Wondering if he's The One? Five activities that show a man's worth.
When Le'Anne Moreau agreed to a date involving touch football, she had already assumed the guy wasn't a good match for her. He was too shy and not adventurous enough. But out on the field, her thoughts were intercepted when she tripped and sprained her ankle. That's when he sprang into action.
"He picked me up and brought me ice," Moreau recalls. "The date should have been over. Instead, he bought a picnic and brought it to me." What could have been a disastrous date stretched into the evening and morphed into a five-year relationship.
"The date showed not only how fun and adventurous he really was, but also how sweet and caring," says Moreau, 28.
Love-life experts say activity dates can quickly reveal a man's personality and character. So, the next time a guy invites you for a drink, why not suggest an out-of-the-bar experience instead?
What to look for: Chivalry
Red flag: Temper
Considered the ultimate gentleman's sport, a round of golf will showcase a man's manners. For example, if you're teetering from the heft of your golf bag, does he offer to carry it? It's all about etiquette on the golf course.
"If you look at the top players in golf, they're very elegant. It's not a rough and sweaty sport," says April Beyer, a Los Angeles-based matchmaker and dating coach "This is where a man reveals how much of a gentleman he is."
If he's losing, notice whether he throws a tantrum or is a good sport. If you're the novice, pay attention to whether he steps back to help you.
"I've even seen people over-penalize themselves to fall behind so they can be on the same level as the other person," says Lisa Clampitt, President of VIP Life, a matchmaking service in New York City. "I think that's a sweet gesture."
As one of the most mentally challenging sports, golf also requires focus. If your date loses concentration fast or gives up too easily—not a good sign.
"If he's going to give up on the golf course, he's going to give up on you," Beyer cautions.
What to look for: Playfulness
Red flag: Rigidity
Bowling is supposed to be fun, even a bit silly. How can you not laugh at yourself, especially in those hilariously hideous shoes?
Although your date doesn't have to be a comedian, taking himself too seriously at the bowling alley is a red flag.
"It's not so important that you find someone who's funny," Beyer says. "It is important to be with someone who can laugh through life because that's what keeps couples together for years and years."
What to look for: Helpfulness
Red flag: Controlling
Tennis is one of the most interactive dates. Even just hitting the ball around can show a man's sense of fair play. You'll learn whether he always has to win, or if having fun and getting to know you trumps his ego.
"Pay attention to whether he's helpful and kind about the way he's serving and score-keeping," Clampitt says. "You'll learn a lot if he's saying things like, 'I'm blowing you away, sucker!' instead of 'Let's just hit a couple rounds and see how we do.'"
Also, watch the way he handles himself if your skills are unevenly matched.
"If you're not playing as well as him and he helps you with your serve or teaches you, that's a good sign," Beyer says.
What to look for: Patience
Red flag: Dismissive
Horseback riding is Beyer's favorite activity to recommend for a date because it reveals critical qualities in a life partner. In fact, one of her clients recently captured the attention of a woman only after he was thrown from a horse and then got right back on.
"She wasn't that interested in the beginning, but then she saw how he handled it, that he didn't scream at the horse or the guides," Beyer recalls. "He was patient and fair when he got back to the stables. It really impressed her."
But you want to look for more than just how he handles his fears; how he responds to yours can uncover more endearing—and important—character traits.
"If you're fearful and he encourages you, that's indicative of patience in life and in a relationship because there are going to be times when a person is having more of a hard time in life, and then the other person needs to lend a hand," Clampitt says.
ICE SKATING / BLADING
What to look for: Confidence
Red flag: Insecurity
Having a man join you for a skate date can either be a fun, free-flowing experience or a day filled with awkward movements and jittery falls. But dating experts say it's less about how he navigates the rink, and more about how he navigates himself that matters here.
Clampitt recalls a man telling her that he likes to take women ice skating and then pretends he's going to push them—just to see how they'll react.
"I think that's annoying and obnoxious," Clampitt says. "It's also an indicator that he's insecure, wants attention and is almost socially awkward."
Now, if the guy is the one who tumbles, notice whether he takes it too seriously (and slinks out of the rink with a bruised ego) or if he simply laughs it off.
"I think how he handles it is an indication of how he'll take the falls in life," Clampitt says.
"I could also see myself possibly marrying him in the future," Moreau says. "For five years of my life, it was a great time. And to think I probably would not have even gone out with him again, if that [touch football] date had not been so telling."
Love-life experts say it's all about revealing character early on, so you can jump over the jerks and find the gems—the ones you may have otherwise overlooked.
"All the answers you need lie in those first few dates," Beyer says, "if you're really paying attention."