Keep it Urgent To Maintain Momentum

Ever see that movie where the woman chases the man, convinces him to love her even though at first, he wasn’t even attracted, and ultimately wins his teary-eyed yes to her marriage proposal?

Me neither. And that’s not just because of gender-typed scripting; it’s due to global, well-documented differences in mating psychology.

One of those differences? Men have the right and the burden of pursuit. Literally, when guys are considering a permanent mate, they’re turned on by a woman who is hard to get for him—assuming she’ll be hard to get for all the other guys too. It’s about paternity assurance; it’s about status; it’s about making a permanent life choice. A true human mating universal.

Let’s say you’ve had a terrific first date. When should the guy follow up?

The ideal answer is, right away. The real answer is, when he wants to–without your prompting.

Now I don’t like this. I wish we could all do whatever we want, whenever we want, and wind up with the love of our lives. But I’m all about the science, and scientifically speaking, that’s not the way to bet. We are animals, and like other animals, we have a mating ritual. We have inherited psychological mechanisms that help us choose a partner, and the wise heterosexual woman learns those mechanisms and sends signals that create urgency.

Here’s what that looks like: He leads. You follow at a pace considerably lagging behind his.

And here’s what that looks like:

He texts. You wait a day to respond.

He calls. You wait a day to call back.

He asks you out. You say yes only if he’s given you a couple days’ lead time, and only if the time and place are workable for you; you do not accept behavior that effectively says you have no life, no standards, and no self-respect.

He calls you after the date. You answer with warmth in your voice and say you had a great time. He is the one to suggest another date, though, and you’re the one who gets off the phone first.

But let’s say you really liked him—and he doesn’t call for a week, or ever again. Don’t reach out to him. Research shows that when men like you, they will reach out; when they don’t, they’re really just not that into you, or they are into you only for the short-term and only if you make it super easy for them.

Sound manipulative? It’s no more manipulative than what research indicates women are doing right now: giving men everything—time, intimacy, home cooking, wife-level commitment before he’s even said the word ‘girlfriend’—thinking that this will make him love you.

And in my opinion, this is much less manipulative. It gives you the space you need in order to carefully and appropriately vet a long-term partner, and it gives him the freedom he needs so he knows whether he is working to have you—so he’s not with you out of guilt.

Yes, guilt. I’ve had a practice for over a decade where I help men and women apply social science to their love lives, and a top theme is men who can’t figure out whether they want to be in the relationship they’re in, because the woman drove the relationship from start to finish.

These men have sometimes taken years of time from the woman they know they’re never going to marry—years they would have spent elsewhere if they’d had the space to connect with their own desires.

So it’s true: men value what and whom they work to have. And most are good people, wanting to make you happy—which ironically makes them easy prey for guilt and thus for wasting your time.

Want a sense of urgency, so you can be fully and completely chosen? Step back. Let him chase you.

It’s better for your self-esteem. It’s better for your emotions. It’s the opposite of manipulative. And it’s better for the guy—who gets the joy of winning your heart and hearing you say Yes to one very important question.

How To Know It’s Time To Call It Quits

When it’s needed, breaking up is harder to do than anything except for not breaking up.  But how do you know it’s time?

Are we having fun yet?

We all know relationships involve work.  But good relationships are overbalanced towards fun and reward—by a factor of twenty.  Literally, happy couples have 20x more positive interactions than negative, work-inducing ones.

And in a really solid dating relationship, the work often feels like play.  Being in love is the great motivating force that helps us put in the time and effort to build a future together, feeling more like “us against the world” than “me against you.”

So if you’ve been settling for 50/50, that’s a bad ratio.  Yes, sometimes really long-term relationships hit rough spots and couples need counseling.  But you’re dating.  Anytime a dating relationship involves more pain than pleasure, more unpleasant work than good times–it’s time to move on.

Does my partner listen only when I’ve got a foot out the door?

