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. 61
    moonsical

    downtowngal…I know what you mean, I think. I had a date with a man a month or so ago…older…divorced…already has his boy…he was like this: “I’ll call you or you call me.” Whatever. But, it was his demeanor and behavior through dinner that told me he really isn’t serious about finding anyone. Some people are just playing at it still.

    However, if there had been a spark, or some interest, but he just seemed a bit lacking in confidence, it’s a good time to pull out a welcoming line like, “I’ll take the, ‘you call ME option.’” I’ve had men I was close to explain to me that sometimes they really need the invitation. Some really are shy/not sure you like them/afraid they are going to screw it up/just had a weird experience, or whatever. Without pursuing “aggressively” I think it’s okay to give a little wink, so to speak, if you like them.

    moon

    Re: men who are, “clingy,”: if a man makes frequent contact due to anxiety, it does turn a woman away. I recently had a friend who, sadly, lost a GREAT girlfriend (in my opinion) because he would get anxious when they were apart, even calling her cell multiple times when she was out with her girlfriends. Pacing oneself and dealing with oneself is key. Heck, get professional help if you need to.

  2. 62
    downtowngal

    moonsical, good points. I know some guys are confused after a date and are not sure if the woman likes him, so by my saying, ‘I really had a nice time, would love to do this again’ should be a clear signal to the guy that – well – “I’d like to do this again”. Esp after he took the initiative to call me for the first date.

    But if a guy’s response is ‘ok, call me’ as he’s avoiding eye contact w me, and starts walking away I take it as a blow off.

    As for clingy guys, you’re spot on. But I’ve also seen cases where a nice guy dates a woman who’s really not into him, and she complains that he’s “smothering” her. In one case, the guy wasn’t going all OCD by calling her every 2 minutes, he was being chivalrous – wanted to pick her up at her place, take her out to dinner, call her the next day, etc. But this woman was so used to dealing with jerks she wasn’t used the nice guy; in truth she wasn’t into him, so this relationship didn’t go anywhere.

  3. 63
    downtowngal

    Brings up another thought – some guys are either too sensitive to what a woman says or they’re using it as an excuse not to commit.

    For example, I dated this one guy I really liked, and he mentioned that he wanted to married & have kids, and that he saw us going there (he raised the topic, not me). After a month I was getting mixes signals from him. At the same time he complained that things ended w his previous girlfriends because they wanted him to commit because their ‘biological clocks were ticking”, also, that at age 42 he hadn’t had a relationship that lasted more than a year.

    One time after calling him on a pretty crappy thing he did to me (similar to what he said he did to other women he dated), he blew up & told me that he’s not ready to have kids and this is the trouble w dating women my age (I was 34 at the time), blah blah. I didn’t even mention kids or marriage, we had been dating for 3 months at this point and I hadn’t even considered him my boyfriend.

    So that was the end of that.

    I’ve heard men complain on a first date how they can’t stand how women, after dating for a few months, want to start having babies. What that tells me is that this guy was jerking these women around and they just wanted to know what’s up.

    Bottom line: actions speak louder than words. If a guy is being jerky or sending mixed signals, no matter what kind of family life he wants he’d be a terrible husband.

  4. 64
    moonsical

    Hey dtg,

    Agree: no eye contact, not good. Some men believe if they made the effort for the FIRST date, it’s all in your court now, which is interesting. Maybe even a little petulant about it. It sounds like that is not the case here.

    Re: clingy/smothering/chivalrous…in the eye of the beholder perhaps? It’s said men fall faster than women, when they do. Sometimes I’ve been put off by a man’s attention (that seemed too much for me) just because it seemed pre-mature, i.e., we didn’t really have that much going yet. Once I am into a man, I welcome more attention, the little chivalrous things and the bigger things. I think women weigh things out and are more practical for the long run and perhaps don’t want to be viewed as, “his woman,” before they are so moved. That’s me, anyway. But perhaps your friend really is acclimated to jerks!

    moon

  5. 65
    starthrower68

    dtg, it appears you have observed the same sort of behavior that I have also seen. I don’t think that women are ready to start having babies after a few months. I do think we do like to know we’re not in a dead-end fling. I don’t really want to be involved with a time waster. If things are going well, then I’m perfectly content to sit back and see what happens, but the minute he turns flaky, then it’s time for me to move on. There is a difference between taking things slowly with someone and being with someone who’s ambivalent or just with me until something they think is better comes along. Good post.

  6. 66
    downtowngal

    Thanks, starthrower68. You said what I was thinking in a more concise way.

  7. 67
    tunder

    Thank you so much for this advice!!! I have stopped freaking out now and am calm – your advice stopped me from making a HUGE mistake!

