The Blind Spot In Rori Raye’s Circular Dating

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If you saw a woman who was about to drive off a cliff, would you tell her?

You’re standing on the sidewalk. She’s plowing over orange cones and through the yellow police tape towards a towering precipice.

Yeah, you’d try to stop her.

And the faster she accelerates, the more frantic you get, watching her willingly (and confusingly) speed towards the chasm.

I’m even gonna bet that if you were witnessing something so damaging, you might even put yourself in harm’s way to protect the innocent drivers. Maybe you wouldn’t dive in front of the car, but you’d run and wave your hands and scream at the top of your lungs — anything to avert what is sure to be a serious accident.

This is what it felt like to be featured on my friend Rori Raye’s blog last week, in a post entitled “The Circular Dating Argument”.

I went there to save some lives — and took quite a beating for doing so.

First of all, I need to establish that Rori’s a good friend and I have no doubt that all the women who read her are kind people. Over the past few years, Rori’s products have taken off like a rocket, inspiring a legion of passionate followers. Any time I’d like to think that I’m making a big impact on the world over here, I remember that Rori’s mailing list dwarfs mine.

Which is why I’m always flattered when Rori reaches out to tell me she enjoyed one of my newsletters or wants to mention me in a blog post.

And after an interview I did with her last week for her audio series, we engaged in an email dialogue about one of her signature concepts: Circular Dating.

The definition on her site is benign: “Dating several men (at least 3) all at the same time. You accept the date with the man who calls first, and do not shuffle times or even think about manipulating the schedule in order to get dates with the man you like best, or dates to the most fun places. Circular dating is about Free Therapy and practicing Rori Raye Tools. It is not about finding Mr. Right.”

Nothing to argue with here. What Rori calls Circular Dating, I just call “dating”. Be proactive, date lots of people, have fun, don’t get too excited about a promising prospect — we’re all on the same page so far.

Where this concept of Circular Dating breaks down for me, however — the reason I wanted to guest blog on her website — is this idea:

The concept of circular dating (CDing) is ostensibly supposed to last all the way up until you’re married. Meaning: a woman can tell her devoted boyfriend of a year that since she doesn’t yet have a ring, she’s going to see other people.

You hear that sound? It’s a record scratching.

Yes, there’s something highly discordant about this principle, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for nearly a week.

Believe me, I understand the emotion behind Circular Dating. All you have to do is read this blog to know that I am intimately familiar with the frustrations and fears of women. And because way too many women have invested way too much time in men who decided that they didn’t want to get married, CDing is, presumably, a way of protecting oneself.

My argument against circular dating has nothing to do with a failure to understand women’s needs, a defense of selfish commitmentphobes, or a personal axe to grind against Rori or her readers. My argument against circular dating centers around only one simple premise: it doesn’t work when you have a good boyfriend.

My argument against circular dating centers around only one simple premise: it doesn’t work when you have a good boyfriend.

If you have a boyfriend who is consistent and kind and also wants to be married one day, and you tell him, in a moment of insecurity, that you can’t stand waiting any longer — “it’s been seven months and we’re not engaged, so I’m going to start seeing other men” — you’re essentially taking a dagger to the heart of your relationship. And if you have a boyfriend who isn’t consistent, isn’t kind, and never wants to be married, there’s no need to “circular date”. Just dump him and find the man who treats you well and ultimately wants a commitment. And yes, it is that simple.

The friction here comes from women who want to KNOW that their investment in a man is going to lead to marriage. The problem is that you CAN’T know. All you can know is whether he’s a man of high character, a man who has spoken of a future, a man whose heart is in the right place. Beyond that, there are no guarantees.

No one wants to feel insecure and off-balance. No one wants to waste time on a dead-end relationship. But just because a man isn’t positive he wants to marry you doesn’t mean you break the bonds of exclusivity. If I’m your boyfriend and you start seeing other men, you are essentially cheating on me, and it doesn’t make me feel better about you, our relationship, or our future together.

That’s pretty much the gist of what I said to Rori’s readers. I used metaphors, anecdotes, capital letters, and wrote the way I normally do on here — blunt, powerful, and very confident that what I wrote has a sound basis in truth.

Not my opinion. Truth. About how men think. Good men. The men you want.

If you start to “circular date” when you have a man who is on the precipice of wanting to spend the rest of his life with you, you might actually be driving him away.

