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

IN LOVE WITH A MARRIED MAN? 5 TRUTHS YOU NEED RIGHT NOW

“I know what you’re going to say, but my situation is different. He is truly my soulmate.” 
Megan (age 31), on being in love with a married man

In almost 15 years of coaching women, I have seen that the experience of falling in love with a married man cuts across almost all cultures, age groups, ethnicity, religions, and education levels. Despite the knowledge that this scenario is unethical, immoral, and guaranteed to bring pain to everyone involved, many otherwise smart, single women get their hearts tangled up this way.

in love with a married man

You already know this is a story that does not end well. But I’m not here to shame anyone. Maybe today you are only fantasizing about getting involved with an unavailable man, and this article is the universe’s way of warning you to stop, take a deep breath, and just walk away. Or maybe you did get involved and HE has been the one to pull back.

Experience tells me that at least one of these 5 truths applies to your situation. While it can be hard to get control of your emotions when you feel so connected to another person, you can control how you frame the situation for yourself. If you’re only willing to use a romantic “soulmate” frame, you’ll just stay stuck. So try these on and see if any fit. Pray, meditate, and do your best to be open to a new perspective, because…

This is YOUR chance to write yourself a happier ending.

TRUTH #1: There is nothing special about breaking up a marriage that is already broken.

It can be tempting to think you are more “special” than his wife; more beautiful, sexier, nicer—everything he says. But if he already had one foot out the door—and that’s the case for most men who actually end up leaving their wives—you are mainly this: the nearest exit. This man may end up remarrying, but hardly ever to the first woman who provides him with a convenient way out.

TRUTH #2: You will become "The Guy" in the relationship.

If you’re in the early stages of an affair, this part may be hard to believe. After all, he is chasing you hard, right? You weren’t even all that interested in him at first. That dynamic can’t last, though. You are available. He is not. He is the one who is hard to get. Eventually, you’ll feel less confident, less sure of his feelings, and you may start to feel like it’s you who is chasing him.

FROM BCBG

TRUTH #3: You are putting your life on hold for a fantasy.

Even if your infatuation never progresses to a physical affair, it can still be damaging. Don’t be the “work wife” who takes trips with her married boss or crushes on a married co-worker. You deserve to be at the center of someone’s life, not lurking around the edges.

TRUTH #4: It takes two people to create a bad marriage.

He played a role in his “bad” marriage and you’ll never really know the whole truth. If his wife is “crazy”, “possessive,” or “controlling,” it may be because he has a pattern of behaving improperly with female friends and co-workers. Or maybe he has other issues that are easy to hide from a mistress, but that would destroy your relationship, too, if your lives were truly intertwined.

TRUTH #5: He is O.K. with his life just the way it is.

Some men choose a wife who is like a domestic worker bee; she makes him look good by keeping his home life humming. He feels entitled to stray, usually with more exciting women who have zero kitchen skills. While his attitude is shady, understand that that is who he is. You will not change him. He likes his compartmentalized life. He doesn’t want to marry a sexy siren, and as long as his wife is doing her job (raising the kids and keeping a low profile) he will be content to share good times with you—but not much more.

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

UNDERSTANDING MEN — WHY HE CHOOSES SILENCE

You’d think that with all the gender-related research that has taken place over the last 20 years, modern men and women would be better equipped to just accept our differences and live together peacefully. Informed by all those studies, I should be able to accept my husband’s hard-wired behavior, and he should be able to embrace my innate femaleness — because as research shows, it’s nothing personal.

Understanding Men: Silence is a man's safe place. Respect his need to seek comfort his way.

And in truth, men usually do accept that some things just “are what they are” — wives and girlfriends included — and cut us plenty of slack for behavior and attitudes that can seem a bit odd from a male perspective. (My husband still can’t fathom why my daughters and I find pedicures relaxing — to him it would be the worst form of tickle torture — but he gracefully accepts that our experience is different from his.)

