woman on a callIf 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.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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96 Responses to Why We Shouldn’t Make It The Guy’s ‘Job’ To Do All the Calling and Making of Plans

  1. T says:

    “You will know if you’re in mutually fulfilling relationship if you can call and initiate plans without restrictions.”

    Well, said, NML! I wish I had heard it said this way before I wasted my time on a bunch of ACs and EUMs! Better late than never, I guess…
    I have to say, though, that this has become one of my favorite ways to weed them out–if I don’t feel comfortable being the caller, there is likely some sort of red or amber flag that I either haven’t considered consciously, or that I’ve ignored. I’ve learned to follow the discomfort to it’s root, and act accordingly.

  2. Alex says:

    I love your blog. Somehow you always manage to post about topics that are extremely relevant to my life– amazing. You advice played a role in helping me get over a terrible relationship, and even now that I’m in a new relationship your site still gives me the thoughtful perspective I need.

    This post is great because it conveys what a relationship should feel like… and it’s very easy to forget! Thanks for helping me stay level-headed and natural.

  3. better_tomorrow says:

    Yay for this viewpoint and for the nice distinction between *pursuing* in the very earliest stages of courtship (ah that fine old word) and *co-piloting* as a fully vested partner in a relationship.

    Men are people too (lol) they really like to feel noticed and their company wanted by the woman in their life. Making plans is really a high compliment letting him know he is worth your time and thoughts.

    Many men are quite tired of what they view as an entitled princess expecting them to constantly be “on the job” of mapping out every mutual enjoyment. This is one subspecies of High Maintenance Female.

    Life is too short not to be good to each other. We need to stop trying to cram souls into roles.

    And god help anyone if initiating an activity/interest w. your partner becomes a “job”. For man or woman. If so, time to re-evaluate.

  4. Forrester says:

    This article came at a good time. I realized a month ago that I was potentially sabotaging a great thing that started a few months ago. Because my last relationship involved me being with a guy that hardly ever called or initiated plans ie: everything on his terms – I went into overdrive with this new guy thinking “He can do all the initiating and all the work! I’ve earned it.” Essentially dragging my baggage from my old relationship into a potential new one and making this new guy pay for it……well, that’s not fair.

    After 3 months of dating we’ve moved into exclusivity and I realized that I have to be in this relationship too. As much as I do love the stage of pursuit – the excitement, the flattery….it doesn’t say much about me if I just sit on my butt and collect. Now I’m an equal partner and realize that by me calling and giving my fair share doesn’t make me a sucker or a desperate girl…..it makes me a partner.

    Thanks Natalie. A great post that I think a lot of women will be able to get a lot from.

  5. colororange says:

    It is so timely you write about this now. I swear I’ve read/heard about, seen on TV, and listened to so many people’s opinions about this very topic that I feel like a way over saturated tampon!! There is so much information out there with conflicting views that I’m to the point of saying screw the whole thing and join a convent.

    I may have come across as disinterested but it has been drilled in my head that if a guy does not initiate (even today) then he’s not interested. The times I’ve been interested in a man and “chased” after him, it never worked out. And, if a woman initiates she should expect to keep that ball rolling because she would be the “masculine” in the relationship. Now, I actually read that in a book. It’s from Pat Allen’s Getting to “I do”.

    When you said “You will know if you’re in mutually fulfilling relationship if you can call and initiate plans without restrictions,” that rang a bell for me. I was afraid to call this one guy because I did not think he would answer his phone. He would tell me how he would send some people’s calls straight to voice mail (I’d seen him do it) and I did not want to be one of those people. I never called. Another red flag that I was afraid to even call him.

    I definitely want a co-pilot. I was close to having one once before and surely I can have another. I am completely fine with calling someone that is in it as much as I am and willing to take the reins together.

    And I really needed to hear “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.” A GENUINELY GOOD RELATIONSHIP. That is what I want.

    • grace says:

      I actually do think if he doesn’t initiate he’s not interested. I’m not saying he should be constantly wooing you but for the first couple of dates he should be doing most of the legwork. If only because men still very much see that role as theirs. I don’t picture men sitting at home thinking “If she’s interested she’ll ask me out” or their man friends saying “man, wait for her to ask YOU”.
      There should still be something mutual about it though, you should be open and friendly and have some ideas, not just watching him jump through hoops to impress you. By all means, after a few dates you should feel comfortable calling him and suggesting a movie or whatever. If you’re not comfortable, or you feel he would give you the cold shoulder or youre waiting to be picked from the harem that’s an issue to be examined which goes beyone who calls who.
      If you’re friendly with a man, and there’s some flirting, and he kinda knows your interested let him ask you out. If he doesn’t there could very well be a good reason (married, engaged, not over the ex, leaving the country).
      I’m willing to stand corrected though if you’ve all had different experiences! I’m more an expert on crap relationships than good dating habits.

  6. Kay says:

    Very interesting post. Great food for thought as I set about my nightly rituals and prepare for bed. When I saw the title I was certain I would be disagreeing but as usual,Nat,you’ve got it spot on! However the key is knowing when the pursuing is over.Once we’ve slept with them I guess. But during the pursuing stage I’m more comfortable to sit back and let the man chase.The reason being that in a former life, before I acquired the dignity that your wisdom gained me,I used to chase like an idiot and of course it always backfired. So now my dignity is paramount and I do let him do the initial chase work but as I haven’t yet got any further than that in my new life,I can’t comment more.But I agree there’s nothing wrong with biting the bullet and asking when in doubt and definitely,once it becomes a relationship,I’d prefer to be an active co-pilot than a passenger any day.

  7. candy B says:

    wow im kinda proud of myself coz i actually saw/worked this out a bit ago! i think reading “the rules” as a kid saw me being myself when we’d meet and id feel free to call but as soon as it became serious id wait for “him” to call to show how keen he was (coz im a producer and quite good at producing things including relationships) but i then thought (too late coz the relationship died), hang on… that must have been a lot of pressure and slightly boring for him to always have to be literally “making the call” on what would happen next and yes, as you say… put me in the “passive passenger seat”! he even said one time he felt “obliged to call me. oh dear. now im not saying the relationship was the most healthy one in town and one of the reasons we broke up was because he was away so often and he was… you got it… really crap at contacting me in between when he was away. wish i had made more effort in the “in betweens” to call him, coz we both agreed when we did see eachother it was fab. but we live and we learn. and he wasnt a great communicator anyhow. next! but in the the next relationship, i vow to call them more too and keep it more balanced x

  8. TeaTime says:

    I think I did many things wrong with this respect. I was the one who called the first date. I was the one calling him to plan other dates. Though I thought I was in control, I wasn’t – he was still the driver, because he always had the final say as to whether we did meet or when we met.

    It’s scary to read this post. Here Natalie says by doing some of the initiating and calling we can be in a better position to see the problems with the relationship. I was seeing it but completely ignoring it. I spent all of July and August of last year, calling him once a week, having a nice 20 min chat about our weeks, then asking him if we can meet up and him telling me “I’m busy these days, let’s try for next week.” You’d think after the first or second time I would have gotten the hint but I didn’t. And when I did suspect he was blowing me off, I called again anyway just so I can have control and the final say. I also wanted to hear the words straight fromhim that he just didn’t want to see me again, and until I heard it I would keep calling. What a fool I was. I hope never to find myself in that point again.

  9. runnergirl says:

    Hi Natalie, your posts regarding dating are about 3 to 6 months ahead of where I think I am right now which is almost 4 months NC with the ex MM. However, I am learning and thinking a lot about my previous marriages and encounters with men based on your posts. It is extremely helpful to read what a healthy relationship entails and contrast that with what I’ve experienced in the past. Among many, many other mistakes, I’ve defaulted to passenger, thinking the guy should make the plans, initiate contact etc. The vision of a co-pilot rather than a passenger is vivid. I’ve opted for passenger in the past, stewing because he didn’t call.

    I’m going to have to go back through your posts and make a list of the signs of a healthy relationship like:
    1) “You will know if you’re in mutually fulfilling relationship if you can call and initiate plans without restrictions”. I did call and initiated plans with ex MM, only to be met with a ton of restrictions. Of course, since he was married, there were a ton of restrictions. Stupid me.

