Some things I have learned.

I have been giving a fellow blogger a bit of dating advice (don’t laugh) recently. As she gets text messages from various men she reaches out to ask my opinion on the best next course of action.

Advice can be useless if it’s only grounded in what you would do. It has to be appropriate for the other person. All too often, we are incapable of putting ourselves in the proverbial shoes of another. It’s all about empathy and trying to understand thoughts and behavior from another’s point of view.

But I digress.

In giving solicited advice, I realized I’ve learned a few things about men. I am generally not one to write advice posts – but I did think it a good idea for me to write this down, so I don’t forget either. I still find myself wondering what will spell the end of my relationship with Tony. Will he ever open up? Will he desire to spread his dating wings? Will there be something one of us learns about the other that makes things untenable?

But I digress again.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1) The answer to any question which is the equivalent of “do you like me” will always be “yes”.

I often want reassurance, and I don’t think it’s unique. There are various ways we can get it – both words and actions. One thing I learned is that people are loathe to create conflict of any kind.

So if you think texting a man and saying “would you like to try to see me again” will get anything other than a “sure”, you are mistaken. One in a hundred, maybe, will be honest.

Open-ended questions are way better – but much less conductive to text messaging.

But then we act as if getting a positive response is, well, a positive sign. We read too much into it. And then expect that of course he will reach out again. And when he doesn’t?

2) Pushing hard for what you want rarely achieves it.

I have come to believe if a man wants something, he will seek it out. The thing to remember is it probably won’t be on your timeline.

I used to fool myself that I needed to push for a decision, an outcome, or remind someone that we are supposed to get together. It’s just not true. I suppose there are a few men who genuinely would forget to get dressed in the morning if someone didn’t remind them, but I suspect it’s not that many.

I don’t believe in game playing and being scarce to increase a man’s interest in me. I can’t stand that behavior. BUT I do think you stay in touch and not push an agenda or harp on when you are going to get together next. If he wants to, he will ask.

It’s scary to back off the questions and reminders and attempt to get reassurance. But you know what happens if you do?

3) Give someone a bit of time and their actions will tell you how they really feel.

Again, this isn’t about the classic advice given to women about deliberately being “unavailable” or “elusive”. But not pushing constantly will let actions speak clearly.

It’s scary, but it’s WAY better to know how someone actually feels about you.

I have found, without exception, ceasing to be the one that always reignites a conversation will inevitably tell me if they are interested. I could link to so many examples here. Dan is a good example. While he would eventually respond to a text, when I stopped instigating he simply stopped communicating. I’d have to look in my posts to see when I last heard from him. It’s been a while. I doubt I will ever hear from him again (and my car still hasn’t been fixed).

But when I pushed? We would meet. Obviously there was some base level of attraction or interest in a good fuck. But ultimately, it was pretty minimal.

In contrast, there are others who continue to communicate with me – Jason for example. Now, we have established something beyond fuck buddies, but it’s important to know that he proactively thinks of me. He’s worth my time even though our communications are infrequent these days.

4) If someone says they will see you and then doesn’t follow through, don’t wait for them.   

When you give them a line as in #1 above, and they say “sure let’s get together”, and then don’t follow through, go ahead and make your own plans. If they do follow and at the last minute ask what you are doing that night, saying “oh I figured you weren’t serious since you never followed through before – maybe next time” will increase your value in their eyes.

Now I know I said I didn’t like games, but this is different in my mind (feel free to challenge). If someone wants to make plans with me they will, more than a night in advance. Too often I held a night free in the often vain hope someone would follow through. NIM was a repeat offender.

My new approach became in the absence of concrete plans, to make my own. I gotta say, tied to the point above, I rarely had the opportunity to say “sorry too late”. They just weren’t that into me.

But it was liberating, making the choice myself. Realizing I have the power to do my own thing, not waiting around for some dude. Ultimately having my own plans felt WAY better, because although still a rejection when you realize they aren’t that into you, you are busy doing something (or someone) else.

5) Some men just like sexting and the promise of meeting, and have no plans to actually meet you, no matter how much they talk about it. 

I don’t really get this as I’ve never had an opportunity to talk at length with someone who admits to this behavior.

