Do You Scare Guys Away Without Knowing It?

Stephen Hussey

How do I tell if a guy is a liar?

How do I avoid the guys who only want sex?

What are the signs that a guy is likely to cheat on you?

I know. You want answers. But how are these questions affecting your love life?

The above are all questions that indicate a pain-minimisation approach to dating. They focus on avoiding the worst outcomes, instead of getting the best from someone else.

There are, of course, answers to all of them. But are those answers 100% fool-proof? Will they ensure that, if only the correct precepts are followed, one can navigate the entire dating world without ever stumbling across a bad guy? Of course not. No more than one could follow a set of principles to ensure that they’ll never meet a manipulative, self-serving friend or be stuck with a work colleague that drives them insane.

There is nothing wrong with wondering about the questions above. There is something wrong with being preoccupied with these questions early on during (or before) a date.

If these questions are at the forefront of your mind when meeting men, it can ruin the chances of you ever getting truly close to a good guy. Here’s why: Good guys resent being treated as objects of suspicion – it causes them to close themselves off emotionally and screen their thoughts, as they fear every word they utter is being filed in your encyclopaedic mind only to be deployed as evidence against them later.

Why the pain-minimisation approach to dating is so dangerous

Below are some of the common, and to be avoided, indicators of this unhealthy approach to dating:

• You focus more on trying to ‘catch him out’ than you do trying to connect with him

This can often come in the form of interview-style questions, like asking whether he has ever cheated on a girlfriend, or grilling him on precisely when he plans to settle down. Or it might come in the form of intimidating questions that he can’t really answer like “How do I know I can trust you?” (if anyone has the faintest idea of what a good answer to this question would constitute, please email it to me.

• You accuse him of being interested only in sex, not because of anything he has said but just because he’s a guy.

• You demand reassurance of his desire for a serious relationship BEFORE he has had a chance to fall for your personality.

• You immediately assume the worst about him when he gives an answer that is ambiguous or when he suggests he isn’t sure what he’s looking for yet.

• You tell him about your many bad experiences with men and outline your grand theories about ‘what all men are like’- You might even be tempted to say “I’m done with men, they’re all the same” in the hope that he’ll protest otherwise.

All of these are attraction-killers. But it’s worse than that. Often they have the exact opposite effect of their intention. Instead of getting a good guy to reassure you and reveal himself to you, they simply make him close up – He focuses less on telling you who he is, and more on what he thinks you want to hear.

He will now filter all of his conversation in an attempt to avoid making any statements that you might construe as ‘wrong’ or ‘offensive’.

Fortunately, there are some solutions to this problem. Here are a few simple ways to help overcome this mindset:

1. Get out of ‘test’ mode – come from a place of intense curiosity instead

First dates are only for connection – the only thing that should matter initially is whether you have a unique attraction to the guy and whether you both enjoy each other’s company for a few hours. Until you know that, nothing else matters.

The only way to discern that is to be intensely curious and let him bring out his best self on the first date. Ask him questions that get to his values, not questions that require him to offer banal platitudes about what a loyal boyfriend he is capable of being.

2. Don’t expect one guy to overcome all of your beliefs about men and relationships

It’s too much to ask and it’s not fair. Our beliefs about the opposite sex are our own business to change. It’s not up to anyone to right the wrongs of the past for us, or to prove us wrong about their entire gender.

3. Make him feel comfortable expressing his honest beliefs

A guy will feel much more comfortable expressing who he is if he feels like he won’t be judged for it. The best way to do this is to not react dramatically or emotionally when he gives you his opinion on relationships.

By all means, log away all kinds of conclusions about what he says in your own mind. If you want to make him feel comfortable even when you disagree, just show that you understand where he’s coming from. Even before you disagree, just say, “I understand that” and he’ll feel safe telling you what he really thinks.

If a guy feels like you will listen to him instead of judge him, he will reveal himself to you much quicker. But remember, words you can get from anyone. If a guy really is a bad guy, he’ll feed you any empty fluff-talk if he thinks it’s what you want to hear.

Men reveal much more about themselves through their actions over time than their words. It’s more important to look at those subtle indications that he is making an effort, or proving that he respects your time and feelings, or that he is investing in pursuing you beyond a first date.

Unfortunately, this can’t all be discerned within one hour-long conversation. It requires you to see the guy in several different scenarios, when he’s not in first-date mode, adopting the persona of ‘best-behaved and most gentlemanly suitor you’ve ever met in your life’.

