The Federal Government Is in the Business of Dating Advice (Not Kidding)

October 15, 2009

So I was on the D.C. metrorail yesterday and saw an advertisement for a website www.twoofus.org. As with all the ads on the DC metro, which are typically put out by special interests seeking to curry favor with government employees taking the train to work, I looked to see what organization was behind this. Maybe a religious pro-family group? Not exactly. What I saw was the logo of the Department of Health and Human Services.

So I went to the website, and here's a sample of what's on the site:

Dating Do's and Don'ts

Dating can be a daunting proposition for many single adults, and in today's progressive, cyber-dating world it is important to set some rules, but still follow common courtesies...oh, and be sure to have a good time!

Do's

1.Take precautions and keep yourself safe. It's important that you and your date feel safe and comfortable the first time you go out. This is especially true if you have met through an internet website. Transport yourself and meet the person in a public place. Be sure to tell a friend about your plans and keep your cell phone with you. If you ever feel threatened or uncomfortable by your date, don't hesitate to remove yourself from the situation.

2.Be attentive. Everyone loves talking about themselves, so ask questions. Show you are listening and interested by maintaining good eye contact and nodding. Answering phone calls or text messages is not only rude, but sends a message to your date that your mind is elsewhere.

3.Be courteous. For you guys out there, remember that small things like opening doors or walking your date to her car are still important. Ladies, be sure to allow your date to open doors for you, help you on/off with your coat, or show any number of kind gestures. Also, it is always courteous to offer to split the bill and be gracious if he declines.

4.Remember to have fun! It's common to let nerves get the best of you, but remember to enjoy your night out. A comfortable smile is very attractive and laughing will put both of you at ease.

5.Follow Up. If you want to see the person again, be sure to let him/her know that you had a good time and make plans for a second date. If you didn't really think the two of you would make a good match, trust your gut, but make sure to thank him/her for the date.

Don'ts

1.Don't be late! Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get ready so you will be on-time. Take into account the amount of time it will take to get to your destination and plan accordingly (driving, traffic, parking, etc.) Think about how anxious you might feel if you thought you were getting stood up. If you are running late or stuck in traffic, call your date and let him/her know when you will arrive.

2.Don't discuss emotional or controversial topics. This would include politics, religion, money and especially past relationships. These subjects will come up eventually, but it is best to put it them off until at least date four or five. Instead, talk about lighter subjects such as your favorite sports, favorite movies, books, hobbies, what you do for work, or where you've recently traveled.

3.Don't come on too strong. There is no greater turn-off than a guy or girl acting needy or desperate. Show your date that you are confident and independent. Refrain from behavior such as acting jealous if your date talks about friends of the opposite sex. Don't try to set ground rules for how often he/she needs to call you, either.

4.Don't hide who you really are. Being your most impressive self is important, but don't ever pretend to be someone you are not. Remember that the point of dating is to determine compatibility. If your date doesn't like you for you, don't take it personally...he/she is just not the right match. Move on.

5.Don't get too physical, too soon. Moral standards aside, it is never a good idea to become intimate with someone before learning who they are as a person. Give your dating relationship a fighting chance and hold off for a while. If you are feeling good chemistry, end with a kiss and let your date know that you can't wait to see him/her again.

Yes, the Department of Health and Human Services is now in the business of giving dating advice. Let me ask the relevant question - is dating advice a public good, or in other words, something that is under-provided by the private sector?

I googled the phrase in quotes "dating advice," and Google said this:  

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,120,000 for "dating advice".

Let's just say that none of the first 10 results were from government.

In the whole scheme of things, this program from HHS is likely a drop in the bucket of the federal government's budget. But when people see the government doing ridiculous functions like this, they begin to doubt the efficacy of all government programs - even those that are legitimate.

Here's more on the program that is behind "twoofus.org."

The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center (NHMRC) is a national resource and clearinghouse for information and research relating to healthy marriages. We strive to be a "first stop shop" for marriage and family trends and statistics, marriage education and programming, scholarly research, and the latest news and events. In particular, the NHMRC also provides training and technical assistance presentations and documents for federally funded Healthy Marriage Initiative grantees.

The NHMRC supports the Administration for Children and Families,  furthering its commitment to promote and support healthy marriages and child well-being by providing research and program information and generating new knowledge about promising and effective strategies.

Our audience includes individuals, couples, families, educators, policymakers, researchers, and organizational leaders with an interest in marriage. The NHMRC provides access to print and electronic publications, timely information on healthy marriage issues, and targeted resources that support healthy relationships and marriages.

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