Want to Take Control Of Your Love Life? Let Go Of Control!

The one thing I know about you is that you’re smart.

I like smart women.

I’d like to think I’m a smart man and that, if we met in real life, we’d be friends.

The thing with smart people like you and me is that we’re highly analytical.

We don’t think just one step ahead. We think 5 steps ahead.

We can’t help it.

And in most arenas, this is a strength. If you’re in business development, or corporate training, or even if you’re a schoolteacher, the ability to think ahead and control your environment is paramount to your success.

So you learn to ask questions. And you learn to get tough. And you learn to micromanage the details in case someone else makes a mistake.

These are the things you do to cope with the variables of life – you try to control EVERYTHING.

Newsflash: this is the OPPOSITE of what it takes to be successful in love.

If that comes as a surprise to you, I hate to tell you, but there’s a LOT you need to learn about how men function in relationships.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a client. 33 years old, attractive, bright, successful.

We’ve been working together for about four weeks now, and it’s at about this time that things start to really blossom.

Last week, after our coaching call, she had one of the best dates she can remember. And this week, she just wants to make sure she doesn’t mess things up.

Actually, she wants to make sure that HE doesn’t mess things up.

Instead of enjoying this moment, filled with excitement and potential, her mind immediately drifts to, “I don’t want to get hurt by another cute player with potential.”

Has that ever happened to you?

Your first thought after an amazing first date is, “This guy is amazing!” Your second thought is, “How’s this one gonna disappoint me?”

Needless to say, this isn’t the healthiest attitude towards dating. And yet, it’s incredibly common. So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s first start with what NOT to do.

What NOT to do is to dwell on what you can’t control – namely anything that he thinks or does.

What NOT to do is to try and find out answers before he’s ready to provide them. That means no talk about marriage or kids or emotional availability. These are things that he will reveal over time. It is not your job to probe on Date 1 and 2.

What NOT to do is to dwell on what you can’t control – namely anything that he thinks or does. So much time and energy is wasted trying to “interpret” the behaviors of men – what he texted, emailed, said or meant. It doesn’t solve a thing. It just drives you crazy.

What NOT to do is be pro-active. Apart from flirting with him at a party or sending him the first email on Match.com, your entire job afterwards is to be RECEPTIVE.

This is what I mean about letting go of control.

In trying to grip the sand too tightly, you’re letting it slip through your fingers.

In trying to avoid a sad ending, you turn to the last page of the book and ruin the journey.

Dating is a process – one that should be organic.

Look back on the healthiest relationships you’ve had – I trust that there was a natural ease to them – at least at the beginning.

So instead of giving a free pass to the cute guy who showed you a great time on Date 1, but has waited 5 days to follow up, just realize that this action reveals his state of mind.

He’s either too busy for a relationship, too busy with other women, or not that interested in you. It really doesn’t matter which.

Why? Because his actions have nothing to do with you!

And if his actions have nothing to do with you, you have no control.

So when you send him an email and write “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in awhile,” or send him a text that says, “Miss me?” or give him the phone call that says, “Where is this relationship going?” you’re sabotaging the natural dating process.

In the natural dating process, the man who is excited about you SHOWS you he’s excited by making an effort to see you soon, call you frequently, and become exclusive.

Your next move is NOTHING.

If he’s not doing so, there’s nothing to figure out, interpret, or do. Just realize that you’re Ms. Right Now, he’s Mr. Right Now, and you should start looking for a new guy.

It might sound crazy, but passivity is the most EMPOWERING stance you can take.

No more wondering about WHY he didn’t call.

No more wondering about the REASON he disappeared.

No more agonizing about where he REALLY stands on your relationship.

No more CALCULATING about what your next move is.

Your next move is NOTHING.

Let go of controlling your relationship.

Trust that the right guy treats you like you deserve to be treated.

And get back to enjoying the many blessings in your life.

Now go out there and stop doing anything!

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Bee

    Evan, I am really glad I just read this post. The last guy I was in a relationship with told me that I needed to stop analyzing our relationship and where it was headed or it wasn’t going to work out and sure enough, he was right. I feel, in a way, that I may have sabotaged our relationship, and now, of course, I’m beating myself up about it. We dated for about two months then were exclusive for about three before I broke it off. He cooled down considerably in the last month we were together, probably because of my constant over-analyzation of our relationship and general paranoia about his true feelings/motives. However, at the same time, I do feel that there were some genuine red flags I detected (behaviors/things he said) and that these were causing my anxiety.

