Got Plans? Join the gurus and dating experts Rita Colbert and "You Lost Him at Hello" author Jess McCann, to talk you through holiday dating questions.

Dec 15, 2011

Got Plans? Join the gurus and dating experts Rita Colbert and "You Lost Him at Hello" author Jess McCann, to talk you through holiday dating questions.

Hi everyone. Welcome to Got Plans. This week, we're joined by dating experts Rita Colbert and Jess McCann. (You can read about them both here, and get some holiday dating advice while you're at it.)

Since we're expecting to talk about dating today, we're looking for your holiday date ideas -- and we'll hook the best one up with an $85 gift card for the Palm. The only rule: It can't mention the National Christmas Tree or drinks at the Willard. (Not that we don't love those, but we're looking for other ideas.)

Ready? Let's begin.

Hey GOGs, where can I currently find a good selection of ugly sweaters to buy? Thanks!

I'm hoping you need them for an ugly Christmas sweater party, and not for, like, gifts for all your enemies.  I'd definitely try a thrift store like Goodwill.  In fact, I've sought out ugly sweaters  before at Value Village in Prince George's (and ended up with all sorts of extra ugly stuff). 

This is my first holiday season here in Northern Virginia and I'm looking for some good light displays (I know where to find them back home in Connecticut). Somewhere I can walk through would be a plus, but if I have to drive I'll do that. Can you point me in the right direction?

There are great places to go see holiday lights!  If you are closer to Maryland, check out Garden Lights at Brookside Gardens, Winter Garden Walk in Wheaton.  $25/car and a fabulous display!  For all of you in VA, check out the Festival of Lights at Bull Run in Centreville.  Again a per car charge - but it lasts forever and the displays are very creative!  Have fun!

Hi - Everywhere I go, I see women in slim jeans tucked into knee high boots. I love this look. Unfortunately, I'm a larger size (about a 14) and I don't wear skinny jeans. Is there any way I can wear this look and not look ridiculous? Brand/store names welcome.

Well, you've found the right girl.  While I'm on a health kick I am also a more curvy lady.  I can tell you the skinny jean look ISN'T bad, if you do it right!  Check out Avenue, Dress Barn or Lane Bryant for ideas.  They'll have the right boots and the right shirts to pair with the jeans and you'll look fabulous!

Do you guys know of any quiz/trivia/game nights that go on in Montgomery County? Thanks!

I do know of a great pub night in Bethesda!  It's at the Saphire Cafe in Bethesda.  Can't go wrong with $1.75 miller lites and friendly competition!  Readers, do you guys know of any other places?  As a Virginia gal I'm a little in the dark on great MD trivia nights!

Brunch at Co co  Sala and then ice skating on the Mall in the Sculpture Garden...

You could also do that in reverse and warm up with some cocoa after -- Co Co. Sala is on our list of best hot chocolate shops.

Hi gurus, I'm looking for a great place to hold a book launch for about 50 in February, with drinks and nibbles. Bad news - the budget's about $1000. I'd like to have it in an easily accessible location in DC. Any ideas?

I have my book launch party at the City Tavern club a few years ago and it was just perfect! Staff was friendly and the room was exactly what I wanted for the feel of my book.  Contact Steve Andronico and tell him your budget. I'm sure he'd be willing to work with you.

who contacts whom? should the girl still wait for the guy to contact her and ask her out?

Until you are in an exclusive relationship, the guy always contacts you first.  It's the only way to know exactly where you stand with him until you have the talk.  Plus, you have to let him pursue you! And sending even a small innocuous text like, "how was your day" tells him you are thinking about him - and when he's chasing you, he's not suppose to know that! 

I agree with Jess.  Let the man contact you.  If he's not contacting you, there is a reason!  But please please please don't sit around and wait for him to contact you!  Get out there and meet other great people!  Join a Meetup group at, go out with the gals and flirt and see who you meet.  I guarantee either this guy will be so put off by the fact that you aren't always available that he'll be calling you all of the time or, if not, you'll be out there finding someone who will!

Hi GoGs! For the past two years, my SO and I have attended several dinners at the Capital Wine Festival, held in the Fairfax Embassy Row. It usually starts in January, but I've seen no announcements, no e-mails, even the website has been taken down. Any ideas? Do you know if it will be held in 2012? Thanks for any insights you can provide!

You know, I haven't heard anything about Capital Wine Festival this year, and the website being down is almost never a good sign. I'll see what I can find out.

Hi all! I love your chats. I am going to be in a meeting at lunch so I am submitting my question early. I am a single 40 year-old female who lives in Silver Spring. Where are some good places in that area that I can go to during the holidays (or any time really) to meet single men my age or older (40s/50s)? I would love to find a spot where I could go on weeknights/ weekends to get a bite to eat and maybe chat with some friendly folks. Basically, I am looking for my "Cheers" in Silver Spring. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks! Happy holidays to all!

The bar at 8407 would be my first choice -- cool lounge, friendly bartenders, great food and drinks. If you go a little further north, the Limerick Pub in Wheaton gets a crowd that ranges from 20somethings to families to singles in their 30s, 40s and older.

I'd also recommend a couple of other options that can help make any place your sort of "Cheers." There's a popular list serve called PaulsList that you can sign up for by emailing It was suggested to me as a popular way to meet people in their 40s and up in Maryland in particular. And several women I interviewed really liked the events they attended through the listserve.  And try, too; it's another clearing house for dating events and mixers and happy hours. There's a lot going on, actually!

