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The Just Fine First Date Conversation Guide

12 Jun

Well, it’s official: Betty’s no longer an online dating virgin. I went on a date last week via Coffee Meets Bagel, a Stacie-endorsed online dating app, and I survived. Go me.

The date itself was okay. Really, there was nothing wrong with it – the guy looked like he did in his profile, he had all his teeth, he had a job, and conversation flowed fine.

But if I’ve learned anything from the professional schmoozers that run this city, it’s that making conversation isn’t that high of a bar. Indeed, anyone can make conversation in #thistown. It doesn’t mean there’s a spark, and it doesn’t mean the date was a home run.

In fact, it feels like conversation on these just-fine-but-that’s-it dates is sadly predictable. And if you’re not into it, it’s really easy to just converse at the lowest acceptable level – even if you’re the best of conversationalists. If your date is just fine and neither of you give a fuck, here’s what you’ll almost definitely talk about:

Whether you’ve been here before. It’s a great harmless opener. You look around appreciatively. “I’ve never been here before but my friend Jim loves it! Great suggestion!” [Alternative: “Oh wow I’ve only ever been here for brunch! I’m so excited to try it!]

How you got here. This is also another safe conversation starter. I am guilty of employing it as an awkward way to ease into the conversation. It’s literally the most boring thing you could bring up so no wonder I’m single.

Token metro complaint. 

You waited TWELVE MINUTES for the red line???

Where you live. This will allow you to make all of the conversation about your favorite bars and restaurants in that area, your coworker who lives there and you went to a party there once, on and on. The sky’s the limit. Just don’t make a face when you find out it’s Gaithersburg. Or do.

How you got here. Nope, not a repeat of above. I mean how you got to DC. How you made it big in #thistown, if you will. Note that you’ve gotten this far with only purely surface conversations. I bet you’re halfway done with your beer by now! You almost get to leave!

What you do. I mean obviously because #DC, but actually I have a lot of respect for people who don’t ask about this in the first five minutes. My recent date was one of those people, so props to him – although that was admittedly preempted by the fact that Coffee Meets Bagel profiles include your employer because they know that we’re all job snobs. Sigh.

College. Now I realize why no one shuts the fuck up about college. It’s because a) it’s the last time any of us was interesting and b) (relatedly) it’s the perfect safe conversation topic. You went to college? Oh thank god me too. Tell me about it! Tell me about your late night food adventures and all nighters in the library and your spring break trip. I’ll just listen. It’s easier that way. Keep talking!

Do we have to talk about it?

Running and/or fitness. Seriously, fuck this town for being so fucking fit and making me feel like I always need to be on an intense fitness regime or at least planning on starting one. The upside of that is that your date probably feels the same way so you can probably find some common ground talking about how you really want to run a half marathon but you just weren’t sure if you could do it and then sigh your knee got fucked up. NO WAY! ME TOO! [Side note: my Coffee Meets Bagel date was totally intense and was modestly talking about 50 mile runs or some shit. GOOD. BYE.]


There you have it. I hope to God at least one of those generated some conversational detours along the way, but I guarantee you you hit most or all of those between gulps of G&T as you attempt to figure out if you can see yourself ever sharing your life – or at least your bed – with this person.

DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating that these are things that should be discussed on a date. What I have provided is a literal recipe for a mediocre date. WE CAN DO BETTER! On the best first date I can recall, we talked about everything from celebrity crushes to favorite Mexican restaurants to stupid movies we liked. Be the change you wish to see in your dates, ladies. But just know that they can’t all be winners. And remember that at the end of even the most boring date, you always – always! – get to go home.





5 Ways Finding a Job and Finding a Man Are the Same Damn Struggle

22 May

This week, my dream job was posted online and I. Have. To. Get. It. I’ve spent the last 48 hours freaking out to all of the SR ladies and basically anyone who will listen. In an especially inspiring Gchat with Anne (thanks babe), she gave me the motivation I need. “Go for it,” Anne encouraged me. “Shark that job like you’d shark a guy at a bar.”

