Can't Tell the Players Without a Scorecard

"So much subliminal information is conveyed in those first seconds of contact," says Carol Kauffman, Ph.D., a relationship therapist and psychology instructor at Harvard medical school. Okay, so you're on the clock. Make every second count. Below are 10 ways - in rough chronological order - a woman judges your fitness to be her proverbial daddy.

Did He Dress Well for the Date?

"She's watching to see if you put some energy into your dress and grooming," says Aline Zoldbrod, Ph.D., a psychologist and sex therapist in Boston. "If you don't take the trouble to dress well for her now, she could see it as disrespectful."

Is He Depressed?

Does he stare at my breasts? Does he have any sense of humor? If you're a total loser, it pays for her to ascertain that on the first date, says Zoldbrod.

Is He Like My Ex?

Yes, we always pay for the last guy's sins. "What women want is often based on their past negative or positive experiences," says Kauffman. So when she talks about past boyfriends, heed well.

Is He Bitter About Past Relationships?

She needs full use of your closets. There's no room for baggage.

Can He Talk About Himself and Listen to Me?

She'll carry 80 percent of the conversation load. Just make sure your 20 percent is about something.

Is He Generous?

Women somehow see a correlation between leaving a 10 percent tip and having a propensity to drown kittens.

Does He Make Me Feel Understood and Appreciated?

If you can't succinctly state her values, her politics, and her ambitions, you're probably failing here. Ask more questions. Listen to the answers this time.

Is He Open to a Relationship but Not Needy?

Ace the other nine criteria here and your odds of appearing needy will edge toward nil.

Does He Keep Promises?

If you're not reliable, you're not viable, especially not for the ultimate goal of all this. . . .

Does He Have the Potential to be a Good Father?

"For long-term potential, she considers whether you have the values she wants in a man," says Jean Koehler, Ph.D., president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. If she can't see tykes on your knee, she's wasting her time. How you interact with your own family can be a strong indicator here.