How to Irritate Men

One question my female readers are always asking me is “Why don’t you share your own personal experiences, doc?”  The answer is simple: ’cause it’s nobody’s business, that’s why.  Also, I prefer timeless principles instead of anecdote, since the former doesn’t get old.  That said, if it’s likely to facilitate world peace and save the pandas, fine, twist my arm, I’m willing to talk about some of my own experiences.  Maybe.  All depends on the number of pandas.

So, ladies — in the spirit of understanding men and perhaps causing them less needless pain (and also improving the chances of your own genes propagating to the next generation), here are some behaviors that are guaranteed to irritate the living crap out of men.  If you want your male companion to continue liking you, you would do well to avoid these at all cost:

1) Fiddling with the phone while I’m with you.

We’ve both put in a lot of time and effort to show up together, which means that we value each other’s company.  Right?  So quit checking your texts, email or calls on your phone.  Just turn the damn gizmo off.  What are you going to do with the phone call anyway?  Make a date with the person on the line, then ignore that person by answering your phone on that date?

If I’m with you, I’m giving you my full attention.  I expect you to do the same.

2) Fiddling with your makeup in public.

We men understand that as a woman, you need to look pretty.  We really appreciate that.  But grooming yourself in public is about as genteel as whipping out my nailclippers and giving myself a manicure at the dinner table.  Actually, now that I think about it, going to the bathroom 15 times to reapply your lipstick (and probably check your Crackberry) is equally irritating.  I’m here to be with you because I like you just the way you are.  So be comfortable with yourself and allow the interaction to flow with minimal interruption.

3) Interrupting me.

Yes, you want to be helpful and chime in with your own Bali travel story.  And omigod, you totally got bit by a scorpion, too!  That’s nice.  Now let me finish my damn story.  Even if you’re bored with what I have to say, the polite thing to do that will endear you to me for ever and all time is to let me ramble uninterrupted with my meandering tale.

4) Being late.

Again, we men understand and appreciate that you ladies like to look pretty.  Fantastic!  Now do it on your time, not mine.  If it takes you an hour to get ready, don’t start 15min before I’m picking you up.  I’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting a dinner reservation that expires and tickets to a concert that will start without us, and I’d hate to miss the first movement of Brahms’ 4th, so give us both the courtesy of an on-time departure.

5) Refusing to decide.

Modern life confronts us with a dizzying number of choices.  Paper or plastic?  Soup or salad?  Dress or jeans?  Hawaii or Mexico?  Church or orgy?  Leather or latex?  And men understand that women constitutionally have a tougher time deciding.  Hey, no problem.  Just make up your mind today, please.  Unless you secretly want me to make the decision for you, which I’m happy to do on condition that you can’t complain about it afterwards.

6) Refusing to eat like a normal, live human being.

If you’ve come out with me to dinner or I’m cooking for you, you are expected to eat.  Maybe it’s my Iranian upbringing, but sharing a meal is a sacred bond.  Ordering a few leaves and poking at them desultorily does not constitute sharing a meal.

Besides irritating me, it also makes me wonder about your whole mental makeup if you deny yourself something as basic as food.  Also, if you ordered salad for the meal, you can’t order the double fudge sundae for dessert.  That’s just twisted and weird.

While we’re at it, being an unreasonably picky eater also irritates men.  Hey, I’m as big a proponent of healthy eating as the next doc: I haven’t been eating red meat in ages, and I eat other meat sparingly.  But if your food has to be raw, vegan, and onion-, garlic- ,gluten- and sugar-free, go hang out with the pandas I saved and munch on bamboo all day ’cause I’m hungry for some real food.

Speaking of being finicky…

7) Being unreasonably finicky and high-maintenance.

Once again, guys get it that ladies are beautiful, delicate creatures.  As one female character in the W. B. Yeats poem Adam’s Curse says:

…And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There’s many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, ‘To be born woman is to know-
Although they do not talk of it at school-
That we must labour to be beautiful.’

So, yeah, it’s work being pretty.  However, if you’ve decided to wear shoes that are so uncomfortable that you can’t walk a block so the guy needs to valet the car every time, or your food order didn’t come in just perfect and you chew out the waitstaff for it, or the temperature’s too hot or too cold because you neglected to bring adequate clothing like a grown adult, we are going to be irritated.

