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. 31
    Kenley

    Inbetweener,

    Evan’s answer seems to suggest that women be more passive and Happy Girl appeared to like it. So I was suggesting a way to get things going while allowing her guy to do the work. I respect that you don’t like the approach, but I am not certain why you felt the need to be so critical of it. There are many solutions- all can be effective depending on the people involved. No need to dis my suggestion when offering yours.

  2. 32
    Infinity

    Clearly you are looking to make a choice and I think Evan is right, here. You can demand what you want and illicit a response out of him or you could do nothing and let his actions speak.

    One thing that I learned about relationships is that once you settle in them, it matters less what you say to your partner when it comes to keep a relationship healthy. What matters more is what you do on your part to keep the relationship healthy and her happy.

    (hoping that made sense)

  3. 33
    moonsical

    Hi Infinity,

    I think that was directed to me? I’m open to getting his take on things once I’m actually there. If we don’t meet, there’s not a lot of point in either e-mail or phone, since I don’t like fantasy relationships! But I must say it does stump me that people Internet dating are averse to e-mailing. It’s part of it.

    I am all about the phone sometimes (quite a chatter) which is why, for time management’s sake (the above-mentioned work and classes) I use it with people I already know.

    moon

  4. 34
    Jennifer

    @Moon #33
    I think the amount of emailing you want to do back and forth with a person depends on how you view internet dating. For some people, myself included, the internet is simply a way to meet people I may not otherwise have met, not a way to get to know them, so after 2 emails it’s time to talk on the phone and then meet in person because that iis how I get to know people.
    So not wanting to spend a lot of time emailing when meeting people online isn’t necessarily odd. The people you are running into likely just have a different view of internet dating than yours, not wrong or right but just different.

  5. 35
    Cilla

    Update:

    Hot FF and I were supposed to meet for a first date last night. He lives a couple of hours away in a bigger metropolitan area. He initiated contact with me, asked me out, and offered to come to my city to meet. He did the slow cancel Saturday (“I’m working, if it gets busy I may not be up for the drive tomorrow”)…

    Possible, given how exhausting a 24-hour shift can be, but he made the date knowing full well he had to work the night before. I suspected he just had a “hotter” prospect on his line, and it wasn’t fatigue or cold feet.
    My feeling is that if a man really wants to do something, he will find a way to do it. I decided to take Evan’s advice and do nothing to see if he pursued correspondence with me or poofed.

    Just got a text message apology from him. I think he should have called last night, and waiting to send a TM today is lame. Even an email would have been better. I understand if he doesn’t want to call me during work hours, but then he shouldn’t have waited until today to get in touch.

    Meanwhile, several other suitors have stepped their game, so I’m not the least bit upset over the date being canceled, although I was curious to meet him in person. The question is: do I ignore the text and see if he emails or calls? Do I let him stew for a while, then text him back with a humorous but clear message that this kind of behavior gets one pass and if he does it again, he’s done? While the method of apology is lame, he did initiate contact. I’d still like to meet him, and I’m willing to add him to my “rotation” to see how he stacks up against the other guys, but I don’t want to set any precedents for being a doormat. Should I backburner him, as he appears to be doing to me, and see if he can earn a front burner position? Readers, Evan, thoughts?

  6. 36
    JuJu

    Cilla,

    let me get this straight: he never actually called (or even e-mailed) to tell you that the date is for sure not happening? Just said that it might not?

  7. 37
    Jen

    Hi Cilla,

    Sorry about your FF flaking….I was pulling for you!

    Regarding your questions about what to do: I believe that you have the right idea in that you should ignore the lame-o text apology (what a coward!), and backburner him with no further communication by you until and unless he steps up to the plate and shows legitimate interest in seeing you. He’s gonna have to work at getting back in your good graces, in my humble opinion! You have others that are interested…they are the ones that you should focus on now…

    My personal opinion, based on experience? I doubt if you hear from Mr. Hot FF again….

  8. 38
    Evan Marc Katz

    Hey guys,

    I really appreciate your incredible insights on these boards, but this isn’t the place to ask personal questions. Otherwise, the threads will be all about people asking for their own personal advice, and will no longer be about the advice column itself.

    One of these days, I’ll develop a private forum for readers to interact and support each other, but in the meantime, the comments are for comments on the column, not for personal questions.

    Thanks a bunch. I’m grateful for your participation.

    Evan

  9. 39
    moonsical

    Jennifer,

    Last e since Evan’s issued his statement (sorry Evan if our actual lives are calling out to us!) (I think folks have been patient with the Q&A of late.)

