As a heartbreak coach, I often hear, “He made all these big promises, but there was no follow-through.”
He liked the IDEA of a future together, but when it came to taking actual steps toward making things happen, he froze and ultimately bounced.
Of course, this behavior leaves the person on the receiving end hurt, confused, and trepidatious about opening her heart to someone else again.
Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to make someone deliver on his word, but there are steps you can take entering into your next relationship, eyes wide open.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
1) Heal the past before entering into a new relationship.
Clean up the meaning you made out of your ex’s inability to walk the walk. If you’re replaying the audacity of your last partner’s behavior in your head over and over, chances are you’ll project this on to the next guy.
2) Get clear on what YOU are looking for.
It’s natural to be in the business of what the other person wants in a new relationship, but it’s most important to figure out what you want first. Are you ready for something exclusive, committed, and serious, or are you just looking for a good time? Or perhaps you thought you were just having fun but then this charmer surprised you and swept you off your feet! If so, this is still totally OK! Feelings can grow. Desires can shift. No matter what, just be clear and don’t fool yourself into pretending you want less, out of fear that he won’t want the same.
3) Get clear on what HE is looking for.
Be cool about it and let it unfold organically. If you met on Bumble and all you’re thinking on the first date is, “Does he want what I’m looking for?!” and there’s no natural moment to let the question arise, you’re missing the opportunity to be present and just get to know him in a natural manner. However, if you’re on date three or four, and it’s still unclear, ASK. Don’t assume. Don’t guess. ASK HIM. Who cares how he interprets the question? You’re a woman who IS clear about what she wants, and you don’t want to waste your time with someone who doesn’t want the same.
4) Let him show you who he is.
Some people are a bit flaky and aren’t big planners like my Type A self, and this doesn’t mean they’re terrible partners… That said, when it comes to embarking on a committed relationship, if your man can’t commit to plans a few days in advance, HOW CAN YOU FALL FOR HIS OUTLANDISH WORDS ABOUT PUTTING A RING ON YOUR FINGER and WHAT YOU’D NAME YOUR KIDS? Letting him show you who he is doesn’t mean you stand back with your arms crossed waiting for him to prove himself. But there’s a savvy balance to strike of holding boundaries with your time and giving him an opportunity to practice showing up in basic ways, like following through on his word and a healthy, consistent style of communication on a day-to-day basis.