“I'm not sure what to do about this Tinder guy...”
“I’m not sure what to do with this Tinder guy. We met and I can tell he was attracted to me. I’m wondering if I should email him this article… You said I should wait until he texts first, but what if he doesn’t? He’s the first man I’ve met online that I actually want to see again.”
— Annelise (age 51)
“[A male co-worker] always walks past my door at work, stops and jokes with me, totally obvious. Everyone says he likes me…. Do you know a way I can get him to make a move?”
—Crystal (age 28)
Going after what you want is a necessary life skill.
If you’ve ever felt the sting of losing your dream house because you chose to play it safe during a bidding war, you know exactly what I mean. Missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity feels terrible. But knowing that you lost because you didn’t play the game aggressively enough? — that is a gnawing failure that most of us would do anything to keep from repeating.
Have you ever felt the sting of losing, because you didn't pursue an opportunity aggressively enough?
So then, to compensate, we often adopt a strategy that can actually make matters worse: We over-correct. We think we missed out on the perfect (whatever) because we didn’t try hard enough.
So now… we are going to TRY. Very hard. Again and again. Until we win. At every opportunity.
At work or in school, or when attempting to master any new skill, trying harder can be a necessary and effective adjustment. But in romance, trying to earn your way into a man’s heart isn’t a healthy strategy. Believing that you lost out on the perfect love match because you didn’t go for it aggressively enough… well, it sounds logical. But male-female dynamics just don’t operate that way.
Trying to earn your way into a man’s heart isn’t a healthy strategy.
Women tend to be happiest and most fulfilled in relationships where we feel unconditionally loved and accepted. Some use the word cherished to describe this feeling of being wholly appreciated. You know you are enough for him, that you don’t need to prove anything, and that he enjoys your very essence. He just feels better when you’re around, and he values you for it.
Relationships work best when a woman feels “cherished“ — he appreciates your very essence.
Working to earn a man’s interest results in an unhealthy dynamic. Relationship “work” could include:
- Contacting him too frequently. You fear that if you don't check in regularly — reminding him that you exist — he'll slip away and move on to someone new.
- Initiating dates. You believe that if you don't suggest going out, it will never happen. Don't let misguided co-workers and their online dating escapades fool you into thinking "everything is different" now. Romance still work best when you allow him the space to pursue you.
- Telling yourself that you have a "relationship" when it is really just an entanglement. Does each "date" with him have to end in sex? Until, eventually, you aren't leaving his place at all? Regular sex + flowers on your birthday doesn't equal a relationship. If you're looking for lasting love, don't settle for a Friends With Benefits situationship.
- Doing material favors for him. When you're married, you're on the same team: it's a "we" game, and you support each other in winning. Until you're married, though, hold off on helping him live his life. Don't lend him money, watch his kids, or help him with his career.
Is it him? Or is it you?
If you find yourself in a situation where you do feel the need to prove your worth to him — to win his attention and get him to focus on you — then you’re on a losing path for sure. Either he is taking advantage of you, or the problem is within you and your need to continually audition for his affection.
An emotionally mature man is uncomfortable in the receiver role, even if all he’s receiving is your focus on him. Many men can’t explain why this seems wrong, especially in the early stages of dating. He won’t give you a heads-up — he’s going to keep that uncomfortable feeling to himself. Instead, he may just conclude that he can’t trust you. That maybe you are being fake-nice, hiding something, or otherwise being manipulative. Perhaps you are overly interested in him because you want something from him…?
Of course, that’s not what you mean. You just want to ensure that a promising relationship blossoms.
But your effort does NOT spark romantic interest in men.
While you certainly can get more dates by asking for a man’s help, inviting him for coffee, sending all those texts and fascinating articles, offering to split the check, and coaxing along the process, the end result will not be the type of relationship you want.
If “working hard” has always worked for you in other areas of life, it may be a difficult habit to give up. And if you’ve never experienced the feeling of being cherished, you might believe that a man’s love is something you have to earn through your actions. That’s okay. Just be open-minded. Now is the perfect time to try something new….
Lots of Love,
Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.
A version of this article was previously published by the lovely people at The Wellness Universe.