Modern dating is far less rule-based than it used to be. Fifty years ago, it was expected that the man would make the first move, pick up the bill, and generally be in the driving seat. Today, dating rules for men are far more relaxed – but that doesn’t mean men don’t still feel the pressure.
It’s common for guys to struggle with flirting, dating and relationships – in part because they can find it hard to ask for advice and speak openly about these things with friends.
If you’re yet to find your special someone, read on for this list of favourite fool-proof dating tips for men.
1. Put yourself out there
Meeting someone special becomes virtually impossible if you don’t put yourself out there.
Perhaps you’ve had your heart broken in the past or you struggle with shyness – whatever the reason for your hesitation, it’s important to get past your nerves and make a commitment to meeting new people.
By its very nature, dating is a little bit nerve-racking and risky. It requires you to be vulnerable and open to new experiences. But rather than running a mile from it all, try to embrace it. Remember that any dates you do meet up with will be in exactly the same boat.
2. Meet people online and in real life
If you’re from an older generation, you’re probably more inclined to meet people in person rather than wade into the unknown world of dating apps. But if you’re younger, the thought of striking up conversation with a stranger in person might be downright terrifying.
In truth, the best way to meet someone is to try a combination of the two. Sign up to some online dating services, and at the same time make an effort to be sociable and meet people in real life. If talking to strangers at a bar isn’t your thing, try taking up a new activity such as an exercise class or a book club.
Online apps can become a crutch for people who struggle with social interactions so try not to rely on them too heavily – you need to practise feeling comfortable around people in real life. It does get easier the more you do it.
3. Don’t overthink your flirting technique
Flirting is not always easy, but in most cases it fails when you overthink it, or try “pick-up artist” cheats or tricks to impress someone, rather than relying on your natural charms.
A good tip when talking to someone new (whether online or in person) is to imagine you’re chatting with a friend or family member – this takes the pressure off, letting you relax and be yourself.
When meeting people in real life, make the effort to make good eye contact and smile. Listen carefully when they speak, and engage with their stories by offering similar anecdotes. It’s OK to be tactile when flirting, but don’t overdo it – a light touch on the shoulder or hand now and again is fine, but more than that might make them uncomfortable.
Finally, remember the golden rule: if they tell you they’re not interested, or politely take themselves out of the conversation, don’t keep pursuing them.
4. Plan date venues where you’ll be in your element
The typical first-date venue is a chic bar or an expensive restaurant but, while there’s nothing wrong with either of these, they’re not always conducive to having a good time.
If you meet your date in a noisy, busy bar, you might struggle to find seats or even hear the other person speaking. Expensive restaurants, meanwhile, can make you feel pressured and uncomfortable.
Instead of going for something “impressive”, opt for a place you know well – whether it’s that Victorian pub near your home or your favourite independent pizzeria. Also, remember that you can try something a bit different. Don’t be afraid to suggest a day date such as a picnic in the park or a stroll around an art gallery.
If it’s in a venue where you’ll be in your element, the date will automatically go more smoothly.
5. Make a good impression on your first date
It may seem obvious, but on an initial date first impressions are crucial. The first and easiest step in making a good impression is to look your best; so before you head out, take some time perfecting your appearance.
Have a shower, spend a bit of time on your hair and make sure you wear something clean (and preferably freshly ironed). There’s no specific rule when it comes to first-date outfits, but it’s hard to go wrong with a fresh white shirt, dark jumper, and smart jeans or trousers. Trainers are A-OK as long as they’re fairly box-fresh.
Other than your appearance, making a good first impression is about being relaxed, confident and friendly. Confidence isn’t always easy to muster – so if you’re struggling, fake it ’til you make it!
6. Ask lots of questions
A favourite first-date tip for men is to ask lots of questions. This is particularly good advice if you struggle with shyness.
Just remember not to delve too deep too soon – keep the conversation light and easy by focusing on work, hobbies and travel plans. If they bring up deeper topics, then great – but early on in your relationship, oversharing or being too nosy about someone’s private life can be a turn-off and seem too intrusive.
Even more important, make sure you listen to your date’s answers, and ask lots of follow-up questions. Make a mental note of significant details (for example, the name of their dog or their favourite food), and mention these things later on to show them you’re interested.
Lastly, make sure you talk and open up about yourself as well. You don’t want them to leave the date not knowing a single thing about you.
7. Avoid checking your phone
It’s common in this day and age to be overly reliant on your phone, but on a date, constantly scrolling and reading messages is a huge no-no. Not only can a phone become a crutch that leaves you less well equipped to deal with social situations, using one on a date also indicates to the other person that they don’t have your full attention.
When you’re with your date, turn your phone onto silent and put it away. Leaving it on the table – even if it’s flipped over – means it’s still within easy reach.
8. Don’t come on too strong
It can be tricky to strike the perfect balance on a first date. You want to come across as confident but not arrogant, interested but not nosy, and polite but not old-fashioned. The same balance needs to be struck when it comes to showing romantic interest in your date.
Even if you’re already hearing wedding bells, you shouldn’t be too forward or assume that your date feels the same. Don’t be afraid to give a few compliments and tell them you’ve had a great time – but don’t expect too much. If you want to see them again, ask for a second date, but don’t be pushy if they seem hesitant or simply say no.
The old advice regarding playing hard to get isn’t a relationship rule to live by, but there’s certainly a benefit to holding some of your feelings back until you’ve got to know a person better.
9. Debrief with friends
One of the best things to do post-date is to talk it over with one or two trusted friends – whether or not it went well, and so on. Generally a pal who’s in a committed and happy long-term relationship is more likely to be helpful than one who’s into serial one-night stands.
If the date went well, you can talk to your friends about how to proceed – and get their advice on how to craft that perfect follow-up text. And if the date went badly? They’ll be guaranteed to cheer you up.
10. Find love with Telegraph Dating
If we’ve inspired you to get out there and meet someone special, don’t forget you can kick-start your search with Telegraph Dating. Our sophisticated two-way matching system will pair you with people who fit your personality and interests to a T.
If you’re single and interested in meeting like-minded people, join Telegraph Dating. With more than 220,000 like-minded single people, Telegraph Dating is the best place to find romance.