The Most Important Dating Advice You’ll Ever Hear – Don’t Do Anything

I am a 33 year old single woman. I seem to always attract “great guys”, and we always have a lot of fun. But anytime I want to gently “clarify” what he wants (kids, family) nearly each and every guy I’ve dated shies away. I don’t think I come across as “easy”, and I am intelligent and take care of myself. However, I can never seem to transition properly from the “fun” woman to the “long-term” relationship woman, as the intelligent, loving partners I have had don’t seem comfortable ever talking about a future.

What can I do? I am so tired of feeling as though I am doing this all wrong in my attempts to find a real partner for the past 13 years. Your help is greatly appreciated as I am currently seeing another great guy. We’ve been seeing each other for just over a month now. He’s flown me to Bermuda to meet his parents, and I’ve also met his friends, who have apparently given me the “okay”. Meantime, I’m still going out with friends and about to go on two dates (that I really don’t want to go on but I’ve been told you’re supposed to “date”).

How can I broach the subject so my mind can be clear that he and I exclusive or not? Do I have to wait until he broaches the subject or can I? I am so tired of “games”, but I know it’s a game for the rest of my life even if I become a wife. Ugh.

Help and thank you in advance.

Robyn

I appreciate your sincerity and your desire to have a serious relationship. Your questions are among the most common questions that I get. Truly, what you’re going through is universal, and you’re not wrong to feel frustrated. Which is why I hope you don’t mind when I tell you to just take a deep breath and chill. All your answers will be revealed in due time.

First, a basic fact that you need to get, deep in your bones

Men reveal themselves in their efforts.

Nothing else they do matters.

Which is why you can have an incredible first date which doesn’t lead to a second date.

If he refuses to let you go, you have your husband. If he lets you leave, you have your freedom.

Or a best friend/fuck buddy who doesn’t want to make a commitment.

Or a two-year-relationship that doesn’t result in marriage.

In other words, he can be attracted to you, want to be in love, dream of having children, and yet be perfectly content biding his time with you for a year until he finds the woman he does want to marry. You may say he’s using you. Maybe. Maybe not. But as long as you’re both happy in the relationship, does it really matter?

I can almost hear you screaming, “Yes! Yes, it matters! I want to find love, my biological clock is ticking, I feel all this pressure, and I don’t want to waste my child-bearing years with some jackass who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘shit or get off the pot’!”

Very well, then. Leave him.

Voila. You have your answer.

If he refuses to let you go, you have your husband. If he lets you leave, you have your freedom.

This is far easier said than done, of course. You actually have to have the guts to leave a no-win situation, and many women do not. They’d rather stay in a safe dead-end relationship than be alone. Which is fair. But you can’t blame a guy when you turn 42 and he hasn’t proposed to you after 6 years. You can only blame yourself.

But that doesn’t really apply to you, Robyn. You’ve been seeing a guy for a month and you want clarity. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait too long to get it. Because, as I said above: the answer will be revealed to you. All you have to do is wait. This is the crux of this article, if not my entire dating philosophy for women.

Don’t do anything.

Seriously. That’s it. “Don’t do anything.”

As a woman, you just have to sit back and let him do what he wants.

He wants to meet you; he has to approach you. You say yes.

He wants to plan a first date; he has to ask you out in advance. You say yes.

He wants to kiss you; he has to make a first move. You say yes.

He wants to see you a second time; he calls the next day. You say yes.

He wants to check-in during the week to tell you he’s thinking of you; you take his calls. You say yes.

You don’t have to DO anything. Just see what he does, and say yes.

He wants to take you on a weekend away and introduce you to his friends. You say yes.

He wants to sleep with you; he offers a condom. You say yes.

He wants to commit to you and become exclusive. You say yes.

You see what I mean? You don’t have to DO anything. Just see what he does, and say yes.

If he doesn’t do anything, you have your answer.

This is the single simplest way to understand how to deal with men, and yet women drive themselves nuts.

