Believe The Negatives, Ignore The Positives

Believe The Negatives, Ignore The PositivesLast 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 (106 Comments).
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  1. 61

    Yup, this article hit me right between the eyes.  
    She told me early on that she had a fear of relationships and sabotaged them.  Yes, she actually said that.  Then soon after, she told me that she might make it hard but not on purpose and not to give up.  
    5 months later after seducing me with her sweetness and many good qualities, she pulled the rug out from under me.  Just like the stories in the book He’s Scared, She’s Scared.  It was the most horrific emotional roller coaster.  Don’t take a seat on that ride.  It’ll have you puking your brains out.
    And you’re right- most people don’t lie.  They just veil the truth and you need to see through the veil.  Read the book I Know You’re Lying. 

  2. 62

    True.  I just had a situation with a guy who was 100% present after the first few dates (kissed me the first date, texted me within 45 minutes after we said goodnight), always texted the next day to ask how I was, say he had fun, and would talk when we were together about all the the things we “should do” next time (go dancing, etc).  I listened to all of that and paid less attention than I should have to the fact that he was recently out of a relationship, so I’d let him know when I was free on his days off, and didn’t hold back about trying to make plans. 
    Fastforward a month and a half, and suddenly I’m hearing how he’s “not ready for a relationship” (which was fine, as I was dating a couple of others and didn’t want to stop just yet), but “thinks I’m amazing, we really hit it off, wants to keep hanging out and see where it goes.”  Again, should have just listened to the negatives .. because two weeks after that he “doesn’t have the time” (to either hang out or stay in touch via text), but still “thinks I’m great” and “maybe down the line”.  He seemed to really want me to commit to occasionally getting in touch but without any obligation for him to do the same, which was really peculiar.  I finally listened to the relevant information and told him he’s free to contact me “down the line” if he wants to, but he shouldn’t expect to hear from me.
    I think I got it right this time.  I’m not expecting to hear from him.

  3. 63

    This is so true, if a guys not taking you out on dates or putting in effort towards a relationship let him go. Never fall for the come over and watch a movie trick because that’s not a date. Another catch phrase to look out for is “I’m not trying to rush into anything” or “I like to go with the flow” if he says that run,,lol he’s not serious

  4. 64

    Im a single dad of four two gorls two boys. There afes are 12,11,10,07 i looked for, four years fore someone that could be like a mom to my children..
    Finally i thought i found her. She was amazing to them so i allowed myself to feel for her. We spent six beautiful months togather. Sex was awesome. We were in love and i thought she truly loved my children she clamied to. Then out of no whete she started cheating with an ex. When i question it everthing went south. She broke it off and told me to never contact her bout myself and my children.. Now her reason was my niece took my 11 uear old girl to a coworkers house that my niece knew . And question bout my girlfriend.. Now im sorry everyone. When ever someone says they love you, its’s a lie. Only true love is the live between parent and child…anyother type of love you think you might feel, is due to two chemicals in your brain..

  5. 65

    It took me a while to figure this out, but it’s the truth. I just got out of a several-month relationship where I fell victim to intense chemistry and ignored his comments about wanting to move slowly, he was a mess after his marriage, he was afraid to commit, etc. I also ignored one of my cardinal rules at the very beginning, which is not to date separated men. I knew right out of the gate that it was going to be a disaster because the first line of his online profile stayed that he was separated and “ready to date” – but I jumped in anyway, fell head over heels, and got my heart broken. Badly.
    This guy did ok for a short while – texting me all day, making plans, following through. He still texts me daily even though we broke up a month ago! Despite what happened he is very reliable and I feel “safe” with him in that regard; but, unfortunately, he did exactly what Natalie’s guy did, and never again will I ignore red flags like this. Always believe the negative. Solid advice.

    1. 65.1

      it’s never a good idea to date someone who is separated or getting a divorce, or recently devorced!  Or not over their ex and constantly talking about their ex either negatively or positively.  Pay particular attention when they constantly speak bad about their ex.  That speaks volumes! You can learn so much about a person by how much and what is being said about the ex!

