Tag Archives: men

10 Great Questions to Ask on a First Date


by Jake McMillan

First Date 1st Date (5)

First dates can be nerve-wracking and awkward at times and even if conversation is free-flowing, it is always good to have some questions in your back pocket just in case there is a stutter in conversation and/or you want to get to know the person a bit better. Internet searches on this subject will bring back a lot of questions to use that are, in reality, not very good as they are trying to be too clever, too relationship-focused or just too lame (e.g. what is your star sign?).

A good question to ask on a first date is one that helps you get to know the other person better in a relaxed manner as well as keeping conversation flowing in an interesting and fun way.

So here are some suggestions of good questions to ask your date:
(note: you don’t need to use all of them, or in any particular order, but do ask them at relevant moments and be ready to answer the question yourself too)

1. What movies do you hate?
Don’t be cynical, asking about movies is really good as it doesn’t seem like a personal question, but actually the movies we love and hate reveal a lot about us. The characters and stories we are drawn to or repulsed by are often quite insightful to our own personalities, our aspirations and our morals. However, if you ask someone what their favourite movie is, they will be put under pressure to say something acceptable and will often say a film they like a lot that is generally perceived to be cool and interesting rather than their actual favourite which is usually a more personal choice.

Asking someone what movies they hate is a much easier and more fun question to answer and can lead very comfortably conversation-wise to movies they enjoy or have seen recently. For example, my answer to this question is ‘Mamma Mia’ and this often leads to great discussion and banter.

2. Who do you admire or look up to?
This seems like a question about someone else, but actually it reveals a lot about the person by highlighting the attributes they have or would like to have themselves. Warning, do not throw this question in willy nilly, make sure it is appropriate/relevant to your conversation or it will seem too obvious you are probing and put the person under pressure.

3. What is your favourite swear word?
I think the more general question of ‘what is your favourite word?’ is a good question, but perhaps more appropriate with friends. On a date, you want to make things interesting, fun and maybe a little bit provocative now and again. How someone answers this question can also be very revealing. Someone more straight-laced may struggle with it, but someone fun and free will get stuck into this question.

My answer to this question is ‘bollocks’, there is just something great about how you can say it. If you have been having flirty conversation, you might answer, for example, by saying that you like a nice ‘fuck’ now and again. Use of the c-bomb should be cautioned, however.

First Date

4. Are your friends with mostly men or women?
This is a good lead into them talking about their friends and the people that are important to them. Also, it can lead to the person talking about how their own gender perceives them. You can follow up with, ‘Who is your best friend?’, ‘Can men and women every really be friends?’. Yes, is the answer to the latter.

5. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
This does seem like a very average mundane/lame question to ask, but it can be a great conversation starter. Their answer actually doesn’t really matter as if you have different views then you can have a fun discussion about why which animal is best. If someone doesn’t like either, then this again reveals something about them. If they do have a preference, then this will lead them onto talking about a favourite pet and this is a good positive emotion to bring out.

6. Do you have a favourite birthday?
This is another positive emotion type question that can really open up a conversation. It will inevitably lead them to describe the birthday and why it was so good (revealing about themselves) as well as leaving lots of great opportunities for follow up questions.

7. Do you remember your first kiss?
This is a good question as I have not come across anyone who does not remember their first kiss and also introduces the thought of the act of kissing in a completely inoffensive way. The first kiss, regardless or whether it was good or bad, is normally a fun and nice memory to talk about and will open the door to related topics.

First Date

8. Do you have bendy ears?
I know, I know, this seems like a mad question, but try it and see it what happens. Some people have more bendy ears (as in they can be folded) as the cartilage in the ear is not as rigid. This is a fun thing to ask and get them to do as if you do it right, then you will get them to feel your ear and/or you feeling them. This is a fun and non-sexual way of introducing bodily contact. It also often leads to demonstrations of other odd things people can do with their bodies.

