A little bit of power is a dangerous thing

“The one who loves the least, controls the relationship.” Dr. Robert Anthony

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this phrase because when taken simply as a quote, it almost appears to be an invitation to manipulate.  While I do agree that the person who feels less than the other holds the balance of power in any relationship, this isn’t to be celebrated because that person is living a less-full life.

The upside:  Being in control of the relationship makes you feel good, feel powerful.  It’s hedging your bets against getting hurt.  You know that if you call the tune, the other person will dance.

The downside:  You’re missing out on the best part of the relationship – that wonderful heady feeling of love.  You’re holding yourself back and consciously depriving yourself of the full experience.

You have to decide what’s right for you but it if comes down to having love or having control – choose love.

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A buyer’s guide to relationships

Professional buyers have a plethora of tools at their disposal to get what they want but the two most common are perhaps the Request for Proposal and the Request for Quotation.

  • Request for Proposal (RFP) is used when the buyer has a concept of what she wants but she is open to how it is delivered to her.
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ) is used when a buyer knows exactly what she wants and how much; she’s asking a supplier what their price and delivery terms are.

When you’re putting yourself out there for dating, ask yourself how much control you want over the final product.  Too many of us know exactly what we want but rather than putting out an RFQ, we’re asking guys for an RFP.  I understand wanting things to “just flow” but honestly are you willing to walk up to a guy and say, “I want a relationship but you can decide what form it comes in, how much of it I get and when you intend to deliver it to me.”

Stop being so wishy-washy!  The honest truth is that if you leave your relationship needs up to someone else, they’re going to deliver the minimum level of service possible that will keep you happy and interested.  That’s human nature.  Go into a relationship and let the guy know what you need from it.  If he doesn’t want to be with you because he thinks you’re too demanding then he isn’t the right guy for you.  I’m not saying to ask for a castle and a tiara but know where your minimum service level threshold is and communicate that information.

Oh, and when he does deliver a superior product – thank him for it.

The universal perfect man

Doesn’t exist.  I’ve written a lot in the past week about types of guys to avoid or guys that you should cut loose at the earliest opportunity.  Don’t be scared off.  It’s good information but it shouldn’t send you off looking for Prince Charming or put you off men entirely.

However…

You will need to be realistic in your search.  Every man is going to have something that you’re not going to be entirely thrilled with.  You need to determine if it’s something you can live with at this point.  Don’t get squeamish about his collection of Star Wars memorabilia or his Luddite mentality toward smart phones.  Maybe he doesn’t tick every box on your checklist up-front but he may check some very important ones if you give him the chance.  Just ask yourself if you can look past the not-so-great points for the  moment while you get to know him better because while the perfect man doesn’t exist, the perfect-man-for-you does.

Smooth criminal

Unfortunately there are criminals that move among us.  Some of these men are good – really good – at deception.  And they’re not after your heart, they’re after your money.

We rarely think about it when it comes to dating because we feel that we should be open and that dating is a process of getting to know someone.  While that’s true, keep your wits about you and pay attention to small inconsistencies.  It’s far too expensive to run background checks on every guy you meet so keep the following in mind:

  • If he looks substantially different from his online photo, don’t wait to hear his excuse.  He’s probably already attached.  Politely leave and have no further contact with him.
  • If he gives you a phone number, look it up in reverse telephone search.  Make sure the name matches the name he’s given you.
  • Be cautious with the amount of information you give him about yourself and your family.  Remember, a lot of financial institutions still use your mother’s maiden name as partial verification of your identity.
  • Make your passwords something completely unrelated to yourself and with capital letters, numbers and, if possible, punctuation marks.
  • Bring cash on dates so you don’t have to put down your credit card (if you’re going Dutch).  Don’t give out your credit card number.
  • Do not hand over your ID to your date no matter how cute he says your photo is.
  • Under no circumstances should you fall for a sob story about how they need  money to get out of a jam – that’s what their parents are for.
  • Do not pay for something with the understanding that he’s going to pay you back.  He’s either scamming you or a poor financial planner – you don’t want to be involved with either.
  • Pay attention to inconsistencies and query them.  If the explanation is not sufficient, cut him off because subsequent explanations are not going to get any better.
  • Don’t hesitate to Google him – once.  You’re checking him out, not stalking him.
  • If you’re getting a bad feeling from him, just get out of the situation.  Be polite but you owe him no explanations.

