WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 2)

HOW ROMANTIC CHEMISTRY CAN FOOL US. READ PART 1 HERE.

There is a man on your mind.

You work with him, or you see him at church, or he is your neighbor. When you stop to chat, it’s obvious that the two of you enjoy mutual chemistry. But for some reason, he never takes things further. You wish he would ask for your number or suggest getting coffee, but he hasn’t yet.

So what should you do? You know better than to step up and ask him out yourselfBut it's hard to wait and do nothing, while a potentially great opportunity for romance passes you by.

READ FIRST:  WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 1)

why you fall for the wrong guys

This is a frustrating scenario that many single women know well. You could probably have dinner with a couple of girlfriends and discuss all the possible angles of this situation for hours, decoding the secret meaning behind his “see you later” when you ran into him at the gym this morning. As any man will tell you, though, it’s really not that complicated.

His view: it’s really not that complicated.

FROM BCBG

Brain chemistry can fool us.

While feeling romantic sparks is a big deal to many women — signaling the beginning of a relationship, we hope — most men have a more practical take.

That rush of attraction is powerful in the moment, but men see it for what it is: sexual desire. It’s a mating signal. And not necessarily a mate-for-life signal, either, just a I'd-love-to-see-you-naked-sometime signal.

FROM DR. BRANDT

Men see "chemistry" for what it is: a mating signal.

When a woman says she feels chemistry with a man, she usually means that she feels an emotional connection as well. For her, that rush of adrenaline is all tangled up with feelings that resemble love.

Here are examples of how some of my female clients responded to the intense rush of the mating signal, getting into entanglements they later regretted:

  • “I know it’s wrong [to date a married man] but we have this incredible chemistry. Sometimes I don’t believe it can be completely wrong, otherwise, I wouldn’t feel this way.”
  • “He’s moved on and has a new girlfriend, but I did let him stay over last week. I hate that I let him treat me like this, but I haven’t met anyone else I feel this connection with.”
  • “I got tired of waiting so I just asked him if he had feelings for me. Now he avoids me in class. I’m in such pain. I know he feels what I feel. I don’t see why he’s playing this game.”

Women sometimes allow this intense rush of emotions to justify self-destructive decisions.

When we see a girlfriend spiraling out of control over a man, she almost always justifies her damaging behavior by saying that her connection to him “feels so intense.” She is putting her trust in feelings of intense sexual attraction, as if the intensity must automatically lead to true, lasting love. Logically, we understand that emotional connection takes time to build. Plus, it takes many months of shared experiences to really assess another person’s character and values.

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

But this friend is under the influence of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain that have triggered a mating instinct. In many ways, she is struggling with a very powerful addiction. If she says she doesn't feel strong enough to walk away... you can believe her.   

Men can enjoy the sensation of sexual chemistry without wanting to act on it.

Does her target (her man) feel the same way? Probably not. Men can feel the chemistry and enjoy it for what it is, in the here and now. A happily married man can have crush-like feelings around a co-worker without wanting to have an affair. A single man can feel chemistry with a woman who is much older or younger than he feels is appropriate to date, or who is simply isn’t his usual “type.” It’s fun and harmless and isn’t always a reaction we can control.

What we CAN control, however, is our response to romantic chemistry. And that leads us back to the original question: Should you pine over a man you have intense feelings for,  when he doesn't take a single step toward advancing your relationship? If you understand that men don’t necessarily experience “love” every time they feel that rush, you are better able to see the situation for what it is.

FROM E.L.F.

If he's not trying to move things forward it's because he doesn't want to.  #truth

Sure, he enjoys exchanging good vibes with you. It feels great. But if he saw you as The One, he’d let you know. He wouldn’t risk missing out on a good thing. If he’s not moving things forward, you have your answer: he doesn’t want to. And that understanding gives YOU the freedom to move on and find the man who does.

Just keep doing The Rules.

The most valuable gift a man can give you is his consistent focus and attention over time. Going slowly, delaying physical intimacy, and engaging your mind as well as your heart, will help you assess his character and values — before you sleep with him and possibly get tangled up in a non-relationship

READ NEXT: THIRD-DATE SEX IS WAY TOO SOON (SCIENCE SAYS)

READ FIRST: WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 1)

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Learn how to rock The Rules for lasting love and marriage. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

An earlier version of this article, How Romantic Chemistry Can Fool Us, was published by the beautiful people at The Wellness Universe.

HOW TO DATE A SHY GUY (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

Many of us, it seems, like shy guys. (I like smart, nerdy, shy guys so much, I married one.) It's not surprising: these men tend to be quiet leaders — successful and widely respected. There is an art to dating introverted men, though, and this article will help you decide if this personality type is your best match. The good news is that you don't need to be an introvert to date one. But to keep your romantic energy in balance, you will want to follow some basic rules.

Many women mistakenly assume that being overly friendly and “easy to get will reassure the Shy Guy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FROM E.L.F.

Many women mistakenly assume that being overly friendly and "easy to get" will reassure the Shy Guy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being "easy" and laying everything out on a plate will actually make him retreat further into his shell. You'll be pursuing him, so your energy will shift from being feminine to masculine, and that's not healthy or sexy (for you or for him) in the long run. Relationships that start out with this dynamic never really recover, and as months and years pass, you may find yourself in a sexless "just friends"/ roommate arrangement.

how to date a shy guy

If you are crushing on a shy guy, I definitely recommend that you read The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. The Rules are a great, step-by-step introduction toward letting a man lead and set the pace of the relationship.

Regardless of personality type, men are happiest when allowed to discover love at their own pace. If the relationship moves forward, it's because he chooses and wants to lead toward commitment. If a man tends toward an introverted personality, it’s even more important that you let him lead. Extroverts can hold their own and fight fire with fire. But if you admire a man with a more subtle style, you have to be careful not to overwhelm him with your eagerness, or nudge him into "going along" passively with your agenda. You could find yourself in an entanglement with a man who's not really sure how or why he got there.   

