Fantasy real talk

Joey Garcia

I met a man at church two years ago and felt an immediate spiritual connection. We share emotions easily (I am more extroverted, and he is shy with others but open with me), and our sexual electricity is intense. But he has a tendency to not call me for weeks, and during that period, he dates someone else. It’s a different woman each time, someone he meets online and thinks is everything he wants. When it doesn’t work, he’s back with me. He drinks sometimes and calls to say I’m too good for him. I tell him he’s the one I want, but after a few weeks, he’s out with someone else. How can I get him to see how good we are together?

Do you really want to convince him to buy into your fantasy? You believe that sexual attraction and a shared spiritual perspective indicate enough chemistry for commitment. But attraction and connection are more complex. Sexual attraction can signal compatibility, or it can simply be a revelation of rising desire. Attraction and connection might also mean that your brain recognizes an unfinished emotional pattern. Translation: Your shy guy’s pheromones or gestures or speech pattern mimics that of someone you never got over. Yes, your brain is trying to doctor an old wound and using this new man as the stand-in for your love interest in the failed relationship. How do I know? Easy. You’re clinging to a relationship that will not work. If your brain operated in present tense, it would see a man who tosses you aside whenever someone sparkly comes along. Yes, your brain would see a man who gets sloshed and calls you to whine about his inability to meet you as an equal. If reality was your brain’s operating system, you would see yourself as a woman craving a man who is ambivalent about her.

Can you acknowledge reality more honestly now? If so, tell this man that the two of you will no longer be in contact. Once you let your brain know what you want, it can support you in making dating choices that are wise, worthy and wonderful.

The chemistry between me and this girl is off the charts. When we’re apart, I can’t get her out of my head. She’s older than me, but I don’t care. All I want is to be with her. She talks about me moving in with her and about us going on vacations together, but when I try to make plans, she gets angry and accuses me of trying to control her. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong, or how it goes downhill so fast. Her ex-husband was a control freak, but I’m not. How do I let her know?

Slow down. If you keep trying to do everything right, you won’t be able to keep everything real. Desperation, born of your fear of losing your girlfriend, is layered into your well-meant efforts to prove your love. That’s why she scrapes you off like a barnacle. So, yeah, you’re not going to like my advice, but here it is: Back off.

The next time she talks about cohabitating or vacationing together, smile. As you smile, let yourself mentally enjoy the thought of those experiences with her. If you can control yourself, say nothing. If you must say something, try this: “Sounds good.”

Don’t insist on syncing calendars. Just enjoy the daydream for what it is. If the relationship has legs, a move-in plan or holiday schedule will arise naturally. When it does, keep your sanity. Suggest a weekend away or a staycation at her place (or yours) before jumping too fast into something that you neither of you is ready to manage.

Meditation of the week
“When do I paint? Always. … I am painting now—while I am looking at you, while I am speaking to you,” said the artist Joaquín Sorolla in a 1909 article, “The American Success of a Great Spanish Painter.” How conscious is your vision?

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