Eliminate These 5 Turn-Offs And Become 500% More Attractive To Guys

This is article #25 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: Ben Raynal)

Enter Stephen

Having a Not-To-Do List can be much more powerful than having a To-Do list.

Take dieting. Nutritionists have repeatedly shown to get in shape, simply adding exercise and protein shakes to your routine isn’t enough; for REAL dramatic changes in your body shape, it’s more important to get rid of the bad input in your diet (e.g. processed carbohydrates, refined sugar, excessive alcohol).

Take time-management. As authors like Tim Ferriss have repeatedly shown, the most productive people achieve their crazy output simply because they are good at saying NO to people and eliminating unnecessary distractions from their day. In other words, they don’t try to add more stuff to their routine, they just take on LESS and do a few things well.

Take writing. One of the most famous handbooks for writers, The Elements of Style, focuses extensively on eliminating bad habits that writers have picked up, instead of offering just a bunch of techniques to add to their repertoire. One of the strongest maxims in the entire book, for example, urges writers to omit needless words.

Getting rid of the bad, then, often has more impact than adding the good.

This also applies in dating. One bad trait can ruin the potential of an entire budding relationship. It doesn’t matter how many little 1% positives you add if you’re starting at -100%.

I’ve noticed how some women try out the advice Matt gives in the book or in his video blogs; they meet more men, start conversations and get more sociable, and although they start getting some more dates, they eventually become disillusioned. Because they are now putting twice the effort into their love lives, and take on many new behaviours, but still seem to be scaring away guys for some unknown reason.

Then they rightfully get pissed off – and wonder how they can possibly try any harder than they already do.

But being more attractive isn’t just about doing more stuff. You can be doing everything you can to meet and date new guys, but if you have one or two really bad habits it can do lethal damage to your chances of ever hearing from a guy after a first-date.

So below I’ve laid out a Not-To-Do List for dating in general.

Lose these major turn-offs and you instantly increase your attractiveness simply by ironing out a few bad habits.

Many habits can be easily fixed – they are often just patterns we’ve gotten into over time. Once you’re aware of how destructive these behaviours can be, all you have to do is the exact opposite:

5 Habits That Destroy Your Long-Term Relationship Potential

1. Talking About Your Love Life As Though It’s A Project

Anyone who gets frequently lost in long conversations about the state of their love life, and discusses ‘it’ as though it were an object, as in “how is it doing?” and “is it in a good place now?”, might as well be wearing a bumper sticker that says “NEVER date me – I’m a neurotic disaster who will probably blog about you immediately after this date and add you to my long list of dating stories”.

You might view your love life as a project (and if you do I advise you to stop now), but at the very least stop diagnosing and examining it through a microscope as though you were cataloguing the life-cycle of a new bacteria. Or please, at the very very least, don’t talk to guys about your love life in this way.

The same goes for being a relationship martyr. Cease all conversations in which you express your puzzlement at not finding a great guy. Or worst of all, that conversation where you bemoan the fact great guys don’t even exist (because that really does turn-off the good ones).

Great guys want to choose you, not save you. And that means not making him feel like he’s a chapter in your own personal Bridget Jones dating saga.

2. Excessively Complaining

People do this one all the time without even realizing. Try for just this week to count the number of times you complain about something to a friend or colleague (or even a date) and I guarantee you’ll be shocked.

We all have to blow off steam. It’s a natural therapy to get out frustration.

But notice if you’re:

(a) Complaining just to make conversation

(b) Complaining to indulge

(c) Complaining about something that doesn’t really matter (which is nearly everything)

There are funny ways to complain, and there are times when it’s appropriate to show you won’t stand for something. But the point here is about frequency. Recent research has shown that couples need a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Think of every time you complain about something on a date as a negative interaction, and seek to minimize it as much as possible.

3. Running Yourself Down (A Lot)

Most people strike the balance wrong when it comes to self-deprecating humour.

The point of self-deprecating humour is to point to a little foible or shortcoming you have, and make yourself the butt of a joke. When used sparingly and confidently this can be very effective. But a lot of people over-use it, or tend to leave out the humour part and just appear to others to be running themselves down all the time, which makes you look insecure.

People who point out their flaws too much lose the charm of being flawed and end up just looking like someone who constantly airs their insecurities out to the world, whether it’s over their weight, their intelligence, or some failure in their career they can’t move on from.

The truth about most flaws is that people are looking to see how you deal with them. If you constantly bring them up in a negative way, it signals that you don’t respect yourself and that whatever the hang-up is, you are in no way comfortable about it.

Now, I say this one with trepidation, because I know just how nauseating the opposite kind of person can be: The absurdly contented over-the-top positive narcissist who loves themselves and is unfalteringly confident is also just as repellant, and usually comes across as fake and inauthentic.

Conclusion: There is always a balance between being cocky and self-deprecating, but as a general principle: minimize the self-criticism in public (plenty of others will criticize you anyway). It might be fun to indulge in it occasionally, but no-one wants to live with the person who constantly treats themselves as a consolation prize.

4. Failing To Curb Neediness

Neediness includes any behaviour that shows you aren’t self-validated. The worst kind are things like: texting/calling a guy too much, needing constant praise and attention, being possessive and jealous, being so desperate for approval that you agree with everything a guy says, or just showing that you can’t enjoy yourself without him.

People can get away with neediness at first if a guy is already attracted, but after a few months he’ll develop a creeping sense of dread and be desperate to escape as quickly as possible.

5. Being Shallow And Obsessed With Gossip

Shallowness often goes with being self-absorbed.