  8. 68
    BetsyG

    Wow, I feel like I’m at the feet of the master. I mean, some of that stuff I know, and I always tell women if they want to get married, don’t hang out in a dead-end relationship. Absolutely. But the clarity you bring to it…I know men pretty well, but I can never control my behavior. At 47 (divorced and dating) I am still trying to figure it out. I love this simple rule.

    Check out my blog if you want to read about someone who makes a ton of mistakes…(that’d be me…)

  9. 69
    Hot Alpha Female

    Evan.

    I completely see what you are saying when you say for the man to lead and for him to make the decisions.

    I think its important that when women are in relationships that they stop pushing for the next step.

    The next step to being exclusive, the next step to moving in, the next step to getting engaged.

    Some women think .. well i need to know if he is going to commit and then wonder why he seems to be getting more distant.

    But think about it? If someone, anyone was being really pushy towards you … how would you feel. Would you want to do whatever you had to do MORE or less?

    The same applies here.

    Hot Approach Coach
    Approach Anywoman, Anywhere, Anytime

  10. 70
    moonsical

    Hunh. For me it’s the men always pushing. Once a (younger) man I was dating proclaimed to me, “I’m looking down the tracks, and I’m not seeing any train coming!!!” We’d been dating about six weeks, maybe two months. Why not slow down and let things proceed at their own pace? This must be why I’m still single: typically I don’t, “fall in love,” quickly, the way they want me to. I’m enjoying things and taking it as it comes, but not all ga-ga…

    moon

  11. 71
    starthrower68

    LOL! Moon, it does feel as if we ladies can’t win for losing, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’ve found the key to being pursued; you don’t “fall in love quickly”. I would argue that a woman’s readiness for relationship, marriage, etc. is biology and socialization. Thing is these days, the only reason a woman needs to marry is because she WANTS to. We can earn our own money, fix our own cars, etc. I’m not saying men aren’t needed or wanted. What I am saying is that women don’t have the same norms in this day and age. Many of us are so worried about pleasing him and getting him to want us, that it doesn’t occur to us whether or not we find him desirable. We have to shift our perspective. Evan has said more than once men know they have options. Well, so do women; more than we realize.

  12. 72
    moonsical

    Hi Starthrower!

    Well, the only thing I can figure is many men are used to more high-drama ladies. Also, I personally lack a boilerplate template for marriage. My parents divorced just before I turned 6 and neither re-married, though they did have relationships. I admire and revere the state of marriage, and hope to have a happy and healthy one myself, but I’m not driven to marry at any price.

    Having said that, I have noticed many men seem inherently insecure. It’s almost as if they need constant reassurance that they are attractive, wanted, needed, smart, etc. When it seems I have to shore up a man’s confidence just so he can believe I like him or want to go out with him, it is tiring. The man for me is (at least relatively) happy with himself, and understands his value and wants to share himself with me and have FUN! I have had a few, “greats,” unfortunately, when I was too young to settle down!

    But, anyway, it has happened that ex beaus go on to a super high drama mama, sometimes even marry her, then get divorced (in every case I can think of,) all on this crazy roller coaster ride they think is, “love.” Guys, wise up…not to be wary, but…realize the one who WANTS WANTS WANTS you might not be the one. It probably has nothing to do with you. Oddly, put a little time into a woman who seem fine with or without you, who seems level-headed and thoughtful, whose company you enjoy and around whom you feel happy. Does she really smile when she sees you? Is she open and caring? Then let nature take its course, which it will, if it’s the right match.

    moon

  13. 73
    BetsyG

    Either I just sent you five e-mails via your contact form, or your contact form is broken. I tried it in two browsers. Hope that helps.

  14. 74
    cosmicgirl

    I just want to add my appreciation for the very simple, but true, advice you give Evan. I wish I had read it earlier having spent over 3 years making excuses for my on/off commitment-phobic boyfriend (now ex). Prior to my involvement with him, I had always thought of myself as a woman with a healthy dose of self-esteem but over the time we were together, he reduced me to an insecure shadow of my former self. He continually let me down, periodically he would go emotionally awol and eventually ditch me by text, before getting in touch a few months later and starting up with me again and making me believe I could trust him again. I was a prize fool and I now realise that I let him treat me badly by not drawing a line in the sand earlier. Sorry, I will not go rambling on with my own private story but suffice to say, your words have made a difference and I will be keeping them firmly in mind when I am ready to date again. Thank you.

