How You Misunderstand Your Dates and How It Backfires

African-american couple having a wine toast

Did you ever wonder after a date why he didn’t call back?

Did you ever think you had a great time, but were shocked to discover that he didn’t feel the chemistry?

It’s really common — for both men and women — but if you’ve never bothered to put yourself in the shoes of the opposite sex, you may be killing your chances to find love.

Translating men to women is what I do best.

Your perspective on sex is way different than his perspective — and how neither of them is wrong!

Women want the potential for love. Men want the potential for sex.

Each time you go on a date, you have an agenda. You may not be conscious of it, but every man you meet causes you to ask these questions:

Is he polite to the waiter?
Does he reach for the check instantly?
Does he talk positively about other women?
Is he pressuring me for physical contact?
Does he want to learn more about me?
Is he looking for a long-term relationship?
Does he have good values and will he fit in my world?

None of these are “bad” questions. But, if you add them all up, what you’re doing is tantamount to acting like a detective. You’re trying to figure out, in 90 minutes, whether this stranger is potentially husband-worthy.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself (and him) on a first date. You’re picking up on every subtle clue and extrapolating it to a greater meaning.

So if he talks about his crazy ex, you may conclude that he’s hung up on her or is a misogynist with baggage.

Or if he talks about himself too much, you conclude he’s a narcissist who’s not interested in you.

Or if he seems interested in you physically, you conclude that he’s disrespectful and wants only one thing.

These are all possible conclusions you can draw, but they are, by no means, the only conclusions. In fact, they’re probably incorrect.

A man who talks about his crazy ex may be a great guy — with a really crazy ex and some good stories to tell. If he has bitter feelings, he may be entirely justified in having them. His only crime is in not knowing how he comes across on the date.

A man who goes on and on about himself may be extremely interested in you, and extremely nervous that he’s not going to impress you. So he tells you as many things as he can to “impress” you, so he’ll have a chance of getting a second date. You think he’s selfish. He may just be insecure.

Finally, a man who tries to kiss you at the end of the first date is also known as a “man”. That’s right. Men who are attracted to you want to kiss you. It’s not a crime, it’s not a flaw, and it’s not inherently inappropriate. Sure, a kiss after 3 minutes at Starbucks is pretty weird, but following dinner, drinks, and a car ride home, a good night kiss is standard behavior for a man who’s attracted to you.

I share this with you because you may feel that men are supposed to do things YOUR way.

He should just KNOW that he shouldn’t talk about his ex.
He should just KNOW that he should ask you questions.
He should just KNOW that you’re uncomfortable kissing on the first date.

As one of those clueless men who have done ALL of those things — I hate to remind you what you already know about men: we’re not mind readers. We’re not perfect. We do what comes naturally to us, not necessarily what comes naturally to YOU.

Theoretically, we can do everything perfectly right on a date — check off 20 for 20 on your scorecard — and then be dismissed for trying to kiss you. And if every little misguided action can set you off, it becomes really hard to make a good first impression.

Which is why I wanted to remind you of an insight I had about men’s and women’s first date agendas:

Women want the potential for love. Men want the potential for sex.

This is a fundamental difference between us and I think it’s important to know that I’m not blaming you for trying to figure out where things are going.

Since you want the potential for love, you give your first dates the tightest screening outside of airport security — and dissect everything he says to determine if he has long-term relationship potential.

Alas, while your heart is in the right place, your efforts are premature — and they usually backfire. Men don’t like to be dissected.

We know when you’re asking leading questions about our jobs, exes, financial stability, sexual past, and desire for family and kids. So, for your own sake, stop thinking of the future when you’re on a date. Try hard to have fun and stay in the present.

By enjoying the night, having light, breezy conversation, and flirting a little bit, you’ll ensure a great first date which will make him want to ask you out again.

That gives you the choice to go out with him or not and allow him to reveal himself over the course of the next few dates.

While you are entitled to want to figure out the entire puzzle at the very beginning, it’s generally a losing proposition. Not because you’re wrong for wanting to protect yourself from wasting time on a bad man — but because it doesn’t WORK.

