Finding yourself / Of men and women

You are a headhunter. Men are your candidates.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re a good woman. Smart. On the fast track to success. Respected by your peers.

You meet a guy, and suddenly you feel woozy, off-balance, insecure. You start to exhibit strange behaviors:

  • Checking your phone every five minutes to see if he’s texted
  • Calling him all the time
  • Spying on his QQ page
  • Bribing his friends to spy on him
  • Dissecting his every word and action with your girlfriends
  • Interrogating him over any evidence of communication with other females
  • Dumping plans with your girlfriends anytime he asks you out

Don’t act like a candidate trying to earn the love of a man. You already deserve his love. Because just like I’m a headhunter for global companies, you are a headhunter as well. You’re a headhunter for the most important search of your life.

It’s as if you’ve been stricken with a strange obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s called New Boyfriend Syndrome.

You know what happens next?

He dumps you.


Because you changed. He liked you for you, not for this sad, faint ghost of you.

New Boyfriend Syndrome will get you dumped.

When you rush in like this to tie down a man, it’s like you’re shouting: “Pick me! Please!!” You give the impression that you’re in love with love, not with him. Your actions will make him feel you’re desperate and he’s ordinary because you’d act the same way with anyone.

Unfortunately, too many women rush toward committed relationships before gaining a clear sense of what they want out of life or what they’re looking for in a man. As one woman recently explained to me:

I can’t wait to get married. Then I’ll feel like I’m really living. Before I get married, I’m only half-alive.

Your approach to men may be undermining your ability to have a more fulfilling relationship, and if that’s the case, it’s probably impacting your sense of self-worth as well.

Even if you don’t know when Mr. Right will appear, you don’t have to feel needy. Needy people are scary, and men find excuses to avoid them.

You are the headhunter. Men are your candidates.

Don’t act like a candidate trying to earn the love of a man. You already deserve his love. Because just like I’m a headhunter for global companies, you are a headhunter as well. You’re a headhunter for the most important search of your life.

So when you have a new boyfriend, don’t obsess: “Where is he and who is he talking to??”

Rather, ask: “Does this guy measure up to my standards?”

Ultimately, he wants you to choose to be with him not because you’re desperate, but because of how special he is. And it’s only on the basis of how special he is that you as a headhunter should be evaluating him.

For a man to love you, he needs to respect you.

Don’t wait by your cellphone for your new man. Go out, have a life, and call back when it fits your schedule. Don’t rearrange your plans around him. Maintain a little bit of mystery about yourself. Your message should be: “I like you but I don’t know if you’re the right guy for me. Let’s have fun and learn more about each other.”

Allow him to “steal” you away from your busy life. Show him that you’re not interested in locking him down. In fact, the less you push for a commitment, the closer you’ll be to getting one. When a man sees that you’re happy with him but you can be just as happy without him is when he’ll never want to leave your side.

It’s good man-seduction strategy to maintain a bit of distance. But keeping a bit of distance is even more important to the overall success of your search. Because you need to consider any one man against the entire candidate universe.

Any man is just one of your many candidates.

Let multiple men chase you. At the same time. Go on hikes with men, go to museums with them, play badminton with them, volunteer with them, just have fun with them. You do not have to have sex with them all!  In fact, I think you should be careful about whom you have sex with, as I’ve explained here.

Your single years are the only time in your entire life that you’ll get a chance to meet, flirt with, date a wide range of men, so don’t waste these years tied up in a series of long-term relationships.

Not only will you gain more experience with men, but you’ll also have time to yourself, embracing who you are and learning how to care for yourself.  This way, you’ll be less likely to try to make someone else your everything.

As we become more mature and autonomous, we naturally begin to look for more in our relationships. Autonomy is the basis for true intimacy.

Don’t try too hard to please any man.

Don’t live by anyone else’s ideals but your own, and you’ll start to relate to men very differently. Anytime you’re too worried about someone else’s approval, that person will lose respect for you.

A headhunter is a woman who won’t obsess over anyone else’s opinion, whether that person is a man or anyone else in her life. Truly powerful people don’t explain why they want respect. They simply don’t engage someone who doesn’t give it to them.

So, don’t ever succumb to New Boyfriend Syndrome. Don’t ever meet a guy and try to insert yourself into his life.

Because you already have a life. Your life.

I welcome your comments, in Chinese or English, on the Chinese version of this blog post, which is here.