I Tried Your Advice on Mirroring, Evan, and It Didn’t Work. What Am I Missing Here?

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Hi Evan, First I wanted to say that I am really enjoying Finding the One Online. I am very glad I invested in it and I look forward to applying what I have learned going forward. Please forgive the bad paraphrasing, but you have said that women need to stop analyzing a guy’s behavior because men reveal themselves in their actions. I agree with you and recently have made every effort to apply this to my life. Recently, (applying more of your lessons) I “opened up” to a guy on Match that I might not have in the past. The first week we started seeing each other, everything he did demonstrated his interest (i.e. he called every day, he asked me out, etc.) But, after a week or so we hit a rough spot.

For example, he “forgot” that we had plans one evening and went to a friend’s house instead. He called on his way home from the friend’s house but didn’t call back that evening when he said he would. So, I called him and left a message. I heard back from him the next day. I casually asked what had happened to our date the night before. He apologized profusely telling me he forgot. I told him it was fine and that we could get together another time. He called the next day, but didn’t ask me out for the upcoming weekend.

Then, I heard nothing from him for 5 days. After several days went by I assumed he met someone else and was no longer interested. Then he sent a text saying that things “must be over for us because when I don’t call, I don’t hear from you.” To say I was perplexed is an understatement.

If this was the first time this had happened to me I would have thought it was the individual, but even my daughter has said she has had this same problem with guys. We have both experienced a guy’s chiding for not actively pursuing them. I’m talking about the first few weeks of getting to know each other, not an established relationship. Why would a guy conclude that a woman is not interested if they haven’t taken the time to call for days or asked us out?

What gives here? I thought I was applying what you had taught us, that guys reveal themselves in their actions and our job is to “mirror” their effort. So, when I don’t hear from a guy for a week I don’t think I need to call and find out why he isn’t calling. Instead, I assume he is no longer interested. Did someone change the courtship rules while I wasn’t looking? Or, am I incorrectly applying what you have taught?

Alisa

Why would a guy conclude that a woman is not interested if they haven’t taken the time to call for days or asked us out? What gives here?

Dear Alisa,

Let’s say you wanted to lose 10lbs. You’ve read every diet book and every woman’s magazine under the sun and conclude that the simplest way to go about this would be to: eat smaller portions, eat healthier foods, and get to the gym three times a week for cardio. You do exactly that. For one month, you’re a dieting machine (with the occasional dark chocolate and red wine indulgence, of course.) To measure your progress, you get on the scale. You weigh the exact same thing that you did four weeks ago. Does this mean that you SHOULDN’T eat smaller, healthier portions and hit the treadmill regularly? Of course not. It might mean that there’s something else you can tweak, but the basic principles of dieting remain true, regardless of their results.

Mirroring a man’s efforts isn’t nearly as scientific as dieting, of course, but I think it’s pretty hard to contradict this principle:

Men do what they want to do. If he wants to call you, he’ll call. If he wants to see you, he will…

Men do what they want to do.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again.

But if he wants to call you, he’ll call you.

If he wants to see you, he’ll see you.

If he wants to commit to you, he’ll commit to you.

And if he doesn’t do all of those things, he’s not really a suitable boyfriend, now, is he?

Your observation that men are chiding you for not chasing him down is a valid one. I’ve heard it from other women before and will admit to being perplexed by it. All I can suggest is that these men who need YOU to call THEM are pretty much like women themselves.

Just look at his reaction: a text to tell you that he doesn’t hear from you enough, so it must be over. Hate to say this, but it sounds like a woman to me. I dated my wife for a year and a half before proposing and I don’t think she initiated contact with me once in that time. It’s not because she was playing games. It’s because she knew that if I wanted to talk to her, I’d call her.

Most women don’t have the fortitude to really trust that a guy WILL make the effort for them, so you try to manipulate it subtly: ”

“Hey, I’ve got tickets to the Dodgers on Sunday. Wanna go?”

“Haven’t heard from you in awhile. Is everything okay at work?”

The cold, hard truth is that you shouldn’t HAVE to do anything to remind him that you exist.

