Believe The Negatives, Ignore The Positives

My Boyfriend Has a Scary Genetic Predisposition. Should I Still Marry Him?

Last week, I thought of something that I’d never quite considered before.

It was in my Monday night Inner Circle and new member, Natalie, asked a question:

I went to visit a friend I’ve known for a while and we got involved. Over the next week we exchanged flirty emails and texts. Last week he ended up coming into town and he stayed with me, continuing the romance. He is hesitant about jumping into a relationship (i.e. not wanting to mess up our friendship, he said he’s a mess, he’s recovering from insane relationship, etc).

In general, I’m trying to give him sufficient space and no pressure. Aside from any general advice you have, how do I balance showing interest with giving sufficient space? —Natalie

Natalie’s question was a good one — but it was the wrong question. The real question is why she’d be so inclined to ignore all of this guy’s red flags.

This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.

She shouldn’t be figuring out how to be the “cool girl.” She should be figuring out how to punch up her online dating profile to find a better man.

After all, would YOU feel encouraged if your date said any one of the following:

“I don’t want to ruin our friendship by experimenting with a relationship.”
“I’m really an emotional basket case right now.”
“I’m on the rebound from an absolutely insane relationship.”

Natalie feels chemistry, and, as I’ve pointed out before, chemistry is what allows you to overlook a man’s biggest flaws. Look at your past — when you’re hot for a guy, you just sweep the red flags under the rug as if they’re not even there, just so you can keep up that passionate feeling.

And where would that passionate feeling lead Natalie if she actually gets the guy?

Right into a relationship with an emotionally unavailable, messed-up man who is the first to say that he’s probably not ready to embark on something serious.

Can you say “huh?”

This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.

My advice to Natalie was to tell her friend that she thinks he’s great, but this doesn’t appear to be the best timing. If and when he decides he’s ready, he can give her a call, and if Natalie’s available, she may consider going out with him again.

The end.

But Natalie’s story really got me thinking about how hard it is to read a man.

Contrary to what you might believe, most men do NOT lie to you.

Between your blind spots, your emotions, and most men’s communication styles, it might seem impossible to read between the lines.

Until right now.

After talking to Natalie, I hatched a very simple way to know where you stand with men. Write this down, put it on your mirror, and never forget this:

“Believe the negatives; ignore the positives.”

Contrary to what you might believe, most men do NOT lie to you.

That old wives’ tale about the guy who says he loves you in order to sleep with you doesn’t really happen anymore, because saying “I love you” creates FAR more complications than sex does.

So if most men have a measure of integrity and won’t straight-out lie to you about whether they love you or are seeing other women, what do they usually do?

They hint.

Natalie’s guy is a hinter — telling her all the reasons she should stay away from him after sleeping with him — all because he’s a decent guy who wants to feel that he gave her fair warning.

I did the exact same thing when I was single, and I’m POSITIVE you’ve had it happen to you as well.

The guy you’re seeing says some version of “I don’t know if I’m ready for a committed relationship right now,” and you act like he never said it at all.

Then in 6 months, when you’re still just “seeing” him and want to know where things are going, he says, “I TOLD you I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend.”

He feels he’s covered his ass. You feel that he’s lied. But he hasn’t. He just didn’t INSIST that you run away from him. You took your chances and you lost.

So, from now on, heed this policy.

>When a guy says something indicating that he doesn’t want a relationship with you — “I’m not ready,” “The timing is bad,” “I’m really busy at work,” “I’m not sure about my attraction to you,” or refuses to become your boyfriend in three months, guess what?

You should BELIEVE him.

And when a guy takes you on a great date, tells you you’re beautiful, makes love with you, and says he wants to take you to Cancun, you should NOT believe him.


Because it means NOTHING.

You’ve seen this yourself.

Men live in the moment.

If we are attracted to you, we’ll sleep with you first and figure out our feelings later.

You don’t operate this way, which is why you’re perpetually surprised that we do. But we do, and it’s nothing that you or I can change about men.

So take it from me — the next time you’re excited about a guy:

Ignore all the positives that come with your initial attraction. Great first dates. Big talk of a future. Hot sex. Just put them aside. They say nothing about his feelings for you.

What DOES mean something?

