LESS EFFORT, MORE LOVE

“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.

Robyn Wahlgast Less effort more love

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.

FROM E.L.F.

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.

FROM ZALES

Relax... You are enough, just as you are.  Photo:   Sylvia Haghjoo

Relax... You are enough, just as you are. Photo: Sylvia Haghjoo

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.

Learn how to  rock The Rules your own way  for a lifetime of lasting love. #ReadRobyn

Learn how to rock The Rules your own way for a lifetime of lasting love. #ReadRobyn

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. 

FROM BCBG

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…?

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Zales

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.

#NeverGiveUp

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

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.

WHY HE COMPARTMENTALIZES HIS FEELINGS (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

When a woman complains that her man is distant — he seems emotionally unavailable and closed off, or isn’t making a move toward commitment — it’s usually because he is compartmentalizing his relationship with her.

There’s a mental box inside his brain with her name on it. When he feels like opening the box and enjoying the contents, he does. But when he’s done, he puts the lid on the box and places it back onto its shelf. The emotions he associates with this particular woman — angry, aroused, loving, calm, sad, etc. — also get packed away into the mental container. Over time, if a true emotional bond forms, her presence in his life won’t be so neatly walled off. But in the beginning stages, limiting her influence prevents him from being overwhelmed by a new romance.

it drives me crazy when my boyfriend compartmentalizes his feelings Robyn Wahlgast

If you’ve read many self-help articles aimed at women, you may have the idea that the male tendency to compartmentalize feelings and experiences is unhealthy. While it’s true that narcissism and emotional detachment can look a lot like compartmentalization, these are extreme and clinically rare examples. For most men, some compartmentalization is part of a normal coping strategy.

To better understand these masculine boundaries — which women often mistake for emotional unavailability — I invite you to examine compartmentalization from both male and female perspectives.

Consider these 3 observations:

1. For men, compartmentalization can be a useful approach to managing the complexities of life.

It is reflexive — he’s often not aware that he’s doing it.

2. To a woman on the receiving end, it can feel cold and mechanical, as if we’re being rejected.

Because it feels uncomfortable for us, we have a hard time accepting that it can be part of a healthy strategy for managing strong emotions.

3. Instead of automatically limiting a new man’s influence on her life, a woman is more likely to let him range freely across her heart and mind.

If she's not careful, she can quickly lose herself in the emotional rush. In fact, women who never learn to compartmentalize feelings at ALL are at risk of letting others free-range over them like a doormat; or wasting time on fantasy relationships; or becoming consumed with romantic obsessions.

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Zales

Men automatically sort women into categories, all day long. Here are some boxes you might already occupy without even knowing it:

  • Cute girl in his Instagram feed
  • Mystery woman on the A train
  • Work crush
  • Girl he'd love to have sex with on a regular basis until he meets The One
  • Future wife

From a man’s perspective, it’s reasonable to keep you in that box, peeking inside only when he feels like it. You exist for him at work, but not when he’s at home. You intrigue him on Saturdays at the dog park, but not on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. You don’t permeate his brain and keep him up at night. As most women have learned — often painfully — a man can avoid emotional intimacy through compartmentalization. For example, he might place you in the “attractive enough to flirt with (or sleep with)” category but NOT “future girlfriend or wife.” 

IGXO Cosmetics

If you’ve experienced the pain of a man holding you at arm’s length, and you never want to go there again, what can you do? Now that you understand a man’s highly compartmentalized psyche, use this expert tip in your next relationship:

Work with his need to compartmentalize, instead of fighting against it.

You aren’t threatened by his boundaries, because you understand this is how he copes with new emotions and experiences. At the beginning of a relationship, he’s not ready to let you free-range across his thoughts. So in between dates, you are going to disappear. Your actions will speak to him on a deep level, in a way that insisting on connection can’t.

You will continue to date others, because your time is valuable and what if he waits a long time before resurfacing? If he is okay with leaving you alone for days in between dates...