You try to learn what “games” to play, or how to “figure men out”, or “how to make him commit” to you. It’s all bullshit. There’s nothing to know beyond what we’re DOING.

If we want to call, we’ll call. If we want to commit, we’ll commit. If we want to marry you, we’ll ask you. And if we don’t call, don’t commit, and don’t propose to you (all in a reasonable amount of time), then guess what? We’re not going to. We’re just going to continue with our happy, low-stakes status quo that you so generously allow.

Your only leverage when the time is right? Leave. Say that you need to know you’re investing in a future. And since it’s pretty clear after three months that he doesn’t want to see you more than once a week, you’re gonna have to cut him off. The end. Buh-bye.

Most women don’t take this approach. You speak too soon, or you don’t speak at all.

Maybe you won’t say anything because you know that if you do, the relationship will end. That’s exactly how you can desire marriage but stay in a five-year relationship without a ring. Silence is golden; it doesn’t rock the boat. And yet, you never get what you want.

Then there are women who want answers now. And you ask so many questions that you scare men, and sabotage your own relationships. If my 38-year-old fiancé had done that after a month or three, we wouldn’t be getting married. She was cool enough to allow me to choose her, instead of forcing my hand. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

It’s not easy to be the “cool” chick, Robyn. I understand. But your relationship pattern is no accident. And it’s really easy to break. If you want to know what to do in the future, just follow this very simple paradigm:

  • 1) Let him do what he wants.
  • 2) If you like it, stay. If you don’t like it, go.

There’s nothing else to think about.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Cilla

    Welcome back! Hope you had a wonderful honeymoon!

    Great column. Just whittled down from 12 email contacts, all of which met my initial criteria, to 3, maybe 4, possible men to date (will be meeting one Sunday). I’ve never had so many potential mates all at once (gotta give you some credit there!). I was wondering what to do to help me decide if any of them will work out. Now I know: nothing! I’ll just wait and see what THEY do and respond. Between my profile, our emails, and our phone conversations, they know what I want. If they don’t step up and provide it when I am receptive, I’ll move on. This post was timed perfectly for me.

  2. 2
    Jennifer

    Welcome back Evan.
    I love this advice, and even though people will try to complicate it with their own unique situations (my guy is super shy, i don’t want to have to wait, etc.) I think this advice is solid. I want to add that do nothing doesn’t mean you have to act be mean or aloof, it just means not pushing things.

  3. 3
    Steve

    Welcome back Evan.

    I agree with everyone else about the good advice. People make up or believe lame rationales for other people’s behavior out of fear of losing something. The fact is that if people are interested they will act interested. In obvious and straight forward ways. If you don’t see it, it isn’t there. Move on.

  4. 4
    Jen

    Hey Evan! Welcome back! I trust you had an awesome honeymoon in Thailand..
    Anyway, I just have one question… Why did you not run this post a year ago?!? This is something that I really could have used prior to my last relationship, which I wrote to you about last May. I was the fun “cool chick” in what turned out to be a dead-end relationship – one that went on for nearly ten months! I got out of it a couple months ago, and have yet to go back online (gearing up now, though, and using Evan’s profile advice), but I will most definitely ‘date smarter’ the next time around.
    Geeez, the concept is so clear and easy to grasp when you are NOT in the middle of the situation that makes you so crazy! The key is not getting there in the first place. Duh! :-)
    Cilla, I would be interested to know how your new dating strategy goes, as this is exactly how I’m approaching it the next time around!

  5. 5
    Cilla

    Jen,

    I’ll keep you posted! First date with a hottie (big, buff firefighter) on Sunday. So far so good–he has been emailing, calling, and texting me with appropriate regularity. He keeps me laughing, and there are no lags in the conversation. He asked ME out on our first date, and HE is driving to my city (he lives about 2 hours away). He also made it clear he is not expecting to spend the night, even though we are meeting in the evening, and he will have to drive home afterward. Keep your fingers crossed the date goes well and he calls for another!

