Persistence: Turn on or future restraining order?

When you’re dating, is persistence a positive trait? Or is it more likely to have them running for the hills screaming, “Stop going through my garbage you insane motherfucker!”?*

Persistence /pəˈsɪst(ə)ns/ | noun

  • Continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
  • The continued or prolonged existence of something.

Synonyms: perseverance, tenacity, determination, resolve, resolution, resoluteness, staying power, purposefulness, firmness of purpose, patience, endurance, application, diligence, dedication, commitment, doggedness, steadfastness, tirelessness, stamina…

By definition it doesn't sound overly sexy, does it?

You: Jane, how did you and Michael end up together?

Jane: Well, he was really persistent. One day I just gave in and thought ‘bugger it’ — at least if I agree to go out with him he’ll eventually leave me alone.

You: And?

Jane: We’ve been married 10 years and he still pisses me off every single day. He’s just so… persistent.

As women, many of us bemoan men who don't make an effort. They don't text or call; they forget special occasions; they don’t listen when we’re talking. But when a man shows too much interest, some of us back away like a toddler from a plate of broccoli. (My first date after the end of my marriage ended in me running down George Street in Sydney hurdling bollards and dodging witches hats as I bolted from a man who started doing magic tricks and asked me to be his magician’s assistant. That’s too persistent.)

Conversely, a persistent woman may be labelled a ‘bunny boiler’ (that was one time…), baby-crazy or just plain desperate. Ouch.

So how do you show interest in a potential flame without crossing into the dicey territory of this…

It’s a fine line, and it’s one I’m yet to master. So I’ve been doing some research into the subject. I’m not one for playing games, so this list is more about fine-tuning your approach so they don't end the second date by filing a restraining order.

Give only as much as they give you

“If I try extra hard they’ll eventually realise what a catch I am!” That’s more likely a recipe for being taken advantage of — take it from someone who’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Remember when you saved up your pocket money to buy that cassette of Slippery When Wet? (Or something equally as cool…) — it was special, because you had to work for it. Your time, energy and attention are your most valuable assets, and they should be earned; don’t give them away to someone who doesn't give a rats arse about you.

Don’t do them. Do you.

It’s very easy to lose yourself when you’re in a relationship or pining after someone. Those little personality “adjustments” we’ve all made in order to seem more likeable to another — dialling up some aspects of our personality, and dialling down (or downright denying) others. That’s how you lose touch with who you are, what you want and what you need. Being persistent is fine, as long as you’re chasing after the things that will lift you up, not tear you and your sense of self to shreds.

Stop seeking reassurance. Confidence is your new best friend.

Repeat after me, “I am the motherfucking shit”. No stamp of approval from anyone else required. That’s all. This video is for you…

Pump the brakes and reveal yourself slowly

This one doesn't come naturally to me. I’m a bit of an open book. I once made a new best friend while sharing a toilet stall in a grungy Canadian bar at 3am. Everyone has a story — some more than others — but you need to up the price of admission into your life and stories. The best part about meeting someone is getting to know them — peeling back the layers of the fun, the freaky and the just plain fantastic. Don’t force it, let it happen and enjoy the process. Persistently asking probing questions and trying to understand what makes someone tick can come across as a bit OTT. The devil is in unearthing the little details that make someone unique.

No perks for jerks

Ever heard the saying, “Why would someone buy the cow if you’re giving the milk away for free?”. I’ll just leave this here.

I think it’s important to mention that these tips don’t override the basics of being a good person and treating people with respect. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Just don’t give it all away for nought. And most of all, walk away from the bunny…

*Anecdote based on something overheard that happened to a friend of mine…

Chronic over-sharer. Graphic language lover. Aspiring coffee addict. Highly functioning single person. Mum. Animal enthusiast. Don’t like much music post 1989.

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