How to Get the Girl

A guide to making dating suck less

This past year or so has been the first time in my life that I’ve been single and not being paid off to stay that way (but that’s a story for another time). Suffice it to say, this is the first time in my adult life I’ve been single and looking to mingle and, ladies and gentlemen and otherwise, let me tell you: it is brutal out there. This Valentine’s Day, consider me your intrepid explorer. Your personal scout. I have gone out into the world and made discoveries so that you don’t have to, and I am going to share them with you today. I’ll be dividing my tips according to things I find specific to men, and things I find specific to women, and then some general stuff – but that’s just because I love categories, including arbitrary ones . This is my official disclaimer that any of this could apply to anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality. I just divided it up in a way that made sense to me based on my own (limited, subjective) experiences.


I primarily have questions for the men pursuing women in Fargo currently. Things like –

  • Why are you so anti-condom? That’s weird. Pregnancy is not something most 21 year old girls are looking for, and neither are STIs. I did not expect this to be a problem. Did you not all go to school? Condoms are easy-peasy and free at the Student Health Center, or Junk Mail will literally mail them to your house.  No one wants chlamydia or a baby, so why are you not doing the immediate easiest thing to prevent those outcomes?
  • Have you tried telling someone you like them when you’re sober? Nothing makes a girl feel used like having someone she really likes, who only talks to her when he’s smashed. It’s 2024, why am I still receiving “you up?” texts followed by “i’m sooooo drunk rn ahahah”? Grow up. Stop treating the women in your life like objects who exist only when it is convenient for you.
Live slug reaction: me, receiving an 11pm “you up” text from someone at a party they did not bother inviting me to. Photo by Marie Sayler.
  • Are you vampires? Similarly to the above note, you should try hanging out with a woman during daylight hours. It’s weird that you only want to see us after the sun has gone down. Nobody’s saying this, so I am: it’s weird! It’s so weird! In the immortal words of Japanese Breakfast, if you don’t like how I look, then leave! Don’t relegate me to your own personal, literal woman of the night.
  • Men seem to be digging holes to get below the already-low bar these days, which is bad. You guys need to shape up. All I ask is that you have an original thought every so often, and tell it to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s about an interest we don’t necessarily share, it’s not about that. It’s about sharing the things that are important to you with your partner, and them listening because you are important to them. I want to know that you value me enough to share your Star Wars headcanons, even if I don’t understand half of it. I care because it’s you, not because it’s Star Wars (although I do love Star Wars). Oh, and that you can do your own laundry. Seriously. I have enough of my own clothes to worry about.


  • Don’t be afraid to say exactly what you do or don’t want. People pleasing has no place in a relationship, especially in a sexual one, and life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy. If a guy does something you don’t like, tell him. 2024 is the year of not letting things slide anymore. Don’t like the way he always grabs your hair when you make out and it feels like your scalp is getting ripped off? Tell him to quit! Either he knocks it off, or his making out privileges are revoked. Seriously, boundaries and the ability to set them firmly is crucial. You should not be doing anything that’s not fun for both of you, and if a man wants you to do something that you don’t, that’s too damn bad. You deserve respect and you deserve to have a fun, stress-free time. Don’t let men get away with not giving you any one, or both, of those things.
  • Get educated on relationships and sexuality and your own body. The more you understand yourself, and the reasons you do or don’t do things, the easier it will be to discern what relationships are positive forces and which aren’t. I highly recommend the book Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski as a good place to start. Even if you weren’t super sheltered and homeschooled like me, comprehensive sex ed is not something North Dakota really likes to imbue its youth with – which unfortunately leaves it up to us to educate ourselves so that any encounters we have are safe and respectful for both ourselves and our partners. Men should be doing this too, but if you’re a womb owner, it’s REALLY important that you know how your own guts work, even if you’re not sexually active. The stigma around the female body has got to be destroyed, and a super important way to do that is to take ownership of your own body by really understanding it.


I feel like some golden rules of dating have been forgotten and should be reintroduced into the ecosystem, so to speak.

  • Don’t abandon your friends for your new partner. Not only is it a bad way to treat your friends, but I would argue that friendships are often more important than the romantic relationships in our lives. This isn’t always the case, but it is often enough to bear in mind. Friends are precious and special – don’t  take them for granted. Platonic love is important, too.
  • Be considerate of your date! Even if it’s your first date with someone you met on Bumble, it’s bad form to text your other Bumble matches at the table (which should be obvious, but I digress). Give your full attention to the person in front of you at all times. 
  • Don’t lead people on. Polite rejection as soon as you know it’s not going to work is much more respectful than dragging out a half-assed correspondence for a month. I know confrontation is scary, but it’s better for everyone if you’re just up-front.

I’m sure there’s more, but these are all the pearls of wisdom I could remember at this exact moment. You’re welcome. Go forth and have good dates, and if anyone doesn’t respect you, leave them chained to a pipe in a mysterious bathroom with only a hacksaw and a cryptic cassette tape à la Saw (2004). For legal reasons that’s a joke, but really – there seems to be a disheartening lack of respect in the dating scene these days, from both men and women, and that’s messed up. We all deserve to be treated with respect, and that means we have to treat others with respect, too.

It’s the golden rule, guys: Treat others the way you want to be treated, or I’ll put you in a Saw trap.

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