The Secret to Keeping a Man: Forget the Future, Enjoy the Present


When you’re on the phone with women for 4 hours a day, you tend to hear a lot of recurring themes.

One of the most prominent themes is a “high-class” problem; in other words, if you’re having this issue, it means you’re doing very well with men.

Maureen and Cassie could not be more different as people, but they both have the agonizing problem of finding a man who absolutely adores them after less than one month of one-on-one coaching.

Immediately, our conversations turn from, “Why are there no good men out there?!” to “How can I calm down and make sure I don’t ruin it with this great guy?”

Both of them, unfortunately, had it quite backwards.

Because of their own fear — of being abandoned, of being not-good-enough, of being too old, too rigid, too masculine — they seriously ran the risk of alienating their new men.

Until I reminded them of a core principle in “Why He Disappeared”: men do what they want to do.

If we want to call you, we’ll call you.

If we want to introduce you to our family, we’ll introduce you to our family.

If we want to take down our profiles and commit, we’ll do it.

Which is why, when Maureen and Cassie breathlessly asked me to tell them what to do next, the answer couldn’t be more simple: NOTHING!!!

“Doing something” means you’re trying to keep your emotional tether alive, to nudge him into calling you, seeing you, committing to you.

The great thing about men is this: We don’t need to be nudged!

But the great thing about men is this: We don’t need to be nudged!

So when it’s been 10 hours and you haven’t gotten a reply to his text, you let it go.

When it’s Thursday night and he hasn’t called to see you on Saturday, you let it go.

It’s three weeks into dating and his profile’s up, you let it go.

Why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to call him, text him, and see him so he doesn’t lose interest in you?

Nope. All you do when you “nudge” a man to take action is let him know that he’s in control, you’re desperate and needy, and that you don’t trust that he knows what’s good for him.

The truth is, if you’re the right woman for him, you don’t NEED to nudge him.

Remember what it’s like when a guy’s excited about you?

The RIGHT guy steps up to the plate and commits to you in the first couple of months. The WRONG guy never escalates his efforts.

He calls, he follows through, he’s thoughtful, he’s chivalrous, he’s gentlemanly, he WANTS a commitment with you.

But sometimes it takes a few weeks for us to figure all of that out for ourselves.

Remember, men like to “buy”. We don’t want to be “sold”.

Anything you do to amp up the pressure for him to make a decision is just going to drive him away — the exact OPPOSITE reaction you want from your man.

But that leaves you with the same burning question: “what should I DO, Evan?”

Ah, the answer couldn’t be simpler:

Make your PRESENT so amazing that he WANTS to have a FUTURE with you.

It’s not about finding out in week 1 whether he wants to live in the city or the country, or hoping he says “I love you” by week 4.

Those are things you’ll deal with later.

For now, just have fun.

Laugh. Say yes. Be easygoing. Smile. Fool around. Enjoy the moment.

You never have more leverage over a man than when he’s CHOSEN you of his own accord, when he’s EMOTIONALLY INVESTED in you because he FEELS so happy every time he’s around you.

And if he’s receiving texts that say, “Where are you?!” or late night calls that plead, “Where is this going?”, you’re not making him feel too good in the present.

My wife was ALWAYS in the present and that’s why she’s my wife. Because she enhances my life and doesn’t provide emotional drama when it’s unnecessary.

Since he CAN’T know after a few weeks whether you’re “the one”, just relax and enjoy the ride. The RIGHT guy steps up to the plate and commits to you in the first couple of months. The WRONG guy never escalates his efforts.

It’s REALLY easy to tell the difference so you don’t invest more than 8 weeks in a relationship that’s a dead-end.

But in order to get a relationship off the ground, you HAVE to put off all fears, all nudging, and all thoughts of your future and just ENJOY the present.

He’ll know what to do next. I promise.

Join our conversation (109 Comments).
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  1. 1

    As always, the person with the most power in a relationship is the one who cares the least. By caring whether or not someone calls or texts you right away, you’re putting yourself in a weaker position.

    Note that it’s possible to care for someone without caring about the little details, like how soon s/he calls you back.