By contrast, women often have a harder time of letting go and just accepting some of the manly quirks that show up in long-term relationships — removing the personal, in other words. One of these is a man’s tendency to make like a turtle and retreat into his shell when conflict appears on the horizon. In fact, for some guys, going silent is simply a default setting — whether happy, depressed, angry, or worried. Meanwhile, women have a hard time believing that not talking about a problem might actually be a healthy and loving strategy. If you frequently get frustrated with your guy for clamming up just when you’d like him to open up, are these some of the adjectives you mentally apply to his behavior?

  • Stonewalling
  • Passive-Aggressive
  • Withholding
  • Out of touch
  • Rejecting

That list is made up of real complaints from married women I have coached over the years. 

What those adjectives imply is that for some unknown reason, your honey is choosing a behavior (going silent) that deliberately brings pain to the woman he supposedly loves (you!). Assuming yours is a reasonably healthy and harmonious relationship otherwise, that doesn’t sound very logical does it? How would it benefit him to drive you batty on purpose? And you know guys are all about logic... Men do what makes sense — from a male perspective.

Tommy Hilfiger

So to better understand his tactics, it helps to understand the value of silence from your guy’s perspective:

  1. Silence is calming. Companionable silence can be among a man’s greatest pleasures in life, and well accompanies typical dude activities like chess, golf, fly fishing, and poker. By contrast, when a woman needs to self-sooth, her impulse is usually to talk about her concerns — verbal sharing is calming for her. In this respect, men and women truly have competing needs.
  2. Silence is safe. Even a modern husband feels the pull of primitive instincts. Ancestors who learned to hunt silently were more successful at providing food for their family and community. Silence offers protection. Both men and women seek safety during times of stress — for a man, silence is his safe place.
  3. Silence works in other areas of life. In his work life, and certainly in the company of other men, there is rarely a downside to silence. Talk, on the other hand, can be risky. Saying too much (or the wrong thing) can make someone vulnerable to attack. Men generally can point to a lifetime of experiences that support this approach. If your experience has been that silence is generally a winning strategy, with very little downside risk, it makes sense that it would be your go-to position as well.

The next time your well-meaning sweetie opts NOT to “talk things out,” try to see his behavior as a teeny bit chivalrous, like opening a door for you or carrying a heavy package. In adopting silence, his hard-wired impulses may be to:

a) Calm himself down.

b) Protect you and your relationship.

If you can look at it that way, you will generate loads more good will than if you immediately label his behavior in a negative way. And when you allow him to become emotionally restored and recharged—his way — he’ll be better able to give you what you need.

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

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

DON'T PLAY THE "GIMME FIRST" GAME IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

“To bring anything into your life,
imagine that it’s already there.” 

–Richard Bach

Here’s a destructive relationship cycle that many women have experienced—and it can occur whether you’ve been married to a man for decades or are on your very first date:

1. You feel like your guy isn’t giving you enough of something (his time, his attention, his affection, etc.)

2. As a result, your inner glow starts to dim. Instead of being warm and enticing, you send out signals that he is failing, big-time. That’s the kind of message men are hyper-sensitive to. (In fact, some men learn to simply expect that response from a woman and then tune it out because they assume they’ll never win.)

3. Now he feels even less motivated to figure out what would please you. So he withdraws further.

4. You feel even less understood and supported. You may even decide to “clear the air” and initiate a talk about all the ways in which he is disappointing you. (Does a high-pressure talk ever produce good, long-term results?) The negative spiral continues….

I call this the “Gimme First” cycle because you are waiting for him to give to you first before you give back to him (affection, affirmation—whatever it is). While I advocate letting a man lead the pace of a relationship—allowing him to initiate each new level of intimacy—he has to feel that he has plenty of “wins” along the way. Otherwise, he may simply dig in his heels, and no amount of pushing will get him to move forward.

How do you break out of this damaging cycle?

