Do I Need to Keep Mirroring After He Is My Boyfriend?

Do I Need to Keep Mirroring After He Is My Boyfriend?

Evan,
I’ve read a lot of your articles, your ebook, and other books you suggest on your website (including Dr. Pat Allen). I’ve also reviewed material from some of your colleagues who appear to have similar philosophies, such as Rori Raye and Ali Binazir. After taking all of this in, there is still one thing I’m confused about, and it has to do with the period where the dating stage ends and the relationship stage begins. During the dating stage, we learn to mirror, lean back, observe, and to be open to receiving rather than giving. We don’t want to over-function or give too much. We don’t want to try to control things or push things along. This way we can evaluate a man’s intent, his level of interest and his ability to lead.

Then enter relationship stage. During this stage we begin to see one another’s flaws and decide whether to accept or reject them. We learn how important communication is. We are excited and want to express our deep feelings and desire for a future. We learn that love is accepting someone’s flaws (as long as they are not unethical, immoral or abusive) and putting someone else’s needs before your own.

So my question is: if you are in a relationship and wish you were getting “more” from the other person — more time together, a higher priority ranking in his life, faster timeline, etc. — is it better to just step back, be patient and refocus on myself, or give more of myself to him and put some of my own needs aside in hopes of him someday doing the same? –Elyse

Dear Elyse,

Thanks for taking the time to write, and, more importantly, for synthesizing all this material to ask an informed question.

I’m going to answer you, briefly, and also use this as a springboard to clarify the concept of mirroring, which seems to have taken on a life of its own since I described it in “Why He Disappeared”.

There are no “games” when you’re in a relationship.

So, yes, you seem to have a good understanding of the courtship process. Guy asks you out. You say yes. He takes you on the date. You thank him for his generosity. He kisses you at the end of the night. You kiss him back. He follows up with a text to say he had fun and wants to see you again. You reply accordingly. Each step of the way, he’s making an effort, and you’re responding quickly with appreciation and enthusiasm. This is mirroring. Men reveal themselves in their efforts, and if their efforts lag, despite the fact that you had a great connection, he doesn’t earn the right to become your boyfriend.

Now, say you’ve been on 6 dates. You’ve gotten to third base. He says he wants to take down his profile and focus on you. You agree. You sleep together. You’re now boyfriend and girlfriend. Congratulations.
You are in a sexually exclusive relationship and you have a good two years to figure out if you actually want to marry each other.

As you said, “During this stage we begin to see one another’s flaws and decide whether to accept or reject them. We learn how important communication is. We are excited and want to express our deep feelings and desire for a future. We learn that love is accepting someone’s flaws (as long as they are not unethical, immoral or abusive) and putting someone else’s needs before your own.”

It is during this time that the masks come off and people reveal their true character. The guy who was charming at the beginning becomes aloof. The guy who was eager becomes lazy. The guy who was intoxicated by you becomes critical. The truth eventually comes out.

There are no “games” when you’re in a relationship. There’s not even classic “mirroring”. He’s your boyfriend! You want to call him, call him! However, you shouldn’t NEED to remind your boyfriend that you’re alive. This is one of the things that often happens with readers who continue to mirror well into their relationships.

“We’ve been together five months and we have plans this Friday night, but I’m not sure what to wear. Should I call him?”

It’s your job to state your needs. It’s his job to meet them. And if he doesn’t, it’s your responsibility to terminate the relationship.

YES! There’s a huge difference between a text that says: “What should I wear to your parents’ house on Friday?” and “I haven’t heard from you in six days. How come you’re avoiding me?” One is basic communication, the other is weak and needy.

If he’s your boyfriend, he should want to make you happy. It’s your job to tell him how to do so – he’s not a mindreader.

So, yes, you can absolutely, positively tell him, “Hey, Jim, you know what would really make me happy? If you called me each night before you went to sleep. Can you do that for me?” If he puts up a big protest, it says a lot about his desire to make you happy. You asked a reasonable question that requires very little effort. He should want to make that effort to preserve your union. Similarly, you should easily be able to say, “Can you give me a few days notice before we have plans for the weekend, so I can prepare?” or “It’s cool that you have a busy life, but I don’t want a once-a-week booty call; I want a boyfriend who makes me a priority. You can understand that, can’t you?”

It’s your job to state your needs. It’s his job to meet them.

And if he doesn’t, it’s your responsibility to terminate the relationship. It’s not his job to let you know that he won’t give you more effort.

That last line alone should save you YEARS of wasted time. If your intern isn’t performing, you have to let him go.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Peter

    Once exclusive relationships were called engagements.  At that point, you were testing each other rather than seducing each other.  I am not sure that two years sex is the same thing?