Men run from women who interrogate them in the pursuit of love, the same way women run from men who push for sex too soon.

Can you see the parallels?

There’s nothing wrong with a guy wanting to have sex one day. The problem is when they push for it too fast. The harder they push before you’re ready, the more you pull away.

Smart male daters know that women want trust, comfort, and security. If they’re wise, they’ll take appropriate measures to show you this during your first date.

These subtle nuances of relationships are where most of the friction lies in dating.

Similarly, if you’re a smart woman dater, you’ll know that men value attraction and want to feel desired. So if you’re wise, you’ll take appropriate measures to show them this during your first date.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean sleeping with a man before there’s a commitment. It means putting yourself in his shoes.

He’s excited about you, he wants to impress you, he wants you to like him, and he wants to know you like him back.

All you have to do is let him know.

If you like him, a kiss is a great way to do this.

Once again, just because men want sex doesn’t mean they get sex on the first date.

Just because women want love doesn’t mean they get love on the first date.

But if you want to be the BEST first date, you’re probably smart to give a little hint of what’s to come in the future — just like the right man shows that he’s interested in a relationship, instead of just sex.

These subtle nuances are where most of the friction lies in dating. And whether you’re dating online, offline or are embarking on a new relationship, there are hundreds of ways in which your miscommunication can sabotage your connection.

It doesn’t always come naturally, but once you “get” it, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to relate to men.

Join our conversation (80 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21

    Ack. Is anyone else bored of hearing Honey talk about herself and Jake? We get it, you slept with him on the first date and you got married. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good strategy for other women to follow. You are the exception.

  2. 22

    This is a bit off Evan’s original posting, but was brought up in the comments — I’ve found talking to someone I met online is OMG, PARAMOUNT — even for just 15 – 20 mins — the times I haven’t, it’s really, really burned me — I would have caught how off our “rhythms” were or how socially awkward (or weird) they were…and the times I chalked it up to them being “bad on the phone” — ALWAYS, 100% of time, they were ‘bad’ in person / in ‘real life’…There are people I didn’t met up with after a short (or 20 – 30 min) phone conversation because it felt like being sucked into a black hole of weirdness or boring-ness — there way no way that was going to turn around in person….

  3. 23

    “I think this sentence misses one crucial point, this being that for the most part, these things do not come naturally to “us” (Evan means women but I think there are people of both genders in each category).   Instead, they are the result of years of hard work and effort, and often a steep learning curve that starts in adolescence.   If a man (or woman) hasn’t got the basics by the time he’s (she’s) in his mid to late 20s/30s/40s etc, how long are we going to have to wait before he or she is fully socially functional?”
    There’s a lot of important things in this paragraph. It seems to me that if at some point, you don’t choose to deliberately pay attention and learn from your experiences, then things are probably just going to be more difficult for you. I would guess that some people will have more of that “natural” ability to read situations and cues than others, but even the best athletes, for example, have to do a lot of training and practice to maintain that.
    So, while it’s smart to give a date who is somewhat nervous and not entirely “with it,” it’s also fair to reject a person that seems completely clueless about social cues or interacting with others. The danger with being too lenient is getting into a situation where you hope to “fix” the other person – which is nearly always a disaster.

  4. 24

    Here’s a little trick I tell my female friends who are single:
    Look for reasons to accept a guy rather than for reasons to reject a guy.

