Advice From the Trenches

Advice From the Trenches: Call me

Dear C:

I do not ever look at my phone every 2 minutes to see if a girl I’m dating called me. I don’t text a second time when I don’t get a prompt answer the first time and I don’t invite a girl I am dating to every event in my life after I sleep with them. So why do they do this to me? 

I’m in my early 40’s and every guy I know seems to have this problem. I have it even when I warn the girl that I am not really a texting kind of guy, and I never respond to texts or messages while I’m working.

An even bigger problem is the expectations women have if I go out with them for more than a few weeks. I can tell them right from the beginning that I’m not really looking for a relationship right now because I’m focusing on work, but within a month they are getting as possessive as if I’d asked them to marry me! Sure, they will smile and say they understand, but I don’t think they even listen.

I am totally honest with every woman I date. What is their problem???

– Fed up Fred

C says:

This is America, Fred. There are just too many films in which the leading man is a confirmed bachelor… until he meets The One, and everything changes. Hey, if it can happen for Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, it can happen for anyone, right? So first, you’re fighting the media.

Next, you’re fighting chemistry. Your earnest words fall on deaf ears because that pesky urge to cling is probably not based on logic or reason, it is more likely a hormone called oxytocin. Nicknamed the ‘bonding hormone,’ oxytocin is a byproduct of sex. During arousal, it multiplies rapidly, exploding at orgasm – hence that urge to cuddle. Women become attached and nurturing. If you actually wanted a relationship, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Finally – you’re getting older and so are your male friends. If you want carefree and casual, it gets tougher from here. Single women your own age who might still want children are impatient with grown men who still can’t commit. I think you need to be more realistic in your screening process – avoid women who seem affectionate and caring. Go for the girls who just want a good time! Paid escorts might be a good fit for you. No pesky texts from them, guaranteed.

But the obsessive behavior you describe in your dates seems more like an emotional disorder than a bonding instinct. I’d ask myself why you choose the same type over and over – because blaming the women doesn’t stop you from picking the next one.

Dr. J says:

I applaud you for being honest, and for knowing what you want and do not want up front. Unfortunately, many people have selective hearing and will interpret another’s words in a way that doesn’t disagree with their own value system.

Few if any relationships are black and white. Some people want to take things slow and let them evolve naturally. Some want to move forward at the speed of light. It seems you’re meeting a few of the latter type.

There are a lot of other types of relationships. Some couples are inseparable. They never utter a sentence that doesn’t include their partner’s name. They share a circle of friends, sometimes even an email address. Then there are people who are partnered, yet independent. I have some married male friends I can call 24/7 to make a plan to meet. With others, I have to first get on their wives’ “approved friend list” in order to see them. Some friends left me behind once they got married and never looked back. I determined that I didn’t ever want the life that my enmeshed couple friends had. I am in my 50s and unmarried, and I love my life exactly as it is. 

The hijacking of our communication channels by texting is an unpleasant side effect of technology. Devices are great when you’re trying to locate someone at a crowded event, but when someone is hammering you with guilt-ridden texts while you’re simply unavailable, fueled by their own insecurities that have nothing to do with you, it borders on harassment. I am not glued to my phone. Often I’m in meetings or I’m driving and refuse to put myself in any danger. I’ve lost many a second date by not responding fast enough. But I also know that if there are communication discrepancies so early on, there will only be more headaches to come. 

There are women who share your ideals and have a similar work-life balance.  Somewhere along the line you will meet someone whose relationship and communication style will be similar to your own. It will feel natural and easy. You won’t feel pressured and you’ll actually look forward to communicating. 

Till then, continue to be honest, be true to yourself, and keep looking. You can’t and shouldn’t be someone you are not.