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Dating Advice #182 - Dating Overdose
Dating Advice 182

Dating Advice #182 - Dating Overdose

Her emotions are on short circuit. Can anything save this couple's future?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I have been dating a woman for nearly a year. We spend most of our time together, both during the week and on weekends. She is divorced with one child.

Over the past year our courtship has been progressing and I thought everything was going fine. But then a few days ago she that she "needs some space." I was shocked and asked why. She explained: "I have mixed feelings. One day I see a future with you, and the other day I feel it's too much."

But she agrees that we get along great.

So now what do I do? Should I give her time alone and hope that she comes back to me?


Dear Andy,

This women's request is one we've heard from many others who've "overdosed" on dating. Two people who are in the process of getting to know each other usually can't spend as much time together as you have. Even though they enjoy each other's company, and care for each other, they need a certain amount of personal space. (This is also true in marriage -- even happily married spouses need personal time!)

Dating is a period of time when two people are consciously and unconsciously processing a great deal of emotional data and practical information about the person they are seeing. They may not seem preoccupied by this process, but it demands a great deal of emotional and intellectual energy.

Our experience has shown that, in this regard, there are differences between the genders. Many men work out their feelings very quickly, often during the actual date itself! Most women tend to process their feelings over time. It is not uncommon for a man to come to the conclusion that this is the woman he would like to "spend the rest of his life with," while she is at a much earlier stage of the courtship.

Often, a man is so sure that this woman is right for him, that he constantly tells her so. This can make her feel overloaded, because she hasn't yet reached that point. She then may interpret this as a sign that the guy is not right for her. In many cases, this "conclusion" is wrong. She simply needs more time to allow her emotions to work themselves through, without being pressured.

Fortunately for you, the woman you are seeing hasn't decided to end things. She simply realizes that she needs more personal space.

Monopolized Attention

We have found that many people, particularly women, need personal space for another reason. They have other things going on in their lives besides dating. They need to spend time with other members of her family, pay bills, take care of household chores, fulfill community obligations, touch base with friends, and unwind through a hobby or outside interest.

By spending too much time together, it can monopolize her attention to the degree that her individuality is being suppressed.

Additionally, in your case, this woman has a child that needs private, personal attention -- and her mother hasn't quite figured out how to balance all the dating with her role as a mother.

So with all the time you spend together, it should not be surprising that she feels overwhelmed by the growing pile of responsibilities that she's neglected.

[Actually, this idea applies even after marriage. Although marriage is a total bonding, a married couple must still strike a balance between their "married life" and their "individual lives" -- i.e. jobs, hobbies, friends, families. This a particularly challenging adjustment for newly-married couples.]

Dating Advice

We suggest that the two of you take a few weeks off. This will allow your friend to get her life back in order and to sort through her feelings. Then, as long as she is agreeable, start to date the way you did when you first met: no more than 2-3 times a week. These should be real dates, rather than just hanging out together. During this time, don't bring up the subject of your future. Instead, enjoy each other's company. You can speak by telephone on the days you don't go out, but don't allow these calls to take up large blocks of time.

At the end of about six weeks of this dating, you should clarify in your own mind where you would like things to lead. Then, arrange for an opportune time and place for the two of you to talk about your future. You can tell her the direction you would like things to take over the short and long term, and then ask, "Where do you see things going?"

We can't predict how this story will end. We've seen some women get so emotionally overloaded that they cannot recapture the good feelings they once had. Other times, this break and subsequent "dating diet" is enough to get a lifelong romance back on track.

We hope this has been helpful, and wish you the best of success,

Rosie & Sherry

June 25, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Annie, July 4, 2005 12:00 AM

Always the man's fault-naturally.

If a man wanted 'time out' from a relationship, I wonder if he would be seen as sensible and level-headed, wanting to get the balance of his life right, or a selfish male chauvinist pig backing away from commitment and unable to make up his mind ? And would a woman be told to be patient and wait until he made up his mind, putting her life on hold in the meantime ?
I am astounded that Chana criticises the man for not settling the situation sooner, as if it is his fault ! This man is not psychic, and should not be criticised for not being able to read his girlfriend's mind. She is the one with the commitment problem ( as I read it), not him. After all, he is taking on not only her but another man's child !
The girl should decide whether she wants this relationship or not.

(3) Glenda, June 30, 2005 12:00 AM

an opportunity, not a problem

The infatuation stage is over, so this is the perfect time to consider dis-passionately whether this is the right relationship. That's great, not lamentable! The time they spend together should be balanced between having fun for the sake of bonding and talking about what they each want from the relationship. We all weight the varied benefits of being in a relationship differently--getting what you value requires self-knowledge and confidence in expressing that.

(2) chana Sharfstein, June 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Congratulations on your very sound advice

Your article was just on target. Overdating always seems to create problems. Dating shouls lead to a conclusion and never be an on-going activity. One can easily become satiated with over dating and the enthusiasm wears off. I think the young man was at fault for not settling this situation much sooner. Does he have a commitment problem? Two or three months of dating should be sufficient. Then one should eneter the next stage- of engagement. And that should also have a time limit. The excitement wears off when the dating drags on. Your idea of taking a break is very good; however when or if they get back, there should be decision making time.

(1) Lizabeth, June 26, 2005 12:00 AM


Thank you for putting into words what I feel. I love the man I am engaged to, and I sometimes need time apart from him to return to my emotional center. This way when we are together I am more present, and I feel more connected to him. Being apart gives me time to both nurture myself, and realize how much I love and appreciate him. I need that extra space to allow my feelings to grow and develop in a healthy way!

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