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

Always let him lead. Don't get tangled up with a man who's not sure how or why he got there.

Here are 7 observations and comments from clients over the past year. See if any of these situations sound familiar:

  1. “I really like this guy at work, but if I don't suggest it we'll never actually go on a date.”
  2. “The guy I’m interested in doesn’t seem to know what he’s supposed to do to date me.”
  3. “The Rules describe an old-fashioned way of dating that doesn’t exist anymore.”
  4. “Men my age don’t know how to date.”
  5. “My crush is really shy. His ex-wife really messed him up. I can only do some of The Rules with him.”
  6. “If I want him to treat me like a lady I have to tell him what to do every step of the way.”
  7. “We’re both grown-ups. I know he doesn’t want to play games and neither do I. Shouldn't I make an exception for him?”

FROM DR. BRANDT

The Secret

If you identify with any of these situations, I will let you in on a secret: the “problem” in each of these scenarios is not that the man is shy or inexperienced. The underlying issue is that he is just not interested enough in starting up a relationship with that particular woman.

Guys who aren’t THAT into you may still sleep with you and hang out” with you if you make it easy. Is that what you want?

Sure, he’d be okay with having casual sex with her and hanging out until something better comes along. But I don’t know many women who enjoy being the good-enough-for-now option. If each woman in situations 1 - 7 were to get the ball rolling herself, or help the man date her and make excuses for his behavior, she would simply be prolonging the agony of being in a go-nowhere entanglement. That's not "dating a shy man," that's accepting crumbs from a guy who is just killing time.

That's not “dating a shy man. That's accepting crumbs from a guy who is just killing time.

Let’s go through these scenarios, one by one, and note the difference between a true Shy Guy and one whose feelings are simply lukewarm:

Logo
Zales
  1. “I really like this guy at work, but if I don't suggest it we'll never actually go on a date.” My take: As I’ve written many times before, you should never make the first move or ask a man out IF what you want is a long-term relationship leading to marriage. All the reasons are here. Shy guys DO approach, date, and marry women when they feel motivated to do so.
  2. “The guy I’m interested in doesn’t seem to know what he’s supposed to do to date me.” My take: Men are incredibly resourceful when there’s a problem that needs to be solved. Whether his car is making a weird noise or the latest iPhone update wiped all his data — he will head over to YouTube and learn how to fix it. If he really wants to ask you out / impress you / propose, he has a million ways to figure out how.
  3. “The Rules describe an old-fashioned way of dating that doesn’t exist anymore.” My take: If you are consistently meeting men who only want to hang out or “cook dinner” at his place, and not go out on proper dates, then you have two choices: 1) Just say no to hang-out dates and see if he offers an alternative; 2) Learn how to screen men better. If you’re online dating, these tips will help you screen out players and other guys who want to keep things permanently casual. 
  4. “Men my age don’t know how to date.” My take: Women in every age category can feel like their situation is the worst. As a dating coach I know first-hand that you all have an equal shot at meeting your Mr. Right — at any age. Consider dating men who are 5-7 years older than you, if you're just going around in circles with men your own age or younger. Remember: men are resourceful. If he’s interested enough to learn what your standards are, he can figure out how to meet them.
  5. “My crush is really shy. His ex-wife really messed him up. I can only do some of The Rules with him.” My take: When a man heaps all the blame for a break-up on his ex, consider it a Buyer Beware. Just keep your eyes open, guard your heart, and do The Rules. No exceptions.
  6. “If I want him to treat me like a lady I have to tell him what to do every step of the way.” My take: Make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Dress your best, be your best, and say No to any behavior you don’t like. Men will make the effort to figure out what you want if they like you enough to do so. Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your date. Just move on if he has decided you aren’t worth investing in.
  7. “We’re both grown-ups. I know he doesn’t want to play games and neither do I. Shouldn't I make an exception for him?” My take: Date with an open heart and strict boundaries. That’s what emotionally healthy men and women do. But you still have to pace the relationship so that the initial spark has time to develop into deeper feelings. It’s unreasonable to expect instant bonding over that first glass of Merlot. Doing The Rules allows you both to take your time.

Men are resourceful. Whether his car is making a weird noise or the latest iPhone update wiped all his data — he will head over to YouTube and learn how to fix it. If he really wants to impress you, he has a million ways to figure out how.

As Rules women know, we don’t “do the rules” on men. We do The Rules on ourselves, stripping away negative behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors that naturally allow attraction to build. The Rules definitely do work within any relationship, with any man. If a man isn’t a good fit for you, The Rules will “work” by revealing early on that you are incompatible. That may seem like a disappointing result at first, but it's a powerful gift in the long run. 

e.l.f. cosmetics

Sometimes The Rules work by eliminating incompatible men from your life. That's a powerful gift in the long run.

Since you’re not approaching men (by asking for their help or inviting them for coffee), the rules will help you avoid players and pick-up artists as well as looky-loos—dudes who stare at you or flirt or “favorite” your online profile, but who never actually ask you out. You won’t get caught up in go-nowhere entanglements or affairs with unavailable men.

So how should you behave with a truly “shy” or inexperienced man?

The best way to deal with an introvert is to match his actions and level of interest. And then dial it back even further. Don't lean in lean back. If you are naturally an extrovert, that's cool. You don't need to pretend to be an introvert in order to attract one. Always bring your unique vibe to the dating game. Dial down your effort, not your charm. Study my flirting tips if you want to know how to enchant a man who tends toward a more subtle, quiet personality. WAIT until he asks you out – don’t make the first move. And once you’re on a date, make sure you show him your most feminine, vulnerable qualities.  

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Dial down your effort, not your charm.

The inexperienced man is very often a diamond in the rough and will make a wonderful partner in the long run. He may have been married previously or in a series of long-term relationships — he likes and values female companionship — but he hasn’t dated much in a formal sense, and seems confused or tentative when dealing with women in a romantic setting. 

