When it comes to dating, the well-worn phrase “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” rings true. Working as a relationship psychologist and global director of elite introductions agency Berkeley International means I work closely with both sexes to discuss what they look for in a partner, their feelings about dating and thoughts on the dates they have been on. What is abundantly clear is that women and men are programmed very differently and this is particularly obvious when they date. Below, I break down the key dating attributes I’ve observed over 15 years of matchmaking.
1. Women tell everyone
Whether the date has gone well or not, women can’t wait to tell their friends about it. Friends, family and colleagues will go through the date from start to finish: from the pre-date anxiety and what to wear, to the post-date debrief. Women are usually happy to reveal more personal information than men and will likely go into every single detail, from his shoes to the number of drinks they had to whether they kissed.
If the date has gone well, women want to show off and, if the date didn’t live up to expectations, they seek validation from their friends that he was the problem, not them. Men, on the other hand, do not like to share as many date details on their group WhatsApp. They don’t want to be made fun of for being too keen by their friends.
2. Women want men to take the lead
Although equality is important in every relationship, women secretly hark after traditional values and want a man to show his assertiveness. When speaking before the date, men should try to ascertain what sort of woman he will be dating – does she prefer bars, pubs or something off-the-wall? If unsure, I always recommend my clients to stick to classic location such as a nice cocktail bar – women like to be impressed.
3. Women overanalyse
Women read into everything. They overanalyse the smallest remark and comment made by their date to work out how they feel about them, or if they’re actually interested. Women will break down everything from the amount of time it takes for the guy to reply to their message, to how he said goodbye on the date.
Men don’t think in this way and won’t be agonising over what messages to send and when. Women need to remember that a man’s text is not a good indicator of how he is feeling and men need consider women’s penchant for overanalysis when contacting them. Although it might seem outdated in the modern world, to stop any confusion, I suggest men pick up the phone and have a conversation instead – women will appreciate the extra effort and men get to avoid texting back and forth.
4. Women stress about the small stuff
Women’s analysis doesn’t stop with texting, they will even go as far to consider the food and drink choices they make on a date. Women will worry about whether a drinks date actually means drinks, or will it progress to food? What drink to order? What food to eat? How the bill should be split? To help women out, men should take some of the stress out of the situation by choosing the wine, instigating whether to have food early on and offering to pay the bill (at least on the first date).
5. Women want a second date booked in asap
As I’ve established, women are often more anxious than men, particularly when it comes to dating. Women will expect men to suggest a second date straight after the first date if the evening has gone well. If this hasn’t been arranged or suggested quickly, women will worry that the guy didn’t actually like them and will get disheartened. From a man’s point of view, they do not see the urgency in arranging a second date – they prefer to wait and play it cool so they don’t come across too keen.
6. Women are more honest
Men typically hold their cards much closer to their chest and never outwardly offend their date, whereas women are more likely to be honest. The feedback I received this Monday is no exception.
I see two emails sitting in my inbox from a couple who met on Sunday night. I read the woman’s feedback first: “He had the sex appeal of a toad, personality of a concrete slab and smelt like he had drowned in a vat of beer. Two minutes into the date he brought up the impending general election (what a bore) and at the end asked if I would accompany him home. I had a few and needed some excitement so I said no, but we did end up having a bit of fun behind Fortnum & Mason anyway. Needless to say, that is all he is going to get and I do not want to see him again!”
The man’s feedback: “It was a very enjoyable evening, I think we got on well, and I hope to see her again soon.”
7. Men like convenience
Men are renowned for being lazy in certain elements of their lives, one of them being the way they date. Convenience is key for men – they might make the effort to begin with but once a routine is established, they’ll want a partner near to them who is only a short journey away. Therefore, in some instances, geography can play a part on how the relationship progresses. I encourage women not to worry that something is wrong with them, it might just be the 45-minute Uber rides that are the problem.