Adaptability is the hallmark of human existence and the key to its survival for the past few eons.  Everything about us that is considered ‘attractive’ is actually evolutionary shorthand for ‘enhances survival.’  Let me repeat that: attractive = has survival value.  Beauty is a proxy for health and fecundity; strength is a proxy for the ability to hunt and defend the home; intelligence is a proxy for figuring out ways to thrive.  Ergo finickiness = unattractive; adaptability = hot.

8) Giving more attention to your dog than me.

Your dog is a dog.  It’s not a human.  It’s also not your kid, who is and should be more important than me, always.  But not a dog.  Dude is more important than dog.  Because chances are that dog will never cook for you, give you a backrub, give you a ride to the airport or give you mind-blowing oral pleasure that will make your vision blurry for days.  A guy will (well, some guys at least).  So if you like a guy and want him to like you back, be sure to convey that he is more important than the dog, especially if he just met you.  Because that’s how he’s going to decide if he’ll see you again.

Here ends this rant.  Hope it helps.  All the best, AB

Categories: Dating for Women

26 Comments on “How to Irritate Men”

  1. Amy

    I don’t do any of these things and I’m still single. What am I doing wrong then? About the phone thing. Guys do that a lot too. Do you really need to know the score of that game while your out with me or update your facebook? I turn my phone off or put it on vibrate when I’m out on a date.

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Cell phones are irritating things in general, so I hear you on that. And the irritating things that guys do — well, a whole book came out on that called ‘Undateable: 311 things Guys Do that Guarantees they Won’t Be Dating or Having Sex.’ Come to think of it, most guys are undateable — women, those blessed creatures, are amazingly tolerant of us.

      As for what you’re doing wrong, BeachAmy — can’t tell ya for sure, since I don’t get to observe you. However, here’s a beach volleyball metaphor for ya: it’s not enough that you’re not charging the net and not knocking your teammates down. You actually have to bump, set and spike to win. And I wrote a whole book about that…

      1. Xenia

        I agree with everything that was said. What a way to give us women pointers to stay away from behavior that will keep us single for a long time. lol! I also read the book from Dr. Ali and it was awesome! Information is power! I definetly understand myself and men much better. I must say Your contribution to society as a whole is amazing. I keep re reading certain chapters depending on whats going on in my life at the moment. Huge Thanks for you continued work!!!

  2. Nancy

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said…

    Yeah, I know I’m a woman but most of the issues you bring up are simply common courtesy. If you’re going to spend time with a man in whom you have an interest, then show him he’s important and that you value the time he’s sharing with you.

    There is one thing that women need to learn for sure: let a man talk without interruption. Men don’t carry on conversations like we do. They let each person take their turn and finish their thoughts before they interrupt or interject. If you give a man the time to get his thoughts out (and then wait for another 15-20 seconds after you THINK he’s done) you will learn SO much more than if you keep interrupting or changing the topic. Try it! It truly works!!! You’ll have a happier man and you’ll be so much more enlightened about who your man is.

    That’s all. Sorry it’s not righteously indignant :)

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Brilliant stuff, Nancy! Yes, it does the woman a world of good to listen, since you get to learn so much about the guy. Way to teach ’em — wanna be my assistant?

  3. BiggPapa

    Amen brother… preach it… lol. So true, so true. I don’t have time for those kinds of things. I could be dead tomorrow why waste time with that kind or rudeness. I’d reflect their courteousness in kind by just getting up and leaving. Mean while getting the number of the nearest girl I am attracted too as I walk out. My newest girl keeps laughing at me and calling me such a dick because I refuse to put up with her crap but yet she still follows me around and keeps wanting to go out. Life’s Short Have fun! Peace everyone. ~ BiggPapa

  4. Izzy

    I’m very please to hear all the things that will irritate a guy, is often that way with the phone… but sometimes guy often do it, that’s for sure and that often occurs I’m sure when there is not much interest between one another. I’m a single person, had my experiences however one thing I do noticed is that women very much have a decision already made within the first 5 minutes of your arrival to a date of who she is going to date or give her deviated attention and the phone is often a signal that gives you uhm “I’m not really interested on you, or I have to go or I have something better to do or is getting late”. but ladies just for courtesy please don’t do that on a date, leave the phone in the car or in your purse and turn it off, and expect the same for a guy. Now.. I’m 27 yrs old Computer Engineer Technologies, and kinesiology two majors).. athletic, fun, outgoing respectful, humble, caring, loving, adventurous, spontaneous, love the beach, movie theaters, gentlemen like, but still single. In the times that I have dated I did experience much of the 9 things you talked about…. so I stop dating (hahah)… is very much a waste of my time and don’t like to be a waster of there time any more.


