Understanding Men: Let a Man Lead to Clear Up Dating Confusion

Here is the #1 thing you can do for understanding men and getting them invested in dating you.

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understanding men, don't pursue men, don't ask him out

Dating is like Ballroom Dancing

Right now I have an awesome single guy as a client. In his early 50’s, Rick has shared with me the ups and downs of his romantic life. He felt ready to date again, but wanted to avoid some of the painful mistakes he has made in past relationships. I have been very excited to guide him on this journey as he is a great catch.

On his very first date after starting with me as his dating coach, he was a bit nervous and as a result, Rick let the woman lead the conversation. She went down the unfortunate road of discussing past relationships and he followed her there. Then Rick noticed the energy between them diminished immediately following this conversation.

They talked about getting together again and his date said she’d let him know what was good. He told me he left the ball in her court. (I thought, oh no!)

Who Should Lead on the 1st Few Dates?

Talking about past relationships on a first date aside which is not advised, let’s talk about who should lead on the first 4-8 dates. I explained to Rick about my “Ballroom Dancing Theory of Dating” In ballroom dancing, there is only one leader – the man, and one follower – the woman. This strategy works best for the first 4-8 dates, (8 is better) depending on the couple, for so many reasons.

When you let a man lead, you can observe what he will do to win you over without your prompts. This is essential to judge his interest level. Does he take three weeks for a second date and more than a week between calls? Or does he ask you for a second date within three days? Obviously the quicker he gets in touch with you and asks you out, the greater interest he is showing. In this case, texting does NOT count.

But, as the woman, if you can’t handle waiting or think it’s unnecessary to let him lead, you might make the mistake of calling and asking when you can see him again. “Are you busy this weekend?” might slip out of your anxious lips. This is not a good dating strategy.

You Can’t Take the DNA Out of Dating

Now that women and men have achieved greater equality in the work place, women often think its perfectly fine to chase men. They want to be direct and say what is on their minds, ask a guy out, call him if they want to talk. Unfortunately dating has not caught up with business. Dating is still an archaic mating ritual based in biology. And you can’t take the DNA out of dating.

What does that mean about DNA? See a man has hunter instincts coded into his DNA. The hunter wants to win. He enjoys setting his sights on a woman and then doing what it takes to win her over. Dating you needs to be his idea. Once you are into relationship (after 8 dates approximately) then the chase is mostly over and the dance balances out. But as the woman, if you don’t wait, you can lose big time.

Men Don’t Like to Be Chased or Pursued

Instinctively, most men (at least men over 40) know this is their role in dating. So when you step in, it’s often a turn off. There is no resistance, no wondering if you like him or not and no striving to win you over. When you call him or ask him out early on, you take all the guess work, sexual tension and mystery out of the situation and a man loses interest.

What Makes Him Get Interested in You?

Letting the man do the work to see you gets him invested in winning you over! Making yourself too available by initiating contact or asking him out ruins the magic and eliminates the mystery. Instead of appearing independent and confident, usually you end up looking aggressive, needy or desperate! These are not traits men seek in a woman.

That’s why my steadfast dating advice is:



I hope you are catching on to why calling a man, asking him out and being direct with him are all bad initial dating strategies.  To make this even more clear, I want to share Rick’s email with me after I talked about the “Ballroom Dancing Theory of Dating” with him.

Rick understood that leaving the “ball in her court” was far too passive. This was how he  tried to ward off rejection so he could say it was up to her rather than potentially hearing her say, “No” to his next invitation.

“Hi Ronnie,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Ballroom Dance Analogy and wow, that’s really powerful.

Here was my experience when I took Ballroom Dance lessons: At first, I was really nervous and awkward and didn’t know what to do, but gradually, I became more confident at it and knew what I was doing. As my confidence grew and I had more lessons, my instructor taught me that my job as the man was:

1) To Lead – never, ever let the woman take the lead. Never. Ever. Period. This was drilled into me.

2) Always make the woman feel that she is the center of attention and the most beautiful, graceful being on the planet.

3) Have a plan on the dance floor and know where you’re going – the woman usually can’t see where we are going because she’s facing backwards. It’s the man’s job to keep a woman out of trouble and on the right path in dancing.

4) Past mistakes are in the past and you can’t do anything about them. If you don’t focus on the here and now and the immediate future, you will make more mistakes.

When I learned and put these concepts into place, my dance card was always full and I never sat down at a dance party. In fact, the Dance Studio I went to stopped charging me for coming to the dances because they wanted me to keep coming.

So now, I’ll compare this with dating.  I am a past dance master just getting back into dancing, but I’m talking about and thinking about all my past dance partners and the fun dances we had, instead of putting these four concepts into place. I’m not leading or making the woman feel special, I don’t have a well defined plan, and I’m not letting go of my mistakes.

If I don’t get this under control, I’ll be sitting down for most of the dances (figuratively speaking) and ruin my dating chances to find a new partner. I know what to do and how to do it. Time to get off my duff and start leading again!”

You can only imagine how excited I was when I got this email from Rick! He had forgotten what his role was in dating and dancing. Rick must step up to be the leader and if he wants to find the right woman, he better take charge.

When you meet a guy who is too nice, usually he has forgotten he is the leader. And guess what, you find him unattractive!

Promise Me You Will Not Take the Lead

Sit back and follow the man’s lead. If he calls, call him back. When you have fun, tell him at the end of the date! But do not call him, ask when you can see him again, ask if he’s busy this weekend, or ask him out for eight dates in a row.

Give yourself the chance to see how much a man is genuinely interested in you and what he will do  on his own to win you over. This is the best process for the start of dating and for understanding men. Let him do the work and allow the sexual tension to grow so he gets invested in starting a lasting, loving relationship with you.