The inexperienced” man could be someone who married his high school sweetheart and now, years later, finds himself single. He values female companionship but has little formal dating experience.

Because he appears to need help in approaching you and setting up dates, you might be tempted to bend rules for him or to assume that he is an exception to the rules. That would be a mistake. He may appear to be passive, but that’s usually just a temporary switch that got flipped by the various women in his life — his overly helpful sister, exes, and coworkers. Remember: If a bachelor has a steady job and is reasonably well-groomed and moderately attractive, then he has women approaching him at the gym, at work, contacting him first on POF and eHarmony, and generally showing him attention. He may be surrounded by a near-harem of female "helpers."

FROM BCBG

The shy” or inexperienced man is like a turtle: when women chase after him he retreats deeper into his shell.

When a man is used to being guided and micromanaged by women, it can become a behavioral pattern that is both comfortable for him and hard to break. That doesn’t mean he is satisfied or happy with that dynamic, or that he isn't capable of pursuing you if he’s motivated to do so. The inexperienced man is like a turtle: when women chase after him he retreats deeper into his shell. What he responds to best is a woman with a light, feminine touch; like a beautiful butterfly, she shimmers just out of reach. By not “helping” him date you, you are letting him know that you see him as the competent adult man that he is. That may be a message he is starved to hear. If he approaches you and you start dating, trust that he can figure out what to do. Your confidence in him will inspire him to do his best. If he is paying attention and trying to learn your preferences, then he is a keeper.  

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

What he responds to best is a woman with a light, feminine touch. Like a beautiful butterfly, she shimmers just out of reach.

His lapses into "helpless" dating behavior may tempt you to grab the steering wheel. Don't do it. Just relax, take a break with your girlfriends, and trust that your faith in him will bring out his inner Gentlemen’s Rules.  

The shy” man wants to be with a woman who trusts him to give her his best.

You don’t need to bend rules or weaken your boundaries in order to attract a particular man. In fact, if you feel like you have to break rules to get things started or to keep a relationship going, something is wrong — he's not truly interested or available. There is a real art to dating the inexperienced man — some women just lose steam (and confidence) with this guy, while others blossom as his attraction and drive builds. The next time you find yourself struggling to be Rulesy, mentally lighten up and visualize yourself as that beautiful butterfly. If it's still not working, consider that you may simply be dating a man whose style isn’t compatible with yours. The kindest action you can take is to release him to date others while you continue to search for your best match.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

THE EASY FIX THAT INSTANTLY TURNS YOU INTO A KNOCKOUT

Walk Like An Angel

Each year, hundreds of women send me pictures of their favorite date outfits and their online dating profiles, so that I can help them present themselves in the most attractive way possible. While your hairstyle and clothing definitely deserve a thorough assessment, don't overlook another important X factor — key to your entire presentation of yourself — that doesn't always show up in a photo: your posture.

Don't overlook an important X factor, key to your entire presentation of yourself: your posture.

Don't overlook an important X factor, key to your entire presentation of yourself: your posture.

WHAT MEN THINK

How you stand and carry yourself is a critical part of your overall appeal. While most men won't consciously evaluate your posture — it's not a detail they're going to comment on or discuss — it absolutely colors how they (and others) perceive you. Are you a potential girlfriend or a "buddy"? Your posture — along with how you dress and take care of yourself — signals how you expect others to treat you, and has an impact on your workplace relationships, family relationships, and romance.

Here's an excerpt from the Rules Revisited blog that illustrates the male perspective. It's worth reading the entire post but in this passage, Andrew describes how a female friend (one he typically rates “between a 7 and a 10") transforms their power dynamic simply by standing up straight. Now that she exhibits Beauty Queen poise, she seems out of his league, and he can't take her interest in him for granted:

“But here is perhaps the most interesting and telling part: when this girl corrected her posture, I felt a distinct pang of intimidation. It surprised and dismayed me, because I was sure until that moment that I had this girl wrapped around my finger. Suddenly the roles were decidedly reversed.... What if she had appeared that way when I first met her? And if she had maintained it, would I have ever been able to gain the upper hand? This is the power of posture.”

If you're willing to invest time, effort, and money in your clothing, hair, and makeup, wouldn't it be smart to make sure you rock those outfits at full potential? 

"It's time to put away your phone and engage that core!"

"It's time to put away your phone and engage that core!"

YOUR PHONE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND WHEN IT COMES TO MAINTAINING GOOD POSTURE

  • Shoulders that slump forward
  • A head that bows down
  • A tummy that pooches out
  • Pain in the lower back and neck; headaches
  • Low-energy feeling, even after 8 hours of sleep

These are all signs that it's time to take a break from texting and put away your phone or whatever kind of screen you're using.    

Notice that in this before/after photo, the corrected posture shows a healthy curve in the lower back (c-curve), shoulder blades that are "activated" toward the center of the back, and an engaged core (the abdominal area). 

QUICK TIP FOR SLUMPED SHOULDERS

If your shoulders are a problem area, you've probably been told to "relax" them down and back. The result is not usually long-lasting because that cue doesn't teach you how to engage the right muscles. For the moment, forget about your shoulders. Instead, try to "activate" the center of your back — the part in between your shoulder blades (Lower Trapezius muscles, in case you want to research this a bit further). Visualize those back muscles pulling your shoulder blades down and together, as if they could touch at the spine. If you can practice this sensation throughout the day, you will begin to "warm up" an area of the back that often becomes frozen during screen-time, driving, and office work. Direct massage, chest-opening yoga postures like upward dog, and training with hand-held weights are all good ways to target that middle back area. 

