I’m a straight male in my late 20s. I’ve always had mixed luck with relationships. But I’ve never really had a problem getting dates, which leads me to believe I’m at least moderately attractive and interesting. Recently, I’ve had several dates that I thought went extremely well—great conversation, discovery of many things in common, unforced laughter, absence of uncomfortable silence, etc. Yet inevitably, when I call to arrange a second date, I find that the feeling is not mutual. In some cases, a friendship is suggested in place of a date. This situation is obviously frustrating and in some ways, makes me want to stop dating. But I’d rather be proactive than defeatist.
First, props for your positive attitude. Now, a bit about the intricacies of dating: Some people date to fulfill their need for socializing. These women and men are not looking for partners—they are in search of a few hours of human contact. They might be trying to mend a broken heart or prove their appeal to the person they are really interested in (usually someone who is ambivalent about commitment but with whom they have great sex). So even though you feel a genuine connection, the woman you are interested in may have such a terrifying dating history that she no longer trusts reliable criteria like shared laughter, good communication and common interests. Or she might be so indoctrinated by pop culture that she believes immediate physical attraction is the only valid criteria on which to build a relationship. I’ve actually heard women say that if they don’t feel an intense, electrifying attraction at first sight or if the guy doesn’t kiss them on the first date, they won’t agree to a second date. Evah. Sadly, they don’t understand the laws of attraction. Our bodies can be attracted to someone because well, they’re hot. But we can also be drawn to someone because at a deep level, we sense that person’s neurotic behavior pattern mimics patterns we experienced in childhood. So the magnetic pull we feel toward him or her signals an opportunity to heal unfinished emotional business from our childhood. Unfortunately, most people just repeat patterns rather than try to heal the original wound.
The other side of your dilemma is this: Dating is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to make a deep and satisfying emotional connection. Increasing the number of women you meet will also give you an opportunity to learn that “no, thanks” is not a rejection of you, it’s an RSVP to your invitation.
That said, you may need a relationship sponsor. Is there a friend you trust or a woman you dated briefly before opting for friendship? If so, ask them for honest feedback. It is possible that you are saying or doing something that is a complete turnoff, like self-deprecating humor (reveals low self-esteem) or an unusual lifestyle (you live with mama), or you act like a buffoon but think you’re being cool (you ask what positions she likes and drop Jenna Jameson’s name a lot). Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: “Would I date me?”
In a recent column (May 15), a guy complained that women change after marriage. I don’t think that women change that much, but most women want to marry a Cadillac and settle for a 1970 Chevy, then try to fix it up. Their true personality just takes over during the overhaul period. The personality was always there, but men tend to ignore it as they pursue what they want. I’ve been married now for 31 years; my overhaul is complete!
You’re a keeper! Here’s to at least another 31 years of bliss for you and your wife.