“Not tonight, Mr Right”

by Annie Kaszina on May 1, 2007

Every so often I come across a book that has a profound effect on the way I think. “Not tonight, Mr Right- why good men come to girls who wait” (by Kate Taylor) is the most recent one. The slightly flippant title, although self-explanatory, does not do the book justice. 

On the surface, it is a book about how to date successfully. Now I fully appreciate that getting back into the dating market is the last thing on the minds of many of my readers. And rightly so. 

Especially in the aftermath of an abusive relationship, I would, and do, advocate taking time out to 

a) make sense of how you became entrapped in an abusive relationship in the first place

 and

b) learn to love, respect and nurture yourself before you dip even one tippy toe back in the dangerous waters of dating.

That being the case what, you might ask, makes this book worthy of mention in this blog? 

For me, in a nutshell it is the writer’s unconditional belief in a woman’s right to honour her feelings and conduct her life in the way that she chooses. 

The central premise of the book is this: whether or not you have been sexually active in the past, it is your prerogative to take as long as you choose developing a sense of your partner and whether there is any real mileage in the relationship before you enter into a sexual relationship. 

Science, Taylor argues, proves that sex releases oxytocins that wreck your judgement. If a man is not prepared to wait, ideally the 6 months she suggests, if he cannot manage to
enjoy his time in your company, then he probably wasn’t going to be an ideal long-term partner anyway. For Taylor, if he is not sensitive to your needs and wishes in the early days of a relationship, chances are that things will only get worse.

This is where the book’s thesis becomes interesting. Over recent weeks I’ve spoken to a lot of women about it and every time the response has been along the lines of: “Oh, wow, you mean I don’t have to feel obliged to have sex! I can just explore whether or not I want to have a relationship with this person.”

Sex here is not so much the issue as the symbol. It is a symbol of women not feeling they
have a right to formulate their own needs and wishes, which are primarily emotional. 

Sex here is the most telling illustration of how a lot of women feel that their role is to be and do whatever a man expects of them in a relationship. The underlying fear is, of  course: “But if I don’t meet his demands, he won’t like me and he will finish with me.”

Taylor’s research shows the opposite. Men will have far more respect and regard for women who put respect for their own needs, wants and boundaries first. This is the complete opposite of what abused women do.

Abused women are so anxious to get their needs and wants met that they fall over themselves backwards to meet all of their partner’s needs and wants. (There is no
point in suggesting that they try to get boundaries respected, because they don’t even know where they might like to put a boundary.)

Underpinning this anxiety to please is the misguided hope that it is their partner’s turn first and then it will be theirs. Unfortunately, it’s like giving a small child a much desired toy ahead of his or her little friends and hoping that after a reasonable period of time he, or she will say: “Ok, I’ve had my turn. You can have it now.” It just doesn’t work like that. 

Small children need to be socialized and trained. Taylor argues, in all seriousness, that men need to be trained also. 

Now before you react and say, approximately “what a load of nonsense”, take a moment to think. You’ve probably tried it the other way: put a man and his demands on a pedestal and ended up with a tantrum throwing child. A lot of us have tried humouring men in all things and putting ourselves second. And we have proved quite conclusively that it does not work. We end up becoming increasingly drained and meeting with increasing contempt from our partner. 

We can of course continue down the same road and hope that we will achieve a different result, but what would be the point? Doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result is, after all, the definition of madness.

If doing the same thing keeps producing the same result, how can we possibly exclude the notion that doing something different might produce a different result? What’s to say that doing something radically different will not produce a radically different result?

Maybe you even know one or more women who run their relationships in a very different way to you. Maybe you know women who are more self-ish (that is to say less selfless) than you, and have a partner who dances attendance on them.

Not many women would turn down the chance of a genuinely loving, supportive, respectful relationship. Taylor’s message is that if you want one, you have to believe that you are truly worthy of one. It is not enough to say it from time to time; anyone can do that. You have to start acting as if you are truly worthy of one. 

The time to start is right now. The goal is to build a great relationship with yourself. That relationship will transform your life and stop you falling back into the old, harmful patterns of self-sacrifice and dependency on a man ever again.

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