A while back I had the problem. A woman who was “dating” me didn’t want to admit to dating or even having a relationship. Something about that commitment, even saying the words, bothered her. Scared her. And yet we continued on in a “relationship” for a while. We limped along, in fits and starts and breakups.
She would break up with me when she felt things were getting too close. If I wrote a love poem, she broke up with me. If I said something too close to home, she broke up with me. So, with her anyway, I learned to be more circumspect. More withdrawn with my feelings and joy at being with her. I didn’t want to scare her off, but I was also a bit compromised in my expressions. Okay, so what was going on?
A recent post, brought some of this issue to light for me. From SkinnyandSingle blog:
Why did the chick cross the road?
To get away from the wonderful man who is falling in love with her.
I think most of us are afraid of this. We say we want it, but we sure throw our boots on and run like hell when it’s happening, don’t we?
Okay, so she’s talking about married men being more attractive to her. I think the issue is, the married man, is unavailable and that makes him safe and more alluring. So what about the stoic man makes him more attractive than the deep-feeling romantic?
Getting Emotionally High
Perhaps at some level, we are not willing or ready to “fall in love.” It’s an intoxicating feeling, and out of control. When love is in full bloom your senses and sensibility at taking a free fall. Both of my marriages were the result of a drugged-state of lust and love. Often it is hard to separate the two feelings. Sexual heat and long-term compatibility do not necessarily go hand in hand, and in my case, I’m 0-for-2 on that count. It might actually be the love-drug that is most frightening. At risk is the heart as much as the mind. If it’s just sexual and just stoic then we can bypass the risk. Well, at least we think we can.
But at some level we are skipping the depth of feeling that comes from opening up fully to the good as well as potentially negative effects of falling in love. I think the romantic believes in love, and believes and craves this intoxicated bliss. And I’m certain it can also become an addiction, preventing long-term and solid relationships, when the drug wears off, the addict will go searching for the next “high.”
The Emotional Core of a Relationship
And while I crave the high, I’m okay with the buzz too. And sobering up enough to assess the core of the relationship. At least that’s my hope. But what is so attractive about a man who stays aloof? With this previous relationship, I almost felt like the more I ignored her texts, the longer I waited to respond to a request, the more alluring I became to her. If I was too available, too eager, it frightened her off.
For a feeling person that running away is the biggest fear. If we allow ourselves to go deep into the passionate heart and we are left holding it in our hands as the partner runs away, it’s devastating. So we learn to curb our enthusiasm. We learn that love poems are for “later.” Or maybe for “never.” Is there value in the love poem? Am I really writing to the woman I am with, or am I writing to the woman I imagine, the ideal woman?
In another early dating negotiation, I met a woman who seemed interested, and who was highly attractive to me. But when I reach for the second date, she mentioned this other person, “she was seeing.” What? Um, why did she reach out to me?
What Are We Looking For As Partners?
As we emailed over the next few weeks, me in the friendzone, she complained about this man who was unable to express his feelings. Stoic. Maybe he was playing the aloof card to manipulate her, in some attempt to keep her interested. It sure killed my “romantic” play. As this woman and I communicated over the next few months, he broke her heart. And I continued to profess, “Well, we could go out,” and to no avail. When she also showed up on the dating site I have a profile on, I was again confused. “What’s happening?” I asked.
Even though the chemistry seemed to be good for me, and she said it was for her, something about the timing, or the risk of my overtly “romantic” personality was a turn off to her. And she continued to wax poetic on Facebook about her lack of companionship. Oh well, seems like she was continuing to hunt for the stoic. Of course, she was romantic herself, and perhaps that was the risk. Two romantics together might make for some uncomfortable projections and unrealistic fantasies.
At is goes, the stoic or fearful woman eventually wore me down. And the squelched romanticism was too much to bear. I had to go on looking, even though she was who I wanted. I learned that if the HEAT is not reflected, or if the “run-away” response is too pronounced it begins to be a buzz kill. There’s a lot of passion, but if you have to moderate all the time, perhaps it’s not a fit.
