YOU are in control of your choices and experiences as you date. Believing you have this control, and feeling the empowerment of that belief is essential to being able to fully participate and enjoy dating and relating with men.
To continue from Part 1, here are steps 3 – 5 to taking control of your dating:
3. Give him a chance to make you happy.
Many men are stumbling through this dating thing just like you are. They really do want to get it right. Like you, they may do and say things that seem silly, out of place or just plain dumb.
If he does something of real consequence, don’t just cut and run. Communicate your discomfort or needs and give him a chance to recover. Tell him kindly what you want and give him the chance to do it. If he does (or at least tries), that’s good! It shows he cares for you and wants to make you happy. If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too. It shows you that you weren’t a good match, and on you go to the next date.
4. Learn how to express your wishes.
Men can’t read your mind. If you expect them to do so, expect to be single for a long time or stuck in an unfulfilling relationship. Taking control of your dating and relationships means being grownup enough to ask for what you want and learning how to do it in a kind and non-threatening way.
This is one of the strongest tools you can use with your man. Cluing him in to what makes you happy is the best gift you can give him and the best way to take care of yourself. There is an art to this: knowing when to ask and knowing the difference between wanting and expecting.
5. Know when it’s time to go.
I talk to women often who dated or stayed in relationships far longer than they should have. Whether it was painful, unhealthy or just not a good match, staying too long slowly chips away at your self-respect, trust in yourself and trust in men.
I’ve certainly done this myself. I stayed with a man for 3.5 years who wouldn’t even call me his girlfriend or introduce me to his family. Yet I was sure he was going to marry me some day. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I want you to know that you’re not the only one.
Step 6 of my 6-Step Find Hope and Find Him program is “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” This is where the rubber hits the road. When dating or in a relationship, it’s important to keep some consciousness about whether it is good for you.
A note: It’s imperative that you know the difference between control and controlling; one implies stepping up and taking responsibility, and the other indicates pushing forward to exert authority over every little thing. When you learn to recognize the difference between the two, you can focus on accepting responsibility. That will have a tremendously positive effect on how you feel about yourself and give you clarity about what you want so you can go get it.
Remember Kathy? Ultimately, she was able to express herself thanks to her new-found clarity. She spoke with Bob and said, “I really enjoyed meeting you. And while your email was very nice, I’d like you to know that this is too soon for me for such intimacy.” Did he see her again? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that as soon as we worked this through and realized there was no need for her anxiety, she took care of herself and eliminated her fear.
On the very next day she went out on a date with another fabulous man. She went with more confidence and she felt more comfortable being herself and being open. She had fun, and at the end of their date, they planned their next one.