Q: This man I’ve been dating didn’t want anything serious. I don’t either. I explained that I just wanted to hang out and have fun. We were going out several times a week, sleeping together at least once a week. Suddenly, he freaked, worrying I’d get attached. I reinforced that I absolutely don’t want anything serious, but he seemed unconvinced. He went away on business and called the day he returned, and we hung out and slept together. The next day, he said we needed to slow things down because he wasn’t feeling we were getting closer. (Isn’t that the point of not getting serious?!) The whole thing started making me feel bad. I blew him off, and now — crazily enough — he’s calling, texting, asking to see me again. Where do we go from here?
A: File you under “too good to be true.” When you tell a man “I just wanna hang out and have fun — sometimes naked,” you actually mean that. It is not secret womancode for “Love me, or I’ll cut up your shirts, set your lawn on fire, and stand under your window at 3 a.m. screaming, ‘MY UTERUS IS BAAAARE!’”
He must’ve been pretty bewildered: “Come on…shouldn’t you at least be trying to key my car?” Because so many women seem unable to keep things casual — even when they’re sure casual’s all they want — men tend to assume that’s how all women are. But, there are outliers, and you’re one of them. The problem was convincing him of that. Sure, you kept saying “no strings attached,” but he figured you just had your hands full weaving them all into a big net.
He, on the other hand, is a man who knows exactly what he wants: “None of that mushbucket stuff!” Until he doesn’t know: “Hey! Where’s my mushbucket?!” It seems the main thing he wants is to be in control. So, when it became clear you wanted things casual, he kind of blew you off — probably your cue to throw yourself at him — but you yanked him off his game yet again by blowing him off right back. (Men, especially, are compelled to ditch what’s chasing them and chase what’s trying to ditch them.)
The guy essentially set up a hamster wheel and then complained that the hamster wasn’t getting anywhere. Unfortunately, people are messy. Part of what’s messing him up may be the romantic mythology that says “fireworks or nuthin!” — that a relationship isn’t legit unless it’s “going somewhere.” (You can’t just plan something for Tuesday and, if that goes okay, maybe see a movie on Thursday.) As for where you go from here, a frank talk is in order: Can he handle the casual thing he thinks he wants — or is he a closet committer? If he can live without the promise of a future, you can probably have some good carefree fun in the present: “I love the way you hold me; I love the way you make love to me; I love the way that, afterward, you get out of bed, get in your car and go to your own house.”
Q: A guy wrote you about a girl he sees at a coffee shop — a girl he suspects is out of his league. You said the way to know for sure is by asking her out. Bad Advice Goddess! This suggests that he should regard all women with whatever she’s got — like if she’s “too beautiful” — as out of his league. That just isnt right. There’s probably a “too beautiful” woman out there who’d go for him.
A: Sky’s the limit!” “You can do anything you set your mind to!” These are fantastically inspiring things to tell a person — when he’s about to enter preschool and you’re trying to teach him to use the potty. As an adult, you realize that the sky is not the limit. In fact, you sometimes realize that your life is taking place in the crawl space between the third- and fourth-floor apartments — or that you’ll never get a date, because you are Joe Ordinary but refuse to consider any girl who’s less than a 9.95. As for this guy, I didn’t advise him to avoid all beautiful women; I told him to stop slobbering into his latte and ask his crushgirl out. A guy who endlessly pines away either hasn’t worked through his social awkwardness or is after somebody out of his league — and knows that — and pining allows him to pretend he’s in the game without risking rejection. Rejection can be a good thing; it tells you where you fall on the “What kind of woman can I get?” scale — allowing you to either try to improve your mate value or make the required trade-offs to have dates with women you don’t have to inflate with a bicycle pump.