From the Boston Globe:
I'm an avid reader. I frequent the comments under an alias and often submit entries for your various contests (and have won!). I've not yet written in about my own search for love ... until now.
The facts: 27-year-old single female, active lifestyle. I am resilient, extremely caring (admittedly sometimes to a fault), thoughtful, very happy, and energetic. My friends often come to me for advice. Many times a bridesmaid.
Relationship background: 7-year, off-and-on roller-coaster relationship (now very close friends and only friends, finally, thank god), some fun flings, one 5-month relationship -- 9 men in total. Some of my friends describe me as a hopeless romantic with the mind of a teenage boy. I absolutely love the sweet stuff/affection yet I'm slightly driven by that other part of my brain.
Honey, you sound like slut. Is this unfair, as men behaving as you are would not be chided for their behavior? Absolutely. So what. Get over it. Men are men, women are women. We are different. We expect and want different things. Let me let you in on a little secret; men don't want anything serious with a girl who sleeps around. What if you don't stop sleeping around? I'll tell you what: we have to wonder if those kids you tell us are ours, really are. Yeah, that's a feeling we're just dying to have. Don't sleep around. Period. If we know that you do, or even suspect that you do, we're done with you. First step to convincing us? DON'T SLEEP WITH US OR TRY TO BEFORE DATE #9. Yeah, date 9. You read that right. THREE MONTHS at least. Maybe more. Girls are girls, but our wife? She will be special. And let's face it, you ain't special to hardly anyone.I decided at New Year's that I needed to expand my dating pool and not get so attached so quickly -- and NOT think with my "teenage boy" instincts.
You are a girl, dear. Not a boy. Understand? Want a boy to cry on your shoulder and try to snuggle with you during a sappy movie? Probably not. I have no doubt you'd rather he were a man, not a girl. Even when women "complain" about men not being women, I've yet to see a girl who didn't try to sleep with the captain of the football team - you know, the sweaty, healthy, hairy, strapping jock; basically the manliest man around. Women go for men. The Marlboro man usually. Men? They go for women. If you're acting like a teenage boy, expect to get a teenage girl, or else a guy who will treat you like a sexual conquest and then ditch you. Honestly, that's all men think a girl with instincts like a "teenage boy" are good for.After reading your advice to so many people about relaxing a bit and not paying attention to the big push around your late 20s and 30s to find THE ONE, I decided I'd be patient and date and see what happens. And so began the numbering system. I decided to keep all the guys I dated numbered in my phone to remind myself this is just #4, there will be a #5 and #6 and so on. I tried to take on a more masculine approach to dating. If I kept them numbered, I'd stay detached and learn from them and just have fun. Little notches rather than huge pieces taken from my heart.
You have a healthy libido? Few inhibitions with sex? GREAT! Save them for your husband! Can't get a husband? Then I guess your libido will have nearly nowhere to go. The solution? Get serious about finding a husband! Go to therapy, get married arranged, I don't know. But sleeping around is NOT YOUR ANSWER!
Its fine to date around, but Jesus honey, it sounds like you're just desperate for attention and physical affection. Slow the Hell down and stop sleeping with everyone. Do you even like these people? Or are you just happy to be pleased? Give it up already. Find just someone you like and play it slow; be honest and direct. Good God, you have the morals of an alley cat. Ever think that doesn't really help you in finding someone "special!?!?!?!?"My friends found it hilarious. I went from the overzealous hopeless romantic to, well, the "dude" in the relationships.
What? You were already the dude. What do you call sleeping with everyone? Now you're going to "play the field?" What does that mean? Be cold and distant and play games? Haven't you been playing games this whole time? Do you think changing the game will fix anything?
I called the shots. I was disappointed when things didn't move forward physically rather than emotionally.
You are NOT THE MAN here. You think you're doing something great by using the guy physically INSTEAD of emotionally? Oh yeah, great work! Oh, touchdown, sweetie. Now the guys get used physically (and you get turned into a veritable roulette wheel for disease), you become a wall of ice and stone, emotionally and everyone lives happily ever after, eh?I sometimes dated four of them at a time (to be clear, I was never physical with more than one at a time and I was always safe)
Another great achievement. You mean you only screwed, or made out with one at a time? What a nun you are, honey. And foreign men think American women are fast and easy. Gee, WHERE EVER DID THEY GET THAT IDEA!?!?!? But so long as he's got a condom on, you can rest with a clear conscious, eh? Oh my holy God. Is your bedpost full of notches?and I stayed levelheaded and really learned a little more about what I was looking for from each one ... until stupid #9.
So you screwed one at a time (or made out) until you hit nearly TEN MEN?!?!?! If the first 8 were just practice to figure out who you were, fine - but why do you have to get physical with them all!??!?! What does that do for you in the grande scheme of things (other than indicate you are quick and easy)!?!?!?I didn't number him in my phone because he seemed completely my counterpart. Literally zero red flags. He is extremely social, outgoing, active, loyal, caring, genuine, and incredibly sweet, so I didn't run in the other direction. And after a week (yep, one week), I was slipping out of my detached dating scheme and into the "Oh man, I'm a goner" phase. We texted all day, every day (again, for a week). I found it completely impossible to keep my hands off of him. He came back to my house after our dates and while the grilled cheese and playtime was fun and irresistible, I did resist (barely) sleeping with him.
