When You Should Treat a Man Like a Woman

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Are you an independent, smart single woman who is dating and looking for love? If so, you’ve likely been challenged with how to respond when a man does something that ticks you off. What are realistic expectations? What should you tolerate? I get asked this question in many forms.

It can be confusing. On the one hand, you have a strong desire to be liked and finally find The One. On the other hand, you are a confident woman who doesn’t want to put up with nonsense or be a pushover.

Here is how that conflict can look in real life: The part of you that wants to be liked accepts all sorts of silliness and disrespect, while the other part of you judges quickly and bails out at the first sign of trouble.

Consider the situation of my client, Christine. During her coaching session she complained that a man she connected with online has been calling her after 10 p.m. She thought that was rude. (So do I.) She wakes up at 5 a.m., and it was affecting her sleep. She asked me if I thought she should say something to him. She was hesitant because she didn’t want to scare him away.

So I asked her: How would you deal with a girlfriend who kept calling at that hour? Her instant response was, “I’d talk to her and let her know that it wasn’t okay!”

There you go. It seems so clear if it’s a girlfriend, right? So why wouldn’t you respond the same way with a man you’re dating? This is a reasonable boundary. It’s intrusive behavior that affects your quality of life–not to mention it screams booty call.

When we date we tend to make our experiences all about him instead of ourselves. Does he like me? Did I say the right thing to him? What will he do next? Christine’s dilemma had very little to do with him; he was going to do what he was going to do. Rather, it was about her personal needs and whether she was going to take care of herself; even if it meant he left.

Setting personal boundaries is a constant. Having your “must-haves” honored should be expected of any relationship. There is no reason to make exceptions because he’s a guy and you’re afraid you’ll scare him off. If it’s something important enough to ask a girlfriend to do differently, then you probably want to address it with him.

So…what can she do? If she goes with the side of her that wants to find a partner, she can simply accept his behavior. If she chooses the side that never wants to act like a desperate dater, she can dump him.

Or…she can realize there is another choice. Do what you would do with your girlfriend: tell him it’s not okay.

Here is the simple phrase I suggested Christine use to tell him what she would like: “Joe, I like you and I’m interested in getting to know you…but I work early so I don’t take calls after 9 p.m. If you want to get in touch, please call before that. I hope that works for you.” Direct, yet kind and non-demanding, right?

Whether we admit it or not, wanting to be liked is a huge part of the dating process. I think it’s important to clarify, though, that you want to be liked by the right men. When you politely tell Joe to please not call after 9, he can honor it or not. But you have honored yourself.

This really is pretty simple: take care of yourself with men the same way you do with your friends. A man doesn’t get a pass just because he’s hot and you really want to hook up. By the same token, there is no need to be demanding or critical; just ask and let him decide what he’s willing to do.

Men are most definitely special, but don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t have to live up to your reasonable expectations. And like your friends, the good guys will respect you when you take care of yourself.

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Comments

  1. says

    Bobbi,
    This is such important stuff. I love the way you break it down and even give examples about what to say. Historically boundaries haven’t been my strong suit and before I didn’t even notice that I was letting people walk all over me. Now I have a good handle on it but occasionally find myself slipping up with people I really care about. Thanks so much for the tips and advice!

    • says

      Hi Umoh! I’m so glad I could give you advice you can use. Yah, it’s interesting how we can lose ourselves…sometimes it’s due to our desire to be liked or maybe to remain non-confrontational…there are a lot of reasons why we allow people to push us outside where we want to go. But it is our responsibility and I love that you’ve made such good progress. Good for you! You’re so beautiful…I’m happy to see you here!!

  2. Angelic says

    Absolutely. We women tend to worry more about how we’re perceived than how we are treated. We need to understand & advocate for what’s best (or even acceptable) for us & then find a man who fits within that. Just like with friendships. For real, though, not to be “testing” the men we meet. Great article, Bobbi.

    • says

      Right on! You synthesized this perfectly. If only I could learn to speak in succinct sentences. LOL! Thanks for stopping by and for taking time to share your advice/comments. I’m so glad you did!

  3. Diane says

    The things you don’t like but endure when you are dating do not automatically disappear if you get married…Making a request similiar to in the article above are a strong indications of whether or not you can set limits in a healthy way…a good test…both for him and YOU!!

    • says

      So true! My husband doesn’t put things away in the kitchen. Never has. I’ve learned to just go in after he eats and put stuff away. Can’t sweat the small stuff. But on things that really matter…I let himknow and we always arrive at a good result for us both.

  4. says

    Bobbi,
    Right on girl. There is a balance and I hate to say it but men will get away with whatever they can if you don’t set limits or healthy boundaries – without being a B___! :)

    • says

      Thanks Julie. You’re right: the balance is important. I think it’s about addressing your “must-haves” and leaving the rest alone. Most guys really do want to get it right; we just have to tell them what that means TO US.

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