It’s another one of those traits that has a life-span. If a woman ticks lots of other boxes, a guy will put up with it for a while – but eventually it becomes wearing and makes him crave deeper and more intellectual company.

Try to notice if your default is to constantly slip into gossiping about your friends, or if you tend to avoid deep subjects and always keep things at a surface level. Shallowness usually goes hand in hand with being boring, so it’s crucial to understand the basics of intriguing conversation that will let you explore his personality more (and reveal more of your own).

These things might seem like they require enormous changes, but in my experience, just being aware of an unattractive characteristic can take you a long way towards ironing it out of your personality. Chances are you show a few of these traits from time to time (which we all do). Pick the one or two that you think might apply to you, and make a commitment for the next 30 days to iron them out.

What are the biggest turn-off behaviours you notice in guys? Let me know in the comments below!

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79 Responses to Eliminate These 5 Turn-Offs And Become 500% More Attractive To Guys

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  1. Elle says:

    guys do that to me, the constant texting and the looking for a way to find out what i think of them. I think it’s sad and unnecessary,and it shows lack of confidence. Also they talk a lot about their exes or prestations in the bedroom that is so private that i think it’s disrespectful towards their ex girlfriend. What i have discovered about myself is that I don’t end it immediately I tend to give them a chance where eventually they feel comfortable and secure then they start to pull away and act hot and cold. I don’t understand? I was the confident one and the not needy one with standards and eventually I’m the one getting hurt at the end of the story!
    I wonder what am I doing wrong here?

  2. SKBC says:

    What if the guy acts like that…

  3. Lonnie says:

    Great article, as always. Question I’ve never been a needy person before, but suddenly I’m finding myself being “that girl”. It drives me crazy. Most of it my boyfriend isn’t even aware of because I keep it to myself. The inner dialogue is killing me. What can I do to chill out? This is the first time I’ve ever been in deeply in love and it scares me.

  4. Sydney says:


  5. Julie MacKenzie says:

    Great article Stephen! Luckily, I don’t do any of those major mistakes…probably, because I’ve had a little more life experience than the gals on this site…Was married for 25 years…divorced for 8 now….& loving my life..I can’t imagine living my “old” life with my verbally abusive alcoholic husband…which he became in the 23 year of our marriage…Yikes! I am single & ready to mingle…not in any rush to find the guy…but, certainly a work in progress! ;) Hugs! Keep the blogs coming! Love them…& a great insight into how “guys” feel & think…Awesome! ;)

  6. Mel says:

    The biggest turn-off behaviour for me is definetly the fact that guys start talking about their exes and how many women they’ve had sex with. And also that one “special” “best friend” girl they hace in their lives of who they can’t stop talking about. This is so disrespectful and non-romantic as I get the feeling that I am not the girl he’s dating, but just one of his so many trophees or believe me I even feel like his psychologist. I want to feel special and I want to feel that he chose for me. But each time I get to see that I am more a listening ear and just someone from his list. Do guys really think that women they “try” to date, love to hear their previous adventures with their oh-so-great exes or their best friend girlfriends whom they’re actually in love with? The question which rises in me is: what the hell are you doing here with me damnit??

    • Melissa says:

      Yea, um…your comment has no relation to the article. Except, that it sounds like a needless complaint. Which is #2 on the list.

      If the guy you’re with isn’t adding to your value, then in the wise words of Jay-Z – “On to the next”.

  7. Helen says:

    Thank you Stephen for this. Just checking in to see if i pocess any of these 5 behaviours. Thankfully I’m pleased to say I don’t do any of them. whoop whoop xx

  8. cristina says:

    I just find it rude that man automatically want to have sex the first date. I’m NOT an ANIMAL BUT MAYBE THE MEN ARE because animals follow their instinct which is to eat and procreate.
    What I find true is that man usually think with their head but not the one above their heads but in between their legs

  9. Jessie says:

    Turn offs:
    Let’s start with basics: lack of hygiene and manners. They can wear the best suit and visit the best hair dresser but if they don’t take a shower everyday, I’m out. Girls tend to have a great sense of smell, I personally could work as a police dog so if a guy smells, I won’t let him touch me.
    The same thing is with manners. I knew an absolutely handsome guy with great abs, muscles, a devilish gaze in his eyes, a briliant mind and hunger for knowledge. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, he also used to blow his nose on the street right on the pavement with no handkerchief, no nothing which is NOT something normal in my countrys culture. He pinched my ears whenever I started to eat to loud, but thought it’s totally ok to spread his bogies in front of me.
    When it comes to action:
    Awkward sex scenes: I mean those “sudden naked man” situations or when he drags out his “friend” with no real context waiting for me to do… what exactly? Girls want to be in the mood and the fact that he exists is not quite enough. And yes, I’ve been there. Really. And I don’t date that much. I saw a video where a girl said that our most beloved part of man’s body is the penis when we have sex, but during any other situations it’s everything BUT it. I agree.
    Another one!
    Needyness, being jelous, saying “I love you” too early and saying it really a lot when you see that the girl never sais it herself (push and pull, people. That’s just basics). That feels extreamly needy. this “you won’t say it, I’ll force you to say it back” approach. Ugh. It’s the same thing with casual “kids” talks. Oh yes, guys do that as well. You know the sentence. “…IF WE WERE TO HAVE KIDS, than…” they all sound like jokes and might be funny, but not during first few months of a relationship. Srsly, take it slow.

    Actually all those you wrote up there are accurate to guys as well. Aspecially the running yourself down (which I do myself and that’s terrible).

    Thanks for this article, I need to think some stuff through about myself now :) Cheers!


