DEAR SUSAN: One of your surveys makes me want to respond because my experience fits into your questions. My fiance and I separated (still seeing each other occasionally) because I started to see he was losing interest in me. I wanted to work on our issues. I began seeing a therapist to deal with the stress of the situation and found out I was too nice and needed to be more "unavailable."
The fact of the matter is that women must play these games, as they're the only way to keep men interested. The chase is better than the catch, they say, so you have to keep them chasing you. If you give in to a last-minute invitation, you become less intriguing. To us women, it's a game. To men, it's the way they're wired. So I answer your questions:
(How late in the week can he call for a date?) If it's for Saturday night, the latest is Wednesday. Otherwise, I'm busy — even if it's laundry.
(Do you think he respects you more if you have a deadline?) I think he respects my time more, and it works like a charm. Men learn they must call you earlier in the week to capture your attention and set a date.
(Does your deadline change if you really want to see him?) No, as I stated before, if you drop everything at the last moment to see him, he'll know you were just waiting around for him to ask you out — and what's interesting about that?
(Do you respect yourself more if you have a set deadline?) Yes, because I know that I'm worth the wait and that if he agrees, he won't wait until the last minute. — Sallie W., Long Island, N.Y.
DEAR SALLIE: Your therapist's advice sounds disturbingly familiar, much too close to "The Rules" for my comfort. (One of the authors of that book is now divorced, I heard, which speaks volumes — or should — about the sort of man who responds to artificial relating.) What man misses the deadlines that melt when a relationship reaches the stage of mutual comfort? What sort of man — or boy-child — needs his woman's manipulating to maintain the excitement? I am absolutely itchy with discomfort in rerunning your therapist's advice! If this is necessary now — when you're living apart and leading separate lives — what's in store 10 years down the line, after children are born and a large chunk of mystery falls away? Hmm?
Those are other questions, Sallie, for your therapist to ponder. You're too available, she says? What if you're not wired for games, for deadlines, for cool unavailability? Does she suggest a makeover, an emotion transplant? (I'm really itchy now.) The man who can't sustain love for a good woman doesn't deserve one. Games are for children. The man who responds to them isn't a good bet for the long haul.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]
Photo credit: Kaspars Dambis