The Definitive Dating Guide for Men


 What do women want when it comes to dating? If you’re uncertain, it makes sense to want the inside story. It’s not really a one-size-fits-all situation, of course. Every woman has different wants and needs and there is no definite list of dos and don’ts.

However, a survey conducted by eHarmony showed that there are in fact several things most women tend to agree on when it comes to male dating habits. Before you begin your dating journey, have a read of the following advice straight from women themselves.

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So, you want to start dating…

Avoid clichéd pick-up lines

First of all, if you subscribe to any kind of pick-up artistry laws, it’s time to put them down. Although they do grab a woman’s attention, they’re not very useful if you want to have a successful date built on honesty and trust. She’ll either feel uncomfortable at being talked to in such an obviously practised way or be similarly unimpressed because she already knows what you’re up to.

Thanks to the internet, there aren’t many actual secrets to ‘successful’ dating left. “If you insult me, I won’t date you out of curiosity,” said one survey respondent. “Everybody knows what pick-up artists do”. Don’t be tempted to use any tricks which might backfire on you.

Are you really ready for a relationship?

Another thing to test out is whether you actually feel ready to start dating at the moment. Think about want to share with your date or on your online dating profile. If it’s a long rant about your horrible ex (or women in general), all the things you don’t like about yourself or how much you hate your job, you probably need a bit more time to work things through before you start dating again.

It’s not that men who are insecure never end up in happy relationships – we all have times when we’re not feeling our best – it’s that you don’t want to spend lots of energy pursuing a relationship when you’re not really ready for it.

I know it’s tempting to be ‘completely honest’ about who you are, but save some fun facts about you for later dates”, said one survey respondent. “Keep the conversation light at first”.

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Using online dating

If you haven’t already tried online dating, it could be a good first step towards meeting that special someone. Setting up a profile and messaging potential matches is simple to do. And there are plenty of like-minded people using online dating so it’s highly likely you’ll find someone you want to talk to relatively quickly.

Make an effort with your profile

When it comes to writing an online dating profile, it helps to do a bit of research first. Many women feel that men are too brief or unclear in their online dating profiles. Emoticons in general are a big turn-off, as is using phrases like ‘lol’.

You don’t have to be able to spell everything perfectly but it’s better to give it a try than relying on abbreviations and text-speak. This goes for sending initial messages as well. Many women feel put off by men who expect an instant connection from sending a one-word email: “Do not bother sending me a message that just says “pretty”. I will not answer you.”

Be creative in your descriptions

It helps to try and be a bit imaginative about how you describe yourself in your profile. Using words like ‘passionate’ or ‘laid-back’ don’t spark much interest in women because they’re quite vague and don’t paint a picture. Coming up with a list of buzzwords will always fall short of talking about your hobbies and interests. Women like to be able to see you’ve made an effort in writing an interesting profile.

Don’t set too many expectations

When it comes to talking about the sort of person you’d like to meet, don’t launch into a big list of traits. “Whenever a guy lists a bunch of traits he wants, I assume it’s worthless to reply. He’s close-minded to the dating experience”. Don’t make a woman feel she’s got to audition to be your date – it’s not comfortable for either gender to feel they’ve got expectations to live up to before they’ve even met the person they’re speaking to.

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Making first contact

Tailor your messages

Because online dating is so accessible, sometimes men can fall into the trap of hurling out messages without really thinking about who they’d like to speak to. “Don’t treat [online dating] as if you’re unemployed and dropping off an application form at every McDonald’s and Starbucks you come across”, said one respondent. The importance of tailoring your messages should never be underestimated.

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Resist too much contact before meeting

The general rule for contacting someone through dating websites is not to have dozens of messages going back and forth before you meet in person. Your online dating interactions should be a jumping off point, not a foundation for a relationship.

If you haven’t met within around three messages, you run the risk of building up your expectations only for them to fall flat when you eventually meet and realise you have to start all over again.

Don’t apologise for using online dating

Finally, don’t apologise for using online dating. Nowadays, many people meet their partners online. It’s been proven as a legitimate way to start a relationship so there’s no reason to feel embarrassed or hesitant about admitting to it.

If you arrange a date as a result of meeting someone online, she won’t be best pleased if you’re feeling sheepish about it. “Don’t apologize for being on an online dating website”, said one respondent. “It doesn’t mean we’ve somehow failed at life.”

