If there’s one thing we hear women complaining about time and time again, it’s that it’s ‘impossible’ to find a decent guy in Dubai. All the good ones are taken, and everyone else is either too shallow/ arrogant/ creepy, or just simply not long-term material. But could there be something us ladies are doing wrong to scare the good guys away? No, we didn’t think so either. After all, we’re all strong, self-aware, emotionally intelligent women – it’s the guys who are the problem… right? But then we spoke to some of them. And to our surprise, we discovered that there is a whole lot more going on in the Dubai dating scene than meets the eye.
We spoke to a panel of Dubai’s most eligible bachelors – some of them serial daters; some of them looking to settle down; all of them well-turned-out, professional men between the ages of 31 and 43 – and asked them what we women could be doing wrong. We asked them to be as honest as possible – so you’ll understand why all names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty)…
Mistake 1: Being rude
Now you’d have thought this would be a no-brainer – obviously no-one is going to be intentionally rude when going on a date. But there’s something that happens when we start getting ready for that evening out that sends us into a bit of a head-spin. Whether it’s excitement or butterflies or last-minute panic about the perfect outfit… We often end up being ‘fashionably late’. But that’s OK, because that’s the lady’s prerogative, right? Apparently not, according to Luke, 31, a recruitment consultant from the UK. Apparently it comes across as disrespectful and a bit arrogant. ”I can’t stand women being late for a date,” says Luke. “It’s my top dating no-no.” Other no-nos were “being indecisive about what to order to drink or for dinner,” according to Andy, 34, from the UK, and “not offering to share the bill,” according to Karim, 33, a financial advisor from Lebanon. Surprisingly, most of the guys agreed that what a lady wears isn’t all that important. “As long as she seems half normal and isn’t wearing rags, it’s up to me to woo her and show her that I have character enough for her to want to go on a second date,” says Karim. The upshot? Although the whole courtship context can make it seem like the usual rules of engagement have shifted, you should still treat a date with the same consideration and respect as you would a friend. Allocate less time to preening and a bit more time to making sure you’re at least relatively punctual.
Mistake 2: Playing games
We were a bit surprised by the level of insight our guys showed here. You know those self-help-book ‘rules’ about not seeming too keen and playing hard to get? Forget them, say our guys. “If a woman intimates that she’s really interested, and then backs away for no apparent reason, that’s not mysterious or ‘hard to get’; it’s just annoying,” says Rick, 43, a lawyer from the US. “If a girl is deliberately playing hard to get – parcelling out access to her body to lead you on – it’s really obvious and off-putting.” It’s as relevant in your virtual communication as when you see each other, says Andy. “If I Whatsapp her first and she doesn’t respond for a few hours, but I see she’s been online and there are those two ticks by the message, I’ll think she is playing games and that will put me off.” Luke agrees: “When women say they don’t want a relationship, but really they do… It’s so obvious if a woman is looking to settle down. Lying about it seems to make them go crazy.”
Mistake 3: Having an agenda
So, if the above is true, should you just let guys know up-front if you’re looking for a serious relationship? “No, I think that would be a bit weird,” says Luke. “You tend to get a sense if a girl is just looking to party, or if she’s looking to settle down, by what she talks about, how she behaves, her age…” Karim agrees: “I would find that sort of full disclosure extremely off-putting.” And Rick explains: “I don’t like the sense of there being an agenda that you, as the guy, have to fit into.” The guys suggested that a period of about three months is enough time to work out if an initial relationship is worth pursuing; this might be the point at which to raise the notion, if it hasn’t already become obvious.
Mistake 4: Being materialistic
We felt a bit sorry for the guys here. “There’s a general consensus among men that women come to Dubai in order to find and marry a rich man,” says Andy. “If she’s trying to work out how much I earn, or how wealthy I am, that puts me off.” But he wasn’t just referring to blatant, gold-digging types here. “One girl I went on a first date with asked me where in Dubai I live really early on. When I said JBR, she said ‘Oh, you must be doing well for yourself…’ and it was so clear she was trying to work out how much money I make.” Rashid, 35, from the UK, agrees, adding. “If a girl is really pushing for dinner on a first date, I can get a bit suspicious. I will think she is more after being bought a nice meal than getting to know me.” This is why a coffee is the preferred first-date of some of our guys. “Having dinner the first time you meet could end up being a waste of time and money,” says Karim. “At least coffee is over quickly if you need it to be.”
