10 Questions You Can Ask on Your First Date

First dates are tough. For those who haven’t gone on a lot of them, it can pose an intimidating question: what should you talk about? Even I get tongue-tied every now and then, something surprising when you consider I work in public relations and advertising (with a degree in psychology).

If ever you’re one of those people who are easily rattled during awkward pauses, here are the 10 questions you can ask on your first date:

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Here Are My 5 Fool-Proof First Date Tips

For some strange reason, friends always ask me for dating tips. I find it unusual that people would ask for my advice since I’ve been single for so long and I don’t talk about my dating life. But yes, I have gone on quite a few dates and a lot of them have been fun, so I’m going to share my fool-proof first date tips:

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On anniversaries, breakups, and learning things.


A while back, my boyfriend and I decided to break up. On the outside, we were a perfect match: we knew each other so well that we can predict what the other would do next, our quirks clicked, and we have seen the worst of each other yet chose to love one another in spite of, and because of that. But we imploded. Resentment crept in like termites and ruined the foundation of our relationship. Our pride blinded us, making us forget to pull each other back when we drifted away. We were both broken, and we picked up what was left of our relationship and decided to rebuild separately.

It was a good breakup. I comfort myself in the fact that it was his time to go. As a minimalist, I believe that we should only keep the people and things that have purpose in our lives. His purpose was to teach me things I needed to learn. And because I learned them already, he had to go.

Here is an essay I wrote about our anniversary. I found it after I reinstalled Evernote on my phone. I never got to publish it, but he was a wonderful influence in my life, and I wanted to share how he changed my life for the better.

Here it is:


This week, I celebrated something special. I just had my first anniversary with my boyfriend. Anniversaries in general are special, but what makes this one even more special is that it is my first one ever.

In my very colorful dating life, beginning when I was 12 years old, I encountered hundreds of men. Some I gone on dates with, some I exclusively dated, and some I entered a relationship with. Not one of them became a meaningful relationship that reached one year. The longest relationship I was in was with B. Our five month relationship was ruined because of E, his ego.

The reason I never reached this one year mark is that men can’t stand me. At first, I charm them with my humor and wide range of interests. Later on, I can’t seem to charm them with my paranoia, temper, and mood swings. I guess R, my current boyfriend, managed to stay with me because he’s a project manager for a global tech firm and he’s dealt with difficult people. I haven’t asked how he would rate my difficulty, but on the eve of our anniversary, I thanked him for not calling the mental hospital on me. For his part, he thanked me for not killing him in his sleep.

Another reason why my relationships have a short shelf life is because I have commitment issues. I would get incredibly restless, my curiosity going past my current situation, always asking “what if?” Looking back, the advice to chase my dreams was the worst thing to tell an impressionable boy who had many dreams. Until now, I still harbor dreams of working as a decorator or in the foreign affairs department.

I can’t seem to commit to anything, whether it’s a boyfriend, a job, a pet, or even a houseplant. The longest job I held was for The Philippine Star, and only because it was a weekly thing and I wasn’t required to go to the office. After that, it was my job in human resources, where I worked exactly a year. The day after that anniversary, I moved to public relations, a job which was several months in the making (I kept backing out of the application until I forced myself to just go with it). And even when I got my dream job as a stable writer, I quit after ten months to pursue publishing. And now, I’m back in PR.

I can’t commit because I’m too curious. I’m always wondering what’s out there, what things I can discover and try. I felt that things tie me down, which is probably why I prefer to be a lone wolf, exploring forests with only my instinct to guide me. I was single for almost four years that I became unable to form relationships. I dated two guys and I didn’t know how to act because I’ve been alone for so long.

My notorious inability to commit reached its peak when, during the time I was trying to develop a green thumb, I killed a succulent, a plant known to withstand harsh conditions. That’s when I learned that even succulents can’t stand my level of indifference.

I don’t know how I reached this anniversary. Maybe it has something to do with age. Maybe I want to finally settle down. Maybe I’ve tried everything I wanted to try, or I probably realized that there are things not worth risking. Suddenly, I have a job I feel will last a while. I have a little garden with flourishing greenery. I also have a cactus in the office and it’s growing well. And of course, I’ve been with R for a year.

