Do You Know How a Woman Likes to Be Courted?

woman holding a glass of wine

Do you know how a woman likes to be courted?

If you’re a man, share what has and has not worked for you.

If you’re a woman, help the fellows out and let them know what you like.

With my private coaching clients, I help them through the stages of online dating: emailing, telephone conversations, and the first date.   You can now access this invaluable information in my 5 CD set Finding the One Online.

Join our conversation (43 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Thank you for asking this question!

    I’m sure everyone has a different take on this but here’s my wish list:
    1) Email me (or respond to my email) and indicate that you’ve actually read my profile. Ask me a couple of good questions to get the online conversation started. These should not be questions about my favorite positions or porn movies.
    2) Email back and forth for a week or two. Keep the tone pleasant and use this time to actually get to know me a little. You can get more flirtatious as we keep corresponding, but know the difference between flirtatious and dirty (see above). For example, tell me you’ll cook me a romantic meal and have my favorite R&B mix on in the background, but don’t go into details about how much I’m going to love your ample anatomy after dinner. Do not ask for photos of me in various stages of undress.
    3) Offer to exchange phone numbers by giving your number first. Give some good times to call. If I give you my number DO NOT start texting me in lieu of a phone call or email. Do not send me a message saying I have a MM message that leads me to a photo of your aroused manhood. Just call me (preferably within a few days so I don’t think you’re no longer interested) and have a nice conversation–from the emails we’ve exchanged, there should be plenty to talk about. Save the sexual compatibility survey for at least after the first few dates.
    4) If the phone conversation goes well, ask me out for a date. Offer to meet me at a place we will BOTH like. Have some plan in mind for the date and share that with me so I know what to wear. If you want to walk for miles after dinner, let me know, so I don’t wear 5 inch heels.
    5) Be on time for the date and look like your photo. Don’t make me ask 8 guys at the bar, “Are you Mike?” Unless we have been corresponding for months and I am flying 800 miles to meet you, don’t bring flowers to the date. Dress appropriately and don’t come half in the bag already.
    6) Don’t take phone calls (unless you are a physician or parent dealing with kids/babysitter) or text during our date. Likewise, don’t let your eyes dart around the room checking out every other woman there.
    7) Show don’t tell. By that I mean demonstrate your qualities and assets to me during the date. Don’t tell me how funny you are–make me laugh. Don’t tell me what a nice guy you are–show it with your manners to me and the wait staff. Don’t talk about your bank account–discreetly reach for the check and say “My pleasure.” Because we have emailed and talked enough prior to the date, we know we are looking for similar things in a relationship. I don’t have to learn over dinner that you’re marriage minded while I am just looking to date casually.
    8) At the end of the date, if you’re having a nice time, and it seems like I am too, tell me you’d like to do it again. Don’t “future” me into your cousin’s wedding 5 months from now. Tell me you’ll call me, and mean it. You will know (hopefully) if you are getting the signals to kiss me goodnight. Make the kiss a good one. Please leave my tonsils intact.
    9) Call me or send me an email to let me know you had a great time. Don’t be freaked out if I do the same to you. It’s not stalking you or a marriage proposal, just good manners.
    10) If you had a good time, ask me out again. Maybe you’re dating three other women at the same time–fine, just don’t let me know it. If you don’t call within the week to go out again, and I see you “online now” on a dating site, I assume you’re looking for someone else (or worse, addicted to always trying to trade up). When you call me three weeks from now because you haven’t got a date for Saturday night, I won’t even answer.
    11) If we continue dating, we should be seeing each other more “in real life,” meeting for lunch during the work week, watching a movie at one of our homes, walking our dogs, etc.–moving beyond the dressed up good behavior of the first date. If you always want to keep meeting somewhere and never move out of first date mode, we aren’t going anywhere emotionally. Now is the time to bring flowers or chocolates, maybe meet each other’s kids if we’re comfortable with it, etc. Cook me a meal once in a while, or at least set up a nice catered in dinner by candlelight. If we have been on a dozen dates and I still haven’t seen your house, I’ll assume one of three things: you are married or stepping out on a live-in girlfriend; you live in your parents’ basement; or you are such a slob you are embarrassed to have me over.
    12) The sticky wicket: when to sleep together. I don’t think I’ve met a guy who didn’t at least TRY by the third date. I don’t have a rule for this, but I have to say it would be refreshing to date a guy for a month or so who made it clear he was attracted to me but didn’t rush to get me into bed. It would be nice to gradually bring up topics like exclusivity, STDs, birth control, etc., without feeling like I’m using sex as blackmail or rushing to have the conversation because we’re both already half undressed. I don’t believe in dating too long before some sexual compatibility issues need to be raised, because it is disappointing to find out my date believes missionary sex once a week is the way to go, while I like to swing from the chandeliers every night. (That’s one advantage of long distance relationships–you can get all that out in the open before you meet.) It’s just nice to work into those topics at a leisurely pace. If you’ve done your job right so far, and I’m into you, the conversation should evolve somewhat naturally. Didn’t people used to date like this? Not that I haven’t been seduced on a first or second date myself, but I think I’m ready for a change.