It got me thinking: finding a job is actually exactly like finding a man. How, you ask?

5. “I don’t want to come off as desperate” is not a thing. If you find yourself saying this, GTFO.

no really

This is a lesson I learned from job searching that I then realized applies to dating. Most of the people around me who have gotten jobs that I think were awesome and/or wish I had have done it by, quite honestly, being pathetic. You have to be honest with people about the fact that you’re looking for a job and you need their help — and a paycheck. This is not dissimilar to being single and having trouble approaching a new guy, or having trouble opening up to someone. It’s hard to show vulnerability but the alternative is waiting for things to happen to you and waiting forever because you never told anyone that you wanted those things to happen.

4. Connections matter. New boi’s roommates like you? A former supervisor is willing to drop the possible new boss a note saying how great you are? You’d be shocked how much it helps. Life is not a meritocracy. You’re IN. 

AKA, if you wanna be his lover, you gotta get with his friends.

Except don’t confuse the metaphors and get with your boss’ friends.

3. You won’t find the best ones online. Ok, ok, this isn’t quite true. (Actually, the SR ladies are stepping up their online dating game this week and although I’m a little skeptical, I’m rapidly dropping my old-school aversion to the idea.) In fact, while in the workplace you put yourself out there by getting offline (i.e. talking to people and networking and other scary things), in the dating world putting yourself out there involves getting online.

But where the similarities remain is that only looking online – for a job or for a man – does allow you to pre-select based only on what you already know. And that may mean that you allow yourself to close your mind to other options. Maybe you never thought you’d work in finance – just like you never thought you’d date an Asian guy.

2. You’re almost always more qualified than you think. Whether it’s not applying because you don’t meet all the stated qualifications or not going up to a guy at a bar because you think he’s too hot to talk to you, STOP. We ladies tend to underestimate ourselves but I promise, you’re way more awesome than you think you are…

1…..but sometimes, you might have to accept that you’re just not a good fit

The Thing Ruining My 20s

1 May


Over the weekend, I read the truest words anyone has written about what’s poisoning our postgrad years.

It’s not men. It’s not the economy. It’s not alcohol, unless you mean tequila, in which case yes it is literally poisoning you.


You might have thought thus far that Gchat was a saving grace, keeping you sane during the workday. Actually, no. Read the article linked above. It’s not only making you less productive (shocker, I know) but it’s having a negative impact on those relationships you think you’re keeping afloat (to her credit, our own Stacie called this a long time ago).

How true is this?

While a concise instant message may seem to be an efficient way to touch base (without strains like rising from your swivel chair), the interaction can quickly turn trite or futile. “A lot of the stuff that happens on Gchat is not necessarily productive and wouldn’t be talked about in real life — it’s surface-level nonsense that’s getting in the way of why you’re in the office to begin with,” Bolt says. The more time you spend swapping complaints about your boss, links to the best video you’ve seen all year and — oh, right — questions about work, the harder it becomes to recover and produce.

And this:

Why ask Google when you can ask a friend? Gchat’s accessibility to smart people with whom we share personal relationships makes finding answers easy — or so we think. But often, typing a “quick q?” to a friend becomes more disruptive and distracting than digging for the answer yourself.

And start gchatting with a new love interest at your peril:

It happens all-too fast: You add your new beau on Gchat, and start chatting from nine-to-five. You debate over lunch spots, talk happy hour plans and vent about the pain of working for a tyrannical supervisor. The days fly by, at first, but the circular conversations can quickly feel confining and inadequate. This day-long chatting poses the illusion that you’ve shared moments and have been in touch, but those experiences are anything but quality.

Fuck that. I’d rather waste my workday blogging.

Overheard in DC: “Full of Freaks” Edition

17 Apr

By now, we hope you’ve all read Jessica Sidman’s ground-breaking piece on all of the bars and restaurants in which everyone in this city – except us, apparently – is having bathroom sex. First off, actual congratulations to one of our favorite DC journos – this is real journalism and we now have about 657 new things on our bucket list.

