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(Editor's Note, this letter was written before Doc's death in August, 2020 but still relevant as Doc's principles are timeless).
I reference your book whenever I have relationship problems, but I’m having trouble finding something that pertains to the one I have with my current girlfriend.
Holly and I have been together for four years and we have a good relationship despite some ups and downs. We date three times a week and talk by phone twice a day. Sometimes Holly’s Interest Level dips, and when that happens I try to make myself more of a Challenge. It usually works, but sometimes she responds with lots of anger.
Recently Holly has been less affectionate and she’s snapped at me a lot, though she still asks to be with me and calls a lot. I respond by being indifferent to her bossy remarks and I’ve also stopped taking her orders when she wants me to hang out with her instead of with my friends.
Last night the tension reached a climax. Holly wanted to be with me, but I planned to go out with my friends. As a compromise I told her that she and her friends could come over and that I’d make them drinks and they could go out afterwards. But she tried to convince me again to go out with her and became very upset when I told her no. I gave her valid excuses, but this sent her into an uncontrollable rage. I was able to calm her down and eventually told her I had to leave, but not before she laid into me for 20 minutes.
I know that Holly will come around, but I don’t think it’s okay for her to yell and treat me badly and for me to continue to act like it never happened. I want to make her happy, but I need to get my own emotions out too or I will end up bitter. Any suggestions, Doc?
Leo - who’s at the end of his rope
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I occasionally get letters and e-mails from guys who complain about the same thing you’re complaining about: “Help! I’ve read your book three times and can’t figure out which end is up.” Make no mistake about it, guys -- the answer to ANY question about women and dating IS in the book. But let’s go ahead, and if the answer isn’t there, I’ll apologize.
You say have a good relationship with Holly. Leo, this should be a GREAT relationship. A SPECTACULAR relationship. There shouldn’t be ANY ups and downs. When you hook up with a woman, why would settle for something that’s not incredible and exactly what you want?
You and Holly get together and talk on the phone HOW often? Dude…one-third of “The System” is Challenge! You two are so on top of each other all the time that there isn’t any room whatsoever for Challenge. Excuse me a second while I go drop a Xanax!
Trying to make yourself a Challenge now is like closing the barn door after the bull got out. You should have stayed a Challenge from the get-go. Right now you’re more like a yo-yo. You play hardball with Holly and get her to come at you, then when she does you go straight back to being a wimp because you think she’s changed. You don’t see that it’s being a consistent CHALLENGE that’s affecting her, putting her exactly where you want her.
But as it is, Holly is getting really ticked off at you. A big part of being a Challenge is HUMOR. I hope you’re handling this situation with a good dose of humor, pal. Because when a girl’s Interest Level is down to 51% to 55%, and it’s headed toward 49%, you’re going to need all the gentle humor you can muster.
When Holly displays all this contradictory behavior, you have to disappear. Don’t take her phone calls. Don’t return them. Once she starts disrespecting you by screaming and yelling, you have to CUT IT OFF. You’re not dropping her, but you’re going to disappear for a couple of weeks and see if it shakes her up.
Let me get this straight. You’ve got heavy-duty relationship problems and you’re arranging a group date? When everything is perfect, you can have the U.S. Navy over if you want. But when you’re mired in difficulties the last thing you want is an audience complicating things. With the kinds of stuff you’re battling, you shouldn’t have invited Holly over at all. Better yet, invite all her friends and don’t invite her. That’s playing super-hardball!
But you’re up against a woman displaying uncontrollable rage. Let me ask you a question, Leo. Is a woman in the grip of an uncontrollable rage – when she’s stomping on your ego out like a smoked-down cigarette – loving? And Holly doesn’t show the least bit of restraint when she attacks you. She lets you have it with both barrels. Man, I’d hate to see what she’d do if she didn’t love you!
This behavior of Holly’s has a lot to say not just about how low her Interest Level is, but also the way she does combat. Which means that every time you have an argument with this banshee, this is what you’re going to have to deal with. By the way, have you considered switching girlfriends?
By the time this debacle was over, you’d endured 20 whole minutes of a vicious tongue-lashing. Worse, you hung around to take the beating. I don’t know what it is with you guys. Like the Bottom Line Factor says, “They give you the tiniest morsel of hope, then they beat on you nonstop.” Amazing.
But you still think Holly will come around. Leo, her Interest Level is nowhere near decent right now – because it’s down in the 40s. What can you going to do with an Interest Level that low except wait to get dumped? Her screaming and carrying on is part of her bad attitude. And the worst part for you is that it’s completely separate from the fact that she despises you. You’re on some la-la tangent here if you think this situation is going to take a turn for the better. What you need to do is get out of town. Let Holly chase you, then you’ll see if there’s any real hope left.
You’re not here to make this girl happy, buddy. You’re here to raise Interest Level. While you’re trying to make Holly happy, her Interest Level is swirling around the toilet bowl. Are you sure you have my book?
Leo, right now your Interest Level is 100%. And you’re just grasping at straws. So forget about your emotions and being bitter. Those are the last things Holly cares about. Do your homework and study my book.
Remember, guys: until she wants to apologize, she doesn’t know how to find you.
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