How Do I Avoid Wasting Time on Players and Narcissists?

How Do I Avoid Wasting Time on Players and Narcissists?

Dear Evan,

I think your male point of view may help women spot the good guys. You advise us to be careful with the alphas and Mr. Know-it-all types. Well, it’s not always easy to spot them for women, especially for the attractive ones. It’s easier for men to know other men, you can easily say if such guy is a player or not; but it’s sometimes difficult for women due to the mixed signals. I’m physically a very attractive woman, and this is sometimes a real curse since a lot of men compete for my attention, and they all seem nice, compassionate, chivalrous, and generous at the beginning, even the alphas and know-it-alls. They keep a low profile, at least for a while. I never know their real faces until I’m invested.

I wish there was a way – a kind of test for women to figure out who can walk their talks, who is genuinely compassionate and kind, before we got emotionally invested. I’m an observant person. I observe how they treat waiters etc., yet some of men are really good at hiding their true selves for a long time (until they’re sure of you). It’s a very frustrating experience for me. I wish women could have practical tools to measure up men before they got involved and eliminate the narcissists/players.

I’m looking forward for your advice from the male perspective. –Ashley

Dear Ashley,

You didn’t ask me a question. You made a statement:

“It’s hard to tell if a man is a good guy. I would love to have a magic wand that would let me know if I’m wasting my time.”

Well, you’re in luck, my friend.

If your biggest concern is that everyone puts on his best face for a long time, then the ONLY thing you can do is sit back and observe him.

You asked for a “test” that women can give to men to figure out which ones are truly kind and compassionate, instead of selfish players.

I’m not sure if you were looking for a physical object (like the aforementioned magic wand), a personality test (like the 436 questions on eHarmony’s profile), or maybe just a subtle series of questions that you can drop into every day conversation (ex. “Are you a player or are you a genuinely sincere guy?”)

If it sounds like I’m teasing you, Ashley, well, I am.

Because, no matter how important such “tests” are (and they are), and how much women want them (a lot), they all pale in comparison to the one test that I can offer that’s close to foolproof.

Yes, this is a test that everybody knows about and it’s FAR more effective than “So, where do you see yourself in five years?”. And yet somehow, it’s not considered very popular in the female community.

You ready for it?

It’s called “the test of time”.

If your biggest concern is that everyone puts on his best face for a long time, then the ONLY thing you can do is sit back and observe him.

Literally ANYTHING else you try to do to “weed him out” is going to be obvious, tone-deaf, and likely ineffective.

How do I know this? Because, by your logic, my wife would have weeded me out really early on. Check out these red flags.

• We hooked up (without sleeping together) for a month before I became her boyfriend.
• I didn’t see her six times a week; closer to 3 times.
• I was never “whipped” and never had the “you just know” feeling.
• I didn’t tell her I loved her for six months.
• I had never had a girlfriend for longer than 8 months before.
• She wasn’t my “type” – liberal, Ivy League, ambitious, East Coast.
• I was open about my confusion and ambivalence. After 16 months, I was either going to propose or break up and I didn’t know which.

So why did my wife keep me around?

Because she could tell that I was 100% authentic.

If a man wants to get married and start a family one day, he’ll bring it up. If he never brings it up, he probably doesn’t want it.

That I kept absolutely no secrets.

That I really did want to settle down and start a family.

That my moral code and integrity were my most valued traits.

So even though she could tell that I had a wide alpha-male, know-it-all streak, it was always tempered by the fact that I was sensitive, open and honest with her – even when I was confused about our future.

If she had pressed me after one month or three months as to whether I intended on marrying her, it would have been a mistake.

After six months, as I said, I loved her, but I didn’t KNOW anything for sure.

And that, to me, Ashley, is your blind spot. You seem to think that a man is a player if he doesn’t want to marry you. I’d say that there are definitely some bad apples out there, but that EVERY man is a player until he finds the woman with whom he wants to stop playing.

Who is that woman going to be?

Most likely, it’s going to be the one who is confident enough in herself and her judgment to not have to administer “tests” to her boyfriend, no matter how fearful you are about wasting your time.

So, to come full circle, let’s give you something you can take away from this article – apart from the concept of being cool and patient and letting the man reveal himself over time.

Pay attention to whether your boyfriend shares the same life goals as you. If a man wants to get married and start a family one day, he’ll bring it up. If he never brings it up, he probably doesn’t want it. And that will probably mean that you’re wasting your time.

But IF he wants to one day get married and start a family, literally the ONLY thing you can do is sit back and watch him for two years to determine if you think HE’S worth of being your husband for the next FORTY years. If he passes that test, he may be worth your time.

