Ever see that movie where the woman chases the man, convinces him to love her even though at first, he wasn’t even attracted, and ultimately wins his teary-eyed yes to her marriage proposal?
Me neither. And that’s not just because of gender-typed scripting; it’s due to global, well-documented differences in mating psychology.
One of those differences? Men have the right and the burden of pursuit. Literally, when guys are considering a permanent mate, they’re turned on by a woman who is hard to get for him—assuming she’ll be hard to get for all the other guys too. It’s about paternity assurance; it’s about status; it’s about making a permanent life choice. A true human mating universal.
Let’s say you’ve had a terrific first date. When should the guy follow up?
The ideal answer is, right away. The real answer is, when he wants to–without your prompting.
Now I don’t like this. I wish we could all do whatever we want, whenever we want, and wind up with the love of our lives. But I’m all about the science, and scientifically speaking, that’s not the way to bet. We are animals, and like other animals, we have a mating ritual. We have inherited psychological mechanisms that help us choose a partner, and the wise heterosexual woman learns those mechanisms and sends signals that create urgency.
Here’s what that looks like: He leads. You follow at a pace considerably lagging behind his.
And here’s what that looks like:
He texts. You wait a day to respond.
He calls. You wait a day to call back.
He asks you out. You say yes only if he’s given you a couple days’ lead time, and only if the time and place are workable for you; you do not accept behavior that effectively says you have no life, no standards, and no self-respect.
He calls you after the date. You answer with warmth in your voice and say you had a great time. He is the one to suggest another date, though, and you’re the one who gets off the phone first.
But let’s say you really liked him—and he doesn’t call for a week, or ever again. Don’t reach out to him. Research shows that when men like you, they will reach out; when they don’t, they’re really just not that into you, or they are into you only for the short-term and only if you make it super easy for them.
Sound manipulative? It’s no more manipulative than what research indicates women are doing right now: giving men everything—time, intimacy, home cooking, wife-level commitment before he’s even said the word ‘girlfriend’—thinking that this will make him love you.
And in my opinion, this is much less manipulative. It gives you the space you need in order to carefully and appropriately vet a long-term partner, and it gives him the freedom he needs so he knows whether he is working to have you—so he’s not with you out of guilt.
Yes, guilt. I’ve had a practice for over a decade where I help men and women apply social science to their love lives, and a top theme is men who can’t figure out whether they want to be in the relationship they’re in, because the woman drove the relationship from start to finish.
These men have sometimes taken years of time from the woman they know they’re never going to marry—years they would have spent elsewhere if they’d had the space to connect with their own desires.
So it’s true: men value what and whom they work to have. And most are good people, wanting to make you happy—which ironically makes them easy prey for guilt and thus for wasting your time.
Want a sense of urgency, so you can be fully and completely chosen? Step back. Let him chase you.
It’s better for your self-esteem. It’s better for your emotions. It’s the opposite of manipulative. And it’s better for the guy—who gets the joy of winning your heart and hearing you say Yes to one very important question.