    1. 1.1

      That was one of the most genuine, insightful descriptions of the right way to a woman’s heart I’ve ever experienced.  

  2. 2

    Honestly, every girl is different, and sorry to say, not one method is going to work across the board. For the most part, women like for the man to be totally respectful in all aspects (physically, emotionally, in friendly or hostile arguments, to other people, etc.) Personally, I am an old-fashioned girl (grew up raised by parents who did the whole old-fashioned courting) that has to adjust to the more “modern” dating scene. I like gentlemen that open doors and do other gentleman things, because I am willing to do the same for them. I like when men enjoy having conversations that actually include me rather than one in which he likes to hear himself talk, as I would do the same. I like when a man wants to make plans, but doesn’t forget to take me into consideration, whether it involves asking me my opinion or thinks of things I might like. And I like a man that makes a move when the time is right, not too soon or take FOREVER just to kiss me. But that’s just me.

    Some women are truly okay with going faster physically than others, while some women assume going fast physically means a step towards a relationship. Some women like talking about everything and anything about themselves right off the bat, while some women believe in establishing some sort of intimacy and familiarity with a man before discussing more personal things. I guess a man’s approach should take into consideration the vibe the woman they are “courting” gives off, but shouldn’t stray too far from his own identity, because then they are just being fake and not being themselves.

    The only thing I can suggest is being yourself, because a woman appreciates honesty, whether or not there is chemistry or not. I think that women will be thankful that a man has been honest about who he is from the start, whether or not she decides to date him for a longer time. Nothing is worse that a man doing all he can to romance a woman, only for it to be the furthest from his true self. Then the woman sits a year later, wondering what happened to the guys she met in the beginning. It actually goes both ways – it’s in the best interest of both men and women to be theirselves (putting their best foot forward isn’t bad, but so long as they stay true to themselves), as courting is not just trying to win each other over but a time to get to know the other person to see if there is true compatability.

    And about paying – women don’t mind paying all or part of it, but honestly, we think highly of a man that GRACIOUSLY insists on paying on the first date. And even the feminists will agree. I guess what ticks off feminists is the manner in which some guys will pay, putting off a tone that implies that he’s so great. boo.

  3. 3
    minnesota nice

    I like a guy to be the one doing the asking. Get to know me through a few emails, drop me your phone # to give me the option of calling, wait around a week after a few conversations, and ask me out. Don’t wait too long or the anxiety builds up and we both get nervous/frustrated. Ask me questions, relate to my answers, but don’t interrogate me.

    First dates that make a girl uncomfortable(or maybe just this one): Movies (if you talk over dinner beforehand, that’s an exception), loud bars/karaoke, a night in at your place, a night out with all of your buddies.

    I like neutral ground, outdoor adventures, and not having a set agenda. If we go for coffee, I like to get it to go so I don’t feel like I’m on a job interview.

