I belong to a women’s facebook group which has gravitated to discussions centered on the mysteries of dating and the question of whether or not a relationship has come to an end, and, if it’s ended, why. I’m intrigued by the scenarios women share, remembering vividly trying to parse out nuances and meanings of the various behaviors my girlfriends and I encountered as we searched for “Mr. Right” when I was young. After years of successes and failures, here it is: Men Demystified.
We seem to want the guys we date to be “the one” and are looking for all sorts of clues to validate it. Guys, however, are often looking for something else entirely. So the fact that he asked us out on a date doesn’t necessarily mean he was putting his hat in the ring to be “the one” his interests can represent any number of things.
One of the key lessons I learned from my dating days was that I should be more focused on whether the man suits me, than whether I suit him. Once I realized I had a say, and I wasn’t there see if I made his cut, I found myself empowered. I created a list of things that were important to me to use a guide. The list helped me clarify my values and sort out guys and situations that were less than optimal right from the start.
What I learned from all of this is that while we are busy trying to break some sort of code, guys are deceptively direct and simple, and there is one sure way to break the code. I know, I’ve cracked it. But before we get into that, here are some of the questions I see over and over again.
The first question goes something like this: “I met this really great guy, we had a wonderful time together, we’ve really hit it off, but…:”
I haven’t heard from him since;
We’ve gone out a couple of times but now he’s not returning my calls or texts;
He says he can’t commit;
He says my expectations are too high;
He hasn’t introduced you to his family or friends; and/or
He seems to call or stop by at the last minute or late in the evening.
“What should I do? He seems/ed perfect for me.”
Seeing it spelled out in this way makes his intentions very clear, and yet little details muddy the water, like the fact that he has repeatedly told/tells you that you are wonderful, maybe something like “this could really work out,”and maybe he even loves you or could and when you are together, it is (or was) amazing. He seems to always leave a carrot dangling. He has everything you ever looked for in a guy, handsome, good job, charming…on paper he seems perfect and yet…in spite of all the magic and love talk things aren’t going in the direction you’d hoped, and you still question whether there is something to pursue. We women often think this is where we can talk things out.
At the heart is the question: Is there potential for this situation, and/or are you “together” or not? I counter with my question: Is this the behavior of someone who is in love or moving toward being committed to you or is forming a deeper relationship? Here’s a hint: none of the behaviors above are indicators of his having interest in a relationship. And trying to have a talk with him about what’s going on is fruitless because no matter what is said, he’s showing you where you stand. The “showing” part is the key.
Another question centers around the following:
We really hit it off but:
He’s engaged or married to someone else;
He doesn’t like my kids/friends/family, or I don’t like his;
He’s unemployed, homeless, doesn’t have transportation;
He suffers from addiction;
His “Ex” is still in the picture;
He’s overly controlling;
We practice different religions, have different value system or want something big in life that the other doesn’t, like having children;
I met him online and haven’t seen him in real life; and/or
He’s had an affair, or is having an affair.
This usually is usually followed by with “What should I do? and Will this work out?”
The heart of this situation isn’t whether or not a relationship like this will work out, but why you would want to be with someone who is showing and telling you that they aren’t the right fit to begin with. Why are you willing to settle for a less than optimal situation? Remember, while everyone has flaws, there is a difference between not putting the toilet seat down and someone who has one or more of the above going on. Engaging with such a person is only going to bring heartache for all involved—and the circle of hurt and wreckage can be surprisingly large.
I’ve noticed that it seems like the more time we spend with a guy, (and especially if there has been intimacy) the more difficult it is to really see what is going on and take the steps to walk away if it’s less than optimal, especially if he is pressing all your emotional buttons. I have learned to do a little waiting and watching before jumping in to anything, and it’s paid off, along with my zero BS tolerance policy. Life is too short and there are many, many fish in the sea. And frankly, I’d rather have no fish than a bad one.
So here’s the code breaker: Watch what he does—the big choices he’s made, as well as observing whether he does he what says he is going to do, and whether he is kind to the people in his life, including servers when you dine out. The truth of who people are and what they really want is in their actions. Here’s my two cents for anyone wrestling with these scenarios: Take the time to find out why you are tempted by this type of guy or situation and work toward healing that. Ultimately look for someone who shares your values, interests, and shows you that you are the one.
” Be more focused on whether the man suits me, than whether I suit him” – great words of truth! As women we are so often raised to be chosen by a man without considering whether or not we truly want to choose him! In many cases the warning signs of a bad relationship are there – we just choose to ignore them or, worse, think we can fix them! Great piece.
Elizabeth | http://nattygal.com
I would say that if there’s a question then it’s not right I would definitely have the self pride to think about if he was right for me.
Another wonderful post, Nina! Heart-warming and informative. Honest and sincere. I met my husband in my mid-30’s and remember going through all these same struggles. My sister told me once that I first had to come to a place where I was completely and sincerely comfortable with myself and comfortable with the idea of being alone FOREVER! Once I reached that place, my husband walked into my life and because I was totally good with myself, I knew what I wanted, what I would tolerate, etc. I was able to allow love in. And we have had the most magical… Read more »
Oh I remember those days. I was one who was always guessing. In the end I stopped guessing when I met my husband. There was such a difference in the way he acted and that he WANTED to be with me all the time. Literally. I finally understood unconditional love by how he treats me.
Nina, You look absolutely stunning in that dress! Thank you for featuring me too! I appreciate our friendship! As for dating men at any age really, I have watched friends date men who were not suitable for them, but the women “Needed to be in a relationship.” They wanted someone to take care of them. I have always liked being alone and I have friends who need a man in their life. I am lucky I am married, but I remember having those same questions when I was in the dating game. I always applaud the man who dates a… Read more »
Wonderful piece of writing. I completely agree with your advice. I would be totally terrified of dating after 34 years of being with the same partner. It took me forever to realise it wasn’t just about my partner picking me! I so admire women who can put themselves out there and have the confidence to know their worth xx