When it comes to dating, I constantly get asked advice on what to do, how to handle the relationship and what is the right course of action. I have matched over a dozen couples who remain happily married over a decade later. So I must be doing something right… Giusto? (Right?)
So I decided to put down Mama’s Rules for dating.
If you have read the book, “THE RULES”, throw it out. It is an antiquated book with antiquated ideals on how to catch a man. It advises a woman to to lie, manipulate and be passive agressive in her approach to dating. I cannot see how this is a good basis for a relationship, regardless of whether you are male or female. The ladies who wrote this obviously do not agree with me, and you are welcome to disagree too after you’ve read my rules.
I will concede that men generally do not know what they want. They do often need to be led into the decision and the decision must come from them, not from your insistence, but that’s most people in general. However, men still feel a certain pressure once a relationship starts to become serious to decide whether or not they are ready: 1) to give up their “perceived freedom”, 2) to be in a serious relationship.
I say “perceived freedom” in quotes because men often feel that even if they still have the same ability to see their friends, work long hours and basically live their lives the same way, they like the idea that at any time, they can just do what they want when they want and sleep with whomever they wish. Even when they have no real desire to be with anyone else, they like the idea that they can. This ideal is often hard for a man to give up, especially if he has not given it up before or if he has given it up for a long relationship just recently that ended badly.
Dating requires honesty, patience and sometimes cajoling. If a man is slow to commit the best answer is simply just letting him know subtly that if he doesn’t figure it out within a reasonable time frame, you will move on. My husband Franco used to tell our daughters to give an indecisive man about six months because it is often the thought and choice of losing you over their freedom that makes him finally choose whether or not to commit, but he needs to get to know you to have a real choice to make. So do you. Dating is like a long interview process, with a lot of emotional investment in the outcome. I’m not even talking about marriage, simply just becoming a committed dating couple! When the time is up, sometimes, he won’t choose you. Maybe you won’t choose him. In either case, avanti! (Onward!)
I have always said that when a relationship ends, it was no longer right for you. This is God’s way of making room for another person, better suited to you. Don’t dwell on the past, go forward and be open to what it ahead. Positive energy attracts positive things.
I do not condone playing games. Live your own life, go out and see your friends, do your job, travel, have your “me” time and don’t wait around for them to call, to text, facebook or to make a date with you. If a man hasn’t called you by Thursday for a Saturday night and you want to make other plans. Do. But conversely, if he waits until Friday and you don’t have anything planned for Saturday, don’t say no to him just to make him think you’re busy. Believe me, he isn’t thinking that hard about it.
One of the biggest mistakes women make is they expect men to show too much interest in the beginning. One woman couldn’t understand why a man who had asked her out didn’t call anymore after she had been “too busy” to see him even for a drink or coffee the week before he left for a three week business trip. She wasn’t actually too busy, but she wanted to seem busy so he would keep asking her out because in her mind that meant he was really interested. This meant to him she wasn’t really interested. She yanked his chain all week. He left for his trip and never called again. Che sorpresa! (What a surprise!)
A player would love this behavior, but most nice guys loathe it. It’s scary for a man to ask a woman out. He risks rejection, so if you want to go out with him. GO THE FIRST TIME HE ASKS! Don’t wait for three invitations engraved in gold!
If this girl had made time, even if she was truly busy, to see him for even one hour, or if she had made definitive plans with him when he got back, “I’m sorry I really am swamped, but let’s get together on the Tues night after you get back so you can tell me all about your trip,” he would have found it endearing. Most likely he would have looked forward to seeing her again when he returned and might have called her while he was away to keep the interest going. Instead, he felt rebuffed. It was no small wonder why she never heard from him again.
Players will adore you from the start, will overly flatter you, make grand overtures again and again and do everything to make you think they’re nuts about you. BUT, just because a man pursues you, sends you flowers and gift and takes you expensive places doesn’t mean he’s interested in a substantive relationship. Over-flattery and barrage of attention generally means he wants to seduce you. If that is the case, best not to fall for it and have sex the first night, unless that’s all you want. If you take your time, you can suss out his intentions. A player will lose interest and move on to easier prey if you seem to want more substance. Substance is like a four letter word to a player.
