Sure there's dating etiquette that can make or break your chances with a girl (i.e. not footing the bill on the first few dates, blowing up on the waiter, ordering for her if she's not into that). But there are other ways you present yourself that can be seriously off-putting—ways you're not even aware of.
"It’s not just about how to get a girl," says psychologist and relationship expert Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. "If you're insecure, don’t think highly of yourself, and operate on fear," you'll struggle to settle into a meaningful relationship. "There's a lot of confusion about what's strong, weak, and meaningful," Thomas says. So we're setting the record straight.
1. You try to sell yourself
On a first date, you probably feel pressure to list all your achievements and accomplishments to leave the girl with a pristine first impression. Unfortunately, this rarely ever comes off as awe-inspiring or attractive (and it's definitely not modest). Your date doesn't get to know you outside of a very superficial way, because you're too busy running down a list of things you have done.
“I remember being on a date and the guy was constantly giving me his résumé," Thomas says. "I remember thinking You don’t think very highly of yourself and, therefore, don’t think I would like you if you were just being you—talking about who you are, what you feel, and what’s meaningful and interesting to you," she adds.
Rather than running through your list of "haves" and "have-dones," pick a couple momentous moments in your life and explain why they were so meaningful to you so, yes, she gets snippet of something cool, but also a bit more about you as a person. Instead of saying you've traveled to every continent on the planet. Tell her how exciting travel is to you, and pick one—like a voluntourism trip to Bali—so you add context to the situation and showcase how great you are without saying how great you are.
2. You always steer the conversation back to you
Men who are emotionally weak also feel uncomfortable in the moments where their job is to get to know a woman, Thomas says. The result? You always come back to you, and conversations start to feel like you're just trying to one-up her. Say she mentions she's lived in Chicago for four years, and you interject by saying you've lived there for five; or, she's planning to run a half marathon and you list all the races you've done from grade school until now. Your nerves might be to blame, but you're coming off like a self-absorbed jerk.
"You never want her to feel like you’re going toe-to-toe or you’re competing," Thomas says.
3. You put on a front
"If you’re telling outright lies about yourself or are constructing a narrative, this will derail a date and any chance of a relationship," Thomas says. Even a stranger will see through a façade and deceit if you're trying to pump your image up so you seem like a cooler, more successful guy. If you're the assistant to the head honcho in a firm or the secretary of the Editor-in-Chief of a publishing company, don't blur the truth and say you run the place.
Rather than letting your strength of character come through, you're trying to trick a girl into falling for a version of you. "Women appreciate honesty," Thomas says.
4. You don't own your mistakes
If you took a huge risk in life, like trying to start your own business, but it failed so you’re starting over, say that. Don’t hide, twist, or cover life events—even on a first date. We're not saying you need to tell her the biggest mistake you've ever made, but if you happen to end up in a conversation about past jobs or the hardest obstacle you've ever had to overcome, admitting your faults can actually earn you major brownie points.
"Vulnerability and emotions don’t make you weak," Thomas says, "suppressing them does."
You're human, so show her your emotions, and tell her your disappointments, but not in a pitying sort of way—more in a Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes sort of scenario.
5. You don't make meaningful connections
If your dates and relationships only scratch the surface of meaningful conversations and connections, it's a major indicator that you're not secure and happy enough with yourself to give your all to a woman. When you get to a point in your relationship where small talk about the day's events and weather aren't the meat of your discussions, share the arc of your life and make yourself emotionally available.
"Give women the credit that they want to get to know you even despite the not-so-great parts of life—be it medical, financial, or personal," Thomas says. Level with her so she knows who you are, what your path up until this stage of your life was, where you're trying to go, what you're committed to doing. "I had a guy say, 'I want to tell you all about me, even if it means I lose you,'" Thomas says. "And it was the most exceptional, strong, manly thing I’ve ever experienced."
6. You're indecisive about everything
There's nothing more infuriating than a guy who makes the girl choose where to go to dinner every time they make plans. Take the initiative. That's not to say you dictate what movie you see, where you eat, and what you do every time you go on a date—that's just overbearing and dominating.
"Be inquisitive and decisive," Thomas says. "They coexist." Ask her what her favorite food is, or if she's craving margaritas or martinis, then locate a top-rated location based on her input. Always be curious and attentive. Does she love a band? Suggest going to a concert together. Be a guy who takes the extra step. It'll do wonders in the long-run.