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On Changing Your Mind and Granting Second Chances [Dear DBN]


No one ever fixed a wrong by doing nothing.  If you want the outcome to be different the next round, then things need to change.  This week, why you can’t leave second chances up to chance.  

I need some advice. I recently met this guy and I kind of steered the relationship towards friends with benefits because I don’t want him thinking I’m clingy, and I don’t want to get hurt if he doesn’t want me. However, now is there any way of pushing the relationship back into relationship territory or what do I do?

So you started working around the farm for free and now you want to get paid for your labor, huh?  Not an easy switch, but assuming your, uh, help, is irreplaceable, it can be done.  But first, let’s clear some things up: wanting a committed relationship and conducting yourself as such does not make you clingy.  It is possible to want a relationship and to be cool at the same time, despite whatever Bro Code propaganda you might have read online.  Acting like you don’t want something serious in efforts to not appear clingy doesn’t protect your feelings – it just enables you to continue acting when he says he doesn’t want something serious either.

Look, if he really likes you, he would never run for the hills if you said you felt the same.  And if confessing your feelings for someone makes them not want to be with you, you shouldn’t be with them.  But if you want to do the slow grow into a relationship, start by asking to do things other than just him — e.g. movies, the park, dinner, what have you.  After 9:30 pm is too late to hang out, don’t always just get drunk with each other, hang out in the mornings post-facto, don’t jump at his beck and call.  If you’re still getting sequestered to the 10 pm slot, then pull out the big guns and tell that man how you feel. You’re going to be hurt if he doesn’t want you either way, so you might as well play to win.

How do you know when to give a second chance and when to deny one?

Only give second chances to the people who ask for them.  Too often we forgive and forget without ever hearing an apology – all we hear is how much we don’t want to be wrong about that person.

Think about how frequently you tell your friends not to give someone a second chance, how many times you’re stunned by how a person wronged them and then how easily they let that person back in.  Yes, people make mistakes, but teachers don’t let you retake the test if you never ask them.  No professor ever walked into class and said, “everyone got a D, so we’ll take the exam again tomorrow. Here are all the mistakes you made.”  No way.  You need to go to office-hours and beg your case just to get a chance to take the test again.  That’s how you should treat second chances in your day to day.  Did that person go to office-hours, wait to see you, beg their case, and show they wanted to make a genuine effort to be better?  Second chance!  But if it’s anything less, do they really deserve it?

Second chances need to be earned, not given out like flyers.  So frequently we match the faith we have in people to the investment we wish they had in us. When it comes to second chances, they need to earn that faith by proving that investment.

I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.