Find out if you might be making any other major midlife dating mistakes with my book 7 Dire Dating Mistakes that Keep You Single






8 responses on “Understanding Men: Let a Man Lead to Clear Up Dating Confusion

  1. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Christina – Wow my crystal ball is on the fritz! I wish I knew. There’s nothing that shows his intent at all so only time will tell if he’s interested. Part of dating is a waiting game – no way around it. However, if 7 days go by and you haven’t heard much or there’s only texting and no mention of a date, that’s not a good sign. When a man is interested, he usually wants to see you again fairly quickly.

  2. Christina

    I had a first date with a guy I meet on tinder. I like him, he’s cute, attentive, and seemed to be respectful. We went to Starbucks and neither of us drink coffee. He ordered and paid for me and we sat off and talked and drank our drink. He asked some follow up questions and made mention to further dates but nothing was written in stone. He had to get back to campus he is a professor and we only stayed on the date for about an hour or so he called it a meet up instead of a date. He smiled and laughed he didn’t try and touch me in any flirty way but after the date he walked me to my car and gave me another hug he gave me one in the beginning too. So what I want to know can I anticipate on him calling or texting wanting to see me again or should I assume he’s not interested?

  3. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Morgane, the idea is not to look desperate. So say no to same-day dates at the start of dating. You want him to know you have a good life without him which is why you aren’t desperate. If a guy asks you out for a couple of days in advance you can say yes the first time – why not? No reason to always be busy – that’s “The Rules” and I’m not a fan of that approach. You don’t want to cancel other plans you might already have. You can say, I’m busy that night, but what about Thursday?” This way you keep your plans and let him know you’d like to see him. This is NOT leading – it’s still responding to his request. Don’t say what you are doing – so don’t say a night out with friends.” Be mysterious and let him wonder who you are out with. Being the leader means you ask him out – I’m not a big fan of that. Not putting effort into a relationship is when you are in a relationship – not the start of dating – two different things. Last but not least, the vast majority of these tips absolutely work for any age but hey, I’ve got to pick my audience so its over 40.

  4. Morgane

    I agree with your views on men wanting to chase women and that we should not initiate contact at the beginning of the dating. But I’ve also read that in order to look desirable, we have to keep ourselves busy. Meaning not saying yes right away when he asks if we can meet. But if we do so, it means we’re not being chased anymore. If a man asks me to see each other on Saturday and I reply to him that I’m busy that evening, have a night out with my friends, it’s expected that I reschedule. And that means I am the one leading. So what’s the limit between appearing too available and being the leader? Also could a man feel like I’m not putting effort in the relationship if I let him initiate contact? Should you always pretend being busy or focused on other things? What is too much or not enough (I feel there’s no middle ground). Last question : do these tips apply to under 30 people (men or women)?

  5. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Caroly, Asking for a hug wasn’t too forward so don’t worry. And no big deal about not saying the evening was special for you too. If you like a guy and have a good time on a date – its best to say so before parting. Just keep it brief. I’m a bit perplexed with him smooching on the first date and being awkward on the second. That’s making me suspicious. And telling you he could have been too handsy seems a bit off to me. Don’t assume he’s interested in something long-term because of that comment. Sometimes men say things like this because they WANT to sleep with you. Hot chemistry is fun but is NOT indicative of true potential in a man. I can’t say what this guy has in mind but don’t jump in. Your idea of holding off to see how things unfold is the smart way to go to guard your heart.

  6. Caroly

    There is this guy I am smitten with, captivated and charmed by. I let him lead for the most part. After he had made plans for a 3rd date, he drove me to my car and instead of kissing me goodbye and smooching like the first date, it was awkward. I asked if I could give him a hug. He did and kissed me tentatively. I actually like the fact that he was more circumspect because I want to get to know him well to see if we are compatible. The chemistry for me is intense and I think for him too because he told me he was glad we sat across from each other because in a booth he would have gotten too handsy. I took that to mean that he doesn’t want to move too fast but is attracted. Did I make a mistake asking the hug? I don’t want him to think I am too easy. He sent me all of these shooting star emoticons and thanks for a fun evening. I had responded with emoticons. Should I have told him how special the evening was for me too?

  7. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Guest, It could be that he’s a beta guy and asking or expecting him to change will not work. Maybe he just isn’t a leader. Everything has it’s pluses and minuses. An alpha male might want in on every life and household decision which could also be difficult. Maybe this guy isn’t right for you or he might have qualities that do make him a good catch if you can let go of wanting him to lead. What other qualities does he have going for him? Is he loyal, supportive, smart and positive? Does he get along with your friends and family and do they like him? There are 5 Languages of Love. Figure out what makes you feel loved besides him leading and making plans and see if he does those things. Then you’ll know if you should work around it or walk away.

  8. Guest

    THIS! I love Rick’s note. It is SO true. I’ve been in a relationship for over a year with a man who does not lead. It’s so frustrating and he only adjusts to what I want after I tell him that the relationship feels too casual and that he should keep dating as I want something more serious (cuz he’s not leading!). He refuses, doesn’t not want to break up and says he’ll do whatever. But soon thereafter the lack of leading continues, he sits passively waiting for me to come over, do the cooking, make the decisions. I do think this was his dynamic with his ex-wife. It is just really really resentment inducing and I feel genuinely not that “wanted” because he doesn’t plan, communicate, direct. Anyways, he’s on the brink of losing me due to this as I am now wanting to look for other fish so I can feel love and direction. Strong, independent women really want leaders in their men and it equates to love and feeling wanted for us! Lead, make the plans, always always date your mate forever.

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