First, the basics. Please just accept males and females are NOT the same. Men don’t think like us, ladies. He doesn’t want the same things at the same seasons of life as you. He is motivated by different rewards than you. Wishing it wasn’t so will never change it.
Now, let’s consider the benefits of NOT making the first move.
When a guy initiates, you immediately know he’s interested! In fact, he probably practiced what he was going to say a few times before he called. He cares about making a good impression. He wants to stand out from the rest of the guys. He assumes there are other guys who are also looking to catch your eye.
If you dress modestly, but so he can still tell you’re a Girl, his imagination does the rest.
Being easy-to-talk-to is your best asset. You invite him to share his thoughts or ideas. You don’t interrogate him or dominate the conversation. He feels understood, interesting and respected. Without being officious, you let him know your standards for non-marital sex.
[Author’s Note: Raise your standards, girl! If your only standard for having sex is “when you feel something for each other,” all he has to do is convince you he feels something! For pity sake, he might be lying, you know? He could be mistaken. Or, gasp! What if it’s just hormones? I’ve had a lot of women tell me they can’t get a date if they don’t put out. For those of you under 40, that means “have sex.” This seems unbelievably obvious to me… if you don’t put out, and he still wants to see you, then he must be interested in more than sex, right? By the same token, if you don’t put out and his interest suddenly evaporates, then it really was all about sex, wasn’t it? C’mon, raise your standards!]
Back to our fantasy. He asks you out. You agree to meet somewhere. During this outing, you let him know sex makes people stupid, so in the interest of staying clear-headed you two will not be having sex. On this date, you’re charming and gracious. He has a good time, you have a good time. His has a genuine interest in relationship, not just a hookup, so he calls you within a week.
You explain that you prefer he doesn’t pick you up for any outing until he has met your Dating Advisory Committee (DAC). [Author's Note: this is detailed in another chapter in the book, Sex Makes People Stupid: How To Avoid Ending Up With a Loser.] You describe the advantages of not going “zero to 60” without thinking. Knowing you might introduce him to your DAC prompts you to evaluate if the people who know you best and love you the most will think this guy is a good match.
There’s another benefit for preparing your love interest to meet your committee. At that point, both of you will have a clear indication if you’re ready to go to the next level. I’d go crazy if I had to follow the dating pattern young people have now. There are no clear definitions for what constitutes a deeper level. I know several women who automatically assumed she was now The Girlfriend once they had been intimate, only to discover he considered her a Sex-Buddy. When it’s not spelled out, how do you know for sure if the two of you feel the same about your relationship?
TMOMD (The Man Of My Dreams) and I didn’t have our first “date” for about a month. We were together a lot, but I always drove myself. I didn’t want to give him any mixed signals. Once we started the committee process, both of us knew we weren’t just “hanging out” anymore. Our relationship had become more serious.
After you get the go-ahead from your Dating Advisory Committees, then you define your next dating phase. Minimize any confusion about where you are, and where you might be going. Establishing every stage, early on, helps you know if your behavior matches the level of commitment you feel.
I’ll give you a simple example. Hand-holding meant something in the World of Me. When I see couples holding hands, it signals that they are more than friends. I didn’t want TMOMD to hold my hand when we were walking together unless and until he was ready for people to see us as a couple. Once he was ready for that, holding my hand was fine. While we were still in the getting-to-know-each-other phase, it wasn’t. That may seem really trivial, but the day he took my hand for the first time, both of us knew our relationship wasn’t the same as the day before.
Kissing was a WHOLE other thing. We still have a little difference of opinion over who-kissed-who-first, but that’s because again, it redefined our relationship. One day we were “willing to be seen as a couple” and the next day we were Two People Who Kiss.
Then there was meeting-the-family. Introducing me to his family was a big deal for Jim because he hadn’t brought home more than a handful of girls in 20 years. The Family Meeting was a defining event for him.
I’ve known several people who, without giving it much thought, began romantic relationships near Thanksgiving or Christmas. They take their new love interest home, to be part of the festivities. She’s thinking, “Wow, he wants me to bond with his family! We’re moving toward something serious.” He’s thinking, “If I bring her along, no one will ask me ‘Aren’t you seeing anyone yet?’ ”
The sad thing is, long before the next holiday season, Real Life takes its toll and they break up. Now home-for-the-holidays means a tangle of confusing memories, and grieving the loss of people you probably won’t see again.
My point is, don’t assume both of you have the same definition for what any given behavior means. I know of a woman for whom kissing was no big deal. She gave kisses away pretty freely during her “getting-to-know-someone” phase. In fact, it was one of the ways she decided if someone was worth her time. If she didn’t like the way he kissed, the relationship wouldn’t go forward.
Then she met a guy who was really interested in her. On their first date, he was delighted when she kissed him. It was magic. The spark for him that kicked on his Super-Pursuit mode. But when he saw her casually kissing another guy she hardly knew, that was it. Hit the brakes! Turn the wheel! Screeech. He didn’t go out with her again.
So talk about it, early and often. Define your dating phases in advance. Discuss each level or progression of relationship looks like to you. And don’t take for granted that anything means the same thing to you as it means to someone else.
Until now, most of my Boyfriend Bootcamp advice is for women, so Part 3 of 3 posts will be a specific piece of counsel I want to give MEN.