Dating Dysfunction

There are many traps you can fall into with women, and I will give you some of the tools to recognize and handle these better. If you ignore these seemingly small hiccups along the way, you will discover that they fester at the core of your attitude and feelings for her, and things will fall into a negative spiral. If you want a great example to learn from, watch the Hollywood star's romances (not their movies) and notice what works and doesn't work there. Watching just about any young actor's romantic exploits is like watching a documentary on every dating dysfunction imaginable.

Moods are a fundamental part of understanding women. Moods are the moment-to-moment shifts in emotion that we all experience. Moods color your experience. The world looks dark and depressing when you're down. When you're up, even a rainstorm can have inspiring significance.

Moods swing all on their own. If you've ever tried to catch a football on the bounce, you have an idea of how unpredictable moods can be - especially with women. You can't control your own very easily, but you can learn how they work, and how to ride them out. You see, the biggest problem people have with moods is having the self-discipline to not take action during a bad mood. We touched on this briefly in the Confidence Treadmill. It may sound counterintuitive to my initial advice about taking action, but remember that I want you to throttle back on the amount of over-analysis and useless thinking. This strategy will net you great results when you can learn when to not take action.

When you're feeling down, or discouraged, the actions you take will reflect your mood. Your brain has an urgency factor it attaches to certain feelings, and negative states will jack that urgency up, making you feel that you must do something to get out of this lousy emotional state. The unfortunate thing is that you are looking at the world through a skewed and inaccurate viewpoint when you are in a low or bad mood. Anything you do would be likely to sabotage your success, not help you. It would be like trying to walk across a board perched between two tall buildings while your contact lenses are blurry. What you stop and wait for is your vision to clear up, so that you can walk across without worrying about falling to your death.

Back in the section "Do What You Know You Must," I used the example of the guy who spins out of control when he can't help himself from calling the woman back. He's demonstrating a desperate, low self-confidence mood, and his self-discipline is flagging. He's a victim of his own thinking, and the only way out of the situation is to focus on the results he wants to achieve.

The best rule for managing your moods is:

Moods

Think before you speak, or suffer for your words.

Wait until the mood passes before you do something you may regret.

If it really needs to be said or done, you'll still want to when you're in a good mood.

And:

When in doubt about the possible impact of your actions on a woman, doing nothing is best.

As for a woman's moods, the same holds true. Behave as though she has just taken a strange hallucinogenic drug. This drug makes her say crazy things, stuff she doesn't even mean, and it makes her subject to all sorts of distortions and ugly behaviors. The drug usually wears off in a few hours, and you'll be amazed at her turnaround. She'll recant everything and often apologize for what she said. She can't control these little episodes any more than you can; it's just that she has them more often.

(Regarding PMS: You should watch out for a woman who is subject to too many wild mood swings. She may even have a deeper disorder, or a need for medication during the time preceding her period. The best advice is, unless you have Ghandi-like control over your ability to react, you should totally avoid women who have extreme episodes of PMS related mood swings. They are turbulent and damaging to any dating relationship, and need to regain control of their condition before you can meet them on a level playing field.)

Don't Answer A Woman's Questions

I've said this before in many ways, but you must be on your guard to avoid getting caught in the trap of thinking that you must answer a woman when she asks you a question. When she asks you a question, she's not always looking for the answer to her question. More often than not, she is asking you something else, but she has to lead into it with preliminary questions. She won't jump straight to the point. Here's an example:

Joanie: "Do you think I should bring a gift to Amy's party?"

Todd: "Yeah, I think that would be what she'd expect. She brought you one to yours last week." Joanie: (sighing) "I don't know. I think that sweater was ugly." Todd: "It wasn't too bad. She meant well."

Joanie: (rolls her eyes.) "That awful pink thing? You're kidding? Besides, I think Amy is fake." Todd: "Fake? Huh?"

Joanie: "That was a crappy gift she gave me. And her voice is annoying." Todd: "I thought you liked Amy?"

