Sorry to break this to you, single men, but it is possible to be too nice. And if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of following all the rules — you wined and dined her, asked her questions, called the next day — but still didn’t win her heart. What gives? “Women like a nice guy at first,” says Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy. But niceness can also be seen as weakness — and that’s a major turn-off for most women. So how do you show a date that you’re genuinely interested in her without going overboard? We asked Dr. Glover and single men and women for some pointers that should help even the meekest man make a stronger statement during dates.
DO take charge
“Dating is like a dance: If you don’t take the lead, she has to,” Dr. Glover says. “Most women don’t want to be in charge.” Asking her out is a big step, but it’s not enough. Dr. Glover suggests having a particular day and plan already picked out in advance: “Asking her to go out sometime leaves too many details to be determined. Instead, ask her to meet you for drinks on Tuesday.” That way, all she has to decide is whether or not she’s free that night.
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DO disagree with her
“Nothing irritates me more than someone who agrees with everything I say, even when I can tell he has another opinion,” says Theresa M. from Washington, D.C. “If I wanted to hear my thoughts on a subject, I would just talk to myself. I want a guy who will challenge me.” By avoiding conflict with your date, you may as well be wearing a big sign that says, I’m a pushover! If you don’t see eye-to-eye with her, say so.
DO tease her a little
You won’t ever find a woman who doesn’t like a man who’s funny. So go ahead and let your sarcasm streak or dry sense of humor shine — just make sure to do it playfully. Sean, 35, from New York City, attests to the power of this move: “I used some playful teasing on my last date — I told her, ‘Your head isn’t nearly as large as it looks on your profile’ — and we were able to use all that built-in first-date tension to our advantage.” By carrying yourself this way, you’ll look confident — which, by the way, is a turn-on for everyone.
DO talk about yourself
Don’t ramble on about your own life constantly, but mentioning things here and there is a good way to make sure your date doesn’t feel like she’s interrogating you. Instead, ask her where she was born; then, when she’s done answering you, drop a few relevant details about your life. “Everything was always about me with this one guy I dated. It was so annoying,” says Alina from Chicago. “There’s no way I’m that interesting! I kept waiting for him to tell me something.”
DON’T plan elaborate dates
“The first two or three dates should be simple, casual coffee-type meetings. You should pay for them, but they should be cheap,” says Dr. Glover. Do the opposite, and you just look like you’re trying too hard, says Marissa from Johnson City, TN. “A guy bought concert tickets for a band I had mentioned in passing,” she explains. “He spent way too much money. It was shocking, and I felt like I owed him something afterward.” Clearly, these are not good feelings to build a relationship on.
DON’T compliment your date too much
“An ex-boyfriend gave me compliments all the time,” says Rachel from Harrisonburg, VA. “It got to the point that I didn’t believe him anymore, and I figured he said those things to every woman he dated.” Seeming insincere is bad, but it can get even worse: “She’ll like it at first, but persistent flattery will start to spook her in some way,” says Dr. Glover. Forget the usual flood of flattery, then, and show her you care by the occasional compliment from the heart — and by being reliable.
DON’T try to speed up the relationship
After a great date, you may feel compelled to ask her out again — right then and there — for the next night… and the weekend after, too. Go slowly — don’t overwhelm a woman with attention. Dr. Glover suggests you only see each other once a week (at most) at the start of a new relationship. If you seem too eager, you’ll look needy and available for most women. “After a second date, this guy wanted to spend all of his time with me,” says Caroline, 28, from Los Angeles. “I started to wonder if he had his own life, but I didn’t want to stick around to find out.” So to avoid that fate, pace yourself, enjoy the anticipation — and let things unfold slowly and steadily.
Lisa Freedman is the associate editor at Food Network Magazine.