    2) “When you’re involved with a potential co-pilot, they are happy for you to contact or make plans”. Oh, I long for the day…

    3) “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”. I’m a co-pilot not a passenger. I’ll be able to recognize that now. Thank you.

    Keep the healthy relationship descriptions coming. In fact, I’m thinking maybe your next book could be what a healthy relationship entails. I don’t know if I’m the only one out here but when you’ve never had a healthy relationship or seen one, it is tough to figure things out. These posts really, really help. Thank you. Lots and lots to think about. Thank you.

    • grace says:

      lol at “stupid me”. I knew I’d reached rock bottom when Iwas wondering why the MM wasn’t calling me or meeting me.
      Doh, he’s married!
      For what it’s worth none of the relationship advice on communication, dating, co-piloting applies to MM, the only advice is – get out. Do not pass Go.

      • runnergirl says:

        Grace, I know nothing Natalie writes regarding dating, communication, and a healthy relationship applies to being involved with a MM because by definition being involved with a MM is UNhealthy. I’m out and never going back to that nonsense. After being out, I couldn’t go back now. It is refreshing to hear how things can be so different in a healthy relationship.

        • grace says:

          sorry runner – i wasn’t aiming that at you – i was throwing it out there for anyone who finds this site the way i did – looking for advice on how to deal with a married man.
          i know you’ve made huge strides.

      • Learning From My Mistakes says:


        For what it’s worth none of the relationship advice on communication, dating, co-piloting applies to MM, the only advice is – get out. Do not pass Go.

        Thank you for stating this. Even though I do realize that nothing NML writes about would ever encourage us to apply these to seeing a MM-but having gone NC and keeping myself within this boundary, it was something I told myself that this post doesn’t apply to me yet. It was encouraging for me to see that you wrote this and that I am getting better in validating myself. Sometimes I still feel a bit wobbly, but with each day that goes by, returning the focus back to myself, and continued reading here for support, it does get better.

  10. meshel says:

    that’s funny, becouse in most of my relationships i was always the one trying to find fun things for us to do, i did all the work , the calling, the texting, the planning our lives together and he rarely called, i’m trying to learn the opposite lessons,,,,,let the guy show some interest.

  11. Natasha says:

    At the risk of sounding 14, it’s funny how things like Facebook play into this too…ahhh, modern dating. I know I’ve dated people and gave headspace to whether or not I could write on their page. It’s a good indicator though sometimes, the last guy I was involved with wrote on mine daily but did not really like me writing on his. If I hadn’t taken a chance and done it occasionally, I would have had no idea or registered the red flag. Every once in awhile, I wish we could date like it was the 1960’s, when it was only, you know, the PHONE!

    • MaryC says:

      Natasha I couldn’t agree more, I would love to once again cuddle up with my princess phone and talk away the hours with someone.

      • Natasha says:

        Yes indeed MaryC! :) I’m 29 and from what I’ve heard, the princess phone was not set up to receive booty call texts at 2am!

  12. Anusha says:

    I think that can be relative.The guy Im dating now for example wants to do all the calling and doesnt seem to like much when I do it.He is often saying “I will get in touch with you” and seems to like better this way.

    • Minky says:

      Sounds like he wants to be in control. Not a good sign I’m afraid. If a guy likes you, why wouldn’t he be happy to hear from you?

      • Anusha says:

        I guess is because he has a very busy schedule.So is hard for me to know when is a good time to call.The times I did call he often would keep it short cause he was busy or say “I cant talk right now,I call you back later”.So doing like that is more sure that he can talk I guess.

        • NML says:

          Anusha, sometimes I do wonder if you’re taking the piss because I just don’t know how you can describe your various guys with a straight face, especially after all of your previous comments!

          Nobody is that busy Anusha. Nobody. Not David Cameron, Obama, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Donald Trump. Nobody.

          • Anusha says:

            Hi Nat,yes I know I said I would considerate to be alone for a while on my previous coments but I just cant do that.I just feel to bad without it that I had to get back.

            • NML says:

              Anusha, I’m going to say something that I should have said to you a long time ago that maybe won’t come as a surprise to you. I realise that in our weird little parent child dysfunction that you’re that child that I need to ask to pack their bags and leave the house so that you can spread your wings and discover the hard knocks of life. I and every other person that has written thousands of words to you over the past few years, am enabling you. We’re all trying to fix/heal/help someone that doesn’t have any desire to help themselves and has taken us on various stints through different guys but same situations. I don’t want this site to be a forum, and I certainly don’t want you to treat this site like a forum where you can come back every once in a while like a naughty child and announce your latest ‘oops’ moment. I realised today that we’re not helping you – we’re actually in our own way making it worse because we keep falling into the pattern of you putting your comment in and then fussing around you and then wondering if it went into the abyss.

              So Anusha, there is no more enabling going on – you need to help yourself. You want to get back with a married guy that’s up to you. You want to keep doing all of this stuff -that’s up to you. What I say to you here today has nothing to do with me wanting you to do what I or others tell you – I just don’t want to participate in the drama and attention seeking. You keep pressing The Reset Button – I have to keep asking myself is this not the same person who asked these exact questions 20 times before, or told the same story in another way. There are people that come to this site and go to others, read books, and essentially *do* stuff no matter how small to improve their self-esteem and make better choices. In the entire time you have been commenting and that’s a few years now, I’ve rarely seen you do this. You’re like an alcoholic turning up at AA meetings pissed out of her head every time – that’s no good for you and it’s certainly not good for anyone else.

              I care about you Anusha and I hope you understand in time why I have said this to you today but enough is enough.

              • Sweetie187 says:

                Natalie, i agree with you 100%. You know how long I have been a witness to Anusha’s repetative posts. From way back in the day, I have always said we were enabling her by responding and we need to stop it.

                Thank God you have applied the boundary now! I do not mean to be mean to her, but i think she needs to be stopped from posting here. It’s not helpful.

                Please Anusha, go and get on with your life. Only come back when you are SERIOUS about changing your dysfunctional habits.

                No more posting of “oops! i did it again” moments. The reason you have got away with so many of these”oops!” episodes is because many of the people who are currently responding to you are relatively new to this site and therefore are not aware of your long standing pattern.

                But Natalie and I know whats up, hence our seemingly harsh, tough love stance.

                Enough is enough already!

    • grace says:

      You say he likes it better that way. What about what you like?

      • Anusha says:

        Well to be honest I would prefer if I could call too.It just a bit boring to just keep waiting for a call every time(sometimes not even knowing when/if this call will happen).But when I do call he doesnt seem to like it much so I get afraid to call.And thinking about that,is funy how I usualy have this problems with guys.With my ex I would have problems with that too but instead of being like it is with this guy now,he just wouldnt answer most of the time I called.Like out of 10 times I called he would answer just 1 or 2.

        • M says:

          Hi Anusha,

          In reading your post, I can’t help but to wonder if your guy is married or committed to someone else. Honestly, that is what it sounds like. I agree with Natalie. NOBODY is that busy. Maybe he doesn’t want you interrupting his time with the next woman. Perhaps that is why he doesn’t want you to call him.

          Just a thought.

  13. Magnolia says:

    In my last relationship I let him do the early pursuing, knowing he was a go-getter type, and quickly found myself in the situation you describe. I would hesitate to call because he had quickly established that he was a busy, sought-after person and while he SAID to call anytime, I felt the unstated weight of him being the bigger VIP in the world.

    He would call every day and I would wait for the call. But it always felt like he was doing a duty, not getting in touch with a partner who he wanted to be real with.

    Pretty early on I asked him what he liked about me and he pretty much said that he liked that I gave him lots of space and didn’t make a big deal when he had to leave for work and that I respected his schedule. I felt like he was telling me he liked how accommodating I was to HIM, which is way more about him liking HIM than him liking ME.

    The friction became evident as I began to assert myself by calling and having some expectations based on my schedule. I never did feel comfortable calling, even if I knew it was my ‘right’ in a relationship and knew calling ‘ought’ to have been easy, natural and mutual
    between us.

    But this issue has opened my eyes to the bigger context of me not being comfortable asserting myself or doing a bit of pursuing around friendships. I have tended to get ‘adopted’ by men and women who like passive people, and I struggle to keep people who want active, dynamic friendships happy – I struggle knowing that healthy people won’t be into my passivity.