8. Men like women to make the first move
Although men like to show they are in charge, they admit that being approached by a woman can be a big turn on. If a woman asks a man out for a drink or for his number, this suggests that she is head-strong and self-assured. These are desirable qualities a man looks for in his life partner. Mixing things up can be exciting and more often than not a man will respect a woman who has the confidence to make the first move.
9. Men don’t like over eagerness
Despite men wanting a headstrong woman, there is a difference between confidence and eagerness. If a man wants something, he will go out and get it, so constantly barraging them over message, introducing them to friends too early on and discussing marriage and children might make them run a mile. Women do actually share a similar thought process on keenness. If a man is confessing his undying love by date two, he no longer comes across as manly and is much less desirable. A lesson for both sexes: play it slightly cool to maintain attention.
10. Men need the message loud and clear
Men do not overanalyse dates, body language or text talk. This can leave dates feeling very confused as to whether a woman actually likes them – no matter how much flirting and hair twirling goes on. To have the confidence to ask women out on a second date, men need things spelling out to them. A simple message which lets the man know the woman has had a nice time does wonders for a man’s ego.
11. Men love the chase
Men attach value to something we perceive as unattainable. Whether that’s a step up the career ladder, a new watch or a woman they can’t have. If a woman is unattainable, there is a certain challenge associated with finally winning her over, which taps into a man’s primal instincts. Men are goal focused and so perceive wooing a woman as accomplishing a goal. If a woman comes across slightly indifferent in her messages, claiming she’s busy every time she’s asked out, this is a sure-fire way for a man to get interested. Once the goal has been achieved, it’s the responsibility of both the man and women to keep the spark alive.
12. Men keep their options open
Men are more prone to keeping their options open, potentially dating more than one person at once (in the early stages) and keeping an eye out for future options. This actually disguises an underlying vulnerability in the male sex; although keeping a couple of women as potential options might come across as disrespectful and “player-like”, men fear their pride will be wounded if they invest all their energy into one woman who might call things off.
13. Women are kinkier
Recently, I received a call from a female member, Margot, who has just been on a second date with another member. Margot calls me in a fluster and says, “Mairead, we have to talk about Paul. I met up with him again last night and things went really well throughout the meal and drinks and then things escalated when he came back to mine. I got a little carried away and did something to him that maybe I shouldn’t of, it was with a pavlova… Now I am worried I have scared him off. Please call him and find out.” I spend the rest of the afternoon trying get hold of Paul to check if he was still keen on Margot. Paul is obviously a meringue type of guy, as he informed me the date went “fantastically well” and wanted to see her again very soon.
14. Men are shyer
Last week I had to calm a male member down who was about to meet his date for lunch. He was a bundle of nerves and hiding in the bathroom at the restaurant, unable to come out. This doesn’t surprise me, during his interview he came across overly confident (bordering on cocky) which was clearly a façade. Luckily because I was a little wary, I set him up with a woman who would go easy on him on the first date. I managed to coax him out of the bathroom and back to the table.
15. Both sexes are as picky as each other
Some of the requests I receive can be very outlandish and specific. Today I met a man who wanted to find a five-foot-five blonde woman, aged 28, who must earn ten per cent less than him (so she’s successful but not as successful as he is) and who knows the difference between a deep backward square and third man in cricket.
Women can be equally picky. Yesterday I met two women, one who wants the stereotypical, tall, dark and handsome man, and the other who is determined to get engaged in Bora Bora – so much so that she would bring it up on the first date. I carefully advised the second woman that this wasn’t the best first impression.
16. Both genders get anxious before a date
During my fourth meeting of the day, I receive a phone call from a client who says he must cancel his second date that evening due to a medical issue that has arisen. He tells me he doesn’t want to tell the woman himself that he needs to cancel, nor does he want her to know the reason for rearranging. Instead he requests that I let her know he will no longer be able to make it. Although I say coming from him would be better, he is insistent he cannot talk to her about it. Following my meeting I call the woman who was already getting ready for the date and let her know that it will no longer be going ahead. She proceeds to panic and reveals to me that on their first date they ended up having relations in the backseat of his chauffeur-driven car and now she is worried she has given him the wrong impression.