Want to Take Control Of Your Love Life? Let Go Of Control!

man happily carrying his woman at the beach

The one thing I know about you is that you’re smart.

I like smart women.

I’d like to think I’m a smart man and that, if we met in real life, we’d be friends.

The thing with smart people like you and me is that we’re highly analytical.

We don’t think just one step ahead. We think 5 steps ahead.

We can’t help it.

And in most arenas, this is a strength. If you’re in business development, or corporate training, or even if you’re a schoolteacher, the ability to think ahead and control your environment is paramount to your success.

So you learn to ask questions. And you learn to get tough. And you learn to micromanage the details in case someone else makes a mistake.

These are the things you do to cope with the variables of life – you try to control EVERYTHING.

Newsflash: this is the OPPOSITE of what it takes to be successful in love.

If that comes as a surprise to you, I hate to tell you, but there’s a LOT you need to learn about how men function in relationships.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a client. 33 years old, attractive, bright, successful.

We’ve been working together for about four weeks now, and it’s at about this time that things start to really blossom.

Last week, after our coaching call, she had one of the best dates she can remember. And this week, she just wants to make sure she doesn’t mess things up.

Actually, she wants to make sure that HE doesn’t mess things up.

Instead of enjoying this moment, filled with excitement and potential, her mind immediately drifts to, “I don’t want to get hurt by another cute player with potential.”

Has that ever happened to you?

Your first thought after an amazing first date is, “This guy is amazing!” Your second thought is, “How’s this one gonna disappoint me?”

Needless to say, this isn’t the healthiest attitude towards dating. And yet, it’s incredibly common. So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s first start with what NOT to do.

What NOT to do is to dwell on what you can’t control – namely anything that he thinks or does.

What NOT to do is to try and find out answers before he’s ready to provide them. That means no talk about marriage or kids or emotional availability. These are things that he will reveal over time. It is not your job to probe on Date 1 and 2.

What NOT to do is to dwell on what you can’t control – namely anything that he thinks or does. So much time and energy is wasted trying to “interpret” the behaviors of men – what he texted, emailed, said or meant. It doesn’t solve a thing. It just drives you crazy.

What NOT to do is be pro-active. Apart from flirting with him at a party or sending him the first email on Match.com, your entire job afterwards is to be RECEPTIVE.

This is what I mean about letting go of control.

In trying to grip the sand too tightly, you’re letting it slip through your fingers.

In trying to avoid a sad ending, you turn to the last page of the book and ruin the journey.

Dating is a process – one that should be organic.

Look back on the healthiest relationships you’ve had – I trust that there was a natural ease to them – at least at the beginning.

So instead of giving a free pass to the cute guy who showed you a great time on Date 1, but has waited 5 days to follow up, just realize that this action reveals his state of mind.

He’s either too busy for a relationship, too busy with other women, or not that interested in you. It really doesn’t matter which.

Why? Because his actions have nothing to do with you!

And if his actions have nothing to do with you, you have no control.

So when you send him an email and write “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in awhile,” or send him a text that says, “Miss me?” or give him the phone call that says, “Where is this relationship going?” you’re sabotaging the natural dating process.

In the natural dating process, the man who is excited about you SHOWS you he’s excited by making an effort to see you soon, call you frequently, and become exclusive.

Your next move is NOTHING.

If he’s not doing so, there’s nothing to figure out, interpret, or do. Just realize that you’re Ms. Right Now, he’s Mr. Right Now, and you should start looking for a new guy.

It might sound crazy, but passivity is the most EMPOWERING stance you can take.

No more wondering about WHY he didn’t call.

No more wondering about the REASON he disappeared.

No more agonizing about where he REALLY stands on your relationship.

No more CALCULATING about what your next move is.

Your next move is NOTHING.

Let go of controlling your relationship.

Trust that the right guy treats you like you deserve to be treated.

And get back to enjoying the many blessings in your life.

Now go out there and stop doing anything!

Join our conversation (39 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Evan, I am really glad I just read this post. The last guy I  was in a relationship with  told me that I needed to stop analyzing our relationship and where it was  headed  or it wasn’t going to work out and sure enough, he was right. I feel, in a way, that I may have sabotaged our relationship, and now, of course, I’m beating myself up about it. We dated for about two months then were exclusive for about three before I broke it off. He cooled down considerably in the last month we were together, probably because of my constant over-analyzation of our relationship and general paranoia about his true feelings/motives. However, at the same time, I do feel that there were some genuine red flags I detected (behaviors/things he said) and that these were causing my anxiety.

    My question for you is, how do you let go of control in a relationship and just let things happen/enjoy things as they come while still being cautious? I know that I definitely need to let go of control  to an extent, but I also don’t want to throw caution to the wind and end up in a bad relationship.

