Sometimes I’m asked why I don’t always speak up when a date does something I don’t like. I weigh several things:
- Do I care enough about this relationship to put effort in trying to improve it?
If it is a one-time coffee date with someone I can see isn’t a good match, then I don’t say anything. Or if I have been on the fence and am weighing if I want to keep seeing him, when the scale tips to “no,” why say something? Perhaps it’s just a problem for me, but the next gal won’t be bothered by the behavior.
- Is the act something that is core to his personality, so isn’t likely to be changed?
The golf addict‘s self-absorption was too core to him that it would have taken more than I wanted to invest in changing him. And after spending more time with him I decided he didn’t have enough compelling characteristics for me to think it would be worth the effort for him to be a match.
- Will he hear it without getting defensive?
Some of his reaction will be based on how I make my request or comment. Some men have become defensive when I’ve made what I thought was a simple request in a pleasant tone nicely phrased. If I have evidence that he’ll get defensive, then I will pick my battles carefully. Of course, if he gets defensive easily, he’s not going to be around long!
- If it is something simple, I will say something if I care about deepening the relationship.
For example, if I’d decided I wanted to continue seeing him, I would have said something when the golf addict wore his golf cap during lunch inside the cafe. Or I would have made a comment or request to the date who watched TV over my shoulder at dinner. Or the one who didn’t walk me to my door when bringing me home from a date. While these could be considered “core” inconsiderate behaviors, if a guy hasn’t been with a woman in a while, I think he forgets (or perhaps never knew) how to be considerate.
Women friends say, “You need to say something or he’ll never learn and he’ll keep treating other women this way.” First, what seems inconsiderate to me, may not to another woman. In sharing the instance of they guy dropping me off without walking me to my door, a gal pal said that wouldn’t bother her in the least. And she hates having the chair pulled out for her, doors opened, and assistance with her coat. So different strokes.
Second, I don’t think it is my place in early dates to train someone. If a successful, educated, midlife man isn’t astute enough to understand common courtesies, I don’t think I should be training him. I don’t want to be his mother. If his parents didn’t train him, he needs to be smart enough to know that his behaviors are critical in both personal and business relationships, and he needs to have become educated in how to best treat people.
If we have dated a few times and it’s something important to me and I’ll say something. One younger man who declared he wanted to be my boyfriend, never helped with my coat, even when I was dressed up. One day I said, “Do you know how to help a woman with her coat?” He said. “No.” I said, “Then you’re going to learn.” On the third date, another began to eat his salad with his fingers. I suggested he use the fork.
In “When do you tell your date about irritants?” I discussed the timing of the telling. If you decide to say something, timing, word choice and tone are important.
We also need to examine how trainable we are. How do you respond when your date asks you to change something?
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