Robert Dunn and I sat down to tackle the most common dating questions people have asked us repeatedly. This article is part 1 of this discussion.
We decided that getting both the male and female perspective would be helpful so you could get both as you go through your dating journey. I’m a relationship coach, and Robert founded a group called the Orion Group which discusses issues, thoughts, and concerns of the Millennial Generation. We often have great conversations about dating and relationships and want to invite you into the discussion.
Here we go:
1. How do I know someone genuinely likes me and is not just about the sex?
This is obviously a big one, and it’s definitely one of the most asked questions I get on my podcast. With the way our dating culture is set up, deciphering the difference between what is real and what isn’t is seemingly harder now than it’s ever been. On one hand, it’s almost impossible to separate a man liking you and wanting to have sex with you.
The guy who doesn’t like you at all will want to have sex with you day 1 and so will the guy who thinks the world of you. What needs to be understood about men though, is us liking you for you is not an event…it’s a process.
If I were to give women a better question to ask themselves in regards to this issue, it would be “How do I know the difference between a guy who’s genuinely interested in getting to know me or a guy who just wants something from me?”
And because we’re all different and have such different ways of going about how we express ourselves in relationships, the best tool you have to differentiate between these two men is time.
Time is the great equalizer and will always expose what is real and what isn’t. Time is undefeated. Time is what I recommend you rely on because the guy who’s interested in you and the one who isn’t can look the exact same at first. Ultimately, the guy who isn’t really interested in you will never have time for you and the one, who is interested, there will never be enough time for you.
A man who likes you versus a man purely interested in sex will show you the signs early on. What I have observed in men who care about you is that while they can be wildly attracted to you, if they want to invest the time in you, they can or will wait to become sexually intimate with you. For some men, they realize the quicker the physical act takes place, that sometimes this can dull their view, perspective, or interest in you.
If he is patient with you and doesn’t put constraints on the two of you having sex quickly, he is taking the time to get to know you. Also, there are other signs. He asks you questions about who you are, what is important to you, and makes an effort to do things that will bring the two of you closer.
Whether it’s through thoughtful gestures, being considerate or taking those extra steps to add happiness to your life, he is thinking of your needs and often trying to put your needs ahead of his own. And I agree with Robert that time will always tell you exactly who someone is and their true intentions.
2. Is it ok to have a relationship with my ex even if I’m in a new relationship?
Absolutely. But what I think is critical to understand about men is that we never have women around us consistently that we’re not interested in (exceptions for those women we have to be around all the time, i.e., coworkers).
It’s generally known that women can have emotionally close friendships with men, yet keep it platonic at the same time. With women, there’s clearly a difference between caring about a man as a friend and having romantic feelings or seeing a romantic future with him. But, for us, it’s not separated like that most in general.
Men spend time with the women they care about and ignore the ones they don’t. It’s not that we’re adverse to having female friends, it’s just that there’s no separation in how we care about you. There’s no care about you as a friend and care about you romantically. They’re one in the same for us.
Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. If your boyfriend is good friends with a girl he’s known since he was 3-years old, then he could legitimately have platonic feelings for her. Ultimately though, the safe bet is to go by the rule that men spend consistent time with women they have feelings for and ignore the ones they don’t.
I’ll be honest. This question is a rub for most couples. And your decision to engage in a relationship with your ex has to be carefully measured based on the relationship dynamics that work for the two of you. But, here’s my advice.
I do think you can be friend with an ex. It really depends on the relationship. From my perspective, if they are an ex, there is a reason you electively choose to end a relationship with them. And through that relationship, you may have realized that they are more compatible for you as a friend versus a boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.
Now I realize that some will argue that you need to ax them out. But, from what I have found, this is generally the case when the person in your life may have their own insecurities or existing feelings for someone in which they were in a relationship. It’s really about them and how they would interact with an ex versus what may be a now platonic relationship you have with an ex.
