Recently I caught up with a guy friend, who I’ll call Justin. Lately, he has been seeing someone new who I’ll call Amber.
For the last few months, Justin has always referred to Amber as “his friend” who he “hangs out with.” She is single and has 3 kids who he has already met and is nearly playing daddy to. She has been spending her days off working a part time job at the place where he works specifically to spend time with him.
Only an ill-advised tattoo of his Justin’s face on Amber’s bicep could make her love more obvious.
Justin shared that Amber “really, REALLY likes him” and he “should probably admit she’s his girlfriend” (wait… what? Is it because she’s somehow earned it? Is he like a prize bull that she’s fattened up for the state fair??).
Much to his dismay, Amber has jumped in with both feet and magically, “he’s just not ready for a relationship” and “it’s too soon since his divorce” and… and… and…*insert mumbled, incomprehensible excuse here*
Here’s where the music stops (if you’re familiar with vinyl, it’s record screech time).
This, dear one, is NOT what true love with a wonderful new man looks like.
Not that Justin isn’t a wonderful guy, because he truly is. He’s a normal, smart, funny guy who makes a loyal partner… once he wins over a woman who he feels is worthy of him.
The problem here is that Amber has served herself up on a silver platter and is buying his bullshit, age-old “conflicted/broken man with emotional issues” routine.
As Justin told me more about how devoted Amber is, he looked a little like a disappointed child with a deflated balloon– a far cry from the way a man lights up when he’s truly smitten with a woman.
He would go to his grave before admitting it, but Amber has already lost his respect. He really thinks that his lack of passion for her is because he’s broken and conflicted— PLUS he actually cares about her, which is why he hasn’t stopped seeing her completely.
It’s only a matter of time before he gets bored and moves on or they have such a piss-poor relationship that Amber eventually comes to her senses and kicks him to the curb.
All because she unknowingly denied him the opportunity to win her over.
By going all in too soon and buying his “conflicted” routine, she never gave him the chance to strive for her attention. He never got the chance to fantasize about having her all to himself and for his feelings to grow. The new-love passion and intrigue aren’t there for him because…
The mystery is gone and he doesn’t have to work for her attention.
Without meaning to, Amber has killed the chase. To make it even worse, she’s been settling for crumbs of his attention ever since.
Admitting you’ll wait around for a man when he’s actively not pursuing you is like lying down and letting your opponent win at a high stakes game. There’s no challenge. It ruins the fun for him. Even if he really liked you at the start, the challenge is gone. It’s life in easy mode.
Now that Amber has settled for crumbs for so long, Justin is never going to give her his love and devotion simply because she’s never required it.
Allowing this kind of halfway, lukewarm behavior simply doesn’t inspire the kind of devotion that a woman really wants and that a man actually needs to feel true love for a woman.
This isn’t all Amber’s fault. She has innocently done what most women do in this situation. She has mistakenly tried to be patient with Justin’s emotions when what he really needs is a fun, playful game (and by the way, yes, this is all a game. I don’t make these rules) and the opportunity to feel alive with a woman.
Having gone through a divorce herself, she’s been trying to show compassion in the same way she hoped for when she was freshly broken up.
For a woman, it would be delicious if a man extended the same kind of loving care Amber has been lavishing upon Justin. That kind of devotion would usually make us swoon… But it’s just not the same for a man who really wants to strive, achieve and earn a woman’s attention.
Once a woman admits her undying devotion to a man too soon with no struggle or friction, it’s a one way road into boredom and complacency. Unless he’s on the exact same page as you and has had time to work for your love and fantasize about you, he will get bored, pull away and become “conflicted.” He might still spend time with you, but his heart and soul won’t be in it. The passion and romance will fizzle yet again.
And… he won’t even really know why he isn’t feeling it for you.
The point here is not to rag on Amber OR Justin, it’s to prevent you from ever falling for this excruciating kind of half relationship with any guy you’re seeing.
Here are seven important guidelines to avoid letting this happen to you:
1. Don’t rush exclusivity.
2. Don’t bend over backwards for a man’s attention.
3. Never “work for” a commitment from a man.
4. Remember that you are number one.
5. Even though you might have strong feelings for a man, that doesn’t mean it’s time to share them or that he feels exactly the same way.
6. Require his complete attention when you’re together or withdraw yours.
7. Wait for monogamy to have sex.