I am a huge fan of being responsible for myself, and with that comes the acceptance of the fact that I create every situation that I am in. It is never the guy’s fault. What is staring at me right in the face, that uncomfortable situation, is totally my creation. Knowing that it is all me, gives me a tremendous power to change. Taking that responsibility onto myself , and not waiting for him to make something happen, makes my life flow much faster, and I see improvements in my experience every day.
I am talking about YOU, almost in an accusatory tone, to make you realize that every unfavorable situation you have ever found yourself in was totally your doing. And not being aware of that, only perpetuates repeated situations where you are the perceived victim of someone else’s crime of the heart. Ready to take responsibility for yourself?
So, today’s question is, are you okay with being in an ambiguous relationship? I have been in them, and they are a complete waste of time. Personally, I am okay with it for a while, as long as I am getting to know the person and trying to figure out who he is, and whether he fits into my existence or clashes with it. But there usually comes a point where every human needs clarity on exactly where they stand, so they can make the right decision.
Have you ever been in that uncomfortable space where you know what you want, but that person has not made any indication that he or she wants the same? So you are in relationship limbo, where you both maintain status quo, to not rock the boat. You are hoping it turns into something, while playing it safe and convincing yourself you are perfectly okay with nothing. The more you settle into nothing, the more you stay in that energy of limbo. You can’t move forward and you can’t take anything back. How does that feel? Most people I know who grapple with relationships are really in the nothingness of it, tortured by the unknown factors and what ifs that have very little chance of materializing.
If you are clear in what you want, but the other person isn’t, why not just state it? How many times have we just gone along with the flow of a relationship, knowing very well, this isn’t it, yet the other person is becoming more hopeful, more attached, more committed every day? Do you have a responsibility to say something, or is it okay to go with the flow because you haven’t lined up something better? Most people see themselves as victims of situations like this, but give me some examples of how you are ambiguous yourself. If you can’t think of a 100 ways, chances are you are not in touch with yourself.
Here are my examples: A friend asks me out for a drink, and I come up with a lame excuse, I am busy. She asks me again next week, and I have a new excuse. She keeps asking and I keep deflecting. I don’t have the courtesy to tell her the truth: I am not into you, I see no potential for the kind of friendship you want, and I have no intention of having a drink with you. Yet, we are all guilty of this.
Our culture and dating media always urge us to be polite, protect people’s feelings, never offend a man or make him feel unwanted or rejected. And in reality, we have all seen evidence of how combative some guys get when we are not careful to protect their manhood. So we take it upon ourselves to lay them down gently, then accept the negative consequences on ourselves when he doesn’t get it, he is not accepting your soft, polite rejection, instead, he is acting even more aggressively. ‘You lead me on!’ he screams, as you keep asking yourself, how did I do that? I politely said I am seeing someone, I am unavailable, I even had a drink with you as I explained I don’t want a relationships right now. While you may think you did all the right things, after all, you did everything by the book, he is still expecting something and making this unwanted situation all your fault.
Been there, done that many times. And accepted the blame, more often than not. But was I really clear as I could have been?
I grew up very shy, and very protective of other people’s feelings. For years I would shoulder the blame for everything, mainly because I was afraid to offend, and too quick to make the uncomfortable situation go away. I’ll take the blame, call me whatever offensive word you want, just go away. But decades later I realized my politeness was not serving me at all. Over and over again, I would get myself into situations where I am politely and gently saying no, while the other person is taking that as a maybe, and permission to try even harder. Reverse the situation, and here you are in the beginning stages of an ambiguous relationship, he keeps showing up on dates, or coming over for a hookup, so you take that as a sign that he must be showing up because he wants the same thing as you. Is this situation clear enough for you?
Keep in mind that people are not bad or evil, most are not out to use you and take what isn’t given to them. Most people are in ambiguous situations, because they are afraid to communicate, and afraid to state clearly what they want. You are in a department store, and the sales woman asks: Shall I start the fitting room for you? And you reply, No, just looking. Don’t you wish that person you are hooking up with would honestly say I’m just looking? We have all been programmed to avoid conflict, bluntness and directness are considered impolite, yet we all suffer when we can’t get a clear answer out of someone.
