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A Mars Venus Guide: Dating Do’s and Don’ts for Men

John Gray is the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Originally published in 1992, Gray’s book became the best selling relationship advice book of all time. with over 15 million copies sold worldwide and translated into over 90 languages. That book was followed by fourteen others, including Mars and Venus on a Date, and Mars and Venus Starting Over.

If you think that dating isn’t a perplexing experience for a man, think again.

Your palms are damp. You’re stuttering slightly. You suddenly realize that you’ve got an annoying habit of brushing back your hair with your hand. Guys, all this is proof positive that you don’t like first dates, either.

If you want to make the best impression possible, take a look at some of your most common mistakes:

1. Don’t drown her out with your voice.
Women who are invariably better communicators will ask questions, and be attentive when listening to a response. Unfortunately on a lot of first dates, the woman may not get much of a chance to speak because some nervous guy finds it all but impossible to stop talking. This is understandable. Because they’re uncomfortable with the early dating process, most men will attempt to mask their discomfort with a barrage of words.

To be sociable the woman keeps nodding her head, which encourages the guy to keep talking as well. Unfortunately, she comes away from the date thinking “What a jerk, he dominated the entire conversation.”

So, how do you stop chattering? Just remember this simple rule: don’t talk more than her, and do ask questions.

2. Most importantly, be a good listener, resist that natural male instinct to offer up quick solutions.
What most women appreciate is a man who can hear what they have to say without interruption. Further, men: try to be brief in your comments and try to get her to open up and express her thoughts.

3. Don’t look away when she talks.
This sends her the signal that you’re not interested in her. In fact, women really appreciate and feel comfortable if he maintains eye contact with her while she talks. When a woman feels safe enough to open up and express what is going on inside of her, that’s when real bonding takes place.

4. Be a “nice guy”…
It’s a myth that women don’t like nice guys. Opening a car door, helping her on with her jacket, and other small acts of kindness are appreciated by women and should be on every guy’s dating to-do list.

5. …But don’t be a “needy guy.”
Some men confuse “nice guy,” with “needy guy,” which is a turn-off to most women. If you’re too eager to please, this makes a woman feel that she has to give more before she knows whether she wants to invest herself into the relationship. So do be gracious and gentlemanly, but don’t be pushy or needy.

6. Don’t play the sympathy card.
Many men do this, by retelling how they saw themselves as abused in one or more old relationships. Here’s a reality check: needy guys might get pity, but they don’t get the girl.

7. Let her know you’ve heard her.
After a guy gets past the awkwardness of that first date, little impresses a woman more than when a man can show that he heard something she said during their time together and now he has planned a second date around that information.

Here are a couple of simple examples: she talked about how much she loves the zoo, and a guy plans a date around an outing to the zoo. Or she talked about a particular band that she enjoys, and her man shows up with tickets to hear them play. Men get points for being good listeners—and big bonus points for acting on what they have heard.

8. Do plan ahead.
Do give her a few choices that show you’ve done your homework, that you have put some thought into the planning process in the hope of making a great date. It’s big pressure on a woman when a guy says, “What do you want to do? I’ll do whatever you want.” To hear that would be a gift for most men, but it is not what most women want to hear. Every date doesn’t have to be “mutually fulfilling.” Providing a fulfilling experience for his date makes it a wonderful date for most men too.

9. Last but not least, pay her compliments.
Sounds simple, right? But many men don’t think about it, or have any idea how significant it is to compliment his date. All you have to do is say out loud what you’re thinking: “You look amazing…” “I love your scarf/belt/earrings.” Guys are hesitant to say such things for fear that it sounds corny, but in truth compliments mean a lot to her, and they say that she has been noticed. Just as a man feels loved and supported when his efforts are noticed, she feels loved and supported by being seen and appreciated.

A man might find this level of attention and praise off-putting, but for a woman, who probably spent a lot of time getting ready for a date and perhaps several days considering what she would wear, compliments are an acknowledgement that her time and effort were well spent.

Please feel free to write and let me know about your dating experiences—and whether some of these do’s and don’ts achieved the desired result of having a great first date followed by many more.