She was the perfect girlfriend. She cooked for him, planned special surprises for him, attended sports events with him, and made sure she supported him in everything.
Then Liam did the one thing she never expected:
He left her.
Not only did he leave her, but a week later she found out from friends that he’d been seeing someone else behind her back.
“They knew all along!” she told me. “They expected me to feel sorry for him, because it was such a dilemma. This cow or me. Here I was so nice, and he didn’t want to hurt me, but he felt this passion and chemistry that he’d never felt before.” Ava sneered. “Nice if he would’ve told me that before he broke my heart and stomped all over it.”
Ava believed that being the perfect girlfriend protected her against heartbreak. If only she did everything right, her boyfriend would never want to leave her.
Sadly, as you know, it doesn’t work that way.
In fact, being an imperfect girlfriend works for you, not against you.
That’s because he sees you’re not willing to set down everything and make him the center of your life. He sees that you’ve still got your own life and interests, which you’re not giving up for him.
The distance between you adds spice to your togetherness. You’re more than just an extension of him. You’re your own woman. And if one of you decides to leave the relationship, you won’t be left broken. You’ll still have a life of your own.
Ava was ready to learn how to make her next relationship a success. She didn’t want to do this again: give everything to a man, only to end up alone.
So I taught her the sexiest word any woman can say to a man:
And its 1001 permutations:
Thank you for the invite, but I’ve got other plans.
I love being with you, but I’m not ready to go any further just yet.
I’m so glad you’re going to the game, but I’m not coming with you this time.
I’m hungry, too. What are you going to get for us?
Ava was horrified. Wouldn’t saying no make him lose interest?
Some men may lose interest, I told her. But those are the kind of men you don’t want. Men who are only interested in immediate gratification.
Men who make good partners are willing to go through some hardship on the path to love. They understand that a woman is their equal—not their personal assistant, chef, or mother. So there’s give and take on both sides.
Telling him no acts as a test of his character. Does he get upset when you won’t bend over backwards for him? Is he okay with the idea that he gets some of your time but not all of it? Will he make some effort for you, or do you have to do everything for him?
But there’s another, even more important reason to learn to say no:
It sets you up for a lasting relationship. Here’s why…
Relationships should be sustainable, not a constant drain on your resources. Good relationships don’t consume your life but rather restore you. They give as much energy as they take.
Want to know if your relationship is sustainable or not? Ask yourself:
Do you ever feel resentful about how much you give?
Do you wish that just once he’d appreciate how much you do for him?
Do you fantasize about him taking the lead once in a while and pampering you?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then your relationship is draining you. You’re in danger of becoming his caretaker, not his lover. That’s not sustainable.
Luckily, all it takes to start spicing things up is that magic word:
Don’t offer to do everything. Ask him to do a few things for you.
Don’t let him decide for you. When he presumes you’ll do something—without asking you first—exercise your right to back out of it. He has to ask, not assume.
Before you agree to anything, check in with yourself.
Are you offering to do this because you want to … or because you feel expected to?
If you do this, are you doing it with no strings attached … or because you expect him to pay you back in some way?
How are you going to feel if you say yes: excited … or stressed to have one more thing on your plate?
When you do things only because you genuinely want to, resentment and obligation disappear from your relationship. You’re taking your power back.
And that’s super sexy!