I do know a few blog men who engage with multiple women for hot chats and pictures. In those cases, there is little actual opportunity for them to meet the women. I did have some theories on what they (and the women) got from those interactions, and it partially inspired my users post so you can read about my snarky theories there.

But I my issue is really about the expectations a man sets with a woman. If a guy says he wants to meet someone, and discusses what it would be like, and even goes so far as to tentatively make plans, then of course she is going to believe it’s going to happen.

But when they have no intention to meet? That’s what I’m really perplexed about. If it’s hot to sext with someone, then talk to someone, why the heck wouldn’t you want to meet that someone?

Before I wised up to it, I was on the receiving end of this several times. One thing that helped me realise this was the time I spent on the lavalife “intimate” section, which was where I started online and where I met Jason and NIM. There were men there who wanted to sext – using that sites instant messaging feature – and they would be on the opposite side of the world. I realized its all they wanted. So I suppose the same would apply to guys who live 10 minutes away.

As always, I’m interested in what you think. Do these resonate with you?

0 thoughts on “Some things I have learned.

  1. These resonate with me for sure, and were hard lessons for me to learn as well. Sometimes I have to make the same mistake 5 or 6 times before I get it through my thick skull. All of the items you list seem to be so reasonable and yet we, as women, tend to forget them. Excellent reminders!

    • I’m glad you liked them… I see so much of the world as contextual so whenever I think about writing a “truth” as it were, I can think of reasons why there are exceptions to that truth.

      I guess that’s why I can’t stand many of the dating advice columns that are out there.

      Sigh. I totally overthink things, don’t I?

  2. I think the point about not being the one to always reignite the conversation is a very good one (and one I have been able to recognize). Not to keep a person waiting forever, but not jumping on every text or email if you have other things going on is important because of how they react. Do they assume you are busy at work and just check in? Do they think you are no longer interested and send a snide remark? That kind of thing.

    • I’ve stopped jumping on EVERY text (although I tend to respond pretty quickly) only because I’m trying to get my priorities straight. If I’m hanging out with my son, I don’t have to check my phone.

      I think that’s different than seeing a text and deliberately waiting to respond to someone because you don’t want to appear too available.

      • I’m doing the same as you, not replying immediately (unless it is from my son!) to anyone now. Some people think that is purposely testing them…which is a warning sign for friends or more-than-friends, I think, depending on how they put it.

        The only other time I wait, in terms of potential “more thans” (when I have them) is when I am trying to figure out what to say in just the right way. I do tend to overthink things though.

        • For sure, sometimes I take some time to think…but then I figure it’s better to not have those conversations via text 🙂

          But I do respond immediately when I’ve got my phone in my hand and not doing anything better!

  3. Very sound advice and I think some of it could also be applied in the ventures of both the sexes. Far too often have I been the one to always instigate conversation, which I finally recognized, then stopped doing so only to find that the conversations that I once “enjoyed” had ended. Good “advice” piece 😉

    • Thanks, Beatnik!!

      I’m not presuming that women don’t also engage in some of this crap. But I’ve not been on the other side of it.

      I suppose what you describe can apply to friendships as well. It’s never great when you realize you don’t make it to someone’s priority list.

  4. You are spot on Ann. I want to add my two cents: men are “hunters.” If they are not making the effort, the interest isn’t there. If he doesn’t text or call, or if you have to initiate, he is not hunting, which means he isn’t in to you. Never chase a man. If he isn’t mAking the moves, he doesn’t reAlly want you. One of the hardest things a woman has to learn is to let go, and just be honest with hersel if a man doesn’t reAlly care for her. He is not the only person who can make choices, you an choose to opt put of his games.

    • Thanks Caroline!

      An interesting spin on it for sure – the hunter aspect. Reinforces what I’m saying I think.

      Letting go is difficult because I think we often don’t like the result. We are really good at fooling ourselves.

      I think the notion of being empowered is really important – realizing you can make the decision and move forward. I don’t think it can be underestimated.

  5. All solid advice. But I will say that #5 applies to women, as well. I’ve noticed this behavior from a LOT of women, they just like the attention they get from various men, but don’t necessarily plan to act on it.

    • Interesting. As I said to Beatnik above, I don’t mean to imply women don’t do this stuff, it’s just not something I’m aware of.

      Although not surprising…I think in some cases, when someone craves the positive reinforcement perhaps that’s what drives the behavior.