3
1

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 (254 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    Grace Pamer

    Great post Evan. It really is so tricky but as you say you really do need to invest some time in each person or you’ll never get to see their true colors. Even the best, most authentic, compassionate people can have periods of their lives (especially in their’s 20’s) where they don’t know what they want long term. The best you can do, as you clearly did Evan, is be honest and upfront. Love can grow stronger over time and it’s only when a shared vision of a couples future hones into view that some people will suddenly realize they want something they never knew they would have before.
     
    Have a great day
    Grace

  2. 2
    Jenna

    You can weed out most time wasters in just a couple months by delaying sex for 2 months and exclusivity. Men are generally considerate in that if they know a girl is relationship oriented and not into sleeping around, they don’t try to waste anybody’s time. Beyond that, I wish Evan had more of a middle ground when it comes to making sure a guy you’re in a ltr with had the same goals beyond just playing it cool. If you’re six months in it seems reasonable to check in about longer term goals. Not saying either of you has answers at that point, but you can at least feel out whether you’re on the same page. I still do have great faith in men on this one – 90 percent of time wasters reveal themselves as such by the six week mark. 

     

  3. 3
    Michelle

    ” literally the ONLY thing you can do is sit back and watch him for two years to determine if you think HE’S worth of being your husband for the next FORTY years ”

    This is the key, although I would strongly argue it doesn’t take anywhere near 2 years to see if he’s worthy of being a good husband.  One easy test is to see how he reacts when you tell him “no”, and I don’t mean to sex.

    (Why is it so many women on this blog think they are cat’s ass in regard to their looks and bodies? Kindof tiresome since we all know looks have absolutely nothing to do with what kind of partner or person someone is.  I think I’m an average looking woman, and have never had a problem attracting and/or keeping quality men.)

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Michelle – You can get hints that someone is NOT a good husband while dating, but you’re taking a risk if you’re planning on getting married anytime before two years. I can’t tell you how many readers/clients have told me that their relationships were great for 1-2 years, then they got married and saw a different side of him.

    2. 3.2
      Noelle

      The better u look the more players u attract Trying to compete with you in a hotness contest 

  4. 4
    Ruby

    “EVERY man is a player until he finds the woman with whom he wants to stop playing.” I don’t see how a man can be a player and be “100% authentic” at the same time (not pointing the finger at EMK personally here). If a man is authentic, and does have integrity, then he’s not going to waste anyone’s time for more than a few dates. I think the OP is referring to men who are not like this, and more than a few of them exist, unfortunately.
     
    I’ve had to make a decision to trust my gut. if a man acts like a jerk in any way during the first few weeks of dating, I’d cut him loose, despite his protests for another chance. It might sound harsh, but I’d expect a man to be on his best behavior during the early weeks of dating.
     
    Ashley wrote, “…it’s sometimes difficult for women due to the mixed signals.” i’d argue that mixed signals are a red flag, a man’s way of keeping one foot out the door. At best, it’s a sign that a man is very ambivalent. A man doesn’t need to know that he wants a permanent relationship within the first couple of months of dating, but he has to see a woman as a serious prospect.


    I’d also argue that many men are not like EMK. If they are not feeling the “magic” from the get-go, they don’t stick around for the long haul.

  5. 5
    Fiona

    Useful advice although I also think Evan you were lucky to find your wife. Having met enough player types in my life, I tend to write men off if they don’t show serious interest in me from the outset.

  6. 6
    RW

    @Ruby

    A man could be a player and 100% authentic if he was upfront about his playah intentions!  I know it rarely works this way but in theory, I guess it’s possible. 

    @Michelle

    Maybe they really are cat asses when it comes to looks :P   You’re right that it doesn’t say a whit about what kind of people they are but all other things being equal, it should be easier to initiate the search for a mate the more attractive you are.  Are you annoyed that they think highly of themselves because it can’t be true or because it’s not relevant to the discussion?

    @Ashley

    You mentioned that men don’t reveal their true colours until you’re invested.  Are we talking about an emotional investment?  Physical investment?  Or just a time investment?  I do agree that time is the best indicator but maybe there are steps you can take to guard yourself from the emotional trap until you’re more sure of the man and his intentions.  I’m also curious what you mean by “hiding their true selves”.  Is it generally that the man isn’t interested in anything long term?  Or that he is only interested in himself?  Does he cheat?

     

    1. 6.1
      uigs

      @RW – “…it should be easier to initiate the search for a mate the more attractive you are.”.

      It is easier to find dates the more attractive you are but I’ve never ever seen any evidence that more attractive people find better quality partners, who are compatible and where if they marry bliss is higher and divorce is lower. 

