Mike: This is Mike Hennessy. And on behalf of the team of LoveEvolveAndThrive.com, I’d like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch. Duana Welch earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Florida Gainesville. She is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do as well as the popular relationship blog called Love Science, which addresses advice on how the public can benefit from empirical scientific research about successful relationships. To learn more about Dr. Duana Welch, visit her website at www.LoveScienceMedia.com.
Duana Welch, some of our subscribers tell us they feel the pressure of a ticking biological clock and realize that they can’t afford to waste time. Now, in this situation, they might tend to rush through the relationship or they might tend to come across as someone who is pushy or needy because they want to weed out the wrong men as quickly as possible.
Can you offer some practical advice on how women in this situation can still date sensibly and strategically?
Dr. Welch: Absolutely. Women, I want you to think of dating as a job interview. I realized that most of us grew up treating dating as often a casual endeavor and that we would just meet with somebody and if we like them and they liked us and the sex was good that we would get into a relationship and kind of hope it worked out. But if you’re listening to this particular podcast, that hasn’t been working for you.
And many women have given up dating all together because they’ve realized that as they’ve gotten into their mid-30s and beyond that it’s just not very fun.
So what I hear a lot from women is a rift on the following statement.
“Yeah, I would marry the exact right man if he just came along.”
The exact right man is not going to come along.
You’re going to have to work at it. You’re going to have to treat it like a job. And you’re going to have to treat like a job interviewing.
So, let’s just take this analogy a little further. Let’s say you’re looking for the ideal job. You’re tired of things that feel unfulfilling. You’re tired of working with people who are difficult to work with. You’re tired of working with people who are difficult to work for. You’re tired of making low pay. Any of these considerations.
And so, one of the things you would probably do is make a list of things that your dream job would have.
And that might include the 6-figure salary or getting to have a lot of flex time, et cetera. But you know what your list would say. And some of these things would be icing on the cake and some of these things would be must-haves. If the job didn’t have this, there’s no way you could work there.
For example, most people leave bad jobs because of bad bosses. So let’s say that the most recent time that you left a job it was because even though you like the job itself, your manager micromanaged you and was very unkind and disrespectful to you.
Well, relationships are a lot like that too.
Unkindness and disrespectfulness are primary reasons that people leave relationships. So, just like I wouldn’t want you getting into a job like that. I don’t want you getting into a relationship like that.
So, first two pointers.
Have a list. Put in positive language everything on that list, everything that you do want in Mr. Right. Everything you do want. Now, some of this is just stuff you want and some of this is stuff you have to have. So I want you to make a second pass at that list where you put the must-haves up top and then you put the wants underneath that. Easier to do this if you do it on a computer.
And that you go ahead and use this as a screen tool just like in a job interview. You would go back and look at your list and think, “OK. Does this job have everything I have to have and some of what I want?”
I want you to do this with men.
I want you to screen for everything you have to have and some of what you want. I will tell you right now, if you are willing to use online dating, that can be really helpful.
A study done between 2000 to 2008 showed that more than a third of people met their marriage partner online so it’s no longer exception to meet that way; is my first point.
Second of all, those people were happier than people who meet any other way including at church or through friends and family. It was the most successful way to meet.
And third of all, part of the reason for that is that online dating through a paid website, I emphasize it’s got to be a paid website. The freebies will get you a bunch of commitment phobes. But if you’re using a paid website, it’s going to leap over some of the hurdles that you’ve been experiencing in your dating life.
For example, is he single?
Most people on the paid dating sites are actually single. Second, is he looking for a partner? Most people on the paid dating sites are actually looking for a partner and I just don’t mean a short-term sexual partner. I mean a longer term partner.
Another question, is he interested in you?
Well, if he is approaching you online and he is at one of these sites where he had to pay to be a member and he had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire before he can get on there, you have a good indication right out of the gate that yes, he’s interested in you. So you’ve leaped over a bunch of hurdles.
Another thing using a paid dating site will let you do is to screen for similarity.
Look, if I want to give you the big picture of what you need to have for this job interview/dating life, I want you to cut to the chase. The problem isn’t that you’ve been too pushy or dating too quickly or pushing the process too quickly. The real problem is that it needs to be more focused. You need kindness and respectfulness. That means someone who is kind and respectful even when things aren’t going his way.
So you’re going to screen for things like when he talks to you, is he kind and respectful about other people in his life? Because if he’s not, you’re going to be treated that same way eventually.
But another thing is that when you are online, when you find somebody online, you can screen for similarity which is a research-proving global standard for happy relationships.