Until that happens, though, a girl can dream, and I for one have been fantasizing about what one might overhear during one of these bathroom rendezvous…es. Here’s what you might hear at a few of our DC favorites if you walked by one of these bathroom encounters:

The Palm: “Please try to keep it down. My campaign manager is RIGHT outside.”

Biergarten Haus: “Hurry up baby, my table at Toki Underground is ready!”

Tryst: “Oh…my…GOD…..seriously, where the hell are my cornbread waffle bites? I ordered them before we even got in here. Our server is like such a space cadet.”

Hawk and Dove: “This was soooo much easier before the renovation when the sinks were shorter. This whole bar was so much cooler back then. It was like, an actual dive. And we could get in underage. One time when I was an intern we did shots with the Congressman.” (Author’s note: yes, you would hear during bathroom sex exactly what you would hear all around the acutual bar. When it’s two douchey 23-year-old Hill staffers on their home turf, what do you expect?) 

Hill Country (Karaoke Edition): “Shhhh, not so loud! I want to hear Wagon Wheel!”

McFaddens (Free Happy Hour edition): “WAIT you’re only 19???”

Policy: “What’s your name again?”

Teddy and the Bully Bar: “Speak softly and carry a big stick. Oh wow, you got the second one covered. Okay, but still shush though – there’s a line outside for god’s sake!”

Le Diplomate: “Voulez-vous couche…” Just kidding. Trick question. No one is doing it in the bathroom at Le Diplomate. You waited 5 months for this reservation and hell if you’re going to waste even a minute of this precious time in French Disneyland on le sex.

 Send us your additions in the commented or @stoprequestedDC. From Brownout Betty, keep boning in bar bathrooms, bitches.



Betty’s #equalpayday Reading List

10 Apr

There’s been a lot of buzz this week thanks to Equal Pay Day and the bigger question of women’s equality in the workplace. Or shall we say, “the left’s latest bizarre obsession.” Guilty as charged, Mitchy.

More thoughts on this TK, but here is some food for thought that particularly caught my attention this week:

If she can do it, why can’t YOU? A great reflection on why the ‘Lean In’/’Having It All’ mantra is great for privileged women who are in the right place at the right time, but can set unfair expectations for the rest of us.

I Wasn’t a Fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s—Until I Couldn’t Find a Job From the opposite viewpoint of the first article, a young college grad reflects on how Sheryl Sandberg’s credo empowered her to take the reins of her own career in an unfriendly economy.

Why Women Don’t Ask For More Money A great read + listen (there’s audio too – gym listening anyone?) on the perpetual question of women asking for raises.

Together, I think these raise some interesting questions about whether the lower position of women in the economy/workplace – something I think most of us would agree exists, even if we don’t agree on how to handle it – has to do with individual initiative or structural economic and political factors. Which, of course, also underlies basically every domestic political/economic debate in our country since LBJ.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We’re looking forward to more debate on this in upcoming posts!


Lifecycle of a One Night Stand

4 Apr

The weather’s getting warm again. Which means, as SR’s Anne so eloquently put it: it’s Betty hook up season again. 

Loyal readers will recall that Betty recently swore off one-night stands. Whatever.

From someone who’s been there, here’s the modern one-night stand, broken down into its constituent parts. It’s a timeless classic.

1. The Realization: “Wait, this is real. I could totally go home with this guy. He, like, WANTS to sleep with me. I’m getting lucky tonight?!?!!?” Yeah gurl. That guy who’s been chatting you up – and you’ve totally been reciprocating – wants to go home with you. Remember how you looked at the mirror earlier tonight and vaguely thought “that shirt’s kinda low cut”? Well there it is. Actions have consequences. Great and sexual consequences.

2. Fake Coyness: This is where you realize that this is totally gratuitous at best, and irresponsible at worst. There is NO REASON to go home with a guy you’ve just met. What if he’s awful? W hat if he has a disease or lives in Crystal City? Home is ten minutes away, and all you have to do is walk away to make this into nothing more than a mildly funny brunch recollection. You smile apologetically and start to shake your head and make excuses…

And yet.

