Special Blog Post! Advice from a Single Dating Expert’s Girlfriend

My girlfriend is extraordinary.

If I wasn’t too afraid of embarrassing her, I’d post the list I wrote for our six-month anniversary, “100 Things I Love About My Girlfriend”.

Fine, twist my arm. Here are just three things that make her special:

  • She’s amazing at meeting people at a party where she knows no one.
  • She’s grateful for what she has, instead of clamoring for what she doesn’t.
  • She squeaks when I rub my hand up her arm.

But what makes her particularly unusual is that she handles me perfectly. It was as if she read a handbook on how to be the ideal girlfriend and executed it to a T.

And while I could sit here and yap about what I think she does so well, I thought it would be much more valuable to ask her if there was a method to her madness, a secret to her success.

So, Girlfriend, what is it that you do that makes me want to never let you go?

This is how she responded.

================================

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.

So here goes…

Advice from a Single Dating Expert’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?

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.

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?

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.

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. 1
    Natalie

    LOVED IT! Your advice on not calling wolf is perfect. I have been married and am currently divorcing and dating. Not calling wolf has been the #1 change I have made in how I communicate with my boyfriend and I really think that it has made a huge difference in how I am treated. The part about Mulligans…also very important. If you want to love your man for who he is you can’t beat him down everytime he says something you would have preferred that he didn’t. We’ve all said stuff that made us dig a huge hole and we can’t get out…imagine if our guys gave us crap about it for days like we do to them sometimes.
    Girlfriend, you did a great job on this contribution!

  2. 2
    your cousin

    This was very insightful and got me thinking about my own relationship. I especially related to “Mulligans”. After being married for 13 years (now you know which cousin I am), I often get angry at my spouse and blame him for intentionally “hurting” me. I expect, that after 13 years of marriage and 4 years of dating before that, that he would know what bothers me and he wouldn’t do it if he really loved me.

    You said >. This hits home. From this day forward, I will make a conscience effert to give my spouse “mulligans”.

  3. 3
    juLiette

    DAMN EVAN- WHERE DID YOU FIND THIS GIRL?!!!! GOOD JOB GUYS! you two are now my idoLs. =P sounds Like the perfect reLationship to me!
    seriousLy-
    . .. . … . wow.
    this is the reLationship i DREAM of!
    THANK YOU FOR SHARING AND KEEP IT UP
    the more i hear (read), the more i Learn.
    you two shouLd DEFinateLy teach a seminar together one day.
    actuaLLy, pLease do.

  4. 4
    Lora

    Kudos to you Evan for finding and appreciating this amazing woman. I believe that when each person in a couple takes responsibility for their own behavior and looks at things from one another’s perspective the relationship can grow into a loving and fulfilling one. I only wish I would have figured this out long ago! Best of luck to both of you~L

  5. 5
    mrs. vee

    Well done and dare I say… you go, Girlfriend.

    You two sound wonderfully right for one another. (And you come off as VERY learned/educated, so have no fear.) Relationships take a lot of tongue-biting and thinking before you speak. It seems you have the boundless empathy and patience to make it work with a man like Evan. I hope you continue to pour your efforts into this relationship throughout the misunderstandings and annoyances.

    I wish you both the best of and I, myself, will take your advice to heart. Continue to follow yours.

  6. 6
    jane hurley

    It seems that all the advice on how to be a good girlfriend/wife focuses on being “forgiving” of men’s offenses- how to talk ourselves down off a ledge when we grow upset. In contrast, I’ve been in a relationship for 3 years and – maybe he and I are both just really even-keeled – but I’ve never had to deal with things he’s said or done that eat away at me. We just generally get along, have fun, relax together and are considerate towards each other like we’d be with any other friend (golden rule, I suppose). Perhaps I’m just lazy and made sure I chose a guy who didn’t take so much work.

    I simply wanted to put this in perspective because I think this is good advice only if you’ve chosen a certain type of partner. The alternative is to choose a man of a different temperament/set of manners. Personally, I’d let it slide too if my partner commented that one of his female friends is the funniest or sweetest or most in-shape girl he knows. But after enough comments, I’d get pretty sick of his thoughtlessness. My point is…not all relationships require the woman to be tough-it-out-centric. It depends on the guy too.

