Recently I got to thinking about my past dating life. I couldn’t help but compare all the men I dated previously to the man with whom I’m choosing to spent the rest of my life. While there are some similarities between them all, tall and attractive with a slenderly athletic physique, there are some glaring differences. A lot of the men I choose to date seemed to be, well to put it bluntly, narcissistic and incredibly unfocused.
One of the things I wished I had learned in my 20’s was that men will treat you exactly how you expect to be treated. If you put absolutely no expectations on them, they won’t adhere to doing anything other then what pleases them, giving you very little if any real thought. Part of the reason I feel like men give off mixed signals, like – I’m not ready to be in a committed relationship – but I like you and I want to get to know you better – but I want to take it slow and see other people – is because we as women allow it.
If a guy is giving you the I want to be with you but I don’t want to put labels on our relationship speech, you don’t have to settle if it’s a thousand miles from what you actually want. Yet time and time again we put up with mixed signals because we think this guy is cute, funny, nice, smart etc. But the truth is, if he isn’t interested in dating you according to your expectations, he isn’t a guy you need to be dating. For years I dated guys who set the terms of our dating. Looking back I can’t believe I went along with this for as long as I did. Most men I dated were never really marriage material to begin with, yet I continued to let most of them set the perimeters of when we saw each other and how often we were in contact making it clear I was one in a few on rotation.
One of the first things that attracted me to my fiance was his focus, along with his confidence. I recall him telling me in regards to a girl he was once interested in, who seemed to have focus issues of her own, that he was boyfriend material, not just someone to date. I remember thinking, wow, who says that? He clearly knew that he was not interested in competing with other guys for a girl’s attention and he was only interested in girls who wanted to be in real relationships. Rarely had I met a guy who was so open and clear about what he wanted. Until I met my fiance I thought men were incapable of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. And thus a new standard was born. Once we began dating I noticed and appreciated all the little and big ways this guy was special.
First, he paid attention to the details. He listened when I mentioned I always wanted to learn the differences between wines and then presto, we were on a surprise date to a wine tasting class. I got text messages regularly letting me know I was in his thoughts. We quickly developed our own code words and had nicknames for each other. Our relationship developed with ease and it felt as natural as breathing. No pretense, no games, no mixed signals – we were firmly both on the same page. From that point I promised myself no matter how our relationship ended up, I’d never go back to dating the way I had before. It felt so right to be with someone who was focused and committed to the relationship that I knew I could never again date anyone who wasn’t able to do the same.
So while it took me until my mid 30’s before I had this revelation, it’s a standard I encourage for anyone still wading around the dating pool. Whether you are a teenager in your first relationship or you are well into adult hood, the same advice applies. Know what your standards are in a relationship and hold steadfast to them no matter what.