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Dating's fatal no no: Staying quiet about what bugs you

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge and writer of the RELATE-DATING-TIPS column. (Alexander Morozov/MCT)

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge and writer of the RELATE-DATING-TIPS column. (Alexander Morozov/MCT)

There was a very popular post written the other day by a blogger named Matt Walsh called, "Dear Single Dudes: It's Time to Man Up." The gist of his article is that men are often commitment-phobic, and they need to get themselves into gear to stop messing around and to have a serious relationship.

I read the post in its entirety, and then I made the following comment: "I have to agree with everything you said in the article, both as a woman and as a dating coach. But I have to wonder, had I written the exact same thing but coming from a woman's point of view, would I be tarred and feathered for looking like I'm bitter, or worse, asking for something that shouldn't be asked? Just a thought.''

This brings us to the question: Whose responsibility is it to "(wo)man up?" I dare to say the responsibility lies in both camps. It's true — almost every woman I know wants much of what the article says. In particular, she wants a partner who is decisive, proactive, commitment-minded, future-oriented, and ready to discuss hard topics. Very few women want the man-boy who calls it "hanging out" or "talking" rather than "dating."

The best advice I could give to any man is to be clear about what your intentions are up front. If you're looking for a serious relationship, then say so. And if you're not, then make that clear as well; half of the people on Tinder do! The best thing you can do is to be honest and let her have the choice as to whether to stick around or not.

Now, for the ladies:

I hear complaints like this all the time: "He won't pick up the phone to call me. I am so sick of texting!" "He only contacts me once a week. What's up with that?" "Why can't he ask me before Friday if I'm free this weekend?"

All of these are, of course, valid questions and concerns. But what's not valid is not saying anything about them to the person you're dating! As much as we want them to be, people are not mind readers. We often dance around things that bother us until the other person figures them out, which rarely happens. This leads to the demise of many a relationship, when often simply talking it through would resolve the problem.

Let's take the example of texting. In this day and age, the default is to text. Running late? Send a text. Curious to know what someone's up to later? Send a text. Ask someone out on a second date? You guessed it.

I pose this question: If this overuse of texting bothers you, what do you do about it? Too often, the answer is nothing. If you allow the texting to go on by answering all the time and not mentioning that you would prefer a phone call, then your date/partner assumes that it's okay.

A female client called me to ask what to do about a guy from Match.com who has been texting her since asking for her phone number. She said, "He must be lazy! Should I just ignore him?" My response was, "Write him back saying, 'Why don't you give me a ring, and we'll schedule a time to meet.' "

In life, many people end up being passive-aggressive or unclear when trying to get a message across. The act of having a real, honest conversation about something that's bothering you is a lost art, but it's the foundation of a good relationship. Rather than having little things, like the frustration with texting, add up until you can't take it anymore, instead, you can ask yourself, "Have I mentioned that I would prefer a call sometimes?" If the answer is no, then before you break up (likely via text, given the circumstances), have a conversation about your different communication styles, and try to find a middle ground.

Now, let's get back to the bigger issue at hand. Let's say someone new in your life is not "manning up," as Matt's article suggests. Try this on for size: Ask what he's looking for. If the answer is not to your liking, then it's time to cut the ties before you get too invested.

Remember that you get what you allow, so by allowing the "problem" to go on, you're sending the message that it's not a problem at all. If he's not "manning up," it's time to speak up! And if you then find out that he's not ready for the serious relationship that you are, then it's time to take stock of what you want and go out there to find it.

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, a dating advice site.

Dating's fatal no no: Staying quiet about what bugs you 06/25/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 6:52pm]

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