  2. 2
    Emily

    I concur with Peter. Exclusive is only when there’s a real commitment otherwise what guarantee do you really have? I’m a Christian and I believe in intentional dating. I do not want to go back to our culture’s way of dating/the way I’ve done it in the past: start seeing each other, start having sex, maybe then a talk of just having sex with each other?, moving in together, still not dating other people, still not asking if there’s marriage in the future. Wait a year or 2, ask what’s up? Then breakup if you’re not looking for the same things… I want to date someone who I know wants the same things from the beginning (which helps if you’re intentionally dating and of the same beliefs). I do not like the idea that I’m off the market and “committed” to someone just because we’re not having sex with other people when you’re still not truly committed to each other.

  3. 3
    Gabrielle

    Peter and Emily,
    I totally agree with you, it is so refreshing to read opinions that are so clear and logical (and the same as mine:).
    Emily I think you nailed it with “I do not like the idea that I’m off the market and “committed” to someone just because we’re not having sex with other people when you’re still not truly committed to each other”. I also believe strongly in that theory and I am feeling very fortunate to recently, (three months ago) enter a loving relationship with that as the basis for both of us.
    I suspect we are going a bit off on a tangent, so as far as the comment “do I need to keep mirroring after he is my boyfriend”, that you have started to see who he is by then, I also agree with Evan that it is then time to “give” back to the relationship, by not just mirroring.
     

  4. 4
    rachel

    Emily, I am not Christian but I really like the point that you make.  You describe EXACTLY what I have done in the past, and none of those many exclusive relationships I have been in where I was committed, ever led to marriage in my case. In fact, my being committed, did not mean that the man was committed in the same way.  I am not sure how to go about intentional dating either though. Does one just state their intentions up front, before they are in a relationship?

  5. 5
    Rose

    Spot on Peter and Emily. I feel in total agreement.

  6. 6
    Fusee

    Thanks, Evan! I think it’s a great reminder/clarification of your mirroring advice. The thing with advice is that some people turn it into a rigid rule and check out their common sense at the door.
     
    For me, mirroring makes sense until both parties are focusing on each other exclusively. To me exclusivity is mental/emotional first. At that point there does not even need to be anything physical going on, just being interested and attracted enough to give each other’s full attention for a little while and see where things are going.
     
    Hopefully it’s done within the first few dates. Just enough time to make sure there is enough attraction and interest and being able to potentially choose from other options if you’re doing multiple dating, but not for too many dates because 1. if it takes that long to decide, I think there is a lack of interest, 2. to my experience few modern men would be fine initiating for weeks on end without any reciprocation beside enthousiasm and gratitude. If they’re dating other women they will eventually choose one who on top of being attractive, kind, and fun, also does not mind proposing a date once in a while. And if he only dates one person at a time, he might be fine initiating for a longer time since there is no competition, but still will end up wondering about her interest level and get discouraged after a while. Men know that a lot of women say yes because they can’t say no (or because they have no other better option), so if I were a man, I’d like a bit more than a warm yes and thank you once we’re past a few dates.
     
    Anyway, mirroring until exclusivity makes sense, and yes, I also agree with previous commenters: this preliminary “exclusivity” and “commitment” do not mean much to me either. They really are the very basic standards I would not even imagine going without. Focusing on each other is the very first step before becoming more emotionally and physically intimate, and starting to really evaluate the potential for marriage.
     
    @Rachel #4: Yes, you playfully explain that you are no longer on the “go with the flow” track. You’re just saying what you are NOT doing, and see if he wants to step up. The difficulty is to explain this without coming across as “demanding a relationship”. You’re not. You’re just evaluating your date for husband potential, not for boyfriend potential.

  7. 7
    Karl R

    Emily said: (#2)
    “I do not like the idea that I’m off the market and ‘committed’ to someone just because we’re not having sex with other people when you’re still not truly committed to each other.”
     
    Peter, Emily, Gabrielle, rachel and Rose,
    Can you please explain to me what your other option is?
     
    The first couple years after meeting someone, you’re still getting to know them. The same person who is Mr. Right at six weeks may be Mr. Always Right after 15 months. The woman who thinks you’re flawless for the first couple months may end up routinely going on fault-finding expeditions through your life.
     
    You can try to juggle two, three, four or more boyfriends/girlfriends simultaneously, but you’re not going to get to know any of them well. Sane people don’t open up and allow themselves to be vulnerable with a boyfriend/girlfriend who clearly considers them to be one of several options. (Particularly if it’s obvious that they’re the second or third of several options.) If you want someone to open up and show who they really are, you’re going to have to commit to spending at a year exclusively getting to know them.
     
    If you’re lucky, you may find out that they’re unsuitable well before then.
     
    You seem to see this lack of commitment as a waste of your time. I see it as a “Get out of hell free” card. If you discover after a year or two that your partner is truly hell on earth to live with (or just wrong for you), you can just pack up and leave.
     
    rachel said: (#4)
    “none of those many exclusive relationships I have been in where I was committed, ever led to marriage in my case. In fact, my being committed, did not mean that the man was committed in the same way.”
     