  5. Pamela

    Ah, I only apply refresh lipstick when I really LIKE you. My dog supplies unconditional love so, until I know you will do the same… have to respect the fact that my pup is important. Oh yeah, we are looking to see how you treat the pet. Are you kind and respectful or annoyed by my wee pup? If you are a guest in my house do get more attention. Remember the first few dates, the dog may be protective so, we may check in with the dog …pet the dog ..make sure the dog knows you are a good guy. I learned something here. Thanks!

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      @Pamela — if you can use the word ‘sprezzatura’ properly in a sentence, we’ll put up with all kind of pup and more. At the same time, please remember that the dog does not ‘smell fear’ or have a sixth sense about who we are, then toss some guy because the dog didn’t like him. Chances are it’s because the dog is poorly trained (that’s what it means when it barks at people) and has an IQ of 20. The man you’d be eliminating could be the love of your life, who is orders of magnitude more important than the pet.

      1. Jewels

        My cats are good judges of character. I don’t know about dogs but I know cats. They hide when they feel bad juju in any person. I give the person a chance to hang themselves but the cat is always right. Not the first cat either. All the cats know. I agree that both sexes do the phone/texting thing way too much in public. Life is finding people that know how to show some respect but you also need to be able to discuss it and not get defensive about it. It has taken a long time for me to figure out you really do teach people how to treat you. If they don’t listen, then you have to walk away. When you take that stance, you respect yourself and people that respect you come into your life.

    1. lttldove

      Got my attention to sister. Reading, reading, whoops, what was that?
      Mind blowing oral sex, you say? Just make sure we return the favor.
      And don’t let the dog watch, from the end of the bed. lol

  6. Chuck

    It’s interesting to note that almost all the comments are from women. You must have struck a chord Dr Alex.

    And yes, we will employ a certain amount of sprezzatura when it comes to a woman’s dog if things are progressing nicely. The real trouble comes when the only reason you keep dating a woman is because you like her dog.

  7. Roberta

    I had a first date (lunch) once with a man who talked non-stop about himself for three hours straight, and accepted phone calls during the meal. He never got a second date, due to his social skills, and the message he inadvertently conveyed to me that I was not very important. Sadly, the reverse was probably true. I’m sure the date was important to him…he just lacked dating skills and didn’t understand the appearance he was portraying. As a woman, I’ve learned that giving your date undivided attention is essential, for two reasons. It lets him know that you consider a date with him special, and it gives you the important opportunity to listen carefully to what he says so you can screen him and decide if you are a good fit or not. Anyone entering the arena of dating should be comfortable and happy with who they are, thereby eliminating the need to check make-up or angst about food. Instead, they should think about what kind of person would be a great compliment to their life, and date accordingly. Good manners are essential, as well as being in a place of happiness with yourself. Dating will be a disappointment if you are looking for someone else to make you happy. Be happy with yourself first…then date. Relax. Be comfortable in your own skin and be proud of who you are and what your choices are. The world is full of opportunities to learn and enrich your life. Don’t be afraid to explore. Your experiences will make you a more interesting human being, with something wonderful to offer to a relationship. Have good manners. Treat your dates as you yourself would like to be treated. I agree with the suggestions recommended by Dr. Ali. Everything he said was true, and very good advice.

  8. Ruth

    … I had to look up the sprezza-word and still couldn’t use it in a sentence, well not convincingly anyway – is it totally essential to produce random long foreign words to get a man to like me, and my dog? If so, I’m doomed…….

    but seriously… good stuff in the article Dr Ali and it applies to everyone that we might be with, not just dates

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      @Ruth: ‘Sprezzatura’ is one of my favorite words, meaning doing something with effortless grace. Not just a word but a way of life :)

  9. Hayley Rose

    Well since were venting….Dear men of the world, baseball caps are not a fashion accessory, neither are obnoxious gold chains. Don’t expect me to drive or pay if you asked me out and don’t forget your wallet. And just because I’m attractive, it doesn’t mean that I’m a slut or a bitch, so stop putting me in those categories, and yes, women can be beautiful and smart too. Don’t be intimidated by a smart beautiful woman, we all have insecurities, but when you try to make us feel bad for what you perceive as being smarter than you, it’s really nasty and unattractive, get a grip.