3. Resignation: But then, the voice in your head whispers, what do you really have to lose? Just the credibility of the blog post in which you said you weren’t doing this anymore. And he’s cute. And his friends already left him (poor guy). Why not?


4. Anticipation: You get in the cab. You make some small talk that makes you think maybe this person is actually a worthy human being. I mean, we like had a conversation, right? You pull up and go up the elevator/stairs/whatever. Maybe you pass some roommates getting high on the couch. This is actually kind of exciting. Who knows what awaits you on the other side of his door?

I know. A gross room with clothes everywhere, a few old Rolling Stones in the nasty bathroom, and some books he read in college that make you think, once again, that this person is a real human worth having a conversation with. Hey, a girl can dream.

5. Sexy and you know it: Ok, no matter who the person is, having someone rip your clothes off is ALWAYS going to make you feel amazing and turn you on like none other. It is a truth universally acknowledged.

You will feel like this.

6. The main event: This is where you have sex. It’s probably not that good because (with some important exceptions) foreplay during one-night stands is kind of not a thing. But with any luck, it won’t be actively bad. It will probably feel pretty decent. And hopefully you’re not actually thinking this many thoughts during the actual act, but keep in mind that it’s better than falling asleep alone with a half-eaten burrito bowl and Parks and Rec on Netflix.

7. Sleep. You’re drunk and so fucking tired.

6. The badass hangover: I don’t know about you guys, but I think there’s very little truth to the trope of waking up and being horrified at where you are and what you have done. For me, that comes later. At the moment I wake up, my head is pounding and my stomach’s churning, but other than that, I honestly feel triumphant. Good fucking JOB, Betty. This is going to make a great blog post – and besides, he’s not that unattractive.

6a. [optional] Round 2: This one really depends. In many cases, there will be morning sex, and in some, people are just so tired/hung over/embarrassed/over it that this doesn’t happen. In my experience, morning sex is inferior to The Main Event, but hey, choose your own adventure.

7. Delusion: Okay, time for a moment of real talk. As much as we complain, as douchey as the guys we hook up with are, one thing remains true: with a few exceptions, we will almost always hold out hope that this could go somewhere. Even if ‘somewhere’ is just this grimy apartment, again, at 2 am next Saturday. Hence the awkward departure, pregnant (HAHA SORRY) with possibilities and awkwardness and ambiguity. From exchanging numbers to wondering whether to say “this was fun, let’s do it again” (is that too clingy??!?!) to the great question of our time – DO YOU KISS GOODBYE? – this is where it really becomes clear how weird it is that you don’t really know each other but you know each other. Biblically.

8. Departure. Get the fuck out. Extra awkwardness points if he has to get out of bed and come undo all the locks for you. Not that this has ever happened to me. Ever.

9. The shame shower. Some people talk about the walk of shame (or, let’s be real, the Uber of shame). I would posit that the trip home is for introspection on what just happened – and texting your friends. It is only once you get home and you get into the shower to wash off all the bodily fluids and irresponsibility (seriously, how did my hair get this bad in one night did that guy GREASE HIS SHEETS or something?) that you realize you’re an idiot and it’s probably time to stop being so damn single. But let’s face it, pretty soon you’ll be wasted at a bar unable to find your friends, and you’ll strike up a conversation with some guy and have The Realization. And so, you realize as you attempt to loofah your regrets away, it shall begin again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Making a Selection, Making a Connection

20 Mar

“There’s fish in the sea for me to make a selection
I’d jump in if it wasn’t for my ear infection
Cause all I want to do is try to make a connection
It seems I’ve been running in the wrong direction oh”

After a long career-driven stretch of writing about office politics and complaining about my job, Betty’s got boy drama. Buckle up, ladies.

The above Passenger song, and particularly the lyrics at the top of this post, have been on my mind this week. Note how Passenger makes a lyrical contrast between “making a selection” and “making a connection.” Whether or not the adorable Brit meant to do this, I think that he gets at a key difference in how we approach dating and relationships. Are we making genuine, organic, valuable connections? Or are we selecting out of a predetermined pool of fish in the sea? And if it’s the latter,  what criteria are we using to make that selection?

