I’m Sensitive, Afraid of Rejection and Push Men Away

I'm Sensitive, Afraid of Rejection and Push Men Away

I wanted to see if you had any tips about modifying my own behavior, because I’m driving myself (and a progression of men) at least a little batty.

Reading your blog has been so useful to me over the last 2 months of intense dating, thank you. I try to – and often do ­– successfully apply your advice. It’s been up, and down, and absolutely wonderful and then total hell. I’m 34, attractive to people who like my physical type, and I do okay – many men like me, and I like some of them back. I have the usual frustrations with bad dates, vapor trails, and the men who are just emotionally available enough to keep me around but won’t let anything progress, but I’ve learned to accept this as part of the ride.

But I’m very emotionally sensitive and naturally very defensive, and it’s killing me. When a man pulls back just a little bit – even very early on, and very possibly just in my head – I start to freak out on the inside, to write the death warrant on the non-relationship, and to become tense about the whole affair. I write “you’re obviously not interested – nice to know you” emails way too quickly, leaving men going “Wait. What?” They often stick around to work it out – I swear some of them even *like* it – but I’ve poisoned the natural progression of our discourse, and I think the long-term effects are usually negative.

I know this is bad. I logically know it’s very bad. But when I’m in the middle of an “it’s over and he doesn’t like me! I must defend myself!” attack it feels 100 percent like the only course of action. Then I write the email/leave the voice message and… instantly feel horrible. I sit in dread of the response. I suddenly see the mature, thoughtful way I could asked them what was going on with them that I didn’t take.

Do you have any mechanisms, anything at all, for heading off this behavior at the pass? I feel like a slave to my fears of rejection, and it’s causing a “let me reject you before you reject me!” nuclear reaction that slimes everything in radiation and leaves everyone, self included, emotionally flayed. I hate it.

Thank you, even if you just read this! Your blog really is the best.


Oh, Emily.

I’m about the last person you should be asking for advice on defending yourself.

I’m constantly writing long-winded, emotional, poorly-thought-out responses to the various ways that my words are minced, mangled, and misinterpreted – and every time I do, I feel a piece of my soul break away.

Being understood is tiring work.

If you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Being right requires constant maintenance.

And letting everyone know that you’re right is like a full time no-paying job.

Which is the key point – there are NO REWARDS for being right.

All you do is end up alienating the people who have the potential to care for you.

Are your negative impulses “correct”? I’m betting they often are.

But if you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Remember: Men do what they want, not what you want.

Stop expecting them to do what you want, try to understand where they’re coming from, and you’ll soon discover that they start appreciating you a lot more.

I’m not an easygoing person, but I will be the first to tell you that there are few qualities more valuable – in a wife, in a friend, or in a business partner.

If you don’t learn to let things roll off your back, then most men – unless they’re blindly whipped on your intoxicating beauty – are just going to conclude that you’re too much work. Or, as other men have been known to say, you’re “hot and crazy”.

And a man can only deal with so many tantrums, so much criticism, and a finite amount of drama before he concludes that he’ll date someone less attractive, intelligent and impressive and find himself a nice girl who makes his life easier.

In fact, I just did a teleseminar last month, called “Being a Great Girlfriend” in my FOCUS Coaching group. Took a bunch of questions and spent an hour teaching women how to better understand and connect with men in relationships.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

As “research”, I asked my Mom and wife to tell me the three things that made them great partners. After they both said, “Oral sex”, we got down to these three things: not emasculating him, appreciating everything he does for you, and doing your best to make his life happy every day.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

You’re just telling him he’s an insensitive schmuck.

Yeah, we don’t like hearing that. Especially if we have valid reasons for not doing what you want us to do.

So, are there any mechanisms for heading off this behavior at the pass?

Apart from taking a deep breath, a time out, and a full day before you write something you regret, the only thing I can think of is this:

“Why He Disappeared – The Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever.”

It’s the best summation I can offer about why men marry some women and not others, and I think you’ll really get a lot out of it. Please come back and let me know what you think. And don’t worry: there’s a money-back guarantee!

Thanks, and please come back here to let us know how it goes.

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  1. 1

    Holy moly, is that good timing or what, Evan.

    Emily could be me, in most instances. I try to give a guy a little time before I write the blow-off emails, generally 1-2 weeks of the weird behavior. Other than that though, I totally understand where she is coming from. Being rejected over and over again can really hurt, especially for us women, because try as we might, we do take some rejection personally.

    I was getting way too good at writing, sorry, no thank you, please do not call/write again, best of luck emails. If I saw something that even remotely looked like a red flag, I bailed out. I’d ignored too many red flags in my life, with awful consequences, to continue repeating that crazy behavior, and so I believed in walk away, before they walk all over you.