      Also, the more attractive you are the more frogs and frogettes you will have to kiss before finding your truly compatible mate.  

      Superficial attraction may equal lots of dates but it never is a guarantee for true love.  Kim Kardashian is man’s ideal for looks and wow, what a success for true love, Jennifer Aniston got cheated on, supermodel Christy Brinlkly 3 kids and 5 divorces still looks hot, yeah that’s truel lasting love, —– so much for more mates.           

  7. 7
    Lucy

    I’m tired of men sometimes. I’ve experienced my fair share of players and narcissists. I’m better at figuring out the predatory types than I used to be but people can take you by surprise. I wouldn’t say I don’t believe good men are out there, because I really do. But I’ve revised down my standards i.e. I don’t expect much from men. I expect men to be like overgrown children because that’s what the men in my life have been like. It kind of jars with me. Should I put those standards back up again?

  8. 8
    Liz

    Ashley makes a good point that women are not as good as men at judging a man’s character.  For women, chemistry can cloud the equation and blind us to their faults.  Even our female friends can be won over by the charm of a narcissist. 
    Look how this can be used in a positive way: MEN are generally not fooled. Sometime in those 6 weeks I bet there’s a party or perhaps he can meet you at happy hour with some work buddies. If there’s a male friend or colleague who cares about you, ask his opinion! Go on a double date with a friend and her BF or husband and then ask the guy later what he thought of your new date.
    Men will almost always be able to sniff out a guy who’s up to no good. They have a gut feeling about it. And generally speaking, they will tell you. That is, if you’re “safe” to talk to….which means you’re genuinely interested in their opinion and don’t already have a right and wrong answer in your head.

  9. 9
    Mercedes

    I really like what you say here:  “Because she could tell that I was 100% authentic.That I kept absolutely no secrets.  That I really did want to settle down and start a family.  That my moral code and integrity were my most valued traits.  So even though she could tell that I had a wide alpha-male, know-it-all streak, it was always tempered by the fact that I was sensitive, open and honest with her – even when I was confused about our future.”

    I struggle with the two year thing (yet I respectfully understand why you suggest it) but I certainly see the value in staying with a man longer (without any type of commitment) when the above qualities are there in the person you are (or are falling) in love with. 

    Nice article.
    M

  10. 10
    Ruby

    I also wanted to add that I don’t think that the first 4 examples on EMK’s list of his early dating behaviors with his wife were red flags at all, but signs that he was being careful. #6 wouldn’t be a red flag unless he told his girlfriend that was how he felt. #5 might be a yellow flag. The most troubling point would be the last one, but fortunately for everyone, EMK made the right decision in the end. Many men just let their confusion and ambivalence will out.
     
     

  11. 11
    Greg

    Evan, I have been ready your website for about a year now and have spent more than an few hrs reading old postings as well.  Your readers’ questions, your responses and their feedback have given me a new framework on meeting, greeting, dating and building relationships with women… and I am a professional divorced white male, 56 yrs old.

    However, in my ‘bracket’ does 1-2 years really work for people at this stage of life?. I have gone out with 46-67 year old women during the past 18 months.  Many DO want an answer at 30-90 days if you are now in an exclusive relationship..I get that, and think its reasonable.

     But many want to be close to arranging a wedding or move in date within 8-12 mths… not 2 years.  The re-occurring principle I hear is that at ‘our age’ life is too short to start over ever 1-2 years.  When I mention the divorce rate is even higher second time around… women generally wave the hand and tell me  this concern is overblown!!??   So how do your guidelines work for those over 50 whose ‘family’ days are more towards becoming  grandparent than an new father?

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Greg – Your comment completely made my case.

      Yes, women do want to know within a month or two if you’re her boyfriend. I think this is completely fair and most men who are interested are eager to be exclusive at this point.

      Now that you’re exclusive, the next two years (or so) should be spent figuring out whether it’s a good idea to buy a ring, sell your home, sign a contract and merge lives forever.

      That’s no small undertaking, and yet when women are pushing to get this answer (so as to avoid wasting time/getting hurt) they often fail to grasp the gravity of the situation. Plus, the fail to consider the situation from your side.

      Your concern is not at all overblown, Greg. Neither is a woman who makes an eager man wait two years before engagement.

      “Life is too short” is, plain and simple, a shitty argument. If you’re happily dating for two years, what’s the rush to put a ring on it? Fear. Your life doesn’t become instantly superior with a ring on your finger. You’re just locked in permanently. The rewards for marriage build over time – and they’re more evident in five years than they are in two years.

