Patience is Key in Dating

Posted by in dating after divorce, online dating after 40, self-esteem in dating | 23 comments

patience is key

Are you giving your relationship a chance to develop? Or are you running out of patience? Read this story of how patience paid off big time!

Kathy has been dating Larry for three years. Okay, maybe ‘dating’ is too strong a word. A better description would be ‘occasionally seeing each other’. Very occasionally, as in one date every six months or so with occasional phone calls and emails in between, always initiated by Kathy.

Most women would have shut the door on Larry after the first month. And I wouldn’t blame them. When a guy is interested in a woman, he usually escalates the relationship, from first email to first call, to first date, to dating weekly, and on and on until they are in a relationship. Why did Kathy pursue Larry if he showed no signs of obvious interest?

Good question! Kathy, a 57 year-old tall, pretty, slim woman, saw tremendous potential in Larry. She admired his character and felt in her heart that he was a good guy. But the timing was off for him.

Timing is a crucial component in the success of a relationship. So, while Kathy was ready to explore the relationship potential, Larry was overwhelmed with his work/home life. He was having trouble making time for himself outside of work and caring for his kids. How could he possibly make time for a relationship with Kathy?

Kathy knew that Larry wasn’t negating her, just not making time for her. So she stayed in contact with him. And every time she reached out, he was very happy about it. He thanked her. He told her he appreciated her persistence and patience.

Slowly but surely, the relationship began to grow. Very slowly! Larry began to make time for Kathy. They had a few dates in fairly close succession (twice in one month!). But he still wasn’t calling or emailing much in between dates.

Kathy decided to put her cards on the table. She let Larry know that she cared deeply about him and was ready for a relationship.

She decided to pull her profile off of No pressure for him to follow suit. But she wanted to give the relationship a chance to grow and see what develops.

Good move, Kathy!

Men (and women) don’t respond well to pressure.

Kathy did two smart things:

1. She let Larry know her standards and her intention. She told him she’s not interested in casual dating. She intended to date him exclusively.

2. She didn’t demand or nag. She told him to take his time and proceed at his own pace. That’s music to a man’s ears!

And guess what Larry did? He started to date her regularly. He accompanied her to some important life events, where he met her kids and her parents.

He began to call many nights a week. He thanked her for being so patient with him. He told her how much he valued her and missed her when they’re apart!

I’m not saying that this extreme level of turtle-paced development of a relationship is for everyone.

What I am saying is that it’s important to be patient throughout the dating, mating and relating process. Your pace may be very different from his. You may feel ready for commitment before he does. You never know if the timing is just not right for him. And pressuring him would be the absolute wrong thing to do.

Hey, I don’t recommend that you sit on your couch every Saturday night eating potato chips and watching I Love Lucy reruns, waiting for that guy with potential to come around and fall in love with you.

Quite the opposite: I suggest that if you meet a quality guy whose timing is off, continue dating other men and living a full and meaningful fun life. But don’t write him off just yet.

Be patient. Sometimes things turn around in a surprisingly good way. You never know!

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  1. I am in this situation now and I am about ready to cut all ties. I feel that my patience has run thin but this is the man that I want for life! I have to go out with others before I drive myself crazy.

  2. Kerry,

    I would not recommend this slow pace for most people. If a guy doesn’t escalate the relationship, I would advise you to tell him that you’re ready to see other men, like you say you’re ready to do. No man is worth driving yourself insane. Be a high value woman, and you’ll attract a man who can’t get you out of his mind.

  3. Sandy,
    I am in a similar situation. We met a couple of times. At this moment, he is very busy with work and is very involved with his younger child. We have a lot in common and we get along very well, but his mind is full. He is slow, careful and patient. He may not have time and energy for a relationship at this moment. I always initiate contact. He promptly responds to texts and calls. I don’t really know where I am going but I believe he has great potential. I am in no hurry. So, I will keep it this way because it is always a pleasure to contact him, and I would love to have a relationship with him. I don’t think I have anything to lose as I never gained anything to begin with.

  4. el,

    This man sounds like a good guy, but you can’t date potential. You date someone who’s ready to date you NOW. Please don’t close down your other options and place all bets on him. From what you’ve shared, he’s not making any effort to initiate contact. You’ve made it very easy for him to have you in his life – he doesn’t have to do much at all. I’m sure he’s enjoying talking with you and seeing you, but he’s not emotionally available. It doesn’t matter why. Full life, young child. His focus is not on building a relationship with you. I encourage you to date other men. You’ll find someone who has similar qualities and is interested in pursuing a relationship with you. That’s the man who’s worth waiting for.

