The “Girlfriend Experience”

It’s officially the first day of winter and it’s cold outside so we are snuggling up with “bae” and it feels good and maybe even feels like you two are building something special but are you really? You might have met this guy a few months in the summer during dating season when we tend to be visible at cookouts, parties, mixing, mingling and meeting new people. The summer is the prime time to get stuck in the “Girlfriend Experience”. What is that ladies? It is the experience without the title.

You meet a guy and start hanging out pretty frequently and start to cut all other prospects because you really like this guy. You’re going to the park, having impromptu lunches, dinners, movies and hanging over each other’s houses pretty regularly. You’ll look around and a few months have passed by and you realize that you’ve really caught feelings for this guy. You have pictures of him on your phone, memorabilia from the amusement park trip you took together and then it hits you; YOU HAVE A BOYFRIEND. The next thing you know, the summer starts coming to an end and he is having a family gathering and he takes you to meet his family. While driving there you have butterflies in your stomach, you’re leaning over on the arm rest giving him the occasional kiss while listening to KEM on the radio stirring up all these feelings. The car pulls up and you hop out and the two of you begin walking towards the backyard where you smell the grill burning with good food and music playing in the background and you are thinking to yourself, “Today is a going to be a good day” and then it happens, he introduces you to his entire family as his FRIEND!!! Now you thought you were more to each other than friends but there’s one problem, he didn’t. It’s reality check time ladies.

What he did was give you the “Girlfriend Experience” because he wants to keep his options open. Remember, it is summer time and there are several ladies running around dressed scantily clad, so he’s not going to limit his options. He may actually like you and enjoy spending time with you pretty frequently, but, he’s not with you 24/7. He is possibly hanging out with other women on the days that he’s not hanging out with you or out with his friends meeting new women to hang out with. Men have an uncanny ability to date multiple women and compartmentalize their feelings for each of them. He will get what he wants from each of them because they are all different and unique to him. Each woman offers him a different experience and it’s not always about sex but most of the time it is a factor. If you catch him out with another woman while you’re seeing him, he wants to be able to say, “You’re not my girlfriend.” The problem for us, ladies, is that we never decided to address where we thought the relationship was going after all of these months. We pretty much decided that he was our boyfriend and started referring to him as such in our minds and to our friends. We just assumed that he felt the same way. Perhaps this was addressed and he gave you the standard, “I’m not ready for a commitment right now because I just got out of something, so let’s just take it slow”, response. Maybe he told you, he sees a future with you after you spend a little more time together getting to know each other, but it’s been like 6 months. That brings us to the winter, when you are less likely to go out and meet new people to take your mind off of your “imaginary boyfriend” and now you are sliding even further down the slippery slope of ambiguity because he’s spending more time with you but still no commitment. The question is, how long are you willing to continue being stuck in “girlfriend limbo” until you either move on completely or start dating other men in addition to him? There is no right or wrong answer to that because relationships can blossom quickly or take time. How much time you’re willing to put in to find out really depends on you knowing what you want and how fast you want it.

The worst thing that could happen is that you put all of your eggs into this basket and you call him one day and he says, “let me call you later because I’m watching a movie with my GIRLFRIEND.” Yes, he actually already has a girlfriend somewhere, which is why he hasn’t committed to you after all of this time. I’ve seen the “Girlfriend Experience” go really wrong over the years and in some cases go to the altar. When I say really wrong, I’m talking SERIOUSLY wrong to the point where children got involved and child support suits followed. These women allowed these men to string them along for YEARS with bogus promises of a future relationship and they ended up having children with them years later and these men still wouldn’t commit to a relationship with them and either married other people or were already married when they dated. In the good cases, I’ve seen women decide that they aren’t going to put up with the limbo status and confront the guy and tell him that she’ll give him some time to get himself together and make up his mind but she’ll be dating other people too and made herself less available. That tactic seems to only prompt a response in men who have actually caught real feelings for a woman and he realizes that he doesn’t really like the idea of her potentially sleeping with another man and if he really cares about her, he won’t want to see her gone completely either. Beware though, this could be a revolving door of emotions because he still might not commit but give you just a little more that before to keep you coming back and sucking you right back in for nothing.