  4. 4

    I believe a man should do what feels comfortable, with an eye towards being respectful and polite. If he loves monster truck rallies and wants to find the same in a woman, it would be disengenous to court someone with 5 star meals.

    I think there are as many answers to this question as there are women, but even more than that I’m sure a lot of women will also say that it depends on the guy and her mood and her stage in life- the same method won’t work with every guy every time. So really, he has no other viable choice but to be himself, and if ‘himself’ is the kind of person that women enjoy dating and getting to know then he is golden. If not….well there’s where all of the issues come in, don’t they?

  5. 5

    For me it all boiled down to the man being genuine. I fell for a man without even realizing it at the time; then I thought back to what he did that was different from the vast majority.
    He started and continued an easy conversation. I could tell he had nothing to prove and that he liked himself. He complimented my profile and told me I had a way with words. He said not a WORD about my looks. He was smart enough not to until after our second date, when I already knew he appreciated me for who I was, and that made it extra sweet.

  6. 6

    okay, in reading these responses I realize that I could’ve been more helpful…here are a few things that I think are near universal:
    1. be polite and respectful (already mentioned above)
    2. take initiative and ask her out and make a plan for the date. Also let her in on the plan, don’t spring any surprises on her so soon
    3. show a willingness to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances- if something doesn’t go exactly as planned, don’t freak out
    4. if she seems uncomfortable with a certain topic drop it (for now at least). don’t harp on it and/or interrogate her
    5. attempt to get to know her. Instead of asking what she does for a living, ask her what made her choose her profession
    6. If she asks you a question, answer it openly and honestly, don’t hedge like you have something to hide (unless you don’t want to discuss something, then just tell her that)
    7. attempt to be pleasant company- no constant complaints, no indifference to her feelings, etc.

    That’s all i got right now

  7. 7

    Wow, this is a good one. I had a first date a couple months ago with a guy and we were at Starbucks. An old friend of his came in he hadn’t seen in a long time. He started talking to the guy, but what he did was really sweet. He knew that I must be feeling a little awkward, so he took my hands in his and said, “I’m sorry I haven’t seen him in so long, do you mind?” Then he introduced me to his friend. The thing that struck me was that he was conscious of my feelings, conscious of me. Just the little things like this mean so much. I almost instantly fell for him, because of this one little thing. It was so different, he seemed so warm. A woman likes to know that she is being thought about, that she is important. To me, it is not about the dinners or the glamour of the date, but is this guy really interested in ME? Does he listen to anything I am saying? I think once I know that he truly values me in a sincere way, by the real specific compliments he gives (NOT you look hot in those jeans), I feel like we can go to the next level A woman wants to be valued for what is uniquely HER….her mind, her outlook on life, her personality, her accomplishments, her kindness, whatever…It should never be about sex for the first month. It should be about the real person there, even if there is chemistry, I don’t believe in acting on it until you know the person is interesting to you on all the other planes first.

  8. 8

    Wow, Cilla, that’s a pretty exhaustive list!

    A few comments:

    2. I personally would rather you avoid all cliches. I mean, add “candles” to this description and I’ll just puke (well, I’ll just think the man is incapable of original thinking, and that won’t be good). And I hate R&B. 😉
    The more general way to put this would be: get some sense of what the woman likes before suggesting any concrete plans.

    6. When talking to me on the phone for the very first time, DO give me your undivided attention. DO NOT, for instance, stay in front of the computer. This one experience stands out in my memory where a guy said “I don’t mean to monopolize your time” and himself stayed online on the website where we met, and I actually heard the sounds of instant messages he received from other people in the background. Yes, I do expect to “monopolize” your time for the duration of that conversation.

    7. Do not exaggerate your material success and then make an entirely different impression. This one guy in the phone conversations stressed what a big-time entrepreneur he is, and how many businesses he is a partner in, and then he came to pick me up in a Pontiac Grand Am. This all coming from a person who otherwise most likely would not even notice the make and model of the car, mind you (after most of my dates I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you what the guy drove). In this case I only looked because the car just looked so incongruent with his purported success. I expected at least a Lexus or something.