My boyifriend and I are attending his work holiday party tomorrow night at the Willard, from 6 - 10. It's black tie, so we'd like to go out for drinks afterward in our finery. Is there any place either near the Willard or closer to Penn Quarter/Dupont/Adams Morgan that would work?

Confession: I love going out drinking in black tie. (I mean, that's the best reason to own a tux.) Some bars where you won't look too out of place: Adour at the St. Regis, Quill at the Jefferson, Le Bar at the Sofitel...

In terms of "regular" bars, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone at Jack Rose, Lost Society or even Black Jack wearing black tie.

It was once suggested I may have Asbergers. I have no idea if I do, but it strikes me as telling that others think I might. I do not think I do, because I do not have many of the characteristics I see are associated with Asbergers, such as a lack of empathy. Yet, I do seem to, as I have been told, have difficulties showing expected facial expressions and I may tend to misread others. Thus, while I like to think as myself as friendly, I do seem to have a problem initially connecting to people as I lose them with body language and facial expressions. Do you have any advice on how to either improve on this, or to somehow better hide this?

As cliche as it sounds, all you really have to do is smile. Everyone likes seeing a big smile on the face of the person they are talking to. It makes them feel liked and cared about. Make sure you are also making direct eye contact with everyone. If you are looking down or around them, they could mistakenly think you are not interested in what they have to say.

Hi! Can you please tell me what bars/restaurants serve mulled wine or cider? I think Quill and Tabard Inn do, but are there others? Thanks!

Room 11's glogg: very tasty, and the outdoor fire pit is perfect for glogging. Pro tip: If it's quiet and you ask nicely after you've paid your tab, the bartender might just give you a half pour on your way out the door to fortify you against the wintry chill. You also might want to check out Fritz's list of the best winter cocktails in town. 

So here's a "different" place for mulled wine: The roofdeck at the Rock and Roll Hotel. It's partially heated, but you need something hot and strong to fight off the cold. This certainly will.

Best holiday date idea for me and my Marine who just got back from Afghanistan! I'm taking him ice skating in the Sculpture Garden followed by mussels and Belgian beer at Brasserie Beck. An extremely delicious finish to a chilly outdoor activity, and then a nightcap at the Passenger for a serious cocktail crafted just for him. Perfection!

That sounds close to my ideal winter date, actually. Just watch out for the Christmas beers at Beck. They will knock you out if you're not careful.

OK this is a married persons dating question as in this Saturday it's date night and are looking for some live jazz and drinks. Ideas?

Blues Alley in DC!  This Saturday it's Jeff Bradshaw & Friends - playing the trombone and smooth jazz.  The atmosphere is conducive to a highly romantic date night!  (I know, Date 25 of my 35 dates took me there and it was incredible!)

King Street Blues in Old Town always has great music as well.  Afterwards, you can walk around the harbor and look at the store fronts all lit up for the holiday season!

I LOVE that you make it a priority to date!  That's a marriage everyone should aspire to!  Have fun!

Two of my favorite jazz spots: HR-57 and Black Fox in Dupont Circle.

Start at the Botanical Gardens and then walk by the Capitol Chrismas Tree (much more impressive I think than the National Christmas Tree) on your way to Fiola's bar to warm up with pasta and gin cocktails.

Oooh. This is outstanding. (Well, if you're dating me.) And if you time it right, you can hit Fiola's happy hour, which is one of the best cocktail deals in the city.

Candlelight caroling at the National Cathedral, followed by a moonlit walk over to Cleveland Park for the latkes and Hanukkah dinner they're offering at Dino. (If you don't need a Hanukkah component, the Feast of the 7 Fishes at Dino would be a special holiday treat, top).

This is clever. Like it.

I'm meeting up with a group of about 6-7 friends on Friday -- we're all in our late 20's to mid 30's. We'd like to have dinner at a low-key, veggie friendly restaurant (in/near U Street, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights) and then head to a low-key bar (in/near Mt. Pleasant or Columbia Heights; doesn't have to be super close to the restaurant). Do you guys have any ideas? Since the group is a decent size, we're looking for spots that won't be slammed.

I'd try pizza -- in Mount Pleasant there's the super veggie-friendly Radius (it has an awesome happy hour), and you can hit the bar Last Exit (which just happens to be downstairs) afterward. It's one of our favorite veggie-friendly pizzerias in our recent best pizza issue. In Columbia Heights, I'd try Red Rocks for pizza, and then slip across the street to Wonderland or Room 11 for drinks (and if you go to Room 11, a chance to circle around the fire pit). This time of year, D.C. is feeling really dead, so I have a good feeling neither will be slammed.

I am a relatively attractive woman in my late 30s. I am sociable and I meet a decent amount of men; but all of them seem to be looking for the one-night hook-up or they place me in the friend zone. Do people date any more? Am I putting out the wrong signals? I'm starting to lose confidence in myself, which I am sure is helping to perpetuate the cycle.

Yes, men do still date. There are men out there that will still pick you up, take you to dinner, and merely want to kiss you goodnight. Why aren't you meeting these men? I can't be sure without a little more information. Where are you meeting these guys first of all? How old are they? What happens on your first date typically? Are you getting too physical too fast? There are several reason that you could be encountering this problem but the easiest solution is that the minute you get the feeling a man is just looking for a hook-up, delete him from your mental rolodex!