  6. 66

    I applaud this guy for being honest and upfront and saying he is not ready.  If you are into this guy, I agree with Evan, I would tell him  that you like him, but that he cannot give  you the type of relationship that you are looking for right now.    Men who are grieving a past relationship or having a hard time at work, are not current relationship material.  They may be future relationship material, but they are not it now.    I certainly would say that if later when he has gotten his act together he wants to try to date to reach out  to you and if you are single then you can give it a go. I only say this because this man is being honest, which I think could make him a good partner potentially at a later date.  Then forget about him and start looking for your Mr. Right.  If its meant to be he will come back around when he’s ready.  But trust me you cannot make a man who is not ready ready no matter what you do.  I unfortunately have been with the guy who says he wants a serious relationship, who pushes for one, who seems ready then boom four months in comes the well I can’t give you what you need, I don’t want this I am not ready.  At least your man is self aware enough to know he’s not ready and cares about you enough to share that with you.

  7. 67

    Whenever I start to feel kind feelings towards my ex, who has been hot and cold for 3 years…invites me to family functions, says he wants a future, then “just kidding.” The whiplash hurts. I have dated plenty of other men during our off times, and while I would like to ignore chemistry, if it’s not there, it’s not there (and it generally hasn’t been). Background: I was married 28 years to a man that I settled for at a ridiculously young age because he was safe and let me escape my dysfunctional family. Due to childhood sexual abuse that I was subjected to beginning at about 9 years of age, I still have a visceral reaction to being touched by men I do not know well. I eventually left my last job at a non-profit due to donors and board members thinking they should have access to my body. Yes, I’ve been in therapy…more than once. A childhood trauma imprints itself on your behavior. It wasn’t my fault what happened to me but it happened nonetheless. My most recent ex made me feel very safe sexually and that is why I tended to ignore the red flags. When he wanted to be around (not just for sex), he was very attentive. And when he went through one of his meltdowns, he shut me out completely. Even when I recently told him I finally understand that he just doesn’t want to be with me, he said it wasn’t that simple and what I said was insulting. LOL.

    I am an attractive 52-year old woman (being a yoga instructor helps) who tends to attract younger men (flattering but they are just silly). I never have problems getting dates online and when I was dating, I stopped because, frankly, it was exhausting. I hated to say “no” because, well, maybe that guy would be worth my time. They weren’t. Are my standards to high? Meh. I won’t settle ever again.

    So facing truth isn’t easy, especially when it means letting go of hope with that person. But false hope is more damaging. Lesson learned.

  8. 68


    Have I told you lately that I love you?!  The Titanic!  hilarious truth. You are a girls best friend. I’ve been sharing your post’s with my widow’s dating group,  it’s helping many of us. There are very few widowed men in our group that we can ask for advice/ opinion about men, relationships & dating, which is where my gratitude for you comes in. I met my husband when I was 20, married at 24, widowed at 46, dating now is completely different. I am vibrant, happy 51, I am ending my 1st long term relationship with a  very broken man today. I’ve learned many things from him and you… the knowledge i’ve gained will serve me well as I move forward.  Thank you for all you do!

    1. 68.1

      His name is Evan.

  9. 69

    I didn’t look at the negatives in the beginning, so have finally finished a relationship of 5 years with a man with borderline personality disorder. I was drawn in by his charm and ignored what he was saying about his past relationships.

  10. 70

    That sounds depressing as hell. And I don’t really get it: does this rule of thumb apply only when the guy gives both positive and negative signals and you don’t know which to believe? Plus, everyone has flaws, so if you take all flaws seriously, you’ll be single forever. Like, let’s say a guy mentions that he has a bad temper and is addicted to video games, but other than that, the relationship is great. Are you supposed to automatically put him in the asshole category and dump him? Like Flower White did with the uptight guy. Does having a flaw make him undateable?

    1. 70.1
      Karmic Equation

      “Does having a flaw make him undateable?”

      Nope. It comes down to if his flaws are flaws YOU can accept and will NOT EXPECT him to change over time.

      Most guys are usually willing to change certain behaviors once they love you, as long as those behaviors make YOU happy without making HIM feel like he’s a making sacrifice, e.g., he will likely learn to send you flowers on your birthday but unwilling to stop watching porn to make you happy.

