Looks like Aziz Ansari can now add author to his resume. Modern Romance is set to be released June 16, and in anticipation of his first book, Ansari stopped by the BuzzFeed offices to talk about love and dish out advice on dating in our technology-fueled world.
1. What would you say are the priorities for girls when they're looking for a guy to date? My personal experiences have led me to believe: 1) attractiveness, 2) income, 3) personality. But I would very much like your opinion, sir! —Matthew Quintero via Facebook
Aziz Ansari: I've got to say, after speaking with a bunch of women for this book, the priorities are a nice guy that’s clean. That’s pretty much it — a nice guy that regularly showers. You’re, like, the cream of the crop.
But truly, just doing basic nice things seem to go such a long way. With texting, for example, we asked, "What kind of texts do guys send you?" And all the women said guys would say just, “Hey,” “What’s up?” “What are you doing?” “Are you doing anything tonight?” And if you’re a guy saying that, it seems kind of innocuous. But in the context of a woman’s phone — where there’s all this other, similar nonsense from other guys — you just come off really boring. We kind of figured out if a guy just asks a woman to do a specific thing at a specific time, that was enough to make vaginas explode. The factors that made a perfect text from a guy were: asking someone to do a specific thing at a specific time, this was the main thing; another thing was having a little bit of sense of humor involved; and the third thing was having some callback to a previous interaction or conversation, to make the person feel like you were engaged with them, and this wasn’t some generic text floating around. You had a real connection with them. Those are the things that really seem to get a good response.
2. How do I know if it's a date or just hanging out? —Sofia Tana via Facebook
AA: Oh! This was something that frustrated both men and women to no end — this idea of, well, what’s happening here? Are we hanging out or going on a date? That was another thing a lot of the women we talked to were really frustrated by, when a guy says, "Hey, let’s hang out sometime!" Well, what the fuck does that mean? Are we hanging out and boning? Or hanging out and running errands? I don’t know! I think it’s something that’s very frustrating, and I think it’s so annoying. I feel like people are really busy, and to put in the time and go on what you think is a date and then find out it’s a hangout? It’s so frustrating. I’ve been in that situation before.
3. Why do men get intimidated by women? And what can a woman who has been described as “intimidating” do to be considered less so without compromising who she is? —jkjones via BuzzFeed
AA: I guess some guys are probably just scared of getting hurt, or scared that someone is going to be mean to them. I think that’s where that’s coming from. It’s hard! I don’t know.
4. How do I deal with unrequited love? —maiiiworld via BuzzFeed
AA: Oooh that’s hard. Binge-watch a show and get a bunch of ice cream. Wanna see what Bloodline’s all about?
5. I can never seal the deal with a girl. I always end up just being friends. Any advice? —nfogie via BuzzFeed
AA: I think from our conversations with women, it seemed like the best thing to do is just being pretty straightforward about what you want in those texts — saying, "Hey, it was fun hanging out, would love to go to that sushi restaurant we were talking about." Just that! What’s great is, with texts, you can craft something like that, and just send it, and you don’t have to be very nervous, because you can write that at home. You just hit "send" and it’s done. So just do that, and hopefully someone will be interested in what you’re proposing.
6. How much can you rely on how someone interacts with you online/over text to gauge how much interest they have in you? I’m never sure if it’s reasonable to say, "Oh, he could just be a bad texter," etc., about someone I’m talking to. (You can make an excuse for anything.) —christinegb via BuzzFeed
AA: So this is another thing I thought was really interesting, talking to people who did online dating. They’d want to message back and forth so much with people to see if they got a vibe, and it’s like, well, none of that matters. Just see them in person, and see if something’s there. That was our big takeaway from online dating. You don’t meet the perfect person online— you can meet a person online, but to find out if they’re the perfect person you have to see them in person and really get a sense of what’s going on. Because otherwise you’re just sitting there messaging people; you don’t want to be sitting in front of your screen all day trying to find this perfect person. Just meet someone in real life, and if there’s no connection, whatever, move on. I feel like you only really get a connection with someone in person, no matter how you’re finding them — site, app, whatever.
7. Does the person who sends the last text always lose? Is it even more of a loser move to send a follow-up text to that last text? Ugh. —whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat via BuzzFeed
AA: Yeah. I feel like the person who sends the last text loses, for sure! I mean, that’s just the unofficial rule. If you send the last text, you lose. All those games exist because, psychologically, they work. If you’re a woman and you meet three guys and two of them text you back the next day, they’ve kind of put your mind at ease. And the third guy’s in your mind the most because you’re like, “Why the fuck hasn’t this guy written back? What’s going on with him?” So he has an increasing presence in your mind, and that can lead to feelings of attraction, just having that presence there. It’s annoying that that stuff works, but it kind of does. Other times, though, it goes too far, and then you just get pissed off at the person who hasn’t written you back, or who just takes too long. It’s kind of weird finding that middle ground, but a little bit of that stuff does work; it’s just the way our minds work. We want what we can’t have. All those basic psychological principles, it’s hard to fight.