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Dating etiquette

Choose somewhere suitable

How a woman wants a date to go will differ from person to person. When it comes to planning a date, you’ll hopefully know enough about your match to be able to choose a suitable place. A steakhouse isn’t the best place to bring a vegetarian, for example, and there’s no use trying to impress her with a trip to an art house cinema if she’s bored to tears by foreign films.

When in doubt, go for somewhere neutral with a relaxed atmosphere, but it’s always nice to show you’ve been listening to her likes and dislikes.

Make an effort with your appearance

Making an effort with appearance is also another important factor for women. It might sound obvious, but turning up in ripped jeans and an unwashed T-shirt won’t cut it. Shower, shave and make sure you look presentable. A large percentage of survey respondents also felt strongly that a man should brush his teeth before a date.

Be clear on who’s paying the bill

The biggest issue which can sometimes trip men up when dating is whether or not he’s expected to pay. This isn’t something which is set in stone and, generally speaking, if a woman is terribly offended when you don’t immediately whip out your wallet you can be forgiven for thinking she’s being a tad unfair.

It’s totally fine for one person to pay and it’s totally fine to split it 50/50 – just be upfront about it. If you’re not comfortable with paying for the lot, it’s always better to ask than to be dithering around when the cheque arrives.

One big faux pas for women on dates is when a man will absolutely refuse a woman’s offer to pay, even when she’s more than happy to do this. Don’t insist on paying for everything if this happens – even if she is hoping you’ll refuse, you don’t know each other well enough to take that risk. It can be pretty insulting for a woman to be told she’s not paying when she’s got the means to do so.

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What to talk about

Making conversation on a date is not altogether different from making conversation in any other circumstance. If you feel under pressure to behave in a certain way, you’re more likely to tense up or blurt out something inadvisable – try to stay calm.

There isn’t a set pattern for a successful first date conversation; it all depends on who you’re with and what kind of chemistry there is between you.

Avoid focusing on just superficial topics

That said, there are a few topics it may be advisable to avoid. Seven respondents of the survey reported feeling frustrated at having to spend dates talking about Game of Thrones and The Wire. “It doesn’t hurt to have some fun hobbies”, said one respondent. “Seeing someone glow from excitement about something which makes them tick ultimately captures my interest.”

Talking about TV shows is fine as long as you’re able to move the conversation on at some point. You’re there to get to know each other, not to interview for a job as a media critic.

It’s not all about you and your jokes

Sometimes men can fall into the trap of thinking it’s their job to be funny, witty and interesting enough for the woman not to get bored with the date. This can lead to conversations which are almost completely dominated by the man’s achievements, anecdotes and opinions while the woman wonders when she’ll get a chance to speak.

It’s OK not to have something to say at every point in the conversation. Women like to be asked about themselves and have someone take a genuine interest in what they enjoy.

Don’t belittle a woman’s point of view

It sounds obvious but women also don’t like to be patronised or condescended. “He was presumptuous and tried to tell me which classes were required for my degree”, said one respondent about her date, “even though he isn’t doing it”. It’s fine to disagree with your date but be respectful about it.

Post-date etiquette

Accept that not all dates will work out

When it comes to looking for love, not every date will go like a dream. Even if you know you aren’t quite clicking, it doesn’t have to mean the date is pointless. Many women feel that it’s OK to have a pleasant time on a date without it leading anywhere.

On one of the best unsuccessful dates I’ve been on, we got three rounds of beer, had a nice conversation, split the tab, and wished each other well. I think we both thought the other was a very nice person but there wasn’t any attraction.”

Don’t demand a reason

This is a key point to remember when it comes to dating: it’s not always going to work out and there may not be a concrete reason why. Being pushy or demanding a reason for a rejection will only make things more awkward.

Women find it intimidating when men want them to explain why they aren’t attracted to them. “He asked me to explain in detail why I didn’t want to go out with him again”, said one woman. Needless to say, behaviour like this isn’t going to change her mind.

If she’s not interested, don’t push it and don’t try to think up a reason if one wasn’t offered. After all, the more time you waste on pursuing someone who isn’t interested the less time you’ll have to find the right person.

The best thing to remember when looking for a date with a woman is that there are no concrete rules for what women do and don’t like. Spend time asking questions and listening and you’ll learn enough from your experiences to be able to meet the right person. Good luck!


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