The Most Important Dating Advice You’ll Ever Hear — Don’t Do Anything

young couple on a date, drinking wine


I am a 33 year old single woman. I seem to always attract “great guys”, and we always have a lot of fun. But anytime I want to gently “clarify” what he wants (kids, family) nearly each and every guy I’ve dated shies away. I don’t think I come across as “easy”, and I am intelligent and take care of myself. However, I can never seem to transition properly from the “fun” woman to the “long-term” relationship woman, as the intelligent, loving partners I have had don’t seem comfortable ever talking about a future.

What can I do? I am so tired of feeling as though I am doing this all wrong in my attempts to find a real partner for the past 13 years. Your help is greatly appreciated as I am currently seeing another great guy. We’ve been seeing each other for just over a month now. He’s flown me to Bermuda to meet his parents, and  I’ve also met his friends, who have apparently given me the “okay”.  Meantime, I’m still going out with friends and about to go on two dates (that I really don’t want to go on but I’ve been told you’re supposed to “date”).

How can I broach the subject so my mind can be clear that he and I exclusive or not? Do I have to wait until he broaches the subject or can I? I am so tired of “games”, but I know it’s a game for the rest of my life even if I become a wife. Ugh.

Help and thank you in advance.


I appreciate your sincerity and your desire to have a serious relationship. Your questions are among the most common questions that I get. Truly, what you’re going through is universal, and you’re not wrong to feel frustrated. Which is why I hope you don’t mind when I tell you to just take a deep breath and chill. All your answers will be revealed in due time.

First, a basic fact that you need to get, deep in your bones

Men reveal themselves in their efforts.

Nothing else they do matters.

Which is why you can have an incredible first date which doesn’t lead to a second date.

If he refuses to let you go, you have your husband. If he lets you leave, you have your freedom.

Or a best friend/fuck buddy who doesn’t want to make a commitment.

Or a two-year-relationship that doesn’t result in marriage.

In other words, he can be attracted to you, want to be in love, dream of having children, and yet be perfectly content biding his time with you for a year until he finds the woman he does want to marry. You may say he’s using you. Maybe. Maybe not. But as long as you’re both happy in the relationship, does it really matter?

I can almost hear you screaming, “Yes! Yes, it matters! I want to find love, my biological clock is ticking, I feel all this pressure, and I don’t want to waste my child-bearing years with some jackass who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘shit or get off the pot’!”

Very well, then. Leave him.

Voila. You have your answer.

If he refuses to let you go, you have your husband. If he lets you leave, you have your freedom.

This is far easier said than done, of course. You actually have to have the guts to leave a no-win situation, and many women do not. They’d rather stay in a safe dead-end relationship than be alone. Which is fair. But you can’t blame a guy when you turn 42 and he hasn’t proposed to you after 6 years. You can only blame yourself.

But that doesn’t really apply to you, Robyn. You’ve been seeing a guy for a month and you want clarity. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait too long to get it. Because, as I said above: the answer will be revealed to you. All you have to do is wait. This is the crux of this article, if not my entire dating philosophy for women.

Don’t do anything.

Seriously. That’s it. “Don’t do anything.”

As a woman, you just have to sit back and let him do what he wants.

He wants to meet you; he has to approach you. You say yes.

He wants to plan a first date; he has to ask you out in advance. You say yes.

He wants to kiss you; he has to make a first move. You say yes.

He wants to see you a second time; he calls the next day. You say yes.

He wants to check-in during the week to tell you he’s thinking of you; you take his calls. You say yes.

You don’t have to DO anything. Just see what he does, and say yes.

He wants to take you on a weekend away and introduce you to his friends. You say yes.

He wants to sleep with you; he offers a condom. You say yes.

He wants to commit to you and become exclusive. You say yes.

You see what I mean? You don’t have to DO anything. Just see what he does, and say yes.

If he doesn’t do anything, you have your answer.

This is the single simplest way to understand how to deal with men, and yet women drive themselves nuts.

You try to learn what “games” to play, or how to “figure men out”, or “how to make him commit” to you. It’s all bullshit. There’s nothing to know beyond what we’re DOING.

If we want to call, we’ll call. If we want to commit, we’ll commit. If we want to marry you, we’ll ask you. And if we don’t call, don’t commit, and don’t propose to you (all in a reasonable amount of time), then guess what? We’re not going to. We’re just going to continue with our happy, low-stakes status quo that you so generously allow.

