How Women Want to Be Approached: A Guide to Online Dating for Enlightened Men

The secret to great conversation? Get her to talk about herself.

The secret to great conversation? Get her to talk about herself.

Here's an inconvenient truth about online dating that makes it harder than it needs to be: Being a heterosexual woman on a dating app can be absolutely brutal, and it's impossible to know how bad it is unless you've been there.

From the unsolicited dick pics to the threatening harassment, many women have our guard up at all times, out of fear that every "nice guy" we meet online is just waiting for the right moment to unleash their inner creep. And sometimes we have little patience for even the mildest of good-intentioned cluelessness, just because we're so exhausted by seeing the same kind of cluelessness over and over again.

If you're a man who dates women (or wants to), this dynamic can be frustrating. Maybe you genuinely, honestly feel terrible about how women are treated online, but you also don't want to feel like you're being judged for the actions of others, or wish you had more chances to prove you're the exception to the rule. Perhaps you've even voiced this frustration and been told to stop centering your own feelings. 

If you're a man who wants to be a better "ally" for women—and also hopes to *date* women—this post is for you. We asked women who are either happily partnered or actively dating what approaches have worked well for them in the past in order to create a helpful guide to establishing a positive line of communication with a member of the opposite sex. 

If you're a man who wants to be a better "ally" for women—and also hopes to *date* women—this post is for you. [Tweet this]

1. Find An Entry Point of Common Interest

Guys take note: This is what our dating app inboxes look like. A little effort goes a long way.

Guys take note: This is what our dating app inboxes look like. A little effort goes a long way.

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: a huge percentage of messages that women get from men on dating apps are lazy as hell. Many men seem to message as many women as possible in hopes that one will write back. Perhaps this is a worthwhile strategy if you're just looking for a hookup, but if you're here for a meaningful conversation with the hopes of something more, "Sup, Sexy?" is not gonna cut it. 

So what should you do instead? You're a human being, right? Well so is she. So go find something she has said that you can relate to, and relate to it. 

If you’re meeting people on Siren, find a Question of the Day response that sparks your interest and reply to it directly.  Maybe you both love the same band, book, or movie. Maybe she volunteers at an animal shelter and you think that’s admirable. There are entry points everywhere, once you’ve learned to look for them. 

2. Get Her to Talk About Herself

Now that you’ve established your entry point, it’s time to get her to open up. Aside from lazy opening lines, the second biggest complaint we heard about men on dating apps is that they talk about themselves too much. This doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to reveal things about yourself, but like everyone, women want to feel like they’re being listened to.

Ask her questions about her interests. If you’ve established that you love the same band, ask her if she saw them live the last time they came through town. Balance is key. No one wants to feel like they’re being grilled or interviewed, but showing genuine interest in something she’s passionate about will help you stand out from the crowd.

3. Leave the Competitiveness at the Gym

Save the competitiveness for something you both find enjoyable. 

Save the competitiveness for something you both find enjoyable. 

...or the bowling alley, or chess club... 

This one is harder than it sounds, because so much masculine socialization revolves around competitiveness, but you’ve got to make sure that when you’re asking her about herself, you’re not really just bragging about how cool your interests are, or how much more you know about a subject than she does. Sometimes when men think they’re being impressive, it’s perceived by women as shallow posturing. 

Remember that the goal is establishing a connection, not auditioning her for a quiz show or challenging her to a game of one-upmanship. There will be plenty of time to get competitive later, if you realize that’s something you’re mutually into. 

4. Master the Art of Flirting

Flirting does not come naturally for all of us, but fortunately it's a skill that can be learned. We recently interviewed therapist and dating coach Kate L. Stewart for our blog and she revealed some very helpful secrets of flirting.  We recommend taking some time to familiarize yourself with her advice—Kate gets paid to teach flirting workshops for a reason!

5. Don't Be Manipulative

This one seems so obvious, and yet many of us are programmed to be manipulative in ways that we don't even realize. 

The entirety of "pick-up artist" culture is an attempt to manipulate women. Not only is it sociopathic, it doesn't work. Women can smell attempted "negging" a mile away.

Likewise, many of the traditional scripts about dating are manipulative, like "wait a day before texting to make her want you more." Nah, man. If you meet someone you like, text her the next day to say you had a nice time. Don't play head games. Straightforwardness is unbelievably sexy. 

"Straightforwardness is unbelievably sexy." [Tweet this]

6. Take It Offline

"The guy I dated most recently just walked up to me and asked me out," one woman told us. "That was literally all it took."

The online equivalent of this confident, classy move is to invite her to do something specific. Anyone can meet for coffee; what if you’re the guy who proposes a trip to a museum exhibition, a planetarium laser show, or a paddle boat ride at sunset? 

 An interesting date idea can take the pressure off that first conversation and allow you to get to know each other more organically, by doing an activity you both enjoy. 

7. Learn to Take Rejection Like a Champ

"A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success."
- Bo Bennett

What one quality does every great athlete, entertainer, or entrepreneur have in common? 

Successful people are successful because they have learned to master the art of rejection. They know that when you're trying hard for what you want in life, sometimes failure is inevitable, and sometimes it can even provide valuable feedback by highlighting the need to try a different approach.

Even if you take all our advice to the letter, you still might get rejected. It happens to all of us. This isn't a personal failure, nor is it a failure of the other person. It's no reason to call her a bitch, and it's certainly no reason to behave violently. There are over seven billion people in the world, and there's someone out there looking for someone like you, no matter who you are. So take rejection on the chin, and move on with what you've learned.

Good luck and happy dating!

Siren to the Rescue is a resource to help real people navigate the world of online dating and interpersonal relationships. If you’ve got a question about dating or romance you’d like us to tackle, for our blog, get in touch!

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