Joel is 55 years old, and he’s been dating Anna, age 50, for almost 10 years. They both have had one prior marriage. Joel has been asking Anna to marry him for the past 5 years. She has been telling him yes this whole time. But each time they set a date and make plans, something always seems to happen a couple of months out that has Anna postpone the wedding; it’s just never the right time for her.
Joel came to me looking for help with this situation. He seemed genuinely confused. Why would Anna keep saying yes but not follow through? I looked at him and said, “Joel, if Anna truly wanted to be married, the two of you would be married by now. Probably celebrating your 5-year anniversary already.” He wouldn’t accept that. He left our conversation continuing to struggle in confusion over his girlfriend’s behavior.
I am convinced that really good people get trapped in confusing relationships because they’re willing to tolerate inconsistent, flip-floppy, hot-cold behavior. And it’s unnecessary. The way out of the confusion trap is by creating relationships that are clear. That’s it. Decide for yourself that anything less than clear is unworkable and either needs to be addressed or walked away from. To the degree that your own words and actions are congruent, you will attract and sustain a relationship with a partner that lives with clarity as well. Are you ready to create only relationships that are clear and congruent? You will never be confused by mixed messages again.
CLEAR & CONGRUENT
A person that wants to see you will make time to. A person that doesn’t want to see you will make excuses for why they can’t. “Too busy” is the most common one. Don’t be fooled. Too busy = not interested (or no longer interested).
People always make time for what they truly want. For everything else they make excuses.
Mixed messages obviously work for the one sending them…and they subtly work for the one tolerating them. Really. If you’re tolerating mixed messages, notice what it is that has you aligning with that dynamic. When confusion no longer serves you on that subtle level, you’ll stop tolerating it.
A genuinely interested person will never let their schedule get in the way of spending time with you.
A person can move quickly or slowly from being intentional to indifferent or vice versa. So know the distinction. It can happen at any point. An intentional person will be present: make plans to see you, call when they can’t see you, even text when they can’t call. They’ll keep in contact. An indifferent person will be passive: text when they could call, call when they could see you and stop making plans to be together. They won’t directly tell you to go away but will do nothing to keep you close. If the shift is toward intentional, you have a growing connection. If it’s toward indifferent, you have a choice to make: tolerate it, address it and/or move on.
Don’t be overly impressed with early excitement in dating. Absolutely enjoy it, but be mindful that newness is addicting, and infatuation wears off quickly. What kind of investment are you/they making 6 months, 12 months and 18 months in? Endurance speaks volumes.
If you’re in a relationship and it seems like you’re doing all the work to move things forward, you probably are. Not convinced? Get out of the driver’s seat and see what happens.
A person that envisions a future with you will talk about it. They won’t keep it a secret. Their future plans will include you. If you’ve been together for awhile, and that’s missing from the conversation, so may be the intention of anything long-term. If it’s there, so likely is the intention of a future together.
If you’ve been in a relationship for several months or years and continue to talk about marriage with no actual move toward it, then either one or both of you is intentionally keeping things at the level of dating. This can change in any moment, but just be clear that if you both wanted to be married to each other, you would have made it happen by now.