There is nothing like the early phase of a relationship. It is hard to compare anything to the butterflies, googly eyes and constantly laughter. You see everything rose colored glasses, he can do no wrong. This excitement of finding someone that you like and that gets you seems worth keeping at all costs. And that is when it happens. You start to fear that the other shoe is going to drop; that things cannot stay this great. So what is your solution? You start doing whatever you can to make him happy in hopes that he stays. You cook him fancy dinners, do his laundry and worst of all- buy him things or give him money. And it doesn’t stop there. You devote all of your time and energy to the relationship (or situationship,) neglect your own interests, and make him a priority without reciprocation on his end. Sometimes this occurs before there is any level of commitment! All of this in an effort to lock down the man and get that ring.
Women are nurturing by nature so have a tendency to try to take care of the people in their lives that are important to them. They are focused on creating a secure situation and thinking about the future. But when you are dating, this loyalty and security have not yet been earned. Dating is about getting to know one another on a deeper level and building trust. It cannot be given or assumed upfront. There are no guarantees. So you have to act accordingly to prevent being left holding the bag filled with unrequited adoration, unfulfilled dreams, and regrets.
When you treat the man you are dating like a husband, you are actually sabotaging your chances of getting hitched. A man will marry you because of who you are, not what you do for him. Accepting your services or gestures is a no-brainer, and means nothing about how he feels about you. Who wouldn’t take things unsolicited without having to give in return? Or better yet be showered with sex and affection with minimal effort. It takes him back to childhood when he is able to be selfish and nurtured with no expectations. Or even allowed to misbehave and be a little bad.
But you are not his mother and raising him is not your goal! If a man has not earned these rights by marrying you, he does not deserve to have all of the comforts without any of the commitment. If he wants all of the luxuries that having a wife will bring, he needs to make that vow to you. If you withhold these benefits you will get the ring way before the woman that is acting like the wife already because he is doing what he can to secure these indulgences from a woman that he loves and respects.
Do not let the fear or desperation of being alone stop you from finding the one. Stop acting like you have a ring on your finger and actually get the ring on your finger! Make him work for your time and affection. Put yourself first at times. Maintain your identity and interests. And these are just a few suggestions. The important thing is not to allow yourself to be compromised for the sake of a non-marital relationship.
The opinions expressed here are solely my own as a psychiatrist and public health advocate. I receive no support from any pharmaceutical or device company.