Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Way To A Woman's Heart: A Response

Reading coralcap's recent post "The Way to a Man's Heart" really got me thinking. I figure it is worthwhile write a complementary post and thereby address some of the guys' issues that have emerged from overly ambitious or unrealistic male expectations from dating/first dates. I have read lots of blogs about the jerk-ified behavior of many guys out there, so my intent is to put them in their place (to be blunt), or at least open their eyes to their foibles that give guys in general a bad name. So for all the good guys out there that don't act out in these repugnant fashions, read the post anyway to you can further remove the possibility of behaving in a way that shames yourself and your fellow men.

1) Put yourself in the right frame of mind. Just because the the fact remains that shidduchim are a market unfairly balanced in favor of guys does not mean that you're G-d's gift to women and can act in such a fashion or treat them in any way that suggests you're doing your date a favor by taking her out. You're not as amazing as your ego says you are, and it's time to develop a proper sense of humility. You've been given a chance to go out with a woman who might be your wife, treat her with the respect she deserves and lose the cocksure attitude, it's unattractive at best, repulsive at worst.

2) Speak to her in warm, friendly tone. She's your date, not your chevrusa or football buddy. The fact that she's female should mean that you switch to an entirely different way of expressing yourself, which includes being polite, respectful, using proper grammar, and similar to #1 not make her feel like you're giving her tzedaka by going on a date with her. You want to be friends with your wife, so you better try to cultivate an atmosphere of friendliness and connection. Your tone of voice is a good starting point. Haughtiness is a big no-no, and I would be most surprised if any serious, intelligent woman out there thinks anyone who sits there spouting lines and stories that clearly demonstrate he's full of himself will want a second or third date.

3) Be courteous. This means holding the door for your date, making sure that she is comfortable at your dating location, and periodically checking on how calling the girl is doing (if you're having an activity date, see if she's hungry, thirsty, or would like to use the restroom). Also, never be late or don't call her if you get delayed or something comes up that makes your arrival later than expected. Acting as a proper gentleman and dutifully caring for your date, regardless of where the shidduch ends up, is proper protocol. None of this "well, if she sees me as the typical guy that I am and can stand that, she must be a keeper." Real men act like gentlemen, not brutes who only think of themselves.

4) Knock it off with the boastful tales of your antics. Seriously, dudes. Your buddies may appreciate your vainglory tales of doing "guy things" and causing unwanted mischief, but girls quite probably don't. If anything, such immature revelations about yourself will make her think you're not quite grown up enough to be a functional husband and father. One or two stories from your youth (IE 13 or younger) can be cute, because that's what little boys do. Talking about childish accomplishments, pranks, etc that you have devised and carried out when you're anywhere near the age of dating does not cast a positive light on your ability to be a serious and loving partner and head of a household. That doesn't mean you shouldn't been humorous or tell jokes (in fact girls like it when you can make them smile and laugh), but having a sense of humor and laughing uncontrollably at your own stories that involve scatological references are apples and oranges, my friend.

5) Show interest. It doesn't matter if you don't think the shidduch isn't going to go anywhere. There is no reason why you need to emotionally and psychologically disengage from the conversation and interaction with your date. Leave the brooding and decision making until after you get home. Your date put in a lot of effort, probably a lot more than you did for this outing, and she deserves some positive expression of emotion that you're happy to be there. Don't mislead her by being overly enthusiastic when you're not feeling that way, but you should not give off a negative vibe while on a date.

6) Make eye contact. Guys' eyes have a tendency to wander around to places women don't want them staring at. She is a human being and deserves your full attention on her face. You can learn a lot from the way she emotes, and there is a lot more depth to those expressions than can be gathered just from hearing the words coming out of her mouth as your stare at her chest (or elsewhere) and wonder about dress sizes and other insignificant things. Even if you aren't engaging in perverted thoughts, your date rightfully deserves your full attention to demonstrate that you are properly following the conversation and find her a worthwhile companion for this date. Even if you think she's not attractive, worry about that later and don't let on that you don't think she's hot or whatever.