    The same was true of all of my committed relationships … right up until the last one that ended in marriage.
     
    Did you really want the men who weren’t committed to you to be trapped in a relationship with you just because you were committed to them? Did you expect them to know whether or not they wanted a lifetime commitment during the first couple months of a relationship? Grow up. Relationships don’t work that way.
     
    Emily said: (#2)
    “moving in together, still not dating other people, still not asking if there’s marriage in the future”
     
    If you still don’t know whether there’s marriage in the future, why are you moving in together?
     
    I can be in a committed relationship, spend every night a week with my girlfriend, sleep in the same bed, and still maintain my own apartment. I just have to be willing to pay the rent every month. By the time I actually moved into my girlfriend’s house, she was already my fiancée.
     
    Intentional dating doesn’t get you anything. What you need to have is the intention to leave any relationship that’s spent 3 to 6 months stagnating.

  8. 8
    Peter

    The alternative to engagement, with or without sex, is an uncommitted relationship, with or without sex. Engagements gave enough commitment for  mirroring to stop and something like the longer term interplay of personalities to emerge.  Announcing an engagement, like my niece did a year before her marriage is a lot more public and committed than a deal made just after sex to be “exclusive”.

  9. 9
    devymetal

    Karl, you’ve missed the point. The “alternative” you don’t seem to grasp is simple: dating with the intention of being married vs dating simply to “see where things go”. The difference is establishing that you’re evaluating one another specifically for marriage, as opposed to the amorphous “serious” and “committed” relationships where marriage has not been discussed (in which many of us in this thread have no interest).
    And yes, “real” relationships do work that way. I’m in a good one of three years that began just that way, in fact, and we’ll be taking the next step soon. Which will be marriage. Not anything less. 
     
     

  10. 10
    Angie

    I’ve never felt like I had to “mirror” a boyfriend.  I think you can tell when he is emotionally committed to you, which, as far as having a serious relationship considered is more important than just sexual monogamy.
     
    In my opinion, I think the point where you can stop mirroring is when you have an emotional commitment.  (Ex: I don’t think the LW from a few posts back with the bartender “boyfriend” had an emotional commitment, which is why a lot of our comments reflected that she was over-reacting).  But you have to stop mirroring if you are also going to delve past just the emotions and find out if you are also compatible.
     
    If one of the things that you are seeking from a specific man is a “higher priority ranking in his life” I would guess that you don’t have the emotional investment from him that is required for a relationship (unless it is something he just can’t help like obligations to work or his children, but if you are coming in 5th, 6th, 20th to things like his friends, the gym, hobbies, etc, especially so early on, I would say “He’s just not that into you”, at least at this point in time).

  11. 11
    Angie

    ** or, he’s just not into the idea of a serious, leading-to-marriage relationship :-). 

  12. 12
    Karl T

    Once again, Karl R comes in and clears house!!!  Right on my cousin.  Some people still think everything is going to according to some grand plan, step by step of the way.  They are in for a rude awakening.  Life doesn’t work that way and if you don’t take risks sometimes, you go nowhere.  The guy you think would never marry you just might and the guy you think you will marry may turn out entirely different after several years of dating.  I knew people who dated for 7 years and never married and then broke up and met someone else and married them after 2 years.  You can predict things like you folks seem to think you can.

  13. 13
    Karl R

    Peter said: (#8)
    “The alternative to engagement, with or without sex, is an uncommitted relationship, with or without sex.”
     
    How do you afford all of the rings?
     
    Until my girlfriend was willing to date me exclusively, I kept enough emotional distance (for my own protection) that I wasn’t going to fall in love with her. And until I fell in love with her and was reasonably certain I wanted to marry her, I wasn’t going to get engaged. Do you get engaged to women before you love them? Do you date several women simultaneously, then select one of them to propose to?
     
    Most of us see a committed relationship as an intermediate step between an uncommitted relationship and an engagement. Not all uncommitted relationships lead to committed relationships. Not all committed relationships lead to engagements. That doesn’t mean the system is flawed or broken. It’s actually a sign that the system is filtering people out as intended.
     
    Peter said: (#8)
    “Engagements gave enough commitment for  mirroring to stop and something like the longer term interplay of personalities to emerge.”
     
    Engagements provide enough forward momentum that couples can realize that getting married is a mistake, but they feel like they can’t back out. My wife’s first marriage was like that. She realized it was a mistake before the wedding, but due to the pressure (from her family, from her fiancé, from her fiancé’s family) and due to her lack of life experience, she went through with it anyway.
     
    Two or three years later, she got a divorce.
     
    People stick with bad decisions because of sunk costs. By trying to get engaged before you know the person, you’re accruing extra costs up front (like the ring).
     
    devymetal said: (#9)
    “The ‘alternative’ you don’t seem to grasp is simple: dating with the intention of being married vs dating simply to ‘see where things go’. The difference is establishing that you’re evaluating one another specifically for marriage, as opposed to the amorphous ‘serious’ and ‘committed’ relationships where marriage has not been discussed”
     
    I spent several years dating with the goal of being married. And I still think “dating with intention” is a dysfunctional way to approach dating.
    - You can’t dictate the other person’s intention.
    - You’re getting too far ahead of the situation.
     
