Female Achievement and Male Sincerity

May 10, 2017

How do you know if a guy is genuinely interested in you or just sucking up to get the hookup? Does he really think it’s cool that you are killing it at work, or is he just pretending to be an “enlightened male?”

In a recent post I highlighted a study that showed men do not want to date women more ambitious than themselves. Female achievement can be a tricky business in dating, because it upends traditional roles and may even introduce an element of competition.

We live in an era when young women are outperforming men in education – consequently, they earn significantly more than men before age 30. That inverse wage gap disappears after 30 as most women interrupt or delay career achievement to have children. But it has a large effect on the dating pool before marriage.

Women may have a hard time finding a compatible guy to date, much less marry. A woman who wants a family may be soaring in her career in her 20s, but she’ll want to mate with someone who can pick up the slack when they begin to have kids. A guy in his late 20s who lives at home or lacks direction in his career is not likely to be a very appealing prospect.

Gender politics aside, both men and women seek some semblance of traditional family roles in mating. Saying so out loud is very un-PC, however, so you often won’t get a strong sense of someone’s attitudes or preferences on a first date.

I recently gave an interview for an upcoming Cosmo article and discussed the importance of filtering, as per usual:

“When you’re on the first few dates, make sure to look for evidence that this person will cheer on your goals, suggests Susan Walsh, dating expert and founder of the blog Hooking Up Smart.”

The interviewer then asked, “How do you sniff out if a guy is just saying that he supports your ambition?” Good question. Lots of guys will suck up to girls to play them for sex, or even just to seem agreeable. Knowing a guy is interested is just half the picture. It’s important to figure out what he’s interested in.

“The key is to observe whether he has specific curiosity, feedback or suggestions. If he’s genuinely interested, he’ll want to know more and his enthusiasm should be obvious. He will respond with the spirit of generosity. Someone who doesn’t respond or simply parrots what you share would appear to either disagree or lack generosity – neither of which you want in a mate!”

I’d much rather hear “Wow, how did you get into that field?” than “You’re so pretty!” When a man focuses on the outer package of what you look like without a desire to dig deeper into who you are, you can assume his interest is superficial. Continuing to see him would be a poor choice.

Similarly, if you are interested to learn more about someone and he does not open up and share real information about himself, then continuing to see him would be a poor choice no matter how attractive he is.

One of the most powerful things you can do in dating is to be alert for signs of generosity in the other person. (And to communicate a generous spirit yourself.) Someone who is attentive, listens, asks questions and then shares their thoughts or experiences is a good conversation partner because they are investing something in the interaction.

If you respond the same way, you can have an interesting and gratifying date even if it turns out there’s no sexual attraction present. If there is mutual attraction, you’ll have a headstart on understanding his character and laying the groundwork for something real.