7) Body language is important. Don't slouch. Don't sit there with your legs spread out like you were hanging out with the guys drinking a beer and watching the game. Be relaxed, not uptight, but don't get overly comfortable that it indicates you really don't care about the date. How you arrange your posture shouldn't give the impression that the comfy-ness of your sitting position is more important than properly interacting with your date by making eye contact, etc. You need to physically demonstrate attentiveness aside from looking in her general direction.

8) Be thankful. Your date isn't "doing you a favor" by going out with you, and you certainly don't deserve any particular girl's attention or affection. Showing off an attitude that expresses your thoughts that you have a list of other girls you could have gone out with, so this girl isn't so important, is very, very insensitive and wrong. Even if you actually have such a list of candidates, your focus and gratitude needs to be on the here and now: She is the only woman in the world that matters. Make your judgment call about continuing the date after it's over and you've dropped her off at her house/apartment. No matter what happens, thank her for the opportunity to go out with her, it can never hurt.

9) Reciprocate Feelings. Some guys tend to be dunderheads and unaware of subtle (or not so subtle) female emotional expressions. In turn, they might revel in the fact that a girl likes them, or be scared out of their wits at the prospect of someone liking who they are. In either situation, be more observant of hints and respond accordingly. There is no reason to go overboard, nor should guys clam up like a box turtle and pretend nothing is going on. Being at ease and responding measure-for-measure is a surefire way to allow a relationship to progress where both the guy and girl are developing feelings on the same page without one having to "keep up" with the other. Having feelings for a person of the opposite gender can be intimidating, but you shouldn't let them be. Relax, turn off any preconceived notions or that macho male autopilot mode (where emotional expression is wimpy, or downright unmanly), and respond to your date, especially as you continue going out.

I tried to stay as close to coralcap's original format as I could, modifying where I thought necessary. So what do the guy's for whom this was an eye-opening experience think? Do my fellow "nice guys" agree and have anything to add? What about the gals - am I on target?


  1. I like your list. Most guys I've dated were really decent but I've heard stories from friends that made me realize that proper manners are not automatic and inborn, and some people need to read this ASAP.

  2. I agree with halfshared- luckily most of the guys I've dated have stuck to everything on this list. But it's definitely a good list of things guys should be doing.
    Things I would add for both genders:
    1. Listen. You should not be doing all the talking.
    2. Ask your date questions. They should not be the one starting conversations/ thinking of all the questions. Questions are a good way to show that you're interested in the person.

    One thing I would add for guys:
    Once both parties have agreed to go out, call ASAP. Don't keep the girl waiting in suspense. The same thing goes with calling the shadchan (or the girl if you're at that point) after the date.

  3. While this mostly seems like good solid advice, I wonder sometimes... who would this advice help? The nice guys who for some reason act like jerks? The not-nice guys who will learn from it how to pretend like nice guys (wouldn't it be better that they not learn)? I guess between those there's the category of nice guys who are just a bit oblivious or don't stop to consider that they should treat their dates differently from their guy friends.

    But really? In some ways, isn't it best for girls (and this works just as well the other way) to get to see guys acting the way they naturally do before they start trying to act nice for their dates? Better notice he's a jerk at the first date than at the 5th. Or even just that he's not all that expressive - the point's to get to know them, right?

  4. maninthemask - the real point it that guys should be aware of their behavior around women and better themselves on a more permanent basis - not put on a show just to trick someone while dating then get engaged/married having pulled the wool over her eyes.

  5. What a great repsonse, you did not disappoint! I like how our categories are either the same or similar and yet each category takes on different meanings for males (i.e. Eye contact).

    And about who this advice would be helpful for...I think it is helpful for anybody who is willing to look at themselves and see if could use some improvement. And if one is up to par, then looking at such a list would reassue him that he is on the right path. Sometimes even the best of us need reminders.

    Kol Hakavod, Shades! Thanks so much for giving the guy POV!


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