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Sexual Attraction + Compatibility = Nothing?

coupleproblem1“I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest girl I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you.”

 

WTF?

This seems to be the standard hookup dump line these days. In fact, if you get that much, you’re lucky; this level of emotional sharing is reserved for the very best, most intimate hookups that are destined for the trash heap. I must confess, I don’t get it. What is wrong with this picture? Don’t boys realize that love is a drug? That falling in love is the best high there is in this life? 

OK, guys want to sleep around. I get that. But surely the whole hookup script must get tiresome. The drinking to blackout, the looking around the room as closing time nears, hooking up with a stranger, spooning in a twin bed and not getting enough sleep, waking up with a hangover and a horrible taste in your mouth. Kissing the stranger on the cheek, going through the motions of putting the stranger’s number in your phone.

Even if guys are programmed to crave variety, is the sameness, the monotony of this awkward weekend scene not enough to make them want something more, something different, like having sex with someone you are crazy about? 

Uh, I guess not. 

So what can girls do? How can girls maintain their self-respect? Studies about hooking up have turned up a phenomenon called “the fake boyfriend.” The fake boyfriend is the boy that you’ve been hooking up with for a while, and you know he’s not hooking up with anyone else.

But…..you haven’t Defined the Relationship explicitly.

But…..he is still texting you all the time. And you’ve hooked up four weekends in a row. His friends tease him and call you his girlfriend. He holds your hand in public. And you would never consider hooking up with someone else randomly now and risk losing him just when you were getting somewhere. Plus, you like him, you don’t want anyone else right now.

But….you wish he would just bring it up and make it official. 

And…..poof, he’s gone. No texts. Eyes averted on campus. His behavior when you see him out at night is overtly single male obnoxious. His friends confide sympathetically that “he handled that poorly.” Your friends say, “he sucks.” How is this possible? You know he liked you. You know you were compatible and were building something real. Ugh, it must be your fault. You couldn’t get him to care enough. You weren’t good enough to get him off the market. You weren’t enough, weren’t enough, weren’t enough. And off he goes, oblivious to your hurt feelings, seeking another girl to begin the cycle again. 

How could this disaster have been prevented? As young women navigate their way through the hookup culture, one of the most common mistakes they make is to behave like a girlfriend, when, in fact, they should be acting like a free agent. You must ask him explicitly what his intentions are before you find yourself in a vulnerable position.

For some girls, that might mean the first hookup. A few girls will not feel vulnerable even in a sustained sexual NSA (No Strings Attached) relationship. But most women desire a commitment from a man before they share their body with him. You have to know yourself, and you are responsible for looking out for your own feelings. You can’t know what he is thinking unless you ask him explicitly, and until he answers explicitly.

Girls hate to initiate “the talk,” with good reason. Guys dread “the talk.” Fair enough. But you owe it to yourself to keep your options open until you have agreed to be exclusive. It is far too common for girls to learn that the boy they’ve been “seeing” has hooked up with someone else. When you don’t verbalize what you want, you lose control. Girls are afraid of verbalizing their desire for a relationship, of pressuring the guy to commit. They figure he’ll bolt if they pressure him. Guys have figured this out. They go along, getting as much as they can from a girl for as long as it lasts.

Is it possible that he will fall for you even though he didn’t intend to? Yes, but it’s unlikely. Guys usually can state up front whether they are open to the idea of being in a relationship, and they usually don’t change their minds. You can be in control of your relationship if you state clearly what you want and what you will not tolerate. If he walks, well, you know what I’m gonna say. Good riddance. It is not your job to coax him out of his avowed intention not to be tied down to any one girl. Until he commits, you should feel free to encourage attention from any guy who expresses interest. Keep your distance, protect your heart. Whatever you do, do not wear it on your sleeve! heart-on-sleeve


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  • Jon Ray

    What's up with the GIRLS who have boyfriends they are not happy with, yet who flirt incessantly with me? The ones who get drunk and call/text/interweb me in the middle of the night, telling me things like they'd rather be with me than their boyfriend? The girls who use a glass of wine as an excuse to make out/hook-up with me behind closed doors, but stay with the BFs they supposedly loathe? The ones who bolt when I ask them to break up with said “loser” BF?

    Let's not forget that it's a two-way street often resulting in, “I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest GUY I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you.”

    I'm a guy and most of the time, I'm perfectly alright with hooking up with girls that have loser boyfriends. Sometimes, I actually prefer this. Let their BF handle all the leg work, I'll take them when they're drunk and horny. But, I'm also a heart-sleever from time to time. So, girls, WTF is going through your head?

  • Beki

    Wow did that post hit close to home. I “dated” a guy for three months and that is basically the speech I got when he found someone else. WTF??? I am in my early 30s and have been around the block a time or two, and while I have dated more than my share of douche bags, I believe that good & decent and nice guys still exist. It's just wading through the bullshit that gets tiring.

  • susanawalsh

    Grrrr, I hate the girls who do this shit and ruin it for everyone else! Douche Baguettes. Jon, you make a very good point, I know there are lots of great guys getting jerked around. BTW, it sounds like there might be one particular girl who is upsetting you at the moment. FIDO: F**k It Drive On, she is unworthy!!!!

    OK, now a word to my girls: This guy getting shafted is nuts. I mean, this chick must be certifiably insane. Jon Ray, is soooooo The Whole Package. He is adorable, funny, sweet, successful, so smart, he has really got it going on. I have a little cougar crush on him from his blog, and I keep trying to project it onto my 19 year-old daughter, who just says “Get outta here.” But I'm telling you, this boy is such a catch!