What My Silence Means
So what is it about my silences that kept her wanting more and my love songs that freaked her out? Do women want romantic love? Or was it just too soon for this woman, to be ready for the heady fall? After a while the jokes, I’m “just teasing,” began to feel like distancing techniques. And I got tired of always having to let the jokes roll off my back. If I rose to the occasion and bantered back, the results were ALWAYS BAD. She loved to dish it out, but couldn’t stand to have some of her “teasing” tossed back at her.
So when she continued to push and pull, I began to feel a bit scraped up by the pushes. While my romantic heart is resilient, and my “casual” commitment was in place, I was wanting someone to fall in love with. I guess I still am. And if that object of affection is freaked out by the very idea of love…
Okay, so how is a stoic man attractive? Because he is unavailable? Because he needs winning? It’s not me, but I could learn to be more reserved. If I wanted to. I don’t. Moving right along…
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | @wholeparent
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope. And who better to edit and spiff up your online dating profile, than a single man?
Get the complete single dad story with John’s new book: Single Dad Seeks (available in all formats)
- Does Poetry Matter? Be poetic. Love deeply. Keep going.
- Love Is a Choice Not a Feeling: Reflecting On My Divorce
- Learning About Sex and Dating As We Go Along
reference: All the good ones are married – Skinnyandsingle
image: romantic moment in amsterdam, monique broekhuisen, creative commons usage
This Post Has 3 Comments
Interesting hearing you write about “your romantic heart was resilient and casual commitment was in place, but wanting someone to fall in love with”.
I recently felt like that with a man I met, who happened to be of American origins, living here in Sydney for what he originally painted to be: an indefinite period. I soon learnt that he had a woman he was dating back home before he left the U.S., still seeking his attentions, and therefore the casual commitment to me – was not in place for him.
When I discovered this and realised this man wasn’t offering the option to fall in love, I decided to cut it off completely. Not drag it out with hope and/or potential disappointment, as I had been there done that before, and ultimately it was me that would wind up getting hurt: in particular if I held out hope that eventually her distance and my presence, would fade out whatever they had in the past.
So if there is anything I have learnt from my 4.5 years as a single parent, is I now know when to call a spade a spade. Although I may still be the ultimate romantic deep down, my pragmatism beats the living shit out of me nowadays. They don’t move mountains to make things happen with you, then I will keep looking until I find someone that will.
Thank you for the positive encouragement. I agree, and I’m learning: both people have to work to make the time to build a relationship. And within the bounds of both being single parents, we were doing all we could to find the moments. But the deeper issues never healed, and I knew they wouldn’t. I knew it, but I was infatuated with being infatuated. Dammit.
I’ve just read several of your posts because I was searching common-sense information about how to react to my new-ish partner’s teenage son’s avoidance of me in the relationship. I’ve been single 7 years, with one relationship in between of 2 years; most recently it’s been 2.5 years on my own. My new man has been a single Dad of 3 for 15 years and I’m the first woman he’s allowed himself to get to know and get close to. We’re getting along on every level, very well; shared values, humour, life experiences, music and relaxation tastes. We have mutual love honour and respect going on. We’re both emotionally intelligent and able to express ourselves and our feelings really well.
His two eldest have left the nest and his youngest (almost 18) remains at home. This one is civil to me sometimes, and avoidant most times. Because he goes to his Mum’s every weekend, we thought he just needed time to get used to my being in the picture, so agreed that I would stay away during the week, and S and I would be together on the weekends. However, S is pragmatic and his approach/attitude (from what I’ve read) is very similar to your own. He doesn’t want that to be that way too long, however after 5 months, the young one is still resisting any idea of planned time together, all three of us, so that he can just get to know me, and I him. Would really appreciate any wisdom that we haven’t already thought of to help us with this young man. I know he’s dealing with a lot (he doesn’t yet know what to do with his life) and our relationship is a big adjustment for him.