THE BLOG

Are You Stuck in His 'Stable'?

03/25/2015 10:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2015

Most women prefer to be in some form of "relationship." No matter how modern those parameters may be, there's comfort in knowing where we stand with a man. While it's often the case that both sexes will date multiple partners before making a selection, structure creates the connection and intimacy needed for a relationship. Getting to partnership requires focus rather than dispersion.

The early stages of dating someone new are vague, at best. Though we may articulate our goals we can't be sure the other person is completely on board with those ideals. To alleviate the discomfort of having such discussions, many women prefer not to make any statements or ask any questions. Why risk the possibility of turning him off? Yet, there's a factor that can't be ignored. It will follow us through our entire experience with this guy. Is he dating other women?

We can no longer assume a man enters our life with the intention of dating us exclusively. We need to consider the reality that he may be seeing (and sleeping with) several other women as well. He may be keeping a "stable."

One of the great perks for men these days is that they're under no pressure to make a choice of partner. They're socially sanctioned to sleep with whoever is willing to sleep with them. As the rules of courtship have evaporated in lieu of modern sexuality, men aren't required to offer exclusivity to gain sexual favor. It's a goody that's offered for free.

In today's dating environment no woman should "assume" anything. The rules that formerly guided dating protocol are gone. Our only guidance is our internal wisdom. The behavior we exhibit, the partners we choose, and the honesty we establish with our prospective mate determines the outcome we experience.

How does a woman know if her man's collecting stable ponies to ride at will or if he's focused on the possibility a future with her? Here are eight clues that indicate you may be in his stable:

1. Do you feel uncertain and on edge most of the time?
2. Is contact at his discretion, as well as his response when you reach out to him?
3. Are your plans to get together cancelled or subject to frequent change?
4. Do you wonder where he is when not with you?
5. Do you fear asking questions about his availability as he may think you're insecure or needy?
6. Do you mentally review his statements, looking for the truth or for what's not being said?
7. Does he get text messages that he answers in private or with a "story?"
8. Do you suspect (or know) he's dating other women?

If you can answer yes to two or more of the above statements you've probably got a man who's keeping a stable. You've been groomed to participate in this group activity and programmed not to ask any questions. When you do speak up his response will be deflective, vague or accusatory.

No one gets to exclusivity from the stable. I know it's tempting to think you'll be the one who can. "If I can just keep my cool, be agreeable enough and hot enough, I'll get my spot. If I show him I'm not the 'crazy girls' he's dated in the past, that I'm easygoing, chill, and never complain ... then everything will change, in time."

That's the bait. And that's the hook where we get stuck. It's not about us. It's not about being good, or being the best. It's about this type of man's disposition. He's not a bad guy. He's simply in no hurry to make a decision. He's assuming, as many guys do nowadays, that you're okay with this set up. Since dating doesn't automatically mean moving toward partnership it's free of the rules regarding relationship behavior.

The only thing a woman needs to know is what she wants. And to remember that she can't force a man to be ready to enter partnership before he's ready to do so. If you're dating for fun this won't be of much concern. You may be doing the same thing. Perhaps you have an exciting collection of studs in your own stable. But if it's partnership you want, this isn't the type of man for you.

Not every guy collects a set of stable ponies. There are men (yes, living today and in the real world) who don't follow this format. They're of a different disposition. They approach dating with the intention of seeing only one woman at a time. Their focus is to find a partner. You'll know who they are by how to feel and how they behave.

When's the right time to discuss exclusivity? This concept needs to be stated as a foundational element, up front. It should be part of a modern woman's online profile, initial dating statements, and the focal point of her partner selection process. When put on the table as a condition of partnership, it doesn't need to be asked later as a question. This empowering angle cuts out the majority of men who're keeping a stable, as the woman who begins with exclusivity is too much work for an easy game of capture.

One of the most disturbing things I see in modern dating is the burden of the exclusivity conversation falling to the woman--- that, at some undetermined time in the future, it's her duty to ask, "Where's this going?" It's weak, disempowering and groveling. Why is it that the man gets to determine under which conditions a woman should give her body and heart?

This isn't a subject that can be ignored. If exclusivity is ignored for fear of "losing a man," then it's already too late. Whenever a woman compromises her values in order to gain admission to the game of love, she's already set a precedent for future treatment.

Our current world of modern dating needn't disempower women. Yes, men have the power of choice. But so do we. As women, we can lay the foundation for the type of relationship we want. The woman who speaks her mind and sets her standards is the woman who will have serenity when dating. And, she'll be the woman who draws in a man who wants what she wants, and wants it with her.