    His blog is at http://www.whoisjonray.com, and I recommend you start by reading “On Being a Nice Guy,” as it relates to his comment here. He's in his mid-20s, lives in Austin, TX. On his blog he lists his phone number, so I encourage you to check him out and then give him a call. Seriously, girls, he's hot.

    • Steve

      Hi Susan Im just trawling thru some of your old posts and found this. Now I want to read the Jon Ray blog ‘On being a nice guy’ – his blog is down – any ideas?

  • susanawalsh

    True story. I give you a ton of credit for not giving up on the male species entirely. There ARE decent men out there. I've been married to a sweetie pie for 24 years, yikes. :-)

  • Megan

    So when is John Ray moving to NYC? My current hookup right in front of me tonight told a girl he didn't have a girlfriend and then told her how it was so cool of her to make time in her busy schedule to hang out with her friend. I was like excuse me what do you think I do all day twiddle my thumbs. Needless to say he did not get this girls number and told me later he did not get a vibe from her so he isn't going to call her. Then was like when will I see you again. I told him he'll see me when he sees me. I'm taking a two week time out from him and see what he does at my birthday. Seriously I do not need another best friend.

  • susanawalsh

    AAARRRGGGHHH. This guy is a fuckwit! How on earth can he think that behavior is OK? The fact that he was so open about it tells me that he is not seeking a relationship, or that the two of you are not on the same page. I think taking a time out is a v. good idea. And when that's over if he tries to get in there I would ask him what his deal is. I hate to see you waste time, tho in the past he has been very sweet. You need to find out what's going on there, so you don't waste the pretty.

    xoxo

  • Megan

    I do need to find out what is going on here and have failed pretty awful at the break thing. If only he didn't like talking with me and I with him. I'm trying I really am and we have only been emailing about plans for this weekend which is a group thing. Ah maybe perhaps I will talk. He just keeps throwing around the friend word so I'm guessing I'll just take his lead be friends and flirt shamelessly with other guys and hopefully find one or at least make him realize what he is missing out on by just being friends. There are many fish in the sea and he is just one.

  • susanawalsh

    Ah, you are 80% of the way there! You realize that he is just one guy, and that perhaps it is not going to happen. So I say: Don't get even, get even better. His loss.

  • Megan

    You are so right.

  • Megan

    Ugh I just can't stay away. On the bright side he does all the contacting I just refuse to ignore it.

  • susanawalsh

    Well, that's understandable – and OK. Sounds like you know better at this point than to get emotionally invested. What about having a convo with him about all of this? Just a thought.

  • Megan

    A conversation is going to be had soon. He lives outside the city so we haven't had a chance to just have any one on one time recently. I'm planning on it soon. No worries I even have something planned out to say. Thanks for your comments they really are helpful and it is nice to have a place to write about what's going on and know other people are going through it to. All my friends are in relationships so it can be rather frustrating being the single one.

  • susanawalsh

    I've got my fingers crossed! Glad you enjoy HUS and find it helpful – that's
    why I'm here.

  • Morning_glory

    Hi, Susana! I recently discovered your blog. I don't agree with everything, but sometimes you are incredibly right (and cool!). I know my comment here is late, but I just read this and is exactly what I went through this week. I had been hooking up for 3 months with this dude, he always asked me the spend the next day hanging out at his place and he asked me to go out to movies and stuff a couple of times. He even took a day off from work to be with me! This week I finally summoned the courage to ask him if it was just sex, because in that case I didn't wanted to sleep at his place or hang out any more, just leave afterwards. (I though it was pretty dangerous to get so close to a guy if wasn't open to the possibility of something more than sex). After a lot of the same old stuff (“I'm not looking for anything serious, blah blah…) he admitted it was just sex, but he didn't see anything wrong with us “getting along fine”. He also said that I could do whatever I wanted, and that I didn't had to hang out anymore if I didn't wanted to. I still hooked up with him that night (a moment of weakness, haha) but when I tried to leave at midnight he was all: “how can you leave now? blah blah” I left, and the next day I recovered some of my brains and send him a text telling him it was over (I heard in my mind the words “intimacy light” all day long, haha). I'm kind of sad, he was a really great guy, but I felt dissapointed with his reaction to what I said. I'm being a really brave girl. I even went ahead and got a makeover and I feel really hot an optimistic, haha. I would love to read what you think about my story. PS: sorry if my grammar is kind of funny, I'm not a native English speaker and I don't live in the US (a foreign fan, hahaha)

  • susanawalsh

    Morning glory, I am really happy to meet you! Thanks for coming by and introducing yourself. First let me say that your English is excellent, complete with idioms! It's better than many Americans', which I'm afraid may say something about our schools. :-/

    I read your story, and I can't help but think WHY? WHY? WHY? What is his problem? You enjoy spending time together, have good sex. What is he holding out for? I am sooooo glad that you ended it. He is not to blame for the three months, since he never lied, but it's a really good thing that you finally know what he is thinking.

    I am proud of you for taking charge of it, being strong and independent. You know that you deserve someone who will give you what you want. I'm sure that he respects you for taking a stand. His loss. FIDO!

    Good for you also for getting the makeover. Feeling hot and optimistic is about as good as it gets as you head into a new weekend!

    Morning glory, please stop by again and let me know how it's going!

  • Morning_glory

    My story took an unexpected turn. I'll try to keep it short.Today at 12AM he texted me wanting to know why I ended things last Wednesday. We ended talking on the phone for 2 hours, about silly stuff, but also he asked me what had happened and told him plainly that I had realized that he meant more to me than just sex. He said that he wanted to see me and he also said: “Nobody will give a Nobel for saying this, but I really like talking to you”. As for the “getting together” part, at first he meant going to his place, then he changed it to “what do you want to do?”. Anyway, I'm really busy this week, so I told him that I'd see him Friday. And before hanging up he said like 10 times: “see you Friday, then”. So there I was, in my bed, at 3AM, realizing I don't have any idea about what's going on in that boy's head (or in any male brain, in general haha). I do want to see him. And I'm sure that he's not the kind of guy who would take adventage of my feelings just to get laid. But now I'm really confused!