  6. 6
    Honey

    Great advice. I wonder about what others think regarding how long to wait for a proposal before determining the guy isn’t interested in that? I’ll be one of those “complicating” people that Jennifer refers to in post #2. In these crazy economic times, a wedding–or even a ring–may be something postponable for many people.

  7. 7
    BeenThruTheWars

    You let him fly you to Bermuda to meet his parents — within a month of meeting the guy? Yikes! Are all your relationships that intense, that soon? No wonder they burn out quickly. Even if you aren’t pressuring them, guys will scare THEMSELVES into poofing at that pace. That is not a healthy approach to the dating process if you are looking for a husband. While I agree with Evan that you should let the man lead, let him pursue, and don’t pressure him with any “relationship discussions” within the first few months, I do NOT agree that every response from you needs to be “yes.” Often, especially if a guy is giving you the full-court press (as this one seems to be), it’s in your best interest to respond, “Gosh, that sounds great, maybe when we get to know each other a bit better.” You are in charge (believe it or not) of how quickly these things develop, and faster is seldom better. Learn to have some patience (not six years worth! There is a happy medium) and put the brakes on the runaway train.

  8. 8
    Rachelle

    Great advice, Evan! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so clear and to the point. I’ve already forwarded this to a few friends. I know being a gal, we like to over analyze the heck out of what guys say, etc.

    Men reveal themselves in their efforts! SO SIMPLE!

    Looking back in hindsight, this would have saved me alot of heartache!

    Hey Jen, I can relate. I was dating a guy for a few months this past summer and things ended in September. Since then, I’ve taken a break from internet dating to just gather my thoughts. I’ve been on Yahoo and Match early this year. Thinking of EHarmony, but just not sure…I think about meeting and greeting again and it makes me cringe!

  9. 9
    Robin

    I believe everything happens for a reason. I am 51 yo. I have dated tons of men. Some of them have broken my heart. Guess what? I got over it, moved on and met someone even better the next time. So what? I had fun, I loved. That is THE most important thing. My time was not wasted. Each guy is “a point of reference”. They have all crossed my path for a specific reason. One brought me to Malaysia to meet his parents, and I traveled Asia for a month. One took me to Paris and then to London. One took me to Canada. One had a boat and we went on great sailing trips to the Caribbean. One was a great dancer, he taught me to dance and I found a lifelong passion. I was living my life. I was having fun, and so were they. Why they came into my life only became apparent AFTER I was no longer with them. I am thankful for each one. Each one makes you smarter and tells you what you do or do not want in a mate. Not every guy can go the whole distance with you… some have to leave, sometimes you have to cut it short. Every time, though…LIVE and LOVE. All we have is the moment. Forget about your Bio-clock, forget about who else he’s seeing. Protect you health., But don’t carry your heart around like it’s made of glass. If you are meant to have kids, no amount of force is going to get you there. You need to be able to give love freely without expecting anything in return. Eventually you will develop a radar as to which guys are good for you and which ones are not. In the meantime, have fun and live for god’s sake! A little piece of advice: If you are enjoying yourself and so is the guy, that’s the best indicator that it could be long term. If not, move on…life’s too damn short to be unhappy.

    1. 9.1
      Eva

      Totally agree. Love your post, live life to the fullest.

  10. 10
    JuJu

    I don’t understand, though, how this jibes with the advice to be proactive online in terms of approaching men.

  11. 11
    JuJu

    Ah, Robin, your words should be tattooed in every woman’s consciousness.

  12. 12
    Jennifer

    @ Honey#6 …your comment isn’t what I consider a ‘complicating’ one :-) It’s those people that feel like they, and whoever they are dealing with, are *always* the exception to every rule, ya know?

