Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Staying in the Dating Game

So you've made points with your man. He digs you. He wants you. You want him. Game over, right?

Wrong, again.

Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean the game is over. Oh, no, girlfriend. In some ways, the real work begins. It is easy for everyone, men and women, to get complacent once it looks like the relationship is a sure thing. But complacency must be avoided. I actually had a guy friend tell me that you get married so you can take each other for granted. I wondered if his wife would agree with that perspective. Somehow I doubted it. And yet, women are just as guilty--and the complacency, or something funky, enters before marriage. If there ends up being a marriage.....

You want to keep him right? Then why are you changing from the girl he liked to begin with? That's right, when you first dated, he liked you because you were spunky, funny, interesting, hard working, sincere, etc. And then, as he got more committed, you started to flake out. You morphed into this insecure, needy, obsequious (look it up), possessive, jealous, miserable girl. Where is that exciting woman?

Ladies, keep doing what you did to get him to begin with, don't change. Don't suddenly text him 500 times a day or leave freaked out messages or call his boss at work if he hasn't called you yet, etc. If you're finally going out on a date after spending so much time chatting, don't launch into what's horrible about your co-workers or your crazy sister-in-law or whatever else is irritating you at the moment.

It seems that women get nervous as they get more vulnerable. A woman might think the guy likes her, but she is not sure. No declarations have been made. So she wonders. A girl wants to know where she stands. An anxious, fearful person doesn't tend to make the most centered decisions. So, here's the choice: Either develop some stress coping mechanisms and be patient or take a chance and communicate directly.

Depending on the situation, there are benefits to both quiet patience and direct communication. Waiting is the best policy if you're new in the relationship. Guys demonstrate how much they value the relationship by: being exclusive, spending time and money, and how much they include you in other parts of their lives. If a guy shows all of those behaviors, it's a safe bet that he's into you. If the relationship has grown and developed longer and it has started to get comfortable but no moves for commitment have been made, it might be time to have a conversation.

I have read that a woman should never give a man an ultimatum. Well. Imagine a game of poker or negotiating with a car salesman: you have to be willing to walk away or the negotiation is already over and you've already lost. There is a point where it is time to be willing to cut your losses and leave the table. My suggestion, should you decide to do this, is to come from a calm, loving, direct place during the conversation. Crying, screaming, yelling, whining will get you zero respect and minimize the chance that you'll get an honest answer. And you want an honest answer, not the answer that you want to hear. And yes, this might be painful. If you choose to directly ask something like,"Where are we going with this?" or, "I really like you and I feel like this is more than friends, but I don't want to spend any more emotional effort if this is going to stay just friends", wait for his answer. If he can't answer that it's going somewhere, walk away.

You read that right: Walk. Away.

Now, you might think the guy is the love of your life. Maybe so. But the best sort of love is mutual not one sided. He has to be able to say it and demonstrate it. So, walk away. If he loves you, he'll come get you. (Just don't burn the bridge because you're hurt or disappointed.) Wait. There have been many instances where the guy just needed space to think about it. Or, he just needed to feel the pain of separation to realize what he had and almost lost. And sometimes, he never comes. But you need to know that, too. If he doesn't love you, why in the world would you want to be with him?

To recap, stay your sweet happy self. Beat the insecure girl into submission. Even if you feel that way, stuff it, don't show it to him. Once the relationship is more established, but you're not sure where it's going decide how you want to proceed. Be careful here. Patience may be called for. Then again, a solid dose of real, might be called for, too.

No matter what, keep going with your life. Don't change your world's orbit to turn around him. It's pathetic and lame. You'll wonder why he likes you less or seems to be growing distant. Um, desperate is like nasty b.o., it's off-putting. Be patient. Be direct. The ultimate goal is the truth whether you end up permanently with him or not. Short term pain is worth trading for long-term misery. Hopefully, though, there won't be pain or misery, just fun and eventually, the relationship of your dreams.


Anonymous said...

***There have been many instances where the guy just needed space to think about it. Or, he just needed to feel the pain of separation to realize what he had and almost lost.****

Ok, Doc, I am one of those types of guys that has to feel the pain of separation to understand things. Am I a bad boyfriend? Or am I undateable? Or is this something I should communicate better to the person who just dumped me for whatever reason? Or, to put it another way, what is the female opinion on guys like us.

Melissa Clouthier said...


If you are a chronic dumpee because you find it impossible to express your devotion, you need to learn to communicate better. However, if you are a chronic dumpee because you just can't commit, well, you deserve to be dumped or don't love and care enough for the women you've been dumped by. Perhaps the right one has yet to come along.

If you have been dumped and love the girl, then you need to go after her and try to win her back. Think long and hard, though, before doing this. Some guys just can't imagine that someone wouldn't want their magnificence and so feel challenged. They go get the girl back and turn around and dump her. Lame. However, if you have realized you made a huge mistake, go get her and tell her that. You'd be making a bigger mistake to never find out if you could really have been something special.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

"I actually had a guy friend tell me that you get married so you can take each other for granted. I wondered if his wife would agree with that perspective. Somehow I doubted it. " Perhaps you've addressed this in another column, why do women want to get married?

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Anonymous said...

Perfect advice.