If we were all given a manual on how to date, have a relationship and live happily ever after with our true love - wouldn’t life be great.
Or would it? Isn’t half the fun of dating making a few mistakes here and there, meeting a few wrong-uns and tasting a bit of bad dating, so when Mr Right does comes along we appreciate it and realise what we do and don’t want.
So when something or someone alleges to know what ‘men want’ out of a relationship I become a little cynical. And that certain someone came in the form of a dating coach (think Hitch) last week, when he huddled at least fifty women into a room and claimed he was going to give us the secrets of ‘finding the guy’, ‘getting the guy’ and ‘keeping the guy.’
So of course we all waited with bated breath, on the edges of our seats and pens poised ready to unearth the shattering truth about what men want out of us women. And as he trawled through stories of him skydiving, women who had everything but the man and his own personal dating successes (yep he talked a lot about himself!) the realization that most of it was about common sense and confidence made us feel a little disheartened.
Why? Because we felt that there was going to be that one secret which would bag us a boyfriend at the click of our fingers. We thought we’d find that special ingredient which would make any guy fall in love with us and keep him wanting us forever. But in truth it’s all about going out into the big bad world of dating - having a few tales to tell about our dating disasters and having enough confidence to go back out there and put what we’ve learnt to good use.
When I first started dating – about ten years ago, I thought it was perfectly fine to ditch my mates for a man, become all needy when he didn’t want me and cry whenever he so much as raised his voice in my direction. At nearly 28 I only occasionally ditch my mates for a man (ahem…), never become needy unless my cat ignores me and only ever shed a tear when it’s the sad part in a movie or he decides to dump me in horrible circumstances (i.e – ever!!).
And how can we create a set of rules when everyone is so different? The playing hard to get thing may work on one guy while another may take it as a sign you’re not that into them. And while mister serial texter doesn’t mind you cramming up his inbox with sweet messages mister technophobe may wonder why you’re bugging him every hour with updates about your daily routine.
None of us are born with the ability to date well or form the perfect relationships - like anything it comes with time and experience. We’re all going to kick ourselves when we realize that sweet guy was in fact the biggest player and the ‘nice guy’ we were dating was more like a brother than ‘husband material’ – but hey, at least if you’ve been there you hopefully won’t go back for seconds.
So once we’ve experienced the highs and lows of dating it all boils down to common sense and confidence. And we just have to hope that it doesn’t all go flying out of the window when we like someone. We’ve all made excuses for a date who turns up an hour late, one that never phones us, or a guy that just won’t commit. But it’s about having the confidence to remember what we want and how we should be treated. Because when a guy turns up that can be bothered it’s definitely worth waiting for.
So shhhh.....don’t tell everyone, but I think the real secret to dating is to keep at it. You may pick up a bit of good advice from the occasional dating book or a so-called dating coach, who thinks he knows the secrets of 'getting the guy', but isn’t learning through your own mistakes much more fun? Allow yourself to trip up occasionally, then pick yourself up and arrange that next date - after all, like me, you’ve probably been through the worst that can happen already.