9. Who do you take after most, your mum or your dad?
This is a good lead into finding out about their family, but also will inadvertently get them to reveal the traits about themselves. If they say a bit of both (which is common) then ask them which traits they get from which.

10. Do you say either (pronounced ‘e-tha’) or either (‘i-tha’)?
This is actually a silly joke question as whatever answer they say, you will answer, ‘but which one?’ If they look confused, follow up with ‘do you say neither (‘knee-tha’) or neither (‘ny-tha’)?’ Although a silly question, how the person responds will show what sort of sense of humour they have.

Related Posts
10 Things Not To Do On A First Date
Internet First Dates
Bad Things To Say On A First Date (personal experiences)
A New Low In Ridiculous Things To Say On A First Date
Getting The Girl To Pay For Dinner


The Solution for Feminism?


by Jake McMillan

Disclaimer: There will be some generalisations below in order to keep this post succinct so whenever you see one please assume I don’t mean it for all people or situations, I am aware that there are exceptions, that not everything is an accepted fact and there are different points of view. 

I write this post with great trepidation as for a man to write or talk about feminism is like walking through a field you know is almost completely full of mines. It is not an easy topic for women to talk about either, but when men do it, it often has an inflammatory effect. Sometimes this is because what men say is stupid or offensive and sometimes this is because it is just a man talking about issues which concern and effect women. You will have your own view which end of the spectrum I am being.

Although I will be critical of feminism in places below, the aim of this is to be constructive and offer in a positive way my humble views that may help feminism achieve its aims. I am not a professional expert on this topic, I do not believe I know all the answers, but this a considered view based on experience and some research.

“Come on, just get on with what you are going to say!”. I will, I will, I promise, please forgive me, but previous experience in discussing this topic with female feminists has pushed me into making disclaimers and caveats first.

Feminism and feminists have changed the world we live in. Comparing today’s Western society with that of a 100 years ago, I don’t think anyone would argue that we do not live in far more equal society. Is the job completed? No, far from it, but a great deal has been achieved. However, in recent years feminism has been less effective than in the past, with many people seeing it as losing its way, becoming fragmented and confused? There are different points of view on how true this is, but it is true that there are many people who support feminism and its aims but would not dream of saying they were a feminist. There has become a stigma in saying that you are a feminist as many will have a perception about you, the stereotype of being angry, militant and man-hating.

Looking at it solely from a marketing and PR perspective, to have people who support the cause but would not dare say they are a feminist, is an absolute disaster. Something has gone wrong along the way. Feminism is still very relevant today, with sexism against women still apparent in the media and the workplace, to name but a few, so why are not more people standing up and proudly saying they are feminists?

I think it is wrong to say modern feminism is failing, but you could argue that is not very successful at the moment. There are, however, great efforts to try and change this with a lot going on campaigning-wise, the No More Page 3 petition (almost 60,000 votes at the time of writing), for example, is very visible at the moment and there is a lot of research and lobbying looking at sexism against women in the media. Feminists such as Caitlin Moran seem to be connecting and providing a voice for women in today’s society.

The fact I’ve taken the time to write this post is an example of feminism being talked about and that it is relevant, however, a lot of discussion in forums and comments on articles are not very constructive and does not seem to be helping the cause. Rather than discussing sexism and equality, many debates seem to degenerate into men versus women type arguments. Some of these campaigns seem or appear to polarise people through preaching to the converted and pushing away further those who disagree. They have been good though for getting people talking about the issues so should not be dismissed. For feminism to be successful it needs to reach people who disagree or are not sure about or familiar with, the issues and feminist aims and convince them.

My view is that the solution for feminism is to widen the focus and not let it be just about women fighting issues that effect women.I believe they should involve men and I also believe they should look at the wider issues of sexism, i.e. both genders.

[pause]

I can almost hear the blood boiling of some female feminists as they are ready to rant at me why they would not want this and/or do not want a man telling them how to solve their problems! Please hear me out.

