In a terribly unglamorous moment, which involved a sleazy bathroom makeout session and a drunken cab ride home, I realized that I was done dating multiple guys, that I was ready to press my luck with the one and only Spontaneous Guy.
I walked into Dr. Diana’s office my chest puffed, ready to share the big news. I, dedicated love pupil, had survived this crazy dating experiment and come out victorious. I had accepted that love doesn’t mean someone has to get hurt, risked dating multiple guys at once even though it was way out of my comfort zone, learned how to focus on the positive when it comes to dating, and was rewarded with a worthy enough prince. Time for my Love Guru to give me my report card (straight A’s!) and send me on the way to my blissful, loving future.
“I feel like am ready to have a talk with Spontaneous Guy,” I said, practically bursting with the good news. “I want to be exclusive with him and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.”
Dr. Diana’s face turned serious.
“You don’t know that,” she said. “A man can date a woman for ages and not think it’s serious. ”
“But it feels like it’s getting serious and it’s been three months,” I argued.
“There’s no place for your feelings now. This is where things get tough. It’s time for ‘The Talk.’ Go home and study Chapters 8 and 9 of Sealing the Deal and come back when you’re ready to come up with your ‘Talk Plan.’ ”
My chest deflated. I was back to being a kindergartener in the dating world. Why was I not aware of the proper way to have “The Talk”? Was I sleeping during my Dating 101 seminar? Oh wait, no such class exists. If it did, I wouldn’t be a 34-year-old woman with a Love Guru.
After reading through the “dos and don’ts” of having “The Talk” in Dr. Diana’s book, I understood why I was still single. I was gobsmacked to discover that I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when it came to having “The Talk.” In fact, I was pretty sure I bungled it every single time in the past. A few of the most enlightening tidbits were:
- Don’t: Hold things in for months until you finally explode, pouring out your feelings in an overwhelming gush of emotion.
- Do: Keep the drama to a minimum. Men get overwhelmed by emotion, so speak playfully and nonchalantly without getting emotional.
- Don’t: Go mute and withdraw so he’s forced to pull the truth out of you.
- Do: Sit side-by-side with him when you have the talk, men are able to listen better that way.
- Don’t: Make demands or put time limits on when you “should be moving forward.”
- Do: Initiate “The Talk” between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. when men’s testosterone levels drop.
- Don’t: Talk for too long. Get to the point. A study found that men hear female voices as music, so if you go on for too long, your guy may not be able to understand your song.
- Do: Focus on what your love goals and intentions are for the future and not his behavior.
- Don’t: React to what he says. Just repeat it back so he knows you heard him. Stay completely emotionally neutral no matter what he says.
I flashed back to my “Talks” in the past, my last one in particular. It happened at 2 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. I cried and told him that if he didn’t really want to seriously date me we should just break up right now. We went in circles for at least two hours. No wonder he dumped me soon after! I would have dumped me too. Is it possible to hit all “The Talk” don’ts at the same time? If so, I succeeded at that. No wonder I had flunked at love.
I understood that my “Talk” style had contributed to ending past relationships. While they were not the only reasons the relationships didn’t work out, they were major. What a relief to know that it had nothing to do with who I was as a person or how worthy of love I was. It simply had to do with understanding the most effective way to communicate with men, which, apparently, I had been failing at.
A thousand light bulbs went off. While I couldn’t control what my future held with Spontaneous Guy or how he would react to “The Talk,” I could control how I approached it. I could be prepared to pass with flying colors this time. My “Talk” style was something I could easily change. The thought made me feel, well, kind of like a 1st grader learning how to read, but also, it made me feel empowered.
I opened my notebook with renewed determination and started cramming for “The Talk” with Spontaneous Guy. For the first time in a decade, I felt hopeful about the outcome.