Joanie: (glaring) "You sure liked her. I saw the way you two were talking most of the night." Todd: "Wait a minute, what do you mean? Are you saying I was going after her?" Joanie: (crosses her arms) "Weren't you?" Todd: (visibly defensive) "No!"

Todd is now spiraling out of control, his nosedive started by the confusion from Joanie's indirect line of questioning. Joanie was jealous, and she was working her way there, but Todd thought she was really asking about the gift and the party. By the end, even though he was innocent, his confusion has put him on the defense. He was already well on the way to losing.

The best way I've found of handling questions is to always dig deeper before answering and getting yourself into trouble. A guy's reflex is to answer a question immediately, to be a source of knowledge and answers. You have to curb this tendency and remember that women rarely ask questions of you that are meaningless or trivial to them. When they do, they still reserve the right to make their questions important and meaningful if they don't like your answer.

Joanie: "Do you think I should bring a gift to Amy's party?" Todd: "Why do you ask?"

Joanie: (sighing) "I don't know. I thought her gift was ugly. Did you like it?"

Todd: "It sounds like you weren't happy about the party in general."

Joanie: "It wasn't all that fun." (glaring) "It looked like you were having a lot of fun, though."

Todd: "Why do you say that?"

Joanie: (shrugs) "I don't know. It's just ... well, I just saw you talking with Amy a lot. Do you think she's pretty?"

Todd: "Are you worried that there was something going on?"

Joanie: (looking sheepish) "Well, I was pretty jealous of how you spent all that time talking to her ."

Todd: (hugging Joanie) "Don't worry. I was watching you the whole time. You looked pretty hot in that dress you were wearing."

Joanie: (smiling) "Really?"

Todd was smart: He didn't answer questions directly until he found out what was really going on with Joanie. He also knew when to return a question with a question along the way. As a result, he found out what Joanie was really driving at, and he avoided getting confused and put on the defense.

Take every question with a grain of salt, and be safe in assuming there might be more going on below the surface.

Overreacting (More About Why Mommy Isn't Mad )

There is a specific test a woman will administer to you and your confidence. It's one of her many tests, and this one is meant to see if you're really a confident, controlled man, or just another wimp she will be able to dominate.

First of all, let me start off by repeating our well-known but not so well understood rule that you must internalize and comprehend:

Think about it. In every relationship you've been in where the woman was a needy, hopelessly infatuated partner, what was your interest like? It probably didn't need to get too high, because her interest carried you both. Her low self-esteem probably incited her to make every overture of romance to you that she could come up with. Notes. Gifts. Phone calls at all

Here's the Dynamic Method:

The one who cares the least controls the relationship.

hours. She was so into you that you didn't need to be all that into her. You didn't need to care, and YOU controlled the relationship. You might have even felt a bit smothered. Your stand-offish-ness was a challenge, and it always kept her wondering if she really had you.

So what is this test I'm talking about? As you date, and understand the advice from other dating men and Don Juans, you know that self-confidence is perhaps the single most determining factor of how much a woman will respect you. It precedes almost everything in a relationship, and determines to a large degree what your posture and standing will be with her for as long as you're together.

Let's be real: No one is confident all the time. In fact, most of us lack confidence a great deal of the time. Does this mean that we're being a phony when we act confident? No, not at all. True confidence, in fact, is a bit of a conundrum. You act confident to feel confident, in order to act confident again and keep it going. It's a self-reinforcing, upward spiral, if you can get it started. (See: The Confidence Treadmill.)

However, most women can sense when we're pulling the "fake-it-before-you-make-it" approach to confidence. They don't always know if we're just showing bravado (which is simply confidence with little sincerity) or if we're really confident.

So, here's how she tests you:

You're out on a second or third date. You're both having a good time, and you're getting more comfortable with each other, loosening up. You let her know beforehand that you planned for the two of you to go see a movie, something gender-neutral. She pulls out her Test Card #1 and says, "Gee, Brad, I really think we should go to see that 18th Century romance movie." Now, you know from your training that the right thing to do is to be confident and insist on your original plans. You don't get mad or react to her. You say, "Gee, Jessica, I don't mind going to see that next week, but we're going to see the movie I planned for this time around."

