Why should I even have a girlfriend?
If you’ve been following TNL for a while, you’ve probably heard us speaking quite a lot on the topic of romantic relationships. Up until now the majority of this content has been focused on offering men guidance to meet any women they want and be surrounded by multiple lovers. That is because open and casual relationships are something every man craves deeply but, in the majority of cases, never manages to get an understanding of, except for a few lucky encounters. What most guys ignore, though, is that a standard monogamous relationship can be just as, if not more, challenging than a casual affair.
After spending the past 22 years in different kinds of relationships myself and, in the last few, coaching students for TNL on how to have a better dating life, I’ve come to realize that all men need at least some specific guidance when engaging in a classic relationship for two reasons: Firstly, an exclusive relationship makes you experience a very different level of engagement and growth to a casual affair. The level of awareness you can develop by connecting with one partner at a very deep level will make all of your interactions with women improve exponentially. Secondly, like it or not, a monogamous relationship is what brought you here.
Whether to forget a toxic ex that ruined your idea of love, or to learn how to seduce that cute girl that rejected you through high school and college, it is often a relationship with one woman that sets you on this journey of self-improvement. I have learned the hard way how much time you can waste and how much suffering you can generate for yourself and others while stuck in toxic relationships, but you don’t have to. That’s why I created 5 key rules that guide how you should enter into and engage in relationships:
Relationship Rule #1:
Don’t get together with the first person you date
“I married my high school sweetheart” is a common story, but unfortunately many of these relationships break down, sometimes due to the very fact that the people trying to maintain this long-term relationship have no experience of other people and how they work in relationships and, as a result of spending so much time in a relationship, little experience of themselves as a separate person. With a few rare exceptions I would say that you owe it to yourself to explore yourself and a number of others in relationships and use your early years as a period for experimentation and free exploration, rather than trying to get the whole thing sewed up. The motivations for sticking with this kind of relationship are often laziness or a fear of the unknown dating landscape. The big gamble that guys who do stick with their first girlfriend or in a relationship that occurs before any period of experimentation and exploration take is that if the relationship doesn’t work out they hit the worst of all beginner’s hells - the one where later in life, in your early 30s in my case, you suddenly enter the complicated modern dating landscape with almost no experience. I know this hell and so do many of my clients. Don’t go there!
Relationship Rule #2:
Don’t become a serial monogamist
Some people go from relationship to relationship with little or no space of time for healing, reflection, growth or freedom in between. This is known as Serial Monogamy, and like the serial killer the serial monogamist is always looking for his next victim...oops! I meant girlfriend. Personally I can relate to being in a place where it feels secure and good to me to be in a relationship, however, that is simply not a good enough reason for being in one! And the women I was in a relationship with really were victims because they were hoping to stay with me long-term while I was only looking for my next girlfriend. It was so hard not to! Men in particular are attracted to serial monogamy because they enter a kind of desert when a relationship ends. Most men are not able to approach women and find casual sex, and so their sex life simply ends when their ex walks out the door. Women are much more likely to share emotion and touch with each other, but with the end of a relationship a man often no longer has access to either of these things. No wonder the next girlfriend looks so attractive!
Relationship Rule #3:
Don’t date within your social circle
As I just mentioned, guys who ‘cold approach’ women they don’t already know are in the minority. You realise how crazy this is when you start cold approaching. I’ll let you in on a little secret - you could get James’s Five Principles online course and start learning today how to transform yourself into someone who has the confidence and skills to meet women and bring them into your life. The main problems that come from dating people that you already know are scarcity (how many women do you already know who you could possibly date?) and the complications that occur within social circles when people start and end relationships there. When you start approaching and realise that you really can bring completely new people into your life you start to realise that you really could afford to live without the negative effects on your social circles (jealousy from previous relationships within the group, divisions in the social circle when a relationship within it ends, etc.) that can easily come from finding your next girlfriend in your existing network of friends and acquaintances.
Relationship Rule #4:
Don’t mess with your ex
This rule is simple and very hard for many men to achieve (see rule 2). In my own life I’ve been driven to seek out my ex due to the scarcity described above in rule 3, and it never worked out well. The first time I did it I cheated on the girlfriend I had just got back together with within a week. The second time I did it was extremely humiliating because the woman I had broken up with over a year ago could see just how desperate and pathetic I was and how little I had to offer her when I asked her for another chance. As one of the people I interviewed on this topic said, “Once you decide to break up with someone that decision should be final.” You owe it to yourself and those you interact with to be able to work out what you want and stick to it. This can be part of a greater project of self-knowledge that our coaches can help you with either on a live workshop or through online coaching sessions where you deep-dive on things like your sense of self-worth and the mindsets and practices that guide you patterns of behaviour in relation to others.
Relationship Rule #5:
Be aware of your relationship patterns
Self-knowledge and introspection are essential tools to use if you want to start experiencing more joy, satisfaction, fulfilment and peace in relationships. Over the years I have come to create internal and external criteria for assessing what’s happening with me in a serious relationship. I’ve often said that if I’m not learning, growing and healing with a primary partner then we should break up. I’ve also come to use things like the ‘Second Date Rule’ offered by Dr. Robert A. Glover in his book No More Mr Nice Guy. Glover tells his readers to think about the kind of behaviour they put up with in relationships and then ask themselves, “If this kind of behaviour had been shown on the second date, would there have been a third one?” Obviously this rule is not an exact science for assessing what you will and won’t accept from someone you are in a close relationship with but, like I said in rule 4, you owe it to yourself and those you interact with to be able to work out what you want and stick to it. This is also known as setting boundaries and communicating expectations. This is what Glover’s book helps you learn to do and you start by looking at how you could possibly have gotten to a place in your life where you are willing to accept unacceptable behaviour. The ‘Nice Guy Syndrome’ that Glover describes is something that begins in childhood where your needs are not met and, because as a child you are egocentric, you begin to believe that this is because there is something wrong with you. This ‘Toxic Shame’ as Glover calls it, drives you to hide your feelings and needs and try to please others and meet their needs in the hope that they will accept you and in return meet your needs. Nice Guy Syndrome is one among many negative patterns that you can uncover and deactivate if you do take the path of introspection that leads to gaining this kind of self-knowledge.
Book a free consultation with one of our coaches (including me) so we can get the conversation started.
I wish you all the best,