  • susanawalsh

    Yay, I was hoping that would happen. It's too early to say, but it is clear that once you exited his life, he realized he wants you to be a part of it. The question is, What is he willing to give? Last week he said it was just sex, this week he focuses on enjoying your company. That's a good start. You didn't ask for my advice here, but I'm gonna give it to you anyway, Morning glory. DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH HIM ON FRIDAY! You got that? DO NOT. Your credibility is riding on it. Hold out for something meaningful, or become platonic friends if you want to, but I think you will be a very unhappy girl if you have sex with him and nothing changes. Ggaaaahhhh, please let me know what happens!

  • Morning_glory

    I was hoping to get some advice, I kinda forgot to ask (end of semester, very little sleeping hours, haha). Well… I guess I can try… I mean… I will wait! How hard can it be? (very hard… but I'll keep focused on my true goal) Thanks a lot! I'll keep you posted!

  • susanawalsh

    I forgot to mention earlier that it is AWESOME and amazing that you told him plainly how you feel about him! That is so brave and so strong, and it didn't freak him out. It's a perfect example of what I was advocating in my post Say What You Need to Say. It's so much better than mixed-up communication and guessing games. Excellent!

  • Morning_glory

    Well, I took I some inspiration from that post. I've been straightforward before, but never with so much confidence as now. And it really does feel kinda like jumping off a cliff :)

  • susanawalsh

    But you already jumped and you're still here to tell the tale! And he called! No matter which way it goes, I am so convinced that you did the right thing by telling him how you felt. You will be able to look back on this and feel really good about taking that risk and being honest with him, I'm sure of it.

  • beautifuldreamer

    Hi Susana! I just recently discovered your blog as well… I was just surfing around google and came across it. So far I am absolutely loving your articles and they all ring so true to what I have experienced with guys, love, relationships, etc.
    I was hoping if you could help me with my scenerio… I was hooking up with a guy friend who previously made it clear to me he had feelings for me when I was dating someone else a couple years ago. Around the end of last year we got back into contact and started IM'ing 24/7 about anything and everything. Anyway, long story short, we hooked up 2-3 nights a week, and of course, it was usually about his satisfaction. I went along and did it anyway to avoid conflict, but I hardly got anything out of it.
    So about two weeks ago, I told him that I wanted to call it quits with this “Friends with Benefits” arrangement because I wasn't getting what I wanted out of it. He started saying that the last time it was all about me, and that I am being selfish about my needs. WTF! I forgot to mention that during this whole time we have been talking, it almost felt like we were in a relationship because we butt heads a lot with random things. He ended up deleting me about a week ago from IM, I never called him on it, but I got very upset and confused as to why he did that. Eventually, it started bothering me so much that I emailed him and just say “Hey what have you been up to? I've hardly seen you online lately”.. trying to act like I didn't know. He replied back and basically said Nothing, just been busy. How are you” etc etc. This might be a dumb question to ask but what is really happening here? Did he just throw me to the curb because he's not getting what he wants from me anymore? The sad thing is that I actually missed talking to him via IM. Please help!

  • susanawalsh

    Hi beautiful dreamer, I am really happy you found Hooking Up Smart and find it helpful. Thanks for commenting! This situation sounds very complicated, but let me give you my thoughts about what you've written:
    1. Why did this guy make his feelings known when you were unavailable a couple of years ago? Were the two of you so close that he just couldn't keep the truth from you anymore? Because normally if you were dating someone, it would be appropriate for him to keep those feelings to himself until the timing was better. Otherwise, it's just burdensome and awkward.
    2. It sounds like you had the FWB arrangement for 5-6 months. I'm sorry the sex sucked! I know that's hard to tell someone, he probably just doesn't know what he is doing, but I wonder why you would go along for such a long period of time. You know you deserve better, girl!
    3. His accusing you of being selfish is ridiculous, but if you basically told him that he is no good in bed, I can imagine that he was feeling EXTREMELY defensive.
    4. How can he say that last time it was all about you, when you were in a relationship at the time? If anything, he sounds like he is very worried about maintaining the upper hand.
    5. When you say deleting you on IM, do you mean he blocked you? Because normally, if he just deleted you from his buddy list, you wouldn't be aware, right? If he deleted you in a way that made you aware of it, he seems hurt, angry, or both.
    6. To be honest, I don't think this boy sounds worthy of you, nor does he sound ready for a real relationship. I think you can do better! But if you really like him, I think you need to call him up and have a real conversation about your feelings and what is taking place. You guys should be able to talk about it so that you can preserve your friendship, if that is what you want. Avoiding a frank discussion will guarantee that things will remain awkward, in my opinion.
    Good luck, let me know how it goes. But again, this guy doesn't win any prizes for being respectful or considerate. His behavior is douchey.