A large part of me reaching this is because R is wonderful. He has the patience of a devout Catholic, and indulges my tempestuous whims. He has somewhat mastered my moods, or what we jokingly call my personalities. It’s a feat, considering I am his first boyfriend. I add color to his serious life and in turn, he is the voice of reason, of logic when I am getting carried away with my thoughts, like a captainless ship in the middle of a storm. I have attempted to break up with him many times, and I have hurt him in the way I am good at, with words, but he still soldiers on, believing that this will work. And I believe him because he is smart and because I love him.

I still am a wolf. I’m still curious about many things. My mind still wanders and I often ask myself, “what if?” I still explore uncharted parts of many forests, amazed at the different trees, animals, and fruits I discover. But somehow, things are better when you’re with another wolf.


I guess I’m back to being alone.

The five guys we date.

My relationship with men is complicated. While I love the idea of a hot, muscular, and intelligent guy sweeping me off my feet, their hang-ups – being needy, clingy, controlling – are enough to drive me away. Oftentimes I find myself thinking of giving up on men, but whenever I see someone gorgeous, I want to scream, “Why can’t I quit you?

But then again, you can’t always have your cake and eat it, too. It’s like finding a Margiela that fits you in an ukay – the thought is delicious, yet almost impossible. With guys, there always has to be that one flaw, that dealbreaker.
Now, it’s easy when those dealbreakers are traits: they have a terrible personality. They are bad in bed. They have mommy issues. We all have them and hey, we just have to accept it. But what about chemistry? That thing that can be felt but can’t be explained.

I’m slowly being re-introduced to the whole chemistry thing because I started dating again this year. Allow me to channel Jourdan Miller from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 and reiterate that I haven’t had a boyfriend in three years so I’m a bit rusty when it comes to dating.

I haven’t had the time to date because of my many projects (another Jourdan moment, sorry). This year I went out with only two guys (a far cry from my previous years, when I would date two guys a month on average). I guess I did some growing over the past few months and now I’m ready to open myself up to a romantic possibility. I credit my solo trip to Hong Kong as a cathartic experience.

As I start opening myself up again, I need a refresher on the dynamics of the dating scene. Below are some of the guys I encountered during my colorful past as a a serial dater and who I’m sure I will encounter again:

1. That guy you’re sexually attracted to, but that’s it. You know how you’d see a person and just know – without a doubt that they are a monster in bed and would make you see clouds after each orgasm? And yet no matter how good the sex, no matter the sexual chemistry, there’s nothing beyond it. After a mindblowing fuckathon, you want to kick them out of your house so you can have that post-coital book-reading. Or in this age, post-coital tweeting. 
I’ve had my fair share of them, those guys you’d hook up with and have no interest in seeing outside the bedroom. This idea works only if the situation is clear that this is only a one night thing. Unfortunately, only a few such guys exist, and many continue reaching out, in the hope that a fling could turn into a relationship. No.

2. That guy you enjoy going out with, yet have no feelings of lust for. These are the guys you take everywhere. You have similar interests, are on the same wavelength, and they can tolerate all your hangups and flaws. You enjoy their company, and you genuinely like them, but the thought of having sex with them makes you cringe. I personally think that sexual chemistry is just as important as spiritual chemistry because what else is there to do when you find yourselves alone, at home, and in bed?

3. That guy you enjoy hanging out with, having sex with, and everything in between, but you have no desire to be in a relationship with. For me, these are the guys you can invite over for a passionate tryst and still have the desire to talk to after. Granted, most of our dates were spent in bed, and we have never gone out, but there is a special bond between us strengthened by the spiritual act of sex. I’m not sure how it’ll fly if we actually go out, and I’m not sure I’d recognize them in broad daylight – or with their clothes on.

