The other day I found myself opening up about my dating woes to a charming young woman in the line at the coffee shop, pointing out a page of “dating tips” in the magazine I’d been idly flipping through. She said she too used to have trouble “keeping a man tied down” and offered to send me some of her own tips instead. I smiled politely, trying to hide my disappointment at yet another coupled person giving me advice as I turned to get my coffee. When I turned back, she was gone.
A few days later, I found a gilded envelope on my doorstep. In it was this list, torn from the pages of the very magazine I’d been reading, but with notes in the margins and the original title crossed out and replaced with Dating Tips From A Spy.
Be confident in yourself! He doesn’t know about the man in Reno. Or the situation in Budapest. Run a background check on him, though, just in case.
Ask about his passions, hobbies, and interests! Learn his weaknesses. Exploit his fears.
Don’t let yourself get hung up on “the one that got away”! He can’t stay in hiding forever. You’ll take him out – sooner or later.
Instead of waiting for his call, you should call him! …From one of those burner phones you can buy at the drugstore, of course. Remember to always use a scrambler.
Keep yourself open to all kinds! You might think you need a doctor (to sew up your wounds) or a lawyer (to get you out of jail), but don’t underestimate the use of an undertaker.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! You’ll never find a man if you’re sitting at home in your pajamas. At least not until you get access to the city’s security cameras.
Figure out if you have a “type”! You can learn a lot from your patterns. So can others. Predictability will get you killed.
Don’t worry about knowing how to “play the game” – do what comes naturally to you! No, not that.
Be spontaneous! Keep an action plan in place in case anything goes wrong – your cover getting compromised, your date being kidnapped, your emotional walls crashing down…
On your first date, let him start the conversation. This will give you time to check the perimeter and inspect the waitstaff for any known assassins, mercenaries, or hit men.
Maybe you’re too intimidating – dial it down a bit! That’ll get him to let down his defenses so you can strike.
Don’t make yourself too available – every man likes a chase. Particularly if it’s running away from gangsters on the rooftops of a major city.
He could be just around the corner! Remember to check back exits, stairways, and back alleys as well, just in case.
If your dates haven’t gone well, maybe you have the problem. Think back – did you let your guard down? Who was the woman who cut your hair last week? Did she put something on your skin — a special contagion, perhaps? Get back to headquarters for a full check-up.
Try joining a sports team or cooking class to meet people! People really let down their defenses when they pay for group activities, giving you more weak spots to exploit.
Make sure to look always nice – you never know who you’ll meet and when! Checkpoints are very tricky to pin down sometimes.
Don’t be too picky. You’d be surprised what you’ll learn from dating a known disagreeable dictator.
Try online dating! People do everything online these days – you’d be surprised what you can learn about a man from his bank records and BuzzFeed quiz results.
If you get rejected, take heart — there’s plenty of fish in the sea! In particular, there’s a special breed of man-eating piranha in the Potomac, if you know where to look.
Finally, don’t worry so much about rules! It could happen when you least expect. Keep vigilant. And keep this list on you at all times – it’ll help me keep track of you and your dating exploits. Good luck, my dear.
Sulagna Misra writes about the weird things that pop into her head when she's not paying attention. She's on Twitter so she can not pay attention more effectively.