(Read intro here, about being single here, about getting the guy here, and about the dating scene here.)
|photo by Andee McDonald|
Once you have put all the things we've discussed up to this point into practice, there will come a day when you find yourself going on lots of dates with one particular man. There will also come a day when that man will ask you to date only him and no one else, and you will feel so special that he wants you all for himself. Naturally, you'll say yes to going steady with him, and your relationship will take flight.
Here is a look at what might come to pass over the course of the next several months:
You will love spending as much time together as possible. The relationship will be new, fresh, and exhilarating. Because of this your emotions could develop quickly and you could become very attached to him early on.
He'll treat you amazingly. He'll open the door for you. He'll take you to fancy restaurants. Or he'll even make you dinner and surprise you with your favorite chick flick to watch together.
Things will be going great. So great that you don't even think twice about him not opening the door for you anymore. You are disappointed when he doesn't want to drive the 25 minutes to see you at your night shift, but you'll convince yourself to be okay with it because you love him. Plus, you know he loves you, too, and that he wouldn't do anything to intentionally hurt you.
You'll miss him so much when you're not with him that you'll go out of your way to take him lunch on campus. He'll be so grateful to you, but start to get a tad squirmy. You won't know it, but he'll be nervous that you do things for him that he wouldn't do for you. He'll start to feel a little threatened.
He'll want to hang out with his guy friends more. And you'll be fine with it, at least on the outside, because you don't want him to think you're too needy. By this point you've lost touch with most of your girl friends because you have a serious boyfriend, so you'll end up alone on the nights he's out with his guys. You'll start to get a little resentful that he wouldn't rather be with you, but you quickly excuse his behavior because you love him, and you know that he loves you, too.
He wants to go out with the guys again, and you can't hold in your disappointment. You get into an argument, and you try to convince him of all the reasons he should want to be with you tonight. He says things that makes you think he thinks you're clingy and annoying, and you worry that he might be right. So you let him go, and apologize for getting him upset.
You're worried about your relationship. All you want is to be with him, but he is often cranky and short with you. He always apologizes, though. You take him lunch on campus again, and he says he doesn't deserve you. You tell him how sweet he is to say that. Then he says, "No, I really don't deserve you. I think we should see other people."
You frantically try to tell him all the reasons why he does deserve you. He's kind. He's honorable. He's loving. He's smart and funny. You love him. He deserves someone who loves him as much as you do. He plays along and doesn't want to break up anymore, but is different from then on.
He's more distant, so you get more desperate to save your relationship. You think of all these sweet and thoughtful things to do for him, positive that he can't deny your love. But he gets frustrated with you often and sometimes explains some of his thoughts as to why you two shouldn't be together.
You keep desperately fighting for your relationship, because it is so worth it to you. He is so worth it to you. You resolve to be okay with him hanging out with his pals all the time. You resolve to overlook the kurt remarks he makes, because you know he is just stressed. You keep doing things like taking him lunch, or cleaning his car, or anything that will show him how much you love him. You know that he loves you, too, because you have gone through so much together.
Finally, he tells you he wants to break up. You are so emotional that you make yourself out to be insane. And you are, a little. You can't imagine not having him. So you promise yourself you won't give up on him. So you allow yourself to be drug along through the emotional jungle, convincing yourself that he will come back.
You are a complete mess. And he isn't coming back. You'll heal eventually, but then you'll start dating another guy and it could end up similarly.
BECAUSE YOU DON'T LET GUYS SACRIFICE FOR YOU.
You might not know you can. You might not think you're worth it. You might feel silly if he tries. But the more he doesn't sacrifice for you, the more he falls out of love with you. And the more you sacrifice for him, the more you fall in love with him.
This is why women stay in abusive relationships. Of any kind. They get stuck in the cyclone of their man treating them negatively, fearing they'll lose him, doing everything they can to show their love, then falling more and more in love with and emotionally dependent upon him, then letting their man treat them negatively again, with it all starting over...
There really is a simple solution, as long as you are confident in yourself enough to walk away if it doesn't work. The solution is to allow him to and provide him opportunities to sacrifice for you. (Read that sentence again, slowly and intentionally...)
Sacrifice may sound like an intimidating word. But really, all I'm suggesting is that you ask him to do things for you once in a while, maybe even things that may not come particularly naturally or easily to him. Of course you should still be sacrificing for him, but don't enable him to fall out of love with you or to treat you poorly because he doesn't give anything to the relationship. It still may or may not not end in marriage, but a guy will be more inclined to feed a relationship in which he feels masculine and heroic because of they way you let him treat you.
You may have guessed by now that I'm a major proponent for traditional gender rolls in relationships. Let him be chivalrous! Let him do things for you! Let him get a little jealous when he sees you talking to your male co-worker! And you should let him pursue you, even throughout your relationship. Let him adore you. Laugh at his jokes. Be feminine! He'll love it and you'll love the way that he'll show you he loves it.
I once asked a wise man I respect and love as a father with all my heart how to know if a guy you are dating is the right guy to marry, and if he'll stay faithful to you. His answer was simple and profound, and has been a major contributing deciding factor in whether or not I should progress with certain guys I dated:
He will want to spend as much time with you as you will want to spend with him.
Yup. That's it.
Healthy relationships with the potential for marriage should not be hard. You should not have to fight for your relationship before you get married. You shouldn't have to feel like you're being ditched for the fellas. Ever. Marriage is worth fighting for, not any relationship before then. If you are struggling when you're dating, things will not change when you're married. Dating should be fun!! If there is drama in your dating relationship, you need to find the strength to let it go and move on with your life. I know it's so easy for me to say, but believe me, I have learned the hard way. I have learned that giving of myself too much in a relationship leaves me un-whole. It deprives myself of all of me, and turns me into something that I'm not and that I don't deserve. Unless the other person fills in my un-whole-ness with parts of him. When I met John William, I had never before known what it was like to be someone's favorite person in the whole world (and I was almost married!). I'd never known what it was like to have someone not be physically able to stay away from me. I had never been in a relationship without drama fueling it. John was so steady. He was so calming. He was so...real. In a funny way, our relationship was comparatively boring to my last one. There were no surprise fights, no passionate make-ups, no heated discussions, no unmet expectations. He opened my eyes to how good men are really supposed to treat the women they love. And he gives and gives and gives to our relationship. And guess what--he let's me give back without the threat of feeling emasculated. He respects that as a woman I want to serve him, but he also respects that as a man he wants to make me feel untouchably incredible. And he does make me feel that way. And so will your husband, if you let him! Just let him sacrifice for you.