First Date Phone Etiquette

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Relationships can be tricky. And while the innovation of smartphones and social media have made it easier for people to stay in contact, the unavoidable and sometimes sad truth is that it has also led to a decline in the ability to connect on a personal level.

This can be doubly true when dating. First dates often have the potential to become awkward and uncomfortable (or second dates or even third dates for that matter), and sometimes the easy way out is to find a distraction. In these situations, the quick solution is to pull out your phone. Unfortunately, this is usually the worst thing you can do. Instead of taking a second to regroup and think of what to say or do next, phones often creates a distance between you and your date.

But, you might argue, what about those situations where it is helpful or advantageous to have a phone handy? Never fear. While there are some instances where a phone can be a valuable asset, there are some ways to make sure it doesn’t negatively affect your date at the same time. Here are a few etiquette tips regarding your phone when going on a date.

Plan Ahead

First dates can be amazing, but rarely are they spontaneous. Make sure to inform your friends and family that you will be unavailable for any kind of communication during the evening. While you may get some grief from some of your more sarcastic friends, it will definitely give you a leg up on the date.

Communicate Clearly

If you should need access to a potential call or text, say for a medical situation or work emergency, make sure to clearly communicate with your date. Let them know at the beginning what the situation is and that you may need to respond.

Be Prepared

Technology rules our world, and the ability to use it effectively can send a message that you are up to date and on the ball. Don’t be afraid to pull out your phone for a specific purpose such as confirming a reservation with OpenTable or using GPS to make sure you reach your destination on time. Just be sure to give your date your primary attention and your phone secondary.

Remember the Moment

Making sure to record the moment can have many advantages. Not only will you have a permanent memory of the night but it also can show your date that you care and truly want to remember the night. Taking advantage of the recent camera technology on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 will make sure that every detail is crisp and clear.

Ask Before Sharing

With apps like Instagram and Facebook, your first reaction might be to share any pictures and details of the evening with everyone you know. But, remember that you aren’t the only person involved. Make sure your date is alright with you posting the selfie you just took together, and, if they are, go crazy and share your fun with the world!

The most important thing to remember is always make your date your first priority. If you keep them the center of your attention and don’t get distracted by what might be happening in the world, they will feel both respected and appreciated. That will give you that much better of a chance in getting the second or third dates, or more!

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Have a Romantic Date at Home

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Dating doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be fun, especially if you are dating that perfect someone. Sometimes the routine of dinner and a movie can get old and going out all the time can be expensive, so here are a few ideas for having a date night at home.

Wine Tasting

Whether you are a wine expert or not, this can be a fun way to experiment and find out what your date likes in their dinner beverage. If you want to get really creative, pair the wines with appropriate foods.

Cooking Together

Find a cookbook, flip to a random page and cook something brand new to the both of you. Have each person in charge of different parts of the meal or just wing it and see what happens. Not only can it be fun and adventurous but you might find a new favorite meal in the process!

Movie Marathon

There are a few options here. You can each pick your favorite movie and spend the night watching each other’s choices, or you can pick random movies and live on the adventurous side. Or, have fun and pick something you wouldn’t normally watch like a childhood favorite. Whatever it is, make sure it is light and fun.

Theme Night

Here’s an opportunity to go all out. Try anything from Arabian nights to a murder mystery to a favorite movie like Frozen. Just make sure you dive in 100 percent. Plan everything from the characters to the costumes to the food and music, and let your imaginations run wild.

Board Games

This is a great chance to relive the fun of your childhood by bringing out a beloved board game. You can each pick your favorite like Twister or Monopoly, or grab something brand new like chess. For something a little more intimate, consider a more adult-oriented games like Battle of the Sexes or An Enchanting Evening.

Dancing

First, you need to make the playlist. Get together with your date and pick out several songs from various genres, and maybe keep a couple of the songs secret from your date. Then, spend the evening in each other’s arms trying to dance the night away.

Breakfast in Bed

Do something a little different. Make breakfast for each other, and spend the evening cuddled up in bed maybe watching a romantic movie or listening to music.

Video Games

Play a variety of different games so you and your date can go crazy together. You can battle each other with Mario Kart and Kinect Sports, work off some energy with Dance Central 2 or work together with Little Big Planet. Just be sure to have fun, keep it light and don’t get too competitive.

Camping in the Backyard

Have a campout in the backyard. Go all out with a campfire, tent, lanterns and other equipment. Cook and eat under the stars while you enjoy the weather and each other’s company.

Talking

It sounds simple, but many times people don’t spend enough time just getting to know each other. If you need some help getting started, incorporate games like 20 questions, truth or dare or would you rather…? Sometimes just communicating with each other can make the best date ever.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to keep it new and fresh. Alternate who is in charge of date night so that both sides always have something to look forward to. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and be sure to discuss what you liked and didn’t like so you can improve both your dates and your relationship.