    He doesn’t text or call.
    He always says he is busy with work.
    He never makes time for his partner.
    He doesn’t make or have time for his partner.
    He is a sweet talker.

  11. Kelly lawler says:

    Hi Stephen,
    my biggest turn off in guys are neediness, arrogance, bragging, sex talk too early, being jealous, controlling behaviours. An while I’m thinking about it, why is it that once your in a relationship, a guy thinks he can tell you how you should behave and what you should and shouldn’t do!! I’m sorry, why is it that some guys think that a women having a conversation with another man besides her man that she is flirting. Does this make him feel less of a man!!! Shouldn’t he trust his women!! I Would be interested to know your thoughts and views on this?? Women being friendly with another man is simply friendship. We do know how to be loyal to one man an can engage in conversations with other men.

  12. BB says:

    When a guy starts talking about all the women that he had sex with. I like to feel special that he chose me. If he mentions 10 women on a single date I get the feeling that anyone can have him and he seems cheep and dirty, not in a good way.

    Also if a guy keeps telling me how much his car cost, how expensive his watch is, what he owns and what he can give me. It starts to feel as if we are negotiating a business deal where I am supposed to set the price that the has to pay, like I am a prostitute, and at the same time I get the feeling that he expects me to be ashamed for not being rich. Like I should be desperate for his money and grateful that he wants me, like he thinks he is better than me. The truth is, as long as a guy has a job and isn’t expecting me to pay his rent and bills, I don’t care how much he is earning.

  13. jj says:

    Regarding the turn offs from men, I would love to hear your take on the nice guy trait. These are men who are not necessarily bad, but at the same time feel they should not be required too much effort because well they don’t commit the big sins of cheating, abuse etc.

    These guys are a little more difficult to identify and it would require you spending more time with them to notice these traits.

    I’ve known some loving attentive guys, who felt that because they are, they then didn’t have to be mature, responsible, reliable etc and took any accusations of such, as an opportunity to play the victim.

    There is a lot to be said also about the guys who also lie to themselves and run around thinking they love everyone rather than really see that they just use everyone around them to fill voids. These too are the “nice guys,” who readily commit, and are attentive, but the moment things get difficult they are looking to the next person to fall in love with.

    You should do an article dedicated to the nice guys…and yes I’ve heard Matt on “nice guys should finish last.”


  14. Monique says:

    Hi Stephen, many of these habits are ones that i do possess, and i do realize that. There is one in general that i have a question about, and that is the “running yourself down” area. I have improved on my confidence in the past year or so but still need work. My boyfriend often points out my flaws, such as my figure/health, my “shyness”, and my ways of communication, jokingly but also in a serious sort of way. I often get confused as to whether or not he is trying to help me,l as i am trying to stay as confident as possible while still trying to improve on myself. Sometimes the criticism is a little much when i am trying very hard already. I want to always improve, but i have a question, Do you think that he is trying to help because he really cares, or is he trying to change who i am as a person? I hope this was clear and not too long.
    Thanks, Monique

  15. Teri says:

    Being called ‘sexy’ or ‘hey sexy’ in the first five minutes. Yucky and desperate.

    • Lida says:

      I wanted to share something with you MAtt, since you are my coach on dating. MAtt I don’t remember how many people I have dated so far, but they want to have sex on first or second date!! it’s shocking to me. It’s so common that a guy wants to have sex on second date and it happens allot to my friends and me. I’m 29 and I passed my teenage years, I expect them not to treat me like a teenage girl.

      • Bea says:

        Sometimes guys push boundaries to see what they can get away with. If you show him your standard ( in a kind way), he will either honor it and be more respectful to you or he will get angry for not giving him what he wants. If he reacts in a negative way, he’s made the decision for you to move on! Advice taken from Matt btw

  16. Amy says:

    Biggest turn-offs in guys: openly evaluating other women’s desirability; being naive about their readiness for anything immediately after a divorce; demanding too much and not listening to objections; smoking; getting drunk.

  17. Manda says:

    My biggest turn-offs are closed or narrow mindedness, rudeness or complaining especially when they are kids, senior citizens or animals, and any display of rage or anger. One other thing, if he lies to someone on the phone about ANYTHING, he will lie to you too.

  18. Laura says:

    My biggest turn offs are:

    Agression (both passive and aggressive) – I barely ever have arguments with anyone EVER. I think I can only name 1 or 2 in my entire lifetime and they were for very big reasons. When someone displays anger, it makes me anxious and nervous. I can’t be with someone like that. You want to feel like when you’re with someone you’re “coming home” not associate their presence with feelings of anxiety.

    Disloyalty – It’s OK to find other women attracted. Heck I am and all with men! But when they act on those feelings, or look at other women, I find it disrespectful and another way of them saying “I don’t value you as my significant other”.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Both good points Laura. Though I don’t think arguments now and then are such a bad thing, as long as you (a) approach them without being nasty/rude i.e. show respect, and (b) make up quickly afterwards. I sometimes find people who avoid arguments too much a little hard to deal with, maybe too passive or something. But by and large, yea, the less big conflicts, the better.


      Stephen x

  19. Jess says:

    Biggest turn offs:

    I think you can tell a lot about a guy based on the habits he has, and there are certain habits that I find real turn off’s.

    Habit of eating poorly, not exercising, procrastinating, spending beyond his means, gambles, drinks an excessive amount of alcohol or indulges in drugs, doesn’t pick up after himself and keep a tidy home/room, doesn’t work towards his career goals, develop a skill, make effort to continue learning on his own, womanising.