Another prop you might try is a soft fabric posture corrector. There are many different brands available — comb through the reviews on Amazon — ranging from around $15 to $75. I road-tested the EquiFit "Shoulders Back" Lite for one of my daughters. (I wanted to make sure it was comfortable enough to wear at least an hour a day before I recommended it to her.) I liked the Shoulders Back so much that I ended up ordering a second one for myself, just to wear during computer time. If you try out one of these braces, please make sure you wear it over a T-shirt; no corrector is comfortable enough to wear over bare skin. Bonus: You can even wear one under a sweater or jacket, while you run errands! Wearing it several hours at a time can help you feel and activate that key middle back area. Hint: These braces do not cover your breasts, so bra cup size is not an issue; an EquiFit Medium will fit a woman wearing a 34-38 bra. 

Watching This Victoria's Secret Runway Video Could Save You $2,100 In Bodywork

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE 

After the birth of my first child, I could tell that my spine was out of whack. Even though my weight was back to normal I just didn't look right in my work clothes — everything hung differently. A friend who worked for Vogue suggested that I visit a massage therapist named Mike Bulger who practiced something called structural integration; the magazine had just featured him in their health section and apparently Oprah was one of his happy clients. I agreed to try 10 sessions. Two months later — at at a cost of roughly $2,100 — I was realigned and pain-free. Yes, the structural manipulation had been very beneficial, and I am eternally grateful to Mike. But, also, a tip that Mike shared with me somewhere in our first session was the breakthrough concept that I had needed to incorporate into my day-to-day life

Mike told me that during all activities — whether sitting, standing, or walking — you should lead with your pelvis. (He truly meant "lead with your core" — which includes the abdominal region as well — but for beginners the pelvic area is easier to identify.) That's it: lead with your core.

And if you watch these Victoria's Secret models strut down the runway, you will see this principle in action. Leading with the pelvis does cause your chest to pop out a little (because of that lovely c-curve in your spine) but it's very different from consciously trying to thrust your breasts forward in a forced way, or yanking your shoulders down and back, which can be painful and difficult to maintain.   

Of course, models walking a runway are amplifying and exaggerating each movement for effect; it's theater. That's not exactly how you're going to parade around the office. But if you've been having trouble maintaining "straight" posture while you walk, move, and do everyday activities, then shifting your focus southward may help.

CHANGE YOUR POSTURE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Did you know that consciously addressing your posture can have a deep impact on every area of your life? If you are feeling stuck in your career, your relationships, or with your family, I encourage you to watch this 20-minute TED talk from social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She talks about how “power posing” can affect how your brain functions and, ultimately, your chances for satisfying employment, interpersonal relationships, and success in general. Her research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions—and even our own body chemistry—simply by changing body positions. 

NO PRETZEL POSES, PLEASE

Finally, if you're looking for a fun and pleasurable way to improve your posture, yoga is both inexpensive and effective. Foundation postures like cobra and the sun salutation flow are a wonderful way to wring out the tension and help build up that sexy core. Don't worry about doing them perfectly. These flows are about lengthening and strengthening your muscles, and should feel good. And if your body becomes more toned and graceful as a result, what's not to like? 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

IN LOVE WITH A MARRIED MAN? 5 TRUTHS YOU NEED RIGHT NOW

“I know what you’re going to say, but my situation is different. He is truly my soulmate.” 
Megan (age 31), on being in love with a married man

In almost 15 years of coaching women, I have seen that the experience of falling in love with a married man cuts across almost all cultures, age groups, ethnicity, religions, and education levels. Despite the knowledge that this scenario is unethical, immoral, and guaranteed to bring pain to everyone involved, many otherwise smart, single women get their hearts tangled up this way.

in love with a married man

You already know this is a story that does not end well. But I’m not here to shame anyone. Maybe today you are only fantasizing about getting involved with an unavailable man, and this article is the universe’s way of warning you to stop, take a deep breath, and just walk away. Or maybe you did get involved and HE has been the one to pull back.

Experience tells me that at least one of these 5 truths applies to your situation. While it can be hard to get control of your emotions when you feel so connected to another person, you can control how you frame the situation for yourself. If you’re only willing to use a romantic “soulmate” frame, you’ll just stay stuck. So try these on and see if any fit. Pray, meditate, and do your best to be open to a new perspective, because…

This is YOUR chance to write yourself a happier ending.

TRUTH #1: There is nothing special about breaking up a marriage that is already broken.

It can be tempting to think you are more “special” than his wife; more beautiful, sexier, nicer—everything he says. But if he already had one foot out the door—and that’s the case for most men who actually end up leaving their wives—you are mainly this: the nearest exit. This man may end up remarrying, but hardly ever to the first woman who provides him with a convenient way out.

TRUTH #2: You will become "The Guy" in the relationship.

If you’re in the early stages of an affair, this part may be hard to believe. After all, he is chasing you hard, right? You weren’t even all that interested in him at first. That dynamic can’t last, though. You are available. He is not. He is the one who is hard to get. Eventually, you’ll feel less confident, less sure of his feelings, and you may start to feel like it’s you who is chasing him.

FROM BCBG

TRUTH #3: You are putting your life on hold for a fantasy.

Even if your infatuation never progresses to a physical affair, it can still be damaging. Don’t be the “work wife” who takes trips with her married boss or crushes on a married co-worker. You deserve to be at the center of someone’s life, not lurking around the edges.

TRUTH #4: It takes two people to create a bad marriage.

He played a role in his “bad” marriage and you’ll never really know the whole truth. If his wife is “crazy”, “possessive,” or “controlling,” it may be because he has a pattern of behaving improperly with female friends and co-workers. Or maybe he has other issues that are easy to hide from a mistress, but that would destroy your relationship, too, if your lives were truly intertwined.

TRUTH #5: He is O.K. with his life just the way it is.

Some men choose a wife who is like a domestic worker bee; she makes him look good by keeping his home life humming. He feels entitled to stray, usually with more exciting women who have zero kitchen skills. While his attitude is shady, understand that that is who he is. You will not change him. He likes his compartmentalized life. He doesn’t want to marry a sexy siren, and as long as his wife is doing her job (raising the kids and keeping a low profile) he will be content to share good times with you—but not much more.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

HOW TO HAVE AN AWESOME FIRST DATE WITH AN ONLINE GUY

16 Best Online Dating Rules for Women

Most single women have experienced at least one awful first date. Here’s how to stop the madness—and start looking forward to meeting your next online match.