  7. 7
    jane hurley

    P.S. I didn’t mean to imply Evan is a difficult boyfriend. It’s just that this and so much other relationship advice centers on training ourselves to be understanding of men’s “natures”, essentially becoming skilled “male handlers”. That doesn’t really reflect my experience at all. I don’t think all men are of the same nature, and if I found myself dating anyone who needed to be “handled”, I’d sooner walk away.

  8. 8
    CoatMan

    This is an excellent article! If only more women were like you. It’s hardly surprising that you’ve not had many boyfriends: all the ones that you have had have known that they’re onto a good thing and worked hard to keep you!

  9. 9
    Lisa Marie

    Evan’s girlfriend aka “soulmate”… your advice is invigorating, and hopefully, this advice will be virally spread for many men, not only women to read and apply. Although, it takes two partners to be fully committed in a relationship, and being “secure” with themselves, is what I’ve come to find. I know you and Evan are and congratulations for finding one another! I truly enjoyed your advice, especially naming your “Mulligans”! Us women do need to bite our tongues and decide if it’s worthwhile, and vent to our wonderful friends more often for that special one… if we’ve found him. Thanks for sharing your special thoughts and experiences! Another single woman seeking “my” Mr. Right.

  10. 10
    Joseph Patrick Floyd

    This is a very insightful blog and extremely well written by the “girlfriend”. I do believe that it takes both people in a relationship to make it work and the onus should be equally held. It is great to hear an intelligent woman’s point of view and although one person complained that the girlfriend was giving in too much, I do not see her as an impuissant mate at all. I actually see her as a very reasonable person who would like to express her amative feelings towards Evan without sweating the “small stuff”. Relationships definitely take work and it is refreshing to see that there are other people out there who know how to make it work without sacrificing who they are and what they believe. Thanks for sharing this with people!

  11. 11
    Blowme A Kisswhileyourleavin

    GREAT article, very well written, and AMEN SISTER!!

    We as women dont want to hear the that we are snotty, bitchy, and petty like we sometimes can be. We all need to stop and think..Who wants to be around someone that is so much work! Attitude is EVERYTHING!! In my experience, when we as women we are treated with the love, honor and the respect we deserve we in turn reciprocate. I know we all as women have our moments of insecure insanity! And lets face it, we all make our mistakes. Know your mistake, admit to it, apologize for it and move on!! One thing we cant deny is that our lives are littered with small stuff… the key is how to work out the small stuff respectfully. Thank you girlfriend!!

  12. 12
    Hely

    Thank you!!! great advise!
    Im so glad for both of you guys.. i totally agree with everyone here when i say it looks like your perfect for each other!
    Relationships are about compromise for both parts and when/if we want to make them work we have to try to give the best of us.
    Best wishes to you both!

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  15. 13
    Ashlee

    Your girlfriend is truly insightful. Kudos to you both for having such a healthy, balanced relationship. You both should think about psychology.

  16. 14
    Mya

    Way to go Girl.. ;)
    Loved the post..

  17. 15
    Kate

    Someone needs to acknowledge the truth of Jane Hurley’s insight, posts #6 and #7. Dating advice does not have to teach women to manage men’s superior natures. Notice Evan’s introduction to his girlfriend: “what makes her so unusual is that she handles me perfectly.” Why does a partner need to handle you, Evan? Are men the dominant partners, and women must learn to accommodate men’s personalities to win their devotion? Your girlfriend admits she has “learned” how to manage men. She admits to innate behavior that plagues most of your readers: she was “a slave to my emotions” and used to “unleash the crazy” on men. But those men who defined women as “crazy” instead of understandably upset became her gold standard. This is the male perspective of female reaction, as she learned from others. She has studied the male reaction and changed her responses to prolong male interest.
    Your responses to us are increasingly weary, impatient, and mildly contemptuous of women who react with understandable hurt and shock to men who were once loyal to them.
    Are you sincerely trying to teach us how to escape from some men’s nasty behavior, as in “he does it because you allow him to do it” ? Or are you trying to teach women how to “win” boyfriends by changing their innate reactions, as your girlfriend exemplifies?
    Are there other readers who want a more balanced approach to relationships than this “how to please a man” approach?

