Magical thinking

Joey Garcia

Three weeks after leaving a nine-year relationship, I met a nice guy who asked for my phone number. Then we had a two-hour coffee date, and for the next 10 days, he was over the top. There were multiple calls and texts every day and talks of a future together. He said he may be falling in love with me and that he couldn’t stop thinking about me. Then the calls became fewer and the chatter about falling in love subsided. His conversations were always sexual—he was never shy about that. But now I haven’t heard from him in three days, even though we are scheduled for a date this weekend. It’s only been a three-week relationship, so I think its best for me to be on my way. How do I avoid encountering a man like this again?

Stop acting like someone just out of a long-term relationship. The death of your partnership probably left you wondering if you are still desirable. If you are like most recently single people, you interpret that quality as only related to your physical or sexual nature. So you attracted someone ready to assure you that you are hot, wanted and worth pleasing sexually. American culture calls this romance; spirituality calls it illusion. That’s because your man’s advances are not related to you at all. After three weeks he doesn’t know you well enough to be in love with you. But his script works well with any woman willing to play his infatuation game. That’s why it’s easy for him to drop you and switch his intense focus to someone else in a heartbeat. It’s not about you, it’s about the adrenaline rush he scores when pursuing you.

Genuine love demands that real friendship is present (you would hang out with this person even if sexual activity was never an option but feel blessed that it is) and that you are attracted to each other’s values, dreams, lifestyles and beliefs about the Divine. Real love also means that the relationship—and the two people in it—contain the potential to shift into selflessness for the sake of the other partner and the world. Is that what Mr. I-love-you-after-three-weeks offers you? Of course not.

Honey, let’s be clear: Your man is likely to swing into betrayal when he tires of you and begins obsessing about someone else. So I want you to thank him for the lesson he taught you and then let go, completely, of the relationship. No more responding to his texts, invitations or phone calls—no matter what happens or how lonely you feel. And please, begin to see desirability in spiritual terms by focusing on what’s inside a man, not how seductive he seems on the outside.

Why do women give guys ultimatums, like, “I need to be exclusive or this dating relationship is over,” then when the guy says no, the woman backs down? Doesn’t she realize that he is just using her until someone he could really care about comes along?

No, she tends to apply magical thinking based on a combination of fairy-tale logic and what she has been told about how careers work: If she puts more time and energy into the relationship, he will suddenly wake up (as if from a spell cast by his wicked witch of a past girlfriend or his evil mother) and discover how amazing she is. His heart will burst open in love and he will promote her from one of the many women in his life to the main squeeze (like a career advance from underling to supervisor). It’s silly, but that doesn’t stop women—and men—from dousing themselves in that desperate perfume.

Meditation of the week
If you have students in your life, take them to see He’s Just Not That Into You. Don’t try to teach them anything; let them absorb the film while you notice the romantic mistakes you made at their age. Afterward, be a friend—talk honestly about your own Eros errors.

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