Your only leverage when the time is right? Leave. Say that you need to know you’re investing in a future. And since it’s pretty clear after three months that he doesn’t want to see you more than once a week, you’re gonna have to cut him off. The end. Buh-bye.

Most women don’t take this approach. You speak too soon, or you don’t speak at all.

Maybe you won’t say anything because you know that if you do, the relationship will end. That’s exactly how you can desire marriage but stay in a five-year relationship without a ring. Silence is golden; it doesn’t rock the boat. And yet, you never get what you want.

Then there are women who want answers now. And you ask so many questions that you scare men, and sabotage your own relationships. If my 38-year-old fiancé had done that after a month or three, we wouldn’t be getting married. She was cool enough to allow me to choose her, instead of forcing my hand. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

It’s not easy to be the “cool” chick, Robyn. I understand. But your relationship pattern is no accident. And it’s really easy to break. If you want to know what to do in the future, just follow this very simple paradigm:

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

There’s nothing else to think about.

Join our conversation (152 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21

    Welcome back Evan. I hope you had a fantastic honeymoon in Thailand.
    Love the advice you gave today. So crisp and cristal clear and so simple. That is just what I needed to read.

  2. 22

    @Jennifer and @Honey: Maybe it’s time for people to think about separating the act of “marriage” from the ceremony of a “wedding”. Just because they’ve traditionally occurred simultaneously doesn’t mean there’s no alternative but to wait until you’ve saved up tons of cash.

    You can spend a few bucks to get married right now down at the courthouse; and then keep working together on the financial situation until you can afford the wedding of your dreams within a few years. (Hey, those lower taxes as a married couple will help with the savings plan!)

    I personally can’t imagine loving someone enough to want to marry them, and then letting my desire for a big wedding ceremony stand as a barrier to that. Yes, it’s nice to have a beautiful memory, the photo album, and that slice of wedding cake stored in the freezer, but when you get right down to it, what truly matters is the marriage, not the wedding.

    Just some food for thought. 🙂

  3. 23
    The InBetweener

    I HAVE to echo Ben on this one. Especially on the balancing thing.
    Otherwise, SOME men MIGHT see a “woman” as being childish.
    The “tit for tat” attitude doesn’t really work.
    If you like him, feel free to pursuit him in any way that you like. Why waste time waiting for HIM to ask YOU anything when you could be GOING AFTER what you want.

    1. 23.1
      Konnect Life

      Usually, if a woman starts doing anything that could be misconstrued as lack of interest (including not reaching out or doing nothing or holding back, etc.), I will start to open my options and start moving towards the woman who is being straightforward, clear, and honest with their feelings towards me. I will focus on the one who shows me their love and gives me the clearest sign that they want me to want them as well.

  4. 24

    It’s nice to see the blog owner check it and start writing again! Thanks! I’m sure your honeymoon was dreamy!

    This advice is pertinent and applicable for me right now. I have to say, it is more the case as I get older that waiting might be the best strategy. It worked quite well for me to initiate things when I was younger, and there was good give-and-take often. I can only boil it down to the men that are older and single perhaps have issues running them more often than in our youth.

    I have one for the blog. There is a man I contacted in a town about 2.5 hours away, as I thought I’d be there shortly. He seemed happy to meet, then I postponed my trip. I will now be passing through over Thanksgiving. Thing is, he has pushed phone calling when I am only interested in e-mailing until I’m there and we need to talk to clarify a time/place to meet. I have explained this and he again sent his phone number, and has not e’d again. I like each stage to feel natural and I’m just not “feeling him” yet, for a phone call. I’ve only see about two paragraphs out of the man. He has not said what his objections/limitations to e-mail are, though I expressed curiosity. I intend to call him when I am in his town, as I said I would. But really, I don’t get it when people are Internet dating, but will not write. Comments? I really do hate it when men insist I call them right off the get go. It feels pushed.