  • Morning_glory

    Hello, Susana! Despite all your good advice, I handled things very badly :( Not only did I acted like a douche baguette when he invited me over to his place… I ended up having sex with him, anyway. Oh, and he made it clear (at my drunken insistance) that he was into the sex and he liked me, PERIOD. It was such a disaster that I had to apologize to him the next day about my erratic and dramatic behaviour (at least after and before that we had fun, like always). He acted like a real gentleman about the whole thing. So… what should I do? Stop seeing him? Keep him just for the awesome sex, and start to look for someone new? I like him a lot, but I guess I'm gotta have to let go the idea of him ever telling mean that I'm important to him (right? not gonna happen?). I really hate the idea of cutting him out my life, because he's pretty awesome. But I suppose I can't just hang in there and lie to myself while everyday I like more and more. I promise I will follow your advice this time, I don't wanna make a fool of myself again. Sincerely, your little black sheep, morning_glory

  • susanawalsh

    Awww, little black sheep, I am sorry that happened to you! I can't say I'm surprised that you had sex – I saw that coming. And I'm glad you insisted on clarifying things, even if you feel you behaved badly to get the information you needed. I understand that you really like this guy. That makes staying involved with him very risky for you, since he has stated explicitly that he does not have those kinds of feelings for you. If the sex was awesome, and you weren't getting hung up on him, I would have no problem with it. And it definitely sucks to let go of great sex. But “halfwaying” it with this guy truly is a no-win proposition for you. You have real needs that are not being met. And staying in this arrangement means that you are not meeting someone new who might be able to give you what you want. My advice is to take a total break from this guy. Maybe when you are over him, he would make an awesome friend (platonic!) but right now you are vulnerable – you need detox! Let him know of your decision and ask him to respect it. No fair for him to try to tempt you back for sex once he knows you are emotionally attached!

  • Morning_glory

    This week was crazy busy, so I hadn't been able to come by the blog until now. But I kinda of arrived to the same conclusion, so I'm on day number 8 of my rehab, haha! It's actualy pretty amazing that, with sex out of the picture, something in my brain started working again, and I realized that, despite him being an awesome guy and all, he was totally the wrong kind of person for me. So it probably wouldn't worked out in the long run, anyway. Thank you for your support, it meant a lot to me. I feel better prepared for the next time I meet a boy. Your blog really got me out of “hook up laberynth” and I'll never go in there again. Your grateful little black sheep- who now is grey, and hoping to be white very soon (haha, that totally made no sense, sorry… my excuse is that I have the flu right now)

  • susanawalsh

    Morning glory, I hope you are feeling better, and I hope it's not swine flu :)
    I'm glad that you are feeling OK about the guy situation. It sounds like taking a break has given you some much needed perspective. That's good, because it wouldn't surprise me if he came sniffing around again, and you will need to be strong! I LOVE your description of the hook up labyrinth! I might have to use that in a post….Please keep in touch – you can also email me from the Contact page anytime. You've learned a tough lesson, but it's obvious you are one very smart and charming woman. On to the next guy!

  • LAC

    OMG this happened to me recently and it was the most confusing thing that has ever happened to me. I'm 28, and I'm a lawyer.

    I started dating this guy. We went out twice a week, every week, no exceptions. For the first like 3 weeks he called, texted, or Facebooked me what seemed like every free second he had. Our first phone conversation last 7+ hours, etc. Totally my type (like scary my type, literally checked every box on the Dream Boy list): cute, smart, educated, funny, mature, nice, forthcoming, chivalrous, etc. etc. Best part–he's a quadriplegic. Totally didn't bother me in the slightest. Met his family, they liked me. Spent a significant amount of time at his parents' house. Even made him soup and spent the day nursing him when he had the flu. Week 3 rolls around and he seems to pull back a bit and my intuition starts going nuts–like I cannot ignore the “something's wrong” feeling. So I asked him about it, to make sure everything was copacetic and he assured me it was. That feeling just wouldn't go away. After a few days I asked again–more assurance that everything was cool. We continued to date twice a week, continued to make out hardcore after each date, etc. At some point during maybe the 4th week I made it clear that if this dating wasn't heading for Seriousville, then it was fun, but I don't want to become anymore invested. I was assured again that this was not the case. The next week I went away to visit some of my girlfriends and scheduled a date with him on my way home. When I called him to confirm, waiting for a table at dinner with the girls, he told me that we shouldn't continue dating because he “wasn't head over heels and feels like he should be by now.” WTF?! I thought maybe I'd come on too strong or something, so assured him that I wasn't in love and if we liked each other and had fun, why would we stop dating… He aggreed (WTF?) and we dated another week like nothing happened. Then, we started seriously talking about hooking up, and in the midst ran into that “talk” again. Same story as before. This time, not only was I super confused, I was infuriated. We haven't spoken since, and the last time we did, he was uncharacteristically shitty when I asked him to explain himself (which of course he couldn't/wouldn't–there is no way I'm buying the “I'm just not that into you” if more than a month has gone by).

    Bizarre. And of course, because I'm still mystified, god knows when I'll stop trying to figure it out in my head. I'm just psyched I didn't sleep with him (after I turned 26, I hung up my random tryst hat, and vowed only to sleep with people after we had established an exclusive, committed relationship and not a day before).

    He was younger than me (24), and I'm starting to wonder if this behavior is now a generational thing because something like that has never happened to me before in my life.

  • susanawalsh

    LAC, nice to meet you, thanks for leaving a comment. This story blows my mind. I mean, WTF, you knew something was off, you asked for honest feedback, and this guy would not give it. He sounds like the biggest douchebag imaginable. OK, I can't ignore the info. that he is quadriplegic. It's cool that it made no difference to you whatsoever, but let's face it, it has to have a major effect on how and what he feels. I can't even begin to imagine what his thoughts and fears may have been around the issue of having sex, etc. You will clearly drive yourself crazy trying to figure this one out – I think you're going to need to let this one go.

    Re the generational question, yeah, it's possible he is just trying to lead the No Strings Attached hookup lifestyle. The age difference is not that big, though.

    That is a really freaky story, I'm sorry you had to go through that. In any case, I respect you for hanging up the random tryst hat. You may get some pushback from guys on that, but too bad. The right guy will respect it.

