Relationship Decisions that Bind You

Relationship Decisions that Bind You
Part of you wants to lay on the beach, get a tan, or just relax and do nothing.

But another part of you wants to work hard, live out your life goals, and make a difference in the world.

Part of you wants to get lean, but another part of you would rather eat brownies and ice cream.

Part of you wants adventure, but another part wants security and routine.

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins calls this “an internal civil war.” It’s a war that can trap you in limbo, getting none of the things you really want.

These internal conflicts sap your energy. We end up stagnant, never really committing to either side. When that happens, you miss out on living up to your potential. And you miss out on some of the best things in life.

This dynamic can really cripple a relationship.

There are so many uncertainties when it comes to romance. If you focus on those uncertainties, something terrible happens. You forget to go after anything specific. It’s easy to let your passion wither away and die.

That’s no way to live. Personally, I want to embrace passion. I’d rather be wrong sometimes, but live all out.

So here’s what I do. When I’m not 100% sure that I’m making the right call, I give myself permission to be wrong. Instead of waffling in limbo, I make a decision and get behind it. I don’t want to waste my energy. I want to live.

The fact is, you’ll never have all the information you need to make the perfect decision. As Samuel Butler said, “Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.”

That’s one of life’s hard lessons, and sometimes it’s scary. But not making a decision takes away your power. It stops you from taking action. It robs you of motivation and sucks the passion from your life.

That’s not what I want for you.

I want you to seize life. I want you to have adventure, passion, fun, fulfillment, and peace. I want you to live all out.

When you begin to feel the tension of the internal civil war, remember that the best you can do is draw from past experiences, gauge the current situation as well as you can, and go for it.

Don’t sit around worrying that you might have to change direction at some point in the future. That’s inevitable. Change happens. You’ll learn from your mistakes and press forward.

But that’s the key. You’ll be pressing forward. You’ll be learning and growing and living.

Don’t let life pass you by while you’re trying to decide which path to take. Call an internal cease-fire. Make a decision, and run with it. Live all out.

James Bauer

What Men Secretly Want

After consuming this short-guide, you will possess a secret that men cannot express well because it is so foundational to their view of the world that they don't even realize it is there.

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18 thoughts on “Relationship Decisions that Bind You

  1. Karen said:

    Live all out. I like that! It’s so much better than the annoyingly ubiquitous YOLO. Thank you for not saying that, hahaha.

  2. Kath said:

    Hi there,

    This has come at a moment in my life where I’m feeling absolutely sickened with indecision. Have been living with a guy for 15 yrs and I’ve been yearning for my freedom for 14 of those years. However, now it’s come time to actually leave, I’m feeling paralysed with fear that I might be making a mistake.

    He is a lovely, gentle man however, his inability to stick up for me over the years has sucked the passion right out of me. He has the ability to stick up for others because he has stuck up for the people who have been unkind to me eg his mother who has notoriously been unkind to his girlfriends in the past has been really awful to me every time I see her. He chooses to do nothing about it, even sticking up for her when I get upset.

    Our neighbour has been really, really awful to him and he’s often saying awful things about her. However, if I say awful things about her he tells me off…in front of her. There are many other examples which I won’t bore you with.

    I am a very protective person and I need a man who will be equally protective of me. Otherwise, my guy is totally besotted with me.

    So, we now have a passionless existence, I hate it when he tries to kiss me. However, I feel strangely secure with him… I think maybe I feel strangely secure but at the same time, NOT ‘in love’ or ‘devoted’.

    Totally confused and fearful.

    Your article about being in ‘limbo’ has come at a majorly appropriate time for me.



    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Kath. It sounds like you are really good at loving those you draw into your inner circle. I’m sorry your man has not learned this important aspect of your love language (sticking up for you). Your question is one I hesitate to weigh in on without knowing a little more background so I’d encourage you to submit your question to our relationship coaches. The form for submitting your question will guide you through the process of providing some needed background info.