Years ago, I resolved to change that, get over my shyness, and the need to protect other people’s feelings. I started to practice No. Not, no thank you, I can’t tonight, Not, sorry I am busy. Instead, just plain NO. It is uncomfortable, and there will be that 3 second pause while that other person treats that no as an affront or a slap in the face. But the sooner you get comfortable with that uncomfortable silence, the sooner you will find your power in it. My first few nos were unnerving. The next few, felt better, and by now I command respect when I state it plainly and clearly, NO.
So, today, when a guy who I am not attracted to asks me out, I don’t make up some nonsense about having a boyfriend. That is a cop-out and just an excuse. Even when I am seeing someone, even when I am in a committed relationship, I don’t use that as my excuse. I say No. When he asks why, I say I am not attracted to you, I am not into you, I don’t date men your age, etc. I give a reason they can’t argue with, not an excuse.
Which brings me to a very controversial subject, one that society and culture accepts as a norm, while I find is extremely deceptive, and disempowering to women. In fact, I have had many heated arguments about it with the other Goddesses in the private forum, yet most of them disagree with me on this.
It is considered polite to accept a drink from a man who offers. There are many reasons women accept that drink from a stranger, or a man they have no intention of dating. Some are just politeness, agreeableness, being nice. Others are cultural, refusal to offend, refusal to make him feel small, refusal to not act like a lady. And of course, there are women out there who just see it as a free drink, and they will accept whatever is free. The one thing most women are taught is to be a lady and accept, and I have never been comfortable with that.
More often than not, he wants something I don’t want to give in exchange for that glass of wine. The glass of wine, simply isn’t worth the 15 minutes I have to endure making polite conversation with someone I don’t want to see again. But most importantly, by accepting I am sending a confusing signal to him. I am stating that I am receptive. Though it has not been stated what he expects, nor what I am being receptive too, the implication is that if I accept that drink, I am okay with that undefined situation that this drink has earned him. No, of course most women have no intention of giving more than their attention and a thank you for the drink. But, I am uncomfortable with the ambiguity of it, and I have no intention of exchanging my attention for a free drink, unless I am very much interested in the person who offered.
Of course there are other situations. I accept drinks from friends, and men who respect their place in my friend category. Friends can exchange drinks, buy rounds for each other and it should be equal and always reciprocated. When I get that uncomfortable feeling that a guy I view as a friend wants to be more than just a friend, I feel creepy and back off. Eeew. I am not going to keep accepting drinks, when I can sense he is going in a direction I refuse to consider.
But again, the question is ambiguity. If you are uncomfortable with guys assuming something, then why are you okay with sending a confusing message? Why are you accepting that drink, if you don’t know what his intentions are? Is he just looking to make a friend? Or is he looking to keep you drinking until you agree to dinner and more?
We all get into unintended situations. But we owe it to each other to be more clear. Going along when you know the other person is not on the same page is always misleading. For as many times as you can count of having been mislead, you should be able to count an equal number of circumstances where you mislead someone too.
You might think you are just being polite, but the other person may be counting on the fact that you cannot say no. They may be hoping you will change your mind later, and keep offering you flowers, drinks, dinners and attention, trying to buy your time, compliance, or just a chance to be perceived differently. Have you ever been asked by a guy for a chance? He sounds nice, he seems sincere, but you know very well he isn’t doing it for you. Yet you are giving him a chance, feeling more squeamish about his offers, while he is building up for the possibility you will one day see him as sleepable. Don’t do that to people. If you want people to give you more honesty, then first be honest.
But most importantly, saying No clearly, and backing it up with a firm boundary, is a way of standing in your truth. You are being absolutely true to yourself. You know for a fact that this person is never going to be sleepable, so why would you compromise yourself for that drink? Why would you compromise your truth for the sake of giving some schmuck a chance? You already know.
