Are you too tolerant?

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.

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3 comments on this post.
  1. Lisa:

    That is a great topic and one that every person has to deal with–when to take note, when to let something slide, when to run! I have learned a lot of things the hard way too, but even now I still struggle with whether I am expecting something unrealistic, etc.

    For example, I had a few long phone conversations with a dating site guy. He seemed smart and funny even though his profile was not very serious and didn’t even include a good picture.

    So one evening he said he would call me the next day during the day to see if he would be free to meet me that evening as he had something he needed to do. The day passes and no phone call until 10:30 PM, which is fine since I told him I am always up later. He apologized for not calling me earlier, saying the day just got away from him. Now, even though I have yet to meet the guy to know if I even like him or not, his non chalant approach to the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way and I felt peeved. I didn’t say anything since I haven’t even met the guy yet, but in my book, if you say you’re going to call someone, you should.

    Anyway, the point being….am I being too tolerant already with a guy I have not even met yet? Or because I have not even met him yet should I just let it pass? It can really be a pickle to figure these things out.

    The old adage holds true: actions speak louder than words, even though I am too often a sucker for the well-turned phrase!

  2. Dating Goddess:

    Hi Lisa:

    Like you, I believe if you say you’re going to do something, you should do it. However, I know not everyone has that same commitment, especially something many consider a casual “I’ll call you” to someone they haven’t met. So I’d give him a little slack this one time and see if it’s a pattern. If it repeats itself, then either a discussion about keeping one’s word or just bail!

  3. Lisa:

    You’re right DG. Not wanting to waste time with unsuitable men, I sometimes find myself on “red flag alert” too much, especially too early on. As I look back I have spent too much of my dating time with unsuitable men, so it makes sense to be alert, but sometimes it is too much!

    The guy I mentioned seems keen on just talking on the phone and not going out of his way to make time to meet. We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll meet him at some point relatively soon, so I wll not become too peeved by being a late night phone pal, for now!

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