      So hold your ground, my friend, and remind your girlfriends that the right man will choose her on HIS (reasonable) timetable. The more she pushes for a ring out of fear, the less likely she is to get one. I don’t care if every 60 year old wants to get married within a year. Most of them have the dating experience of 23-year-olds and don’t know any better.

  12. 12
    Ellen

    I generally agree with Evan, but understand the woman in a hurry ’cause of her biological clock.

    I did not have to worry about the latter; still, like the OP, I, despite great intuition, several times had a hard time getting at my date’s intentions, true personality, etc. Time reveals all, yes, but if you’ve slept with the man and bonded it becomes difficult to extricate oneself sometimes or make a speedy exit when necessary. Especially nowadays when so many relationships are “mini” or long distance or fairly casual weekend affairs only. Those can take months to play out fully, those can take weeks and months for the man to finally reveal himself one way or another.

    What I did when really befuddled was run the man’s astrological chart (time of birth is key). To that end I recommend Carol Allen’s “Right Man Report” at loveinstars.com I think the url is…..Three times the man’s chart was fairly dire or selfish or just plain negative but I hung on a little longer anyway. ALWAYS regretted it.

    Carol is unique imo in that she gets into Vedic astrology moon subsigns or Nakshatras. I am Krittika and my bf is Pushya, a very good nurturing placement.

    I also am a pretty good student of psychology now and pay particular attention to what the man talks about routinely and the type of projection he does. We all do it, but few are aware they do it (project). Google.

    Also, harder to get at is his “attachment” style and “love personality”. But it helps to have this conversation. Now I just routinely tell the man I need to hear words of encouragement and love and that acts/gifts are far less important to me. But here’s the crux: Men are more adept at doing things, running errands, fixing things etc. to show their love rather than emote. It can be a dilemma so you have to be very clear as to what you need this way. Very clear. 

    No, imo too many men will inveigle himself into a woman’s heart and/or stick around for the sex only- so the woman has to be extra vigilant. The integrity just isn’t there often. Me, if I honestly feel I won’t feel it for the man after 2-3 dates, I cut him loose, no matter how lonely I am.    

    Nonetheless, I agree with Evan that two full years are needed to see the man in every circumstance. But not every woman has two years to “sit back and see what develops”.  To return to astrology, my moon is in Aries (the bull), so I am a take charge type (quietly as possible! lol) in romance and in life in general. I’ve had to teach myself to relax and to go with the flow. To be patient.    

       

  13. 13
    Jenna

    To add, I certainly agree that women pushing prematurely for answers are often driven by fear and insecurity and a lack of confidence that even if this one man falls through good things await in the end. I was recently shocked to hear from a match date that so many women he goes out with are pushing him for answers and intentions, even his salary, on DATE ONE, and he really liked me because I was so no-pressure.

    However, the advice to play it cool can also backfire and end up as a fear based approach as well if it’s not coupled with strong self esteem and other inner work. That’s why, though I appreciate Evan’s blog a great deal, I’ve gotten a bit more out of following Rori Raye because she does focus on how to raise concerns and needs in a non-threatening way to show you’re not a doormat either. I used to play it cool but feel like I had to sit around waiting to be chosen and have no control over anything, as many women do, and that’s not good either. (I realize that’s not the intention of Evan’s advice, but it can work out that way depending on one’s own issues.) I used to follow all of Evan’s mirroring advice, delayed sex, dated multiple people at once, etc., and it was still not working, because it wasn’t coupled with true, deep confidence that I was capable of getting a good man and that I had just as much power as any man in the dating scene. I decided to turn around all the negative thoughts I had about men because when I kept voicing worry in my head along the lines of this poster (I’m attractive, so a lot of guys have this superficial interest in me, how do I ever tell who really likes me, guys are good at hiding their true intentions) I just kept getting guys who had superficial interest. I decided to turn it around in my head as a compliment that because I’m attractive and interesting I’m going to get more superficial attention than others, and there’s a slight downside to that but ultimately many good men are interested in a relationship with me and I’m going to keep having a great time dating until something works out for me very shortly.

  14. 14
    Mickey

    I’m not sure I agree. As I mentioned in a prior post, I’m convinced now more than ever that most women have low tolerance for, and even lower expectations the male of the species. So, I find it hard to believe that there are so many women out there looking for a long term relationship, or even marriage when too many are convinced that men are worthless without trying to give them a fair shot.

    As one poster mentioned to me not too long ago, “this is a world of opportunity, not scarcity.” Could have fooled me.

  15. 15
    nikoletta

    The post is really nice but when a woman is over 35 years old her biological clock is ticking really hard. We don’t feel we have the luxury of time and our desire to have a kid is really stressful. What do you think about us Evan?
    Maybe consider becoming single mothers? Time passes so fast for us unfortunately..