In many cases, she'll give in and acknowledge that this is fair and right. In other cases, though, she'll whip out Test Card #2 and start acting pouty. She'll act as displeased with you as she can muster, and you'll start to panic. "What's the big deal?" she asks. "It's just a movie." She crosses her arms. She'll hit you with a certain "look," and your panic will step up another notch. She may even make a comment about how inflexible you are, or how she likes men who are "laid back" or "easygoing."

Most men give in here. It's hard to handle a woman's displeasure with you. It triggers all kinds of panicked reactions, most of them dealing with approval-seeking in general. The trick is to know that you can take one of two approaches:

1) You can give in - You please her so she won't be angry with you. You want to appear flexible and 'laid back', so you end up in a theater full of weeping fat broads, pinning your eyelids open, and feeling like a crappy Budweiser commercial. She knows that she owns you, and now knows exactly what to do to get her way. Your 'confidence' was a sham. Just hand over your testicles and join in the weeping.

2) You can stand your ground - With a smile you say, "Okay, we can see your movie - next week. Tonight, we're going to see what we planned." (You're aware that "laid back" is not mutually exclusive with confidence. Laid back means that you don't react angrily, no matter what buttons she pushes. And if she likes pushing those buttons too much, you press the one labeled 'EJECT.') And you add, "Now, Jessica, you wouldn't respect me if I didn't stand my ground, would you?"

Oh, it's hard, my brothers. The things women will do to get their way so that they can quickly establish where you'll give in and where you'll break. They'll cry. They'll act like little brats. They'll withhold sex.

Ignore these displays of childish behavior. A few hours later, after you've shown that your confidence is not to be questioned, that you don't react - or overreact - to her manipulations, they'll be happy and grateful. This will work at a layer just under their conscious thinking, and they'll sense that they've got something better here, something worth keeping.

And if they don't? If they persist in shunning you until you give them their way, until you bow down before them and supplicate ...?

Think about your future with her, what your life would be like after ten years (if you lasted that long.) You'd be one of those pitiful married guys at work that you ask to come to happy hour, and they reply, "Well, let me check with the Boss." Their sly wink and sheepish smile he throws your way implies 'Oh, you know how it is

Yeah, I do, and I've got another plan in mind, thank you very much.

Remember: The ultimate loser line is when you say "Yeah, I know, but..."

But what?

Boundaries

The concept of healthy boundaries is often overlooked in relationships. This is because when they are not clearly understood, it's easy to misunderstand what is happening. Take the following argument as an e

Cindy: "When you walk away from me like that, you make me feel like I'm stupid." Paul: "I make you feel stupid? I never said that. I was just saying that I feel like I can't say anything to you when you get in a mood like that." Cindy: "Why are you blaming me?"

Paul: "I'm not blaming you. I don't feel like you're being reasonable with me." Cindy: "Do you hear what you're saying? I'm unreasonable? You made me angry and you hurt my feelings."

What didn't Paul see in Cindy's behavior? If you said it was her placing the blame for her feelings on him, you're right on. You see, healthy boundaries between people is about

Why - in the name of all that you stand for -would you ever want to put up with that kind of mistreatment?

recognizing that you are entirely separate from all other people. What you say doesn't "make" anyone feel bad or good about themselves; it's what they choose to think about it.

Cindy blamed Paul instead of recognizing that she was only reacting to him. Just because a person says something about you ("You're stupid," "You're a slut," "You're a jerk") doesn't mean that it's true. They are only words. Don't define yourself through another person's eyes, and don't let them define themselves by what you say. Who you are does not include another person's thoughts or feelings about you.

Men often get caught up in dysfunctional relationships where the woman only sees herself through the man's eyes and opinion, and these are slippery slopes to set up a relationship. Beware of the woman with unhealthy boundaries and who makes you responsible for the way she feels about herself.