4. That guy you take out to give your ego a boost. I don’t have guys like these, but I can imagine some people having someone they can go out with if their self-esteem needs a boost. I’d rather boost my ego doing something else (like saying something witty on Twitter or announcing on Grindr that I’m looking for sex and seeing how many people will respond), but if that’s how other people nurse their wounded egos, then so be it. They better be prepared for the consequences, though.

5. That guy you like, but who doesn’t like you back. Tough luck. Hey, we can’t always get what we want. It’s all a matter of personal taste and if they don’t dig you, you have to respect their decision and back away. It takes a big man to admit defeat and if you can do this, it means you’re emotionally mature. Real life doesn’t work the same way in movies where you end up with your first love. You will not always get the girl. This is a heartbreaking experience but to be fair, you don’t always like the people who like you.

5. That guy you actually, truly like, the one you would like get jiggy with, and share the most mundane, carnal, and sacred moments with. And who wants the same thing from you. The feeling when the person you like likes you back is something that can only be described as magical. Enough said.

I’m not seeing anyone right now but I’m okay. As the postmodern philosopher Swedish House Mafia once said, “don’t you worry, child, heaven’s got a plan for you.” In the meantime, I just have to put my game face on and face the world. And if it doesn’t work out, I just have to cry it out, wash my face, and say “next.”

Death Becomes Him

Lately, I seem to have developed the symptoms of depression. Not the usual, everyday kind of sadness that people call “depression” but the actual clinical form of a mood disorder. I do know the cause of my so-called disorder, but I’d rather not discuss it because it’s a tad too personal. Apparently, my depression has hit the roof and appeared in the result of my TAT.

TAT, or the Thematic Apperception Test is a projective technique (or psychological test) where the client is presented with 20 pictures and he must create a story out of each one. We took the test last week for our Psychological Testing class and I was bothered at the content of my stories. Most of them talked about death and there was a little too much violence. There was a girl on the brink of suicide, a woman who finds her son brutally murdered, a massacre, a child psychopath who enjoys mutilating animals, a killer, a suicidal doctor, and man-eating creatures. I marveled at the creativity of my stories given the fact that we were only allowed five minutes for each drawing, but I was bothered that only two of my stories are positive.
As a writer, I usually write these kinds of things but I’m guessing it’s not appropriate with psychological tests because projective tests such as these project your deepest desires, fears, motivation, and fantasies. I can’t say that I wrote what I did because I wanted to impress my professor with my morbid imagination, I wrote them because that’s what I saw when I looked at the pictures. When I saw the kid imagining a surgery, I interpreted it as a psychopath who wants to cut people up. I was silently laughing while I wrote about the kid, who I described as obnoxious and haughty, because I felt that most of my classmates saw a kid dreaming to be a doctor. After the class, I asked my professor to read my work to see if she thought my interpretations were unusual.
When she talked to me last Tuesday, she told me that she was disturbed with my stories. She said that there was a lot of reference to death, to emptiness, and loneliness. I told her about how I wanted to kill myself, or at least be dead inside. For some reason, I didn’t tell her about last Saturday’s night out with friends where I wore non-prescription glasses and called myself Christopher because Koji is dead. I told her that the content could be explained by my passion for Stephen King and serial killers.
“It’s okay to read those things. But you have to be careful because there’s already a thin line between reality and fantasy,” she told me while I sat there, scared. “I’m afraid that if you expose yourself too much to this, it will carry over to reality.”
I thought about that child, that little kid I knew most of my classmates saw as a kid growing up to be a doctor, and there I was, thinking it was a psychopath who laughs while cutting up dogs and rabbits. I couldn’t imagine myself mutilating animals. When I read the part about Patrick Bateman torturing a dog in American Psycho, I flinched.
“Why are there so many references to death in your interpretation?” she asked. I knew she was observing me, watching my every move. I knew she was looking for signals, signals only a psychologist could see, like a sudden shift of mood or topic. I couldn’t look her in the eye and I was sweating, even though it was cold.
“I don’t know. I don’t really want to die…. but I don’t want to live either,” I said blankly.
“There are so many things to be thankful for. You have been given so many opportunities, many of them others don’t have. You have great talent, and it would be a waste if you kill yourself. You have been given this opportunity to live while others can’t.” She said so many other things but everything led back to this.
She’s right. While I am complaining about how I haven’t seen Alice in Wonderland after waiting for almost a year, while I sulked about how I didn’t get my way in a particular situation, other people have no money, homes, or clothes. I know I sound like I’m preaching but a little gratitude won’t hurt anyone. Right now I’m making a quick mental check list of the things I should be grateful for and I’m not even done. But to summarize what I have: a very comfortable home, a loving family, a good school, great friends, a knack for writing, and a kickass style to boot (indulge me, will you?).
The same morning, I saw the music video of We Are The World 25 for Haiti, sung by Justin Bieber, Nicole Scherzinger, Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, Carlos Santana, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, and many others. The video included footage of what happened in Haiti and it made me feel bad for hating my privileged life. I actually cried while watching the video.
In hindsight, I have been pondering the things my professor said even before she said it. But hearing it from her, a professional, who I associated with a mother image, I suddenly felt a lot better. I guess it’s now time to cancel the IMI Uzi submachine gun I ordered on eBay. I kid.

