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A friend of mine, a dating “expert” named Gabriel, produces organized seminars that teach women about social strategies as well as specific physical and verbal nuances that attract men. He presents an interesting analogy in his course that women are often unfamiliar with: The red carpet. Gabriel tells women how to roll it out. I’m going to tell men what to do once they’ve figured out they’re standing on one.

The red carpet is a symbol of an invitation, a warm welcome, a ticket to the VIP section. For the fortunate few of us who have been greeted with a real red carpet at some point in our lives, we know the social significance tied to a waltz down the stanchion lined scarlet sidewalk.  It’s a fast pass to the front of the ballroom, accompanied by an escort to special treatment, to a space personally labeled with a name card printed with specific individuals’ names on them.  The reserved space has a good view, the richest wine, and the sweetest desserts reserved for its special guests.  Onlookers observe as a fortunate few walk effortlessly through the crowd to the front of the line where it’s easy to see the full extent of their gowns and tuxedos, coiffures, and jewels. When the red carpet is laid out at one’s feet, all he has to do is walk; the feast, festivities, and fawning attention are for his indulgence, should he fancy.

Gabriel says it’s the woman’s responsibility to lay out a red carpet invitation for a man so that he will know it’s safe to walk, safe to approach her. I agree that in the first few minutes of meeting someone, it is important for a woman to let a man know that he’s safe to step forward. What I haven’t been able to figure out is how to tell him what to do after he’s mustered up the courage to step onto the carpet because, unfortunately, it’s often clear that he’s unsure how to read the name cards, enjoy the show, drink the wine, and savor the dessert that’s been awaiting him.

It’s not enough for a prince to simply show up and swagger down the red carpet if he wants to carry a princess home. A woman worth the name of his throne throws the party in his honor and longs to be chased, courted, and pursued on the dance floor in return. A red carpet isn’t an invitation to join the party and throw back some beers. It’s an opportunity to be crowned royal and prize claimed. She will curtsy and he will carry her into the sunset.

Should there be a handsome prince for whom a red carpet has been unfurled, translation may be necessary. In other words, if you are a man and you think a girl might be interested in you, here are a few clues on what you should do next.  That is, if you want to get the princess.

Call her
A reasonable woman takes your behavior at face value. She believes that if you are interested in her, you’ll call and if you’re not calling, it means you’re not interested in her. Calling once a week is not sufficient if you want to make sure she knows you are interested in her. You don’t have to have a reason to call, just let her know you’re thinking about her and ask her about her day. When you don’t make an effort to communicate with her, it’s received as rejection.

Still not clear on when you should call a girl? Consider these ideas:

Call her sweet names
Call her back
Call her when something great happened, just to share the good news
Call her your biggest cheerleader when you feel self doubt
Call her daily, even if for only a few minutes
Just call her

Spend time with her
Time is more meaningful than money. Spend it wisely. It’s the most precious resource you have and will yield the greatest returns when invested well. In time, you learn about what makes her strong and where she’s fractured, what she dreams about and fears, who shaped her values and how her values shape her behavior. The most important element of a lifelong love affair is a friendship with roots deep enough to weather life’s storms, so spend time building an authentic friendship with her. This requires telling her what you think, hope for, fear, and dream about as well. You may be surprised to uncover the very best friend you could ever imagine because women blossom in the sunshine of friendship which can only be grown in the nutrient rich soil of well-spent time together.

If you are in pursuit, then pursue!
If you are interested in a girl, be consistent in the messages you send her. A well-mannered lady will believe what you do over what you say and will not remain open to your advances if she doesn’t feel pursued by you. In the absence of pursuit, the voice of implied rejection grows loud. Wink at her, talk with her, tell her she’s pretty, ask her to dance. Pursue with manners…and never stop.

Lead her
Assuming you are an honorable, respectable man of character and moral strength, a woman worth your name will follow your lead and yield to your wisdom and judgment while learning how to lead you in ways you desire to be led. But, remember, it’s your job to step up first. You can’t be the leader if you don’t.

Start small. Find out what she plans to order at dinner and then kindly tell the server what the lady will have when he comes to take the order. Open the door for her and let her walk through before you. Get out of the car and walk around to the other side and open her door. Wait for everyone at the table to be served before you eat. It’s just good manners to lead others by putting their needs ahead of yours. When you lovingly lead her like an attentive servant, she will respectfully serve you like a steadfast leader.

Have fun
Red carpets lead to parties, celebrations, festivities, and banquets. Once inside, honored guests dance and sing, eat and laugh. If you find yourself standing on the edge of a red carpet laid out for you by a woman who you find attractive, funny, smart, and interesting, don’t waste time sauntering into the party. You enjoy the chase and so does she. If she’s put the red carpet out and you step onto its threshold and take your seat at the VIP table, the show, wine, dessert, and dance you share together will surely be a life changing event.

And that, gentlemen, is how to catch a princess.

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(I truly intend to honor both men and women, to speak — in love — to both as we all try to figure out how it all works. If I ever figure it out myself, I’ll be sure to write about it here. Until then, I’ll probably continue saying stuff that makes your eyebrows raise up as you wonder what I’m drinking. It’s just water, I assure you. Please leave your thoughts so we can all grow together!)

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