    8. If I like the guy, I actually would like him to make plans with me for next time at the end of our first date. You will probably notice whether I like you from whether I am averse to touching you.

    9. To me personally, this seems like a bit much.

    10. Generally, no adhering to the “rules”, please. Don’t call me 5 days after our date because you don’t want to appear desperate (and if you wait over a week, I won’t even pick up the phone when you do call). If you like me, do call the next day. I’ll be glad to talk to you.

    Oh, one thing Cilla didn’t mention (I think): don’t expect me to be available at the last moment. That is not because I follow the Rules and thus refuse to accept a Saturday date after Wednesday, but because I simply most likely will already have other plans (not even necessarily dates – I do have a rich life). If you had all week to call me to make plans for the weekend, but call me on Friday afternoon instead, you have only yourself to blame. (That’s aside from the fact that I’ll think you are just not that into me.)

    11. You should also realize that at some point, if the relationship is progressing, I will expect you to spend the weekends with me. Usually after the initial few months.

    12. This one I disagree with, but the regulars on this blog already know this. 🙂 I would be unwilling to extend the “getting to know each other before sex” period beyond, say, 4 dates. I don’t want to become emotionally invested in something with no potential.

    A few comments on Iz’s post:

    Yes, do open the doors for the woman on the first date, help her with her coat, if applicable, and so on and so forth. I never understood the point of pulling out the chair for a woman, though. 🙂

    If you hear me mention something I like in people or in men specifically, please do not try to appear to be my “ideal man.” It _will_ look like you are trying too hard, and it will not be appealing.

  9. 9

    Oh, one more thing in regards to my item (6) above: the guy was eating in the beginning of our conversation. When I asked him to finish eating and then call me, he said “Wait, are you actually serious?”

    Did I really sound THAT prissy?

    You would think some things are just common sense, and then…

    And I already made a few other points in What Do Women Want from the Men who Email Them?

  10. 10

    Cilla has a really good take on this. My experience is most men move way too fast. A man needs to invest the time to know me, I don’t need to know he can go all night or doesn’t need Viagra on the first date. Women take longer than men to fall in love I think, so whoever expects sex on the 3rd date , gets eliminated. I try to equate that to how a man reacts when a woman asks for commitment, a wall goes up. When a man pushes me to fast my wall goes up and that’s the end of it. Oh, the man who gently leads me down the path, I can just be putty in his hands. In one of my star guy’s words “It’s all about you “(meaning me), oh that’s soo good.
    I am pretty flexible about the online stuff, a couple of emails, a phone call and I can be ready to meet someone. I really don’t like a Starbucks “lets meet for coffee date.”It doesn’t have to be expensive or even dinner, invite me for a Gelato or a drink and an appetizer, or a walk somewhere.
    Some things not to do early on, don’t ask who else I’m dating, and I’ll do the same. The second date is way to early to be exclusive.I really don’t want to talk about your old girlfriends or my old boyfriends. I’m here to know you. Don’t grab my boob within 60 seconds of when we sit down on the couch. Also it’s best if you don’t tell me all your health problems or other problems on the first or second date, why eliminate yourself before I have had a chance to develop some feelings for you? Women like attention, a call and email in between dates is wonderful. IM leaves me cold, maybe it’s my age group, but it is impersonal and seems to lack effort on a guys’ part. I don’t expect the very first kiss to be a French kiss, not that it can’t happen on the first date, but to start with that, no thanks. I like it if you respect me in public, don’t overdo the PDA, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
    After coaching with Evan, it’s all about what action you take, not what you say. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and how others see them, I would hope we would both compliment each other. I don’t like to call guys unless we are in a real relationship, I’m OK with emails, but still expect the guy to call me, after all he’s supposed to be the hunter.

