THE FIRST PRINCIPLE
THE SUBTLE ART OF HOOKING US
There’s a big misperception that men never want to be in committed relationships if we can help it, and that we prefer to have the freedom to date a harem of women. Not so. We want to be in a committed relationship, but it has to be with the right woman at the right time.
LET’S START WITH a simple truth. Men don’t want to feel like they’re being hooked, especially in the beginning of a relationship. This has something to do with our innate desire for freedom and our need to feel like we’re in control. Not to say that we’re not open to the idea of settling down and being satisfied in a monogamous relationship with you, but the second we detect that these are your intentions, we either stop returning your phone calls or start figuring out ways to escape without hurting your feelings. Understanding the basics of how we think in this situation will go a long way toward producing the results that you desire. So don’t judge what follows as being politically incorrect or rude. Be warned that this is not about what’s right or wrong, respectful or disrespectful. This book is about one thing—the raw truth.
The Physical Matters—Period
Forget all those relationship expert columns that tell you it’s most important to your man that he first see what’s in your heart. Bullshit. It’s most important to see what’s inside your clothes. Now, before you scream, “Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig!” listen carefully. I’m not saying that we need to get into your pants right away in order to enjoy your company. But I am saying that men definitely need to know that you have the goods and that you take care of yourself. To put it bluntly, a guy’s first interest in a woman has nothing to do with the handbag she’s carrying or that she graduated from an Ivy League school. What your (potential) man wants you to know but won’t tell you is that his initial attraction is all about your appearance and physical being, which sends a flood of highly charged testosterone racing through his veins. Yes, the physical is first, and we’re not saying we won’t eventually fall in love with your intelligence, kindness, and humor. These extremely important attributes are the ones that will ultimately be critical in helping you hook us. But in the beginning the number-one attribute is what you look like and how well you take care of yourself.
The glossy magazines that litter the newsstands do a real disservice to you all by defining beauty in such a narrow way. A quick flip through the pages and it’s boringly obvious that most of the models and celebrities featured in these magazines are really a variation on the same theme. The truth for us men, however, is that beauty is diverse and idiosyncratic. (Great news for you.) Some of us want the well-endowed woman, while others are repulsed by the surgically enhanced. Some of us want tall and slim, while others want short and curvaceous. Some of us want you to have some “junk in the trunk,” while others want it small and tight. There really is some truth to the saying, “There’s a lid for every pot.” The challenge for most women, however, is finding that fit.
For some the search can be long and difficult, and for others it can be quick and easy. A lot of variables go into the length, ease, and success of that search, but the one thing that will boost your efforts is how well you present yourself. It’s imperative, especially early on, that you look your best every time we see you, at least for the first few months of the relationship. This is not men being vain or superficial. Unless your father is Bill Gates, how you look is the strongest magnet you possess. Your hair must be done, your nails neatly painted, and your clothes should highlight your assets and hide your liabilities. Loose sweats, uncombed hair pulled back under a baseball cap, and rundown Ugg boots are fine once the relationship is in high gear, but definitely a turn-off when at the beginning. In our minds, if you are not making the effort to look your best when we barely know each other, we dread the thought of what you’ll look like a couple of months into the relationship.
The Unnecessary Pressure of Titles
Let the royals care about titles. One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the early hook is to suggest or even hint that things have started to formalize by assigning the labels “girlfriend” and “boyfriend.” Even if you feel like things are going in the right direction and that your relationship is getting more serious, there’s an extremely wide gulf between just being someone you’re dating and someone who has been officially proclaimed a boyfriend. What your man wants you to know but won’t tell you is that affixing titles to the relationship too early is like holding up a cross to a vampire. We will often run fast and hard when we feel like we’re being boxed into something we don’t want or is too premature.
So, what’s the resolution for you if calling him your boyfriend and yourself his girlfriend means a lot to you? The first option is simply to wait until you’re absolutely sure he feels the same way about making it official. Often we give subtle signs to indicate we’re ready. If we start talking about dating you exclusively, you can take that as a sign. If we introduce you to our close friends on several occasions, that’s a solid sign. If we let you stay in our apartment when we’re not there, that’s a really good sign. The number-one sign that we’re ready to go formal—we invite you to dinner with our mother. (Yes, it’s our mother that counts for this one, not our dad.)
If you’re not satisfied with waiting for our signs, or you think you might not be able to read them, here’s something you might try that could get the ball rolling faster. Be advised, however, that if you don’t do this with the proper amount of skill and cool, then it can dramatically backfire: When he calls you up and asks if you want to go grab something to eat or catch a movie, don’t answer him right away. Take a deliberate pause, and in your most apologetic voice say something that will test him. “I’d love to, but one of my girlfriends has been trying like crazy to get me to meet one of her brother’s friends, and we were supposed to all get together tonight. I don’t want to go, but I feel like I owe it to her since she’s been trying so hard to make this happen.” What comes next is critical. You need to listen very carefully and might need to read between the lines of what he says. Here are some of his possible responses:
A. Okay, fine. Well, have fun and call me when you want to get together again.
B. You’re going on a blind date? What’s up with that?
C. Oh, I didn’t know it was like that. I guess I should be going out with other people, too.
D. If I’m not enough for you, then no biggie. It’s probably best we not see each other anymore.
E. So you were just gonna go out on this date and not tell me?
There’s a lot you need to take in with each of these responses, and how you handle them can work in your favor in a big way.
(A) Depending on his tone, he’s either jealous but doesn’t want to let on, he’s neutral and it’s okay, or he’s pissed off and doesn’t want you to see how angry he is. This isn’t the most optimal response, because now you have to do a little detecting to figure out what he’s really feeling, whether you need to nurse his wound or accept that he really doesn’t care, in which case he’s probably out there dating others so he’s not going to give you a hard time. Your next step is to figure out what he wanted to say but didn’t. Once you figure this part out, then you can react accordingly.
(B) This response gives you a perfect opportunity to bring up whether you’re officially girlfriend and boyfriend without his feeling like you’re pressuring him. Say to him in your most innocent voice, “We never talked about dating exclusively, and technically I’m not even your girlfriend, so I just figured it wasn’t a big deal to you.” Now the title issue is on the table, and he has to address it directly since he’s the one who had a problem with your going out on a date with someone else. If you get this response, you are in a great position to stick in the hook.
(C) Once again you have a prime opportunity to bring up whether or not things have gotten serious enough to go exclusive as boyfriend and girlfriend. See your response in B.
(D) His ego has definitely been bruised. He wants to tell you that you mean more to him than someone he’s been casually dating, but he’s having a hard time saying it. Rather than get into a back-and-forth about being more into you than you are into him, he makes the decision to just cut ties and run. Once again you have a chance to reel him in (as he has now exposed a vulnerability), but you must be strong and patient as you do so or he might slip away.
(E) Needless to say, this is a response from someone who is not exactly delighted about the current state of affairs. This response could go a couple of ways, so listen to his tone and make a judgment call. If it sounds like he’s really upset and thinks that you were “cheating or being sneaky,” first you need to calm him. Once this is accomplished, then you can introduce the possibility of taking the relationship to the next stage. But you must be careful. If he’s really upset and becomes reactive or irrational, now is not the time to have the conversation about formalizing the relationship. However, if he appears somewhat annoyed but still reasonable, then go ahead and explain to him that you we...