  • LAC

    I just wanted to respond to 2 things:

    Yeah, the quad thing with sex, etc. etc. We actually had pretty frank and frequent discussions about sex (and not in a phone sex sort of way), so I really don't think that the nervousness or insecurity was there at all on his part. Though, it would certainly be understandable. We were moving at my pace, certainly not his (it took us like 8 dates or something to get to “second base”)–he was more than eager to move things along. It was logistics that made it difficult (as you're well-aware, in Boston, there are stairs to everything, including my apartment building, so true alone time was largely impossible). So, I doubt that was an issue.

    About the generational difference. I'll tell ya, 4 years sounds negligible abstractly, but in practice, it's a completely different culture altogether. These kids have been IMing since junior high, were texting in high school, and had YouTube in college. The only thing we used computers for in high school was to write papers and do academic research. I wasn't IMing until college. The hook-up culture was definitely not well-established yet when I was in college, either. People definitely had one-night stands, but it wasn't at all an expected part of a normal heterosexual interaction. Dating was a means to an end, that end being a relationship, not sex. There were always players, but you generally knew who they were. So the reality that the expectation of casual sex is now the “norm” and sex only within the parameters of a relationship is the exception to the rule is just bizarre to me. For my peer set (high school class of '02 and below), this cultural thing has not caught on yet, or at least I haven't seen any evidence of it yet. I am holding out hope that this is a trend that passes sooner rather than later.

    Love your blog, I read it every week.

  • LAC

    Here's my question to you then Psycho Male, as a generality. I get the “clicking,” we all experience that. So here's where the behavior diverges: if I don't click with someone, then I don't escalate my romantic behavior. So when I have figured that out (which is usually after 3 dates, max), I'll make it known, and then whatever happens, happens. In this situation, this guy continued to ramp up his romantic (not sexual) behavior. It was the first time in my entire life I have been completely blindsided by rejection–it was like romance city hit a brick wall, got reactivated, and then hit a wall again. You usually at least have a feeling it's coming. So, what's up with that? Does it really take months to figure that out? Really?

    And, just as an aside, for 24, this guy had his shit together more than basically anyone I know. He'd had a career for 3 years by then, and acted like a responsible adult (unless you want to count this behavior as an exception to that premise). Because of his unique situation, he was much more mature, and also generally dated older women for the same reason (young 20-somethings are much more superficial, as we all know). So, god knows what the problem was, but I don't think it was immaturity, either.

  • Psycho Male

    Give quad guy a break. He was 24 and had a 28 yr old lawyer pushing for him? He likely has some immaturity issues at that age quad or not, as not many 24 year old guys are that together even without even being a quadriplegic. And don't tell me that being a quad doesn't give him issues, because it does. Not necessarily bad issues by the way, just different things going on his life and his life experience.

    As for being a guy, whether 24 or 42 years old, most (not all) guys just take longer to figure things out in relationships. At some point a girl either clicks or doesn't click. And don't waste your mental energy bother trying to figure out why it didn't work BTW. It can be the most trivial and stupid thing imaginable. What matters is, it just didn't work. And if things do work, one day the guy will figure out he wants to say “I love you” and make the leap. Or he will figure out that it never will work and act accordingly.

    I like that lawyer lady held back on the sex. I don't think that hurt her. I would recommend to all women if they really like someone to really contemplate what part sex plays in their relationship. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George got smarter with less sex? Sex clouds mens minds. They think why buy the cow when the milk is for free? Make sure your relationship isn't built of the “free milk” theory.

  • susanawalsh

    I like it that you and Psycho Male are discussing this — so I won't butt in here except to say thanks so much for being a regular at HUS :-) You have a really interesting perspective, please keep commenting when the mood strikes!

  • susanawalsh

    Hey Psycho Male, two quick things:

    1. Thank you for drawing the parallel with Seinfeld. There are few things in life that Seinfeld can't explain. I've actually been thinking of the episode where George decides to “do the opposite”, and his life gets much better.

    2. Thanks also for supporting LAC's view of sex. Although I hate the cow/milk for free cliche, I know there's truth to it, and I appreciate your acknowledging that. It is really, really helpful to hear from guys directly on how they view this issue.

  • Name

    LAC – sorry you got blindsided. I know you think he was together but I wouldn't bet on it.

    Let me put it this way. A mere ten years prior to you getting involved with quad guy, he was a 14 yr old in 8th grade and you were 18 starting college? When you were just getting out of college he was just getting into college perhaps? Also, when did he become a quad? If this happened between 14 and 24 what sort of time did it take to get back to where he was out and about? I mean, suppose he was turning up the romance heat because he just didn't know what else to do?

    As to the clicking thing, perhaps the term “click” isn't the best way to put it. I swear to God somebody did a study on this but I just can't recall where I read it, but the study implied that women “know” something is right in a relationship much faster than men. Men just take longer to “decide” what is going on for them. So isn't it conceivable that he was just behind in the romantic process and was just catching up to where he could figure things out in his head?

    I know you want to put truth serum in him and get the answers. Men want to do that with women all the time. His reasoning could be so complex he doesn't know why or his reasoning is so simple it is embarrassingly stupid. (I admit one time I was put off by a girls feet… shallow I know but it was college) I guess my question to you is what is wrong with him turning up the romance up until that one day, or very moment when he just figured out or realized it was not going to work for him and he needed to bail.

    I bet as a lawyer you find this doubly frustrating as you are used to gathering all the facts to work out problems and come up with good answers. I just think you have to consider that life, like law, is full of gray blurry areas with no great or perfect answers. Isn't the only thing that matters that for him, you just weren't it? I think you should cut yourself some slack and just be thankful he didn't end things after you were deeper into it.

