I have phone conversations with a man in Canada who I met dating online. After two months, he said a long-distance relationship was impractical. He reminded me that he had warned against attachment. Finally, he admitted interest in someone else. One friend advised me to enjoy him and his words at face value. Another said she didn’t trust him or understand why I didn’t end it. I took some space, but after a week, I missed him. He got a phone card and we talked. Things felt better until he said he avoids compliments because he doesn’t want to lead me on. If you like someone, why not act on those feelings? We spend lots of time talking, but when he avoids certain topics I feel like my behavior is being managed. Am I unwise to keep contact?
Yes, it is unwise and unkind to force yourself on a man who has been clear about his lack of interest. It’s worrisome, too, that you cling to crumbs and tell yourself a tidbit is nourishing. He bought a phone card to call you? That could signify guilt, not affection. Long phone chats? He’s bored and has no better way to occupy time. Each call returns him to drama: He doesn’t desire or cherish you but appreciates being desired and cherished by you. And you, darling, are using this situation to polish your sales skills. On each call, you try to close the deal on a relationship. Like a shopper on a car lot, he is “just looking,” but you continue trying to break him down. Coiled beneath every conversation is the demand that he submit to your will and sign on the dotted line to become your man.
Oh my, those are harsh words, aren’t they? That’s what real friends do: tell us the truth. One of your friends, a straight shooter, said she didn’t understand why you continue talking to your Canadian phone pal. Your other friend, afraid, perhaps, of your aching need for a man who does not see you as a potential mate, suggests that you enjoy the conversations. But she also cautions you to accept his ultimatum. You tried, but missed the phone chats. That’s because you have convinced yourself those chats are significant. And yes, you are attached to the rhythm of interacting with him. You believe that if he changes his mind and (cue the music) suddenly expresses his mad love for you, it proves you are loveable. Better yet, it proves you were right: This is an epic romance. Unfortunately, that’s a fantasy. This is reality: You are amazing. And an amazing woman deserves a man who knows she is amazing and believes he is, too.
A friend has had a debilitating illness for a decade. Initially, I drove her to appointments, cooked meals, did errands. Then, I backed off because she doesn’t follow her doctor’s orders. She says I don’t understand her illness. This is true. But I want to be around people who are disciplined in mind and body to face difficult issues and improve. I feel guilty about abandoning her. How do I release guilt and keep boundaries?
Admit that you rushed in to save her, and when you realized that nothing you did would be enough, resentment ensued. Yours. In the future, lend a hand because it brings you joy, not because you expect kindness to be medicine. Do this soon. Obsessing over failures, perceived or true, can seed the stress that causes illness. If your mind embraces so much guilt that your body becomes ill, you will have to birth extravagant amounts of discipline to overcome the illness and prove you are different from your friend. And that’s a waste of life energy.
“Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves,” wrote Ayn Rand. How well do you know yourself?