    Thank goodness each day offers an opportunity to stretch myself a little! It’s painful, but the alternative (staying a doormat) is more painful.

    • PJM says:

      Magnolia, I had the same problem with my last B/f, who as it turns out was an utter commitment-phobe and EUM. He was a lazy texter, but also very busy and hardworking, and I NEVER felt comfortable calling him. But he hardly called me at all.

      He had me well trained – until I found this site … Months later, I am so happy to be free of him, and in fact had a nightmare about him last night – he was chained to my ankle and I was dragging him as dead weight, trying to reach a goal I really wanted. You don’t have to be Freud to figure that one out.

      Next time – if there is a next time – I’ll be going for a co-pilot.

  14. debra says:

    A very interesting post. I had to read it twice, and in two ways. The first time I read it, all I could think about was the last AC/narc, who completely and utterly had to have control of everything, especially contact. It got to the point, and early on in the relationship, where he had “trained” me not to contact him. If and when he wanted anything from me, he would text, email or maybe call. Mostly he would just stop by my office for his ego stroke. I see now how he trained me, how restricted I felt in the relationship and the fact that I didn’t use that information to help me make the informed and correct decision to walk away.

    Then I read the post again as someone hoping for a healthy relationship. What does contact mean? I have never seen myself as a princess, sitting waiting for the phone to ring. Nor am I the aggressor, out texting and calling guys. I like the point about seeming disinterested if you don’t engage – and have to wonder if that isn’t what some guys do to keep us interested.

    To me, it comes down to fear of rejection – on both sides. I know I have been scared to call, if only because I don’t want to be brushed off or sent to voicemail. But I suspect many men feel the same. That said, I would hope in a healthy, normal relationship, I could pick up the phone when I felt like it. In fact, I will set that as a sign or hall mark of a healthy relationship. If I can’t just pick up the phone and call him, something is very wrong. Particularly after months, like the AC.

    The take home message for me is that communication in any form should be just that. It shouldn’t be a means of control. When anyone is using it that way – run!

    • Jo says:

      Hi Deborah

      I read the post the same exact way that you did. After dating AC/EUM after AC/EUM I am not sure I understand how to be in a healthy relationship and like you, the last AC/EUM trained me well. I wanted to call him/text him and when I did, there would usually be no response or voicemail – ALWAYS! You get to a point where initiating contact = no response, and then the contact comes from them, on their terms. It is hard for me to imagine what it must feel like to actually initiate contact and expect to actually make contact. The best I can do is to think about a friend I recently made – she and I met at a lecture and we hit it off. We went to dinner afterwards and discussed the lecture, this was a few weeks back, and since then she and I have been regularly meeting for drinks or dinner and catching up. The contact is initiated by both people and it feels very natural and comfortable. I suppose there are slightly different dynamics in a dating relationship, but not too drastically different, right? I am sad to even be asking such a question. But, I have to believe that in a healthy situation, it should never be like pulling teeth, for either party.

      “The take home message for me is that communication in any form should be just that. It shouldn’t be a means of control. When anyone is using it that way – run!”

      Agree! The same AC I referenced above would answer back in text when I left a voicemail. Always needed to be in control. He had me so afraid that I was shaking when I sent off a text or phoned him. Until, of course, I stopped and let him make all the contact, which he was perfectly happy with.

      • Minky says:

        Hey Jo,

        “The contact is initiated by both people and it feels very natural and comfortable. I suppose there are slightly different dynamics in a dating relationship, but not too drastically different, right?”

        Absolutely right! The only things that are different is the addition of physical attraction, butterflies etc, which is all good. Also, because of the increased emotional attachment, one has to go a bit slower and be much more aware than with a new paltonic relationship, hence watching out for red flags and not diving in too quickly. The contact and comfort levels should be the same though and there should be hardly any restrictions regarding contact, unless someone is not contactable for some practical reason (like they’re a tube driver or a surgeon or something).

        Glad you’re enjoying your new friendship! :)

        • Jo says:

          Thanks, Minky! Sometimes, other types of relationships teach you a lot about yourself and how you are doing it all wrong in the romantic ones!

    • Natasha says:

      Debra – Love your comments! I completely agree about it being a control thing with communication with these guys. In my experience it was as far as making plans went too! With my last AC (quite possibly a narc too), if mid-week rolled around and he hadn’t asked me out for the weekend, I went ahead and made other plans. I was on my 4th go-around with this jerk, so I wasn’t really ready to initiate plans, because I wanted to see if he’d make a real effort. The funniest part was, if he texted to say hello on a Saturday and I said “I have to get ready, I’m going to blah-blah tonight”, he would get pissy! Did he expect me to stay home and do nothing because he hadn’t asked me out? Probably. Mind you, he had chosen to go out drinking with his friends rather than take me on a date. Control is often the name of the game with these losers.

      • LostEnergy says:

        debra, Jo, Natasha et al,
        Totally agree about the fear of rejection -calling the mobile and it not getting answered, being downgraded to voicemail, rather than feeling like the No.1. Sometimes, I’ve phoned immediately after a text and not got a response. Have often experienced communication control from men, who need a check up from the neck up.
        Guess this has been highlighted as red flag/code red. Trouble is, it’s scary how they train us to get into this pattern of wanting their attention so badly.
        I’m hoping in future I will have the confidence to jump ship when things are un-even and put the effort in where its more reciprocal.
        How nice it would be to have a normal 2 way reciprocal communication/ relationship! :-)

        • pam says:

          I too have rang immediately after receiving a text , especially if my reply requires a long answer ..or I need more info ..who wants to send text messg that go on and on and on..not me…and yep …the call has not been answered. It really shows what games these jerks play, to add insult to injury .. at the other persons expense and time.
          It’s deliberate what they are doing…they know exactly what they are doing. I was involved with one who carried this practice into work situations…it would mean I couldn’t proceed with my work duties at times…….I think one thing all women need to remember is….if you convey to another in a reasonable and repectful manner that certain behaviour is not to your liking and they keep doing it..that person is toxic….

  15. tess says:

    “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.”

    OMG that’s me! After leaving a very lengthy marriage, I read and read self help books, and the “Bitch” books, and had friends advising me on my first relationhip post divorce. Most of them said to don’t be rude, but make the guy do all the work in the initial dating. Looking back, we had a long relationship, but I as too busy playing “hard to get” and acting disinterested that I was definitely letting him select the theme and getting angry about it, and it may have led him to go back to his ex.

    I still don’t believe in calling in the first couple of weeks because it can be a good barometer of his interest, but after a couple of dates (and certainly if you’ve slept together) why not? And I had my AC ask me why I never called (one of the few times he actually showed his interest outright). Guys can play hard to get too! Then you find neither of you calling, talking, or communicating.

    Not to say shoulda, woulda, coulda, but I just wished I had figured it this and all the rest out before I bailed. Great thread as usual!

    • grace says:

      don’t blame yourself too much. a man who chases after a woman who is disinterested has his own issues, much as we do when we chase after EUMs. sound like he was not over his ex and none of the chasing/not chasing/communication/dating tatics in the world could have changed that.

  16. Linden says:

    I’m afraid my problem has been the opposite kind. I’ve been involved with too many men who allowed me to pursue, while they hung back and got to say yes or no. In the past it’s taken me way too long to realize that I was the only one playing tennis — on both sides of the net. I’ve decided that given this pattern, in any future relationship I have, one of my criteria will be that the man must issue 50% of the invitations. And the inviting can’t be of the “we could get together and do something sometime” kind, but must actually include a date, a time, and a suggested destination. Sticking to this has already steered me clear of several flakes.

  17. Tulipa says:

    I’m glad that others have written after reading the post that if they were dating an EUM they controlled the calls dates etc. This was certainly true in my case as the date would end I would find my anxiety levels rising to see if he would utter those magic words ” I will call you” He didn’t like me calling him and somehow conveyed that message to me early on and was often annoyed if I did call it seems ridiculous now holding the phone wondering will I call won’t I?
    Now we are ‘friends’ it is me who has to arrange everything (I have stopped doing this the silence says it all)
    So it seems a balance is needed like everything in life.