Like a ghost, you'll be gone. 

Getting closer — if it's going to happen — has to be HIS idea. Remember, he has already placed you into some category, based on his instinctive assessment. It's not your job to prove to him that you deserve better than the "good enough for now" label. Read the signs and re-calibrate your level of interest and investment. If you want commitment and he's not feeling it, move on and date a man who sees right away that you're The One

In the early stages of dating, try putting your own feelings toward a new man in the “just getting to know you” box. Don’t let any new relationship completely take over your thoughts or seep into other areas of your life. Follow The Rules and you'll create just the right amount of distance to observe clearly which box he has placed you in. (It's his loss, if he coded you wrong.)

An emotional bond — which is what women usually mean by "being in love" — takes time to develop. When you proceed slowly and let him set the pace, he won't want to maintain distance. Getting closer will be his idea, and it will feel natural to him to put your relationship at the center of all he does.

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

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

WHY CONFIDENCE IS OVER-RATED

“Drama holds his interest for a day. Poise keeps his interest for a lifetime.” — Robyn 

Have you ever wondered why some people hold our attention in an almost hypnotic way, even if they don’t fit conventional definitions of beauty? A man can become mesmerized by a woman who displays that special something he can’t quite name. It doesn’t matter what she weighs or how old she is or what color her hair is—she has It.

Confidence is over-rated

 

In my grandmother’s day, that special quality was called “poise” and everyone worked to develop it. Poise was considered such an important part of adulthood—separating the girls from the women—that some of us were actually sent to places called Charm School to learn how to achieve it. A related idea is that of “presence”—when someone so fully inhabits the present moment that they radiate a powerful, concentrated energy. At a party, our eyes might skip past a woman giggling and gesturing wildly to her friends, and instead focus on someone sitting quietly in a corner. A calm, centered mind is the foundation of magnetic presence.

“Developing poise doesn’t just make you appear composed and dignified. Over time it will help you reach a state of true inner calm and contentment.” —Robyn Wahlgast
IGXO Cosmetics

Sadly, over time, the idea of developing poise became associated with out-dated female role models, like beauty pageant winners. Dating and relationship guides began to substitute the word “confidence” for poise, to appeal to educated, professional women. But don’t be fooled. Confidence and poise are absolutely NOT interchangeable. When a 4-year-old marches up to you and insists that today will be Opposite Day, or that from now on you MUST address her as Princess Starshine, she is displaying a boatload of confidence—but very little poise.

A client recently asked me to create a modern “charm school” lesson plan for her. She is a single mom who is actively dating. While she is confident in her career and in her parenting, she struggles to know how to attract men to her in social settings. Here are some tips I shared with her, to help her unlock an authentic, grown-up presence—the essence of Beauty Queen composure.

6 Signs Of A Poised Woman

  1. She doesn’t look around the room, smiling or trying to make eye contact or wondering what others think of her. She is fully absorbed in whatever she is doing at this moment. Men will notice you more and watch you intently when you are self-contained and focused on the task at hand. This creates tension—and it can feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, if you’re not used to being noticed this way by men. If you look around, smile, or wave, you are breaking concentration and diluting the energy that fuels attraction, so train yourself to maintain composure and stay absorbed in what you’re doing. Let the tension build.
  2. There is a meditative quality to her conversation. She never “tells all” in an interview, offers unsolicited advice, or goes on and on in a boring way about her personal opinions. (Perhaps this is why everyone is eager to hear what she thinks.)
  3. Her feelings and thoughts are informed and considered. She doesn’t share her beliefs with just anyone. Her inner life is like a precious gift, given to those who earn her respect and trust.
  4. Her manner is warm and welcoming, not cool and self-conscious.
  5. Women have a gift for bringing others together and building community. Whether at the center of her family, the center of a professional network, or in service to an important mission, her power lies in uniting people—never dividing them with gossip or jealousy.
  6. Life is what it is. Sometimes we are rushed, pressured, and filled with stress. We can all work to carry our burdens as lightly as possible. She remembers to assume good intentions and act with kindness at all times.

