First things first; because whenever I post something, people like to point out all the exceptions and that is really such a drag, you should consider getting over yourself. 😉
Disclaimer for the reactive types: This post is not about abuse of any kind. It’s not about willfully mean or insulting behavior. It is not about deception or misrepresentation. This post is about general low-level bad behavior that is indicative of a lack of respect, care or concern.
The modern dating environment is really not this glorious ocean of opportunity. It may seem that way to the coupled folks or the newly single, but a few months of dating can introduce you to so much dysfunction you will want to consider celibacy or going back to the loser you just left. Neither of those are realistic solutions, of course, so you have to learn to navigate the murky waters to avoid the sharks, the jelly fish and piranhas and find yourself your fish in that great big sea.
One of the most important skills to develop is how to teach others how to treat you. This is not easy for many who have been in long term relationships and have settled into certain routines. It is also not easy for those who have adopted the attitude that we must accept people how they are and that it is disrespectful or idiotic to influence them. There is a difference between influencing someone’s behavior and attitudes and trying to change them. We can’t change people, they must be self motivated for change. At the same time, many people are responsive to their environments and the people around them. We aim to be pleasing and responsive. Relationships are built on this desire to be pleasing and responsive. If our partner enjoys Italian food and soul music and to be kissed slowly, we modify our behaviors within reason if our temperaments and desires are similar. This is compatibility: the ability to enjoy a pleasant combination of similarities and differences. We are not supposed to be with carbon copies of ourselves. Being pleasing and responsive is not the same as being accommodating.
In the modern age of dating (and every other interaction) it is incredibly important to demonstrate the appropriate behaviors for our lifestyle and also to show others how we wish to be treated. If they behave badly, we must recognize that and have the audacity to correct it. If we don’t, we are asking for all the dysfunction and bullshit we put up with.
The bad behavior I’m talking about here is your typical, low quality behavior that is rampant in modern dating. If we tolerate, pretend not to notice or at worse pretend we aren’t affected by this behavior, then we are presenting ourselves as low quality, we are accepting his bad behavior and well, you get what you deserve. I deserve better. You likely think you deserve better, so act better and ask for better. Or shut the fuck up. Honestly. It’s that simple.
Examples of Low Quality Behavior
- Not calling when he says he will
- Being late to a date
- Cancelling at the last minute
- Standing you up
- Being unnecessarily vague or evasive
So many women will talk to me about these traits and immediately after asking me what it means she will rationalize his behavior. She likens it to his troubled past, his broken marriage, his recent struggle or stress, his newbie status in the dating world. Please. No matter how much you like him, no matter what his past, there is no excuse.
There are three reasons why you are experiencing bad behavior from your dating prospects.
1. He is just not that into you.
If he’s not that into you, he’s only going to put enough effort and thought into you that is necessary to get what he wants from you. Minimum effort, because he can literally take you or leave you with no skin off his back. He does not recognize your value. Perhaps he has another girl he is more interested in and you are back up. Perhaps he just doesn’t like women that much. Maybe he’s too recently heartbroken and can’t see past his own needs to offer anything to anyone else. Maybe, maybe, maybe you’re in the bangzone.
2. You made yourself out to be the chill girl.
If you made yourself out to be the chill girl, you either told him in words or actions that you don’t require a lot. You are go with the flow! Everything’s okay with you! Take it easy! No expectations! Maybe you thought you’d turn a fling into a relationship. (Good luck sister, it’s easier to turn water into wine.) These attitudes are your ticket to the bang zone. You teach people how to treat you. Expect nothing and you get nothing. Expect more and you get more or you quickly find out who isn’t enough for you and you leave them behind.
3. He’s an asshole.
No explanation needed. It happens.
So, what do you do?
If you are a grown woman who knows her worth, you will not stand for bad treatment. As a result, you need to call him on his treatment of you. Hold him accountable. Pouting, sulking, whining or the silent treatment will not work. In fact, if he even notices these behaviors he will immediately check out and probably fade you out or flat out disappear. It’s your life and you are the one who sets the tone for how you are treated. If he is not meeting your needs you need to communicate your boundaries and desires and give him a chance to choose how he will respond to your request.
