So, luck is on your side, and not only have you found the courage to at least vaguely hint to someone that you'd like to take him or her out on a date, but he or she has caught that hint and agreed. That is indeed the hard part to get through, but for the neurotic, dating is a series of hard parts to get through in order to meet the ultimate goal of finding The One, if for no other reason than so you don't have to put yourself through this again and again.

Part VI: What to Do on a Date
Since neurotics are more focused on the fear of doing something wrong in a social situation, we'll continue the trend by suggesting what not to do on a date instead, and why.

~~Anything involving children (i.e. the zoo, the circus, Chuck E. Cheese's). My God, aren't you tense enough already?
~~Going to your home to watch movies, listen to music, play a game, etc. Too much awkward foot-shuffling over who sits where, the possibility that your date may stumble across the bottle of passionfruit-flavored Motion Lotion hidden in your linen closet (though this may actually be a plus, as it's a fairly clear indicator that you've had sex at least once before), the question of whether or not including the bedroom during the "house tour" would be presumptuous (a moot and extra-awkward point if you live in a one-room apartment), the chance that your mother/older sibling/ex-partner may choose the precise moment you're entertaining to leave an angry "I want the money you owe me back" message on your answering machine, the possibility that your date may stumble across the Ace of Base CD hidden in your entertainment center.
~~Art museum. Far too much meaningless filler conversation required, you may also be forced to appear smarter than you really are ("I've always been fond of Matisse's work, especially, uh, Girl...With...Pink...Tulips?").
~~Going swimming. For some reason, neurotics are even less comfortable being seen in a bathing suit than they are being seen naked. This has never been explained.
~~Anything sports-related (driving range, batting cage, rock-climbing wall, et. al.). Oh, why don't you just kill yourself now and get it over with?

The dinner and a movie date (not a date) may be a cliche, but it's a cliche that has worked since time immemorial (or at least, since movies were invented). By choosing to accompany your date to the movies, that leaves a minimum of ninety minutes where you're not required to speak (a full four hours if you're lucky to find a theater that's running Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet, and you'll appear super-cultured to boot). Who chooses the movie? That's easy--leave it to your date. You might be forced to sit through the latest Meg Ryan as plucky dimbulb comedy or underdog football/baseball/hockey team beats the odds drama, but at least you won't have to reveal your secret love for movies with talking dogs and 'Walking On Sunshine' on the soundtrack.

Choosing a restaurant is a bit more complicated. Obviously Burger King and McDonald's are right out, Waldorf salad on the menu or not. Stinking of dirty mop water and despair, the Old Country Buffet is where you go to end a relationship, not begin one. As you will undoubtedly be nervous, a date at a fashionable fondue restaurant may result in a painful, embarrassing crotch-scorching incident. A French restaurant may appear to be an appropriate place for romance to bloom, but, unless you've taken at least five years of conversational French, any attempt to pronounce huitres chaudes au muscadet et entrecote de bouef forestiere will sound foolish, yet ordering "steak with oysters" will sound gauche, so it's not recommended. We suggest a "funeatery"-type restaurant, such as T.G.I. Friday's, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, R.J. McTusslehumper's. The menu is easy to read (and ordering the gallon-sized "Chocolate Landslide" may result in some cute "let's share it!" bonding), and the thousands of tchotchkes nailed to the walls as decor are an easy escape from those uncomfortable lulls in conversation, even if you have to lie ("See that gold record over there? That's my favorite Elvis song.").

Neurotics will spend the majority of the evening worrying that he or she will do something that will cause his or her date to climb out the nearest bathroom window. This includes blinking too much (because according to a study someone read once, both blinking too much and not blinking enough are signs of a deep-seated psychosis), spitting, sucking buffalo wing juice from your fingers while making nummy noises, snapping your fingers to summon the waiter, eating the garnish from your plate, talking in less than glowing (or far too glowing) terms about your last partner, and taking more than three minutes to figure out the check. In fact, you may be so concerned with what you're doing that you may completely fail to recognize if your date is enjoying him or herself. Unless your companion stops eating long enough to give you a lap dance or is trying in vain to cut his wrists with a butter knife, the best way to tell if they're having a good time is to simply ask, "Are you having a good time?" Of course, being neurotic, if they say yes you won't believe them anyway. The real and only way to tell for sure if they had a good time on the first date is if there's a second date. If that seems like a lot of pressure and uncertainty, it's because it is.