  3. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    Oh my goodness, once again you have hit the nail well and truly on the head, James. Your articles make so much sense. I am doing exactly that – procrastinating – worrying about getting it wrong – whether my health will be strong enough to do the things I still want to do before I am too old. At almost 67 years young, I have not got that much time left now to allow myself to procrastinate. My father used to say “You are a long time dead”. And doesn’t that say it ALL. In his memory, I will try to take the bull by the horns and get on with life. But it is not EASY when you are a natural worrier. However, your articles do help enormously. Thank you, once again, for your wonderful wisdom. It always seems to come at the right time for me. Lorna (LaLa)

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      PS – I have found that sometimes listening to other people and taking their advice can be the WRONG thing to do – they will usually try to tell you to hold back and not do the scarey things you want to do. They will even do this when you don’t ASK for their advice and even ask them specifically NOT to get involved. They just can’t help themselves. So that just makes the internal conflict even worse. I think we have to close our ears to external input, and listen to our heart and instinct. As you say, if you get it wrong, you always have the option to try again. Lorna

  4. DJ said:

    James, this came at the perfect time. I have been seeing the same guy for 4 years. We are exclusive, however he is ‘elusive’ about where this is going. I have made it clear I will not simply live together. He makes comments about the future and that has caused me to put my goals on hold, waiting for a decision. I want to buy a house, but have been waiting for him to make a move with us. I guess I should continue to plan my life as a single person until he decides he wants something else.

    • James Bauer said:

      I think that’s best, DJ. You’ll feel more relaxed and happy in the short run and though it’s counterintuitive, he is more likely to pursue you with a more serious commitment when you are not just waiting around for him.

  5. Rozzy said:

    Hi James!

    I need your advice.
    I just want to share my situation right now. I’m gonna start by saying that I’m in a long distance relationship with a guy for more than a year now. When I say long distance, I meant oceans apart. I’m in the US and he lives in the Netherlands. Like most relationships it started with a lot of voice mails, facetime, Skype, Line you name it we’ve done it. We met in a group of musicians. He plays professional piano and sing and I play guitar, ukelele and sings as well. Long story short, I’ve found a guy who finally gets what I like and love doing and he loves it too. We fell both inlove with each others individuality and special traits. But in the past couple of months I noticed it would take him a day or two to reply to my messages the longest is three days. I didn’t bug him or nag at him for doing so. I didn’t say a thing. That’s after I found your lessons of what men really thinks. I slowly incorporated it in how I communicate with him.
    We met last November when the group that we are in had a “Meet-Up” in NY. We immediately connected like we’ve known each other for a long time.
    This coming June we’re supposed to go to Vegas. I’ve reminded him a couple of days ago that if we want to get a cheaper air fare, we better book now or else it’ll be costly.
    So, then yesterday he called. I wasn’t expecting the topic that was brought up.
    For the first time he opened up. But not the kind of talk I wanted to hear. He said he’s confused of what he wants. He’s really not sure what he wants right now. He said I’m the sweetest and the most wonderful he’s ever met and he doesn’t think he’d be able to find someone like me. By this time, my heart is just about ready to explode. I kept my calm and my voice. Emotions are strong and wasn’t able to hold it. I broke down into pool of tears still trying to come it back the whole time because I don’t want him to hear me. He heard the trembling and cracking while I speak. I asked him if he wants to break up with me and he immediately said no. He doesn’t want to break up with me but he can’t decide what he wants. He said doesn’t see himself moving right now.
    I’m also confused. He kept saying how much he loves me and he wants me to be happy and that he can’t imagine me out of the picture. Because he said everytime he thinks about it, everything turns black and sad and lonely.
    What can I possibly say or do to save our relationship?
    Please help us….
    I can’t imagine my world without him…he pulled me out of the darkness of everything I’ve been through. He’s the one that I’ve really fallen inlove for the first time. I’ve never felt so much love for a guy until I’ve met him.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Rozzy. If I understood your question correctly, it sounds like you’re saying you both love each other but he is not ready to leave his country and culture behind to move to the states. So to answer your question, it sounds like the thing you could do to save your relationship is to move to the Netherlands. Maybe you’re not ready for that either, but it sounds like the only way your relationship will work in the long-term is if you find a way to actually integrate your lives by closing the distance.