My out of town Boyfriend is visiting this weekend and he hasn't really seen much of DC (I've been an awful host). I need some ideas on what we can do Saturday day and night. We are both very active, like to try new things, and would like to do a festive dinner and drinks somewhere. Any itinerary suggestions would be appreciated! help!

Looks like our readers are really coming through for you here! I love the National Christmas tree/skating at the National Gallery date followed by drinks at Quill or round the fire at Tabard Inn. If it's a festive dinner you want, you could also consider Blue Duck Tavern.

But Jess, in your New Year's Resolutions you said you wanted to stop women from waiting to ask the man out. Isn't that going against what you're saying here about women always waiting to be asked out?

The resolution was for women to stop waiting for a man to APPROACH them...not to go full force and ask the guy out.  So you should absolutely approach men when you are out by using an Icebreaker, but he's got to be the one to take it from there. The only exception to this rule is that you can suggest a coffee date if you are chatting with someone on an Internet Dating site, but he has to be the one that contacted you first. If you found him and emailed him initially, he's got to be the one to ask you. Does that make more sense?

Happy Holidays! Can you recommend a happy hour spot for about 6-8 lady friends to get together next week before we all disappear for the holidays? We are thinking downtown/Chinatown area, usual spots are PS7s, Poste, Laughing Man. Thanks! Also, a dating question – what are the best bars to meet blind (online) dates? You don’t want a place that is too empty but not too crowded either. Thanks again!

I've had a few great happy hours with my lady friends in DC.  Proof has great happy hour specials.  $5 glasses of red and white wine, $8 classic cocktail.  You can't go wrong! La Tasca is out that way too and they have a great spiced Sangria to warm you up!

As for best bars to meet a blind date, it depends on the vibe you go for on a first date?  More casual and laid back (some beers with the game on) or a bit more upscale?  Old Ebbitt Grill is one of my favorites for meeting someone for the first time.  The Bartenders seem to know this and will watch out for you or provide that "something special" in their service to put your night over the top.  Vinoteca DC is great for a first date.  (I can attest, date 34 of 35 too me there and it was fabulous!)  Vinoteca has great wines and a "casual" but intimate environment that lends itself well to conversation.

Let me know where the happy hour is - I'll join you girls!  :)

Trivia Kings runs a trivia night on Tuesdays at Limerick Pub in Wheaton.

As the (occasional) host of trivia nights in D.C., I long for the days when more pubs ran their own quizzes.

In Bethesda, Ri-Ra's got a good quiz, though. Tuesday nights at 7:30. $3 Newcastles.

What is a nice, relaxed, quaint cozy bar with a fireplace and specialty drinks?

The Tabard Inn is the go-to, and for good reason -- especially if you go on a Wednesday or Thursday, when head mixologist Chantal Tseng is whipping up one-night-only hot cocktails. Room 11 is a favorite, through its fire is outside on the patio, not in a fireplace. And it's hard to beat the fire at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, especially when the staff is passing out free s'mores.
Wine by the fire at Sonoma is always fun, though there's the caveat that the upstairs lounge is frequently closed for private events during the holiday season.
Also, while they're more traditional Irish pubs, meaning Guinness instead of cocktails, I do love the fires at Murphy's of Alexandria and Nanny O'Brien's.

Have you heard anything about the NYE bash at Policy? I've never been to Policy on a normal night, but I've heard it gets super crowded and they limit the number of people who can go up to the lounge/dance floor. Do you think New Year's will be any different?

I don't think it'll be any different, and the reason I think that is because on Policy's NYE2012 page, it says:

**Strongly recommend arriving early for admission to the lounge** 

See that? With two sets of asterisks, I'd take this as an implication that yes, they will limit upstairs/lounge patrons. 

I would plan an advent calendar date, which may be adjusted depending upon casual to serious and per length of dating time. Here's how it would work. Create an advent card with however number of windows you want to give/ have the other person open (for example, it could be 2 for a weekend or 24 for someone with whom you are serious and who loves the holidays, for example). By the way, the card can be non-demoninational, so you could do this with someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas. Behind each window would name a place or an event: Could be ice-skating at the National Gallery ice rink; Hot Toddies at Off-The-Record; Tix at the Verizon Center; Visit to the National Arboretum; Morning at the downtown holiday market. This could be easily tailored to suit one's individual tastes and budgets (high end to (mostly) free).

This is a cute idea. I especially like the holiday market date (to be followed, of course, by more hot cocoa, at Co Co. Sala).

Checking out the Zoolights, then heading up to Silver Spring for dinner and the film "It's a Wonderful Life."

This is a classic.

I went home with my boyfriend to meet his parents for the first time this Thanksgiving. They live five hours away. He'd never taken any girl home before. His parents asked if I am coming for Christmas and I honestly think they would love to have me join them, although I am not sure where my boyfriend is on it. He wasn't thrilled to have me along for Thanksgiving, but since I told him I didn't think I'd keep dating someone whose family I had not met, he brought me. We've been dating a year now and I'm not sure I should go for Christmas too, unless we're getting more serious, like engagement in the near future. What do you think?

I'm less concerned about you solidifying plans for an engagment, than I am making sure that you are in a happy relationship with someone that makes you feel special and cared about. I can't imagine it's much fun for you to go home with a guy that doesn't seem excited to have you there! Look, the milestone of an engagement will mean nothing if you don't already feel close and connected to this man.  Is this the only area of your relationship where he seems squeamish? Why hasn't he taken anyone home before?Has he told you that? At this point, if Thanksgiving did not go over well, there is no reason to believe Christmas will be any different.  Without getting more information from you it's hard to say what you should really do from here...