    I was even prepared to write my now-boyfriend off; I had just been given news about how my Mom’s cancer was alot worse than we’d thought, and I had just been rushed to the hospital for emergency hip replacement surgery. I thought, “yep, he’ll think this is too much drama for him, so be ready for the rejection text/email/call. It’ll come, so be ready.” And I even asked my nurse to give me another dose of morphine before I texted him, so I could just be numbed out when the rejection came!

    But no, he stuck around with defensive, scared little me and has continued to stand by me. He actually feels bad for me having gone through what I’ve been through, and has been supportive and continues to remind me that he’s not here to hurt me.

    I’m glad that you posted this; it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Yes, we need to change and back off of the “REJECT!” button, absolutely, but it still is nice to know I’m not the only one out there who feels that way.

  2. 2

    Oh, I know this person….I used to say “No guy has the 1000 page weird rule book in your head”….and she would fire off these long e-mail missives to dudes in the early stages of dating over nothing really (a minor miscommunication / misunderstanding / slightly different expectations)…I called them ‘letter bombs.’ I think it may have to do with anxiety.

  3. 3

    Emily, I feel for you as I have been there at different times in my dating life. While I was never one to send many angry, “screw you,” emails or telephone calls, I have had internal freak outs followed by fixing behavior. I usually took responsibility/blame for things gone wrong…if guy pulls away, I must have done something to turn him off. I no longer react or feel this way (with therapy and lots of reflection).

    So my suggestions to you, which is what has helped me is to ride out the feelings you are really trying to avoid or preempt..in your case and most dating scenario that feeling is the horrible feeling of losing the person because he has rejected you. You preempt the feeling of rejection by rejecting him before he rejects you. This way you don’t find out if he was going to reject you…These feelings could be real or imagined but what is still triggered is fear, unworthiness etc. You don’t need to react or act on your negative feelings (meaning sending emails, being bitchy etc…) just sit on them. You face you fear as well. I’m basically reiterating what Evan has said.

    The thing is when you freak out all over the guy, I found that not only did I still fear being rejected but now I know I had done something to warrant the rejection for real. Inevitably he does usually pull away, confirming my fear, which is a whole cycle of horrible feelings. It really is a brutal cycle that makes you feel weakened and less confident to go back to the harshness of dating.

    1. 3.1

      Omg u just blew my mind! I never thought of it that way @ Layla. I push them away first so I don’t have to find out if they were ultimately going to reject me then wonder down the road did I react to fast? Which has actually put me in some unhealthy dating with my ex. It’s the same over and over, we make contact and think I reacted to fast then do a do over and same thing again… This has had a bad an imbaressing impact on my self esteem. Now that I’m thinking of it so what if he rejects me? I’ve been rejected before and I lived and can’t even remember his name. I think the best thing u can do for dating is start a relationship w yourself. Everything I have going is my mind telling itself your not good enough so don’t even bother. So that’s what I’m trying to do… Is love myself first. Build a solid relationship with me. I can’t expect someone else to tell me im good enough if I don’t even believe it myself.

  4. 4

    I am very good at being pleasant around men and never doing the emotional freak outs, panicked calls, and so on, but I had to teach myself to be that way. I have 2 phones, only one of which is used for dating. When I’m feeling insecure, I’ll leave it at work over the weekend, let it die and not charge it for a couple days, or leave it in the car when I go out. I date multiple men at once and make lots of fun plans for the weekend when it’s becoming apparent that the guy is not gonna ask for a Saturday night date by Wednesday. If I freak out, it’s in the privacy of my own home or with gfs – NEVER with the guy i barely know. He is not my therapist.

    The problem is, I still have no relationship to show for my sane dating behavior! A guy I was dating even commented in passing that I had been more understanding than anyone about his busy schedule, and was more sane and rational than most women. But he still didn’t want a serious relationship.

    Dating advice always makes it sound like women are so emotional and pressuring with men that men will fall at your feet if you are not that way. I’m curious to hear from guys — how common is it to meet a woman who’s not pursuing or freaking out on you or trying to control you? Does a woman who’s not engaging in that bad behavior win a lot of points with you? Do you even notice?

    1. 4.1

      Evan states, and I believe it to be true, that if you make a man feel good, he will stay and if you make him feel bad, he will leave. There are probably other conditions to staying but make him feel bad, and you should expect a person with self respect to get up and leave.

  5. 5

    “Men do what they want, not what you want.”

    There are times when the best wisdom is served briefly and succinctly.

  6. 6

    This article is perfect timing for me as well! The problem is that I don’t have emotional outbursts in normal dating scenarios but I am definitely triggered by the guy I’ve been smitten with over the past 2 years. And even though there is a good chance he is not emotionally available, I’m not sure if it’s me or him? The whole push/pull thing just seems like a good excuse for him not to move the relationship forward because he can do some pretty jerky things and then nail me when I respond with a melt down. It’s like I stay in this scenario to try to become stronger and I feel more weak than ever. The more he distances, the more I want him. It’s almost like I’m addicted to the rejection, followed by feeling like I have to ‘prove’ I can handle things. I’ve been sensitive my whole life and I HATE it about myself! I recogonize that many of my melt downs are from not feeling like I can openly communicate with him. Then I hold it in and eventually erupt into a basket case. But once he’s labeled you to be a crazy drama girl- is there any hope for a future? And if he is so quick to remind me this is my fatal flaw, why does he stick around.