  18. grace says:

    Looking back over my past relationships I can see that I usually did what the man wanted – he would decide where we went, how often we saw each other, what films we watched etc. Even the ones who weren’t EUMs/ACs. I didn’t consciously hand over the reins, I just didn’t know what I wanted. Then, because we weren’t actually doing stuff I really enjoyed I was happy not to spend much time with them, and even happier if they moved away and the relationship became long distance. Even when I was married we were living separate lives. A relationship is sharing, I see that now. It’s not about us waiting for the man to do stuff that we fit into. That’s how you lose yourself.

  19. Minky says:

    I agree with this 100%. I used to play such games with men, but have stopped now. It was just stupid and pointless and just led to frustration. If i feel like calling or texting, then i will just do it.

    With the ex EUM the contact was pretty balanced, but always by text (red flag number one!). I noticed that he was a LOT bolder by text, saying things that he would never normally say face to face, being a lot more bolshy, a lot more explicit and pervy. When i would talk to him about it afterwards, he would actually get embarrassed by some of the things he text me! Meeting up, however, was always on his terms because he lived in another city. It was always a case of him ‘gracing me with his presence’ and always, always last minute. Literally, all weel long i would get ‘i may come and see you this weekend’ until FRIDAY, usually in the evening, when he would finally confirm. His excuse: ‘i don’t wanna let you down’. What an absolute load of balls – not wanting to feel bad about cancelling and getting moaned at would be a lot closer to the truth. Because of this i would always feel bad about complaining if he didn’t visit and felt i had to be very ‘chilled’ about whether he was coming to see me or not, never pressure him about it. I would make plans with friends for the weekend anyway, rather than sitting and waiting and he would pretty much just tag along (half hearted interest or what!?), but i still feel like he dictated our meeting up and i hated it! I hated the wishy washy ‘i might come and see you’. All i wanted was for him to say he was going to do something and then DO IT! I get annoyed even now when i think about it. Thank goodness i don’t have to deal with that anymore! Phew! :).

    With my current guy, it started off with him making all the contact, but after a couple of days i made a point of calling him first (yes, we CALLED each other! Whoop!) because i did want it to be balanced. We both suggest meeting up (though he did it more at first) and things were always planned in advance, with a date, time, destination, even tickets booked on some occasions. It was like a revelation, like being in an alternate universe after months and months of ambiguity and frustration. I knew that i had…

    • TeaTime says:

      “All i wanted was for him to say he was going to do something and then DO IT!”

      AMEN! I’ve been finding, by reading this website and looking at my situation and other comments, that these commitment-phobic EUMs are commitment-phobic in all aspects of their lives. Wishy-washy promises and last-minute dates were all I ever got from my EUM. And when it came to making dates, he never did, neither with me or with his friends. I remember seeing how his friends (most of them girls, now i wonder how much of ‘friends’ they were!) would ask him to do things, almost beg sometimes. He would even double-book himself and then tell me about it as if it was something to be proud of!

      These guys don’t know how to say they’re going to do something then actually follow through and do it. That would require responsibility, maturity, a healthy approach to commitment – things they don’t have!

      • Outergirl says:

        @ TeaTime
        Sounds familiar. Does it also sound like their self-esteem is in the dumpster so they want to appear ‘in demand’? Especially when you said he would tell you about it ‘as if it was something to be proud of! ‘ After reading the article my head’s in a tizzy! But he had me so confused anyway. The pushing & pulling. If he called and I had to run and I’d offer to return his call he’d discourage it w/a ‘that’s ok, I’ll call you later’. So I guess it was about him controlling the situation and not about me lacking an interest?

    • Sam says:

      “I don’t want to let you down.”
      INFURIATING! Of course that’s just a manipulative way of stating their issues about committment. It makes them feel like they look like the good guy while they pull out their BS behavior. I’ve heard that before. It’s a total load.

  20. bish says:

    OMG! I actually just purged myself of a friendship like this! I got the strength from your other posts Nat. From creating boundaries and loving myself enough to want and expect more from others in my life. I apply your messages in ALL areas of my life and not just to BFs. Thank you as always.

  21. Sandra81 says:

    This is what I always say too. Although I’m what you call a “traditional dater” (not into online dating, taking things slowly, not rushing to sleep with them, etc.), I still believe there must be a balance, and there shouldn’t be one party who has to do everything and the other one who does nothing. I have many friends who live by the philosophy: “HE has to call, HE has to ask you out, HE has to choose the time and place”, etc. I think they believe this is the way they filter the guys who are really interested, whilst avoiding situations that might be embarrassing for themselves. But, on the other hand, I believe that it somehow forces you to accept whoever comes along (i.e. calls, asks you out, etc.), whether you like them or not, or whether they are really suitable for you or not. And that’s not a good thing! Whereas taking SOME initiative is more empowering, making you feel like you have your say in choosing who YOU deem suitable. I think that the key to our taking initiative, especially in the early stages, is to make it light and casual, without putting much pressure on them. That way, you get a glimpse of his attitude and his interest towards you, and it’s better to start finding out sooner rather than later.

  22. Lynda from L. says:

    Thought provoking as always… Only bit I question is the ‘through the ages analogy’ NML….?
    Those of us who were dating in 1991( I was married actually) or in 1981 when I first started my teenage dating highs and lows may agree with me that it’s not entirely accurate to put a historical iron in the fire… I think we were often challenging established sexual stereotypes back then about asking guys out or who was the pursuer or pursued! In a sense we paved the way out of the dark ages to modern dating….
    For me,it continues to be about your own self esteem and your capacity to ask for what you want and need and that has everything to do with the individual and nothing about whether you are 16 or 60?
    Looking at myself, this is why I am now NC with my emotionally unavailable man. My situation mirrored your very astute summary
    ‘You know you are in a mutually fufilling relationship if you can call and make plans without restrictions.’
    After several months it appeared I couldn’t.
    Everything had to be flip flapped around to the nth degree! I became drained of energy and would have needed a crystal ball to fathom his intentions at any given moment. I did try to keep communicating however…until enough already!
    I feel happy at the effort I put in- sad that ultimately it fell on fallow ground. The final lesson for me from yourself today is that its always important to know when to bail and to look for a co pilot who wants to be in the cockpit with you…..Thanks this site is helping me a lot at a difficult time.

  23. LostEnergy says:

    Like Tess, I’ve read alot of self help books, some of which i’m not sure are helpful! Including the ‘bitch’ ones. I’ve never been very good at faining disinterest anyhow -although I may have tried to hold back on the odd occasion.
    On being 50:50, at the start he would fast forward (costant texts and phonecalls from him to me for months) me and possibly some future faking, then as we got into the relationship I think we had more balance, he would suggest a meal, i’d also think of places to go, I suggested a fireworks show, he planned a weekend away, we went to arrangements with my friends, birhtday do’s weddings etc, see each others families/Mothers, we went to a couple of social events with his friends. So you would think that’s pretty equal, however I still managed to feel like a passenger, possibly how he spoke to me, possbily arguments and me feeling like the one to blame, his possessiveness. He would manufacture quite a few arguments, leaving me feeling on the back foot and that I make lots of mistakes and am selfish.
    However, after the first few months, the majority of travel in our long distance (1hr15) relationship was done by my little car. Mostly due to his son living with him most weekends.[He said he’d done all that travelling to me first -but he was usually in the locality for work anyhow!]
    There was one friday evening when we’d been arguing in the week [possibly due to him working away and not calling me back in the evenings as he said he would] and he was supposed to come to me, however he made load of excuses -he tried to argue with me again on the phone and the didnt come over, this was a major wound to the relationship. Towards the last few months I moved to live near to him (rather than moving in as planned, couldnt due to ‘arguing’ round son) and got a job near to him so we could make relationship happen without so much travel. Even before the move I notice how – if I didnt call, there wasnt much going on. It went from the sublime (loads of him calling at the start) to the ridiculus (not much effort at all). So.. sorry for the long comments but I’m not sure how our efforts (I did make alot -helped his Son out alot), reflect on the relationship outcome, as it seemed balance…

    • grace says:

      I think these problems (possessiveness, arguments, him picking on you) go way beyond “who calls who”.
      Truth is, you were with someone who mistreated you and the only thing you could have done is a) not have got involved with him in the first place or failing that b) opted out the first time you got that sinking feeling.
      A lot of “dating books” (not Nat’s) have a formula. Do A+B, and your man will deliver C . They feed a fantasy that you can manouvre the relationship.
      It doesn’t work like that. He is who he is – in this case possessive, argumentative and insulting. Nothing you did could have changed that. You don’t have the power to make someone into something they’re not. You do have the power to walk away and make a brighter future for yourself.

