Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Playing Hard To Get
Wants Him To Pop The Question
Men Who Can't Love


Playing Hard To Get

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 25 yr. old female, having been in 2 long-term but failed relationships.

My question is: How do you tell if a man is seriously interested or is just paying you lip service and flirting. I've been interested in an acquaintance for over a year now - he recently told me that he is attracted to me, but wasn't sure about my feelings and actually prefers when the woman takes the initiative (This threw my 'play hard to get' belief out the window).

So, I took the imitative - started calling more, visiting more etc. When we are together it's great, but I am doing all the work, making all the contact. He says he'll call but doesn't or when he does call, it takes him days. At one point, I started to ease off and he called days later, wondering what happened and teasing me if I've 'thrown him away'. Dr Tracy, I'm now wondering if he:
- Wants a woman to chase after him - which boosts his ego.
- Is not really interested and is just being polite and friendly when I initiate the contact.

How do you know?? Are they any signals / signs to look for when a man is truly interested??

How do you thread that thin line between showing interest and overdoing it and looking desperate.

Just Wondering

Dear Wondering,

Almost always, the way to tell if a man is really interested in you is if he wants to be with you. How does he show that? By calling you, by asking you out, and by spending serious amounts of time with you.

Unfortunately, you were too quick to accept his terms - that you have to take the initiative and call him, and that you aren't allowed to play hard to get. Now it's going to be difficult to find out if your man is seriously interested in you or is just paying you lip service and flirting.

Just because a man tells you to do something doesn't mean you should throw your beliefs out the window. Where did you get the idea that you have to do what a man wants you to do? Sure, he'd like a woman to chase after him to boost his ego. What man wouldn't? But he's never going to chase you if you're doing all the chasing.

As long as you do all the work in this relationship, he won't have to do any of it. As long as you call all the time, he'll never have to call. He knows if he doesn't call, you will. So he doesn't have to do anything but wait for you to do exactly what he wants. He could be just toying with you.

If you keep doing this the way you are, he'll keep behaving the way he is. In order to change his behavior, you have to change yours. You've got to change the rules of this game. There's only one way to do it and that's to stop calling him all the time.

When the twig is bent one way, you have to bend it back far in the other direction to get it straight. That's what you have to do with this man. Stop calling for weeks and see what he does. Sure, you'll be taking a chance that he'll drift away. But if he does, that means you never really had his interest to begin with. Trust me, if he's really interested, he'll call.

You ask a good question about how to walk the line between showing interest and overdoing it? For starters, if you have to ask, you're probably overdoing it. But here's the formula: show interest intermittently. That means you show interest and then you back off and see what he does. That will get his attention and let him know you want him but that you're not desperate. If you constantly show interest, there's no mystery or excitement in the game, and he's liable to lose interest in you.

And if you really want him to come after you, let him think someone else is after you, not that you're just waiting around for him. As long as he thinks he's got you where he wants you, he'll never make an effort.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Wants Him To Pop The Question

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 39 years old and have been living with my 32 year old boyfriend for over 6 years now. We have a 5 year old son together. I was married for 9 years before and had 2 children with him. My boyfriend has a 10 year old daughter with his ex-girlfriend. He has never been married before.

I love him very much, even more than my ex-husband. He says he loves me, as a matter of fact everyday when we leave for work he gives me a kiss and tells me he loves me. I think I am ready for marriage again. We have talked about it before but he does not know why people get married at all. He has told me he asked his ex before and she said she wanted to wait for awhile and then they broke up. He tells me he has never told anyone he loves them even close to what he tells me.

I believe he really does love me and he knows how I feel about us getting married. I have told him and I have even asked him why he has not really asked me before, and he changes the subject every time. My question is how do I get him to change his mind and get him to pop the question.

Dear Waiting,

Your boyfriend is simply stonewalling about marriage. He's going to avoid the subject at any cost. There's really no use trying to convince him and waiting for him to ask. You've been together six years. You've waited long enough.

There comes a time when a woman has to stop being coy about marriage and forget that the man is "supposed" to propose. If you're waiting for him to get down on one knee and ask you to marry him, you're going to wait for a long time, maybe forever.

Instead of waiting around for Mr. Avoidance to ask you to marry him, it's time to demand what you want. You have some rights. You're not getting any younger, and you are the mother of his son. You deserve to be his wife. I don't believe him when he says he "does not know why people get married at all." He knows. See my Love Library article "Living Together vs. Getting Married" for some of the reasons.

Don't take no for an answer. Let him know there will be no peace until he agrees to getting married. Don't just get a vague agreement either. Make him set a date, soon.

He says he loves you, and it's time for him to marry you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Men Who Can't Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 43 and a gay male. I've never been in a long term relationship. Someone new is on the dating front but my problem is my best friend. I met him a year ago and we became fast friends. A couple of months later I told him over the phone that " I had feelings for him." He said, "I'm glad you didn't tell me in person because we would have had to see each other's faces!"

That's how he has hurt me over and over ever since. I've tried to be just friends and would be happy with that. But he seems to treat me differently than his other friends. He seems happier with alot of casual friends. With me he seemed to want a deeper friendship. We do love each other very much. We have said we're best friends. The only time we spent together, though, was late at night in his apartment talking, me keeping him company. He used to come over to my place some but rarely does anymore. He goes to movies and dinner with his other friends on the weekends but seldom invites me. I want to spend time alone with him but he acts like he seldonm has time to be alone with any one friend. He's got to squeeze them all in. he only has time for me during the week when he's tired at home and wants company.

I gave too much to fast. He got me running errands for him and loaning him money. When I rebelled, he got angry. He seems to really care for me but only on his terms. He doesn't try to do anything to make me happy even though we've fought about it. He says I am demanding and possessive and obess about him, which I do . I tell him he's self-centered and inconsiderate. I know I should let go of this friendship because it can't be what I want, but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm miserable trying to move away from him. Help!!

Dear Miserable,

It sounds like you've chosen a man who can't love, at least not one person. He needs lots and lots of people around to prove to himself how much he's loved. One person can't supply all his needs. That's why he's happier with a lot of casual friends instead of one special person.

He's running a popularity contest with a whole world of friends and only sees you when he runs out of other people to be with. Some people just can't be alone, and he may be one of those.

You know this is a toxic relationship, and yet you still go back to him. You're trying to get your fantasy love out of him and he just doesn't have it to give. Of course you should let go of this friendship. You should find someone who wants to be with you alone and who wants you for more than running errands and loaning money.

You need to get in touch with your own self-esteem and stop letting yourself be used by this man who doesn't appreciate you. It's possible that he just enjoyed knowing that you cared so much for him. You were an ego trip for him - obsessing over him and giving so much. But now he's bored with you, and your flattery no longer appeals to him. You're letting him make you crazy by hanging around waiting for his crumbs of caring which he doesn't give you.

Stay away from him. He hurts you over and over again and you keep going back for more. Give up the friendship and you will also be giving up the pain. When a relationship gives you more pain than pleasure, it's time to get out.

I recommend my book, "Letting Go, A Personal Action Program to Overcome A Broken Heart," available in most libraries.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

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(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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