Historical feminism has closed the equality gap a long way (people will argue the extent of this), but to get to a society where men and women are treated equally and that your gender does not determine your path in life, I believe we need to have a different approach to progress significantly.

Let’s imagine we are in the future and we have reached a place in society where there is no sexism and there is equality across the genders. In this future society how should we address sexism when it appears from time to time? My hope and wish is that all members of society will feel responsible to eliminate it, not just men  looking after sexism against men nor just women tackling sexism against women. Both genders working together for the good of society and ending sexism.

We should not wait for the end of sexism to start operating like this, I think we should start working like this now as this sets the standard as well as being  the most effective way of reaching this goal.

The approach of a lot of feminist campaigns that are used today seems to me to have a divisive effect and I have been appalled at some of the sexist comments that have been made on recent blogs and articles. However, feminists are not blameless either.

On a feminist blog earlier in the year, I was trying to put forward some suggestions as a discussion point along this idea of widening the focus of feminism and I was told:

Men’s problems are not down to sexism. And women don’t need you or any other man to tell us how best we should go about ending it. If you want to support feminism, shut up and listen to the people on the receiving end of sexism instead of perpetuating male dominance by telling us what to do and what we should be addressing.”

Also

Men telling women how they should be doing feminism in order to get men to like us more is one of the best arguments I’ve ever heard for women-centred organising.

Even if you thought (or still do) the suggestions of men about feminism were ridiculous, this approach or reaction to male involvement does not help the end goal. For feminism to be successful, you need both genders (i.e. men too) to buy into it and agree with it. It’s only logical. Perhaps, just perhaps, excuse some men of their views and misunderstandings, welcome them into the fold and educate them rather than alienate them? This approach would not assert male dominance or lead to men telling female feminists what to do, it would help men who have been rejected and turned away from feminism to better understand it and then in turn better support the issues and causes.

Language has a big impact here and a lot of articles and blogs about feminism, whether it is tackling sexism, domestic violence and rape, do contain latent sexism in their language. There is a link to a Guardian article above (and here) about sexism in the media and I found it very interesting and informative. The one small but important issue I noticed is that throughout the article it talks about sexism in the media and it assumes that the only sexism in the media is about women? I have been in conversations with people about domestic violence and rape and again it is assumed these terrible things only happen to women. They happen to men too.

The point is that there are many many issues that effect both men and women. Sexism effects both men and women. Yes, if you were to add all these issues together and prioritise them, the majority of issues effect women much worse overall than they effect men. Nevertheless, having a joined up inclusive approach would be more efficient and effective for both genders.

Many female feminists are very sceptical and put down issues that men face as they either see them as being far less significant compared to issues women face and/or this is a product of male dominance in society giving men privileges and advantages over women that outweigh any issues they might encounter. Even if this is true, this kind of analysis is not helpful as it polarises men and women, pitting them against each other and all debates and conversations seem to ultimately end up with female feminists saying they don’t need men to help them and so men do not get involved in or supporting feminism.

Modern society has progressed to the stage that a feminist approach of just women fighting issues that effect women has limited effectiveness. Not all female feminists reject male involvement, of course, and it has actually been refreshing to hear one very recently saying don’t just be a “nay sayer” and would not just want support under set terms only (as suggested to me above) but would actually welcome my ideas and would have no objection to me or other men helping to lead feminism to reach its goals. This is very encouraging as you can tell by the disclaimers and caveats I have felt the need to make, it is not an easy thing for me or other men to talk about.

So, I hope you will take this in the spirit of what is intended to be? I am not demanding or telling feminists what they should do, this is merely my humble suggestion of an approach that I think will lead to a society without sexism and gender inequality. This is something I want and I support any initiatives (regardless of the  “ism”) that help achieve this.

