As you know by now, I like to date. I gotta tell you, though, guys, I see common mistakes being made that are the kiss of death to romance. I can’t very well coach the dudes I’m dating, but I can throw a rope to all of you. Here, in no particular order, are 10 tips from the dating maven:
1. Don’t talk about how hot your ex-girlfriend/the girl on the next barstool/Catherine Zeta Jones is. As a female, this seems like such a no-brainer to me, but I see even the suavest guys do this crap. I know you don’t mean this as a personal insult to the lovely woman you’re out with. I know that to you it’s just interesting conversation. After all, who’s not interested in hot chicks? Answer: Your date is not.
2. Whoever asks, pays. Even if you’re lucky enough to have her ask you out first, you will still score big points if you scoop up the check. Chivalry is not dead, or it shouldn’t be, at least. Most women, given the choice, would rather have you pop for dinner at a funky diner than suggest Dutch treat at a chi-chi restaurant. Addendum: If your date really insists on paying her own share and she is not a hardcore feminist, she may be trying to tell you she’s not interested, so don’t argue too much.
3. Compliment her. Even if your words sound cheesy to you, they won’t to her. Relentless bragging alert: When I was in my twenties I had a very nice body (some say I still do). My boyfriend at the time said he didn’t want to tell me what a beautiful figure I had, because he didn’t want to sound like every other guy. He couldn’t have been more off-base. There isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t want to hear that you find her attractive. Don’t be sleazy about it, though.
4. Don’t complain about your last relationship/failed marriage. I cannot tell you how many first dates have tanked because guys have gone on and on about how they got cleaned out due to their divorce or how their last girlfriend left them for their best friend five years ago. Get some therapy. Seriously. There’s no shame in it. This is not the kind of talk that a fun single woman wants to hear on a date.
5. Don’t be a big chicken. If she says she’s busy on Friday night, maybe you should ask for Saturday instead of giving up. When I was in Jamaica years ago, I met a charming Southern guy who encouraged other men to approach attractive women because, “the worst that can happen is that you’ll end up with a new friend.” I love that attitude. Makes me want to move to the South. Life is short. Live it.
6. Confidence is it, baby. Beatles said that all you need is love, but for our purposes, all you need is confidence. Apparently when people weren’t able to recognize Cary Grant in real life, he would say, “See, even Cary Grant isn’t like Cary Grant.” It’s all in your attitude. Why do you think not-so-striking guys who are in bands or do poetry slams are so devastating? It’s the willingness to put themselves out there. That quality is extraordinarily attractive to women, guaranteed.
7. Pay attention to who she is. Sometimes men are so concerned with expressing who they are and what they want on a date that the woman may as well not even be there. I know you’re hot for her and planning how you’re going to get her into a tongue-wrestling match later, but this kind of thinking is self-defeating as she’ll know that you’re not paying attention to her right then and there. If you can be in the present more, it will set you up for more potential passion later.
8. Don’t try to hide your quirks. They’ll come out later anyway. I’ve been out with guys who said, “I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about my interest in Star Trek/origami/railroad books on our date,” but really, wouldn’t you rather be with a woman who accepts — no, embraces — your love of Kafka or Gaudi architecture?
9. Don’t overestimate what you have to offer. It’s harsh, I know, but sociological studies have shown that men tend to overestimate their value in the singles “marketplace.” I dated a legally blind man who was constantly talking about how “hot” other women were. I finally turned to him and said, “How do you know?” If you are not attracting the caliber of woman you feel you deserve, maybe you should reassess?
10. Don’t be overeager. You know those women who seem to be planning what color their bridesmaids are going to wear on the first date? Don’t be the male version of them. Whether it stems from horniness or relief at finding someone you think you could dig long term, neediness is never sexy. I think you’ll know when she wants to get horizontal, so until then, chill out. If you are much more sold on the potential relationship than she is, she will want to run away at the Speed of Light if you bring up moving to London together on the second date.
Have fun. Dating is about getting to know other people and sharing different perspectives on things. Chances are that any given date won’t lead to a big, heavy relationship, and that’s okay. It’s a chance to learn more about yourself… or at least get another story to tell at cocktail parties.
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