Great First Date? Follow Up the Right Way!

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Back in the day, a man would wait three days after a date to call. Few people have the time or patience for that in 2014. In fact, a Match.com survey found that more than 50 percent of women now follow up first. Not only have certain gender roles changed, but technology also has changed how we communicate in the dating world.

So, if you recently had a first date that went well, reaching out in the right way is the best possible chance at a second. Here are three ideas on how to do exactly that:

1. Share a Relevant Story or Video

You talked for hours, either about a variety of topics or your shared passions. You can show that you were truly listening by sharing a relevant story or video to help get that second date.

Did you talk about your love of food? Send a review of a favorite restaurant—preferably one that your date has never eaten at—and suggest going there. Do you both enjoy scary movies? Send the trailer to an upcoming release on your must-see list. Not only do sharing these links remind him or her of your connection, they also give you an opening to ask for a follow-up outing.

2. Choose Your Mode of Communication Wisely

Age often contributes to how a person communicates after a date, states the Match.com survey. Calling remains the preferred method for all ages and is followed by texting, emailing and instant messaging, respectively for those ages 21 to 34. Those in the 35 to 44 range agreed with the younger group about calling and instant messaging but ranked emailing over texting.

No matter your age, keep the other person’s expectations in mind. If it took a phone call to secure the date, follow up with the same medium to show consistency in your level of interest. Or, if you want to show that you really enjoyed the outing, go above and beyond the norm. If you typically communicate electronically, pick up the phone. As eHarmony points out, moving from characters to a voice can show your charming side.

3. Send Flowers

Do not underestimate the power of flowers and a thoughtful card. The gesture not only thanks the person for their time and attention but it shows that you are interested in a second date. When choosing which flowers to send, keep their meanings in mind.

For examples, roses send a romantic message. Choose lilac and purple roses if you hit it off immediately, as they represent enchantment. Orange conveys enthusiasm and desire. Red serves as the symbol of romantic love and enduring passion, which may not be appropriate so early in a relationship. You also can send a favorite flower if you were able to find out what it is during your date.

As for how soon you should follow up, don’t waste time and don’t play games. Reach out the following day and include a suggestion for a second date. If you play coy, your romantic interest may move on.

Coping With a Breakup 101: Top Tips to Help Get Over The Ex

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Breakups are hard to overcome, and moving on can feel nearly impossible. You may want to just stay in bed and eat, but the best way to move on from a breakup is to get up, get out and get active. Refocus your mind away from the emotional pain and start moving your life forward. The three things to remember: be social, be active, be open to possibilities. Here are a few tips in these areas:

Be Social

Surround yourself with friends and family, and make an effort to meet new people. Visit websites like Meetup.com to find clubs for like-minded people who get out socialize. Groups range from knitting circles, sports teams, hiking groups, motorcycle clubs and independent filmmaker workshops.

Social interaction is healthy and will help you stop thinking about your miserable ex. By joining new groups, you might even pick up an unexpected hobby and find new ways to express yourself:

Like blogging!

Be Active

Another outlet for those sorrowful feelings is exercise. Go for a hike or a run. Get out your aggression through cardio, boxing or weightlifting. Try Pilates, yoga or Zumba. The endorphins produced through physical activity can alleviate those sad, yucky feelings and get you to see things in a more positive light. Endorphins also help by improving self-esteem and positivity and reducing your perception of pain. So get up off the couch and go for a run—it will even be a sweet bonus if you happen to run into your ex and have the chance to show off your newly fit body!

Go out dancing. Get some friends together and take a beginners dance class. Chose from tap, swing, hip hop, ballet, or ballroom—the style doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you’re getting out, taking part in an upbeat activity and getting those endorphins flowing.

Even a night out dancing at a club can be a great time among friends. And remember: Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you dance goofy then dance goofy. Laughing and smiling will help you feel better.

Be Open to New Possibilities

Always be open-minded about new possibilities. Go to a museum. Attend a local food or culture festival. Listen to live music in your local area. Ever tried boating? Boating is a fun activity that gets you outdoors, and with the wind blowing through your hair, you’ll feel your troubles melt away. If you have never done it before, now is a great time to learn. Research the best boating spots in your area and go online to obtain your boating license if necessary.

Take advantage of the different seasons and choose activities that pique your interest. From sight-seeing right in your own backyard or learning something new, to hiking, dancing, boating and running—these are the healthful activities that will have you on your way to emotional healing in no time.

The key to moving on after breakups is staying active. While it may seem impossible to crawl out of bed, you will be happier when you do. Remember to try new things and to be social. There is hope after a breakup, you just have to believe it and go discover it.

So stop reading already, get up, and do something!