  2. 2

    Evan — I agree – the best thing to do, particularly early in the dating stage, is to relax. They should also keep in mind that they are in the position of doing the choosing as well. Rather than getting caught up in the excitement of being chosen and feeling wanted, they need to remember that it’s a two way street, and keep a clear head so that they can avoid going too far down the path with a guy that’s just not the right one for them. There’s no way they can know that this guy’s “the one” yet either!

    So instead of letting their insecurities get the best of them, they is actually something the can “do” – live their own lives. Enjoy the dates with the men, enjoy the interactions with them (the phone calls, texts, etc.), but in between those dates and interactions, get out and do the things they enjoy — live life. Follow their passions. Spend time with people they love and care about. Try new things. This will keep them from getting stuck in their own heads thinking too much and overanalyzing the whole situation, which can make women make bad decisions.

    1. 2.1

      -Very- well said!

    2. 2.2

      I totally agree with you Jane.

    3. 2.3

      You’ve totally hit the nail on the head there!! Well said Jane

  3. 3

    Evan, this is so spot on. My girlfriend, I’ll call her Lisa, has been dating someone for almost five years. He moved back to the Midwest where he is from, almost three years ago, she’s been here in the Washington DC area. So it has been long distance for 3 years. He had never, ever brought up the subject really, of the future, until she asked, last year. For the last year, he has stalled, put off a decision, won’t talk to her.

    I’ve been trying to tell her this, that if he were Mr. Right, he’d not have waited around for five years to do something about their future. He’d have put a ring on her finger a couple of years ago.

    I wish she’d read this article and realize what’s up. My heart aches, when I watch her go through this, when she could be done with this and just end it with him. If I were in her shoes, I certainly would.

    Me, I’ve been dating somebody for four months, and he brought up the subject of marriage in general, and I made it perfectly clear that I am in no rush, and not a girl who’s going to flip out if I don’t have a ring in 9 months. Ick. I figure I will let him make the moves. And if he doesn’t, well after the 3 year mark, I will have to let him know then, that continuing to date with no end in sight is not acceptable. But until then, I’m just enjoying the now, and see what happens.

    1. 3.1

      Great story Heather! Thank you for this!

      1. 3.1.1

        i also like that history

    2. 3.2

      Thanks for the write-up

  4. 4

    @ Joe:

    Bingo. I heard that line in a movie and realized I needed to adopt more of that attitude. I’ve developed much more of a “Whatever, I don’t care what you guys do, I’m good, no matter what” attitude. It’s saved me a lot of heartache. Because if I care the most, I’m the one with the least amount of power, and more likely to get hurt. And I’m not going to put myself in that position again.

  5. 5

    There is something off about this “don’t care at all” shift in the conversation. I actually agree with what Evan said here (shocker, eh?). And I don’t think he is saying “adopt a don’t care attitude.” What I hear him saying is lighten up, enjoy yourself, stop projecting far into the future, and experience dating as dating.

    Dating isn’t about a power play. It’s not a war, although a lot of people seem to act like it is. It’s about learning about the other person, seeing if you can get along, can have fun together, and are supportive of each other on a basic level.

    When Evan says “let it go” to those thing he listed, I’d add “and pay attention.” Instead of prodding and pushing, you just notice if that missed call or text matters in the big scheme of things. Whether there’s a pattern of not caring, or whether it’s just that the guy shows care differently. The reality is that much of the time, we’re caught in judging every last move we don’t like as a sign that someone isn’t “into us” or is “an ass.” It’s that instant judgement, and an impatience around defining the relationship, that keeps people from enjoying dating, and also paying attention enough to make a good decision when the time comes to.

    1. 5.1
      Pepper Tan

      I like what you said, “just notice if that missed call or text matters in the big scheme of things”. Oftentimes, I use that as a yardstick to see if he measures up. I forget to see the other things he does which prove his love for me.

    2. 5.2

      Couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂

    3. 5.3


      I totally agree. In past relationships, I realize now, I pushed and overthought every move. I am at a different stage in life now, after having been through relationships that just did not work. Truth is dating should be fun. Why rush something that is natural? Don’t we want to know we are with the right person for us so we don’t waste our energy later trying to “work” out out differences? I have seen such a difference in my dating life once I stopped asking and pushing for answers. I realize that my over thinking is not healthy and started questioning myself and realized there is no point in rushing things. I don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over. According to Einstein the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

      Letting go is one of the biggest lessons to learn in this life. Thanks for the read Evan.

