Are you expecting boyfriend behavior too soon?

Sharing with a gal pal after a second date, I expressed disappointment that my date didn’t treat me like my last beau did. My wise friend said, “You’re expecting him to display boyfriend behavior but he’s not your boyfriend yet.” She was right! In fact, he probably hadn’t even decided he was interested in being my boyfriend.

While we can expect men we’re beginning to date to be courteous and hopefully chivalrous, some behaviors are more along the lines of “taking care of my woman.” Some very chivalrous men behave this way for any woman they know. Others have more of a hierarchy, ascending to the next level as he becomes more fond of her.

Men have shared that when in a relationship, they adopt an attitude of protection toward the woman. They are more concerned that she’s made it home safely, her home is secure and her car won’t break down. They check in with her regularly to make sure if she has any upset he can fix, he will do his darndest.

When just getting to know a woman, a conscientious man will walk a woman to her car, help her on and off with her coat, and open doors. While this shows he cares, these behaviors can also be so engrained he does them for nearly any woman he accompanies, regardless of his romantic interest in her.

I notice when men display these behaviors and appreciate them, but I’ve now learned not to take them as signs a man has feelings for me. It seems each man has different baseline behaviors he displays from the first date and then adds to them as he feels more connection. So if you interpret early behaviors as expressing his attraction to you, you can be disappointed to find that’s how he acts toward all women he’s getting to know.

As your relationship deepens, what if he doesn’t display the boyfriend behaviors you’d like? Of course, you can make requests and if he’s astute he will pick up what you like. So instead of getting angry that he doesn’t do something you want, you can ask him directly, then tell him how much you appreciate it.

For example, you are chilly in the over-air conditioned movie theater, having left your wrap in the car. Don’t just complain how cold it is and expect he’ll offer to get your sweater. Instead ask, “Sweetie, would you be a dear and get my sweater from the car while I hold the seats?” If he’s into you, he will jump at the opportunity to show you he can take care of you. And when he gets back, make sure to say, “Thank you. I appreciate your taking care of me this way.”

Guess what? Next time you say you’re cold, he’ll probably offer to get your coat from the car. If not, just gently ask him. You are training him to display boyfriend behavior that you appreciate. And make sure you acknowledge him when he does what you like. We all like to be acknowledged and if we care about the person, we learn what they like by what they thank us for.

What do you consider boyfriend behavior that you wouldn’t expect early on?

Have you ever been disappointed that someone didn’t display boyfriend behavior when just starting to date?


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11 responses to “Are you expecting boyfriend behavior too soon?”

  1. Torrey Avatar

    This is a great topic. Many ladies, regardless of age, get all worked up because of wanting boyfriend actions way too soon. This tends to be amplified when you are one of the only single ladies in a group of dating/married friends.

    For example, if you are just dating a man and you don’t get a X-Mas present or invite over for dinner with his family, that doesn’t mean he’s not into you. Enjoy the journey of dating and take it for what it’s worth.

  2. Anna Avatar

    This is a timely topic for me! I was just out on a second date and the guy was so mannerly, chivalrous etc. We were at a crowded ball game and he was very careful to make sure I was comfortable, not getting squashed by crowds etc. I let my imagination start to wander as I felt he was really into me. I rarely “spark” with a guy and we did seem to spark well so the second date went even better than the first. He has gone away for the week and I was feeling slightly put-out because he has not been in contact when I realized that I was making way more of his attentions than actually may be there. We did arrange to meet again when he gets back but I do think we can let ourselves get carried away by perceived keeness. As you so rightly point out, the guy may just be that way with ALL women he is with, which is nice from a gentlemanly point of view, but thanks DG for reaffirming that I need to see this for what it is. Add to that……there can be cultural differences between Europeans and American men. As an example, I still hop out of the car myself, forgetting to wait to have the door opened for me and then wonder if the guy thinks I am cheap because I didn’t wait to have the door opened for me. Back home, a woman would be not be happy at having to wait for a man to open her car door, this implies a sense of dependence and lack of equality for the girl. So what is gentlemanly behavior in one society can be considered condescension in another. Still, my own motto has always been When In Rome….but I digress LOL

  3. Karen Avatar

    Well, this is timely!

    I just started dating a man, and while he’s dreamy in many ways, I’ve been disappointed in the way he behaves in exactly the areas described here. For example, I was shocked when we went on a date & he didn’t open the car door for me! And he also didn’t call me for several days after the date! I wrote him off after our first date as “not interested” because of his actions, but he kept on wanting to get together so here we are still seeing each other frequently a couple months later.

    Still, he rarely calls, he never does the car door thing, and many times he takes off walking several paces ahead of me. And I still find all this weird, frankly. And we’re both near 50 years old and born here–so it’s not like he’s outside his culture or an inexperienced teenager.

    I wouldn’t expect him to fix things at my house or invite me to a holiday with his family at this stage, but if you expect to kiss or make out with a woman after a date it seems very strange to not open doors for her.

    Although it may not show his true feelings (& though those feelings might not be fully developed yet), I do think things like this are a strange lapse of politeness.