Hope and expectations

My homeboy Samuel Johnson once said that he who expects much will often be disappointed. I believe that, the same way I believe black goes with everything and pink should only be worn by those under 35. My problem is, sometimes I tend to forget that bit about expectations and raise the bar every now and then. I’ve been doing that a lot lately and it got me thinking about expectations and hope. I realized that there is a fine line between the two and many confuse one for the other. I myself have fallen victim to this slippery slope.

First let us define the two.

We all live with certain expectations. We expect the professor to show up at the time alloted. We expect to eat dinner in the evening. We expect Manny Villar to come up with another commercial. There are certainties in expectations.
In hope, we get by with faith. There is no assurance that what we’re hoping for would pull through. There is an immensely frightening possibility for it not to happen. I have discussed the courage of those who hope, but the trouble is, in hope, sometimes we expect. The sad part is, sometimes our expectations blow out of proportion and we are absolutely sure that it will happen. And when it doesn’t, we get hurt. By expecting too much, when we should have been hoping, we make ourselves vulnerable to pain.
I remember this boy I used to date. This happened two years ago and we were very much in love. He dedicated a Beethoven poem to me and he used to make this really stupid but cute sound to make me smile. Like most relationships, it failed. I remember the last thing he told me was that wasn’t our time. Because I loved him, because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, I held on to that. But, instead of hoping, I expected. I expected that when he resolved his issues with his sexuality (he was confused around the time we dated), he would get back with me and we would live happily ever after.
It took quite a while for me to move on. I blindly held on to his last words, believing that he would sweep me off my feet again. I stalked his social networking profiles, texted him randomly, went to certain places hoping I would see him there. I was pathetic. A good friend slapped some sense into me when she said that I shouldn’t expect. While she didn’t tell me to hope, it was pretty much the same thing. She told me to get on with my life. That way, if he doesn’t come back, it won’t hurt terribly. And when he does, it would be a pleasant surprise. I still remember those words, and I had the pleasure of telling her the same thing when she was in a similar position. That guy didn’t come back, but I’m glad to say that my days of pining away for him has ended.
Hope and expectation are very tricky things and must be handled with care. I know our emotions can get the best of us but I think we should do less of expecting and more of hoping. There is something sweeter when the thing we hope for suddenly comes true. There is that triumphant feeling of awe and surprise that makes the situation even more beautiful.
Also,when it doesn’t happen, it won’t hurt as much. Sigh, I should have realized this a week ago.

I should be so lucky in love

Lately I’ve been thinking about why I’m still single. The last serious relationship I had was many months ago with Quincy, and until now, I’m single. First, let me assure you that I’ve finally gotten over him. It wasn’t easy, and it took me quite some time, but I have finally realized that it was just one of those things I shouldn’t obsess about.