If you are feminist who hasn’t been too enraged by this post, you might wonder if a logical conclusion of my suggestion would mean feminists should stop what they are doing and do something else? No, my approach would mean feminists should carry on tackling the issues of sexism and gender inequality as they have been, but take a wider and more inclusive approach to include all sexism or gender inequality of the issues they are confronting. This approach also actively encourages the involvement of men, even if at first they appear like they don’t get it or have odd views (not sexist ones hopefully) or you are suspicious they are trying to assert male dominance, give them some time, you may be surprised by the results.

I have no hidden agenda for male dominance. As a society we need to end sexism and gender inequality and I simply feel both men and women working together to tackle all issues of sexism and gender inequality is not only the best method to achieve this goal, but will act as a blueprint for a society where sexism no longer exists.

Related content:
No More Page 3 (Facebook page)
The F Word (Contemporary UK Feminism)
Who Needs Feminism?


What’s Wrong With My List?


My flatmates and I are all single 30-somethings who are young at heart and sometimes young at brain too. The other evening, over a glass of wine or three, we were discussing the suitable traits of people we’d want to be with. One flatmate asked me for a ‘briefing document’ of my criteria so she would have an idea of people she knew who might fit. On my iPhone I put together the quick list shown above and fired it off to them to laugh at and scrutinize.

The following day I put it up on Facebook so others could share in the joke and join in with criticising my list and have a bit of fun at my expense, for example, one friend put that I should give myself a fighting chance and just focus on the top two points! Most took it in the manner with which it was posted (i.e. I wasn’t actually using this list to draw in potential suitors), but I was surprised by the serious reaction of some. Can you guess which bit of the list some objected to most?

No, it wasn’t the bush grooming comment.

No, it wasn’t that she needs to be alive.

No, it wasn’t that she needs to be slimmer than me.

What several people objected to (all women) was that I had put 19 as the bottom end of the age range?! They seem to be genuinely outraged like I was acting like some sort of paedophile! In truth, I had not really given much thought about the age range, I had in the moment of writing the list thought of a good target age as being 29 and simply added and subtracted 10 years to this.

As a 30-something I am not actually looking for a 19-year old as the age difference would suggest different levels of maturity and life experience for a relationship to work. However, that said, if I met a 19-year old who was mature and fit my other criteria and seemed to like me, why would I discount an opportunity because of an ageist prejudice about the maturity of 19 year olds?

It’s an extremely unlikely scenario for me to encounter as, let’s face it, 30-somethings seem ancient to young adults, but I was curious as to why some had reacted so strongly? My responding to their complaints, ‘Would being with two 19 year olds make the situation any better?’ (that’s a combined 38 years of experience) did not help for some reason? 

In the United Kingdom and many other modern societies, 19 year olds are legally considered adults and free to do anything like any other adults in society. So what is the problem? In the last 12 months, an 18 year old Harry Styles from boy band One Direction was dating 32 year old presenter Caroline Flack and this caused a massive uproar, but why? If it’s two consenting adults being together and no one is being exploited or coerced, who are we to judge and say whether people should be in a relationship together or not?

by Jake McMillan

Related Posts:
How Low Do You Go?
The One?
Women Asking Men Out?
Bad Pick-up Lines


Overcoming Women’s Height Prejudices


by Jake McMillan

Through the relationship blog Bounce Off, that I co-write, we are currently running a poll on the differing views of men and women when it comes to their preferred height of their partner. As I write this, the voting has only just started but I expect the results to show that women are far more particular than men about the height of the person they are seeing.

It’s not just as simple as women wanting to go out with someone taller than them. Women want to go out with someone who is taller than them whilst wearing heels! The situation is getting worse as the trend at the moment seems to be that heels are getting even taller with platforms on the front part of the shoe. Only a woman can artificially raise her height and then judge a man from it.

