5 Reasons You CAN’T Call it a “Date”

date frustrations


The following is an unfortunately true story.


Some of you will be completely shocked.

Some of you will completely understand.

And the rest of you, well, you are the reason I’m writing this public service announcement.


It was a warm day in the early summer when a girl named Foxy bumped into an acquaintance named Dickson (names have been slightly altered).


The following conversation ensued.


Dickson: Hey Foxy, you should come over tomorrow night.

Foxy: What time?

Dickson: Whenever.

Foxy: Ummm…well I’m pretty busy.

Dickson: Whatever. Just come!

Foxy: Okay…I guess I can pop by.


The next night Foxy knocked on Dickson’s door.


He yelled for her to come in.


dating is hard
What Dickson may have looked like.

Dickson was on the floor in his PJs playing a video game. Without even looking up, he told her to sit on the couch…where she remained for 30 minutes suffering through semi-distracted side-conversation. She wasn’t offered a drink, a snack or at the very least a turn at the game (and I do mean the very very least).


Foxy finally had enough.


“Hey look Dickson, I’ve got to head home now. Like I said, I’m pretty busy.”

“Oh no…let’s go to get a snow cone real quick!”

[sigh] “Okay…but I don’t have a lot of time.”


After Dickson finished his round, he changed, did his hair…and then off they went.


When they arrived at the snow cone shack, he turned to her and said, “You can get whatever you want…as long as it’s under $2.” She ordered a Tiger (ripping Dickson apart and spilling his) Blood…small.


After a terribly long drive back to Dickson’s flat (which was about how the date was going), the evening was finally over and Foxy was free at last.


Now if this whole saga doesn’t just toast your muffin…then there is this.


The next week, Dickson bumped into a group of Foxy’s friends.


And while he didn’t have the decency to actually ask her on a date, or the courtesy to plan anything, or the tact to show respect, or the class to not put a price tag on her options…after alllllll that…he somehow had the gumption to brag to her friends that he took her on a “date.”


That’s right…he called that abomination of a human-to-human interaction a “date.”


Not an “all the reasons why I’m single” evening.

Not an “I skipped every class on social interactions” exhibit A.

Not even an “I was raised drinking Uncle Pappy’s moonshine” excuse.


A “date.”


Now if you are floored this is a real story…you had/are having a really good streak of dating. Stay in deep waters.

If you are thinking you might be Foxy in this story…I am so sorry men like that exist.

If you don’t see something wrong with every single detail of that story…listen up. You are probably Dickson.


Here are your 5 Reasons it ISN’T A DATE!


1. If you do not use the word “date,” you can’t call it a date.

Now, I am speaking a bit hyperbolically here in that you don’t actually need to say “date,” but you must make your intentions clear. Saying, ‘come over’ like a feral nimrod is a lot different than saying, ‘I’d love to take you to dinner this weekend.’  


2. If you don’t set a time, you can’t call it a date.

In a bind it could be, ‘I’m not sure when my soccer game will end, but it should be around 8. I’ll let you know if that changes, okay?’ But usually is it just, ‘I’ll pick you up at 8.’


3. If you do not have something planned, you can’t call it a date.

Please remember that figuring something out when they show up is not a plan. Also…why are they coming to your place anyway? Go pick them up.


4. If you aren’t respectful, you can’t call it a date.

Ask about them, be courteous, listen, and put away your phone.


5. If you give them a price limit, you can’t call it a date.

You give your kids a budget, your employees a budget and yourself a budget. If you can’t afford anything more than a $2 snow cone, then either plan a different activity or stop going on dates because you need to spend your evenings looking for a job.



So if you do any of those five things, my friend, your only bragging rights should be to your WoW (World of Warcraft to everyone else still reading) friends whose sole social interaction consists of the pizza delivery calls to get extra cheesey crust.


Don’t be a Dickson.

Go on real dates.


Please share this to raise awareness so that the Dicksons of the world know, or everyone else can help not propagate his gene pool.



Also, don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list for the Bowl of Oates book and enter for your chance to win a free copy! 

