Men often ask the question, “What do women want?” A wise person once answered, “If you want to know what women want, ask them… one at a time.”
Since that’s an impossible task for any man, I asked several single ladies to share what men really don’t know about them and what they look for in a date. Guys, you might find their answers surprisingly myth-busting in some instances, while others might validate what you already believe. Either way, hopefully these insights will give you the inside track on understanding women better and improving your dating skills:
1. You risk it all if you wait forever to reach out to a woman who interests you. “Supposedly, men and women are on different timelines when it comes to making contact,” says Mary L., 38, a resident of Washington state. “Guys take their own sweet time to call us for a date and follow up afterward. But the older we get, the less tolerant we are of the waiting game. Guys, wait too long to get in touch — or be inconsistent in how often you’re in contact with us — and we will lose interest. Patience has less of a shelf life than you realize.”
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2. Not all women who date are looking for a serious relationship. “Guys think we’re all on the same ‘dating for a relationship’ track. But sometimes, we just want to date casually,” says Los Angeles native Marcie R., 29. “We’re just happier being upfront about it. Guys seem to have a harder time admitting that’s what they want right now. That leads to hot and cold behavior, which women hate.” Not looking to get serious? Send those signals out from day one. Don’t start seeing a woman and then back-pedal like crazy when things get heavy. It’s much better to find a girl who’s OK with casual dating, too.
3. You’d be surprised about what women find to be genuinely sexy in a man. Guys, do you think you’re dazzling women with your bravado, squeaky-clean look and manly stubbornness? Well, maybe. But guess what? Women think that a man dressed in a plain t-shirt and a pair of hot jeans is truly sexy, so avoid anything too trendy, loose or ill-fitting — the classics are fine. Women love it when you ask for their advice. (OK, except when it comes to directions... that’s why you have a GPS in the car. At least one of you needs to know where you’re going on dates, right?) And according to a recent Daily Mailsurvey, 93 percent of respondents said that if you are fixing, building, making, or cooking something specifically for a woman, the chance that you’ll get lucky just went up exponentially.
4. Being a cheapskate is a deal-breaker for women. There’s plenty of debate about who should pay for a date. Some people think that men should always pick up the tab, while others opt for a more practical “let’s take turns” approach. Regardless of who pays, a man who comes off as being cheap is persona non grata in a woman’s world. “Cheapness is the kiss of death for me,” says Linda W., 37, from Virginia. Focusing on how much the date costs, handing coupons to a waiter or refusing to tip service people adequately can make a bad impression on anyone and will usually nix your chances for a second date.
5. Women struggle to make a connection while remaining independent, too. First dates can be like visiting an amusement park; at first, you’re thrilled with the flashy, colored lights and the sense of anticipation. As things progress, you find yourself alternating emotionally between rip-roaring excitement and the onset of dating burnout. You might feel a pressing need to just chill out at home and get a sense of normalcy by going through your regular, single-life routine. So, men, relax and realize that you’re not alone — women ride the same emotional rollercoaster that goes along with dating someone new. Like you, they vacillate between wanting to be in a relationship and craving independence, especially as they age. Finding the right balance is the key to satisfying these needs, regardless of who you are. Nobody healthy and sane wants to be defined by his or her relationship, and these days, women are more independent than ever before.
6. They call it “women’s intuition” because they are adept at reading nonverbal cues if something feels “off” with a date. Women have great instincts. Yes, this is a stereotype, but stereotypes often contain a grain of truth. So, men, it’s better not to lie or become emotionally distant when she questions you about things like dating each other exclusively or what you did last weekend. Chances are she’ll know something is amiss, even if you think you’re sparing her feelings by lying. Even if you fool her once, you’ll have to keep your story straight, which isn’t always easy to do. And once a woman thinks she can’t trust you, it’s the kiss of dating death.
7. No woman wants to be your mother (or a carbon copy of her own). Women and men alike have grown up hearing that, in the words of the famous Al Jolson song, a guy wants a “gal just like the gal that married dear old Dad.” But smart single women, as much as they may adore their own mothers (and will grow to loves yours, too!) are not looking to be anyone’s mommy when it comes to dates. They know the difference between a man who lovingly respects his own mother and one who requires around-the-clock babysitting, emotionally or otherwise. Parenting another adult implies major control issues, no matter who is doing it — plus it’s just plain creepy.
8. It’s the little things that matter when it comes to impressing a woman. If you want a woman to feel like she’s special, really pay attention to her; notice the small things, however unremarkable. Women will grow more attracted to you if they realize you are genuinely interested in who they are as individuals and the things that matter to them, no matter how trivial. Remembering something minor about her appearance, interests, lifestyle or behavior — whether it’s her favorite flower, preferred drink or what color dress she was wearing on your first date — all add up to win you big points in the game of love.
9. Women are slower to end relationships than men, even short-term ones. “If a new relationship isn’t working out, we’re less likely to dump you without warning,” says 28-year-old Trish C. from Virginia. “When men do that and run off, we think less of them. Even from a short-term relationship, we extricate ourselves slowly to make sure we’re respectful, ready and not making a mistake. But the signs that we’re planning to leave are usually there if you pay attention.” So, guys, if your gut tells you that things aren’t working out, you’re probably right. If you decide to end things first, though, give her the same courtesy she’d give you by telling her in person and avoid the vanishing act. You might think you’re being kind by sparing her the dreaded breakup discussion, but in reality, she’d rather hear the truth.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him firstname.lastname@example.org.