And try though I might, I can’t think of too many confident men who feel that their exclusive girlfriend has a right to date other men after 6 months, 12 months or 18 months, merely because she’s insecure that he might not marry her. She can certainly dump him (which is a good strategy when you’re getting past three years of dating.) But seeing other guys while you’re boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t sit well with me. I speak for most men and remain firm in this sentiment. (By the way, if there are any guys here who are cool with your girlfriend dating other guys as a way of protecting herself and forcing you to shit or get off the pot, please speak up. I’m open to being wrong here.)

Predictably, then came the blowback.

I won’t go into details but I was told in a number of ways that I was wrong. That I was arrogant. That I don’t understand women. That I was verbally abusive. That my marriage was suspect. That my wife was a doormat. And so on and so forth.

I tried, in vain, to reiterate my point of view — which is that I’m offering a constructive, not destructive, criticism of circular dating. I don’t stand to gain anything from “being right” in this situation. But if you start to “circular date” when you have a man who is on the precipice of wanting to spend the rest of his life with you, you might actually be driving him away. And that’s dangerous if you believe that this is solid advice that considers how men think. It is not. It doesn’t consider how men think. It’s advice that may make women feel better, but doesn’t do what it’s designed to do. Which is why I felt like the guy standing on the side of the road, waving his arms, determined not to let any women go over the cliff with this well-intentioned, but ultimately misguided, take on how to get a man to commit.

Naturally, I got run over in the process. C’est la vie. At least I tried. But since I still believe my take on the male mindset is equally valuable as any woman’s take on it, I wanted to respond to the main areas in which Rori’s readers falsely dissected and misinterpreted my argument:

He should know if he wants to marry me. No, actually, he should not. That’s why men date. To figure out, over the course of time, if he wants to spend the next 35 years with you. And that’s exactly what you should be doing with him, as well. Nobody told you to invest three years of your life in a man who has stated that he never wants to get married. Definitely not me. But if you have a boyfriend who wants to get married one day, but he’s not sure if it’s to you, your best bet is to give him lots of time to figure it out before proposing. If you’re under 40, we’re talking at least two years. Over 40, at least a year. But trying to make him figure out the answer to something that he couldn’t possibly know is a recipe for a breakup. Men don’t respond well to being told what to do. As Dr. Pat Allen said: “If you tell a man what to do and he listens, he isn’t a man.” I’m not stating whether this is fair or not; I’m merely stating that it’s true.

Some men just know after 3 months, therefore all men should know that fast. Actually, anyone who claims to “just know” that it’s “right” after one week, one month, or three months has a very selective memory. I “just knew” that my girlfriend in 2003 was right for me. She dumped me after 6 months. Same with the one in 2004, who dumped me after 3 months. So much for “just knowing”. Look back at your history. You have a similar story.

The right man knows right away. You might have a strong chemistry and a great feeling about a guy, but lifetime relationships take years to forge, not months. Lots of marriages began with the man knowing right away. And a majority of those marriages ended in divorce. Be careful about rushing into things: you very well could marry the wrong man – where if you dated him for two years, you would have learned more about him and potentially averted a mistake.

A man who is right for you would not risk losing you to another man while he makes up his mind. Au contraire: the right man is a responsible decision-maker. And a responsible decision-maker doesn’t make the decision to marry a woman until he knows her for a really long time and can see how she handles life situations. He may rightfully determine that if his exclusive girlfriend handles her insecurity by insisting that she “circular date”, he could find a healthier relationship without all the drama, fear, and insecurity.

Playing it cool is denying my true feelings. We don’t have to live our lives as mere victims of our feelings. After all, just because you feel something doesn’t necessarily make it true. I had one girlfriend who nearly had a heart attack every time I picked up a Maxim magazine. She may have been entitled to her feelings, but her insecurity that I couldn’t be attracted to her if I was also attracted to a model ended up destroying our relationship. Even her own therapist told her that I was a normal guy and that she should temper her jealous overreactions. So while I’ll never tell you that you’re not entitled to feel what you feel, if what you feel (anxiety, fear, insecurity) becomes your boyfriend’s problem — when he hasn’t done anything wrong — it’s really on you to deal in a healthier fashion.

I don’t want to be the girlfriend, I want to be the wife! You don’t become the wife unless you’re the amazing girlfriend first. If you think that he should marry you because you’ve been together for three months and you love him, then he should have also proposed to about a dozen women he dated for three months before you. Right?

I should be allowed to CD ‘til my wedding day because I don’t want just “a boyfriend”. No one is asserting that you should be content to be merely a girlfriend forever. All I’m saying is that if you’re with a man who believes in marriage, you have to allow him to come to his own conclusions over time. And if you think you’re restricting your options by being faithful, then, by all means, circular date. You’ll just end up losing your boyfriend when you do.

