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Are You Scaring Guys Away With Your Intensity?

This is article #42 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: Beau Dacious)

Enter Stephen

“I’m looking for someone who’s going to be my soulmate and live out the rest of their days on this earth with me.”

“I need a guy who is looking for something real, something incredible. A special, one-of-a-kind, crazy love.”

“I want someone who is nuts about me, who can’t imagine the idea of life without me.”

I have no problem with any person who wants these things.

But if I’m ever with a woman who says them out loud on a first or second date, I have to admit, I start making sure I know where fire exits are.


I’m not exactly sure. It’s not that a crazy, intense love is an unappealing prospect to me if it were with the right woman. It’s just that whenever I hear the words ‘crazy’ and ‘intense’ used to describe love on a first date, my brain instinctively starts screaming at me “She sounds crazy and intense!”

It’s not my fault. I can’t switch it off.

Is this unfair? Maybe it is.

Believe me, I know there are plenty of women who don’t say these kinds of things up front.

I also know that guys are much more likely to say far more inappropriate and insane shit on a first date. (Maybe next Halloween I’ll publish the full archive of internet dating horror stories I’ve heard from women in the past few years).

But I have heard from certain women who, like the quotes above, believe that expressing all their romantic hopes and intentions early on is some kind of genius, foolproof test for scoping on what a guy is really after in the first few dates. They tell him how passionate and special they want the man they love to be, and talk about their vision for the future if they were ever to settle down.

From a lot of guy’s perspective, this comes across as over-sharing, and feels like too much too soon.

Yet I’ve seen many relationship bloggers who encourage this kind of forthrightness. They’ll say things like: “Does the guy you’re on a date with suddenly close up and become cagey when you mention your romantic plans for the future? Then kick that loser to the curb and tell him not to come back until he knows exactly what he wants! You deserve a guy who wants all the same romantic things you do)”

That last part is true, but I don’t think it pays to vocalize all of these feelings and aspirations too early. There’s a difference between being honest about your emotions and just being emotionally intense, and it’s very easy to stray into the latter.

I know many guys who would happily get into a committed relationship but who get freaked out by any pressure to declare their romantic intentions and life plans too early. What I’m saying is, just because he squirms a bit when the subject of true love is brought up the first few dates, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have a dyed in the wool commitment-phobe on your hands.

Why you should INVEST before you TEST

Again, I have to stress, most women won’t be as forthright as this.

I appreciate many readers won’t fall into this category of being emotionally up-front early on. They’ll take it easy and be curious, fun, relaxed, just good company. They’ll wait and see how things go.

But I think the subject is interesting because it raises an enormous topic both men and women struggle with, which is: How do I communicate my expectations and standards for what I want from this person without scaring them off?

Should it be on a first date? The answer is generally not.

Guys in particular are apt to freak outs when being pressured to make too many promises early on. Plus, when you expect to know too much early on about a guy’s intentions, you are never really giving him a chance to fall for you in the first place.

When a guy hears too early about the love and devotion you’re looking for (even if you don’t necessarily need it right this second), what he hears you saying is: “Any man I’m going to be attracted to and date better fall into this role. And if you can’t be the man who feels these things, then you’re not the one for me”.

His brain then thinks: “Well I don’t feel any of that crazy or intense love and connection. I kind of just came on this date because this girl seemed fun and attractive…I guess I’m not the guy she’s looking for…”

He feels conflicted because he knows he can’t live up to an absurdly high romantic ideal, since he doesn’t feel any of that yet. Men on an instinctive level want to please women, and when he realises that he can’t be this person, he emotionally starts to check out, since he thinks: “I really can’t give her all that stuff right now”.

See, before you test a guy, you need him to be invested first.

You need him to feel attraction and some form of attachment before you can set a bar that he will want to reach for.

Imagine you saw a job advert that included no description of the actual work to be carried out, but which made crazy demands of its applicants. It reads: Don’t bother applying unless you are willing to work until at least 8pm every weekday. We only take people who live for this job – who have so much passion that they make it their life and soul.

Now, I might be the kind of person who, if in love with a job, would happily work until 8pm every night, put my blood and sweat into achieving great things and be a true team-player. But the problem is, I haven’t had a chance to even get excited about the job yet. I don’t even know what the work is, or how fulfilling that job will be if I got it.

