Dating Boot Camp, Part One: How to Tell If a Guy Is Really Serious or Just Wrapped Up in the Chase
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a guy who’s seriously into you and one who’s wrapped up in the moment. The reason? Lust is a powerful thing, and some men will do just about anything in the sweet spot between “nice to meet you” and “sex.” Closing the gap between point A and B can be a goal some men pursue with the same vigor as Roger Federer practicing for, playing in, and attempting to win Wimbledon, for example. They may get carried away and act like you’re the be-all and end-all, only to lose interest or show their true colors as soon as you sleep together. If you’re just looking for sex, then carry on, but if not, how can you tell if a guy is really right for the long-term?
Lauren Frances is one of my favorite relationship experts, and she happens to focus on these particular struggles in her books and one-on-one coaching. In fact, she’s known for helping women weed out the wrong men right on the first date. In order to do that, she devised a way to tell whether a guy wants the same things as you, which should be the foundation of any long-term relationship (we discussed it here on Smitten a few years ago).
Here’s the problem: Frances’ first-date trick works perfectly, but most of us don’t truly listen to the answer we get. Raise your hand if you ever fudged the facts in your mind because you really wanted to see things through rose-colored glasses with a promising guy [raises hand!]. Well, the fudging-of-facts bit carries on throughout a relationship, sometimes keeping us committed to the wrong guy for months (or years). Frances is here to help us see things as they really are instead of how we want to see them. Below, she takes us through a relationship reality check to keep your head clear at every stage of the relationship:
On the first date…
Frances’ first-date trick (known as her “Heartache Prevention Question”) is simply to ask him, point blank, if he believes in X (X being your ultimate dream and goal, be it monogamy, marriage, having a family, or running away to join the circus). It may seem simple, but it’s incredibly effective if you’re prepared to really listen to his answer.
“On a first date, a guy’s gonna basically say, ‘I don’t believe in love’ or ‘I’ll never get married,'” says Frances. In other words, it’s his most honest moment, and the time for you to ask questions and take the answers at face value without any interpretation of your own. If you’re both looking for the same thing, you’ve made it through checkpoint number one.
Curveball #1: The guy who texts you nonstop, way too soon.
It’s good if a guy isn’t afraid to get in touch, but if he launches into constant contact before you’ve even been on a date, it’s a bad sign. “This guy’s going to go into a full-court press right away. He will start texting you five times a day; he will try to completely occupy and dominate your time very quickly,” says Frances. If this happens as soon as you exchange numbers on a dating app, before you’ve even had a single date, then you’ll know he’s just buttering you up for sex. “He will start creating a romantic fantasy via text that will allow you to feel like you’re more romantically connected than he’s earned by actually taking you out on dates. By the time he sees you, you feel like you’ve already been dating for three weeks. It’s kind of like putting Miracle Gro on a sexual conquest. A guy who wants to really be in a relationship with you and is really ready for a partnership doesn’t need to push like that. Guys who want to seriously date you want to see you in person.”
On dates 2 and 3…
“On the second and third dates, what I like to have my clients do is really pay attention to how consistent he is. How long does it take him after the first date to follow up? It’s really important if you like your suitor to thank him for the date while you’re on the date—’Oh my God, I had so much fun with you, this was such a treat.’ Express your gratitude and thank him on the date. You do not send a ‘thank-you’ follow-up text. What you want to see after the first date is if he really likes you too. You don’t want to fill in the blanks and start connecting the dots yourself and driving the momentum of the courtship forward. You want to see if he likes you enough to court.”
You may be tempted to reach out when don’t hear from him, but “what you have to do is sit on your hands and not text, and see how long it takes him to follow up,” Frances insists. It’s not about anti-feminism and saying that women can’t make the first move; it’s about letting him express his true intentions. You know how you feel after a date, but, “If you proactively short-circuit a man’s ability to chase you by chasing him, then you can’t see his level of interest,” Frances explains. Give him the opportunity to show you how he feels with no assistance or pushing or convincing.
“Men will start ramping up their displays of courtship for you over the next few dates if they get really excited about you. He’s going to hopefully be texting you, emailing you, and trying to lock you down for another date. He’ll be stepping up his romantic gestures: If you met at a bar on the first date, what I want to see is that he’s taking you out to dinner or planning something more extravagant for the second or third date. A man who’s really trying to date you in a respectful way won’t hook up with you on a second or third date. He’ll take you out to concerts, he’ll take you out to restaurants, he won’t be pressuring you for sex, he’ll keep trying to get to know you.”
Curveball #2: The “let’s hang out at my place” guy.
Some guys are really horny, let’s face it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if he’s looking for a wife, he’ll be looking for more than just a naked body and can make it through two or three dates without taking off your clothes. If not, he might just be pursuing you for the nookie. “If his intentions are sexual, the nature of the conversations will be sexual,” says Frances. He’ll invite you out to a nice second-date dinner, and then invite you back to his place. Or “he’ll say, ‘Why don’t I cook dinner for us at my place?’ I really suggest that women wait. The best way to not get into a sexual situation that you’re not ready for and keep him on simmer is: Do not invite him indoors or go indoors with him on those first three dates.”
On the 4th date and beyond…
If all goes well through the first three dates, he’s courting you and making plans, following up, asking questions about you, and says he wants the same things in life as you, then it’s time to move on to the next phase of dating. “You want to check for compatibility coordinates,” says Frances. “You want to ask men qualifying questions about how compatible you are. The clues that he’s just ultimately trying to sleep with you are that he will start talking about your body, making comments about how turned on he is, or say, ‘Wow you look so hot’ or ‘You have amazing breasts.’ If he starts talking about sex and what he likes sexually before you sleep together, that’s a clear indicator he’s qualifying you FOR SEX. He’s definitely positioning you for missionary position, not marriage,” says Frances.
On the other hand, “Men who are interested in dating in a serious way will start talking about serious things. If he starts talking about where he is in life, what his goals are, his future…men who are interested in getting married will definitely talk about getting married. They will qualify you right away because they don’t want to waste their time. They’ll say, ‘I really want to have a great relationship. I got a promotion at work and now I have more time to focus on a relationship.’ If there is none of that talk, then usually they’re not seeing you as that kind of romantic candidate. Men are better at shopping for relationships than women are—they will start asking you about what your goals are within the first couple of dates, because they’re not interested in dating someone that isn’t looking for the same thing.”
Sounds fair enough, right? Not every woman needs these tips, and not every woman is looking for a lasting, long-term relationship. But if you are, Frances’ tips are based on years of research and one-on-one counseling, and she really knows what she’s talking about. If you keep ending up with the wrong guy, give this method a try.
NEXT: In part two, I’ll share some killer advice for how to keep your wits about you when you’re dating a smoking-hot guy that you’re really, ridiculously attracted to. We’ve all been there, and it’s funny how you can make someone who’s completely wrong for you seem so right in your mind because every cell in your body wants to be on him. Know what I mean?! Frances can help you slow your roll and make a clear decision with your head despite what the rest of your body is telling you. Here it is.
If you want to read more, check out Frances’ book, Dating, Mating, and Manhandling.