    My question for you is, how do you let go of control in a relationship and just let things happen/enjoy things as they come while still being cautious? I know that I definitely need to let go of control to an extent, but I also don’t want to throw caution to the wind and end up in a bad relationship.

  2. 2
    Zann

    Good one, Evan!  This was a great reminder about the power of passivity; that sometimes doing nothing is exactly the right thing to do. Like you say, for all of us PRO-active people, that’s the hardest thing to do sometimes. 

    I would like to respond to Bee (#1) above, because hers is the same concern I’ve had in the past when trying to maneuver through the minefield of new relationships. Women tend to give each other endless advice about this, me included.  I call it The Caution Issue — and it usually provokes this kind of response: “Better to get out now, before you get burned.”  Really? If you haven’t actually been burned, why bail in some kind of preemptive strike craziness? Most important, don’t you think that if you do get burned, you’ll know exactly what to do to take care of yourself? Of course you will. 

    It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that there simply is no quick way to pull off the bandage in a relationship in order to prevent discomfort — real or imagined.  When I say I want to be “cautious” what I really we mean is I don’t want discomfort, I want to feel secure — secure that things are what they seem to be and that they’re going to continue to get even better. Like most people, I’d like it to go my way. But deep down, I know that if it doesn’t go my way, according to my plan, I can probably deal with that, too.  So maybe that’s the best thing you can tell yourself in order not to sabotage what might turn into a quality relationship. Just trust you’ll have what it takes to handle the unpredictable if/when it arises.  And you can take your time, too…you don’t have to instantly know what’s your best next move. 

    By the way, if you do — heaven forbid — “end up in a bad relationship,” well, you won’t be the first person who ever wound up there, and you will do what it takes to move on outta there, to something better.

    See? No worries.   Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Best of luck.

  3. 4
    starthrower68

    We’re supposed to be passive and let him have the control but at the same time put our hearts on the line.  Interesting paradox.

  4. 5
    Sayanta

    Laine-

    Thanks for posting that- men in their 20s extending adolescence? Try 30s. Or 40s.

    I was at Panera today and heard a man coming in with this daughters trying to talk to them as though he were their age, attempting their speech style and everything. It was pathetically sad to watch- all these parents trying to be cool and hip ‘pals’ for their kids. That’s why American kids are crazy.

  5. 6
    Sayanta

    oh- i should add- this trend isn’t limited to men by any stretch. I’ve met plenty of women in their 50s or 60s who still think they’re 25.

  6. 7
    Ruby

    Bee #1
     
    I think Evan’s talking about a relationship that is generally healthy and positive. If you’re in a relationship in which you spot some ‘”genuine red flags “, you should absolutely pay attention to those. All too often, I think that women don’t listen to their gut feeling when something doesn’t feel right. That’s not the same thing as trying to analyze where the relationship is going prematurely. 

  7. 8
    Harriet Bond

    I really liked this article and though it is the toughest lesson we can learn, it’s one of the most incredibly helpful ones! Letting go of control and power (or rather, the illusion of control and power: however much we think we have control and power over what someone else chooses to do, say or feel, we never do!!) is so difficult when you have grown used to having responsibility (and therefore the feeling that you have to control everything to survive!), but it is absolutely essential when it comes to relationships. As I detail in my dating blog, it’s hugely satisfying to just let go of the need to please and to keep contact with a man at all costs. It’s empowering to just walk away, with your dignity in tact!

  8. 9
    Liz

    @starthrower – How is being passive and emotionally available at the same time a paradox?

  9. 10
    Bee

    Zann and Ruby: Thank you for your advice. I do feel that I tend to overanalyze in relationships. I agree with Zann that a “preemptive strike” in order to protect myself is counter-productive, and I feel that is what I may have done in my most recent relationship that went wrong. I think paying attention to red flags is important, but I think sometimes I get so worried about a new relationship that I actively look for any little thing that could be a red flag. Almost like I look for things that aren’t right in order to justify getting out before I get hurt.

    And you’re absolutely right, Zann, I could handle myself even if I did get into a bad relationship. I’ve been in one before and ended up OK. I really like your attitude and approach to relationships!

  10. 11
    Ruby

    Bee #45
     
    I think two questions to ask yourself are, does this behavior make me truly uncomfortable and is it a pattern? 
     