This analogy works the same in dating if you set the standards too high, too early.

That’s why everyone gets turned off by online dating profiles that say: “NO TIME WASTERS OR GAME-PLAYERS. ANYONE WHO ISN’T LOOKING FOR ANYTHING SERIOUS DO NOT MESSAGE”.

It’s not that the standard being set is wrong, it’s that they are asking you to reach a bar before you have any reason to care about reaching it.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having standards or communicating those standards to a guy. But it’s about how and when you set those standards.

I think this is the cause of a lot of confusion. Whenever I talk about defining standards and having a guy live up to them, I know it can lead different women to take completely different approaches to achieve this (some of which can have completely counter-productive effects, as mentioned above!).

So is the answer that you have to wait until you’re way down the line with a guy, only to discover that he’s not what you’re looking for and doesn’t meet your standards? No. This is about investing, then testing. You invest a little, then test a little more. It’s a constant feedback loop. You are always getting closer and building attraction, but you are also watching all the small signs that tell you who this guy is and the standards that he sees for the relationship.

I’m going to come back to this topic next week, since the subject of standards is vast and requires more than one blog post can bear. The next post will deal with how to communicate those standards in a more effective way so that you don’t end up wasting time on a guy who isn’t going to fulfill your needs.

For now though, just remember: Put getting his interest over the need to have him pass a bunch of tests. At least for the first date or so…

Share your ideas on this post below. I’d love to discuss any thoughts, experiences or relevant stories that occurred to you whilst reading this article….

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28 Replies to “Are You Scaring Guys Away With Your Intensity?”

  • Very interesting to read , however I think it’s slightly contradicts something I read i how to get the guy. It mentioned you should be upfront that you are looking for a relationship in the begining and not devalue if your wants and needs in a potential relationship. I however take this article to not articulate that. I also feel not sharing your needs somehow allows you not to be you true and authentic self. It would not communicating your needs again giving a false illusion of what your actually looking for ?

  • I been matchmade by my mom with her american chiropractor and I am Asian. From the first date ,he stated lets be best friends,i said sure it all starts from there.We been friends for 3months and we went out lots of times. He never went to the first date place with anyone else even with his staffs. When I went out with a guy,he s so furious. I wonder,we are friends so its okey for me to go out. I did tell him i love him as a friend,and since then he been keeping distance from me. I am letting him go now but deep inside my heart I know I still want him. What should I do?is it me who misunderstood all his attention and all his intimate hugs?please give me advice

    1. Guys and their hypocriticalness. He clearly said he just wants to be friends and when you keep your options open he gets jealous. He can’t have his cake and eat it too. Just move on from him because he sounds like a guy who wants no strings attached but expects you to not see anyone else at the same time and that is just unfair and ridiculous.

  • Oh Steven…. I wish you posted this article a week earlier! I might have scared away an incredible guy by pushing my line! If you plan to publish horror dating stories on Halloween, I’ll be happy to share mine))) Lots of love xxx

  • This is a great article maybe even the best…. I have been texting this guy for a month now small talk and he hasn’t asked me out on a date!!! It’s so fustrating Stephen!!! To be upfront I am the one who asked for his number and I don’t want to be the one ask him out I feel like jeez can you man up Lol I’ll give him time or have like a group event I can invite him to

    Great article Steohen!!

  • Dear Stephen, I realy need your advice please !

    I also wish this article had been published earlier ! I think I already scared the guy I liked by texting him my ideal relationship. We have been texting for a month (He is in a relationship since 2 years, but not in love, he met this girl after his divorce, he didn’t want to be alone he said).
    One day I was fed up with him only texting and I sent him a message asking him if he really knew what he wanted, because sometimes his messages were a bit nice and hot, and sometimes quite cold…I also proposed to stop texting him. And he answered I should stop texting him because his mind was not into that at that time.
    Since then, I apologized for having been a bit too strait with him.. No answer since 15 days. What should I do ???