First: Don’t give him all that power. You are allowing his behavior to dim your sparkle and while that’s not good for him, it’s really not good for you.

Second: Switch on your abundance mindset. In practical terms, act “as if” your man is already giving you what you need.

I know, I know. It sounds like I’m suggesting that you let him off the hook and forget about your own needs.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. But you’re not going to get your needs met if your only strategy is “Gimme First.”

Next time you find yourself in a scenario where you are feeling unappreciated or unloved by your guy, practice acting “as if” you were really connected. Go into another room, if you need to, and imagine that you are getting what you need—enough—from him. Would you be feeling warm and cozy? Would you feel satisfied and relaxed and confident in his love? Allow yourself to experience the sensation of being loved and taken care of by him. Take that feeling with you, when you return to him.

Fortunately for all of us, positive energy is just as infectious as negative energy. When you come back to him—mentally and physically—he will feel the change in your attitude. Don’t rush into anything. Don’t have a talk or feel you must take action right away. Just let the good vibes percolate.

Once you’ve created an atmosphere of good will, I’d like you to also assume good intentions (they go hand in hand). If you’re in a committed relationship, assume that if he loves you he will ultimately want to figure out how to please you; talking about it may not be necessary to get the result you want. If you’re in a dating situation, and just beginning to know each other, having the ability to hit the reset button by acting “as if” will keep you from getting stuck.

Feel free to use this strategy in non-romantic relationships as well, such as at work or with family members. In a normal, emotionally healthy environment, acting “as if” can be a great way to take back control and set yourself and those around you on a more positive path.

READ NEXT: UNDERSTANDING MEN—WHY HE CHOOSES SILENCE

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

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

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

3 TIPS TO UNLOCK YOUR AUTHENTIC FEMININITY

There is something men crave, that youabsolutely and definitelyalready have, that will enchant your special guy. . .

Most women are familiar with the idea that men need acceptance, respect, and gratitude, to thrive in a long-term relationship. These are qualities men actively seek out in their careers, through friendships, and in their romantic and family lives. But what else attracts a man—helplessly—to the woman in his life? Logically, it is what a man cannot get through his own efforts, or at work, or from friends, and can only get from you:  the slow, sensual burn of feminine essence.

While we may intuitively understand that male-female polarity is attractive, it is not always clear how to communicate our femininity in a way that feels authentic. Men are not necessarily intoxicated by the color pink, Barbie-like features, or lace and dainty gestures—and this may not be your feminine ideal, either. 

Instead, he is secretly hoping you will knock him senseless by revealing your inner goddess. This female essence burns inside every woman, and has nothing to do with a particular body type, plastic features, or superficial style. Below are 3 practical tips to help any woman—at any age—express her femininity in a unique and authentic way that is universally attractive to men:

  1. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Put down your shield and leave the Warrior Spirit behind. Sure, you need to be fierce on occasion; that inner fire is both healing and protective when life throws real challenges your way. But to truly connect with a man, it helps to open your heart and risk being vulnerable. When you look into his eyes, soften your gaze (think “I accept you and like you just as you are”—even if you don’t know him very well) and assume good intentions. This is a trusting position and it may feel really hard to do! Practice this openness daily, with everyone you encounter. Intentional vulnerability is a learned behavior and can become a natural part of how you interact, drawing others to you in an almost magical way. When you take a break from defensive behaviors like questioning, judging, and evaluating men, you may find yourself feeling more confident and more at peace with who you are, as well.
     
  2. Give yourself permission to be sexy. Don’t wait until date #3 to highlight your sensuality. Let men know from the very beginning that you are open and receptive to their interest. Highlighting an hourglass figure or displaying cleavage, bare legs, bare shoulders, a round derriere—whatever features you possess—are all powerful ways to flirt without words. If you hear a voice in your head that chides you for looking “too sexy” or that suggests wearing form-fitting clothing is “cheating,” then you will have to make peace with this inner judge to move forward in your romantic life. Allow your hips to sway when you walk. Many of us were shamed out of our natural, feminine gait so long ago that we’ve lost touch with how good it can feel. The goddess is proud of her curves and she knows there is nothing wrong with moving like a woman. 
     