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      It doesn’t matter if you’re 35, Nikoletta. If a man wants kids, he has as much at stake as you do.

      You have to let a marriage/children-oriented man choose you when he’s ready. You can’t push him to move faster than he’s ready – unless you want to scare him away.

  16. 16
    Alexandra

    Evan, very sensical advice as usual. Let’s say I’m a woman who agrees with you and takes your advice, plays it cool, doesn’t put pressure on the relationship and doesn’t want to rush into marriage because I want to increase the odds of making the right decision. But let’s also say that my boyfriend, who meets all my needs and is a great fit for me, didn’t read your advice and believes he just KNOWS I’m the woman for him, and he proposes before 2 years. What does a woman do? Say yes and use the engagement period to further evaluate the relationship? I don’t want to rush into marriage, but I do believe I am dating my future husband right now (your great advice is what helped me see that!)

  17. 17
    Alyssa

    I agree, the test of time is the only way to really know.  I’d also like to add that you have to take a certain degree of risk that someone may not turn out like you had originally thought.  The test of time only works if you are open and fully participating in the relationship- you may very well end up with a broken heart- or you may very well end up in the relationship you’ve always wanted.  Either way, at some point you just have to jump in and proceed with the assumption things will work out for the best.

  18. 18
    Dawn

    Honesty, I think we all know. I don’t think we need any test to determine if a man is genuine or not.  The truth is that most women refuse to acknowledge that little flag that goes up…We all want to be desired, we want to believe they are really interested in us, we don’t want to be alone.  So when they do or say something that may be small, but makes you pause for even just a tiny moment, we brush it off.  Then we say we didn’t know, or he was so good at hiding it.
    I really believe that we know, we just don’t trust.  We want something in your face obvious, when the cues are there the whole time.
    Maybe that’s why she didn’t really ask you the point blank question.  IMO it’s because it would mean we have to admit we ignored our gut on the hopes that we are wrong. 
    I wish more women would just trust themselves and stop blaming men for playing games.  Stop blaming all together and honor your gut feelings.  It is a RARE occasion that we really didn’t see anything, and that is usually because we don’t want to.

  19. 19
    Morris

    Unfortunately only time will tell how well two people get along.  But I do echo what Jenna said.  If you want to weed out the players just don’t have sex for a couple of months.  It really does work.  There are too many easy women for players to have sex with.  He’s not going to waste that much effort for someone when there are other women out there.

  20. 20
    Laine

    Alexandra- What you could say is that you love them, but feel it is too early for you to make a marriage committment at this stage, you want to be exlusive with them and continue to explore and grow together. Give him an indication of the time frame you are needing.

  21. 21
    Zann

    Gotta say, I totally agree with Dawn (21). I’m embarrassed to admit how many times a large, obnoxious red flag has been waving in my face & I’ve ignored it. Oh, it’s not that I don’t see it, but it’s like I go into some kind of denial warp. For me, it’s usually when a man is simultaneously being flirtatious yet manipulative. Clearly, a little bell goes off but instead of heeding it, I treat it like the snooze button on my clock radio and hope against hope it won’t return again later. Except it always does.

    For example, I was dating a man who told me he had a “5 Date Rule.” If he didn’t sleep with a woman by the end of date #5, he immediately moved on because after that point, he believed the window of opportunity had closed. All that remained possible would be a platonic friendship. Cunningly, I did the math & realized this was our date number 6. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about but asked if he realized my expiration date had passed. “Luckily,” he was making an exception for me because I was obviously one-of-a-kind, so special in fact that I was worth an extension. Now, part of me was awed & a little creeped out by this man’s level of manipulation and arrogance…. but then another part of me sat up a little straighter & thought: Wow, he’s really into me. So into me he’s willing to break his own rule!

    I would like to say that I told him I was feeling a little “stale” and let’s call it a night. I did not. In fact, we became exclusive, but a year and a half later we were done; unfortunately, by then I had already turned a blind eye to so many of his Not-Boyfriend-Material antics that my self-respect was in the toilet. On top of that, I felt sad, while he clearly didn’t.

    While there may be no test for sincerity and no reliable player-radar, I agree that time and patience are the best route to take. But use that time wisely and pay attention to the warnings, acknowledge them, and don’t cling to a bad relationship simply because you’ve invested time in it.