    Unfortunately, you do have to date someone for a while to notice if a negative pattern is emerging!

  11. 12
    Rosy

    I’m 55 and I wonder if maybe the rules aren’t different for us. I meet men who have children living at home, have gone through divorces and are living out of half unpacked boxes of suits and are generally adrift. And these are high functioning men who make a good living. I know they enjoy my company and they are pursued by women half my age and are not sure what they want. Does passivity still work or does a little email like ” that was fun last night, have a good business trip” ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?

  12. 13
    Karl R

    Rosy asked: (#12)
    “does a little email like ‘that was fun last night, have a good business trip’ ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?”

    If I understand correctly, you’re wondering whether you should try harder than your younger competition, just to stay even with them?

    Let’s say two men (from whichever online dating service you use) contact you on the same day. One is 55, the other is 70. Before you have a chance to reply to either one, the 70 year-old sends you a second email. Has he enhanced his position by trying harder than the 55 year-old?

  13. 14
    Laine

    @ Karl #13. That would depend on the men. Im not ageist. I had two men ask me on a date recently. One was 49, the other 70. The younger one I found to be quite uninteresting to talk to. He hadnt looked after himself and was overweight and down on life. I found him to be unattractive. The 70 year old was confident, very fit and active, interesting to talk to and very handsome. Guess which one Im going back on a second date with? btw Im 47.

  14. 15
    TripleM

    Karl (#13), your scenario in response to Rosy was kind of apples-to-oranges.  Her scenario assumes date # 1 has already taken place, and she’s wondering whether she should continue to be “passive” or try to nudge something along to encourage a date # 2.  Not quite the same thing as some random unknown sending you back-to-back e-mails before you’ve even responded to the first one.  I would find being on the receiving end of your scenario kind of creepy, regardless of the ages of anyone involved.  Rosy’s scenario probably wouldn’t wig me out (but I’m not a man, so . . . )

  15. 16
    Karl R

    Laine, (#14)
    If the 47 year old tries harder to pursue you, will you choose him over the 70 year old?

    The 47 year old will still be uninteresting, unattractive, overweight and down on his life. You’re going to turn down your next date with him because you don’t want to date him … regardless of the effort he expends.

    But thank you for bringing up another relevant point. Rosy can potentially compete with women half her age by being a better catch.

    TripleM, (#15)
    Rosy’s scenario wouldn’t wig me out (neither would the scenario I described), but after the first date, I’ve formed an opinion. Either I like my date enough to ask her out again, or I don’t.

    A nudge from my date won’t positively influence the situation. It will probably seem exactly like a nudge.

  16. 17
    Ruby

    I don’t think the issue in Rosy’s (#13) is about age, it’s about her date’s level of interest. If her date isn’t sufficiently interested, sending a follow-up email isn’t going to make him more interested in her. Personally, i want to date men who are very interested, who don’t need prodding from me to follow up. If a man really enjoys your company, I think he will follow up without additional nudging, whether or not he’s divorced, has kids at home, or has unpacked boxes, or baggage.
     
    As Evan said, it’s okay to make one proactive move with a man, but after that, the ball is in his court.

  17. 18
    Laine

    Karl @16. In this case I would not date the 47yo old again because he is not attractive to me on many levels, which only became obvious once I met him and not on the phone when we spoke. I do not have a list of criteria that must be met when dating. If I get a positive vibe from their dating profile, they are easy to talk to on the phone and I like their general appearance I agree to meet. If there are two, three four…however number of men that I find equally attractive, then the one that pursues me persistently will be the one that I get to know because he is prioritising time with me. This may all go pear shaped if we find, for instance, that there is no sexual compatibility. It takes time to find these things out. But I know on the first meet if a guy is either a definite 1.Yes I want to see him again 2.Not sure, can’t tell. but willing to go out again & 3.Not interested at all.

    Ruby @ 17- well said. I think if you dont hear from a man again its usually indicative of him not being interested, although some men just arent in the space to carry through because of other issues..eg..not over the ex, low self esteem. I had a fun date with a guy last year, and on the date he asked me why I had agreed to go out with him when I could have any guy I wanted…arrgghh !

