by Jenn Clark
Sometimes I wish there was a pocket manual for relationships. When in a confusing situation, we could just whip it out and refer to it at a moment’s notice. The truth is, most relationship issues are unique. They differ vastly based on the people involved and their individual experiences and behaviors. However, there are some problems that are fairly universal and those are the ones that I try to deal with in my “Relationship Advice” articles.
Generally speaking, I think women are often more introspective when it comes to relationships. We’re the ones who buy the majority of the “self-help” books (which is why it’s never a good idea to leave those on your coffee table for a guy to see). We’re the ones cruising the Internet for answers to questions like “Why is my boyfriend being such an a-hole?” and “How can I get this guy to like me?” We’re often looking for ways to improve our relationships and, in turn, improve ourselves. It’s for this reason that I bring you my latest “Relationship Advice” post. By figuring out what we’re doing wrong with men, we can figure out how to do it right. So here’s some common mistakes that we, as women, make with men:
1. We pursue them – Alright, ladies. This is my #1 dating rule. Never ever pursue a guy. Here’s the honest truth: If he’s interested in you, he will make it known. Don’t get caught up in the belief that he’s just “being shy.” (Some of the men who will pursue you the hardest are the “shy” ones.) Don’t think things like “he’s too ‘busy.'” (No man is ever too “busy” to go after the girl he wants.) If he’s lukewarm (or cold) about pursuing you, then he’s lukewarm (or cold) in his feelings for you. And who wants that? Trust me on this. You won’t change his feelings by calling and texting him, by posting cute messages on his FB wall, or by hanging around him too much. In fact, if a guy is “not that into you,” doing these things will end up pushing him away. Remember the movie “Field of Dreams” and the famous line “If you build it, he will come?” Well, here’s my version of that quote when it comes to men: “If you chase him, he will run.” I believe our job as women is to stand still in the center of our own lives. Busy yourself with the business of being you. Embrace your life. Immerse yourself in school or a job you love. Develop a hobby or interest you are passionate about. Cultivate your relationships with friends and family. Be complete and whole and watch who comes your way. After all, when our lives are full and we are happy, we are a lot more attractive to others. Men included. And when that cute guy notices you and starts to call, isn’t that a great feeling?
2. We aren’t picky enough – Two of my favorite things in life are men and shopping. And, if you think about it, there’s an analogy to be made here. Imagine you are going to a party and you need to find that perfect dress. More than likely you’ll head to the mall and probably check out several different stores. You may very well spend an entire Saturday in dressing rooms trying on fifteen thousand different possibilities. And, if you are anything like me, you won’t settle until you find just the right outfit; the one that fits perfectly and turns you into the goddess you are (or at least close enough). If we wouldn’t settle for a sub-par LBD, why in the heck would we settle for a man who isn’t up to our standards? So often it’s as if we think to ourselves, “I just want a guy! Any guy will do!” Don’t let your desire to be with someone cloud your judgment. Don’t be afraid to be alone for awhile. I’ve made this mistake more times than I care to remember. I am now learning to be even pickier with the men I date than with the clothes I wear. Which is pretty freakin’ picky.
3. We move too fast – Does this sound familiar? In the beginning of a relationship, a guy usually wants to spend a whole bunch of time with you. And I’m sure you’ve noticed what invariably follows – he suddenly stops wanting to spend a whole bunch of time with you. I like to call this signature move the “guy pullback.” And when it happens, it sucks. This is why it’s very important that YOU set the pace. As hard as it is, your long term results will be much better if you go slow. Do not spend every night with him (or every night he wants to see you). Do not text him all day long. Do not spend hours upon hours on the phone. Of course you’ll want to. But don’t do it. The slower you go in the beginning, the less he’ll pull back later. Keeping him wanting more is the key to keeping him interested. Think long term, sisters. After all, delayed gratification is a sign of maturity.
4. We sleep with them too soon – I always feel like I need to make a disclaimer when I talk about sex. I’m not preaching abstinence (although if that’s your choice, I support you) or being a prude. The bottom line is after we sleep with a guy it’s highly likely that we’ll connect emotionally and also get blinded by the “sex haze.” Let’s face it: We’ll want a relationship. And if we haven’t taken the time to get to know the guy, we may find ourselves wanting a relationship with a man who is not right for us. And I’m just going to say the thing none of us ever want to admit – if we sleep with them too quickly, there’s a possibility he won’t see us as someone he wants a “real” relationship with. (I hate to be the one to call it out, but somebody has to…) Very few women are content with being some guy’s booty call. Being used for your body is degrading and demeaning and often makes us feel like shit. Having your body and your sexuality appreciated is a wonderful thing. When a man has to wait a bit and work for it, he’ll value it that much more. And taking things slow will also give you time to determine if he’s someone worthy of that gift.
