Adam and I were fortunate to meet and fall in love with college. But we recognize all the obstacles our still-single friends have to overcome as they look for the love of their lives. Without a community organized around a common interest like school, many of them struggle to even meet men. And those who do meet men face the difficulty of attracting their attention.
Women who consider themselves traditional seem to have the hardest time finding “nice guys” to date. After all, it’s difficult to balance their desire to be modest and prudent with the need to show men that they’re interested. That’s why Experimental Wifery is here to help.
We’ve gone on a month-long quest to find out what men think about women, dating, and relationships. We’ve consulted an informal panel of more than twenty “nice guys” through the Art of Manliness community and our own circle of friends. You may be surprised by the advice they have to offer.
The Reality of Twenty-First Century Dating
Our informal panel agreed that any woman dating today has to accept a few things about men and the way they feel about women and dating:
Give men the benefit of the doubt.
“The nice guys don’t date to score.”
There are men out there who are interested in dating women—not just sleeping with them. If you assume that the man you are interested in could be a part of a stable relationship, it will be easier to interact with him.
Some men will get the wrong idea, no matter what you do.
“We all have the wrong idea. Accept that up front. Move forward from there.”
At some point, you will give a man the wrong idea. You can avoid hurt feelings and awkward moments by being honest about your expectations.
And our panelists agreed that…
Men feel vulnerable, too.
“We have the same fears. Stop thinking and give it a try.”
Traditionally, men made the first move in initiating a relationship. But those same fears and insecurities that paralyze you haunt them, too. Whether you are willing to ask a man out yourself or you want to wait for him, respect his anxieties by communicating with him clearly.
It is important to show men that you are interested.
“When there is the social expectation that the guy take all the ‘formal’ first steps, it’s really, really helpful for the guy to be thinking, ‘All right. Yes, it’s scary to put myself out there, but I mean she’s been smiling at me for a month and gave me big hugs the last two weeks at church, and her friend mentioned that she’s single, and she even said last week that she’d like to try that new hiking trail but wasn’t sure who to go with…’”
Many women think being traditional and waiting for men to make the first move means being completely passive. But actively showing a man that you are interested not only increases your chances of getting a date, but it is also a basic consideration to show potential partners.
A Few Tips for Showing Men That You’re Interested
So showing a man that you’re interested is important. But how? My informal panel of “nice guys” suggested a few ideas for catching their attention without compromising your principles:
Look for love in all the right places.
“It will be helpful if she tries to start from a pool of men that shares her moral framework at the outset.”
Most adults at a bar on Saturday night aren’t looking for long-term relationships. Spend time with like-minded men—volunteer, join a church group, attend poetry readings… Put yourself in a room with men who are likely to share your values to reduce the chance of awkward surprises in your relationship.
Be an engaged listener.
“Lean forward, looking interested, when having a conversation.”
If you’re interested in a man, show him that you’re interested in what he has to say. Don’t stare him down, but maintain frequent eye contact. Leave your phone in your pocket. Don’t let him catch you checking the time. Ask interested questions to keep him talking. Remember the rules of good conversation. Most importantly, show him that you value what he has to say.
Use body language to express interest.
“Gentle touches on the arm, turning her body towards him, looking him in his eyes (sparkle helps here), lean toward him (but not too far), play with her hair when he looks at her… None of those ‘goes too far’ but still sends the message of interest.”
Physical flirtation makes traditional-minded women squeamish. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your body language to show a man that you’re interested. Without touching him at all, you can angle your body toward him when he speaks to you. (You probably do this unconsciously already!) Lean forward as though you’re hanging on his words. For the intrepid, a reassuring human touch somewhere non-sexual—like a hand or forearm—shows him that you care.
Laugh at his jokes.
“…Big smiles and an attempt to chuckle if the guy says something even modestly clever…”
Let’s face it—most of us aren’t as funny as we think we are. But telling a joke, especially to a stranger, means taking a risk by sharing a part of yourself with her. Thank an interesting men for his attempt at humor by smiling or laughing. Even if he isn’t that funny, you’re not being dishonest. You’re sending him a socially-acceptable code that you’d like to hear more of what he has to say.
Say, “Yes!” right away.
“If I keep asking for more [of her time] and she keeps saying ‘yes,’ then I become encouraged to redouble my efforts.”
Once a man has taken the risk of asking you out, your response is an important way to show interest. You should always feel welcome to politely decline dates with men you don’t find interesting. For men you do find interesting, be sure to respond to enthusiasm and lots of smiles. If there is some reason the date he has in mind won’t work, suggest an alternative. Let him know how much you’d like to spend a little more time with him.
If the mood strikes, take the initiative.
“She can also suggest getting together for coffee to show interest.”
Most men don’t think women who make the first move are being forward. Suggest something low-key like coffee or a group get-together with friends. Just make sure you accept any refusals with the same graciousness you’d like to receive if the situation were reversed.
The Truth about Modern Men and Chastity
Women may be surprised to know that my informal panel of “nice guys” almost all agreed that many men are willing to date women with stricter standards about physical relationships. In fact, a man who hasn’t personally committed to chastity before marriage won’t necessarily dismiss a relationship with a woman who has. Although it is much easier to have a relationship with a man who shares your principles, open communication makes many difficult relationships work:
“She does not have to sacrifice her morals and sleep around. But she does need to be approachable and show interest.”
Don’t confuse chastity or modesty with emotional distance. Even a man willing to accept chastity until marriage needs a woman to let him know she cares. That’s why it’s so important to show your interest.
“Her stance on chastity should be knowledge he becomes aware of well before any smooching takes place, and if possible before a first date. It doesn’t need to be a lecture, it need only be a statement of fact.”
Not all men are open to a less physically intimate or chaste relationship. And even some who are open won’t expect chastity when a relationship begins. As awkward as it may seem, it is important to lay all your cards on the table early in a relationship. Try something as simple as a relevant anecdote followed by, “…and that’s why I’m not going to have sex until I get married.” Men who aren’t interested in that kind of relationship will get the idea and back off. Men who are will be excited to hear more about your background and beliefs.
Let him know you’re attracted to him.
“Just because premarital sex is off-limits doesn’t mean she can’t seem like she wants to. ‘Wants to, but won’t’ is A LOT better than ‘completely disinterested.’ Lots of men like women with a moral compass…but most men aren’t interested in a woman that is completely asexual.”
It is very important to men that they feel desired. As your relationship progresses, make sure he knows that you find him physically attractive—even if those are desires you don’t want to act on. You don’t have to be explicit. You’d be surprised how often for men it’s the thought that counts.
Keep the conversation open.
“It’s an on-going conversation, I think, and boundaries need to be established and both people’s needs need to be met in some fashion.”
Relationships thrive on communication. The level of physical intimacy is just one more area where you and your partner need to be clear with each other about your needs and expectations—especially as they evolve over the course of your relationship.
Communication is important in all relationships—even from the outside. When you take risk of showing a man you’re interested, you not only increase your odds of getting a date, but you also show compassion and consideration for him in a vulnerable moment.
What are your secrets to letting a man know you care? Let us know in the comments.