dasalujr asks: What does it take for a woman to keep a man and not lose him?
Hi dalalujr –
This is so funny. I have answered over a thousand questions on this website, and I think you’re the first person to ever ask me this. I get tons of questions on how to win someone, or asking whether or not they should stay – but never about how to keep someone once you have them!
Of course, there’s no single all-around answer. Some men like being treated some ways, and some like others. And some people are just dog-like in their loyalty, very happy to stay with the people to whom they’re committed, while some are more like lone wolves, almost impossible to keep around.
But there are a few universal truths I’ve seen, on how to keep a man (or a woman) in a relationship.
- Tell him you want him to stay. I know, that sounds silly – why should you have to tell him that? Well, because people are neurotic and have big imaginations. And when you snapped at him about his being messy this morning, and then ignored his kiss goodbye because you were on the phone with your boss, and then forgot that he’d asked you to dinner tonight… he’s likely to start thinking you don’t want him around. So tell him.
- Listen to him. I can’t tell you how often I see couples who think they’re being kind to each other, but don’t actually listen to what the other says they want. If you keep making him peanut butter sandwiches, because you love them more than any other food, but he’s told you he really craves a salad, you’re pushing him away. And since most of the world doesn’t listen to what people are really saying, listening to him will make him treasure you all the more.
- Let him make you happy. All of us – men, women, children, dogs – love the feeling of making those we love happy. And some experts say men value it the most, making them feel successful in their life. So letting him know you’re happy to see him, or that the gift or even the kind word he gave you actually makes your day better, pleases him at a very deep level. How many couples I’ve seen have the problem that when one of them comes home, the dog runs up barking and ecstatic to see them, which makes them happily fawn all over the dog, but the other person walks in and complains about their day, or even about the other person. Eventually the couple splits up, and their biggest fight is over who gets the dog! The one whose expressions of joy made them feel they mattered!
- Avoid scorn. Of course there will be times in your relationship when he disappoints you. That’s impossible to avoid. But when he does, do you roll your eyes and say “Of course you did that, you always do,” or do you say “What happened? I know you care about me, so how did this come to be? What’s wrong?” The difference is that the first reaction is based in scorn, looking down on him, making him feel he’s not good enough for you. While the second says that he’s a wonderful person who’s made a mistake.
- And last but not least, the answer I’m sure you expected: Keep the Fires Burning. Sure, when you’re first dating, you’re all excited by each other and full of desire. But that will fade over time. So how do you keep romance in your lives? When you’re aging? When you’re struggling over money? When you have three screaming kids spilling food all over you? The answers change – while at one time a weekend in Paris could be the answer, maybe at another it’s a glass of wine after vacuuming and mopping. What was front-row tickets to see Adele might now be listening to 21 in the car, holding a hand while navigating traffic. Whatever it is, if you can work 50% of the time to keep some romance in your lives, maybe he can work just as hard – which, given all the obstacles that will show up, might mean you actually get to feel romance 5% of the time. And that might be just enough.
dalaujr, there are books out there on this topic, written by experts with far more knowledge than I could have. But I do know that my man Handsome would never ever let me go. And at least part of the reason is that I tell him I want to stay with him, I listen to him, I wag my tail, I don’t even know how to scorn, and I lick his ear any chance I get.
So I’m all for your checking those books out. But at first, go with my ideas. All the rest will only make a good thing better!
All my best,