    1. 6.1

      Hi Amanda,

      I went through a similar thing with my bf for a year and decided to end it recently. Your statement – “It’s like I stay in this scenario to try to become stronger and I feel more weak than ever. The more he distances, the more I want him. It’s almost like I’m addicted to the rejection, followed by feeling like I have to ‘prove’ I can handle things.” is so familiar to me. I went into it with an openness and a willingness to compromise, it turned into him blaming me for any and every scenario, preying on my weaknesses so he can escape all responsibility. This is the same man who wants to marry me, this is also the same man who I don’t want to marry. Now I have some distance, I see it more clearly. Of course he is sticking around, who else would deal with his lack of responsibility and getting his way all the time. 

      Several things I learned, instead of taking ALL responsibility, if someone is interested in a committed relationship, he takes some of it because it is a partnership and you navigate things together. Everyone has baggage, it’s a matter of who wants to deal with what. As we try to improve ourselves, it is a chicken and egg thing to a certain extent. A more sensitive person would trigger you less and a more communicative person would allow you to talk things through. Ask yourself what you need and leave those who don’t have it. Find someone you bring out the best and brings out the best in you. A sensitive person usually has great gut instinct and is usually sensitive to others, a wonderful plus in a secure and communicative environment.

      There is extreme drama like calling a million times a day, getting pissed about the smallest thing or being paranoid. (which I do not do by the way, even though I am a sensitive person). It appears to me you are self-aware and instead of hating yourself for who you are, focus on accepting yourself and work on learning self-soothing techniques. It’s something we all have to learn. That doesn’t mean we choose people who test us to make us better people. Love isn’t pain or agony. We can only be better people in the right environment. This environment we can create outside of a relationship as well.

      Another is that if someone doesn’t take the step to commit or wants their way all the time, the answer is clear. You might not want to hear this but it is still true. He is just not that into you. Period. He is sticking around for the benefits and not want to deal with anything else, ask yourself how sincere is that. In the best marriages with 2 emotionally healthy people, it is already challenging, why add on more unnecessary challenges.

      Like Evan said, be the CEO of your life.

      1. 6.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Is this the same Christina, Asian with the bf she met via OLD?

        If yes, is this the same bf you’ve been so happy about or the bf before him?

        1. Christine

          Karmic, I think you might be thinking of me with this comment–no, I didn’t post this 6.1 message and it’s someone else.  I’m still very happy with my boyfriend now.  Just yesterday during a phone call, we said how perfect we are together.

          The breakups that I have had never came that suddenly.  I was always sad after them, but never surprised.

    2. 6.2
      Karmic Equation

      It’s a common stereotype, crazy people are the great in bed. Many men are willing to put up with “crazy” to for great sex…for a short period of time. Usually they’re not going to marry her.

      If you do behave erratically, calm sometimes, then explode inexplicably, then, no, he’s not going to believe you’ve changed and become sane if you stop the explosions. ?You only have one chance to make a first impression.”

      If he’s labeled you “crazy” then even if you were to behave sanely for the rest of your life, he’ll just believe you’re just trying to con him.

      So, forget about him. Learn to control yourself to the extent that your behavior is considered normal, not crazy, for the next guy.

      There’s always more fish in the sea. Don’t let yourself believe he’s the last one, okay?

  7. 7

    Dan, well it could be anxiety, or it’s also what my Mom likes to call, “psychological sunburn.” Meaning, when you get sunburned, it hurts to have anything touch that burned area. And when someone touches you by accident, you yelp and pull away. Same thing with being hurt badly in relationships. If a guy does something, even inadvertently, and it bumps up against a sore spot in our hearts, we react. It takes time to heal, just like real sunburns do, and even though we treat the burn and do what we can, it can leave marks that might never go away.

    For example: my ex husband was very cruel and abusive and called me stupid and abnormal, every chance he got. To this day, when I hear someone talking to their significant other and they even JOKINGLY call each other stupid, I want to vomit. I can’t even comprehend why people think this is funny, or acceptable behavior. My boyfriend once did not edit his text message to me and it looked like he was calling me an asshole. I was really upset and chewed him a new one for it. He re-read what he wrote and saw why I was so upset, and he apologized. I told him look, I have told you what I have been through. THINK before you SPEAK or TYPE. Words hurt.

    You may be correct about anxiety in some instances, but mostly I’m pretty sure it’s just “psychological sunburn.”