The negative red flags that you will now pay attention to.

And how quickly he follows up your date to say, “I want to see you again.”

That’s it.

Believe the negatives; ignore the positives.

Let me know if this makes sense to you and if you’ve ever ignored the negatives and had it come back to bite you.

Join our conversation (107 Comments).
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  1. 1
    my honest answer

    So true Evan! When someone says they’re not looking for a relationship BELIEVE them. Why would they say it if they didn’t mean it?
    This, by the way, is totally different to somone saying ‘I love you’ too soon in a relationship. Don’t believe them. Why would they say it if they didn’t mean it? Because they have PLENTY to gain.
    The person saying they’re not interested has nothing to gain from lying. So take them at their word. Don’t become their fall-back position.

  2. 2

    Women use some of the same hinting methods. I don’t think this is gender specific. However, I totally agree with Evan that if someone says these kind of things to you, it’s best to believe them. And if you aren’t sure what the signals being given off mean, spend some time collecting more information.

  3. 3

    Perfect Evan! I would add to that …. a guy will tell you quite a bit about himself on the first few dates. He isn’t trying to, but if you listen carefully you will hear, his fears, past relationship issues and much more! My Ex husband told me early on that his family called him “Ice Man”, due to his style of shutting off all feeling and using cold hard logic. Guess what? That is exactly what ultimately ruined my marriage. I could not feel close and safe with him no matter how hard I tried! I am so relieved to be out of that relationship! He is a wonderful guy too, handsome, creative, hard working, honest etc. But for someone like me, lack of warmth is a deal breaker. I now know myself well, and listen very carefully on dates to what a man tells me, and believe me they tell me a lot! It’s my job to LISTEN!

  4. 4

    It’s totally true.   I once had a guy say to me, “it’s not just the person– it’s the timing.”   I ignored him.   About a month later he said, “let’s hang out with a group more instead of just the two of us.”   I ignored that too, along with all the little, subtle comments just like it.   When he broke up with me, I felt worse because deep down, I understood that all along he had been telling me not to get too close to him.    
    Evan, love the line about not trying to be the cool girl and instead trying to find a better man.   That’s one for the mirror too!

  5. 5

    This is kind of depressing because it’s so true. Better to be aware though.

  6. 6

    This is difficult advice to follow, but I know in my gut it’s valid.

    My story: Guy-friend started fawning all over me when I became single, telling me he loved me, telling me he wanted to elope with me…yet at the same time refusing to leave his current girlfriend. He also repeatedly told me he’s lazy, selfish and just wants a woman to take care of him so he can do what he wants.  
    I told him to step!

  7. 7

    Thanks Evan! I am listening and will follow you advice in the future. I could have saved myself years of heartache if only I would have applied this advice sooner. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. 8

    This one really resonates.   When ‘my’ guy said he wasn’t ready for a committed relationship, my wishful thinking made me hear the word ‘yet’ tacked on to the end of the statement.   I thought it was just a matter of time, another 6 months or so.   I believed we were so perfectly suited that it would all fall into place.   Instead, the relationship that lasted 18 months took at least 3 times that to get over.   Hint, schmint!   As hard as it is, extract your heart and move on.  

  9. 9

    We can’t ignore those men that just love to play with out emotions to get sex.   Lead you on to believe you will have a “meaningful” relationship.   Saying all the right things, spending the appropriate amount of time with you, then poof!   You begin to feel something and they are gone! OMGoodness!   Jerks are out there.   There are some really nice jerks…..seriously!   In the end all they really want is to get their rocks off and be damned with anything else!
    Then there are the guys you tell us to  look at.   The men that are looking at us!   Have you seen “Mister  If It Could Be Wrong with Someone It Is with Me” I am interested in you?   Or how about the one that has a job at a fast food place and thinks that is gainful employment?   Or the guy that attends weekly  “meetings” for whatever ails him?  
    I know one thing, the more dates I go on, the faster I can spot a man with no ambition and clear cut problems.    
    It is actually very sad that we as females have to subject ourselves to  what is out there to weed out something special.   But  maybe that’s what dating has always been about.
    Thanks for your advice Evan.     I’m listening.

