A Rom-com Star’s Best Dating Advice

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Love, Guaranteed is a new rom-com coming to Netflix today. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, it tells the story of Susan, a lawyer whose new client, Nick (Damon Wayans Jr.), wants to sue a popular dating site (Love, Guaranteed) that claims to guarantee love. Naturally, things get spicy between the two. Heather Graham (The Hangover, Austin Powers, Boogie Nights) plays the CEO of Love, Guaranteed, Tamara Taylor, with a Goop-y verve.

In real life, Graham says she’s never used a dating app, but she loves swiping for her friends — so the Cut called her up for dating 101. Here’s her best dating advice, from the pitfalls of “sex goggles” to the beauty of asking for what you want “before you hate their guts.”

Regarding dating apps, is there such a thing as a good opening line?
I have a boyfriend right now, but a lot of my friends say that people just say “hi,” which I guess I probably would do too. Yeah, I probably would just stick with a “Hi, how are you?”

What are some good questions to get a sense of the other person’s character and whether you’d be compatible?
What do you like doing for fun? What kind of work do you do? And I think it’s good to make a joke and see if they have a good sense of humor.

Another good first-date question is always “So, are you looking for a relationship?” It can terrify people, but I think it’s good to ask. Why waste your time on some person who doesn’t want a relationship? When I was younger, I was always like, Oh my God, what does this guy want? As I’ve gotten older, I’m like, Screw it. Like, dude, if you’re not wanting a relationship, I don’t want to waste my time with you.

You don’t think that’s sort of intense for a first-date question? What if the person just wants to hook up? 
That’s why I think it’s good to ask. Most people will not lie if straight up asked, but if you don’t ask, I don’t think they will volunteer the information. Because it’s, like, are you going to waste your time and go out on all of these dinners trying to get to know someone who isn’t really in the same place as you?

That’s what I’ve learned and what I would tell my friends who are younger: Cut to the chase. Tell the other person what you want, and ask them what they want. And then you can decide whether or not that person is worth your time.

Have you ever not been clear about that and suffered consequences?
I think a lot of times, you kind of can go into a fantasy and think like, Oh my God, I think they really like me, blah, blah, blah, when, in fact, they don’t. There have been so many times where I’ve told myself that, but I never actually asked the person or got clarity on whether they were thinking of me as a serious partner.

You should get really clear on what you want. All my friends and I did a thing where we write a list. So write a list of everything you want. And then, I think, when you meet people, you should refer to the list. Before putting on your sex goggles.

How does sex play into a new relationship?
Honestly, my best advice, which I did not heed most of my life, is: Don’t have sex right away. Because you can’t think clearly after you have sex, and you can’t decide whether or not they’re worthy of you. Because you’re just too excited. Whereas I think if we take more time and get to know them without having sex, we can go, Yeah, I don’t really like that person. But if you start having sex, all the chemicals flooding your brain might delude you into thinking they’re like the greatest person who’s ever lived.

I’m telling you that because I did not do this, and I would like to learn from my mistakes and help anyone else: Don’t have sex with them right away. Get to know them first, make them work for it. If you want to have sex and you’re not looking for a relationship, that’s fine. But if you want a relationship, I would make the person work for it and prove themselves to you first.

Is there a timeline or certain amount of dates that you think is a good time to have sex?
I have a girlfriend and she just went out on three dates with this guy, and he was like, “You’re not a modern woman if you don’t have sex with me by the third date.” He was like, “I think we have different ideas about sex, and you’re really uptight.”

That is ridiculous. I think it definitely depends on the person, but the best advice I got was from a friend who said “Wait as long as you possibly can.” I’m not saying a year, but the longer you make the person wait, you’re kind of just, like, seeing how into you they are; you’re getting to know them. Because the minute you have sex with someone, you’re putting on sex goggles. And then, like, a year down the road, you’re gonna be like, What the — who am I dating?

Do you have any other relationship advice that you would have given your younger self?
Yes. When I really fall in love with someone, I used to always wonder, What do you want, and how can I give it to you? But now I’m like, no — What do I want? Because I used to people-please. And now I just think it’s so important to know and ask for what you want.

I would definitely hope someone would read my mind. Like, Oh my gosh, it’s true love, blah blah blah, and he just knows what I’m thinking, and all of that. But no one really knows what you’re thinking. So you really just have to ask for it, and you have to ask for it before you get really angry. Because I think, a lot of times — especially for women — we try to not have too many needs. Then we’re just waiting for the guy to do something, and then he doesn’t, and then we want to kill him. So you have to ask for what you want before you reach that period where you hate their guts.

Is it okay to ghost? Like, say the date is really bad. Can you just get up and leave?
I mean, why waste your time and other people’s time? But I guess there’s a fine line. You don’t want to be completely rude. You can ghost, but try to do it politely. Ghost politely.

How do you keep things from getting stagnant when you’re doing long (or social) distance? 
Phone sex? Getting to know each other through just talking. I think, sometimes, missing someone can be sexy and just getting all pent up. So when you see each other, it’s like you’ve really missed each other. I guess just lean into it.

A Rom-com Star’s Best Dating Advice