American Single: Guys, The Power of Making A Woman Feel Wantedby Kristine Gasbarre on December 15, 2011
Recently a gentleman took me out for our first date after he’d trekked 45 minutes on a cold December night from his apartment in Manhattan to my neighborhood in Brooklyn, where he’d never been before. After dinner, I told him, “Thank you for coming all the way out here,” to which he replied with one of the most poignant notions I’d ever heard anyone assert about dating:
“Isn’t the whole point to make the woman feel comfortable?”
I stopped on the sidewalk to absorb that as he wandered to the display window of a vintage hat shop. “Hey, my grandpa used to have one like this,” he laughed.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” I called after him.
“For a guy, whole point of dating should be to make the woman feel comfortable.”
He walked back to me, gently put his arm around my back and said, “Well, sure.”
The idea is as plain and old fashioned as the derby hat he was eyeing … and it’s so, so sexy. Just the day before I’d been listening to Cosmo Radio’s Cocktails with Patrick as the host coached a male friend on the phone about how to ask a girl out via text. “This is painful,” I tweeted to Patrick’s co-host, Lea, as the fellow on the phone read a thread of awkward texts with a girl he insisted he really, really liked. As a cowardly substitute for cavalier flirtation, they’d used phrases more fitting for a catered sales luncheon inside a corporate conference room than for a budding romance. “I’d be on board to do this in the future,” she texted, and then he wondered on the air: When should I ask her out again? I should text, right, and not call? Finally he decided that he’d drop her a “Hope you had a great weekend” text on Monday — you know, a going-nowhere message when the weekend was over. The weekend, when a girl most wants to hear from the guy she likes.
As unfortunate as his decision process seemed, his strategy illustrated a very common experience: the more you like someone, the harder it is to know what to do. Do I text? Do I call? Do I post on their wall? Do I wait for the other person to just make the move? That’s safer, right? Then I’ll know they like me. It’s really easier just to have a love affair with your cell phone … but when it comes to love, there’s zero virtue in doing what’s easy. If you want a relationship, you have to be willing to push beyond your comfort zone.
At the heart of this column — and at the heart of all my writing, really — is the predominant theme that I see most single people struggling with today: a mass of men and women in our twenties and thirties who are seeking a partner actually have no idea how to treat each other. For the American single, there’s no fear worse than being vulnerable. It’s debilitating, and it’s keeping us from doing the very thing that we should do when we like someone: show them that they matter to us.
Researchers at the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project (via The New York Times) have made an important finding that addresses what I believe is our endangerment of romance. After surveying 2,870 men and women, the researchers found that married couples with the highest scores on a generosity scale were also the most likely to report having “very happy” marriages. Generosity was defined as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly,” such as affection, forgiveness and daily acts of kindness like preparing the coffee in the morning. For married couples with children, generosity was right up there with sexual intimacy and commitment when it came to relationship satisfaction, and it appears to be highly contagious: in households where a family member performed regular generous acts, others in the family were more likely to act generously as well.
This doesn’t just work only for married people: it works for anyone who’s interested in ever keeping someone interested for any significant period of time. By definition, relationships require putting ourselves aside in favor of what the other person needs from us. It’s the old adage, “You get what you give,” or, as Paul McCartney wrote, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Another study demonstrates the power of the guy who just goes for it: researchers at the University of Texas in Austin concluded that men who overestimate women’s attraction to them actually score more than men who play it safe — even when the women do find the more conservative guys to be hotter. That same study found that ladies consistently underestimate a man’s desire for them. The point? A woman loves when a man pursues her. Being desired is the core need of a woman’s psyche. So go after her! Mutual interest is actually more common than rejection! My brother used to have one of those old No Fear posters that said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Precisely.
Just last week I blogged about Ashley, my Hot Friend whose hotness is so powerful that it increases the hotness of anyone in her presence. After she read my blog post, she said, “Oh yeah? Big deal. It doesn’t matter how good-looking a girl is if guys are just gonna stare and do nothing. I’ve reached my limit.” Then, a guy she met last weekend called to ask her out, and Ashley texted me … with a smiley face. Finally, we’re getting somewhere. When it comes to liking someone, displaying a little enthusiasm pays off. Remember? The whole point is to make the woman feel comfortable. If you’re operating out of fear, you’re nobody’s hero.
Maybe it’s time we all take stock of how far we’d put ourselves out there to make the person we’re interested in feel good about us … and then, push yourself a little further. Are you generous when it comes to showing your feelings? Take this short quiz from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project to find out.