The Art of the Start

The run up to the 2nd presidential debate has brought into focus the way that men and women interact romantically. Tragically soo many men (with influences such as Donald Trump) are given very destructive beliefs of how to interact with women. So I’ve decided to do something about it (more on this in a second).

Self-help books on the ‘rules of attraction’ or ‘how to pick up women’ (often written by men for men) are frequently quite misguided: giving very damaging guidance. They emphasise that dating is all about the chase and give no guidance on what to do once in a relationship with a woman. This is very disrespectful to women and not grounded in a headspace that will help men and woman to have good relationships. Instead, men need an understanding of women, and not how to “get into their pants”.

Undoubtedly, women’s rights have improved over the past 50 years. Gone are the days of the repressed 1950s housewife, women can make decisions regarding career, childbirth, marriage, and divorce. They are able to be more independent than their mothers and grandmothers were. However, their experience in society is still very different to men. Women face several pressures, expectations, and limitations that men often don’t have to worry about.

Take age, looks, and the biological clock for example.

The pressure on women to look good is immense. And sadly, some feel that they are solely judged on this criterion. When a women gets to her late 20s/early 30s she is also under immense pressure to settle, find a partner and to have babies. Men dating women are likely to have a very different experience dating women, depending on their age.

For men, the adage of “nice guys finish last” is really not helpful: women are not (only) looking for a nice guy—they are looking for so much more. Many men fall into the trap of thinking that being a nice guy will make women want to be in a relationship with them. Or if they break-up with them, then it was a case of being “too nice”. Women want someone who they feel is mature, their own person, and someone they can rely upon. They don’t want someone who is still in “little boy” mode—still attached to their parents, their high school attitudes, their gamer buddies etc. These are all massive turn offs for a women. They look for someone who can make their own decisions, be independent, have some career plan, and ultimately someone who understands and emotionally supports them.

But firstly, how should men best meet women?

Places like meeting at a bar, or via internet dating makes getting a date difficult as overcoming trust is a big hurdle. Women are harassed and hit on by all the wrong people in these environments. Which means that they have to protect themselves. If these barriers happen to be broken down, the conversation is likely to be quite superficial at first. My advice is to stay away from these environments and instead, pick environments where you can interact as naturally as possible e.g. university or even work, through friends, at meet ups, dinner/house parties, social sports.

The main criteria when meeting a women is reliability and trust. Every good relationship (be it romantic, business or friendship) has this as its cornerstone. Too many people don’t consider this factor and pay the consequences later.

To assess reliability and trust it is best done within the first 1-2 weeks of meeting someone. For example, returning text messages/phone calls in a timely manner is a sign that the woman values the budding friendship. If consistently changing the time or cancel on meeting up, it is a sign that they are not interested and therefore unreliable.

Reliable/trustworthy women generally are the ones who will want to become friends before agreeing to dating or having sex. Funnily enough though, these type of women are not necessarily what the reptilian brain (primal brain) finds naturally attractive (counter-intuitive I know!). However, these are the type of women who you can rely upon to treat you well in a relationship.

This topic is so relevant to many people that I meet in the counselling room. And not just for the men who aren’t equipped to understand what women want and to understand their needs in a romantic relationship; women need to understand why men are so ill-equipped or simply misguided. This is why I set out to write my latest e-book, The Art of the Start, which outlines the processes at play and the relationship norms that form, and critically—when they form. It offers advice rooted in respecting women; while getting men to work towards achieving their intentions in dating through to the engagement stage of a relationship.

The Art of the Start covers the following phases in a relationship:

  • How we meet each other
  • The first 3 months
  • 6-12 months
  • Moving in together
  • Engagement
  • Feminism for men (bonus material)