*** STARTS TOMORROW: My friends, bestselling author Arielle Ford and Claire Zammit, founder of Feminine Power, have brought together the world’s leading love experts to create a ground-breaking program for smart, successful, conscious women. It’s called Attract Your Soulmate: The 5 Keys Conscious Women Need to Know to Meet the Right Partner and Create Lifelong Love, and yes, it is a mouthful. The point is that they’ve got the big guns speaking to you for free: Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love, Committed, and Big Magic), John Gray, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, Alison Armstrong, Amir Levine (Attached), Jean Houston. You won’t necessarily love all of them, but many will knock your socks off (eg Liz Gilbert, Marianne, Armstrong, Houston). That’s why I’ve been a perennial partner of this program. It starts Tue Apr 26, it’s free, it’s gonna rock, and I encourage you to sign up for it here.***
Awright, ladies. I’m experimenting with this new thing called “answering questions on the blog regularly.” I’m already writing back to all your letters, so why not post them? It also means putting up posts shorter than a Tolstoy novel. Especially becausse now, after the 5-second, single-item survey in the last article, I know how many of you actually make it past the midway point of one of my pieces: very few. Shorter it is, then :)
Incidentally, that single question was “Would you be interested in a course entitled ‘Happiness Engineering: The 5 Pillars of Authentic Success’?” The survey is still open, so do chime in. So far, 93.3% of you have said “Yes”. I’m also wondering if there’s some platform or app that lends itself to rapid Q&A sessions where you readers post a question and I answer it without taking hours to write a blog post. Facebook? Twitter? Slack? A bulletin board? Some kinda WordPress plug-in? If you know of something, do tell.
In the meantime, here’s today’s question from Connie on saying too much:
Dear Dr Ali — Here’s the situation: I think I’ve met “the one.” I’ve never said that before. I am 49 year old professional woman who was happily married for 13 and also have had a robust and fun single life for the past 8 years. We met online, and after corresponding and talking he flew across the country to the Bay Area to meet me. We had two glorious days getting to know each other– dinners, hiking, cycling (for the record– no sex, kept our clothes on, but definitely had our moments!). I’ll try to spare you the details but please take my word that based on what I know now: we are well-suited for one another. Per your nomenclature, we “fit”.
On the second day while hiking and over dinner he spoke regularly of the places he wanted us to go together, the people he wanted me to meet, and said it was fate that brought us together. I swear he’s not a con artist either! This guy is no slouch. Normally I’d take all of these “visions of our collective future” with a grain of salt, but I couldn’t help but feel similarly. Near the end of our second day I foolishly said that I didn’t want to date anyone else. As the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to take them back immediately. I realized the error that I was making, but then the words were out there. I tried qualifying it by saying, “I’m not saying that as any indication of what you should do, but it’s just what I’m feeling.” He then said, “Well, I’m not dating anyone else right now” and I said a little “yay.” “But if I meet someone, I would let you know.” Um, what??? It was like a record being scratched! I think I said something like, “Ok, fair enough” and then dropped the topic.
Since that point I’ve been AGONIZING about how to take my statement back! I’m afraid that I may have freaked him out (rightfully so), although I have to say that his communications with me haven’t really changed, and we still have future plans over the next few weeks to meet up when he’s back here, and I’m later in Chicago. (BTW, this is temporarily a long-distance relationship. He’s moving to the Bay Area in June.) So thankfully my foolish authenticity didn’t set our ship off course too much.
My question is: How do I let him know that I was premature in my statement, and was simply being present, in-the-moment, and authentic, while at the same time try to take the pressure off him and de-freak him out if that’s what happened? Maybe what I wrote right there is sufficient, but I’d love your advice on how to potentially set the topic up and discuss it without it feeling like a “Oooh, we need to talk” moment? Thank you for any advice you have to give! I also very much appreciate your emails, blogs, etc. Have a great day, Connie
Y’know, I know a few women who apologize completely out of proportion to the number of their quantifiable misdeeds. And by “a few”, I mean “about 97.8% of them” (with the remaining 2.2% being members of my family). When I bring this to those ladies’ attention, they get all flustered and say, “I’m so sorry, you’re absolutely right.” Which does not solve the problem at all, gaaaah.
So, a reminder of Rule #1: Never apologize for being you. Especially when you’re sharing your authentic self. If you accidentally drop an anvil on my foot, punch me in the nose, or spatter pasta sauce all over the inside of the microwave because you forgot to cover it again, then fine. You can apologize for the misdeed you just committed. But not for being you. There are people who actually like you and want to hang out with you, and living your life as some kind of perpetual apology just means you’re questioning their good taste. Stop that.
But I digress — back to the letter. You spoke your mind, Connie. You were also considerate enough not to make it his burden to bear. All good. Does that take away some of your leverage? Maybe. But if you’re actually a good fit for each other, that shouldn’t matter. And if you’re not a fit, then it still won’t matter because you’ll come apart anyway.
What I’m concerned about is that you’re already putting a lot of hope and expectation into this even when you don’t have some essential information at your disposal — e.g. sexual compatibility, how you relate on a day-to-day basis, does he have time for you, is he involved with other women, his relationship goals, etc.
Remember: a long-distance relationship is no relationship at all. It’s just a fun, mutually supported fantasy, like some of these video games people play together like Second Life or World of Warcraft — a parallel universe that looks really appealing but actually suffers from a poverty of information. So take it easy, day by day, and suspend judgment until he’s in the same town as you and you are actually spending quality time together.
Until then, you can and should go out with other guys. Why? Because your real leverage comes from choice. And when you tie yourself to just one choice, then you have little power. And I would prefer that you have lots of power. You’re not even close to asking for commitment from each other right now, so that would be premature. And giving your commitment unilaterally now just sets you up for not having power in the relationship if and when it actually happens. The second you start to think “What should I do to avoid losing him” instead of “How can we have more fun” is the second you start to lose him.
Also a little concerned that in addition to it being a long-distance relationship, you met online (y’all know how I feel about that) and that you’re calling him “The One” instead of “a great guy whose company I enjoy so far”, which describes him accurately without setting you up for massive disappointment. In the meantime, go out and have fun, which is the best course of action to avoid obsessing over any one guy. At the altar, everyone’s convinced they’re marrying “The One.” Half are wrong. You just don’t have access to that information yet. So feel free to relax and enjoy the discovery process :)
Connie: That’s awesome, Dr. Ali! You are of course right, and I thought those very same things about our compatibility beyond what I’ve ascertained so far. Thanks so much for your über fast response!
You’re welcome! In the meantime, ladies, remember the question rules: 200 words or less, and make sure it has a question relating to the outcome you want. Obviously, I do possess magical mystical telepathic powers allowing me to read your mind sight unseen, but it’s still a useful exercise to sort out your thoughts before sending them off to me.
All the best, Dr Ali
PS: Want to get the $19.95 audiobook of The Tao of Dating for free? If you’re not already an Audible subscriber, you can score my audiobook when you sign up for their free 30-day trial. You can quit before 30 days, or if you’re a book addict like me, you can stay on for years. Check it out.