Marry me! Hey, where’d you go?

Joey Garcia

I dated a guy for six months, and in the heat of the moment, I asked him to marry me. I have not heard from him since. He has not returned my phone calls or responded to my notes. It’s been three weeks. What should I do? There are other guys interested in me, but I don’t know what to say to them.

To the guys interested in you: “I just got out of an intense relationship, and I need a little time for reflection before dating again. I will call you in a month or so; if you’re still interested then, and I hope you will be, we can go out.” Note to self: Don’t worry about losing any of the guys who are asking you out. Living in that fear is a distraction from what’s really important, which is developing self-knowledge so you can avoid duplicating mistakes in life.

Second note to self: Don’t propose, or say “I love you” for the first time, in the heat of the moment—if heat is a euphemism for sex or the cuddle segment after. Great sex stimulates every cell in our bodies, often inducing an emotional high that some people confuse with love (it’s actually just a great orgasm). If you’re in love, the first time you tell your partner should be outside of sex. Saying “I love you” during sex is not romantic; it’s a bad cliché. Sex is not love, and love is not sex.

Last note to self: A guy who freaks and then refuses to communicate with you is not a candidate for any committed relationship. It doesn’t matter if he’s afraid of hurting your feelings by saying “No way!” Or if he thinks you’re psycho because to him the relationship was casual. Or if he’s afraid of repeating his parents’ mistakes. The reality is this: He doesn’t care enough to tell you the truth about his thoughts and feelings. That means he is not a candidate for marriage, which requires truth, trust, mutual caring, commitment and genuine love. Don’t believe that you ruined everything by blurting out a proposal; just admit that he is not the right guy for you.

Three years ago, I missed an opportunity for a romantic relationship with a longtime friend. She is no longer in my daily life, but I think about her often and cry. I was too afraid to bridge the gap between friendship and romance. My fear is tied to my self-esteem. My sadness has more to do with my own feelings of inadequacy. As the child of an alcoholic, I’ve had bad self-esteem all my life. Should I be in therapy?

If you find a good psychotherapist, yes. Determine their commitment to the process by asking whether they regularly access counseling to clear their own issues. If so, they value counseling and try to avoid projecting personal issues onto their clients. You may need to interview several therapists before you find a viable guide. Until then, here are my thoughts: You didn’t miss an opportunity; you made a choice. Now you suffer because your ego thinks it knows what would have transpired between you and your friend and uses that illusion to batter your sense of self. Remember that esteem is built on three foundations: a sense of belonging (you must feel that you are an accepted member of a circle, whether of family, friends or co-workers), recognition of your gifts and skills (you must have opportunities to use your talents for the good of others) and the support of a mentor (someone who is wiser and willing to guide you). Build these elements into your life, and your self-esteem will flourish, opening you to new possibilities.

Meditation of the week
“God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers. And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face. A gauntlet with a gift in it,” wrote the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Now that your prayers are answered, do you understand why there must be a gauntlet with the gift?

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