As all good employers know, one meeting isn’t enough. It’s much better to filter out the promising candidates and give them a fair ‘trial-run’ to see how they act on a day-to-day basis.

You reserve the right to cut it off if he screws it up, but you also give yourself the chance to see how he acts when his guard is down. All candidates reveal much more about their suitability when they don’t think they’re being tested.


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50 Replies to “Do You Scare Guys Away Without Knowing It?”

  • On the subject of honest opinions on a first date…
    Is there such a thing as being too open with your thoughts when first meeting someone?

    I tend to be very open and honest (and somewhat opinionated) and I talk a lot when I get nervous. This leads to me talking about my dream to open a coffee shop/gallery or talking about the obvious difference in portraiture photography vs fine art photography.
    The last time this happened, I had the sudden gut feeling that I was revealing too much. And I feel like I do this more often than I realize. It’s not that I’m talking too much (he held the conversation regarding photography well being a videographer himself), but more that I’m giving too much of myself too soon. Coming off as sounding desperate.
    Am I wrong to feel that way or is there something to that feeling I get the next day that I shouldn’t have said half of what I said?

    Maybe I’m just afraid to look stupid and need to loosen up.

  • Oh my gosh this is so me…

    and I honestly hate myself for it. I don’t want to be like that but I just can’t change it. And the funny thing is I’ve never had an experience that lead me to this behavior. All men that I’ve met have been super sweet and haven’t done anything that made me say uhh all men are cheaters. But I just can’t trust them. Just like I can’t trust women, either. I expect the worst in everyone I meet and sometimes I feel I don’t even trust myself. That is so dumb.. but Stephen – since you are the new guru here on this blog.. how can I change that? It’s really hard.

    Thank you for your advice.


    1. It’s a huge question Kathrin. I think the key, as I said in the article, is to come from a more innocent place of being curious about people, rather than the mindset that it’s their job to prove something to you. I always try to think first about giving to the interaction and being great company, and let people reveal themselves over time. Take care, and thank you so much for reading x

  • I used to do that but now I’m just more relax about it.
    Like you can’t judge someone in a first date, maybe the guy
    Was nervous as well as you and he just happened to say things.
    And as a woman I personally, myself sometimes analized conversations
    But I also look for actions which I would be like they are totally different.
    But I would have to say sometimes it’s hard to trust.
    And I love this article it makes more sense and I hope you make more
    Of those articles they are very helpful and make you realized that you do
    Without knowing that you are doing it. Congrats Stephen and Matthew

    1. Laura, yes you’re right, over-analysis of conversations can be a killer. Sometimes people just say things because the are nervous or put on the spot and aren’t really thinking about every word that comes out of their mouth. Thanks for the kind words. Steve x

      1. hahah naah I wouldn’t dare to make fun of you, that’s rude! Let’s just call it spanish humor. :P
        My pleasure ;) And rest assured, once the engine is turned on, there’s no going back.
        Keep up the great work!

  • Good read.
    I’m glad I do not fall into this category, but it’s a common problem.
    Then again, I’m fairly good at understanding a person’s intent and personality right away, it seems, so I don’t scare myself with what could be.

    Not going in with these premises makes everything a lot more fun, not to mention that guys will less likely want to be like these common prejudices towards a great and open-minded person

    1. Oh yeah, I tried to send a possible answer, but the mail did not seem to reach you, as it is always returned.

      So I’ll just write my guess here I suppose. Although there is no excellent answer to it.

      I suppose the easiest approach would be to either subtly convey to her that this is an odd, if not painful and unjust question to ask or to count on mutual feelings and (I forgot the word for adapting to the other person’s energy level, feeling etc.. sorry), which of course also implies that the question is needless. In a way.

      “How do I know I can trust you?”

      “I don’t know “how” to feel it, but I know that I trust you, and I can only hope that you feel the same”

      Would be the first answer that came to mind.

      “If you don’t know yet, then I suppose I have to work even harder to earn your trust” / “If you don’t trust me yet, then I suppose I have to work even harder to earn it”

      Which would be a positve, and honest approach to it. Because if you are aiming to be with her it’s the logical consequence (even if harder just means investing time). It also implies that you are interested enough to invest time at all (meaning: less likely to be aiming for a one-night-stand) and accepting/believing in her despite the kind of this question.

      That’s the best I could think of on the spot, had to at least try ;)

  • “How do I know I can trust you?”

    “Well……we are together in this, and if we grow together, with time we will learn to trust each other by earning it”

    And Stephen, I really like the way you write!

    Looking forward to your next article.