Mistake 5: Being a try-hard
The men showed a surprising level of attention-to-detail here. Turns out that the witty Whatsapp repartee that you’re so good at really isn’t all that impressive if it’s clear you’re putting too much thought into it. “Really long, grammatically correct Whatsapp messages can be off-putting as it means she is spending too much time thinking about it,” explains Rick. “Also, when it says she’s typing for ages, then it stops, then she’s typing again… If you’re spending 10 minutes to compose a message then it’s not really you.” These guys can sniff out a desperate attempt to please from a mile off, whatever way it’s dressed up (or undressed, as the case may be…). “One girl I met started sending naked pictures of herself almost straight away,” says Luke. “As much as I don’t mind that, you know that’s probably not the girl you’re going to marry.”
Mistake 6: Not being proactive
There’s still this old-fashioned notion that women should wait for the man to make the first move, but our modern males all agree that this is completely irrelevant nowadays. “I like it when a girl shows she has confidence by asking me out,” says Rashid. “Why should it always be left to us to initiate it?” In fact, some of the men would actually expect the woman to be the more proactive one. “I would expect the girl to get in touch first after our first proper date,” says Karim. “In my experience, if I have to text first afterwards, it’s not going to work.” Men can be sensitive souls too, says Andy. “Girls and guys are both waiting for the message. If you don’t hear from a girl the day after a date, you think she doesn’t like you.”
Mistake 7: Partying too hard
While a fun party girl might have been all the guys were looking for in their twenties, they all agree that a girl getting embarrassingly drunk is one of the most off-putting things she could possibly do, regardless of how much they like her. ”There was this lovely girl who I had a crush on,” recalls Rick. “I saw her out one night and she’d had so much to drink, her ugly side came out… she was propositioning random men. That took her from a nine to a negative two.” Rashid agrees: “When you’re younger that might be fine. But as an adult it’s just embarrassing for everyone around.” Luke adds: “However hot the girl is, if she drinks so much that she’s vomiting, or worse, you know that girl could never be your wife, or even your girlfriend.” And Andy sums it up: “Keep some self-respect when you’re partying”
Mistake 8: Not looking after yourself
Related to the above is the fact that – while we’d all like to pretend that we’re just effortlessly gorgeous - men understand that it’s necessary to put in a bit of effort to look good, especially as we get older. In fact, once you’re a certain age, they’d hope that you do. “If a girl doesn’t take care of herself in terms of fitness and quitting bad habits like smoking by the time she is 30, or 35, she’s going to go downhill quickly,” says Rick. “If she is partying all the time, it shows she isn’t looking after herself at all.”
Mistake 9: Acting paranoid
Most girls will go out of their way to avoid the ‘bunny boiler’ stereotype, but even seemingly disguised attempts to check up on your guy won’t go unnoticed. “A girl once looked through my phone on our second date ‘for a laugh’,” says Andy. “When I went to look through hers she got really annoyed. It made me think she was one of those paranoid types.” You have to chill out and trust that the man is being up front with you, otherwise you risk sabotaging a potentially great relationship anyway, says Rick. “Paranoia... not just at first-date stage, but all the way through a relationship. If a woman is paranoid and doesn’t trust me, eventually it will drive a wedge between us.”
Mistake 10: Not being yourself
Regardless of all of the above ‘mistakes’ if a man likes you, he likes you – and he’ll forgive the odd slip up, just as we would do the other way around. But the most important thing is to be as authentic to yourself as possible. “There are no rules,” says Rick. “It should just be normal.” All the men agreed that there is no strict ‘cut-off-point’ in terms of a girl’s age, and that sense of humour was the most attractive thing in any lady. “If she can take a joke, or a sarcastic remark, without it turning into an issue, or an awkward silence, then I’m going to like her,” says Rashid. “Yeah... Having a good sense of humour takes a girl from a six to an eight,” agrees Rick. And finding ‘the one’ can change even the most confirmed bachelor’s mind, says Andy. “I have been on dates before where I went there thinking I wasn’t looking for a relationship, but then when I met the girl I changed my mind.” So ladies, there’s hope for us yet!