You don’t need to be a data scientist to recognize that the dating game has changed beyond recognition. We’re meeting more people online than ever before, but the surplus of choices has made people flakier, and in some ways it’s harder to actually go on a date. In addition, women are becoming more empowered and men aren’t always sure how to connect with them in a way that is both attractive and respectful. If you’re single in 2018, now’s a good time to take a new approach to love—one that’s a bit more modern and better suited to this bold new world of dating.
As a dating coach I have a theory that the old dating rules we used to live by are holding both men and women back from connecting with each other. So instead of giving you more rules about what you should and shouldn’t do, I want to show you six ways men and women can approach dating differently.
Three ways men should approach dating differently…
1. Only pursue women who show interest in you.
Guys have often been told that it’s their job to make all the first moves—things like asking someone out, setting up dates, or being the pursuer have long been considered so-called man’s work. But I’ve noticed this creates a few big problems with the men I work with. For one, they often aren’t selecting women based on the women’s interest in building a relationship with them. (AKA, the men can be so focused on the chase, that they aren’t being choosy enough about who they’re chasing.) Sending unanswered message after unanswered message without considering what a women’s silence shows about her interest in dating you isn’t good for the man or women. Apart from the critical importance of being able to accept a no, it’s also important for men to pursue women who make an effort to make time for them. Don’t you want to be with someone who’s excited and interested in you? Yes!
Guys—You need to stop thinking that a woman is playing hard to get and tripping over yourself to win her over. Instead, look for women who respond back quickly, who write longer messages asking you questions, and who don’t repeatedly cancel dates. Choose women who know what they’re looking for and who show genuine interest in you.
2. Be more selective.
Choosiness and being selective about who they date is advice that women often get that men should listen to as well. No woman wants to be asked out just because you think she’s hot—this sends the message that you don’t respect the women for who she is as a person and also suggests that you don’t hold high standards for the people you spend time with. There are a lot of people out there for you, so have an idea of the types of qualities you want in a women. Having standards makes you more attractive and keeps you focused on who the women you’re with are as people, not just how great they look in a picture.
3. Uphold your own boundaries.
You and your date are equally responsible for controlling the pace of the relationship. If you feel that the relationship is moving too fast (Woah! Did she just leave her toothbrush in my bathroom?!) or too slow (If we only ever meet every two weeks how are we going to build this up?) you need to communicate that the pace isn’t working for you. Communicating your boundaries is one way to express how you expect to be treated and how you view the relationship. Without this communication you could find yourself six months down the line in a relationship that you’re not 100% on board with—and that’s when you feel the need to back pedal. No one likes back-pedalling so it’s actually easier and more respectful to communicate how you’re feeling in the moment. It could be saying something like, I noticed you left your toothbrush over and although this isn’t easy for me to say, I felt a little uncomfortable because I need to take some time to get to know someone before they begin consistently staying over. Or I noticed we’re only able to catch up every couple of weeks. I know we’re both busy but I’d like to get to know you better.
Men and women’s roles in the ritual of dating aren’t so clearly defined as they were 50 years ago—And, you can disagree with me, but I think this is a good thing! And it’s not just the guys who have something to learn.
Three ways women should approach dating differently…
1. Be more proactive.
One day your Prince will come? Well… if you’re a little tired of waiting don’t assume a guy has to make all the first moves. Online dating data has shown that women who make the first move are more successful at getting what they want. For example, women who send a message asking a man to dinner, drinks or lunch get 73% more responses than the average. This is a clear indicator that instead of a man longing for the chase, they’re usually quite relieved to have a woman who is a direct communicator. If you see a cute guy’s profile don’t be afraid to send that first message. As I explain in my dating training for women I’m also a huge fan of women making the first move offline as well. It can be as simple as a smile, standing closer to the guy, or saying, Hi, do you mind passing me that menu? I’m never quite sure whether to go for a juice or some wine after work. Being open and giving people the opportunity to connect with you is smart: don’t rely on just dating the guys that make the first move on you.
2. Enjoy the moment you’re in.
If you think that guys send mixed signals this is because (surprise!) they may not have worked out how they see things progressing with you—at least not yet. Men tend to approach dating in a way that’s more experiential, to see how things go. Give yourself time to connect with and explore how the guys you date fit into your life rather than going straight into boyfriend or relationship mode with everyone. Building trust, a connection, and an understanding of what someone is about all takes time. So slow down and enjoy getting to know someone before you start planning your future together.
3. Be clear about what you do and don’t want.
It can feel more polite to gradually drop out of contact with someone instead of making it clear that you’re not interested in dating them. But in the age of ghosting, I think we can all agree that clarity is best. If you know you don’t feel a connection with a man let him down in a way that is kind but also very clear. Ditch the messages like Maybe when work’s calmed down or I’ll check my schedule and get back to you. It’s harder but more respectful and far better in the long run to send a message that says, Hey, thank you for taking the time to meet me last night. I wanted to be upfront with you (and you probably feel the same) that I didn’t feel that connection when we met up but wanted to wish you well.
The dating game may always be changing but in 2018 it’s more important than ever for men and women to enter as equals. As individuals we all need to focus on building respect, clear communication, and taking responsibility for our own happiness.