Seattle Dating Scene features readers’ thoughts and stories about what it’s like to date in Seattle. For our next feature, follow this prompt: Have an anniversary coming up this month? In under 500 words, tell us how you met your significant other, and send in your story and a photo.
By Thursday, Sept. 10, please email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them via Instagram direct message to @dating_in_seattle, and they may be published in a future edition of The Mix.
In this bonus edition of “Ask Marina,” I talked to Taylor Nolan, a practicing psychotherapist who’s best known for her stint on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelor in Paradise” in 2017. But what some people may not know is that she’s a Seattleite, starting her doctorate in clinical sexology — the scientific study of human sexuality and sexual behavior — this fall, and podcast host of “Let’s Talk About It,” where she uses her platform to break the stigma around mental health, sex and other taboo topics.
In a summer full of stressors like the pandemic and the ongoing protests for social justice, we consulted Nolan for her thoughts on some of the more nuanced and serious issues one might encounter when stepping into the modern dating realm.
Q: What’s your No. 1 tip for first dates?
Taylor: Have FUN!!! Be yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, if you want to build an authentic connection, then you have to start by showing your authentic self.
Q: Is it OK to ask someone what they do for their job?
Taylor: Work is an important part of life, so your job will eventually come up. It’s not something you need to deep dive into on the first date though. Some people don’t have the privilege to say they are proud of their job and it’s their passion. Alternate questions that I personally ask and allow me to better understand my date: “What are you passionate about?” and “What do you enjoy doing?” There is nothing necessarily shameful about wanting to be with someone that fits your lifestyle. But leading with that question of “What do you do?” can be a turnoff for some.
Q: Does dating etiquette change when dating someone of a different race or ethnicity?
Taylor: Make sure you aren’t fetishizing and objectifying BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color). Racial fetishism is sexually fetishizing a person or culture belonging to a specific race or ethnic group. Examples of this include complimenting someone on their skin tone, curly hair, contributing to colorism, and even mentioning “you want to have mixed children.” These are all things that I’ve personally experienced as a biracial woman. Make sure you do your homework, and that your intention matches your impact before you say anything. It’s helpful to not be colorblind, and to address differences without objectifying someone.
Q: Can feminism and chivalry coexist? And who pays for the first date?
Taylor: Absolutely they can exist together. Feminism is wanting equal rights. You can have equal rights and also want to be cared for in a relationship. It’s dangerous to imply that being cared for means you are less than. You can be thoughtful, considerate and cared for while still in a respectful relationship. As for who pays: Unless someone specifically says, “I am treating you to something,” you should assume you will cover yourself. You do not owe anyone anything, especially on the first date. If it is important to you and your “love language” to receive gifts, then be upfront and say, “I feel special and really appreciate when my partner treats me to lunch, dinner, etc.”
Q: How can you be vulnerable without oversharing?
Taylor: It’s important to be vulnerable. It’s also important for someone to gain your trust before sharing. Not everyone has earned that right. There’s a risk at hand when sharing your stories, and oversharing can sometimes make us feel shameful. Researcher Brené Brown has labeled this feeling as a vulnerability hangover: feeling ashamed for sharing something too quickly without gaining the trust of someone. Be your authentic self and if you’re feeling a vulnerability hangover, reach out to your date to check in and make sure you didn’t share anything that made them feel uncomfortable.
Q: What can you tell us about sexual etiquette and consent?
Taylor: Be authentic and don’t harm others. Consent involves being vulnerable. It’s unfortunate there aren’t many healthy examples of consent in movies and mainstream media. It’s usually “We just looked at each other and we knew!” and that’s not the real world. Set expectations correctly. Be clear with yourself and what you want out of the situation and communicate that exactly. Consent is ongoing. Reinforcing the things you like and feel comfortable with is also important so you are communicating what you do and do not give consent to.
Here’s the monthly “Seattle Dating Scene” lineup:
- First week: “Dating Question of the Month” — Readers respond to a dating-related question we’ve posed.
- Second week: “Happy Anniversary, Tell Us Your Story” — Have an anniversary coming up this month? In under 500 words, tell us how you met your significant other, and send in your story and a photo.
- Third week: “Best Date/Worst Date” — In under 250 words, tell us an anecdote from the best or worst date you’ve been on.
- Fourth week: “Ask Marina” — Marina Resto, who runs the lively @Dating_in_Seattle Instagram account, answers reader questions about dating — or finds a special guest to answer the ones she can’t!