05/25/2010 12:47 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

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 based The Tao of Dating for Women and Men on timeless principles instead of anecdote, since the former don'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 in aggregate. 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. Kindly 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. 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 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 wrong.

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 three 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 a guy, 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 pleasure that will make your vision blurry for days. A guy will do all of those (well, the right guy 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 wants to see you again.

Here ends this rant. May you have found it useful. If you have your own helpful tips you'd like to share or would like to politely disagree and illuminate the masses of dim men with a choice morsel of wisdom (lord knows we could use some), please comment below. Make it brief and play nice -- pointlessly snarky comments will be deleted without a second thought.

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