  6. Charlene said:

    Im in a three month commited relationship after one month. He mentioned to me that i drew him close to me. I didn’t draw him close intentionally. I tried to let him know what i was looking for. After getting to know him a little better I liked him more and more. Know he wants to marry me. Im feeling insecure because i don’t know if i can believe him. Is he just saying this to keep me tagging on. How do i know he is telling the truth. There also have been times when i feel he is pulling back. Sometimes he is different around me from the way he was in the begining. He sometimes show negative body lauange. On the phone is still the same. He is always available. His home is always open to me. Am i putting to much into this relationship. Help!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Charlene. A relationship is based on both the present interactions and also the sense of continuity regarding commitments and expectations for what the relationship will be like in the future. It sounds like you feel good about the first part (the relationship experience right now) but uncertain how to respond to the changes he is suggesting about commitment for the future.

      Listen to your instincts. If he loves you he will be happy to continue a relationship with you rather than demanding you rush toward a commitment you don’t feel ready to make. Some of his body language confusion could be related to shifting mood states that make him prone to impulsivity or emotional sensitivity. I would recommend you let the relationship unfold slowly to watch how his way of relating to you changes (or remains stable) over time.

  7. Julia said:

    Hi again James! I’ve been reading your blog constantly, and appreciating your wisdom! Thank you for all the insight that you share!

    This particular post really hit a sore spot for me right now. I’m in a situation in which I’m battling indecision, and also struggling to understand what I really want. And while this article helps (in that it motivates me and reassures me it’s ok to just take a decision and stick with it), it still doesn’t quench my anxiety… In a way, it’s silly, because it’s not a dramatic situation, nothing bad happened so far… And still, I’ve been spinning in my head for days, trying to come up with a solution to avoid destroying a good thing by trying to ask for something greater…

    Here’s my story: last summer, while on holiday, I’ve shared a fantastic fling with an wonderful man. There was chemistry and connection, and I felt safe and taken care of; I also made a point of showing interest and respect and appreciation for all the attention and entertainment and pleasure he provided (yes–ever since I bought What Men Secretly Want more than two years ago, I’ve been successfully using the Respect Principle with anyone from my Dad to my co-workers to my dates, and it always helps). It was wonderful, and what started out as a casual sex-date turned into a 3-day romance with lots of beautiful memories to cherish. After we parted, we haven’t really kept in touch, but there were some small signs of continued interest (he found me and connected with me on various social media; I found him on a dating site where we have a freaky 99% compatibility score; and when I messaged him on his birthday, he said he “remembers our summer days quite often” and that I’m amazing and he would love to see me again). I’ve been thinking of him as well, and I firmly believe that we’d make a very good couple; but I haven’t really “waited” for him in any way (I had plenty of local dated in the meantime).

    Now, it gets tricky, because next month I will be in his country again, and I chose to spend some days in his city. I messaged him to ask for advice on transportation, and when he replied helpfully, I confessed that I would feel very happy to meet. He said it would be great, and invited me to stay at his place this time, which I accepted gratefully. Rationally, I know I should just go and be light-hearted and just enjoy the moment and make some more happy, relaxed, passionate memories. And the irrational part of me wants more; this part of me insists that this is a great man and that we could be happy together, and wants to just tell him that I would be very interested in more than a second fling, and that I’m open to getting to know him better in (for starters) some kind of non-exclusive long-distance arrangement. And I’m afraid, James. I’m afraid that this internal civil war will make me feel like a tense and anxious and tentative mess, instead of the luxuriously relaxed, zero-expectations, enjoying-the-moment vacationing goddess that I seemed last summer. I don’t want to freak him out, or change his opinion of me, or disrespect him in any way…. What can I do? Can I shut up the future-thinking part of me, and get to a point of just enjoying spending time with him again? Would it be worth it to confess my deeper interest?

    What do you think, James? Do you have any insight you can share here? Would you or my coaches be able to provide more advice if I asked this as a private question? I’ve also just re-read What Men Secretly Want, and I was thinking of trying a version of the technique in Module 6… and I’m not sure that would work, given that he’s not my boyfriend, he’s not invested in me, I’m just a girl he had an amazing time with last year… Any thoughts? Thank you!

    • James Bauer said:

      Wow, Julia. That’s quite a story!

      It sounds like much of the attraction is based on the successful application of being fully relaxed and present, which reveals your best qualities. I can see why this new turn of events makes it hard to stay in that state of mind.