Ok, been living in Fairfax for just a little over 3 years. While I have not dated seriously since I moved up here, I have noticed a huge difference between women who live in the city of DC and Arlington for Rockville for example. As a mid to late 20's male, what is the best way to approach the regional aspect of women?

I would need more information about the differences you are seeing but I would hold that the difference isn't in the women themselves, as much as perhaps their priorities.  As a late 20's male in DC, you have more than enough women to meet from both the suburbs and the city.  Approach each of them as you would any other.  That is, get to know THEM, find out what makes that particular person click.  What their passions are, what their interests are.  One thing that is pretty universal, is that women love to be approached by men.  After all, they are out there trying to meet you!  So smile, be genuine and ask a lot of questions and you'll find that the path you should take with that person will be laid out for you!

Rita is right - we need more info. What differences are you seeing?

Holiday Date- A candlelight tour of Mount Vernon followed by dinner or drinks in Old Town Alexandria (so many great restaurants to choose from).

Also, for the person looking for pub quizes in MOCO, McGinty's in Silver Spring does a pub quiz on Monday nights. It is a lot of fun and they have great happy hour specials.

Mount Vernon followed by PX or the Majestic would be a total winner.

Thanks for the reminder on McGinty's.

As a man, the idea that a woman shouldn't contact me after five dates sounds like one of the silliest things I've ever heard. Go ahead and send that innocuous little text.

Sir, I like your style. Ladies: Take note. Some men don't mind it if you text.

My boyfriend's 29th birthday is early January and I am looking for a place to hold a birthday celebration for him. He like low-key bars and pubs that have a nice beer selection and may or may not offer live music (the kind with one guy and a guitar that sings crowd favorites like Sweet Caroline). Here is the issue: he lives in Virginia as do many of his friends. They all go out to places in Clarendon. I live in the District, as do most of my friends (many of whom are his friends now as well). My friends don't like going to VA and his friends don't like coming to DC. Any suggestions for a low key place for about 15 people for beers on a Saturday night that is either in Virginia or Orange Line Accessible in DC?

If he's a low-key guy, he'll like Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church, VA.  While not right on the metro, it's not far from East Falls Church metro.  Great beer and musicians (many catering to a sing-a-long crowd), you should have a great time.   In the Clarendon area, you can hit up O'Sullivans.  That's right off of the metro and the exact environment that you are looking for that fits his tastes.  Tell him Happy Birthday!

How do you go about started to date...Widowed and 61. How do you find men who are there for you and have no agendas? Its hard when you haven't been on the dating scene in 7 years. Where should you start?

I have met a few people who have said the exact same statements you just made.  One of the BEST places to start is by searching groups of interest on  You can search for a variety of groups catering to all kinds of activities that are not necessarily "dating focused."  Rather, they are activity focused.  So, find a book club or a walking group, a foodie group or whatever your interest is - join and get involved.  Then GET OUT and meet the members.  You'll meet someone who shares that same interest, will have something in common and, at the very least, friendships will bloom.  That, of course, is a GREAT start to opening the door to dating (and to finding those genuine men that you are seeking.)

I know getting back into the dating game can be scary. And unfortunately there isn't one place where all the "no-agenda guys" hang out. You will have to start dating, get to know men as you go, and if you sense that someone isn't a man of character, you simply don't see him again. The key is to take things slowly. Don't jump into a relationship with someone you have not fully gotten to know yet. That being said, Rita is right about I am also a big Eharmony fan. Take advantage of the internet and all it's resources. Try a few sites and hopefully you will find one that suits you!

Any one of the gurus know where I might be able to find horseradish vodka in the area? I'm trying to avoid ordering online. (I thought I had difficult-to-shop-for Dad all zipped up, but I refuse to pay outrageous shipping fees unless I have to.)

I love a good horseradish-infused vodka. (Homemade is great; Khortytsa pepper vodka works in a pinch.) I'd give Calvert-Woodley a call, maybe Connecticut Ave. Liquors near Dupont Circle. Sherry's in Woodley Park, since they occasionally have some odd stuff.

Wait a sec - did I just experience a time warp back to The Rules? I thought the first answer was a joke until I read the second.

I don't think it's a time warp.  There is nothing wrong with putting the art of courtship back into dating.  One thing I learned on my 35 dates in 35 days experience (as I was lucky enough to have dates who were open to being "interviewed" and providing their insight) is that - if a man isn't contacting you after a date, especially after a few days, there is a reason for that.  That reason, as they say, is "low interest."  If someone has low interest, I'll respect it.  Unlike Jess, I think that "little text" could be okay.  A "how are you?" suffices.  But if the lack of contact or reaching out continues, that is something to make note of.  Especially after having been on 5 dates with someone.

its more of a wardrobe question but...what do you wear to shows at national theater or ford's theatre? all dressed up? black tie? jeans? business casual!? HELP!

You can absolutely ask wardrobe questions here. We get the theater one alot, and luckily, many of us are frequently at the theater. At either the National or Ford's,  black tie is waaay too much. (I actually think overdressing -- like a sequin strapless number to a serious play -- is a worse sin than underdressing.)  

Jeans are usually a little too informal, particularly this time of year. But pay attention to the show -- if you're seeing the very funny, campy "Spamalot," you can be a little more casual. For "Jersey Boys," you can dress up a little. I'd say a nice dress or pants and blouse for women and blazer and pants or simply pants and a nice shirt or sweater for men is totally appropriate. 