If the two of you trust and respect one another and are transparent with your relationships and friendships with an ex or not, this will strengthen your relationship because in openly having a dialogue about these relationships you are showing your partner they are more important to you than an ex. And this is a positive thing because they are telling you this information as a way of saying they don’t matter as much as you do to them. If someone gives you ultimatums about who you can and cannot communicate with and it makes you uncomfortable, you have to weigh out if this is the type of relationship you want to have with someone else.
It’s a tough decision depending on your relationship. And my clients have been split on their belief of continued communication with an ex, but ultimately you have to do what works best for the two of you. And it shouldn’t be done in a way that disrespects your current relationship.
3. When should I sleep with someone?
This question is so important because it’s so personal. Ultimately no one can tell you what is right for you when it comes to this area, but there are practical realities we have to be aware of at the same time.
In my opinion, one of the most dangerous beliefs out there about men is that somehow our interests/disinterest in you is somehow correlated to WHEN you have sex with us. One of the most common phrases out there on this is, “Having sex with a man too soon will have him not be interested in you. Or having sex with him too soon will cause him not to respect you.”
A man’s respect for you is not determined by when you have sex with him, it’s determined by your relationship to sex itself and by nature the relationship you ultimately have with yourself. I’ve slept with girls very early on that I could definitely see myself having a relationship with and others who after we slept together I never talked to again.
Usually, the difference was that the ones I never talked to again didn’t respect sex and by nature themselves. They drunk the Kool-Aid of “every guy only wants sex, and you’ll never keep a guy interested if you don’t put out,” so they used it as a tool to try and get what they wanted rather that was attention, a relationship or just to have some company.
They felt that outside of their body they had no value and there’s was no way a guy could ever want sex and them at the same time. The girls I slept with early on but also continued to want to explore more with were the ones that were comfortable with themselves.
They had sex because that’s just what they wanted at the time. They weren’t trying to use it to reel you in or thought that somehow by having sex with you that they let you win this preverbal power game between men and women. They knew what they wanted and what was right for them at the time and that’s what they acted on.
Sex is tricky, but not for the reasons that you think it is. Unfortunately, it gets used in a lot of the wrong ways versus the right ways which can complicate a relationship early on. So, this is what I would suggest you consider when trying to figure out whether you should be intimate with someone you’re dating.
First of all, vet them out. Get to know them. Figure out if you want something for the short, mid, or long-term. If you are looking for a random hookup, be safe and use protective measures. If you are looking for something that you want to figure out can be a longer-term relationship, take your time. If a man or woman is interested, you waiting to be intimate with them is not going to make them leave you. I get that there is a lot of pressure to move fast, but if you are interested in someone, you should actually do the opposite.
Secondly, realize that if you are dating a guy that often by putting in time with them without immediately having sex with them, you are building up emotional capital. What I mean by this is when a man has to work to earn your respect and your body, he becomes more vested in you. It gives him time to connect with you not just physically, but emotionally.
Thirdly, if sex happens sooner or later, it doesn’t mean the relationship will end sooner or later because this is more so dependent on the two people in the relationship. But, this is what I will tell you. Sex doesn’t keep a relationship together. Well, it can, temporarily, but not for the long-term.
Sex is another way of building a connection with someone, but that connection is only strengthened with sex if there is an emotional component to the bond between you and two. It’s the reason why two people can have great sex but nothing beyond that physical interaction. But, what creates an intense sexual experience is knowing someone on a deeper level, having a friendship, and loving who they are holistically beyond the physical interaction.
4. My boyfriend won’t put me on any of his social media postings, does this mean we’re not a real couple?
Ha Ha! This is the most Millennial question in the world. It seems so unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but the more and more I saw it being asked on the podcast the more I realize this is important to a lot of people.
One of the many traits I love about women is that when you guys love something whether that be a man, a dog, a job or even a purse you want the whole world to know about it. And I realized it wasn’t to show off in a vain sort of way, but because when you love something it’s a real reflection of who you are. When you love something or someone you’re proud of it and want the world to know that.
Again, it’s a trait I have grown to appreciate and respect. Initially, though, it was so hard for me to understand why you want everything out there because guys are so different. When something is precious to us, we treat it like it’s an 800-ct. diamond. Our logic goes that if you have an 8-ct. diamond you don’t show it off because of all the threats that could come from people knowing you have it.
