I’ve been doing this Friday Night Date Place column for a while now. I honestly thought that I had run out of steam and said pretty much everything I had to say on the topic of dating. Sure, it seems like I am especially hard on men. That’s because I am one (write the devil you know), I’ve screwed up a lot, I’ve watched us screw up a lot, plus, most of my friends are women, so I hear about the “sins” of others. A lot. Let me give you an example.

The other night, while minding my own business, trying to catch up on this week’s American Idol, a war council meeting broke out. Men, you know what I mean: when all the women in the room form a circle and decide to “discuss” (that’s what you call it once the Amens and shouting stop) the latest grievances committed against them by their significant others. I know my place during these impromptu meetings: on the far couch, silent, and taking notes on my lap top.

The sin of the week? Making promises you can’t keep.

Men, we’re so easily caricaturized as “lying, cheating dogs”. I know too many of us have given women reason to think this so freely of us, like we’d just as soon cheat and lie as breathe. But this speaks to a sub-category of this behavior, the lack of follow through. When you

-promise to help out on rent or bills (then spend the money on something else)
-promise to take her out for Valentine’s Day dinner (and instead bring home magic beans)
-promise to do something (then back out at the last minute – for no good reason)

This cuts both ways, not being solely a “guy thing”. Folks want people they can depend on. Like many things, a lot of this behavior starts off meaning well – promising what they hope to be able to do. Good intentions are great, but they end up making promises based on what they want or intend to do when they should be making promises based on what they can carry through on.

Each broken promise leads to having to reassure that much harder that THIS time will be different. Why? Because they will no longer believe you. You will be seen/proved as undependable – not a support, not someone they can count on. Worse case: you may become someone they’d be better off without.

Trust is vital to any relationship and I could write a whole book on this topic. Folks have to be able to take you at your word. Broken promises lead to losing faith. And a dark night of the soul for a relationship is every bit as tough to work through as a crisis of faith. We are striving to be people of integrity. Reliable, responsible, mature people whose character ought to speak for itself. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’ll only lead to a significant other that you can’t keep.

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