I’ve been told time and again that I have high standards. Too high, many say. I’ve considered this to be one of the reasons why I am perpetually single, but what’s wrong with having high standards? What is wrong with wanting the best? I know what I want. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything unattainable in the list of qualities I want in a man. All I am asking for is someone who is decent, smart, intelligent, witty, and with a sense of humor. Is that asking a lot? I don’t think so.

A lot of guys have appeared in my life after Quincy, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. But no matter how goodlooking they are, no matter how rich, or how great their personalities are, I cannot bring myself to reciprocate their feelings towards me. I do not know why, but I just can’t. I guess I have yet to meet the guy who would take my breath away and sweep me off my feet. But I am glad to say that the future is bright with me and Timothy. I really like him.

I know I’ve been single for so long, but I don’t really mind. I just think to myself that if not settling for less makes me a bitch, an asshole, or worse, eternally single, then let it be. I may end up waiting forever for my Prince Charming, but I don’t care.

Because when he comes, I know he is exactly what I wanted.

Make Me Undress, Joyce Jimenez

I still can’t stop thinking about Paolo. I don’t even know why I’m thinking about him, but I can’t get him out of my head. I know there isn’t even a problem because what he felt was a thing of the past, but I can’t help but be burdened with the weight of this “problem”. We actually had a field trip for our NSTP class today but I didn’t go because I couldn’t bear facing him.

Yesterday I went to Shangrila to meet up with a date. I dropped by the Store For All Seasons to check out their shirts and hopefully get one before meeting Tim. The Store For All Seasons is a consignment boutique along Shaw Boulevard that sells gorgeous clothes that are oh-so-unique. One of their labels is Proudrace, a local version of House of Holland. Their staples are statement shirts i.e. LET’S GET IT ON, IVARLUSKI ASERON; JUST DANCE, DON’T VOGUE, KYLIE MINOGUE; and COLD AND BITCHY, NICOLE RICHIE.

I was annoyed because I got lost while looking for the Store For All Seasons. I wasn’t really familiar with the topography of Shaw Boulevard so I spent half an hour walking along the wrong street. I couldn’t really blame Arvin, he gave the right directions, it was me who was in the wrong. When I finally got on the right street (the peanut vendor assisted me), I got really exasperated because Arvin told me it was very near Starmall. It was not. From there I spent almost another half-hour looking for the boutiqe. Just when I was about to hail a cab and meet Tim (at this point, I was a sweaty Betty), I saw it at last. There I bought MAKE ME UNDRESS, JOYCE JIMENEZ. I absolutely loved it.

So when I changed shirts (I wore the JOYCE shirt) I walked back to Shangrila Mall (It was traffic) and met Tim. Timothy is a 21 year old Journalism teacher in an exclusive school somewhere in Pasig. We met at Starbucks and had coffee and talked. Timothy is absolutely charming. Very talkative, lively, and interesting. He kind of reminded of Mickey from Pinoy Big Brother. I found it very fascinating how he used the word ANXIOUS in a sentence. Usually, I only encounter that word in a book and not in a regular conversation.

So after grabbing a cigarette (I know, I know) and talking some more, we decided to part ways. I managed to get home safe, and hark the herald angels sing, I didn’t think of Paolo the entire night. Instead, I thought of rhymes for future shirts I’ll have custom-made. Okay, I admit, I first brainstormed for a Paolo shirt and I thought of this: YOU MAKE ME SO SILLY, PAOLO MANALILI. What do you think? Some of my other concepts are: WHAT’S THE PLAN,KOJIMAN; and KISS MY BAZOOKA, KOJI IIZUKA. Isn’t it cute?

I am so going crazy over statement shirts. From the words of the future great director Shinji Manlangit: ALAVET!!!!!

A phrase from Dido’s song HERE WITH ME: I didn’t hear you leave, I wonder how am I still here, and I don’t want to move a thing, it might change my memory. Oh I am what I am, I’ll do what I want, but I can’t hide, I won’t go, I won’t sleep, I can’t breathe, until you’re resting here with me. I won’t leave, I can’t hide, I cannot be, until you’re resting here with me.