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GTB: The Dating Playbook

Do love doctors wear hats? We don't know, but Jessica Mendoza puts one on anwyway, and helps us prepare for a fantastic night with the object of our affection.
by Gelo Gonzales | Feb 14, 2013
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Valentine’s Day. For some, it connotes poetry and romance, dinners by candlelight, and beds of roses. For others, it’s a nightmare of questions: where to go, what to give, how much to spend.

Here I’d like to extend my help to the latter—those poor male souls who find themselves at a loss as the day of love (or the weekend after, for those with busy schedules) approaches. Because while I’m no dating expert, I'd like to think that I’m a woman with some working knowledge of the minds of men, and with the help of the good people here at, I’ve found a way to break down the Valentine’s date in a way that sports-minded people might appreciate.

Think of it like you’re coaching a basketball game.

From what I can tell, the best coaches are the ones who do their homework. They scout teams they’re going up against, review their games, learn their plays. They prep themselves by knowing their opponents.

I’m not saying your date is the enemy (though I suppose your wallet might think so), but it’s important to do your research. Figure out what movies she likes, what she’s allergic to, or if there’s anything new she wants to try that she’s mentioned. Such preparation requires interviewing skills: ask her friends, and if you’re intimate enough, her family. You’ll also need the art of—watch out now, this is a new concept—listening.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, we women love to talk about the things we love. We’ve probably already told you all the details of our dream date. Question is, were you listening?

No coach can make plans or decisions without knowing the capabilities and limitations of his players. Who does he go to for the outside shot? Who’s most reliable for the clutch play? What’s the best way to deal with the team’s lack of an inside presence?

You’ve got to ask similar questions of yourself, budget being near the top of that list. Also, think about how far you’re willing to go for her pleasure. She might love the ballet, but she won’t have much fun if you’re just going to fall asleep during the show. The best dates are those that both parties enjoy. Once you know your own limits, you’ll be able to plan out a date that’s fun for both of you.

Charting the course
Once a coach is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both his opponent and his own team, he can start looking for ways to make them work to his advantage. Genius coaches are resourceful. Red Auerbach, who single-handedly built a dynasty with the Celtics in the '50s and '60s, didn’t even have a coaching staff—it wasn’t the norm back then. But he used what materials were available to come up with strategies nobody expected, recruiting the first African-American into the NBA and taking it from there.

Now your research has told you her dream date is to sail along the Mediterranean coast. What do you do with that information? Sitting around praying for money to fall out of the sky so you can take her there isn’t going to happen. Do you settle for a regular dinner-and-a-movie and call it a night? You better not. Greece might not be accessible, but you could try to bring Greece to her: dinner by the ocean, a trip on a borrowed boat, a Greek-themed movie marathon.

In short, be unpredictable. Knowledge is power, but imagination is your greatest weapon—and that’s true with both women and basketball.

Game-time decisions
Have you ever seen a coach walk onto the court before a game looking insecure? Maybe you have, but I’m willing to bet he wasn’t winning “Coach of the Year.” A coach has to inspire confidence in his players, meaning he can’t stand at the sidelines second-guessing himself. He needs to trust his players to be prepared and himself to make crucial decisions during the game.

In the same way, you’ve got to have faith in yourself and in the date you’ve planned. If you’re fidgety and restless, how will she be able to focus on the five-course meal you spent all day cooking? Besides, she decided to go out with you. There’s no point worrying whether she likes you or not (at least not during the date).

Your demeanor is part of the experience: relax, and she will, too. Let yourself enjoy, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as the evening progresses. She suggests you take your bottle of wine to a nearby park after dinner, which wasn’t part of the original plan? Why not? Sometimes it’s the last-minute switch that wins the game.

Post-game analysis
One way or another, the game—and the date—will come to an end. Win or lose, a coach can review statistics, watch the game on tape, and discuss problems that came up with his assistants.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of dates. It’s easy if you’re in a relationship, because you can talk about it and decide what not to do next time. But if Valentine’s was your first date, it’s a bit tougher.

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My suggestion is to assess it using the three T’s: time, touching, and talk. By time, I mean that the date lasted more than an hour and didn’t come to an abrupt end, with her using a lame excuse like, “I forgot to feed my dog,” or “I live so far, we should get going.”

Touching doesn’t necessarily suggest those storied baseball references (first base, second base, you know what I mean). But contact is important, whether it’s a hand on your arm or your knee, because it suggests a promise of intimacy. And it’s obvious what I mean by talk—if the awkward silences left you squirming, you can probably classify the date as a flop.

Interestingly, the three T’s can also be applied to basketball. But I think I’ve taken enough advantage of my sneaky spot at huddles and will end this little essay with the assurance that dates are like basketball: even if you play bad one night, you can always learn something from it for next time.

But for the record, I hope your date goes great. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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