09/10/2013 06:09 am ET Updated Nov 10, 2013

First Date Frogs

A Plague of Frogs
A boomer first date can be an unnerving experience and a double-edged sword. Sure, there's a lot of excitement and some sweet fantasies attached to meeting someone new because there's always the chance they might have partner potential. But the other side of this is the feeling of dread that boomers frequently have, anticipating another in a long line of disappointing first dates. Your prior dating experiences suggest you're going to have to do a lot more frog smacking before you meet someone special, but even that doesn't guaranty success.

Frog Disclaimer
Frogs come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and it's typically not physical qualities that designate a date a frog, since individual tastes vary. So if you've been categorized a frog, it likely had little to do with your physicality, and a lot to do with behavior. I've heard a large number of comments from women that indicate looks weren't the criteria for labeling their dates, frogs, and the same applies to men's comments about women. So what designates a date a croaker?

Looking Like A Frog Is Self-Defeating Behavior
Since it's usually behavior that designates a frog, I would have thought every boomer guy understood the importance of personal, appearance in terms of making a good first date impression. So I was surprised when a woman shared a first date story with me about meeting a man who showed up looking slovenly and unkempt. But after hearing a variation on this story, several more times, I realized that some men may in fact be in the dark about the importance of looking their best. A slovenly appearance is an insult to women, nearly all of who take as much time as is required to look as attractive as possible.

Tight T-Shirts and Big Bellies
The number of women that have commented about first dates that appeared at their door wearing old shorts, T-shirts that barely covered their bellies, and flip flops, are too numerous to ignore, so at least some amount of dialogue on this topic seems appropriate. "This is who I am, take it or leave it," is neither an effective nor productive first date strategy. Laziness isn't a virtue. Everyone needs to make a concerted effort to look attractive on a first date, and there are no excuses for looking as if you just came off the beach. While this is basic and matter of fact to the overwhelming majority of men, a sufficient number of women's stories suggest it's not universally true.

I dated on and off for decades, and I can't recall one woman that didn't show up for a first date looking attractive, which had nothing to do with her beauty, and everything to do with her effort.

All Frogs Aren't Male
It's only fair to mention that women also qualify as frogs for men, although women are rarely labeled frogs because of their personal hygiene or wardrobe. What constitutes a female frog may be open to discussion and interpretation, but there's one issue in particular that a large number of men have suggested qualifies as frog behavior.

A boomer woman who expects to be wined and dined by a man on a first date, and every date thereafter is pretty much a universal turnoff to men, and generally merits a frog nomination. The notion that in this new millennium when women have finally achieved nearly total equality, that men are still on the hook to pay for everything can turn a woman into a frog instantly.

Women fought hard to gain an equal foothold, and while some room for fairer treatment may still exist, few boomer guys want to be taken for granted in terms of being expected to pay for every date. There are many boomer women that have as much or more money as the boomer men they date, so it seems unreasonable to invoke fair treatment and equality for women on one hand, and suggest it's a man's responsibility to pay for everything on the other.

Avoiding The Check
A woman who avoids looking at the check when the waiter brings it sends a message that she expects her date to pay. Sure, this might be avoided if the topic of who pays is broached beforehand, but there are enough women who reach into their purses when the check arrives today to know that times are changing, and that the number of women who expect to be consistently treated is dwindling. Even if a man has money to burn, that doesn't change the gender paradigm. Equal means being treated the same, and a woman's offer to share the bill is viewed as fair and considerate by most men. It's also appreciated, and a man can decline a woman's offer if he chooses.

A number of women have stated they agree with the premise that paying their share on dates is appropriate, and some have mentioned that they intentionally suggest restaurants for dates that they know they can afford. I remember when the check came after the first dinner out with my partner. She reached into her purse and offered to share the bill. I appreciated her gesture, but suggested I take care of this one and she get the next one instead. We've been doing this for nearly a year now, and we both feel it's appropriate since our goal is to create a partnership.

A Door Isn't A Sexual Barrier
A woman wrote me recently about a first date with a guy who became a frog, instantly. He picked her up at her home and when they got to his car, he said, "Since you're equal now, you can open your own door." Ouch! C'mon fella, I mean, really? I consider opening doors for a woman, whether a car, a restaurant, or any door for that matter, to be a gentlemanly, gracious thing to do, which has nothing to do with equal, and everything to do with being courteous and respectful. Her date's comment was meant to insult, not congratulate. The rest of her date didn't get any better, which didn't surprise her since it began with a slap in the face.

Boomers Remember When Manners Were Normal
Suffice to say, men and women are equally capable of behaving like frogs. Being a prig is inexcusable, especially since both parties agreed to the date. Dating manners seem to have gone missing, particularly since online dating began. A number of boomers behave as if anonymity makes rudeness acceptable. Most boomers remember growing up in a time when being polite and respectful was considered normal. I've had a few dates from hell, but I didn't resort to frog-like behavior, although I admit it wasn't always easy to keep my cool. If a date turns out to be a frog, or you feel disappointed, simply say thanks, and walk away with your dignity intact. That behavior might ameliorate the frog problem.

I'd like to hear other boomer's experiences dating frogs, in the hope that sharing those stories might shed some light on how to avoid that label.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Things I Know About Women Now That I'm Post50