After 15-odd years in the dating game, I can tell when a woman's been taking instructions from a dating guide, or a friend who's not as savvy as she imagines.
Take my word for it, ladies: The following advice makes you annoying, not appealing.
1 "Be Yourself!"
The idea behind this is to be comfortable, but taken to extremes, "being yourself" will creep people out. I've been on first dates where I've heard:
One: How she sometimes likes to burn things. Just because.
Two: How she would dispose of a corpse (I love CSI: Crime Scene Investigation too, but this is not a comforting first-date topic).
Three: How she's got two skin diseases, and what cream she's using.
In the third case, my date showed me photos of the side of her foot, which had blackened calluses. And when she removed her shoe to show me how she'd reduced them to a raw red patch, I was convinced that home-brewed remedies do help calluses... and that dates can be an appetite suppressant.
2 "Cooking for Your Date is Romantic"
A home-cooked meal can be romantic - but only if you're an amazing cook. On one date, I swallowed a chunk of undercooked pomfret, and am ashamed to say I spat it out immediately. I couldn't control it; my mouth reacted like I'd tried to French-kiss a sewer pipe.
We were both embarrassed. And avoid cooking if it'll be a hassle. Men would rather talk to someone relaxed and happy than someone frazzled from 27 failed attempts to make pate en croute.
3 "Don't Rush to Get the Cheque"
When we take a woman out, most of us are prepared to pay for everything. That said, it's polite to at least reach for your wallet.
Think about the impression you're leaving if you just sit back when the cheque arrives. Younger men may worry they won't be able to afford you. Older men past their 30s will be more cynical and think, "gold-digger!"
4 "Keep Asking Him Questions!"
Apparently, men love the sound of our voices so much, we want to take it out to dinner and buy it flowers. That seems to be the theory behind this piece of ill-informed advice. Men are just as self-conscious as women and questions about our income, our political views, and our exes can make us feel judged. Plus, the more questions you ask, the more you'll have to remember. If you forget that I said "I hate red" on our first date and buy me a red shirt later, I'll know you weren't listening.
5 "Don't Be Too Eager to Return His Calls"
Let's allow for some basic manners here. Not returning calls is rude. It's not mysterious and it doesn't fire us up. For the record, here is the kind of mystery most guys enjoy: We open up a box of chocolates, and hey, it's got chocolates in it! Basically, we don't enjoy mystery as much as you think. If you rarely return calls, you send the signal that you're not interested. If you really like the guy, think about that. You could be giving up that charming man who could turn out to be your ideal companion for life!
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