Let’s say you believe in letting a guy pay for your dates, and let’s say that instead of taking you to an expensive restaurant he takes you to a park for a picnic. Is he cheap or creative? The answer is: it depends. If he’s young and doesn’t have any money, cheap dates are a necessity. If he’s older and has money, a cheap date can be refreshing and different. What he spends the money on isn’t nearly as important as how he pulls off the date.
If he asks you to make the food for the picnic, he’s being cheap AND unromantic. If he puts together the date – tablecloth, wine, cheese, snacks, cutlery, etc. – he’s romantic.
Cheap dates can take many forms - it’s all in the execution. A guy who is into you, who is a go-getter in life, and who has any level of imagination is going to put together an experience that conveys how strongly he is interested in you.
The timing is important as well. If he starts out your relationship with cheap dates and moves to wanting to hang out at your place, he’s either immature or unromantic or not that into you. If he starts out with nice restaurants and throws in a few creative, cheap dates, all the while giving you the feeling of being courted, he’s creative, romantic, and really into you.
Look for courtship behavior. While it seems like a statement of your independence to take the lead, think further ahead. If you’re the one using your imagination to pull together great experiences for him, imagine yourself always being the one doing that. Studies show that when a woman is in charge most of the time, she grows dissatisfied down the road, and that becomes an indicator of future divorce.
How can you avoid the temptation to take the lead? Here are the typical scenarios and what to do about them:
- You meet him at a social event, he charms you with stimulating conversation and smoldering looks all evening, but never asks for your number; you are tempted to make the first move by asking for his number, or trying to get it from a mutual friend later
- You meet, he asks you out, and your first date (as far as you are concerned) goes extremely well, but he doesn’t call again for days; you are tempted to send a text or an email telling him what a great time you had
- You’ve gone out for three or four dates, you see the relationship progressing, and suddenly he stops calling; you are tempted to call and ask him out as if nothing is wrong
- You meet online, exchange a few emails, and then begin a dialog by phone; he calls every couple of days, asks about your day, and wants to talk for hours, but never asks to meet you in person; you are tempted to ask him out for the first meeting
What should you do in each of these scenarios? The answer is the same for every one of them: NOTHING. What? Nothing? Seriously? You can’t imagine doing nothing because you are the kind of woman who goes after what she wants, who never sits and waits for life or fate to deliver up your dreams. You make them happen!
In this case, you exercise more power by doing nothing because this creates the space for him to step up. When he does, you have the delicious feeling of being pursued by a worthy male. This allows you to feel more secure, which translates to feeling more powerful.
When you chase him, ultimately you feel less powerful because you will wonder down the road if he is really into you. Not knowing how strongly he wants you is the first step toward insecurity, and that makes you feel off balance and decidedly lacking in power. Neediness creeps in and you become less attractive both to yourself and to him.
He pursues you + you’re attracted to him and let him pursue = good outcomes (most of the time). It’s not a guarantee that your relationship will work out, but it is a strong positive indicator. Sounds old fashioned, I know, but when a man pursues a woman (who wants him to pursue) it usually turns into a very fine romance. That’s a formula that yields value regardless of the price tag on the date.
Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a licensed therapist, published author, and host of the hit Web site, Singlescoach®. Nina has been featured in national magazines, newspapers, on radio and television. She is the author of four self-help books, including her newest book, Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid. Listen live or via downloadable podcasts to "Love Strategies" with Nina weekly at www.blogtalkradio.com/nina-atwood. Nina is an award-winning CEO Coach for Vistage and does one-on-one coaching with key level executives.