[Two Pronged] He says a relationship won't work but he still wants to hang out
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dra Holmes and Mr Baer,
I work as an IT professional abroad. My sister came over last summer, played Cupid and introduced me to a European. Our personalities are poles apart: he is outgoing and adventurous; I am reserved and cautious. I had hesitations at first, mostly because we met in a bar and I have never dated any Caucasian before.
However, he proved to be a gentleman and pursued me. We would exchange at least 5 messages a day (he even sent me SMS while he was away on a business trip because he wanted to keep in touch), and he go out on dates thrice a week. He cooked me dinner, tried to speak with me in Filipino, and was sincere and very sweet.
I thought everything was going very well, until recently. We spent overnight at his place. I was very conscious and also very nervous because it has been 2 years since I last dated a guy. I think he saw how uncomfortable I was, so we did not sleep together. We cuddled in bed naked, without sex. We've only been seeing each other for 3 months. While it might be too soon, I think I love him. So I was very heartbroken when I received a text message 3 weeks later saying, "We do not have a lot in common to make a relationship work. But I still like to hang out with you."
I felt unwanted and rejected, so I wrote him a short goodbye message. He replied, "Look I'm not saying not to spend time together. I'm saying a relationship will not work. I don't want to hurt you."
But how can I not be hurt? I am in pain, and confused. What did the messages mean? Does he want to see me only to distract himself from being lonely? Did we not have sex because he did not find me attractive enough? I long to see him, but I feel it's not the smartest thing to do especially when I've been told not to expect something serious out of it.
We agreed to meet some time to talk more, but I am not really sure what to say. Please help.
Dear Ms Lonely,
So you are reserved and cautious in general, and you hesitated because you met him in a bar and you had never dated a Caucasian before. However, he turned out to be a gentleman and all went well until you spent the night at his place when you were very nervous and uncomfortable. Although you were both naked in bed together, no sex took place and three weeks later he told you the relationship was over.
You ask a lot of questions, to which there are an array of possible answers. For example, “did we not have sex because he did not find me attractive enough?” Well, having identified him as a gentleman and yourself as very nervous and uncomfortable, perhaps it had nothing to do with how attractive you are but everything to do with someone who is solicitous of your well-being, a trait most women would appreciate. And what happened in the three weeks between the night of no sex and the end of the relationship? Did you go out? Did he still text you daily? You do not say.
The bottom line is perhaps that all your questions have answers which a conversation with him can elucidate. It may be that the clash of cultures has resulted in miscommunication. If as you say you love him, then meet and find out where you both stand. There is little to be lost and potentially much to be gained.
Best of luck,
Dear ML (Ms Lonely):
Thank you very much for your letter. Mr Baer is spot on when in his last paragraph he says that: “The bottom line is perhaps that all your questions have answers which a conversation with him can elucidate.”
Admittedly, the clash of cultures (Western, usually more direct than Asians) may be a hindrance, but desire for transparency and honesty in a relationship is universal, not cultural, and whatever first steps you take to minimize the chasm between you will help in your future relationships, if this one doesn’t pan out.
There is one question that does not necessarily need a verbal answer from him. If you were cuddling each other, both naked in his bed, and you felt/saw that he had an erection, this would indicate that he still finds/found you sexually attractive. I would add that, in my clinical experience, most men would pursue a woman as avidly as he pursued you only if they found you incredibly attractive.
You are reserved, cautious and thus would be more hesitant in asking him the reasons for his sudden change. To avoid pain, inunahan mo sa siya (you initiated the break up). I would suggest you consider but not insist on a break up (not necessarily to the breaking point) because it may be worth the risk.
First, because more direct communication might clear misconceptions the other has (e.g, for him, that it is too much hard work to include sex in your relationship). He would, perhaps, learn that, as the astrologist Linda Goodman once said: Yes, in a relationship, “Saturn (or introversion) gives stern tests, but immense rewards” Will it be worth it?
Personally, I think so, but this opinion is undoubtedly colored by my own extroversion and oftentimes impulsive nature. However, despite your caution, if you love this man, don’t you think he is worth a little pain? Pain, by the way, which may not happen if you discover the love (or affection which might turn to love) is reciprocal. “Faint heart never won fair maiden” says Helen Eustis in her book The Horizontal Man (1946). Holmes adds, this may well be true for the fair man too.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.
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