    On the first date, I wasn’t evaluating a woman as a potential wife. I was evaluating her as a potential second date. After a few dates, I’d consider her as someone to potentially date exclusively. While I kept things moving toward my goal (of marriage), I never tried to get ahead of where any relationship was. And if a relationship wasn’t worth moving forward, it was time to look elsewhere.
     
    I went on first dates with a couple women who were clearly evaluating me to see whether I was a potential husband on the first date. Because of that, they weren’t enjoyable to spend a first date with, so I wasn’t interested in a second date.
     
    You’re putting forth “intentional dating” as a cure for “the amorphous ‘serious’ and ‘committed’ relationships where marriage has not been discussed”. I have a better solution. Open your mouth and start the discussion. If you’re in a serious relationship and you can’t even have a conversation about where the two of you stand on marriage, it’s a sign that one (or both) of you is too immature for a serious relationship.
     
    Karl T said: (#12)
    “I knew people who dated for 7 years and never married and then broke up and met someone else and married them after 2 years.  You can’t predict things like you folks seem to think you can.”
     
    But you can control one thing. You can control your own choices. I can avoid being the person who dates for 7 years (and then gets dumped) by breaking things off after 2 years (or whenever the relationship stalls).

  14. 14
    WaterDragon

    Karl R @ 7 and 13: ITA

  15. 15
    Fusee

    Karl R #7 and 13: I always appreciate your no-nonsense comments!
     
    I definitely agree that commitment is necessary to build a relationship, and it has to be preliminary to engagement. You can’t properly build emotional intimacy and evaluate the potential of a relationship while dating other people, and you can’t get engaged to a stranger. Being committed while knowing things can end is scary but necessary. There is no way to avoid being vulnerable.
     
    However I respectfully disagree with this part: “And I still think “dating with intention” is a dysfunctional way to approach dating.” Some people would indeed be better off dating “with no intention”, like Evan’s clients, but for me what led to dysfunction was actually being purposeless. I was so easy to please that I would go from one relationship to the next where there was no compatibility for the future whatsoever. By being much more intentional, I learned to end relationships that were fun in the short-term but had no future. By the way, we can agree to disagree, I’m not trying to convince anyone that I’m right. What’s going to be the most effective really depends on the personality of each party, so that’s where generic advice stops working, and specifics need to be taken into account.
     
    Having an intention in dating does not mean having an intention for that specific dating opportunity. However if I know I want to choose a partner for life, and I know what kind of quality of intereaction and common values I need in a spouse, it is much more effective for me to look for those signs in the early stages, rather than simply going with the flow of attraction in the present moment, and pretty certainly having to break things off later. My standards for a boyfriend are much lower than for a spouse after all, so selecting a boyfriend is not the most effective time investment.
     
    Interestingly if I had not screened my guy for husband potential in the first few weeks of dating, but instead just screened him to qualify for the next dates, I would have ended things immediately! He was going to leave my area six weeks later, which disqualified him for boyfriend potential since to me there was no point in becoming boyfriend and girlfriend for six weeks and then have a long-distance boyfriend for who knows how long. However that incovenience did not disqualify him for husband potential. It does not mean that I had the “intention to marry him” or that “I was going to demand a marriage”. Heck, I did not know him enough yet; there were just enough good signs and the absence of the usual bad signs. It just means that 1. I refused to go on the fling track that he had the intention of putting me on (and that would have led to a break up at the six-week mark for lack of depth at the time of his departure to warrant a long-term relationship), 2. I initiated deeper conversations to investigate our compatibility for the long-term so that we had enough data point before he had to leave, and 3. I focused on building trust and emotional intimacy quickly instead of focusing on short-term attraction and fun. It served us well, as we got engaged 18 months later.
     
    Now, to me, the real gem in Karl R’s #7 comment is this: “What you need to have is the intention to leave any relationship that’s spent 3 to 6 months stagnating.”

  16. 16
    Karl R

    Fusee, (#15)
    You’re describing “intentional dating” in a very different way than Emily (#2) and devymetal (#9):
    “I want to date someone who I know wants the same things from the beginning”
    “The difference is establishing that you’re evaluating one another specifically for marriage,”
     
    You weren’t dating someone who had the intention of getting married from the beginning. He was looking for a fling. He wasn’t evaluating you specifically for marriage, even though you were screening him.
     
    If you had insisted that he want the same things from the beginning, or that he be evaluating you specifically for marriage from the beginning, you still would have dumped him in the first few weeks. That’s why I say their version of intentional dating is a dysfunctional way to date.