Dating Never Works Zack Oates



Don’t Try to Hook them on a First Date; 5 Steps to Be Single, but Not Desperate

Peter Pan


So you’re single.


Like Captain Hook, you fear that ticking clock coming closer and closer.


Your skin is getting more wrinkles, is your head is getting balder, your energy is going down and you are having trouble getting to sleep at night.


And while WebMD says you have Hypothyroidism based on those symptoms (and your word processor can’t figure out what that is)—it’s just called getting older.


And sure, all of your married friends and their spouse are off the fat races, your expanding circumference leaves you with one single fear: being alone.


So with a shot of 1 part determination and 2 parts desperation with a chaser of “Agency or Inspiration” by Bruce R McConkie, you commit to commitment…once again.


You are not going to be that aunt or uncle at the family reunion in 20 years. You are doing it. You are getting married.


You are a shark on the hunt.

Here’s the problem: yeah, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but how many of them are attracted to sharks?


When the purpose of our first dates stop being to enjoy time with “someone” and becomes a prolonged speed date hunt for “the one,” it wears like an unwashed sweater from a Goodwill bin. Because the truth is, desperation is much more potent than determination.


The object of our affection may misinterpret our intention when we pointlessly point our hook into an unsuspecting audience and call out “YOU!” Instead of the lesson in flying and happy thoughts you had in mind, they feel like a future victim of the boo box.


So what are you to do if you’re on this never never ending search for the one and can feel yourself starting to jump to too many conclusions?


     ONE. Make a list of 5 things and ask out/get asked out by anyone with those 5.


     TWO. Remember that the purpose of a first date is to see if you want a second, not to see if you want a 50-year wedding anniversary.


     THREE. Don’t get trapped into negativity. No amount of makeup or gym-time can be a suitable replacement for that. (Note: I’m not talking about depression or anxiety. Negativity is a choice.)


     FOUR. Stop looking at the clock. No one got through the movie Australia any faster by knowing how much of it was done. Your movie might feel too long, quite boring and like it should have ended three times…but even that flick had a credits (so I’ve been told).


     FIVE. Remember that you are amazing. You are not losing time. Keep trying. Your tears are known and your fears are felt—and great things await you. Yes…you.


Yeah, sure, you aren’t going to stay this young Peter/Penny Pan forever…but you hold onto your happy thoughts of what is eternally important, and you will mount up on wings of eagles.





5 Steps When You Find Out They’re a TERRIBLE Kisser


bad kisser


Most people have been there–they find out their person is terrible at kissing.


For the few who don’t think they have…well, you are probably the reason most have been there.


A few months ago, I got an email from a one “SassyBerries” who claimed she was using her 5th grade email account to stay anonymous. She asked,


‘What do I do when, on a 4th date, I find out that this guy I met on Tinder and really like is just awful at kissing? The kissing is sloppy at best and painful at worst. HELP!’


First, take a breath…put down the breakup text. Are they new to kissing, have they just not been taught correct principles or what? Give him a break before you do anything rash.


Second, train with nonverbal by pulling away when they do something you don’t like.


Third, congratulate good behavior and complement them on what they do well.


Fourth, ask them if they would be interested in kissing in new ways or tell them what to do. Avoid at all costs telling them “Don’t do that.”


And fifth, get off Tinder, stop kissing and just take the next step in life.


Look, things are really complicated with relationships…in our minds. We over complicate them with a myriad of things–physicality being one of them.


I do want to applaud you for waiting until a 4th date to kiss him though. You shouldn’t give out your kisses like pretzels (that just leaves you thirsty for more).


When I was dating, I only had one rule with timing on kisses: don’t kiss the first day you meet someone.


Then I met my wife. But alas…another story that I’m sure my mother in law would love for me to re-tell.


See, kissing is a great part of dating, but trust, me, there are way better parts.


I’ve dated people that are great at kissing and there was no connection.

I’ve dated people that are terrible at kissing and there was connection.


The latter is always a better experience.


When it comes to physicality, I’d rather feel happy than satisfied.


No matter how many times you plug a lamp into a dead outlet, there will never be light. Look for the spark, then try the lamp.


