Dating for geeks
As a geek, dates can be tough. Consider your run-of-the-mill first date: you bring her (or him; we'll just pretend, for the rest of this article, that your date is a girl because everyone knows that there are no girls on the Internet) to a movie, then take her out to a nice candlelit dinner and, if everything goes well, maybe you go for a moonlit walk because that's the romantic thing to do. Swoon. Doesn't that sound perfectly lovely?
Except, of course, it isn't.
A movie and a dinner first date is an absolutely terrible idea. Aside from the whole thing being cliched and boring, sitting in silence whilst staring at a screen for two hours is absolutely antithetical to the whole point of a date, which is for the both of you to get to know each other a little better. "Oh, but the movie gives you something to talk about over dinner!" Well, sure; for about ten minutes, maybe. After all, there's only so much reminiscing you can do about chase scenes, explosions, and method acting. (1)
That's another problem: dinner forces you to be an interesting conversationalist with someone whose name you've barely just managed to commit to memory. You have no common topics because you hardly know anything about each other, and peppering your date with constant questions about their first pet's name and the street they grew up on just makes it sound as if you're preparing to Single White Female her.
And oh, about that romantic moonlit walk? Forget about it. It's so hot and humid in Singapore, the only thing steamy about a walk down the marina are my glasses at the end of it. Besides, even if you were fortunate enough to live in a country where the weather isn't actively trying to kill you, you'll still run into the same problem mentioned above, i.e. a lack of common conversational topics.
Enter social lubricants. Despite their extremely unappealing name, social lubricants make socialising with friends, families and strangers alike that much smoother by giving you something to talk about, something to do with your hands (2), and/or something to keep you mentally engaged while sitting around a table and generally having a nice chat with each other.
A commonly-employed social lubricant is alcohol, which hits the latter two out of three points, and also has the fortunate side-effect of lowering your inhibitions, thus making everyone feel that much less awkward (but also that much more prone to making a fool of themselves; bad drunks, you know who you are). If you know about whatever disgusting beverage you're putting into your mouth, you can even turn it into a point of conversation and thus successfully hit all three points.
But what if you don't drink because you dislike the taste of alcohol, or because you're a bad drunk, or because you simply refuse to pay the ludicrous prices that bars are asking for beer? Does this mean you're doomed to a lifetime of being forever alone? Must your liver suffer so that your social life can flourish?
All lubed up and ready to roll... dice.
Thankfully, boardgaming is also an excellent social lubricant. Not only does it hit all three points any good social lubricant must have - by giving you something to talk about, something to do with your hands, and something to keep you engaged while sitting around a table - boardgaming goes the extra mile and even gives you a fourth point: that of giving you something fun to do together.
Some say that you never truly know somebody until you've been drunk with them. Me, I say that you never know somebody until you game with them. People reveal a lot about themselves when they play games. Not only can you tell if someone's a sore loser or a poor winner, the way they play a game can also tell you what sort of person they are: if they're thoughtful and deliberate, bold and brash, or anything else in between. By looking at how they solve problems and interact with others, you get a perfect snapshot of what sort of person they are... and, of course, if you have any interest in going out with them again.
So the next time you've scored yourself a date, put down that popcorn and pull out Lost Cities or some other excellent two-player boardgame instead. All things considered, it's more fun than staring at each other in silence, much cheaper than going out for drinks, and much more original than a dinner and movie. Trust me: that's how I charmed and snagged my wonderful wife.
(1) - Unless you both happen to be film students who are happy to hold hour-long conversations about the Kuleshov effect, the many ways in which different cuts can alter the emotional impact of a scene, and the cultural and historical importance of Soviet cinema in modern film theory; in which case, carry on, you crazy nerds.
(2) - Holding something in your hands prevents you from fidgeting, which can make you seem overly nervous (which in turn makes people nervous). Putting your hands in your pockets, on the other hand, makes you slouch and look like an extra from the hit 1970s musical Grease. So don't do that. And stop fidgeting.