A man who doesn’t marry you is selfish. A man who knowingly strings you along for three years when he has no intention of ever marrying you IS selfish. I’m not talking about that guy. I’m talking about men who do want to get married, but aren’t positive if they want to marry YOU. If I didn’t marry my wife after 16 months of dating, it wouldn’t mean that I knowingly used her for that time. It simply meant that I was trying on the relationship for size to see if it fit for the rest of my life and decided it wasn’t a good fit. MOST relationships break up because either the man or the woman comes to this conclusion. Yet MOST people end up getting married one day. This seems to conclude that most men are marriage minded; they might not necessarily want to marry you, though.

Your way gives men all the power, Evan. By letting men take their time to decide if they want to get married, women are relegated to become the selectee and not the selector. Not remotely true. Who said he has the power? Aren’t you 50% of the relationship? Aren’t you thinking clearly about his flaws and whether you can live with them for the rest of your life? Don’t you have the right to break up with him at any point if you conclude that he’s a good guy, but not your soulmate? Why, yes you can! Which means that BOTH parties are taking an equal risk when committing to each other without a ring — not just you.

CDing gives me my power back over a hot-and-cold man. Maybe it does. But I have a slightly different take on this. A) Don’t date other men. Dump him. Walk away with your head held high and say, “I really care about you, but I’m not getting my needs met here. This is too inconsistent for me and I need to feel safe. Good luck.” And don’t look back. THAT’s how you handle the hot and cold guy. If he comes running back, you may have a boyfriend. If he lets you go, he’s not the guy for you. B) Do you really WANT a guy who is so hot and cold, who leaves you walking on eggshells? Do you really want to be in that relationship for 35 years, where he’s so selfish or such a poor communicator that you never know where you stand? If so, then do everything in your power to get him back — including CDing. But the smart money – given that people rarely change – is on dumping him.

Why should one man monopolize my time? I want to explore all my options. I’m still having trouble fathoming this: the woman ostensibly wants a husband but doesn’t want a boyfriend because she should be out playing the field. Um, I hate to tell you, but the only guy who’s ever going to propose to you is the guy who has been your exclusive boyfriend for a year-plus. And if you refuse to stop exploring your options, no guy worth his salt is gonna stick around. This is the epitome of false female empowerment. You’re not keeping your options open if you’re dating other guys outside of your boyfriend: you’re cheating.

Why should I spend 5-10 years with a man without a ring? Beats the hell out of me. Everything I’ve ever written tells you to leave a guy who a) never wants to get married or b) doesn’t propose to you in a reasonable amount of time.

Which is a great opportunity for me to distinguish between a man’s reasonable amount of time and a woman’s reasonable amount of time…

It terrifies me to potentially spend 2 years with a man without a ring. How am I supposed to know which is which? I can completely empathize with your fear. Millions of relationships have endured for far too long, even though they were dead ends. Especially when they’re dead ends. Once you’ve sunk enough time into anything, it’s hard to walk away, even if the relationship isn’t right. So my contention isn’t that it’s easy to be in a relationship when there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. It’s difficult and scary and insecure and all those other feelings you associate with being in limbo. My contention is simply that waiting, investing, and being vulnerable is the BEST way to find love. At the very least, it’s far superior to being fearful and insecure, to the point that you break up with a marriage-oriented man after four months because he can’t guarantee you a ring.

Once again, I’m not basing this on my personal feelings about this. I’m basing this on common principles of human behavior: the way things ARE instead of how we WANT them to be.

My contention is simply that waiting, investing, and being vulnerable is the BEST way to find love.

Sure, it’s scary to be with a guy for 24 months and not have a ring. But the only way you GET the ring is by investing 24 months and being the kind of woman that he can’t imagine living without. If you start to make waves about how nervous you are after three months, six months, one year, etc… you’re putting a lot of pressure on the man before HE’S ready to make his decision.

And that’s the one thing that the Rori followers almost universally did NOT seem to get — that 50% of the relationship is about what HE wants. I know Rori’s message is about female empowerment, having confidence, etc. But if you’re tone deaf to your partner’s needs, you’re going to find yourself without a partner.

Same as the guy who tries too hard to get laid on the first date.

Same as the guy who thinks it’s fair that you pick up the check because you wrote to him online and make more money.

Same as the guy who never wants to hear about your day and only wants to talk about his…

This may or may not be a bad guy — but his refusal to understand your needs means that he will probably alienate you and lose the prospect of dating you.

And just because YOU want him to know that he wants to marry you within eight months doesn’t mean that HE’s going to know.

Case in point: I have five close friends who have gotten married in the past three years.

