Keeping It Casual

QUESTION: Dear Chuck and Garland!

What a great website I just ran across! I had no idea something like this existed. I’ve only seen women hosting such pages.

OK, here’s the thing:

12 years ago, my piano class visits HIS piano class in another city. I don’t see any of these folks again – until one year ago: I meet HIM, the most gifted pianist of that class, at a summer party and HE REMEMBERS WHAT I PLAYED 12 YEARS AGO!! I had long forgotten it myself. We talk all night, we dance, I cuddle his arm, his beard, we walk home through the night and end up on my coach (no sex) where we talk until well into the next day.

Later on, we have an amazing 12 hours date and he asks me to spend the night with him. I say no, as I’ve already explained my moral standards to him (but he did get a kiss later!) He says it has been his best date ever.

He’s 31, I’m 33. I’ve never been in a serious relationship. He once had a girlfriend and moved in with her but got enough after 3 weeks… He’s told me he sees other girls occasionally, I’ve told him I’m not actively looking for someone. If we bump into each other, he’ll usually see to it that we end up in a good pizza place or something. But he seldom plans anything with me. When I occasionally make suggestions – either spontaneously or a few days ahead – he excuses himself (when I call) or does not respond (to texts, e-mails). But a few weeks ago he started to take some more initiative and we met a couple of times again.

He’s very attractive, intelligent and popular, yet admits freely to me that his confidence is up and down. That sex is (or at least was) important to him as self-affirmation. When I pay him a compliment, he seems to really take it to heart. At times, we’ve had these exceptionally close conversations. At other times, he seems to be lost in his own world. Every time I decide to forget about him forever, we’ll bump into each other again. When I think he must hate me because he’s ignored me for so long he’ll invite me for a gathering or something and be friendly and sweet towards me, stirring my feelings once again. He's the one to bring up topics like marriage, children, death at times when he feels comfortable.

About 4 weeks ago, I wrote him an e-mail, telling him that I care about him, value our friendship, admit a romantic note to it and wonder where it will take us, despite the potential major obstacle of me being a Christian and him being an atheist (we’ve discussed our different views in this respect very openly many times). I simply wanted to let him know where I stand, as we've had this thing going now for a year. (Yes, it would have been better to talk, but I’m so much better at stating myself clearly in writing; besides, we haven’t been in a private place for ages). He’s still not responded to this, but has to other casual topics we’re occasionally discussing on e-mail. Today: I happened to run into him and he stopped me, asking how I was, talking very nicely to me – then said bye.

So dear guys, forget about our differences in faith for now (WE have to sort that one out). But how can I even get him to talk? Is he just polite to me? Other plausible explanations? I want to understand him!! Sorry this got a little long.

Thanks in advance for a few thoughts on the man’s mind!

GARLAND: Thanks for thinking of us with your question and situation.  

Let me just jump right into the middle of your question first -  when you say, "[W]hen I think he must hate me because he’s ignored me for so long..." I just want you to know that it is rarely that deep with guys who haven't turly dated you or been physically intimate with you.   Talking about someone "hating" you because they've ignored you - in my opinion - is how a woman sees a situation but when you are seeing this in a guy, I think you may be way off the mark.  He's just not that into you at that moment and there is probably no hate ad no real deep emotions involved - he's just not giving your texts or calls any attention.  He probably just assumes that you'll be there in the following week or month.  I always hate to sound harsh, but Chuck and I try to be pretty straight and we don't want our advice to get lost in fluffy - politically correct commentary.  

Telling you that sex is "self affirming" to him made me smile.  I don't know if that is the coolest line or lamest line I've ever heard.  Probably the latter, but it tickled me.  

His assuming that you will be there in the coming weeks or months is not anything sinister or untrue on his part - you were still there when he called you back right?  This is where I have to let you know that this guy is all over the place.  He's either a turbulent emotional wreck waiting to go nuclear, or he's a Master Gamesman, dangling what seems to be a ton of frailties in front of you with the hopes that you'll either give in to him on a different level or you'll just stay with him, buying in to his drama.   Frankly, I don't know which it is.  His love-you, like-you, call-you, don't call you - approach seems like someone who may be emotionally unavailable to you [or anyone] and unwilling to change.  It just seems like deeper issues may reside in this chap and he may not be a stock you want to invest in. 

 If he isn't emotionally unstable, then he's just not really feeling you right now.  I hate to see guys spoonfeeding their time and attention to women. DON'T GET ME WRONG, some women do this to guys too, but as far as your question goes... I hate to see him doing this to you. You are really hanging on too tight to this guy,  If you're satifsfied with a mere text or a single call or a good deep-dish pepperoni slice once or twice a month from this guy, you are most likely short changing yourself if you are looking for a boyfriend or serious relationship.

I don't know what his issue is, but he's not giving you a lot of himself and he may not be as excited about you as you are with him.  That's not a crime, but you have to decide what you are worth and what you will and won't put up with.  There is NO RULE that says you have to answer his calls, read his texts or make time for him when he sees fit to grace you with his presence.   

Good luck with whatever you decide.  

CHUCK: This is clearly a case of two people who are in no way matched in their level of commitment. This guy runs hot and cold with you, first of all, because he can, and, second of all, he's most likely seeing someone else during the rest of his time.

Garland is 100% correct, when he dismisses your suggestion that this man must hate you. With guys like this one, feelings rarely run this deep. More likely, he just doesn't think too much about you at all. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to be so inconsiderate of your feelings. If a guy hates a girl, though, he just will cut off all contact completely. So, at least you have that comfort.

But not much else. He seems to resist every effort that you have been making to move this relationship foreward even one inch. Maybe you were hesitant to discuss your differences of faith with him because of nervousness, but it seems as though you have more differences than just religion, which I think could at least be worked through.

You need to get to brass tacks with this man, and ask him if he sees any future between you at all. At least then, you can get things out in the open, and you don't need to wonder.


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