    Best regards

  • Yes, I can always tell what a person is like through their indirect behavior, and for me, it’s about seeing what someone is like when their not trying to impress me, such as how to they speak to others and treat them.

    I think the best thing to realize is the only person I’ll ever need to trust in life is myself, and for that reason I trust that everything else will fall into place and that I’m capable to handle whatever life throws my path.

    We can’t control external factors but we can trust that we’ll be ok no matter what!

    Given this type of mindset, I feel that I shouldn’t concern myself with anything in a mans life, because who knows, theirs a good chance I might not see him again anyway so for me it’s about been present and in the moment.

    If I interact well with a man then I’m sure it will happen natrually, me meeting him again :)

    1. Being in the moment is the right attitude Holly. I think it’s not about blindly trusting that you’ll never get hurt, but knowing that you can handle it and move on if the guy turns out to disappoint you. Thanks for commenting! Stephen x

  • Matt,

    As always, best advice and insightful point of view when it comes to understanding guys!

    Thank you and to Steve for the article!

  • Wish I had read this article last week!
    I have spent a wonderful day with a friend, just a friend, and we are in that type of relationship where we both like each other but none of us say or do something to move on. We just hug eachother, kisses on cheeks and that’s all!
    after a whole day spent travelling around we Went home and I have told him I need a hug, we hugged eachother and I said to him I love you.
    He replied Thank you.
    I looked at him and said :”thank you it is not am answer for this, better say nothing if you don’t Want to say it”.
    He said i am not used to say that or having people that say that to me.
    I felt bad to have “correct” him and said that, maybe was better just to accept that thank you without saying nothing?

  • I think “How do I know I can trust you?” is not a question for someone else to answer. If I were to sincerely expect another person to provide a definitive statement of proof, I should probably review my own understanding of “trust”. To trust is to “believe in” not “to know”. It’s another part of the kit and caboodle of relationships, to take a risk and place your faith in another person without proof or promise of the outcome.
    Over time others prove themselves to be worthy or unworthy of trust (as do I). In my experience, “How do I know I can trust you?” is a question that can be answered only by the same person who asks it.

  • Thanks for the great advice guys I really appreciate it I will remember that when I do go on my first date. Very insightful information.

  • Hi,
    well, first of all, I wanted to congratulate you. And, yes. I learned a lot. It’s five years that I am dating guys, and I am in a fed-up status. I know all of their cliches, etc. I have not found mine yet. But, well, come on, we should be intelligent and shouldn’t ask the guy so directly. Your answer is: “Step by step, based on your reactions in different situations, I’m gonna trust you boy!”
    People say I am very beautiful,( whatever I think, I don’t get why, but thx) so I attract men a lot and I smash them in 5 minutes. Because, they mostly start with the word: oh you’re very pretty and intelligent ( a PhD holder, I am), and mostly apparently as they say, they could not have slept the night they have seen me, or they force me to teach them something. ( Inside I say: Bang, u’re dead boy, next please.) So, How do I trust a man? “When he wants me because of my personality and not for my looks, PhD or even money or being abroad. The one who does not jump on me saying oh you are so pretty. The one who supports me when I need a man in my life, even for fixing something. Then, my shields are down, and he is very welcome to my world.” ;)

    Thx Stephen for your article,
    Nina from Paris

  • Hellowww Stephen,

    Excellent work once again, especially your second point! I think it is the most crucial one, as it is seems to be a vicious circle: 2) womens’ tinted beliefs about men make them go 1) in ‘test’ mode, which results in 3) men feeling judged and not openly express themselves.

    To your question:
    To which I agree with Ericas’ statement further down.

    This is more likely to be a perfumed type of question, since I have never known a man to ask such a thing, especially not on a date. I doubt it, but if Ever this question were to arise then I hope that I’d be holding a tasty glass of red wine. ;)

    The mere fact that someone asks you this on a date is indicative that this person has trust issues. (Unresolved past trust issues)

    Thus to better understand where he/she is coming from, a strategic stall would probably be a good idea: “What do you mean?” or “Why do you ask?” Perhaps funnelling would be a trick to gain time and direct the conversation to something more specific. In the end, any honest answer would probably be a pass. Here a try:

    – “Interesting question, I’ve honestly never been asked this before so I don’t really know how to answer this other than by telling you that I have only good intentions.”
    – “We both know that life teaches us not to trust just anybody. However, the good thing is that we can choose the persons we want to be trusted by! So I can tell you that, the fact that I have chosen you, to decide whether or not to trust me, shows that I trust you to trust me in the end. You have as much to win and to lose as I have, for trusting me and me trusting you.”

