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Parallax - Advice            September 11, 2000



   Can she have two boys at the same time?

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I have been slowly eliminating my ex from my life (five years, he has kids and lots of problems).

Four months ago, I met the most fabulous guy and we've dated about once every eight to ten days or so. Although we fell into bed on our first date, we continued to see one another ever since.

Although I didn't mind for a while, he has continued to 'compartmentalize' his involvement with me - calls infrequently (usually to set up dates only) and is generally a little on the stoic side.

Two weeks ago, I asked him why and he said a big reason for his reluctance was his feeling that I was still too involved with ex-beau. Although I explained that, until he was willing to be more involved, I had every right to continue my communication with ex, he said that this combined with his own busy life and unresolved issues made it 'impossible' to be more involved for now.

Yet, we went out again, had a fabulous night talking and dining and found ourselves tangled in a pre-coital pose. Perhaps I lost my cool, but I gave him a bit of spitfire and told him that his hesitation was his own doing, and that it appeared to me that he did enjoy what we had and that unless he was willing to extend things a little more by taking a chance with me, that he was going to lose it.

The next morning, I told him I didn't want this issue to crop up again - that we should think about it and decide what can or cannot be done - we're supposed to sit down in a few days to clarify our positions with one another (when we're not in bed, half-tipsy at four in the morning).

I am a strong-willed woman and don't think we can keep up the way we have without losing the spark that is there. Is this the end of the road for us?

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Her view:

Dear Spitfire,

What you have here is a Catch-22 (an excellent book, I might add). He will not take you more seriously unless you give up your ex-boyfriend. You will not let go of your ex-boyfriend until he gets more serious.

An impasse requires a first mover - and that should be you. Of course he won't get close to you while you're still harboring feelings for someone else. You're asking the impossible. You must choose a boy. Who do you want more?

I assume you broke up with your ex-boyfriend for a bevy of reasons, so my guess is that he's out - but still lingering in your mind out of habit. Hold you nose and jump - move forward. Once new-beau sees you are sans baggage, then he can think of you as a girlfriend. And only then will you have a shot at some form of a relationship. Oh, and consider diversifying your activities beyond sex - go hit a movie every now and then.

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His view:

Dear Spitfire,

OK, so you're saying that until he commits to you, you are keeping your options open. He's saying he won't invest in a relationship until he knows it's not a competition against your ex.

That is what is happening on the surface. Further below, there's more going on. I think you like him more than he likes you. And you probably know this. It's an uncomfortable position to be in, so you want a sign that things are more balanced - you want him to commit more openly to you.

On the other hand, he's happy with the status-quo, and I'd be surprised if he let himself get pressured into more. After all, the fact that you both landed in bed the first night - despite what we'd all like to think - does set a more flingy tone for the relationship.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to change the nature of the relationship - if that's what you really want. But I am saying that by pressuring him like this you stand a greater chance of losing him than converting him. You're not playing seduction, you're playing confrontation. After four months, it may be this 'confrontation' is overdue, and he may very well recognize his time is almost up. He may be quite happy to let things lapse and call it a good quarter. The question is, are you ready for it to end?

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