  3. Share your passion. Talking about a subject that fires your imagination makes your eyes sparkle and your cheeks glow, and makes even the shyest person more captivating. If you are one of those lucky people for whom your day job channels your passions, by all means go ahead and talk about work when you’re out with a man. But for most women, work is a conversational topic to avoid. We tend to carry lingering stress with us, long after the workday is done, and over-sharing about our day can end up being a dumping session that actually thwarts emotional connection. There really is no more effective love potion than genuine passion—and you may find it is highly contagious. In fact, make it your mission to find out what gets him fired up; once you know what his passions are, you are well on your way toward capturing his heart.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. 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

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

FROM A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER

#NeverGiveUp

Years ago, shortly after I turned 30, I became engaged on Valentine’s Day—to a man I ended up not marrying. There was a fancy diamond ring involved, and to be honest, I should have said no the minute my boyfriend proposed.

(A tiny voice in my head did say no.)

But I took a deep breath and answered yes for a variety of dumb reasons, including the fact that we had been dating for a year and a half, and marriage just seemed to be the train that we were on. His parents adored me, and we spent a lot of time with them as well as with his friends. We had attended several weddings together. How disappointing for everyone, if there was no happy ending for the two of us.

Getting engaged: It's not about the bling.

So there I was on Valentine’s Day, at Sign of the Dove, modeling a truly stunning ring. If you’ve had the experience of becoming engaged, you know that it can quickly intoxicate you—sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Every morning on the F train at least two or three people would glance at my left hand, smile, and congratulate me. I felt like I had passed beyond one of life’s many velvet ropes, into a VIP club. I did not want to give up my membership.

Becoming engaged can quickly intoxicate you. Sometimes for the wrong reasons.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

You probably noticed that in my intro I said only that his parents and friends liked me. So there’s your first red flag, because I can't say that my friends and family adored him. When I called my mom to tell her that my boyfriend and I were engaged, she said “Oh?” and was silent. Not the typical mom reaction. (She didn’t even tell my dad for weeks, because she knew he would not approve.)

Logo
Zales

My friends were skeptical about my fiancé, but more tolerant than my parents; I think they just hoped for the best. And they loved that ring. The ring was what everyone rallied around: how beautiful, how big, how perfect the setting. Because of the ring, we could avoid talking about real things, like did I truly love my fiancé, and wasn’t he kind of a jerk. Blinded by bling—we all were, for sure.

FROM ZALES

In the following 6 months, though, everything fell apart. Why? Because I slowly had to admit to myself that I didn’t really like my fiancé, and would have felt trapped in a marriage with him. He was a lot older than I was, successful, and I had been a little in awe of him. But I started to see things more clearly: he treated me like a possession—an extension of himselfnot like a complete human being. He expected me to play a certain part, and if I didn’t he got angry.

FROM DR. BRANDT

As our fighting increased he, too, started to pull back. The wedding date kept moving further out. I was having difficulty concentrating at work, and felt physically ill much of the time. After months of pain and misery, I broke up with him—something I could have and should have done much earlier.

WAS IT A ‘RULES’ RELATIONSHIP?

Clients who know my story often ask, "But was this a Rules relationship?" And I have to say that even though my boyfriend pursued me, did all the work, and ultimately asked me to marry him, it definitely was not. The Rules are about seeing and admitting the truth of a situation—even when it is unpleasant and uncomfortable to do so. If you’d rather remain in a state of denial (as I did) that is not a Rules relationship, even if a wedding is on the horizon. Just getting married, "getting the ring," is never the point. 

