Finding yourself / Of men and women

Doubt means no

To hear Joy read this post in English, subscribe to the GlobalRencai podcast on iTunes, or hear or download the MP3 here.

Thank you to all those Los Angeles friends who came to our event last Friday!

Just before the event, I published the blog post “Do not settle for Mr. Wrong,” and so we had a good discussion about how to distinguish Mr. Right from Mr. Wrong. Then someone asked:  “But the biggest problem facing many Chinese women is not how to find Mr. Right, but that after several years of dating, he still doesn’t propose.  How do you get a man to commit?”

That elicited what people tell me was the best quote of the afternoon, “Doubt means no.”  So I thought I’d take today’s blog post to fill you all in on what that means.

Men instinctively know that they’re headhunters. They naturally afraid of being trapped with the wrong partner.  But since we women bear most of the risks of marriage and parenthood, we should be at least as cautious.  When you meet someone special, observe closely his interactions with his friends and family, and expose him to your close friends and family and listen closely to their feedback.

No “The Talk,” no Ultimatums, no “accidental” pregnancies

Do not ever put a man in charge of your relationship.  Do not repeatedly initiate The Talk.  The Talk is any conversation related to the status of your relationship.  Don’t ask “Why haven’t you called?” or “When will I see you again?”  Tell him how much you enjoyed being with him, then turn around and walk out the door.  Don’t ask: “Where do I stand?” or “Where is this going?”  or ask to meet his kids.  Don’t sigh, beg, or plead with him to move forward more quickly.  Don’t overanalyze your relationship.

After a time of exclusively dating without a marriage proposal, some women will start to plot The Ultimatum.  It goes like this:  “Hi honey.  Propose to me within x amount of time (such as three months), or I will leave you!”

Other women choose to take matters into their own hands by secretly “forgetting” to take their birth-control pills in order to intentionally-accidentally get pregnant and force a shotgun wedding.

Do not resort to The Ultimatum and absolutely under no circumstances should you ever secretly get pregnant.  It is immoral and unfair to trick a man into life’s biggest commitment.  He may love the baby but he will resent you forever.

Know when it’s time to leave

Say you’ve been dating a guy for a while, and you think things are going great, but there’s been zero discussion about a deeper commitment, whether it’s exclusively dating or marriage.  Is he completely clueless?  Waiting for someone better to come along?  Not a good sign.

Initiate The Talk.  Once.  Like this:  “Hi honey.  I have adored our time together, but I’m starting to sense that you and I might be looking for different things.  I’m hoping for a longer-term commitment such as marriage and perhaps children as well.  Are you interested in that?  Because if not, I think it might be better for us to part ways so that we each can go out and find what we’re looking for.”

Perhaps this talk will prompt him to wake up and realize that he loves you and can’t live without you.  But if you’ve let him know you’re ready to discuss marriage and he’s not, initiate a separation.  If he doesn’t come running after you with a proposal, then you’ll have stopped wasting your time.

A soulmate relationship will be completely obvious to you both

Know your own limits and leave when it’s time to leave.  Don’t spend time with any man who keeps you wondering.  When you’re with your soulmate, it will be completely obvious to you both.

When a man truly commits himself, you’ll know.  You’ll never have to wonder where he is or whom he’s talking with.  He’ll call you every day; he’ll constantly try to please you, because he wants you all to himself, all the time.  He’ll want to meet your friends.  He’ll want you to meet his family.  He’ll open up and share his entire life with you.

He’ll be grateful for every day he has with you.  Wild horses could not keep him from running after you and making absolutely certain that you are his forever.  And he will commit to spending the rest of his days caring for you and any children that you have together someday.

Doubts are a sign that he’s Mr. Wrong

If on the other hand you ever find yourself in a situation where you are considering deploying The Ultimatum or an intentional-accidental pregnancy, take it as a sign that in fact, he is not Mr. Right.  We need to get beyond the notion that it is a woman’s job to entrap a man.  The only way that we as women can be free to make our own choices is to encourage men to be free as well.

Oprah says it best:  “Doubt means no.”  If either he or you has any doubts at all about your relationship, do not proceed with life’s ultimate commitment.  Your goal must be not just to start a marriage, but to do your best to ensure that when you do marry, your marriage is one that thrives.  When I look around at my friends who have either divorced or are suffering through troubled marriages, in too many cases they recall sadly how even before their wedding day they had doubts, but did not act upon those doubts.

In troubled marriages, children are the truest victims

We women often suffer greatly during divorce, but at least we can take charge of our lives and move on.  Our children, on the other hand, cannot.  When divorce occurs, they are victims in the truest sense.  Vulnerable and defenseless, they often suffer from an enormous sense of rejection and guilt that they may have caused the split.

The impacts on children of divorce can last a lifetime.  In America, divorce became widespread in the 1970s, so my generation is the first to have grown up as the children of divorce.  I continue to see the impact on my friends of their parents’ divorces.  Many have grown up afraid to love and fearful of life’s possibilities.

Children can suffer such impacts even when their parents don’t divorce but stay together in unhappy marriages.  Yelling and screaming and other forms of emotional abuse are warning signs that your Mr. Wrong lacks the basic emotional skills necessary to be a competent adult and parent.   Such behavior has cascading effects on future generations, since children who grow up witnessing abuse become perpetrators and victims of abuse as adults.  And children are wise to our marital mistakes:  in one study, fully half of young adults today whose parents stayed together said they may have been better off if their parents had divorced.

You are worthy of being deeply loved.  Your future children deserve to grow up in a home built on mature love, happiness, security and stability.  For your sake, for the sake of your future children, do not settle for Mr. Wrong.    Doubt means no.


Comments welcome, in Chinese, on the Chinese version of this post, here.
To hear Joy read this post in English, subscribe to the GlobalRencai podcast on iTunes, or hear or download the MP3 here.