  • susanawalsh

    I find it so interesting that a couple of men have pointed out that men take longer to figure out what they want in a relationship. Which implies that women should be patient, and hold off on any assumptions. I've always kind of figured the process occurred simultaneously for women and men…

    I hate the whole He's Just Not That Into You thing. I always want to say, “Why the hell not? I refuse to accept that! I am fabulous!” But I hear what you are saying – why waste time with a guy who just isn't going to go there with you? We do need to learn to say FIDO (F**k It Drive On).

    One more point: I think you are onto something about LAC being a lawyer. I find that very, very smart women, especially analytical ones, want to find reason and sense in behavior. I know I feel that way…but sometimes we just won't ever get an explanation that makes sense. I've known many smart women who press and press for an answer, and in the end all the guy can say is, “I don't know. I just know you are not the one.” All of us, women and men, need to respect our intuition in relationships.

  • LAC

    Okay, at the risk of this thread turning into a psych session about me, I'll try to keep the answers brief.

    1) Quad points: he was 14 when he was injured, so 10 years. Trust me, I was trepidatious about his age from the get-go–he was much younger than I would generally consider dating, and it came up a few times in pop culture references, etc. but never really manifested itself any other way. As I mentioned, he was way ahead of where I was at 24, delaying my adulthood for law school. He has had a very long-term relationship, and dates A LOT. He's brilliant, really, and a teacher, so he's pretty good at communication. Obviously I'm not in his head, but I don't think he's clueless when it comes to women, he was always pretty perceptive. And I'll tell you what the problem was with his behavior: he knew how I felt about him, and if it was much more than he felt about me, he should have warned me, which brings me to my next point.

    2) I don't doubt any of the conjecture that boils down to “well, you weren't it for him, and that's no one's fault so, let it go, it is what it is, etc. etc.” and I don't disagree. We've all been in that situation. But again, I actually think it's not okay to be led down the road with that behavior and then randomly be told “ehh, I like you, I just don't 'like you, like you.'” I think that if it takes men longer to “figure it out” so to speak, then they have a responsibility to keep it as casual as possible so as not to create false hope or expectation until they have a definitive answer, and/or create a time limit to figure it out and not play Romeo until they either decide or the time limit expires and they peace out. Just like it wouldn't be acceptable to tell someone you love them when it's not true. It's cruel and unnecessary. I think chalking it up to “that's just the way men are” is unacceptable and removes the owness they need to take of their behavior and how it affects others, just like saying “well, women are too emotional” wouldn't be an excuse for a chick to be passive aggressive about her wants/needs.

    3) Yeah, about the whole “life is blurry and gray” thing. I hear that from people all the time, and I cannot relate to it in any way. Given that I am clearly the Type A, logical girl, there are few things in life that I have ever concluded were gray. Things are always black and white: there's a right answer or a wrong answer; a valid argument or a fallacious one; the truth or a lie; ethical or unethical. And I date accordingly–I get a lot of engineers and the like (quad guy was a mathematician). So, in fairness, I try to screen out people who live in “it could go either way” land, I interview extensively before I agree to go out with anyone, and I am very clear at every step what I think is happening and what my expectations are so that no one ever has the chance to get confused. I checked in with this guy after every date as to what the next step was, and I gave him every imaginable out or opportunity to say “yeah, you know, you're fun, but…” so that I wouldn't be the cliche pining over someone for no reason. And he never gave me any indication that this could even be a possibility; in fact, he did the exact opposite. That is what annoys me.

    4) I can definitely own that my being intelligent and analytical might handicap me in this regard. I am also super empathetic, so I'm not like Spock, creating formulae to crack human emotions. But there's never been a time where I couldn't break down why I made a decision. And I rarely make one on a whim (I don't even go out to eat without doing copious research). So, as a person, I'm thorough, and that is my cross to bear. I wouldn't ever expect someone to be just like me. However, I put all that on the table: what I will and won't tolerate, what my expectations are, how I am interpreting things, and the map of my thought processes. So, out of respect and courtesy, I would just like the other person to consider that doing that is for the express prevention of these sorts of situations. Nothing can protect against rejection, but people should be able to deal with each other in a way that disallows the possibility of left-field surprises.

    Yikes, that was totally not brief. My bad.

  • susanawalsh

    LAC, I promise to be brief. Really, just two thoughts:

    1. I agree 100% that there is NEVER a reason a woman (or man) should be blindsided in a relationship. Every communication should follow from the one before, etc. Going from 60mph to zero without a reasonable explanation is unacceptable, and I think you are totally justified in your anger toward this guy. The bottom line is that you should never have to ask WTF when you are seeing someone. And if someone keeps you wondering, they're not a good relationship risk.

    2. You are very open about being Type A, doing copious research, etc. As a similar type I can totally relate. Here's some advice from someone almost twice your age: let go a little, loosen up. Be spontaneous. Live dangerously. You have learned first hand that all the up-front talking and preparation doesn't guarantee a damn thing when it comes to getting burned emotionally. Take chances, leave yourself open. Yeah, you might get dumped on, but so what – you've tried everything you know to be in control, and it didn't work. I believe in cultivating a lust for life, and that is intuitive, not analytical.

  • Psycho Male

    “There are few things in life that I have ever concluded were gray. Things are always black and white: there's a right answer or a wrong answer”. LAC

    Didn't know the Taliban were posing as 28 yr old female lawyers. Sorry LAC, Susan is right, you need to loosen up. Life, love, hate, passion, art, music, right and wrong are all fuzzy, gray and undefinable to many. Perhaps God knows what is truly “right and wrong” and what is truly “ethical or unethical” but I will be damned if some 28 year old lawyer knows those answers.

