Generally, I believe tolerance is good. You are open to new ideas and perspectives. You’re not rigid and adamant that your way is the only way. (Note: As I get older, I find I’m more and more intolerant of intolerance!)
Since I’m generally pro-tolerance, why would I suggest that too much tolerance in dating can be detrimental?
I had this epiphany while coaching a soon-to-be-dating midlife pal. She was asking how to get into the dating scene and what to watch out for. As I gave her signs of scammers, married men, and those just wanting a romp in the hay, I noticed the stories I told of being hoodwinked all had one thing in common — I’d been too tolerant of questionable behavior.
I’m not talking naive here (well, maybe a tad), just giving a man the benefit of a doubt when he behaved differently than I’d expected. In other words, allowing men to get away with behaviors I now see few would, well, tolerate.
What do I mean? The list is a tad embarrassing through my now-opened eyes.
- Passionate kissing on a first date.
- Thinking an invitation to watch a DVD at his house on the second date meant he wanted to watch a DVD.
- Interpreting “I’m separated” meant his wife knew this, too!
- Hearing “You’re the one for me” didn’t mean “at this second, as I’m also still boffing my ‘ex’-girlfriend.”
- Leaving personal items at my house — in an empty drawer — without asking — after the second sleep-over.
- Bringing his shaving kit to my house for our second date.
- Insisting I close the drapes to my living room where we were talking (he had other plans for our next activities).
- Letting him talk me into watching the TV show in my bedroom (where he hadn’t been before) as it would be more comfortable to stretch out.
- Wanting to show me his “really cool” view from his hotel room during his trip to see me.
- Continuing to have hours-long text conversations with me, even thought I’d asked repeatedly to shift to the phone.
- Putting up with week-long communication absences from a local, and assumedly single, man.
In retrospect, my tolerance lead to an unhappy ending. At the time I thought, “That’s interesting” but had no idea of the true meaning.
Am I saying you should be intolerant? No. But I’m saying if you think something is odd, ask about it. And if his explanation doesn’t make sense, don’t buy it. And if you think something has the possibility of going awry, trust your gut and say you’re not comfortable with it. If he tries to convince you that you’re being paranoid, even more reason to say no. A mature man who wants to have a long-term relationship with you will respect your feelings and preferences.
As you begin to trust that he honors your wishes, you can loosen up. But in the beginning when he hasn’t shown that, know that many people only have their own interests in mind. And for someone you’re just starting to date, have no tolerance for that mindset.
Want to understand more about what to expect as you begin dating again? Get your copy of Dipping Your Toe in the Dating Pool: Dive In Without Belly Flopping