      Why do you think women do it?

      • Like I said, it’s just attention. A little ego-boost. For good or bad. You must have seen this type of thing I’m talking about, the women who have hundreds or thousands of friends on Facebook, and are always post “sexy” pictures of themselves which are then clicked on and have dozens of guys commenting about how hot they are. It’s the same thing.

        Heck, I’ll admit to having once maintained a pretty long-term flirting relationship, which including occasional sexting, with a woman I’ve just known alone. She’s married, with a bunch of kids, lives in another state, we’ll never meet. But sometimes we’d right back and forth about what we’d do to each other if we were together. It was all in good fun.

        • Oh, I see it all the time, on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs. I’ve written a couple of posts on things like that in the past…and pissed a number of people off as a result.

          I would probably think differently about your online flirtation if you ever set an expectation that you could actually meet in person to do what you talked about.

          I had an engagement with someone who called me his muse and who wrote pretty amazing poetry and stories inspired by me (I put two of his poems on my “about” page). The primary focus of our discussions were helping each other through the scenarios we faced. But sometimes it was nice to fantasize… although we stopped doing that when either of us were in a relationship where it was no longer appropriate.

          That stuff feels different to me than the kind of texting / online dating stuff I was describing.

          • I brought it up on a message board once and was pretty roundly condemned for it. Told that it was the same as cheating. But my feeling at the time was that *I* wasn’t married or seeing anyone, and she was always the one to escalate things (she first asked for my # and started texting), I just starting going along with it. I’m still not sure if I should feel guilty for any of that.

            I’m still friends with her on FB and Instagram, but it’s been a couple of years since we’ve done any of that stuff. She and her husband seem a bit happier now, so I guess she doesn’t need my ego-boost anymore (or else she’s now sexting some other man).

            But, no, there was never any serious talk of meeting in person, nor did we connect via a Dating site or app (it actually began on Myspace), so I guess it’s not quite the same as what you’re describing. I just figure it’s all in the same realm of behavior.

  6. I am not laughing… just hooked and hanging from your lips. 😛
    1) Always say what you think she wants to hear, It is not worth to get your balls kicked and eyes clawed out when being honest (I still go for the nails miauw)
    2)Yeah that is it god yes relax. we get there… that time again Got to go.
    3)Ooh I remember her maybe she is still interested… ooh hey other girl,, do I have plans.. no I was just thinking of you as a matter of fact (1).. Our thought lifespans is short right.
    4)Why did I say yes (1), I will sneak out the back
    5)Dude check her out she is hot for me. But can’t tell the wife.

    All jokes aside. good advice on man… But I am nothing like that. I only came up with these answers because well… Uhmm you know.. I was young once.

    Great read Ann. Beautiful and wise.

  7. Don’t forget that we are Males and as such don’t necessarily understand all the subtlety and subtext than many (not all, of course) women expect us to comprehend he full colorations of in communicating with them
    Men, not boys (and I’m being particular in my choice of words) do understand the subtext to a degree. Boys, and you can be 50 and still be a boy when it comes to the hunt, don’t get it. At all. Even a little bit.
    The Smart Men who use their big head, more than the little head, get it most of all, but even so we still miss a few cues.

  8. I started dating a few months ago, and I totally agree – if a guy is truly interested, he’ll make the effort. Most guys would rather tell you what you want to hear than cause conflict.

    Not that I follow my own advice or anything.

  9. The first four are essentially the one good thing that came out of that ‘He’s just not that into you’ book/movie. Truly. All of them boil down to that, and the self-talk that women do to make themselves believe otherwise is endless (I find it baffling and fascinating).

    I’m surprised you find the last surprising. Sexting/hot chat with someone you haven’t met is essentially going ‘custom-made porn? For free? Yes please!’ Then when they come, they log off. Until the next time they’re horny. It’s hot, it’s easy, it’s zero effort. I assume most men who angle for that are absolutely not interested in more (I also assume that most are liars (ie married, not the person in the photos, not in the location they said, not the age they said etc etc)). I can tell in a few minutes of exchange if someone just wants to use me for free porn: nope, that’s what the rest of the internet is for.


    • You are quite right about the self talk…I’m quite familiar with it myself, although I don’t fool myself anymore, finally.