      • EllyB says:

        I somehow suspect that some of those “dating”/”self-help” books intentionally cater to women who tend to fall for AC/EUM and perpetuate the problem.After all, those women (which sadly means most of us, at some point of our lives) provide never-ending demand for that kind of “advice”, unless we wake up.

        Maybe I’m just cynical.

        • LostEnergy says:

          I think if were really being ‘authentic’ there maybe a number of things in these SelfHelp books that dont sit well with us. Infact the ‘bitch’ ones basically give tips on how to string along an eum for as long as possible I think, although they name him a ‘quality’ man!! Ha! I think the best thing about them is they help us to look at what were doing now in comparison to the suggestions in the book.
          So, on the calling each other topic in a balaned way, the ‘bitch’ books view literally is:
          1. The women who have the men climbing the walls for them are the ones who dont appear to care that much.
          2. A woman is perceived as offering a mental challenge to the degree that a man doesnt feel he has 100% hold on her.
          3. Sometimes a man Deliberately Wont Call (!) Just to see how she will respond. … Apparently the ”bitches” answer to this is to
          with ‘show him you hve absolutely no attitude about it’ and vary your reactions, so you remain a mental challenge. Apparently he’ll come your way as he wont perceive you as needy! [Isn’t this a surefire way to making yourself mental?!!]
          4. If its something he cant have it becomes a challenge to get it…
          None of these suggestions seem very “co-pilot” infact they seem to expand alot of energy considering the ‘male’ perspective and accomodating it.
          No wonder I get confused. In the end its probably best to listen to ones gut instict, and if you find yourself feeling like its a game situation -its probably is… time to mentally Flush.

          • Natasha says:

            LostEnergy – I so agree! I read one of those books a year or so ago and I thought “Geesh. Whatever happened to he likes me, I like him, let’s go on some dates, have a good time and see if there’s something there.” Personally, I think it sounds like some of them suck the fun right out of dating! Maybe I’m naive, but I thought it was supposed to be at least somewhat fun? Getting to know a new person is supposed to be, you know, enjoyable. Now that I’ve made a commitment to myself that there will be no more ACs/EUMs/general morons, I’m excited to get out there and meet some nice men. What I’m not looking to do is meet someone that I enjoy being with and pretend that I don’t like him all, lest he be bored/terrified/whatever that I’m interested in spending time with him. I agree with these books that no woman should act pathetic, but I don’t think a normal man who is genuinely interested is going to be appalled because the woman in the equation called to see how his day was. What do you ladies think? This is my first time going out into the dating world when I actually feel like I might have a chance of doing it right (thanks to Natalie and all of the wonderful ladies on this site!!) and I want to make sure I’m not completely and utterly naive about this :)

        • ICanDoBetter says:

          I agree. Most of those books do seem to cater to women trying to get the AC/EUM to fall for her. The women who are in healthy relationships won’t be looking for answers anyway!
          What gets me about those books is that they paint a picture of a man as if he is some kind of wild animal that needs to be approached with a hunter’s skill and patience in order to be caught. And they also paint a picture that, much like that wild animal, the man acts like an asshole sometimes because that is his nature. They would have us believe it is all up to us women to do all the work to tame these wild beasts!

      • LostEnergy says:

        Thank you grace :-) Much appreciated comments. I think that i have a little bit of a ‘need to feel needed’, so not giving my half or more to the relationship is maybe not so pressing for me. As giving is pretty common for me.
        However I’ve not been so good with money and that kinda restricts ‘suggestions’ for activities sometimes methinks, as I wouldnt want to always expect the other to pay for my suggestions.
        My ex would one week say ‘well dont make so much effort’ or similar and then towards the end he said to me “What can you offer me???… and dont say Cooking!” This comment has stuck with me. .. like glue, making me feel useless, although I know I’m not.
        Even though it was a horrid thing to say to me… it did make me think more about well, maybe I could in future suggest more activities/ sports we could so together an talk more about long term plans/holidays, homes etc. I maybe didnt suggest as much as I could have through fear, or not knowing what to suggest, not knowing the area so well. Also feeling overshadowed by his ex who seemed to be an expert at suggesting activities, including those for kids. I think my ex may have been an ‘all on his terms’ Driver.
        But in future I want to feel more confident and relaxed enough (not scared or worried of negative reactions) to suggest a range of things that develop the relationship.
        This post has surprisingly made me think more about needing similar values with a guy, as surely being able to communicate activity or date ideas freely with each other is indicative of respecting each others interests and values in communicating.
        How refreshing!! :-)

  24. LostEnergy says:

    although having read back what I’ve written, i possibly did make more effort than him. But he paid for a lot of things… I dont want to go round in circles anymore. I jut think i have a bad tendancy to think its all my fault.

  25. Jo says:

    I think this is a great point. There has to come a time in any two way relationship where both people are comfortable making an effort? I know a lot of women who feel uneasy about calling a guy, but even those women once they reach a certain point in the relationship, they will do it. Like one of the previous posters mentioned this may be a good litmus test to see if you are involved with an AC…how do you feel when you initiate? Does he agree but then not show up or cancel at the last minute? Is he flaky? When you leave a message asking him if he is free, does he not return your call? If you’re doing all the right things in trying to pin someone down to make plans and it’s still too hard, you know it’s not the right person/relationship. Brilliant post, Natalie!

    • ICanDoBetter says:


      “this may be a good litmus test to see if you are involved with an AC…how do you feel when you initiate? Does he agree but then not show up or cancel at the last minute? Is he flaky?”

      Well said. This describes the reaction I got whenever I initiated plans with my ex-AC. He was very hot in the beginning. In fact, he contacted me so often, it would have been ridiculous for me to initiate contact with him. After a few weeks, he backed off, and i just assumed it was my turn to show some interest and initiate plans. And the reaction I got when I initiated plans was all of the above that you described. At that point, he even started to get flaky on the plans he initiated himself!

  26. Meg says:

    Thank you Nat – this was a great post! Like some of the other commenters I have also read the Bitch book and other advice e.g. how we should ‘mirror’ what men do i.e only respond to what they do so if they call we answer, if they ask us for a date we say yes. It can be so confusing! But also I have always been uncomfortable with this kind of advice that either encourages us to be unauthentic or to pander to the male ego.

    However I’ve thought about this some and what you say makes perfect sense! I’ve been in a situation where I have had to be the one calling all the time and I’ve been in the other situation where I have never had to pick up the phone because there was a constant text from the EUM! Neither are very conducive to an equal relationship and if that is what we are after then we should set the tone from the start and accept responsibility for our relationships instead of just passively accepting what attention etc the man chooses to give us. I’m going to try this is future – I hope it is as empowering as I imagine it to be!

  27. jennynic says:

    I have been guilty of this in relationships and friendships my whole life. When I look at why I do this, it’s because of my self esteem and fear of rejection, and I think from watching my Mom be so passive with my Dad while growing up. I have always been worried about overstepping, while I’ve let someone infiltrate my life without many boundaries for myself. I feel funny and pushy calling them, but they can call whenever they want and even show up whenever they want. I set the stage for this and it became the norm in my relationships. I put myself in the passenger seat 100%. The layers of my own issues just keep unfolding in front of me. The more I try to heal myself, the more I find.

  28. Kay says:

    As this post is very much about paving the way for a proper partnership rather than a dominant /passive type of relationship,I was wondering about the sharing of costs on dates. Probably because of my fatal attractions to macho men I have always loved to be wined and dined and hate a situation of splitting bills. I just find splitting bills on the early dates very crass and unromantic.I remember being on a first date with a guy once.The plan was a movie followed by dinner.As we were choosing the movie he says to me,”How about if you pay for the movie and I’ll get dinner?” As if he was making a big splurge! I quietly agreed but that was the first and last date. To be honest I generally let the guy pick up the dinner tab on the first two dates and then I’ll do the third. But I always find the whole thing a grey area and very uncomfortable.I neither want a cheapie nor a guy who thinks he can buy me.I’m very generous and if I were a guy [hello Beyonce! [lol], I’d be paying for everything.But just like initiating dates, money can very much become a control thing. What do you think,Natalie and what do others think?