Men, on the other hand, are less picky in this regard. So, what are men who are average height or below meant to do? If you are a man of average height (roughly 5ft 8 inches/173cm) then the women you should be aiming at relationship-wise will be a maximum of 5ft 5inches or less, to take account of her heels.

This seems a little unfair doesn’t it? The options are:

A) Change the perception of women across the world

B) Just accept this unfair situation

C) Find something practical to address the situation

Considering how difficult it is to change the perception of just one woman, I think option A is out of the question. Option B is a last resort, so that leaves option C, what could be done practically to resolve this? You could destroy all the heeled shoes in the world, but they would just keep making more.

If you can’t beat them, join them! I’ve come to the conclusion that to resolve the situation men should artificially raise their height too. Maybe not with high-heeled shoes though, but with shoes that have discreet platforms and/or lifts that raise the height of men by at least a couple of inches. This means a 5ft8 man becomes 5ft10 and all of sudden has the possibility of pulling women between 5ft 6-7inches tall that he wasn’t able to before.

Related Posts:
The 3 Types of Girlfriend
The Dating Milestones
Women Asking Men Out
10 Things NOT to do on a First Date
How Low do You Go?
The Relationship Evaluation Sketch
Getting the Girl to Pay for Dinner


The Blind Date Dilemma?


I’ve been asked to go on a blind date and against my better judgement I’m thinking that I might go.

The set up is very tenuous and it has disaster written all over it. The flatmate of my friend, who I’ve only met a few times, suggested me for her work colleague’s friend who she has not even met. Worse still, this same friend is the person who set me up on my only blind date so far and that did not exactly go well.

It was about 8 years ago and my friend suggested I go on a blind date with her colleague Jennifer who I was told was half Italian and half Australian, 5ft 3inches, with beautiful red hair. I felt that my friend was a good judge of character and so I agreed to do it.

I arranged to meet her for early evening drinks and shortly before our meeting time, she calls to say she is running ten minutes late. She had a nice soft Australian accent and I started to think that maybe this could actually be good.

Ten minutes later I am standing outside the pub waiting for her to show up. For some reason, lots of women fitting her description walk past and as I try to make eye contact with them they just look at me like I’m a mentalist. Then she arrived.

You know when you meet someone, you immediately make a subconscious judgement about their appearance. For example, it could be ‘Oh yes!’, ‘Nice’, ‘Not bad’ or possibly ‘No way, never ever’. Unfortunately, Jennifer sparked the ‘no way never ever’ reaction.

The beautiful red hair was, in fact, a big ginger mess. Her face was literally plastered in makeup as she was trying to cover up her large number of freckles. There is nothing wrong with freckles, but it is slightly off-putting to see a face caked in makeup crumbling off whilst you talk to them.

I clearly didn’t fancy her, but thought this could potentially be a new friend. However, from the time it took to say hello outside the pub until we had got to the bar, she explained how much she hated London and Londoners (knowing I was from London). She then proceeded to explain how she hated black people, homosexuals and that Muslims were all liars. However, it was okay for her to say that as she told me she had Muslim friends.

An hour and a half later I said I had to leave to get to the party I was going to (this was a lie) and we said goodbye and shook hands. I wasn’t going to kiss a cheek covered in makeup, my lips would have gone white!

The next day I visited my friend who had set me up and asked why she thought I was suited to a racist homophobic bigot? My friend apologised and then told me that she had been acting weird at work as well?!

So I’ve not been a fan of blind dates since then and think the best way of setting people up is to invite them both to a social gathering of some kind and make sure they get introduced to each other. If there is chemistry, then they will get chatting on their own and if there isn’t, then you have saved them from the trauma of a blind date.

This blind date will be ridiculously awful. You now know as much about her as I do. However, because it is likely to be so terrible, that is why I am leaning towards going.


Women with OCD – Obsessive Cushion Disorder


The number of women I know who have OCD, Obsessive Cushion Disorder, is alarmingly high and the condition is spreading like a virus.