    Thank you very very much for taking some time to help me :)

  • Great, great article!!!… me personally i’m good on investing without testing and without communicating up-front that i’m interested in long-term story and not just casual dating, i show my interest to guys but not my intentions cause i dread rejection, i take it too personally…. i always end-up getting emotionally involved without having it clear what it is that i want cause i dont know which is the right way to comunicate these things, i always thaught that it must happen naturally, that there must not be need to do ”talks” on these things…. two long relationships i’ve had till now, i never did the talk, but the truth is that both times i was’nt really in love , i kind of compromised and made myself feed the affection and attraction…
    So , Stephen, i can’t wait for your next post!! …. i hope i get some clues on comunicating my intentions better… …It would be interesting though to know the ratios between happy couples who ”did the talk” and couples who just sailed from casual dating to long’term without ever having it talked over…. i wish it were statiscically possible to know the ratio..

    1. Oh, good Q. If you’re familiar with the Meyers Briggs personality types, I think us “P’s” tend to be the latter and “J’s” insist on being up front with “the talk.” I’m an NTP so would love to statically know which approach tends to work out most often in the long run.

  • hi there! very insightful article as always, I used to be intense but I learnt quickly its not the smartest approach :) this isn’t related to your article but I’d like to ask if you could consider writing a piece on overcoming rejection and/or frustration as we improve our dating habits.

    I’ve been (successfully!) practising your advice regarding becoming a more open and sociable person but sometimes I do have setbacks that make me disappointed eg if I muster up the courage to initiate conversation with a guy but he isn’t responsive/have an amazing first date and then the dude disappears. Advice on how to recover from the resulting negative feelings would be amazing!

    PS i’ve always struggled with people/dating but your advice has really helped me to improve myself and bolstered my confidence, which is awesome even though I haven’t got the guy yet! so thanks very much :)

  • THANK YOU STEPHEN!!!! Great article! I read the title and knew this post was for me.
    I had a date 3 days ago with a guy and while we were getting to know each other he asked me “So what are you looking for? The ONE ? Havin fun? or a Serious Relationship?” I replied ideally a serious Relationship but he only wants to have fun. (serious Relationship does not mean there is no fun for me. It’s more about committment and exclusivity)
    The point is that this guy was good looking, good manners, we had nice conversation, I felt attracted to him and we laughed a lot the few times we were together.
    I do not want to waste my time as we don’t have the same purposes. I don’t want to change him or try to convince him we could be great together… He spoke honestly so I have to listen wisely, I guess.

    The day after the date, I texted him the title of a song we spoke about, but I could not remember it during the date. He replied “Cool, let’s listen to it in your bedroom” I just replied “Nice try Romeo (smiley face)”. We haven’t talked since.

    I ve been dating 4 guys and met quite a lot of men during the past 2 months and I have cut all these guys loose as they were all in a hurry to get intimate. Sometimes because I didn’t want at all, didn’t appreciate them as much after a date than when we met, but sometimes I could feel attracted to them (only for the most recent date actually), the fact that they are bold and a bit rude to ask it this way is making me laugh and is a total turn-off at the same time.

    Do other girls feel this way?

    A previous guy was in hurry to meet me, I said “No” as I had plans and wanted to go to the gym and he replied “U know there are other good ways to burn calories”

    Stephen I am confused by all that. I need to understand and do something because I am tired of this “only 1 date and then follow the exit” pattern.



    1. I hear you, Noemie! The same thing happens to me a lot,particularly with men I meet online. That’s fine, if they want to get too intimate too fast, they aren’t the guys for me. Now I’m dealing with someone who is getting intense after one date, saying he knows how incredible we can be together and asking me if I was intimate with the last guy I went out with. No thank you – he’s getting cut off!

  • Hi Stephen,
    Interesting article this week. I will admitted that I used to be this women. Placing my intentions and standards on the first date. Then I started reading your articles, the GTG book, and watching Matthew’s you tube videos and all of that changed. The concept finally sank in when I was on a first date with a guy who spoke of all his intentions, exceptions, standards for a relationship and I was completely turned off. It’s like we just met and he was already planning the next date to have dinner and to meet my parents. It’s not that I wasn’t interested on those same things but hearing it on the first date was too much. It is a balancing act of when one chooses to introduce their standards. I agree with you on the invest before test. No one wants to be tested on a first date, it was probably hard enough for them to even show up for the date. It’s like school you have to learn the material before you take the test. When it comes down to it, I would rather have a fun and flirty first date and not be asked to take a final exam.