    • grace says:

      it’s a veeery grey area. these days women often earn as much if not more than men. i get that more CEOs are men, but you’re probably not dating those (in my experience, those men will pay, no question). in this case i don’t think the guy did the wrong thing. in london anyway, a movie costs way less than dinner for two (unless it’s macdonald’s). but it’s also a first date, so …
      it’s old fashioned for a man to pay for everything but a friend of mine is seeing someone who keep a constant mental tab on who has paid for what, even a coffee from starbucks. it’s not about the money, that’s just … annoying.
      in short – i just don’t know!

      • Meg says:

        I agree Grace! It’s a very gray area. I can relate Kay as I deep down would prefer the guy to pay for the early dates, and sometimes it can be seen (rightly or wrongly) as an indication of their level of interest.

        However trying to see it from the guys point of view, if it is a first or second date they likely don’t know anything about what you earn, unless you turn up brandishing a pay slip! Also in the early stages of dating it might be reasonable to assume they are dating other women so I guess it can be expensive for them.

        What I tend to do is when the bill arrives offer to split, in my experience 99% of men refuse and pay for it all so I graciously thank them and buy a round of drinks afterwards.

        I would say that a small gesture like that goes some way to showing you would like the potential relationship to be one of equals, like sharing the calls and contact.

    • NML says:

      Kay try these posts re paying on dates


      Beyond the first couple of dates or so, be prepared to split the bill. I think on a first date the dinner/cinema situation was a little discomforting but technically he didn’t do anything wrong. That’s not to say you did anything wrong either – it’s just your personal taste. Others probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

      I also say to tread carefully with the ‘If I were a guy’ argument because the truth is, you never will be and it’s very easy to say what you think you would do in a situation you won’t experience. There are a lot of factors that impact on why someone may split a bill – I read an article recently about the effect of the economic downturn on dating. It’s not necessarily out of meanness and the truth is that if a guy is going to fall foul based on how often and willing he is to put his hand in his pocket, it’s important to realise that you may be judged for the same reasons. And if you’re going to pick up the bill on the third, do it wholeheartedly because I’ve had a few people mail me saying how they’ve done this but it was sort of grudgingly and ultimately it gave the wrong impression.

      • Natasha says:

        Natalie – Thank you for covering this topic! That is so true about how the economic downturn affects these things. In general, the men I have dated tend to make a lot more money than I do (they have all been stockbrokers/lawyers/doctors, while I am in a creative field that tends to pay less), but after a few dates, I always offer to pay for something. When the downturn was at it’s worst a few years ago and I lost my job, there was no way in hell I could pay for even the smallest thing. I’ve found that a sincere “thank you” whenever a man has paid for anything is always appreciated. I have always said something along the lines of, “Thank you very much for dinner. I enjoyed it very much.” No matter what, good manners will smooth over just about any of these situations I think!

        • Kay says:

          Thanks all for your opinions on this one.It could well be a generational thing as I’m probably a good bit older than most of you [51] but I see the paying issue somewhat differently.It has nothing at all to do with money or earning power.I see it as a delicate blend of such subtle things as courtesy,chivalry,seduction and willingness to give.I have often found that a mercenary approach is an actual amber alert and downright stinginess,a red flag, as such guys are often not very giving in other aspects as well. So,it’s not about the money or the cost of the date,it’s about the gesture and their willingness to treat you well.That’s why I would be very much on the look out for generosity in the first few dates,be it paying for the coffee,Macdonalds or wherever we happen to be.

          However of course relationships are a two way street and you have to put in effort from the start, so even on those early dates,of course a woman should pay for something and as I said earlier,be willing to pick up a bigger tab by date three.And let things move gradually towards a more 50/50 sharing of costs.But splitting bills!! As in putting up your share of the bill on the table in a restaurant!! Girls and you,too,Nat,that is just so unromantic!! And re the economic downturn,hello from a country on its knees! [Ireland] A lot less wining and dining here these days but we Irish gals could still get invited to a nice picnic up the mountains, as long as he doesn’t look for half the cost of the baguette and cheese [lol].
          I guess it’s just another of those awkward things about the early stages of dating.Thanks for the links to those posts,Natalie.Lookin forward to reading them.

          By the way,Meg.I wouldn’t date a guy who was dating other people.That’s way too casual for me but each to his own.

  29. Jo says:

    By the way…could someone please tell me what are these “Bitch” books that some people are referring to? Is “The Rules” considered such a book?

    • Meg says:

      Hey Jo! The Bitch books are by Sherry Argov – she did ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ and ‘Why Men Marry Bitches’. They kind of have similar principles to the Rules books :)

      • Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

        Hello, just a comment on the “Bitch” books…someone bought me one when I was first divorced and I have to say I found it to be a terrible rule book. If I have to play all those games up front just to get the guy, and not be my authentic self, what is going to happen when A). you finally get the guy and now the game has changed but the dance steps are already set, and B). I want to be my nice, normal, have bitchy-moments-only self, is he going to stick around because he bought into the “Bitch” and now he will be bored? So it does proabably work, but I think the men it works with are not the prize anyway, and it cannot be sustained unless you really are kind of a bitch all the time.

        Just my two cents, I think it is better to work on healing ourselves and being authentic with everyone we meet, and then no one gets a nasty surprise! I get much more out of BR that is thought provoking and being my best me than playing some stupid games that just makes us….an Assclown too! BR is trying to teach us how to be honest with ourselvse and others, a “no game” zone that helps everyone see what’s what up front. Games = Games is a bad idea all the way around! Yuck.

        • Jo says:

          Old enough,

          Allison is right, I have never read the “bitch” books, but I do know one thing (it took me a long time to figure it out) and that is that it is about self respect and self worth. You don’t have to be a ‘bitch’ but drawing boundaries is a healthy thing to learn for anyone. If you know the kind of treatment you will and will not accept and stick to it, a man will respect you more. I think people in general value things they work hard for, and maybe men work hard for ‘bitches’. If you know your boundaries and accept what you are worth…then I don’t think the guy has to jump through hoops, he just has to do the appropriate amount of work (and you do your part, as this article suggests) and you won’t need to play games or be someone who you are not to ‘get the guy’ or keep him.

          • sofiexx says:

            well said Jo – totally agree. I wasted far too much time following a blog that encourages women to let men do all the running. At one point I was so terrified of making ‘mistakes’ in how I phrased things, responded, acted etc I totally lost my self-esteem. Fortunately this blog, with Nat’s down to earth no-nonsense advice and humour, has been a fast-track esteem-builder!!

      • Jo says:

        Thanks, Meg!

      • Allison says:

        I thought the “Bitch” book was more about self respect and not allowing yourself to be treated like a doormat.

        Men Who Love Bitches was a terrific book to learn to enforce boundaries.

  30. colororange says:

    Natalie, your post to Anusha spoke to me too. This site is awesome. You mentioned there are other empowering websites. Would you share what those are? I need any and all the help I can find.

