Believe The Negatives, Ignore The Positives

Believe The Negatives, Ignore The PositivesLast week, I thought of something that I’d never quite considered before.

It was in my Monday night Inner Circle and new member, Natalie, asked a question:

I went to visit a friend I’ve known for a while and we got involved. Over the next week we exchanged flirty emails and texts. Last week he ended up coming into town and he stayed with me, continuing the romance. He is hesitant about jumping into a relationship (i.e. not wanting to mess up our friendship, he said he’s a mess, he’s recovering from insane relationship, etc).

In general, I’m trying to give him sufficient space and no pressure. Aside from any general advice you have, how do I balance showing interest with giving sufficient space? –Natalie

Natalie’s question was a good one – but it was the wrong question. The real question is why she’d be so inclined to ignore all of this guy’s red flags.

This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.

She shouldn’t be figuring out how to be the “cool girl.” She should be figuring out how to punch up her online dating profile to find a better man.

After all, would YOU feel encouraged if your date said any one of the following:

“I don’t want to ruin our friendship by experimenting with a relationship.”
“I’m really an emotional basket case right now.”
“I’m on the rebound from an absolutely insane relationship.”

Natalie feels chemistry, and, as I’ve pointed out before, chemistry is what allows you to overlook a man’s biggest flaws. Look at your past – when you’re hot for a guy, you just sweep the red flags under the rug as if they’re not even there, just so you can keep up that passionate feeling.

And where would that passionate feeling lead Natalie if she actually gets the guy?

Right into a relationship with an emotionally unavailable, messed-up man who is the first to say that he’s probably not ready to embark on something serious.

Can you say “huh?”

This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.

My advice to Natalie was to tell her friend that she thinks he’s great, but this doesn’t appear to be the best timing. If and when he decides he’s ready, he can give her a call, and if Natalie’s available, she may consider going out with him again.

The end.

But Natalie’s story really got me thinking about how hard it is to read a man.

Contrary to what you might believe, most men do NOT lie to you.

Between your blind spots, your emotions, and most men’s communication styles, it might seem impossible to read between the lines.

Until right now.

After talking to Natalie, I hatched a very simple way to know where you stand with men. Write this down, put it on your mirror, and never forget this:

“Believe the negatives; ignore the positives.”

Contrary to what you might believe, most men do NOT lie to you.

That old wives’ tale about the guy who says he loves you in order to sleep with you doesn’t really happen anymore, because saying “I love you” creates FAR more complications than sex does.

So if most men have a measure of integrity and won’t straight-out lie to you about whether they love you or are seeing other women, what do they usually do?

They hint.

Natalie’s guy is a hinter – telling her all the reasons she should stay away from him after sleeping with him – all because he’s a decent guy who wants to feel that he gave her fair warning.

I did the exact same thing when I was single, and I’m POSITIVE you’ve had it happen to you as well.

The guy you’re seeing says some version of “I don’t know if I’m ready for a committed relationship right now,” and you act like he never said it at all.

Then in 6 months, when you’re still just “seeing” him and want to know where things are going, he says, “I TOLD you I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend.”

He feels he’s covered his ass. You feel that he’s lied. But he hasn’t. He just didn’t INSIST that you run away from him. You took your chances and you lost.

So, from now on, heed this policy.

When a guy says something indicating that he doesn’t want a relationship with you – “I’m not ready,” “The timing is bad,” “I’m really busy at work,” “I’m not sure about my attraction to you,” or refuses to become your boyfriend in three months, guess what?

You should BELIEVE him.

And when a guy takes you on a great date, tells you you’re beautiful, makes love with you, and says he wants to take you to Cancun, you should NOT believe him.

Why?

Because it means NOTHING.

You’ve seen this yourself.

Men live in the moment.

If we are attracted to you, we’ll sleep with you first and figure out our feelings later.

You don’t operate this way, which is why you’re perpetually surprised that we do. But we do, and it’s nothing that you or I can change about men.

So take it from me – the next time you’re excited about a guy:

Ignore all the positives that come with your initial attraction. Great first dates. Big talk of a future. Hot sex. Just put them aside. They say nothing about his feelings for you.