  20. Sabrina says:

    To save space, I will stick to only 5 (but trust me, there are more)

    1. Trying WAY too hard- this is the guy that is completely full of it and lies (usually excessively) in order to impress a woman. Men have no idea that this is a complete turnoff and usually leads to us (namely me) never returning your call/text ever again.

    2. Arrogance – this is a guy with no humility whatsoever. I once literally heard a guy say “I’m good at everything” and really thought he was, even though he was proven time, and time again that he wasn’t. Admitting you are a human with flaws isn’t weak, and it isn’t a turn off either; acknowledging your short comings makes for a well rounded person. Well rounded men attract good women.

    3. The “I don’t want a relationship” guy. (I’m agreeing with M below) This is the guy that blurts this out unexpectedly and at times it is completely uncalled for. We are just having a good time, laughing, ribbing and suddenly blurts out “I don’t want to commit to you” in so many terms. It is such a turn off, many women won’t even talk to this guy anymore when he calls again. Which he certainly does, for some reason, despite not wanting a relationship. *NOTE: this only applies to guys that spew this out of the blue in an unrelated situation.

    3. the guy that does not respect himself. Self explanatory

    4. The guy that doesn’t try–and then complains. This the loser that has a profile with no picture, no description (or very little of one or the other) and then complains that he’s not getting anywhere. This is also the the guy that just spews crappy liners/game, expecting sex or a companionship from his very pathetic attempt. (E.g. “Hey, um, I just blah blah…beautiful”) At least that’s how it sounds to us.

    5. The guy that just doesn’t have a clue. This guy is not necessarily a bad person, just uninformed and spews ignorance like spittle; and for some reason has gotten away with it until now. “Well women just cry their way out of everything.” When in reality, they have not a clue what they’re talking about or have no idea what life is about outside their bubble. This applies to race, gender, class, nationalities, etc.,

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      I love 2 and 3. If only more guys could handle those traits better they would find life so much easier!

      Most guys act arrogant because they misunderstand confidence. And most guys become the “I dont want a relationship” guy because they don’t have a good way of communicating what they want OR they make everything too much of a big deal because they are terrified of commitment.

      Also, no. 4 is great, and applies to many guys I’ve met. They think they deserve and are entitled to so much just for existing and just because they aren’t total assholes. Then they moan about why women don’t realise how incredible they, despite them making no effort whatsoever.

      We need to find a way of sending these to men out there ;)

      Thanks Sabrina!

      Stephen x

  21. Teresa says:

    5 biggest guy turn-offs (apart from the above, which apply to men too)
    1. Arrogance
    2. Ill manners
    3. Being precious/pathetic (as in unassertive, overly apologetic, timid, uncertain)
    4. Laziness
    5. Unkindess

  22. Alyson Chauncy says:

    A few things i have noticed while dating were that some men dont make an effort to dress very well eg old t shirt and jeans, untidy hair. Also I went on a date with a guy who continually looked around the room at other women. Im not asking for complete undivided attention but a bit of respect goes a long way especially as I make the effort,good manners cost nothing.

  23. Bo says:

    It’s when the guy wants to do anything I want to do. The attitude “We’ll do it as you want it” or “I’ll do anything just to be with you” turns me off. It could be flattering in a way “he does anything for you” but it is not. For some reason the guy becomes less attractive. I’m giving him a second chance though, he was a nice guy and I would like to explore why he responded like that…

  24. M says:

    I’m a tad guilty of talking about my love life as if it’s a project. I’m prone to analyzing my feelings and airing them out. Not obsessively though. Mental note: Must stop.

    My guy turnoffs? That knee-jerk reaction some guys have about relationships, when they blurt out “I’m not ready” early on, like on the first or second date. I have to restrain myself from rolling my eyes. It doesn’t feel genuine at all, but some canned phrase that they use to mask how they feel, or to hide fears about past crap relationships, or because society tells them it’s better to be single. And usually this phrase comes after being intimate, not necessarily sex. It feels weak to me, as if they are saying, don’t hold me accountable to anything. When I hear a version of the “I’m not ready” phrase, it’s such a disappointment. Not because I’m already wanting a relationship from this person, but because the guy suddenly renders himself average, in the big pool of men who are scared of relationships. And that is so cliche.

    Maybe I’m being harsh? I have softened my response to this phrase, but only for men who seem like they are worth some growing pains to get to know.

    • Marie says:

      So not harsh M – that’s completely on the button. It is disappointing and it is actually really insulting – especially if they’ve already been (or trying to be) intimate with you.

      Sometimes it’s just a way to have no-strings sex (fail).
      Sometimes it’s because they *assume* you want everything from them and they get terrified and can’t just relax.
      Sometimes it’s because they think you’re going to reject them so they have to make it seem like they weren’t even available in the first place.

      Mostly they just need to chill tf out and work out what they can give and what they do want – and be honest with themselves and you.

      The ones who say they can’t commit and yet keep coming back & acting possessive are the most in denial.

      Definitely a good way to turn a woman off.

  25. Shev says:

    Hi Stephen :
    Wow! The article made me think of the changes I have been working on and that at certain points in my life I had been guilty of some of them. (Admit to struggling with number 3 still – but it is a work in progress!) I have co-workers who are guilty of complaining constantly and it really is unattractive!!

    Biggest turn offs for me would be arrogance (especially if they have no reason to be ) ” know it alls ” , rudeness and lack of respect towards people they feel no need to engage with.

    Loved the article and it gave me pause to reflect on the work I have done. Keep the thought provoking articles coming!!