My flatmate and my mum are two such sufferers who openly state that there are simply not enough cushions in the world. In my parents’ living room there are two sofas (a 3-seater and 2-seater) that are more than perfectly comfortable by themselves but my mum feels the need to add a total of 13 extra cushions?!

These extra cushions serve no purpose, being just sofa decorations and provide no extra comfort at all. In fact, they actually cause discomfort as the cushions get wedged into the gaps of the proper sofa cushions and push them out. You end up moving the cushions to the other end of the sofa or chuck them on the floor.

A sufferer of Obsessive Cushion Disorder

If unchecked, OCD sufferers would keep adding cushions until you could no longer see the sofa and it would just be a big pile of cushions.

This debilitating affliction is not limited to the abuse of perfectly good sofas, but will also encourage the sufferer to obsess about her bed. These women will believe that the bed and pillows are in constant danger from attack and so need to be protected by an ever-present army of cushions.

Boyfriends, partners and visiting guests are forced to go through the ridiculous ritual of removing all these completely superfluous cushions onto the floor and then in the morning having to replace them in the exact place they were found. The order and placement of the cushions is equally important to the OCD sufferer, perhaps more so, than the number of cushions.

The video clip below from the BBC comedy Coupling (starring Jack Davenport, also of FlashForward, This Life and Pirates of the Caribbean fame) helps explain the pointlessness of cushions.

Sadly there is no known cure for Obsessive Cushion Disorder.

Jake McMillan


Can a woman think about nothing?


Men and women struggle to get on as women think too much about stuff and men don’t think enough

A good friend of mine got in touch recently and she was asking my opinion, as an ex-boyfriend of hers, whether I thought she had a strong personality as she was worried she was alienating a new group of friends by being too opinionated and offending them. It turns out she does not really like them that much and so I asked why she was so bothered and to just be herself.

I then suggested she was doing what so many women do and thinking about things far too much and that she should try and do what men are able to do and think about nothing.

“Think about nothing?” she said, “How do you do that? What does thinking about nothing look like?”

I explained that thinking about nothing is not like looking at a black screen, it is when you can look at something but not really focus or think about anything at all. She said she couldn’t do that, if she was looking at a pencil case, she would be thinking about the pencils and pens inside it or if she could see toothpaste she would be thinking about when it would be running out and having to buy a new one.

She said that she gets annoyed with her husband sometimes as it seems like he is moving in slow motion and that she can see the cogs moving in his head as he figures out how he is going to perform some basic task. She said a woman wouldn’t do that, she would keep moving and not need to stop to think.

I feel that women’s brains are constantly moving, like a CD on high speed, whereas men’s brains are more stop and start type machines. This is not to say that either is better as although women’s brains are constantly active, they are not thinking about anything useful. The great capability of the female brain is cluttered with thoughts of some mad insecurity, shoes, feelings, cushions (women have OCD – obsessive cushion disorder), decorating, dieting, worrying/moaning about friends/colleagues, accessories and the 300 million other things that occupy the female brain.

Men, on the other hand, can only focus on one task at a time and the brain can stay inactive until prompted into action by the restless female brain!

I polled my Facebook friends and the overwhelming response was no, women cannot think about nothing.  Here are some of their comments:

That sounds like bliss. No idea how to do it though?

nope. That’s what men do best 🙂

But thinking about nothing is still something to think and stress about!

Hmmmmm? Let me think about it?

Eh what? Why would you say that? What is the underlying meaning of that comment?

It is this difference that causes a divide as men cannot understand why women are so highly strung and get upset by everything in life whereas women cannot understand why men are not upset by everything. Men dread being asked by women ‘What are you thinking?’ as often we are just thinking of nothing in particular but we know we cannot say that as it will be seen as being evasive, so we have to make something up.

So I guess what we need to do to make life more harmonious is to get men thinking more and women thinking less, or is that just a silly logical and rational thought, typical of a man?