However, behavioural psychology and sexology (including my own studies into advice for for men, women and the history of dating advice more generally) shows that women do have particular preferences when it comes to dating and mating. Markers of male attractiveness vary, and include traits of dominance, status or even power. Though women can (and do) find the wimpy or cash-strapped guys attractive, they nevertheless show a preference for men who have some kind of skills or ability. So, it’s not all about bling-bling, sports cars and abs!
Though it’s impossible to know what each individual woman might find attractive in a man, it is possible to increase your general level of attractiveness – at least so you don’t turn off members of the opposite sex. With this weekend’s Banana Events Speed Dating event in mind, here are our top ten dating advice tips for men.
1. Know what you want
This applies to both men and women, and should be a foundational part of any relationship. Knowing what you want might apply to personal values, whether you’re looking for an honest, inquisitive, agreeable or loyal person, but it’s also important in terms of appearances – especially during the courtship phase. Do you like a short and stocky lady, or a slim and tall one? How about the way she dresses, and her style of makeup? Think about what you find attractive in the opposite sex, and don’t be afraid to communicate those likes to the actual girl you’re interested in. Just don’t overdo it, as you may come across as a bit creepy.
2. Turn off your phone
The whole point of meeting someone on a date is that you actually spend time with them, face-to-face. Besides, you have plenty of time to distract yourself with the latest Facebook or Twitter updates elsewhere. Humans are infinitely more interesting than smartphones, especially if they are attractive and sitting right in front of you. Putting your phone away for the evening will help you be in the present moment, so you can focus on your date and what she has to say – not what she might message you later on.
3. Ask questions
If you have an inquisitive mind, ask away. Avoid the cross-examination approach, where you delve into her past flings, infatuations and failed relationships. Questions can illicit interesting information about a woman’s family life, her life plans or even the dessert she’s eyeing-up on the menu. “What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a date?” might be a good icebreaker. Follow-up questions are also not a bad idea, to show you’re listening. “So, did he actually eat the tiger’s penis?”
4. Take the initiative
Whether you’re uncertain about where to meet for the next date or what food to order, women tend to find indecisiveness a turn off. That’s not to say you need to micromanage everything, but at least have a good idea about what you both might find interesting. You don’t have to be ostentatious in your suggestions either, as a walk in the park with an interesting guy can be just as memorable as an expensive meal with a boring one.
5. Be a bit mysterious
Let’s face it, we all like a bit of mystery. Life would be boring without it. Whether you suspect your next-door neighbours are running a meth lab, or you find out your date is a former national karate champion – snippets of unexpected information can be very intriguing. Don’t go overboard though, and make yourself sound like a James Bond villain, but by hinting of a secret passion or a dangerous back-story, you may leave her wanting more.
6. Get to the point
If you want to ask a girl out, don’t dilly-dally. Ask her upfront. Sometimes women will let you know they are interested, dropping hints about places to go or when her “days off” are. It’s your job, as a man, to pick up on these “pro-social” cues, and act on them. Despite what some feminists say, and even in the most “egalitarian” countries men are still the ones who are expected to initiate dates. You may think you’re being polite by not asking her out, but she will likely think you’re just not that interested if you don’t.
7. Know your boundaries
Women have a sixth sense for detecting a man’s weaknesses, be it an unhealthy addiction to leather underwear or a fondness for evening “pony play”. Some weaknesses are there to be exploited – through flirtation, for example, a woman can easily “earn” herself a free meal, a trip to the movies or even an overseas holiday. If these are things that you yourself don’t want, then it’s your fault for not saying so. By being upfront about what you want, you should be able to communicate what you don’t want too. But, on the other hand, if she you find out you’re both into pony play… then giddy up!
8. Don’t talk (badly) about past relationships
Women are just as guilty of this as men, but no-one likes to hear about your many failed relationships and scorned lovers. Afterall, your date may fancy herself as your future girlfriend, and won’t want to be on that list of “fateful exes” if you break up. Likewise, too much information about past relationships can come across as boring. Whatever you say about your former lovers, it’s best to put a positive spin on things and keep the conversation light. Also – pay attention to what she says too, as it could save you from any future grief, heartache or a keyed car.
9. Dress well
Your sense of dress says a lot about who you are and what you want to communicate to the world. A suit and tie might be a bit over-the-top, but a freshly ironed shirt is not out of the question for a first date. Pick something that’s smart, coordinated and comfortable. A splash of aftershave may pique her interest too, as long as you don’t smell like a sweet shop or baby’s bum smothered in Prickly Pear talcum powder.
10. Enjoy yourself
“Low expectations are the secret to happiness,” to quote American psychologist Barry Schwartz. If you’re looking for your “soul mate” or future wife on a first date, then you’re probably aiming a little too high. If you’re thinking about children’s names already, then the chances are you’re not going to be focused on the food, music, ambience,or even the woman right in front of you. Lower your expectations and, like the 2000s romantic comedy suggests, follow the Tao of Steve … or the Tao of Andrew, Nigel, Zarni, Leroy.