  18. 19
    Still Looking

    Rosy @ 12 – You asked, “Does passivity still work or does a little email like ” that was fun last night, have a good business trip” ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?”
    Guys enjoy compliments and feedback as much as women do and that is one of the problems with being too passive and operating solely on a “mirroring” auto-pilot.  If I receive a short text  the day after a date with you, I’m going to think two things — you have good manners and that you are interested in me.  If the only time I hear from a woman in the initial stages of a relationship is in response to my phone calls, emails, or texts then I’m not as sure of her level of interest.
    Of course a woman can express great enthusiasm in her response and that will resolve any issue of her level of interest, nonetheless, I for one appreciate a woman who is not entirely passive.  A simple text might push me into asking for another date but it would never push me into not asking for a second date.   On the opposite extreme, a woman who texts me 6 times and leaves 3 voice mails the day after date one will send me running!

  19. 20
    Ruby

    Still  Looking #19
     
    But if you were really interested in a woman, wouldn’t you ask her out again whether she sent you an email or not? And if you really weren’t interested, would a follow-up message make you ask her out again anyway?

  20. 21
    K'Mama

    Hmmm.  So Evan,
    I guess you would completely disagree with Alison Armstrong’s advice that she gave in the soulmate summit and in her seminars.  I know that she is one of your mentors.  She advises women (who seek marriage) to ask the important questions right upfront over the phone.  “Are you interested in marriage” ect.  She is gangster about it.  In her words, Why go out even on a first date when a woman runs the risk (to quote Pat Allen) of smelling, tasting, touching and flirting with great chemistry when marriage is not even on his radar?  I don’t want to have great chemistry, roll around in the hay, enjoy myself and two month’s later, he’s all like, marriage?  maybe in 10 years.  That’s something I think I should know upfront.  In my experience men are VERY clear what they do or don’t what from jump.
    I use the first phone conversation and maybe the first date to really listen.  Men really do let it all hang out when you are quiet, attentive and passive.  They will usually let you know everything right up front without you having to ask, or drop your panties.  Key is to listen listen listen and use our god-given intuition to read between their lines.
    BTW – I took her 2 day PAX seminar Understanding men, and thought it was awesome.  Completely changed how I thought about and related to men.

  21. 22
    Ana

    This blog is so true in so many ways. I feel like I am girly enough, can cook with the best of them, keep a home, trust enough, but have not found the person for me.
    It is mainly based on the fact that I like control in my life. Until recently I fell for a man that I completely did not try to control at all. He fell for me too, but it wasn’t a match due to the mainly him. I no longer blame myself for things not working out. He is in a stage of life where he is still raising kids, and I want kids since I don’t have any. He is not financially secure to support his kids and a new one from me. I still don’t really understand why a man would forgo love because he cannot support the woman since we live in modern times and I could help out as well, but perhaps men are just not built that way.
    I recently went on a date, to clear my mind of the past, and am finding myself just enjoying men. One blind date even helped me do the laundry. LOL.. The blind date didn’t have any interest in my romantically, but he was nice enough to help carry my load of clean sheets. It wasn’t a happy ending with that blind date,but I appreciated his time and am glad I made the effort.

  22. 23
    Still Looking

    Ruby @ 20 – When I first began dating, women fell into two categories — Yes, I’m interested in a 2nd date or No, I’m not interested.  A text the following day would not sway my feelings.
    Once I began dating heavily (2-3 dates a week) I fell into the trap of thinking something better was right around the corner.  All I had to do was logon to Match or EHarmony and the candy store was open.  Suddenly the percentage of women who fell into the Yes category became very small, a larger percentage fell into the Maybe category, and the largest percentage fell into the No second date category.
    If a woman in the Yes category sent a nice text, the text would be appreciated and I’d ask her out again.
    If a Maybe sent a text, it might be enough to bump her into the Yes category.  It would only be a negative if the content of the text was  inappropriate or if she sent multiple communications before I responded.
    If a woman is in the No second date category, there’s little chance that a text, email, or phone call would have any effect.
    When the dating pool is deep, I appreciate a woman who breaks the rules a bit in an effort to stand out.  I’m sure others will disagree but we all have our individual likes and dislikes and personally I prefer a woman who is not entirely passive – if she doesn’t make an effort to show interest there are plenty of other woman I’d rather spend my time with.
    BTW – I’ve now changed my dating habits and spend quite a bit more time getting to know someone before the first date.  Based on the relationship we’ve developed before the first date, a second date is usually a given unless the first date was a total flop.