What DOES mean something?

The negative red flags that you will now pay attention to.

And how quickly he follows up your date to say, “I want to see you again.”

That’s it.

Believe the negatives; ignore the positives.

Let me know if this makes sense to you and if you’ve ever ignored the negatives and had it come back to bite you.

10
3

Join 5 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (52 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    my honest answer

    So true Evan! When someone says they’re not looking for a relationship BELIEVE them. Why would they say it if they didn’t mean it?
    This, by the way, is totally different to somone saying ‘I love you’ too soon in a relationship. Don’t believe them. Why would they say it if they didn’t mean it? Because they have PLENTY to gain.
     
    The person saying they’re not interested has nothing to gain from lying. So take them at their word. Don’t become their fall-back position.

  2. 2
    nathan

    Women use some of the same hinting methods. I don’t think this is gender specific. However, I totally agree with Evan that if someone says these kind of things to you, it’s best to believe them. And if you aren’t sure what the signals being given off mean, spend some time collecting more information.

  3. 3
    Lily2

    Perfect Evan! I would add to that …. a guy will tell you quite a bit about himself on the first few dates. He isn’t trying to, but if you listen carefully you will hear, his fears, past relationship issues and much more! My Ex husband told me early on that his family called him “Ice Man”, due to his style of shutting off all feeling and using cold hard logic. Guess what? That is exactly what ultimately ruined my marriage. I could not feel close and safe with him no matter how hard I tried! I am so relieved to be out of that relationship! He is a wonderful guy too, handsome, creative, hard working, honest etc. But for someone like me, lack of warmth is a deal breaker. I now know myself well, and listen very carefully on dates to what a man tells me, and believe me they tell me a lot! It’s my job to LISTEN!

  4. 4
    Allison

    It’s totally true.  I once had a guy say to me, “it’s not just the person– it’s the timing.”  I ignored him.  About a month later he said, “let’s hang out with a group more instead of just the two of us.”  I ignored that too, along with all the little, subtle comments just like it.  When he broke up with me, I felt worse because deep down, I understood that all along he had been telling me not to get too close to him.  
     
    Evan, love the line about not trying to be the cool girl and instead trying to find a better man.  That’s one for the mirror too!

  5. 5
    Candice

    This is kind of depressing because it’s so true. Better to be aware though.

  6. 6
    Spiral

    This is difficult advice to follow, but I know in my gut it’s valid.

    My story: Guy-friend started fawning all over me when I became single, telling me he loved me, telling me he wanted to elope with me…yet at the same time refusing to leave his current girlfriend. He also repeatedly told me he’s lazy, selfish and just wants a woman to take care of him so he can do what he wants. 
    Yeah.
    I told him to step!

  7. 7
    Gina

    Thanks Evan! I am listening and will follow you advice in the future. I could have saved myself years of heartache if only I would have applied this advice sooner. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. 8
    JoAnn

    This one really resonates.  When ‘my’ guy said he wasn’t ready for a committed relationship, my wishful thinking made me hear the word ‘yet’ tacked on to the end of the statement.  I thought it was just a matter of time, another 6 months or so.  I believed we were so perfectly suited that it would all fall into place.  Instead, the relationship that lasted 18 months took at least 3 times that to get over.  Hint, schmint!  As hard as it is, extract your heart and move on. 

  9. 9
    melie

    We can’t ignore those men that just love to play with out emotions to get sex.  Lead you on to believe you will have a “meaningful” relationship.  Saying all the right things, spending the appropriate amount of time with you, then poof!  You begin to feel something and they are gone! OMGoodness!  Jerks are out there.  There are some really nice jerks…..seriously!  In the end all they really want is to get their rocks off and be damned with anything else!
    Then there are the guys you tell us to look at.  The men that are looking at us!  Have you seen “Mister If It Could Be Wrong with Someone It Is with Me” I am interested in you?  Or how about the one that has a job at a fast food place and thinks that is gainful employment?  Or the guy that attends weekly “meetings” for whatever ails him? 
    I know one thing, the more dates I go on, the faster I can spot a man with no ambition and clear cut problems.  
    It is actually very sad that we as females have to subject ourselves to what is out there to weed out something special.  But maybe that’s what dating has always been about.
    Thanks for your advice Evan.   I’m listening.
    M        

  10. 10
    Rachel

    Evan, your post is brilliant.  This is the best advice boiled down to the bare essentials that we can all remember.  I doubt it is what most of us want to hear, but definitely true.