      I recommend you let go of control. Instead of trying to make something happen, go there with the intent of learning (an open and inquisitive state of mind).

      Learn about his vision of the future and whether it includes a desire for a committed relationship. Learn more about what makes him happy and what he wants to focus his life on. Treat it like an opportunity to learn more about him and much of your anxiety will decrease. Naturally, you will be more relaxed with this mindset which increases the odds that he might be the one to bring up the possibility of going after something more.

      Here are two more sources for more ideas for insights:

      Sending your question to one of the relationship coaches who can spend more time brainstorming ideas for you, or

      Checking out some things I wrote on a very similar topic: destructive abundance


      • Julia said:

        Thank you so much, James! This is wonderfully helpful, I will keep it in mind. Yes, I think I was in a mindset of “destructive abundance”, and it feels useful to realize that. Saying “let go of control” sounds much more reasonable and doable when reframed in terms of learning. Learning, curiosity, being open and interested. Yes!!! I can do that. Thank you!!

  8. Simone said:

    OMG, I think I’ve lived in limbo for most of my adult life, I quite liked limbo and choice to stay there, till 12 weeks ago when my husband of almost 20 years and 28 year relationship, since we were teens, left me. I feel my life now is in turmoil. I’m struggling with the fact that he’s not coming back, wanting him to come back and nothing happening. At the moment I am in a state of fear and anxiety. I need to make a decision to move on, as he has given me no indication that he wants to come back, in truth the opposite. I want to seize my life, I want to live all out. How do I do this?

    • James Bauer said:


      You already have the motivation to seize life and move forward. Now you just need to make that your reality through daily actions.

      A good way to start is to consider the price you will have to pay in order to live your life full tilt ahead. Then resolve in your mind to pay that price. For example, that might mean you decide to let go of any remaining hope for this man to return into your life. Be willing to pay the price. That will dissolve any remaining internal ambivalence or resistance you feel about moving forward.


  9. Carolyne said:

    Hi James
    I have been in a long distance relationship for 2 years now. We met as a blind date and I was very reluctant to go and he is one of my best friends old roommate from their college days and we didn’t quite hit it off right at first but towards the end of the evening I finally decided to just let go and relax and I really ended up having a great time we continue to keep our relationship going and then I didn’t hear from him for a summer.
    We reconnected again after a period of time and have been staying in contact and seeing each other back and forth and he says that he really likes me loves spending time with me would love to have a future with me always talks about the future plans but when we start a good dialogue sometimes I do not hear from him for two or three days maybe a week which I know that he genuinely works a lot! I am self-employed so of course I work a lot too and I am able to adjust my schedule around his when we want to go do things I’ve given up on trying to get him to go with me on some of my family trips because of his work schedule which is fine I still live my life completely and fully like I always have but he indicated last time that he would like to come down and meet my parents I was so excited and when I asked him what he’s doing this weekend is it okay if I just come up what would he do if I was just to show up and visit because when we are together we are like one unit the whole time until I leave and then I always feel so good about it but then I start to get the feeling that was I mistaken was it really that great am I correct in assuming that we both have the same feelings which we do when we are together I know that for sure. Maybe it’s just me overthinking the situation but sometimes I feel like I should just say hey I can’t do this anymore I need more than this and I don’t want to do it through text message or over the phone I would prefer to do it in private when were together but then when we are together I don’t want to ruin the moment I seriously need some help here obviously lol! I’m not actively dating anybody else it’s not like it’s interfering in my everyday life but there is a part of me that would like a sense of belonging and some sort of a commitment monogamous commitment and I’m not sure how to say that to him and I want to know if I say that perhaps it will scare him off but maybe that’s the chance I have to take. On the other hand I tell myself I’m always working anyway or with my children and my grandchildren so it’s not like it’s a real big deal and I have nothing better to do what would be your advice on this?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Carolyn. We discuss personal questions like this all the time on the private, member’s only forum. Maybe you’d like to join us? Here’s the link if you want to join.

      My opinion? It sounds like you are enjoying the relationship, but not enough for this to continue indefinitely. You won’t be happy if the next step never happens in this relationship, right? If that’s true, then live your life on purpose. Be willing to take a risk to go after the life you REALLY want.


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