I don't have any children, but I do have a seven-year-old goddaughter. When she becomes a preteen, something I plan on telling her, on repeat, is one of the best things she could ever do is have a set of male friends. Not boyfriends, mind you. I mean, platonic male friends. They're the next best thing to having a really great brother. They're protective. They're honest. And they'll help to drive home the point I'm about to make.
Besides being a writer, something else that I am is a marriage life coach. Both professions mean that I spend quite a bit of time delving out advice. If there's one thing I find myself asking quite a bit to brokenhearted women is, "Why didn't you take what he said at face value?"
Not to say that men, as a whole, are the greatest communicators in the world. At the same time, though, I'm on the fence about how many of us, as women, deserve an award for being the best listeners. Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of times we get into more uncomfortable situations than necessary simply because we would rather interpret what a man is saying rather than accept what has already been said?
Just in case you're tempted to give me some pushback on this, here are five examples of what I mean when I say take your guy's word at face value.
“I’m not ready for a relationship.”
He likes you. You like him. You spend time together. You might have even had sex. In your mind, this all may emotionally translate into you being in a relationship (or heading there). But if this is what you're doing with someone and he tells you that he's not ready for a relationship, clearly this is evidence that not everyone defines a relationship the same way.
If you don't listen to him and decide to give him even more of yourself—mind, body and spirit—all the while hoping to change his mind, how does that make him a bad person if he decides to see other people or end things completely?
"Ready" literally means "completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use". If a man is telling you he is not prepared to make a commitment or more importantly, that he's not FIT for one, he's basically giving you a forecast of how things will turn out if you keep pushing forward.
“The timing isn’t right.”
Chances are, if a man isn't ready for a relationship, one of the main reasons might be because it's not the right time for him. Please don't take that to mean that you can "love him into" the right time because (and please get this) him needing more time probably has very little to do with you.
In fact, there are probably life experiences that he needs to have outside of you in order for him to come to the conclusion that he's ready for a relationship.
What should be your response to this one? Either chill out and be his friend (just his friend) or let him go so that you can find your "right timing."
Who knows? Maybe in time, life will bring you both around to each other. Sometimes timing has a way of doing that.
“I love you but I’m not in love with you.”
If there's any sentence that is the cause of a lot of emotional upheaval and confusion, it would have to be this one. What does it really mean if a man says that he loves you but isn't in love?
Honestly, a lot of it depends on the guy, but I'll tell you what I immediately compare this to. I once heard a life coach say that one of the biggest mistakes we make in relationships is getting in too deep with someone who likes the qualities that we have but doesn't truly value us as a person. The first one means they admire us while the second one means they will do the work required to keep us in their lives.
If you've ever known a man who's truly in love with a woman, it's mind-blowing how far he'll go to keep her around. A man who simply "loves" may not even put a quarter of that effort in. Because he likes, not necessarily values what he sees in you. Make sense?
“I’m fine with how things are.”
Some people's values are more conservative than others. However, when grandma said, "Why buy the cow when you can half the milk for free?", at the very least, it's something to think long and hard about. Not just when it comes to the sexual decisions you make, but when it comes to all that you're doing with/for a man.
If you're basically being a "wife" to him—emotionally, sexually, relationally and otherwise—without requiring much in return and then you roll up asking what's up and he says "What? Things are just fine," while you may be disappointed, how surprised can you actually be?
You're doing most of the work while he sits back and benefits without having to take on any responsibilities. Why wouldn't he be fine?
“I want to be friends.”
What's sad about this one is it doesn't have to translate into you getting the brush off. I talk to a lot of guys and one thing they wish they had more of is friendships with women—non-dramatic, supportive, strictly-platonic ones.
The problem is a lot of us think that because a man thinks we're attractive and enjoys our company, somehow, he must be in denial when he makes this sort of declaration.
Listen, I think my brother is a cutie and he's one of my favorite people on the planet. I do not want a romantic connection with him though (eww). And that's just how a lot of men process women that they like us but still aren't into us.
If a man tells you he just wants to be friends with you, please don't take that to mean anything other than that. If you are tempted to, then translate what he said to mean, "I see you like a sister, sis," and hopefully that will keep things in perspective.
That way, you can move on to a man who doesn't want to emotionally "family zone" you.
That way, you can get with a man who says, "I dig you and I want to build a future."
That way, you can end up with a man who speaks in a way that you don't have to try and figure out what he really means. Everything will line up. 100 percent of the time.
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