    There’s a book by John T. Molloy, Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others that I think has some useful info around this topic. The author interviewed couples coming out of marriage license bureaus about their relationships and more (their ages, how long they’d been dating, etc.) and found some trends. I’d be interested to see how Evan and others feel about this book

  13. 13
    Jen

    Cilla, my fingers are double-crossed for your meeting on Sunday! Sounds like – thus far – he’s done everything right, which indicates a nice degree of interest on his part. Good start, and I’m pulling for a quick followup phone call or email from him after your date! (A firefighter? Nice!) :-)

    Rachelle, I hear ya girl! I’ve been in no hurry to get back into the online dating thang just yet, and I’ve been using this time doing the same thing you are…just getting my thoughts gathered, dating strategy formulated, and readying myself for the meeting/greeting fun!

  14. 14
    Ben

    Hmm.. i guess i can see where this advice might be good for many (most?) guys who are scared of commitment.

    But as a self proclaimed “nice guy” who’s looking to commit, i’m looking for the opposite. I’d love to see the woman take the initiative occasionally and not just wait for me to do everything and plan every. single. date.

    I start to think she’s not that interested in me if i’m the one always calling, always asking, always initiating everything. And i start to wonder, if i ask too often or for too many dates, that i’ll be sent to the cling zone.

    Even if she says yes every time. I still wonder. If she were really interested, she’d do more than just say yes.

    So it’s really a balancing game.. on both sides.

  15. 15
    Evan Marc Katz

    Please don’t misunderstand when I write, “Say yes”. It’s not a mindless rubber stamp to all of his wishes. It means, as a woman, in particular, that you don’t have to DO anything except OBSERVE what he’s doing. If HE makes the effort to move the relationship forward, all you have to do is go along with it; if he doesn’t make the effort, then there is NOTHING to think about.

  16. 16
    Honey

    @Jennifer, #12, I think that people need to have an idea of what constitutes disinterest and what is clearly an external factor. Just because you can’t afford a ring/wedding, doesn’t mean you can’t tell if the guy’s interested in you!

  17. 17
    Jennifer

    @Honey #16- Agreed, I think we are on the same page.

    One of the reasons your comment made me think of that book is because it was found that men tend to want to wait until things are financialy i’n order’ before getting married, and sometimes their lack of a proposal is based solely on that factor.

  18. 18
    Honey

    @Jennifer, #17–I find that my boyfriend is EXACTLY that way. Although we both just got out of grad school so there is definitely enough credit card and student loan debt to make it a viable concern, especially because he wants a big traditional wedding. There’s no way we can drop $20K + on something like that right now.

  19. 19
    starthrower68

    AMEN AND HALLELUJAH, EVAN!!!! Finally you’ve said what most of us end up learning the hard way. It’s so simple and yet seems so difficult for us to grasp. I just gave up on a guy precisely because there was no action. It is difficult for women to do this because we are over-analytical. But I try to remember Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life”. There are different meanings for this, but one that could apply here is don’t get emotionally involved until his actions prove there is reason to do so.

  20. 20
    A-L

    I’ll have to echo BeenThruTheWars’ #7. Guys who get serious quickly can scare THEMSELVES off. It’s happened to me a couple of times, and it’s really bad if they sweep you up into the rush of emotions as well. I still have difficulty figuring out the right pacing for a relationship in its beginning phases (ie, in the 1-2 month range) but that’s just something I need to work on. And even though Evan’s advice can be quite difficult, it’s usually pretty darn right. Nice to have you back, Evan!

  21. 21
    happygirl

    Welcome back Evan. I hope you had a fantastic honeymoon in Thailand.
    Love the advice you gave today. So crisp and cristal clear and so simple. That is just what I needed to read.

  22. 22
    moody.bitch

    @Jennifer and @Honey: Maybe it’s time for people to think about separating the act of “marriage” from the ceremony of a “wedding”. Just because they’ve traditionally occurred simultaneously doesn’t mean there’s no alternative but to wait until you’ve saved up tons of cash.

