Dear Rosie & Sherry:
I’m really depressed. Not severe depression, but I have just been dumped for the umpteenth time. Brad was a really nice guy who had so much of what I was looking for. He’s athletic, handsome, assertive, funny, financially successful and, of course, Jewish. I really enjoyed our dates together, all four of them. I felt really comfortable with Brad and started to open up to him. We seemed to have such a connection. Yet, he didn’t call me back after our fourth date.
Why don’t any of my courtships ever turn into anything? I get to a certain stage of the process, and that’s the end – always from his part, not from mine. Is there something wrong with the men I am dating, or is there something wrong with me?
Lucy in St. Louis
Congratulations! You’ve just accomplished something many people are never able to achieve. You have recognized a repetitive pattern of non-success. Your dating never moves beyond the initial "getting to know you" stage. What causes this?
Something you said about your relationship with Brad may provide a clue. "I really opened up to him." You may have inadvertently opened up too much, too soon. And in doing so, you have scared your dates away.
The ritual of courtship follows a certain pace. During the first few dates, the conversations are an opportunity to find out about each other’s backgrounds, aspirations, lifestyles and personalities. You shouldn’t reveal much more than you would to the person sitting next to you on a long airplane flight. Even though you may have started to feel comfortable with each other, it’s too soon to bare your soul. You haven’t yet developed the level of mutual trust that should exist before you open up in a vulnerable way.
Don’t reveal more than you would to the person next to you on a plane.
Try to recall specifically what you said to Brad when you unburdened yourself. Did you disclose overly personal information, or even something that is best left unsaid?
Someone you barely know will feel uncomfortable listening to the history of all of your failed romantic entanglements, or that you were molested by a neighbor as a child, or that you had an abortion in college, or other sordid details.
We’re exaggerating, but you know what we mean.
If all this rings a bell, think about whether you followed a similar pattern with the other men who broke up with you. In the future, after you and your dating partner have had an enjoyable first few dates, use the next several weeks to slowly learn more about each other. Try pacing yourself according to his lead. Use your dates as an opportunity to experience different kinds of activities together and learn more about each other’s personalities in that way. It’s more organic. And save the revelation of personal intimacies until the dating is serious.
Anyone who sees a recurring pattern in unsuccessful dating should take the time to analyze the pattern and the possible reasons behind it. Sometimes it helps to enlist the help of a trusted friend or even a therapist. Then, work to change the way you date –- so it doesn’t repeat itself again.