    Warmest Regards,
    Shev x

  26. Arianna says:

    Turn offs:

    A man without ambition – Only wants to sit on the couch and play video games.
    A man with an addictive personality. – Drugs, alcohol, etc. Anything in excess can be negative.
    The infamous “man-child” syndrome – I would like to be his lover, not his mother.
    A man who is rude to others. – Manners and kindness go a long way. I don’t want to date a man who is unkind to others. Chances are, that disrespect for others will show up in our relationship down the line.
    A man who is dishonest. – Catching someone you love in a lie they have told you is heartbreaking. I want a man who can be honest with me and himself.
    A man who is self-absorbed. It is horrible to be almost an hour into a date and think to yourself, “is he going to ask about how my day went?” Not okay.
    A man who perpetuates negativity. – As a positive person, I am really turned off when a man chooses to only look at the negative aspects of life.
    When a man airs out his dirty laundry everywhere. – It is one thing to talk to a sibling, or friend, but to put details up about an argument you have had with a girlfriend on a social media site is taking it too far.
    When a man is jealous to the point of being unreasonable.
    When a man talks badly about others, or himself, constantly.
    When a man is unreliable in times of need.
    A man who has no interest in learning or broadening his horizons.
    A man who doesn’t like kids. :)

    I suppose I will leave it at that. Great article, Stephen! Cutting out unnecessary words was one of the best things that ever happened to my poetry. :P

    *~ Arianna ~*

  27. Leah says:

    Great blog post, Steve! I’ve been with a guy who would put his arm around me if another guy was obviously flirting with me. But the thing that really turned me off was when, if a girl was flirting with him, he’d almost tend to disassociate with me…wouldn’t really let me get close with him and didn’t make it incredibly obvious we were together. Huge red flags at that point and obviously a major turn off. I bet it would have really turned me on if he had been affectionate in that moment and treated me as if I was a prize. Instead I felt like an embarrassment.

    Ps. I also find cursing a turn off. Using passionate words to replace vulgarity is so sexy.

    • Leah says:

      I’m SO sorry, Stephen! I just realized I said Steve! So embarrassed! And probably a huge turnoff, too – getting a name wrong! Sorry again.

  28. Jessica says:

    For me one thing that is unattractive( and seems to be a running theme these days) is when I first meet a guy, and we start to talk. We text and talk on the phone, but haven’t even had a chance to go on an actual date. I mean like a day or two after we meet. He really knows nothing about me. Nor I him. And he starts talking about a relationship. Telling me how amazing I am. Asking if I’m talking to anyone else, because he isn’t. Things like that. It makes me feel like they are telling what they think I want to hear. When in reality it isn’t. We don’t really know each other. It makes me feel like he is interested in a relationship with someone he doesn’t really know. He would probably date anyone. It also comes off a bit insecure and needy.

  29. Brandy Phillips says:

    The most annoying trait in a guy is not having a brain. When I meet most guys withing moments he is pulling the sex card. I want a real conversation about things you are interested in so I know we are compatible. Otherwise move on.

    • Kimberly says:

      You sound like you need “brainal”. I understand that, once you’ve had brainal it’s hard to accept anything less

  30. Lucy says:

    Yay! Looks like I passed the test. On the neediness side of things, I believe that it’s very easy to come across as needy when you like the man more than he likes you. But I think it’s equally needy when you worry about looking needy, because then that’s still approval-seeking.

    I still think that men and women have varying thresholds for neediness. I’ve had to make some adjustments to how I date because of that. There are certain behaviours that women don’t see as needy but which come across as needy to a man.

    Putting yourself down is unappealing to both genders. It wouldn’t stop me being someone’s friend but it’d be hard for me to like someone romantically if they put themselves down all the time. When people get like that, it makes me feel like an emotional sounding board. I simply don’t want a man who’s more interested in proving something to himself than in getting to know me (makes me feel like a means to an end). I’m also very turned off by guys who don’t seem to know their own mind.

    I believe in fake it till you make it. If I’m feeling unattractive one day, then I don’t care but I’m going to act as if I look like Cindy Crawford. haha :)

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hey Lucy,

      I think both sexes find neediness as unappealing as each other. There is, however, a certain kind of man who can tolerate neediness more than others, usually one who likes a lot of attention and enjoys having someone who always wants to be with him. But even then that wears off eventually. Your varying thresholds idea is intriguing, but I’m not sure about it – I know many women who are really put off by needy men. Perhaps both sexes interpret neediness differently – I’ll have to think about it more – it’s an interesting idea though.

      And yes, no-one likes being an emotional sounding board. I think the worst feeling is when it feels like someone is running themselves down just to get reassurance – it’s very draining.



      • Lucy says:

        Thanks Steve. Your advice and articles are great. :)

        I am learning to be more open and vulnerable around people I like. I have the opposite problem to being needy – I put too many walls up.

        I was thinking that maybe men and women have different ways of thinking about neediness but who knows? There are subtleties in behaviour which evince it more than others. I wonder what sort of cues men take from ways a woman might act and how that contributes to an overall impression of her. Perception seems to be everything.

  31. Olli says:

    Running Yourself Down is the best one! It needs a very accurate balance:)
    For me the biggest turn-off is when a guy says “ok, how was your day?” and I start telling and then he instantly goes to his “nothing box” (i.e. inside himself)despite claiming to be interested. I’d rather he said “I’m too tired to talk, sorry”

    • Lucy says:

      Yes when people are wanting to make an emotional run-off. It’s the sort of situation where the person isn’t actively listening, just waiting for their chance to speak

      • Olli says:

        Hey, Lucy, precisely) you’re right about an emotional run-off but *waiting for their chance to speak* is a slighly different situation)here I rather meant not being interested at all in communication though starting it anyway (as I guess just to be polite and have a chance to say “aha” a couple of times;)

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Thanks for the comment Olli,

      Out of curiosity, wouldn’t you feel neglected or ignored if a guy said “I’m too tired to talk” – I’m genuinely interested in the best way to handle that issue i.e. when you feel exhausted and struggle to listen.

