You like him! You really like him! And when that happens, it’s so easy to want to just jump right into relationship mode and move things forward. But whoa there little darlin’…time to take a step back and remember that men generally function differently than women.
It’s possible that your let’s-do-this actions could actually unwittingly push him away. This is not to scare you or dampen your enthusiasm (because quite frankly, love is grand); however, it is good to take a breath and let things play out without pushing too hard.
“Dating can feel like walking a tightrope… one wrong move and you plummet,” says Susan L. Edelman, M.D., a psychiatrist and author of the book Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women. “Unfortunately, subtle actions can sometimes send the wrong message and make men run.” While Dr. Edelman’s book is actually all about eschewing the “rules of society” and being true to you, even she admits that there are still some differences in the ways men and women relate.
With that in mind, Dr. Edelman gives the following reminders so you don’t accidentally thwart the love of your life with your zeal.
Accidental Push-Away #1: Calling, texting and emailing him more than he contacts you
Hey! What’s up?
How are you?
How’s it going?
You may think you’re just being friendly, but constantly checking in can backfire if a guy starts to think you need to know where he is every minute of the day. There is also something to be said for not appearing accessible all the time (you have a busy life after all) and not making your love interest think that you’re stalking him. “Men often need space to realize how they feel about a woman,” says Dr. Edelman. “If you call and text them more than they are, they often think, ‘Oh no, she’s too into me’ and they often take a step back.” But they may have casual sex with you first (which will confuse you even more)!
The Smarter Move: Base your initial keep-in-touch patterns off of him! Women tend to be communicators and assume the more talk/chat/connection the better, but that’s not always the case at first. “You may want to reach out, but force yourself to listen to the cues — if he’s texting three times a day, don’t text six times,” says Dr. Edelman. “If he sends one sentence emails, don’t send him your life’s story.” Match his communication style and you’ll probably get this one just right!
Accidental Push-Away #2: Asking about weekend plans before he brings them up
This may be an innocent query, but if you’re honest with yourself, are you actually fishing to see if he’s free and planning to ask you out? Look, we get it, you’re busy and you’re trying to nail down your schedule, but if you ask him about him weekend plans too far in advance, he may think you’re trying to force him to ask you out… and run the other way with alternate plans just because he doesn’t like being pinned down.
These kinds of behaviors create a dynamic where the woman is the chaser and the man is the one being pursued. “He never has to figure out how much he likes her, and she doesn’t have information about how much he likes her, and many men want to take the lead in the relationship,” says Dr. Edelman. “They’re more comfortable with that role and then feel like the man in the relationship, so this move takes that feeling away from him. It’s like if he asked you to partner dance with him and you start leading. It’s confusing.”
The Smarter Move: Yes, you want to see him on Saturday night, but pushing a guy into plans isn’t going to do the trick. Allow him to pursue you. However, don’t put your life on hold waiting for him to ask you out. “Make your own plans and if you are not available when he asks, maybe he will ask earlier next time,” says Dr. Edelman.
Accidental Push-Away #3: Being the primary giver in the relationship
Women naturally tend to be the more nurturing and giving sex (thanks to societal norms and upbringing). We’re encouraged to be more open with our feelings and emotions, and giving — or even being self-sacrificing — is looked upon as a good thing. Unfortunately, this may not always be a positive thing for your romantic relationships. “When you’re the primary giver, you create a dynamic where you are like his mother taking care of him, which is not likely to be a turn-on for either party,” says Dr. Edelman. “Most guys don’t want to have sex with their mothers — not to mention you probably aren’t getting your needs met and he may be aware of that and feel guilty.”
The Smarter Move: Try to find the give/receive balance. People give in different ways. You may take care of him when he is sick. He may do your taxes. You may walk his dog when he’s at work. He might pay for dinner. Just don’t get in the habit of being the only one who is trying to make the relationship work — it takes two. “Recognize that giving ebbs and flows over time, but don’t give and give if you are not getting anything in return,” says Dr. Edelman.
Accidental Push-Away #4: Prematurely announcing your relationship on social media
Who doesn’t want to get out of “Single” or “It’s Complicated” territory? Seriously, it’s so tempting to shout out to the world, “Hey look! My status has changed. I’m not desperately seeking someone anymore!” But jump the social media gun and you might find yourself changing your status back just as quickly as you hit the “In a Relationship” trigger. “You’re not respecting his feelings. You’re not letting him decide when and how the news is shared with others,” says Dr. Edelman. “How would you feel if he told his friends you were his girlfriend after just one date when you’re still trying to figure out if you’re interested or not?”
The Smarter Move: Wait. Yes, this is easier said than done, but in this modern day, deciding to change your status is actually something you two should discuss. “You want to share your excitement, but how comfortable will he be if you make this announcement to the world?” says Dr. Edelman. “Let him take the lead… that way you know he is ready.” In other words, if he starts talking about exclusivity, then don’t be afraid to throw Facebook status updates into the convo as well!
Accidental Push-Away #5: Extensively sharing the most painful areas of your life early on in the relationship
You may instantly feel like you trust this guy, but the truth is real trust takes time. Yes, you may have a history (who doesn’t) but sharing all the difficulties of your life too soon may lead a guy to think you’re carrying a little too much baggage. Chances are his existence is busy enough and he isn’t yet sure he wants to take on your drama too. “Men can get overwhelmed with emotion and withdraw,” says Dr. Edelman. “Your private info is private and he knows that.”
The Smarter Move: Make him earn your trust. Boundaries are important. Don’t share your deepest, darkest secrets until you know that this is a man who deserves to know these things about you. Then instead of packing and running, if he’s a good guy, he’ll feel honored that you trusted him enough to share. “It’s better to wait until things are more serious before telling him about your tortured childhood, depression or last messy breakup,” says Dr. Edelman. “Many men want what doesn’t come easily, and they feel like the trophy isn’t as valuable if they didn’t work hard to earn it; it’s human nature.”
Bottom line, be authentic and stand up for your own needs, but don’t forget there are two of you in this equation. No matter how much you want something to work, instead of pushing things, it’s smarter to approach a new romantic pairing with a healthy degree of caution and watch it unfold beautifully… together.