Most single women have experienced at least one awful first date. Here’s how to stop the madness—and start looking forward to meeting your next online match.

Today I’m going to show you how to set up the best possible Date Zero (DZ), the very first face-to-face date with a man you’ve met online or through a dating app. While you can’t control for chemistry or a soulmate-level connection, there are effective ways to screen out duds, scammers, and guys who just aren't that into you. Once those worries are out of the way, you can actually relax and have fun.

These rules apply to any form of blind date, including those arranged by matchmakers or friends and family. (Read my general online dating tips as well as 2 Simple Steps To Your Best Online Dating Profile for help with creating your profile and getting online.)

Setting yourself up for success is very important. When you have bad DZs, you want to give up on dating entirely; your self-esteem takes a hit and you start to feel that you will never meet the right guy. You may even avoid singles events and other real-life opportunities to meet men because you feel so vulnerable and unsure of yourself. Worse, you may get caught up in a toxic relationship with a man who could have been filtered out from the start. This is the kind of negative spiral my guidelines are designed to protect you against.

FROM E.L.F.

As some of you know, I met my own husband online and have coached many women to the altar through online dating alone. While the starting point for my advice is The Rules book series by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, I also layer in my own strategies—the tips I share with private clients and that I followed, personally, to date for marriage. Any single woman can meet great guys online, but you do have to be disciplined, screen carefully, and always choose quality over quantity. You are worth it!

IGXO Cosmetics

Rule 1: Lower your expectations (but not your standards). Even good guys can let their manners slip with women they are socially unconnected to. When your sister-in-law sets you up with her single co-worker, that dude is on notice to treat you like gold; otherwise, word will get out and there will be negative consequences for his poor form. Not so with your online suitor. To him, you are some random dot on the graph of life. He may start out hot and heavy, only to disappear without a trace. So, please lower your expectations for any new guy. Never get overly excited about a date or invest your emotions in a man who hasn’t yet demonstrated, over multiple dates, that he’s in this for the long haul. A man can poof! at any point in the process. Don’t take it personally and do move on.

Rule 2: Never contact men first. Whether you’re on Tinder, Match, or any other app or site, always let men pick you out from the crowd and never contact a suggested match first—not even a simple emoticon. I cover this topic in my online dating tips for women. Although it’s not what the dating sites want you to do, following this rule will spare you the type of date I describe in Rule #14, where the man has mentally checked out before his first beer.

Rule 3: Limit the Date Zero to 1 hour. I call the DZ a “sandwich” date because you will sandwich it in between other activities, such as working out or meeting friends for dinner. This has several benefits, not the least of which is that a man is more likely to ask you out again, for a proper date, if you limit the time spent in this initial meeting. The purpose of this date is simply to see if there is a mutually agreed-upon level of attraction. That’s it. A good venue could be cocktails, coffee, or a juice bar—any public space. Dinner, bowling, movies, hiking, and other time-intensive activities are not DZ venues. Neither is anything overtly sexy or intimate, such as watching videos at his apartment. (Seriously?) Meeting at a strip club is never appropriate, unless you work there and he is picking you up for the date.

Rule 4: Go by a nickname or middle name for the first 3 dates if it makes you feel safer. A man does not need your real, full name until you have gone out several times and you are sure that he is legit. If you’ve been hesitant to get online due to privacy concerns, following this rule will boost your confidence and allow you to engage with men in a more relaxed way—which will make them even more keen for your company. Never use your work phone number, work email, or any other identifying contact information in your online profile. If he presses you for your full name before the third date and you trust him, go ahead and share it. But it is also o.k. to flirt and sweetly answer “Hmm…I’m not sure….” If you have fun with it, he will too.

FROM DR. BRANDT

Rule 5: After he suggests meeting, have him call you to finalize the date details. On the surface, this call is about logistics and avoiding endless texts back and forth, but it is also a safety check. You can tell a lot about someone through a brief conversation—no longer than the few minutes it takes to arrange your meeting place and time. Does he sound overly nervous? Does he sound weird? Always trust your instincts and quickly cancel the date if anything doesn’t seem right. Remember, texting is silent: If a man resists calling you it can be a sign that he has a girlfriend or is possibly even married. Most women are fine with messaging or email contact only, so you may need to say—after he suggests meeting—"Sounds great, could we figure it out on the phone? 000-000-0000." If a man truly wants to meet you (not just window-shopping) he will appreciate being able to plan the where and when in one phone call. If he never calls, you'll know he wasn't really in the running in the first place.

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

Rule 6: He can’t be certain you’re worth chasing until he meets you in real life. Men don’t fall in love with your accomplishments and favorite movie list—they fall in love with your essence. The way you talk and move and smile are all part of your unique charm and allure, and can’t be captured in a photo. Just as some men post misleading profile pictures—or lack charisma in real life—he is understandably wary that you may not be what you seem. Therefore, while I advise making him work for your attention during actual courtship, don’t be too hard to get before the first date. Once he meets you in real life, the true chase begins.  

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

Rule 7: Forgive his dorky sense of humor. Some men are eager to impress, but not necessarily skilled at putting women at ease. They may think they are flirting with you by teasing and making jokey comments, and offend instead. Before the date it is sometimes hard to tell if your sense of humor will be compatible with his; and whether he is socially impaired or just nervous. Lots of nice guys lose out at this stage, simply because they hang out with other men all day at work and are a little awkward around girls. While we want to screen out the truly weird or disrespectful, take a second look at men who seem sincere and demonstrate follow-through, but aren’t necessarily suave. You may have discovered a diamond in the rough who will shine when you meet in real life.   

Rule 8: Skip men with overtly sexual or “seduction” profiles. The best part about the PUA (pick-up artist) crowd is that they tend to be very open about their interests. If a man sends you suggestive comments or his handle contains words like “player,” just ignore him. Let other women take that bait. 