      Steve x

      • Olli says:

        Hey, Stephen) yeah, that was just the general idea – not to ask her to nor to let her talk if you don’t want to, of course the wording should be different)
        for example, the first words could be like “honey, I see how much you care for me and I care for you as much and I know your day was special and interesting and I can’t wait to here about it but I’m so tired that my brain’s switching off right now. Could you please tell me about it [insert the acceptable realistic time here (no never, in my next life or especially no “I’ll tell her some time by which she’ll have forgotten it)]
        but of course,I think that both should be undestanding here, both should compromise) and she should also see that he’s tired (generally speaking, get acquainted with men’s psycology)and not be really upset about it or just talk with her girlfriends about it without his advice)
        all in all, they need to communicate their needs in the polite way and work out the levels to which they can compromise) for example, the analogy (and about a man:!) that helped me a lot was with a cell phone:when he’s tired he’s like a cell phone without a SIM card – only the emergency calls are available:)) it means you do not attack him with your emotional interpretation of your day but say only one or two emergency things (e.g. promotion/ illness/ask if some thing is an emergency)and in exchange to that he gives you 20% of the energy that’s left in him to react to that) that seems like a compromise to me)
        I also tried recording myself talking about my day so he could watch it the next day with the proper emotions but after some time it felt like we were not having live conversations anymore;)))
        PS you see I’m very detailed on this topic just cause I like it:D

        Olli x)

  32. Jill says:

    I know I need to do better about not gossiping and I remembered in the past I would try to find something good about the person and got to a point where I wasn’t focused on their flaws. I need to get back to that. Thanks for the reminder ;)

  33. Margot says:

    Being unable to say, “I don’t know. ” I hate it when guys ramble on trying conceal the fact they don’t know the answer to a question! Waste of time! Seriously, dude: “I don’t know” won’t make you impotent.
    Being obsessed with watching sports. It is only good for you if you play it.
    Not picking up after himself. Girlfriend does not equal maid.
    Lying because the girlfriend will be angry if he tells the truth. That’s childish. Grow up, kiddo. Lying is disrespectful.

    • Margot says:

      Oh, another one: trying to show off his year-end bonus, expensive watch, brand-name clothes. Guys that try to impress me by making a point of how much they make or what they own come across as shallow to me. Show me your heart first, not your wallet.

    • Heather says:

      Oh my, lying… Lying the absolute worst. Nothing kills attraction/intimacy faster than lying. Some who lies about the little things – and I get it, men just want an ‘easy life’ (since when was life EVER easy?), but dishonesty is the quickest and surest way to ruin things, with me.

      Good one, Margot. Not picking up after himself – another excellent point.

      I’ve recently ended something with someone (it wasn’t going to go anywhere, anyway – he’s divorced with 4 children and has a very busy-travel to three countries a week-job, but he lied and he NEVER said thank you. For anything. Bah. (Learn some manners, you 48year old man…))

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hi Margot,

      That’s fascinating you say that, because according to a recent Freakonomics episode I listened to, men are much less likely to say “I don’t know” than women. I also find it really frustrating when people pretend to know what they’re talking about when they don’t – v irritating.

      These are all excellent points!

      On the lying one – I agree, unless he’s telling a lie of no consequence because he knows that if he is honest about how he feels his girlfriend will blow up and get angry over nothing (which could mean she needs to react better to hearing the truth).


      Stephen x

  34. Maria says:

    Checking out other women – I get it, attractive women are everyone, but when trying to have a conversation, I want your undivided attention.

    Having no jealous tendencies at all – I don’t want you causing a brawl or scene but when we are out together at a party or something and another guy is blatantly hitting on me, I want you to put your arm around me and show that your proud that I’m your girl.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hey Maria,

      The second one is interesting – I think a lot of women would agree with you – they want to feel like the man is at least *a bit* protective over them, and wants to proudly show he’s with her.

      Thanks for the great comment!

      Steve x

      • Maria says:

        Yes, that’s totally it, protective is a better word to describe what I meant. Nothing is more attractive than a boyfriend who wants to make sure you are safe.

        Another behaviour I notice in guys sometimes that confuses me is when you’re together just the two of you, he acts sweet and attentive but the moment you are with his friends or out socially, he’s totally the opposite, probably a red flag, huh.

        • Lucy says:

          I agree, Maria :) It’s all about feeling safe. I’ve dated guys before who were happy to show me off to their friends but didn’t seem to care if another guy was hitting on me. It made me feel upset and insecure.

          I was once with a guy I was seeing and were walking through a crowded bar and this guy came up to me out of nowhere and started saying stuff like “You look well up for it. I want to ride you” etc haha. Well I told him to go away. The guy said I’m a strong woman and he thought I was handling it myself but I’d like to have seen him take more control of the situation and tell the guy to back off. How he acted was a turn off to me. I know that doesn’t sound very feminist though :/

          • Maria says:

            Hi Lucy, I love how we women can share stories. Why are some men hesitant to confront other men when it comes to protecting their partner?