    You can spend a few bucks to get married right now down at the courthouse; and then keep working together on the financial situation until you can afford the wedding of your dreams within a few years. (Hey, those lower taxes as a married couple will help with the savings plan!)

    I personally can’t imagine loving someone enough to want to marry them, and then letting my desire for a big wedding ceremony stand as a barrier to that. Yes, it’s nice to have a beautiful memory, the photo album, and that slice of wedding cake stored in the freezer, but when you get right down to it, what truly matters is the marriage, not the wedding.

    Just some food for thought. :)

  23. 23
    The InBetweener

    I HAVE to echo Ben on this one. Especially on the balancing thing.
    Otherwise, SOME men MIGHT see a “woman” as being childish.
    The “tit for tat” attitude doesn’t really work.
    If you like him, feel free to pursuit him in any way that you like. Why waste time waiting for HIM to ask YOU anything when you could be GOING AFTER what you want.

  24. 24
    moonsical

    It’s nice to see the blog owner check it and start writing again! Thanks! I’m sure your honeymoon was dreamy!

    This advice is pertinent and applicable for me right now. I have to say, it is more the case as I get older that waiting might be the best strategy. It worked quite well for me to initiate things when I was younger, and there was good give-and-take often. I can only boil it down to the men that are older and single perhaps have issues running them more often than in our youth.

    I have one for the blog. There is a man I contacted in a town about 2.5 hours away, as I thought I’d be there shortly. He seemed happy to meet, then I postponed my trip. I will now be passing through over Thanksgiving. Thing is, he has pushed phone calling when I am only interested in e-mailing until I’m there and we need to talk to clarify a time/place to meet. I have explained this and he again sent his phone number, and has not e’d again. I like each stage to feel natural and I’m just not “feeling him” yet, for a phone call. I’ve only see about two paragraphs out of the man. He has not said what his objections/limitations to e-mail are, though I expressed curiosity. I intend to call him when I am in his town, as I said I would. But really, I don’t get it when people are Internet dating, but will not write. Comments? I really do hate it when men insist I call them right off the get go. It feels pushed.

    moon

  25. 25
    happygirl

    Evan Marc Katz Nov 20th 2008 at 02:31 pm 15
    Please don’t misunderstand when I write, Say yes. It’s not a mindless rubber stamp to all of his wishes. It means, as a woman, in particular, that you don’t have to DO anything except OBSERVE what he’s doing. If HE makes the effort to move the relationship forward, all you have to do is go along with it; if he doesn’t make the effort, then there is NOTHING to think about

    I THINK THAT EVAN’S ADVICE MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO ME. I HAVE BEEN TALKING ONLINE TO THIS ONE GUY FOR A BIT MORE THEN 3 WEEKS WE HAVE SPOKEN OVER THE PHONE SEVERAL TIMES. HE IS ALWAYS VERY, NICE, POLITE AND WE LAUGH A LOT, I HAVE NOTHING BAD TO SAY ABOUT HIM.HOWEVER FOR SOME REASON WE DON’T SEEM TO GET IT PAST THAT STAGE. HE DID ASK ME IF WE COULD MEET I SAID YES. I AM SO READY TO MEET THIS GUY AND SEE IF THERE IS ANYTHING THERE AND TO SEE HOW WE INTERACT IN PERSON. I HAVE BEEN TAKING EVANS ADVICE TO LOOK OUTSIDE THE USUAL SCOPE OF GUYS I GO. SO I STRUCK UP A NICE RAPPORT WITH THIS GUY. HE CALLED ON ON A REGULAR BASIS. ….AND HERE IS WERE WE GET STUCK. SO I THINK THAT I NOW NEED TO SIT BACK AND LET HIM MAKE THE NEXT MOVE. IF NOTHING IS HAPPENING THEN I GUESS I HAVE MY ANSWER. ALSO WE WERE SUPPOSE TO MEET AND THEN WE DID NOT. ( LONG STORY)