Also, The Rules tell us not to let romantic relationships take over our lives or keep us from doing the things we love. But my engagement had a toxic effect on nearly all of my other relationships—including my parents and my closest friends. If I had continued on a path of denial, I would have become more isolated, and my life even more focused around this one man.  By contrast, healthy love enhances and opens up your world. Life gets bigger when you’re with the right person.  

Healthy relationships open up your world. Life gets bigger when you’re with the right person.  

Most importantly, The Rules show us how to create a healthy dynamic in dating that will then carry over into marriage. It's a foundation of mutual respect—something I didn't have with my ex. In a healthy relationship, you feel that you are enough, just as you are; your partner isn't going to reject you just because you've gained a little weight, lost your job, or become ill. When life gets tough, you know you have each others' backs. That is a Rules marriage.

FROM BCBG

If a man's love is conditional, and you feel it could be taken away at any moment that you "disappoint" him or are less than perfect, stop dating him. That is not the foundation for a healthy marriage.

My broken engagement led me to study something called the Diamond Life — an idea that can be found in many different cultures and religions. Living the Diamond Life means that you commit to balance in Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit — the 4 points of a sparkling gem.

Tommy Hilfiger

With respect to love and relationships, this means that you can't just "follow your heart," as most Hollywood movies suggest. Even if you are a free spirit, you honor yourself by engaging your mind as well. You love with clarity and balance.  

Easier said than done, right? One reason I recommend that women do The Rules and commit to them, is that Rules behaviors make it easy for you live a balanced, healthy life. Your heart (and body) might tell you to drop everything and spend every moment with your new crush, but The Rules prevent you from doing so. You remain active with your interests and activities, your career, and your friends and family. You wait to have sex until you are sure that yours is a healthy dynamic, and your man has given you clear signs that he loves you. 

When a Rules woman is uncertain about a man's feelings for her, she puts her heart on pause and waits for a clear signal from him. Over time, with daily practice, you can actually train your heart to respond only to men who make you feel safe and sound, and to instinctively reject a hot-and-cold, emotional roller-coaster.

FROM E.L.F.

Over time, you can train your heart to respond only to men who make you feel safe and sound, and to reject a hot-and-cold, emotional roller-coaster. 

The benefits are particularly valuable once you've met your wonderful Mr. Right. By exercising this self-restraint and not losing yourself in love, you will give your man space and become even more precious to him as a result. He knows you had a life before you met him, and he respects you for continuing to maintain other priorities. You are the cool girl he feels lucky to be dating. 

When you love with clarity and balance, you become even more precious to your guy. He truly respects and cherishes you.
Moving on after a broken engagement...  In a healthy relationship, you know you are enough for him, you don’t need to prove anything, and he loves your very essence. 

Moving on after a broken engagement... In a healthy relationship, you know you are enough for him, you don’t need to prove anything, and he loves your very essence. 

Never give up.

It sounds silly now, but I truly thought this broken engagement was my last chance at love and marriage. Over the next 5 years, I went through the driest of dry spells. I met men through online dating, but hardly any were my idea of Mr. Right. I tried a matchmaking group, and singles events. I was doing The Rules, but it just wasn’t my time yet.

I also worked on re-balancing my life. Before I dated my ex, I had regularly attended a Bible study group; I started going again. I decided it was time to reconnect with the people who truly mattered to me. I got busy with activities that were good for my soul, my body, and my mind, and resolved never again to silence my inner voice.

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Then, at 36, I met my now-husband. And his proposal was truly a gift from the heart. He knew that Scotland is my favorite place on earth. After we’d been dating a year, he surprised me with a mystery trip to Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull, where he got down on one knee, in the rain, surrounded by Highland cattle. (He had already told my parents about his planbecause he loved and respected them— and they were fully on board.) The diamond my husband gave me that day, and that I've worn ever since for the last 15 years, is precious. But mostly because it reflects back a beautiful experience and a shared memory that we both treasure. 

Wishing you lots of love,
Robyn

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.  

ROBYN'S MOST-SHARED POSTERS | 2014

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