By Esther Walker
Monday, 22 September 2008
It's not that women are much better, but the point is that if you want to snare Miss Right (or any old floozy), the first step is to understand the outstanding badness of the competition.
Then all you have to do is not make the same mistakes. You don't need to be the wittiest, the most suave, the best-dressed, the richest or the best-looking to get the girl. You just have to not be a lazy, selfish, thoughtless prick. It is almost always as simple as that.
Let's start at the beginning.
Let's start with you being the One Who Always Rings. At times, nothing beats a little thoughtful text message, but for big things – arranging dates, enquiries after her health, gossip – ring her, for god's sake. Awful Men send a spineless "How RU?" text. Be the one who wants to hear her voice.
And be the one who cares about her well-being. Women are not pathetic, but from time to time we quite enjoy allowing ourselves to be rescued. So, for example, always see her to her door. Awful Men are the sort that happily put their girlfriends on the night bus at the end of an evening. And do you know what? Those girlfriends will, in time, run off with that friend of a friend who once went three miles out of his way to drive her home. If you're in a cab, stop at hers first, then yours (so she isn't lumbered with the fare or the creepy cab driver).
Men who have some sort of appreciation of just how wretched it can be, at times, to be a woman, are always impressive. You don't have to be an expert on oral contraceptives or the Atkins diet, but at the very least do not, as Awful Men do, cringe if she mentions anything to do with her period, do not screw your eyes shut and bare your teeth in nauseated horror at the mention of childbirth.
And, please, do not become angry if she suggests that she looks fat. Fretting aloud about weight is womankind's least charming habit but you can't stop them. Awful Men don't understand this and will either accuse women of fishing for compliments or scream "You're not FAT! For GOD'S SAKE stop going ON ABOUT IT!"
You must, always, simply put your head on one side and say, as if it's the first time you've had the conversation: "You don't look fat to me," and smile.
The best seducers take this appreciation of womanhood one step further with casual unkindness about Awful Men. "He's quite boring," they might say, or, "I don't know how she stands him," or "He forgot her birthday! She should dump him."
It is simply not in the nature of men to do this, which is why doing it will make you seem like such a rare and exquisite creature. It makes women feel like you're on their side, like you understand them. The least sexy thing you can say, as a man, is: "I don't understand women."
But don't make the mistake of gushing about other women; you might think it shows how much you like women, what a feminist you are, but all it does is make women feel bad. "She's a great girl," is the most enthusiastic you should get about another woman. Never say: "She's the funniest girl I've ever met," or "She's a legend" and the worst: "She's so beautiful."
No, pal: we are the funniest girl you've ever met. We are a legend. We are so beautiful.
If you find yourself trying to prise a woman away from her boyfriend, listen carefully to what she says. When women are unhappy with their boyfriends, they will tell everyone exactly what's wrong with them, but you have to know what to listen for.
She will say: "Oh I really wanted to see that film... but Steve said it sounded childish." "I love skinny jeans... but Steve thinks they're ugly." Your job is to be exactly the opposite of whatever desperado she's stuck with, without actually saying: "Your boyfriend is an idiot."
He's too passive? Take charge. He never listens to her? You're all ears! He didn't think her career was important? Women with careers are so sexy!!
The chances are that this Awful Man never does anything for her on Valentine's Day. Your attitude towards romantic gestures, even if you think they are embarrassing and contrived, must be that they are important to women, so they are important to you. Because, you see, something like Valentine's Day is not about you, it is about us. Women are much more sensitive to social embarrassment than men; the thing we dread when February rolls around is watching flowers arrive for everyone else in the office except us, and having to pretend we don't care that you don't care enough to spend £25 on a bunch of flowers.
Listening to women (just generally, not only to find out what she hates about her boyfriend) is the easiest way to earn their adoration. Ask the occasional question and listen dutifully to the answer. That might sound like far too much effort but the alternative – to drone on about your job, your new car, the boys' holiday you're planning – is the date equivalent of anthrax.
So, now we've got the basics out of the way, let's move on to the Restaurant Date, the battlefield upon which most romantic encounters are bayoneted and die writhing in agony.
Don't be late. Just don't; it is the behaviour of Awful Men. But if disaster strikes and you are late, you're in luck, as there is a way to salvage things that is so unbelievably money it's almost worth committing the sin of lateness in order to deploy it.
As soon as you know you're going to be late, ring the restaurant, explain the situation to the maître-d' and ask them to sit your date down and get her a drink. You spare her the embarrassment of fumbling for her phone as she sits alone at the table waiting for your sorry ass. And it is simply immeasurably cool for the maître-d' to arrive at the table, glass of champagne in hand, to pass on your apologies and say discreetly that you're on your way.
If you are shown to your table together, make sure she has the best seat, which is the one with the view of the room.
If you've been paying attention, you will know that, during the date, you should encourage her to talk a lot about herself and listen like a secret agent so you can deduce what she wants from a man and make her believe that you, right there, are he.
Now the tricky part: the bill. With arch-feminism on the wane it's now safer to assume that a man can buy a woman dinner without it being interpreted as an act of gross chauvinist piggery. Most women – not all, but most – are consciously or subconsciously looking for someone who will be supportive. It's not the actual money that's the issue (what self-respecting girl can't buy her own dinner?), and just because she lets you pay doesn't mean she plans to bleed you dry. The point here is what the act represents. It is symbolic and it says "I will care for you in times of need."
If you're not exactly Bernie Ecclestone, take her to an inexpensive restaurant where you won't bite your fist when she orders the steak or pass out on seeing the bill.
During the inevitable paying dance, she will offer to pay and you will refuse once. If she still says "No, no, really: let me pay my half," then you should be cool and let her. She is telling you that she doesn't want to feel beholden to kiss you at the end of the evening. Take the hint but don't take offence.
Only an Awful Man aims to get a woman into bed on the first date. It's just so tacky. Most women sleep with men on the first date (especially in winter) because they are too pissed, cold or lazy to get themselves home. If you make it easy for her to get home, she'll go, and will be impressed and grateful the next morning that you didn't take advantage of her.
Perhaps the most important thing to learn about seducing women is when to give up. Men whose seduction technique is to wear a woman down with constant phone calls, date requests and e-mails may get the girl – but it's never for long.
Two days after your first date, call and ask to see her again the following week. If she says she's busy, she's not interested; if she doesn't return your call, she's not interested. Then leave it; persistence is at first flattering and then annoying. And then creepy.
But, if she says yes to a second date then, my son, it is game on.
And the rest is up to you.
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