  5. I know you are right but I guess that while I don’t find anyone with the same potential I can still let it be this way, right?

  6. You can continue to see him, call him, initiate all contact and hope that one day he’ll be available. Or you can date other men who are ready right now for a relationship. I suggest the latter. You don’t want to waste precious time on the wrong man. It’s your choice. Ask yourself this question: If nothing changed a year from now, would you be okay with the way things turned out?

  7. I guess Sandy that I accept this non-situation because I am also not ready for any real relationship. I am protecting myself with someone who is also not available. We both have been deeply hurt. Relationships with people who are not suitable or unavailable is a great strategy. Yes he knows I am going to call. He also knows I have potential. We are going to travel for a fun weekend in September. He could just say he is not interest but he says he is but I don’t want to pressure anything. We have a very similar background and life experiences. I don’t really stay at home, I go out with friends and do things. I am a busy person. We are both very patient.
    We talk a lot about our pains and our problems. We kind of support each other and appreciate each other for that.
    It may even be that we should be friends. I don’t know, as I say I do believe that he is a genuine good person and that is why I don’t want to lose him. If we don’t become romantic partners it is also OK. It would be good enough if we were friends.

  8. Sounds like you are self-aware and going in with eyes open. I wish you the best of luck. And I encourage you to maintain your sense of dignity throughout. 🙂

  9. Sandy, thanks for your attention and prompt replies. I will follow your good advice.

  10. Hi, I really enjoyed this article and am in a semi-similar situation myself. I have a question, though, about the advice you gave here in the comments to El vs. what Kathy in the story did. I’m not sure I see how Kathy’s taking her profile down and waiting patiently for Larry is different than El’s situation. They seem the same, where both spent time with the man, both did plenty of things outside of the (non)relationship, and both weren’t pursuing other dating partners actively. Could you please give your thoughts on that, Sandy? Thank you!

  11. Hi Suki,

    Every situation is slightly different, as there is no one-size-fits-all in dating/relationships. If you’d like to share more about your particular situation, I’d be happy to share my thoughts…

  12. I think it can be hard. Been dating someone for 2 months and he’s escalated the relationship in some ways (mentioned me going away with him for weekend meeting friends and family) but has been super busy. I think the work will clear up a bit.

    I told my guy I’m willing to wait it out and see what happens, as long as I know how he likes me. Which he says he does just stressed. It’s been awhile since I liked someone so much.

    However in my case I broached to my guy, he mentioned to me last week he brings his work home works half hour than takes break. I’m working on continuing education for my job. Want to finish in a year so I get promoted. It’s intensive study. I’d like to have done before I have family/kids. So I told him look I’m willing to bring my work to your place, you bring yours to mine. I’m willing to study while you do your paperwork than take breaks. I would never agree to sit around at someone’s place and just wait. But it could actually be really beneficial to me to have set concentrated study times for this season in my life. So I’m not cramming for my big tests and freaking out on due date. My guy’s response to this is going to kind of tell me how he feels although when I mentioned it once, he got really excited I could tell in his voice.
    Because he once told me I can’t ask you to sit around and wait for me to take breaks. But in this situation, I have stuff of my own I can legitimately do, that will legitimately help me. Even if we don’t work out achieve my own goals.
    So sometimes in relationships, it’s about finding ways to make it work. Now is the ideal way I would like to have a relationship. No, I want to have fun with him do all kinds of fun stuff. But it sounds like its just this year, and as mentioned in my own schedule, I want to bunker down too. So maybe we can bunker down together…. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing to figure out if we can work well together….

  13. Hi Becca,

    If you’re not ‘tolerating’ behavior that doesn’t align with you, patience of this sort will work to your advantage. Keep collecting data on your boyfriend, watching how he treats you, and especially monitoring how you FEEL when you’re together. If you feel cherished, prioritized, cared for, etc., keep on dating him. If not, speak about it, and see how he responds.

    Best of luck!