  6. 6

    If your dating a guy and he does not text back or even if your not dating a person and they don’t text back, isn’t that a clear indication that they are not that into you or they have other blockers in their life that make a relationship with you impossible? If two people like each other it will flow and the obsessive contact shouldn’t be necessary. As an older person I don’t understand the “rush” some people have towards marriage. There is time and if it is going to happen then be patient because even if you marry there is no guarantee it will last.

    1. 6.1

      I agree with this: ” and they don’t text back, isn’t that a clear indication that they are not that into you?” YES.

      I know this because when I don’t text back a guy, it’s because I’m not that into him. It is no different with men. People want to stay in contact with others they are interested in. I think “chill out” and have no expectations is a sneaky way of saying “put up with it”.

      If you often find yourself on the receiving end of silence when you contact a man, and you stick around. You are allowing him to devalue you, I truly believe that.

      1. 6.1.1

        I absolutely agree with you…
        If I send someone a text that  means I am speaking to that person. Hopefully he will have the courtesy to speak back.   If not then, I get it.  I’m the type of person who has absolutely no pblm letting you know if I don’t think it will work out between us…
        You can inform a person of anything you need  them to  know. There’s always a respectful way to say anything to anybody, but ignoring someone is never  respectful. Be grown enough to be strong enough to let  me know.  

        1. JoeK

          “If they don’t text back”

          Part of the problem as I see it is problem definition: what exactly does “if they don’t text back” mean? Two minutes? Ten minutes? Ten hours? Never?
          There are some text messages to which I may never reply – didn’t see till hours later (phone didn’t chirp, or I was engrossed in something, etc), or because I have nothing to say to it. Context matters, content matters, how busy someone’s life is matters (i.e. work is hectic so little time to even look at phone), or simply differing expectations about communication styles.
          Mind, I’m not making excuses – these are all judgement calls based on each of us knowing the personality/communication style of those we communicate with. Especially early on, it would be a mistake to assume too much about a single instance of no reply. Heck, even today it’s not uncommon for me to never receive a text, and have people ask why I didn’t reply!
          I guess what I’m saying is it’s in our best interests to verify what’s going on before we make decisions.


    2. 6.2

      Not necessarily. There was a guy who I was in the initial stages of dating who I wouldn’t always respond to, because I felt like there was nothing to text back and I new in the back of my head that he will just text me again another day. When we would text a lot I also noticed that there was less to say when we actually did see each other, because we texted each other about it already. And my lack of texts had nothing to do with my level in interest in him, because I was very attractive to him and felt like I could be with him long-term.

      There’s a new guy I’m seeing now and we both aren’t big on texting at all, unless to make plans. But when I see him it’s always a great experience and when I think about him I feel positive despite the lack of communication when we’re away. So I think texting as an indicator of interest really depends, because some people just honestly don’t text much.

  7. 7

    Never were truer words spoken (or written). My current beau and I have been dating for two glorious years. I would have totally messed up the relationship had I not purchased and devoured “Why He Disappeared” word for word. Men truly do what they want. The beauty in my relationship is that HE wanted to commit to me, and now, HE wants to marry me. We have a private joke that the only reason we are not engaged is because every Saturday morning, I am headed off to perform community service instead of headed off to a local jewelry store to look at rings – as HE has requested. I did not have to push, nudge, threaten, or deliver one single ultimatum. HE arrived at the conclusion that he wanted me to be his wife. We are both professionals in our late thirties, and this will be a first (and hopefully only) marriage for both of us. Thanks, Evan. I will send you a pic from our wedding day. Guess I need to make time to clear my Saturday schedule soon!

  8. 8

    This says it all. Very good article and advise.

  9. 9

    I agree with both Evan AND Joe.

  10. 10
    Karl R

    I have to agree with nathan (#5). Even though Joe (#1) is technically correct, he’s still wrong.

    Five years ago I went on a first date with someone I met on She had five pictures that looked like four different people (three of those people weren’t attractive). I was ambivalent about the first date before it started. I was less enthusiastic when I met her face-to-face. When she opened her mouth and started to talk, I lost all interest in her.