Wow, didn't sleep with one, for a change? Let's throw a goddamn parade in your honor sweetie. Holy cow. High five! Well done! Ahem, does he know how special he is to be one of the VERY FEW people you HAVEN'T SCREWED after a few dates? Because let me tell you, that would REALLY crank up his respect and admiration for you. I mean, what guy isn't dying to sleep with a girl who is a real sex "pro," right!?!?
By the way, if you "barely" kept from sleeping with him, then I'm guessing you had, ahem, ORAL sex - that is the same thing as real sex to men, in case you're wondering. And again, right or wrong (does it matter?), he will lose his respect for you at that point. Its not a conscious decision, its just the instinct that the girl you're with is too quick to volunteer to get naked with you. And its a red flag to men's instincts, even if they do really like you. We're supposed to pursue and you are supposed to say, "Things are great, BUT, I have to know if you really want this to last - do you?" Men will stiffen and mumble and know they have more work to do. So for all your "hard work," you blew it (pun not intended).
Friday, I met up with him and his friends (I brought a friend so I had back up as well) and things seemed to be going great. And then he disappeared. No goodbye, no "gotta jet," no anything. His friends mentioned he does this sometimes. They all stayed and we all continued to hang out but I was completely baffled. Of course, no response to texts and calls. Two days and still nothing. The typical "He wasn't that into you" seems the obvious answer. But I guess my real question is ... how can I prevent this? One week? One week and I was in tears over a guy? I feel completely pathetic and also resentful because he broke me ... again.
You're just too easy, honey. Sorry, but that's it. Listen to yourself. One week? You were all over this guy, physically, after one week? Wow, great discipline. One week is nothing. You barely knew eachother. Listen to yourself. This man doesn't really know you yet and vice versa. You hit it off. Good for you. So what. I've hit it off plenty of times. You still don't know squat about one another. His ex's, his emotional health, his life, his parents - what about that stuff? When you're so bubbly and friendly and REALLY forward with everyone? It sends out the signal that you're easy - and look, you are. Be friendly, that's fine. But have a bit of reserve about you. He figured he got all he was going to get for the most part and moved on; he's probably quite damaged - JUST LIKE YOU - so he got what he came for and shoved off; its not like you're some precious, priceless gift now, is it? You're pants are off after a week. This is just pure sport for him at that point. Its just LUST in the near term - for both of you - quit pretending its anything but.I understand the dating rules, that it's all about trial and error and someone is bound to be a little more disappointed than the other when things don’t work out. I know all this -- yet this one seemed to be just as much a kick in the stomach as the end of the 7-yr relationship ...
You don't really know what his intentions are until lots of time passes - lots meaning 6 months. Guys don't chase girls for 6 months just to sleep with them. Not unless the guy is a real hard-nosed player, I guess. Its just too much damn work unless you really like the girl. What did you wait with this guy? 1 week? Probably not even that.
– Lola Wants More, Boston
You understand the dating rules? Are you kidding? Then why are you still single? Let me help you: because you don't have the first clue to what the "dating rules" are. Not even close. On a 35 question quiz you would get one question right: that you have to show up. This guy may have been a player - after all, you weren't really going to stop him, were you? Sounds like you two had gotten very "close" to full blown sex for a while. Don't you get it? He was encouraged to keep trying as he was almost "there." Just keeping from the act of penetration isn't much of a victory honey. Kissing ONLY. For a while. Then a minor upgrade. Then cool it. Jesus, are you looking for a husband, or not?!?!?The love doctor's response (barely skims the surface of the problems this girl has):
You've read this column for a long time, right? So you probably know what I'm going to say about dating. Yes, LWM, it can be awful. And yes, it's high risk. But you have to do it. And you can't manipulate it. You can number these guys, assign them nicknames -- whatever you want to do to make them seem less human -- but as soon as you meet one you actually like, your silly rules and games will go out the window.
My advice is to mourn this one, but not for too long. In the end, it was just one week. You listed this guy's qualities -- but there's no way he could have proven himself to be all of those things after just seven days. You were projecting those attributes because you wanted No. 9 to be THE ONE.
As you look for No. 10, don't try to be a "dude." Because "dudes" are just like girls. Really. They can number women (or men) and date 15 of them at a time, but as soon as they meet their own version of No. 9, they go soft. They wait around for a call back. They cry if they lose someone they liked after a week.
Don't gender your dating experiences. Don't listen to one part of your brain and ignore the other. Let yourself cry. Embrace your interest in the emotional and the physical. Try not to make assumptions about a guy's character until he proves that he can be consistent. Remember that these awful experiences make the good stuff that much better.
And now I'm going to say what I always say to 27-year-olds who are sick of dating and scared of getting hurt. Let's say it together, shall we? Relaxxxxx. Keep on truckin'.
Readers? Why was No. 9 so significant? Can she protect herself by numbering her relationships? Can she speed up the mourning process? How can she avoid becoming miserable with the dating process? Is this what the movie "I Am Number 4" was about? Discuss.