We all want to know it's going to be different this time.
He seems different.
It feels different.
And yet instead of remembering that we've been down this road too many times before, we do the same things we've always done, expecting it to somehow lead to something different than the heartbreak we've become so used to.
It's so common that we all fall into these traps at one point or another, and it usually ends the same way it did before - with our hearts broken and our self-esteem reeling.
I did too, until I finally began to question whether what I was doing was working.
I knew the answer - it wasn't.
Once I began practicing this new way of thinking, this new way of being, I found the freedom and the confidence to handle whatever dating situation I found myself in.
More importantly, I was no longer dependent on what someone else was or wasn't doing. I took my own power back in a way that not only changed the way I dated, but also changed the way I lived my life in so many other areas as well. And you can too.
It comes down to these three essential actions that will completely change your love life.
1. Stop making assumptions
If you’re like I was, you probably don't even realize you’re doing this. We make so many assumptions.
We assume that if he asked us for our number, he’s interested.
It doesn't even cross our minds for a moment that maybe he’s collecting numbers and we’re just one of several that he’s picked up before us that night.
Or, maybe he actually has a girlfriend or is even married, and was just out flirting and having fun to see if "he's still got it", never intending to actually follow up.
But instead, when he doesn't call, we assume it’s us, that we’re not good enough, or that we said or did something wrong.
We'll spend hours thinking about it and talking about it with our girlfriends. Over analyzing and obsessing about what could have made him change his mind.
When we're dating someone, we assume he’s on the same page as us.
Whether it's been a short time or a long time, when we feel like it's going well and he’s still asking us out, we assume that he's feeling the same way.
We assume that he’s thinking what we’re thinking and wanting the same type of relationship that we want.
If we're only dating him, we assume he's only dating us.
There’s lots of reasons we make these assumptions:
- It makes sense to us – if we feel this way, he must too.
- Things are going well and we don’t want to do anything to change that or to make things awkward. We don’t want to rock the boat.
- And the most important reason of all, we believe that if we just go along with it all, he’ll see how wonderful we are and choose us.
We think that it doesn't matter what he's thinking or feeling. We think that if we can just show him how amazing we are and prove our worth to him, he’ll be there too – right where we are.
We never think that maybe he’s a player, just looking for one more conquest. We ignore that he has a reputation, believing that we're going to be the one to change him.
We never think that maybe he’s only looking for one thing, or that he still has an ex-girlfriend in the picture, or that he has his own issues that hold him back from being ready to commit.
We ignore the little subtle clues he drops to let us know he’s not really there. Sometimes we even ignore it when he flat out tells us that he's not ready to commit.
When everything’s wonderful and the chemistry is there it's all too easy to make these assumptions. But it's time to stop making assumptions.
2. Be direct and communicate
It’s exactly because we make these assumptions that we don’t do the one thing that we really need to do to find out if this person we’re making our plans with and fantasizing about living our dreams with is right for us! We need to ask.
We've learned to behave so well, to not rock the boat, to not ask for what we need, to not let our needs get in the way of a relationship’s potential.
We’re afraid to say what we want, to stand up for ourselves and our own needs.
We forget that we’re also doing the choosing here. We don’t think it’s our place. And the last thing we want to do is give him any reason not to like us.
We tell ourselves that we don't want to play games. That we don't want to pressure him. That we don't want to be manipulative.
The truth is that it's not any of those things.
In reality, it's the only way we can find out if we’re on the same page and if he’s worth putting our time and energy into before we get too involved and before we have that much more of ourselves invested.
There are no guarantees, of course, but when we put on the table what we're looking for and find out what he’s looking for, we at least find out more than we would have known if we were only going on assumptions.
We know more of his terms, of where he stands so we can decide for ourselves where we want to go from here.
We can choose to stay - accepting the reality of what is – or we can choose to say “next”.
But the huge difference when we do this is that regardless of what we decide, we keep our self-esteem and our self-confidence intact. Because we know it's our choice.
Of course it’s not a first date type of conversation or even in the first few weeks. But once you’re starting to fall for him and starting to go there to that place where we can so easily go, you’ll know that it’s time for you to know.
And that's when you need to bring it up. Just ask.
3. Keep your options open
This is one that I had a difficult time with.
If I liked a guy, I went out with him, and I didn't date anyone else until I had a chance to see where that was going. Back to the part about making assumptions – I would just assume that he was doing the same.
I would think 'Of course we’re exclusive! Of course I don’t want to be with anyone else or to date anyone else. That’s why I’m with him'.
And that’s why time and time again, I would end up putting all my eggs in one basket, and losing my sense of judgment in the process. He became my central focus and I put all my time and energy and thoughts into being with him.
I thought that he wouldn't want me if I was dating other men. It just seemed slutty for lack of a better word.
But little did I know if I had done exactly that, everything would have been kept in balance. I would have saved myself so much heartbreak by keeping my options open, by continuing to date other guys until I knew for sure he was ready to be exclusive.
I would have remembered that I was the one doing the choosing instead of trying to convince someone why he should choose me. I would have realized I was simply getting to know different people, different types of people, to find out who was worth getting to know better and who wasn't.
And as for him, I would have known that any respectable guy would have expected nothing less than this type of behavior from me, knowing that any woman who truly respected herself would need to have that level of commitment from him before she became exclusively his.
Instead, as so many of us do, I set myself up for the same heartbroken outcome over and over again.
You see, if there was one single piece of advice I wished I’d known back when I was single, it was that the fastest way to finding the right guy is to find out as soon as possible if you’re on the same page as him or not.
As much as you can have a feeling about someone, as much as you think you can instinctively know, there's just no substitute for coming right out and finding out where he's really at.
If it scares him off, it’s OK.
After not doing this for the majority of my single life, I’d much rather risk losing someone over him finding me too direct, than to go on holding onto the fairytale of what I wanted it to be, rather than the reality of what it really was.
Because ultimately, if someone isn't comfortable with you being upfront and honest with them, that’s a red flag right from the start.
The only way to really know if you're on the same page is to ask. Then you can make smart decisions.