This entry is the 7th in a series. To start at the beginning, go here.
Being single I’ve studied a few programs created by dating gurus. Most of them have one common theme. Women tend to be needy and over-deliver, over-invest, and over-expect. Before you argue with me, let me explain why there’s a lot of truth in this.
One program I bought compared building a relationship to building a multi-story building. The woman shouldn’t come in and build all the floors or even two floors to his one. You should build the floors together. Or if you build a floor, he needs to build a floor.
As a woman you should be contributing less than or no more than equal to the man’s investment.
There are lots of warnings about “neediness.’’ You don’t need to be texting him all the time, calling him, etc. Let him initiate those things.
Another guru suggests that women shouldn’t be hanging out on a guy’s Facebook wall liking and commenting on all his posts. Another says, if he backs off, you should back off. Most women go into panicky chase mode if a man backs away.
My dad gave me some interesting advice. It confused me thoroughly when he said it, but it proved incredibly true.
He said, “You need to not care. It’s when you don’t really care that a man wants you.”
I questioned him, “What? Not care? How do I do that? Just not care at all? And why would I want a man that I don’t care about?”
He added, “Well, care, but don’t care.”
“Gee, Daddy, what the heck does that mean?”
“I can’t explain it to you, but you’ll figure it out.”
I don’t know if I can explain this to you any better than my dad could, but I sure hope I can. If someone had really been able to explain it to me earlier, it would have helped immensely. In the end, I’m sure the timing was all for the best.
In every serious relationship I was in, I cared. I cared a lot. When you care a lot, you go overboard to do things that you think will please the man. It’s not that you’re lying or faking anything. You honestly don’t even know you’re doing it! You’re just genuinely enthralled with the person.
If he burped you’d want to store it in a jar. (Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard!) But you get my drift.
When you’re enamored, and especially when dopamine is coursing through your veins, everything the other person says or does is wonderful. You’re incredibly blind to red flags that tell you otherwise.
You aren’t your every-day, normal self. What happens is you start constructing that multi-story building, predominantly by yourself. Much of it is largely in your mind. It’s amazing how what goes on in your mind and emotions gets emitted to another person without you even saying a word. It’s a vibe.
You also do extra things to please him. You accommodate your schedule to spend time with him. You let some of your own interests go to the wayside.
Not until I went through a major breakup and didn’t trust my instincts, heart, or inspiration anymore, did I learn what it meant to “care, but not care.” I came to this place in two steps.
Step 1: Looking Myself in the Mirror
Immediately after the breakup, I started a new relationship. This man was instantly taken with me and started talking about how he wanted to marry me. He was smitten, and I could see he was very much like I’d been in other relationships. He was moving like a freight train, but I was still incredibly jaded. I remember thinking, “Poor thing, he’s on dopamine.”
This man was not needy, but he was determined. He was convinced I was the one for him. He reminded me SO much of myself. I thought, “Oh, man, no wonder I scared the crap out of those men I dated! No wonder they wouldn’t commit!”
When the other person is so driven and determined, you begin to feel like you want your own choice in the matter. You start slowing things down and telling the person you need some time and space. Honestly, I wouldn’t call it needy. I’d call it feeling like you know what you want and by dang, you’re gonna have it.
Step 2: Being so Burned, I Couldn’t Care
I don’t recommend everyone learn how to “care but not care” the way I did. Honestly, I was incapable of caring. I was so jaded, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust chemistry or hormones for sure. They’d betrayed me. I also didn’t trust my ability to receive inspiration, because I completely misinterpreted it when love-struck.
I had to get to the point where all I really wanted was someone to hang out with and go places. Marriage wasn’t even on my radar. I let any expectation of commitment go. I resolved to be myself, enjoy my life and never, ever let dopamine (the brain chemical released when you’re in a new relationship) rule my life.
I wrapped up my heart in a nice suit of armor, and I went out into the dating world simply for something to do. Once I did this, once I didn’t care anymore, that’s when the man came along who was ready to commit and choose me.
Because I didn’t care, I didn’t over invest. I was completely myself. I was honest. I let him know my heart was guarded and that I needed some time to learn to trust my heart again.
He gave me some space. He made it very clear that I was the type of woman he’d been looking for, but he didn’t push. He wasn’t needy, and he wasn’t so determined that I felt pressured. It was the perfect balance.
I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t sure I could even open my heart again. The thought occurred to me that I might be incapable of loving. But bit-by-bit, through a lot of prayer and energy therapy my heart began to trust again.
It was from this space of “caring, but not caring” that I found the man with whom I could create the love that I desired.
I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but I sure hope it helps someone. I hope it helps you find that space of “Caring, but not caring” without having to have your heart hammered to get there. It’s not the most pleasant route to travel.
Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.