  14. Hello Sandy,
    I have been dating this guy for about 2 months. The first month was just texting. Every time I contacted him he was working. I have seen him twice in the 2 months. We live 1:30 hr away. He said he does like me. After the second time we spent time together, he started calling me more then suddenly it became less and less. He doesn’t let me know how things are anymore. He says he has a lot on his plate. He thanked me for being patient. I hesitate to contact him. I am not sure what my next move should be. Please advice. Thanks, Beatrice

  15. Hi Beatrice,

    Words and actions must match. His words are lovely…”I really like you”, and his actions are not matching, are they? He might be a great guy, but if he’s too busy for a relationship right now, he’s not emotionally available to you. Know what your must haves are, and state them clearly to men. If you do that, you’ll attract men who honor and respect you for what you need. You won’t be anxious about men he feel about you. They will let you know.

  16. Thank you so much for your prompt response. Yes I agree, I am looking for his actions for effort but don’t really see much. I tend to justify it by telling myself that he is working and has a lot on his plate plus the distance. I keep hearing from different people that this is the way it is at the beginning and to not ask too much of a guy since we just started dating. I hate these dating rules. How long is okay to give him space?

  17. Beatrice, if this arrangement of 2 dates in 2 months isn’t working for you, I encourage you to speak with him about it. See what he says and does. You get to decide what to do from that point on. There are no dating rules. It’s about principles of dating from a place of self worth and dignity.

  18. Thank you for your feedback Sandy and for helping us women navigate through the difficult process of dating!

  19. Sandy, a while ago, a friend of mine became something more. After a while I told him things about my past that I do not share with more than a couple people. I think he became scared with my predicament but he stopped talking to me. Slowly at first then he got to the point where he got mad and told me to go away every time I attempted to ask him why or talk to him. I would question him about the most mundane things like his family and how he was doing and he would wish me away. I know that I love him and just want him to continue talking to me. But he’s just up and left me. I want to give him space but its been months since he has even broached a subject with me.

  20. Wow, how unkind of him to walk away after you divulged a sacred secret. Why would you want to be with a man like that?

  21. Hi Sandy,
    My current situation has me a little confused and need advise on if I am being impatient. I have been talking with this guy for a little over five months now. He told be he loved me within a few weeks of knowing me and I was taken back because with my last relationship I could never get my boyfriend to say it, even if he showed it. Back to my current situation. We spend at least one weekend day together due to our work schedules and I have a small child. We are sleeping together, but he has never actually spent the night. I asked maybe a month or two ago and he said he would one day. What? Okay it’s still early on so I’m not tripping. I ask him again a few days ago and he’s specifically says the same thing. Because I like to be straightforward, I then ask “are you at a point were you are still just keeping your options open because that would make more snice then the one day thing”. Then he says “Its not that be patient with me it gets better”. I’m 31 he is 40. Never dated anyone who has said that before so I’m way confused and it makes me feel like he will deal with me when he feels like it.

  22. Hi Brandy,

    He said he loved you after a few weeks? Talk is cheap. Love is an action more than a verb. Does he show you that he loves you? Not spending the night doesn’t feel loving to you, does it? He would sleep over one day? What does that mean? He’s keeping you tethered, and you can stop that now.

    You’re sleeping with him, but you haven’t stated your standards around intimacy, which is why you’re feeling confused and disempowered. If you haven’t told him that you only sleep with men once you’re exclusive, he has every right to see other women. Five months is a long time to be in a state of limbo.

    I suggest you stop giving him all the power in the relationship, and take back your power. Tell him what you need. If he’s not willing to be exclusive, you have a decision to make. Do you want to feel safe and secure in a relationship? Walk away from a man who won’t give you what you need. Otherwise, you’ll continue to wait for him to determine where the relationship goes. This is not about patience. It’s about clarity and being seen as a woman of value. Please speak up and show up as the WOMAN OF VALUE that you truly are. xoxo

  23. Sandy,

    Thank you so much. I thought maybe I was crazy lol I do enjoy our time together. He texts first regularly thoroughout the day and calls when we are not at work. I know he calls me his girl when on the phone with friends so I just figured being close wouldn’t be an issue. He has had financial a setback, never asked me for anything, but feels like he cant take me out like he would like to. I clearly didn’t make my standards known and now feel confused. After he made the statement about staying the night I told him I feel when I say I love you it’s because I mean it and want to show action behind it otherwise it’s just words. Being close is what makes me fall in love.

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