The question shouldn’t be are they are terrible kisser, but are they a terrible person? And then, are they a great person? And then, are they a great person for me? And finally, am I a great person for them?
So miss SassyBerries, let kissing take its course as you give him your kissing course.



Fear Not; Great Things Await You

keep holding on

It was 2008 and I was really like this girl.


It was our third date and I thought it went well…so I decided to ask her out for another.


She turned to me, looked away and then down at her feet.


I assumed she was racking her mind as to how to cancel her other dates so she could spend more time with me.


I assumed wrong.


“Zack…” she started with a slight stutter, “you’re like a wet keg of gunpowder. Everything is there, but there is just no spark.”


I can’t say that I was devastated, but certainly discouraged. I mean, I only found a girl I even liked once or twice a year–and this was one of them.


After an awkward last doorstep scene, I got into my car and started to pray.


I prayed to find out why I was still single, how much longer I would be single, why dating was so hard and why things just never seemed to work out for me.


In that moment I felt a prompting that was so strong, it was almost like a voice. “Zack, it will all work out. Don’t worry. Your wife will be worth it.”


I knew my patriarchal blessing told me I’d get married, I knew people always said I would get married, I knew that God wanted me to get married…but in that moment in that car, by myself—it was just me and God. That prayer filled me with a peace that kept me going…for another 8 years.


Now don’t feel too bad for me. Dating wasn’t painful.


Oh sure, dating was fun. But make no mistake about it—fun and loneliness are no strangers to each other.


At times the thin threads of loneliness are so delicately interwoven with the fabric of fun that they are almost an indistinguishable veil separating reality from our emotions.


But keeping that perspective that “the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled (Mormon 8:22) and that “great things await you” (Doc&Cov 45:62) helped keep me going.


And when things got hard and loneliness started to take the center stage of my mind, I remembered the words of God, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee” (Isaiah 41:10).


And so to you, if you are wondering what your future holds, just hold on. It will all work out. Don’t worry. Your life will be worth it.



What I Thought I Would Feel on My Wedding Day but Didn’t


scary dating

So…I’m married.


The scene that was the wedding day seemed to play out in a directed concoction of met and exceeded expectations.


The drive to the temple excitement, reception stress, hair problems, sheer happiness, craziness of actually getting married, tears of joy, laughter of a final dance, a humorously awkward drive to the hotel—they all appeared right on queue center stage during a perfect wedding day.


But there was one actor that did not play a part.


Not only was I surprised—but shocked.


I had him cast as a lead.


The villain’s name?






It was an omission, which left a (former) singular audience of one giving a standing ovation.


But I was not alone in my pleasantly unmet expectation.


Who else was flabbergasted?


Oh, let’s say just about everyone who knows me.


See, the week after I got engaged my father called me for a chat.

“Son, you are going to have doubts and be afraid sometime between now and the wedding. You may want to run Just get through it. It will pass. You found yourself someone really special and everything will be okay.”


So I hunkered down in my seat and waited, with a fixed determination to outwit the frightened scoundrel.


And waited…


…and waited.


I knew it would come eventually. After all, my entire life I was accused of being someone who had a fear of commitment.


The inevitability of the fear from jumping into the biggest eternal commitment of my entire life (and eternity), was getting closer and closer.


It is simply a matter of time, I doubtlessly thought.


…but it never did.


It was as if I showed up to the battlefield ready for war and was met by a middle school theater class fieldtrip who offered to share their lunches with me.


Even moments before the ceremony, my trepidation for a surprise entrance was evident.


On the drive to the temple with Annie, I turned to her and asked, ‘How do you feel?’


‘Me too…? Aren’t we supposed to feel—scared or something?’

‘Not when it’s right, I guess.’


Ah, and there it is.


Turns out, I wasn’t afraid of committing, but just committing to the wrong person.


A wedding day is the intermission of the eternal play that is our existence. It gives us a moment to just be completely present in between everything that has taken place from our pre-earth life, birth and life and everything that will take place from our death to forever after.


This is not to say that I wasn’t afraid of commitment at other times in my life or that cold feet is a foreboding omen, for everyone goes through their own wedding scene, but rather that sometimes,
“it” can be easy.