  8. 8

    Thanks so much for posting this! I actually bought “Why He Disappeared” just this last week after my last relationship ended, and it’s fortifying what I knew logically but was ignoring when I’d let myself get dangerously tense.

    Great advice, and you’re absolutely right – I’m making myself appear very high maintenance indeed, despite being easy-going elsewhere.

    And what you say about “being correct” now and then, you’re dead-on. I think I’m freaking out way to early to know anything, as do many of my friends, and I just had an epiphany that if I KEEP freaking out it probably means the guy is setting off alarms and I should stop seeing the gentleman. The last man I dated really was everything I was afraid he was, and I should have ended things months ago. I’m not putting my intuition into practice at the right point, and that’s screwing everything up, myself most of all.

    What I’m trying to do, and it’s working so far: Early on I don’t know them well enough to make any judgements, and aside from the usual important red flags just need to enjoy their company and ignore my doubts. If they disappear/aren’t interested, really, what does it matter? They weren’t right for me, and enough men are interested that there’s no reason for me to torture myself like that. If those doubts don’t subside several dates in, then I need to face what I’m fearing and ponder if it’s a dealbreaker I’m trying to ignore.

    It’s all about balancing intuition and emotional sensitivity, I think – both useful, but both really deadly if not kept in check. I didn’t have this problem to this degree when I was younger, which suggests there’s a (Confident, perhaps?) attitude I need to re-connect with, while keeping my wisdom. Dan – it’s very much anxiety! And pure, crippling insecurity.

    Thanks again, Evan! You’ve really helped me stay calm and be myself from the beginning of my interaction with guys. I’m only 8 days into this round, but it’s already going quite well.

  9. 9

    Oh! And heather, yay for your sweet guy! He sounds great. You’re dead on about how it’s about ignoring so many red flags in the past that it’s then easy to overreact and get out of there before they hurt you – it’s so damn hard to find that sweet spot in the middle of being too easy and being too reactive.

  10. 10
    Happy Person

    Dan 2: I know a LOT of people who have that 1000-page weird rule book in their heads!! It doesn’t happen just in the dating world. Thanks for the laugh!

  11. 11

    Definitely well-timed post for my life. I feel sometimes like some street gangster who sees a gun drawn when it’s just someone taking out their cell phone.
    But it can be really hard to tell – especially in the first few months – if someone is just distracted or if they’re distracted because they’re contemplating going back to an ex. It’s hard to tell if someone is inordinarily busy this month or if they’ve changed their minds about dating and are trying to hint that they would rather be just casual. Maybe after a whole month of a downshift of time spent together and more limited outings can one actually draw the conclusion that a guy has made a decision to be more casual without him actually sending me a memo that he’s changed the way he feels. But it is certainly hard to conclude that he’s changed his mind about a relationship just because he feels like hanging with his buddies for a couple of weekends or whatever. Even when a guy says he is confused it is hard to determine whether he’s just vocalizing how he feels – that he’s feeling his way through it and I just listen without drawing conclusions so he can feel safe expressing himself, or if he’s trying to convey a message that I should bail because he’s saying he’s done in not so many words.
    Sometimes I feel like I would rather just put the guy out of his own confused misery and ask him if he would rather us not be together.
    Sometimes I think that a lot of guys avoid women because they’re worried that if they break up with a woman they’ll have to watch her cry or maybe she’ll get angry and scream. So instead of giving the woman the courtesy to let her know that the relationship is done, a guy will do the fade-out. And unfortunately there are a lot of guys who do this so that when a good decent guy who would never break up with someone by fading out just happens to be really busy at work, he ends up paying for the ‘sins’ of other men because a woman he’s dating might think he’s fading out.
    I am not interested in chasing someone who isn’t interested. It doesn’t turn me on to be with someone who isn’t really into me (I’m too much of a narcissist for that) so I sometimes wonder if there’s a way to tell guys that when you’re done – just tell me your done and it’s okay – we’ll call it a day. I’m not going to have a screaming fit because someone wants out – I’m just going to say thank you for letting me know. However, if someone is avoiding me or acting weird because they think they can’t break up with me because then I might scream at them – then there will be drama.
    My ex-boyfriend said once about his days as a player (he supposedly was a reformed player when we started dating – though turns out he just got better at hiding things) that he just didn’t answer his phone too often on a girl so that she would realize that it wasn’t going to be that kind of relationship and so she would get the hint that it was a more casual and non-exclusive arrangement. He also was always warning me that if a guy isn’t answering his phone, or if he’s seeing me on a more limited basis or if he’s busy it means he’s really seeing other women and that I’m supposed to understand that I’m not the only one. He also warned me about guys who live in 2 bedroom apartments that I should know if he brings me back to his place he might actually have another women tucked in to the other bedroom at the same time. Really, he was warning me about himself – I should have known, because he always answered his phone when I called and we even lived together so he found a way to be able to hide everything without having to hint at anything.
    Most men are not like that – and I really don’t buy into any of his stories because I know plenty of male friends who aren’t like that – but sometimes it can be hard to know what’s actually going on until you observe for a while and sometimes it can be very confusing.

