Are you doing too much, not enough or just the right amount when it comes to dating? This is such a difficult question to answer. But let’s start by making one thing clear. We won’t all agree on how much is too much, and this is a good thing. It’s good because it means you shouldn’t focus too hard on “messing it up”. Have you ever had that feeling? Like you met the perfect person but then you tried too hard and you messed it all up? Or maybe you didn’t try hard enough and you messed it all up? This was the story of my dating life. “if only I had, woulda shoulda, coulda, etc.” But what I eventually realized is that (within reason) with the right person, you can’t mess it up. All your “extra” that everyone else thinks is too much, will be charming and likeable. And likewise, even if you’d done everything perfect and exerted the exact right amount of efforts, it wouldn’t work with the wrong person. It just wouldn’t. So what then, is the harm in doing too much?
The Harm in Doing Too Much
The harm in doing too much is less about losing a potential love interest and more about protecting your own future feelings and sanity. A few examples:
Not Knowing What Could Have Been
You go out with someone and you come on way too strong. i.e. rushing first date conversation into serious topics, inviting someone to meet your family too soon, being too forward, admitting strong feelings too soon, etc. The relationship ends before it really has had a chance to begin. Chances are this wasn’t the person for you. Had it been you wouldn’t have been able to ruin it. But because it didn’t go anywhere you are mentally hung up on the fact that you don’t really know what could’ve been. This makes it really hard to move on and not beat up on yourself.
If you slept with the person, cooked, purchased gifts or expensive dates, or traveled a lot to see the person you might have investment regret. If the relationship was new or barely beginning maybe you offered too much too soon. At the time, you wanted to offer these things, but now that it hasn’t turned into a relationship as you hoped, it’s hard not to feel bitter or taken advantage of. The truth is you offered these things, they weren’t taken from you and so you can’t legitimately be upset or feel taken advantage of. What you should do is remember the feeling and move slower next time. Again, don’t harp on thinking that you ruined the relationship by offering too much too soon. You didn’t. The relationship wasn’t going to work anyway because this wasn’t the right person for you.
Are You Doing Enough?
This really breaks into your beliefs about dating gender roles. My beliefs are both old school and liberal. I do believe that men are hunters and that as women, we should let them hunt. If we take the hunt out of it, it’s not so interesting for them. However, the liberal part of me believes that if you want something (someone) you should go for it. If you don’t you might miss an opportunity. So how can these two ideas balance?
How Women Can Invite Men to Pursue Them
Well, 9/10 times I’ve been approached by a man, I knew before he approached that he was going to. Not because he’d sent his female friend to vet me, or he’d sent an old school crumbled piece of notebook paper that said circle yes or no. Of course not! If it was a stranger I probably felt them staring at me from across the room and at some point made eye contact. My body language then either invites them to come speak to me or says “hey buddy, get lost”. Either way a non-verbal communication has taken place. If it’s someone I know, a co-worker, a gym acquaintance, a train acquaintance etc. then we’ve likely had a series of small interactions. From these interactions, I’ve noticed their interest and then I’ve either extended an invitation for them to “hunt” or I’ve said “get lost buddy”. I don’t have to make the first move of asking them on a date. But I might make it easier for them to make the first move, by giving subtle permission and clues that I am open to being pursued.
Is it Too Forward for Women to Make the 1st Move?
So what happens if you just want to make the first move? Maybe you really like someone, and things are not progressing or there just isn’t a lot of time to wait. Can you make the first move without seeming too assertive or eager? YES you can! A few examples:
Ex #1) You meet a guy at a party and you chat for a few minutes. You need to leave now, and he hasn’t yet asked for your phone number. State that you are about to go. If he still doesn’t ask, suggest that you guys trade numbers to keep in touch. Make sure he takes yours also. This was your first assertive move, you clearly stated interest and invited him to pursue. Now back off and let him. You don’t need to call him because you know he has your number. If he doesn’t’ call, maybe he wasn’t interested. No harm no foul, keep it moving.
“But what if he lost my number? Can I assume this and make the first call?”
Sure why not? Call him. Chat. This is your second assertive move, and invitation for him to pursue. Now let him suggest a hangout or date. If he doesn’t, let it go, move on.
Ex #2) You meet a guy and he suggest you trade numbers. He made the first move. Can you make the second? Of course! This is how me and my husband went on our first date. I actually called him the next morning and asked him to breakfast. This was my 1st assertive invitation to pursue. Some people would say I should’ve waited for him to call first. Maybe….but once again, if it’s the right person you can’t ruin it! We are married now!
Don’t make Too Many Assertive Moves In a Row
You shouldn’t make too many assertive moves in a row. If you suggest trading phone numbers (#1), and then you make the first call (#2), you shouldn’t suggest the first date (#3). Or in my case, after my husband made the first move of suggesting we trade numbers I made the second move by inviting him to breakfast. Because this was such a bold move, I let him make the next 3 or 4 moves. He invited me and he planned the next five dates.
The Harm in Being Too Assertive
I think men might be slightly nicer than women when it comes to rejection. If you make the suggestion to trade phone numbers, AND you call and suggest a date, a man might agree just to spare your feelings. Likewise depending on the context of how you know him, you might make things very uncomfortable. For example, if you ask a co-worker for their number and suggest a date. Please, please DON’T! Another possibility is that you come across as too eager and an easy target for ill-intentioned men.
Ugh! Exhausted yet?! Why is dating so freakin’ hard? Why do we have to think and overthink it? Why is it such a game? Well, it isn’t a game, it’s a strategy. Just like finding a good job takes strategy, so does finding a good compatible partner. It takes work. Try not to think of it as “games” and instead view it as:
1. Strategy to help maximize your opportunities to meet and get to know possible partners, and
2. Strategy to help you protect your feelings in the dating process, especially for when things don’t work out.
I can’t wait to hear your opinions on this particular topic. Ladies what has been your experience? Do you agree or disagree? And fellas, chime in please. Do you like it when women give you nonverbal invitations to pursue? Is it helpful? And how do you feel about women being a little more assertive and making those first moves?