On one hand, dating can be fun and exhilarating. On the other, it can be utterly, soul-crushingly maddening—and that’s especially true in the digital age. These days, a solid-seeming fling can disappear into the sunset without a word (a widespread problem known as “ghosting”). If only there were some sort of way to make dating easier, some sort of secret code that allowed you to peek into the mind of the person across the table from you…
Alas, technology hasn’t provided that yet. But there’s always the next best thing: knowledge. If you’re looking for a good guy and can’t seem to understand what’s going on in that head of his, we have collected some valuable insight to make the whole endeavor smoother (and more fun, too). We spoke to relationship experts and dating coaches to figure out the top-secret, highly classified dating moves that men, as a collective, have kept close to the vest. So read on to get educated about what men do when they’re dating.
1. He secretly wants to split the bill.
Generations of social conditioning—not to mention the wildly outdated “gentleman’s code”—would have you believe that a man should always, no matter the circumstances, pay for the first date. And, sure, that’s the classy move (especially given the very real pay gap that exists between genders). But if you’re regularly going on first dates, paying the full bill can start to be a drain on the bank account.
According to research conducted by Katia Loisel, the owner of Love Destination, the majority of guys actually would jump at the chance to split the bill down the middle. “The reality is 51 percent of men don’t want to pay for you, and would prefer to go Dutch,” says Loisel. “Of the men who’d like to pay, 57 percent would like the woman to at least offer to pay for her share.”
2. “Guy talk” is way more PG-13 than you’d imagine.
Women probably imagine that men are pretty graphic when discussing their romantic exploits with their buddies. But the fact is that most guys don’t go into all that much detail when discussing a date (unless it’s really out there).
“Women love talking about every detail of sex,” says Tom Ella, one of the hosts of the dating podcast, The Undesirables, and a contributor for Tinder’s Swipe Life blog. “And guys talk about it, too—but it’s not quite the ‘guy talk’ you might imagine. We’re way less explicit.”
More often than not, the conversation will boil down to something along the lines of, “Dude, this happened.” “Dude, nice.” Full stop.
3. He really wants to go back to your place… but not for that reason!
Yes, generalizations are bad, but we’ll make an exception for this one: Women just have better beds than men. It’s an indisputable fact. Their mattresses are cozier, their blankets are softer, and their pillows are fluffier (oh, and there are so many of them). Men, on the other hand, can get by with two paper-thin pillows and an unwashed top sheet. Given the chance to nod off in heavenly bliss at your place, you better bet he’ll take it.
4. He gets help with his text messages.
Flirty texts are an essential part of 21st-century dating. And while the best texts probably seem like they were borne out of innate wit, the truth is that they were likely crafted in a focus group of buddies.
“The stereotype is clear: Women hire a focus group to craft each text, while men just send whatever without thinking,” says Ella. “Not true! We often bounce ideas off friends that make our texts seem as effortlessly aloof as the ‘just rolled out of bed’ look we’ve all mastered for our hair.”
5. Different women are saved in his phone under different names.
For men who are dating more than a few people, the safest way to avoid any awkward moments is to assign codenames to each of his flings in his phone.
Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert with Dating Scout, which compares dating sites and apps of all kinds, has a very daring suggestion for those codenames. “Save the number of a girl by using a guy’s name,” she says. “So, when the time comes where they’re with one girl and then another one texts or calls him, he can confidently say that a ‘guy friend’ is calling.”
Of course, once things get serious, he’ll update the contact to, you know, reflect his partner’s actual name.
6. He’s hoping you’ll ask for the second date.
Due to generations of social conditioning, it’s usually expected that men should be the ones moving things forward in the early stages of dating. But some guys want to take the passenger seat and let women take the lead. For example, Loisel points out that in her research, 95 percent of men say that women should ask men out.
Some men assume that leaving the future up to the woman they’re seeing might lead to a stronger, longer, more even-keeled relationship ultimately.
7. Even if he says otherwise, his place is ready for a guest.
There’s an almost 100 percent chance that a guy has spruced up his place in the event a date goes really, really well.
“For the first date, he tidies up his room or flat, puts new sheets on the bed and has made sure that it looks cozy. He plans on bringing his date home in advance,” says Schweyer. “On regular days, his place most likely looks like a mess.”
8. And it’s also ready for an awesome morning.
Spare toothbrush? Check. Clean towel? Check. Fancy coffee, all of the ingredients for a tasty omelet, and the skills to whip it up? Check, check, and check.
In the same way a guy plans for having friends or family visit, he plans for having a romantic interest stay over. Hey, points for being prepared, right?