            I had a similar experience with an ex-boyfriend (we had been dating for 3 years at the time) who didn’t come to my defence. We were to meet at a club, I was already inside, he was outside with his friend in line. I told the bouncer I was just going out to see my boyfriend and the bouncer said I would have to line up again, but then he said ok. So I went out and then as I was going back into the club, I made the assumption it was ok to go back in; the bouncer grabbed me by the waist and picked me up and shoved me out. I’m 5’0 feet tall; I was shaken. My boyfriend did nothing. Later on, I heard one patron in line had said, “that bouncer is an asshole, did you see how he treated that girl”. And my boyfriend’s friend said back, “hey hey, that girl is his girlfriend” and the patron said “man that’s your girlfriend, I would never let anyone treat my girlfriend like that.”

            I understand men have to pick their battles but that was a defining moment for me. It’s when you hear another person, a stranger no less, question the lack of action of someone that’s supposed to care for you that you start to wonder why am I with this guy?

            Hopefully Stephen or Matthew reads our experiences and can shed some light on this topic.

  35. Daria says:

    Having to ALWAYS be right. Being unable to admit that he was wrong about something. Not seeing the other side of the argument at all. This is the most annoying trait a guy can have in my opinion.
    Also, trying to hard to impress, avoiding eye contact, being too shy. I also really hate stupid guys. They deeply unattractive.
    And of course being too creepy about things related to sex or trying to make you have sex with him in a too blatant way. That’s an ultimate turn-off.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hey Daria

      Yep, people who always want to be right are TERRIBLE to have arguments with, and usually make for really frustrating partners in relationships. I totally agree – it’s one of the most annoying traits anyone can have.

      You mention you don’t like try-hard guys OR shy guys – this is why guys have to really work to strike the difficult balance between being persistent/confident and being modest. You can see why so many guys struggle with it! lol

      Steve x

  36. Kathryn Green says:

    Moaning about life and / or a lack of money whilst doing nothing to remedy this.
    Going out with the lads/ male friends, and whilst becoming more and more drunk, texting silly or dirty messages and asking to come round in the middle of the night.
    Whilst on a date openly acting like a letch with other women.

    Fill your life with interesting things, I’ve started academic study again and I’m lovin it. Then you will feel fulfilled and not give a monkeys about a man who exhibits any turn off behaviour. You’ll be in the mindset to choose someone who turns you on instead.

    Thanks Steve for another great article. Keep going and don’t leave us for America just yet!
    Kate x

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Ah, the old drunken texts, I was wondering when someone would bring that up lol.

      Yes, moaning about life a lot is a big turn-off. Love your advice in your comment too!

      Don’t worry – I can still write from the US. As long as Matt lets me sleep on his floor.

      Steve x

  37. kish says:

    HI Stephen

    That’s a good list. I don’t have these points to worry about as such but I tend to do certain other related things that could potentially turn people off–not just men.

    Perhaps some readers might identify with some things here. This list holds true for men too.

    1) being critical–of course I don’t criticize the guy himself, but I can be critical of other things which comes across as negative, judgmental or having impossible standards. I never criticize other women (that is bitchy) but I am very critical in a general way -mostly because I want things to be better but I see that it can very negative and comes across as harsh.

    2) being overly serious–I forget to smile, can take on a very serious look, talk about topics very seriously in depth and that can both bore and intimidate people especially if there are looking to socialize lightly. I am not a boring person per se but can get inside my head too much and appear lost in serious thought or get very invested in a single topic. I can see now how unattractive this can be in a romantic situation.

    3) being insensitive–yes, it happens. people can be very insensitive and I’ve realized how I too can be oblivious about saying hurtful things in passing that seem trivial to me but can wound others–especially men who have fragile egos. sometimes all it takes is being opinionated–saying how much I dislike something they love or making some random comment without realizing how it might affect others depending on where they are coming from. I am not a bad person or mean to be hurtful or insensitive as such but I slip, forget to be tactful and I know others do too–because I’ve been hurt like this many many times.

    4) being self-absorbed–as someone already mentioned, this is more of a guy problem. They want to impress us but some take it too far and talk *only* about themselves and do not acknowledge someone else’s achievements. It appears selfish and even comes across as insecure. I can get too self-absorbed too sometimes especially when I’m talking about something I’m passionate about (not boasting as such). But I definitely do this.

    5) being masculine–usually I’m pretty feminine but every once in a while the urge to control, take charge, made decisions rears its head and I end up disturbing the balance. It is hard to switch it off entirely after work and usually this happens when things aren’t happening fast enough (I’m impatient) or well enough (perfectionist). I’ve curbed this a lot and just lean back and watch the show but sometimes I slip. I do like to have my way sometimes and I forget to go about it in a feminine way. I tend to be direct which comes across as demanding (although that is not my intention) or become too independent and just do everything myself instead of asking for help/accepting help graciously.

    I stopped being self-deprecating and complaining a long time ago because the self-deprecatory jokes didn’t work and I got sick of my own complaining and just changed my life around so now I have nothing much to really complain about.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      This list is AMAZING kish. Everyone guy should read it and study it before they go on a date.


      Steve x

  38. Rivka says:

    Actually, Nutritionists aren’t in favor of protein shakes, or other types of supplements. They’re in favor of a well-balanced diet, with lots of variety, neither too much nor too little of any nutrient.

  39. Sheila says:

    Great list, and very true, for both sexes. This tendency diminishes around 40 and you’re much more “in the moment” and savor good times. However, if you’re struggling financially and have three kids living at home, you should pretty much give up on dating. Even broke guys won’t touch you with a ten foot dating pole.

  40. Shawnna says:

    Crap! I’m guilty of calling dating a “process” – I will curb that reference from my daily conversations ;) I would agree with what Heather says about guys talking about themselves or expecting everything is always going to be on his terms. That’s a major turn-off for sure. I’m also curious to see how you answer Ele’s question about neediness vs. unapproachable. Thanks – love these posts Stephen!

