Q: You need to tell men to never be the first to say those “three little words.” A woman will tell you she’s ready to hear them by telling you first. It seems the dating gurus agree: When a man says “I love you” first, he throws the attraction physics all off because he lowers his value in the woman’s subconscious.
— Concerned Guy
A: When you’re looking into a woman’s eyes and there’s that awkward moment of silence, there are plenty of things you can say besides “I love you” — like, “I was going to say something, but now I’m not” or “Have I told you I’ve started drinking the blood of freshly killed unicorns?”
It is wise to avoid spewing mush all over a woman on, say, the third date. The premature “I love you” tends to translate as “I really don’t know you, beyond how you like your steak, but I love any woman who doesn’t block my calls or spot me coming down the sidewalk and duck into a real estate office and beg them to hide her.” Of course, what really lowers a man’s “value in the woman’s subconscious” is being someone who needs a “dating guru” to help him be calculating; he can’t just be. Women value men who don’t seem to be living by others’ dictates — men who are spontaneous and fun and don’t have a faraway look in their eyes because they’re trying to recall something they heard on some dating webinar.
Now, a lot of men have childhoods that don’t exactly lead them to walk the planet feeling like they own the place. So, it’s understandable if you began your dating life as a wimpy, approval-seeking suckup, but if you continue along those lines, you’re a lazy, wimpy, approval-seeking suckup. Having value in a woman’s eyes takes having value in your own, which takes doing the work to develop self-respect instead of just fencing off that huge sinkhole in your self so no squirrels or neighborhood dogs fall in.
Once you have self-respect, it’ll seem ridiculous to pull out some dating calculus book to figure out what to say to a woman and when. The right words will just flow at the right time out of genuine feeling that’s developed between you. Sure, there’s always that chance that some woman who seemed into you will have an attack of the commitment heebies or decide that she doesn’t feel the same way. If you’re more of a man’s man than a worm’s worm, this won’t be a statement on your worth. It’s just a sign that you need to look for a woman who wants you as much as you want her. If you’re secure, chances are you’ll eventually find a partner who won’t want to leave you — and not just because you always open the door for her when she gets that look in her eye that says, “I can’t wait one more moment to pee on the neighbors’ rosebushes.”
Q: My fiance and I split up three months ago. Our relationship was serious and lovely, but we just weren’t feeling it anymore. We are friendly and communicate frequently but avoid awkward topics — like dating other people. We’re in the same industry, and I would hate for someone to snap a picture of me and a date and put it on Facebook for him to stumble on. Wouldn’t it be better if he learned I’m seeing somebody else from me, and vice versa?
— Tiptoeing Forward
A: Can’t you just let him get his information about you the old-fashioned way, by sneaking over with a tall ladder and peering through your blinds? Dating other people after ending an engagement is an awkward topic — which seems the perfect reason to continue to avoid discussing it with your now ex-fiance. But say somebody does snap a picture of you and a date and toss it up on Facebook. Unless your ex has only 12 Facebook friends or he’s monitoring Facebook like a bald eagle hovering over a prairie rat, he might miss the photo. And even if he does see it, assuming it doesn’t involve tongue, who’s to say whether it’s you and your next candidate for fiance or you and some guy who dropped by your office? Although you two “weren’t feeling it anymore” and it’s natural that you’d both be looking to feel it with other people, once you’ve loved somebody, you probably can’t help but feel a little pang at the thought of them blithely falling into the arms of somebody else. So, maybe consider ambiguity a gift — one that lets you believe the deadening silence between you is the sound of him in his garage building a drone camera to spy on your every move.— here — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code)