Gary is a heterosexual man who came to see me recently. He found dating really hard work last year, and told me: “I spend hours on dating sites but rarely get a date, let alone a second date.” He is a decent, not bad-looking guy, and asked me, “What am I doing wrong?” Here is some of the advice I gave him, that has really worked with my clients. It wasn’t easy to hear, let alone implement, but it really isn’t rocket science:

1. Get better profile pictures.

So many men have poor quality photos on dating sites and apps. Women won’t even look at these profiles. You need high resolution pictures, without animals, football fields, beer glasses, other women or your mates. Look slightly mysterious – don’t grin inanely. Look classy – don’t wear your football shirt and iron your clothes. Clear up the mess – the eyes of potential dates will be drawn to the dirty cup or clutter. Only have one photo with sunglasses. Get some professional photos done if you don’t have a friend with a decent camera, but have them in a variety of settings that reflect your interests and values. Don’t use selfies.

2. Stop chasing after women who are out of your league.

So many heterosexual men tell me they want to date women twenty years younger than them, and describe a fantasy sexy woman. Be realistic and emotionally mature. There are lots of sexy women in their forties, fifties, and sixties. And ask yourself how sexy YOU are. Will a sexy woman actually be attracted to you? Or do you need to lose weight, buy some new clothes and learn how to flirt first? Don’t waste time on an impossible fantasy and miss out on a proper relationship with someone who will get your cultural references and has a similar level of emotional baggage to you. (Although see my article on how to get dates with attractive people here.)

3. Learn how to make women feel good on a date.

Once you get a date, you don’t want to mess it up. Give compliments, listen more than talk, show empathy, create warmth (see here for tips), don’t argue, show respect, smile, ask her deep questions and plan follow-up questions. See here for how to purchase a list of good dating questions.

4. Take more care over your personal grooming.

Make sure you smell good and look good. Make an effort. Iron your shirt. Brush your teeth. See here for more ideas.

5. Learn to talk about your emotions and needs.

Dates may involve a different type of conversation from the kind you have with your friends. You need to make sure your date experiences it as romantic so you don’t get friend-zoned. Talk about relationships, love, emotions, your vulnerabilities, and ASK about theirs even more. Don’t talk for one than one minute at a time. If your date asks you a question, ask it back once you’ve given a short answer. See here for ideas about how to create that emotional openness on a date.

All of the above take time to get right, and some hard work on your part. Successful dating isn’t for the faint-hearted. Other ways in which Gary was open to change were improving his online profile, and choosing better dating apps. If you’d like help with your dating, whatever your gender or sexual preferences, click here to get in touch or book a consultation.