As a coach who tries to be there for her clients during difficult times, I encourage men and women to text or email during the weekends if they need support in living up to the dating/relationship intentions they set for themselves. This weekend was no different.
I have a client, let’s call her Jane, who met a man online a few weeks ago. He had been out of the country since they first “met” online so she had been communicating with him via text and email. During the course of these emails she began to connect with him (let’s call him Brad) because they share similar interests and appear to have the same values. As can be expected, Jane began to really “fall” for Brad, and I thus encouraged her to pull back and wait until he returned to Los Angeles to continue communicating with Brad at length. She didn’t want to engage in a pattern she has which is to begin to see a man as “the one,” before he has even come close to being a candidate for that title.
Once Brad returned to Los Angeles on Thursday, he begin to email and text Jane repeatedly. He didn’t ask her out, however, and Jane grew tired of the emails, telling Brad she wasn’t really a big “fan of texting.” In this text, she also told Brad she was looking forward to speaking with him, and asked him to call her to ” catch up” when he was able. On Saturday, upon returning to her car after her workout, Jane received another text from Brad. As she had both feared– and expected, he hadn’t called her for a date. He sent a text. In fact, Brad apologized in the text for being “last minute,” yet he was hoping she was available to meet for drinks that evening.
Jane was confused and disappointed that Brad had not called. Mostly, however, Jane was afraid because even though she knew she should tell Brad “no,” to the last minute invite via text, her desire to see him was mounting feverishly. It was then that she texted me. We discussed a possible response.
Confidently, Jane replied to Brad texting him, “I already have plans tonight. Call me and let’s make a plan to get together.” xoxo Jane.
A perfect response, given the fact that Brad had ignored her request for a phone call. This text was kind, sweet, polite and communicated the fact that while she was busy, she still was looking forward to meeting him. Once again, it communicated her expectation that he would call.
Moments later Jane texted me to say she felt sick, and that saying no to Brad was, in her words, brutal. Her day became more challenging, as she waited for Brad to call. Again, she texted me to say she was beginning to have doubts about her decisions. She asked me to remind her why she had said no to Brad’s invitation.
I did remind her. I asked Jane what kind of man she wants to have as a partner. In answering she used words like honest, responsible, communicative and loving. I asked her if she felt that Brad had shown these traits in his attempt to meet her. She interrupted me, trying to tell me that in their email exchanges Brad had shown himself to be all of these things. I stopped her mid-sentence.
“Jane,” I said. “It doesn’t matter, really, how Brad showed up for you online or via text. What matters, is this; how is Brad showing up now? Is he, in fact, thus far proving to be a man who is honest, responsible, communicative or loving? Or is he, in actuality, showing up like the other men you have dated, men who have consistently been unavailable, not looking for a long-term committment?
Jane sighed. She was frustrated, angry, and disappointed that Brad might not be who she imagined.
It was 1:37 pm on Saturday when I last texted Jane. I didn’t hear from her again, until Sunday, nearly 24 hours later.
“I wasn’t strong enough, Marni.” she wrote. “I couldn’t do it. I still have so much work to do on myself.”
This time, while she was able to say “no” to Brad (a victory in itself), Jane wasn’t able to follow through on her intention. She discovered it felt horrible to wait. And that, ultimately, the work she needs to do is related to these important new discoveries. When Jane and I have our next session I will remind her that this is just a little mistake. And that mistakes present us with opportunities to learn. Jane learned that when confronted with loneliness and the possibility of losing Brad, even though letting him go might create space for a better match to come into her life, she couldn’t change her behavior. She realized that her fears and the resulting discomfort kept her from doing what was necessary to follow through on her intention.
Bravo Jane. Bravo for trying. Bravo for learning. And bravo for allowing me to share your story so that others can be inspired by your journey.
Have a GREAT week, and for those in Los Angeles, see you at the Dating With Dignity LIVE Ask the Expert Event tonight at 7pm. Until then, keep dating with dignity. It will be worth the effort.