      However if he’s “cheap” and you don’t tolerate “cheap”, then to YOU he’s undateable, because cheap is a lifestyle. It’s a mindset. People, never mind men, are very unwilling to change their lifestyles or mindsets. However, a cheap woman might value a cheap man, so he’s very dateable to her.

      Take a long hard look at your list of of dealbreakers. Cull the list down to 3 dealbreakers and date men that don’t have those dealbreakers. You can still be dump those men for other reasons, but don’t just eliminate them right off the bat because he has one of your 20 dealbreakers, which are 17 too many.

      For example, I really prefer men who live with 1/2 hour or less from me. This wasn’t exactly a dealbreaker but because I like quality time, and usually do most of the boyfriend commute — (I tend to date guys to who don’t have pets, while I have 3 dogs who get noisy and jealous if I lock them out of my bedroom, so if I want to sleep in, my place is not a good place for that :)) — I preferred to date men who lived “close” to me.

      Current bf lives 45 minutes away. That extra 15 minutes wasn’t that big a deal in the whole scheme of things since I really like him. However, I’ve nexted guys who lived only 35 minutes away because I liked them less and that extra 5 minutes seemed waaaayyyy toooo far! lol

      While this sounds superficial, it isn’t, because I wouldn’t date men who treated me poorly or who didn’t respect me or who weren’t nice to me. Those 3 are my three real dealbreakers (or deal-makers depending on how you read my sentence). Anything else, I consider “icing on the cake”.

  11. 71

    Thanks for this post Evan! This has happened to me so many times, but I haven’t been able to put my finger on what exactly happened (maybe I was in denial?). It actually just happened to me with a guy I met at a Happy Hour event. We went out only once or twice before he started hinting about how messed up he was from a recent messy breakup (recent meaning 3 months prior). I listened but don’t think I really heard him. It turned out he was nowhere near ready to date me the way I wanted, i.e. dating with an eye toward a committed relationship. Thankfully I took some of your other advice (namely the advice about having the courage to walk away from someone who you enjoy spending time with but know can’t give you what you want long term) and got out before I got too hurt, because he really did try to warn me. I so appreciate the man’s perspective on this, Evan – thanks!

  12. 72

    It makes sense but if you develop feelings for them it feels imbalanced. Guess I should buy the ebook.

  13. 73

    It’s a bit of a dick move to say that, if you sleep with a woman, KNOWING she want to commit, then it’s HER fault that she didn’t listen to you when you said ‘I’m not ready for a relationship right now.’

    If you are not ready for a relatioship, DO NOT SLEEP WITH HER. Go and hire a fucking prostitute, because that’s what you really want. Better yet, stay away from female kind and have a wank. We don’t need people like you around us.

    Sex is incredibly important and despite the words you say, the hormones and chemicals that arise when we are sleeping with someone are powerful. I’m so glad I’m out of the dating game and I managed to find a man who actually listens to me and wasn’t just using me for sex.

    Ladies, he’s right – if a man tries to sleep with you but tells you he’s not committing, just get away from him. But don’t give sleep with him first. He has to learn he can’t just stick his dick in anything that moves and get away with it.

  14. 74

    On the flip side, there are socially awkward men, such as myself, that have best of intentions yet due to miscommuniation the girl takes things as “red flags” and dumps me. I have Asperger thats why. So I wish the girl were to ignore the times when I “misspoke” in some way or the other, especially if I am telling her — with the best of intentions — that I misspoke. But then again, none of the guys in the above examples ever said they misspoke. So I just don’t understand why, in THEIR cases, they are given all this benefit of the doubt without even asking for or caring about it, while in my case I genuinely want to say I misspoke and yet I am not being believed.

  15. 75

    This was a great reply to Natalie and perfect reminder/advice to the rest of us.  Thank you Evan for being you!

  16. 76

    Completely agree with what Evan said. But how the heck is anyone supposed to know when the right time to get physical or emotionally invested is? There is no one strict rule or timeframe. Every person is different and we only have’ improving our chances’ instead of guarantees. If people communicated more, life would at least be a bit easier without the frustration. Maybe people prefer complicated because it equals entertainment value. But of course, even the vague  hints ‘I’m not sure’ and seemingly temporary statements like ”I’m not ready’ is still clear communication.