  26. 26
    Kenley

    Moon and Happy Girl,

    Here are my two cents……

    For Moon:
    Based on Evan’s response, you already have your answer. If he has not emailed you again it means that he’s not willing to go at the pace YOU prefer. What does it matter what his objections to emailing are? Why try to figure them out– especially since you asked him and he didn’t tell you. Forget him and move on. The only thing I would ask is this (and I will admit that unlike most women, I don’t like emailing back and forth because I can get a much better idea of what a person is like on the phone), what will it hurt you to talk to this guy on the phone? Thanksgiving is this week and you were planning to meet him. It seems to me that talking to him isn’t all that unreasonable since you were going to see him face to face this week. But if you feel at all like you’ve been pressured to move more quickly than you’d like, then don’t call him and don’t waste anymore time thinking about him either.

    For Happy Girl:
    Three weeks is way more than enough time to have had a face to face with the guy. The next time you talk to him, what I’d suggest you say is this — hey, Bob or whatever his name is, you know I’m really enjoying talking to you and getting to know you so if you asked me out again, I’d definitely say yes (say it will a smile in your voice.) This way, you are giving him a very upfront invitation and letting him decide if he wants to act. If he doesn’t ask you out right then or the next time you talk, he never will so forget him and move on. I actually think Evan would say you already have your answer and forget him now — but since you seem to like him so much, I think a little nudge wouldn’t hurt.

    Good luck, ladies!

  27. 27
    benh57

    I concur about the call vs. email.

    Some people just aren’t ‘talk on the phone’ people. This is actually much more common amongst younger people than older. You won’t find many men under 30 wanting to call women, all the guys (and most of the gals) will prefer email and text.

    But then again some people aren’t good writers. Sounds like your man isn’t.

    Personally i kinda prefer email. It gives you more time to construct the perfect reply. But a little bit of both is needed when getting to know someone.

    -Ben

  28. 28
    The InBetweener

    WOW!!

    “…you know I’m really enjoying talking to you and getting to know you so if you asked me out again, I’d definitely say yes (say it will a smile in your voice.)”

    How about instead of all the HOOP JUMPING, she just ASKS HIM OUT? I mean seriously, do you really need all the extra hoop jumping to want to go out again? Just be a “mature” WOMAN about it and ASK HIM. It’s not high school. C’mon, what’s the worst that could happen? If he says no, THEN you have your answer.

  29. 29
    moonsical

    Hey there,

    Thanks for the responses. I am going to keep my word and call him when I am actually in his town, which, as I said, is about 2.5 hours away. I guess for me, “doing phone,” with someone before meeting is really kind of odd. It can be intimate and over-develop things before you see if you like someone in person. Many of the women here say if they do talk on the phone pre-meeting, it’s a quick 15-20 minutes to check it out and confirm meeting. Which is about what makes sense to me.

    I also work full time and have two college classes and during those hours am not near a phone. I do have a pay-per-use cell that is for emergencies and traveling, but I am not one of those folks you see with a cell glued to my ear, yackking everywhere I go. Quite the opposite.

    But also, I just wasn’t comfortable enough yet. I like a little e dialogue as a warm-up.

    Lol on the reference to texts…got my first one the other night from a neighbor who likes me. It came through as a text-to-voice mail. At nearly midnight, I might add (another good reason I prefer to share my number after people know me–because now they have it!) I think we got that straightened out. He declared, “Oh, sorry, you’re on of those land line people!” Now he knows! Old fashioned, I guess.

    moon

  30. 30
    Lance

    EMK, whatup dog, glad you’re back!

    A month is an awfully short amount of time to get bent out of shape about this stuff. Also, really, he flew you to Bermuda ALREADY to meet the parents?? In four weeks, how many dates/meetups have you had? 6-8? In my book, that’s hardly enough time to get to know someone, and really the gamey part of an early relationship will still be going on. It’s been my experience that 2-3 months is minimal before starting to think about exclusivity. So I guess I like Evan’s advice, do nothing for the moment and let him lead.

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