Cameron Station off Duke in Alexandria is just spectacular. You need to just follow all the little cul de sacs and roads around. Everyone seems to have decorated.

An idea for holiday lights. Thanks.

Hey GOGs :) I am treating the Hubs to a showing of A Christmas Carol on a random Tuesday. Any suggestions for something not TOO expensive, but festive and yummy in and around Ford's Theatre on tuesday early evening? We will be looking nice :) And preferably somewhere with good cocktails or awesome beer? (no seafood please - im allergic!)

Without knowing what specific price range you have in mind, I'd recommend Zaytinya since the mezze menu give you control over how many you order and how much you spend. But good cocktails? My word, yes. The "Beach or Town?" is knock-your-socks-off good.

Filene's is still going out of biz, so I imagine most decent things are gone, leaving ugly sweaters at 70% the Filene's price.

Great suggestion. Worth a shot. Ooh, I'm going to win some enemies here but I'm going to suggest Marshall's too. So much ugly in there.

I love checking out all the various gloggs around DC bars! I'd suggest starting at Domku, then to Room 11, then to the Passenger with your favorite honey. Best part: you can take the 64 Bus! :)

I'm a big advocate of not drinking and driving, which makes this perfect.

This weekend the wife and I are going on a date we do every year, to see "It's A Wonderful Life" at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. There's a wine tasting with holiday music beforehand, you get free passes to future movies if you come in costume or a christmas sweater, and the proceeds go to Children's Hospital. I'll admit that after so many viewings the movie tends to drag a bit in the middle, but if your date doesn't tear up when everyone's singing Auld Lang Syne, you know you don't want anything else to do with them.

Can I say that I love the "tradition" date? And that it's so interesting how many people love the holidays for dates?

Hi gurus - I know that there are a lot of NFL team-specific bars in the area. I also like to go to bars for soccer (Lucky Bar, Fado, etc.). Are there any team-specific soccer bars in the area, specifically Arsenal bars? Or have we yet to reach that tipping point in the States?

The Arsenal America fan club's official D.C. bar is Lucky Bar. Also see Arsenal supporters at Fado, Summers and the Queen Vic.

Hi there - I'm the woman who wrote in about the guys either wanting the hook up or putting me in the friend zone. I am definitely not getting too physical too soon. In fact, I am starting to wonder if *that* is what is causing the problem. I don't jump into bed with people, but yet I'm finding that women who are more aggressive and may possibly get physical early on do end up dating the guy, whereas I become a buddy. To answer your question on where I go, various places. I go to casual bars with friends and I go to a decent number of Meetups. I've tried the dating online thing, too, but that hasn't worked very well either. One guy made a comment like, "haven't you heard of the third date rule"? I've found that the guys I have met online have been either just looking for a fling or were just not interested. It's just very discouraging.

To quote Eva Longoria in the movie Hitch, "Sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the sleaze." You will undoubtably meet a lot of men that are purely looking just to fool around.  But do not be pressured into thinking that you need to hook up with someone to keep them interested. You don't. But you do have to show some interest - are you being flirty? Touching them on the shoulder or hand when you talk? Giving them passionate good night kisses? And I'm not against good old fashion making out - just not sex - not before monogomy and not at date three!

Yes, Thanksgiving went over GREAT. I enjoyed it, he enjoyed me being there (though it was a first for him) and his parents seemed to really like me. I'd say our relationship is very good, though we both seem to be slow to say "I love you" and both of us are not sure we've been in love before. We're taking things slow, but I guess I should do Christmas with them. It will be more family members for Christmas than it was for Thanksgiving and I wonder if there will be a lot of 'when are you getting engaged' questions this time.

If it went over well, then definitely go. You said before your boyfriend wasn't thrilled with taking you home, so that alluded to it not going well - but if you both had a great time and the relationship is in a good place, then defintiely go for Christmas.

I know some places offer lessons earlier in the evening, but do you have any suggestions for good places for salsa lessons? Personal one-on-one lessons would be preferred, but also group lessons for after picking up the initial skills.

I'm a fan of Jeri Dembrak, who teaches those early-in-the-evening lessons at local salsa clubs but also teaches group classes and private instruction. She's at

How do you bring up the Define The Relationship talk when the other just got out of a serious relationship that lasted a few years

How long have you been dating this person? Has it been 3-6 months?

First I would whip up a batch of my hot winter sangria (One bottle of red wine, two cups of spiced apple cider, and half a cup of grand marnier, served hot with orange slices and a cinnamon stick) pack that to go in a heat proof thermos with a couple of to-go coffee cups. Then we would start at the Capitol Christmas tree and stroll to the National Christmas tree, stopping into all the fancy hotel lobbys to check out their decorations and warm up. All the while we will be inconspicuously enjoying our delicious "coffee."

As my fellow Gurus know, I love surreptitious public imbibing.  And your recipe sounds pretty amazing. But I've tried the thermos thing before at the National Christmas Tree (on a second date, actually) -- it was so freezing out, the drink instantaneously became  cold. And there was nowhere to stash the sticky cups. And it spilled on  our gloves; more stickiness.  Just a word of warning.

What is the most important thing for single ladies to keep in mind during the holiday season, if feeling down about being alone?

