2.25.2005

Ask the Celibate

From the CitC eMailbag:
Hello,
I recently read your post "Here's An Idea: Ask the Celibate" and have decided that is the course of action I would like to take.

I work with this girl. We both work at UPS. She was hired in about 8 months ago and I've been there nearly 5 years. I'm 23 and she's 19. Ever since she was hired to work there, I have had an urge to get to know her better and that's what I did. We talked a lot, about everything and it was always fun being able to bounce whatever stupid idea may have come in my head off of her. She would relate her stories about guys that already had tried to ask her out at UPS and we would both laugh about it.

After a while I realized that I really started to like her, and would try to "accidently" bump into her at the end of the day so that we could walk out to our cars together. Eventually it become common practice for me to walk with her and I didn't need to find an accidental reason to bump into her at the end of the day. One day I even mustered up the courage to ask her out to a hockey game and dinner, which she sounded only too enthusiastic to accept.

So we went out and had a fantastic time. I bought her flowers and had them delivered the next day to her house. She called me later that day to thank me and said that she was very impressed as was her whole family. So it went great. In fact, it was probably one of the better dates I've ever had.

For the next 5 days I racked my brain about whether or not next Friday was too early to ask her out again. I talked to everybody about it. Finally I decided, you know what, screw thinking about it, I'm just going to go with my gut and ask her out for Friday. So I did, and she said yes again. This time it was dinner and a movie. On the way to the movie I told her about how nuts I'd driven myself. When we left the car and headed into the theater she responded by making eye contact and thanking me for asking her out. Then she pulled my hand out of my pocket and held it the rest of the night.

Another great date. Another one of the best dates I've been on. Ok, so fast forward to this past weekend. Since the second date, we had two more. The third date we had a brief time in which she seemed so distant and sad. Saying things like, "I don't know why you'd want to date someone like me," but towards the end of the night we were laughing and smiling and holding hands again. Then the following Monday after that date she called me up and asked me out for the following Friday. Then, Friday morning after we got out of work we went to breakfast and she told me that she thought that this wasn't working. However, I wasn't ready to give up yet and talked her into continuing with our plans later that night. I thought that if I could just give her a really great evening that she would forget about the things she said and change her mind.

The date went great. Great conversation, great dinner, never was there a moment in which I thought we were heading towards a break-up. Until we were driving to the movie theater. She looked over at me and asked if I'd thought about what she said that morning. I said I had but I wasn't going to bring it up. She said that she had too and wanted to. She said that she was ready to throw in the towel. As we drove in silence toward the theater she finally broke out and asked if I wanted to talk about this. I did, so we parked.

I asked her what happened, what I did to change her attitude towards our dating. She said nothing, you did everything perfect. Later she said that she just didn't feel a spark. She said we'd be better off as friends. At this point I knew there was nothing I could say to change her mind. The sinking feeling that I keep getting is, what's wrong with me?? What is it with me that I could do everything perfect and yet there is no spark. Is what she told me just an excuse? Did she find someone else that suited her better? Does she have too many emotional problems and this was just the easiest one to fix?

I need a different kind of perspective. Vocalizing what I'm feeling works to an extent, but not quite what I need. If you could just tell me what you think about this, that would be great. I just don't understand what happened. Why didn't she know there was no spark after the first date instead of after the fourth? I'm just really confused by this whole thing.

Thanks, Confused


Dear Confused,

It sounds to me like a situation where the girl likes your personality, likes your friendship and company...but she's not attracted to you. [I am only guessing here.] Women don't like to say 'No', especially to nice guys. Women are very different from men in that we don't rule them in or out right away based on their attractiveness, sometimes we do, but not generally. Most guys fall into a 'regular guy cute' category, which means you don't take her breath away but if the dude plays his cards right she could be interested. Within that category are degrees: like 'he's cute', 'he's ok', 'maybe'. The phenomenon of being attracted to a guy when you were not initially is confusing. Because of her age, she has not likely had a lot of experience with this.