  11. 11
    AnnieC

    @3 Great comments.

    People do tell us a lot and it is up to us to listen :) 

  12. 12
    Goldie

    Agree with Nathan, it isn’t gender-specific. My first thought when reading the post was — I’ve said those things too. And, when I said them, I totally meant them. Got to give the guy a lot of credit — most people wouldn’t say that, or even recognize those things about themselves. Takes a good deal of emotional maturity to come out and say those things to the person you’re involved with. Guy sounds like a great FWB candidate, that would be indispensable when you’re just out of one relationship and not ready for the next, but want some R&R in between. Wait, this is exactly what he’s doing with Natalie. Whether she likes this arrangement or not, is her call, but the fact is, it isn’t going to change.

  13. 13
    Maria

    Ohh this is my life right here Evan. I just recently broke up with this guy I was seeing/dating for 4 months. He DID told me he wasnt ready for a committed relationship but when I asked about a future one, he said he didnt have a problem with that. My mistake was to quickly asking him the where we are question within the first week of seeing each other. We spend every single day seeing each other for the first week though. His reply was he was just getting to know me….I said fine….I will give him one month and like that I brought up the subject at least two or three more times until he told me I was pushing him away and then by our last conversation he said he is immature when it comes to relationship and that he isnt ready for one. I, obviously, was devastaded and had to break it off. I miss him so much and I am hurt because of MY OWN FAULT. I should have never continue to try and change his mind. I feel like I was trying to have something very unattainable. He was never ready for me.

  14. 14
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach for Women Over 40

    Evan – this is magnificent! As a Dating Coach for women over 40, I learned this myself the hard way. TALK IS CHEAP! Men say stuff in the moment, without prompting, not because they are bad, but because it must feel good. Later, as they get their wits about them, they must re-evaluate.
    And I completely agree that men will tell you about themselves in the first few dates if YOU LISTEN. I think this is the best advice you’ve ever given (and you’ve given lots of great advice) and the best advice I’ve come across in  along time. Single gals – heed this advice and keep your eyes open for the red flags. This way you can’t lose.

  15. 15
    Mike

    @melie #9
    “It is actually very sad that we as females have to subject ourselves to what is out there to weed out something special.  But maybe that’s what dating has always been about.”

    It’s sad that we as men have to weed out women too.

  16. 16
    Laya

    While I agree with what Evan’s saying, I have heard and read other alternative thoughts on this. Other dating coaches like Rori Raye or Christian Carter believe something more akin to the difference between an available man or an unavailable man is the woman. There are lots of examples of men who said they were not ready for a relationship but then they unwittingly fell in love with this special woman who made him feel something different. There are men who have just gotten out of a long term relationship or marriage didn’t think they wanted anything serious then find themselves in one. So I don’t know what to think. 

  17. 17
    AQ

    “This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.”

    HAHA – you are always so funny. But this is your best lesson to see the negative and ignore the chemistry. 

  18. 18
    Ruby

    Well, EMK, I’m kind of angry with you…why? Because you weren’t there to give me this brilliant piece of advice years ago! I tend to be fairly positive person, so that was always my mindset, but I always got burned. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to believe all the positive comments, and to have hope, than to face up to the red flags. The men (I’m sure some women do it too) who give mixed signals are generally pretty confused – why not stick to those who are more clear-headed and genuinely ready? I have to agree with Melie (#11), the jerks are out there in droves, but it’s up to us to weed them out.