Did you know?  Whether or not a couple is happy, a full 2/3 of every couple’s problems never get solved.  Research proves you should pick someone whose differences you can live with, because most differences don’t ever fully go away.  Fifty years from now, you’re still going to be having that fight about who wipes the crumbs off the counter.

Put more optimistically, you don’t have to agree on everything to make a good life together.  But you’d better choose a partner who deeply cares about your happiness, and who is motivated to meet your needs/clear the crumbs as much as they’re able—because they actively want to further your well-being, not because you’re leaving them. Otherwise, de-fanging tough ongoing issues is impossible, because the underlying attitude says, “Your needs aren’t important unless I’m losing something.”

Committing to a partner whose primary allegiance is “me” not “we” means you’ve lost your ability to negotiate and to be heard unless you’re perpetually ready to pack your bags.  Instead, pack them now—and lock the door behind you

If my best friend was in this relationship, how would I advise them?

In my client work, I frequently hear from people who are being treated terribly.  Maybe their dating partner is stringing them along year after year with false promises, or publicly humiliating them, or withholding sex for months on end.

Whatever it is, as soon as I ask the question above, they get much clearer.

Factually speaking, a lack of kind and respectful treatment should be a total deal-breaker—because the relationship really is doomed.  If you’re going to have a happy love life, you’re going to insist on having a partner who treats you as a cherished friend and who welcomes your views, even when things aren’t going their way.  I cannot overstate this: settling for less is settling for pain.

Was the relationship worth it before this happened?

Factors inside and outside a relationship can cause us to reassess.  Betrayals happen when there’s a large mismatch between what we expect and what our partner does—whether that’s an affair, hiding money, or any other big violation of trust. Other times, a life change emerges, such as a move or new career or school option.

Transition points like these indicate a long road ahead.  If you already didn’t get what you needed from the relationship, it’s time to make the break.

Ultimately, these questions lead to the one question that will never let you down: Are we on the same team?  Loving is something we do birth to death.  Attachment never stops mattering.  It’s vital to attach to someone who is with us and for us—or to break the attachment and find someone who is.

You’ve Got Her Number, Now What?

“When is he going to ask me out?”

is the top question I get from women about men’s texting. These women are frustrated.  They are confused. They are wondering why you asked for their number if you only wanted to know what they had for lunch. So stop vague-texting, and do this instead.

  1. Call her

I cannot overstate this: Texting is a trap.

When people are texting, they make mistakes that are then used to judge the entire person, ending relationships before they’ve even begun.  Yes, truly.  Tone of voice and the relating of a conversation smooths over such mistakes. Plus, calling is now so retro—especially for the under-30 crowd—that dialing a number is the equivalent of highlighting your interest.

And to win a woman, you have to show open, obvious, clear interest.

If calling feels like overstepping, text to request a call: “I would rather call than text, if you’re okay with that.  Is there a good time?”  You can always revert to texting if she says she’d rather do it that way.

  1. Ask specifically

If you’ve asked, “So, wanna hang out sometime?” you may be hoping she will finish the job and ask you out.  But as recently as 2012, 88% of women still weren’t initiating dates.

Women have always valued men’s confidence and responded to cues that make us feel secure; it’s an evolutionary thing.  Technology has not changed our wiring.  Your hesitation could be because asking makes you feel vulnerable, but that is the point: in asking, you are giving a powerful cue and an enormous compliment by risking yourself for her.  It’s heroic.

So ask her out to a specific event, at a specific time and place.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just clear and definite (and ideally, also fun): “I’d love to take you roller skating next Friday at three at [location]; does that work for you?”

  1. Ask ahead

Spontaneity is cool—in a long-established relationship. But a woman you don’t know isn’t your fallback plan.  Show respect by asking ahead, and by not keeping her living on the edge hoping for an ask.

When you ask at least two days ahead, it sets you apart from the crowd—and there’s a crowd!  If you like her, so do other guys.  You want to be the one giving her all the good feels, not one of the pack taking her for granted before the relationship has even begun.