  22. 22
    marymary

    Two years before the proposal seems long in my situation.  We won’t have sex until marriage, nor will we live together or go on holiday together. BUT I’m mindful of the rush to marry just to have sex and that really would be disastrous!
    I’m thinking a year to eighteen months, plus the engagement period.   it’s not wildly off two years. 
    I don’t think anyone in any situation should do anything that can’t be easily gotten out of in the first six months. No engagement ring, no living together, no puppy,no baby.
    The flipside is waiting too long.  If it goes on for years it can be that one or both of you doesn’t want to get married. Or you get married cos it seems the logical next step. Then a day/week/year after the wedding someone *cough* (me) realises it was a mistake . 
    men want to get married just as much as women do.  It’s not women buying all those engagement rings.  There’s a lot of talk about masculine and feminine energy. I’m not sure of how much I agree with that but I do think that a man should be allowed to make that decision without feeling that he’s being pressed into it. Maybe I’m more traditional than I think.  Friend of mine was, to put it bluntly, nagging her boyfriend to propose. I told her not to mention it for six months. Of course, he proposed well before the six months was up!

  23. 23
    Rampiance

    EVERY man is a player until he finds the woman with whom he wants to stop playing.  ~  EMK

    Yes, THIS. Thank you so much for the perfectly timed advice. I was struggling to figure out what to do about a man I love very much, and who loves me, too. I thought we were on the same page until I learned that he has a lifelong goal that remains unachieved.  I am not included in the picture with that goal, although I suspect that he thinks he can persuade me to go along with it since he is quite persuasive.  It’s a nonstarter, though, and EMK’s statement above makes my decision easy.  

  24. 24
    Selena

    Very much agree with Dawn and Zann.  Infatuation is powerful.  When I review my dating history every time I’ve been intensly physically attracted to a man right off – inevitably those ‘relationships’ proved to be brief and nothing more than casual. When I was younger I would blame the men. I felt like they “led me on” and I wondered how I misread their level of interest in me. I’d cry my eyes out and pine for months after they disappeared.

    As I got older, I came to understand that it wasn’t so much that they ‘played’ me, it was my own infatuation that led me to believe there was more interest on their part than there actually was. There were signs that they weren’t that into me, but I didn’t see them, or ignored or dismissed them.  I weighted some words and gestures more heavily than clearly was warranted. But this was a discovery in hindsight.  In the depths of infatuation, I might not have been capable of such honest evaluation.

    Agree with Evan, the only real test is the test of time. I will add though, that in early dating it can be helpful to keep one’s expectations modest.  When we’re highly attracted, when we really hit it off with someone, imagination can take off creating a relationship in our mind before one has had a chance to develop.  Understanding that is part of playing it cool. Watch. Observe. Good advice.

  25. 25
    Michelle

    “I can’t tell you how many readers/clients have told me that their relationships were great for 1-2 years, then they got married and saw a different side of him.”

    I think a lot of it comes from what others have said, women have a way of pushing stuff under the rug, justifying and making excuses.  I’ve always been a ‘conscious’ woman and made justifications for marrying, even though I knew deep down it wasn’t going to be a forever thing.  I wanted to have a family and wasn’t patient enough to wait for the right husband.  He was/is a good guy, just not the right man for me.  (Got 2 awesome kids out of it though, so no regrets!)

    I’m not arguing the 2 year thing, I think that’s sound advice, no matter what age.  I thought Greg’s question was a good one since I’m closer to his age.  I would say get engaged at 2 years, then plan a wedding for the next year.      

    “You have to let a marriage/children-oriented man choose you when he’s ready. You can’t push him to move faster than he’s ready – unless you want to scare him away.”  I LOVE this…HE has to ‘choose’, women accept or not accept–all through a relationship.

  26. 26
    nikoletta

    I agree with Alyssa. You take the risk, trying to keep your eyes open without being blinded by chemistry. If he proves to be a jerk, bad for him.