  2. 2

    Good one, Evan!   This was a great reminder about  the power of passivity; that sometimes doing nothing is exactly the right thing to do. Like you say, for all of us PRO-active people, that’s the hardest thing to do sometimes.  

    I would like to respond to Bee (#1) above, because hers is the same concern I’ve had  in the past when trying to maneuver through the minefield of new relationships. Women tend to give  each other endless advice  about this, me included.   I call it The Caution  Issue —  and it usually provokes this kind of response:  “Better to get out now, before you get burned.”   Really? If you haven’t actually been burned, why  bail in some kind of preemptive strike craziness? Most important, don’t you  think that  if you do get burned,  you’ll  know  exactly what to do to take care of yourself? Of course you will.  

    It took me a long time to come to the  conclusion that  there simply is no quick way to pull off the bandage in a relationship in order to prevent  discomfort — real or imagined.    When I say I want to be “cautious” what I  really we mean is I don’t want discomfort, I want to feel secure —  secure that things are  what they seem to be and  that they’re going to continue to get even better.  Like most people,  I’d like  it to  go  my way. But deep down, I  know that if it doesn’t go my way, according to my plan, I can probably deal with that, too.   So  maybe that’s the best thing you  can tell yourself in order not to sabotage what might turn into a quality relationship. Just trust you’ll have what it takes to handle the unpredictable if/when it arises.   And you can take your time, too…you don’t have to instantly know  what’s your best next move.  

    By the way, if you do  — heaven forbid —  “end up in a bad relationship,” well,  you won’t be the first person who ever wound up there,  and you will  do what it takes to  move on outta there, to something better.

    See? No worries.     Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.   Best of luck.

  3. 4

    We’re supposed to be passive and let him have the control but at the same time put our hearts on the line.   Interesting paradox.

  4. 5


    Thanks for posting that- men in their 20s extending adolescence? Try 30s. Or 40s.

    I was at Panera today and heard a man coming in with this daughters trying to talk to them as though he were their age, attempting their speech style and everything. It was pathetically sad to watch- all these parents trying to be cool and hip ‘pals’ for their kids. That’s why American kids are crazy.

  5. 6

    oh- i should add- this trend isn’t limited to men by any stretch. I’ve met plenty of women in their 50s or 60s who still think they’re 25.

  6. 7

    Bee #1
    I think Evan’s talking about a relationship that is generally healthy and positive. If you’re in a relationship in which you spot some ‘”genuine red flags “, you should absolutely pay attention to those. All too often, I think that women don’t listen to their gut feeling when something doesn’t feel right. That’s not the same thing as trying to analyze where the relationship is going prematurely.  

  7. 8
    Harriet Bond

    I really liked this article and though it is the toughest lesson we can learn, it’s one of the most incredibly helpful ones! Letting go of control and power (or rather, the illusion of control and power: however much we think we have control and power over what someone else chooses to do, say or feel, we never do!!) is so difficult when you have grown used to having responsibility (and therefore the feeling that you have to control everything to survive!), but it is absolutely essential when it comes to relationships. As I detail in my dating blog, it’s hugely satisfying to just let go of the need to please and to keep contact with a man at all costs. It’s empowering to just walk away, with your dignity in tact!

  8. 9

    @starthrower – How is being passive and emotionally available at the same time a paradox?

  9. 10

    Zann and Ruby: Thank you for your advice. I do feel that I tend to overanalyze in relationships. I agree with Zann that a “preemptive strike” in order to protect myself is counter-productive, and I feel that is what I may have done in my most recent relationship that went wrong. I think paying attention to red flags is important, but I think sometimes I get so worried  about  a new relationship that I actively look for any little thing that could be a red flag. Almost like I look for things that aren’t right in order to justify getting out before I get hurt.

    And you’re absolutely right, Zann, I could handle myself even if I did get into a bad relationship. I’ve been in  one before and ended up OK. I really like your attitude and approach to relationships!

  10. 11

    Bee #45
    I think two questions to ask yourself are, does this behavior make me truly uncomfortable and is it a pattern?  
    Unfortunately, you do have to date someone for a while to notice if a negative pattern is emerging!

  11. 12

    I’m 55 and I wonder if maybe the rules aren’t different for us. I meet men who have children living at home, have gone through divorces and are living out of half unpacked boxes of suits and are generally adrift. And these are high functioning men who make a good living. I know they enjoy my company and they are pursued by women half my age and are not sure what they want. Does passivity still work or does a little email like ” that was fun last night, have a good business trip” ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?

  12. 13
    Karl R

    Rosy asked: (#12)
    “does a little email like  ‘that was fun last night, have a good business trip’ ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?”