We are all college educated, literate, six-figure earners. We are readers, we are sports fans, and we dream of having families. We’re very comfortable around women, yet none of us would be termed an “alpha male”. We’re nice Jewish boys.

Every single one of these men — all GREAT catches — waited 3 years before proposing. Three of them even have older wives — 40, 41 years old — just like I do.

Why did it take so long?

Because they take marriage very seriously.

Because they didn’t want to make a huge mistake.

Because they really wanted to be POSITIVE before buying a diamond ring.

And if dating for two years, moving in together, and proposing when they felt it was right meant that the men felt confident going into their marriage, it seems to me that all five women who did it “my way” by playing it cool ended up WINNING.

They got married. They got the guys they wanted.

By playing it cool, not getting consumed by insecurity, and trusting that the man that you love does NOT want to hurt you, you allow him to choose you on his timetable, instead of putting pressure on him to choose before he’s ready.

However, the ONLY way that all of us got married was because our girlfriends DIDN’T start dating other men when we were together.

If they DID start dating other men when we were together, the relationships would have been undermined — and, likely, destroyed. CDing wouldn’t make me feel closer to my wife. It wouldn’t make me feel like like I was losing my soulmate. It would make me feel like I’m losing someone who has no respect for my timetable, and is making a threat that is completely tone-deaf to my needs.

By playing it cool, not getting consumed by insecurity, and trusting that the man that you love does NOT want to hurt you, you allow him to choose you on his timetable, instead of putting pressure on him to choose before he’s ready.

So even though the idea behind Rori’s Circular Dating is to establish self-love and healthy boundaries, dating other men when you have a good, marriage-oriented boyfriend is simply NOT EFFECTIVE. And if you don’t have a good, marriage-oriented boyfriend, I submit that you should break up with him. Who knows? Maybe that’s the only difference between Rori and me.

Taken to its extreme — which is what I’m talking about here – Circular Dating is a fear-based mechanism to protect women from commitmentphobes — yet it will alienate any man who is rightfully wants to take his time to figure out if he wants to spend the rest of his life with you.

To sum up, you should date around all you want until you have a boyfriend.
But once you have a boyfriend, the ONLY way to make it a healthy relationship is to TRUST. Your fears about wasting time only indicate that you believe that he is not a good enough man to want what is best for both of you.

You know the only guy among my friends who got engaged before 3 years? Me.

Of course, that’s because I’m a sensitive guy who spends every waking second listening to women’s needs and the last thing I wanted to do was waste my wife’s biological clock on my inner turmoil. After proposing to her in 16 months (half the time of my friends’ courtships, twice as long as most Rori fans seem to think it should take), I still wasn’t “positive”. But since I’d dated hundreds of women, and coached thousands more, I figured I was making a highly informed decision about my future. It turned out to be the right one and we’re the happiest couple we know.

Yet if a man had a marriage go bust, has been burned by relationships before, or has very little experience with women, so that he doesn’t really know WHAT he’s looking for, it will take him a LONG TIME to figure out if he wants to marry you.

I implore you, from the bottom of my heart, to allot him that time.

He’s a good man. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He just wants to be sure.

Playing it cool certainly doesn’t guarantee marriage, but it DOES maximize your chance of marriage.

And, as a dating coach for women, that’s really what I’m here for — to help you make good, informed decisions that will be effective in landing the man of your dreams.

Whether you’ve been reading me for a long time, or if you’re a Rori fan who just came over here for the first time today, I hope that my intentions are clear:

I’m YOUR advocate. I speak on YOUR behalf, not on behalf of men.

But just like a man can’t have a successful relationship if he’s ignoring your needs, you can’t have a successful relationship and ignore what your man is thinking.

I hope you’ll highly consider this respectful rebuttal from an informed male perspective and we can all go back to finding love once again.

Warmest wishes,

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 361
    Valerie

    EXTREMELY well-said !!!!!  I agree 100% with Evan’s article, and I am a woman.  Very refreshing to hear a guy stand up and stop the madness.

  2. 362
    Suzanne Bonham

    Hi Evan I’m with you, this doesn’t feel right AT ALL. I would feel awfully uncomfortable doing that.

