I heard an interesting and really bad story this week that gave me much food for thought: Mark (29) has been seeing Liane (25) for a couple of months. They live in different cities and visit now and then. They have sex together, eat out, go to the cinema and hit it off quite well. When she last visited him, the conversation turned to their relationship, and she wanted to know “what exactly their relationship is”. So far, this would have been a perfectly normal story, but she added “Don’t worry, whatever you say is ok.”
Most women will probably think: “well, that’s not so bad, there is nothing to be so alarmed about.” But in fact there is, and on many levels. If “whatever you say” is in fact correct, then it means that theoretically anything is ok, from breaking up to marriage. If all of this is really ok for her, then she is a rather strange woman, isn’t she?
But the truth is that “whatever you say” is in fact not ok, because Liane is actually in love with Mark.
The problem is that she does not dare to ask more from him because she simply doesn’t know if he only likes her or if he feels something deeper for her, and she wants to protect herself from a possible negative answer and spend more time with him. She wants to be nice and make answering more easy to him, because she hopes that without pressure he might enter into a deeper relationship, etc. etc. Whatever she had in mind, whether self-protection or strategy, it didn’t work.
The real effect was to lose all chances with him except for occasional sex. He was not able to express this accurately, but she immediately lost attractiveness in his eyes and suddenly became less valuable to him. He now feels hardly any wish to see her: at most only for a few hours whenever he feels like meeting her.
It would have been better to say clearly and distinctly what was really on her mind.
Had she shown that she would have liked to spend more time with him and that they should simply evaluate at some time or other whether a more formal relationship might develop. Of course, she would have been in danger of receiving a “no” as reply, but with “whatever you say is ok” she blocked any chances she might have had of getting anything else from him than just sex or some meaningless easy dates with no possible future.
Much more can be achieved through open communication, insistence in taking the relationship to the next level, or simply being content with the current situation, than by over-cautious relativisation of one’s own wishes. “Whatever you say is ok” is not ok under any circumstances!