Photo: Twenty20/ @criene

You’ve had it with speed dating that always seems like a slow road to nowhere. You don’t have the patience for online matchups that tend to go downhill. And one too many “You oughta text this great person I know and ask her out” conversations have left you more jaded than jacked. You want to do things right this time because there’s something special about the new woman in your life. You feel a definite connection, and she just might be ‘the one’- and you don’t want to mess it up. The more you know, the better chance you’ll have of making your relationship a go. Here’s how to not mess things up…

Thinking romance is for saps

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Sweet nothings and thoughtful deeds can go a long way when it comes to expressing how much someone means to you. And they don’t have to be grand gestures — small actions, like offering to help run an errand or picking a bunch of wildflowers can convey a big heart.

Waiting too long to call…uh, hello?

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Don’t buy into the old, unwritten rule that calling too soon will make you look desperate. Waiting too long can make a woman feel confused and like she’s been put on the back burner even before the relationship truly gets underway. Your best bet is to call within 24-48 hours.

Texting or emailing instead of calling

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Yes, texting is easier. Takes less time. Allows you to avoid sounding nervous or awkward in conversation. But not calling can give the mistaken impression that you don’t want to put in the effort to engage with the other person verbally. To many women, a phone call shows interest and self-confidence.

Cheap advice:  Don’t even think about not paying for dates or going dutch

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Leaving her with the tab for a first date or letting her pay for herself conveys not only a cheapness but callousness. When courting a woman, you want to come across as thoughtful and generous, not the modern-day manifestation of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Talking about how awkward new relationships can be

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It’s common knowledge:  New relationships are often difficult, sometimes confusing, and you can find yourself with a colossal case of the jitters. But why draw attention to it? Forget expounding on the butterflies you feel and let the conversation float naturally about mutual topics of interest.

Not smart:  Spending too much time on your phone

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Put the phone away come date time. Away as in in your pocket. Off the table. Out of earshot. It’s really that simple.

The elephant in the room:  Discussing politics

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Politics can drain the romance and whimsical excitement that should be the hallmark of well-planned dates. Even if you share the same political views and leanings with your date, launching into a diatribe about serious political issues can make time together seem more exhausting than exhilarating

Trying to act too nonchalant

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There’s a marked difference between coming across as carefree and seeming not to care. But you don’t want to appear too intense; you want to convey interest in your date’s life, her likes and dislikes, her plans and goals, etc.

Not planning interesting things to do

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You’re the one who’s doing the courting so it’s on you to plan dates that are fun, interesting, and mutually enjoyable. Does every date have to be over the top? Absolutely not. But you don’t want to plan events and excursions that are more of a snooze than they are dreamy.

Less is more #1:  Talking too much about the future

Photo: Twenty20/ @lelia_milaya

You don’t need to try and cover an abundance of important topics in a short amount of dating time; take a step back and enjoy the courting process. Avoid right-out-of-the-gate questions about planning to have kids, where her career’s going, or what type of wedding she’d like to have. Getting to know someone takes time — keeping that in mind can take the pressure off.

Less is more #2:  Talking too much about the past

Photo: Twenty20/ @lelia_milaya

Be careful when it comes to divulging a lot of details about your past relationships. Avoid bringing up ex-girlfriends and don’t inquire about ex-boyfriends. Too much revealing and too much prying can come across as a tad strange — maybe even a bit creepy.

Less is more #3:  Talking too much about yourself

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Steer clear of monologues. Stop prattling on about your goals, your expectations, your experiences. Keep your date engaged by asking questions and having her speak about herself so that you have a two-way conversation not a one-way ticket to a date that drags.

Playing games

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@Jodesiga

Forget trying to trick a woman into liking you by playing some of the games that pass as advice on the Internet, like answering questions with questions, showing up 10 minutes to create a sense of urgency, or acting uninterested. Most women can tell when you’re trying to trick them into liking you and it usually backfires — they could end up liking you less.

Making a move too quickly

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Slow your roll. Moving too fast can destroy the chance of building interest and desire that can lead to more meaningful courting. Focus on conversing instead of locking lips and you just might find that real connection you’ve been looking for.

Overanalyzing things she says or does

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Overanalysis can ruin a courtship in no time flat. Remember that there’s usually not a hidden meaning behind every gesture or comment a woman makes; try to accept things more at face value and you’ll find yourself enjoying the company more and fixating less.

Giving up after a minor faux-pas

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Mistakes happen. Maybe you brought up a touchy subject or insisted on paying or showed up late. Sincerely apologize and move on. During a courtship, things can go wrong and actions can be misconstrued but that doesn’t have to mean the end of things. Everyone makes minor mistakes from time to time; try not to waste a minute on fret-filled regrets.

Trying too hard

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Desperation can be off-putting. Confidence can be a turn on. Try not to come across as someone who absolutely, positively, and obviously needs this courtship in order to have any morsel of happiness in life. Chill a bit and you could find it’s easier to warm someone’s heart.

Not trying hard enough

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Laid back is good; almost falling asleep, not so much. Courting requires effort, thought, and planning that shows you care. Being too blasé can turn a courtship into a sinking ship very quickly.

Not listening enough

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Say what? You don’t want to turn a deaf ear to the woman you’re courting. Really listening to what’s being said — whether it’s about what happened at work that day, what’s going on with family members, or a must-see movie that’s playing down the street — shows interest or concern. Being tuned out is definitely a turnoff.