9. He’s worn that cologne since college.
Guys are creatures of habit, and that’s particularly true when it comes to choices around personal grooming. “He’ll never change his cologne…because he received one compliment on it years ago and now he believes it’s the secret to his success,” jokes Ella.
The same is true of many other weapons in his hygiene arsenal—chances are that he’s been using the same deodorant, toothpaste, and body wash since, oh, college.
10. That pet name may be a cover for forgetting your real name.
When a guy starts using a cute pet name (“babe,” “pumpkin,” “sweetie,” etc.), that might seem like things are getting more serious. And it might! But it also might not—it could just be a clever move to avoid running into a jam when he either (A) forgets the name of one of the girls he’s seeing, or (B) wants to avoid the risk of calling one girl by another girl’s name.
“Nothing is more awkward than forgetting a date’s name. That’s why, in these cases, men have prepared a general sweet pet name for their dates,” says Schweyer. “That way, they don’t have to run the risk of ever messing up a name!”
11. And those charming one-liners are rehearsed.
“It’s actually quite common for men to rehearse specific lines, compliments, and conversations, especially early on in the dating process,” says Adina Mahalli, a certified relationship expert. “Some men will practice in front of a mirror, while some will even coerce a buddy to play the role of their date!”
Loisel agrees, adding that most guys have honed their initial conversation over a number of dates and have some of their best lines ready to go. “Let’s be honest, dating is hard and, depending on who you’re with, that initial first date conversation can be just a little daunting,” she says. “So it should come as no surprise that guys tend to find what works and lead with those same conversation starters time and time again.”
12. He really wants to talk about the juicy stuff—but he would never dream of it.
Politics. Religion. Dating history. These are all juicy topics that everyone likes talking about. They’re also topics that can quickly veer into awkward or even offensive territory.
So if a guy wants a first date to turn into a second, he’ll avoid these topics like the plague—and even go so far as to steer the conversation away from them. Better to save the deep stuff for later dates, when both parties are a bit more comfortable with each other.
13. He’s glad to chat about lighter personal fare, though.
As relationship coach Vanessa Bush says, guys who date regularly and know what they’re doing “don’t ask any anything related to their date’s privacy or prior dating experience, don’t ask where they live, and don’t ask what they do to earn money. Instead, they ask what their hobbies are, about their passion in life, or where they see themselves five years from now.”
14. He uses alcohol as a performance enhancer.
“No, not in the bedroom—in conversation,” explains dating coach Myles Scott. “Alcohol seems to quiet the nerves and provide us with a false sense of confidence during conversation.”
Now, that’s not to say that he couldn’t function without a drink if it wasn’t available. But he does see a glass of wine or a beer as a valuable tool in his toolbox. It’s why men fall back on cocktail bars as first date spots, and why they always insist on having a drink. They’re nervous, too!
15. He has a lucky pair of underwear.
It surely won’t surprise you that men have pre-date rituals (i.e., shower, shave, spray cologne). But do you know how superstitious those rituals are? Each pre-date routine is practically a mini-seance, right down to the underwear he chooses. “Guys are absolutely superstitious in preparation for a big date, and if he wants things to go well, you know he’s going to wear his lucky pair,” says Ella.
So what exactly is a “lucky pair?” Simple: If he wore it on a previous first date that ended up going wonderfully, there’s a 9 out of 10 chance he’ll wear that pair on every subsequent first date. And this superstition isn’t limited to just underwear, by the way: A guy might have a particular belt or pair of socks. He’ll never admit it, but these items play a major role in putting him in the right place mentally—which can only make a date that much better.
16. That restaurant? He’s been there before… a bunch.
An experienced dater knows that the setting of the date is key. And a guy who wants to feel confident on a date will choose a setting in which he feels comfortable—a place where he knows what to order (and what not to) and which tables offer the most privacy (without being too quiet).
But more often than not, the truth isn’t so cold and calculating. It’s just that he’s really, really lazy. Why mix things up by venturing into new, unknown territory if the tried-and-true works just fine?
17. He definitely has an exit plan.
“When a man knows that the relationship won’t be serious, or that he is only going to date a girl to pass time, he’ll get his break-up plan ready,” says Schweyer. Whatever his approach, you can trust that he has it figured out, and is trying to come up with a way that ends things honestly and respectfully, with the least amount of hurt feelings for all involved.
That said, if he falls back on the classic, “It’s not you, it’s me”—then he’s just lazy. And for more amazing romance tips, learn about these 25 Old-Fashioned Dating Rules to Stop Following After 40.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to follow us on Instagram!