Part VII: How Do I Know When it's Love?
It's been said that the thrill and anticipation of new love leaves one feeling a little sick to his or her stomach. Since most neurotics are used to feeling vaguely queasy much of the time, this unfortunately is not a useful way to gauge. Other than that, we have nothing else to offer. Our apologies.

Part VIII: Sex and the Single Neurotic, or, I Love the Way You Look at Me, I Love the Way You Smack My Ass
Oddly enough, neurotics don't put quite the same level of anxiety into sex as they do in dating. This is probably because most are so surprised to be getting any at all that it doesn't occur to them to worry about what they're going to do when it happens. In order to avoid any additional anxiety, we suggest that the first act of sexual congress be spontaneous, rather than planned days or even weeks in advance. This will prevent worrying about performance, setting, "what will this mean to our relationship?", and whether or not your partner might be allergic to the extra-sexy 'Eros' incense sticks you bought just for the occasion. It will also aid those neurotics with obsessive-compulsive tendencies to resist the urge to pencil in "Thurs. 9:37p--sex w/R." in their day planners.

For the gentlemen neurotics, should the first bout of what will undoubtedly be earth-shattering, "angels we have heard on high" lovemaking take place in your home, a nice touch is to at least pretend for a few moments that you can't remember where the condoms are stored, rather than keeping them in a candy dish on your bedside table. One does not want to be seen as a presumptuous man-whore, after all.

Here are other practices to avoid during your first time at bat with a new partner:

~~Talking. While "dirty talk" can be stimulating, it's not recommended until you are absolutely sure what your partner does and doesn't find arousing. Not all men want to be called "Daddy" in bed, nor do all women have an appropriate answer for "whose pussy is this?" Also, if you need to focus on something non-genital related to delay orgasm, such as trying to remember the theme song to Transformers, you wouldn't want to inadvertantly cry out "Robots in disguise!" at the moment of climax. Please note, however, that moaning is highly suggested, because chances are your partner is at least half as neurotic as you are, and thus will need constant reassurance that he or she is doing it right.
~~Wearing complicated undergarments. Again, if you show up for a date wearing $40 silk boxer shorts, it will appear that you were rudely expecting something other than sharing a milkshake and cuddling in front of Law & Order: Special Reruns Unit to take place, because nobody pays $40 for boxer shorts that won't be seen. Complicated undergarments are more of a concern for the ladies (and the rare but no less relevant neurotic drag queen), who might think they're planning a wonderful surprise for their partner by wearing a brocade merry widow, garters, and thigh-high stockings underneath a simple cotton dress. While this is certainly a most thoughtful gesture, and can be acted upon later in the relationship, think of it from your partner's perspective. Already trembling from nerves and excitement, he will be forced to use only touch to guide him towards disassembling an article of clothing with more girders, wires, and pulleys than a suspension bridge, with only the dim, flickering "mood lighting" of a candle to assist him. This is something akin to playing the children's game Mouse Trap blindfolded and with your hands behind your back.
~~Bondage. Once more, this is something you may feel free to demonstrate later in the relationship, but the first time out you will already be far too concerned with how you will perform and if it will be at an acceptable endurance level. There's no need to further trouble yourself with trying to remember if your safe word is "New England clam chowder" or "lobster thermidor", worrying about how to explain the cuff mark on your wrist when you have dinner with the folks on Sunday, and realizing that nobody, but nobody looks good wearing a ball gag.
~~Receiving oral sex(women only). While this is also something you can (and should!) engage in at a later time, receiving oral sex for women the first time out just has far too many stressors to really enjoy themselves. They may worry about that "not so fresh feeling", if proper grooming techniques have been maintained, what to do if their partner expects them to kiss him immediately following the act (and if they don't mind doing so, does this mean they're secretly a lesbian), if it's okay to grind their pelvis into their partner's face or would that be considered "too porn star", etc. The list goes on and on, and it's been scientifically proven somewhere that the more anxious a woman feels, the more difficult it is to have an orgasm--and then you have something else to worry about! NOTE: this is a female-only concern, as even the most neurotic man in the world won't pass up oral sex.
~~Accidentally saying "I love you." If you need an explanation, you are beyond both help and reason.

Other than that, anything goes. Rock on with your bad self!

NEXT: Uh-oh! Trouble in paradise!

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