    Jennifer: agree. But when it is long distance and meeting is postponed, it’s a little odd not to be able to choke out a few e-mails. Also, e-mailing is incorporated into my daily life as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. It is valid. If someone is a-skeered of e-mailing, they are not going to fit with my communication style. Who hasn’t gotten an e from a friend or sweetie during a hard day that made them smile? If I meet this guy, I’ll get the scoop. If we don’t meet, I’ll move on.

    Maybe phone is like kissing for me: I want to be moved to (i.e., “I really want to talk to him!”) rather than offering it in a perfunctory manner.

    I like what Ben said about a little of both (phone and e) being right. Agree there, too.

    C–sorry your date canceled. I hope he actually canceled rather than inferring. A tm is lame if your relationship is more than that. If not, it shows you what level it’s at.

    moon

  10. 40
    Cilla

    My apologies for veering off in a personal direction. I think we’ve been doing that for the last couple of weeks while you were gone, Evan. See what happens when you go on your honeymoon and let the inmates run the asylum (no offense to your wonderful staff–I mean the readers, of course LOL)!

  11. 41
    happygirl

    Thanks for the responses & advice. Appreciate it all.
    I did give him a nudge and I have asked him out and we have set a date to meet. This week. So let’s see what will happen next……to be continued

  12. 42
    thomas

    Jen #13

    “just getting my thoughts gathered, dating strategy formulated, and readying myself for the meeting/greeting fun”

    It almost sounds like a book report. It might be my personality, but I would never approach things like this. This method would never work for me. It seems unnatural. It almost seems like you are trying to force it to happen.

    To me it sounds like you are going into hunting season and you are looking for that deer with the bull’s-eye birth mark.

    I think that this article really hits on a key idea, do not do anything. I feel that a lot of people spend way too much energy and effort. In the end when their results do not = expectations, I hear a lot of women call it “wasted time”.

    Maybe I am taking it a step further, but I would say not to do anything in a relationship, by this I mean, do not push things. If you connect and things are right, everything goes to the next step. If things are wrong and not where you want them, do not force the issue and move on.

    I can remember a time when I met a woman and just after I met her she made the statement, “I can not believe that I have only known you for 2 hours and I already love you.” I have been out with a handful of women that were ready to get married after the first date. When I say get married, I meant right there and then.

    Do not have a handful of your best freinds chilling on top of buildings with sniper rifles ready to take out our knee caps so that we are slower, can not run away, and are easier to catch. I think that too many women see a man as a prize and not an asset.

    Do not do anything. That is great advice. If the two of you meet, you hit off great, then go forward. Do not push anything, it is going to back fire in the long run. I for one hate when I have things pushed on me. I have my own pace and like to move at my own rate. It seems like some women are ready to start a long term relationship before I have even found out their name.

    I like to go out once a month for a few months, then once a week for awhile, then see the other person more frequently as time moves on. I like to get to the known who the person is before I really invest time in her. Just because I just met you, and we click, does not mean that we have to be joined at the hip, right now. Just do not do anything. If things happen and are true, then nature will take over and it will move onto the next phase.

  13. 43
    Jen

    To: Thomas #42

    Hey Thomas, I believe that you completely misinterpreted my comments regarding getting my thoughts gathered, dating strategy formulated, etc. I’m not quite sure where you got the ‘hunter’ analogy here, with the thought that I am plotting to ‘bag a man’ by whatever means and tricks I may have up my sleeve, but you are so far off the mark, it’s not even funny.

    The ONLY thing that I referred to was my re-entry back into the dating world (eventually, when I’m ready, after a recent breakup) with the attitude that Evan was conveying in his answer to the original question on this blog…..”Don’t Do Anything”. This is a whole new ‘strategy’ for me in that is a very freeing concept, and so simple…one which I wish that I had thought of myself! It would certainly have saved me a bunch of confusion and frustration over the ten months I was in my last relationship. Like most women, I simply over-analyzed my situation, and made it much more complicated (in my mind) than it should have been.

    Your comments sound to me like they stem from you attracting the wrong type of woman into your life, but please do not lump us all into the category of ‘desperate man-hunters’!

  14. 44
    A-L

    I agreed with most of Thomas’ post (#42) until he got to the last paragraph. Meeting once a month for the first few months? If I a guy “dated” me like that, I’d assume he wasn’t interested, or not interested but thinking I might okay with a booty call. As far as pacing goes, I’m more like once a week for several weeks, then two to three times per week, and on up. By the 2 month mark, it should be at the 2-3x/week mark, or more, depending on how you and the guy are feeling the relationship. I don’t think this equates to static cling, or asking for a proposal (or even exclusivity) right away. To me this is normal pacing, but perhaps I’m the one totally off base here.