It’s finding someone very similar to you. When a man reaches out to you, you can go back to his profile and see is it obvious that he has a deal breaker just from his profile? Very often, it is.
And so, you can simply eliminate that person from consideration. I want you to do it kindly. If a man reaches out to you and says, “Wow! I really like your profile. You’re really beautiful. I’d like to talk. Please write me back.” I don’t want you to ignore that. I want you to say, “Well, I went to your profile and I saw a couple of things that mean to me that we’re really not really a match but I know it takes a lot of guts to reach out to someone especially a total stranger so I want to thank you for having reached out.” In other words, say a very nice thank you but no thank you.
All those things are vastly helped by online dating.
But I would want you to do all of these things even if you didn’t have the online venue. No matter how you’re meeting people, I really want to make sure that you’re screening for your must-haves very quickly, which means that before the first date or on the first date, you can have the talk about kids.
What I’m hearing in this question is that some of you are feeling your biological clock ticking. You want children. I want you to know that there are men who want children also. There are men with a burning desire to have children. And if that’s you, you need to find each other.
So here’s the problem.
A lot of times when women meet a man who they’re really interested in, they will ask the question in such a way that it is off-putting. They may say something like, “I really like you a lot and I want to be your girlfriend so we can see if this works out because I don’t have time to waste if you’re not the right person to have kids with.”
Whoa! You’ve just handed him a job description not – so you’re interviewing men for the most important job of your whole life. You’re interviewing them for your husband and father of your kids. But even though they’re interviewing for a job, it has to feel like it’s a lot of fun because truthfully, if you’re with the right person, it is going to be a lot of fun. And men want to a joy, not a job. I mean they’re going to work really hard for you if they love you. But they want to feel of course like this is something they really want to do.
So pose the question, any question in such a way that it feels like you’re talking about a generic relationship, not necessarily your relationship with them.
So here’s a script you could use. Here it is.
“I know we’re barely getting to know each other and of course, I have no idea whether we’re going to click or go further than this. I’m sure you understand. I can’t focus on people who have really different goals though. Is the desire for kids something that you have?”
Let him answer the generic question rather than tying it to a forced future with you, if that makes sense.
But definitely make sure that you have the talk because it’s really sad. I have met several times with people who did not have the talk, who were deeply involved in a marriage where only after marriage do they figure out that one of them having kids was a must-have and for the other one, having kids was a must-not-have. And they divorced over it every time.
This isn’t one of those things that you compromise on there. Either there is a baby or there is not a baby. There either is an adoption or there isn’t an adoption. So make sure that your important questions, you go ahead and ask them right up front. It is OK.
Something I don’t say in my book because I guess I thought it would seem like bragging or like people wouldn’t believe me or something, but I have 14 marriage proposals and I was very upfront with my questions.
I have clients right now who are wanting a woman who wants kids and they are looking for a woman in her mid-30s to start a family with. So it’s not like these people don’t exist or you can’t ask the hard questions. You really need to do it.
Another thing I want to encourage you to do is to master what I call the attitude.
Job interviews aren’t fun but the end result is worth it. Dating can be fun but it’s not necessarily fun but the end result is worth.
I want you to master the attitude that when you go out on a date, you don’t need to attach too much importance to it. Be yourself. Be friendly. Be a little bit flirty. End the date first. Go home. And he will either call you again or he would not. Your job is to interview him the best you can to make sure that you and he are both getting into a situation that’s going to work for both of you and it’s OK to do that quickly.
I’d also like to ask you to keep your options open.
Let’s say you went on a job interview and they ask, “Well, where else are you interviewing?” And you said, “Well, I’m not really comfortable revealing it but I will tell you that I am interviewing for other companies additionally.” The interviewer is going to feel real pressure to make – if they like you at all, to make a decision in your favor. If they don’t like you, they’re going to let you go. But if they do like you, it’s going to up the ante. They’re not going to spend a lot of your precious time making a choice about whether you’re important or not.
Now, let’s say that you went on that same interview and you said, “Well, I really want this job so I haven’t looked for any others.” You know what you missed? What you have just said is, “You don’t have to offer me this job. You can take your sweet time about it if you do. And certainly, please underpay me because I don’t have any other options.”
I don’t want you to do the dating equivalent of telling a man, “You can take all the time you want. There’s no competition. And you can treat me any other way because I’m yours regardless.”
This is the opposite of getting where you want to go.
Until a man has point blank ask you to be his girlfriend, said he loves you and shown you through his actions that he loves you.
And until you feel a need to be faithful to him, until all of these have happened, I don’t want you to settle on just one man. You should be out there interviewing other people for this job right up until then.
I have a personal example about this.
