Dear Relationship Coach-
"We met online and seemed to hit it off right from the start. After he answered my ad, we went on our first date, and it was fabulous. I believe we both felt a strong chemistry and learned a lot about each other. At the end of the evening we agreed to get together again. He called me the next day and we talked for three hours. On our second date, we spent the whole day together. After three dates (and many emails, phone calls) - we were talking on a Thursday night. We had previously discussed plans for Saturday. However, he did not mention it before we hung up. I wasn't sure of how to handle the situation, so I waited until a day later and left a voice message for him, saying hi. After four days with no word, I left him an invitation to dinner at my place. I never heard back. What happened? What am I supposed to think?" (Confused Female)
Many single women write to me expressing confusion, uncertainty and frustration regarding the whole dating scene. Their stories are often (like the one above), filled with tales of broken dates, unanswered emails and/or phone calls and guys just disappearing for no apparent reason. They are looking for answers about what qualities men look for in choosing women to date and want to know what single guys really want from their relationships. Most of all, they want to know how to find and build mutually satisfying and lasting relationships.
After receiving the above email, I decided to query several single guys and ask for their thoughts, reactions and suggestions to this and other questions that women want answers to. The men I spoke to are all; never married, twenties to thirties, professional, attractive and financially successful. All have very full social lives and have been actively meeting and dating women for years. Only one guy (David, a small town mayor and a professional lobbyist for a trade association) is in a relationship. However, he travels quite a bit and spends a lot of time out socially with mixed groups of singles.
Their feedback for the writer of the above question contained somewhat differing views, but had a consistent thread running through it. The bottom line - he liked her and had an interest, but something changed and he decided he didn't want to continue. The men offered such comments as "he decided he's just not that interested in her" and " I wonder if they had sex, because some guys are into the chase and loose interest after that". One guy was surprised that this had occurred after they had spent a lot of time together and there had been a real interest in getting to know each other. All of the guys felt that he should have handled the situation differently. David felt the writer should have brought up the issue of getting together right away- during the phone call. He believes "this would have cleared up the ambiguity and let her know upfront where she stood." He also commented that a woman needs to "focus on what is happening in a relationship right now". He cautioned, "don't rely on past dates, go with what is happening now." Their comments gave birth to more discussion and many related questions that came up for me as they shared about their dating experiences and their beliefs. The end result? A brief snapshot of the qualities men look for in women and their thoughts on dating, timing, commitment and marriage.
What are turn-ons for you?
* " Personality is very important. Look for easy-going, easy to be with, low maintenance".
* " Confident, fun, strong - yet kind- women"
* " Takes care of herself- mentally and physically"
* " Makes decisions based on what is good for her, not to please me or someone else"
* " Is positive and can be part of a healthy give-and-take relationship"
* " Attractive and has style and class"
* " Is a good friend, easy-going. easy to be with"
* " Is upfront and communicates feelings/wants/needs clearly and directly"
* " Comfortable with herself/her body/her decisions"
What are turn-offs for you?
* " Doesn't take care of herself- sloppy, disorganized, etc."
* " Negativity is a big turn-off- behavior, relationships, conversation"
* " High-maintenance- nothing is ever enough"
* " Game-player/won't express needs and feelings directly"
* " Expects too much in general and doesn't give back equally"
* " Is always the victim- everyone unfair and unkind to them"
* "needy, insecure, clingy"
* " selfish- stingy with money, time, friends"
What are the qualities that make a woman a "keeper"?
* " Nurturing"
* " intelligent"
* " very into me"
* " appreciates what I contribute and is respectful of my feelings"
* " self-reliant"
* "family-oriented, likes kids"
* " career or no career ok as long as she contributes to the family (great mom)
How would you define "date"?
* " Make plans in advance"
* " There is something there besides sex"
* " This is something you want to pursue- have an interest in the person"
* "Friends with benefits can lead to dating or be considered a date"
* "Hooking-up is not dating"
How does a woman know if a guy is really interested?
* " He will pursue her"
* " No matter what, he will keep in contact"
* " He communicates regularly and pursues a dating relationship"
How does a guy let a woman know he is not/no longer interested?
* " He will vanish"
* " Email or call but not bring up getting together"
* "Say I had a great time, etc.- but then not call"
* "Won't return calls or call when he said he would"
* "Talk with her about how he is feeling/not feeling, but this is hard for many men to do"
* "Has to do with his age and level of maturity- these will determine which way he will handle it"
Why/when do guys marry?
* " It's about maturity and readiness"
* " Age and what friends are doing plays a large role"
* " Has to do with readiness for making a commitment and having kids, etc."
* " Heeds to feel financially, emotionally ready"
* " Needs to really click with a woman- on all levels"
* "timing is a lot of it"
The content of the feedback from these guys was very consistent. The overall consensus? High-maintenance, negative women are the biggest turn-offs. Confident, together women, who take care of themselves, can communicate honestly and directly and are easy to be with- got the highest marks. Timing in relationships plays a huge role. Mostly, the men emphasized that when a guy is truly interested in a woman, he will pursue her and let her know. If he offers excuses and doesn't follow through, he's just not interested- either in her or in a relationship at this time.
My advice to the women out there. "Listen" closely to what he communicates non-verbally. If he says one thing, but does another, he is not telling you the whole truth. If you have just begun dating someone or have seen him for a while and his behavior towards you changes suddenly- address this with him immediately. Most of all, if something just doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Trust your instincts and let them be your guide.
Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach with over 20 years of experience. As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including: The Chicago Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel newspapers and Family Circle, Woman's Day, and Star magazines. She has been featured on ABC News; Discovery Health Channel and AOL Online. As a weekly contributing commentator on the KTRS Radio Morning Show, (St. Louis, MO), Toni offers dating tips and relationship advice in response to listener feedback. Toni founded Consum-mate.com in 2002 to offer singles the knowledge and tools they need to find and sustain healthy, lasting love relationships. She is a member of The International Coach Federation, and The International Association Of Coaches.