There’s a difference between seduction and wanting to get to know a woman. Men who really are interested in a woman don’t pull out all the stops in the beginning. It’s not because they don’t want to sleep you with you. Let’s be honest, all men will still try to get you into bed as soon as possible, but it is not their main objective if they’re not players. Their main objective is to see if you have chemistry and if they want to see you again. If they get you into bed sooner rather than later, all the better for them. It really is that simple.
My advice is have sex when it is comfortable for you. If you think it’s right the first night, do it. I’ve known many married couples who met and had sex on the first night because the chemistry was that strong between them. If you want to wait, wait. If he likes you, it really won’t matter. Men separate sex and emotions in the beginning. Emotionally, most men take their time to get to know you before opening up. Sexually, they’re always open. Men have no problem being physically intimate, but they are slow to become emotionally intimate mostly because they fear losing their themselves in the relationship and ultimately losing control of their emotions. Falling in love seems to be more scary for them than for us.
The truth is, we are the stronger sex. We are stronger emotionally. We bounce back from failed relationships more easily too. We are more able to take risks emotionally as a result because we are brought up culturally to want to be part of a couple. Women get far more pressure to be in relatonships, married and have families earlier than men. Plus we handle our emotions better. We have friends we talk to and air our concerns. Men are more internal and rarely discuss their feelings with each other. Men are also lauded for their bachelorhood and then chided when married for having “the old ball and chain!” Porca miseria! (What a misery!) It’s no wonder they fear commitment when it’s described like that!
So, you as a woman, have an uphill task of showing a man that being with you will not be a prison sentence that limits his freedom (except the freedom to mess around) and takes away his ability to make choices and have a life, friends and ambition. At the same time, you must decide if you want this man as well. Women often get so caught up in the chase themselves, they never stop to think whether or not this man is good for them! It is fair of you to expect his honesty and to let him know what you want out of the relationship. Don’t insist or talk about this frequently, but do make your desires and needs known, and then be zen. Che sera sera.
As for men out there, my advice to you is to be honest and fair. I’m sorry to say it, but in your equivocation, you can often be unfair to the women you date. You often want it both ways. You want us to be available to you when you want us, but then you don’t want us to have any expectations. That can last a couple of months, but then after that, you’re gonna have to step it up or step out. The worst is the player who lies in a predatory manner and the serial monogamist who just doesn’t like to be alone. Neither really cares about the women he’s with, but he simply wants company for a night, a few nights or a year or two, and will tell a woman what she wants to hear to get it. Neither has any intention of being serious. Neither can truly commit. Being dishonest about it while in this promiscuous society of available non committal partners is to be cruel to those with more serious intentions. I have no kind words for predators of this kind from either sex. You are stronzi!
But for those who are honestly giving it a try, in all relationships, there must be some compromise, but one person should not have lien share of them. Compromises should somehow balance out, and each person must try to make the other happy in addition to himself or herself. Relationships require patience and tolerance on both people’s part and a willingness to listen, support and respect each others’ desires and needs. They also require communication, not just of what bothers you about the other person, but what makes you happy too.
If you make a man happy, and he perceives his happiness with you to be greater than the happiness he would have alone. He will most likely want to commit. He may have to break up with you to find out this truth. If he does and he comes back, he’ll have to earn it the second time around to show that this time, he knows what he wants. Don’t let him back easily, and think hard about whether or not you want him! A smart man (and yes there are some), a mature man and a good man, will eventually realize what he has within a reasonable time frame and make a decision you’ll both be happy with. Give him space and time, and in the meantime, live your life. There is nothing sexier, stronger and more attractive than a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.
And as I have always said, make all your choices from strength, not from fear. The outcome is always better, and you will be happier.