  12. 12

    Evan, when I read Emily’s letter, I felt sure that the advice you’d give her was something you’ve given in the past: “mirror his behavior.” For the record, I do think the advice you gave here is good; I would just add for Emily’s sake the effectiveness of mirroring.

    Emily: If you think he’s pulling back, you pull back correspondingly (it doesn’t have to be in a confrontational way). He’ll get back in touch with you if he wants to, and if he doesn’t, you wouldn’t have wasted time or gotten embroiled in a confrontation. Spend that time doing something nice for yourself, possibly even dating others. On the other hand, if he’s attentive to you, show your appreciation for him.

  13. 13

    Yep… that’s me. I totally relate to this problem. Fear of rejection. It’s just that after several failed relationships I now have this deep-seated fear that’s taken root that every relationship is going to fail and every guy is going to bail. It’s terrible – i panic when he doesn’t call or text, etc. Honestly at this point being on my own is better than trying to overcome this phobia.

  14. 14

    I don’t understand why you would be mad at a guy for not being interested. It can be disappointing, but if a guy’s not interested, it’s no reason to be pissed. It’s like being mad at gravity.

  15. 15

    After years of dating, I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to take things slowly, and to give a man some time to show you how interested he really is. Last year, I dated a man who freaked out on me, and I saw just how unattractive and self-defeating it was. Even if someone is unsure about you, or seems to be retreating, over-reacting is a sure-fire way to kill any chances of the relationship developing.

    There are armies of men out there who aren’t ready for a serious relationship, or don’t want one with you, or whatever. The best thing to do is to pull back, and give the man a chance to come back or explain himself to you. If he’s a jerk and he wants out, he’ll do the slow fade. If he’s a nice guy, he’ll give you an honest explanation. If he’s a nice guy who is unsure of his feelings and needs more time, he will let you know that too. When my current boyfriend expressed his uncertainties to me early on, I wanted to freak out, but instead I listened, and gave him his space. It really did help.

    Relationships with an overabundance of “drama” rarely work out well in the end. Rather than letting your insecurities take over, think of dating as YOUR chance to evaluate the man’s behavior, and make sure that he’s the type of person you would want to be with in the long term.

  16. 16

    I wonder if another source of confusion here is the approach conveyed on this blog that unless a man wants to commit to you, cut him out of your life. I do see the wisdom in that. But it can be limiting. Even the best (and best looking) women are going to encounter the problem that at least 90 percent of men they meet will NOT want to commit to them.

    If you feel like you have to cut out every guy who doesn’t fall In love with you from your life, well, that can be a lonely existence. If there’s an otherwise nice guy who enjoys your company
    But isn’t stepping up, you shouldn’t notice too much if you’re dating lots of people and staying busy. Maybe that guy could be a great friend; maybe an occasional booty call ; maybe an acquaintance who is of some professional or social value; possibly a guy to see a ballgame with or take as your date to a special event once in awhile. I just don’t believe in having a goodbye talk unless the guy was really a jerk.

    There are a lot of men who ain’t ever gonna be our husbands but still offer us something of value that we can learn from and enjoy if we just ratchet down our expectations accordingly. And continuing to see a variety of men with a variety of roles in your life is, in my opinion, a healthy way to get closer to mr. Right.

  17. 17

    @ Mia #4 – I feel the same. The last guy I was dating for four months consistently did all of Evan’s “rules” correctly. He told me often how he liked that I was so easy-going, calm, and “not crazy”. He invited me to meet his family on Easter. Yet after 4 months, he said he didn’t want to date anyone else, but didn’t want to have a girlfriend…
    I told him I was not comfortable with this, and he faded out over the next few weeks, to never be heard from again.
    So, Mia, I understand the frustration. There is nothing I would change about the way I acted. I am not pushing guys away, yet they appear to leave on their own. Is this one of those “there is nothing to learn” stories? Or I am being ignorant to something I am doing?
    And to Emily, I believe you can change your ways. I have trained myself to become very calm and laid back. I look for girls I know who have these qualities and model myself after them. Over time, it becomes natural. Good luck!

  18. 18

    Evan! Thank you SO much for posting this as it describes my behavior to a “t”! My fear of rejection caused me to say stupid things to my wonderful boyfriend of 5 months, that I almost sabatoged the relationship! Thank god he’s still hanging in their with me. I am currently in therapy to learn how to deal with my issues.

  19. 19

    Sad thing is, most of my calm, thoughtful, non-freak-out girlfriends are still single whereas the high-maintenance foot-stompers I know wed years ago.

    1. 19.1

      indeed henriette most men do like bitchess

      1. 19.1.1

        No. I married a force of nature though.