  31. Lynda from L. says:

    I’m going to put something out there Natalie with regard to Anusha and hope that you, others and Sweetie who has commented will bear with me. I say this with humility. First off I have only been on this site a year and realise that I do not have the full extent of Anusha reasons for coming on. This is what I know however. You quote AA as example. Anyone who has ever been to AA or in my case to Al Anon for many years knows that meetings are not barred to anyone.
    People often turn up pissed out of their heads and although someone may call them out on their comments, quite rightly, they are listened to(often disregarded! cos they are pissed…!)but the meeting/potential support is still there for them…. the emphasis being on ‘the potential….and absolutely never giving up on that’
    I am going to argue for Anusha still being allowed to post for the following reasons. This is possibly the only place she can- and just as in the AA you example… somehow, one day through the clear example of others she may just find a way forward…this site stands proud in it’s openess and celebration of potential, surely Natalie?
    Also, I look at myself. I changed my name on site recently..to make myself totally unrecognisable as I went into NC for sure but also because I was ashamed of the fact that I had previouslyfallen by the wayside and started to rationalise my EUM’s behaviour. I was Lesley Binnie/am now Lynda from L. I am in definite NC but it’s hard, depressing at times and not all about lights going on…despite your beautiful encouraging words…We falter, then rise, falter, then rise to rise… Don’t we all? Some of us just take longer? Maybe Anusha takes longer.
    I expect arguments to this but claim it as my opinion. Please also note I am a recovering ‘Florence’ due to early family stuff but in this situation I definitely do not say that Anusha needs rescuing…she just needs continued inclusion. That is all she deserves. x

    • NML says:

      Lynda, thanks for your comment but I think there’s some things to make clear.
      1) This isn’t about you or anyone else for that matter. This is with regards to Anusha and you are projecting.
      2) This isn’t AA or a forum. I did not make the reference about AA because I think that this is AA. I have also been to AA and know plenty of people who have. I made the reference to illustrate a point. Yes the person may turn up pissed out of their 250 times but they might not on the 251st time and that’s fine in AA. That’s how they roll. But this isn’t AA.
      3) Actually Lynda, not everyone (and I don’t refer to Anusha in saying this) is welcome and I do suggest you read the site use before you tell me anything else. http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/about/site-use/
      4) You see what’s happened with Anusha yesterday? It’s happened before but in a somewhat milder way. I have not banned Anusha, she can still visit the site (I can actually block IPs from this) – I’m just setting *my* boundaries.
      5) If you want me to pass your email address to Anusha let me know.
      6) There are comments that don’t get approved all the time – nobody other than the person whose comment doesn’t get approved knows that so all this exclusion zone stuff is a non issue. Plenty of people’s comments who don’t get approved for whatever reason, still continue to comment and have their comments approved.
      7) Plenty of people have faltered Lynda and that’s also a non issue. You think you’re the only person who has changed their name that currently comments? No you’re not so again, it’s best to not make this about you.
      8. Everybody goes at their own pace and I’ve said that myself many a time when I’ve had both comments and emails from readers expressing their frustration about other people’s comments. Pace is not the issue.
      9) I have over 3K outstanding requests for advice on email with more coming in each day. It is ridiculous for me to keep Florence Nigtingaling around Anusha.
      10) I receive emails and comments all the time from people who are not ‘ready’, not interested, or think that they know better. I equally hear back from a lot of these people days, weeks, months and even years later, so again pace, faltering whatever isn’t the issue and if you’re going to tell me what I should be doing, make sure it is actually about the situation at hand.

      Basically Lynda, you are talking about something that you know very little about. I appreciate your comment as I do the ‘number’ of emails and comments that I couldn’t or didn’t want to publish from people who have been around long enough to know a lot or even all of what I’m talking about. This has nothing to do with rationalising a Mr Unavailable’s behaviour or any of the other things you’ve said – if that was the case, nothing would get published. If I don’t want to participate in what over a number of years has crossed into unhealthy fixing/healing/helping territory Lynda, that is my prerogative.

      Let me repeat again – Anusha hasn’t been barred from visiting the site and if she wants to post on topic comments that don’t fall into a well honed pattern that has been established here and through THOUSANDS of words on the forum, she can knock herself out. After the milder stint, that rare change I talked about happened and the fact is that with people like me, commenters, and the 1200 people that were involved with the forum clucking around, standing on her feet isn’t needed.

  32. ph2072 says:

    Interesting read. Another one to re-read & save.

  33. raven says:

    Thank you for this very useful post. I have, like a few of the respondents here, been guilty in the past of ‘overfunctioning’ with men and decided to change this behaviour by giving them the space to ask me out and make plans and it’s made for much healthier communications and to me feeling a lot calmer but I’ve struggled subsequently with knowing when and how much to contribute to the communications and suggestions. Although a lot of the self-help and relationship coaching books are very helpful, I do wonder if it’s making me too self-conscious and therefore shooting myself in the foot!

    I think the key for me is probably not about whether I feel comfortable or not calling – because I could be simply being paranoid based on past relationships, but whether I feel comfortable talking about my feelings around our communication/plan making and negotiating it. If I don’t feel I can negotiate or my attempts to do so aren’t met with mutual engagement, then there isn’t much basis for a relationship.

    I, very scarily for me, slowed down the advances of the current guy I am dating because I wanted to get to know him better before getting physical. He was initially rather disappointed but was willing to discuss it and understand my needs and is now ok with a slower pace (even suggests this is more sensible given his past relationship insanities). This feels unfamiliar and therefore unsettling but I am sure it’s healthier.

    I am not a passive person in any part of my life so it would be odd if I were to be so in my relationship. On the other hand, I have enough self-awareness now to realise that in the past I have put men off by rushing them and pushing them to commit.

    It’s kind of hard to remember that relationships are co-constructed between two people and that what works for one couple might not for another – there are no hard or fast rules which is why I think your advice to be clear about one’s own values and boundaries is so important. The thing I really know now is that if a man disappears because I stuck to my own values and boundaries then he wasn’t for me anyway however attracted I was to him and however much there was ‘amazing chemistry’ etc.

  34. debra says:

    Is it possible that our habit of “letting the guy take the reins” is our way of trying to have some control over them? Since the relationship with the last AC/narc, I had seen his control over everything, particularly contact and communication, as exactly that- his attempt to control me and the relationship. After reading this post a few times, I am wondering if my letting him do that wasn’t my way of trying to change or control him as well. He started out in hot pursuit, future faking and acting like he wanted a real relationship. Then, he cooled it down, managed down my expectations and the whole time, I just went along with all of it. He had walked in the door saying he was a commitment phobe that had never had a successful relationship. I thought I could be the exception to the rule. So, if he wanted casual, I pretended to be fine with that. If he didn’t want to call me one day, I was fine with that. If he didn’t want to see me, no problem. At first, it really wasn’t a problem. I felt secure in the relationship during the golden beginning. I heard from him everyday (texts or emails, but at the time, I didn’t notice that’s all it was) and saw him constantly. Then, the hot/cold cycle began. I still acted like I was fine with it. I figured if I was cool and didn’t pressure him, he would recognize how fabulous I was and we would be happy together.

    What I can’t quite figure out now is whether I went along with it out of fear – fear that if I said anything, it would end. Or, was it me trying to control things too? By letting him control the contact (and being fully aware he was doing it), I sort of got what I wanted as well – the relationship limped along for a few months more. I hated that I felt controlled while it was happening, but didn’t act to change it. Was I afraid or was I just agreeing to play his game to get what I thought I wanted?

    I get the message of your post – communication in a healthy relationship should be a two way street. I am just trying to figure out why it hasn’t been for me. Is is fear or is it just a less obvious form of control on my part? I am genuinely confused.

    • done as dinner says:

      Debra – your thoughts really resonated with me because that is something I have been thinking about myself. Do you think it is possible that you are in fact trying to control the relationship in your own way, as a RESULT of fear? That the two are linked? Two people in a relationship will not always want the same things at the same time, but it is important that both partners are able to communicate their needs/wants and sometimes one partner gives in and sometimes the other partner does. I think that is the point of Nat’s post. It isn’t a relationship if there isn’t communication. Instead it is accommodation. And it is one party doing all of the accommodating for the other (and fear and control can be the underlying factors here.)

    • Ramona says:

      Hi Debra. You bring up an interesting thought but I do not think you were trying to control him. I think you wanted the relationship to work so you gave him free reign while compromising yourself. I did the same. By accepting his hot/cold behaviour, you were trying to control the outcome, that he would make you the exception. I think these men are damaged and also “hope” that they will change and be successful in a relationship based on their partner rather than themselves. My situation was very similar to yours. I no longer feel the need to compromise any of my needs and I would rather be single than with a shitty partner that requires compromising my values.

    • LostEnergy says:

      Your comments also feel very familiar to my experience too. Part of me wanders whether I wanted to be controlled or at least ‘led’ on some level. Although consciously in the beginning i was determined to maintain my power. But of course the fast fwd ing and ffaking, with a dash of ‘one time in band camp, woe is me tales’ got my defences down and then the maternal nuturing all forgiving loving side comes out of me. The self respect gets pushed aside a little at a time and the motivation to want to please the guy and the fear of having a negative response from him, can be a heady concoction. Not having many healthy relationship samples to draw from, the idea of the guy writing the script for the relationship can sometimes feel easier, at least it something to folow… dare i say that maybe then it’s easier to blame him if it goes wrong coz he was in control. Although I feel the fear of his bad reactions or mind games of making me feel guilty had a strong part to play and stopped me suggesting and me being me. But as NML says ” When you’re involved with a potential co-pilot, they are happy for you to contact or make plans.” It can get confusing cos sometimes I’ve made plans and he was fine other times and later on, not so much opportunity or happy response. They are very clever sometimes at gaining control is covert, subtle ways.