    1. 9.1
      The Yeti

      That is something both sexes have to deal with when dating. But I can understand it is frustrating.

  10. 10

    Evan, your post is brilliant.   This is the best advice boiled down to the bare essentials that we can all remember.   I doubt it is what most of us want to hear, but definitely true.

  11. 11

    @3 Great comments.

    People do tell us a lot and it is up to us to listen 🙂  

  12. 12

    Agree with Nathan, it isn’t gender-specific. My first thought when reading the post was — I’ve said those things too. And, when I said them, I totally meant them. Got to give the guy a lot of credit — most people wouldn’t say that, or even recognize those things about themselves. Takes a good deal of emotional maturity to come out and say those things to the person you’re involved with. Guy sounds like a great FWB candidate, that would be indispensable when you’re just out of one relationship and not ready for the next, but want some R&R in between. Wait, this is exactly what he’s doing with Natalie. Whether she likes this arrangement or not, is her call, but the fact is, it isn’t going to change.

  13. 13

    Ohh this is my life right here Evan. I just recently broke up with this guy I was seeing/dating for 4 months. He DID told me he wasnt ready for a committed relationship but when I asked about a future one, he said he didnt have a problem with that. My mistake was to quickly asking him the where we are question within the first week of seeing each other. We spend every single day seeing each other for the first week though. His reply was he was just getting to know me….I said fine….I will give him one month and like that I brought up the subject at least two or three more times until he told me I was pushing him away and then by our last conversation he said he is immature when it comes to relationship and that he isnt ready for one. I, obviously, was devastaded and had to break it off. I miss him so much and I am hurt because of MY OWN FAULT. I should have never continue to try and change his mind. I feel like I was trying to have something very unattainable. He was never ready for me.

  14. 14
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach for Women Over 40

    Evan – this is magnificent! As a Dating Coach for women over 40, I learned this myself the hard way. TALK IS CHEAP! Men say stuff in the moment, without prompting, not because they are bad, but because it must feel good. Later, as they get their wits about them, they must re-evaluate.
    And I completely agree that men will tell you about themselves in the first few dates if YOU LISTEN. I think this is the best advice you’ve ever given (and you’ve given lots of great advice) and the best advice I’ve come across in   along time. Single gals – heed this advice and keep your eyes open for the red flags. This way you can’t lose.

    1. 14.1

      Actually you don’t even necessarily have to have a first date.   Many of them will say just enough in pre-dating conversation.   

  15. 15

    @melie #9
    “It is actually very sad that we as females have to subject ourselves to  what is out there to weed out something special.   But  maybe that’s what dating has always been about.”

    It’s sad that we as men have to weed out women too.

  16. 16

    While I agree with what Evan’s saying, I have heard and read other alternative thoughts on this. Other dating coaches like Rori Raye or Christian Carter believe something more akin to the difference between an available man or an unavailable man is the woman. There are lots of examples of men who said they were not ready for a relationship but then they unwittingly fell in love with this special woman who made him feel something different. There are men who have just gotten out of a long term relationship or marriage didn’t think they wanted anything serious then find themselves in one. So I don’t know what to think.  

    1. 16.1

      those are probably the exceptions rather than the rule

    2. 16.2

      Does it really matter WHY a man doesn’t want to commit to you? If he’s emotionally unavailable to you but available to another woman, he’s unavailable to you and that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter why.

      1. 16.2.1

        I keep coming back to this post because it’s my favourite yet. I love love love this and no other dating coach has ever really put it as succinctly as our illustrious Evan.


        To answer this comment, well yes it does matter!

        Something I have picked up is that if you build an emotional connection WELL before ANYTHING physical (including foreplay) then you have a a better chance (nothing is 100%) of making wifey material over promiscuous girl material.

        Do what your mother did and you’ll likely win. It’s not a guarantee but it’s up there in the 90%. Most men will suddenly be interested in being boyfriend material if they feel they are getting a high quality woman. Dont believe me, try it and stop selling yourself short. No Sex Until Monogamy!

        1. SparkyD

          Absolutely agree, no matter what the hormones are driving you to do, hold back. Thanks to Evan’s advice, I have a new pact  with my single girlfriends that we will wait at least a month, no matter what.