  15. 45
    The InBetweener

    Kenley,

    I apologize if you feel that your suggestion was dissed. It wasn’t. However, what I was suggesting is that she take a more “grown up/mature” proactive approach to her own situation. It’s probably the way you worded your suggestion that seemed a little bit “hoop-jumpy” instead of just a straight forward/let’s not not play games/we are NOT in grade school anymore approach. That’s all. Again, I apologize if you feel that I was being critical of your suggestion.

  16. 46
    Jennifer

    Thomas, are you for real? Just about all of your stories and examples seem so over the top…

  17. 47
    Ben

    (i think we’re still on topic Evan :) How about those forums? :)

    A-L, i think your pacing sounds about right.

    Once-a-month is way too spread out for the initial period.

    Once a week for a few weeks, then 2-3x and up after that sounds about right to me and most dating experts will probably agree.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect a call back if i waited a month after my first meeting with a woman. That would indicate extreme disinterest on my (or her) part.

  18. 48
    Jennifer

    @A-L #44,
    You are I are on the same page regarding pacing, so you are most definitely NOT alone in your thinking!

  19. 49
    thomas

    Jennifer, #46

    I think that too many people have gotten away from society and wrapped up in their own world. You can live in a city like New York, be surrounded by millions, and still be lonely. I see people all the time talking on their cell phone and listening to their IPOD. We walk pass thousands of people every day and never come into contact with them. People have become isolated.

    When you leave your house, turn off your cell phone. I still have yet to buy an IPOD. There is too much going on around you to need these things hanging from your head.

    When you are on vacation or a trip, you are on a trip and not at the office. Leave the office at the office. If you are sitting at the airport typing away no one is going to come up to you. If you are chilling and day dreaming, you are more likely to have someone come up to you and start a conversation.

    I think that too many people are afraid to sit the cell phone down and pick up a beer at the local tavern.

    One of the biggest things that separates me from the usual person, is I hate tourists. When I travel or go to a new city, I like to hang out with the locals. There have been many times when I was under age, if I traveled the locals would take me out to the bars for a night of fun. Locals always know the best places to go. Just showing up in a new city and asking what there is to do has gotten me invited to a number of cook outs, parties, and such. You can show up at some hole in the wall bar where you are the only person that is not a local. Every person there knows that you do not belong. Yet, every person there will buy you a drink just to get a little piece of your story. Before you know it, you are invited to an after party where you meet even more people. It has happened to me lots of times.

    Just get away from you being the center of the universe and let others into your life. I see it all the time. When someone makes eye contact, it seems that 95% of people just look away. If someone looks at me, I am not afraid to say hello. The more people you say hello to, the more chance that there is that you are going to run into those women that are kind of deranged.

    When was the last time you interrupted someone who was on the phone to say hello? When was the last time you said hello to someone who just seemed to be chilling? The more open you make yourself, the more people are going to approach you.

    I see people too busy doing nothing. Do not forget that there are others around you. Go out and meet the locals not the tourists when you travel. Do not be afraid to turn off the cell phone and drink a beer with someone while discussing local travel conditions. I find that the tourists are closed off and are wrapped up in what they are doing, not willing to think about anything else. The locals are more open, like new people, and are willing to show them their home town.

    Go out and meet one new person a week. I am sure that you will start to have some stories of your own. Take a trip once a month or every couple of months, and talk to someone new when you get to your destination. You will start to have weekends where you did not have to pay for anything and someone else flipped the entire bill.

    The more you talk to people, the more human interaction that you have, the more likely you are to see and hear people instead of just pass them.

    Hell, I went off on a rant and do not know where to go with this… perhaps….. done

  20. 50
    Kenley

    Inbetweener,

    Thank you for the apology. It was unexpected and very much appreciated.

  21. 51
    Lance

    @Thomas, #49, love the advice on unplugging and meeting new people! I couldn’t agree more.

    Wanted to comment on some things you described earlier. Some people (men and women) are naturally very laid back when it comes to the escalation of a relationship. I’m this way, and I definitely put no pressure or push into moving a relationship along, sometimes to my detriment. I attribute this to my Gemini personality, BTW. I know some guys and some girls who are the opposite, ie they want to know NOW and need constant motion (I know some Virgos who are this way).

    Anyway, the trick is finding two types who match each other in their personal impetus for relationship movement. Or, barring that, two excellent communicators who are willing and able to compromise on the issue.

