Sara Lynn Michener


Dating Data: Bringing Up Those Last 15 Pounds…Or Not


vintage couple

Dear Sara,

When is it okay to encourage your girlfriend to take slightly better care of herself? She’s not unhealthy, but, like, those last fifteen pounds? Please don’t say never. I’m not a jerk, really. 

Dear Jerk,

Your plea at the end gave you away entirely; you’re totally worried you’re being shallow but you’re not quite sure how not to be, so you assume your original predicament must be valid. Avoiding being shallow, however, isn’t always a deep emotional or spiritual awakening, thank goodness, because really, those can be exhausting. In this case, it’s just about thinking rationally and objectively about reality and where your expectations of her are coming from.

A man I dated long, long ago asked me his version of this question back then. In his mind, I was almost perfect, and how dare I be almost perfect when I could have been even more perfect for just a little bit more work? This was his way of being sweet. But at the time, he wasn’t capable of understanding several tough realities that are just part of being an adult. I list them here, but bear in mind they are not made to make you feel bad for asking. The more you reflect on them, the more you will see her as totally removed from the shadow of your expectations – a shadow that is probably bringing you both down.

1. He was inaccurately comparing me to other girls, when he should have been comparing me to himself.

Handsome Men and Their Dogs



Dear Sara,

I met a handsome man walking his handsome dog, and I only talked to the dog. This has happened before, too. What’s WRONG with me?

Doggone Girl

First of all, I want you to memorize the following line:

“Goodness! I don’t know who is more handsome!” which should be delivered with your best smile, while looking back and forth between handsome man and adorable dog. Follow with petting the dog; move on to other questions.

Is Modern Life Killing Courtship?



Our dating expert Sara Lynn Michener shows us the up side of dating in the Digital Age.

It’s not what form of media you use, it’s how you use it.

I’m really profoundly tired of all the trend pieces that have been coming out proclaiming that Twitter, Facebook, texting, and otherwise “modern life” is destroying romance. Clearly, they are written by and about people who aren’t enjoying what dating is today instead of those who are. Writers are interviewing people who are trapped in a state of perpetual confusion; navigating these digital love waters in paper ships, and then forming sweeping conclusions about those waters instead of the seaworthiness of its vessels. Arguably, any other new strain of culture would be documented from the perspective of those who are successfully shaping its future. This other approach is like telling the story of a new social media application solely from the perspective of its least savvy users.

    Loss in Dating (and the Self You Gain)


    Dear Sara,

    I went through a trauma a couple years ago and haven’t been dating that much since. In the beginning, it was easy to throw myself into other aspects of life, and then suddenly a couple of years passed. It’s very personal, so I don’t feel like sharing the details with prospective dates. Yes, I have had some therapy for it. But I feel wistful for my old, normal life. Every now and then I meet a guy who makes me feel like I might be ready to open up, but I don’t want to bring an unnecessary aspect of seriousness to the relationship too soon. I’m not even sure I know how to express interest anymore, in fact I can’t even attend a party properly. I feel shy where I once felt bold. I feel self-conscious when I once felt confident. I feel broken where I once felt whole.

    The Masculine Label: Do Women Prefer Jerks?


    “Dating Data” columnist Sara Lynn Michener answers a (nice) young man who thinks that bad behavior might lead to better dates.

    Dear Sara, I am 20 years old and I read your column. I was hoping maybe you could teach me to be a little more masculine. I am in love with a girl, but she’s not in love with me. I realize your gut reaction would be for you to tell me there’s “No way to get someone to love you,” and yeah I sort of agree, but I think maybe part of it is a matter of ‘manning up’ as much as I hate saying shit like that. I was wondering if maybe you could give some advice on how to fall between being a “bad guy” and being a “nice guy.” Because right now I think I’m the nice guy she doesn’t like.

    I think the only way to begin to answer this question is to go Back to the Future. As in George McFly vs. Marty McFly. Both boys, it is important to mention, are fairly physically weak. Biff is the only one with muscles, and Lorraine isn’t interested in him at all, thank goodness. At the beginning, George is a meek pushover with an annoying laugh, and Marty is exciting, confident, rebellious, and, well, from the Future. George can’t compete with one of these things, but has the upper hand unbeknownst to him: he is not Lorraine’s future son. This scenario is not going to happen in the real world (at least not until someone invents time travel, further complicating all of our love lives). But I mention it to bring up a very specific point: You will always have the upper hand of not being the other guy; no matter how hot you think she thinks he is. You never know what his faults are, and everyone has them. In romantic relationships, sometimes the faults of the cutest guy in the room don’t make him any less cute, but make the relationship impossible. I’ve dated some amazing men, but the things that ended our relationship were very important signifiers of why each union would never have functioned long-term.

    Online Dating Etiquette: It’s Kinder to Ignore Some Messages, Baltimore



    One of the questions people ask me most about online dating is how to get over the nagging feeling of guilt when you must ignore someone’s enthusiastic message.

    Most of the time, it’s easy. The guy has a 50 percent enemy match against your profile. The guy’s profile picture is his headless bare chest. But now and again, you find it’s not as clear cut, and you sit there, struggling, staring at the screen, trying to think of an excuse, or a more polite way out. “Thanks! But also no thanks” doesn’t cut it. This is the internet. Everything nice you mean to say winds up sounding rude and you know it. So does the person who is about to get rejected. Sometimes they react bitterly, and the only upside of that is you know you made a good decision. (If you’re easily offended on the whole, boys and girls, you’re asking for a daily kick in the #&@! from life).

    The misnomer “online dating” is the culprit, when it is not so easy. Perusing the profiles of strangers is not dating, it’s online shopping. You’re shopping online for guys and gals to date at some future-possible point. That is what you’re doing. And you feel bad, because you’re not accustomed to treating people the way you treated your last purchase — not like objects. But the thing is, you also kinda are.

    Dog Love: Tuesdays with Thurber, Part II (Thurber in Cableknit)



    Thurber sees that you are packing things up for a move and wants to make sure you don’t forget that HE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CARGO.

    Dog Love: Tuesdays with Thurber, Part I



    Thurber howls the cry of speciesism when he is not allowed to come in.