  11. 11

    I can’t help it, I just have a knee-jerk reaction to the term “courting.” It just sounds so provincial. That aside, I’m so glad you asked. There are important signs I like to get from a guy right from the get-go — enthusiasm, sense of humor, and inquisitiveness. Be willing to put yourself on the back burner, just for a while, and instead make it obvious your focus is on finding out about me. My No. 1 all-time request is: Ask Questions About Me. I’ll learn about you by reciprocating about what you ask me. But many, many men just don’t get this. Instead, I wind up asking all the questions, they respond, and then they await my next question. This happens in email, on the phone, or in first meetings. I can only do it for so long, and then I just let the silence fill the air between us until it becomes unbearably obvious. But even then, I’m staggered by how many men do not pick up on that silence. I’m not talking about an elaborate inquisition or extremely deep or personal questioning. It can be as simple as, “So tell me about your job. I have no idea what a (fill in the blank) does. ” Or, you can actually make the question be about you: “So what about my profile made you want to write back to me? Especially since that photo makes my head look jumbo-sized.” Just something to lighten it up and get things going. As for emailing, if I respond with a few paragraphs, please respond in kind. More importantly, answer any questions I put out there, so I know you’re actually reading what I wrote, instead of just skimming to see if I mention that you’re hot. Emailing should progress into a phone call fairly soon, and I like you to be the one who suggests it and provide me your number.

    I usually know in one or two phone calls whether I’d like to progress to meeting in person. And please make suggestions for where you’d like to meet, instead of putting that on me. It’s so great when I feel I don’t have to be the social planner, and it shows me you’ve put some thought into it, regardless of how low-key and low-budget our first meeting is. I like a fairly short first meeting — usually coffee or one glass of wine, and (just being honest here) I always, always want you to pay, without fanfare or awkwardness. That alone will go miles toward convincing me that you’re a stand-up guy who’s got his act together and who considers the price of a cup of coffee a good investment if it means potentially getting to know me better. That doesn’t mean I will always expect you to pay for any future dates, but I will always express my gratitude when you do. If you meet me and you want to see me again, it’s great if you indicate that in some way before we part, but not absolutely necessary. I know if a guy says he’ll call me, it doesn’t mean he actually will, and that’s okay. But it’s nice to part ways on a good note, regardless of what either of us intends to do from there. If you do want to see me again, let me know fairly soon. Again, it shows interest and enthusiasm. I’m not going to think you’re too eager, I’m going to think you’re not a game player. If you’re not interested in meeting me again, my personal preference is that you then do nothing & just go about your life. I’ll get the hint if I don’t hear from you, and I won’t pursue you.

    Intimacy? Sex? I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I can say that it’s so nice to be asked…in fact, it’s very sexy when a guy says, “Wow, I really want to kiss you. Can I?” If it’s not okay, I’ll be tactful about it, but please take me seriously. If it is okay, please be sensitive to cues I may give. It will be obvious if I like the way things are progressing, but making out doesn’t mean we’re going to have sex. It’s not a giant green light announcing, “full speed ahead to copulation!” Making out is great, especially when you’re just getting to know each other. It’s a prelude that should not be undervalued or rushed. I have no rule about how many dates are required before sexual intimacy is discussed, but it’s gotta be discussed before clothes start flying, preferably when we’re not engaged in any kind of pre-sex activity. Yea, spontaneous things can and should happen, but safety precautions always need to come first, so better to get it out of the way ahead of time, whether or not we ever wind up between the sheets….or on the couch…or in my car…or in your car….or in the shower ….or the laundry room……or whatnot.

    Lastly, respect me enough to plan ahead. Don’t expect to see me on Saturday night if you’ve waited around until Friday night to think of giving me a call. Oh, and one more thing — “hanging out” is not dating. No, hanging out is when you’re at Powell’s bookstore & you call me to see if I want to meet up with you and “hang.” Hanging out is when you call & say you’re in the neighborhood, so how about you stop by and we’ll just see where that goes. Hanging out is a very clear message from a guy that he just wants to “hang” today, tomorrow, & forever, in a way that works for him, on his timeline, with the hope that while hanging, I will also maybe provide him with food and sex….preferably both. That’s not courting or dating, it’s hanging out, and I’m not interested in it anymore.