    Plus, if a man likes a woman enough to ask her out frequently, presumeably he also wants to favorably impress her? So why would he shoot himself in the foot by treating her as if they aren’t actually dating?

  4. Karen Avatar

    Well, what Anna says is true about cultural differences. My ex-husband was an Argentine and that culture acts extremely chivalrous compared to Americans, so maybe I just got used to that?

  5. Mike Avatar

    This reminds me of a woman I dated that didn’t want me to do any chivalrous actions ie. open and close doors, jacket, etc. She was so use to being on her own that she didn’t like it. Let me tell you it took some getting use to.

  6. Midwestgal Avatar

    When I first started dating the wonderful man I am dating now, I wondered the exact same thing. I then realized, after a few dates, that he is just a kind man with great manners. After reading this post today, I asked him his thoughts on it at dinner this evening. His reply was “It depends.” He said that he would display basic good manners, but that he waited to get to know someone before doing more. Like Mike said above, he wasn’t sure what would be taken correctly. He also said he wouldn’t do too much early on as he was still getting to know someone and wouldn’t want to give off the wrong signals to her.

    DG, funny that you mention the example of being chilly, as I am cold alot of the time and this actually happened a while back. I didn’t ask him to get it (personally, I would feel guilty and selfish when I have two feet and can get it myself) I shivered and he asked me if I was cold. I said I was a little chilly, but I could get my sweater from the car. He offered to get it for me and I told him he didn’t have to do that, but he did. I then told him that I appreciated it. After your post, we talked about it tonight. He said that he appreciated the fact that I didn’t “expect” him to do it for me and that by offering to do it myself it made him want to do it more. Now he does it all the time for me and I have never asked him to do it. (Although when we go to dinner, I put his glasses in my purse…so I guess it’s a two way street!) 🙂

  7. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Midwestgal: Sounds like you have a keeper!

    I agree that I too, feel guilty asking someone else to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing. I was trying to give an example of being direct, as guys tell me they hate it when women hint, as many of them don’t pick up on these hints and then the woman gets upset. The men say, “I wish women would be direct with what they want.” So maybe I should have made up a different example.

  8. Midwestgal Avatar

    Yes he is a keeper!
    I guess what I meant, too, was that I actually wasn’t hinting. I am not good at game playing. I truly didn’t expect him to do that for me, however I did appreciate it. I have never been married, so it is hard for me sometimes to figure out how to let him do things for me without feeling guilty. I don’t want him to think that I do expect it all the time. For example, I recently had to take a pay cut so I can’t afford to pay to have my grass mowed at my house. I absolutely HATE to mow the grass. He offers to mow my grass-now, he hates to mow the grass,too and pays his nephew to do it- but he will help me do mine. I felt guilty letting him do it all when I know he hates it, too. So I finally settled on me sharing it with him-I do some and he does some. Then I cook him a really nice dinner and that makes up for it!
    I guess my point is that expectations are really hard to deal with. Mine have been very high and he continues to exceed them so much that I don’t even think about them anymore.

  9. Jeff Adams Avatar

    It’s interesting how most people expect certain behaviors from new people based on their previous relationships. The problem is that the new person that we’re dating doesn’t know us well enough yet. In fact they might have their own expectations about how we should be treating them. All of this leads to disappointment.

    I always recommend that when my clients first start dating someone that they expect nothing and appreciate any ‘gifts’ them might receive. That way people can be sure their new boyfriend or girlfriend is showing them who they really are.

    All too often people who like us change their personality based on what we tell them we like, and that’s never a good thing. In the early stages of dating it’s better not to tell them what we expect and see what they do. There’s plenty of time to gently communicate wants and needs in a loving way as the relationship develops.

  10. Ann Marie Avatar
    Ann Marie

    Like many others, I am in the new guy/boyfriend behavior confusion myself. A perfect gentlemen who doesn’t ever talk about his feelings or where ‘we are’, but we have been out for several months. Sheesh, I need to let it go and enjoy the time. Hopefully, there will be a day when he wants to have ‘the talk’, until then, I am really enjoying him.

  11. Mitsy Avatar

    This is interesting. What I have found is that most men seem to be on their “best” behavior in the beginning so if they aren’t knocking themselves out at the start, then they oftentimes don’t go the extra mile when you are an actual couple. But, the opening car doors is a bit archaic
    to me. I’ve never had a guy do that and I would probably think it odd if it did happen. Maybe it’s the region we live in, but that is not something I have ever seen done where I live (unless it was a younger person helping an elderly woman out of a car). Opening the restaurant door would be nice but I don’t write off a guy if he doesn’t do that. More than anything, his attentiveness is what I’m looking for. The less interested he acts, the less likely we are going to be a couple later regardless of what I first thought about the guy. My experience with dating has been that I get the best part of the guy in the beginning and once they know “I” am interested, they quit trying and that goes for along out to dinner or making the effort to “date” me once we are considered a couple. Once the “chase” is over, they seem to lose interest. That has happened to me many times now, so I wouldn’t consider not opening a door as the make/break indication of their intentions. It’s how much effort they put in to seeing the person & acting interested that makes the difference.