I’ve been on five dates with a guy who is reserved, and that’s not the kind of man I typically date. We’ve had a blast going out to dinner and talking until the restaurant closed. But when we walk back to our cars, he just hugs me and pecks me on the cheek. I’m used to guys not having any respect; I’ve been in a lot of bad relationships. I’m 30, and most of the guys I date suck my makeup off on the first night. But here is a super-nice guy who is respecting me, and I’m acting like, “What’s up?!” Do you think I should put the moves on this guy and start a make-out session? Is that bad? Will it scare him away? I need to know if there is a sexual connection, and I’m not sure yet.
If your bio clock was ticking its last tock, I could understand your rush a bit better. But you’re only 30, so that’s not the problem. This is: You’ve grown comfortable with putting chemistry before compatibility. Despite the insistence of our hormones and the culture’s investment in the notion that sexual attraction determines a relationship’s staying power, chemistry is not the only key. Here’s why: Humans have chemistry with far more people than they are relationally compatible with on mental, spiritual and emotional levels. Our biology evolved to foster procreation, so we are physically attracted to and sexually suited for many potential partners. Personalities, though, are much more difficult to match. As my friend Byron Katie says, “Personalities don’t love, they want something.” Through devotion to personal growth, we can harness our personalities away from seeing the other person as responsible for meeting all of our emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Eventually, we understand that relationships foster our maturation (a lifelong process) into adulthood.
A willingness to have conversations that reveal innermost thoughts, to engage in shared interests together, to negotiate compassionately through conflict, to manage egos and respect the other person’s limitations are more valuable measures of a relationship’s staying power than chemistry. Attraction is important, don’t get me wrong—but developing the kind of genuine friendship that inspires you to talk deep into the night gives your relationship staying power. It also feeds the likelihood that if the romance does not work out, you will still have a friend for life.
If you desire a long-term relationship, try letting someone get to know your personality before you invite him to get to know your body. Chemistry frequently propels us into relationships too fast, before we know the other person and before we know if the two of us are really compatible. So slow down. Enjoy a relationship rhythm that you haven’t danced to yet. You can figure out later whether your love styles are in tune or not.
There’s a man who has pursued me for 10 years. Three months ago, he started giving me little gifts, and I just could not resist. I gave in and am glad that I did. However, he has been in another relationship for 15 years. They don’t live together, but attend all social functions as a couple. What do you think is the likelihood he will leave her?
My Magic 8-Ball says “Situation cloudy” and, well, so is your thinking. If this man cared about you, himself or his girlfriend, he would have ended his commitment to her before pursuing you. Now, you’re his little somethin’-somethin’ on the side. Tell him you want a one-on-one relationship, not a three-ring circus. If he refuses, you’ll know where his heart is.