I was talking to a friend today about a new guy in her life. She was telling me how he’d made it past the 14-day trial period. Usually when she meets a guy, she’s lost interest by the end of two weeks. That’s about how long it takes most guys to prove they are NOT for her. This new guy, though, has been holding strong for about a month, and she’s a little scared. This is new territory here.
You know how you get calls from telemarketers, whose calls you usually try to avoid, and they’re putting on this big show about whatever product or service they’re selling and how you can’t live without it? They have all these positive things to say about it and, honestly, it’s sounding a little bit interesting (though you’d never let them know that). Still, as you’re listening to the spiel, you’re thinking, “Yea, okay, what’s the catch?” You just know this has to be too good to be true. Finally, at the end, the callers says something like, “And it can all be yours for the low price of $99.99/month.”
CLICK. You hang up the phone. There’s your catch.
Well, anyway, I think that’s how my friend is feelings. She (like many of us women) has dealt with enough men to know that the wonderfully-charming man you meet at first isn’t always the same guy you end up investing your time and energy in. So–understandably–she’s hesitant. She’s been hurt by other guys and does not want to go through that again. I could definitely relate. Many of us can.
It seems many woman have at least one horror story about a man that hurt her in unspeakable ways. We carry this pain with us in our bodies and let it direct our speech and actions when it comes to potential mates. Sometimes, this is helpful, because it keeps us from getting involved with the same type of man. Other times, it actually does more harm than good. At what point do we stop being afraid and finally let down our guard just enough for a new man to squeeze through?
It is completely normal and in our best interest to learn from our past experiences, so it makes sense that one hurtful man makes the road harder for the next, but we have to be careful that the road doesn’t become impassible. If you’re content with the idea of being alone forever, then go ahead and keep stacking those bricks around your heart, but if you’d like to move past this and start fresh, you may want to stop stacking.
Well, wait. Don’t stop stacking just yet. First, you need to make sure this new guy is worth your time and not a repeat of the man that made you start stacking in the first place. Following are some tips on how to gauge when is the right time to create some space for new love.
- Watch for the signs you didn’t catch with the other guy – There are always signs, but we don’t always allow ourselves to see them, perhaps because he was so cute or so smooth or seemed so intelligent. We let the butterflies in our bellies talk us out of noticing those things he says or does that are indicative of bigger problems. That’s what happened with the last guy, but not this time. You won’t let it. When you’re together, pay attention to the signs he sends. Is he doing things that lead you to believe he is selfish, immature, needy, cruel, a potential cheater, or unable to communicate effectively? If so, this is not the guy to open your heart to.
- Keep a wall around the “goodies”– Some women are so scared to let a man into their hearts, but quick to let him into their beds . What kind of sense does that make? Having sex with a man who may be history in a few weeks is only going to create more emotional baggage for you to carry into your next relationship. Let him know upfront that there will be no sex until (you fill in the blank). If he is fine with this, that’s a sign you may have a winner, but if he gets upset and starts delivering ultimatums, this is not the guy to open your heart to.
- Rate his interest- What is this guy after? Does he seem really interested, as in, “I’m looking for wife material. No games here”? Or is his interest better described as, “You look like a nice way to pass the next few weeks”? It should be pretty easy to tell them apart. A man who just wants fun will be highly physical and to the point. He won’t show much interest in the other parts of you. This is not the guy to open your heart to.
- Wait to see if he proves himself- If you tell a good man you’ve been hurt and need to take things slowly, he’ll respect that. Instead of harping on the fact that you’re not moving at the pace he would prefer, he’ll busy himself with the job of proving he is different from the previous guy. How will he do this? There are many ways, but it mostly boils down to being patient and present. He will continue to make his interest known (but not in a stalkerish way) and do small deeds to start to fill in the hole the other guy left. (Example: sending you a “just because” text or buying you a package of pens because he noticed you never had anything to write with. At this point, big gifts are a no-no. If he’s trying to buy your affection, he’s… you guessed it… not the guy to open your heart to.
- Don’t be scared by the awkward feeling- If your past relationships have been unhealthy, and the new guy seems very different from what you’re used to, don’t freak out. It’s probably a good sign. Marriage-worthy men and those merely looking to party behave differently. If you’ve gotten used to the ways of Mr. Party, Mr. Marriage will seem strange at first. It’s okay. Just go with it. That feeling wears off. You’ve just got to retrain your thinking about what is and isn’t normal and acceptable in a man.
Hopefully, these tips help you ease your way into a new and healthy relationship. Good luck (even though I don’t really believe in luck)!