Advice From A Dating Coach’s Girlfriend

Advice From A dating Coach's Girlfriend

I usually don’t rerun blog posts, but this one just felt timely. Written in August 2007 by my girlfriend, right after our six month anniversary, the below piece gives three pearls of wisdom that you do not want to forget.

The fact that we’re still together after 15 months has EVERYTHING to do with what you’re about to read, and it explains why I’m never going to let my girlfriend go.

Enjoy.

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When Evan first threw out the idea of having me contribute to his blog, I thought, “Who, me? I’m not the expert!”

My dating history could not be more different than his. He has dated LOTS of women, has had many girlfriends and, for the bulk of his adult life, has been single and dating prolifically. I am quite the opposite. I can count on one hand (yes, ONE hand) the number of boyfriends I’ve had since turning 17. Of those relationships, all but one lasted for 3 years or more, and one developed into a marriage that, alas, ended in divorce. You might call me a Serial Monogamist.

Even though my background is completely different from Evan’s, we generally agree on the things that count. I never really thought about why it’s been so easy for us until he asked me to write this column. But after a little thinking – and some lengthy conversations with my best friend – this is what I came up with. I hope it makes sense to any relationship-minded females who are reading this. Here goes…

Advice from a Dating Coach’s Girlfriend

Don’t Cry Wolf

“Women are crazy.”

How many times have you heard this from your mate, your brother, or a guy friend?

If we were to “emote” every time a little thing rubs us the wrong way…Men literally become desensitized to our emotional outbursts.

I’ve heard it more than I care to admit, and, sadly, I can’t entirely refute it. The fact that we are more in touch with our feelings means that sometimes our emotions get the best of us. It’s natural. And, yet, do we have to let that happen all the time? Do the men in our lives have to walk on eggshells in fear that something they say will set us off? Do they have to always be extra cautious in case we start yelling, crying, or giving them the silent treatment?

If something bothers us in the relationship, it makes sense to let them know. But what if we were to “emote” every time a little thing rubs us the wrong way? Then when something important comes along and we are justified in being a little emotional, he will not take it seriously. Men literally become desensitized to our emotional outbursts. So rather than him saying, “Honey, what did I do that upset you?”, instead he thinks, “Here we go again, another dose of the crazy.”…

Evan will tell you I’m even-tempered. I’m proud of that because, although it now comes naturally to me, it didn’t always. I’ve been a slave to my emotions in the past and I know it is not pretty when I unleash the crazy on some poor unsuspecting guy. I have since figured out that not every little thing that bugs me is worth an emotional meltdown. But there was a point in our relationship a few months ago that caused me to have feelings I could not control.

Evan RSVP’d to an out-of-town wedding mere moments after meeting me. How could he know that we would turn into a relationship, right? I knew about the wedding, but we never really talked about it as it was months away. Well, months passed and we were still together and before we knew it, the wedding was upon us. I was disappointed that I couldn’t go with him, but he seemed a bit glib about it. At least that’s how I read it.

My feelings may have been justified, or they may have been completely irrational, but because it wasn’t my M.O. to have emotional outbursts, he didn’t just blow it off – he took it seriously.

While Evan was gone, he called me several times each day, texted me during the reception and mentioned over and over that he wished he had brought me. And, yet, even with all this attention, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t care that I wasn’t there with him. I needed to vent. When he returned, I did just that. Instead of thinking I was crazy, Evan listened intently, validated my feelings, and reiterated many times that he wished I had been there. My feelings may have been justified, or they may have been completely irrational, but because it wasn’t my M.O. to have emotional outbursts, he didn’t just blow it off – he took it seriously.

The Golden Rule

This is such a simple concept – treat others as you would like to be treated – that I feel a little silly mentioning it. But truthfully, I think we women are often unaware of the extreme hypocrisy of our behavior. We would never want our mate to boss us around, yet we want to force him to do what we want. Sometimes we use guilt, sometimes we use anger, sometimes we use sex. But we often try to manipulate men in a way that we’d never want to be manipulated ourselves.

If your coworkers invited you to join them for drinks after work, but this was going to delay dinner with your boyfriend, you’d expect him to understand. You wouldn’t even think it was a problem – you’d only call your mate to be polite, not to request permission to have drinks. Yet we often make our men feel like they have to ask for a special, one-time only waiver to slightly change our plans. And then we expect them to “make it up” to us somewhere down the road….

Men are so used to this that I think they’ve come to expect and dread it. Case in point: About a month ago, Evan and I had tickets to a classical music concert. A few days after we made the plans, Evan found out that his friend’s whitewater rafting bachelor party was the same weekend. Risking ridicule, he told his friends he couldn’t go to the party because it was on the same weekend as our concert. When I heard this, I immediately told him it was ridiculous to miss an entire weekend of fun with his guy friends for a few hours at a concert. Evan was surprised and admitted this was not what he expected me to say. Why not? I mean, wouldn’t I assume that if the situation were reversed he would give his blessing for me to spend time with my girlfriends?