  19. 19
    Sandra81

    Well, at least if all men were capable of SAYING these things! But there are also soooo many that will just start avoiding you without any explanation. Like a guy I dated recently. We seemed to “click” from the first moment, 1 month after we met, we “got together” (didn’t go very far as I’m more of the cautious type), about 2 weeks of dating, and then…he started blowing cold. After 3 days of hearing nothing but excuses as why we couldn’t spend more time together, I offered him closure in an e-mail, saying that I didn’t like unclear situations and game playing. Personally, I would prefer and respect an upfront person saying “I don’t want a relationship”, or “I don’t think it’s gonna work between us”. Guess what: he is still part of my life, as we are both volunteers in a youth organization. We are “friends”, in a sense that we don’t give each other a hard time, and we are cool about each other, but…I moved on, he hooks up with many different girls all the time, and …that’s all, folks! :-) On the other hand, I wouldn’t say “ignore the positives” either. Wouldn’t that make you paranoid, insecure, or suspicious of a person who may not deserve it? I think we should keep a healthy balance. What do you think?

  20. 20
    Lily2

    @ Layla 16…i find this so confusing too. Sometimes I feel I am just walking in circles :-/ Even EMK implies that, how the woman acts determines much of whether or not a guy will stick around and make you his girlfriend! Ugh!

  21. 21
    Sassafrass

    I recently went out with someone who was going to be in my town for three months. On the date, he was very affectionate, and said all these things about how we would do this and that. But, he also said he is living day to day. When he said it the first time, I thought I should pay close attention, and then he said it again. I told him we could not date, because in my heart, I knew with me, he was asking me to play girlfriend and the would move on.

    A month and a half later, I saw him out with a woman I know he met on the same night. I had liked him, so I thought, ouch! Why her and not me? And I felt hurt and angry.

    But then I realized I should not be surprised he found someone to play his girlfriend for his time in my town, that is exactly what I felt like he wanted me to do. I looked at his Facebook, and he has a picture of them together as his profile picture after a max of 6 weeks.

    Is he in love with her? Maybe. But I doubt she listens to his warnings. Maybe they will marry, who the heck knows, but i won,t be with someone who is asking me to get deeply involved too fast and then has an out at the end.

  22. 22
    Heather

    Evan,

    I agree with you.  I recently went out with a guy who had said, up front, he did not want something serious.  He wasn’t ready, as he’d just come out of a 5-year relationship with someone he’d been engaged to.  I listened, did not try to think, “well maybe I can change him” or anything of the sort.  And we had a couple of lovely dates, but due to his travelling for work, I have not seen him again.  We do text every now and again to say hello.  We’re friendly and he’s been supportive while I am dealing with my Mom being seriously ill right now.

    I’m so glad I’ve started listening to what a guy says in those areas, and also watching what he does.  Guys who aren’t interested in committing won’t call, won’t plan dates, won’t try to see you.  It’s made dating less painful. 

    Also, I’m glad you pointed out that “in the moment” issue because we girls can probably all agree we HATE it when men say they’ll call and then bam….silence, but maybe you guys just say something in the moment because it feels good to say.  So now, I just never believe a guy when he says he’ll call.  Guys say it but actually DOING it is what I’ll pay attention to.

  23. 23
    BetterDating

    I totally agree with this article about paying attention to the negatives. However, I just got off the phone with my sister.  Her boyfriend of 3 years has bought her an engagement ring and wants to get married.  Oops…is this the same guy who told her up front that he was NEVER EVER going to get married again?  Yep, that was him.  Now he’s all about marrying her.  So just when you think you have it all figured out…BOOM…you find out that it’s all just one big mystery.

  24. 24
    lawyerette

    Laya – I’ve heard that alternate advice as well, and I’ve heard it from men. I think both pieces of advice are true – they just don’t apply in the same situations. What Evan is talking about is when a guy SAYS to you something that basically means “I don’t want to be a in relationship with you.” What that other advice refers to is situations where the guy is not looking but would make a move for the right woman. I think the best advice is those situation is: continue to be cool, DON’T initiate anything, and DON’T have sex.

    And don’t be afraid to enforce your boundaries with guys while you’re in that “cool” period. Men RESPECT women who have boundaries. I have a guy friend who is in a relationship but can get too flirty. When he does it, I tell him to knock it off and he complies. Deep down, a good guy knows that a woman who respects herself will not let him do certain things. If a guy doesn’t respect your boundaries, it’s a huge red flag to run.

