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



A Message to Those Tired of Being Single

all alone


It was the week before I met my fiancée—but for all I knew, I was going to be waiting another 10 years.


I felt discouraged, disheartened, and just plain tired.


“The day will come when you feel you have met your eternal mate.”


It was right there in my patriarchal blessing.


I read those four words over and over and over, “The day will come.”


I knew that my patriarchal blessing said that I would be married. I felt that the blessings which I had received were real when I was promised a spouse. I believed that if I was obedient, then everything would work out— at least in some kind of a the-Lord-knows-better-than-me type way.


But knowing about those blessings didn’t change the fact that loneliness had become my constant companion. I distracted myself with dates, and instead of isolation, I chose business as my solace.


I attempted to weary the Lord. I tried to play the dating game exactly right, I prayed, I fasted, I went to the temple. But despite going on over 1,000 dates, my attempts felt completely fruitless.


I felt like Sheri Dew when she said, “Believe me, if fasting and prayer and temple attendance automatically resulted in a [spouse], I’d have one” (“You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory,” BYU Speeches, Dec. 9, 2003).



To read the rest of this post, go to this link at LDSLiving.com.



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.



My 20 Blanking Minute Relationship (Parental Supervision Recommended)

pg 13 rating

(I’m not sure who would read this who needs parental supervision…but I’m going to talk about [blank], so consider yourself warned.)

Waiting for Sex

I was a senior in high school taking an acting class with one of my crushes.

She was smart funny and turns out, had a crush on me as well.


So after hanging out with her at a couple of parties, I did what any suave confident 17-year old king of the school would do in 2003…I chickened out in asking for her number, looked her up in the paper directory, waited until my evening minutes kicked in on my brand new flip phone, called, hung up when she answered and then called right back blaming her for hanging up.




After a few minutes, I confessed my like for her and told her that I thought we should start to date…like officially.


…she agreed!


I had a girlfriend.


Life was complete.


20 minutes later…I was single again.


Here’s how it went down:


Her: So now that we’re boyfriend/girlfriend…like, what are we allowed to do? You know, since you’re Mormon and all?

[Side note: I was the only Mormon in my school…ever. I also was the only Mormon that most of my friends had ever even heard of.]


Me: What do you mean?

Her: Like, you can kiss and stuff right?

Me: Yeah [giggle—cough—manly laugh] of course!

Her: What else can you do?

Me: Else?

Her: Yeah, like can you [blank]?

Me: Uh….no.

Her: Can you [blank]?

Me: I don’t think so. [I wasn’t really sure what that second “blank” was, but assumed it was similar enough to the first to get the gist.]

Her: I mean you can at least [blank]…right?

Me: That is a definite no.

Her: [sigh of frustration] Well look Zack…this just isn’t going to work.

Me: Wait…seriously? Why?

Her: I just will never know that you truly love me. It’s too old fashioned.


And just like that, my 20-minute relationship was over.


It is a “relationship” that I have thought about over and over again. Her last words have been etched into my mind as a view of physicality the world holds to be sadly self-evident.


While I wasn’t sure what love was, exactly, and I’m just barely starting to learn what it is now… I am pretty sure what it is not.


And it is not blanking, blanking and certainly not blanking.


Love, indeed, is when you are willing to wait until you can have that blank space in your heart filled forever—not with the dissolvable glue of selfish satisfaction, but the cement of celestial charity.


Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can be fulfilled with anything other than true love. Everything else will leave you feeling…blank.


And know that there are those reading who might have had things happen in their past from their own or another’s agency that might make them feel uncomfortable reading this—to you I say: the Atonement leaves no trace.




But I’m so grateful for the shortest and most frivolous relationship ever, which has helped me better prepare for my marriage—the longest and most meaningful relationship ever.

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.



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.

It’s about TIME and How They are WRONG About Mormon Dating Demographics

A little while ago, TIME published an article about the dating demographics of Mormons and Jews titled, “What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis.” It bothered me, but I didn’t write a response because (1) I wasn’t sure why it bugged me and (2) I got engaged 5 days before it was published, so I didn’t really care.


Yesterday, one of my good buddies, Brett Winn posted his thoughts on the article and I’d thought I’d pass them on. Not only is it a great piece, but so is he. Enjoy the read and cheers to you, Brett!


Brett Winn

I finally found the time to read the above article. Some of it I agree with because it lines up with perfectly with what I have observed in the real world (like the outrageous number of Mormon women that have had cosmetic procedures). That being said, this is not a very scientific study. The author performs no experiment, makes several non-sequitur leaps and, worst of all, arrives at his conclusion upfront and then goes searching for data to support his bias. I am quite disappointed that Time magazine would hold it up as a reputable study. This is not science. This is propaganda. For some unknown reason the author wants to persuade Mormons and Jews that the plight of unmarried women is basically hopeless and driven solely by demographics. I strongly disagree and am prepared to counter his non-scientific study with one of own.


