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Parallax - Advice

May 19, 2003

When push turns to shove

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I'm in my early thirties. Recently a casual relationship took a step back, because the woman sensed I was becoming attached (she was right). Both of us recently ended long-term relationships, but I think she is still dealing with feelings for her ex (three months removed). She's also admitted a fear of commitment. These two factors combined to create a rather large panic button on her. Unfortunately, I discovered this button by pressing for more time together, which made her run. She's told me not to call and says she'll call me when she's ready. She also told me that she didn't expect me to wait for her. So, where am I? Losing sleep and frustrated. I am giving her the time and space she asked for, but my impulses are saying not to let her slip away. I feel this places me in a situation where she very well might forget about me. What should I do? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Buttonman,

She has told you what to expect, which is nothing. What you are really asking is, how do you get her? I'm guessing you want her or there would be no sleepless nights at your place. All the usual steps toward securing your little lady apply. In this case, she's made it pretty easy. She's told you that right now she would like some space to deal with some former issues. Fair enough. You'll just have to give her that—and plenty of it.

Give her the cool-down period, play a little hard to get yourself, and then try to rekindle a fun, light relationship. Don't push for what she cannot give you. The breakup she just underwent was no doubt a misery. Bringing on the heavy relationship onus right now is not appealing. Focus on fun dates and exclude 'this is what I need from you' relationship nonsense.

It's a courting effort on your part. If you think she's worth all that work, with very little return in the short run, then dig in for a long, effort-laden process.

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His view:

Dear Buttonman,

Your impulses are right, but they're 'right' not in the way you might think—you should not let her slip away.

If you think you're frustrated now, think of how it will be if you don't fight for her. You'll pester yourself to insane depths, wondering whether you missed a great opportunity. You'll fail to move on. Building a new relationship with another woman will be hampered by this gnawing doubt.

So, go after her. Don't play strictly by her absolute rules. Give her some of the space she wants—but not all. Don't let her forget you.

However, keep in the back of your mind (the farthest back of it, if you want) that it will not end well. That she will find a new casual lover. Or that she won't care so much about a friendship passed up. Lower your expectations as low as you can.

Remember, too, that the sooner you get over 'fighting for her' the sooner you can get on with your life.

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