FROM BCBG

Rule 9: Ignore men with lazy opening lines. If all he can muster up is “hi” “ur hot” or ;-) just ignore him. Wait to receive a message that demonstrates a little more effort and interest in your profile, specifically.

Rule 10: Politely asserting yourself doesn’t make you high maintenance. It is neither bossy nor impolite to state your preferences. If a guy is excited about meeting you he will want to please and impress you. While we would typically let a man lead the planning of a date, a gentleman will certainly ask for your opinions. It is o.k. to tell him that you prefer to meet near your gym. Or that you don’t like sushi. And you can only meet on Tuesday. Really, don’t be shy about your needs and preferences. If he has already asked you out, is in planning mode, and is inviting you to provide feedback—give it to him. If he says you are too high maintenance or in any way tries to suppress your point of view, say “No, thank you” and skip the date. It was not going to go well anyway.

e.l.f. cosmetics

Rule 11: Men appreciate the simple “No.” Practice a breezy “no thanks” with men. There is never a need to embellish. Providing the full explanation and details as to why you don’t care to drink alcohol on the DZ is unnecessary and none of his business. Likewise, he doesn’t need a list of your allergies and food restrictions; or to hear all about your terrible experiences at a local restaurant and why you’ll never dine there again. Respond with “No, thank you” or “it’s just not my thing” where appropriate. Then follow with silence. Men hear you best when you don’t go on and on. If he’s a gentleman, he’ll respect your wishes, and if he likes you he will take pleasure in accommodating your preferences.   

Rule 12: Keep the conversation light. There is no benefit to getting emotionally naked on the date. Save your innermost thoughts and feelings for those who’ve earned your trust. Many women over-share on the first date in an attempt to draw men closer, when instead it telegraphs that you have weak boundaries and are desperate for connection. You will end up driving away normal, healthy guys, and attracting men who are opportunistic or exploitative. Neither do you need to research conversational topics or memorize cute jokes. Relax, trust that simply being with you is enough, and let him lead the conversation.

Rule 13: He has to pay for the date. If you start splitting the check now, you will set up a dynamic in which you will always have to help him date you. Besides, when a man likes you, it is his pleasure to be generous and provide you with things. If it makes you feel better, consider that he will select a date venue that is within his budget; meeting at a coffee or juice bar is perfectly acceptable and inexpensive.

Rule 14: Pay attention to signs of disinterest and be quick to hit the eject button. Acknowledge that sometimes men simply aren’t attracted to you when they meet you in real life. Salvage the rest of your evening and end the date quickly if he doesn’t seem interested. How can you tell? He may be flat or unengaged in conversation, check his phone constantly, drink heavily, ogle other women in the bar, flirt with the waitress, or otherwise passive-aggressively announce: I’m bored. When a fish is wriggling like this on the hook, it’s best to set it free. Excuse yourself (it doesn’t matter what you say) and head for the exit before you waste another precious minute. Whatever you do, don’t work to engage him in conversation or try to focus his attention back on you. You are not his unpaid escort. If you have to work for eye contact, he is not into you or he’s playing some kind of power game; the longer you sit there trying to revive this dead fish, the worse you will feel about yourself.

Beauty Brands.  Free Samples With Purchase.

Here’s a tip for next time: Men who aren’t really available or not that attracted to you often have difficulty setting up the DZ in the first place. If he arranges a date but then cancels on you, don’t immediately give him a second chance to reschedule; pass up his first offer and see if he persists. Also, if he expects you to do all the planning or has no suggestions or is otherwise lukewarm prior to the date, that can be a red flag. If he drags his feet, you should immediately become less interested in meeting him. Even if he was to be your only date in months, you are better off staying home or going to the gym than subjecting yourself to the glazed look and tepid conversation of man who would rather be elsewhere.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Rule 15: You can say yes to long-distance suitors. If you live in a rural area where there aren’t a lot of dating opportunities nearby, I feel your pain. Nonetheless, you are still going to have to follow these rules if you want to meet a quality man. You aren’t going to contact men first. And you cannot travel to his town for the date—he must come to you. Understandably, many women in tight-knit communities don’t want to be seen with an online date in their local coffee bar, where everyone knows your business. If you prefer, it’s o.k. to have him meet you one town over, if that means driving 15 minutes or less, and it’s not too inconvenient for you. And, yes, the first date should only last an hour, even if he has to drive 3 hours each way to see you.

One of my recently married clients can tell you that men really are willing to drive hours for the right girl. Her now-husband drove 2 hours each way to meet her for a 1-hour DZ in a little town in Western Kansas. After exactly 57 minutes of chit-chat, my client left him and went to her previously arranged appointment. Was he upset that he’d driven 2 hours to meet her for a single coffee in a diner? No. He spent a few hours exploring the unfamiliar town, identified the one “fancy” restaurant, ate dinner there alone, and filed it away in his memory; 10 months later he brought her to that same restaurant for a surprise proposal.

Final Rule: When in doubt, always skip the date. Listen to your uh-oh voice and pass on any suggestion that doesn’t feel right. Remember, a man is on his best behavior at the very beginning of a relationship. He should be going all out to impress you. If he’s not, take the hint and move on. 

xo
Robyn

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new blog posts and advice. Learn how to rock The Rules your own way for lasting love and commitment.  

ROBYN'S TOP 5 TIPS ON DOING THE RULES

Do you need to treat him mean to keep him keen?

hi Robyn,
I am just starting out with The Rules and I keep hearing about bootcamp rules and strict rules. How do I know if I’m being strict enough and when would I want to be bootcamp? My gf says I should be b*tchier with guys, but I’m not sure.
Thanks,

Rachael

READ FIRST: ALL ABOUT "THE RULES"

ROBYN'S TOP 5 TIPS ON DOING THE RULES

This is an email I recently received from a new subscriber, and it reminded me how much confusion there is around doing the Rules successfully. If you’re reading this blog and you’re not sure what The Rules are, check out www.therulesbook.com to learn more about The Rules book and its updated version, Not Your Mother’s Rules, by authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

Do you need to treat him mean to keep him keen?

