Interview with Dr. Duana Welch: Should You Continue Dating Even After You Find a Guy You Are Interested In?
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, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Welch: Mike, thank you for having me on your show again. Always a pleasure.
Mike: Duana, one common situation women find themselves in is not being sure just how long they should keep dating around once they find someone who really interests them. Should they stop dating as soon as they find a man they are interested in or perhaps should they keep dating until the man ask them for exclusivity?
Dr. Welch: It’s kind of the second part of that statement and kind of none of that statement. So backing up, let’s think about a job interview situation. Let’s say there’s a job you really want. Do you only apply for that job or do you apply for numerous other jobs at the same time? I mean most of us are going to apply for several jobs. We hope we’re going to get the job that we want. But at the same time, we realized that if we don’t have any backup offers, we’ve lost our position of negotiation and power.
Unfortunately, while we’d like to think that relating to other people is just about the love, the truth is that at the beginning of the relationship, it has a lot to do with power. And so, women who want to maintain a balance where they have some options in their lives are going to need to continue dating around or they’re at least kind of need to be open to doing so.
So for example, my clients who ask me, “I’ve met this guy that I really like. I think he really likes me too. Can I stop dating?” What I usually tell them is, “I want you to stay online or whatever modality you’ve been using to find dates. I want you to stay there and I want you to continue giving anyone a shot who seems like they might fit your must-haves and several of the things that you want and continue going out.”
And the reason for that is a) I don’t want you to be focused too much on a man who hasn’t made any level of commitment to you. And b) men routinely prefer women who have a lot of confidence and self-esteem and you come off as more confident and having more self-esteem, you’re less likely to seem kind of clingy or dependent or depressed if you have more options. So I encourage you to keep dating. And c) this guy might not be what you think he is and it would be great if that doesn’t work out that you are busy meeting some men who do work out, because let’s face it, sometimes women meet a guy who they thought was the one and he isn’t. Sometime we meet a guy who we thought wasn’t and he turns out to be.
So for all of these reasons, maintaining a balance of power in the relationship, keeping your own options open, keeping yourself distracted, maintaining your own sense of self-worth, for all these reasons and more really encouraged women to keep dating until the man ask for exclusivity.
But I also encourage the woman to keep dating until she feels like he really wants exclusivity. One thing I’m finding is that sometimes partners will ask for exclusivity just because they want to consider you without any competition being available. And so, you need to think that not only has he asked for exclusivity but that the reason he asked for it is that he really wants to be exclusive with you, that he has made a level of commitment to you. So if your gut tells you he said the words but he didn’t mean them then don’t go for it.
And of course, don’t ever date anyone exclusively until you yourself feel like you really want to.
Mike: So it then leads to kind of a fork in the road here. Let’s say that somebody – let’s say one of our listeners for instance has somebody they’re interested in and yet, they can’t get from here to there. They find themselves in that limbo situation between trying to decide if they can keep on dating or whether they should say, “OK, let’s focus here on this one person who might be the right one.” Can you talk about how we can get away from that limbo situation and move on into another step in the relationship?
Dr. Welch: Sure, yeah. Women can experience relationship limbo at any stage of dating. It could be people are instant messaging you on Match.com or sending you emails through another dating service and yet they’re never asking for your phone number. It could be you’ve started dating and you really only want to date him but he hasn’t asked you yet for exclusivity. And so, you’re wanting him to ask you that question.
It could be that you’ve been dating quite a while and you’re wanting him to introduce you to important people in his life because you’re feeling like yeah, you’re dating but he is not really introducing you as his girlfriend and he is not really introducing you to people in his life.
It could be as serious as you’ve already moved in, you’re wanting marriage and you’re not sure where he stands on that.
And strangely enough, the basic answer at every one of these phases is the same, which is for the woman to pull back a little bit or maybe even a lot. Men have what I call the right and the burden of pursuit, which means that they get to and in a sense, almost have to stick their necks out and pursue the person that they want. And if they don’t do that, the usual outcome for men is kind of crickets. There’s nothing happening. They don’t get any traction at all in the dating arena.
Women tend to think that men have all the power in dating because of this right of pursuit because women will meet a guy that we want and we think, “Oh, I really wish I could make my interest obvious.” And of course, you can. You can walk up to a man and say, “I really like you a lot. I would really like to go out with you.” You can ask a guy to be your boyfriend. You can ask him to move in with you. You can ask him to be your husband. You can tell him that you love him before he tells you.
But the problem is that research is pretty clear, when women make these moves, they’re not perceived the same way that a man is perceived when he makes these moves. It’s a real sexual double standard.
Women often pay a high price. Men assume that they are, to be very blunt, either nuts or sluts. They assume that these women are low mate value that they don’t – they assume these women don’t have options.
In other words, a lot of times when a man single mindedly focuses on pursuit of a woman, the woman assumes, “Wow! He really wants me. Look how hard he’s working. He’s really sticking his neck for me. I’m really moved by that.”
Men often assume, “Why didn’t she have some options? Why is she chasing me? I’m supposed to be chasing her.”
And I have a lot of clients and about 80% of them are male interestingly enough. And when I first wrote my book, Love Factually, I really expected a lot of blowback from men saying that chapters 4 and 5 which have a lot to do with male and female mating psychology differences, I really thought men were going to be very upset about these chapters. And instead, I’ve gotten a lot of letters and a lot of endorsements on Amazon basically saying, “Yup, this is how we think. I wanted to argue with this but I looked at the science, I looked at my own behavior, it’s absolutely true.”
