Culture Clash

First I wanted to say that I LOVE your blog....

So now I have a question...

I went on a first date with a guy...very nice, respectful, gainfully employed, intelligent, attentive but there is an issue. Ok I am lying...a few. Now normally I would just walk aware of relegate him to the friend file but I don't know if I am being too picky.

1. I am a Black American and he is African...and I KNOW people may think all black people are the same but they are not. I have had to correct him a few times on assumptions he has on black Americans...and he has always listened to me and most times he actually saw my point...but I don't know if I can always control my temper if this "thing" continues. Like he had an ignorant take on locks (which I have) that I have NEVER heard anyone of any ethnicity say...but most of his views are based on what he has seen on TV (dang BET) or just because he never knew but I mean I have the time for this?

2. Well...his shoes...the way he...musical tastes...nevermind...all of that is shallow...what's really important is

3. I laughed while we were out but it was usually because of something I said. He didn't make me laugh the entire 5 hours (ill...long date) and that is so NOT in line with my personality. I am a sarcastic New Yorker...and I work hard from I don't want to have someone that I can't laugh and relax with. I knew something wasn't right because when he called the next day I hesitated about whether I should pick up the phone or not...when normally I would be ecstatic that I got a phone call the day after.

So with that being this something I should give a second chance because I am being too critical/picky? it good to take inventory, see something isn't what you need and just cut your losses? Because to be quite honest I could care less about a free meal...boring dates are draining. lol.

Sarcastic in Harlem

GARLAND: Hey 'Sarcastic' - thanks for your complement and please accept my apology for the delay in getting this reply posted.

Do I think you're being too picky? Hell no!

I applaud you for actually stopping to ask yourself, "Am I feelin' this guy?" or "Am I having a good time with him?" So many women, in my opinion, of all races and ages, don't dwell on this long enough. I'm glad to see you taking the time to evaluate YOUR needs when it comes to dating and a relationship.

I've encountered Sisters before that have had problems clicking with African guys. I'm not saying that anything is wrong with African men per se, but I have seen an oddly high number of women that have just ended up unhappy dating some of these guys. So maybe the chemistry really isn't there. Then again, his nationality might not have played any role in the big picture.

Either way you slice it, you are putting your well being and your feelings first, and that's NEVER EVER a bad thing. You keep your magnifying glass out!

CHUCK: Sarcastic in Harlem, speaking as Really Sarcastic in DC, I know where you're coming from. Do I think you're being too picky? I don't think so. You didn't really provide as many details as I would have liked (What was his presumably insulting comment on your locks? Did he at least smile while you were joking? Was he wearing sandals with no lotion on his ashy feet?), I gather you didn't feel very compatible with him. And if that's the case, no harm, no foul.

I tease African men sometimes, but I think it's kind of bad that there seems to be this gulf of misunderstanding between American Blacks and Africans. They have their misconceptions about us, we have ours about them. Some of the differences you bring up with your friend seem to be cultural, like musical tastes and opinions about women's hairstyles. But fundamentally, it doesn't seem as though you enjoyed this guy's company all that much.

Respectful, intelligent, attentive, all good things. But it sounds as though this guy isn't giving you a spark. I don't think it's asking too much to want a spark. It's always good to take stock of someone you're seeing and decide if they've got what you're looking for. What else is dating, after all? Otherwise, you find yourself married to and pregnant by someone who was boring way back at date #3. Put this guy in the friend bin and keep on movin'.


"Let's Stay Friends" and Other Lies

QUESTION: Hey Chuck and Garland,

I really appreciate this blog and your honest advice. Here's my situation. I'd developed a close friendship with this guy following college for about 2.5 years. We were really close and he wanted to escalate the relationship. I declined. At the time I was dealing with an ex and didn't feel ready to jump into a long distance and interracial relationship with this friend. Seemed like too much stress. We remained friends but scaled back some of our communication (letters and such) at his request. However my feelings continued to grow. I finally got the nerve to confront him with my feelings at the same time that he abruptly started ignoring me. He wouldn't return any calls, emails, etc.

After some months he finally sent an email informing me that he had a girlfriend, apologizing for how he'd acted, and stating that he wanted to rebuild our friendship. I expressed a willingness to rebuild our friendship too and did not disclose my feelings. So as far as he was concerned, my feelings for him were platonic and I was not a direct threat to his current relationship. After claiming to want to rebuild our friendship, this guy ostracizes me again for months. Then I hear that he'd gotten engaged. I sent a congratulatory email (strictly platonic) and surprise...he actually responds to it. Prior to this, he hadn't communicated with me for 7 months. In his email he apologized for how he'd treated me, stated that he dropped off the face of the earth b/c he still had feelings for me at that time. I replied, accepted his apology and requested a brief conversation--I felt that I owed him an apology as well but not over email...You just don't apologize to people over email. Anyway, he didn't respond to my request for a week or so and I (assuming that I'd been ostracized again) decided that I would apologize via email to just clear the air on my end, make the necessary amends, and call it a day. When he received my email, he replied and explained that he'd been out of town and didn't have any problems with our talking over the phone about this as opposed to email. So, if I was still willing to talk to him after he's acted I could give him a call. Taking him at his word, I gave him a call, left a message, and haven't heard from him since...It's been nearly a month. I'm annoyed by his inability to man up and be truthful. My goodness, would he just say what he means and mean what he says! If he didn't want to talk via phone then he should have said so, if you didn't want to remain friends then he should have said so. The truth will set you free!! We're both adults and should be able to keep it somewhat real, if not completely real with each other.