FROM DR. BRANDT

Tip #1: The chase should be fun — for him and for you.

I like to say that if a woman is going to do The Rules she should do them exactly as written rather than “strictly” because some women go too far and actually act strict, like a sour old granny. That’s not very sexy. You want to ignite a chase, and the chase should be fun — for him and for you.

TIP: If you can do The Rules strictly and be a pleasure to be with, you are a Rules Girl.   

Some girls get the idea that they should act like b*tches to appear challenging and not-so-easy. Understandably, these women want to communicate that they have strong boundaries, so that they will be treated well. Unfortunately, being deliberately difficult often has the reverse effect: it signals that you are on guard and worried about being [pick one]:

  • Stood up
  • Cheated on
  • Abandoned
  • Forgotten

Instead, practice channeling the serenity of a woman who is always respected and cherished in relationships. (You don't know there's any other way!) Emotionally healthy women are mysterious but real on dates. (See Tip #5)

Your mindset: I have nothing to worry about. Men always treat me well.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

If you want to marry a quality man — someone who has his act together personally and professionally, and who is open to love — then you want to project the right qualities. The rules woman should be light and breezy, and a pleasure to be with; she has poise and great manners. She is deeply feminine and also easy to connect with. She's not closed off, bitter, or angry. She likes men! She's not nervously looking over her shoulder, waiting for her new guy to disappoint her.

TIP: The Rules woman likes men. She's not nervously looking over her shoulder, waiting for her new guy to disappoint her.

Tip #2: Do all the Rules, all the time.

This is a really important point, because to do the rules well, you’ll want to apply them to all areas of your life. You will have a hard time being rulesy on your dates if you have poor boundaries at work or with your kids and family. Learn to use the rules in a way that naturally fits your personality, and you will be able to practice them all the time. I don’t know many professional environments in which being cold, unapproachable, and mean are great career-building qualities. Mind your own business and avoid gossip and negativity — that’s part of doing the rules at work — and interact with your colleagues in a kind and pleasant way. You will have many more opportunities in life if you choose to live graciously and with good manners.

I get calls from women who have given up on the rules because they have trouble doing them consistently. They might start out in a rules relationship and then let things slide as they mistakenly believe it’s time to be “real” with a boyfriend (i.e., stop doing the rules); or they simply can’t keep it up past the early stages of a relationship. If you focus on being yourself—the best, most confident version of yourself —you may find it easier to do the rules consistently, with everyone, and that’s the best way to internalize healthy boundaries.

FROM BCBG

Tip #3: Confidence is cool, but poise has more power.

Just as men who loudly flaunt their successes can seem insecure — the opposite of what they hope to project — the mean girl is also less desirable than a woman who quietly radiates true inner confidence. I have seen women go overboard at singles events or in clubs, trying to seem disinterested and aloof, or bantering with men in a rude manner. Instead of seeming cool these girls are just awkward. Understand that if a man finds you physically attractive, he will pursue you regardless of how grumpy or ill-mannered you are — for short-term fun. The problem is that you won’t attract and retain a quality guy who will want to bring you into his life for keeps. Don't be a player's prize for the night.

"When I'm at a club or party, I head straight for the meanest girl cuz I know she's easy, lol. She is fronting but underneath she's been hurt... Lots of these girls have a sad story, they've been dumped and used."
 — Darius (age 26)
"Real men don't love b*tches. But we'll sleep with one if she's hot. ;)"
— Mike (age 37)

Marriage-minded men are looking for a woman who is naturally poised and relaxed. You will instantly signal quality if you practice an open and quiet confidence when you are in social settings. Always listen more than you speak, and you will not seem nervous — even if you have first-date jitters. Fully accepting and being at peace with who you are is an essential part of your beauty. Successful men choose wives who can handle themselves in any social setting and who are gifted at connecting people (this is just a hard-wired preference). Interacting easily with those around you can help you attract your Mr. Right. 

FROM E.L.F.

Tip #4: Be a Bootcamp Beauty Queen.

Bootcamp Rules (the strictest interpretation of the official Rules) can help the “overly nice, gushy girl” present a stronger, more balanced personality. However, the effect should be more Beauty Queen than Sour Old Granny. We're not trying to punish men. As always, you'll want to bring a fresh and feminine spirit to your behavior.

TIP: If you're not normally bootcamp, and you feel the need to suddenly become super-strict with a man who is not treating you well, this may be a red flag.

There is one scenario where bootcamp rules can't help, and that is if you’re dating Mr. Wrong. If you feel the need to be bootcamp with your guy, it could mean that deep down, you don’t trust him. Be careful that you aren’t simply delaying the inevitable. If you’ve caught him cheating on you or otherwise truly disrespecting you, he is not your Mr. Right, and bootcamp rules are not going to change that. The rules say to move on — not to invest more time and energy in a man who doesn’t love you.

Finally, don't overlook the power of feminine vulnerability. In fact, a man simply can't fall in love with you — not in a deep, lasting way — if he doesn't first feel protective toward you. Make sure you show him your softer side as you do bootcamp rules, so that he can fully connect with you. 

Tip #5: Be Real.

Connecting with another person is exciting. It's a first date... you make eye contact mid-sentence... and you just kind of know: this person is my kind, my tribe. Men crave this jolt of emotional connection just as much as women do. In fact, if it's not there at all, he will get bored and eventually move on. (Amazingly beautiful women are sometimes left on sidelines of love, for exactly this reason.) 

Being mysterious includes having depth. (To be holding back, you have to have something to hold back!) When your manner suggests that there is much to know about you... that's when you create true intrigue. That's when a man becomes interested in knowing more. That's the beginning of a chase that leads to lasting love, not just sex.

TIP: When a woman combines the mystery of The Rules with a genuine realness and presence, there is no limit to her ability to enchant men.   