      I found the last surprising because I had no idea there was such a thing. I met my ex in 1998 when online dating was fringe. Perhaps there were other vehicles for that in those days (chat rooms) but now it seems to be pretty darn common. Guys whose profiles say they want to meet, have a relationship, etc., end up just wanting to have that free porn of which you speak.

      I can tell now if that’s what they want, but I definitely didn’t have that on my radar at first.

  10. From a guy’s perspective, I found that I was really in accord with your thoughts.

    I would prefer to have open and honest communication and know where I stand. If you like me, let me know. If you are not interested, let me know too.

    I never like being pushed into a decision, no one does. So why not enjoy things and let the relationship take its course? Open communication helps ease this one.

    Sometimes fantasy is what we want but why not mesh that into reality? Even sex can get boring if it isn’t spiced up one in awhile. This is kinda my response to the sexting thing.

    Ultimately I am a guy. Being subtle either confuses me or I missed it all together. It’s not that I don’t care…I simply don’t know. Keep it simple please!


    • Thanks, Vic… I’m pleased we are on the same wavelength. I agree with letting things take their course, although it’s not my natural inclination. But so often what I experienced was men who quite deliberately let me think that they were interested.

      Sometimes subtlety works, but probably not over text. I do think in person there are gentle ways to ask a question – I’ve got a few topics with Tony I need to be careful about – but more often than not, I find a direct approach to be the best.

    • I took a training course ages ago at work that talked about open-ended questions to get the most out of coaching your people. I try to remember it on a regular basis because it totally works…the trick is how to phrase the question, which sometimes still stumps me.

  11. Ann,

    I know you enough to understand that these 5 items are not written as absolutes. They are more common observations and people more or less exhibit most of these behaviors.

    In you own situation with your BOYFRIEND, Tony, he has demonstrated some of the behaviors (that you list) and yet he is decidedly interested in moving the relationship forward. However, there are some unknown factors at play that drive him to fall into some (if not all) of these situations that leave you drawing conclusions that are counterproductive to what the two of you are SLOWLY developing together.

    I do like how you are thinking about this. I am truly beginning to understand how you think.

    • I’m not sure that Tony has demonstrated any of these behaviors, unless I’m missing something? On occasion he takes his time responding to emails but that’s not the kind of thing I was referring to in my post… men who disappear forever unless you text them first.

      Can you help me understand better what you mean?

  12. I know I’m late to the show, trying to catch up on commenting where I wanted to.
    I agree with what you wrote. As someone newly dating, it is not always easy. I had a great first date with Terry and … nothing since. I sent him a text once, asking if he fancied a movie night. He was supposedly busy at work. I asked again. Same answer. I wish he’d told me he wasn’t interested in a relationship with me (and I realize there are plenty of reasons why he wouldn’t think it could work between us, some because of who we are, some maybe because of outside reasons (I have too many young kids and his are gone, he is in a different phase of life?). The thing is, because he never talked to me about it, I’ll never know. But one way or the other, I’m glad that I’m not losing my time pursuing something that isn’t meant to be. What I dislike though is that I believe we could have been friends, even if not lovers. Because of the way the conversation flowed, the way things felt that night. Oh well… too bad 🙂
    Maybe one day I’ll meet him again, or hear from him again. If not, even a friendship isn’t meant to be 🙂

  13. The bit about guys making plans and not following through is super common! There are soooo many guys who want to fantasize, or maybe think they’re bold enough to meet in person, and then can’t or won’t go through with it. Even if you give them the option of having it just be a fantasy flirtation, they’ll insist that they are legit, right up to the point where they drop off the face of the planet.

    Now I can’t imagine the doofus who would not follow through on the opportunity with a real, live woman. They are obviously out there, but it is hard to believe. If I stumbled across you, or a woman like you who was eager, friendly, sexy and responsive, I damn sure wouldn’t let you get away with getting all I possibly could out of the situation!

    • I understand that someone people want just the online stuff…but it’s when they insist they are legit and want to follow through that it makes me a little crazy.

      And I’m with you…if I find someone I connect with, it seems only natural to want to try to do more with them.

      • I hear you, and definitely feel the pain. These guys insist that they are legit, but the more they protest that they are, the less they really will go through with it. People are funny creatures and their inhibitions can be down right hysterical if they weren’t o frustrating!

What do you think?