I think men have become so accustomed to giving up their freedom just to be in a relationship that they often lose what makes them men. Not that a relationship isn’t worth the sacrifice, but does it have to be such a sacrifice?

I think men have become so accustomed to giving up their freedom just to be in a relationship that they often lose what makes them men. Not that a relationship isn’t worth the sacrifice, but does it have to be such a sacrifice?

Mulligans

For those not familiar with the golf term, a mulligan happens when a player gets a second chance to tee off if his first shot is errant. In general speech, the term has come to mean any minor blunder which is allowed to pass without consequence. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Guys are simple. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but, truly, women are more complex. We notice not just what men say, but how they say it, what they were doing when they said it, and what they said afterwards, etc. Since it is in our nature to dissect what men say and do, you can imagine how many times we will be hurt by something they said or did. So give them mulligans. Lots and lots of mulligans.

My theory is this: If a man cares about me, I make the assumption that he wouldn’t purposely try to hurt my feelings or make me angry. So, when a man says something and for a moment I think, “What the fu–” I stop myself, let the moment pass, and remind myself that this man who loves me was most likely unaware of what he did. He gets a mulligan….

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, if he doesn’t know he angered or hurt you, he’ll continue to do it.” I agree. Men can’t read our minds. But you have to remember what’s important in the grand scheme of things. Is it better to assume he is being malicious and tell him so? Or is it better to give him the benefit of the doubt and, in doing so, keep the peace? My method is this: If I am still thinking about that annoying thing he said the next morning, then perhaps it warrants a discussion. A man who loves a woman wants to know if he did something to offend her. And hopefully by bringing it up later she will have had time to cool down so the “discussion” does not turn into a full-blown argument.

If I am still thinking about that annoying thing he said the next morning, then perhaps it warrants a discussion. A man who loves a woman wants to know if he did something to offend her.

Evan is truly the most conscientious and self-aware boyfriend I’ve had. But even he will say things that could bother/hurt/anger me if I let them. For instance, it has never upset me when he makes fun of my love of food (if you catch any woman on the wrong day – and, no I don’t mean just that time of the month – she could interpret this as, “you eat too much, you’re getting fat”). I also take it in stride when he says that one of his female friends is the funniest or sweetest or most in-shape girl he knows (it wouldn’t be too difficult to hear, “I wish you were funny/sweet/in-shape”). Since I know he would never purposely hurt my feelings, I don’t try to read between the lines to extract some other, less-flattering meaning to his off-handed comments.

But I am human and my feelings do sometimes get hurt. One time I remember Evan saying that I did not fit the mold of what he thought he wanted. Of course, I already knew that. He always pictured himself with an Ivy-league educated, East Coast Jewish girl. And I pictured myself with…well, not a guy like Evan. But it wasn’t the East Coast Jewish comment that bothered me. It was the “Ivy-League” part. Even if I didn’t go to a nationally ranked school, I want my boyfriend to appreciate my intelligence. So, one night before we went to bed, I let Evan know how I felt. He apologized and reassured me that he does think I’m intelligent, he doesn’t care about labels, and he’d make an effort to be more sensitive in the future. And since he couldn’t take back what he said, that’s all I could ask of him.

Now imagine if EVERYTHING he said was dissected like this one issue. How could he ever feel comfortable speaking freely? How could he ever be himself around me?

The answer is, he couldn’t.

Like I mentioned in the “Don’t Cry Wolf” section, Evan would end up feeling like he had to walk on eggshells around me for fear that I will interpret something he says in a way that could upset me, even if that is clearly not his intention. So he would end up having a different persona with me than he does with any of his other friends. We women do not want to have to act differently in our relationship than we do at work or with our girlfriends, so we shouldn’t force our men into that awkward situation by jumping all over everything they say.

I hope this resonated with you.  Again, I don’t consider myself an expert in anything but my own life.  Thanks for reading.

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Comments:

  1. 2
    Jennifer

    This girl is THE TRUTH! Loved this post and so glad you re-ran it, as I missed it the first time.

  2. 3
    Steve

    Wow…just wow. I wish there were questions about this essay every girl’s and woman’s driving test. What a beautiful world it would be.

    EGF, if you ever get tired of Evan I know of another single atheist of European Jewish descent :)

    “Advice From A Single Dating Expert’s Girlfriend”

    – great title for a book. I’m serious

  3. 4
    cinnamon

    Great post!
    Especially the final part of it:
    ” (he) would end up feeling like he had to walk on eggshells around me for fear that I will interpret something he says in a way that could upset me, even if that is clearly not his intention. So he would end up having a different persona with me than he does with any of his other friends.”
    Definitely spurred a few thoughts (and memories) in me. Thanks!