  15. 75
    starthrower68

    Hello, moonsical! I think you make some good points. Could it be that the self-possessed, self-assured woman is seen as requiring too much effort? Such a woman has standards; I’m not talking about a laundry list of requirements, but such a woman knows what she’ll tolerate and what she won’t and she had solid boundaries in place. I also believe that the histrionic, highly emotional woman is probably seen (though I would not know from personal experience) as a wildcat in bed. Evan said himself that men look for sex and find love and vice versa for women. In short doses, that’s probably great for the guy who has no intention of settling down and committing to one woman. I suspect when a man is ready to make that transition, he realizes it will become quite tiresome very quickly.

  16. 76
    starthrower68

    Cosmicgirl, might I recommend “What Smart Women Know” by Julia Sokol and Steven Carter. Evan, I don’t want to step on your toes by recommending this book, but I found it to contain a great deal of wisdom and insight, and I thought it confirms pretty much everything you say. Ladies, our hearts are precious and to be treasured and cherished.

  17. 77
    moonsical

    Hi Starthrower,

    I’ve always thought I was rather low-maint, tho’ requiring patience; I do have sometimes change course. Lol. Like one time I got my man out of bed (afternoon nap) to go get some ice cream then just as we were getting our boots on I was like, “The moment’s passed.” His eyes bugged out, then he laughed. I am emotional, as well, and need a man who can roll with that. Some men think there’s something, “wrong,” but others just go, “It’s a woman thing.” It is. But I draw the line at a lot of things…

    Men who look for women to do it all for them (even stimulate a hot chase) wind up with a woman who manipulates and controls them. Most extreme example…a man I broke up with (because he was frequently depressed, which happens, but wanted me to make his choices, which ain’t gonna happen) latched onto and married a gal (they were pregnant) who threatened to not nurse their child if he didn’t do what she told him to! Many more nuances to this than I will ever know, but small community and some frightful stories. They are no longer together (her choice I hear) and thankfully, she found her power and is much healthier now. Phew. But anyway…so, yeah…if you need someone to make you do things you should do yourself, like return calls, get a life, or commit, or what have you…think on this.

    The best advice I’ve seen–Steven Covey–was to be principle driven. When I read it I recognized much of my own philosophy.

    moon

  18. 78
    starthrower68

    Moon, I agree with Covey, especially in the area of relationships. Our best bet is to keep our emotions in check and stand on our values. The decent ones will respect that and the not-so-decent ones won’t, and you want to weed those type out anyway. As I was reading Evan’s post again, a lightbulb went off at “let him do what he wants. If you like it, stay, if you don’t like it, go”. To frequently women (and I have been guilty of this) behave as if a relationship just happens to them. What Evan’s remark really made click with me is that we have more power than we realize. And by power, I don’t mean we rule over him with an iron fist. I mean that we have the power to decide. It’s really liberating to reach that point where you don’t worry about CHANGING what he does; if you don’t like it, you move on. Yeah, you may suffer some disappointment from that if you really like him, but it does uncomplicate things. Keeps you from going nuts by over analysis. Evan’s philosophy does not say a woman just has to sit back and be agreeable no matter what. We always have that option to bail, but we don’t like the dissapointment of hopes unrealized. However, that is much easier to get past than being in a situation that is not good for us.

  19. 79
    moonsical

    If only the mens weren’t so inclined toward those highly charged situations…too bad more don’t read Evan’s blog!

    moon

  20. 80
    starthrower68

    LOL! I hear ya, moon! The world is full of “if onlys”. But I’d rather be me than them!

  21. 81
    moonsical

    Certainly I don’t long to be anyone else. I am, however, troubled that it seems so difficult to find a relationship of depth and love. It’s often it *seems* 1) I must be doing something terribly wrong or 2) The “good” ones really are all taken. It took me quite a while to even want to be coupled/married.

    Having said all that, I know of few marriages I admire and many (most?) of my friends that married earlier are now divorced. So, there may have been some wisdom in waiting, but now what? Doing nothing seems to lead to more…nothing! In my experience(s) men do not seem to be all that motivated.

    moon

  22. 82
    starthrower68

    Moon, I wish I had some kind of magic bullet cure, love potion, or such to offer. I agree with you, it is troubling, and what makes it more so is knowing that we can’t make it be different. Of course I could say “embrace life without a romantic relationship! Get a degree, take up a new hobby, blah blah blah”. And those things are good for us and fulfilling. I also know that’s not what you really want me to say because those things don’t satisfy the deepest longing of a woman’s heart. The best I can do is offer to stand with you as a sister in the struggle, LOL! At least we girls can lean on each other!

  23. 83
    mellowgirl

    Evan, just want to say how spooky it is that I am going through this same exact situation and I just happened to come across your blog during a slow time at work. I’ve been dating a guy for nearly 5 months now only seeing him once a week and I should have ended it a long time ago but we have such a great time together when we do see each other. I will definitely take your advice to heart the next time I see him (will probably be the last time too!)