          And it just rescued me from the emotionally unavailable hottie from 2 weeks ago – “I have to warn you, I MAY not be as ready for a relationship as I thought” [goodbye #1] and created a space for a sweet man who is absolutely besotted with me [hello #2] and I don’t have to put up with the gut-wrenching anxiety of wondering when he will contact me next or wondering what he is thinking. We are waiting a month and he is fine with that – I’m sure it will make me wifey material! If not, we gave it our best shot and I will have no regrets.

    3. 16.3

      I stopped reading those authors…. There’s too many things they say that I really don’t agree with.. Like the circular dating theory. Read Evans response and removed my Rory email list… I always thought her theory to date until marriage was ridiculous. I was not alone. Pick your mentors wisely..

    4. 16.4

      I think the difference between guys who say that vs. guys who fall in love is this – I have heard a few men say they “didn’t believe in marriage” until they met their now wife. But, in both instances their mind flipped within weeks of meeting this amazing woman. It’s not that they knew for sure that they wanted to marry the woman they were with at the time, because it was very early on. But both of my guy friends said that they could imagine it for the first time with this woman. Their feelings were just that strong. So, while at first they may have hesitated on thinking about marriage, ultimately within the first few months of dating each woman, they revealed that they had previously been against it, but we’re starting to have a change of heart. So, the woman didn’t run and voila, they were both married within 2 years of meeting their matches.

  17. 17

    “This is like booking a seat on the Titanic AFTER you knew it was going to crash.”

    HAHA – you are always so funny. But this is your best lesson to see the negative and ignore the chemistry.  

  18. 18

    Well, EMK, I’m kind of angry with you…why? Because you weren’t there to give me this brilliant piece of advice years ago! I tend to be fairly positive person, so that was always my mindset, but  I always got burned. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to believe all the positive comments, and to have hope, than to face up to the red flags. The men (I’m sure some women do it too) who give mixed signals are generally pretty confused – why not stick to those who are more clear-headed and genuinely ready? I have to agree with Melie (#11), the jerks are out there in droves, but it’s up to us to weed them out.

  19. 19

    Well, at least if all men were capable of SAYING these things! But there are also soooo many that will just start avoiding you without any explanation. Like a guy I dated recently. We seemed to “click” from the first moment, 1 month after we met, we “got together” (didn’t go very far as I’m more of the cautious type), about 2 weeks of dating, and then…he started blowing cold. After 3 days of hearing nothing but excuses as why we couldn’t spend more time together, I offered him closure in an e-mail, saying that I didn’t like unclear situations and game playing. Personally, I would prefer and respect an upfront person saying “I don’t want a relationship”, or “I don’t think it’s gonna work between us”. Guess what: he is still part of my life, as we are both volunteers in a youth organization. We are “friends”, in a sense that we don’t give each other a hard time, and we are cool about each other, but…I moved on, he hooks up with many different girls all the time, and …that’s all, folks! 🙂 On the other hand, I wouldn’t say “ignore the positives” either. Wouldn’t that make you paranoid, insecure, or suspicious of a person who may not deserve it? I think we should keep a healthy balance. What do you think?

    1. 19.1

      Evan isn’t saying to be a negative nancy forever. He is saying pay attention to his action over time. Dont believe some guy who smitten int hat moment and is promising you the world. And he also addresses women who ignore men when they say they dont want a relationship, they hear I have the magic princess touch and he will change for me because I’m that amazing (they then whip out their best sexual and relationship features). Women then get confused why he leaves after using them for both those offers – men feel no remorse because they told you (even they whispered while you were sleeping that they didn’t want a relationship).

      I promise you that if you get to know men as friends first, you’ll weed out the promiscious manwhores. There are so many wonderful guys out there and ready for it, they are the majority and yet you only need one.

      Those women they say they waited months and the man still left, then you didn’t use your strength building emotional connection with that man or you had sex too soon or ready for it…..this is going to make me exceptionally unpopular on this blog, you will crap in the sack, you may have just laid there for example.

  20. 20

    @ Layla 16…i find this so confusing too. Sometimes I feel I am just walking in circles :-/ Even EMK implies that, how the woman acts determines much of whether or not a guy will stick around and make you his girlfriend! Ugh!

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