  3. 363
    Jessanna Jones

    Here here, Evan! While I love a ton of RR philosophies CD AFTER becoming exclusive is dumb. If a man is NOT acting like your his GF and treating you like one (Men speak the language of actions not merely words) then yes, release yourself from the relationship. (Be willing to walk away) and start rotating. However, IF he is actually a GOOD BF and wants marriage- ENJOY IT!!
    I have to state this: Just because you are married does NOT guarantee you stay together- hell even having children being married won’t guarantee it!! (Take it from me) SO let us put more emphasis on the QUALITY of the relationship, not titles! (BF, Husband, etc) Are you both choosing each other each and every day? Are both of you putting the relationship before your own selfish wants? Are you both showing up, doing the work, and growing together? Are you both nurturing the relationship and maintaining a healthy sense of self!? Are you both your own whole person, bringing your best to the relationship? This is what it is about. Not some socially constructed title. In the end, the title is not what keeps you together for the long haul, it’s the investment in each other and the relationship. Checking out and dating others in that time is not positively contributing to relational health- unless it’s an open relationship… and that is a whole other can of worms.
    So, in conclusion, don’t be so easily locked down, but if you are in an exclusive relationship, enjoy it and be HAPPY and fulfilled in your life apart from the relationship!

  4. 364
    Keisha

    This all brings me to the conclusion that women should just stop being desperate for marriage. Just stop it.

  5. 365
    uma

    There is a blind spot to the argument: Circular Dating is not fair to the devoted, consistent, committed boyfriend – and may in fact divert him from ever marrying you.

    My understanding of Circular Dating is that it allows a woman to consistently seek out good quality men, without getting stuck on situations or debilitating feelings. In Circular Dating the focus of attention is on the Divine Feminine. She is the standard that men are attempting to meet. When men do not pursue her with this intensity in mind they will fall out of her rotation.

    My personal belief is that all men and women are innately good. The men who are falling out of rotation are not any less than the men who are pursuing her, but they may not be in the mindset to do so. Or simply put, not invested enough to go further. This does not make them any less of a prospective husband/partner. They may enter the rotation again at any time when they feel ready or compelled to do so.

    Hence, you use Circular Dating as a tool to narrow down your best options. Once a guy commits to you in a symbolic way assuring you that you are both on a mutually desired path, whether it is marriage or otherwise, you retire the Circular Rotation.

    If a woman feels that the man is at any point withdrawing from his initial commitment – she has a right to ensure that she is still on her desired path and she may use Circular Dating to do so.

    Patience, loyalty, and trust are a non-negotiable foundation in a committed monogamous relationship.

    However, a woman can discern a difference between a boyfriend and a fiancee – this is the blind spot in your argument.

    A Rori Raye student or coach will differentiate these two – the Boyfriend and the Fiancee.

    A woman committed to marriage is not looking for a boyfriend. When she chooses a fiancee, he is a symbolic stepping stone to marriage – there is no ifs or buts on the course of their relationship.

    Their coming together is on the understanding that they are both pursuing marriage. They can both walk away at any point, just like in a marriage. In that sense, Circular Dating does not assure absolutes, it just helps a woman make more empowered decisions.

    Consequently, a boyfriend comes with a vastly different set of expectations. As a boyfriend, no man is obligated to move into marriage. If a boyfriend is unsure of marriage or marrying the woman, than he is a RISK to a marriage-seeking woman.

    And if a boyfriend feels his beloved should not explore her options while he is unsure of himself – he is only being selfish.

    This would not be a concern in a fiancee relationship because both parties are committed to marriage, but want to ensure they mitigate any unknowns and develop their relationship over a period of time before committing further.

    The bottom-line, a woman with an uncommitted man is not in a committed relationship.

    A marriage-seeking woman has a right to mitigate risk in this situation by utilizing Circular Dating.

    If you are looking at this from a woman’s vantage point – you will understand that this is an opportunity for her to find a better man. And there always is a better man from an abundance mindset. Likewise, a woman never becomes a victim of her life circumstances by employing Circular Dating.

    There are exceptions to this, as everything else:
    – If there are new circumstances that come into light that require a pause and not circular dating – ie. the fiancee needs to leave his job to move to another country, one of them falls terribly ill, or other life altering factors.
    – If the couple decide they do not want marriage – then he can remain as a boyfriend and remain unsure of the next step.

    I am sure there will be other exceptional factors where Circular Dating may not be favorable or frowned upon, however, I can’t think of any more right now.

    I hope this demonstrates what I mean by exceptions – and why your argument is missing a key differentiating element – the boyfriend vs. fiancee.

  6. 366
    deni oenyak

    Evan,you clearly suffer the same problem
    most men do. You don’t listen,. Rory advises against the whole “boyfriend” theory and she is right. Renting me out exclusively while you decide whether you want me permanently only serves the male. Either i date., or im married, there is no boyfriend renting me, if he wants me exclusively, then he marries me, otherwise, we both daye and do whatever we want. No games, no being coy, how condescending by the way, your article does no service to women, only player men……..

    1. 366.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Oy.

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