Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making a Guy Jealous (Part I)

Dear Date the District,

Do you think there’s an advantage to talking about dudes/exes to make a guy jealous?

First, we’d like to commend this reader on her brevity (not that we don’t love those of you who write in with page-long questions).

And then we’d like to dash her dreams of one-stop seduction with a resounding and unequivocal no.

It sounds so good in theory! How many times have you seen your cute coworker chatting up the girl from accounting and spent the next two hours plotting new and improved ways to get there first? Can’t you use that to put him in the same mindset?

 Here’s the thing: when it comes to crushes, guys can be a little more practical. That’s not to say that they don’t pine over one-true loves or spend hours looking at their exes’ Facebook photos, but if they haven’t made an investment, they’re more likely to abort mission if you seem taken.

Girls are more likely to develop crushes and obsess, spending hours trying to analyze what that nod at happy hour meant, why he asked them about their plans for New Year’s. Once the train leaves the station, it’s not going to stop, and it becomes really hard, if not impossible, to hit the brakes on those feelings.   

Guys, on the other hand, usually don’t spend as much time fantasizing about their 60th wedding anniversary—they’re more interested in the here and now. If a girl’s cute and she’s single, great! If she’s cute and she’s taken, it’s easier for guys to nip a crush in the bud before he gets attached.

If you try to bring up potential competition too early on (e.g., before he’s even asked you out), you could scare him off—not because he’ll assume you’re not interested, but because he realizes the odds are not in his favor.

This doesn’t mean you should make yourself seem available—definitely don’t bring up the fact that you’re single, looking, whatever. He probably won’t assume there’s a boyfriend if you don’t mention one, so there’s no need to reassure him that he’s on the right track.

If you drop masculine names, you also run the risk of looking too focused on finding a relationship. We’ve already talked about why using the term “ex-boyfriend” isn’t buying you anything, but there’s also the fact that the most attractive people are the ones who seem totally self-sufficient, satisfied with their lives, and over any past relationships.

When you start hinting at guy friends in what you want him to think is coded language, you’re opening yourself up to interpretations that aren’t conducive to great relationships.

For starters, you’re basically inviting him to assume that you’re dating other people.

Yes, it’s probably advantageous for most single 20-somethings to be dating several people at once if the opportunities present themselves. But drawing attention to your jam-packed dating schedule is more sleazy than sexy. We hate to have to drop this line again, but it’s the whole lady-in-the-street-freak-in-the-bed thing.

If you take it back to biology, it’s really important for men to find faithful partners because that’s the only way they can be sure to pass on their genes (when a woman sleeps around, she still knows she’s the mother of her child). There’s obviously more to it than that, but the bottom line is that most men aren’t looking for women who seem promiscuous (regardless of how committed they might be to their own promiscuity).

So when you mention your trip to the movies with your friend who just happens to be named Adam, you’re implicitly giving him the go-ahead to keep things casual (and a lot of guys are looking for any invitation to do just that), and you’re also drawing attention to your own lack of innocence, which, as unfair as it may be, makes you seem less desirable.

The bottom line is, if he finds you attractive, he’s probably going to assume that other guys do too. Reminding him that your powers of seduction work on other people does more harm than good.

That being said, there is a but. After you’ve established a relationship (i.e., you’re officially “dating”), it can be advantageous to mention other men—as long as you take steps to desexualize it. More on this tomorrow.

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