Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Happened?

Over the weekend, I had two separate conversations with two different people about the same phenomenon.

“I went out with this girl/boy for a month. Everything seemed to be going fine. All of a sudden, s/he decided s/he wasn’t into it any more. What happened?”

What happened? they ask. But having experienced this myself I know that isn’t the real question.

The real question is the one that keeps us up at night, whether or not we dare ask it aloud or even acknowledge its presence.

The real question is: “What did I do wrong?”

What did I do wrong? Possibly nothing. There are many many reasons a person might lose interest, none of which you are responsible for. Maybe s/he isn’t that into you. Maybe you’re not that into them, even though you might not consciously realize it. It’s possible the other person believes you aren’t compatible in the long term. Maybe that person is a jerk or frightened of their own feelings or thinks they are too good for you or thinks you are to good for them or any of a thousand things. Maybe they are wise for ending things or maybe they are making a mistake.

You may never know.

Whatever the reason, they got what they thought they needed from you and now believe it‘s time to move on. Not every relationship lasts forever. There are other, better ways to measure the quality of a relationship besides its longevity.

You can never know for sure what is happening with another person or why. There’s also no way you can control a relationship.

But there are people who try. Most of us do it, at least to a degree. Sometimes we do it strategically; other times we don’t know we’re doing it. But it can cause problems.

Here are three counterproductive strategies I’ve seen people pursue.

1 - Attaching yourself to them too tightly.
Ahh, the dreaded clinginess. It’s become a cliché, but clichés become clichés for a reason. We get uncomfortable when we get the sense someone is more attached to us than we are to them. When we feel the pressure of being responsible for another person’s feelings, we often feel the urge to pull away.

Most of us know about this intellectually. But when so many songs, stories, and movies celebrate “I-Can’t-Live-Without-You-it is,” it’s easy to find yourself pulled under without even realizing it.

2 - Making them chase you.
Or as I like to call it, Reverse-Clinginess, because a large percentage of people who use this approach, are doing it because they’re familiar with the dangers of clinginess.

If pulling someone in doesn’t work, they figure, why not push them away? Make them chase us. The thrill of the hunt is irresistible, right? It also has the benefit of looking like a great way of protecting oneself from being hurt.

Unfortunately, the chase is only irresistible if there is the possibility of a catch. Romance is about tension and release, push AND pull.

There aren’t a lot of people who will chase indefinitely. If you make a promise,you will be expected, at some point, to deliver.

3 - The Double-Edged Sword of Expectation Management.
A thrid, even MORE advanced strategy is that of managing expectations. Of course when we talk about "managing" expectations, we typically mean "keeping them low."

Keep it casual. Only call/see the other person a couple times a week. Let them know you’re seeing other people, and encourage them to do the same.

This is a good strategy if you really ARE interested in short-term hookups. It’s effective, honest, and doesn’t make any promises it won’t deliver.

The thing to remember is casual is a two-way street. By keeping things casual, you also make yourself replaceable. The more you keep expectations low, the more disposable you are.

If you set things up for a short-term relationship, don’t be surprised when you get what you asked for.

Relationships have a natural ebb and flow, and love has a wisdom of its own. It comes and goes as needed, naturally and unforced. It isn’t necessary to help it along. All that is necessary is to trust and get out of its way.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out Dan's writing on relationships at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com and learn how to get Dan's DATING FOR SHY GUYS book.

First Heart Way meeting of 2011 is January 11 at Woodcroft Library. Email thegatewayboyfriend@gmail for registration.

1 comment:

  1. Dan, I just wanted to say I always feel a little better after reading one of your posts. Thanks :)