OP: The Dobler/Dahmer test is the perfect way to judge the success of flirting

2 April 2019

Edna Newey

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    Almost anybody with a skill in binge-watching and a Netflix account has, at this point, watched at least one episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”

    The show ran from 2005-2014, broke hearts multiple times, made us marvel at Neil Patrick Harris’s ability to act like a slimy heterosexual and gifted us with the much under-appreciated Dobler/Dahmer test.

    The test is a simple one, referencing Lloyd Dobler, a character from 1989 romantic comedy “Say Anything” and Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer, rapist and cannibal who committed his atrocious murders on homosexual men from the late ‘70s to late ‘90s.

    “Say Anything” is most iconic for the scene where Dobler, played by John Cusack, holds a boombox outside the window of Diane Court’s (Ione Skye) house playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, in an effort to win her back.

   The main character in “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, explains the test through the anecdote of his friend’s Lily and Marshall’s college courtship.

    When Marshall (Jason Segal) finally asks Lily (Alyson Hannigan) out, he does so by sneaking into her room and playing a song that he wrote on the ukulele declaring how he absolutely had to go on a date with her.

    The crux of the Dobler/Dahmer test lies in the idea that had Marshall’s feelings been unrequited, then Lily would likely have been scared for her life at the strange man suddenly in her dorm, but because she felt the same, the act came off as romantic.

    In my infinite wisdom as a socially awkward teenager, I used this weird trick to determine the degree of interest someone has romantically. What was most surprising is that it worked. It worked like a charm.

    I was flirting up this gentleman I had known a while and told him that his eyes were so pretty, they could be taxidermied into earrings. I didn’t realize I had Dobler/Dahmer tested him until afterward, but the reaction was positive and was followed by a brief fling, so I marked it as a win.

    Each individual is different and may require a slight variation, especially depending on how well you know each other. I had the safety net of this person knowing that I love the weird and macabre and knew I could play it off gracefully and with a minimal amount of embarrassment if it backfired, but not everyone has that luxury.

    Now, I’m not saying that you should sneak into people’s rooms, or tell them that their skin is luxury furniture quality, but if you are willing to take a small risk, then it may be worth a shot.