Taking it slow...

QUESTION:'s my dilemma. I met this guy [recently] When we met, I was under the impression that we were fostering a friendship hence I worked very hard on maintaining the bounderies between a friendship and romantic relationship. I respected his wishes and the only feelings I allowed to progress were of caring and respect.

Here is the dilemma. Four months into our budding friendship, this guy tells me he loves me--twice. The first time he said this I thought maybe it was a slip of the tongue so I ignored it. I attempted to bring it up to him and he acted as though he did not know what I was referring to. Then, the next night we talked again and he stated he loves me again then hung up. Now, at this point I am panicking--big time. I did not know what to think and I did not want to make more out of it than it was. At the same time, I had to know what was going on. Therefore, when we talked again, I brought this issue up. At first he stated that he did not want to answer any of my questions so I may as [well] not ask them. So I did not push the issue. I dropped it. Then he went on to state that he did not want to talk about what I wanted to talk about. So I did not push the issue. I dropped it and attempted to change the subject. Then he stated, "I know what I said and you know what you heard." Still, to respect his wishes, I did not push the issue and proceeded with changing the subject. After that time, I felt him growing a little distant and aggravated with me. I am not one to express myself verbally so I sent him an e-mail and advised him of my reasons for wanting to take everything slow.

From what I have gathered from this GENTLEMAN thus far is quite impressive and very FOREIGN to me. Very foreign. To be straight forward, I question where this GENTLEMAN came from. We have great conversations, we are not sexually involved, he always ask about my day, he encourages me, has a great sense of humor, and to top it off, he is very intelligent and caring. Yet, he has been hurt, and so have I, in the past. I am afraid that if I do allow myself to give into this wonderful man, then I will not be able to appreciate him. It has been a very troubling trend in my family for broken women to attract wonderful men and stomp all over them. I desperately want to break that cycle in respect to my relations with men.

However, I have never seemed to attract a strong, Black man that is honest, has integrity, self-respect, hardworking, genuine, not into being a player, a good father and friend, and going somewhere in life. To top that off, he has said that he loves me. I have fantasized about a man of his caliber saying those beautiful words to me and when it finally happened, all I could do was stand there with a blank face and devoid of emotions and feelings. I want to take it slow for his sake and mostly for my sake. If I ever hurt this man in any respect, I don't think I could live with myself. It is odd that most of the slick, deranged, and counter-productive men have garnered my interest instantly. However, the man of my dreams is standing right here in my face and the only excuse I have is that "I am taking it slow..." What is wrong with me? Am I going crazy?

GARLAND: I don't think you're crazy at all. There is nothing wrong with taking ANYTHING slow when it comes to a developing relationship. If ANYTHING - most folks go too fast! They start dropping the word 'Love' too fast, they start hopping in the bed too fast, and they start having babies too fast! Keep taking it slow.

I think its a little odd though, that this guy was so hush-mouthed when it came to talking about the fact that he said he loved you. This is probably nothing at all, maybe its just a "Garland thing" (which means little to anyone except for me) but if a man tells a woman he 'loves her' then he should speak up about it! It shouldn't be something he's scared to say, or timid about, or trying to whisper! He should SHOUT it out - unashamedly! Proud! Fearing NOTHING! It shouldn't be something thrown calmly and quietly into a conversation about doing one's laundry. And then when asked about it - he shouldn't dodge it like a bullet! He should stick out his chest and wear it like a badge of honor! If this guy is still timid about using 'The L word' because he was hurt in the past - then he still has some healing to do, and he shouldn't use The Word 'till he can say it loud and proud!

My little issue aside - I'm happy for you both. I think taking it slow [and communicating the whole way] will lead you someplace very positive. You say that you both have been hurt before... honestly, almost EVERYONE has been hurt before and I'm sure that in most of those breakups where violence and criminal activity DIDN'T take place, they made us stronger and better in future relationships. And, as far as the romantic histories of the ladies in your family goes, use their actions as a road map for WHAT NOT TO DO! When you see yourself doing things they've done, or saying things they've said, or acting the way they've acted - STOP right in your tracks, back up a little and go in a different direction!!!

Keep taking your time, you and him are on no one's schedule but your own!

Thanks for the E-Mail and let us know how things develop!!!

CHUCK: Wow. Um, let me take a minute. Here we've got a guy who blurts out "I love you," and quickly denies it, like he's divulged some government secret, and a woman who approaches an attentive, intelligent man with as much caution as she would a minefield. What the hell is going on, people? Sometimes personal relationships are as hard to understand as fractal mathematics.

The key to what's holding both of you back is your personal histories. He allowed his declaration of love to stumble out like it did (TWICE!) possibly because he didn't know that you'd reciporocate. Or maybe because a man's not supposed to "tip his hand" like that. And you admittedly have been hurt before, and possess that suspicion that certain women have for guys who are not shady, unfaithful losers. Together, you seem to have enough baggage to fill a cargo hold.

Against all these negatives, though, I'm glad that you guys are trying to find a way to be together.The fact that relationships may have gone bad in the past is no reason to assume things always have to be that way. Be patient and give each other time (even if he tells you he loves you again), and you two may be able to stay together. Keep us posted.

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