If you only ever spoke to someone on the telephone when you called them, if they only texted or emailed in response to what you had sent to them, if they waited for you to initiate plans and expected you to be responsible for making the relationship happen, you would at best think they were very passive about the relationship which would imply half interest, or you might actually think they’re not interested.
Even if you do believe they’re interested, you might draw the conclusion that this person is happy to take a backseat or may even think that they are so special, that they should be pursued to show your worthiness until they are ready to be ‘captured’. You might even think ‘OK they seem like a great person, but I’m looking for a partner too. Am I not worthy of the effort?’ It might seem like this person thinks that what they automatically bring to the table is so great that all they need to do is ‘reply’ and show up. Or, you might think that they just want to be casual about things.
If you’ve nodded your head in agreement as you read this, you’re right to have these concerns, but some of you that are agreeing may actually be doing exactly what you’re concerned about.
If you’re a woman that doesn’t ‘do’ initiating contact or plans and often finds herself in relationships that are on the other person’s terms where they get to dictate the pace and the frequency of contact and interaction, what you’ve just read is exactly how you may come across.
If you don’t want to find yourself in a casual relationship, wondering when they’re going to call, waiting around for them to dignify you with plans, jumping to the beat of someone else’s plans and basically staying in a relationship long past its sell by date, you can remove a lot of the ambiguity by being prepared to put in some of the initiating of contact and interaction effort.
Aside from ensuring that you don’t end up waiting around for someone or being ‘controlled’, it actually also ensures that it is a balanced relationship and that if there’s anything shady or a disconnect between efforts, you’ll see it.
Recently a friend expressed her fury that the guy she’d been seeing for a few weeks didn’t call her for a week. She’d spent the entire week being hijacked by her imagination and agonising. I asked if she’d attempted to call – no.
As you can imagine, I read a hell of a lot of emails and comments from readers, as well as observing relationships and listening to a lot of frustrations. It’s not to say that a lot of these frustrations aren’t valid, but you know how I say that you should always be wary of anyone who experiences problems but doesn’t see themselves as a part of them? Well…that extends to you too.
Relationship (and dating) insanity is doing the same things, carrying the same baggage and beliefs, choosing similar people, and expecting different results.
It is 2011, not 1911, not 1961, 1991, not even 2010. A lot has changed. Some of you are trying to play ‘new games’ and do ‘modern dating’ with ‘old’ attitudes that are out of sync.
If you’re doing pre-internet style or ‘traditional’ dating, you’ll date for a bit, become exclusive and move into a relationship etc etc. You won’t do casual and you may even take your time before you sleep with them. As a result, you can likely get away with doing things the ‘old way’ because you haven’t got texts, emails, dating sites, keeping it casual and all that jazz to deal with.
In fact, if you’ve been on 0-3 dates, you can call that ‘pursuing’ but after that, it’s time to step up especially once you’ve slept together.
Trouble is, I’m hearing from people who’ve been on 10 dates, 20, been together for 3, 5, 9 months or even 5 years and beyond who still seem to be trapped in their own vision of that early phase of ‘pursuing’.
To pursue is to give chase/to follow with the intent being to capture. If you’re still looking to be pursued, then you haven’t been captured, which means you’re not ‘in it’. This means that if you’re still thinking, feeling, and acting like someone who thinks that the other person should be doing the ‘chasing’ and ‘initiation of interaction’ effort, that means that whether you’re just dating or you’re in a relationship, you’re either holding back or you take a passive, backseat role and effectively hand over the wheel or the reins to partners.
Where do you draw the line? At what point do you feel that you should step up and make an effort to help maintain the relationship and drive it along? Or when do you recognise that something isn’t right and opt out?
I get it. You want to be pursued, you want someone to show that they’re interested. Here’s the thing – It’s not that guys want you to take on the pursuing role but if you’re actually dating or have even moved beyond that into a relationship, just as much as you want effort, so do they. It’s not enough for us to show up – be careful of overvaluing your contribution.
It’s important for us to be equal in our interactions because if we don’t, we end up participating in setting the scene of them having it on their terms…and then complaining about it.
Relationships are a two way street. It’s not about someone coming along and you dignifying them with the opportunity to chase you and meet your needs. Relationships, for them to prosper and grow need to be mutually fulfilling healthy partnerships, not a game of kiss chase.
If you get involved in the steering of your relationship, you can very quickly find out if you’re involved with a co-pilot or someone who wants to drive the relationship on their terms and have you as a passenger.
You will know if you’re in mutually fulfilling relationship if you can call and initiate plans without restrictions.
When you’re involved with a potential co-pilot, they are happy for you to contact or make plans.
When you’re involved with a driver, they may let your call go to voicemail and respond with a text, leave it for a few days, or be short with you when you speak. You then think twice about calling. Or they might tell you that they’re really busy and they’ll call you on whatever day. Next thing you know, they’re in charge of the contact.
If you make it the ‘job’ of the guy to contact and make the plans, you opt for a lesser role in your relationship – the best you can hope to be is a backseat driver.
The key is not to accept the default role of a passenger – someone who automatically let’s someone else dictate the terms even if they might later try and close the door after the horse has bolted and complain. If you sit back and wait for people to call you and manage the whole relationship, you will be a passenger.
You shouldn’t be afraid to be a co-pilot if you want to have an active role in the direction your relationship takes.
I’m not telling you to run around chasing guys – I’m telling you that certainly once you are exclusively dating that you should be making equal efforts in initiating contact and plans and that while you’re dating, if in doubt, save yourself the headache and make the call. The worst that can happen is that they don’t answer, but no genuinely good relationship has died because a woman picked up the phone and matched contact and plan making, but plenty of relationships have grown out of it.