5. We believe the fantasy – A few days ago, my good friend “N” and I were talking about this. She asked me why I thought women bought into the dream of the White Knight and Prince Charming. I thought about it for a few seconds and said, “I think every girl wants a little Disney.” Sisters, here’s the truth: Disney is a movie. It’s a “land” (or a “world” depending on what part of the United States you are in). Disney is not reality. No man will ever, can ever, be your knight in shining armor. You can’t expect him to kiss you out of a coma, rescue you from your hag step-sister, or slay a fire-breathing dragon and then climb up your hair extensions to get to you. It just ain’t happening. Men (just like us) are human. One minute your guy will be a prince and the next a frog. (Just like every one of us is part princess, part bad witch.) Don’t expect him to be perfect. And if you are hoping for the “fairy tale” ending, it’s best to wake yourself up and realize that life (with or without a man) is filled with as many pumpkins as it is horse-drawn carriages.
6. We try to change them – I’m sure you know the saying “You can’t change a man.” I 100% agree. Oh sure, you could probably encourage him to wear a certain cologne or to style his hair differently, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The cold, hard fact is you can’t change who a man is on the inside. You cannot change his character. And you can’t really change how he treats you. Any change he does make must come from him. And you can’t count on that happening. I believe men come with an “as is” policy. You either have to accept them and love them as they are, or move on. It’s really that simple. If you try to change your guy, more than likely it won’t work and he’ll end up resenting you for it.
7. We ignore our friends – Wanna know what I think when I see a girl who’s ignoring her friendships to spend all of her time and emotions on her boyfriend? A girl whose relationship is going to get really shitty really quickly. Or at the very least, unhealthy and unbalanced. Maintaining our friendships is integral to maintaining ourselves in a relationship. If there’s one major lesson I’ve learned over the years it’s that my female friendships are one of the most important parts of my life. My girls support and encourage me in the way only another woman can. They make my life richer and, as a result, my relationships better. I cannot even tell you how lucky I feel to have the friendships I do! From my “Army of Bitches” (you all know who you are), to the various ladies I am continually learning from and growing with, to my new “Circle of Sisters” – YOU, my readers. Every time I receive an email telling me how much something I’ve written has meant, an FB wall post saying how much you enjoy my blog, or a heartfelt question asking my advice, I am filled with overwhelming joy and humility. And I ain’t givin’ that up for no man…
8. We make excuses for their behavior – Here’s the typical life cycle of a relationship: Guy and girl meet. We are both on our “best behavior.” We are pretty sure that the other is the closest thing to perfect we’ve ever encountered. We get comfortable. Our flaws begin to reveal themselves. Reality hits. Uh-oh. Why is it that we as women so want to believe that the guy who presented himself in the beginning is the guy he actually is? And it seems like we’ll go to great lengths to keep the dream alive. We’ll say things like, “He flirts with other women because he’s friendly. Not because he’s a cheater.” And “He’s just really stressed out with school/work/family/etc. That’s why he’s so distant.” Like I’ve said continually, no one is perfect. But if your man exhibits “dealbreaker” behavior, it really is best to take off the rose-colored glasses and see him for who he actually is. Only then can you determine if he’s someone you can live with. Without excuses.
9. We expect too much – What happens when we make a man the center of our universe? We expect him to act like he’s worthy of being the center of our universe. And this is way too much pressure to put on another human being. No one person can be our “everything.” No man can fill all of our needs. Here’s another Jenn X-ism (Are you sick of them yet?): “A man is not the solution. He’s an addition to the equation.” If we make a man (or finding a man) our whole reason for existence, not only will we resent him when he disappoints us, but he’ll resent us for putting those kinds of expectations on him.
10. We are too needy – This is a huge complaint I hear a lot from my male friends. Men often feel that we are too needy with their time and their emotions, and (most importantly) that we feel the “need” to talk about the relationship much more than they do. When your life is whole and balanced, you are less likely to be needy with others. When you are self-sufficient and content, you’ll have the confidence necessary to be an asset rather than a liability in your relationship. Think about it in terms of your girlfriends. We’ve all had that “friend” who takes our time and our emotions while giving little in return. Exhausting, isn’t she? Neediness and “clinginess” are major turn OFFS. Do I “want” a man? Sure! But do I “need” a man to validate me, be my emotional life preserver, or to complete me? Nope.
So girls, tell me this: Do you see yourself on this list? I sure do. In fact, I’ve made every single one of these mistakes. Every. Single. One. Crap! But, like you, I’m learning. I’m figuring out what works and what doesn’t. And I’m living out the results in my life. Which is truly an amazing thing.
Jenn X is a writer, blogger, and all around “sex-pert” when it comes to men, dating, and love. She began writing at the age of six when she created a newspaper, wrote articles about her family and pets, and attempted to sell copies to her neighbors for a dime. Around the same time, she began offering relationship advice to anyone who would listen. As a trusted counselor to many women over the years, Jenn has experienced the gamut of relationship blunders, both first and second hand. She recently put her two passions together and now writes relationship advice columns, both on her blog and for various websites. She doesn’t mince words when it comes to matters of the heart, but always tempers her viewpoints with wit and humor. One fan describes her like this: “If Carrie Bradshaw is a cosmopolitan, Jenn X is a scotch on the rocks.” Jenn received her B.A. in Journalism at the University of Southern California and was a columnist for the Pasadena Star-News when she was only 17 years old. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is just now starting to take her own advice. You can find her complete blog posts and published writings at www.jennx30somethingandsingle.tumblr.com and follow her on Twitter @JennX30
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.