  17. 77

    OK OK.


    But when do you just start being simple and believe the positives?


    Sometimes (and I do mean sometimes!) it is just that simple!

    1. 77.1
      Karmic Equation


      After you experience your first big fight (after 3 months) or your first tragedy together.

      How you both work through the negatives tells you more about each other than the positives.

      It’s easy to be the best person you can be when things are going great.

      But who are you and who is your partner when things are not?

      It doesn’t take character to handle the good stuff.

      Character is determined by how you handle the bad.

  18. 78

    wow…i so needed to read this today. i have spent a year in an nsa relationship with a guy doing just that “I’m not ready” gives list of reasons when i really should have walked away and said the timing isn’t right…although the many times i have tried to walk away he pulled me back but i went back instead of being objective and ignoring the positives…becuase the truth is i would love nothing more than to give it a shot with this guy…im not going to lie this article is a gut check but I’m still glad i read it.

  19. 79


    You hit the nail right on the head!! It’s not always easy to keep it in mind when you are on an emotional high but yes, if woman can think with their heads and not their hearts, this will definately make finding Mr Right much easier and save you a lot of time and heart ache!!

    Thanks Evan

  20. 80

    Men fall in love with their eyes and Women fall in love with their ears ………

  21. 81
    Gemma Phillips

    Believe the negative and ignore the negative??? I’ve never heard so much doom and gloom in all my life! Yes actions DO speak louder than words and a lot of men do say things they think women want to hear to get them into bed but not all guys are losers. If that’s true that we have to be sceptical and mistrusting how can you explain all the millions of couples around the world who ARE  happy??Answer: Those couples are together because one or both of them took a chance and didn’t paint all men with the same brush and were open minded!!Life isn’t  all rosy but it certainly isn’t as bleak as you are potraying it either. How about a bit of positivity/neutrality??

  22. 82

    this is a really great article

    “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.”
    this part really got to me as I found myseelf in a similar situation with a close friend of mine

  23. 83

    Those aren’t even hints. They’re plain declarative statements. Ignore them at your own peril.

  24. 84

    I’m starting to believe that alot of these men on the dating sites are not the good quality ones. It always seems to be the same story. Especially in mid-life, they come out of long term relationships with baggage that they haven’t worked through and expect to be able to date whomever they please on exactly their own terms. Alot of these men are very selfish and self-absorbed .. I hear the exact same stories from many, many women. I believe that it’s a very small percentage of people that meet a viable match on the dating sites. It’s very discouraging and difficult.

  25. 85

    This is sooooo true about believing when a man says he’s not ready for a relationship, doesn’t want a girlfriend, etc.  I’m always alert for red flags and I have a 5 date rule:  no matter how attracted I and a man seem to each other, I keep my imagination in check and let him show me who he is (like justme said, words and actions have to be consistent).  Unless the guy is a genuine sociopath it’s hard to maintain a facade after 3 to 5 dates.  I also need that time for myself to hear what my intuition is telling me about whether he’s a good match for me or not.  I recently met a very nice, genuine man who I was initially excited about meeting, but found that the more exposure I had to him to more “meh” I felt about him.  He had so much yin energy that I felt he would make a good girlfriend.  So I just let him be even though he was pursuing me.  He deserves to be with a woman who will be excited to see him.  When I was younger I would have probably used my imagination to pretend he was someone I “should” see, instead of following my very accurate gut feelings.

    Ironically, I’ve found as men get into their 50s and beyond, the red flags are usually wanting to create a relationship too fast!  I went to a dance and met this man who I felt was interviewing me for the position of his next girlfriend/wife instead of just relaxing and enjoying getting to know each other.  Within 5 minutes he was showing me pictures of his big house on the river and had given me a rundown of his business, divorce and dog!  When he asked what I did for fun, I said my whole life was fun as I was involved in singing, doing improv, acting, etc.  His response was “Well, surely YOU’RE going to have to make some time to be in a relationship!?”  Really?!  That was so presumptuous and so not first date subject matter.

  26. 86

    Have been confused, and am confuse and am wondering if I will ever ever find a guy who can treat me right,  this is the type of a relationship am having at the moment

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