  12. 12

    These ladies have already covered everything I would have said, with one exception: If you decide you don’t want to go out with me again (whether we’ve been out 3 times or 3 months), for whatever reason you may have (and it doesn’t have to be a good one), please TELL ME. I hate when guys just disappear, never to be heard from or seen again. What cowards! Obviously I don’t want to be with someone like that, so I move on. But it’s human nature to wonder what happened, especially when everything seemed to be going so well between us. I met a guy for breakfast a few weeks ago (it was our initial meeting), we enjoyed each other’s company, and agreed to go out again. A couple days later he emailed me and said he met a woman at work and they really clicked, and he wanted to give it a go and see where it went. GREAT! I loved his candidness. Whether he was telling the truth or not, he gave me a reason why he wouldn’t be calling after he’d said he would, and it didn’t offend me or make me question his honesty. And if he calls me in a few months, I’ll go out with him. I wish more guys would just “man up” and do things like that!

  13. 13

    I can think of an example that is not courting: Going on at length about something your date did not ask about or asked about only in passing…your career, your day, your life. I have heard men need to be listened to (is this true?) but watch to see if your dates eyes are glazing over. Is it a dialogue, or a monologue? Even if you are nervous, take a breath and leave a space for your date to respond.


  14. 14

    I’m in agreement with most of the comments above. But I just want to add in that what really helps to woo a woman is the small stuff. Doing the dishes if I cooked dinner, or getting tickets for a play that I mentioned wanting to see three weeks earlier, putting the toilet seat down, making me soup when I’m sick, or pulling the State Department’s travel advisories on countries I’m thinking about visiting. It’s not about wining and dining me. It’s being attentive to details that make me feel wonderful and treasured.

    I also want to reiterate what some of the previous posters mentioned. Take it slow! But don’t forget that we’re working toward a romantic, and not platonic, relationship. Walking hand in hand (or arm in arm), putting your hand on the small of my back, playing with my hair, letting me lean into your chest (either while standing or cuddled on the couch)… Those are all things that make me melt inside and establish the physical nature of the relationship. And no matter how physical the relationship becomes, those are some basic keys to keep a woman (or at least this one) very happy.

  15. 15

    Does Evan censor? The first post I sent didn’t make it on here.

    I love the idea of being courted.

    My first post was about the male practice of asking a woman out, or directing her to call him in his introductory e-mail. Agree with C. on getting to know a gal first: courting.

    Presently have a situation with a man I actually have run into in town before…whereby his opening line was, “You’re CUTE! Wanna go out?” I was late for work and said so, yet her persisted. Not sure what to do with that, I went to work. He seems a nice person, but having found me on line, has pursued me in a similar manner. I mentioned I might like to e a little bit first, and we have, and he’s asked me out in all but one e. Now feeling pressured, and getting more uncomfortable, I finally said something. He’s since suggested having, “space”…kind of from a relationship we don’t have! This man is moderately attractive to me; perhaps I *could* like him, if I had a sense that he could HEAR ME, rather than pursue his agenda. It is baffling to me why men do this. It is not courting, which is paying attention to feedback and social cues and making adjustments.

    Of COURSE you have to be yourself, but you also have to be responsive to the OTHER PERSON. Hellooo!


  16. 16

    Robin & Kim,

    I am SO GLAD you gals made that point: GUYS, you cannot go wrong with being courteous to women! It only makes them think and speak highly of you, and still consider you in the future. It is so, so true.


  17. 17

    I don’t believe in courting. I’m into drunken hookups and that’s about it!

  18. 18


    I’m one of Evan’s assistants, and I have been moderating the blog comments while he is on his honeymoon. I never saw the original comment you were referring to in Post #15, but I just wanted to let you know that you weren’t censored! 😉

  19. 19

    Good one, Lance. 🙂

    It’s interesting to note, however, that the only ones to speak on the subject so far have been women.

  20. 20

    Thanks Gloria!


    So, what to do about overeager men that put a gal off? (Re: my post above.)


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