Are women like me too critical to attract a man
13:46 GMT, 5 July 2012
Dating disasters: Were Sarah's smart comments off-putting for men
My friend Anna is attractive, confident and has a high-powered job in publishing — yet she has spent most of her adult life desperately trying to find a man.
One evening, when she was in her early 30s, she found herself sitting next to a good-looking, single architect called Chris at a dinner party. Their friends thought them perfectly suited to each other and were trying a bit of match-making.
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Looking for love: After numerous dates arranged through online sites, Sarah learnt she had more success when she wasn't as critical
Last year, X Factor judge Kelly Rowland, 31, told reporters: ‘The desire to be in control and decide everything myself as much as possible gets in the way. The fact that I can act a little bossy has ruined quite a few dates.
‘I choose the restaurant, I open the door myself, sometimes I’ll even pay the bill. I need to learn to let a man be a gentleman. That must be one reason why I’m single.’
If you’re single and in your 30s, you are
bound to be rather independent, and organising your whole life means
that you are not good at letting someone else take charge
This phenomenon is linked to age. If you’re single and in your 30s, you are bound to be rather independent, and organising your whole life means that you are not good at letting someone else take charge.
Our generation was told by our mothers that we didn’t have to be reliant on a man, and shouldn’t be afraid of making ourselves heard to get ahead in our careers. But have we gone too far the other way and become harsh
A quick survey of my family — who seemed more than happy to point out my flaws — revealed that I frown when I think people are saying daft things. I also talk too quickly, too loudly, jump into people’s sentences, so even when I’m agreeing with them, I sound intimidating. And I can’t keep quiet whenever a ‘smart Alec’ comment springs to mind.
With that list, I was no longer surprised that I was single, but baffled that anyone had ever wanted to go out with me in the first place. So I made a resolution — to ditch the snippiness and see if my love life and friendships improved as a result.
Controlling: Singer Kelly Rowland has admitted her bossy nature has 'ruined a few dates'
It wasn’t going to be easy, especially as biting my tongue and playing nice has never been my strong point.
One former boyfriend drove me crazy by never rinsing off the soapsuds after doing the washing up, so our food always tasted of Fairy Liquid. Should I have let that slide, or always done the washing up myself, rather than trying to get him to do it differently
I thought he was ignoring my pleas for him to do the washing up more thoroughly; he thought I was nagging, and while it wasn’t the reason the relationship ended, it didn’t help. I tried out my new resolution with some friends at a pub quiz where one of the questions was ‘Which Olympics was Chariots of Fire set in’
‘I think it was the 1924 one,’ I suggested, having seen it recently.
‘No, it’s 1920,’ insisted one of the guys, a friend of a friend who I hadn’t met before. ‘Definitely.’
Previously, I would have stood my ground, but this time, I let it go. I assumed a Zen-like calm, even when I was right.
‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter!’ I said cheerfully, when before I would have made some ‘maybe listen to me next time’ comment. He even bought me a drink to apologise.
I practised talking more slowly and with a softer voice. I found that it was impossible to finish a sentence this way without being interrupted, as people were used to me talking 19 to the dozen.
But I refrained from interrupting anyone and nearly combusted with biting back all the ‘smart’ comments that constantly bubbled up. It felt like the episode of Friends when Chandler has to stop making jokes and nearly explodes. But forcing myself to ignore everything which irritated me made me feel much more relaxed, I smiled more than I frowned, and I was a much nicer person to be with.
While the new, nice, me worked like a charm on my friends, the ultimate test would be how it panned out on a date.
After a meal in an Italian restaurant with a man I’d met through an online dating site, the bill — which we’d already agreed to split — arrived. My date carefully explained to me how 60 into two makes 30 each.
I bit back the smart ‘Thanks, I think even I could have worked that one out!’ remark which was on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I gave him a warm smile and a polite thank you. And in return He asked me on a second date. I might be onto something.
First Catch Your Husband: Adventures On The Dating Front Line by Sarah Bridge is published by Mainstream Books, 7.99.