I'd guess she said 'yes' the first time because she wasn't sure you meant it to be a date-date and/or she wanted to give you a chance because she likes you. After you sent her the flowers there was no mistaking your intentions. The flowers may have caused her to feel obligated to go out with you again. The comment she made about her family being impressed with the flowers suggests they could have influenced her decision.

By the time she was holding your hand, she probably decided to give romance with you a chance, expecting the attraction would come. That's why she would agree to the next date. I have done that myself. I had a boyfriend for 5 months for whom I felt no physical attraction. But because he was the first man who treated me well, I thought I should try. I learned my lesson, I grew to despise him and he repulsed me.

Anyway. When she told you she didn't think it was going to work out she probably realized the attraction wasn't there and it was cruel to lead you on. That likely made her sad because she wanted to be attracted to you. She sounds like a nice girl. Chin up, confused! It's not you. Well, nothing personal anyway. You should be flattered that she liked you so much that she wanted to try going out with you despite not feeling sparks. People can't force it, as much as many of us have tried.

All hope is not lost, however. The way to win a woman's heart is with time. Be her friend. Be a good friend. Love her and show her kindness and talk to her and be there for her and given enough time, she will grow to love you as a friend too. Then, MAYBE, her love of your insides will spread to her love and desire of your outsides. Good luck and don't despair my friend. (Although, you might want to re-think sending flowers after one date. That's pretty intense and could scare some women away. I'd suggest bringing one flower to the second date instead.)

--OR--
Her comment about not believing you would 'like someone like her' does suggest emotional problems in the self-esteem area. If she is severely damaged then she could feel that you are too nice or too good for her. And if that is the case, there is nothing you can do about dating her. But you can still be a good friend by helping her feel better about herself and maybe help her get into some therapy.

Love, the Celibate
[Take this advice with a shaker of salt.]

Do you have a love conundrum? Ask the Celibate!

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, JL. I agree with your perspective, even with the order: lack of attraction being the most likely, but low self esteem being a definite possibility. You have a future in this racket.

I can't stand Dear Abby's advice, although I confess that I still read her column. The Chicago Tribune has an advice columnist named Amy Dickinson (a descendant of Emily), who took Ann Landers' place and is quite good. Whereas Abby gives short, formulaic answers, where it doesn't seem as though she were actually reading the specific letter, or her advice isn't practicable, Amy gives longer answers that reflect more thought about the specifics of the actual letter. And your response reminded me of Amy, which is a compliment in my book. 

Posted by Kevin Barney

Anonymous said...

Is it also possible that too much happened too soon? I know within the Mormon community this may be hard to grasp/understand as relationships between people in this age group seem to happen rappidly and end up in engagement in only a few weeks.

However, is it possible she actually became less  attracted to him as time went on?

JL, you mentioned in an earlier post the paradox of being emotionally available and really wanting a relationship to happen and how it can make some one seem less attractive- you mentioned how we have to pretend not to be desperate in general or too interested in a specific person too early or we become unatractive options.
Is it possible that this is what happened here? A girl found him somewhat attractive- was flattered by his interest but became a bit warry and unconsciously less attracted when he seemed very, very interested- beyond what made sense in her mind? Does it make sense that the combination of some emotional problems- not understanding why he would be interested in "some one like her" and the unconscious level at which attraction is affected by some one else seeming too attracted to you too fast combined to make her not interested?
If so, what is the remedy? It seems that many guys fall into the nice guy but not attracted to category- but these are guys who initially were cute enough to have potential. If they do all the nice things, treat some one well and do romantic things on top of that- why wouldn't the girl then become more attracted rather than less? What then is the alternative? If a guy falls right in the middle of that spectrum- cute and a little attractive, what makes him go one way rather than the other in development of attraction? Becasue it seems like it is very common for a guy to be a little attractive- and then be very nice and do all the right things as this guy did and then become less attractive. Do people really need to "play games" in the sense that they hold back how interested they are and play it cool a bit in order to be more attractive? 