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

something you don't.

LoserBoy: She's probably out

Jealousy -___- with another guy. I bet he's got something you don't.

The green-headed monster is probably more responsible for dating problems than any other issue. It's actually the easiest to understand, and can be overcome - if you pay attention to the Truth and don't read into the meanings of too many of her actions.

Jealousy is a lack of self-confidence, which then leads to a lack of self-discipline. That's all there is to it. Jealousy is usually 99% imagined, and the truly sad part is that it is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy. The men who do not behave jealously end up intriguing women more, because they see a man who is in control and doesn't have a need to control her. The men who do act crazy and jealous are flattering for about the first five seconds, and then the woman figures out that this guy is going to be watching her every move, smothering her and controlling everything she does. And behind it all, she wonders what he's so scared of? Then his behavior actually pushes her away and into the arms of another man, just what he was afraid of the whole time.

Jealousy is best controlled through understanding and giving yourself options. Jealousy is the fear that you are about to lose something, and a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity at having had it in the first place. You give yourself options by continuing to date other people along the way. You won't fear the loss of one prospect if you have many other buyers beating down your door to get your product.

A self-confident man with self-discipline works to improve his skills with women, engaging and attracting them. Through successful repetition, he learns that he never needs to fear the loss of any particular woman when he knows he can get another. He won't smother or attempt to control her, and this freedom and space he gives her actually increases her desire to be with him.

Contention Principle

If there is one concept you must understand in the dynamic of relationships, it is the Principle of Contention. Simply stated, the Truth is that you must learn to walk away from relationships where you are not getting what you want. If a woman is not naturally (i.e., without nagging or coercion) giving you the essential basics of what you want in a relationship, you must move on to find someone who will.

Many advice Pundits would tell you that you should ask for what you want if you're not getting it. I would agree that you can ask only when most of your other basic requirements and desires are being met. However, when a major requirement is not being met, asking for everything else is irrelevant. You're dealing with a person who - by their nature - cannot meet your minimum requirements. (See the story of the Scorpion and the Frog again). Where you run into trouble is when you believe that you can be happy in a relationship where your requirements are always a point of struggle. The best relationships, the ones that really work, are the ones where there is an acceptable level of basic needs met for each person without a lot of contention.

The arguments in this situation go something like this:

Brad: "I'd just like you to reach out and touch me more often. When we're out, you hardly ever touch me, or hold my hand, or even hug me when we see each other."

Donna: "That's tough for me. You see, when I was sixteen, I didn't get the bike I wanted for my birthday, and ever since then, I've had a trust issue. I have a tough time with affection." Brad: "Well, can you try to reach out more?" Donna: "I guess I can try."

Donna may very well "try," but it is asking her to do something that is against her nature. It's like asking Saddam Hussein to "try" to be more tolerant and peaceful. It's not who he is. With most people, you have to be willing to take a "what you see is what you get approach." Changing these key behavioral traits is like trying to get a bird to swim.

The mistake occurs when Brad starts thinking he can go into relationship counseling or therapy to manage his requirement to get Donna to touch him. He hears her say that the incident with her sixteenth birthday is the reason, and Brad will get caught up trying to find a way to fix her issue. This is a situation where he should strongly consider cutting his losses, because the bottom line Truth is that Donna is simply not affectionate. It doesn't matter "why." He will spend countless hours trying to fix Donna and her dysfunction rather than understand that he needs to go find a woman who is affectionate. The trust issue from her sixteenth birthday doesn't matter.

Stop trying to solve women's issues! When you find a significant point of contention in what you want versus what she is capable of giving you, you must decide whether to accept it or move on. Don't be quick to accept her shortcoming, either. Chances are you made something a requirement because you genuinely want it in your relationship, and you should get it. In the earlier example, Brad could fool himself for a while that he doesn't have to have affection from Donna, but in the end, he'll be deeply unhappy.

See the Truth. Recognize a woman as she is, not as you want her to be. Anything else is an illusion and it will only serve to haunt you and cause you pain.

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