  1. Confirm plans

Confirm your meeting the day before.  Otherwise, you’re getting associated with feeling insecure—a risky move if you like this girl.

What if you’ve changed your mind?  Say so, at least two days ahead.  “I’m very sorry, but I’ve decided to make different plans for Saturday.  I wanted to give you time to make another plan of your own.”  She won’t like it, but she’ll like it more than being stood up.

Upshot?  Repeat after me: confidence and security are woman-bait.  Ask with clarity and confidence, which will help her feel secure.  And prevent my in-box being clogged with questions about your vague texting!

3 Easy Ways To Prioritize Love

“I’ll accept the right man if he comes along, but I’m not willing to put myself out there anymore,” sighed Claire. She wants Mr. Right; she wants passion and love and a guaranteed date every New Year’s Eve for the rest of her life. How long has it been since her last date? Eight years.

Make A Mental Shift

Instead of losing years, shift in moments.

Imagine being advised not to look for work, because actively seeking a job would somehow scare it away; the right career would come along when it was meant to. Envision telling a career seeker that if the job search isn’t fun, they should stop looking and wait for the right job to find them. Crazy, right?

Yet our culture commonly gives analogous bad advice to singles, to the detriment of beautiful Claires everywhere.

Science flatly disagrees. Once you’re out of school and no longer in environments rife with the available, you’ll have far greater odds of success if you make an ongoing effort—just as active job-seekers are more likely to land a good career.

And dating can be fun. But often, it’s work. Just as we’d never tell someone to cease a job search if it wasn’t 100% fun, we shouldn’t tell ourselves that a lack of fun is a good enough reason to stop searching for love.

Plus, the payoff for effort in love is actually greater than the payoff in the job market. It’s a fact: finding and committing to the right mate will make you happier, healthier, longer-lived, richer, and more sexually satisfied than any other living arrangement—or any amount of career success.

Make Your List

Now make a list, dividing it into Must-Haves—your deal-breakers– and Wants—the negotiable stuff you’d like but can compromise on.

Ever go car-shopping—and then notice your chosen model all over town? The dealership probably didn’t sell more that week; you just began noticing what was already on the road. Similarly, this list is your new best friend, absolutely key to prioritizing love. Not only does it make you likelier to notice Mr. Possibles who are already in your life; it helps you avoid getting waylaid by Mr. Wrong and Mr. Almost.

Despite cultural lore that love is all we need, the divorce rate is driven in part by falling in love with people who aren’t a good enough match. But if you stick to your Must-Haves, knowing the deal is broken if even one deal-breaker is present, you will immediately screen for compatibility. You will stop dating bad choices, however sexy, and you will be free to fall with wild abandon for someone who can be your happily-ever-after.

Make It Known

You’ve got your list, and it’s time to share it—with others, and with the Internet.

You wouldn’t be embarrassed to enlist help in a job search, so let others help here. Research shows that in cultures where people allow their trusted others to help them find a mate, their rates of lifelong, happy marriage are higher than in America. Those people who want your happiness will be happy to help; they know people you don’t know, and they will connect you.

Yes, some of your set-ups will suck. That doesn’t matter. Persist.

And share your list with the world. About one-third of people who have married in the past decade met online, and research indicates that they’re happier than couples who met in any other way. Create a profile that capitalizes, in positive and upbeat language, on what you’re seeking. Put it out there.

I don’t know if Claire has shifted her priorities, but Bella did. Despite Stage 4 cancer at the time of her search, she met her Mr. Right~spending her last eight years with a man she adored, who adored her right back.

None of us truly has forever. But however much of forever we have, if love is what you want, it’s time to make it a priority.

-Dr. Duana Welch is the author of Love Factually, the first book that uses science rather than opinion to help men and women find and keep love.  You can learn more about her and her book and get a free sample here.

The Power Of Intuition In Your Love Life

Would it surprise you to know science backs intuition as a source of valuable inner wisdom? A few years ago, I would’ve thought the same. Yet intuition is real—and scientifically confirmed. Seated in the right hemisphere, or half, of the brain, intuition is knowing without factual proof.