What do you do if you think you might be a victim of the “Girlfriend Experience”? Take a long hard look at your budding relationship and how long you’ve dated. If it’s been longer than 6 months and he’s not making any moves and you’re becoming anxious, then it’s decision-making time for YOU. If you started catching feelings in the first couple of months, don’t just assume that he feels the same way because women tend to be more vulnerable to their feelings than men. Have a conversation that will prompt him to talk about his feelings for you. Let him know that you can see yourself with him but don’t put the full court press on him to commit right there on the spot because he might feel too pressured into the relationship and it won’t be genuine. Typically men hate ultimatums and they tend to run the other way when presented with one. Relationships should progress naturally and you should be sure not to give too much of yourself too fast. Don’t be so available all of the time and try not to wear your heart on your sleeve because some men will use that to easily manipulate you into doing what they want and if you’re too clingy he’ll figure that you’re not going anywhere no matter how long he takes. Relationships are pretty complex but they can be fun and easy-going if you don’t attach too many rules and expectations onto them too soon. If you don’t like the direction it’s going in or the speed at which it’s moving, don’t be afraid to address it and don’t be afraid to LEAVE IT. Don’t just assume that you’re in a relationship that you’re actually NOT in. That’s the quickest way to get your feelings hurt. There is a man out there willing to commit and not string you along so be patient and vigilant and protect your heart.

Good luck Girlfriends!

Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day was a fictitious day made up in 1937 from a character in the Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip.  Sadie Hawkins was a 35-year-old single woman with no prospects of a husband so all the single men in town were summoned to a foot race for her affection.  This spawned a real life movement of dances, women’s liberation celebrations and general dating role reversal.

The more I thought about Sadie Hawkins, I pondered the question, “Why are some women so afraid to ask men out in 2016?” Now I’m not saying that women should be chasing down every man that they see in desperation for a date but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there if you are interested in a man.  I believe wholeheartedly in the mantra that “closed mouths don’t get fed”.  If women keep sitting around waiting for men to come and ask them out all of the time, they may very well be single forever.  Women outnumber men in the world so quite naturally men have more of a selection in the dating pool and there are some women positioning themselves to be the chosen ones.

I know, I know, the scripture says in Proverbs 18:22, “HE who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”  I’m not saying that you ask him to MARRY you, but there is no harm in letting him know that you are AVAILABLE to get to know him.  Believe it or not ladies, men want to be pursued just as much as you do. You don’t even have to ask him out on a date, you could simply initiate a conversation that leads to the exchanging of numbers. Once you get the number, you don’t have to sit around and wait for him to call YOU first because you’re trying to play some sort of cat and mouse game or you’ve been reading and practicing “The Rules”.  We’re all grown here and you can make the first move and call him and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you asked him to lunch (the safe bet) after you’ve determined that he is even worth future phone conversations or a face-to-face meeting.  I know you’re probably thinking that if you ask HIM out, you’ll have to pay and that could cause you to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of paying for dates but that’s not always to case, hence the reason I said LUNCH in case he assumes you’ll pick up the check.  Lunch is usually inexpensive and non-threatening but keep your eye on him in case he’s cheap.

When I met my husband 15 years ago, I noticed him in a crowded room at a fraternity party and very quickly realized that he was somebody I HAD to meet.  I had two options: 1) Wait for him to approach me and ask for my number or 2) Approach him and strike up a conversation which would result in us exchanging numbers.  Had I gone with option 1, I think I could have been upstaged by some other party goer and missed my chance meeting.  Some things just can not be left up to fate LOL.  I happen to know that when women meet an interesting guy at a party or gathering, they tend to soak up all of his energy to keep him from being drawn to other women.  As it was, I went with option 2 and approached him, struck up a meaningless conversation to drop the subtle hint that I was interested enough for him to ask for my number.  He NEVER did but I could tell that he was interested and a few hours later, he made his move to get my number after he’d noticed that I was turning down all of the other guys who were approaching me that night.  See, the thing is, men who are used to getting attention from women are actually slightly insecure because they aren’t used to rejection.  They look for signs from us to give them the green light to approach us to avoid a possible rejection.

So ladies, the next time you are out at the grocery store, a party, the mall or just walking down the street and you see a guy that you just HAVE to meet (without a ring on of course), don’t catch a glimpse of him and turn away, channel your inner Sadie Hawkins.  Make sure you make DIRECT eye contact with him to be certain that he saw you and so that you can get a look at his reaction to your boldness to look him straight in the eye.  That is a subtle hint for him to walk directly up to you and strike up a conversation but if he doesn’t then walk up to him and say, “Don’t I know you from somewhere.” I GUARANTEE he’ll stand there and talk to you for 20 minutes combing through elementary schools you may have attended togethers to what gym you work out in and you’ll get that number, perhaps even a date and ULTIMATELY a husband. I’m declaring EVERYDAY Sadie Hawkins Day for women around the world! Take it from me and take a chance on your future!