The cold, hard truth is that you shouldn’t HAVE to do anything to remind him that you exist. He knows you exist. And if he’s not making every effort for you, there’s really not much to interpret. Sure, you can go back to pursuing feminine men who are apparently too busy/lazy/afraid to say things like “So, what are you doing Saturday?” But where would that leave you?

Powerless.

Because you don’t know if he’s going out with you because he WANTS you or because he’s just filling time. When you don’t do anything, you very quickly figure out where you stand with a guy. Of course, nothing I write is foolproof, Alisa; there are exceptions to every rule. Only you can decide when to apply the rules and when to waive them.

But make no mistake: when we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re tired, we sleep. When we’re interested, we call. It ain’t that complex. And if this passive guy is making excuses and claiming to be hurt that you didn’t pursue him, well boo-hoo-hoo for him. He’ll find a woman that’s more man than he is, and you’ll be free to find a man who actually knows that it’s his role to pursue you. Keep doing what you’re doing, darlin’. Just because it didn’t work with this man doesn’t mean it’s bad advice.

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Comments:

  1. 41
    Mr_Right

    Didn’t they have a line in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – “The power in a relationship lies with whoever cares less.” It sure seems that way in the initial stages of dating. O_o

  2. 42
    Diana

    To A-L #37, your mentioning that you might send an email about an interesting event reminds me of the advice from another very popular “for women” dating and relationship expert that says that guys find unpredictability highly attractive in a woman. An example that he provides is when a woman calls a guy out of the blue, or out of the norm for their situation and introduces a fun and new idea for a date. Or when he hasn’t called for a few days, rather than grilling the guy, keep the conversation light and unpredictable, like simply saying, “Hey, it’s great to hear from you. How are you doing?” This doesn’t mean she shouldn’t express her feelings later; it’s all in how and when she expresses them. The idea is that he’ll be more receptive and understanding, and he will actually open up more to her as well. Does it work? I don’t know.

    I agree about the intensity of mirroring. I love the concept, but little is black and white in my mind.

  3. 43
    Selena

    After a few weeks of dating one man, and seeing him almost every day, he said to me one day rather woefully, “You never call me.” The reason I never called him was because he had 2, sometimes 3 jobs going on. I don’t call anyone at work unless it’s necessary – it can be construed as a nuisance. But I got his point. He was feeling I didn’t care as much as he did because I never called him. I started calling him a half hour before he left his first job thinking that would be when his work would least interrupted.

    We ended up living together for years and it became a habit for us to check in with each other once or twice during the day. A habit that started when we were dating and kept us connected.

    I get it about thinking your bf will call you when he wants to talk…but, I can’t imagine going for a year and a half without wanting to call and talk to my boyfriend for some reason or other myself. I’m certain actually, that the ones I was close to would have taken my never calling as a sign that I didn’t care or was mad about something. I do believe mirroring goes both ways. Particularly after a relationship has been established.

  4. 44
    Selena

    In Alisa’s case I agree with JuJu’s assessment #14: Every thing she describes points to him seeing someone else. Possibly a former girlfriend. Rather explains every action. Stands her up. While over at a “friend’s” house. Doesn’t call when he said he would. Doesn’t reschedule missed date. Doesn’t call for 5 days, then sends a text blaming the lack of communication on her.

    I think he was fishing with the text. Since she didn’t rip him a new one for standing her up, the text was a way to test the waters regarding the possibility of keeping her for “backup” if the other woman he was involved with didn’t work out. Fits perfectly with an ex scenario.

    Alisa, if you have a daughter who’s dating you need to be dating grownups yourself. This…um… person, isn’t one of them. Since he wasn’t on your A-list to begin with, you have validation about the wisdom of going with your gut feelings.

    I second the poster who said this situation is not about mirroring.

  5. 45
    Ava

    Lance #16
    “Eventually, you run out of energy, and as Aguy stated, if I’m dating a couple of chicks at once, I’ll choose the one putting in the same energy as I am.”

    BobGuy #33
    “The woman who actively expresses interest by taking the initiative will get my attention (and dates) more than the passive (or mirroring) woman.”

    Wait, don’t you ultimately go after the woman you like best and are most attracted to? You mean to say that there isn’t a stronger feeling for one woman over the others? When I’ve dated more than one person, eventually one man stands out over the others, even if I’m not sure initially.