    Thanks Stephen,

    Mandy xx

    1. Love that analogy, Mandy. Fun and flirty on a first date and not have to take the final exam.
      I too just met a guy who’s been very upfront that he wants something serious and it’s scary intense. But he seems great so I’m giving him a chance. Like Stephen said, “It’s not that the standard being set is wrong, it’s that they are asking you to reach a bar before you have any reason to care about reaching it.”

  • Exactly. He doesn’t even really know you yet, and you don’t really know him yet. How can either of you know that the other person is someone you want to be passionate about and committed to? Real love takes time to grow and develop.

  • “You invest a little, then test a little more. It’s a constant feedback loop.”

    Bleh. Doing this does NOT turn me on. It is too much work. And I, not the multi-tasker, want to do one thing or the other. Not this back and forth. So yes, I can be fun. But not all the time. And I find it hard to reset however the relationship starts. They start to wonder, ‘Wait, what happened to the fun chick?’ They don’t say this, but I can sense it. Whether it’s date 3 or date 11. It’s a subtle dance that I think works with men but I kinda really don’t have fun doing that dance. It’s . . . tiring after all to not ever be . . . real.

    But hell, at least I’m getting dates these days. :-) And a lot of male attention, though I know not why. Probably because I’m focusing on me and actually don’t really want a serious relationship just yet any more. My blueprint has change a bit and I’ve got shit to do. So I can genuinely be fun, because that’s all I honestly want to be. (Not talking sex, just flirting and hanging out.)

    Dunno what will happen when I meet my immediate goals and go back to wanting a real relationship again. Honestly, Stephen it’s hard to reset. And believe me guys want women to be just fun for a LONG time. Way past date 3 or 4 or even 6.

    So what’s your advice if meeting the guy’s way to be attracted turns the woman off?

  • Hey Stephen, great article:). How does one communicate that one is looking for an exclusive relationship without appearing full on or too intense. What’s a subtle way to do this? I’m age 28, I ideally want to meet the right guy for me and get married /kids etc. but I DO NOT want this to come across while dating the guy lol, hence I become way too casual or friend/therapist like, and appearing to friend zone them. I find friend zoning guys keeps me safe from the guys that just want a fling and are not serious?

  • This is unrelated, but I have a question that is increasingly becoming an issue. What do you say when a guy says, as a statement or question that you’re so beautiful or such a catch that you must have many options or get lots of attention? Similarly, what do you say when he says that he’s backed off as a defense mechanism, because he is really attracted to you, thinks your amazing for xyz reasons, and in his mind he thinks it’s quite possible that many other guys are thinking the same thing and that he might be one of many vying for your attention/ it would blow if things didn’t work out. I simply don’t know what to say to that – every option seems to be a terrible one. Please help!

  • Yeah, agree with this. Getting that intense on a first date feels weird.

    The only thing I want to know on a first date is whether or not is a date. There should be no doubt about that. Hanging out, meeting up, work-date…or REAL date? That is all. It tells me if there are romantic undercurrents or not.

    I focus on having fun, building chemistry and rapport and just relaxing in the other’s presence. Then over time I like to share bits and pieces about myself and find out about the other person. This might extend to several dates.

    Some guys have done interview style dates with me and I tried that early on and it was SO boring I couldn’t handle it. So now I just go and enjoy myself and go with the flow.

    But I do think it is important to highlight what you’re looking for EARLY ON–within the first few dates–friends, casual, relationship etc. otherwise it is just a big waste of time.

    As far talking about crazy, intense love and soulmate stuff–this is what I like to THINK about when I’m on my own. Perhaps I might discuss it HERE or talk to my friends about it. But WITH the guy? Never! It makes the whole process so self-conscious. Like watching yourself in a movie.

    I want to EXPERIENCE it with the guy–not talk about it and constantly evaluate what is going on. That spoils all the fun. It is like when I order a hot chocolate fudge brownie, I don’t sit and talk ABOUT it with the waiter. I just order and EAT it.
    It is about being in the moment completely.

    Some annoying questions/comments guys have asked me that are off putting.

    1) questions/declarations similar to those you have mentioned in the post

    2) so, what do you like in a guy?

    3) do you like me/find me attractive or why did you agree to go out with me? or some version of this.