Don’t Hide Your Needs Behind Text Messages
Come on now, this is important stuff. They way you are treated by a significant person in your life is not something to treat casually. To call him out you need to bring this up directly, face to face or on the phone but NOT by text. Forget emotion. Don’t be angry, don’t be sad, just be honest and get straight to the point.
If you want to be emotional, be emotional when you vent to your friends, be emotional on your own. But don’t be emotional when you are bringing up a serious relationship issue because it will cloud your message and make your case seem less legitimate. If you are emotional when you are calling him out, he may look for a way to dismiss your complaint as reactionary, hormonal or temporary. These aren’t feelings, these are facts. He treated you in a way that was not acceptable. You are wise to this poor treatment because you had an emotional reaction. The emotional reaction is not his problem. Your emotional reactions (and if they are appropriate to the crime or not are your problem.) But boundaries, respect and communication are objective territory of the relationship that must be addressed in the relationship. Don’t get them confused.
Fuck your feelings. Seriously, you don’t need to tell him how it made you feel. You don’t need to ask him how he feels. You don’t need to have a discussion. This isn’t a conversation; this isn’t a lecture’ this isn’t commiserating. Tell him flat out what you expect from him as far as the relationship goes.
Here are some examples:
- If you make a commitment to me, I expect you to keep it
- I won’t waste your time, please don’t waste mine
He will get it. If you are direct with him and call him out on disrespectful behavior, you don’t need to explain to a grown ass man what it feels like to be disrespected. A man knows what it feels like to be disrespected and it is not good. Don’t ask him to feel your feels. Be direct and he will connect with his feelings. That’s more powerful.
In no uncertain terms you need to tell him exactly what he did and that it is not acceptable and then the consequence that fits the crime. In the case of a second offense, this consequence is always, “I don’t want to see you anymore.”
“But if I’m just going to break up with him, why do I need to tell him?”
If you don’t call him out, your only options are to either end the relationship or put up with more shit. You are welcome and encouraged to end the relationship if you want to, but you should still communicate why you are ending it. This isn’t for his benefit, although he might benefit from it, this is for your benefit. You do not owe him an explanation.
Ending the relationship without expressing that you are doing it because his bad behavior did not live up to your expectations is a low value behavior. It’s avoidant. It’s weak. It’s small. Fading him out or performing a disappearing act is bullshit. If you start adopting low value behaviors, the shoe will start to fit.
Conduct yourself with class and honor at all times.
Commanding respect for yourself is also a display of respect for others. It shows you believe they can handle it.
This is the same reason this conversation can not happen by text. Text is low value communication. It’s for communicating short facts and information and it’s for playful, brief flirting and the occasional hello. Texting is never for confrontation, argument, discussion or drawn out get to know yous.
The other reason is that you need to get comfortable with standing up for your needs, coming to your own defense in the relationship. You need to call yourself out on your own bad behavior so that you will be inspired to change. You set yourself up to be the “chill girl” with no expectations. You got exactly what you asked for.
This is the hard part. If you thought the hard part was feeling like shit when he stood you up or cancelled but it’s not. This right here – calling him out, standing up for yourself, defending your own damn honor – is without a doubt the hard part because it is unfamiliar and new and makes us feel bad for all sorts of nonsense reasons that we need to get over. It’s mandatory that we speak up for ourselves and that we do it every time so that it is not so unfamiliar. When you are dating, unfortunately, bad behavior is the status quo. The good news is that the more you handle your shit, the easier it gets. And coincidentally, the better you get at handling your shit, the better you get at avoiding it in the first place. You legitimately outgrow the bullshit. Whether you start drawing higher caliber men or just drawing higher caliber behavior out of men, I’m not sure. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because everything is vastly improved.
No one gets a pass for being broken. No one gets a pass for being broken. If he doesn’t treat you right, you don’t cut him slack, you cut him loose. And if you sell yourself short, you aren’t avoiding pain you are signing up for it.