  17. 17
    Some other guy

    When I start dating a new gal, I go exclusive immediately – strictly one at a time for me.
     
    This is not a commitment to the woman (who I don’t know that well yet), but a commitment to the process, which for optimal outcome requires that I focus all my attention on the relationship in front of me rather than suffer the distractions of playing the field and seeing where things go.
     

  18. 18
    Sparkling Emerald

    Fusee #15 -
    Very good post !  I think what Evan described as “dating with integrity” is close to what I would call “intentional dating”  (Or I used to think of as looking for an intentional relationship)  Evan has said to effect of most of his relationships ended at 3 months or less, because he would end a relationship as soon as he realized that he would NOT marry that person.  I do have to applaud him for NOT wasting years and years of someone’s time with no intention of marrying them ever.
    After many years of dating which ever way the wind blew me, and even being adamantly against marriage (in my much younger days) when I started yearning for more, I started dating with intention, (or as it used to be called “dating for a husband”)  Doesn’t mean I demanded anything of anyone.  I no longer accepted dates from someone who I thought would make a good boyfriend, but not a husband.  Men who outright stated they were anti-marriage, were also a no go.  I only went out with men who I saw as a POSSIBILITY for marriage.  In the early getting to know each other phase, one can’t know if someone is a good match for marriage, but YOU CAN RULE THEM OUT !  When I was dating for a husband, as soon as I saw that someone wasn’t husband potential, I stopped seeing them.  I wouldn’t go back  for  a second job interview, if after the first interview, I decided I didn’t want to work for a company. So if I’m dating for a husband, why should I spend time with someone who clearly won’t be my husband ?  When I was dating for a husband, I would stop dating a man if I knew I wouldn’t want to marry him or that he was just looking for a fling.
    Right now, I am on the fence about what I should do with my love life.  I don’t want a fling, FWB, ONS, booty call,  etc.  But marriage ?    Right now, I think I’m allergic to the concept.  I’m well past my child bearing years so I think “what’s the point of marriage (for me ) ?  I would like a committed monogamous non co-habitating relationship, but if I date with that purpose in mind (which I have been)  could that really be considered intentional dating ?
     

  19. 19
    Lia

    Karl R # 7 & 13
     
    As always your contributions are so well thought out and expressed.  Thank you.
     
    Fusee # 15
     
    I look forward to your posts and you don’t disappoint!
     
    Your third paragraph made me really stop and look at what my intention for dating has been in the past.  I think that I have been more focused on dating for a boyfriend rather than dating for a husband.  (Of course given my fear of commitment in the past I understand why I did that.)  Which brings me to another favorite poster of mine…
     
    Sparkling Emerald # 18
     
    I don’t want a fling, FWB, ONS, or booty call either, but I too am past child bearing years and I wonder if it is really necessary to get married or live together.  
     
    My mother was with my stepfather for ten years before he died.  They were very happy and I don’t think that their relationship would have been the same if they had not been married.  They loved each other more as time went on.  His children credit my mother with how loving and open he became in his relationships with them.  
     
    Now my mother has a boyfriend.  They see each other almost every day but neither want to get married again or live together.  They love each other and he has become part of the family.  I don’t know how their relationship would work if they tried living together (married or not).  It is not that they are less compatible than my mother and stepfather were, it is just a different relationship.  And they are committed.  She is going through radiation treatments at this time and he takes her to her appointments and she has been there for him when he needs her.
     
    I don’t have an answer to your question Sparkling Emerald.  I have too many questions of my own.  I am wondering if I need to have more clarity before I start dating.  I do know that I want a loving, committed, monogamous, EASY relationship, I just don’t know what that looks like for me.  Does that mean marriage?  Does that mean living together?   Is it a copout to NOT get married or live together?  
     
    Karl R, Fusee, Sparkling Emerald your insights would be appreciated!!
     

  20. 20
    Rose

    It really is dependant on what both people want are happy with.
    casual fun flings, for now girlfriends or boyfriends if they are both young and not ready for settling down being in a lifelong committed relationship, or are older and in womans biological reasons just do not have the time to mess about and waste with casual flings and committing to being one mans girlfriend who isn’t sure if he wants to be married or married to them. In those circumstances it pays for the woman to date sevral men at once until one comes along who wants what she wants and is compatible with her.
    Depends on if the woman wants to be a wife, fling or see how it goes girlfriend.
    When a man knows and a woman feels the same about him through the getting to know each others character dating processs seeing deep mutual deep feelings of love develop they both anoounce they are no longer looking and are  off the market to others by the public committiment of engagment. So engagement with marraige date in place like Peter and others have said gets complete exclusivity.
    In healthy relationships the following happens.
    The man who is motivated to keep, getting in their first securing a date before another suitor gets chance stepping up,moving things foreward and treating the woman he is attracted to the way she wants to be treated is the one who gets the girl all to himself. If he isn’t that bothered into her or interested another man will be and they will get her instead. You snooze you lose. :)
     

  21. 21
    Karl R

    Sparkling Emerald asked: (#18)
    “I’m well past my child bearing years so I think ‘what’s the point of marriage (for me)?’  I would like a committed monogamous non co-habitating relationship, but if I date with that purpose in mind (which I have been)  could that really be considered intentional dating ?”
     