If you want people to be more clear about how they feel toward you, and be open about where the relationship is going, then let them off the hook. Allow their honesty, and be okay with hearing no. Accept no, ‘I don’t see a future with you’, rather than coming up with a hundred strategies to change that no into a maybe. Or an eventual yes. No means no. If the person is afraid to hurt you with rejection, then they are less likely to be honest with you. You might be starving for clarity, but if you are not allowing for the truth and refusing to be okay with it, you won’t get it. No one wants to be argued into a relationship.
The truth starts with you. If you are pained by ambiguity in relationships, then you owe it to every single human you have a relationship with (your mother, best friend, colleague and lover) to be perfectly clear. If you are seeing limited progress in how clear others are toward you, amp up your directness and clarify your words.
I still have a long way to go. I still catch myself protecting feelings of people I care about. But I see the harm I inflict by leading them on. Often I find myself in unintended friendships, I am nice to someone and I am a great listener, so they assume we are going to be best friends. I’m the type who is always letting go and moving on, and I believe in always surrounding myself with new people, while friends increase demands for my unduying loyalty. There are dozens of men in my friend category who believe that some day, when I am single, or some day when I come to my senses, or some day when I have no other options, I will change my mind and plead with them to give me a chance. That’s never going to happen. I firmly know what I want and what I don’t want, and when I want more clarity from other people, it means I have to be more clear.
I recently found myself on an unintended date. A friend who has been nothing but a friend for almost 10 years asked me out for a drink. I said yes because I frequently meet friends for drinks. Everything was normal at the bar, until dinner started and I got this very weird feeling that this person who had been in my friend category for almost a decade, was now sending me completely different signals. What part of our 10-year friendship did this guy not understand? I really thought that over the last decade I had sent him multiple No signals, but something made this guy believe there was still a chance.
Weeks later, still pissed that this uncomfortable situation actually happened, I was complaining to a friend and recounting the story. She pointed out that when he first asked me out 10 years ago, I replied that I have a boyfriend. In fact, that used to be my standard response to a man I did not want to offend. I should have said, no I am not attracted to you, we can be friends, but if you are in my friend category, I expect you to be a genuine friend, and not some dude hoping and scheming for more. Or, I should have said, You are not sleepable, so decide for yourself if you still want to be friends. I still have no clue, what signal I sent to him that gave him false hope, but I do know for a fact that I should have not given him a reason to believe that some day, when I don’t have a boyfriend, I would be interested.
Though today I am more blunt than ever, I still have some ways to go. I recently cleaned up my friends list, and man list. The girlfriends who want much more of my time than I am willing to give, the ones whose company is an obligation rather than bliss are off my friend list. I deleted about 300 men off my Fb profile, simply because I got tired of advances of people who are an automatic No. I have about 40 male friends who I am sure are not genuine friends, they are waiting for an opportunity. I am in the process of clarifying their position in my life. Exes have no business in my life, I won’t drag the past with me. Is there any value to having male friends who are in my circle with ulterior motives?
Friends often make fun of my black and white approach to life, my directness, and my nonchalant way of saying no. It is amusing, but it serves me well. I no longer want to feel guilt for other people’s misinterpretations or refusal to hear no. I’d rather you get crushed now, rather than destroyed later when you realize I have been saying no all along. But, I also don’t like ambiguity in relationships. I don’t like the state of limbo, so I often end a relationship quickly just to get out of the limbo. That movement forward, even when I am leaving someone behind always feels healthier than sticking around in nothingness. It is how I get unstuck.
Limbo is an energy of stagnation. And waiting is simply acknowledgement of that stagnant nothingness. The more you wait, the more nothing happens. And the more you become okay with ambiguity, the more you become infected by it. Ambiguity is disorienting and paralyzing. There are no answers, no progress, and no results. If you need more clarity on any situation, ask the blunt questions, and don’t be satisfied by unclear answers. If you are not 100% certain where you stand, then move on.