I’ve been married to my husband who I did meet online for almost nine years now. But in the years before we met, when I was dating online, I remember one man in particular who figured out what I was doing. I had a young child and I didn’t have very much time away from her and my mom would babysit her and I – men who showed an interest in me, I would just set up dates with them, kind of every hour and a half throughout the day one day a week because I was conducting job interviews.
And I made it really fun.
And I had a good time too. But it really told me very quickly which people just – it was never going to work even though they were great people.
And I want to emphasize, most people who are not good for you are still good humans. They’re just not the right person for you. So anyway, this one guy, he figured it out.
He said, “I figured out that you met someone after me and you probably met someone before me.”
And I didn’t apologize.
In fact what I said to him, I’ll make up a name for him and I’ll say his name is Ted, I said, “Ted, you can just stop right there.”
He goes, “What?”
I said, “I see that you’re fishing for an apology or some kind of a disavow. You want me to tell you that you’re the only person I’m seeing. How reasonable would that be to, Ted, for me to only see you when I’ve met you for a total of one hour of my whole life?”
He was speechless.
And I said – I followed it up. I said, “Ted, I have a young child as you know and I’m trying to make the right decision not only for myself but for my daughter. And I’m basically conducting job interviews right now for the most important position in my life and there is a line. And if you don’t want to get in it, get out of it. But I’m doing this, and until I’m your girlfriend or your fiancé or your wife, I don’t want to hear anything about it.”
And instead of being horribly offended and dropping off the face of the earth, which would have been fine with me because it’s not polite to assume you have a monopoly on somebody else’s affections when you just met. That’s not OK. I was fine with him ditching me. But he didn’t. He wanted me even more.
And that is a prominent theme in mating psychology.
Men tend to want the woman who can afford to say no to him and the woman who has enough self-esteem and status to back away from a relationship that’s not tracking away that she needs it to go. But she needs to be willing to walk. If I was just making – if I was trying to make him commit to me by doing that, if I was giving him an ultimatum or if I was begging, this wouldn’t have been effective.
So you need to keep options open.
Obviously, part of that is holding off on sex. Look, if you are having sex with a guy and simultaneously keeping your options open, a lot of men, what they hear is, “She is having sex with all these guys and my genetic line would be at risk if I settle down with her.”
I know that sounds preposterous because nobody thinks that way, but a lot of mating psychology is unconscious.
I’m not saying he would actually have that thought. I’m saying he would have that emotion. It would be a turnoff. Plus, research shows that three fourths or even more than that of women find that once they have sex with someone, they lose all their desire to date anyone else. They cut off their options too quickly.
Women, you lose your power and your position of negotiation and strength when you have sex and when you stop dating others unless this man has already made a level of commitment to you, said he loves you, proven that he loves you and you feel the same way.
That’s just the bottom line. I don’t like it any more than you do. I wish that men felt the same desire for commitment following sexual bonding, but most of them don’t and you need to know that.
And interestingly, I just got this question today at my LoveScienceMedia.com blog. Someone asked me, “Well, you said there are some men who will still make an immediate emotional connection and commitment often with a woman if she has sex with him right away.”
Who are those men?
Well, those men tend to be men who have relatively low social status.
They’re not the tall, dark, handsome, breadwinners who want to provide and protect that you’re probably looking for. These guys tend to not have very much going on. The exception would be men who somehow are still virgins.
But you know, most men who are somehow still virgins until later in their lives, they often really do have something going on where other women have not chosen them and that has been for a reason having to do with things that women value.
So in other words, can you get a boyfriend or a husband by having immediate sex? Yes. Is it in your best interest? Probably not.
The odds are not in your favor. And science is all about putting the odds in your favor.
Nothing will tell you what happens to every person every time but science is really good at telling you what the best odds are and what’s going to happen to most people most of the time. And I want you to have what you want. I don’t want you to get hurt. I really would like nobody to get hurt.
My final piece of advice about cutting to the chase is I want you to stop dating a man as soon as you have detected a deal breaker. And I want you to stop dating a man if you’ve reached a point of willingness to commit and he hasn’t. Men know what they want when it’s gone. It’s women who know what they want when they have it.
If you are wondering about his feelings, end the relationship and you will quickly find out. But here’s the catch. You have to be willing to let him walk if that’s his choice. But if he does walk, he really didn’t want you that much anyway.
Mike Hennessy: Duana Welch, strong words and good advice. Thank you so much for joining us today. This is Mike Hennessy and on behalf of the team at LoveEvolveandThrive.com, I would like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch.
For free tips and thoughts on relationship advice for women, from hundreds of experts and authors, please visit our website at www.LoveEvolveandThrive.com.