  20. 20

    @ Mia, I feel exactly the same! I know there are some women who find it helpful to cut a guy out of their lives if he won’t commit when they want him to or if they are not getting exactly what they want, and this is fine if this is the approach that works for you. But I find that this doesn’t really work for me unless I am really sure I want nothing more to do with that guy.
    Admittedly, this has a lot to do with gut feel, and I would never presume to prescribe this approach for someone else, but I have a big problem with cutting someone out of my life when they still care for me and I still care for them, and there is still enjoyment to be derived from the association. And I find that very often, I am able to adjust my expectations accordingly. And I find that sometimes, time does even change one’s feelings or perspective or you mature, and the relationship has a better chance. I suppose it all has to do with what makes you happy and what is right for you.

    Evan, with regards to this article, I think your advice is so good I have printed it out and kept it in my desk!

  21. 21

    @ Emily, yes, that “sweet spot” is very, very hard to find. I’m starting to learn to calm down around my guy, but some things are really hard to unlearn. Recently, I accidentally spilled something on my boyfriend’s dresser. I didn’t know I had done it; he found it and said there was some scented oil all over his dresser. I realized I had done it and I apologised immediately and was very sincere. I didn’t realize what “I” was doing but later he gently told me that I kept apologising over and over and looked downright panicked. He commented, “Wow, your ex really did treat you pretty badly, I can see the fear in your eyes when you apologise, like you think I’m going to smack you around for something trivial.” He is very supportive of my seeking help for those seemingly ingrained behaviors and is understanding that I don’t want to be this way. He really is a good guy and I don’t want to lose him.

    @ Heatherk: you know, you sound like me and where I was, last year. I’d been reading EMK and Paige Parker’s blogs/newsletters, along with some others, and read alot of other books about dating but yet it just seemed like I couldn’t meet a guy that was pleasant, kind, and emotionally available, and not a game-player. I knew that part of it is just the area I live in; multiple articles, surveys, studies do show that my area is very difficult to date in, due to Washington DC being such a transient area, along with other reasons.

    I believe you or another poster asked about how to let a guy know, when you’re catching on that a guy really is misbehaving, and you don’t want to be bitchy about it. I went through that last summer, a guy was acting very much like he was interested, followed up, made plans, called, etc, and then did a freak out after we discussed how we wanted this situation to proceed. He disappeared, and then stood me up for a date. I did not “call him out” on the disappearing for days on end, but I did call him out on the standing me up part. All I did was I said, “Hi B, listen, I need to let you know that “I” am no longer interested in continuing this. I have to be honest, disappearing and standing me up are deal-breaking behaviors. I am not angry with you but I am disappointed in your behavior. If you did not want to see me anymore, an email or a phone call would have sufficed, and that would have been that. Best of luck.” An hour later, I got a long, “I am so sorry, you are absolutely right, I effed up and you didn’t deserve that kind of behavior.” email. I did not reply to it, and kept on going. And promptly went out on a date that night with another guy. 🙂

    It is like the old country song, “You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em…..” I’m just glad that I’m basically out of the dating pool and working on things with my guy.

  22. 22

    The over-correct:

    Here’s one I’m curious about. I seem to have played it too cool. I was complimented for not pressuring, for being rational, logical, etc. All the things that my previous guy would have NEVER said about me.

    Well, I got dumped because, and I quote, ‘nothing’s happening, I’m not falling in love. I feel like I am cuddling my best guy friend when we’re in bed. You’re so exactly like me that I feel like I’m dating …’ get ready for it ‘my sister!”

    Yes, he literally said I was like his sister and his best guy friend. It’s been two years and he still texts me and hangs out with me occasionally, but he dates tons of women and we’re just friends.

    My take is that with alcohol, you can cut it out completely if you have a problem with it and that works. With food, you still have to eat so you always have to skirt the ‘dangerous behavior.’ I find that with me, emotions are like that.

    It seems like my emotions either control me completely or I have to act as though I don’t have any. And, the guy feels like you’re his buddy, not his GF and he leaves. AWESOME

  23. 23

    I’m honestly surprised that Evan married his wife bc in my experience men dont value easygoing, kind, cool women. So many pursue girls that are high maintenance and high strung. She was lucky he came to the epiphany after years of dating, but after reading her guest blog a few years back about how she behaved during rheir courtship, I thought, well, thats what I already do, isn’t that common sense?

    Ever since I graduated college six years ago I have not been able to find a man remotely my age who seems to value the right things in a woman. From 23-26, I dated men who were 10 plus years older bc they were the only ones who wd give me the time of day — late 30s guys. Starting last year, a flood of 40somethings came out and pursued me- a guy in a wheelchair, a guy who I wd have been fired for dating bc it was a professional conflict of interest, a married man, a man who lived in the woods in another state … These weren’t online guys, I met them in real life . I deserved better, so I thought.