  18. 16
    Evan Marc Katz

    Why does a partner need to “handle” me, Kate? Well, because I’m a piece of work. I’m opinionated, condescending, difficult, moody, neurotic, anxious and insecure. This doesn’t deny some of my other charms; it just acknowledges that I, and you, and everyone else brings baggage to the table.

    I am extremely grateful that she has the wisdom to focus on my strengths, rather than my weaknesses. Most of my other girlfriends did not.

    So instead of painting this as “Evan’s giving advice to tell women to be passive and accept disloyal men”, try looking at it through a different prism. Nowhere did I say to put up with cheating men. All I said was to choose your battles. As they say, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather get along?”

    My girlfriend believes in getting along. And while you can claim that this merely “prolongs” male interest, as if it’s some sort of game, you’re missing the fundamental point – it makes me appreciate her and love her even more. When something’s important to her, I know it, and I make every effort to honor her desires. This is BECAUSE of her even temperament, not in spite of it. Her generosity inspires me to be the same way.

    Women come here to listen to a smart, straight, successful man explain what men are thinking. Feel free to ignore me or disagree with me all you want. It’s a free country.

    All I know is that my girlfriend and I are getting married on Saturday. So clearly, this “game” she’s playing worked on at least one of us. And I sense that if you become more patient, accepting, and easygoing, it will work for you, too. This does not mean to deal with a liar, cheater or a deadbeat. It just means finding ways to say “yes” instead of always laying down your rules and then being shocked when men don’t want to play by them.

    Thanks for your contribution. We may disagree, but the conversation is valuable.

    Now I’m off to practice my vows.

    Good night.

    Evan

  19. 17
    Alison

    I agree with Kate.

    I’m also left wondering where I’m going ‘wrong’, as I’m pretty sure that I don’t cry wolf, act ‘crazy’ with men, etc.

  20. 18
    Melissa

    Wow! This was excellent. I found myself nodding along with it.

    I think its even HARDER to catch yourself with these things when you grew up with an emotionally charged family who dealt with everything by getting out there boxing gloves and screaming and duking it out. But I’m living proof that it can be done; it just takes alot of work. You gotta learn to “pick your battles”

    But thank you for reminding me how IMPORTANT it is to learn these tactics. It all comes down to self-control. Men can’t help that they sometimes have a sensitivity chip missing… LOL But I think it helps me… to sometimes look at them like a cute little lost puppy who didn’t mean to poop on the carpet. ha, ha.

    I thought this was very pragmatic and made a lot of sense. Thanks for enlisting her help Evan. Good stuff!

  21. 19
    Sayanta

    “Im opinionated, condescending, difficult, moody, neurotic, anxious and insecure.”

    You make yourself sound like quite a catch there, Evan. ;-P j/k

  22. 20
    Bree Talon

    I’d have to agree that the self-awareness of which you write is key in  having a healthy, lasting relationship. It’s great to hear from you, and your point about the golden rule is a good one to remember.
    When I’m disagreeing with my partner (even with friends)  I try to imagine a scenario where our roles were reversed and imagine how I’d want to be approached or treated – and to try and gain insight into their perspective on the situation at hand. While we might still need to find some common ground, this approach always diffuses some of my anger (emotion) which makes finding a peaceful resolution easier.
    No one is perfect, we all have our “stuff” but being willing to own it and accept your partner’s helps make a successful relationship, IMHO. Anyone who feels the need to criticize the examples you use about your own and Evan’s personal character is missing the point of this article. Thanks for sharing.
     
     

  23. 21
    Reddy

    I agree with Jane Hurley and Kate. I think that if I would feel about myself that “I am a piece of work” I would try to do something about it rather than expect to find someone who can “handle” me. I think I would not even be able to respect someone who puts up with my bad behaviour. I prefer someone who motivates me to be my better self.

  24. 22
    Speed Dating NYC

    Great to read this. Looks like you are both very lucky. Good luck to you both!

  25. 23
    Heather Magee

    What an honor to hear from your precious girlfriend! Thank you for taking the time to write your insights experiences & how you “handle Even perfectly.” I truly want to learn to weed the bad ones and keep a good one and you’ve provided me with invaluable advice & wise insight! I’m happy you both found each other & you seem to really “compliment” each other. Thanks again for the priceless column!! Congrats!!

  26. 24
    Rio

    Never… I repeat, NEVER trust a person who considers themselves an “EXPERT”.
    :) what a laugh.

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