  5. 25

    To the men who had an awesome first date with me and then I just disappeared – the reasons: 1) I admit I wasn’t impressed with what you did for a living and felt like I made more money than you did – and that bothered me.  Horrible but true so I bailed.   2) I found out the hours of your job are 2nd or 3rd shift or you traveled too often so I bailed.   I knew you wouldn’t have the time for me that I wanted and I didn’t feel that strong of a connection to let the hours not bother me. 3) I caught you yawning when we were in conversation and though I wouldn’t say you were bored, it was a signal to me that you had trouble paying attention.   And there were sometimes awkward moments of silence.   I figured you were trying really hard to communicate and it was difficult because you weren’t much of a “talker”  naturally  – and then I found out that you took some college courses  but never graduated.   I felt our education background wasn’t all that equal and I’d knew I’d grow bored with you as time went on – so I bailed even though physically I was very attracted to you.   5) I was impressed with job, income, your hobbies, where you had were intelligent and into me – the problem was I just couldn’t get “into” you physically chemistry wise and couldn’t see you fitting in with my circle of friends  –  so I bailed.  6) We had a  fun time I liked your sense of humor – your hair style could use an update and I’m not into smokers but these are  things that can be worked with because I can see the potential of you hanging out in my circle of buddies.   We got on great and we were attracted to eachother..the problem was you bought drinks all night  and I got WAY too tipsy to the point that you were pawing all over me.   When I got my wits about me, I figured you’d think I was really easy or conversely, I also felt a little “Too taken advantage of too soon”….so I  bailed.   Maybe none of these make sense to the man but at the time they made sense to myself and I just felt in my gut that it wasn’t “right” between us.   I could’ve been more mature and told you my reasons, but I’ve been bailed on by plenty a guy who had their own reason as to why they didn’t want to go on a second date with me… and they never bothered to tell me why either.

    1. 25.1

      This is a good breakdown of what happens to me a lot too.   Number 2 a lot.   I work a 9-5 and I would get people working night shifts and weekends or those that had their kids every night and weekend and we would never be seeing each ther but my number one reason for not giving a man a second date or just disappearing is if you start with something sexual.   We have a great date and you want me to come back to your place okay you tried but I say no and you keep asking you are not going to see me again.   You text me in between the first and second date asking for dirty pics, try to grab my butt etc you get the picture and thus happens a lot.    Guys that are really doing well and bam say something super inappropriate.    First date guys unless she starts it is way too early.

  6. 26

    I have to disagree with the fellow above who said that we women “make it harder to date.”

    The reason we keep our guard up, is because we have run into men who have treated us less than respectfully, and we’d prefer not to have that happen again.

    I do ask some questions, but I don’t really ask much about intentions (marriage, LTR, etc.)   I have learned that alot of men will lie about that so they can get sex, and then move along.   What I do now, is I let the guy talk.   I listen to what he says, and watch his body language.   That tells me quite a bit.

    For example: I went on a date with a man I met online.   We were talking about how long we each respectively have been divorced.   He became pretty bitter about his ex wife, and told me almost exactly how much she spent in proceedings against him.   Red Flag Number One.   He then also went on a tangent about how monogamy was “a relatively recent concept” and how men are just not wired for such.   Alarm bells rang all over the place and after that date, I never saw him again.   I believe he could tell that I was not happy with what he had told me.   It frankly scared me and I started backing off.

    I’m not saying that it’s a good idea for us women to go into a date and act and sound so non-approachable that we come off as rude and cold.   However, there are reasons why we have our guard up.   If anything, it seems like you guys make it “harder to date” because of the lies, the games, etc.   I am much more cautious now about whom I go out with for that very reason.  

  7. 27

    Heather, the lies and games are coming from all sides. I don’t think either men or women can claim some sort of superior status when it comes to that.

  8. 28

    Anne #20 I hear you! I feel the same way you do about online dating. I have done online dating for 4 years and realized I needed a break from all the rejection I was receiving.   I don’t know how many times I was told “You just don’t wow me.” That is ok if I don’t wow you but, do you really need to tell me that? I think the whole way around this is to fully read the profile and tell the other person what you liked about their profile. If someone contacts you then ask them what they liked about your profile.  Unfortunately  the picture seems to speak louder to people than the written profile. If I go online again I will take more time to really read the profiles and try to get to know the person a little better before I meet them. I have read that it is not what you have in common but how deeply you believe the same things that count. I will admit that I have a twisted, bitter picture of men after online dating but, I also know a lot of good young men like my sons and my nephews who do care and are trying to do the right thing. It gives me hope for the next generation of men.

  9. 29

    @ Annie #19

    risky proposition. If a guy I had chemistry with put his hand on my face that could interesting. But if the guy I trying to see if I’m trying to develop chemistry with put his hand on my face I would feel very uncomfortable. I think peck on check is the safest lest off putting move unless you’re 100% sure the lady is into you.  