The reason this question has been on my mind is because the newest boy in my life feels….well, he feels like a selection rather than a connection. On the surface, this guy is perfect for me. Before I really knew much about him, I told everyone “OMG, he’s my soulmate” (because clearly that’s what girls do when they barely know a guy. But actually. But that’s a post for another day). And everyone agreed once I described him. Another way of putting it is: he’s marriage material. He’d be perfect to bring home to mom and dad. He checks a lot of the boxes. And yes, I hate to say it, but a lot of those boxes involve the social expectations of the sort of guy someone from my socioeconomic/cultural background and  with my values “should” date. Slash marry. My main appraisal of our compatibility comes, frankly, from things that shouldn’t matter: like how similar our families are, what he believes, where he went to school, what kind of life he (probably) wants. Check, check, check.

The problem?


I don’t want to prejudge the poor guy, and I also don’t want to get into too much gritty detail. But suffice it to say, he’s kind of an awkward dude, his jokes fall flat, and he just seems…kind of all-around boring.

You would think that would be a dealbreaker, right? End of discussion? We don’t have a “connection” (intellectually, socially and mentally that is – let’s leave aside physical connection for another day because that’s just….a whole other ball game).

But what’s bothering me is that it’s NOT the end of discussion for me. And I worry that it’s because I’m letting his “good-on-paper” status influence my thinking. In other words, by going for him, I’m “making a [cynical/calculated/etc] selection out of the pool of available guys, based on a lot of factors that seem kind of superficial. Based on….the guy my friends, who, God love ’em, aren’t in my head or my heart, think I should be with. Based on the guy my mom sees me marrying someday.

Is that just another way of saying “the guy *I* want to marry someday”? Is that what I’m doing? Allowing the ‘meat-market’-y nature of dating in your 20s to override the fact that I’m just not that into him?

There are two versions of this critique. The first is harsher: that I’m dating by resume, that I’m prioritizing surface qualities and therefore giving into social expectations rather than allowing myself to be happy. The second gives me a little more credit, and it’s a little more nuanced: perhaps I’m allowing the ‘surface qualities’ to carry positive weight even while I allow my aversion to his personality to carry negative weight. I mean, both should matter, right? And even if the surface qualities don’t matter, can’t they serve as commonalities that (and shoutout to Stacie for making this point) allow me a little breathing room to explore whether or not there is potential for a deeper compatibility? In other words, I made a selection – can’t a connection grow out of that?

But on the other hand: if I’m not into him, why do I need that breathing room at all?

And thus I go around and around and around in my head. 

This speaks to a larger question that bothers me about dating and relationships: the social expectations (which also turn into personal expectations we have for ourselves) just seem to be so at odds with the ideals of romance that we’re brought up with. Going online where you can slice and dice the data and make the perfect “selection” of guys to message just seems so at odds with the way books and movies tell us we’ll meet a guy – making a “connection” out of nowhere in the line at Starbucks, or what have you.

Similarly, if you glance at the NYT wedding section, you see all these seemingly perfectly tailored couples from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, Ivy League educations, future doctors, etc etc. And you know in the back of your head that that’s the ideal, at least as far as your grandma is concerned. But didn’t any of those perfectly airbrushed girls ever feel like there wasn’t anything to her man behind the glowing NYT bio? Or didn’t any of them ever fall in love with someone whom they absolutely, no way in hell could bring back to Mom and Dad, or even to their best friends?

This is just one aspect of the debate – much of this also overlaps with a very worthy inquiry on dating guys that you know will treat you right versus “bad” or “douchey” guys who will break your heart, but who reel you in all the same. Hopefully the other SR ladies will be able to weigh in on these and other questions in the coming weeks.

Until then, readers, I want to hear your thoughts. How much of dating is by “selection” – and is it a bad thing? Is it even possible in this day and age to make a true “connection” anymore? If not, should we mourn the loss?

Cheers girls,


I couldn’t have said it better myself.