When you know that you are enough just as you are, we can say you are confident. But when you come from a place that is so composed and centered that even your smallest gesture has importance—that is poise.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE

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

"THIRD DATE" SEX IS WAY TOO SOON (SCIENCE SAYS)

YOU may be HAVING 'CASUAL' SEX WITHOUT INTENDING TO

You feel ready for a lasting relationship. You are tired of guys disappearing after you become intimate. You have the vague idea that waiting to have sex may be the key, but you’re told that withholding sex is manipulative, old fashioned, and not very romantic.

Savvy friends tell you there is an understanding that date #3 is the appropriate time to give it up. You’ve noticed this is usually the stage when a man invites you to his apartment to hang out in the general vicinity of his bedroom. You fear that if you hesitate, he won’t invest further in your relationship. Yet, experience has shown you that third-date sex doesn’t seem to have any effect on a man’s commitment level. In fact, sometimes he just gets busier and has even less time to hang out with you, afterward.

TIP: If you believe you need to sleep with a man in order to hold his interest... STOP, think, and slow down. You may be tumbling into an entanglement, instead of advancing a real relationship.

FROM DR. BRANDT

why "third date" sex is way too soon

It can be hard to trust your intuition and instincts when so much of popular culture implies that sex is Level 1 in the mating game, a stepping stone toward commitment and bonding. But what if I offered you scientific proof that, in fact, the opposite is true?—that in waiting to have sex you’re actually increasing your odds of experiencing lasting attraction and romance.

Listen up, girlfriend, because science is on your side when you wait. Here are a few facts to help you commit to saying no until you are sure Prince Charming is all that he seems:

Dopamine: From Crush to Crash

Chemicals like dopamine feed the buzz of infatuation in our brains. 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—the “don’t stand so close to me” phenomenon.

FROM BCBG

Guess what shuts off the production of dopamine—and therefore that “in love” feeling—in men?

Completion of the sex act. That’s right: having sex can temporarily shut off your man’s seemingly obsessive interest in you. If he is not already emotionally bonded (unlikely by date 3), then this sugar crash will leave him empty and ready to move on—in search of a woman who can give him a longer and more sustained hit of happiness. (Interestingly, researchers have found that men with high self-esteem are even more likely to experience this post-sex emotional detachment than their less-secure brothers.)

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Oxytocin: It’s a Girl Thing

Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone, and it is true that in women, the release of oxytocin during sex can increase our emotional attachment to a sex partner. We also know that oxytocin is released in men during sex, as well as through other forms of physical affection and pleasurable experiences. However, unless a man is already emotionally bonded with his partner—a process that requires time and a healthy stock of shared experiences—the effects of oxytocin release in men is unclear.

TIP: I define casual sex as physical intimacy that is offered to a man before he has emotionally bonded with you.

There is no scientific evidence that oxytocin released during casual sex—where an emotional attachment has not yet developed—will result in a man becoming further bonded with his partner. (In fact, oxytocin’s effect on male behavior is downright confusing and not necessarily loving.) If you’ve ever seduced a man in the hope of making him more attached to you, understand that that approach simply doesn’t work. And after reading about the potential for a dopamine crash, I hope you’ll see that engaging in casual sex (physical intimacy that is offered to him before he has bonded with you) is exceedingly unlikely to lead to a walk down the aisle.

Casual sex is more likely to prevent the growth of emotional bonding than to foster it.

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

So which would you rather experience with your dream guy: the slow build-up of desire… or the letdown of simply reaching the finish line?

Although they won’t broadcast it among their buddies (because it’s nobody’s business and it is maybe a little unmanly-sounding), men who really dig you will wait. They will wait until you are ready. And in the midst of that dopamine-fueled sugar high, they won’t really mind waiting, either.

All primary research by Dr. David M. Buss / University of Texas

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR YOURTANGO.

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.

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