Casually speaking

Joey Garcia

What exactly is casual dating? Does this mean the couple is not dating exclusively? I met a guy about a month ago through a personal ad. Shortly after, he said he should take down his profile, but it’s still up, and so is mine. He wants to date casually and eventually get into a long-term relationship. He said he likes me a lot and thinks of me often. I talk to him a few times a week and see him once a week. We had sex last week, and I feel he is in the uncertainty stage now or just in it for the sex. I am confused because I usually talk to a guy everyday if there is a connection. He mentioned something about opening up his heart and then getting hurt. Please help!

Dating is essentially an interview for the job of boyfriend or girlfriend. Along with random comments about the first episode of Love Monkey or how listening to Barry White changed your life (OK, my life), you learn about the other person’s lifestyle, successes and failures in past relationships, personal strengths and weaknesses, communication and conflict-resolution skills, values and spiritual beliefs. You also note levels of physical attraction and whether your date does what he says he’ll do. When he says, “I’ll call you tonight,” does he actually have the integrity to meet the commitment?

Casual dating usually means you are getting to know two or three different people in order to discern which one you want to evolve with. So, keeping your profile online is totally acceptable while dating. But it’s best to postpone sex until you have an exclusive relationship. Otherwise, insecurities flare and consume you or the relationship. Um, I think that’s where you are right now.

Thank goodness St. Nick and his posse were good to me this year. I got lots of useful presents, including the groovy How to Understand Any Man machine. I typed in your man’s words, “In the past, I opened my heart and got hurt.” The translator spit out, “Baby, I got baggage!” When someone enters a new relationship burdened by unresolved issues from a former love, the current relationship suffers. For the current relationship to work, you have to be patient, and he has to attend therapy.

I suggest you take time to think about what you really need (I need to talk to my man daily) and then ask this guy, directly, for it. If he’s interested, he’ll let you know if your list is viable for him. If he runs, he’s not ready to face his fears, and he is not available to be in a real relationship with you (or anyone else).

I have 18 months of sobriety. After years of bad relationship choices driven by issues created out of childhood abuse and neglect, I now approach romance more maturely. But I am still sweet on women who balk at a serious relationship. I understand why women avoided me when I was drunk and flaky, but why do women who express great pleasure with who I am refuse commitment?

There is nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with the women you’re dating either. They’re just not where you are, emotionally. Or are they? Being attracted to women who resist emotional attachment is a way to perpetuate the feelings associated with the neglect and abuse of your childhood. Carl Jung once said that 90 percent of a relationship is shadow work. That means relationships, whether short- or long-term, are opportunities to face (or resist) the feared, denied, disowned parts of ourselves. In your case, that means you are invited to assess your commitment to being in a serious, loving relationship with yourself.

Meditation of the week
All the clever teens in India use the Hindi term “fundoo” to describe things that are, well, fun and cool. In Britain, the best things are “brill!”–the abbreviated form of brilliant. Aussies intensify their language “fully,” as in “That coat is fully sick.” This is according to the 2005 list of Top 10 Global YouthSpeak Words, which has me wondering why you haven’t created a new word to describe the amazing creature you are. I mean, wassup with that?

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