    If I understand correctly, you’re wondering whether you should try harder than your younger competition, just to stay even with them?

    Let’s say two men (from whichever online dating service you use) contact you on the same day. One is 55, the other is 70. Before you have a chance to reply to either one, the 70 year-old sends you a second email. Has he enhanced his position by trying harder than the 55 year-old?

  13. 14

    @ Karl #13. That would depend on the men. Im not ageist. I had two men ask me on a date recently. One was 49, the other 70. The younger one I found to be quite uninteresting to talk to. He hadnt looked after himself and was overweight and down on life. I found him to be unattractive. The 70 year old was confident, very fit and active, interesting to talk to and very handsome. Guess which one Im going back on a second date with? btw Im 47.

  14. 15

    Karl (#13), your scenario in response to Rosy was kind of apples-to-oranges.   Her scenario assumes date # 1 has already taken place, and she’s wondering whether she should continue to be “passive” or try to nudge something along to encourage a date # 2.   Not quite the same thing as some random unknown sending you back-to-back e-mails before you’ve even responded to the first one.   I would find being on the receiving end of your scenario kind of creepy, regardless of the ages of anyone involved.   Rosy’s scenario probably wouldn’t wig me out (but I’m not a man, so . . . )

  15. 16
    Karl R

    Laine, (#14)
    If the 47 year old tries harder to pursue you, will you choose him over the 70 year old?

    The 47 year old will  still be  uninteresting, unattractive, overweight and down on his life. You’re going to turn down your next date with him because you don’t want to date him … regardless of the effort he expends.

    But thank you for bringing up another relevant point. Rosy can potentially compete with women half her age by being a better catch.

    TripleM, (#15)
    Rosy’s scenario wouldn’t wig  me out (neither would the scenario I described), but after the first date, I’ve formed an opinion. Either I like my date enough to ask her out again, or I don’t.

    A  nudge  from my date won’t positively influence the situation. It will probably seem exactly like a nudge.

  16. 17

    I don’t think the issue in Rosy’s (#13) is about age, it’s about her date’s level of interest. If her date isn’t sufficiently interested, sending a follow-up email isn’t going to make him more interested in her. Personally, i want to date men who are very interested, who don’t need prodding from me to follow up. If a man really enjoys your company, I think he will follow up without additional nudging, whether or not he’s divorced, has kids at home, or has unpacked boxes, or baggage.
    As Evan said, it’s okay to make one proactive move with a man, but after that, the ball is in his court.

    1. 17.1

      A great post and I agree wholeheartedly. Online dating is a minefield, careful where you tread !

  17. 18

    Karl @16. In this case I would not date the 47yo old again because he is not attractive to me on many levels, which only became obvious once I met him and not on the phone when we spoke. I do not have a list of criteria that must be met when dating. If I get a positive vibe from their dating profile, they are easy to talk to on the phone and I like their general appearance I agree to meet. If there are two, three four…however number of men that I find equally attractive, then the one that pursues me persistently will be the one that I get to know because he is prioritising time with me. This may all go pear shaped if we find, for instance, that there is no sexual compatibility. It takes time to find these things out. But I know on the first meet if a guy is either a definite 1.Yes I want to see him again 2.Not sure, can’t tell. but willing to go out again & 3.Not interested at all.

    Ruby @ 17- well said. I think if you dont hear from a man again its usually indicative of him not being interested, although some men just arent in the space to carry through because of other issues..eg..not over the ex, low self esteem. I had a fun date with a guy last year, and on the date he asked me why I had agreed to go out with him when I could have any guy I wanted…arrgghh !

  18. 19
    Still Looking

    Rosy @ 12 – You asked, “Does passivity still work or does a little email like ” that was fun last night, have a good business trip” ruin or enhance what could be a decent relationship?”
    Guys enjoy compliments and feedback as much as women do and that is one of the problems with being too passive and operating solely on a “mirroring” auto-pilot.   If I receive a short text   the day after a date with you, I’m going to think two things — you have good manners and that you are interested in me.   If the only time I hear from a woman in the initial stages of a relationship is in response to my phone calls, emails, or texts then I’m not as sure of her level of interest.
    Of course a woman can express great enthusiasm in her response and that will resolve any issue of her level of interest, nonetheless, I for one appreciate a woman who is not entirely passive.   A simple text might push me into asking for another date but it would never push me into not asking for a second date.    On the opposite extreme, a woman who texts me 6 times and leaves 3 voice mails the day after date one will send me running!

  19. 20

    Still   Looking #19
    But if you were really interested in a woman, wouldn’t you ask her out again whether she sent you an email or not? And if you really weren’t interested, would a follow-up message make you ask her out again anyway?

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