Remember, The Rules are like vitamins: in the right dose they are healthy and positive; but don’t assume that doing more than is necessary or taking them to extremes will get you a better result. Be hard to get—but not impossible to get. Do the rules as written, with warmth and charm, and you’ll be attractive and confident in all areas of your life. All of us are capable of achieving the inner radiance that comes from being a Rules woman.

READ NEXT: ALL ABOUT "THE RULES"

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content. 

CHANGE YOUR LIFE, READ THE RULES BOOK

THE RULES BOOK

My interview with Dina Colada, below, was reprinted with permission from the EPIC LOVE website.

Dina Colada: Hi everyone, this is a special EPIC LOVE interview with Robyn Wahlgast of New Direction Dating, a relationship coaching service for women. Robyn uses “The Rules” in her practice, and today we’re going to find out what that’s all about....Robyn, why don’t you give us a quick bio.

Robyn Wahlgast: Well, I’m an east coast girl, now living in Kansas with my wonderful husband and 3 kids. I have been coaching women for over 10 years, and became Rules Certified in 2009.

Dina: So tell us about “The Rules.”

Robyn: The Rules is a relationship book for women written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider that was first published in 1995. Your folks might be more familiar with John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, another relationship classic that was published in 1992. Both books give very compatible advice, in terms of understanding male-female dynamics, male and female energy. The basic idea is that when a woman’s energy is in sync with a man’s the relationship moves forward smoothly, like a dance; but if you’re stepping all over each other’s toes, the relationship will fizzle out.  Your energy style is expressed through your behavior, so a lot of what I’m doing is behavior modeling, teaching women exactly what to say or do to create healthy boundaries with men.

  •  I tell my clients that Men Are From Mars is like your kindly older brother. John Gray’s delivery is direct but gentle, he is addressing both men and women together, and his tone is welcoming and reassuring. It’s an easy book to like.
  • The Rules, on the other hand, is presenting the kind of advice your little brother might share. Little brothers don’t spare your feelings; they tell you exactly what’s going on in the boys-only clubhouse. These are relationship tips women won’t typically hear from other women. So it can be a more difficult book to get into when you first pick it up.

Women need both types of advice. (Learn how to use The Rules to date with healthy boundaries in this article.)

Dina: So give us an example of a “Rule.”

Robyn: The very first rule is “Never call a man and rarely return his calls.” Well, most people only get that far. They think “That’s crazy!” and don’t read any further. That rule #1 is pretty much what gets picked up on by the media and what most people know about the book.

Dina: OK, well I have to stop you there because you know a lot of my clients are men. I have to stick up for my guys and say, it sounds like you are advising women to play games. We don’t like women who play games!

Robyn: Yes, of course. And using or manipulating men is not in the spirit of The Rules book. This is what I tell my clients: we don’t “do The Rules” on men; we do them on ourselves so our crazy girl-in-love behavior doesn’t scare away a great guy. Let me describe it this way:

We all know women who fall in love with men way too fast,  get clingy, needy, and start asking “where is this relationship going.” And that’s after only 3 weeks! Or sometimes really great women fall into a relationship rut, where they can’t get past the 3-month mark with men; they have a whole string of boyfriends but it never seems to go anywhere. That’s a woman who needs to learn new ways of relating to men or she is never going to experience the lasting love she’s looking for.

The Rules tell us to guard our hearts and move slowly in relationships—which is often the opposite of what we instinctively feel like doing, especially when we’re so hot for a particular guy. But many women don’t have a very accurate “guy-dar” for male behavior; we put too much faith in words, and forget about actions. Many women get swept off their feet by men who say “Baby, I’ll never let you down,” and then make excuse after excuse for him when he proceeds to do just that.

Meanwhile, the good guys get left on the sidelines—maybe some of your folks have seen this—and they just shake their heads and mistakenly conclude that girls don’t like nice men and only fall for jerks.

I’ll go even further and say that the way I teach The Rules, nice “diamond in the rough” guys actually get promoted to the top of a woman’s list. If a man has a pattern of saying he’ll call on Tuesday, but he always “forgets” and you don’t hear from him until Sunday, The Rules thing to do is to stop seeing him and move on to a man who treats you with respect. If a man continually lets you down, it doesn’t matter how hot the sex is, or how much you’re obsessed with his George Clooney looks. You move on to a nice guy who actually delivers on his promises. Only love those who love you.

Dina: OK, cool. How did you get involved with the Rules?

Robyn: Back in the 1990s I was a single woman living in Manhattan. When The Rules book was published my reaction was, this is not for me. I believe strongly in always being polite and kind when possible—those are values that my husband and I both work hard to model for our children, today—and at the time it seemed rude to me that I would no longer be meeting men halfway and doing “my share” of the work in dating.

But I started attending The Rules book seminars at The Learning Annex in New York.  Women would stand up and give a 1-minute synopsis of their current relationship. Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (the authors) would go around the room, giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on each situation, and in a few seconds they would tell the women exactly what to say or do next. They made Jim Cramer’s “Lightening Round” look like a waltz. I knew right away that I needed to re-read the book, and that there was a lot that I had missed the first time.

I mentioned the little brother/older brother analogy before. At the seminars, Ellen and Sherrie talked about how, as they were growing up, they closely watched their brothers interacting with women. Ellen Fein has said that in high school, girls would call her house all the time, chasing after her cute, popular brother. Ellen got the “behind the scenes” view and saw how her brother and his friends were kind of disrespectful toward the girls who chased them. The Rules is the wake-up call that Ellen and Sherrie probably wished they could have given those high school girls years ago!

Dina: Awesome, Robyn, well thanks for joining me today! Everyone, I know you have some thoughts on The Rules so add your comments below. Robyn, if people want to follow up with you what’s the easiest way.

Robyn: Sure, I’m at www.NewDirectionDating.com and my email address is NewDirectionDating@Gmail.com. Thanks so much, Dina, it was fun!

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content.