Being “in wonder” about your date’s behavior

Have you ever wondered what a date was thinking when he said or did something not expected? I have. With various guys.

  • My date said, “I hate to leave. I really wish I could stay with you longer.” Then he sent a “Have a nice life” email a day later.
  • He flirted with me online, wanting to take me to lunch, even knowing we had a friend in common and she would, no doubt, tell me he was married.
  • We hadn’t talked in months, yet he thought he could pick up where he’d left off with me.
  • After sleeping over once, he said he’d like some drawer and closet space to leave a few things for next time.
  • On a second encounter, I’d invited him over for coffee after a nearby evening meeting he attended. He brought his shaving kit, with the assumption he’d be staying over.
  • After a nice coffee together, my date didn’t walk me to my car.

I’ve frequently heard myself ask, “What was he thinking?” when some behavior didn’t match my expectation of normal. It’s easy to get judgmental about behaviors that are different than you think are proper.

A marriage counselor taught me a different approach years ago. While I admit I don’t engage in this inquiry 100%, I use it more than I used to.

The approach is to be “in wonder” about the behavior.

So instead of making him wrong for getting too chummy too fast, be curious. “I wonder what would make him think it was okay to put his hand on my knee within the first 10 minutes of our meeting?” When you engage in such questioning, you explore options, rather than making assumptions. Ideally, if you are close enough and can ask without sounding judgmental or irritated, get his take on the situation.

When my ex and I would engage in being “in wonder,” we typically saw that our assumptions were wrong. When I thought he purposefully blew off my requests, the truth was he’d forget I’d asked if it wasn’t written down. So instead of being affronted, I could help him manage his memory loss by making sure requests were in writing. When he felt I was rude for interrupting him when telling me a story, by being in wonder he learned that I thought he was done sharing, so I jumped in. We worked on a signal to show he was done expressing a thought.

I know it can be hard to discuss things like this when with a new guy. However, that doesn’t prevent your from exercising your “wonder” muscle. You can still be curious about any bothersome behavior and think of possible other interpretations, rather than a judgmental one.

So instead of thinking the guy who didn’t want to leave was lying, by being in wonder I could see that another alternative was he felt that way in the moment, but then changed his mind upon a day’s reflection.

See if you can think of some recent date’s curious behavior and share how you can be “in wonder” about it if you’d been judgmental.

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7 responses to “Being “in wonder” about your date’s behavior”

  1. Traci Avatar

    I think that part of the problem these days is that with the internet and online dating, we tend to date people that we may not have been interested in at all if we met them at the library or wherever . . .

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    I think a lot of it boils down to plain old common courtesy. I’m finding that “manners” seem to be a thing of the past for many men supposedly wanting someone to date. To my way of thinking, basic common etiquette should be something that isn’t a far reach for a guy to grasp if he’s not wanting to be alone later. I’m amazed at many men’s thought processes. Some of them probably do not intend to come off as rude or uncaring, but their lack of manners tell us something else. After a while, a woman has to decide if the battle is worth fighting or not. It does get tiring to have to teach a man how to treat us.

  3. Josiane Feigon Avatar
    Josiane Feigon

    Congratulations on your San Jose Mercury News mention, that is fantastic and I love reading your blog.

    In the subject of manners, and just in case you need new fodder on writing something, I just had a 3-month intimate relationship with a man who said all the right things, super generous, checked in every few hours, told me he didn’t want me seeing other guys, met my friends, my daughter, etc. But something was just not real about the relationship- although it was super fun, I knew something was up when I bought him a cool t-shirt from Banana Republic that he left behind at my house several times. Suddenly I found myself on an airplane headed for Europe when my intuition hit me and I just knew something was definitely not right. I enlisted my sister in helping me do a “columbo-search” on him and we scoured everything- even calling the florist he ordered flowers from. Finally after a few days, we found the house he owned with his wife and turned out he also had a 6-year old daughter. Once I found out, I e-dumped him by texting him “it’s over, you lied” and like most men who are really good at compartmentalizing, he explained he got carried away and knew he was in too far but didn’t know how to get out or tell me. He has called several times since wanting to perhaps renegotiate a new deal- No thank you.

    What do you recommend for moving on from a rude situation?

  4. Brad Montgomery Avatar

    way to go on the San Jose Mercury News coverage. this is a great dating blog — great blog period — and it was cool to see you get some much deserved credit.

    You rock girl!

    PS. my blog is Not about dating…. but still fun. 🙂

  5. Paulette Avatar

    “Being in wonder” — what a fabulous technique for improving ANY relationship, whether personal or professional. Since I pride myself on being open to possibilities, this approach is a welcomed addition for immediate consumption. Thanks for sharing it.

    By the way, I second the congratulations on your mention in the San Jose Mercury News. Nice to see a journalist get it right 🙂 While I haven’t posted comments here on your blog very often, there’s rarely a day I miss when it comes to checking in on your wisdom.

  6. john Avatar

    re. My date said, “I hate to leave. I really wish I could stay with you longer.” Then he sent a “Have a nice life” email a day later. /So instead of thinking the guy who didn’t want to leave was lying, by being in wonder I could see that another alternative was he felt that way in the moment, but then changed his mind upon a day’s reflection.

    Are you serious? that wasnt a days reflection, that was finding out he wasnt getting to stay the night. I know a lot of guys who use that as a test line, if you dont invite them to stay over, they move on to easier prey.

  7. bookyone Avatar

    Thanks for writing this. And here I’d thought I was the only one who was mystified by male words/behaviors that don’t make sense to my female brain.

    Based on my own limited dating/relationship experiences (4 LTRs and many many more dates) here are a few things I’ve noticed about men in general:

    Most men are excellent liars.
    Don’t believe everything you hear.
    Actions always speak louder than words.

    Keep up the excellent writing, I really enjoy this blog.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