line is, we just want to feel like individuals recognize and value our time, especially after we fuss over our hair and call our BFF 100 times to consult her about which dress to wear. The pre-date ruins that excitement and, frankly, is just so played out.

Dating should be fun, less guarded and as thoughtful and charming as those HS and college dates, not some low-key interview process to see if a girl is worthy of a second date. Be mindful that this person is pursuing you as well, and if you’re trying to keep their interest piqued, as the saying goes, it’s truly the thought that counts.

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