  5. 25

    Evan Marc Katz Nov 20th 2008 at 02:31 pm 15
    Please don’t misunderstand when I write, Say yes. It’s not a mindless rubber stamp to all of his wishes. It means, as a woman, in particular, that you don’t have to DO anything except OBSERVE what he’s doing. If HE makes the effort to move the relationship forward, all you have to do is go along with it; if he doesn’t make the effort, then there is NOTHING to think about


  6. 26

    Moon and Happy Girl,

    Here are my two cents……

    For Moon:
    Based on Evan’s response, you already have your answer. If he has not emailed you again it means that he’s not willing to go at the pace YOU prefer. What does it matter what his objections to emailing are? Why try to figure them out– especially since you asked him and he didn’t tell you. Forget him and move on. The only thing I would ask is this (and I will admit that unlike most women, I don’t like emailing back and forth because I can get a much better idea of what a person is like on the phone), what will it hurt you to talk to this guy on the phone? Thanksgiving is this week and you were planning to meet him. It seems to me that talking to him isn’t all that unreasonable since you were going to see him face to face this week. But if you feel at all like you’ve been pressured to move more quickly than you’d like, then don’t call him and don’t waste anymore time thinking about him either.

    For Happy Girl:
    Three weeks is way more than enough time to have had a face to face with the guy. The next time you talk to him, what I’d suggest you say is this — hey, Bob or whatever his name is, you know I’m really enjoying talking to you and getting to know you so if you asked me out again, I’d definitely say yes (say it will a smile in your voice.) This way, you are giving him a very upfront invitation and letting him decide if he wants to act. If he doesn’t ask you out right then or the next time you talk, he never will so forget him and move on. I actually think Evan would say you already have your answer and forget him now — but since you seem to like him so much, I think a little nudge wouldn’t hurt.

    Good luck, ladies!

  7. 27

    I concur about the call vs. email.

    Some people just aren’t ‘talk on the phone’ people. This is actually much more common amongst younger people than older. You won’t find many men under 30 wanting to call women, all the guys (and most of the gals) will prefer email and text.

    But then again some people aren’t good writers. Sounds like your man isn’t.

    Personally i kinda prefer email. It gives you more time to construct the perfect reply. But a little bit of both is needed when getting to know someone.


  8. 28
    The InBetweener


    “…you know I’m really enjoying talking to you and getting to know you so if you asked me out again, I’d definitely say yes (say it will a smile in your voice.)”

    How about instead of all the HOOP JUMPING, she just ASKS HIM OUT? I mean seriously, do you really need all the extra hoop jumping to want to go out again? Just be a “mature” WOMAN about it and ASK HIM. It’s not high school. C’mon, what’s the worst that could happen? If he says no, THEN you have your answer.

  9. 29

    Hey there,

    Thanks for the responses. I am going to keep my word and call him when I am actually in his town, which, as I said, is about 2.5 hours away. I guess for me, “doing phone,” with someone before meeting is really kind of odd. It can be intimate and over-develop things before you see if you like someone in person. Many of the women here say if they do talk on the phone pre-meeting, it’s a quick 15-20 minutes to check it out and confirm meeting. Which is about what makes sense to me.

    I also work full time and have two college classes and during those hours am not near a phone. I do have a pay-per-use cell that is for emergencies and traveling, but I am not one of those folks you see with a cell glued to my ear, yackking everywhere I go. Quite the opposite.

    But also, I just wasn’t comfortable enough yet. I like a little e dialogue as a warm-up.

    Lol on the reference to texts…got my first one the other night from a neighbor who likes me. It came through as a text-to-voice mail. At nearly midnight, I might add (another good reason I prefer to share my number after people know me–because now they have it!) I think we got that straightened out. He declared, “Oh, sorry, you’re on of those land line people!” Now he knows! Old fashioned, I guess.


  10. 30

    EMK, whatup dog, glad you’re back!

    A month is an awfully short amount of time to get bent out of shape about this stuff. Also, really, he flew you to Bermuda ALREADY to meet the parents?? In four weeks, how many dates/meetups have you had? 6-8? In my book, that’s hardly enough time to get to know someone, and really the gamey part of an early relationship will still be going on. It’s been my experience that 2-3 months is minimal before starting to think about exclusivity. So I guess I like Evan’s advice, do nothing for the moment and let him lead.

  11. 31


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

  12. 32

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

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

    (hoping that made sense)

  13. 33

    Hi Infinity,

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

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


  14. 34

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

  15. 35


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

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

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

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

  16. 36


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

  17. 37

    Hi Cilla,

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

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

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

  18. 38
    Evan Marc Katz

    Hey guys,

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

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

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


  19. 39


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

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

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

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

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


  20. 40

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *