BOYS BEHAVING BADLY (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

Romantic situationships are a hot topic.

Many men and women believe that a non-committal, permanently casual situation is simply the modern version of a relationship — as if this is what passes for courtship in 2017. I’ve written about situationships before, using the term entanglement to describe a relationship that goes around and around in circles — for months or even years — but never leads to lasting commitment. That’s the kind of go-nowhere romance we’re talking about in this post.

Strategic texting — rather than emotional investment — is what holds situationships together.  (From the web series  Situationships )

Strategic texting — rather than emotional investment — is what holds situationships together. (From the web series Situationships)

Popular music, movies, and TV shows glorify situationships and contribute to the idea that "everyone is doing it." But what if your values don't align with hookup culture? And is everyone really so happy with no-strings affection?

Today I want to share with you my latest guilty pleasure, the web series Situationships, featuring the nicest of Nice Girls, Melody (played by show creator, Cylla Senii). Just coming into her own as a woman, she is on the brink of being fed up with non-relationships . . . but not quite ready to make the hard changes necessary to move on to something real.

I suggested to Cylla that it's time I gave Melody and the other female Situationships characters some sisterly "Rules" advice (from the book The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider). If these lovely ladies would just #DoTheRules and say no to the nonsense, they could take control of their dating lives and enjoy the lasting love they deserve.

Melody in Episode 4: The agony of waiting and wondering about a man.

Melody in Episode 4: The agony of waiting and wondering about a man.

Here are quotes from Melody and her friends, on accepting less than they deserve from the men in their lives. When a girlfriend shares any of these thoughts, you know she is in a situationship rather than a relationship:

  • “We have really great chemistry. He loves me . . . when we’re together.”
  • “There’s no need for us to be formal, like, I’m your girlfriend and you’re my boyfriend. We’re . . . together.”
  • “I hate him so much.”
  • “He’s been ignoring my texts all day. I know he’s not dead because he’s on Instagram and Twitter.”
  • “I’m not going to fall for his b-s this time.”
  • “I don’t really trust guys. No one likes to commit anymore.”

It's hard to break away from the pack and set your own standards. Female friends and relatives don't always set the best example. And they can feel silently judged when you start living by The Rules. It's a lonely path, sometimes. But, ladies, if you are tired of living in limbo, wondering where he is and whether he really loves you, please know this:

There is another way.

Following are relationship tips for Melody and any woman who is tired of situationships . . . .

Ladies, don’t give away all your power.

Men will be lazy if women allow it. That doesn’t mean guys are all players and commitment-phobes, but just that it’s human nature to take if the other person is willing to give. You can control the give-and-take game. YOU can re-set the rules any time you want.

Some women think, But if I don’t give him what he wants, he will just move on to the next girl. Well, he might. Listen, you will eventually meet a great guy who shares your values. Mr. Right won’t treat the game of love like it’s one-sided — all about getting HIS needs met. Your Mr. Right will look at everything from a “we” perspective — he’ll see you as part of his team and he’ll make decisions around YOUR needs, too. Until then, don’t hand over all your power to a man who is gaming against you.

When you've been "together" for 2 years and he does  what ?!

When you've been "together" for 2 years and he does what?!

Admit that some part of your in-love feeling is chemical addiction.

I know this isn’t a very romantic spin. But be aware that the “infatuation chemical” called dopamine can affect the brains of men and women very differently. When you daydream about your crush, the anticipation of being together produces lots of dopamine, which further increases your feeling of infatuation. When two people feel a connection, this buzz can be amplified through non-sexual contact such as locking eyes, touching hands, and even simple physical nearness. Make no mistake: This feeling is NOT love. Though pleasurable, it is NOT a foundation for anything lasting.

The reason I advise women to wait as long as possible before getting intimate with a man is because having sex can temporarily shut off your man's seemingly obsessive interest in you by shutting down his dopamine production. If he is not already emotionally bonded, then this sugar crash will leave him empty and ready to move on to someone new.

Tommy Hilfiger

No, casual isn't comfortable.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable about “hanging out” indefinitely. You should feel angry and indignant and hurt. Don’t say things like “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” or “but the sex is so hot” or “I can handle it.” Those opinions sound brave and empowered, but all you’re doing is allowing the Players to frame things their way.

Of course there are women who enjoy a no-strings adventure. But when a situationship goes on for weeks and months, it is very likely that YOU will become more attached, while he becomes a little more distant. When Steve Harvey advised ladies to “think like a man” he didn’t mean that we should stuff down our naturally feminine emotions and needs. Listen to your inner voice — she’ll never steer you wrong.

A Man’s View

You can’t change your relationship status by crying, nagging, or complaining about the one-sidedness. That’s because a man is generally okay with the situation as it is. As The Rules say, you need to shake things up with your actions. Author and Life Coach Sylvester McNutt III sums it up this way: “Why would I elevate this person to relationship status when I’m already receiving all the benefits that they’re willing to give?” He goes on to advise that if you’re currently in a situationship and dissatisfied, “maybe you need to consider removing those benefits.”

The cast of   Situationships  . 

The cast of Situationships

What’s Next for Melody?

In Episode 5, when a gorgeous stranger (Tarion Taylor) bumps into Melody on the street and attempts to ask her out, her skeptical response is “Really. Are we doing this?” In that moment we know: Melody has what it takes to become a Rules Girl. But will she?

Before too much time passes, I would like to see Melody wearing something sparkly on her left hand. Marriage is a man’s ultimate expression of love and respect for a woman. Somewhere there is a king without a queen, and I KNOW he will snap Melody up quickly if he can find her. Is she tired enough of situationships and ready for the real thing?

Be sure to subscribe and comment at the Situationships Channel and let the writers know YOUR thoughts. Should somebody give Melody a copy of The Rules?

xoxo
Robyn

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

RELATIONSHIP OR "ENTANGLEMENT" — DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

This is a big-sister PSA for all the savvy and desirable women searching for advice on this site: The greatest relationship advice on the planet will NOT help you, if what you’re really in is an “entanglement.”

Don't settle for an Entanglement when what you want is a Relationship.

If you apply well-meaning, coming-from-a-happy-place type of advice to an entanglement, it will come back to bite you. Big time. Because you may end up giving more of yourself—your time, your love, your commitment—to a situation that is not ever going to improve. Not ever. In a relationship, both partners are equally committed to moving forward together; it’s an even exchange of energy. In an entanglement, one partner stands still while the other attempts to push and pull him toward the finish line; the energy is so unbalanced that it topples everything in its path.

What Is an Entanglement?

Just like it sounds, this is the experience of getting all tangled up with a man. You think about him all the time, to the point where you’ve lost focus on other important areas of your life. The sex is amazing, but you’re not exactly sure where you stand emotionally. Each time he leaves, you wonder when you’ll hear from him next. Maybe you’ve moved in together or are raising children together; even so, the uncertainty is there. He’s not exactly a bad boy—you think he could be “The One”—but you have a sneaking suspicion that he could be seeing other women behind your back.

You wish you could monitor his texts (his phone is always locked) and you do absolutely check out every new woman he friends on Facebook. You tell people you are in a relationship, and that you are committed to “making it work,” but the effort is yours alone. Your man appears to be content with things just as they are. Is he all tangled up with you? Probably not—an entanglement is mostly one-sided.

Tommy Hilfiger

Bottom line: An entanglement can last months or years, but it goes nowhere.Drama may give the illusion of movement—you fight, make up, and appear to move forward—but you’re really just going around in a circle.

What Is a Relationship?

When a man makes an emotional commitment to you, and clearly makes you a priority in his life, this is a relationship. Relationships are like a dance. Your partner carefully observes your wants and needs, and adjusts his moves to fit yours. You know he loves you because he considers your desires with every step he takes. Your opinions matter to him. He may not always agree with you or do exactly what you want—it would be unreasonable and unhealthy to expect him to—but you are always in his thoughts. His plans for the future include you, and he puts effort and action into making those plans real. Tap into your intuition: If you feel secure and protected with your guy, you are probably in a true relationship.

FROM BCBG

Bottom line: A relationship moves forward, toward commitment. Your man is certain that you make his life better and he can’t imagine a future without you in it.

Expert advice can’t help you fix an entanglement. If a man has decided that you are not his Forever Girl, you can’t love and “understand” him into changing his mind, no matter how good the sex is or how enmeshed your lives are. Your best bet is to recognize the situation for what it is and move on. There are wonderful single men out there who would be thrilled to wrap you in their arms and give you the safe and secure feeling you crave.

NEXT: Find out how to avoid getting into an entanglement in the first place…

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

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.

ALL MEN ARE PLAYERS

When you start falling for a new man, does a bit of fear creep in along with the euphoria and excitement? 

Do you sometimes wonder: Is he really a good guy... or a player? Fear of "players" keeps a lot of single women on the dating sidelines, or causes us to take on a defensive position with men that chills the glow of mutual attraction. In fact, allowing these fears to control your mindset and approach is no more "realistic" or clear-headed than assuming each new date is Mr. Right.

Just as a woman might adjust her behavior and expectations to suit each new romantic encounter, a man may also reveal different intentions and character traits with each woman he pursues. With time and experience, we all have the ability to mature, heal wounds, and strengthen our relationship skills. So let’s look at this whole player issue from a different angle.

All Men Are Players - New Direction Dating

A true player is focused on one thing: What can I get from her? But this is a normal dynamic in any fresh encounter between two human beings. “Is this other person useful to me in any way?” is something you, yourself, might wonder when you meet any new person. Why should it be any different when the encounter is between two single people who also have the potential to become a romantic match? When a man first meets you, it is only natural that he will mentally tick through some of the things he might get from you. Depending on what he wants and what he thinks you can offer, the list looks something like this:

“What Can I Get From Her?”

  • Sex
  • Ego boost—the rush and affirmation of seducing a member of the opposite sex
  • Distraction—the chance to escape from worries or boredom
  • Status—if she is particularly attractive or desirable
  • Emotional support / Companionship
  • Career contacts and networking
  • Financial support
  • Many other non-romantic possibilities

If you satisfy his wish list right away—before he has had a chance to get to know you and connect with you emotionally —he may well move on quickly, without a glance back. There was no time for a connection to build and grow. Similarly, if you allow your relationship to revolve around satisfying his need—career networking, financial support, sex, or free childcare — then he’s only ever going to view you as a source for that thing, not as a full romantic partner.

After your guy disappears, you may be tempted to call him a “player” — and for sure a handful of those exist — but it is also possible that it was your willingness to turn the relationship into a transaction that flipped his outta here switch.   

If you take things slowly and allow a deeper relationship to develop, his focus on “getting” will fade away. A man in love — who is emotionally invested and connected to you — will barely think at all about what you can do for him or give to him, and will focus almost entirely on what he can do for or give to you. The same man who engaged only in romantic transactions in his past relationships — because he wasn’t emotionally bonded with his partners — can become an authentic, loving mate with you.

TIP: As a relationship deepens, a man's focus on “getting” will fade away. A man in love will barely think at all about what you can do for him, and will focus almost entirely on what he can do for you.

This is why the idea that there is a "shortage of good men" is misleading. There is no shortage. The good men are there, but you have to learn how to turn them on emotionally before they’re allowed to start getting things from you. If you choose to hand over all your valuable stuff before he has a chance to truly connect with you, then accept the fact that you have allowed him to play.

TIP: A Player is simply any man who is not emotionally invested in you — yet. Don’t give him what he wants right away, but don't reject him outright just because he tried. He may hang in there long enough for a true connection to grow.

Did you know that some single men have an irrational fear of being used by women for financial gain? The idea that a woman might be on Tinder or Match only to obtain a free dinner or movie is an urban legend that is alive and well in male dating forums. While my female clients may find that idea pretty ridiculous (they’d rather be home with a good book) it is true that the typical female focus on commitment and marriage can feel a lot like a “getting” mentality to men. He is looking for the simple pleasure of a night out with a pretty woman — you want a diamond ring and 2 children. (That’s how it can seem to him, anyway.) Here’s the mental assessment a woman on a first date might make:

“What Can I Get From Him?”

  • Marriage
  • Emotional support / Companionship
  • Financial support
  • Status—if he is particularly wealthy or successful
  • Ego boost—the rush and affirmation of seducing a member of the opposite sex
  • Sex
  • Career contacts and networking
  • Many other non-romantic possibilities

So are women players if we target a man based on his marriage and “provider” potential and disqualify men who don’t match a certain level of earning power or job stability? Let’s just say that any time either gender is in “get” mode, we are at risk of turning off the very people we hope to attract. So let’s cut each other a little slack. A man may take what he can get in the short term — that’s human nature — but assume that, ultimately, your date is longing to connect deeply with someone special. And it could be you! 

READ NEXT: RELATIONSHIP OR "ENTANGLEMENT" — DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. If you're online dating (or thinking about it) read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for road-tested tips and advice. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR INNER REBEL AND FIND HEALTHY LOVE, TOO

We adopt all kinds of defensive postures throughout life. The “Rebel” is a powerful one, and can give you a little bit of swagger when you’re feeling vulnerable. Each woman has her own version of this pose, depending on her individual style. Here are some variations you may have tried on at some point—or maybe you have your own spin:

  • Bad Girl
  • Outlaw
  • Femme Fatale
  • Ice Queen
  • Black Widow
  • Vixen
rebel love doesn't have to be bad love

Of course, true rebellion is more than a pose. Even at an individual scale, we must fight against injustices aimed at our self-worth, and against past or present abuses of every kind. We may choose to live "off the grid" or otherwise opt out of conventionality. This type of rebellion is empowering and essential to human freedom.  

But what I’m talking about today is different: rejecting “ordinary” human experiences because we mistakenly believe we aren’t welcome in the regular world—a choice that actually limits your options rather than opening up new ones. Or adopting a dark mask to cover up feelings of pain and emptiness. Feelings of isolation, in particular, can lead us toward a tough-girl stance. The irony is that such a pose may drive people further from our lives, making real what was originally just perception. 

Men notice right away when a woman is trying to appear tougher than she feels, and they know it is a sign of weakness and insecurity. That is a Playground 101 Rule, and boys learn those lessons early in life! Guys who seek out and flatter "tough girls" are often manipulators, knowingly preying on the weak and vulnerable. 

When I was younger and single, I’m embarrassed to say that I thought of myself as a femme fatale, and shielded myself with sarcasm. My armor was a cutting sense of humor that would have made Liz Lemon seem sweet by comparison. It was a hard-shelled act that covered up feelings I had a difficult time acknowledging. Though there was a lot that I enjoyed about being single, I experienced loneliness and depression, too. It’s hard to watch your friends effortlessly pair off, and to rely on guy-buds for the kind of domestic chores you’d rather be sharing with a fiancé or husband—all those hours wasted with Mr. Wrong, assembling a new Ikea dresser. At my lowest point, this is how I felt:

  • I am lonely
  • I feel left out
  • I am defective
  • No one will choose me
  • I am unchosen

Then, life would pick up, I’d shake the blue feelings, and the pose would be dropped for a while. Over time, as I learned to relate and date in a more healthy way, I was able to connect with men in a softer—and truer—way. I didn’t need or want the armor anymore because my confidence was real. And I had faith that someday I would find happiness with the right man.     

But sometimes we get stuck in a particular pose, because it works for us and we’ve become used to it. And then we start to lower our expectations to fit around that false idea of ourselves. This is what happens when we internalize the Bad Girl/Bad Boy ideas, and start to identify with all that is wrong and broken.

I met with a client recently who was so used to wearing a mask of dark cynicism that she often didn’t notice it, herself. But her dates certainly did. Her hard sense of humor was turning off men who were initially very attracted to her. She went on plenty of first dates, but guys seemed to disappear afterward. She believed that she was showing these men her “true self” by regaling them with the bitter commentary she entertained friends and coworkers with. To her dates, she just seemed angry and depressed—not the gorgeous, fun girl that those who know her well get to experience. In letting only a tiny sliver of her personality shine, she was actually masking her truest self, and revealing only her darkest side. 

Several years ago I met with a client who had been referred to me by her mother. The daughter had a taste for “bad boys” and her mom was concerned. Again, it was a similar situation. During college, my client had adopted a classic bad girl pose; it fit so well, and made her feel so powerful, that she really started to believe that “bad love” was her thing. Of course, if all you know of love is on-again, off-again drama, you may believe that romance with a “nice guy”—someone dependable and accommodating—is not meant for you.

But my client was exhausted by the drama and pain that came from pursuing unavailable men. She was ready to break free from the limitations that she, herself, had placed on her love life. She eventually connected with a great guy who treats her like a queen. Now they live the rebel life—together—and are happily raising their twin sons in an artist colony in New Mexico. 

There is nothing wrong with a woman finding emotional strength and validation as an outlaw warrior for whatever cause she believes in. Maybe being an outsider fuels your creative spirit and is a perfectly healthy expression of who you are. But beware the idea that as a rebel, you somehow are destined for broken men and a broken heart. Being true to yourself means taking care of yourself, also. Everyone deserves healthy, lasting love. 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new blog posts and advice.