  22. 52
    Cilla

    Ha! Frustrated Virgo here!

    While I have a couple of guys who seem to be moving things along at a pace that feels “normal” to me (still obviously at the non-exclusive stage), there is one man with whom I’ve been corresponding who drives me crazy. Just when I think he’s not interested or putting me on the back burner, he calls and we talk for hours (he lives several hours away). The conversations have been very substantive, but also fun and flirtatious, and it seemed like we were making a real connection last time we talked.

    He texted me from the airport before a trip last weekend, emailed me when he got home Sunday night, and has been texting me all this week. But no call, no mention of meeting. Normally, I’d say he found some hottie closer to home, but he’s one of those rare enlightened SNAGs (Sensitive New Age Guys) who may actually be waiting to see if I call him. I’m still following Evan’s advice and not initiating a call, but it’s frustrating the hell out of me! I guess as long as I’m not serious about any one man in particular, I don’t have to cut him loose yet, but I’d like to meet him to see if we even like each other enough to keep him on the short list. You’re right, Lance, finding someone who matches your pace is important, whether you’re dating one person or several. I tend to be of the you-snooze-you-lose persuasion, but I suppose I need to accommodate men who don’t feel that way. And I’m sure as much as I feel like I’m on the back burner with him, someone else feels like I’m doing that to him.

  23. 53
    A-L

    Another Virgo here, but I’m not sure if I’m in the “need to know, NOW” group as I’ve never broached the exclusivity conversation with a guy (yet). I’ll admit though, by the time things hit 6-8 weeks in, we’re seeing each other 3+ times a week, and that doesn’t necessarily leave a lot of room to be dating other people if you actually have a life outside of dating.

  24. 54
    happygirl

    I think this post is really very helpful. I have learned a lot. Not always the easy way as I am the type of person that always like to see the good in people and maybe others might see that as gullible. So the person I have been emailing me cancelled the date the second time. As Evan says it is not so much what they say but it is by the actions a man takes that know if they are interested or not. Am I disappointed. Yes definitely. Will I get over it? Yes I will. I guess I am still learning valuable lessons.
    Thank you all for your feedback. I just had to learn how to move on again. Letting myself twice stood up is just once to many times.

  25. 55
    Peter

    People need to stop focusing on the bad stuff. Be yourself and let him be himself. If you can’t accept him for who he is, then just get away and try someone else. Life is too short.

  26. 56
    The InBetweener

    Uh oh. Too many “perfectionists” are starting to rear there heads. :-O

  27. 57
    moonsical

    I thought being stood up meant they did NOT call to cancel, which really is not okay. Not that having two cancels is cool…

    moon

  28. 58
    starthrower68

    To Lance and Cilla about Virgos: I am a Virgo and that is a frighteningly accurate description of me. The one I met on a particular social networking spot stalled out; he’s gone dark for a third time and this time I refuse to worry myself silly worrying about what I did wrong. I decided that if he were truly interested in me, he would have done something about it, and now I need to be a big girl and just move on because I’ll be darned if I’m going to chase anyone.

  29. 59
    Jennifer

    @Moonsical#57 agreed, that’s my understanding of what ‘stood up’ means as well. Two cancellations is bad, but not nearly as bad as truly being stood up.

  30. 60
    downtowngal

    “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.”

    Oh, so true, Evan.

    Lately I’ve been meeting guys who for one reason or another don’t seem to want to make the effort. For example, I’ll go on a date, have a nice time, if I like the guy tell him at the end how I enjoyed meeting him, and he’d say, great, well give me a call if you want to go out again”. Talk about a turnoff! I take this as a ‘thanks but no thanks’, that he’s just not into me, then move on.

    Some of my friends think I should follow up, that that guys, esp when they’re older and have been single for too long, can be so jaded that they’re afraid. This tells me that the reason why they’re still single is because they don’t WANT to make the effort. If the woman does, she gets nowhere because the guy is either turned off by her perceived agressiveness or he just uses her as a convenience but won’t really commit to her.

    Getting off topic here, but my point is that the OP sounds like she’s on the right track, meeting lots of guys. If he’s looking for marriage and kids you’ll know within a few months, esp if he’s in his 30’s.

    And Ben, keep trying! Women like it when a man takes the initiative. If she thinks you’re being too ‘clingy’, unless you’ve been calling her 10 times a day after the first date, she’s probably not the right one for you; maybe you’ve been pursuing the wrong women. Don’t let your experience jade you, there are plenty of terrific women out there who’d appreciate a great guy like you.

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