    So I really hunkered down to meet men within 5 years of my age and found 2 30 year olds that I dated for two months each. I know I did NOTHING wrong, but as usual could not get out of the once a week call/date phase. Like many men, they thought I was gorgeous, easygoing, intelligent, and interesting — they just couldn’t be bothered to see me more than the bare minimum. And I wonder if bc I never throw a fit about when a guy calls, and am always pleasant, they just assume they don’t have to call much.

    So if I’m 28yo catch and don’t believe I should have to settle for a man at most 7 yrs older, where am I supposed to find these men that do value easy to be around women ? It seems like they don’t value that until later in life but I’m sick of being with old guys!

  24. 24
    Karl R

    Emily asked: (original post)
    “Do you have any mechanisms, anything at all, for heading off this behavior at the pass?”

    The best advice I ever heard was to rely on a three month progress report. There are going to be fluxuations in someone’s behavior on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, but by the three month mark, it should be an exclusive relationship. And at every three month point after that, there should be noticeable progress moving forward.

    I like this because it takes into account the regular ebb-and-flow of a relationship. It also takes into account that some people move faster than others. But if you look at your relationship and see no discernable difference between where it is and where it was three months ago, then you can (calmly) bring it up in a conversation.

    Laya said: (#3)
    “if guy pulls away, I must have done something to turn him off. I no longer react or feel this way”
    Emily said: (#8)
    “If they disappear/aren’t interested, really, what does it matter? They weren’t right for me, and enough men are interested that there’s no reason for me to torture myself like that.”

    That’s one critical realization to prevent that kind of “freaking out”.

    Most of the time, you didn’t do anything. The reason “why” doesn’t matter. You just weren’t the kind of person he (or she) was looking for. This applies equally to men and women.

    Mia asked: (#4)
    “how common is it to meet a woman who’s not pursuing or freaking out on you or trying to control you? Does a woman who’s not engaging in that bad behavior win a lot of points with you? Do you even notice?”

    In my experience, none of my girlfriends freaked out in the manner being described. This might partly be a function of age (women in their 30s and 40s) or the type of women I am attracted to. However, I would say that freaking out is the exception, not the norm.

    Amanda said: (#6)
    “It’s like I stay in this scenario to try to become stronger and I feel more weak than ever. The more he distances, the more I want him.”

    It sounds like you have a really bad relationship with a really desirable man.

    Here’s the one thing you need to remember:
    It’s a really bad relationship

    He is not emotionally available.
    He does some pretty jerky things.
    You melt down.
    You feel more weak than ever.
    You do not feel like you can openly communicate with him.
    You periodically erupt into a basket case.

    Amanda asked: (#6)
    “But once he’s labeled you to be a crazy drama girl – is there any hope for a future?”

    Is that the kind of future you want for yourself?

    Annalise asked: (#17)
    “he said he didn’t want to date anyone else, but didn’t want to have a girlfriend…”
    “Is this one of those ‘there is nothing to learn’ stories?”

    Yes. There is nothing to learn from that.

    EA said: (#22)
    “It seems like my emotions either control me completely or I have to act as though I don’t have any.”

    There is a middle ground between the two extremes.

    EA said: (#22)
    “And, the guy feels like you’re his buddy, not his GF and he leaves.”

    You know how Evan and I recommend against pursuing raging-hot chemistry at the expense of compatability? There are some men who do the same thing.

    If you date someone like this, shrug and let them go.

  25. 25

    Mia (and Clare): Reading your posts, I find myself thinking that you are female equivalent of the Nice Guy. Let me explain…

    Well, you probably know that many women might keep saying how they want to meet a successful guy who is a gentleman who asks for directions and who is willing to do yoga [i.e., offensive boorish masculine traits that you complain to your friends about, scrubbed away]. Then very often when they actually date a guy like that, they’re torn. They really like him! He’s just what they say they’ve been looking for all along! Such a breath of fresh air compared to all those boors they’ve griped about in the past! Yet, still, Something Is Missing.

    Well, we men say we want to meet a woman who has good looks AND who is easy-going, says what she means and does what she says, no drama, and logical. [i.e., the offensive crazy feminine traits that we complain to our friends about, scrubbed away]. And then when WE meet YOU, and we’re the ones who are torn. We really like you! You’re what we’ve been looking for all along! Such a breath of fresh air compared to those crazy chicks who frustrated the hell of us. And yet still, Something Is Missing.

    I’d say what is missing is sexual polarity. Just as many women get turned on when a guy “put them in their place” from time to time, many men get turned on when a woman tests them hard for “no reason” or even when she acts a little batty from time to time.

    Just some food for thought.

    1. 25.1

      Bingo Micheal17! The phrase nice guys (or girls) finish last mean just that. Let me expand on your point.