Yes, while I expect staying in love will be work, falling in love was easy. Some might even call it play.


So don’t fear if you feel fear—it might not be you, it might just be that you haven’t found them. (And a simple way to tell if it is you…pray to fall in love and see if you mean it.)


Pepto-Bismol Your Relationship

vomit love

I was about 12-years old when one night, I woke up sick.


Super sick.


Like the feeling you get when there are evil elves gnawing at your innards and trying to axe their way out sick…I’m sure you know what I mean.


To my fragile mind, I was certain this was going to be the end of me.


I crawled into my parents’ room with my last confession and so say my final goodbyes. My father rolled out of bed and brought me to the toilet where he handed me a capful of Pepto-Bismol.


I refused to take it.


I told him I was too sick.


“Zack,” he said with the tired sigh of a patient parent needing to go to work in a few hours, “just take it. Look, it will either make you throw up and you’ll feel better, or it will make you feel better and then, well, you’ll feel better.”


Even at death’s doorstep, the logic was sound.


I partook of the bubblegum elixir and slowly, calmly drifted back to sleep on the cool tile floor. Much to everyone’s surprise, I’m sure, I awoke the next day feeling just fine.


This is just like a relationship.

Should you take them to a family dinner?

Should you invite them to the class reunion?

Should you take that next big leap?


I say yeah!


Look, it is either going to work out or not. If you are to the point that you are thinking about taking that dried-up riverbed stroll, then take that next step.


The best Pepto-Bismol for a relationship?

A road trip.


There have been more breakups and relationship jumping off points from road trips than from any other event I can think of. Just pick a place and go there. You may need to turn around half-way, but then again, you may need to take more time off of work.


Because if it isn’t going to work out, you’ll find out quickly.


If it will, you’ll feel better knowing sooner.


Plug your nose, close your eyes and bottoms up baby! It’s going to be a fun ride.

A NONconfrontational Way to Get a Girl’s Number With Facebook

how to get a girl's number
Avoid THIS feeling when you don’t want a guy to ask you for your number. Share this post with your guy friends.


NOTE: Now that I will never have to use this “trick” again…I share it shamelessly with the world and offer my sincerest apologies if I ever used this on you. Take it as….a compliment.


You meet a girl at a party.


She is beautiful and you really want to ask her out.


But maybe the timing isn’t right, or you don’t see them again before they leave, or you’re not sure if they are dating someone (but chances are, you’re just chicken).


Whatever the reason, you leave numberless.


But don’t worry, because you got their name and find them on Facebook (this could take some dedication. Once it took me over two hours to find someone on Fbook).


You’re in luck.


The next day, send them a message like this (I cannot stress this enough. NOT exactly this, but something alone these lines. Make it you.),


“You know, I had a great time meeting you and wanted to ask you on a date, but unfortunately, you ran off before I could get your number and now I’m stuck because I would never ask someone out on Facebook. Do you know anyone that could help me find your number so I can ask you out properly?”


If she responds, you’re golden, if not, you’re one step closer to golden.


Is it cheesey, kinda sly, slightly dishonest, a scapegoat for a non-socialite? Yeah sure…but hey, it works and has helped me and quite a few friends bridge that super awkward gap of a missed opportunity to get someone’s number.


PLUS, women don’t have to have that awkward moment where they don’t want to give you their number. Just saying.


Now don’t use this ALL the time; man up and get their number in person too!


Also, remember, if you have not actually met the girl in real life, do NOT use this tactic. That is called creepy.




If You Want to Get Married, Take the Popcorn Challenge


popcorn dating Zack Oates
The ACTUAL box of intervention popcorn.

8 years ago, my friends had an intervention for me.


“Zack, you date like popcorn. Just bouncing around everywhere. So we’re going to give you a challenge.”


They gave me a box with 8 bags of Old Fashioned Natural popcorn and wrote on the box the following, “The possessor of this box, Zack Oates, agrees to go on 8 separate dates with the same girl and on each date eat one bag of popcorn (one per date)” and made me sign it.