  41. Ele says:

    I worked very hard to improve myself over the past years, and I can finally state that I pretty much covered all of these bad habits. However, I am still struggling with an aspect of my personality that has to do with the fact of being the opposite of point 4: not showing any neediness which could be mistaken as being unapproachable. I consider that as being high-value, but perhaps there is something that I do that does not work well. As Matthew and Stephen often said, it is really important to be a high-value woman, but, for instance, how would a high-value woman react to someone who reappears after months of no contact? My reaction would be “no response”, but I also know that probably this would be interpreted as still being hurt. For those of you who have been there, what would the best way to deal with this situation?
    I love this blog and want to thank you guys for being such an inspiration for me! :)

    • Shawnna says:

      I’m also curious about your question – I too sometimes walk that fine line of not being needy but coming across as unapproachable!

      • Anais says:

        I am interested to hear this too…Personally I would simply ignore a man who didn’t contact me for an entire month. To me that isn’t saying to him you’re hurt, it’s saying to him he didn’t value your time so he doesn’t get another chance. A needy woman would be willing to take him back with open arms.

        I wouldn’t even reply to a man who goes off without a week of contact who I just met and returns with a lame text. If he starts off with that type of behavior, why would I expect it to change? I did “tell off” the last man who did this. He was the type who spoke about the future too much in the present moment without knowing much about me, (red flag I think) and when he returned over a week later, had the excuse “My phone was off for awhile?” (phrased with a question mark almost asking if this was an acceptable excuse, and assuming I tried to reach him in the first place).

        Then he excessively blew up my phone with rude messages when I didn’t reply. However, I felt something should be said rather than just ignoring him. I said to him, I wasn’t sure who it was but I poked fun at the messages saying it sounded like some guy who decided not be in touch for awhile yet felt entitled to my time. I ended it saying “Please stop blowing up my phone or I am reporting you for harassment and blocking you” Maybe my message scared him off since he didn’t say a word, but I really didn’t care about losing him. And he said rude things to me so why would I want to be “nice” and “respectful”?

        My patience and situations where I’d give them another chance really depends on the situation, in my opinion..

    • kish says:

      I think being unapproachable has to do with not smiling, not being receptive and generally closed off.
      Being needy has to do with seeking approval, reassurance and being desperate to fill whatever void one has.
      One can be approachable but not needy by being friendly but NOT having expectations/demands.

      As for the situation about someone MIA for a month–wow! I would forget such a guy. I have way too much going on to think about someone that unreliable. Unless someone is in a coma, he can definitely let you know if he’s going to be THAT busy. Disappearing acts mean only one thing–the guy neither cares nor respects you and doesn’t deserve any head space or your time/energy. Besides he’s probably chasing some other unfortunate woman.

      The best response to such a person is no response. They don’t even deserve to be “told off”. If they call again–just say wrong number or some such thing.
      If they happen to be in your social circle–just be light and breezy and don’t ask any questions/explanations because there is no point. It is best to carry on with your life and find other people–easy come easy go!
      Never ever pursue such a man. Never call him or enquire after him yourself. You are just wasting your time because he is just not that into you and doesn’t have the decency to be clear about it.

      • Anais says:

        Kish, usually I would ignore a for disappearing or say “wrong number”, as you suggest. But when they blow up your phone with rude texts for a week like my situation just because you are ignoring them, something needs to be said. And it did make him stop harassing me. For all I know I’d still be getting messages daily had I not said anything. It’s good to speak up sometimes.

        • kish says:

          Anais, what you did in your situation was absolutely correct–and very funny how you said it. I would do the same if I were you. I was talking in general–that they are not worth even spending that much energy.

          Of course in some situations when they get aggressive–then you have no choice but to defend yourself they way you did. I have had that happen to me too but I blocked the number from my phone. The person began to call me from another number. Once a guy barged into my office and stared shaking my chair and got very intimidating so I had to tell him off and he left. But these are exceptions. Most guys will leave leave you alone and give up if you ignore them.

  42. Heather says:

    A thought provoking list, Stephen – I’ll admit to feeling slightly squeamish, with embarrassment, over No. 3 but it’s also good to see it, in black and white. Thank you.

    One thing that turns me off is when a man – on a date, talks excessively about himself. Now, I know I’m a good listener (it’s an important aspect of what I do, for a living), but wow, when it’s 80/20, I slowly loose the will to live. I’ve been on around 30 dates, this year, and it surprises how many men are seemingly self absorbed.

    • Shawnna says:

      I would agree with you about the self-absorbed. I never really considered “selfless” as a top quality I’m looking for but after spending time with far too many selfish, self-absorbed men, I would say this is definitely something important to me :)

      • Heather says:

        Hi Shawna, isn’t it surprising that there appear to be quite a lot of men who are not than good at holding a conversation? I thought it was women who were more inclined to hog the conversation, but, seriously, 30 dates in 6-7 months (I kept short notes on each one…), and the majority – more than 50% were not that great at showing genuine interest in learning about me. Partly, I wonder whether this is a show of social awkwardness – I do love my geeks, but it’s also not a winning game plan…

  43. Leecis says:

    Oops, and number three….lol

  44. Leecis says:

    Hiya Stephen,
    Well, as my coach says, I am farely self aware. And I am painfully aware of my bad habits 1&2. Working on it. Thanks for the writings.

  45. Samantha says:

    One turn off for me when it comes to guys is if they start talking about all the rich people they know and all these people they know who have there on businesses, it’s as if they think I’m going to be impressed,just doesn’t work.

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