“For all the time they spend talking about us, you’d think they’d know us better,” Washingtonian Jack G., 32, told me when I asked him to share what he thinks women don’t know about men.
He has a point. The dating habits of single men are a hot topic for many single women across the country. There’s much debate and dozens of simple answers to more obvious questions. But what are guys not telling you? I investigated to uncover several things you should know in order to help you understand your dates better.
1. Men like it when a woman makes the first move. The words “first move” are easily misinterpreted, so let me clarify things: Making the first move doesn’t entail throwing yourself at a man. Acknowledging him with eye contact or giving him a smile is definitely a first move, and guys love the feeling of being flirted with by a woman. Hopefully, most men can pick up the ball and run with it after that first flirty signal.
2. It’s OK to play hard to get — but avoid those stale, old-school tactics. Surely you’ve heard this old wives’ tale: To hold a man’s interest, a woman must play hard to get. Here’s the kicker — men and women may agree on this, but they define “playing hard to get” differently. You might interpret it as turning a man down the first time he asks you out or pretending to ignore him when he walks by, as if such behavior is a turn-on. Ladies, frankly, for most of us, it doesn’t work that way; instead, it’s simply frustrating. Successfully playing hard to get works like this: once a man knows there’s at least a flicker of mutual interest, you get coy. You genuinely smile at him and then look away. You acknowledge his sexual advances while holding them at bay. It’s all about setting your pace and what works for you. You might be busy one night and can’t go on a date, but offer another day or time to meet up instead. Treat playing hard to get like an ongoing dance rather than a yes or no question to be answered.
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3. Superficial objectification cuts both ways; in other words, men want to be loved for more than their provider status. “Some women complain that guys judge them too harshly for their looks, as if we’re the only superficial ones,” says 30-year-old John D. from Florida. “Well, they don’t want to be judged for their looks and I don’t want to be judged by my bank account. I just stopped seeing a girl after three weeks because she seemed to think I was loaded and expected me to pay for everything. I make $45,000 a year. She makes double that. I was happy to pay for the first couple of dates as a gesture, but after that, I thought her expectations were unfair.”
4. Men cannot read women’s minds, so speak up if you’re unhappy. “I can tell when a date is annoyed or not happy about something,” says 35-year-old Jay A., a Virginia resident. “But if she expects me to know what she’s thinking without telling me, it’s a futile waste of time for both of us. And then I get annoyed.”
5. Men are more sensitive about the way they look than you think. Do men worry what you think about their weight, clothes and overall style? Yep. Men don’t get a pass on all that anymore. Now they know what it’s been like for you ladies to live under the cultural microscope all these years, constantly being judged by your physical appearance. The difference is that men probably won’t tell you how self-conscious they are about it. They’re not going to ask you if their jeans accentuate their love handles or wonder if their hair looks cool… but they’ll be thinking about it. So say something nice about how he looks and — if the man has any brains at all — expect him to return the favor when you ask if your butt looks fat in your outfit. (By the way, no. It never does.)
6. Excessive communications drama can push men away. “When I call or text a girl, I feel this huge expectation from the other side of the phone line,” says 25-year-old Tyler W. from Maryland. “Does it mean I want to be her boyfriend? Not always.” Sometimes guys are just calling you to talk; it’s a telecommunications version of “hanging out” together. Don’t be overly offended if there’s occasional multitasking involved, either, especially if the guy is at work (occasional being the key word here). It’s OK to be miffed if he’s a serial offender who never gives you his full attention, though.
7. Saying “I love you” is a huge step for a guy. Everybody wants to hear “I love you” at some point. But copping to those three little words is arguably a bigger step for men than women and it isn’t uttered lightly. Rushing a man makes him worry that you are more in love with the idea of being in love with someone — anyone — than paying attention to what’s really happening between the two of you.
8. It means something when a man introduces you to his friends. Long, lingering dates and cocooning together at home are wonderful in the early days of any relationship, but there comes a point where integration — or, more specifically, the lack of it — into a man’s life can signal that this guy doesn’t see you as his girlfriend. If you’re still spending all your time alone together with nary a friend or family member of his in sight after a few months, don’t get confused: you’re having some kind of an affair, not a relationship.