by Alison James
Australian author, speaker and dating coach Mark Rosenfeld knows firsthand the challenges of navigating romantic relationships. After struggling with shyness, he took on a confidence-boosting job as an exotic dancer in 2011, working with men at both ends of the assertiveness spectrum. In this milieu, he gained a better understanding of men’s thoughts and actions related to women. Through his career as a dancer while in his own satisfying relationship, Rosenfeld also personally communicated with about 50,000 women, many of which opened up about their own trials and tribulations with dating.
A resident of Brisbane, Rosenfeld launched the website MakeHimYours.com.au in 2014, sharing what he’s learned in order to help women stop experiencing frustrations in dating and start attracting healthy, happy relationships. He’s also participated in the conversation at The Good Men Project on what enlightened masculinity means in the 21st century.
What are the greatest misconceptions women have about men?
Both genders face significant, yet different, challenges, and so believe the other gender has it easier. Men want to feel cared for and heard. Many are terrified to approach a woman; they fear rejection or not being a good enough provider. Often, when a woman perceives that a man needs space, it’s his fears and insecurities that are keeping him from deeper intimacy.
What mistakes do women make in the courtship phase?
Women often get ahead of themselves in the dating stage, instead of taking enough time to let things unfold. I tell women to slow down and date multiple men to counter that tendency. It’s also good to “widen the funnel” and date different types of men, especially if you seem to attract the so-called “wrong” type. Keep deep emotions and commitments out of the courtship phase, while you discover who someone is and if they are right for you.
Why do both genders need to nurture their feminine energy?
As a man, I can spend too much time on my masculine energy and be too logical and focused on end results. I can lose a sense of self, presence and connection with the present moment. Meditation is one entry point; I find practicing a martial art is grounding, as is spending quality time with a woman. If an individual spends too much time in either energy, imbalance occurs; everyone has to find their own equilibrium.
What are good ways to practice self-care while seeking and sustaining a relationship?
Find activities in your day that make you feel nurtured, happy and good about yourself. Take care of your health, home and friendships. Exercise some independence. Make your life fulfilling, so that men want to be part of your exciting days.
How can we best navigate the world of online dating and other means of meeting potential mates?
It starts with your mindset. If you think you will be on a dating site for three weeks and find a mate, don’t bother. Be prepared to engage for a minimum of six to 12 months. Consider bad dates as reasons to laugh.
Think of it as “online introducing”. It’s up to you to quickly get past the chat stage to real communication and real dates. Online potential mates don’t have a “vibe” for you like they do in person. I suggest talking with prospects on the phone and keeping first dates short. Keep an open mind to recognize prospects you might otherwise overlook.
Online dating is a supplement, not a substitute, for meeting compatible men or women in real life. You should be tapping networks of friends, family and colleagues to make connections, as well as being open to meeting potential mates at public events.
Which signs indicate that a dating prospect wants to pursue a genuine relationship?
Emotional momentum, combined with consistency, is an important sign. Anyone can put in effort for a little while; but do they periodically disappear? No one wants someone they feel a connection with to physically or emotionally wander away, or risk the object of their affection thinking they aren’t interested. Make sure they are reciprocating the effort you put in.
Prioritizing is another sign; a person will find a way to see someone they care about. A key third sign is integration. They will want to respectfully integrate you into their world more and more, introducing you to friends, family and work colleagues.
Look for this overall pattern to continue over time. It’s vital to let people prove themselves with their actions.
Alison James is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.