Posted by Mike

Anonymous said...

It may be what I call the "Freshmen Dating Phenomenon" (Yes, I made it up all by myself) The problem with dating a girl fresh out of high school or still living with her parents is that she hasn't "moved on" from her previous experience.

I'm firmly convinced that until you've pulled your own weight in this world (lived in your own apartment, with or without roommates; had to pay your own way in life; had to readjust your social ideology; etc, etc) that dating will be a game. It isn't until you've undertaken that next big change, from living at home to being a fully functioning adult, that you will be able to truly appriciate the people that you come in contact with. 

Posted by dJake

Anonymous said...

Which is part of why I have a no freshmen rule. 

Posted by Mike

Anonymous said...

Great insight Miss Celibate! Exactly what I would have answered.

Good call on the self esteem. I have two more ideas on that.

First, it hit me like an alert that perhaps this girl was abused. A possiblity. But I don't think so. Just low self esteem and inexperience.

Second, this was the moment that she realized she wasn't feeling it for you. It was her way to make it your idea.

I am guilty of a variation of that. Sometimes when I know it's over, I start to act like a bitch. I'm never otherwise a bitch. Sorry Guys!
 

Posted by trs

Anonymous said...

Don't you need friction to get a spark? 

Posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Mike,
The answer to your questions, based on my experience is 'yes'. People with low self esteem don't respect other people who like them, because anyone who likes her must have something wrong with him too. Unfortunately, many American women have that mindset, but it seems most prevelant among younger women.

And in my experience you do have to play the game. The few times I thought I didn't have to and which I was totally honest blew up in my face. I always got bored with the guys who came on too strongly.

The reason I didn't think that was the case here is because of her behavior with the hand holding, I wouldn't have done that if a guy was coming on too strongly.  

Posted by JL

Anonymous said...

This seems like a situation similar to the one I've been going through. This girl was "all up ons," to use the words of the great Strong Bad. She instigated the whole thing. Came over and hung out at my apartment for no particular reason, always made sure I knew she wanted to see me at activities, etc. So eventually I decided to give it a try and wound up really liking her. After dating for a couple weeks, she seemed to have some major self-esteem issues and broke it off. I think I understand what had been going on, but still tend to play the game of "what if" with the whole situation. I'd be interested to see if you have any feedback for me. 

Posted by Juddmensch

Anonymous said...

When I was 19-21 and dating, I pulled stuff like this all the time. I liked a guy, then went on about three dates with him, then had to stop dating him. It wasn't that I was not attracted to him initially, and it wasn't that I had self-esteem problems. It was just that as I spent more time with the guy, I realized that it wasn't going to last for whatever reason (he always wanted to eat pie, he always said "bueno", he was a slow driver). I know it's shallow, but I had low tolerance for someone who, in the long run, was going to bug me. On the flip side, when I started dating my husband, my sister's friend's brother was dating my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend (I'll give you a moment to translate). So my sister's friend started telling her all the tiny things that bugged my guy's ex about him. The things she listed seemed just as stupid as the stuff I found wrong with other guys, and it was all stuff that didn't bug me. I guess my point is that, the whole point of dating someone is so you can spend enough time with that person to know if you want to spend more time with that person. It's probably nothing wrong with your looks or personality, there are just people who click well together, and we're all looking for that one who fits perfectly. I think you should be grateful she was so straightforward with you. I never was - I'd just stop returning phone calls and other mature stuff like that. 

Posted by Kristen

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment Kristen. I wasn't like that so that hadn't occured to me. But you could be right.  

Posted by JL

Anonymous said...

Juddmensch,

I would be happy to give you some feedback but I need more information. You can email me if you'd like to.

 

Posted by JL

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