  6. 46
    Anisa

    @ A.L. # 37
    “It may also be a regional thing.”
    In more “modern” places there are more (many) “agressive” women. That is making de “modern” men lazy an they loose their focus. Modern women are very often in shape, goodlooking and hip and I guess that is very often enough for those lazy guys. I think they don’t know how to be choosy anymore, so they pick the girl who makes more efforts.

  7. 47
    AJ

    Mirroring in my mind is a way for women to see what they are getting and to not go over board, which many of us do when we meet someone we real like. It is a way to pace yourself and to get you to see clearly how he is proceeding. You see what he does and you reciprocate. After a while you began to realize whether or not the guy is seriously interested or not.

  8. 48
    Selena

    AJ #47

    I think it’s exactly that. And I’ve been doing mirroring for decades before I ever knew it was actually a concept. If a man doesn’t call me for a week, it’s a clear indication that he’s not all that interested. That I’m “back burner” for him. Calling him every day or two isn’t going to change that.

    If I were a guy and a woman took 5 days to return my call, I’d conclude the same thing. It’s a bit like a tennis match to begin with. You lob the ball over and see if it is returned. If the other person isn’t interested enough to lob the ball back you, go find someone else to play with.

  9. 49
    isabelle_archer

    What? 1.5 years and she never called you or suggested an idea for a night out? That’s just…strange. I mean, it may have worked for you, but it’s certainly not the gold standard to me. Relationships are about companionship and communication, and if you can’t feel free to communicate when you want, if everything is a sort of stilted game, then I don’t think it’s something that would really be satisfying to me, personally.

    Now, I do definitely agree with the truism that if a man is interested he’ll make an effort and you won’t have to wonder about his intentions — at the beginning. But once you get into a groove with each other, you’re just in a groove, and who’s keeping score about who called whom at that point?

    And I’d also warn the ladies that taking this “mirroring” concept too literally can actually sabotage things at the beginning. If you don’t communicate that you’re interested in the guy somehow (verbally or non), he won’t pursue you. BOTH parties have to stick their necks out a little and show that they like each other. Letting the guy take the lead on the formal stuff — like asking for dates — does not let you off the hook. No man is going to pursue a woman who’s giving off “stay away” signals, and I know from personal experience that trying to hard to passively “mirror” a guy’s interest level can end up making a girl seem so cautious that the guy assumes she’s not interested.

  10. 50
    jneil

    The guy in this scenario has committed a number of serious goofs that make him not worth pursuing at all.

    But leaving that guy out of things totally, i.e., dealing with this subject in a general way, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that seemed more representative of my thinking and those of a group of 40 and 50 something guys that I know, than the following from #9 above. For me and my peers, a woman who understands the philosophy expressed there has a 45 yard lead in the 50 yard dash, as compared to those that don’t.

    “…COME ON! Absolutely archaic thinking, if I have to do ALL the contacting, planning and paying and the woman don’t do anything then dating her becomes WORK. I prefer dating to be pleasure for both parties.

    Further, if she don’t do anything about contacting me, or subtly suggesting a date. I’ll extrapolate how her don’t do anything attitude will play out in other areas life ie: in being planning a vacation she probably don’t do anything, in bed she probably don’t do anything.

  11. 51
    starthrower68

    Jneil,

    Yes, you point out some major issues there. I’ve been corresponding with a fellow who thinks I should do all the initiating and travel to him but he insists he will be in control of the relationship. He can take it or leave it. That tells me all I need to know and for once, I’m going to be a smart girl and not ignore that red flag. I think it’s high time to cut this loose and move on. I’m worth a lot more than that, and I’ll hold out for the guy who recognizes it. I’m grateful this post is here because something was not setting well with me about that situation and there’s a reason it wasn’t.

  12. 52
    Aguy

    To starthrower #18
    She wants to be won….If that’s work for you, then how truly interested are you in a woman to begin with?

    I’m absolutely interested in a woman who’s open to a relationship of complimenting people, where we are equally mature and no one is treated as a prize to be won.

    To Ava #45
    Wait, don’t you ultimately go after the woman you like best and are most attracted to? You mean to say that there isn’t a stronger feeling for one woman over the others?