My roommates ate 3 bags without me asking over the years, so it was down to 5.


Truth be told, I don’t believe on going on movie dates (kissing) before a third date (until I met my fiancée, that is #sorrynotsorry).


Needless to say (yet for some reason I’ll still say it), I didn’t pop a single bag.


Now that I’m getting married, the 5 remaining bags are expired. BUT the principle of focusing on going on dates with one person changed my mentality and is what enabled me to get married.


A couple weeks ago, I blogged about not dating too many people at the same time because it is like putting a bunch of candy in your mouth at once and then trying to figure out which one you like the best. Candy and popcorn are the best couple ever to take to a movie…even if you’re the third wheel, so we’re going to put this to the test.


Here is your challenge:

Think of ONE person you are dating that you like the most or figure out someone you’d like to date. Now, hang out with them and then get them on a date. And then go on at least 5 dates in a row before you go out with anyone else.


Here’s the thing–dating, love, marriage–are all choices. A choice to be ready, a choice to be open and then a choice to be committed.


Everyone is loved incredibly by someone. Use those 5 dates in a row to find out why.
Take the popcorn challenge and get married!



Don’t Date Too Many People at the Same Time…or Else

choclate date

Should you date a lot of people at the same time?

I’d say a B-I-G no.


I used to date a lot of people at the same time. 

Then I decided I would try not to.

Then I got engaged.


Right when I got back from a mission I was going on at least 5 dates a week, sometimes up to 8 or 9. At one point it got so bad, I created a spreadsheet to make sure that I was keeping in contact with each of them.


Then I would get upset for not having a girlfriend.


But actually, I was just a guy running from commitment by staying too busy to fall into the trap (love). 


I was like a kid in a candy store that shoved 8 or 9 different kinds of candy in his mouth at the same time and then tried to decide which one is his favorite.




Ready for this quote bomb?

Gordon B. Hinckley, “I hope you will not put off marriage too long. I do not speak so much to the young women as to the young men whose prerogative and responsibility it is to take the lead in this matter. Don’t go on endlessly in a frivolous dating game. Look for a choice companion, one you can love, honor, and respect, and make a decision” (“Thou Shalt Not Covet,” Ensign, Mar. 1990, 6.)


I’m not going to tell you the right number of people to date at the same time, but I will say that you need to give yourself time enough with each person to be emotionally open and connect.


Just try it out.




Go after that person until you know where it is going.


You may be surprised what you find.


I can’t tell you how it will work for you or when it will happen, but I can promise you one thing–it will be sweet.

Stop NOT Being You in Dating

fake happy dating


I have a friend who liked the rock climbing type of guys. She loved their look and demeanor and so she always went rock climbing and told everyone it was one of her favorite things.


Well one day she met a rock climber who liked her back. They went rock climbing a ton together. It was like, “their thing.”


And guess what? They fell in love and got married.


Turns out though, rock climbing wasn’t exactly her favorite thing.  In fact, she didn’t like to rock climb at all and after they got married, she refused to go. She misascribed her love of men to a love of the wall.


They stayed married, but it was a rocky start (*tehehe*).


Now…it is okay to have a type and to do things that your type would be at. Actually, I think that is a fantastic idea, BUUUUUUT, stay true.


It is critical to find someone who loves you for being you.

Not who you think you are.

Not who you hope you could be.

Not who you think someone else wants you to be.


Why trick someone into marrying NOT you?


Take inventory of your life and ask yourself this question, “If I completely started over with friends, town and even family, what would I do for fun?”


I have too many friends who are waiting to really be themselves until they get married. They hide porn addictions, Netflix binges, crappy eating habits, messy bedrooms, cursing issues and are generally falsely accommodating to get to where they think they need to be.


No one thinks you’re perfect and no one has interests that match up perfectly.


That is okay.


No, that is good!


But, please, let’s all just drop the act and (as I’ve said before) stop lying in dating. This isn’t a race to cross some fictional finish line of marriage, it is a journey to find someone who can take you…just as you are…and grow with you into something more than you might ever be alone.
Because sometimes, falling in love can be hard…especially when you find out you don’t have a belayer to help catch you.