  10. 30

    Both parties should try and have as few expectations as possible. It’s difficult, but with fewer expectations, there is less negativity and less disappointment. You can still have your standards or check-list or whatever you’d like to call it. On the other hand, I think especially during the “courting” period, a woman SHOULD focus on a guy’s negatives. We usually focus solely on all the “wonderful” things about him and get swept up in the chemical high of meeting someone new. Yeah. Enjoy that high, but that’s when the man is on his BEST behavior. Notice the little things he does that you don’t like. Chances are, it’ll get worse with time, not better. The beginning is a time of evaluation, but I do agree that you should be as easy-breezy as possible.

    I do think with age… and in the era of internet dating, people get extremely picky. To the point of where they won’t accept any faults or defects. There is an attitude that there is always something better out there. I think I saw this on an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” (god, shoot me now). The fashion advisor Randy always says… yes, there MIGHT be another dress out there… but just like your fiance, you found a good one that makes you happy, so now it’s time to STOP SHOPPING.  

  11. 31

    “If a guy I had chemistry with put his hand on my face that could interesting.”
    And how do you let him know that you feel that chemistry?
    If you’re giving off feminine signals, well, you fail. Remember, you are attempting to connect with a man, not a woman. Men do not speak or feel womanese and please don’t expect him to speak or feel womanese.

  12. 32

    As always, right on Evan!

  13. 33

    Well, I’m going to have to agree with Evan re his assertion that men are “looking for the potential for sex on the first date”. It’s slimy, but it’s true for most men (hope my sons don’t turn into these types of men). Anyway, I can wear a certain top and 95% of men in the vicinity will focus their eyes directly on my breasts. It’s not that I have porn star breasts, I don’t. However, I do have nice, full breast that are all mine. When I wear this blouse, it happens to  show them off and my small waist rather nicely. Do, I wear this top to get attention? No, I don’t. It’s not even my favorite top, but I get the eyes on my chest anyway. This has even occured with my male friends who are in relationships but have always been attracted to me. The only men who don’t do a double-take when I wear this top are much older men who aren’t interested in sex, gay men and men who have sexual hang-ups. I have a friend with sexual hangups and even his eyes have strayed to me when I wear tight jeans.

    One of my friends who looks when I wear “the top”, recently requested my company without his fiance’s presence.   That relationship is on the rocks. I will say that before I think about accepting a date, he  WILL say BYE to her and move her out of his house!

    So, yes, men are driven by sex. It’s what they want. Not saying that excludes  them wanting a  committment. I am learning more and more about men, and sorry to say, most of it is pretty pathetic and sickening the way their nature is. I don’t dislike men, and I will marry when I find the right man, but in the interum, as women if we don’t demand certain things from men, we will get taken advantage of.

  14. 34

    I agree with Evan that a first date should be light and fun and general information gathering without making the other feel interrogated. And that some behavior done, or not done, may be the result of nervousness and not a character flaw.

    BUT, I have to say, in my experience, when  a man does all the talking and asks me very little about myself,  and steals the convo back to himself quickly, it has been a character trait that continued on as long as we dated. And not due to nerves.

    I’m sensitive to trusting my gut about first impressions because most of the time, they are spot on or damn near spot on. “Me-Mee’s” don’t  last long usually  because I know the relationship, and the conversation will always be all about them. That is normally there on date #1.