  27. 27
    Jane

    Yes, Dawn! A number of men may be narcissists, but we need to take personal responsibility for not wanting to see the yellow and red flags that present themselves. I, too, have been guilty of this–but I’ve also done a few things right. A little over a year ago, I met a man online who seemed to be the man of my dreams: A biotech consultant trying to change health care from within. He dressed well, owned a boat, was well educated, verbal, spontaneous, and ready for a relationship. He’d moved back to his home area (and commuted to a nearby city for work) to “reconnect with his values” and meet a woman who shared them. He swept me off my feet, wined me and dined me and showered me with gifts. He introduced me to his family and made plans to travel to meet mine. He immediately wanted exclusivity and to “book all of my free time,” and within a month told me that he loved me. Instead of saying it back, although I was falling fast for him, I asked him to talk to me about what love meant to him. His answer was pretty, but it wasn’t enough. I demonstrated to him through my actions that I was committed to him, but I also explained that as much as I desired a LTR and children (I’d just turned 37), I was happy and loved my life, and I wasn’t willing to take risks with that without the test of time. He remained steadfast. He said that in his line of work, he was expected to have a wife and children by now, and being a family man would earn him a different status in the industry. “But I’m a late bloomer,” he said. “And it’s rare that I meet someone with whom I can envision the rest of my life. But you struck me from the first, and I want this with you.” He won over my friends (most of them, anyway. I found out later that a few of the men were suspicious of him) and members of my family (although my mother said that he seemed like the kind of guy who doesn’t fight fair–and when I presented that to him in a non-threatening way, he agreed!) After several months, despite the flags I’d seen in his sense of entitlement, his volatility, and some inconsistencies, I’d fallen for the idea of him. But that wasn’t enough for him. “Please remember that I’ve been hurt before,” he said. “I’ve laid myself bare to you, made myself vulnerable. I need you to be as vulnerable to me as I am to you.” And here’s where I made the best decision of my life. I told him that I’d work on trusting his love for me, on showing him my love in the ways he needed. But I had a job I loved, too, and that job required a lot of travel interspersed with a lot of down time, and the travel over the next year was going to take me to some pretty incredible places. I wasn’t willing to give that up to rush into marriage and children, and I told him I thought it would be best to let our (seemingly perfect) relationship develop over time. “I love you,” I said, “and if a year from now our relationship is still this good–if it’s continued to grow–I will happily marry you and have your babies. Let’s just enjoy this time together.”
    Six weeks later I discovered that he’d been living a double existence with another woman–despite the fact that we spent some part of nearly every day together. When confronted, he said, “For better or worse, I was conducting a clinical trial to see which of you fit best into my life. Apparently it’s for worse because now I’m not going to have either of you.” He was wrong. She forgave him. Within two months after finding out about me, she quit her job, moved with him to a nearby city, and got engaged. She’s in her early 30s, all her friends are getting engaged, he fits a package her parents wanted her to have, so she ignored the test of time. I’ve also since learned that she’s an heiress to a large fortune, which I’m sure he’ll find a way to use to his advantage. Meanwhile, I’d been coy about any money I stand to inherit, saying only that when an elder in my family passes on, funds are cycled back into the family business, of which I am not a part. I played my cards closer to my chest. I made it clear that I wasn’t desperate to walk down the isle with someone but wanted to make sure I’d found a true partner. I got hurt, but it’s nothing compared with the pain and suffering his soon-to-be wife (and possibly their children) will endure in the coming years. 
    Ultimately, I looked into his past a bit, talked to his ex girlfriends, and uncovered a slew of inconsistencies and lies, both in his personal life and professional life. The “love of his life” who’d broken his heart? She was afraid of him and broke up with him using the tactics one uses to escape an abuser. His first job in biotech that his resume lists as “consultant”? He monitored security cameras on the third shift. After seeking direction from professionals who work with and write about narcissists and other personality disorders, I was told repeatedly that I could, in good conscience, label this man a sociopath or subclinical psychopath. 
    He thought I’d be an easy mark because I’m getting older and don’t have all the time in the world to get what I want. But my insistence that our relationship needed to stand the test of time–without the distractions of an engagement or wedding planning–may have saved my life. It’s not just about healthy dating. I actually, perhaps literally, dodged a bullet.
    To my fellow women on the dating scene: Please be careful out there. And if his ex-girlfriends warn you about him, please listen. Yes, there are few scorned women out there who are lashing out, but these pathological men use these few to their advantage. We women can be each other’s best sources for information, if we’re open to it. Remember, juvenile antics aside, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. 

