Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Interested or not interested? THAT is really the question.

We all know that everyone wants something that they think they can’t have. And most of us have seen ample evidence that this theory also works in relationships. In fact, there are many experts and books that advocate this angle in dating. The more you act like you aren’t interested or couldn’t care less about someone, the harder and faster they come towards you. The more desperate you are, the less interested anyone is.

This is great for the first few dates so you can “hook” them, but what happens after that? Do you let your guard down, only to find out that the chase was all they wanted? Or do you keep up the act – and if so, for how long? A long-term, healthy relationship is not about games or challenges, but about love and compassion. By playing the game to hook the next person, are we really dooming that relationship to end when the challenge ends? But if we don’t play the slightly-unattainable game, will we ever get a man interested enough to connect emotionally?

I keep debating this in my head and with friends as I reflect on my latest ended relationship. Everyone has an opinion, but no one seems to have an answer. “Be yourself” is my favorite cliché – are we really ever ourselves around people we don’t know that well? Honestly, I don’t feel like that I am not being myself when I am aloof or not completely open. I think most of my friends would agree. It takes time to attain that comfort level and let our guard down. Obviously, the amount of time varies with everyone, but when does being myself become playing the unattainable game? As an admittedly emotionally guarded person, when do I know when its time to finally allow someone below the surface?

After much recent self-reflection, I am thinking I have never had someone really fall in love with me because of this emotional wall I rarely let anyone behind. But as soon as I feel like I’m ready to let someone take a peek, the initial spark has fizzled, and they have already checked-out. Too little, too late. I reach out at this point and get nothing back, resulting, of course, in me being even more gun-shy the next time around.

All my exes refer to me as the “perfect girlfriend” who they really wanted to fall in love with. Probably because I don’t do those annoying things women do that men always complain about. But that is probably the same reason I can’t connect with someone on a deeper level. Yes, I actually expect you to tell me when something is wrong, not expect me to ask. I’m not the type to ask “What’s wrong?” every time my boyfriend asks a little odd. Who wants to be THAT girl who nags all the time and seems insecure in herself and the relationship? But as much as men complain about that simple question, maybe by not asking it I appear disinterested. I think men hate that question because they have to actually answer it and open up emotionally. I can empathize, which is probably why I never ask. But, considering the last two times I actually asked, I unexpectedly got dumped, maybe I should ask a little earlier!

Lesson here – as much as men complain about the way women are, they expect it and don’t know how to behave when it doesn’t happen. Of course, if I follow this new rule, I just put “Be yourself” six feet under!