Cravin’ craven?

There is a very big difference between a nice guy and a spineless one.  It may be difficult to ascertain in the beginning because if you’re not paying close attention, it appears as though everything is going swimmingly.  Beware – this type of guy eventually turns (if you don’t get rid of him first).

You’re feeling like you’re incredibly compatible.  He’s into the things you like and he’s into you.  The only bad thing about him is perhaps he’s a little too safe, a little too boring but isn’t this the “nice guy” that I’ve been telling you land?  Not necessarily.

The two most common scenarios with pushovers are:

  1. You eventually get bored of a guy who agrees with everything.  He comes off as desperate.  You’re getting frustrated that he abdicates all responsibility to you.  You dump him.
  2. He is trying so hard to please you that he’s getting resentful.  Rather than asserting himself on a case-by-case basis, one day he explodes in anger.

So how do you tell a nice guy from a wimp?  A nice guy is going to stand up for himself.  A nice guy is going to shoulder his half of the responsibilities.  A nice guy will have your back in public but let you know that you were wrong in private.  A nice guy will respect you without disrespecting himself.

Direct from my desk – week 21

In case you hadn’t noticed, the theme of the preceding week was bad boy dating habits.  Hopefully it’s gotten you thinking about what you will and won’t accept in a relationship.  No-one is 100% perfect so any man may have bad habits to some extent.  You need to know your limits, what you will and won’t accept in a relationship, before you get involved with someone.  If you wait until after you get involved with someone you may find yourself swayed by the situation and regretting it later.

So ask yourself some hypothetical questions about common situations:

  • What if he lies about his age?  How many years is it okay to shave off?
  • How important are exes?  What if he isn’t forthcoming about being divorced or worse – still married?
  • What if he “forgets” to mention his kids?

Know what your parameters are and start (politely) discarding the suitors that are outside them.  If something really is a deal-breaker, you’re aren’t doing either of you any favors by stringing him along while you try to make a decision.

As always, my mailbox is open:  girldontbestupid@gmail.com

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Everybody fudges something.  It could be your athletic prowess, your intelligence or your time in the Peace Corps.  Is it right?  That’s between you and your priest.  However, when you’re dating there are no small lies.  Any relationship is built on trust and when you lie, trust is eroded. Think of it as pouring boiling water on an ice cube.

There are many different types of lies however the ones you’re most likely to encounter while dating are:

  • Bad faith – they’re lying to themselves so they’re lying to you.  (I still have all my hair.)
  • Big lie – a lie that is contradicted by common sense.  (I’m not cheating, she slipped and fell on my penis.)
  • Butler lie – a small polite lie to save face.  (My boss is on the other line, I have to go.)
  • Exaggeration – seriously stretching the truth.  (I’m hung like a Clydesdale.)
  • Lying by omission – not giving the whole truth.  (No I don’t got five different baby-mommas.)
  • Minimisation – seriously diminishing the truth.  (It’s just not that big of a deal.)
  • Polite lie – a small lie we all know is a lie.  (I’d love to but I have to check my calendar.)
  • White lie – a small, harmless lie.  (You do not look fat in that.)

Only you can determine the number and seriousness of the lies you’re willing to put up with.  Be aware that some people merely see lying as a means-to-an-end and figure that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.  This is a serious character flaw and when you meet someone like this – run!  They aren’t capable of changing this and the forgiveness/permission principle will become a theme in your relationship.

