Are You Scaring Guys Away With Your Intensity?

This is article #42 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: Beau Dacious)

Enter Stephen

“I’m looking for someone who’s going to be my soulmate and live out the rest of their days on this earth with me.”

“I need a guy who is looking for something real, something incredible. A special, one-of-a-kind, crazy love.”

“I want someone who is nuts about me, who can’t imagine the idea of life without me.”

I have no problem with any person who wants these things.

But if I’m ever with a woman who says them out loud on a first or second date, I have to admit, I start making sure I know where fire exits are.


I’m not exactly sure. It’s not that a crazy, intense love is an unappealing prospect to me if it were with the right woman. It’s just that whenever I hear the words ‘crazy’ and ‘intense’ used to describe love on a first date, my brain instinctively starts screaming at me “She sounds crazy and intense!”

It’s not my fault. I can’t switch it off.

Is this unfair? Maybe it is.

Believe me, I know there are plenty of women who don’t say these kinds of things up front.

I also know that guys are much more likely to say far more inappropriate and insane shit on a first date. (Maybe next Halloween I’ll publish the full archive of internet dating horror stories I’ve heard from women in the past few years).

But I have heard from certain women who, like the quotes above, believe that expressing all their romantic hopes and intentions early on is some kind of genius, foolproof test for scoping on what a guy is really after in the first few dates. They tell him how passionate and special they want the man they love to be, and talk about their vision for the future if they were ever to settle down.

From a lot of guy’s perspective, this comes across as over-sharing, and feels like too much too soon.

Yet I’ve seen many relationship bloggers who encourage this kind of forthrightness. They’ll say things like: “Does the guy you’re on a date with suddenly close up and become cagey when you mention your romantic plans for the future? Then kick that loser to the curb and tell him not to come back until he knows exactly what he wants! You deserve a guy who wants all the same romantic things you do)”

That last part is true, but I don’t think it pays to vocalize all of these feelings and aspirations too early. There’s a difference between being honest about your emotions and just being emotionally intense, and it’s very easy to stray into the latter.

I know many guys who would happily get into a committed relationship but who get freaked out by any pressure to declare their romantic intentions and life plans too early. What I’m saying is, just because he squirms a bit when the subject of true love is brought up the first few dates, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have a dyed in the wool commitment-phobe on your hands.

Why you should INVEST before you TEST

Again, I have to stress, most women won’t be as forthright as this.

I appreciate many readers won’t fall into this category of being emotionally up-front early on. They’ll take it easy and be curious, fun, relaxed, just good company. They’ll wait and see how things go.

But I think the subject is interesting because it raises an enormous topic both men and women struggle with, which is: How do I communicate my expectations and standards for what I want from this person without scaring them off?

Should it be on a first date? The answer is generally not.

Guys in particular are apt to freak outs when being pressured to make too many promises early on. Plus, when you expect to know too much early on about a guy’s intentions, you are never really giving him a chance to fall for you in the first place.

When a guy hears too early about the love and devotion you’re looking for (even if you don’t necessarily need it right this second), what he hears you saying is: “Any man I’m going to be attracted to and date better fall into this role. And if you can’t be the man who feels these things, then you’re not the one for me”.

His brain then thinks: “Well I don’t feel any of that crazy or intense love and connection. I kind of just came on this date because this girl seemed fun and attractive…I guess I’m not the guy she’s looking for…”

He feels conflicted because he knows he can’t live up to an absurdly high romantic ideal, since he doesn’t feel any of that yet. Men on an instinctive level want to please women, and when he realises that he can’t be this person, he emotionally starts to check out, since he thinks: “I really can’t give her all that stuff right now”.

See, before you test a guy, you need him to be invested first.

You need him to feel attraction and some form of attachment before you can set a bar that he will want to reach for.

Imagine you saw a job advert that included no description of the actual work to be carried out, but which made crazy demands of its applicants. It reads: Don’t bother applying unless you are willing to work until at least 8pm every weekday. We only take people who live for this job – who have so much passion that they make it their life and soul.

Now, I might be the kind of person who, if in love with a job, would happily work until 8pm every night, put my blood and sweat into achieving great things and be a true team-player. But the problem is, I haven’t had a chance to even get excited about the job yet. I don’t even know what the work is, or how fulfilling that job will be if I got it.

This analogy works the same in dating if you set the standards too high, too early.

That’s why everyone gets turned off by online dating profiles that say: “NO TIME WASTERS OR GAME-PLAYERS. ANYONE WHO ISN’T LOOKING FOR ANYTHING SERIOUS DO NOT MESSAGE”.

It’s not that the standard being set is wrong, it’s that they are asking you to reach a bar before you have any reason to care about reaching it.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having standards or communicating those standards to a guy. But it’s about how and when you set those standards.

I think this is the cause of a lot of confusion. Whenever I talk about defining standards and having a guy live up to them, I know it can lead different women to take completely different approaches to achieve this (some of which can have completely counter-productive effects, as mentioned above!).

So is the answer that you have to wait until you’re way down the line with a guy, only to discover that he’s not what you’re looking for and doesn’t meet your standards? No. This is about investing, then testing. You invest a little, then test a little more. It’s a constant feedback loop. You are always getting closer and building attraction, but you are also watching all the small signs that tell you who this guy is and the standards that he sees for the relationship.

I’m going to come back to this topic next week, since the subject of standards is vast and requires more than one blog post can bear. The next post will deal with how to communicate those standards in a more effective way so that you don’t end up wasting time on a guy who isn’t going to fulfill your needs.

For now though, just remember: Put getting his interest over the need to have him pass a bunch of tests. At least for the first date or so…

Share your ideas on this post below. I’d love to discuss any thoughts, experiences or relevant stories that occurred to you whilst reading this article….

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28 Replies to “Are You Scaring Guys Away With Your Intensity?”

  • Am from Egypt so most of the guys am seeing is an arranged marriage dates and this topic freaks me out because I should say all what I want when I only want to know the guy and fall for the person like u guys tout me
    and I end up making a too high standard or not giving one at all

  • I’m a female and I may habe sort of done this, and one day a guy I liked (we were not on a date or anything, jyst chatting online, but I know him irl) became cold and distant instead of his usual nice and funny self, and then I realised I had overshared – not about expectations, but about trivial things and my problems. I later apologised for it, but it looks like he has friendzoned me for good. Is there any way to get back to how things were before I overshared?
    I overshared because I felt comfortable talking to him, but he is a person who doesn’t talk much, so he hates me babbling.

  • Hi Matthew / Stephen,

    Thank you for this article. I’d really appreciate your advice on the following.

    I said “I love you” to a guy I had been seeing for 6 months. The problem – I said it at a time when his ex wife was playing with his head and as a tactic of trying to keep him. I did any truly feel it. Roll forward a few months and he’s now settled with regards his ex wife but is not ready to restart our relationship. He says that he doesn’t feel like he’s falling in love and didn’t feel as bad about us splitting up than he expected. I’m concerned that perhaps by blurting out those three words, I’ve scared him off coming back to what was a good relationship between us that was growing nicely.

    Any words of wisdom would be hugely appreciated. I feel like I end played myself and must now move on, rather sadly, from someone with whom I had a good connection.

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