    As to men keeping it casual up until they figure “it” out why? Perhaps this guy was going full bore head over heels crazy over you until one that one day, that one moment. Then suddenly the spark was gone. Maybe you laid a rant on him about ethics? What if the certainty of a budding relationship soured at that moment? I mean heck, you go through life truly believing what you stated in your post, then you are going to have a tough time of it with any man.

  • LAC

    I frankly don't appreciate your tone. I never said anything about being omniscient–I simply stated my thought process. Which is why I said “I” and qualified that statement by not expecting the same perspective from anyone else. For me, nothing is gray, and that is my reality. Obviously, I can argue both sides, but I am rarely if ever conflicted about where I stand on an issue or a decision.

    Maybe it's because I'm a woman, or maybe it's because once I feel something, it's done, but when I like someone, I like them. Period. Just like when I love someone, I always love them. Love doesn't fade, it doesn't disappear; it may evolve, but it always exists. Infatuation fades, lust fades. Unfortunately for me, unless you screw me over, or you prove to be a completely heinous human being, I never just “stop feelin it.” And maybe it's cause all my friends are also lawyers, but I've never seen any of them do that, either. Male or female. My male friends pine after women they've never even dated–for years. So, I can't relate to the phenomena, I can't find a straight male I know who can break it down for me in any way other than it being a case of factual misrepresentation while we were dating, and thus I am confused.

    For the record, while we were dating, we never once had an argument, or frankly a disagreement about basically anything. Why should men keep it casual until they figure it out? Because their unilateral decisions affect another person's existence. When my decisions affect another person, I consider that, and generally do not do avoidable, intentional things to detrimentally affect someone else's life. I consider that to be basic respect. And if you can't treat other people with decency, then you shouldn't be dating in the first place.

    And to the points about loosening up… I did that when I was a kid, and it was a mess. My life was rough growing up, and I fought tooth and nail to have a stable, reliable adult life in lieu of one filled with uncertainty–as much as I could arrange. Constancy, reliability, loyalty, and safety sound like boring concepts unless you've lived without any semblance of them. I'm a Capricorn, and those are the things that make me happy. But I appreciate the perspective. And I thank you for your thoughts.

    Susan–my New Year's resolution this year was to always listen to my intuition. I know you can relate to how, as women, we often let people talk us out of what our intuition is telling us. But, I have found that mine has never been wrong. I just need to be stronger about acting, and not analyzing, when it kicks in.

  • susanawalsh

    LAC, amen to that re intuition. Listen, I don't judge you or anyone. We're all fighting our own battles. I've never stood in your shoes. I'm really sorry you had that experience, it sounds incredibly upsetting. I hope that you will be able to let go of it so that you can move on and find someone who is really and truly right for you. Even though you will never understand why things turned out a certain way, you can reflect on this experience and learn from it. For one thing, I bet you won't date a younger guy again!

  • susanawalsh

    Um, Psycho Male, I love your input and participation, but this comment is out of line. I know you disagree with LAC, and that's fine. But calling her Taliban? And I don't think predicting she'll have a tough time with any man is helpful, either.

    As far as I can tell, we're all f**cked up. I stumble along, stubbing my toes, taking the wrong fork in the road half the time. I don't have it down, I don't think anyone does. LAC is welcome to vent here, and so are you, as long as you keep it positive.

  • susanawalsh

    Um, Psycho Male, I love your input and participation, but this comment is out of line. I know you disagree with LAC, and that's fine. But calling her Taliban? And I don't think predicting she'll have a tough time with any man is helpful, either.

    As far as I can tell, we're all f**cked up. I stumble along, stubbing my toes, taking the wrong fork in the road half the time. I don't have it down, I don't think anyone does. LAC is welcome to vent here, and so are you, as long as you keep it positive.

  • LAC

    Susan–well, let's just say if you ever wondered if the hippie parenting strategy (no rules, no structure) is a good idea, it's not. No matter, I think struggle builds character.

    But, I can say, I am so happy to be 28 and not 21, so that I can truly consider these things learning experiences instead of psychological trauma. The perspective that age gives you is priceless.

  • susanawalsh

    LAC, amen to that re intuition. Listen, I don't judge you or anyone. We're all fighting our own battles. I've never stood in your shoes. I'm really sorry you had that experience, it sounds incredibly upsetting. I hope that you will be able to let go of it so that you can move on and find someone who is really and truly right for you. Even though you will never understand why things turned out a certain way, you can reflect on this experience and learn from it. For one thing, I bet you won't date a younger guy again!

  • susanawalsh

    Um, Psycho Male, I love your input and participation, but this comment is out of line. I know you disagree with LAC, and that's fine. But calling her Taliban? And I don't think predicting she'll have a tough time with any man is helpful, either.

    As far as I can tell, we're all f**cked up. I stumble along, stubbing my toes, taking the wrong fork in the road half the time. I don't have it down, I don't think anyone does. LAC is welcome to vent here, and so are you, as long as you keep it positive.

  • LAC

    Susan–well, let's just say if you ever wondered if the hippie parenting strategy (no rules, no structure) is a good idea, it's not. No matter, I think struggle builds character.

    But, I can say, I am so happy to be 28 and not 21, so that I can truly consider these things learning experiences instead of psychological trauma. The perspective that age gives you is priceless.

  • Emma

    So you said it is important to verbalize your feelings and questions for the relationship but when is it an appropriate time to do so? Because i do think if you bring it up too early any sane guy might freak out a little bit. If you were to bring it up at the right time then the guy would be kind of an asshole for not respecting your feelings. But what is that right time do you think?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Emma
      There’s no perfect answer, but my general advice is No Sex Before Monogamy. So you need to have the talk before going all the way. There’s just too much at risk for women who have sex, get attached to a guy, then find out he’s not on the same page – something that happens frequently, unfortunately.

