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Parallax - Advice            January 22, 2001

  Hang in and hang on...

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I'm single mother who didn't date for three years after I left my son's father, as I didn't think I'd ever be interested in men again. Then I met this man and wham - I was totally smitten. We've been dating for four months and can talk about anything. He said he's interested in marriage and a family, and it seems he's been 'trying me on for size' to see if I fit what he's looking for. I'm the kind of person who falls in love infrequently but when I do it's hard and fast and lasts a long time (twelve years with my first love and seven years with my second). He has definite trust issues (walked in on last girlfriend having sex with another man and his mother was abusive), and he's said from the beginning that he wanted to take it very slowly. After we had a big misunderstanding he told me that he didn't feel a 'spark' for me but that the sex was great and talking with me was the best. I foolishly blurted out, 'Thanks a bunch you jerk, and here I thought I was in love with you.' He said he isn't in love with me although he feels a kind of love for me. My last partner told me that the first six months is all about sex for men and that even if they say they love you, it's really just about sex. I also heard that 'men learn to love the women they sleep with and women learn to love sleeping with the men they are in love with.' A friend says it's not about 'lacking a spark', but about a fear of commitment. My question is, do I hang in there? I'm completely in love with this man, and I'm willing to wait, but I'd like a man's point of view about the 'spark' thing.

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Her view:

Dear Anxious,

Hang in there a bit longer. It sounds like he has lots of issues, so give him some time to feel the way you do. You haven't been dating that long and couples aren't always on the same schedule.

Don't pester him about semantics and feelings and what it all means to be 'in love' versus a 'kind of love.' Leave this conversation alone and be normal for a while. Let him come to his own decision. This is only a short-term recommendation. Give it a few months, and if there is no symmetry, you'll have to leave - the choice will no longer be yours.

You need to think about yourself as well, and determine how much torture you can take before you find it too painful to be around him. If you feel it's too painful to be in this type of relationship then you should leave. Hopefully it won't come to that.

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His view:

Dear Anxious,

You should hang in there because (unless you have a dozen other men lined up outside your boudoir) there's no reason to end a perfectly good relationship. Instead, moderate your expectations and give him space. Don't pester him with 'do you love me?' questions all the time. Don't keep looking for signs of his feelings in every gesture and word. Don't back him into corners where he feels compelled to say something and ends up stuttering silly phrases like 'I feel a kind of love for you' (what nonsense is that, anyway?) and making lifelong commitments he may never keep. It's only been four months, OK?

I think it is true for many men: the first few weeks or months are mainly about sex. It may also be true that some men do fall in love with the women they sleep with - though this is absolutely NOT a general rule.

But who knows if this applies to your new man? He probably doesn't even know. Disconnect yourself from being a 'high-speed over-analyzer' for a few weeks and let him figure things out. After all, he said he wanted to take things slowly - did you think he was just kidding?

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