Everything I Know About Dating I Learned from Bowling

Pin it

bowling shoes retro
OK, not everything. But close. Consider these rules critical to both a good bowling session and a good date:

1. Wear the right shoes. Always.

Wearing the right shoes for the occasion is Rule Number One of anything. Bowling has its own special kind of shoe. So does the third-date-to-a-nice-Italian-restaurant… that too requires special footwear. No ratty old Chuck Taylors, please.

Being prepared for the date is equally as important as the date itself. Know where you’re going* and plan what you’re going to wear accordingly. (Bowling rule #1: Don’t forget your socks.)

*Ed. note: We almost always agree with this, except as Ned himself pointed out last week, sometimes it’s OK not to have a plan. Dating rules are meant to be broken.

2. Know what to do with your hands.

As with anything in life, in bowling you need a firm yet flexible grip. You also have to learn to let go lightly. You can’t just go in there and throw it down all angry. People will get scared and leave, and no date worth keeping has bought the “Caveman” schtick since we as a populace decided to walk upright.

You need a game plan, and that implies you need some cool, calm confidence. Which means you should know what you’re doing with your hands.

3. Stand up tall, and be confident.

Stop for a second and stand up taller. It’ll make you look better, I promise. Be proud without necessarily being cocky. Find that balance. Nobody wants to bone Captain Morgan, and nobody will want to bone you if you’re hunched over the ball and just whipping it down the lane before scurrying back to your seat like some sort of feral animal.

Expectation is the root of all heartbreak, amigo. Go in there and have a good time. If you’re looking just to score, maybe join a league. The rest of us are here to have fun.

4. It’s OK to look like an idiot sometimes. Embrace it.

The worst kind of bowler – or anyone, really – is someone who takes it way too seriously. You’re in a big wooden hall and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is playing really loudly; this isn’t the time or the place to be James Bond.

When in doubt, get a cheap beer, laugh, and enjoy the weirdness of it all.

5. It’s all about the people you’re playing with.

I forgot who originally said it, but a good meal is never enjoyed alone. Likewise, a perfect game is never enjoyed solo. Surround yourself with good people who know how to have a good time and you’ll have an incrementally better time than you would alone, or with an uptight companion. If someone is bumming you out, maybe they’re not good for you.

6. Lose gracefully.

So. Maybe the date didn’t go so well. The last thing he/she wants to see is you pouting and flailing your arms about because you didn’t get what you wanted. Expectation is the root of all heartbreak, amigo. Go in there and have a good time. If you’re looking just to score, maybe join a league. The rest of us are here to have fun.

7. Share a victory.

Let’s say things went great. Why not celebrate? Don’t go overboard, but a round of drinks for your friends or a bigger tip for the waiter will go a long way in the long run. Celebrate a little, and then let it go. A sore lose might be pretty terrible, but a sore winner – someone who feels they’re owed something because they did well – can be even worse.

Ned Hepburn is a writer and editor currently living in New York City. He makes a staggering amount of money and everybody likes him and he did not write his own bio. You can find him at, and @nedhepburn.


image via Veer