    If you’re pursuing the kind of relationship that you want, who cares whether or not it fits a particular label?
     
    Worry more about whether you can get the relationship you want. I know a fair number of couples who are in relationships like you describe. Some end up getting married after several years. Others have eventually broken up. However, many of these couples have remained stable for years.
     
    Lia asked: (#19)
    “I do know that I want a loving, committed, monogamous, EASY relationship, I just don’t know what that looks like for me.  Does that mean marriage?  Does that mean living together?   Is it a copout to NOT get married or live together?”
     
    My wife and I don’t want kids. Is it a cop-out that we’re not going to have them?
     
    I also placed a high priority on having an easy relationship. Here are my tips for getting/maintaining one:
     
    1. If you want an easy relationship, pick an easygoing partner. That will have more effect than any other choice you make.
     
    2. Don’t have kids. (Not an issue for you.)
     
    3. Find some way to maintain separate finances. There are multiple ways to do this (even if you’re married), and it helps alleviate a lot of potential conflicts.
     
    4. Maintaining separate residences (if money allows) also help alleviate some potential conflicts.
     
    5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let minor irritations just roll off your back. If you’re easygoing, the whole relationship is easier.
     
    6. Maintain a good sex life. If the sex is good, #1 and #5 are much more likely to happen.
     
    7. Relationships take some effort to maintain. It’s a lot easier to put in a little maintenance up front instead of fixing a problem later. This covers a host of things like communications and being considerate.
     
    Compared to the stuff I mentioned above, being married (or not) doesn’t affect much.
     
    Rose said: (#20)
    “older and in womans biological reasons just do not have the time to mess about and waste with casual flings and committing to being one mans girlfriend who isn’t sure if he wants to be married or married to them. In those circumstances it pays for the woman to date sevral men at once until one comes along who wants what she wants and is compatible with her.”
    “When a man knows and a woman feels the same about him through the getting to know each others character dating processs seeing deep mutual deep feelings of love develop they both anoounce they are no longer looking and are  off the market to others by the public committiment of engagment. So engagement with marraige date in place like Peter and others have said gets complete exclusivity.”
     
    Let me get this straight. You start out dating several men non-exclusively (which is fairly normal). While you are dating multiple men (and possibly having sex with some of them), you expect one to develop deep feelings for you, fall in love, decide he wants to marry you, propose, get engaged and set a wedding date … all of this before you stop dating (and potentially having sex with) other men.
     
    Let’s turn this around. You know one of your boyfriends is dating other women, spending the night with them and having sex with them regularly. If he proposed marriage, would you accept? Would you start setting a wedding date while he’s still dating around? Would you fall in love with him while he’s dating and having sex with multiple women? Would you develop deep feelings for him?
     
    If a man is trying to get in one last date or quickie before he proposes to you, (and waiting to dump his other girlfriends just in case you turn him down) would you consider him to be a good candidate for a lifetime of fidelity? Would you feel that he was considerate of your feelings? Would you feel that he was a great man that any woman would be lucky to have? Would you even open up and share your deep feelings with him?
     
    Men and women aren’t that different. That behavior is no more tolerable to us than it would be to you. Your strategy seems perfectly adapted to drive marriage-minded men away.
     
    Some other guy said: (#17)
    “When I start dating a new gal, I go exclusive immediately – strictly one at a time for me.”
     
    I have sometimes done the same, either to focus on a particular woman or to avoid some of the complications of dating multiple women. It worked well enough, because I didn’t insist that the women also be exclusive. I let the woman make that decision on her own schedule.
     
    As long as you’re not prone to jealousy, that strategy should work out fine.

  22. 22
    Fusee

    @Sparkling Emerald #18: “I would like a committed monogamous non co-habitating relationship, but if I date with that purpose in mind (which I have been)  could that really be considered intentional dating ?”
     
    To my opinion, any clear goal that you aim for your dating efforts makes your dating intentional. It really does not matter what your actual dating goal is. I remember Tom10 talking about his own goals of casually dating lot of women for now, and already foreseeing a change of goal later in life when he will want to raise children. It is intentional. It does not have to involve marriage or kids. When we have goals/intentions, we are more likely to succeed, as long as we are mindful to base our goals on healthy reasons, rather than letting fears, laziness, or low self-respect dictate them.
     
    The alternative to intentional dating is “going with the flow”. You have no idea what you are looking for and what you want to get out of your effort and emotional/time investment. It is easier in the short-term since there is much less complicated conversations involved, but so much more future heartache and confusion later on, when your unconscious desires (that always lurk below the surface) come crashing against the reality of the situation you’re involved in.
     