  28. 28
    Goldie

    Dawn and Zann, I agree! Zann, wow, sorry to hear your story. I already posted here about my first date from hell, but can’t resist repeating. I’d originally contacted the guy on Match with a work-related question, since we were in the same field. I had no intention of meeting in person. But he texted me nonstop for a month and finally I agreed to a date. He lived 45 miles away in the middle of nowhere, so I asked if we’d meet halfway, that was when he dropped the bomb. He said that, a year prior, he’d gone on a massive drinking binge, and gave a valid reason for that (family tragedy). He then told me that he’d gotten a DUI and lost his license, and that I had to come meet with him in his town. First date that we’d set, I had to reschedule, because my car battery died on me that night. Second time, I pinched a nerve in my back four hours before our scheduled date (was the universe telling me to stay away?) Didn’t want to reschedule again, because honestly I wanted it over with. So I drive an hour one way, with back pain. I get to the crappy diner where I was to meet him and he’s not there. He texted me that he was running 20 minutes late. So I stand in front of the diner and wait for him. He calls and turns out he cannot understand my accent on the phone. (I’ve been in the country 15 years and did countrywide phone computer support for six, so, not terribly bad.) At that point, I honestly wanted to get into my car and drive back home, but didn’t want to appear crazy (why did I even care?) so waited the rest of my 20 minutes. He shows up. We get a booth, order food, talk about work, then about dating in general (he was loving it. I, at the time, not so much.) He checks his phone the entire time. Halfway through dinner, he says “I just got a text, my neighbor wants to stop by and say hi, is that okay?” I say yes, five minutes later, a woman in her 20s walks over and introduces herself! She then turns to him and asks, “so what are you doing tonight?” He tells her, “Don’t know yet, I’ll text you when I get out of here.” I’m sitting there shaking my head. She walks off and I ask him “why am I even here?” Again, wanted to leave, but it’s hard to make a dramatic exit when your back hurts so much you can hardly walk. I’ve had many first date, but this was by far the most bizarre. Which is okay, we’ve all had those. But why did I follow this up by two more dates, sex, being dumped, finding out he was banging his ex(?)-girlfriend at the same time (like, on the same days) as he was seeing me, and being depressed for a month??? I have no idea. My guess is, I evaluated this guy by external factors and he measured up okay (decent looks, white-collar professional, good income, upper-middle-class suburban background) and totally ignored the way he treated me and the way he came across as a person. All the while my inner voice was telling me to run and I ignored it. Oh well, at least I learn from my own mistakes.
     
    To the commenters asking why wait two years to get married. Trust me, there are worse things than not being married at 60, 35, or what have you. Being stuck in a bad marriage at 60, 35, etc. is very high on the list. Number one reason for getting stuck in a bad marriage IMO is, you didn’t take the time to get to know the person. Trust me, I’ve been there. We waited four years, but 1.5 of them were college, which really doesn’t count as living together as a couple IMO, and the other 2.5 were a long-distance relationship where we saw each other on holidays and long weekends, several times a year. Not nearly enough. When we finally moved in together, I felt like there was a total stranger living in my apartment — I did not know that man at all, the way he acted and treated me was completely different from the previous four years. I’d recommend to listen to Evan on that one.

  29. 29
    Sassy

    I just went on a few dates with someone. When he called to ask me out the second time, he suggested a Friday night. I was was not home to get the message, so I texted the next day that I would call him that night. I did leaving him a message that I was not available that night, but would love to see him a different night. He waited two days to get back to me and then by text. I should have paid attention to how he took my “no”. I would have saved myself interacting with someone who faded out like a self centered baby. Lesson learned! Thanks Evan.

  30. 30
    Girl in the Midwest

    Hi, I’ve been reading Evan’s blog for about 6 months now, and I really like it.  I’m 28 years old and wish I had found this blog earlier! 
     
    Anyways, I agree with everyone and Evan here.  Time will tell.  But I think having a little shrewd observational skills doesn’t hurt either.  I really like to observe people, and I think I’ve gotten better at reading people than when I was younger (though many times I’m wrong because people are complicated and many things are not black and white).  This is all from my PERSONAL experience, of course, but they can be quite telling:
     
    1.  How they talk about other people in front of me.  He might treat me well, but if he talks about others in a way that is intolerant, impatient, derisive (eg he might make fun of someone or something because he thinks I might find it funny too, hoping to impress me), belittling, etc, then I assume that is his true colors and that he’s putting on an act for me.  I feel like these things are especially revealing since he’s not directing them at me so they’re unintentional giveaways.  I don’t think I’m that special such that a narrow-minded person will actually change for the better because of me.  
     
    2.  In the earlier stages of dating, if he voluntarily says things like, “My career is really important to me” or “I’m pretty independent” he’s giving himself an easy way out for later.  (It doesn’t count if you ask him “is your career important to you?”, because then he’s just answering your question and being honest.  It only counts if he chooses to tell you out of the blue).  Suppose 6 months into the relationship, you would like to get closer by spending more time together.  He can just say “I can’t do that, I told you that I like my independence.  You knew what you were getting yourself into.” and he can walk away looking like the good guy and you have no retort.
     
    3.  In my experience, honest people with integrity never say that they are honest and have good values.  Somehow they just don’t feel the need to state that.  People who were seriously interested in me for the long term or for marriage never said to me, “I’m not wasting your time and I’m not a player”.  Obviously that doesn’t mean that if he says he’s not a player then he’s a player.
     
    Sorry if this is a repeat of previous commenters, or if it’s really obvious.  These things weren’t always obvious to me even just 5 years ago.

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>