Let’s follow a case study – single, Mormon, Male, 40-year-old virgin (and never seen the movie). Hey, wait… that’s me! I have quite a few male friends in a very similar boat – older, single, Mormon, don’t sleep around and are genuinely, sincerely looking for the right woman.


Here are the facts (anecdotal, but factual from where I stand) —


(1) Dating preferences shift slightly over time, but I always been drawn to women with the same basic qualities – humorous, kind, intelligent, attractive, outdoorsy, artistic, Mormon women. Perhaps I am still single because these qualities put such women squarely out of my league. Perhaps, but for purposes of this informal study, all that matters is that the selection criteria has remained consistent. And it has.
(2) Mormon women (as a group) are similar to what they have always been. I arrived at this conclusion because the relative ratios of women that fit Fact #1 have remained the same. Yes, finding a woman that makes me so excited I am scared to pick up the phone is rare, but it was equivalently rare back in high school. Mormon women are still made up of all different shapes and sizes and types – from Molly to rebel, sweet to sarcastic, and crazy to unicorn. Some of my contemporaries lament that “all the good ones got married early.” To which I fire back, “Good news. Thanks to the knuckleheads that divorced them, many of the amazing women you might have missed in your early 20s are now available again!” So no complaints, gentlemen. There really are lots of fish in the sea … and by that I mean, lots of quality Mormon ladies to date.
(3) When I honestly look back 2 years or 5 years or 10 years or even 20 years, nothing has changed for me socially. There are still plenty of women who brush me off, want to hangout in the friendzone or are just not interested. That is fine. I am used to it. Those have been the social realities since I started liking girls in the 2nd grade.


Here’s the problem. If the above three statements are true (and they are true for many Mormon men I know), it completely derails the article’s conclusion. The author leaps to the idea that there is a purely demographically-driven, social “buyers market” for men because it supports his predetermined paradigm. But when I compare his conclusion with the last 20+ years of actual experience, there is a giant, glaring error – namely fact #3. There has been no real change in the way women act and react to me. If the article’s conclusion were correct, shouldn’t there be a clearly perceptible change in “social success” for eligible, sincere Mormon men?


Answer: Yes. Absolutely, there should be.


If the odds were really ridiculously stacked in my favor, shouldn’t I be seeing an obvious reduction of selectivity among women? Shouldn’t there be a lot more “yes” and a whole lot fewer “no” than there used to be? Shouldn’t large numbers of amazingly well-qualified, affection-reciprocating women be throwing themselves at me and other single Mormon guys? If the article were correct, they would be. But truthfully, they aren’t. And good for them! Despite the reported man-shortage, far from panicking, Mormon women are holding to their position and standards with grace and dignity. No begging. No desperation. Maybe demographics explains why Mormon women are opting for “surgical enhancements”, but from a purely pragmatic standpoint everything is still the same. Women still turn me down with roughly the same frequency they always have. Meeting a truly engaging and interesting woman with reciprocal interest is still the exception. As near as I can tell, eligible women are just as choosy now as they have ever been. And the vast majority of my male peers are having the exact same experience. My former singles ward bishop was fond of saying “the problem is 80% of the guys are chasing the same 20% of the girls and 80% of the girls are chasing the same 20% of the guys.” It was true then. And its still true now.


Some might say “you are just playing around and delaying marriage just like the article says.” And though that is patently false, it does not affect my argument. As more men leave the church (another of the article’s claims) it should add to the epic, eligible-man shortage and result in mass desperation among Mormon women. Every Mormon guy who is hanging out waiting for a bigger, better deal should see his options improving year-by-year. But that is not reality. This is not Isaiah 4:1. If it were, I am pretty sure I would have noticed. The author didn’t take the time to ask, interview or even consider the common Mormon male perspective in all of this. Or if he did, he certainly didn’t choose to include it, because the real story destroys his case for Mormon matrimonial hysteria.


There is an old saying “any difference which makes no difference IS no difference.” If there has been no appreciable change in the dating scene for Mormon men like me, that calls the author’s entire conclusion into serious question – no matter what the demographics say. The 80% will go on chasing the 20% and the dating landscape will remain, for all practical purposes, unchanged. Do demographics affect the dating/marriage market? I believe they do on a certain level. Are demographic changes the major reason Mormons are marrying later in life (as the article asserts)? No. From all the evidence I have seen, it is a small piece of a much larger puzzle.


BOTTOMLINE: Ladies, no need for panic. There are still lots of single, Mormon guys out there, so keep flirting and friendzoning until you find the right one!

(Brett with kids (not his)) Somehow, this guy is single…