  4. 5
    Leslie

    She’s good….wise and a good writer. I’ve read this post before and parts of it stuck with me. Now reading it a second time I find even more value. I’d love to hear from your girlfriend (I don’t think you’ve written about her by name) more often.

  5. 6
    Single Mom Seeking

    I remember this the first time around — and it’s great to read it again. Thanks so much… that’s coming from a very emotional woman.

    So, Evan, when are you going to propose to this amazing woman? That’s the big question.

  6. 7
    Kay

    Hi Evan,

    This was a good article. Your girlfriend makes a lot of sense. It’s a good thing all of us aren’t as in tune as she is otherwise you’d have too much time on your hands. I’m wondering when we’ll be hearing your wedding bells too. You seem to have found a wonderful woman, so what are you waiting for? Its okay Evan, you can still give advice on being single and dating even if you get married, because I hear the best way to have a successful marriage is to treat your husband or wife, like you’re still dating and you are the expert. Take Care. :)

  7. 8
    Steve


    Kay May 13th 2008 at 09:42 am 7
    Hi Evan,
    This was a good article. Your girlfriend makes a lot of sense.

    Only the U.S. Mint makes cents.

  8. 9
    Steve


    Single Mom Seeking May 13th 2008 at 06:54 am 5
    So, Evan, when are you going to propose to this amazing woman? That’s the big question.

    Evan, I can get you out of this one…

    SMS, Evan wouldn’t have much respect as a dating expert if he didn’t make use of knowledge that he has.

    It has been mentioned a number of times on this blog that scientists now believe that the feeling known as romantic love lasts between 1 – 3 years. It has also been mentioned on this blog that while people are in that zone, they are likely to minimize incompatibility issues with the other person, if they notice those issues at all. Romantic love temporarily disables a person’s judgment in regards to who they are with.

    So, the most rational time to decide whether or not you should marry someone is after the romantic love phase has worn off and your full judgment in regards to that person has been fully restored.

    Evan hasn’t been dating is girlfriend for the maximum of 3 years yet.

  9. 10
    JNez

    nothing really groundbreaking here. when two people genuinely are in love with and care about each other, it works because they make sacrifices to ensure their partner’s happiness. when one partner is alone in love, it doesn’t happen. most times we are alone in love, and once in a while, we hit the jackpot and find “the one”. hopefully you’ve found yours.

  10. 11
    Michele

    Mike (1).

    Her post sure is GOLD, as well as pertinent to any age group, SES and both genders.

  11. 12
    vino

    Golden Rule Section especially good

  12. 13
    the foreigner

    This was a great post, I hope you’ll continue writing.

    Though I’ve always wondered exactly _what_ to do when I’m getting the silent treatment from a woman. Should I ask about it or pretend like it’s raining or..?

    Thanks =)

  13. 14
    hunter

    Having to work with herds of men all day, I have learned to “tighten” up my conversation if a woman is present. Women are different, they don’t talk like men do. This lead me to walk on eggshells for years…..

  14. 15
    Salma

    I’m really glad I read this- alas, I am a hypersensitive woman (I’m working on changing that). And although I don’t get into shouting matches with guys, or throw glasses of champagne in their faces when pissed, I’m prone to the whole brooding, silent treatment thing.

    I should definitely listen to your wife, Evan- I think I’d have more peace of mind when it comes to men.

  15. 16
    Evian

    I tend to be one of those girls who lets her emotions get the best of her, and I speak what I feel. I’ve noticed lately, my husband rolling his eyes at me if I get upset at him for saying something that hurts my feelings, like he doesn’t take it seriously. It bothered me for a long time, until I finally looked it up. I know I’m not perfect but it stinks to have him roll his eyes if I’m hurt over something.

    I think this is the best advice I’ve read. Maybe I AM being over critical and just need to give him some Mulligans, and maybe he’ll start being less “Omg she’s being crazy again” and attentive to my feelings. Thanks a bunch.

  16. 17
    Unicorn

    My last “boyfriend” apparently couldn’t handle this level of trust. It was completely unfamiliar to him. He tried to break up with me by purposely “running late” and criticizing me… and I just waited for him to say what was on his mind. Eventually he had to step up to the plate. His attitude might make it harder for me to give the next guy the benefit of the doubt…

  17. 18
    Jeannie

    I’m an older woman…when I was married, I walked on eggshells around my spouse…it is not gender specific & not a good feeling…I dislike hystrionic women who carry on & have drama over every miniscule thing BUT I certainly wouldn’t censor myself either if something was a major issue or a chronic concern. I’d say BALANCE is key in any relationship!

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