Dear WMW: I’m a 29-year-old attorney who has been seeing a great guy for a couple of months now, and it had been going really well. He stayed in almost constant contact with me, took me out to lavish dinners, introduced me to his buddies, and generally showered me with attention….until he disappeared. It’s been five long days now with no word! All of the relationship self-help books I bought over the weekend (“The Rules 2, Why Men Love Bitches” and that old standby “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”), tell me that this is standard dude behavior and that he’ll come around when he’s done “getting space,” but I just don’t know. What’s a lovelorn girl to do? Give up on the bastard? Or keep my eye on the prize?
–Love, Lovelorn in Los Angeles
Dear Lovelorn in Los Angeles: This is a dicey one and it’s a place where women often get themselves into trouble. In the grand scheme of things, five days isn’t that much time, though I’m sure it feels like an eternity. You’re probably doing what we all do in these situations: Think about it non-stop and wonder if you could have done anything differently. Whether it’s “Why hasn’t she called me back,” “Why hasn’t he asked me out again, I thought we had fun,” or “Why did she mace me when I tried to kiss her goodnight,” mixed signals leave us all confused and wanting immediate answers. The real solution is to relax, take a deep breath and look at the situation logically and objectively.
There are several possibilities here:
First, there could be something seriously wrong. Be it at work, or with a friend or family member, he may not have called because he’s got something serious happening in his personal life. Often, we tend to retreat from people when stuff like this happens, probably because we don’t want to appear phased by the situation. This is why you should not call everyday if he hasn’t returned your calls so far. He could take it like “I’ve got all this stuff going on and this girl is whining because I’m not giving her enough attention?” Of course that’s not what you’re thinking but sometimes – and I don’t know if you ladies have noticed this – we tend to jump to conclusions a little hastily.
Another possibility is that he has realized that it’s time to take this thing to the next level or check out altogether. Women seem to have their own mathematical formula for when a relationship turns serious. It goes something like this: (Number of actual dates + any variable “hang outs”) / a certain length of time = level of seriousness.
For guys it’s really not like that. We just kind of cruise along aimlessly until one day we wake up and realize that we might be in a relationship. The books you bought might be right that he’s “getting space” by retreating to his man-cave and communing with hours of light beer and Grand Theft Auto IV. More than likely he’s doing what most of us do. We sit around, think about how we haven’t screwed it up so far, wonder how on Earth that’s possible and, in the process, do something to screw it up. We really can’t help ourselves sometimes.
The final option is that he has the mental capacity of a five-year old. By this I mean that someone hinted to him that you two were getting pretty serious and he has plugged his ears and run away screaming. If that’s the case, you should run for the hills and never look back. If he’s a five-year old at this point, he’ll always be one.
Given that he has introduced you to his friends and been so good about things thus far, I tend to doubt that’s what has happened here. By introducing you to his friends he is obviously not embarrassed by you and is aware that this could be something more than a short fling.
So here’s the advice:
Once you’ve gone a week without talking, call and leave a message that you’re worried about him and just want to know that he’s OK. Make him realize you’re concerned about him, not the relationship. Worrying simply about how you fit in to his life may come across as selfish, even if that isn’t your intention.
Ladies, whatever you do don’t call or text us constantly demanding answers. There’s no good that can come of it. Trust me that we are completely aware that you have called and for whatever reason we don’t feel like answering at the moment. Calling constantly like Mikey in Swingers may seem like a great idea right now, but you’ll regret it when you look back on your behavior.
Just be calm and confident. And always remember that if a guy acts like this with no explanation, it’s his loss because clearly he is not mature enough to handle a real relationship.
Ryan Phillips is a 28-year-old freelance journalist. He is the founder of Rumors and Rants, one of the top sports blogs on the internet. He and four friends write much longer, more incoherent posts there.
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