So I guess where I’m going with this is that a lot of women want to react to a desire to ramp up the relationship by effectively pursuing the guy. But that is ineffective. What is effective is backing away.
So for example, well, this is a personal example. When my husband and I were introduced, we were introduced on eHarmony. Though I used two other dating sites and they were all good. We just happened to meet on eHarmony. And eHarmony does the job of matching for you and then one of the two people will either reach out or not. And so, we were on eHarmony for about 30 days and I was looking at his profile every day and he couldn’t tell that I was looking at his profile. He was looking at mine every day, which I didn’t know. And he really was the person I like the best of any of the men that I was meeting. The problem was he wasn’t connecting with me.
And when a man isn’t connecting with a woman, there can be a lot of reasons but none of them add up to anything that’s very good. It could be a loss – a lack of self-esteem. It could be a lack of confidence. It could be a lack of desire. It could be feeling that he’s not ready for a relationship. It could be he is already in a relationship. He’s just not that into you. It could be a lot of things. But none of them are really good.
So, I took a page from the research that shows that men are more than six times as likely, six to eleven times as likely depending on the study, to reach out first to women online. And I thought he’s not reaching out online. I’m not going to do anything about this.
And one day, I just got fed up and I deleted him. And on eHarmony at that time, if you delete someone, if you close the match, the other person is like he disappeared from the face of the earth. The other person can’t find you anymore. It’s like blocking someone on Facebook. Only the person who blocks can bring you back.
And here’s what I didn’t know, Mike. I didn’t realize that Vic had looked at my profile every day for 30 days and he had told all his bestfriends about me even though we hadn’t met and he was way, way interested. But he had felt that this divorce had been reason enough that he was worried he was going to blow it if he actually reached out to me.
And what happened when I deleted his match was that he realized, he connected with the urgency of the situation and he realized that he really should have taken the risk and he really wanted to take the risk. And about 24 hours later after I deleted him, I thought, “Oh well, it’s not really hurting anything for me to have that match open.” And I went and brought him back. And he immediately wrote to me.
Now, I have asked him since that time, “If I hadn’t ever deleted your account, would you have made the next move to actually contact me?” And he said, “Probably never.”
So what happened is and you see this in movies, I just watched a movie the other night, in the movies, life imitates or art imitates life. One interesting thing about, the movie was about heterosexual romance, is that they very frequently follow a pretty accurate script of the human mating ritual.
I just watched this movie called How Do You Know.
It has got Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd and it’s a love triangle. These two men want Reese Witherspoon and the interesting thing is that the only time she gets traction with these men is when she has other options, i.e., there’s another guy she might be dating and when she is moving away from the relationship. At one point, she moves in with Owen Wilson in the movie and then he says a couple really boneheaded things even if he does say them in hid adorable Owen Wilson-ish way. And she moves right out. And that every time she does this, he increases his commitment.
This is actually typical of what happens in the real world is that women, when they pull back, they find out where the guy really stands. Now, some of you women, I bet you’re thinking, “Well, this is all really manipulative. I don’t want any part of this.” And I can certainly understand that. Now, when I first started reading the research and looking at it, I felt exactly that way.
I want to introduce a couple of thoughts. Number one, hanging around, begging a guy to love you is also manipulative. It also undermines your self-esteem, probably even worse. That’s the first thought I’d like to introduce.
And the second part of this you actually can’t manipulate a man into loving you. If my now husband had not been into me and I closed our match, he either wouldn’t have noticed or wouldn’t have cared. What happens when women back away is it creates a tipping point.
Another case study that’s from my book with permission from one of my readers, this woman who I call Helen, had moved in with a man who had mentioned getting married and that she moved in with him because she felt that would be safe. And then as soon as she moved in, he stopped all mention of getting married. It just took away his sense of urgency.
And she wrote to me saying, “You know, I’ve now been in this relationship for years and I’m not getting any younger and I am deeply in love with him and feeling completely helpless and I don’t want to beg him to marry because I feel like the marriage I will get will be with a man who is never quite sure.” Which, she was right. That’s probably what she would have gotten.
And so she said, “I don’t know what to do.” So I wrote back to her and said, “OK. Here’s what you do. First of all, you need to gird up your metaphorical loins. You need to get ready because you could lose the guy. But if you lose him with what I’m telling you, you were losing him anyway just over a much longer period of time.
The second thing is you need to start finding a roommate.
Third thing is you need to tell your partner that this relationship simply is not working for you and that you have found a roommate and that you will be leaving within the next 30 days. You want to give him a chance to find somebody else to come in and share his bills and these expenses.
And then start packing. And you can’t be bluffing. This has to be real because what you’re about to find out …” I called her boyfriend, Troy, although those are neither of their real names, “… what you’re about to find out is did Troy really love you and want to marry but he just lost his sense of urgency or has Troy just totally lost the path and he is enjoying living with you well enough but he doesn’t really want to get married?” Which, she didn’t even finished packing before he proposed complete with a ring and a wedding date.
Again, when a man wants a woman, he doesn’t actually have to be told how to propose. That’s not a mystery to men. They know how to do it. They know how to ask you out. They know how to approach you. They know how to propose. The question is do they want you quite badly enough to do all of these things? And if they don’t, you’re the one who is going to be doing the heavy lifting through the duration of that relationship in a world that really needs two people who are willing to pull together.
Mike: Dr. Duana Welch, thank you so much. very insightful and very enlightening.
Dr. Welch: Thank you very much for having me again.
Mike Hennessy: 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.
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