12/6/98 Advice Column
You are right to be concerned, but the last thing in the world you should do is ask him if he wants to stop seeing you. You probably won't get a straight answer from a guy who is evasive in his behavior, so don't bother asking. The writing is on the wall for anyone who can read anyway -- you're chasing him and he's running away.
The thing to do when a man runs away is to stop chasing. Men can be like puppy dogs -- chase them and they run away, but run in the other direction and they come running after you.
Handle this situation by doing nothing. That means no phone calls, no visits, no contact. Let him wonder what happened to you and why you stopped calling him instead of you wondering all the time about him. That'll change the dynamics of the situation and give you another chance if you haven't totally blown it already by calling too many times.
Control your urge to have the situation resolved once and for all so that you don't have to be stressed over it. Instead, take control of your behavior. The next time a man doesn't have time to talk to you, don't call him again. Don't offer to call later. If he tells you to call later say, "Why don't you call me when you have time?"
So use "intermittant reinforcement." That means sometimes you say it back after one "I love you" from him, and sometimes not until he says it two or three or four times.
If you don't want to say "I love" you all the time, or you're not really ready to say "I love you," try something similar to "I have feelings for you too," or "I'm very very fond of you," or "I feel closer to you all the time,"or "I'm beginning to have loving feelings for you too."
Keep that "in love" feeling alive by not being too available. Have other plans once in a while. Take a vacation somewhere and let him miss you a lot.
In general it's okay to give as long as you're getting enough back -- a return on your giving investment that makes it worthwhile. Keep your giving intermittant and don't raise the relationship stakes with things like expensive gifts. If you're the kind of person who is tempted to give too much too soon, be doubly sure you're not giving too much too soon by always give a little less than the other person gives.
Please read "Are You Giving Too Much Too Soon?" in my library and follow the related clicks for more tips on this.
Her main concern is that she currently doesn't want to be in a serious relationship, experience single life, etc. I realize 22/23 might be kinda young to make any real long-term committments, but in the 4 years we have been together, I have been increasingly convinced that she is the one. Judging from what she has told me, I assumed she felt the same about me. My question is, should I still move to SF? Are there any other ways we can handle this? I feel like if we won't be able to agree on something here the relationship might be over for now. How do people go about open relationships? Needless to say, this is the cause of much despair in my life right now (and according to her, she is suffering also). Thanks in advance.
Some couples agree to have sex with other people but only if it doesn't emotionally interfere with their primary relationship. Some couples will only date when the date is away from the home they share and never introduce the third party to their primary mate. Some couples decide that they only want to have an "open" relationship when both partners have met the third party and approve. That sometimes turns into three-way sexual and living together relationships.
However, the key to open relationships is having a lot of trust and also honesty between the two partners in the primary relationship. It requires a lot of self-esteem and yes, experience.
Frankly, I'm dubious about whether you are prepared for the emotional stress. You already don't think you can handle seeing her with someone else, or even knowing about it. I have known couples who've made open marriages work, but they were all older and prepared to see their mates with someone else.
So work out the questions before you move. Or if you want to move to S.F. anyway, then move for yourself, not for this relationship.
You are both very young and I can understand why, at 22, your partner wants to experience more of life and even other men. After all, she's been with you since she was eighteen, and it may be in your interest to have her compare you with other men to see how terrific you really are and to live a little before she settles down.
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