Imagine you’re playing a board game with this really cute, amazing guy.
You can tell he really likes you, too.
Eventually, you notice that every time you play this game with him, you end up winning.
So you start paying closer attention to how he’s playing…
And, sure enough, he’s setting you up to win every time.
You can guess why he’s doing this. He wants you to feel good about yourself. He wants you to enjoy your experience.
But will you enjoy playing with him as much, now that you know he’s helping you win?
The Dating Game
In dating, it’s so tempting to help the other person win.
You meet a guy you really like, and you want to encourage him.
So you overlook traits you’d normally see as faults. You let it go when he only texts you late at night. You don’t mention it when he says something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
You want him to know that you appreciate and accept him just as he is. You don’t mind his issues. You’re here to help him.
You never think to ask yourself:
Does he even want your help?
Is it possible that dating is like that board game…
And the obstacles and setbacks and risk of losing keep us in the game?
No Easy Wins
In life, we value most those things we’ve had to work for.
If you’ve put years into earning an educational degree, you’ll feel extraordinarily proud when you’re handed that certificate.
Couples who’ve endured the ups and downs of life together feel rightly proud when they reach their 10-year anniversary.
The harder it was, the prouder we feel.
Yet if we are given something we didn’t have to work for, we don’t value it as much.
Especially if it’s something we weren’t sure we wanted in the first place.
This is one reason why you often see a change in a man as soon as you decide that you really, really like him.
He senses that you’re making it easy for him.
He senses that you’re setting him up to win, even if he bungles everything.
He wants winning to mean something.
He wants to prove himself.
He wants the game to feel real.
The Male vs Female Mindset
You don’t need me to tell you that men are competitive.
Of course they are!
Many men grow up learning that they have to fight to get what they want. Nothing is handed to them on a plate. They expect to be judged on their performance. They’re prepared to work harder and harder until they’ve achieved results.
For these men, it’s humiliating to win a prize without even trying.
The women I work with understand relationships differently.
They don’t see themselves as “prizes” to be “won.” They see their love as a gift.
They have such beautiful hearts and souls that they give their love to a man even if he hasn’t earned it.
They tell him that there is nothing he can do to drive them away. They will always be there for him. They will never reject him.
And what does he do?
I wish every man would honor this amazing, priceless gift.
But that’s not always what happens.
All too often, a man takes one look at this gift and backs away…
Let Him Earn Your Love
If this happens to you, there’s a simple solution:
Let him earn your love.
Don’t let him step into that winner’s circle until he’s completed the course.
Until he asks you for a committed, exclusive relationship, he hasn’t earned the key to your heart.
This can feel really hard when you’re used to giving your love as a gift with no strings attached.
Unconditional love is such a beautiful thing, and it says so much about who you are.
But there are obstacles in the way of a relationship for a reason.
It is by making his way through those obstacles that a man feels the value of what he is fighting for.
Paradoxically, it is his knowledge that he could lose you that makes him fight harder for you.
I want to clarify that none of this means that you should make it hard for him or play hard to get. Relationships are hard enough already.
But he should know that he could lose you.
If he treats you in a way that doesn’t respect you, honor you, and consider your needs, he will lose you.
If he doesn’t invest in you, he will lose you.
Those are the rules of the game.
And they’re there to protect your heart.
Be patient as you discover whether a man can stay the course before you give him the gift of unconditional love. Seeing how he responds in the face of challenges and obstacles gives you the clearest sign.
This advice is too glib. Men are competitive, yes, but not all men are equally
competitive. There is a scale. Some men need to know that loyalty can be
taken for granted. Others want to “earn” it as if devotion is a prize. In my experience – and I am 80 years old – it is unwise to generalize about men.
Emotionally literate men know themselves and what makes them feel secure, and women who want stable, sustainable partnerships should look for emotionally literate men. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time playing games.
Bonny. I agree with some of what you said. I did something that drove my immature husband away. His mother treated him as unable so I bent over backwards to tell him I trusted his judgement. I may have gone too ‘far I fear. He told me before he left that I was always telling him what a good husband he was but he never felt like he was. I only praised or thanked him for the good things he did hoping to create more of them. Still not sure where I slipped up. Maybe I didn’t. Who knows.