A Guide To Loving Southern Men

Want to steal a Southern guy’s heart? Then try these expert tips that’ll teach you how to woo your gentleman.

By Chelsea Kaplan

f your date’s a heart-of-Dixie dude but you don’t hail from the South, you might benefit from a few hints on what makes your Southern sweetie tick. We consulted Deborah Ford, author of Bless His Heart: The GRITS Guide To Living With (or Just Loving) a Southern Man. Below, her advice for snagging a Southern guy:

Chat him up about his special skill set
Ford says most Southern men are adept at performing typically “male” tasks, like fixing a
“Keep in mind, farming, cooking and gardening are closely linked.”
leaky faucet and changing the oil in your car, but plenty of traditionally “female” chores, like gardening or even cooking, are not considered odd by Southern male standards: “Keep in mind, farming, cooking and gardening are closely linked,” she explains. “Many Southern men can raise the best tomatoes you have ever tasted or make the most incredible pulled-pork barbecue you’ve ever eaten,” she says.

Recognize that Mama often plays a big role
When he’s into you, a Southern man will think you’re the most fascinating and intelligent woman on earth… next to his Mama, of course, Ford says. “You have to accept the other woman in his life: his Mama. Like it or not, she’s the woman a Southern man will compare every other woman in his life to, including you.” Before that thought sends you running in the other direction, consider that it’s from their Steel Magnolia mothers that most Southern men learned a chivalrous code of manners—especially when it comes to how to treat women. “Most Southern men really want to open the door for you because that’s what Mama taught them women deserve,” she explains. Always remember that when a Southern man performs a small courtesy, such as holding your chair or helping you with your coat, he is giving you the honor of noticing that you’re a woman worthy of respect and honor. Don’t fight off his courtly behavior: “Allow him to be the gentleman he was raised by his mother to be,” Ford advises.

Southern men like their women like they like their iced tea: sweet
Being vulgar or playing hard to get with a vengeance won’t get you noticed by a Southern man. “He has been taught to always follow the Southern unspoken rules of conduct,” Ford says. “In short… act like a lady! Southern men like soft voices and
“Southern men like soft voices and gentle manners.”
gentle manners.” No one is saying to fake it, but let your natural grace come through. This way will earn his respect much more than being brash.

Accept that a little knowledge about his Southern culture will go a long way
If impressing your Southern date is a top priority, learn a bit about where he comes from. “Learn how to make a good plate of fried chicken and biscuits, or if you don’t cook, buy them ready made and serve on your favorite serving dish, but don’t tell!” Ford recommends. Some other suggestions: “Learn as much as you can about country music, and know the basics of NASCAR.”

Don’t ever go here
Though they’re relatively simple to please,Ford says there are some definite “don’ts” you should keep in mind when dating a Southern man: “Never insult his family, including the dog; no matter what old moss is clinging to the family tree, keep any criticisms to yourself because Southern men are fiercely protective of their families—regardless of how nutty their relatives may be,” she says. Additionally, don’t making joking, disparaging remarks about his home, his car or his job. “No matter what he does, a Southern man takes pride in his job,” Ford explains.

Know that underneath that tough exterior is a tender, sentimental heart
Though your Southern man may seem distant, your strong, silent type most likely has a big, full heart. “A Southern man may have few words, but he has a lot of love and wisdom to share,” Ford asserts. Give him plenty of room to tell you how he’s feeling, and resist the temptation to jump in and fill the silence with your own stories all the time. He may just need time to open up. “Think of all those rough but handsome Southern guys singing country songs so sad they’d make a statue cry! Even if it’s deep down, Southern men intensely feel emotions—especially when it comes to the people they love.”

Chelsea Kaplan is a Southern woman who, much to her parents’ surprise, managed to find a perfectly wonderful Northern guy to marry. Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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