    I’m actually glad that there isn’t such a thing as a bulletproof answer to such a question. But who knows, to a guy, I might probably throw in a “I come in peace” version of Dark Angel lol I’m kidding :p

  • I love this and I’m guilty lol. Although I don’t communicate in an “interrogator” mode with guys, it does it feel hard to come out a place of “test” when all the guys I meet show red flags from early on. It feels difficult to find the balance of staying open. These days I immediately back out when I pick up on red flags. In the past I always stayed around too long with blinders on and got hurt more than I would have, if I had I just ran away the first time I saw a red flag. Thank you for this article, Steven. It inspires me to make more of an effort to stay positive

    1. Keep going Jodi – be alert to what he says, but give him a chance to prove himself before you cast him off! Good luck, and thanks for your input. Stephen x

      1. I’m SO glad you are saying this. It’s really refreshing. Women are way too quick to say ‘next!’ I learned the hard way, granted, but if roles were reversed, I’d want to be judged by more than one drunken email, or whatever the off putting thing was. It’s like Seinfeld – “She had man hands.” Maybe behind a singular drunken message plucked by masculine sausage fingers there is a goddess lol. Guys deserve the same grace. They need to be coddled and complimented just like us :)

  • I don’t know, Stephen. I don’t say these things out loud, so the guy doesn’t hear them. But I do think them. And thoughts can be loud, even if unspoken. :-) But the point is he does have to earn my trust. I don’t think it’s bad to have questions, especially if experience has taught you to ask them.

    I just keep them in my head for several weeks or dole out one at a time after the second date.

    Guys I date often have ‘interview’ questions for me or they go into detail about their exes. I redirect, but maybe they should read this!

  • Really fantastic input Stephen. So much focus is spent on catching and not connecting. What we can get and not give to bring out the best in someone. It’s such an awesome reminder that men are people and should be treated with generosity, kindness and less negative judgment from the past. Bravo!

  • The best answer for “How do I know I can trust you” is “Have I done anything to make you doubt me?”

    For me personally I have never cared if a man cheated on me. I’ve had guys get mad at me for not caring. In fact I’ve never even cared about guy “using me” as I will use them right back if that is their intention. I do want a caring monogamous relationship with a good guy. My friends say that I don’t care because I have never been in love. My longest relationship was only 6 months so many this is true. Is it the chicken before the egg? Do I not care because I don’t love him or do I not love him because I don’t care? Thoughts?

    1. Hi Paige,
      I think you have a healthy level of detachment but also, perhaps also not as yet been that enamored by a chap. I relate to all you say as I am the same way. I am guessing you are also no spring chicken too. If a guy gets mad at you for your lack of jealousy, he is just keener than you are. Interesting.

    2. Although I admire your confidence and coolness towards a more free spirited way of dating however I get the feeling you aren’t truly happy? You said you will use them if they use you – that sounds to me like more of like an act of protecting yourself from getting hurt, like oh it doesn’t matter to me. And yet you used the word ‘If’ which means you didn’t enter the relationship with the agreement of both parties that it would be an open one?

      It reminds me a bit of when a guy dumps your friend and suddenly he was always the worlds biggest tosser anyway and he didn’t deserve to be with her even if he was genuinely an al’right guy.

      I would say that ‘Not caring’ is a defensive mode because if you don’t care, you can’t get hurt. x

  • Few weeks ago . I met a beautiful girl . she is paralyzed ( Binary paralysis ). I talked to her as I know her forever . she was amazed ( because few people talk to her and most of them don’t talk to her because they are afraid ) , so that made me ask myself . Does she has chance to meet Mr. right and are there men who can see her personality beyond her situation ?
    by the way Stephen Hussey you are more than AMAZING . he should have account in faceebook . :D

  • The funny thing is that I’ve experienced everything that is mentioned in the article, yet I was the receiver, not the “doer”. However I was foolish enough to let this unhealthy relationship last for several months.
    So yeah, if any of you ladies in here are doing anything of this to someone – please, stop. That doesn’t help to connect with another person, just makes them question where did that person that they happened to like enough to take him/her on a date suddenly went.

    1. I love how you realize that when it’s the other way it’s unhealthy! I do this a lot. I look at my behavior and imagine HIM being that way towards ME. Then I realize how silly and wrong I usually am. Lol. I’m glad he is patient enough to put up with me while I learn. Reversing the situation helps so much!

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