    Sure, I may prefer woman A over woman B, but when I weigh in that it’ll probably take 6 months for woman A to reciprocate my level of interest vs. 2 months for woman B. Woman B starts to look a whole lot better. I am not talking solely about being intimate either. Please understand I’m mid 50s, divorced and date women of a similar age. To me time is the most valuable thing I have.

  13. 53
    downtowngal

    Sam #30, to answer your questions – first of all, when you email women, are they longer than a paragraph? Or are they brief and specific about someting in her profile?

    I ask because I’ve received emails from guys that have been doctoral essays. And I’m not a huge email writer, especially after having been on the computer all day @ work. So if I’m into the guy and his email is very long, I’ll respond briefly.

    But if your messages are brief and thoughful, and her’s no more “ok, what’s up with you”, then that might be a sign.

    re: timing, she may take a while to respond initially because she’s on vacation, or maybe her company blocks personal email, but if it’s chronic (one day for you, 5 days for her), then that could be a sign.

    And the poster who asked for how long to wait to call a girl, if you like her, call her the next day, definitely don’t wait. In my experience, a guy who’s into me will call the next day. If he waits longer than a few days, I take it he’s not serious about a relationship or that he’s playing games (and all of my past relationships have started out w the guy calling the next day). Any woman who takes this as an act of despiration is either not that into you or not looking for a serious relationship.

  14. 54
    Selena

    I agree with downtowngirl. My experience has also been the same: anyone who was really interested me always called the next day. When a man waits several days to call, a week, it’s always been an indication that he was just looking for something very casual. Perhaps a booty call.

  15. 55
    AJ

    Wow so many assumptions here. I don’t rush and call anyone right away. I do not give out my number, as single Mom, I do the calling and initially block my number the first time. Depending on how much information they give and how safe I feel, and with interest, I give out my number. Hell I am busy, I don’t even go online everyday. Hopefully, there are men out there that realize this and do not think I am not interested if I do not respond immediately. I do have friends that spend large amounts of time online, daily. Not me. Maybe I will have to find my guy the old fashion way. These comments have given me alot to think about.

  16. 56
    downtowngal

    AJ, we were discussing a guy’s follow up after a first date, rather than whether or how soon you should give your number. Your concerns are legitimate and shared by many women.

    Actually, when it comes to online dating, I’ve found many guys to be respectful, giving me their #’s first then asking me for mine, saying they can call me if I feel more comfortable, but either way would like to take the connection further. Or if you explain that you would prefer to make the initial call, the good guys wouldn’t take this as a turn-off, then you can explan your situation once you speak w them and feel more comfortable.

  17. 57
    AJ

    But it seemed like people were making assumptions based on he initial response time. A few days and you were’t viewed as serious.

  18. 58
    Selena

    AJ,
    I was speaking of AFTER a date. With online dating, who would you consider to be most interested in you? The guy who emails you back promptly? Or the one who drops you a line after several days, a week? What if you were THE GUY doing the emailing?

    Everyone gets busy from time to time, but how much effort does it take to type a few lines to someone? Personally I’d wonder if someone was too busy to shoot me a short email, how much time are they going to have to spend with me in person? And that’s the point you want to get to isn’t it? Spending time with someone in person – lol. Busy comes across as not interested enough, or perhaps not sure, if you’ve never met.

  19. 59
    AJ

    Selena
    I guess. But for example I am going on vacation Friday for 10 days and not planning on checking emails work or otherwise. I am not taking my laptop and at most I may use the hotel’s coputer once or twice but it wont be daily. Any guys that contact during that time will assume I have no interest. The reality is I am not sure at this juncture and my interest will grow or not as I get to know you. What’s the rush? Instant gratification or move on. I think that is why online doesn’t work for most people. I can sense when I do contact some guys the resentment , now that is a turn off. I want someone who is open to the possibilities and not so quick to judge. I have guys contact me after an initial contact I made a while ago and I am cool with that. My late husband and I use to laugh about how he made quite a few attempts to date me and I did not intially respond. I was coming out of another relationship and needed some time. But when we finally came together it was great. Life is all about timing and people need to give each other some IMO.

  20. 60
    AJ

    I am not saying wait around but when somepne reaches out, regardless of the time. Take the time to make a honest assessment. Don’t assume

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