    @Lia #19: “I am wondering if I need to have more clarity before I start dating.  I do know that I want a loving, committed, monogamous, EASY relationship, I just don’t know what that looks like for me.  Does that mean marriage?  Does that mean living together?   Is it a copout to NOT get married or live together?”
     
    I strongly believe that having clarity is essential, but it does not have to involve too many specifics such as the color of his hair or what you will eat for breakfast on Sundays. If you are open to marriage/no marriage, living together/living separately, then more power to you because you will be compatible to more potential partners. But I’d suggest to sit down with yourself and really ask yourself: if anything was possible, what would I really want? That would be plan A. And then, ask yourself, if plan A does not happen, what would be an awesome plan B? And go from there. Just make sure you’re not already focusing on plan B just because you have ruled out plan A. I’m saying this because I carefully read your previous comments about your specific situation, and although difficult, I do not believe that it rules out the possibility of marriage or cohabitation if that was your goal. You sure can rule it out yourself if it’s not your cup of tea, but do not make your situation let you believe that it’s impossible.

  23. 23
    Rose

    No Karl, you haven’t got what I mean’t right.
    dating as in testing each others character and cmopatibility out and seeing if loving caring feelings develop not testing each other out as in having sex and seducing. Getting to know the men BEFORE and seeing if mutual love,respect caring develops and then chosing that candidate. Not sleeping around, dating around. Two different things.
     

  24. 24
    Karl R

    Rose said: (#23)
    “dating as in testing each others character and cmopatibility out and seeing if loving caring feelings develop not testing each other out as in having sex and seducing.”
     
    You can choose that for yourself. You can’t choose that for the men you date.
     
    You’ve explicitly told the men that you’re dating that it’s not exclusive. You (and they) are free to date other men. You have chosen not to have sex with those non-exclusive dates (which is completely reasonable). Those men will have opportunities to have sex with the other women they are non-exclusively dating.
     
    Do you really think men are going to stay chaste just to fulfill the wishes of a woman who isn’t even interested in being their exclusive girlfriend?
     
    You’re living in a fantasy.
     
    Rose said: (#23)
    “Getting to know the men BEFORE and seeing if mutual love,respect caring develops and then chosing that candidate.”
     
    Let’s have another reality check. I’ve dated a few women who were still keeping their options open by dating non-exclusively after several months. (I’ve also been that man before.) If the person you’re dating still wants to date non-exclusively at that point, you’re not a candidate for serious partner. They aren’t going to fall in love with you. Any love that you develop towards them will be unrequited. They may care for you a little as a friend, but it won’t go further than that. Any time you spend trying to turn that non-relationship into a committed relationship is completely wasted.
     
    And if you’re keeping men as non-exclusive dates for several months, you’ve just told them that they’re wasting their time waiting for something more. Actions speak louder than words (especially to men).
     
    A man who has the goal of marriage might … MIGHT … stick it out for a while under those circumstances if the sex is good. But … you’re not having sex with them. What incentive do you expect the man to have to stick around?
     
    You’re operating under this fiction that men are unilaterally going to fall in love with you, care for you, form a deep respect for you, and want to marry you … while you’re clearly demonstrating (through your actions) that you’re not reciprocating.
     
    You’re operating in a fantasy-land that bears no resemblance to reality. Your dates probably won’t be.

  25. 25
    Lia

    Karl R # 21
     
    Thank you for the advice! and tips!    
     
    1. You’re right choosing someone easy going is such a simple concept but one I fear gets overlooked, at least with me. 
     
    2. I do have a daughter but she no longer lives with me.  I think that most people my age don’t have children at home any longer, but in some ways their child/ children (if they have them) are still a factor as is mine just not in the same way.  If people have children who no longer live at home, at this time, that doesn’t mean they won’t move back home for a time or come for extended visits.  (Tip #4 help solve any issue that might arise from this.)
     
    3. Keeping separate finances is a biggie!  If I was in my twenties or thirties and starting a family with someone I don’t think it would be workable but being over 50 I think it is dang near mandatory.  My mother and stepfather did this.  They had an account they both contributed for joint living expenses and then they each spent their money as they saw fit.
     
    4. I think that keeping separate residences is a good idea for some people and I don’t think finances should be a reason NOT to keep separate residences.  I am going back to school and in order for me to afford to do this I needed to rent out my second bedroom.  The guy who is my housemate is a great housemate, he pays on time, he is very, very clean and very quiet, but I would NEVER want a relationship with someone like him.  He is very negative and sarcastic.  Sometimes he makes me laugh but when he gets too negative I don’t argue with him or contradict him, I just go into my room and shut the door. 
     
    5. Being easygoing is sometimes misinterpreted as being a doormat, but it is not.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is great advice for relationships and life in general.
     