S.c Rhyne

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5 Remarkable Date Ideas for Couples in (or Approaching) a Rut

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If you are part of a couple, you know how important it is to keep the relationship alive. And the longer you’re in a relationship, the harder you have to work to keep an element of excitement in it. The best way to do that? A great date. Not the, “You wanna go the movies?” date–we’re talking about a unique adventure date you’ll never forget. Here, then, are five exceptional date ideas:

Rent a Convertible and Take a Mini Road Trip

Choose a destination and activity (i.e., eat at a restaurant in a nearby town, go to a remote area and have a picnic) and then rent a convertible for the day. Make sure the destination is far enough away that it gives you a chance to talk. Don’t forget rental car insurance before booking that convertible, it’s cheaper than getting it at the counter. And of course, make sure the weather forecast is in your favor.

Book a Couples Massage as Part of a Spa Package

Even really macho guys enjoy a good massage, and getting one together is a bonding and relaxing experience. Get a spa package that includes amenities like champagne and rose petals. Some spas include a treatment prior to the massage, such as a soak in a hydrotherapy tub.

It’s a time to play, before relaxing on the table!

Take a Surprise Trip to Las Vegas

Surprise your other half with a trip to Las Vegas. You can always find discount flights to Vegas, and you’re guaranteed to have a blast. Just make sure you take enough money. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also make enough there too!

Head to the Drive-In

Drive-ins are making a comeback. Take some fold-up patio chairs (if you want to sit in front of your car) or some blankets (in case you want to be, um, more intimate inside the car or in the back of your truck). You can also bring popcorn, soda and a cooler, if you don’t want to spend the money on stuff to eat.

Take a Midnight Cruise

It doesn’t have to be at midnight, by the way. You can always take a sunset cruise, as well. Google “midnight cruise” or whatever kind you want and your city. Some cruises have live music and dancing; often the ships have two to three decks, and the top one is for you and the moon. Don’t forget to make a reservation, too, as these types of boat cruises tend to get full quickly. You can also read about my experience on one of these cruises!

Make It a Habit

Every couple gets caught up in their own routine. Somehow, we forget that we need time together as a couple. Consider scheduling a regular “doesn’t get canceled no matter what” date i.e., once a week or once a month. There are plenty of dates you can go on and have a good time; try to go on ones where you will have an incredible time. More importantly, make sure you don’t forget to go on dates at all.

Starting From Scratch

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Hello World!

This summer had been unremarkable to say the least, well unremarkable at home; around the world the streets are still colored in blood and justice.

But nonetheless, the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about making a real effort to start over. See, in the last year — I’ve lost a lot, from a relationship to weight to a career; and I made headway in some departments, but I still feel bogged down in my new environment.

It probably has something to do with the fact that both the reporter and I were thinking the same thing for 2014, and decided to get new jobs in the same field.

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Hhhmmmm…Well that was surprising to say the least.

Anyways, new job, new bullshit, new goals; but really hard to argue that I’m making a fresh start when I bump into the same old faces or have to deal with same bullshit at work.

It’s like running in place.

Now I’d really like to change jobs, and even move somewhere…far. Like Europe.

Thus, I’m hoping some of my European readers can help me out and point me where to look. I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time, but I think the idea of moving and starting over there is plausible.

Like the yummy chocolate cake that I made last night, I like to do things from scratch. When I first saw “Jon” a few months ago, I didn’t say a word to him, and neither did he to me. Despite the fact that we were forced to sit next together during a public presentation (so obviously it would have been rude to kick him in the balls in front of a hundred people).

My friend says it was cold-hearted, but I’m hardcore when it comes to erasing the past and the ills it brought me. Even if it  means moving or running.

Listen, I’m sick and tired of taking the train and looking up at his old station where we used to meet up. I don’t even think I’ve been down to that part of Brooklyn in over a year.

So is it better to start from scratch? Or should I just scrape the charred pieces off and eat my cake?

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Recipe!

This is a dense and gooey chocolate cake. Very is to make and its gluten free (no flour!)

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped          1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter                                                  3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar                                                  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I played around with the ingredients, taking away an egg, and adding a little more chocolate and less sugar. The result was a soft cake but with a stronger chocolate taste, almost to the point of having a slightly bitter aftertaste. This was fine as I paired it with salted buttercream frosting and coconut ice cream!

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease a cake pan, and dust with a little cocoa powder.
  2.  Melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slices can also be reheated for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving.

Salted Buttercream Frosting

1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar                          2 tablespoons milk or cream

1/2 cup butter (salted variety)                                        1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix together sugar and butter. Mix on slowly until well blended and then increase speed to beat for another 3 minutes.

2. Add vanilla and cream or milk and continue to whisk for s few minutes until you reach the desired consistency. You can add more cream or milk if needed.

3. Sprinkle with sea salt after spreading over cake.