Outcome seekers

Joey Garcia

I need help turning a first date into a second one. I am tired of never hearing back from men I like. Here’s the scenario: I connect with a guy on a dating Web site, and we decide to meet for coffee or a drink. We hit it off and sometimes even share a meal. We laugh, have lots in common and tell personal stories. He says he hopes we can do it again, but he never calls. If I call, he either doesn’t return my call or sends a generic “Hey, nice to hear from you” e-mail. What am I doing wrong? By the way, I am not the only woman with this problem. Several women in my office had a conversation about this recently, so I decided to ask you for insight.

My hetero guy friends say that men often access dating Web sites as a hobby. This type of guy is bored and doesn’t want to spend his free time alone. Women frequently use dating Web sites to search for a boyfriend or husband. They’re motivated and have in hand their fine-tuned list of non-negotiable qualities necessary for a strong relationship. That’s why dating Web sites have thousands of members but only a handful of “success stories.” Romance only blooms when both partners are seeking the same outcome. But when a man is seeking a warm body to stave off boredom and a woman wants a warm body for a lifetime, there’s bound to be conflict (and commitment issues) in the relationship.

Two years ago, I went to the wedding of a friend who met her man on Match.com. She told swooning stories of how they had met and immediately knew they were right for each other. I asked her how long she had been on Match.com before the perfect man appeared. “Just over a year,” she said. She had forgotten that, during her Match.com year, she’d screened hundreds of men’s profiles from all over the country, e-mailed a few men and met a few others (including two or three men she thought were perfect for her, and vice versa, though no long-term romance ensued). Then she met her man, who was separated, and held on through his divorce and other difficulties. He really wanted a relationship, and so did she. Comprende? If your date considers you a diversion from another evening watching the Speed Channel, don’t expect a second date, no matter how wonderful you are. Just keep looking for a man who shares your relationship goals.

All but two of my new boyfriend’s buddies cheat on their girlfriends regularly, and one even cheats on his wife. I’ve always been freaked by betrayal. My boyfriend says I should trust him. Should I believe him? The other day, he opened his wallet to take out some cash, and stuck to his license was a piece of napkin with writing on it, the way people sometimes write their phone numbers on napkins at bars. When I said something, he made a joke but didn’t show me the paper. Should I be worried?

No. Worry is your mind’s attempt to find a way to control the situation so it can validate your ego’s thesis: People cannot be trusted. But it’s painful not to trust someone you care about. If your boyfriend does what he says he will do, your continual suspicions will eventually drive him away. The kindest way to navigate this dilemma is to use it to learn how to trust yourself. Believe me, you will be fine if he leaves you, and you will be fine if he stays to build a mutually loving relationship. But trying to control whether he stays or goes will only lead to stress and more worry. Who needs that?

Meditation of the week
What if M.C. Escher had been sent to therapy as a young man? Would he still have the courage to practice his insistently odd yet artful take on perspective? Or would he have seen his gift as a burden that needed to be normalized? Consider your idiosyncrasies, demons and obsessive qualities. What must you embrace to be a more genuine you?

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