    6. Sex… without it why bother?  I am always baffled why people stay with a partner who won’t have sex with them or who uses sex as a bargaining chip or a weapon.  I have very low tolerance for this.  I will not beg for it and my partner shouldn’t have to either.  Sex is like the canary in the mine.  (Has someone written this before?  I don’t remember where I got this.)  If the canary is dead… you’re in trouble!!!!
     
    Karl, you are right compared with the tips that you shared being married or not doesn’t really matter.
     
    Fusee # 22
     
    You wrote “I strongly believe that having clarity is essential, but it does not have to involve too many specifics…”  Thank you for that reminder!  
     
    You referenced previous comments about my specific situation.  I want to clarify that I no longer have my daughter living with me, but when I did, you are right, I did think that living together or being married to someone was impossible.
     
    Your comment made me wonder if I really preferred maintaining my own residence or if I was operating on an old script so to speak.  
    You suggested that I ask myself if anything was possible what I would want.  I think that is a good idea…
     
    I have been married before and I have shared a home before.  But from the time I was little I always needed a space that was just mine.  I don’t know if that has to be my own home or a room that I can go to that is just for me.  (Now that I share my living space I spend most of my time in my room).  
     
    I remembered that many years ago my sister had a friend who was dating a man who refused to marry her or live with her.  He had been married before and had a young son who spent some time at his house.  Though he didn’t want to marry or live with her he could (according to her) see himself being with her the rest of life.  He didn’t want to date other women, he was monogamous, he saw her several times a week, called her, they had  great conversations and great sex.  He well off financially.  He would take her out and pay for everything.  He took her on vacations and paid for everything.  She wanted to get married, and she wanted him to take care of her financially.  He did not want to do that so she broke up with him.  
     
    I thought she was crazy!!! I thought what she had was a fabulous relationship.  From my point of view she had it all, a loving relationship, great sex and autonomy.  Obviously she didn’t see it that way.
     
    I don’t like sharing finances, and I don’t expect someone to support me financially.  But I do want to be supported in ways that mean something to me.  I want someone in my life who has my back, I long for that so acutely that I can hardly bear to wish for it.

  26. 26
    Peter

    There is a Cornish saying.  “Kissing don’t count; Cooking do.”.  If you are spending all your time looking for a good kisser, you are perhaps missing the point.  Once the kissing phase has started to count then it’s definitely time to stop mirroring.

  27. 27
    Sparkling Emerald

    Karl R @21 “If you’re pursuing the kind of relationship that you want, who cares whether or not it fits a particular label?”
     
    It comes down to wanting to communicate clearly, not “caring about fitting a particular label” communication.  Most words in the English language have SEVERAL meanings.  Sometimes, it’s easy to figure out what meaning the speaker (or blogger) intended by context, sometimes the meaning can be COMPLETELY misconstrued.  (Especially on blogs, because there is no voice tone, body language or facial expressions to shape the context)
    Words are hard enough to decipher sometimes due to multiple meanings, but coined phrases even more difficult. 
    To some people “acting cool” means aloof, indifferent, uncaring, to someone else “acting cool” could mean laid back & fun ! Macho apparently has more than one meaning as well, and a “blog fight” broke out here, because different posters were assigning different meanings to THAT word.   After reading this thread apparently “intentional dating” could mean anything from a booty call to dating for a spouse and children.  So since that coined phrase has pretty much become meaningless, due to the multiplicity of meanings, I won’t use that phrase.  However, “monogomous, committed, non-co-habitating, LTR” is a mouthful and I doubt that Hallmark has a card for that :)
    Most of the online dating websites ask for your dating goals, and have choices ranging anywhere from casual, intimate encounter, dating, marriage, and serious long term. I just choose serious LTR, and hopefully that phrase won’t end up becoming ambiguous over time.
     

  28. 28
    Taylor

    Can I just say that mirroring does work! I recently met a man on Match. After our first meeting, he sent a text saying he’d like to see me again. I said yes. He asked me out again. I said yes. A few more times and I said yes for every one. He said he didn’t want to see anyone else and he was taking his profile down. I said I would take mine down, too. Note, there’s been no sex to this point (I am holding off for a bit longer). I am used to men being quite bold and usually inappropriate about their intentions at date 1. This one is a gentleman (although he makes date-appropriate moves!) I never text/email him. He texts/emails me every day. 
    This is not my usual MO either. In my career I am a pursuer and thought that technique would work in dating. It doesn’t! So after reading Evan’s blog, I decided to try mirroring and this is the situation I find myself in now. I don’t sit around and wait for him to contact me, although he does. If he doesn’t, I don’t fret about it (we are both parents, so we have busy lives).
    I have to admit I am not sure what I think about it! I trust that he’s honest and a nice guy. No spidey senses telling me otherwise. At this stage we’re still getting to know each other. I do wonder if taking the profile down was too fast, but I am interested in seeing what happens. And he’s smart, funny and interesting!
    So anyone wondering if mirroring works, it does! 

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