  23. 24
    Zann

    @ Rosy #12
    I’m 58, and I definitely feel the same “mirroring” guidelines apply. I hear what you’re saying about the guy who seems adrift, is maybe just out of a long-term marriage and seems unsure of how to negotiate the dating world.  But he has to learn how & no amount of nudging on your part is really going to change that. If you send him an upbeat, well-wishing “hello” followup email, he may respond even though otherwise you wouldn’t have heard from him again;, but to me, that’s just kind of putting off the inevitable. You want the guy who wants to make the effort, who wants to get to know you better..so much so that he’s willing to stretch himself, maybe go outside his comfort zone a little, and proactively pursue you. Otherwise, you wind up “fostering” a relationship, nursing it along, and that’s where you will remain — it’s a dead end.  Regardless of his age, if he’s not ready to pursue a woman who interests him, he’s not ready for dating…and he’s certainly not ready for you….because you want a man who’s ready, willing, and totally able.  Don’t let your age make you feel you have to do the pursuing. To the right man, you are just as pursuit-worthy and just as attractive as any other woman in the dating pool.
    P.S. I think the term “passivity” gets misinterpreted as meaning dormant or unenthusiastic.  It conjures up an image of the woman sitting by the phone hoping he’ll call. I prefer Evan’s term of “mirroring,” which to me means letting the man take the action (indicating he’s interested) and then I respond if I’m also interested. It doesn’t always feel natural or comfortable, but it really is the best way of knowing whether a guy is truly interested in me.

  24. 25
    Linda

    Evan,  I love this advice.  Do nothing.  It is so empowering and you are so right when you say his state of mind really has nothing to do with you.  There are a million reasons any man will do what he does or react like he does or go where he goes.  When you do nothing, the weight of the whole relationship comes right off your shoulders.  Thank you!!

  25. 26
    Laine

    Still looking. You dont sound like an Alpha Male.

  26. 27
    Leslie

    Thank you for writing this post.  I have had plenty of good first dates that went nowhere.  I’ve learned something from all of them that has put me in a really good place to know what I’m looking for.  Failed experiences are learning experiences! 
    I’m a strong, confident woman that is a former pro athlete.  I finally met someone that challenges me. 

    And what Evan said is completely true.  I don’t try to control anything in our relationship  I’m helpful and receptive to his needs, but that is it.  He corresponds with me everyday.  And I know when he’s ready to talk about something, he’ll bring it up.  He likes a little mystery and I’m ok with that.  In time all things reveal themselves.  Let things take time, ladies and enjoy the ride! 

  27. 28
    Still Looking

    Laine @ 26.  You stated, “You don’t sound like an Alpha Male.”
    You’re right and I’ll take that as a compliment.  I leave my Alpha Male persona at the office and tone it down for my private life.
    As EMC stated in “Your Searching for the Wrong Men”:
    “Contrast that with the flaws of the alpha male – who can be condescending, aloof, emotionally unavailable, commitment-phobic, and self-obsessed.”
    I’m looking for a partner, not a follower, and I’d like to establish equality in the relationship as early  as possible.  My ego isn’t going to be bruised because a woman sends me a text before I send her one nor will I feel she is an alpha female because she is willing to express her preferences for an evening out when I ask.  The only role playing I enjoy is me being myself and my date being herself.  That way neither of us is left wondering, what is the other person really like.

  28. 29
    Laine

    # 28 You are nevertheless playing just a different sort of game and will attract a particular type of woman, one that perhaps likes to take on the masculine role, or one that is unable to give you some space after a date, where you will have time to think about her. Evan goes into this in some detail in ‘why he disappeared’. Differences in female/male energy does not mean the relationship will be unequal. I am sure neither of you are left wondering and also sure there would be no mystery and not much excitement in your dating style. In psychology this is known as the “parallel” type relationship and usually develops into the couple being bored with each other fairly quickly.

  29. 30
    BloggyDaddy

    Interesting food for thought Evan.
    The last woman I dated drove me away by by consistently trying to control everything and it really made things difficult.
    I want to enjoy the time I spend with a woman, not worry that I’m walking on eggshells.  If I bring her flowers and cards, call and text all the time and try to spend as much time as I can with her I don’t want to have to explain away the times I’m not with her or chose to spend time with my kids.
    It really ruined what I thought was turning into a great thing real fast.

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