    She was clearly interested in me, clearly attracted to me, and clearly wanted the date to go well. Joe correctly noted that I had ALL the power in that relationship.

    And I had NO desire to exercise it.

    If I have a relationship that I don’t care about, with a partner I don’t care about, have I achieved anything? If your goal is to be the one with the power, that’s the “prize” you end up with.

  11. 11

    This couldn’t be timelier for me. I have been dating a great guy for the past 6 weeks, he calls and texts every day like clockwork, he makes plans every friday. We spend most of last weekend and its terrific. Ever since the weekend I have become anxious and have texted him during the day. I needed this as a gentle nudge to relax and enjoy getting to know him.

  12. 12

    I think there will always be an imbalance of power in favour of the man in the early stages of dating, for one simple reason: women don’t date people they are not seriously interested in. Men, apparently, do. For a guy to even get to date 2 with a woman, she has to be pretty interested. For a woman to get to date 2 with a man, all she has to do is be someone he could stomach having sex with…and apparently most men can stomach having sex with pretty much any woman with a pair of boobs and the use of all 4 limbs!
    My point is this: whether you call or not, text or not, act cool or not, he already KNOWS you’re into him….or else you wouldn’t agree to see him at all. As for us gals, it takes a lot longer to know if a guy is into us, since even the ones who aren’t into us will happily date us for a while if they think they might get to have sex. I am an advocate of the “do nothing” school of thought, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this give you any power – it doesn’t!

    1. 12.1

      SPOT ON!!!

    2. 12.2

      That’s not true.. A lot of women don’t get to date 2 with men if the man isn’t interested. Some women are stupid and desperate to think they can win a man by using their bodies as weapons so they sleep with them on the first date. So duhh he doesn’t need to go any further.. The point is whatever is going to happen with the relationship will happen regardless. We Women just need to know our worth and have confidence to know that we’re worth everything we seek in a relationship. If the guy won’t “buy” it’s his loss 😉

    3. 12.3

      I agree that “don’t care” doesn’t give you any power.   If he likes you but you are cool and detatched or aloof, he will lose interest.   Nothing we do would give us “power” anyway.   We only have power over ourselves.   But be able to walk away if you have to.

  13. 13

    Helene, you are absolutely right, except I’d change the threshold from second date to fourth since I try to be open minded even with guys I’m not attracted to for the first couple times they ask me out. I used to always Feel like I was the one disproportionately rejected until realizing I wrong date or sleep with guys I don’t like, I just reject them from the very beginning when there is zero emotional investment. It seems do unfair that women have to deal with rejection after feelings are already involved.

  14. 14
    Karl R

    helene said: (#12)
    “women don’t date people they are not seriously interested in. Men, apparently, do. For a guy to even get to date 2 with a woman, she has to be pretty interested. For a woman to get to date 2 with a man, all she has to do is be someone he could stomach having sex with…”

    How do you decide that you’re seriously interested in someone whom you’ve only known for a few hours?

    Perhaps you’re sabotaging your efforts by trying to make a serious decision with a trivial amount of data.

    At the end of the first date, I’m well aware that I’ve only learned a trivial amount about the woman. I’m not in a position to make a serious decision about her. Therefore I limit myself to two trivial decisions:
    1. Is she attractive enough to have sex with?
    2. Is she sufficiently fun to be worth spending a few more hours with?

    I’ll wait until I actually get to know her before I decide whether she’s a keeper.

    I know some women who haven’t put such high expectations on the second date. One woman went out with me, but didn’t expect things to progress past the first date or two. It ended up being her longest relationship at that time and only ended because we had incompatible long-term goals. She later told me, “I didn’t expect that I’d actually *like* you.” Talk about low expectations.

    It was a great relationship while it lasted. And it happened because she actually took the time to figure out whether she liked me before saying “No.”

    Another woman had NO interest in a serious relationship with me. She told me that to my face. (I wasn’t strongly considering a serious relationship with her, so I wasn’t particular bothered by this statement.) But she thought a fling might be fun (and implied as much to me). So we enjoyed each other’s company and got to know each other better.

    She’s now my fiancée.

