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Since I’ve been working as a therapist with men and women for close to 15 years now, I’ve taken note of some of the interesting things that both genders share about what it’s like to date the opposite sex.
I hear stories of abandonment, hurt, manipulation, rejection, as well as stories of excitement, adventure, and discovering love for the first time. There’s never a dull moment in a therapist’s office.
Of course, I’m often hearing the deep frustration that women feel about men and how they don’t understand how they operate, or why they do the things they do. But one of the things I’ve always found fascinating is how many men wish that women could understand them better, especially when it comes to dating.
So based on inside information I’ve heard men say in my therapy office over the last decade, I’ve captured some of the most common comments I hear from heterosexual men who are dating women.
For every woman who’s ever worried that they don’t know what to say or how to act around a new man, here’s a quick guide to dating from a man’s perspective.
- Roll with it
If the guy suggests the restaurant and it’s not a five-star A-list spot, please don’t act disappointed. The point of a first date is to get to know each other, not to spend as much cash as possible in hopes of impressing a stranger. If the pub or café is not to your liking, ignore the surroundings and focus on the person you’re with. Next time, offer a few suggestions of your own.
- If you bring your ex up, we assume you’re not over him
Mentioning an ex is a bad move. First of all, it’s a boring topic—your date doesn’t know the guy—and moreover, it demonstrates that you’re not over your past relationship. No one likes to be compared to anyone else, especially early on in an acquaintance. Bringing up your ex-boyfriend shows some insecurity too. Men don’t care so much about who you were three months ago, they want to know the person who’s here right now.
- Pettiness is a turn off
Saying “Ugh, I can’t believe she’s wearing that” is not going to score you any points. Hating on other women (on anyone, really) shows men the worst side of femininity, and it’s a turn-off. Fight the impulse to critique other women in the bar if you want a second date.
- Confidence is a turn on
On the other hand, confident grace attracts men. Moving, speaking, and behaving with poise if it’s authentic, is not arrogant, it’s confident. Women who have this self-possession have something very valuable, and it’s inviting to a man. Sexuality is connected to this, but only under the surface. Wearing a shirt cut down to your nipples actually shows a lack of confidence.
- Don’t read too deeply into the first hook-up
The first time with any new partner might be a little awkward. You don’t know each other’s bodies or desires yet, and the best you can hope for is to have a decent time and leave wanting more. If it goes badly the first time, this doesn’t mean it always will. Don’t be so fast to assume that the connection is not there or it’s not going to work. Men want you to give them a break and see how things go on the second or third date before you drop them like a hot potato.
- Show some gratitude
Men are expected to do lots of small chivalrous gestures for women: hold the door open, pull out their chair, and pick up the tab. While this is a standard social contract, if a woman doesn’t acknowledge these gestures, it can feel like wasted effort. Did she even notice I paid for three rounds of drinks? Say thank you, and maybe pick up the tab on the second date.
- Casual touch is cool
Leaning over and touching a man’s arm in a conversation is a signal that you’re interested in what he’s saying, you’re paying attention. Holding hands with a man, especially before you’ve been intimate, is another way to get to know him – it’s an energy exchange. ‘Body English’ is important, and often communicates more at the beginning of a relationship than words can.
We label each other “men” and “women” and think that these labels actually explain something about the species (as in, “It’s just how women/men are”). But generalizations poison individual relationships. Keep the above tips in mind, as they fall inside our social codes and encourage kindness between the sexes, but most of all put aside what you think you know about men before heading out on the date and keep your heart open.
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