Kathy’s been dating Larry for three years. Okay, maybe dating is not quite accurate. They occasionally see each other. Very occasionally, as in one date every six months or so with occasional phone calls and emails in between, always initiated by Kathy. I don’t know about you, but most women would have walked away from a guy like Larry after the first month. When a man is interested in a woman, he usually escalates the relationship, from first email to first phone call, to first date, to dating weekly, and on and on until they are in a relationship. So, why did Kathy pursue Larry?
Kathy, a 57 year-old tall, pretty, slim woman, is a survivor of an abusive marriage. Following her divorce, she had a string of bad relationships with men who didn’t value her. Through our coaching, she learned to value herself enough to stop dating men who treated her poorly. When she met Larry, she recognized a man of great character. Finally, a good guy who valued her! Unfortunately, the timing was off for him.
Timing is a crucial component in the success of a relationship. So, while Kathy was ready for a relationship, Larry was overwhelmed with his life. He was having trouble balancing his highly demanding job as a lawyer with caring for his teenaged daughters. He hardly made time for himself. How could he possibly make time for a relationship?
She knew he wasn’t ready for a relationship, but she stayed in contact with him. And every time she reached out, he thanked her. He appreciated her persistence and patience.
Slowly but surely, the relationship began to grow. Larry began to make time for her. They even had two dates in one month! But he still wasn’t calling or emailing much in between.
So Kathy decided to put her cards on the table. She let Larry know that she cared deeply about him and was ready for an exclusive relationship. She was pulling her profile from Match.com. No pressure for him to follow suit.
Kathy did two smart things:
1. She let Larry know her standards and intentions. She told him she was not interested in casual dating and that she wanted to date him exclusively. She waited a long time to do that because of her fear of rejection. I would recommend putting your relationship needs up front, as early as the first or second date (or even the first phone call). Casually ask your date what he is looking for in a relationship. Men are usually pretty clear about how committed they are. If you’re not on the same page, walk away and find someone who is better suited before your heart gets entangled.
2. She didn’t demand or nag. When she told him that she was pulling her online dating profile, she didn’t pressure him to do the same. That’s music to a man’s ears! However, I wouldn’t recommend that a woman pull her profile first. If you’re looking for a long-term monogamous relationship, don’t date a man exclusively until he chooses you. Don’t have sex until he chooses to date only you. That puts you in a much more empowered position. You’ll be valued more. If he wants to have sex with you before you’re exclusive, tell him something like this; “I really like you and am very attracted to you, but I only have sex when I’m in an exclusive relationship. If and when we do become exclusive (no pressure), you’ll be in for a bodice-ripping night of your life! Until then, we can continue to make out…and I’ll continue to see other men.”
Larry did start to date Kathy more regularly. He accompanied her to important life events where he met her kids and parents. He began to call several nights a week. He thanked her for being so patient with him. He told her how much he valued her and missed her when they were apart.
I’m not recommending this extreme level of turtle-paced development in a relationship. What I am advising is the importance of patience throughout the dating and relationship process. Your pace may be very different from the man you’re dating. You may feel ready for commitment before he is. Maybe the timing is just not right for him. If you pressure him, you’ll push him away.
If you meet a quality guy whose timing is off, continue dating other men and live a full and meaningful life. But don’t write him off just yet. Be patient. Continue being a high value woman with clear relationship standards. That hot guy you dated two months ago might not be able to get you out of his mind. When he comes back to woo you as his only love, you’ll be glad you didn’t pressure or nag him.
Please share an experience of when patience paid off for you in dating.
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