8. Should you block/delete/unfriend after a breakup? —biancaibanezb via BuzzFeed
AA: It’s harder to break up now, a lot of people told us, because you can’t escape your exes. They live on in your phone world. They’re on your Instagram account, they’re on your Facebook page, and, even if you unfriend them, they’re friends with some of your friends. You still see them. And so many people are compelled to see what their exes are up to. The most interesting lady — I think this was actually on BuzzFeed [Eds. note: It was!] — this woman said that she took all her old photos of her and her boyfriend, and she photoshopped Beyoncé over all the pictures of her boyfriend. Now all those memories are Beyoncé-fied. We did that in the book, too. So if you have a photo of, say, you and your boyfriend on a trip to Hawaii, photoshop someone else over your boyfriend, like maybe Sonia Sotomayor. Or you’re at the beach— not with your boyfriend, but with Jason Statham.
Right, because what if they’re good pictures of you?
AA: Yeah, you don’t want to lose those memories. You just recraft better memories. Oh, remember the time I went to the Statue of Liberty with Jon Snow?
9. What are the “red flags” in a relationship that you look for, to know a relationship is not going to work out? —supalexandra via BuzzFeed
AA: Some flags I look out for in general are Confederate flags. If you see those, that’s probably not good. If you go to the guy’s place and he has a huge Confederate flag — a Confederate flag is a red flag.
10. What’s the deal with the “check-in” text, aka when a guy only wants to text you once a week to check in and see how you’re doing but then never talks to you otherwise/asks to hang out?
AA: That’s the perfect example of the bozo text that a lot of ladies seem to be frustrated by, which is just like, “Hey, what’s going on?” And again, if you’re a dude — if you just say, "Hey, let’s go do this specific thing, at this specific time," you’ll have such a better chance of actually meeting up. I feel like a lot of guys doing that check=in thing — women are, as well — are just keeping their options open. Instead of saying,"Hey, let’s meet up at this place tonight," it’s easier to be like, “What are you doing tonight?” And then you're thinking, “Oh, well that sounds fun, but let me see what these other people are doing as well.” That’s such a bad mentality we all have, of trying to find the funnest thing. I have these people in my world, and I have to make sure I'm hanging out with the funnest person, doing the funnest thing, so let me just lightly see what people are up to — and then you just end up doing nothing at home.
11. How does a girl ask out a random guy, without sounding like a creepy and desperate cat lady?
AA: I think as long as you don’t ask the guy to come play with all 30 of your cats at your house, you won’t come off that way. Of the guys I talked to, a lot of them — well, there are some guys that are like, “Oh yeah, I don’t like it when girls ask me out" — but most guys said, “Oh, that would be so refreshing!” It's the same thing as for guys. If you invite people to a specific thing that sounds interesting, I think you’re in pretty good shape.
One thing we came up with — just generally about dates, both for men and women — was the idea that we have so many options, and we’re horrible at analyzing them. Because the way we analyze our romantic options is with these pretty boring standard first dates. Like, "Oh, let's get a coffee, let’s get dinner," and then they just end becoming these boring resume exchanges. You’re trying to find this amazing person, and it’s really hard for anyone to live up to that in that kind of situation. We came up with something called the "Monster Truck Rally Theory," which is basically from when I was talking to this sociologist from Stanford, who told me that he and some of his buddies started taking people out on dates to monster truck rallies. And it was really fun, and it was different, and they got a much better sense of what it was really like to be with this person because you got a sense of what their vibe was, what their sense of humor was, and it wasn’t just like, [robot voice] “Uhh, my sibling goes to Duke, and I have a brother who’s also a lawyer in Jersey,” you know? It was a fun thing. The idea is to do different, fun activities on dates that would be interesting even to do just by yourself. Not just, let’s get a coffee and discuss where we grew up.
12. When did it become OK to simply stop responding to someone's calls/texts (as opposed to saying you’re no longer interested)? Is there any hope that generation internet-dating can return from doucheweed land? Even a bad excuse would be better than radio silence.
AA: Oh, people hate silence, and so many people do it. I hate silence, and I did that while I was dating. It’s just easy, and you don’t have to get into a confrontation. It's really frustrating. I think it’s hard to craft that honest text. I remember one girl sent me one, like, that one time — it was a very honest thing — and I thought that was so nice and thoughtful. But generally, people fade out. I think what people like the most, though, is when you’re not part of the equation, where it’s like, “Oh, I can’t, I’m moving.” So instead of silence, just tell people you’re moving to Sweden. Or you’re training to be an astronaut. Just something where you’re not available, so that way you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings, and they won’t keep hitting you up, because you’re gone. You’re moving to Sweden.
Until that moment you run into them on the subway and they’re like, “I thought you were in Sweden.”
AA: And then you’re like, “I just got back from Sweden. So weird running into you, I’m going back tomorrow. Busy tonight, too, so.”
Modern Romance hits shelves June 16.