    You don’t have to start out with a fling in order to enjoy the present. (I don’t even recommend it.) Laughter and conversation are sufficient. But let me put this more strongly than Evan did.

    You’re making STUPID decisions. You’re trying to plan for the next several years during the first few HOURS.

    Kick back and enjoy the first few dates. Take the time to learn something about the person you’re dating. If you turn out to be a bad match for each other, you can dump him a few weeks down the road.

  15. 15

    Another way I try to make sure the guy is a good fit is to not try to play hard to get or feel like I can’t initiate contact once in awhile in the first couple months. I want the guy to like ME, not the chase, so I’ll call or text back reasonably quickly and initiate a call once in awhile. I totally agree with a lot of what Evan says but think some of this is flexible, that said the guy needs to be making an effort to ask you out and follow up.

  16. 16

    Now you sound like Rori Raye!! Except you make much more sense! I love your articles, Evan!
    However I think that it is impossible to know someone well enough to tell if it is a dead end in 8 weeks! There is so much to know about a person to determine if a relationship is worth investing in and there is no way 8 weeks even skims the top of the surface for that! I dated my fiance for 3 years before we got engaged. And we are having a long engagement before marriage because we both want to be SURE before we commit to a lifelong commitment. Our nation’s divorce rates stagger high because too many people make decisions too fast and then do not want to live with those decisions. People need to slow down and stop rushing things. Why hurry? You have the rest of your life to enjoy life with your partner!
    Which includes not rushing the process in the beginning of a relationship and just float on getting to know each other and enjoying the moment. This really is an excellent article that more people need to grasp.

  17. 17

    SusanC #16

    The 8 weeks time frame bothers me too. As long as the relationship is growing and you both are getting closer, who cares if it takes 6 weeks or 12 weeks to get there? I’ve had men rush into a relationship – or sex – with me very quickly, only to get spooked and run away after a brief time. In many ways, I think that slow and steady is a better model in the long term.

  18. 18

    @Helene #12 ” I think there will always be an imbalance of power in favour of the man in the early stages of dating”

    Really? Tell me how much power I have while I’m on a second date with a woman who’s getting 30 responses a day on Match to my 2 or 3 a week? Guess who has more “power”. The one with the most options of course and it’s not me or most men online unless of course they’re in that top 1% which most men aren’t.

    “Women don’t date people they’re not seriously interested in.”

    Yes a lot of them do. I’ve dated several women over the years who were casual daters and very ambivalent towards me and men in general unless they found “Mr.Whatever they’re looking for” and they were only too happy to casually “date around” in the meantime.

    As for me? I date women I’m not “seriously interested” in most of the time because the ones I would be seriously interested in won’t date me. So rather than be alone and celibate I have to casually date. It is what it is.

    1. 18.1

      @ JB #18
      You can make a difference when you choose:)
      and @karl R i strongly agree  

  19. 19

    But I have no idea how many guys in that 30 messages are looking for a one night stand or booty call. So you rake through all the profiles trying to find the least obviously sex oriented that you find attractive. Go on a couple dates (and for me after a couple dates I don’t know if I want to date you for years but I do know I want to date you exclusively for a while to figure it out.) So then there is this awful waiting game where I am completely powerless just waiting to find out if I’m rejected or not. The man in question regardless of my relationship potential is probably still saying what I want to hear and jumping through the standard dating hoops because he wants to get laid. And your probably dating a couple guys at once so anxiety magnified a couple times over. And generally for me being rejected in rapid in secession by multiple men I would consider dating generally is exhausting. All those messages in profile just drain the life out of me.  

  20. 20

    @ Karl  #10:
    I don’t get in your post where you think I’m wrong.   You did have all the power in that relationship (which I assume was brief, since I would expect you to not see that woman again).   My statement made no qualifications regarding achievement, only imbalance of power.   The imbalance may be small (the woman was interested enough to see you a second time but not sleep with you yet) or great (you could have had your way with  her on that first date even though you weren’t interested in continuing the “relationship”).

    1. 20.1

      Being the one to care the least only gives you power over you unless she is willing to be in such an arrangement.   If she has the ability to walk away and move on, even knowing you will not follfollow after her, you have ceased to have the power.

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