  • Emma

    yes that is my general rule too…especially since i’m a virgin. I think first time sex with someone i’m not serious with wouldn’t be a good experience. I am 20 though so i’m hoping that serious relationship comes soon. It doesn’t really help that people keep pushing me to have sex because i am getting old or something. Its interesting though in the past girls were pressured to stay virgins until marriage but now girls are getting bombarded with a lot of mixed messages. One side is saying that girls should be able to sleep around like men and that they should be very sexual and the other side is telling girls to stay innocent. Its almost like if we aren’t sexual we are prudes but if we are sexual we are sluts.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Emma

      It doesn’t really help that people keep pushing me to have sex because i am getting old or something. Its interesting though in the past girls were pressured to stay virgins until marriage but now girls are getting bombarded with a lot of mixed messages.

      Do not be swayed by pressure from anyone. Women who are promiscuous have every reason to feel threatened by women with less sexual experience because men prefer them for long-term mating, i.e. marriage. It’s in their best interest to get all women to act slutty, and the culture promotes this.

      You are wise to want to wait for a serious relationship. Many 20 yo women feel exactly the way that you do, and serious relationships are not necessarily easy to come by. This will get better as you get older. In the meantime, stick to your own values. I promise you will not regret it.

  • http://www.search4asoulmate.wordpress.com Cadence Harper

    I have been floating around exploring your blog for a couple hours now, and this is my favorite topic so far. What a subject to tackle… It’s baffling!

    Part of me wonders if these things aren’t happening in the SMP because women are allowing it to happen, and participating. That whole “we teach people how to treat us” thing.

    I’ve been going through a similar situation, so apparently it doesn’t get better even though we are all grown ups in our mid 30s. My best girlfriend told me “you need to make some serious boundaries with this guy..” And I thought… How do I do that? What does that mean?

    I think your line “Keep your distance, protect your heart” is the perfect description.

  • Lee

    Hi Susan,

    I have been talking to this guy for about three months now, and he has been dropping hints about asking to be “official”. He’s a great person, charming, intelligent, and sweet, BUT I do not want to date him. It’s kind of funny that the roles are switched when relating to your post. I don’t know how to break it to him, without banishing our current friendship. He’s been trying to have “the talk” with me, and needless to say Valentines day is around the corner too. ( Btw, we haven’t hooked up, and I don’t plan on it without being in a relationship.) So I was wondering if men take it the same way as women if I directed to him, “I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest GUY I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you?”

    xxo

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Lee

      Well, it sounds like you are not attracted to him. You haven’t hooked up at all, not even kissed? I think it’s surprising he wants to have the talk when there’s no physical connection. If you were really attracted to him, why wouldn’t you want to date him?

  • Jon

    Hey Lee,

    I have to jump in here. You’re situation reminds me of how I met my ex-wife.

    We were going out as friends for about four months before I initiated “the talk.” The only physical contact up to that point were casual hugs. We dated for two years and were married for six before she gave me that speech.

    To answer your question, yes, guys take it the same way. It sucks to hear it from girls you like – it’s even worse to hear from your wife.

    So please do the guy a favor and totally crush him. Don’t try to let him down easy. It may seem harsh, but he needs to learn that “friends first” is a terrible dating strategy, and the sooner he abandons it the better off everyone will be.

  • Lee

    @ Susan
    We kiss, hold hands in public, text everyday, and it is true that I am attracted to him. We spend time with each other and go out on dates, but I sincerely have no interest in having a “title”. We actually spent Vday together, but the words”dating”, “realationship”, and “official” never made it to the table. He stopped trying to initiate the talk, so I guess the ball is in my court. In all honestly I like how things are at the moment, no commitment, just because there are days or weeks I would want to be apart from him. I just hope my actions don’t end up hurting him, because that is the last thing I would want to happen.

    @Jon

    Thank you for your input. It is unfortunate that your ex-wife decided to give “the talk” after settling down. My theory is, some women will never be fully aware of what they want, and some are never really satisfied regardless of a good husband/home.

    The guy I’m talking to is the same deal. I like him a lot, but I’m just not satisfied enough with myself/current situations to fully commit. I would rather be content/happy than in a realationship with doubts/guilt.

  • Jon

    Oops…it looks like I forgot to put on my decoder ring when I read your previous post. I didn’t realize that when you said “friends” and “talking” you meant “dating” and “kissing.” ;)

    I’d like to change my original answer based on this new understanding. Don’t crush him, just keep going for as long as you can and try to avoid the DTR discussion.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you guys are dating. It might not be official or exclusive, and you might not have the title “girlfriend,” but you’re definitely not just “friends.” You can spin it as casual dating or friends with benefits (“benefits” doesn’t have to mean sex necessarily).

    The reason I suggest avoiding the conversation is that you seem to be redefining words in your mind to mean what you want them to mean rather than what everyone else thinks they mean. So if you say you don’t want to date him but you want to be friends, he’s going to understand it as the end of hand holding and kissing.

    This kind of thing has messed me up before and probably will again. I’m taking to a girl and I think she’s speaking English, but really she switched into code and it turns out later that I had no idea what I agreed to.

  • http://proportionsinlife.wordpress.com proportionsinlife

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, although I tried. My experience landed me in unending questions of “why” …. if we have a tremendous friendship and phenomenal chemistry then what’s wrong? What could possibly be missing? Turns out that there was too much missing. Our brains get foggy when we are in love, even unreciprocated love. http://proportionsinlife.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/good-news/
    Thanks for your super-enlightening blog.
    Life is good.

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