  35. Newly single again says:

    I totally agree with the equal partnership idea in the relationship.
    What I am having trouble is the beginning as I am newly single (only dated 2 guys in my whole life (now in early 40s)) and having to navigate all this new dating, new technology, new ideas (Bitch books) etc.

    I met a guy, we seemed to have chemistry. I asked him for coffee, he responded by asking me out for drinks, very nice conversation. Lots of smiles, eye contact, good body language on both sides. 4 hrs later, he put me in a cab, just a light peck on cheeks. All good. He texted me when I got home to say he had a good time etc.

    Then we texted a few times, always me instigating. He still seemed very polite, nice. So 2 weeks later, I got antsy cause he hasn’t asked me out again and asked him if he was free to meet again. But he had to travel for work and said he would contact me the next week. Well the week has come and gone and now it’s the week after. Do I take this as a hint that he is blowing me off or if he really busy? Or do I put myself out there again (3rd time to ask him out) and see if he is really interested/not interested?

    My question is: so it’s really not OK for women to pursue in the early stages even in the 21st century? Or are we so weak that it’s still considered too ‘risky’ if we ask a guy out and he rejects us so it’s better we don’t try it again? Are we really that weak?

    • grace says:

      newly single
      you’ve done enough. you’ve asked him for coffee, you’ve asked him if he wants to see you again. he hasn’t called when he said he would. yes, he’s blowing you off. it’s not weakness to give up now. it would be weakness to keep chasing him to prove that you can take another rejection. even if you “get” him he already knows you’re okay with being let down.
      it’s not a big deal,.after one date i don’t think he owes you an explanation. even if he did tell you that his gerbil died, his old girlfriend got in touch or he just doesn’t “feel it” i’m not sure you’d be any better off than just being … ignored.
      accept it and move on. no stewing!

    • Allison says:


      Unfortunately, men like to be the pursuers, they don’t like anything that comes too easily.

      In my opinion, I would have waited for him to ask me out until we had known one another a little better. Let him do the initial contact, too.

      Please don’t contact him again.

      We’ve all been there. It’s a learning process.

    • NML says:

      Hi Newly, I actually have a post on this subject (i.e re women asking men out) that I will be publishing imminently. I have a question which I hope you’ll see before I publish – Why did you ask him out? i.e Why did you decide that you should ask him out vs waiting for him to ask you out?

      With regards to your question, I *sense* that he’s blowing you off or you may be coming off as intense – I don’t know why you couldn’t have let him instigate a few times. I think when I find out your basis for asking him out, all will become clearer.

      What I do pick up though is that there is a lot of ‘instigating’ by you – it seems very one sided. I don’t know if this issue is about women pursuing in the early stages. To be honest, what you’re describing is a somewhat awkward situation whoever does it. You’re doing all the instigating and pursuing him. For it to be somewhat more ‘balanced’, what I don’t get a sense of is that you’re pursuing and responding to cues. You’re just pursuing. Blindly. If you switch yourselves around in this and imagine yourself being pursued by him and responding in the manner that he has, what would you think?

      This has nothing at all to do with weakness – you just need to roll it back a bit. Oh and don’t ask him out a third time. Leave it be.

      • colororange says:

        I’m interested in her response to you asking “If you switch yourselves around in this and imagine yourself being pursued by him and responding in the manner that he has, what would you think?”

        I’ve had the same thing said to me (about being busy) by several guys. And I wonder if it is because we come off as desperate??? Needy?? It seems that there is something about us that they’re not interested in. If this is the case, how to fix it!

      • Newly single again says:

        Dear Nat,

        Thanks for your reply and your new post. I want to answer your question as to why I pursued him.

        When we met at an event, we made eye contact and he approached and we talked. He was attractive, interesting and I liked him. I was interested in taking it further and see what kind of person he was. So I instigated and pursued. You see, in my last relationship, I followed ‘The Rules’ and it was very frustrating to be passive and let the guy do the planning and pursuing. Too much work! I was in the passenger seat and I didn’t like it. I like more of a partnership. Why pretend to be anything else than what I really am? Why try to manipulate a man to get him to do things? I am more a direct person and ‘say what I mean and mean what I say’ kinda gal. That’s why I asked this new guy out. I was interested and is not afraid to show it. I also used very gentle language to ask, as in “Would you like to have coffee…’ Not demanding, very respectful.

        As to cues, he did give some, he gave me his contact details and on the date, he gave little gentlemanly guiding touches; at conversation he was interested about me and he shared about himself as well. Also, I had backed off once (after first date) and we met up accidently at another event and he was the one to approach me again to talk with me. So I thought maybe he was interested.

        But I see now that if he didn’t ask me out again, then he wasn’t really THAT interested. It’s time to back off and let it be. That’s OK, my aim is not to get every guy to fall in love with me. Just the right one to click with.

        Don’t worry about my self-esteem. I am in a good place, I look good (best I have EVER looked, truly), have a fulfilling, interesting career, lots of friends and am very happy with the kind of person I became.

        What I needed was a clarification on modern dating rituals so as to not come off as too needy and Nat’s new post did just that. Thanks everyone for your input!

    • ICanDoBetter says:

      I would not consider it “weak” to let the man do the pursuing in the early stages. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference, but I would want to know that a man has the confidence to ask me out and make a plan. Otherwise, I would be worried that I would end up in a relationship that was unbalanced, and it would all be up to me to keep making plans, and basically keep the relationship going.

      I know everyone is different, so I am only speaking for my own preferences, but I find that, no matter what decade or century it is, that there are some aspects of being feminine and masculine that don’t change. Men and women may be more equal in the workplace, etc., but we still have differences that make us uniquely feminine or masculine. I do not think that makes one sex weaker than the other, we just have different areas of strength. And I think those differences are what make us so attractive to each other. And they often complement each other.

      • EllyB says:

        Well, I agree only halfway. If I show character/personality traits that are not considered entirely “feminine”, is there anything wrong with me? For example, I was often told that my interest in computers, technology, mathematics was somewhat “wrong”, because it’s not considered “feminine”. With my male business contacts, I also tend to be straightforward instead of going the “feminine” route of constantly flattering and charming them. This has worked out rather well for me so far, I think, but some people still claim this to be “wrong” for a woman.

        However, most men are still being taught that it is up to them to take the first step/ask us out. And frankly, this is not such a difficult thing to do. They have to take the risk of rejection, but otherwise, it’s not a big deal. Therefore, if the guy grew up in the same culture as we did and doesn’t take the first step for no apparent reason (other than possibly not being interested enough), we probably shouldn’t expect too much from taking the first step by ourselves.

        • ICanDoBetter says:


          I see where you are going with that, and it might surprise you to know that I have a background in computers, and am also more of a straightforward kind of person. I don’t do flattery, and I don’t like it directed at me. A sincere compliment is one thing, but flattery, to me, is manipulative. Sounds like we may be on the same page in those two regards.

          I think the word feminine can mean so much more than just our choice of occupation, interests, or relational style. For instance, a woman who is strong, straightforward, and drives a race car can be just as feminine as the next woman.

          But, as I stated in my comment, it is simply my preference in the kind of relationship I would want, for a man to take initiative.

  36. Audrey says:

    When i think of my healthy relationships, communication was never an issue and arranging to meet up was never an issue. If communication is an issue (i experienced this with the assclown) it’s a sign of an unhealthy, unbalanced relationship.
    Also I think, one party is definitely controlling the relationship. The one who controls the communication is also controlling the temperature of the relationship.

    Controlling the communication is a way that an assclown/eu will control you.

    And you will find you are on *relationship crack* and its not a pleasant drug! Thankfully, I’m off the relationship crack and feeling great!
    I thought of these lyrics this morning on this lovely spring day –

    “I can see clearly now the pain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way, gone are the dark clouds that held me down, it’s gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day”.

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