Guys, Are You Coming On Too Strong?

Or not strong enough? Find out if you’re giving her too much—or too little—of a good thing, plus, how to tweak your tactics.

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

he game of love is a lot like archery: Archers hope for bulls-eyes, but when they miss the target altogether, they get no points. Assuming you’ve got decent dating aim, wooing success comes down to execution. Come on too strong and, like an overdose of cologne, you’ll be sniffed from a mile away and pushed out the door. Play it too coy and she’ll never feel amorous about you. To help, we’ve identified the signs your romance style is too intense or too laid-back.
Avoid comments like, “We’d make good-looking babies.”


You wax poetic right off the bat
A few well-placed compliments work wonders, but gushing about grand emotions (“You’re the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me”) is off-putting before middle names are even exchanged. Fill up your journal with these over-the-top romantic notions, but keep your date guessing, if only slightly, and let the unspoken parts of woo do the talking. Also, steer clear of creepy crystal-ball comments like “Wait until you meet my family at Thanksgiving” (particularly if it’s July), or “We’d make good-looking babies.” During those first few weeks and even months, talk of the future should mean next weekend, not next year. Also be wary about divulging extensive electronic recon. These days, your date’s alma mater, 10K-race finish times, and even dating history are but a mouse click away. Do your due diligence and make sure this prospect’s not a married two-timer with a criminal record, but don’t spend half the date going over her dossier line by line, lest you take on the air of a stalker.

You channel Casanova
The easiest way to come on too strongly… is to come on too strongly. Many cocky Romeos play the all-or-nothing gambit of flooding their dates with pushy sexual advances during the early dating probationary period. A spate of unwanted come-ons force your date to spend half the night on defense parrying your busy hands. Back off. Décolletage is not French for “feeding trough.” Calling and emailing too often are other easy ways to overdo it; even worse, texting every hour or leaving the dreaded double message (“Hi, it’s Simon again… just in case you didn’t get my first message.”) are fire blankets that snuff out any spark.

You assume you’re an item
Also avoid nosing your way into her inner circle too quickly. When she answers the phone, don’t say, “Hey, it’s me” like you’re a long-term flame, and avoid inviting yourself on her Friday night escapades after one make-out
When it comes to romance, you have to pace yourself.
session. Tagalongs are fine when dished out by Girl Scouts, but wait until you’re asked before joining her night out with friends.

You go for it too soon
A lady appreciates gallantry. Hearing that you “have to see you right now” or having you plant a kiss on her in the middle of dinner may make her feel like you’re less-than-stable. So pace yourself. Once you’ve set a romantic mood and you both feel comfortable together, she’ll be much more receptive to you spontaneously asking for an unscheduled, in-pajamas visit to read a bedtime story, or planting an extended smooch on her against a parked car (hopefully not setting off the alarm).


You leave her scratching her head
Do you ask her out then leave her wondering whether that was a date date? Simple compliments and first-date-appropriate gestures like hand-holding let her know you’re into her. In between face-to-face meetings, communication builds rapport. Email and IM may be standard tech for woo, but in truth nothing replaces the telephone. If you’re not giving good phone, you’re not coming on strong enough. And besides sweet nothings, you’ve got to talk about you two. Without overanalyzing every smile and tiff, you’ll earn her regard by commenting on any relationship trends, up or down. “These last few dates with you have been really special,” reassures her while clearing up the Does This Guy Like Me? question.

You’re free every other Monday
Tête-à-tête is a game built for two. Stumping politicians take time to shake hands and kiss babies on the campaign trail, and wooers have got to get out the vote by shuffling work schedules and occasionally playing hooky for dating’s sake. And once you’re there, don’t exit too soon, either. If she invites you up for coffee, don’t tell her you gave it up last year. The “I’ve got to get up for a morning meeting” routine should be saved for dates you want to dodge, not promising up-and-comers.

Your date spots have bright lights and big TVs
A few fun dates have passed: a Saturday afternoon ballgame, beer and pizza one weekday night, and a flirtatious weekend game of pool at a dive bar. Time to ratchet up the romance. “Fun” dates are wonderful openers, but at a certain point, your date needs a romantic evening to make her feel sexy and help her see you’re sexy together, too. Never mind your lo-fi personality. Darkly lit restaurants, strolls on quiet streets, flowers—these amorous displays tell her what’s on your mind. Namely, her.

Phineas Mollod traded his J.D. for the editorial life and is often found riding the congested E train with his wife and daughter in New York. Jason Tesauro pushes pen and ink by day and leads the lifestyle seminar series by night, ne'er far from his sweetheart and a Brady Bunch houseful 'o tots in Virginia. Together they are the authors of The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy and Vice and The Modern Lover: A Playbook for Suitors, Spouses, and Ringless Carousers.
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