Our first instinct is to hide what’s most valuable to us because instinctively the more valuable it is, the more it needs to be protected. And to me, this is the perfect analogy for how many guys act online. Many of us don’t show you off online not because we aren’t proud to have you, but because we are. If we have a woman in our life that we care about we could care less whether anyone else knows about it. We know about it, and the people that are important to us know about it because in our mind that’s all that matters…everyone else is just threat. You don’t hide an 8-ct. diamond because you don’t value it, you hide it because you do.
Wow! Robert schooled me on that one. I’m always learning as a relationship coach too!
Robert, it is so true what you said about women and social media. Sometimes we are like, hey why isn’t he posting about us? Does it mean we aren’t important? Doesn’t he want his and our friends to know about us?
Here’s my social media rule. I get that you love your man or woman and may want to share it with the world. But, set some guidelines. Follow the celebrity rule because this is one thing I think celebrities get right. Often, by the time someone famous has posted about their relationship, they have been in a relationship for a period of time so they are giving each other time to get to know another and see if it can truly work. You know those friends you have that you know every detail about their love life because they share their break-ups, make-ups, and every date they go on – annoying right! Don’t be that person. Balance is Key!
Stop relying on social media to measure your relationship or show everyone that you have someone significant in your life. It’s ok to do it here and then, but it also puts extra pressure on your relationship. I have seen some social media nightmares of someone posting about their relationship, then another person, a crazy ex or whoever starting to follow that person and then trying to figure out things about them by stalking their insta-page and the like.
Love is a great thing, and it is natural to want to show and share but realize that the real barometer of your relationship is what the two of you share day to day outside of the social media world.
Talk to your partner about how you feel and come up with what works for you. But, don’t rely on social media as a measure of your relationship status. Often the best relationships are shared between the two people in them, void of the outside world of social media.
5. How long should you date before you decide to get married?
Again, this is one of those questions that is subjective to the individual. When I do answer this question though, I always say at least a year. I say that because in a calendar year you get to see every literal season and I believe before you marry someone you should see them in as many figurative seasons as possible.
You need to see them mad, happy, frustrated, with money and without money. You should see how they handle stress, family, friends, and even temptation. When you go through life together, you’re going to see each other in a variety of seasons and circumstances and the more variety you get to see in a person while you’re dating the better.
Ah, the marriage question. First words of advice, take your time and don’t set time limits at least right away. When you are dating someone, it is more important just to get to know them. And if you like and love them, it’s natural to think about the next steps of the relationship.
Marriage isn’t for the lighthearted. So, I would say if you are in a committed relationship that is going well, and depending on your age, experience, etc. you will know if you want it to progress within a year or so. But, there can be exceptions to this rule, and again this is related to what two people want or need to make their relationship work.
I know some couples who are in long-term relationships in which they may become engaged after a year, never marry, but decide to live together. I know other couples who may become engaged after six months and decide to marry right away and do ok too. Then there are others who decide they are in a committed relationship but do not formally become engaged to one another or live with each other, but are in a committed relationship.
I use each of these examples to say that there isn’t one hard or fast rule to deciding if you want to get married to one another. It is dependent on what works best for the two people in the relationship. However, if marriage is a goal for you and you are with someone who is diametrically opposed to marriage, this is a problem. If you have been seeing someone for a year or more and they can’t tell you where the relationship is going, and you want more, this is also an issue.
You are not on the same page, and if you want two different things and this doesn’t improve over time, it’s probably best to move on or take time away from that person. A person generally has an idea of where you fit in the relationship within a year and if they are not in sync with you, this probably won’t change with additional time.
Dating and relationships aren’t easy. But, you can make the process easier if you are first in touch with you are, what is important to you, and realize what you need and expect from your significant other. Once this happens, your dating experiences will change for the better.
Be on the lookout for part 2 of our most commonly asked dating questions. Hopefully, these tips help to make your journey of dating and finding love easier