That being single doesn't mean being "lonely!"  In one of my blog posts about my dates, I realized that for the past 14 years, I've been in a serious relationship in some form or another.  It was because I had the mentality that being single meant being lonely.  Because of this, I was putting that "vibe" out there for all to see.  Who would be attracted to a girl who was sad or lonely - especially when that's due to the lack of a man in her life?  I can tell you who - no one.  So I kept the cycle going of me being the one without the dates while everyone around me had plenty.  What I realized is, the girls who attract the dates, are the ones who are perfectly happy in their "singleness."  They are busy, active, smiling when they are out and truly having a great time with their friends, on their own and with whatever they do! 

It's normal to crave companionship but, if you have a man just to have a man, know that you'll end up feeling worse than if you were on your own enjoying your life.  So please keep in mind that you aren't lonely, you are just single and this gives you the opportunity to do things you just can't do while you are in a relationship that will provide you with the confidence and happiness you need so that you will be the one attracting all of the dates!

I'm also 40 and have never been in a serious relationship. Not sure what my deal is. How can I change that?

I had the exact opposite problem.  I've only been in serious relationships.  While that doesn't sound like a problem on paper, it is - because they were all the wrong relationship.  The best thing I ever did was meet with a slew of dating coaches (Jess McCann was one of them) and they really helped me look at my habits, my thoughts and actions and gave me the tools that I needed to "reframe" much of my thinking.  By simply flipping the script on many of my thoughts (not only about dating, but about myself) there has been a huge difference in the type of people that I am meeting (and I no longer feel the need to hop right into another relationship).

I'd think this might be a great tool/resource for you - having a consultation with a dating coach about reframing your thoughts.  I'm a huge believer that like attracts like and if you "put out" into the Universe that you haven't had a serious relationship, may never have one, etc. - that's exactly what you are going to attract.  So reframe your thoughts, KNOW you'll have a fabulous relationship and you'll attract one. 

There are lots of things you can do to change this; it just depends on what you are specifically doing or not doing right now. Are you putting yourself out there in social situations? Dating online? Or is your problem more that you date a lot but nothing ever amounts to a serious relationship?

Hello Gurus! Our company Christmas party is this coming Friday at a restaurant. in DC. Some of us want to go to a club after dinner and would like to get your suggestions... The crowd is from late 20's to mid 40's, from all ethnicities. Looking for a fun place to get some tables with a good vairety of music (from hip hop to salsa if possible) and nice crowd. Please help us find the right place!

Most clubs that do bottle service (and allow you to reserve tables) don't really mix up the music that much, unfortunately. I know that Muse has multiple levels with multiple sounds (hip-hop on one, salsa on another) but I'm not sure that's exactly what you're looking for.

Speaking of -- what kind of price range and how many people?

I'd try the bar at Rays the Classics. Unlike the restaurant, the bar doesn't try to run you out after your meal, and I've definitely seen people conversing with strangers they meet at that bar.

This is a good suggestion. If you're more of a dive bar person, Quarry House has plenty of fans, too.

Waterskiing Santa and margaritas at Rosa Mexicano at the National Harbor

The perfect Christmas Eve date for the person who's seen everything.

Call Ace - if they don't have it, I bet they can point you at it.

True. I often rely on Ace Beverage for my crazy spirit orders.

How about going to "Ice" at the Gaylord, then taking the water taxi over to Old Town for a horse-and-carriage ride, and finish up with a hot drink at Chart House overlooking the water.

This sounds great. Some people find "Ice" a little more family-centric, and it's brutally, punishingly cold (I kind of wanted to cry frozen tears). So folks who want something more romantic than active and fun could skip the first part of this, and maybe hit the Gaylord hotel's crazy holiday display (it snows indoors) instead?

OK, that's some really outdated dating advice. Stop treating "MAN" and "WOMAN" as roles. Start treating people as people. And for sure, stop asking for rules. Meet people, talk to people, hang out with people, invite people places... It works.

Sure, that's great advice. And it would work if you didn't add sex and hooking up into the mix. Unfortunately most relationships these days do become intimate rather quickly (no matter what I advise!) which muddles the waters quite a bit. A lot of women find themselves getting their hearts involved very quickly and acting on those emotions right away. Many guys I know and coach get scared off when a woman seems overly eager to settle down with him after only three or four dates. Depending on the guy, something as small as too many texts can send that message.  In my book, it's better to play things safe and slow than to be sorry.

Do you have any out-of-the-box suggestions for putting together a dating profile? I'm set with nice pics, but am absolutely stuck on what to write. (30, female)

Online profiles are harder than they seem, aren't they?!  The one piece of advice I'll give you is to be specific in your profile.  Instead of saying "I am funny," say something funny.  Instead of saying "I'm adventurous," tell a story about an adventure that you had! You want to set yourself apart from the other women on the site and the one way to do that is by telling stories that are unique and specific to you.  Use your own tone, write as if you were sitting across a table talking from someone, and be specific and you won't go wrong!

Spot on advice, Rita! Also you want to make sure you keep your profile LIGHT. You would never meet someone at a bar or party and tell them that you are looking for your soulmate.  So don't say that online either. When it comes to what you want in a man, a few key qualities but don't go too deep.  Leave that for when you actually go out!

Piggybacking on Silver Spring's question, although I'm in DC. What are the good bars in DC for a single 40 year old woman to meet men in their 40s?

In the District, we've all noticed that almost every bar in the U Street/14th Street area really is full of people in their 30s and 40s. Some of this has to do with expensive cocktails -- the people drinking the $10-and-up drinks have to be able to afford them, right? So on that note, you could try Marvin or Masa 14;  Brasserie Beck gets a certain office crowd that includes a lot of handsome, employed men (woohoo!). Quill and Off-the-Record and Bourbon Steak are also bars where you can likely find entertaining groups of men with that certain salt-and-pepper charm.