  15. 35

    @ Margo #33
    Yes, a lot of men would accept sex on the first date if it was offered to them, but does this really make them slimy?   I think expecting it and being willing to accept the offer are two different things and most men lean toward the latter.   If he really just wanted to get laid, why not just go out to a bar and find someone to take home?   Seems like the planning, time, money and process of asking out a woman is a lot to go through just to get laid.   It’s up to the woman to present herself how she wishes to be known.   If I had slept with my boyfriend the first night I met him, I probably would not have been asked out on a date.   We’ve talked about it, and he told me that his attraction only grew stronger when I respectfully turned down his advances the first night we met.   Are you the girl who gives it up, or the one who is worth the second date?   If this top of yours is so provocative and you know it, then you are probably attracting the type of guys that are more likely to make a quick advance.   You know you attract them when you dress this way, so don’t be surprised or act like a victim or like the guy is ‘slimy’ when you get hit on!   As far as dating the man who has a fiance . . .   this has dirty written all over it.   Even if there was underlying attraction between myself and a man who had a fiance, that’s all it would ever be, attraction.   If he ever tried to act on it like this man that you speak of has, I would lose all respect for this person and the attraction would be out the window too.   There is no way I would ever consider dating a person that would make an advance on a woman when he was still committed to another, it doesn’t matter whether the relationship was falling apart or not.   You’re in or your out, don’t be messing around until you are no longer committed, bottom line.   I wouldn’t be able to respect myself either, if I was contemplating dating a man who belonged to another woman, not cool dude, not cool.  
             Your last line states, “So, yes, men are driven by sex. It’s what they want. Not saying that excludes  them wanting a  committment. I am learning more and more about men, and sorry to say, most of it is pretty pathetic and sickening the way their nature is. I don’t dislike men, and I will marry when I find the right man, but in the interum, as women if we don’t demand certain things from men, we will get taken advantage of”
    Yes, men are driven by sex, I doubt that’s about to change anytime soon.   The more I learn about men, the more I love them.   I think the majority of them have  good intentions,  are generous, kind hearted, and darn worthy of a good woman.   I don’t know what is so sick in their nature that could be worse than whatever is in your nature to make you think it’s ok to pursue a man that is already taken.   And lastly, it’s not what we demand of men that allows us to get taken advantage of,  it’s what we DON’T demand from OURSELVES that allows us to get taken advantage of.  

    1. 35.1

      Beautifully said!!!

  16. 36

    It has been my experience, that, anxiety levels are very high on the first three dates….

  17. 37

    Erinlee, the man who has a fiancee hasn’t made any advances on me yet. He just came over while I was out seeking to see me. He said he bought himself something new and wanted to show me.

    Erinlee, also you said your boyfriend’s attraction for you only grew stronger when you turned down his advances the first night you met.

    So, tell me? What kind of man makes advances on a woman the first night he meets her?

    Answer: A scumbag.

    Look, I’m like Evan, I’m just the messenger trying to point out the behavior of most men.

    1. 37.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Here’s how we’re different, Margo. I observe people; I don’t judge people.

      You say, “What kind of a man makes advances on a woman the first night he meets her?” I say, “Me, and a vast majority of men.”

      And since I know that I’m not a scumbag and my male friends who do the same aren’t scumbags, that means that you’re putting a false label and rushing to judgment against the men who act in a way that YOU don’t want them to.

      I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that when I was dating prolifically, and making the first move on the first date, 95% of women were willing recipients and kissed me right back.

      Just notice the difference of the commenters on here who judge men vs. the ones who don’t.

      My close friend, Onna, just said something to me yesterday that blew my mind:

      “The second I found Mr. Right was when I stopped making men wrong.”

      Why don’t you give it a shot and let me know how it goes?

  18. 38

    Anyone got any advice on how not to “interrogate” men at a  speed dating event? I’m going to one in a few days time and although its years since I went to something like that, I do seem to remember that it did seem to consist of a lot of quick-fire interrogation on both sides… One problem, as   see it, is that unlike blind dates with people off the intertnet, where you at least have a profile that covers the basics and avoids you having to ask that stuff, at speed dating you don’t even have that… plus the short timescale means not much time to take it slow and chat about sweet nothings…. Any help would be appreciated!

  19. 39

    @ Evan, I’m not talking about kissing. Erinlee’s comment “made advances” sounds like her now boyfriend wanted to do a lot more than kissing…A man who tries to have sex with a woman on a first date is a man that most women would run from.  This behavior is tantamount to sleezy behavior/character. This type of behavior by mem (sleeping with women they just met)  also leads to the spread of STD’s. A lot of men feel that it’s no big deal to engage in this behavior.

    However, when the woman does the very same behavior, she is branded a slut. This stinks.

    That isn’t a judgement, that’s an observation.

  20. 40

    By the way, it’s not about making a man “wrong”. If he’s wrong, he’s wrong. Period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *