I get it—men aren’t mind readers. And what works with one woman might not work for another. Even so, there are some common dating mistakes that the majority of women find annoying or downright unnerving. So, guys, check out the following list to prevent some major dating disasters when the next great girl comes along. (For our list of mistakes women make, click here.)
1. Lack of planning
There is nothing I hate more than when a guy asks me out, shows up at the door, and says, “So, what do you want to do?” I don’t like being put on the spot. If you asked me out, you should have a plan. I understand wanting to do something your date would enjoy, so if that is your concern, ask her to choose between two restaurants or two museums or two other activities. And please, please don’t resort to dinner and a movie unless we have been out several times. How are we supposed to get to know each other if we spend hours staring at a screen in a dark theater where we are not allowed to talk?
Also, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Be on time. Make reservations. Shower. Have gas in the tank. Clean out the car. (It’s not impressive when all I can smell are your sweaty gym socks in the backseat or I’m up to my ankles in Taco Bell wrappers.) If you don’t have the basics under control, it makes me think that in general you don’t have your act together, or at the very least, you aren’t interested enough in me to put some thought into how to make the evening as pleasant as possible.
Okay, guys, I know one of your major complaints is that women don’t talk enough on dates. I’m the first to admit that I’m not exactly a chatterbox, but when you talk at me instead of to me, I don’t know how to respond—not that I even have the chance. If your date seems a little quiet, quickly evaluate the situation. Are you talking on and on about yourself without so much as a five-second pause? If you are, she probably doesn’t want to be rude and interrupt your monologue. And why would she bother when it seems like you are more interested in reliving your high school glory days than in getting to know more about her? Are you asking her any questions about herself? Be sure that you are. Hint: If you’re worried about one-word responses, ask open-ended questions like, “What are some things on your bucket list?”
3. Not listening
Speaking of speaking, if I don’t think you’re listening to me, then I’m going to clam up in a big hurry, so be sure to ask plenty of questions to expound on what I’m saying. For example, “So, you love to travel. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Why?”
For me, the ultimate insult is when a guy texts when we are on a date. It makes me feel like he would rather be somewhere else and isn’t listening to me at all. So put away your iPhone and pay attention to the person who is right in front of you.
4. Talking about the ex
Some men think that by talking about their past relationships, they are proving that they are desirable. Others just want to unload all their baggage on the first sympathetic woman who will listen. Whatever the motivation, resist the urge to talk about your ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. If that is what you want to talk about, it’s a huge red flag that you have some unresolved issues and aren’t ready to move on. If you do happen to mention her, or if your date asks a question about your ex, make it brief and be very careful how you talk about her. Who knows? I might be your ex-girlfriend someday, so if you talk trash about her, it’s an indication of how you could talk about me in the future.
5. Trying to buy our affections
Fancy restaurants. Jewelry. Huge bouquets of flowers. You might think you’re impressing us when you constantly pull out all the stops, but what you’re really doing is sending a strong message that you’re insecure about who you are. In fact, in my opinion, this kind of behavior borders on manipulation—like you’re trying to trick me into liking you.
I’m not saying you should be cheap, but don’t go over the top. Save the fancy stuff for special occasions. Otherwise, I feel like you think I’m shallow. Believe me, I care a lot more about what is in a man’s heart than what is in his wallet.
Oh, and for the record, if I’m not interested in you, no amount of grand gestures will change my mind. I know you’ve seen it work a million times in romantic comedies, but it doesn’t work in real life. I can’t help it if I don’t feel chemistry with you. So save your money and stop trying to convince me that we should be together.
6. Being Too Needy
Women like men who have a positive attitude. So don’t dump all your problems on me every time we talk. I want to be supportive and be there when you are going through a rough time, but you need to be strong for me, too. It’s draining to be around someone who only dwells on the negative or always needs something from me. Share your feelings, but make sure you are offering strength and encouragement as well.
7. Being Too Possessive
Don’t get jealous if I speak to another person of the opposite sex. Don’t call me five times when I’m out with my girlfriends. And don’t make me account for every second of the day. In other words, don’t smother me. I want a man who trusts me and treats me with respect. And I want a man who is confident in who he is and what he has to offer. If I’m going out with you, then I obviously like you. So don’t blow it by acting jealous, overprotective, and possessive. Unless you’re a beautiful, sparkly vampire (and even then, I find it creepy), you’ll never get away with it, so don’t even try.
There you have it, boys—your guide to avoiding some major dating pitfalls. So take note and bring your A-game. Both you and your date will be glad you did.
Your turn: Ladies, is this list complete? What are some other dating mistakes men make?
Jessica Carter is a recently divorced mother of two. In her late thirties, she is learning to navigate the mysterious world of LDS mid-singles.