  25. 25
    Tara

    Laya, Lily2
     
    This idea
    “how the woman acts determines much of whether or not a guy will stick around and make you his girlfriend! Ugh!”
     
    Ugh indeed!  To my mind, this has a LOT of potential for setting up a hoop jumping dynamic–
    If he’s not declaring his everlasting love and speaking of the future with me, I must be the one doing something wrong.
    If I do this, this and this, in just this way, then maybe, just maybe, I might win his love.
     
    In addition, it can reinforce any dysfunctional childhood patterns, like the projection of  self-loathing, low self-esteem/confidence,  onto another, which can lead to both people getting caught in a cycle of enabling each other in playing a co-dependent/hold each other hostage game.
     
    Ironically, this can also happen when a woman is ignoring the red flags in favor of chemistry, being the cool girl and hoping for something more in some non-existent future, setting a guy up to take advantage of her vulnerability and constantly raise the stakes.
     
    Everybody has flaws, but I think that a lot of bs could be avoided if people would make the effort to grow up, get real with themselves, and be up front with prospective relationship partners from the beginning!

  26. 26
    Karen

    Wow, this article is a play-by-play of the relationship that just ended for me this week, pretty much exactly what happened! I have bought Evan’s e-book and plan to follow it into my next foray into the dating world.

  27. 27
    Leesa

    hi there
    this website is so good for me. i feel like the lady who said that she ignored the red flags and an 18 month relationship took her 3 times that long to get over.  i also wish i’d been able to read the red flags of somebody whom i’m still severely heartbroken over. how could i have been so stupid? how could i have let it go on for so long?  i just couldn’t believe that i was the type of girl you would use. i thought … i’m not a pub slut etc. i thought i was lovable. but my friends tell me that maybe it is that he couldn’t love … at least if the relationship wasn’t entirely on his terms. so now he lives with the girl he took off with.  and i’m glad i’m not her – now i understand what i’ve read on evan’s website. but it doesn’t make the emotional loss any less intense.

    i think the stuff evan teaches should be taught to females as a compulsory subject in high school.  i can’t believe i got to 40 without knowing this information … and i’m in a male dominated profession and thought i understood guys.  anyway, i’m grateful evan has opened my eyes to how shitty guys think and act so that i hope i never have to feel like this again.

    do any other women feel like they’re the only person in the world who has suffered this deeply with a broken heart?  i feel like nobody feels as much pain as i’m going through over what happened (it ended 8 months ago and i was with him for only a year). but reading this website helps me realise that i’m not alone because there are other women who were as “blind” as me and that evan shows us how not to keep getting our heart broken with the wrong guys.

    i’m enternally grateful.

  28. 28
    Flower White

    Yes I believe what men say and I listen very carefully which is why I haven’t had a boyfriend in over a year. I am amazed at how many men I’ve passed on due to listening/vetting. In the past I would have dated them and ended up the sad girlfriend of a hot tempered alcoholic.

    Yes, indeed…believe the negatives. Sigh. A hot smart guy I’ve know for some time admitted that he had a nursed a crush on me in the past…good…but, my ears perked up when he freely admitted to being a tense and uptight person. He said it with a smile, with pride.

    In the past I would have ignored that, wondering how in the hell did I end up with such a mean and cold man as my boyfriend?

    This time, I tore up the business card of the hot, smart tense and uptight man because I believe the negatives.

  29. 29
    Ann

    What about when they give these little hints about not wanting a commited relationship but their actions say otherwise? Like calling every day, seeing you every weekend and often during the week, spending lots of money and refusing to let you pay for anything, doing it up big on b’day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, not seeing anyone else or even looking at anyone else….

    It gets very confusing.  

  30. 30
    justme

    I’ve been thinking alot about this topic and here is my take: if they say they aren’t looking for anything but then do all the right things, believe they aren’t looking for anything right now.  If they say they are looking for something and interested in you but then there is no action to back up their words, they aren’t looking for you. 

    Only believe it when their words AND their actions are consistent. 

    I think this applies to life not just dating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>