Has this ever happened to you?
Linda was visiting friends in Seattle and they fixed her up with Robert for a date. He suggested they have lunch and then he wanted to show her the tourist district. Of course it was one shop after another.
Assuming that if she appeared interested in something, he would buy it for her, Linda kept it low key as they browsed through the beautiful shops. Then something caught her eye and she couldn’t conceal it - a silly toy she knew her grandson would like. She picked it up, laughed, they played
with it, and then she put it back.
“Oh, go ahead and get it!” Robert said, and his hand reached automatically for his back pocket, but then he turned away.
Linda went ahead and picked up the toy and they headed for the checkout counter. Suddenly Robert looked confused and fell back behind her, making sure she approached the counter first and alone. In other words, he made it clear he was NOT going to buy this $6 toy for her. You could almost see him fighting with himself!
A couple of dates into a new relationship and Ted and Shannon were discussing what they liked.
“Attention,” said Shannon.
“How much attention?” Ted asked, warming to the occasion.
“Lots sometimes,” Shannon said. “It varies. But I like attention from you.” (He had mentioned earlier, and she knew from friends that his former wife ignored him, worked all the time, and ultimately had an affair and left him.)
Shannon smiled, wanting him to know how much she liked him, and he smiled back. Then there was a pause.
A crestfallen face (remembering) was followed by a mask (hurting) as Ted delivered this door-slammer: “Sometimes you don’t get what you like.”
What’s going on here? It happens to all of us! DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!
Men know what women like and they’re naturally inclined to do it. It’s kind of natural with guys to want to give. But what’s happened is, this guy has done all this before and it didn’t work out.
Now when he has the impulse to do something nice, he's thinking, "I did that before and what I got was divorced. I'm not falling for that one again!" or "If I buy her something, she’ll walk all over me like my ex-wife did.”
Robert was really happy when he was thinking about buying the toy for Linda. It showed all over his face. Then he remembered something, and he stopped himself.
BTW, this isn’t about the “buying,” it’s about giving. Needless to say Linda has $6 to buy the toy; she’d gotten herself to Seattle after all! It’s Linda’s pleasure to receive gifts when they’re given to her. It’s part of the give-and-take of relationships. She might offer to buy
coffee and dessert later. It starts the “we” thing going.
Ted is a loving man who had been starved for affection. Remembering the former rebuffs, he retreated in steely resignation – “Well, I didn’t get what I wanted (in the former relationship), so I’m not going to give YOU, what YOU want” – when he and Shannon had already spent many hours
together getting along well, and he had been very attentive! Until he thought about it, that is. TURN OFF THE
TALKING-HEAD! STOP THE CEREBRAL SABOTEUR! DISENGAGE THE DOUBLE-THINKER!
It’s really sad to deny who you are because of your self-talk about previous relationships. You start to reach out for the other person and then up pipes that voice saying you’ll get hurt, or taken advantage of, it won’t work, or it’s all in vain. You tried it before and it didn’t work.
Well this is a new person and a new beginning. This new person may respond differently. In fact I can almost guarantee you they will.
What I’m talking about here is being yourself, separating out the past from the present, and treating each man as an individual who will not necessarily behave or respond the way the last one did. (Of course if you keep picking losers and think it’s a pattern, please get help.)
The Chinese say you never step twice in the same river. It wasn’t giving him back rubs, or being considerate or generous to him that broke up your previous relationship. We throw out a whole set of behaviors because they’re associated with bad outcomes in the past. Yes you DO know how to do things and how to make a relationship work - you just were with the wrong person, or the timing was wrong, or the place was wrong. Did you ever consider that?
One of the fun things about dating is when you find out that Modigliani print in the living room your ex hated, just thrills your new guy, and this applies to qualities and traits as well.
We have to separate out what caused what, and who is who in the after-divorce scenario. As I say in my book, “Midlife Dating Manual for Women,” until you can, you aren’t ready to date. You’ll trip all over yourself wanting to do something quite natural, and then slap yourself on the wrist. You aren’t emotionally available.
Marriages end because the people are no longer being nice to each other. But it wasn’t BEING NICE that got you there. It was other things. You were breathing, weren’t you, when you were with your ex. You still intend to keep doing that, don’t you? Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!
Of COURSE find out what the guy likes, and then give it with all your heart if you like him. Just because the last guy didn’t like you, want your attention, appreciate you, or respond to your kindness, doesn’t mean this one won’t. It’s about BEING WHO YOU ARE not worrying about WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
It’s only fun when you can be relaxed and be yourself, including lots of nice little gestures and kindnesses to the other person, and being able to enjoy giving, receiving, and sharing.
About the author:
Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach, Coaching, Internet courses, teleclasses and ebooks
around emotional intelligence for your success, health, and relationships. You can visit
her at www.susandunn.cc.
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