You met in a bar and chatted for hours. You were the perfect gentleman, putting her in a taxi and promising to text her next day. When you do, you ask her out on a date and she readily accepts.
It all seems to be going so well, but during the second date, or maybe the third, the conversation becomes a bit stilted. She no longer looks right into your eyes when she speaks, and her mind seems to wander when you're talking. When you text her the next day, she doesn't reply, and there's nothing the day after that either.
Sorry to say, but it seems that another blink-and-you-miss it relationship is dead in the water.
While it's true to say that relationships are always most fragile when you're still getting to know each other, if you habitually fail to get beyond a second or third date, or you're often left wondering how a promising situation ended in unanswered messages and stony silence, it could be time to face facts.
Something you are doing or saying is scaring women away. That's not to say that you're doing or saying anything particularly wrong, but the first few weeks of a budding relationship are a time for tact and diplomacy, and a time when any mistake can see either party backing away.
So what might it be? Here are five common mistakes that men make at the start of a relationship...
You laugh at her jokes, even when they're rubbish. You agree with her opinions, even when they're nonsense. You bitch about the people she bitches about and big up things you normally hate. You shower her with compliments whether she deserves them or not.
You may be trying to prove that you have something in common, or you may just think that being a bit of a sap is the easiest way to get her into bed. Either way, you come across as insincere, immature and spineless. She may even start thinking you're a little bit weird. Yes, she fell for all that blah when you first met (and she'd had a few drinks and then a few more) but now she wants to see at least a little bit of the real you. She wants a real man, not a yes man.
Being too open
But while she wants to see a little bit of the real you, she doesn't want to see the whole package. She doesn't want to know about your exes, the one that got away or how many sexual partners you've had.
That sounds a bit obvious, but many men think it's OK to talk about exes in the early stages of a new relationship, as long as they're slagging them off. Talking about how pleased you are to have dumped an ex, or how appallingly treated you were in a past relationship, won't make women warm to you: it will make them walk away. At some point she'll really want to know about your romantic past, and when that moment comes you'll know she's well and truly hooked. But it isn't now.
Being not open enough
We know, we know, but nobody said it was easy. You can be too open, and you can be not open enough, and getting the balance right is a tough ask.
But bear this in mind. She doesn't want to know everything about you in the first few weeks of dating, but she needs to know enough to make a decision on your viability as a long-term lover, or at least to think it's worth her while sticking around to see how things turn out.
So don't be secretive. If she asks about your personal life, answer openly and honestly but not, at this stage, in detail, and ask similar questions back. Just don't offer the information unbidden. Talk about your passions, your ambition and what you like to do away from work and bars. Show her that you are a man with a future, not a man with issues.
Being too possessive
You don't have to be very possessive to be too possessive in the very early stages of a relationship. If she says she can't see you on a particular date and you ask why, that's probably one question too many.
Similarly, don't bombard her with late night texts, unless it's very obvious she wants you to. And if she's staying out late with a bunch of handsome male work colleagues (including an ex boyfriend)...well, it might grate, but the only way you can use the situation to your advantage is to ignore it or treat it with absolute indifference.
Being all about the sex
Look, they know what you want, and unless you've drawn a really short straw, they want it too eventually. But that "eventually" is their call, whether it's after date two or two months down the line (any longer is a bit weird though and you might want to back away yourself). Pressuring a date for sex before she's ready is one way to make sure you don't get it.
And by pressuring, we don't just mean asking (or begging) for it. Making conversations all about sex, or sending suggestive texts at all times of day and night, won't bring the moment of fulfilment any nearer. It may just annoy her, and make her think sex is all you're really after.
Oh, and once the deed has been done once, don't think it's there for you any time you want, especially if that time is during a surprise 1am visit after a big night out with the boys. She will still expect romance as the prelude to sex, rather than a grubby afterthought.