Ok, let’s step away from anything too serious for a moment and talk about dating. There’s dating before you get married, there’s dating after you get married. There may be dating while you’re married, but that’s another blog (stay tuned!). Dating should be fun for everyone involved, but can come with a lot of stress for many of us. I have many single, dating friends, and I see who’s successful and who struggles. I have a basic dating philosophy for women that I see reinforced time and time again, so at this point I’m inclined to believe it until I’m disproven. It’s not something many modern women like to hear, so I resist offering my two cents unless asked (which I am more often than you might think). But I’ll leave it here. It’s pretty simple. Ready?
Make a man feel good. Period.
How do you make a man feel good? How do you make ANYONE feel good? Easy ways first:
Pay attention. Everyone likes to feel what they say and how they feel matters. Read their body language and respond accordingly.
Listen. This runs right along side paying attention. This also benefits you as you get to know this person.
Ask questions. Gauge more or fewer depending on his personality and responses. But remember, no one likes an interrogation.
Show interest in his life. Maybe the questions cover some of this, or a comment related to one of his interests?
Don’t be critical! The first few dates are not the time to go off on why you hate his favorite author.
Touch him. Relevantly! And not sexually. A touch on the forearm or shoulder during conversation to emphasize a point can foster connection.
Smile at him. A smile shows openness and is encouragement that you are having a good time and he can relax as well. And this shouldn't be hard, because you really should be having fun!
Compliment him. Don’t overdo it, but a man can be just as nervous about a date as a woman, and a compliment can bring that down a notch. Plus, we all like to feel appreciated.
Relax and be yourself. Letting your guard down and allowing a little vulnerability to show can definitely open doors to greater connection.
And one final suggestion, maybe not as simple:
Make him feel like a man.
This last suggestion deserves a far greater explanation, as I can feel the hackles being raised already! I will challenge anyone who says that this advice is anti-feminist. I am a feminist through and through. I just do not believe that women and men are the same. I would say that I want to be treated like a woman. Not a barefoot and pregnant, get-me-my-beer woman, but I want a man to notice when I put time into my appearance, I want to feel important and protected and like I’m with a man who is confident and in control. This is not anti-feminist.
How do you make him feel like a man? Let him open the door for you, let him change your light bulbs, let him take you out, and yes, let him pay. I know this can be a hot button, especially with the younger generation. I do NOT believe that allowing a man to pay gives him the right to anything other than the time he’s already spent with you. I also think there is nothing wrong with the woman offering to pay, or going Dutch, but for many men paying for a date is a way for him to feel in control and able to show a woman a good time. It makes him feel good. A woman can take the reins next time--or she can buy drinks after dinner, get tickets to a show the next week, bring him a bottle of wine, or pick up dinner from his favorite restaurant to eat in front of his fireplace. Hell, if the woman is the one with more disposable income, she may very well end up paying that much more in the long run, but my point here is to let the man feel manly. In turn, you will feel more like a woman. Honestly, I have three children, dealt with aging parents, and I’ve taken care of enough men in the past. I don’t want one more person that I have to care for. (Ok, I’d welcome grandchildren in that category, but please, not for many years!) And if a man doesn’t want to take care of a woman, that is fine too, but I will know from the start that he is not the man for me.
By actively trying to make someone feel good, I think we automatically eliminate many things that have the potentially opposite effect, however let’s just go over a few crash and burns that I have seen in action:
If someone offers to buy you a drink, and you might be remotely interested in him (or anyone he is with), graciously accept. If there's no interest at all, graciously decline. Can you tell what the key word is here?
If your date insists on paying, thank him sincerely and put your wallet away. Offering more than twice can get uncomfortable all around.
Do not put down large groups of people with broad, generalizing statements. You have no idea if his brother loves curling or his mother is a republican. I once told a guy that I thought the Nicole Kidman type woman with her pasty skin and no curves was just hands down unattractive. His best friend pulled out a picture of his wife—could’ve been her twin. (I've since changed my tune, I swear!)
Put your phone AWAY. You checking your phone, or God forbid, texting, on a date only makes him feel like there’s someone more important out there.
Avoid talking about other men or past relationships.
And please, do not get drunk! You not only run the risk of going against every single suggestion mentioned above, but drunk is just NEVER attractive on anyone, ever.