In experiments with people who’ve had surgery that keeps their right and left hemispheres from communicating (done to control the spread of electricity that can worsen epilepsy), people do curious things. For instance, if the right hemisphere is exposed to the word “sun” and the left half experiences the word “dial,” they’re only conscious of having experienced “dial.” But when asked to draw a picture with their left hand—which is connected to the right hemisphere—they draw a sun. The right half knows. It just can’t directly say so, because it’s non-conscious.

Intuition probably exists to save us; the biggest threat to most people is other people. We are each other’s heaven and hell. Have you ever had the feeling that a nearby stranger would harm you, given the chance? Don’t investigate—leave! The cost of being wrong and leaving is low; the cost of being right and ignoring your gut is potentially disastrous. Intuition is particularly accurate in areas where we have lots of expertise or experience. And I suspect it also works best in scenarios that would have been vital to our ancestors’ survival and reproduction—like mate selection. Our intuition can tell us we’re with the Wrong partner. It might not be an emergency; still, the voiceless voice is there.

I’ve had this happen twice. The first time, I was engaged. My intuition gradually escalated its alarm, from anxiety to panic attacks to a dream where the voice became conscious: “You must not marry this man!” I left—and all symptoms of anxiety left too. The second time was less dramatic, but no less important. I had gotten fairly involved with a man who seemed perfect in many ways—except he wasn’t kind. He wasn’t mean, exactly; but he didn’t have warmth or caring in him, and his smiles didn’t reach all the way up to his eyes. I could never make a life with someone like that. My intuition warned me from the first date, and I should have listened then. But it kept piping up, and I got out after a few months.

Why aren’t we better at listening to our intuition? Dr. Brené Brown points out that “most of us are not very good at not knowing.” We aren’t good at following what our intuitive right-brain tells us, because our intuitive right-brain does not offer proof—just hunches. Dr. Brown continues, “What silences our intuitive voice is our need for certainty.”
My intuitive voice wasn’t silenced; but I definitely overrode it, and I did so because I wanted proof. What do you do when you feel unclear about someone? If you’re like me, you ask your friends for their opinion. But your right brain does not care about others’ opinions. It cares about protecting you. Listen.

My intuition usually told me, fairly directly, to leave. Yours might tell you to slow down and learn more about this person. Diane was proposed to by a very wealthy man. Her intuition told her something was wrong—and she honored it. By gathering more information, she learned her would-be fiancé didn’t want to support her or her children; she found that even if she did marry this man, she was still on her own. By listening to her intuitive direction to learn more, she prevented what she later told me would have been certain divorce.

In my experience, Diane was braver than most. I know there were times I actively suppressed my own inner knowing because I was tired of looking. I wanted this to be the Right relationship, whether or not it really was. A lot of people hide from the truth to avoid immediate pain, instead of digging out the truth to prevent eventual pain. I think that’s a big part of what silences intuition in dating: We want this one to be The One, so we keep our eyes half-lidded just when we need them wide-open. Remember that you are still investigating this person until you get married.
A sense of fairness also motivates some folks to hide from their intuitive truth. This was me to a T. Is it okay to condemn someone to being cast out of your life when you have no factual evidence that they’ve done—or will do—anything wrong?

This is a good place to remind you that when we’re dating, we aren’t in a court of law. We don’t have to prove anyone guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt; we don’t have to be absolutely certain, or have any proof whatsoever. Dr. Helen Fisher said it perfectly: “Love isn’t about fairness, it’s about winning.” This is dating—you can leave just because you want to. You can leave just because you need to. You can leave just because your gut tells you to. Fairness does not enter into it, and your commitment should not be marital until you are married.
Don’t guilt-trip yourself to the altar, only to stumble in the biggest decision of your life! Embrace your right brain; find your right partner.

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do; this is a partial excerpt, copyrighted by the author. For more information and a free chapter, visit