By Sherwin Hughes Columnist Published Dec 28, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Courtship used to be the means to the end that was marriage. Now, almost two decades into the 21st century, things have changed. Fewer people are getting married these days. Those who tie the knot are waiting longer to do so. Even the traditional definition of marriage has been upended.

With this cultural shift, dating has not remained the same either. Absolutely dreaded by some, dating doesn’t have to be the means to an end but an end in itself. Personally, I’m fascinated with dating. Even the ones that don’t go well are unique learning experiences.

Consider the many different types of dates. There’s the always the tried and true double date. The blind date (old fashioned type or internet style). What could ever go wrong? The gym date is a thing (note: the gym date is gross). Then there’s the movie date. Nothing says, "I really don’t want to talk to you" like going to see a full-length feature film. If the idea of spending time with a stranger doesn’t carry enough risk, there’s always the adventure date to add to your repertoire.

No matter the type of date, fellas, you should never have to ask how the date is going. Her body language will speak volumes.

Bad date: Her arms will be folded, and if she’s sitting next to you, her legs will be crossed away from you. Is she distracted? Preoccupied with her phone or being pessimistic? Better get the check.

Good date: Is she finding the slightest reason to touch you? Has she physically moved closer to you? Is she laughing at your awful jokes? Is she twirling her hair around her finger? If she excuses herself to go to the restroom, does she look back to see if you’re watching her? Better get the check.

As someone who has been on his fair share of outings, I’ve acquired a few tips through experience. The others are recommendations directly from the ladies of the company I’ve kept. Either way, I hope these help you now and well into the future. Good luck!

Smell good

Scent is one of the strongest senses tied to memory. A woman might not remember your name in 10 years, but she will recall how wonderful you smelled.

The next time you go cologne shopping, bring a woman with you. Allow the lady to select her three favorite men’s fragrances. Purchase all three bottles.

Remember: Cologne is not a substitute for good hygiene. Please apply judiciously.

Pay attention to detail

Some women are absolute masters at noticing the sublime. While our gender often isn't quite as keen, men can exercise a few routine steps that can stave off embarrassment. If you engage her in conversation, she will reveal many codes that lesser men will miss. She’ll tell you what she loves and hates. From these chats, obtain your future gift ideas.

Keep your fingernails clean and trimmed. She’s going to notice your hands immediately – primarily to check for a wedding ring tan line – and they should be presentable. The lady in your presence will also notice your feet – partially for stereotypical reasons but also to see your shoes. If you don’t own a nice pair of shoes, buy a pair for your date. Decent footwear goes a long, long way.

Make eye contact

Eye contact not only conveys interest but shows confidence. Look at her when she is talking to you. More importantly, remember what she says. There will be a quiz. I guarantee it. Your correct answers may lead directly to a second date.

Be kind to strangers

How you treat others is a direct reflection of your character. You’re not asserting your masculinity if you’re rude to servers and bartenders. Be even keeled and always well mannered.

Open doors for her

While she is perfectly capable of opening her own doors, that’s not the point. If she’s deemed decent enough for you to spend time with, then she’s deserving of being presented to the world through the door that you open. Whether it be a restaurant door or an Uber – open it. You never know what door she may open for you in the future.


No one likes a cheapskate. While I don’t think it’s wise to flaunt your financial prowess on a first date, tipping gives insight into your generosity. How you tip is almost always factored into the equation of your level of douchebaggery – or your lack thereof.

Make her laugh

Women routinely rate a man’s sense of humor as high, if not higher, than his physical attractiveness. Ever notice a physically mismatched couple? He’s a four on a good day and she’s of the supermodel variety? Chances are he’s funny. Or rich. Probably both.

Do not discuss other women

A sure-fire way to ruin an enjoyable experience is to drone on about your ex. Whether your remarks are doting or critical, she should not be a topic of conversation. If the woman you’re on a date with asks about your last love interest, it’s a trap. Steer clear and pivot the conversation back to the here and now. Trust me.

Compliment her

She doesn’t live for your compliments, but when sincere and well timed, they are usually appreciated. While your date may be equal parts intelligent, confident and beautiful, she wishes her hair would behave differently at the moment. Nothing like a few kind words to reinforce the fact that you find her stunning.

Well, gents, there you have it. I hope these suggestions help. I wish you much success and a very happy New Year. Cheers!

Sherwin Hughes Columnist

A year 2000 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Sherwin Hughes began his professional career as a community organizer with the YMCA Community Development Corporation. In 2002, Hughes was offered a position as field representative for Congressman Tom Barrett (WI-5). In 2004, Hughes was hired as a statewide constituency director for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. After the presidential race of '04, Hughes was brought on as a business analyst in mayor Tom Barrett's department of administration-where he certified minority businesses for participation on city contracts.

In 2005, Hughes was appointed as Governor James Doyle's sole designee on the Wisconsin State Elections Board. In 2007, he would become chair. Sherwin was the only African American in state history to serve in the administrations of both an incumbent mayor and governor simultaneously In 2006, Hughes incorporated STH & Associates, LLC a political consulting firm. In 2008, Hughes became communications director for Wisconsin state senator Lena C. Taylor. In 2010, Hughes became Wisconsin state field director for Democrats for Education Reform. July 2012, Hughes became the host of "The Forum," a political talk show on WNOV in Milwaukee.