Are they always at bars? Probably yes, right? And would it be weird to go if you don't drink? Would husband and I be way out of place as teetotalers?

Trivia nights do tend to always be at bars but you absolutely do NOT have to drink to go and have a great time!  In fact, you might do better in your answers if you are the sober team in the bunch ;)  You won't feel out of place and you'll have a great time!  Enjoy!

My husband and I have managed to come up with a night with no kids--( both kids will be at sleepovers). Since this has just materialized we need to plan a last minute date for this Saturday evening. We really want to do something fun ( not just go to a movie ). We love the city and the last time we had this chance we headed to columbia room at the Passenger which we loved. But we are also up for a holiday event too. Any ideas?

It almost seems redundant because we've gotten so many holiday dating ideas this chat, but I'm going to throw out listening to carols at the Willard and a hot drink from the Round Robin, just in case you want something seasonal that I'm positive hasn't been mentioned yet.

Bocce and cocktails at Black Jack is something you don't see every day, and highly recommended. Follow it up with barhopping and snacks on 14th Street: Masa 14 or El Centro DF, Estadio, Lost Society, Birch & Barley/ChurchKey, etc.

Start at the most idyllic Christmas tree farm "Snickers Gap" - cut down a tree, or just enjoy the free hot apple cider and holiday atmosphere. Then head to Bluemont Vineyard where you'll enjoy striking views of the mountains while sipping their yummy wines. You can keep the date on the affordable side by bringing lunch to eat there, or buying snacks in the tasting room. If you have some extra money to spend, have a romantic dinner at the renowned Ashby Inn!

This is a day-long date, but it sounds pretty awesome.

How would one go about creating such a wonderful advent calendar?

Here's a DIY guide to a making a very elaborate one. Gotta love crafters.   Speaking of which, this weekend there's a great indie craft market at Big Bear Cafe with spiked cider. I think it sounds like a pretty awesome date (for hipsters). Afterward you could head to Boundary Stone for veggie honey wings. 

I understand the difference between being single vs being lonely, but what if you are single AND lonely during the holidays? Friends that you used to hang out with are no longer around, having either coupled up and disappeared, or just plain disappeared? Suggestions for how to cope, move on? Thanks!

I feel for you, I really do! I was in a situation like yours when I was single. All my friends either moved away or coupled up too. You know what I did? I went out and prospected for new friends, the same way I did for guys. I met a girl at my gym six years ago and she was at my wedding last year. I met another girl at a bagel shop five years ago and she too, at my wedding. You can find new friends and new things too do so that you aren't lonely.  Don't let your situation dictate your attitude, because your attitude is what dictates your situation. If you can be grateful for what you have and find happiness in the little things, that will help you get to a better place, and therefore bring better things your way!

Single & Lonely, I was you.  Five years ago, exactly.  Out of a serious relationship I looked around and found that all of my friends were in LTR or married.  I looked for places to meet other singles and they were so far away or impossible to get to. That's when I started Singles in the Suburbs!  It's NOT a group for dating.  It's simply a group for singles.  You can be truly single, or in a realtionship - you just can't be "married."  The focus is on meeting and making friends, building a community because when are single (especially in the suburbs) you find that you can lack that.  I can tell you (as will some of the readers) that my life changed drastically simply from meeting the other members of that group.  I met some of my best girl friends, got a boyfriend, rediscovered the suburbs (and the city)!  I know that losing friends to LTRs and marriage is hard - and truthfully, you probably haven't lost them.  But the dynamics of the relationship are definitely different.  So join Singles in the Suburbs - I guarantee you  will make other friends who are single and you'll be back in the game in no time!  If that doesn't work for you, then search for other groups of interest.  Focus on simply meeting people and making friends and the rest will fall into place.  Just ask the 2,000 SITS members :).  I'll hang out with you sometime, just drop me a line!  I'm always up for a martini and some talk!

seriously? in america? stop it.

Once you are IN the relationship you can certainly call! Right now we are just talking about when you are "just dating".

I'm constantly dating.. I'm very social. But at the most I get is 3 dates then nothing. I think my problem is I'm scared of relationships. I get nervous and don't flirt. I'm on match and eharmony.. I notice that since I've decided to take a break from dating even more men are contacting me on match and even had a guy ask to buy me a drink last night. I've read Jess' book too and think she is freaking brilliant.

She IS brilliant - I completely agree!  Leading Singles in the Suburbs for 5 years, I've been really fortunate to meet a variety of people all across the DC area.  You aren't the only one who is scared of relationships.  There are so many things "out there" that have scared off men, and women, from wanting to make that committment.  What I can tell you is that what you put out there for all to see, is what you are going to attract in return.  If you are feeling insecure and somewhere deep inside shutting off the idea of a relationship, that is what your result will be.  Perhaps take this time to meet with someone and try to discover why you are so scared of a relationship.  Until you address this, you most likely won't attract the one that is right for you.  Personal growth is the most beneficial tool for finding the perfect partner. 

Thank you! Fear can definitely mess with your game. I guess we need to go to the root of the problem. What exactly are you afraid of?

I've been dating my bf for almost 2 years. We both agree we want to spend the rest of our lives with the other. The issue is, he doesn't want to even move in together now because of hesitations/a previous relationship gone sour. How long do I give him to get over these "hesitations" or is this a red flag? We are both in our late 20s/early 30s (not sure if that makes a difference).

