By Baila Sebrow
I have been dating a guy for over six months, but I feel very mixed up about where I stand with him. One day I’m on top of the world, thinking everything is going well, and the next day I feel like I don’t matter to him. I get the hot-and-cold treatment from him, and it’s really driving me crazy—and lately it’s been more cold than hot.
We first met through a shadchan. Things were going so well that we dropped the shadchan after the second date, and we then arranged our own dates. But then, without warning, he changed. At first I thought he wanted to break up with me, because he started acting so cold. For example, he’d say that he would call, and then I would not hear from him. Then, out of the blue, he calls. Sometimes when I call him, he acts like I’m interrupting him, even when I know that I am not.
It’s the same with our dates. Sometimes he even cancels dates right before I expect him to show up. One time I was waiting for him to pick me up for a date, and I was wondering where he was because he was so late already. I thought something bad had happened to him. He later called to say that something came up and he couldn’t make it.
Some people tell me to drop him, but I can’t. My friends all say that I shouldn’t be so available to him, and that it might help if I play hard-to-get. The thing is that when we are together, he is so good to me that I forget what he does other times. I wish I knew what he is thinking, but I’m too scared to ask him. Is there a way to get him to be more into the relationship like he used to be in the beginning?
Sounds like you got yourself a real prize package here! What exactly do you find so endearing about this guy or the relationship? You make it seem like you’ve won the lottery when he throws you something positive, but, based on what you are saying, it appears that to him you are merely a convenient distraction or substitute for when he has nothing else going on.
You say he habitually cancels dates at the last second. Why did you even allow that to happen more than once or twice? Whatever excuse he gives you, if such a performance happens more than once, you can be sure he does so when he perceives that a better offer came along. That does not necessarily mean another female. But when he behaves this way, he demonstrates quite clearly that there is something more important for him to do. And he has no qualms about ruining your plans for the day or night—or about hurting your feelings.
I don’t know this guy, his past dating history, or his character. But I do know that he is bad news for you! You are ready to do whatever it takes to change things back to the way they used to be. I am sorry to say that from the way it sounds, there is no antidote to his behavior. But I understand how you feel. You come across as a sensitive woman, and eager to please the person you care very much about. It is sad for him that he is not capable of appreciating you and your qualities.
You need to understand a bit of what may compel a man to behave this way. When you first met, he wasn’t sure he had you where he needs you from his emotional standpoint. Once you made it clear that you’re smitten by him, the thrill of the chase was over. For such individuals, dating is not about mutual fondness and the building of a relationship from there. It’s more like the cat that catches the mouse and then tortures it for sport.
It’s unfortunate that such people successfully manage to attract sincere and loving dating partners. The scary aspect is the way they are able to deceive others and give good initial impressions. In the beginning stage of a new relationship, they will appear to go to the ends of the earth and do what it takes to get a date with the person they set their sights on. However, each new romantic interest who reciprocates and is responsive will then become their victim. They will woo and court the person like nothing else in the world matters to them. They will go as far as convincing their victim that they take center stage in their life. And when they are confident that they have their quarry, the fun is over, and they quickly move on to finding someone new.
Such a scenario is not new to the dating world. It has been in play for generations. This can happen to any trusting person of any age. And yes, even intelligent people have such stories to tell. It is easy to fall into the trap of this type of person because they are charming and complimentary, and come across as genuine. They may seem confident, but in actuality such people are often insecure and emotionally unhealthy. They have an insatiable need to be loved, but have no interest in giving back. Instead, they leave behind a string of distraught and bewildered admirers. This is behind the stories you hear of people who walk out of long relationships, and at times even marriages, without any warning or clue as to what went wrong. And when the mood strikes them, they come waltzing back. Consider yourself lucky that you haven’t gotten that far.
This guy hasn’t yet completely walked out of your life, and what adds to your confusion is that he is good to you when he actually takes you on a date. That is not uncommon either. You might be his security blanket. He needs a woman in his life, and as long as you are willing to take his abuse, why would he drop you completely, especially if he may not have anyone else so devoted to him?
I will also touch upon another possibility. After some number of dates, he might have decided that he doesn’t see you as a match for marriage. And instead of doing the right thing by telling you, or getting the shadchan involved again, he might be taking the cowardly approach by giving you the hot-and-cold treatment. So he cools it when he thinks that he has something else cooking, and comes back into your life when he feels lonely.
Whatever the reason for his contemptible behavior, you should not be accepting of it. Your friends’ suggestions that you play hard-to-get in order to rekindle his interest in you are ill-advised. You are way past that stage. That might be fine in the beginning, but at this point it can only stand to hurt your self-esteem. Moreover, I can almost guarantee that it won’t change the outcome in the grand scheme of things. Besides, games are the last thing you should be playing when you are already dealing with so much pain.
I don’t see this relationship going anywhere serious. And if by some chance it does, you need to prepare yourself that he is likely to bail out on you at any given moment. So I recommend that you focus your energies on healthy closure.
Either wait for him to call you, or take the initiative and call him yourself. Don’t go into lengthy discussion on the phone. Tell him that you would like to speak to him in a quiet location. And as you have poured your heart out in this letter, do the same with him. You can expect him to have an answer to every accusation you point out to him, especially if he is not ready to lose you completely. You will then have to ask him point-blank to level with you and honestly explain where he sees this relationship going after dating for over six months. Here, too, he may give you wishy-washy answers that will leave you perplexed. And that is where you will need to muster up enormous strength by explaining what you want from him and the relationship. I understand that you are scared to lose him. But if you do, there is no doubt that it has essentially ended long before.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.