Do You Scare Guys Away Without Knowing It?

Stephen Hussey

How do I tell if a guy is a liar?

How do I avoid the guys who only want sex?

What are the signs that a guy is likely to cheat on you?

I know. You want answers. But how are these questions affecting your love life?

The above are all questions that indicate a pain-minimisation approach to dating. They focus on avoiding the worst outcomes, instead of getting the best from someone else.

There are, of course, answers to all of them. But are those answers 100% fool-proof? Will they ensure that, if only the correct precepts are followed, one can navigate the entire dating world without ever stumbling across a bad guy? Of course not. No more than one could follow a set of principles to ensure that they’ll never meet a manipulative, self-serving friend or be stuck with a work colleague that drives them insane.

There is nothing wrong with wondering about the questions above. There is something wrong with being preoccupied with these questions early on during (or before) a date.

If these questions are at the forefront of your mind when meeting men, it can ruin the chances of you ever getting truly close to a good guy. Here’s why: Good guys resent being treated as objects of suspicion – it causes them to close themselves off emotionally and screen their thoughts, as they fear every word they utter is being filed in your encyclopaedic mind only to be deployed as evidence against them later.

Why the pain-minimisation approach to dating is so dangerous

Below are some of the common, and to be avoided, indicators of this unhealthy approach to dating:

• You focus more on trying to ‘catch him out’ than you do trying to connect with him

This can often come in the form of interview-style questions, like asking whether he has ever cheated on a girlfriend, or grilling him on precisely when he plans to settle down. Or it might come in the form of intimidating questions that he can’t really answer like “How do I know I can trust you?” (if anyone has the faintest idea of what a good answer to this question would constitute, please email it to me.

• You accuse him of being interested only in sex, not because of anything he has said but just because he’s a guy.

• You demand reassurance of his desire for a serious relationship BEFORE he has had a chance to fall for your personality.

• You immediately assume the worst about him when he gives an answer that is ambiguous or when he suggests he isn’t sure what he’s looking for yet.

• You tell him about your many bad experiences with men and outline your grand theories about ‘what all men are like’- You might even be tempted to say “I’m done with men, they’re all the same” in the hope that he’ll protest otherwise.

All of these are attraction-killers. But it’s worse than that. Often they have the exact opposite effect of their intention. Instead of getting a good guy to reassure you and reveal himself to you, they simply make him close up – He focuses less on telling you who he is, and more on what he thinks you want to hear.

He will now filter all of his conversation in an attempt to avoid making any statements that you might construe as ‘wrong’ or ‘offensive’.

Fortunately, there are some solutions to this problem. Here are a few simple ways to help overcome this mindset:

1. Get out of ‘test’ mode – come from a place of intense curiosity instead

First dates are only for connection – the only thing that should matter initially is whether you have a unique attraction to the guy and whether you both enjoy each other’s company for a few hours. Until you know that, nothing else matters.

The only way to discern that is to be intensely curious and let him bring out his best self on the first date. Ask him questions that get to his values, not questions that require him to offer banal platitudes about what a loyal boyfriend he is capable of being.

2. Don’t expect one guy to overcome all of your beliefs about men and relationships

It’s too much to ask and it’s not fair. Our beliefs about the opposite sex are our own business to change. It’s not up to anyone to right the wrongs of the past for us, or to prove us wrong about their entire gender.

3. Make him feel comfortable expressing his honest beliefs

A guy will feel much more comfortable expressing who he is if he feels like he won’t be judged for it. The best way to do this is to not react dramatically or emotionally when he gives you his opinion on relationships.

By all means, log away all kinds of conclusions about what he says in your own mind. If you want to make him feel comfortable even when you disagree, just show that you understand where he’s coming from. Even before you disagree, just say, “I understand that” and he’ll feel safe telling you what he really thinks.

If a guy feels like you will listen to him instead of judge him, he will reveal himself to you much quicker. But remember, words you can get from anyone. If a guy really is a bad guy, he’ll feed you any empty fluff-talk if he thinks it’s what you want to hear.

Men reveal much more about themselves through their actions over time than their words. It’s more important to look at those subtle indications that he is making an effort, or proving that he respects your time and feelings, or that he is investing in pursuing you beyond a first date.

Unfortunately, this can’t all be discerned within one hour-long conversation. It requires you to see the guy in several different scenarios, when he’s not in first-date mode, adopting the persona of ‘best-behaved and most gentlemanly suitor you’ve ever met in your life’.

As all good employers know, one meeting isn’t enough. It’s much better to filter out the promising candidates and give them a fair ‘trial-run’ to see how they act on a day-to-day basis.

You reserve the right to cut it off if he screws it up, but you also give yourself the chance to see how he acts when his guard is down. All candidates reveal much more about their suitability when they don’t think they’re being tested.


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*Photo Credit: Jason1elkins

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Reader Interactions

50 Replies to “Do You Scare Guys Away Without Knowing It?”

      1. hahah naah I wouldn’t dare to make fun of you, that’s rude! Let’s just call it spanish humor. :P
        My pleasure ;) And rest assured, once the engine is turned on, there’s no going back.
        Keep up the great work!

  1. I used to do that but now I’m just more relax about it.
    Like you can’t judge someone in a first date, maybe the guy
    Was nervous as well as you and he just happened to say things.
    And as a woman I personally, myself sometimes analized conversations
    But I also look for actions which I would be like they are totally different.
    But I would have to say sometimes it’s hard to trust.
    And I love this article it makes more sense and I hope you make more
    Of those articles they are very helpful and make you realized that you do
    Without knowing that you are doing it. Congrats Stephen and Matthew

    1. Laura, yes you’re right, over-analysis of conversations can be a killer. Sometimes people just say things because the are nervous or put on the spot and aren’t really thinking about every word that comes out of their mouth. Thanks for the kind words. Steve x

  2. Oh my gosh this is so me…

    and I honestly hate myself for it. I don’t want to be like that but I just can’t change it. And the funny thing is I’ve never had an experience that lead me to this behavior. All men that I’ve met have been super sweet and haven’t done anything that made me say uhh all men are cheaters. But I just can’t trust them. Just like I can’t trust women, either. I expect the worst in everyone I meet and sometimes I feel I don’t even trust myself. That is so dumb.. but Stephen – since you are the new guru here on this blog.. how can I change that? It’s really hard.

    Thank you for your advice.


    1. It’s a huge question Kathrin. I think the key, as I said in the article, is to come from a more innocent place of being curious about people, rather than the mindset that it’s their job to prove something to you. I always try to think first about giving to the interaction and being great company, and let people reveal themselves over time. Take care, and thank you so much for reading x

  3. On the subject of honest opinions on a first date…
    Is there such a thing as being too open with your thoughts when first meeting someone?

    I tend to be very open and honest (and somewhat opinionated) and I talk a lot when I get nervous. This leads to me talking about my dream to open a coffee shop/gallery or talking about the obvious difference in portraiture photography vs fine art photography.
    The last time this happened, I had the sudden gut feeling that I was revealing too much. And I feel like I do this more often than I realize. It’s not that I’m talking too much (he held the conversation regarding photography well being a videographer himself), but more that I’m giving too much of myself too soon. Coming off as sounding desperate.
    Am I wrong to feel that way or is there something to that feeling I get the next day that I shouldn’t have said half of what I said?

    Maybe I’m just afraid to look stupid and need to loosen up.

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