      We all have a conscious or subconscious perception of what is appropriate dating etiquette. Far too often, easy-going is misconstrued as lacking in self-esteem, desperation or lacking in value. Imagine an LV bag priced at $1, not as many people would want it. The materials and workmanship is the same but perceived value has dropped. It seems like anyone can own one now, far too easily. The logical people would even suspect it is a hoax, hey, nothing is for free eh.

      Now, imagine an LV bag priced at retail $2,000 but at a special discount for you and you only at $1,500, many would go for it, seeing it as a good deal. It still holds it’s prestige.

      It also has to do with the worldly thinking that anything worth going for has to be painstaking, love is suffering, no free lunch, etc.



  26. 26

    Mia 23: Men DO like easygoing women. But some of your posts have not been indicative of an easygoing attitude, so perhaps this is something you want to seriously consider working on: having the inside and outside match, so to speak. Our OP Emily, at least, knows what her nature is. That is a first step in solving relationship problems.

    “I’m sick of being with old guys!”

    The guys you describe as old in your post are in their late 30s. That doesn’t seem that old for a 28-year-old woman.

    In other posts, you’ve compared yourself to married women who are your “friends”, calling them dogs, ugly, loudmouthed, and unfeminine; and wondering how they could be married. You have every right to think these things, but you should understand that no one would consider this an easygoing attitude.

    Do you think Evan’s wife was constantly comparing herself to others like this and insulting her “friends” this way? Men do pick up on these attitudes, regardless of how you may try to hide them. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.”

    As a first step, it would be helpful to make a conscious effort not to compare yourself to others. A next step might be widening your definition of what’s an acceptable age in men who are interested in you and whom you might be interested in.

  27. 27
    Karl R

    Mia said: (#23)
    “in my experience men dont value easygoing, kind, cool women.”

    That’s like men saying that women don’t value nice guys. Women do value nice. But being nice doesn’t get my foot in the door. It also isn’t the only consideration, even after I’ve gotten my foot in the door.

    My first two serious girlfriends were the hardest to get along with. (They didn’t freak out, but they came with other difficulties.) After them, I discovered that it was possible to find girlfriends who were easy-going … and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.

    Mia asked: (#23)
    “where am I supposed to find these men that do value easy to be around women ? It seems like they don’t value that until later in life but I’m sick of being with old guys!”

    I had a comparable issue while dating. I didn’t want kids. I discovered very few women my age who felt the same way. On the other hand, I discovered that the women six or more years older than me were much more likely to meet that requirement.

    If I held out for someone my age, my dating pool was so small that it was likely that I would still be single 6 to 8 years down the road (when I reached the age where the pool rapidly expanded). Or I could add those women to my dating pool immediately, and potentially cut 6 to 8 years off my search.

    You will eventually be in your mid-30s. You can hold out for a man who is your age. Or you can make your search go faster. Choose the option that works for you.

  28. 28
    Katarina Phang

    Michael17, interesting! So in other words, men love unpredictable women, right? And a woman can capitalize on that little mystery every now and then.

    I can’t agree more. Unpredictability is one power a woman has to get him all curious and intrigued about you.

  29. 29

    I need a “good post” smilie for Michael 17. That’s exactly it. Without gender polarity there is no relationship, nothing for a man to want to hold on to (other than an awesome buddy). I would also add that an easygoing disposition may generate warm friendly feelings and good will, but it doesn’t engender passion.

  30. 30

    Michael , I get what you’re saying. But I’m seeking a healthy relationship where the man is thrilled to be with a woman who acts in a considerate and low key manner. I’ve dated men that I got away with acting psycho with when I was younger but don’t want that anymore.

    Even so, I am the furthest you could get from the stereotypical sweet nice girl — but I’ve just worked extra hard to behave like a normal, sane, feminine lady when I meet a relationship prospect. Deep down, in my natural state I’m an emotional neurotic basket case who’s high functioning — ivy league, good career, confident, yada yada.

    And im a prolific dater who dates like a man in some ways — with an appreciation of quantity and variety — and in one recent four month period had a fling with a gorgeous Chilean writer who was 40 with a kid, continued a fwb thing with a 34 yo short bald guy , nailed a 20 yo college kid I met an hour ago at a concert , hooked up with a 25yo jewish ex coworker, had one date each with a middle aged guy in a wheelchair, 29yo ex frat boy, and mid 30s Asian lawyer , dated for several months a hipster, made plans for separate weekend visits with a redhead world traveling rake on a motorcycle and a handsome Indian doctor, and continued to keep in touch via email with my nerdy broke ex bf. I met all of them in real life bc I’m an active interesting person who’s up for anything.

    I’d honestly prefer a relationship but have to go out with all these guys until I find one.

    So even as a naturally crazy person, why would I act batty to these men who I don’t know that well? Why unleash the psycho on innocents? Huh . I have 3 dates coming up this week with guys that I don’t care about, maybe I’ll test them and act bratty and report back.

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