  24. 84
    downtowngal

    moonsical, said about guys,

    “It’s almost as if they need constant reassurance that they are attractive, wanted, needed, smart, etc. When it seems I have to shore up a man’s confidence just so he can believe I like him or want to go out with him, it is tiring. The man for me is (at least relatively) happy with himself”

    Amen! It just goes to prove the old saying that if you’re happy with yourself you’ll find a happy relationship. Yes, an ego boost is important to guys, but if you’re one who’s constantly proping him up so that you can ‘impress’ him at the beginning, this sets a bad tone for the relationship nd flies directly in the face of what Evan’s advising.

    I also agree with what was said above about guys who end up with these high maintenance psychowomen. I think it says as much about the guys as it does about the women, that they need someone who is co-dependent on them in order to feel loved.

    And I disagree that women who have it all together emotinally are seen as having standards that are too high. I’m pretty even-keeled but I’ve put up with a lot of crap in my love life because I didn’t set boundaries or have the confidence to figure out what I want and stand up for it. Now I’m wiser and better at spotting the ‘red flags’, and understand what things are really important in a relatinship (hint: it has nothing to do w eye color, height, etc.)

  25. 85
    Seductress Within

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

    This should be a woman’s dating gospel!!!!

    Determine what you want. Define your terms in regard to timelines for commitment. Don’t “talk” about it, men don’t want us to “talk” about it.

    Watch him. If his actions fall into place with your desired goals and timelines, lucky you. If not, break it off and find the one who’s will.

    Just make sure your goals and timelines are realistic. Wanting to “define” the relationship and expect exclusivity after one month is a bit pre-mature for both parties. Take your time getting to know each other. What is the rush?

  26. 86
    starthrower68

    Seductress, I think there are signs or a certain “vibes” a guy gives off if he has no intention of ever taking things beyond a casual friendship level. I agree with you about giving things a reasonable amount of time, but if I can tell he’s never going to be serious, then I’d just as soon move on. Of course if I’m not that into him, I’m not going to care anyway.

  27. 87
    The InBetweener

    You know a “SURE FIRE” way to “tell” is to ASK HIM. Nobody usually ever dies from that. AND, it shows M A T U R I T Y .
    As an alternative to TRYING to become a “psychic”. Enough time SHOULD be allowed in order for things to naturally take it’s course. I notice though, more so than not, that MOST older women usually “ACT” as if they are pressed for time.
    I personally have an unmeasurable amount of respect for “WOMEN” that actually care enough about “themselves” to ask.

  28. 88
    Seductress Within

    Starthrower, absolutely! I agree that there are signs and vibes that men give off without ever having to say a word, that’s why I said “watch him”. A man will show you and or tell you when HE wants to reach each step of the relationship.

    We shouldn’t steer conversations toward “clarifying” a relationship, coax them into wanting us, nudge them toward commitment. Yet so many women do and wind up waiting for him for years to catch up to her. And sometimes he never does. That is giving our power away.

    If after a reasonable amount of time (and no nagging or hinting) if the man isn’t bringing up marriage and that is what she wants, all she has to do is tell her guy “I love you so much but I think we may have different goals for our relationship and therefore I’ve decided to move on” And she has to mean it, be ready to break up.

    If he truly loves her and doesn’t want to loose her, HE will be the one to say “whoa, wait a minute….what? I’m not letting you go”

    She hasn’t pressured him, or nagged him for months, she just stated her desire, made a decision and allowed him to do the same.
    A confident woman in control.

    If he lets her go, she has her answer. If he begs her to stay, then HE will be the one opening up the “define our relationship” conversation.
    Or he just might produce a ring.

  29. 89
    starthrower68

    To InBetweener,

    While I understand your point, that’s not the advice women seem to get from the experts I’ve seen. Asking, i.e. “the conversation” is always highly discouraged. It’s got nothing to do with trying to be psychic. The red flags are there if they’re not ignored. I care about myself a great deal, but I don’t have to ask him where things are going. Watching what he does will tell me what I need to know.

  30. 90
    The Seductress Within

    InBetweener, Robyn said this:

    “anytime I want to gently “clarify” what he wants (kids, family) nearly each and every guy I’ve dated shies away”

    This woman doesn’t have a problem ASKING. Asking, for her seems to be the very thing that is scaring them off. Maybe besides asking these men for clarification she is also giving the “relationship” vibe too soon. Becoming the pursuer…It’s been a month. Why is she looking to define things so soon?

    She already has her answer. He’s not pushing for exclusivity yet because he doesn’t need or want it yet. When a man doesn’t want you to see anyone else HE lets you know.

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