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      @Hayley Bop! Thanks for the comment. Keep in mind that there’s a difference between venting indiscriminately and conveying your impressions in a constructive way. Phrases like ‘obnoxious gold chains’, ‘nasty and unnattractive’ and ‘get a grip’ start to sound judgmental, which is never attractive, even when you’re right about it. A more constructive way of communicating is saying ‘When you do X, it makes me feel Y.’ Then you let people decide for themselves how they want to behave instead of calling them cretins right off the bat.

  10. Deena

    As I look for an age-appropriate male, too many of them seem intent upon badmouthing their ex-wives. When this happens I always wonder if they are still hung up on them, or how insecure they may be. Not an attractive thing to do. Makes you also wonder if they recognize their own part in the “takes two tango” scenario. Perhaps still wounded and not too introspective. And the older ones seem to be trying to re-create the “happy” life they think they had once upon a time.

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      @Deena — ‘strue: the badmouthing never works, even when fully justified. It always ends up reflecting badly on the badmouther. Also, who ever came up with the idea that portraying yourself as a victim is attractive? People prefer victors.

  11. Shelby

    I’m vegan and have always ordered my meals exactly as I like them when out with men. I found that I weed out the men who would not tolerate my lifestyle choice right away. I’m in an amazing relationship right now with a vegan man (2.5 years). It pays to follow your heart.

  12. Fabulous 50

    Dear Dr.B, For what it’s worth, after stumbling onto your site for the first time, I think you’re a pleasure and a laugh-riot! Many thanks for your wit and insights. After being married to someone less intelligent than myself for many years, I’m now at the beginning stage of “connecting/dating”..whateverit’s currently termed…a man who’s now more intelligent than me. He is also morbidly obese. I enjoy his company, we are both divorced, and although I’m happy with myself and realize that true happiness comes from my own inner growth, i’m perplexed by my feelings for him…some say if you truly care 4 someone, then u don’t care about their outer appearance…i also wonder if he’s a bit bored, intellectually, since i only have a Master’s degree…thx 4 listening. p.s. i never wrote anyone before…

  13. Eva

    It is mean to pick on those of us with dietary restrictions! We don’t choose to have allergies or health problems! And men have them too, you know. So my interpretation of what you wrote is, if we are gluten-free or diabetic or have another restriction that makes it challenging to eat a mainstream Western diet, you are implying that we are no fun, not adaptable, and therefore not attractive. What is “normal” in America is a totally unhealthy diet, which actually does NOT help anyone’s attractiveness.

    I would like you to consider writing a new version of #6 that discusses how to gracefully deal with special dietary needs so that “normal” men don’t get irritated, and that we don’t have to feel like taking care of our health and well-being is considered UNattractive.


    1. Lily

      Yes Eva! thanks for your post! i have the same view. frankly, i resisted changing my diet for many years as to NOT be ” high maintenance” i finally gave in, and feel SO much better! Dr B?

      p.s. i would absolutely eat a salad for dinner..followed by a hot fudge sundae :)

  14. Lisa

    Okay, I’m a little behind…I just read the book, therefore just discovered the website…

    I have a problem with #6, not because I’m some weirdo who doesn’t eat, but because I don’t have a huge appetite. Not just that, but I can’t eat a lot at one time. Have you ever seen restaurant portions? I feel terrible wasting this big meal I just ordered, or stupid for having left-overs (because let’s be honest, who orders food when they’re not hungry?), or sick from trying to eat enough to make it worth the money being spent on the meal. For whatever reason, people always want to eat on dates. I don’t know why I get so full so fast, I didn’t have gastric bypass surgery or anything. Honestly, I never even eat dinner unless I’m on a date. No, I’m not skinny, this is just the way I am. And a full belly, makes me sick, cranky, and not a very good date.

    Actually, I’m probably not a very good date anyway…but for so many other reasons. (That’s a joke, kind of.)

    Why should I order more food than I need or want?

  15. Donna

    I think is unfair to assume and poke fun that “picky eaters” are necessarily that way because they are neurotic or have an eating disorder. Some people genuinely have special dietary needs that they can’t relax when eating out. Yes , it is a PITA and a source of embarrassment also to the woman who has to dance around a menu. The irritation at having to be so inflexible can also belong to the person with the needs.