Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Five Dating Problems of All Time

Number 1: Friends Forever

I'm permanently stuck in the friend zone. I am the prince of platonic, the queen of complacency. I am the anti-stud, inspiring anti-passion wherever I go. If one more person tells me what a nice guy/girl I am, I think I'm going to jump off a bridge. How can I break out of this rut?

Well, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that the "nice guy" disease is curable. The bad news is you're not going to have as many friends. (But hey, don't you have enough friends already? You've been collecting failed crushes for how many years now? Who needs more?)

If you want to date someone and they don't want to date you screw 'em. There's no need to be mean or play games, but don't keep hanging around. You've got five other ex-crushes to be pals with as it is why pick up one more?

That's the attitude you need to have and here's why: if you know you're not going to keep paying attention to them, they kind of know it too. Do you go into a salary negotiation and say; "I want $45,000 but I'll take the job as low as $36,000?" No. You never admit what you're willing to settle for. And if you're willing to settle for friendship, trust me, it's in your aura, the other person knows. But if you go in with an all or nothing attitude then that shows too.

You're still not going to get every person you meet, but you'll get a lot more of them.

Number 2: Don't Want To Be Ditched

We went on what I thought were three really great dates, but in the last week she/he has not returned my calls/says they're too busy to see me/slept with my roommate. But I really, really like him/her how do I make it work?

You have two options: Convince yourself this behavior is merely a symptom of their chronic fear of commitment which you can overcome by continuing to call/pester/allow them to pick up other people right in front of you; or you can go find someone who likes you better.

The smart money is on option number two.

Number 3: My Heart Is Breaking

She/he left me. I am heartbroken, miserable, awash in a sea of despair. I will never love again. I will never be whole again. I am a blubbering mess. I can't even manage to change out of my bathrobe how on earth am I expected to go on with my life?

They don't make a cure for this. There is no magic antidote. Camping out on a friend's couch for two months can help. So can going on a two-week vacation far, far away. So can 'depending on your mood' stabbing the teddy bear he gave you, prozac, calling into work sick, eating ice cream, taking a class, finding a rebound, parading your rebound in his face, partying all night long. They can all help.

But there is no cure.

You will be sad for far longer than you'd like. And then even after you think you're over it, the whole thing will sneak up and wallop you again. There are horrible stats like it takes as long to get over a relationship as you were in it. They also say this about piercings they take as long to close as you had the ring in. Well, I had an earring for a week once five years ago and I can still feel the old hole.

All you can do is wallow in your misery for awhile. Try to put on a good face. Go to work. Go out at night. Do your best and then forgive yourself on the days when all you can do is lie in bed crying.

But it does get better. My earring hole, for example, doesn't actually hurt anymore, you see. There's just a permanent scar.

Number 4: Motionless Relationship

I just don't know what to do about my significant other. My S.O. hasn't done anything heinous, exactly, they're just well . . . there. She/he is good to me, I like his/her friends, and it's nice to know I have a date for New Year's--but I can't help feeling real love should inspire just a tad more passion. What do I do?

This is the classic inertia relationship. You stay in it because it's easier than putting in enough energy to get out of it. You rationalize everything: you tell yourself that nobody is perfect, that perhaps the price of having a smooth relationship is a lack of attraction, that the fact that he opens the car door for you is camraderie enough.

Stop rationalizing. In a solid relationship you get the whole package--friendship, love, good sex. It's time to get out. (Please note: if you once thought this relationship really was the whole package, then you owe it to yourself to get that passion back in. But if it's always been kind of mediocre, get a move on.)

I know, I know it's hard to just break up with someone out of the blue. It would be so much easier if the good ol' S.O. would oblige by doing something like announcing they're joining the peace corps and moving to Namibia next week. Then you could have a bittersweet good bye and let them go their merry way.

But Namibia-saves don't come through all that often. You're just going to have to take matters into your own hands. Sit the S.O. down, tell them how much you like them, but you think you're not quite ready to settle down with them. Trust me, it's better to get out of it now rather than five years down the road, wondering why you wasted all that time.

Number 5: Super Dater!

I have no problem dating. Au contraire, I have more dates than I know what to do with. But I just can't stick to one person. Even when I'm dating a really great person I find myself flirting with every cute pair of triceps that comes along. I don't know if I'll ever be able to settle down with one person for longer than a couple months.

Well, if you're under 20, there's really no problem here. You're not supposed to settle down yet. Someday soon a person is going to knock your socks off--most likely because they'll be exactly the same way and you'll suddenly realize that you don't like this whole lack-of-commitment thing anymore once it applies to the person your dating.

If you're over 30, and you've never been in a committed relationship for longer than a couple months then, yep, you've got a problem. And it's going to include some of those psychiatric buzzwords like "fear of intimacy," or "sex addict," or "picky to the point of turning into Ally McBeal." Go talk to someone who uses psychiatric buzzwords because they went to school to do so as opposed to one of us Dating911 experts who just throws them around to look smart.

If you're somewhere in the middle age-wise, then you're also somewhere in the middle emotions-wise. Now is the time to figure out whether or not this behavior is going to make you happy in the long term. The fact is it might: independence is a virtue. And it's certainly going to protect you from doing silly things like throwing yourself at the wrong people or thinking you're in love with someone after nothing more than two weeks of e-mail communiques. But, don't use that independence as a way of guarding yourself so strongly that you never let anyone in.

Basically, you're going to get that first annoyance with anyone you date right around the two month mark. So do some experiments. Give some of your dates just a month or two more. See if you can actually get to know someone instead of ditching them the moment they make their first mistake.

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