 Being insecure

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Like everyone else, you have faults but you don’t have to put them on parade. Rein in your lack of confidence and realize that no one expects perfection. Courting a woman that you care about doesn’t require pretending to be someone you’re not; it’s about feeling free to be yourself.

Being stingy with compliments

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@kane251

Be generous with niceties, compliments, and honeyed words; they cost nothing but are priceless when it comes to helping establish a relationship with a woman you truly care about.

Acting overly possessive

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Extreme PDAs. Calling or texting every hour. Exhibiting jealousy about guy friends. No, possessive behavior isn’t sweet or complimentary — it’s stifling. And it’s one of the quickest ways to bring a curt end to your courting.

Acting tough

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You don’t need to put the testosterone to the test to impress your lady. Skip the invitation to scuffles (“Come at me bro”), retire the muscle-bearing attire, and rethink ratcheting up your masculinity. More often than not, women are stressed rather than impressed by this type of behavior.

Not following through

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If you’re going to call, then call. If you’re going to arrive at a certain time, then arrive. If you promise to do something, then do it. Then they’ll be no need for excuses.

Having your head on a swivel

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Sure, eyes wander. Thoughts stray. But the woman you’re courting doesn’t want to see you fixated on the heaving cleavage of the woman sitting in the restaurant booth next to you. Staring and/or flirting with other people makes the woman you’re with feel insignificant and can bee seen as a sign that you might not be reliable, or faithful, in the future.

Expecting her to act like your mother

Photo: Twenty20/ @criene

Women are nurturers; that being said, don’t take advantage of the woman you’re courting by expecting her to act more like your mother than your significant other. You can clean up after yourself, pick up your own dry cleaning, make yourself a sandwich when hunger pangs strike. To do otherwise might strike a fatal blow to your relationship.

Letting your friends dictate your life

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@nickatnight1987

Your bros and wingmen are important to you, for sure. But letting them dictate your life, how you date, and whom your court is not going to end well. Better to discuss your relationship issues with your significant other instead.

Showing signs of hypocritical standards

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“Do as I say, not what I do” will probably not help put you on the path to ‘I do’, if that’s your goal. Adhere to the same standards you apply to the woman you’re courting; otherwise, you might come off as controlling, hypocritical, or simply demanding and unpleasant.

Getting fired up:  Being threatened by her job

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A woman’s success on the job should make you feel overjoyed, not overly concerned that she’s outpacing you in the work world. Don’t allow jealousy or insecurity to rain on her work performance parade.

Displaying an inflated ego

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Being a know-it-all? Big no-no.

Treating others poorly

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Making a scene with a cashier. Treating a taxi driver poorly. Talking rudely to a waiter. Treating others badly won’t be seen as being firm or decisive; rather, it will come across as the action of a thoughtless narcissist who doesn’t take into consideration others’ feelings. And that, in turn, may bring on the feeling that you’re not a guy she wants to be courting.

What’s the plan? Not thinking ahead

Photo: Twenty20/ @criene

Spontaneity is overrated. Women like to know that the man who’s courting them is decisive, capable of stepping up, and prepared to take on planning. If you’re often doing things on the fly, your girlfriend might get the feeling that stability isn’t in your future. And maybe neither is she.

What, another plan? Too much thinking ahead

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It’s great to plan your time together but if you’re asking your girlfriend to attend your cousin’s wedding a year and a half down the road you might be putting too much pressure on both of you.

Going all in, right away

Photo: Twenty20/ @lelia_milaya

Epic, sweep-her-off-her-feet moves can be a turning point in courting — as in a turnoff.

Lovely gestures may be welcome in the relationship but doing too much too soon might look more pathetic than romantic.

Not speaking up

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Avoid the dreaded friend zone by speaking up and making your feelings known. Women are not mind readers or psychics or fortune tellers. They can’t see into the future and they can’t see what’s going on in your brain so your best bet is to explain.

Putting on an act

Photo: Twenty20/ @crystalmariesing

If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, the ship has sailed when it comes to a successful courtship. Well-executed lines and rehearsed actions will have a false ring to them that your girlfriend will pick up on  quickly. Be yourself and you’re much more likely to establish a relationship that’s not only real but also really enjoyable.

Rattling off your résumé

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Constantly selling yourself? Women don’t buy it. If you’re always regaling a woman with stories of your successes you might find yourself courting dating disaster. Focus instead on telling her how you experience life, what inspires you, what you hope the future holds.

Does it make a dime’s worth of difference? Paying for everything

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Parents pay for everything for their children; men needn’t pay for everything for women. A courtship doesn’t mean you need to always have your wallet at the ready; splitting costs or letting her treat allows a woman to demonstrate that she’s not looking for a sugar daddy, just someone who’s a sweetheart.

Going to the same places all the time

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“They know me here.”  Is that because you’re a friendly, welcome regular or an unimaginative date-meister who visits the same place with every person he’s ever hooked up with online? The woman who’s seeing that you’re on a first-name basis with everyone from the bartender to the bouncer will want to know.

Giving up too soon

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So the courtship isn’t absolute perfection — what in life is? Remember that perfection is the enemy of the good and resolve to continue working on the relationship despite complications, disappointments, or setbacks.