13 Mar

I’m on a little bit of an office-life kick these days in terms of my blog posts. That’s why, when I started to write my post, immediately got distracted by the Internet, and saw this gem on Facebook, I realized there are some days when your post just gets written for you.

17 Things You Suddenly Start Doing When You Get An Office Job

#3, LOL.

Thought Catalog, you speak my soul once again.



To Smartphone or Not to Smartphone?

6 Mar

It’s a dilemma for our time. Are smartphones killing us or making our lives better?

Things that are better with a smartphone:

  1. Riding the Metro Waiting for the Metro. Are you kidding me – no iPhone while waiting on the Glenmont side at Gallery Place? By the time the 13 minute wait is over I’ve refreshed Twitter 1300 times. Also, despite the medieval quality of the Metro it’s pretty cool that I get internet on my phone in the actual trains.
  2. Talking to stupid roommates and coworkers. This conversation does not require my full attention. Also, if I’m kinda bent over my phone maybe you’ll realize I don’t actually want to hear about your commute.
  3. Meetings and conferences of any kind. It’s just accepted that you’re allowed to be on a phone during these. I’m taking notes. Duh. I can’t sit through 4 minutes of a meeting anymore without checking my email.

Things that are better without a smartphone:

  1. Watching TV. Seriously, this is revolutionary. How crazy is it that we’ve gotten so used to refreshing our phones during commercials, during credits, and during dull moments of the actual show? No wonder I can’t figure out what the fuck is going on on Scandal, which is probably the lowest IQ drama out there. Last night I watched one of my favorite shows and my phone was in another room, and it was amazing. I didn’t miss anything by way of snarky live tweeting of the show – don’t worry, I checked afterwards (Also, I got the dishes done during the ads).
  2. Eating at restaurants. This one’s a no-brainer, guys. Put that shit away.
  3. Screwing around on the Internet. Ok, time to get meta: I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the concept that I’ll be browsing stupid Internet sites on my computer and then I’ll pause to browse stupid Internet sites on my phone. WHAT THE FUCK MODERNITY. Like, you get a text, and that reminds you that you had a Snapchat, and then all of a sudden you’re reading the Wikipedia entry on sriracha sauce, on your phone, all while balancing your laptop in your lap. What are you doing with your life?
  4. Working. I don’t often answer my texts or look at my phone while I’m at the office. It’s a huge distraction. It can wait. Besides, there’s always Gchat.
  5. Sleeping. We all know this one, but we don’t stick to it: sleeping with your phone by your bedside is terrible for you. Not only does it prolong your drop off to sleep by tempting you to look for that email one last time before bed, it overstimulates you at the time when you need your brain to be relaxing and, frankly, I hate that I wake up, turn off my phone alarm, and immediately start reading my overnight emails. It is a damn depressing way to start your day.

The verdict is in, guys. Throw your smartphone in the goddamn trash, it’s ruining your life.

A Tribute to Office Space

27 Feb

Office Space was on TV the other night – an all-time classic, especially when you’re as pissed off at your own office environment as that film’s noble, Jennifer-Aniston-loving protagonist.

As tribute, I would like to begin a list of all of the most irritating things people do in the office. I am sure this will be a running list, because hell is other people [sidenote, click the link. that is fucking hilarious].

By the way, many of these items are things that I do. Like warming up maple & brown sugar oatmeal in the shared microwave and stinking up the office for the rest of the day. What can I say? I was out of granola bars.

  1. Yelling through the door. I know you have a phone. Just call me. Also, feet. Also, don’t talk to me.
  2. Forwarding me emails that I was already CC’ed on. OH MY GOD.
  3. Also, though, the passive-aggressive BCC. Just don’t do it. It’s as bad as breaking up over text message.
  4. Assuming that I can do work when I am out sick. Or even assuming that I can respond to your emails. I cannot. I am sick  cutting work to hang out at one of these places.
  5. Talking to me and assuming I will hear when I have my headphones in.
  6. Not answering me because you have your headphones in. Who the hell do you think you are?

What are your contenders for most annoying office habit? Leave them in the comments!


Brownout Betty