    4) any attempts at fishing for compliments

    5) asking my entire dating history on the FIRST date.

    6) why are you single?

    7) asking me for my entire life history. then judging it.

    8) asking me mundane questions like–do you live with a roommate, where do you live, how do you supplement proteins in your diet if you’re vegetarian, what time do you get up in the morning, what was your SAT/GRE/A-Levels score?

    9) anything about virginity, religion or something very personal–and then arguing about it.

    10) declaring strong statements about having “high standards” then listing them and talking about what will and will not be tolerated–anything that reeks “high maintenance” and “demanding”.

  • Hi Steve and Matthew,

    As a comment for your “What really matters to men” article, I was going to say that I never had any tactics or games to attract men, yet I attract them anytime anywhere, whether I am the most good looking woman in the place or not. But then I saw your “One secret desirable women use even if they aren’t aware of It.” article in the Related Posts section.

    You guys suggest it is “self-respect”. It is absolutely a big factor. I was told by men things like “there is only a couple of you in the world.”, “I haven’t met anyone like you.” My lady friends copy everything I do- the music I listen to, the actors and movies I like, some of them even joined photography courses (I am a photographer). I spent a lot of time alone self-reflecting and thinking about this. So here is the thing: as much as it is extremely necessary, I believe that self-respect is not the main thing that makes a woman naturally desirable. It is being “interesting” and having an interesting perspective in life. I am a notorious non-conformist. I don’t follow the crowd.

    I realized that my being a non-conformist has made me an interesting person in any relationship I held, who people didn’t want to let go. Whatever I do, I do it my way. I make people see life from different goggles. Not aggressively but in an encouraging way. I read and learn lots of new things all the time to keep the hamster running in my head. People see this in the first 15 minutes of meeting me. Men wanna discover more, women wanna copy.

    Here is a couple of examples: I didn’t have a birthday cake for the last 10 years. All that fakeness in Valentine ’s Day makes me wanna puke. I don’t believe in saying “I love you” non-stop. It is over-rated. Some people made these rules for us and we just follow them, which makes every relationship like the other, hence leads to dead end. I believe in creativity and showing my feelings my own way. I can write all day about this.

    You can’t keep someone too long if you don’t keep it interesting. I know many women who have self-respect but they are not interesting. So they can’t keep the guy interested forever. Study says %70 of American husband are cheating on their wives. Look at the divorce rate. No matter how much chemistry you have at the beginning, all kinds of love fade away when people just do what everybody else is doing. Accept no one’s definition of your life. Define it yourself.

    Pushing people for a serious relationship is directly related to this. Most women just wanna get it over with. People show their best at first. Even in the first 2 years. The best way to get to know a person is to be friends with him/her for a while without any emotional attachment, or to keep it really slow in the relationship. So you would know if he/she will keep you interested enough for a lifetime commitment, otherwise you are looking at a 10 year period (the most) for every serious relationship.

    I wanted to share these opinions with you. Thank you for reading in advance.
    Kiraz xx

  • Agree, agree, agree. The job analogy is especially apt. I think your instinctive reaction of running when a girl gets too intense too early is a right one, because it IS kind of crazy – how can you be thinking that let alone saying it on a first date?? You barely know the person! Also, let’s face it, it just comes across as too serious and boring. No wonder men scarper. We all want to be around people who are fun, and let things grow naturally. There are a million other more subtle, more enticing ways to communicate standards – I look forward to your follow up post Steve!

  • Hey Stephen!

    The problem is, no matter what we compare the first date situation to, that the person we’re on a date with gets told what to do in the future! (‘be nuts about the partner’, ‘be their soul-mate’, ‘stay with them forever’).
    And who likes to get told what to do?

    Well, I don’t.

    In certain situations we all need a kick in the butt to move forward. But the thing is, I’d rather *choose* to act a certain way than live up to someone’s expectations just for the sake of it, without having found out first why I’m doing it.

    Like you said, if it’s too soon, I don’t even know if it’s worth it. Then why invest in it? Fear of uncertainty and too high expectations way too soon are like a chain reaction and make me want to run.

    My father used to say: ‘We all have one mouth and two ears to listen more than we talk’. It’s a metaphor I keep in mind when I meet new people – not to ‘overdose’ in any way ;)

    I can’t wait to read your next article!


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