Advice for those of us who always seem to end up with the wrong guys and girls. How do we break with the habit of inappropriate relationship decisions?
I think I am a relatively good looking guy – and 6 feet tall, 32inch waist, mid-thirties – and many women seem to, too. My hit rate at college, then at work (I have a management job at a big software company) and on the socials scene is pretty good. And I think the sex is pretty good, too. Most want to go on going out with me. The problem is, one way or another all the women I seem to meet start off fine but then turn out to be nuts in some way or another. One will be obsessed with the way she looks and wants reassurance all the time, another is a shopaholic and wants me to be there whilst she spends half her time in the changing room, another is a vegan crank, another is more in love with her dog than me, another nags me incessantly, and another just wants babies, not really me at all. You get the picture. Often I prefer an uncomplicated night out with male friends so as not to deal with all this negative stuff – but I do only like heterosexual sex and I would like a relationship to last more than a couple of weeks (I think my longest ever was eight months).
The Lovers’ Guide replies. What would you say?
Okay, so you have some idea of the sort of person you’d like to be with – i.e. ‘normal’ – and we need to work out why the people you actually end up going with don’t conform to the long plan. This is assuming that you aren’t exaggerating just how nutty they are as an excuse for getting out of impending relationships because, perhaps, there are issues with intimacy – meaning that you don’t really, in your heart of hearts, feel ready for close, loving relationships with real, warts-n-all human beings.
What attracts you to these people in the first instance, over and above the way you could be attracted to someone ‘normal’? It could be the sense of difference, the sense of excitement. It could be there’s a part of you that responds to some neediness in other people. It could be they’re easy and you’re getting involved by following the line of least resistance, where more fulfilling relationships might take more care and time.
When you’re out meeting new people, slow it down a touch. Start getting to know people right at the start, when you’re flirting. Gear your conversation to finding out all about them, and just enjoying the process of meeting new people, as if you might just turn out to be friends. If people are up for quick, casual, zero-commitment sex then fine. What’s not so good if they – or you – think that now you’ve had sex once there’s necessarily a relationship taking off here. When you start vaguely seeing each other, relax and play it cool in your own mind. If you don’t want to go shopping, say so; she can do that with her girlfriends. If she’s a vegan crank, as opposed to being merely a vegan, you should presumably have found that out on dinner date one, so back off if that’s not for you. Work on the principle that most of the people you meet probably aren’t destined to live happily ever after with you, so check them off the list and move on.
Lastly, if it’s long-term intimacy you’re looking for, prioritise that above the ‘pretty good’ sex you’re having. Look for the personal qualities you’d most appreciate in a loved one. Go for the people with whom you feel really comfortable, with whom you can open up and say anything, with whom you feel there’s a real bond and plenty in common. Delay sex if that helps. When you’ve got the right person and you’re falling in love, you can pretty much leave the (great) sex life to take care of itself, on whatever schedule is right for this particular relationship.
So put yourself back in control – you do sound rather passively responsive to people and events at the moment – and remember when you’re out on the social scene what you really are looking for. Good luck!