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Dating is a lot like underwear shopping. I hate "dating." I also hate shopping for underwear. Both tasks require patience, anxiety and a whole lot of luck.

For many who have not "played the field" in a while, getting back into the swing of things can be daunting. If your favorite brassiere has suddenly fallen apart on you, it is hard to motivate yourself to find a new one. Instead, you lament for a while and wonder if the broken clasp could be repaired or if the snapped strap could be somehow fixed.

At this point, friends sometimes must step in and explain that if you truly love it, you will let it go and stop trying to fix everything about it. They urge you to go out and find a new one—sometimes offering to accompany you.

And there are many reasons to go out looking for a new one. Sometimes other women who take a fancy to them then a stranger in some godforsaken Laundromat steals them. Sometimes you just grow out of them and realize that it is time to move on to bigger and better things. And sometimes you just get tired of seeing the same thing wrapped around you all the time.

Like men, certain types of underwear hang out in certain places. Victoria's Secret is like a slightly upscale formal party offering somewhat normal accouterments—dressed to impress. On the flip side, Frederick's of Hollywood is like the trendy singles bar of the underwear world—it's the place to go if you are looking for something a little more scandalous, wild and potentially sleazy. And it is most likely that the stuff you find there will be just a one-night thing. Somewhere in between you find the Sportsmarts of the world that, like picnics in the park, offer all-American comfort and support, in underwear terms.

While shopping, one never fails to encounter disasters—the kind that just don't fit right and make you uncomfortable all night long. In underwear terms, that would be the bra that has the clasp that digs into your back or makes you look like you have a medley of eggplants stuffed down the front of your tube top.

In date terms, that would be the guy who tells you in vivid detail about his last bowel movement or the fellow who hopes to dazzle you by making it "snow" by simply shaking his head back and forth over your fettuccine. Or maybe the guy who keeps on coaxing you to let him show you what he's "famous for"—in the bathroom of the movie theater.

Like underwear, your "disaster" may be someone else's best fit. I realized this with the date who disclosed his enjoyment of naked male playing cards on our third date. Feigning interest, I listened to him talk about how a particular one depicting a Fabio look-alike wearing nothing but a sombrero and cowboy boots was "so funny," and he made me agree to let him show it to me sometime. Needless to say, I never saw it—but a couple months later I learned that he had hit it off with a girl in my English class who coincidentally always wore cowboy boots to class.

Then there is the lingerie that you know your parents would never approve of. In bra terminology, that would be the skimpy satin leopard print that you shove in the very back of your underwear drawer. This is the kind of undergarment that induces your mother to say something like, "Why are you buying that? Nobody is going to be seeing your underwear—why don't you get these white ones?" The dating world equivalent is the guy who honks for you in the driveway without coming in, the guy who has no qualms about calling you at 3 a.m. completely wasted, and the guy who sometimes doesn't recognize you because the flashback from his last acid trip is distorting your face.

There is also the kind that your grandma would like. They are white, cotton and, well, boring. Don't get me wrong—they are quite comfortable and really great if you are at an age where you can no longer depend on your bladder to conduct itself in a socially acceptable manner.

The "nice" guys who you feel comfortable around and you could really picture growing old with are essentially the grandma undies of the dating world. They order the same thing every time you go out, they ask permission to hold your hand, they make lukewarm conversation about the weather, and they are genuinely, well … nice. And about as exciting as washing your grandma's underwear.

It doesn't take much experience to notice the uncanny similarities between men and lingerie. There are the perfect fits that you want to show off. There are the really cheap ones. There are the childish ones that are fun at first but get old after awhile. There are those who are trying to be something they're not (in the underwear-world it is the WonderBra—in the dating world it is the guy who wears FUBU and tacks the suffix "dawg" to the end of every word, even though he comes from a white upper-middle class family).

There are the ones you wear once and never want to see again. There are the ones with weird stains that you didn't notice before you bought them. There is the type that you realize later is in fact made for men—not women. There is the kind that friends "borrow" but never give back. And there are the ones that belong to people you don't know.

There are the versatile ones that will go everywhere with you. There are the kinds with which you get set up (they either come in a box from your great aunt at Christmas or in a beat-up VW bus and call themselves your blind date). Either way you end up somehow losing them—or just their numbers. And finally, there are some that just rub you the wrong way.

This is precisely where the underwear metaphor flops. While you can get rid of the ill-fitting disaster by simply ripping it off and flinging it out of the dressing room, the dating disaster is one you must endure through the fettuccine, the tiramisu, the movie and the drinks afterward.

Unlike lingerie shopping, going on a date is something where you may very well be the type of "underwear" that your date doesn't even want to try on—much less look at. Panties don't reject you—men do. And while your white grandma undies are perfectly happy with whatever relationship you have with them—oftentimes the male equivalents want to know why you don't want to be more than just friends. At which point you wish very badly that you could just stuff them back in the drawer.

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