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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

The Dating Habits of Men

Quick Access:
Men's Dating Habits

I constantly do media interviews about online dating and the science of love and attachment. Cosmopolitan magazine recently asked me about the quirky dating habits of guys. I’m sure there are many women out there who are dying to understand why men do or don’t do certain things, and I can assure you we men ponder the same issues about women. It can be fun trying to analyze the dating psyches of other people, but usually there are serious issues at the core of quirky behaviors. Sometimes we can do something about to help counter another person’s actions; other times we can’t.

There can be different motivations for a guy’s behavior, so don’t jump to conclusions when he does something that makes you go “Huh?!” Instead, ask for clarification or give him the benefit of the doubt. Often times, a man’s dating behavior reflects uncertainty or insecurity on his part. Other times it reflects insensitivity and ambivalence. Using my recent conversation with Cosmopolitan as a guide, I’m going to present a 3-part piece for women about the dating habits of men. Men, you’re free to email me if you disagree with anything I say, or if you want to elaborate or clarify something. Women, you’re free to send your comments and experiences as well. We’ll explore your responses in later installments.

Dating Habits of Men – Part 1

Why (oh WHY!?!) do guys wait up to a week to call after a great date?

Some guys don’t call because the date was not that great for them – often times men and women have conflicting conclusions about a date. However, more times than not the situation boils down to one of two issues: first, “the guy is afraid to be pushy and appear overeager, so he waits to appear calm, cool and collected “ or second, “the guy does not want to pain himself into a corner – that is, he’s interested but he doesn’t want things to move fast and lead her on.” The grass is greener on the other side” phenomenon is not confined to men but for me it usually involve a number of separate or entangled mindsets.

» Fear of intimacy

» Fear of losing control

» Fear of settling

» Fear of living up to social norms

» Fear of letting your partner down

» Fear that your partner will not meet your expectations

What about the guy who calls you (or texts or emails) that very same night after a date to say he had fun?

He’s either very insecure and wants to “feel you out” to see where he stands, or he’s a very secure guy who doesn’t want to play games and beat around the bush – but rather he wants to keep the positive momentum going and possibly set up another date as soon as possible.

What about the guy who only calls you when he’s on the go—like in a plane about to take off or from the grocery store?

“Talking on the go” can truly reflect a man’s busy schedule and his attempt to show you that he cares enough to call whenever there’s the opportunity. Of course, talking on the go is also a way for a man to have an easy “out” of a conversation; or to keep the conservation light and insulated from becoming too serious or involved. This means it gives him flexibility to keep you hanging on but without offering any firm commitments – all while maintaining a sense of decency and respectability. In other words, sometimes this behavior reflects a need for the man to maintain control in how he interacts with you. It might also mean that the man is married (or otherwise in a committed relationship) and can only call safely when he is on the road away from his family and friends. If a man only calls you “on the go,” then something is definitely not right and you should drop him if there’s no logical reason.

What about the man who makes very vague plans—or plans to “talk later” and figure out plans? (Or who texts “What’s up?” on short notice but never makes an actual date.)

Again, this is usually a sign of ambivalence. He either wants to pursue something with you but can’t find the nerve or opportunity to ask directly (and so he drops hints like this to see if you take the bait or the lead!), or he wants to be polite or keep you hanging on without having to make any commitments or obligations. This really amounts to stringing the woman along, and that might be nice to guys who are preoccupied with keeping their options open, but it actually makes it worse for both people in the long run. Women prefer a polite and sensitive “not interested” to an impolite and insensitive “I might be interested, but give me some time to think about it.”

Why do some guys go on and on about their job or how important they are?

This is a common vice for men, who naturally and frequently seek out approval and respect from people. Receiving admiration and respect is arguably the greatest aphrodisiac for a guy. Also, guys play the “power” card, because women usually respond to it. Research clearly shows that while looks are among the top features men seek in women, social status and money (that is economic and emotional security) is among the top features women look for in men. Men know this and play to it. This is evolutionary psychology at work here.

Related Links
Dating Habits of Men (Part 2)
Dating Habits of Men (Part 3)

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