Always order the steak

There are some men who are, let’s be honest, cheap.  I’m not talking about the guys who don’t have a lot of money but who will spend every dime they have on you (don’t take advantage of them!).  I’m not talking about the guys who are financially responsible, trying to make sure their bills are paid and still show you a good time.  I’m talking about the guys who try to spend as little money as possible to get into your panties.

A nice but poor boy may take you on a picnic, take you to a matinee movie, will read you his favorite book at the local bookstore.  He may not have a lot of money to spend on you but he’ll pay attention to what you like and be creative about showing you a good time.

A cheapskate will ask you to coffee and already be sitting with his cup (but not yours – he didn’t know what you wanted) by the time you get there.  A cheapskate will take you to dinner and then tell you that he’s not that hungry figuring you won’t want to eat more than him on a date.  A cheapskate will want to spend every Friday night with his feet on your coffee table and eating from your pantry.  In short, a cheapskate is wholly unimaginative and will do as little as possible in his attempts to woo you.

I’ll be the first person to say that having a good time doesn’t require a lot of money if you’re with the right person.  If you’re with the wrong person, there isn’t enough money in the world to make that time entertaining.  Don’t waste your time on the wrong guy and don’t order the salad – always order the steak.

Boy don’t try to front, I know just what you are

Every once in a while you’ll meet a guy who is so smooth, so perfect – says the right words, makes the right moves and all in the right time.  There is that little thought in the back of your head that this guy is perhaps a bit too sublime but you shove it down because he’s soooo freaking hot, right?  Until a few weeks later when that voice is screaming because you’re looking at the Flickr photos of him with another girl and they’re date-stamped just last week!

So how do you identify a womanizer?

  • Egotistical – he has a need to impress people with his looks and accomplishments.
  • Confident – he’s almost too sure he’s scoring points.
  • Manipulative – it may be subtle but he’s definitely leading the conversation where he wants it to go.
  • Attentive – he’s making you feel like the only woman in the room.
  • Seductive- he keeps leading the interaction around to sex (albeit perhaps subtly).
  • Mysterious – he’s not giving out much real information about himself.
  • Inner voice – something is telling you that he’s not quite for real.

Pay attention when those red flags are running up the flag pole!  Once you identify a womanizer it’s important that you keep your distance from them.  Don’t accept their phone calls (Lord, don’t even give them your number!).  Don’t give in to sleeping with them.  His whole purpose is to see if he can land you and he’ll use all the tricks in his arsenal.  Once you capitulate, he’s gone.

Most of all – don’t think of it as a challenge.  It’s not a game you’ll feel good about playing and honestly, you’ll spend the entire relationship checking his phone.  Womanizers do not reform, they simply cheat on their partners.

Mommas don’t let your babies grow up

Momma’s boys.  They’re polite.  They’re considerate.  They’re abnormally attached to their mother’s opinion which probably means that you’re never going to make the cut and if you do, he’ll never take your side against her.  Once she’s no longer in the picture, he’s going to look to you to fill that role.

You can recognize a momma’s boy because:

  • His maturity level is probably not where it should be.
  • He’s polite and deferential almost to the point of having no opinion of his own.
  • If he does express an opinion and you express a contrary opinion, he’ll change his mind.
  • He tacitly asks for permission to do things.
  • He speaks highly of his mother but balks at letting you meet her.
  • His mother is still involved in his finances, either giving or controlling.
  • He outright compares you to his mother.

This is not to say that all nice guys are momma’s boys.  Nice guys are what you want to date.  Momma’s boys are not.  Dating, having a relationship with, and/or marrying a momma’s boy will put you in an unwinnable situation.  You will forever be caught between loving and hating certain aspects of his personality and you’ll feel as though you are playing second fiddle in your relationship.  At some point, he will want you to give him direction, to assume the role of his mother.

An unequal relationship will never make you happy.  Stay away unless you’re a serious masochist.