I don't know if your boyfriend is going to get over these hesitations on his own. It sounds like something you defintiely need to talk about with him and resolve together. Depending on what they are...

Have you been able to tour the latest Clyde's group restaurant? Is there enough of a late night crowd to support them being open 24/7?

I haven't toured the Hamilton -- I'm going to wait until they're officially open before visiting/writing about it -- but I'm really curious about the idea of being open 24/7. It won't have much competition in D.C. -- hellllooooo IHOP -- so it could may be become a go-to for people who want to get a bite at 4, or shift/restaurant workers, but I'm really, really curious about how popular it will be.  (Anyone else remember when the Royal Lee Bar and Grill went 24-hours?)

How do I become the kind of "him" like in the title of your book; instead of the kind women wear a fake engagement ring to dissuade?

Thanks for chiming in! We love hearing from the other side. That being said, it sounds like you are having trouble with initially asking women out. Is that it? Are you using your SEE factor or a good icebreaker, rather than approaching with a "hi my name is.."

This may sound cheesy, but why not do a volunteer date and work together at a soup kitchen or such one afternoon? You'll feel better about yourself, especially around the holidays, for "giving back", and you'll definitely impress your date (plus maybe screen them). You could go to Miriam's Kitchen in Foggy Bottom to feed scores of needy people, then reward yourself with a yummy meal at a place where you wouldn't feel underdressed. Maybe Bobby Flay's new burger joint?

Love this. This time of year, in this economy, there are certainly a lot of people in need.

I hear this often, and I live it, it is hard to meet single and eligible men in DC. I know a ton of single ladies though. So, as a single lady in her 30's I've been wondering how to best position myself to meet a guy in my every day life without "searching" for one. I was thinking that going out to restaurants after work on my own and sitting at a bar might be the way to go. First, do you think this is a good strategy? Second, if so, do you have places that you would recommend? Thanks!

Yes! Great idea! Take control and head out on your own. You can definitely sit at the bar after work, or go sit at a nice restaurant bar during your lunch hour. Just make sure you don't play with your phone or distract yourself with something to look busy. Be present. Chat up the bartender or anyone else around you. If a guy is interested, seeing you be friendly to others will prompt him to approach you.

Thanks for the great advice, Jess (and Rita!). I loved your book and think you are right on! Men still like to do the chasing, though quite a few of them are getting SOOOO lazy and letting women do all the work. They still don't commit to those women who are chasing them. Women who still follow the Rules come out so much better than those who don't.

Are there hard and fast rules for each and every situation?  Of course not.  I can only tell you what I have learned from  running Singles in the Suburbs and going on 35 dates in 35 days.  I've interviewed singles of all kinds.  Single parents, chefs, musicians and more.  Men/women.  And the one thing that the men consistently tell me is that, while they will go out with a girl who pursues them and asks them out, and are even flattered, at the end of the day they simply won't look at that person the same as a woman that they had to pursue.  Take that for what it is.  Are their men who feel different?  Sure!   Out of my 35 dates, I asked one of them out.  I didn't get a second date.  When I asked him why, he said that he felt uncomfortable with how aggressive I was.  Take that for what it is too.

perhaps each have their own hot drink cup??? like huge reusable thermal cups?

  Those little personal thermoses! You're totally right.  Problem solved.

I'm following up regarding the questions about the DTR. I attempted this talk after 3 months (we are long distance) and we were able to talk about very serious things that we needed to work on if the relationship was going to go down the engagment road. However, this converstation left me hanging with even more questions and now we are at a standstill in the relationship, no progress. Any advice on how to bring it up again without feeling like it's overkill and how to reach a conclusion?

Hey there! Let me stop you right there so that you don't do anything you might regret later. At three months you really shouldn't be talking about getting engaged. You should just be getting to know this guy and having fun! What "very serious" things were you discussing in your talk?

...if after five dates, you are wondering if you should text him, you probably shouldn't.

I think I'm fearful of getting hurt, of being tied down, stuck with the same person forever, intimacy.. I have been working with a coach so I'm guessing this is something I need to explore. In the past I wrote a list of how I am creating my single status..

That's great that you are being proactive!  I wish you the best of luck and if you ever need to chat, you know how to reach me!

Hi gurus, I'm hosting an early evening holiday cocktail party this weekend for a group of friends (mid-twenties). After the party dies down, we'd all like to head into DC (from Arlington) to a nice bar with dancing, etc. where we won't look out of place in nicer clothes (cocktail dresses). Any ideas? Thanks!!

I don't think you have to worry so much about your outfits -- this time of year, there will be many people in the same boat, coming from office parties or friends' cocktail parties and dressed to impress.

That said, I'd still steer you to a nicer lounge -- Eighteenth Street Lounge, the tequila bar in the basement of El Centro, maybe Cuba Libre for salsa -- if you don't want to stand out.

Wow. This has been a busy afternoon. We hope your dating questions got answered, and we really enjoyed all of your great dating ideas. After talking to our guest experts, we're going to give the Palm gift certificate to the person who suggested carolling at the National Cathedral followed by a Hanukkah dinner at Dino -- what a great inter-faith dating idea. Please send your contact info to and I'll make sure the Palm takes care of you.

Thanks again to Jess and Rita for joining us today. You can get more dating advice and ideas from them through (Rita) and (Jess). We'll be back next Thursday, when former Guru (and current Refinery 29 editor) Holly Thomas will help with your holiday fashion needs. See you then.

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The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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