Chuck and Garland, please know that I'm not trying to break up this guy's engagement and am consequently not a threat to his relationship. I'd just like to understand why on earth he would express a desire to maintain a friendly coexistence with me on multiple occasions and then proceed to treat me like I don't exist. It's rude and immature. I've never dealt with a guy like this before.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. And if in your answers you suggest that he still has feelings for me then I'll need you to explain to me how a man can propose to another woman while he still has strong feelings for someone else?

An ex of mine (the one mentioned early in the above post) called me, told me about his engagement and proceeded to indirectly ask if there was still a chance for us! To me, that's something you do BEFORE you put a ring on someone else's hand and not after. But I welcome and look forward to your insight.


Chuck: When a woman's inability to realize what she wants (in a timely manner) meets a man's inability to directly express his feelings (in a timely manner), you get what you've got here. Which is not too much.

Your friend had romantic feelings for you and expressed them before you were ready, so you shut him down. And by the time you realize you have romantic feelings for him, he has someone else. Happens all the time, especially here @ this blog. But when he doesn't hold up his end of the promise to remain platonic friends despite his girlfriend, you get angry. That's because your feelings for him aren't entirely platonic anymore. Let's face it: if his fiancee were to get hit by a crosstown bus today, you may not be dancing in the streets, but you won't be shedding any tears, either.

As for the reason this guy does not contact you for long periods of time, there are three likely explanations. You can figure out for yourself which applies. First, he may just be a creep. Secondly, He may not trust himself to stay in contact with you. The feelings that he once, and still may, have for you may preclude any contact remaining strictly platonic. And thirdly, he may not want any emails, phone messages, or letters around that his fiancee might discover. Some women are very sensitive about the platonic female friends that their man has.

I may be reading things wrong here, I think you're looking for some closure for your feelings for this guy. If you are doing that, you shouldn't be. I've said it before here: Closure isn't something you get in real life. On your favorite soaps, couples that are breaking up have knock-down-drag-out arguments, followed by slaps in the face and crazy angry-sex with one another. I can hear "Touch Me in the Morning" playing in the background. But real life is more like this: The last long-term girlfriend I had before I started dating the woman I married I talked to every day on the phone and saw nearly every day. Then the visits became less frequent. Then the phone calls. Then we were barely speaking at all. Then nothing. No big blow-up. No closure. You learn to live without it.

Get over this guy. If he can learn to live long periods of time without you, you can at least show him you can do the same. You seem to have a lot of affection to give (once you decide what you want). Find a guy that's closer who has no such baggage.

GARLAND: Thanks for your question!
Let's see - I don't think he still has feelings for you. Even if he did - it would be possible for him to propose to another woman, simply because some guys are stupid and shallow. But based on what you are saying, I think its time to let this one go.

So much of what you said shows the big differences between men and women - you ladies love the whole 'talking things through'. The idea of 'still being friends'. The 'why can't he talk about his feelings with me' aspect of things. Men are just not wired this way. When you were going days, weeks and months without hearing from him, I think he was trying to close the door on you, but then part of him [stupidly] wanted to check in on you. I think he just didn't want you to feel totally dissed. I think he wanted to say, "Hi." make sure you were doing okay and then NOT talk to you for another 3 months. But each time he and you got drawn in to deeper conversation.

This whole 'apologizing' thing between the two of you is nothing short of harmful self-torture. Neither of you owe the other any apology, you both need to just move on. This whole 'feeling like you've done something wrong' is really not doing either of you any good. He needs to stop calling you and get on with being emotionally faithful to his future wife, and you need to write him off as the cab you just missed - another will be by shortly.

Personally - I've always had this ability to walk away from a woman once I discovered that the relationship wasn't going to work or wasn't going to manifest. And oddly, it was THAT time that most of these women came after me the hardest. I'm not going to get into why I think that was so - but I think you have a guy that just won't completely walk away. Maybe he likes to keep you dangling on his emotional hook. I don't know. But since you asked for our advice - my loyalty is going to you.

Walk away from him-

Don't open his E-Mails, don't take his calls, return the letters he mails to you - he needs to focus on his wife and YOU need to focus on YOU, so you have to be the grown-up here.
And please, please, please don't convince yourself that you are The Legendary, often heard of but NEVER seen "PLATONIC FRIEND!" Have you ever noticed that only women use this term? No man has ever said that he is the PLATONIC friend of a woman. Men may call themselves "friends" to certain women, but only women throw the word "PLATONIC" out like it means something special, like it is some incredible shield against evil, or sex. Don't waste your time proclaiming to be all PLATONIC with this guy - in the grand scheme of things you are one step below an ex-girlfriend and to an engaged man, you are persona-non-grata when he has a future wife on deck. There's really no future with this guy. So write this one off - there is nothing good that can come out of this situation - remember, YOU have to be the grown up for this one.