Dear Rosie & Sherry,

Following a few painful relationships, I have done a lot of work on my inner self and I have come away with a better understanding of myself, what I want and deserve. I have now rejoined the dating world and have actually met someone that I like. There was a lot of excitement and energy in the beginning, and I have been taking it slow on my end. (I have a tendency to rush into things.)

My question is: How can you tell if a man is truly interested in you or is just playing? At the beginning he text-messaged me and called me frequently, and now a day or two can pass without me hearing a word from him. I resist the urge to initiate contact, but I wonder if he's simply not that interested anymore. This is all very confusing.

Rosemary

Dear Rosemary,

You're right, it is confusing! Sometimes, a man can be very eager in the excitement of a new relationship and once he eases into it he takes things at a more relaxed pace. That's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can be an indication that the quality of the relationship you are building is evolving from a strong "chemical" reaction to a deeper connection based on learning who each other really is.

But the opposite can also true. Sometimes, the initial intense feelings a person has about a relationship give way to a gradual detachment. This can happen for two reasons: either someone realizes, as they get to know the other person, that the initial attraction isn't leading to something deeper, or because they are the type of person who lives for the emotional high and loses interest when the exciting newness of a relationship wears off.

We suggest that for the time being, you continue to take it slow on your end and not initiate texting or calling. At the same time, you can look for certain indications that your courtship is progressing and that you are building a relationship. These include his being attentive and interested in learning about you and your life, his wanting to do "nice" things for you, and that your opinions and feelings are important to him. He should look forward to seeing you and spending time with you. We think that it's optimal to see each other twice a week (unless you're separated by distance or you have schedules that make it difficult for you to go out that often) and if your relationship is a growing one, he will want to see you on a regular basis. Texting and calling will not be enough.

Do you know if your life goals are compatible?

You should also be sensing that the depth of your emotional connection is growing. As you continue to date, you should be able to talk about more personal subjects than you did in the past, and feel comfortable confiding in each other. Do you want to share information about your lives with each other? Have you spoken about where each of you wants to go in life and whether your objectives are compatible? Do you feel comfortable together? Does he indicate that he's attracted to you? Admires certain things about you? Respects you and your opinions? You won't see these qualities increasing if the man you are dating is a "player."

We also suggest -- even if you believe that this man is sincere and your relationship with him is moving forward -- that you discuss the reason each of you is dating as early in your courtship as possible. It's important to be able to say, "I enjoy going out with you and I know it's too early for us to know how things will develop between us. But I wanted you to know that I'm dating to find the right person to marry, and it's important to me that anyone I go out with has a similar objective in mind. What about you?" If he wants something different at this point in his life, then no matter how much you like him, your relationship will not lead to the future you hope for.

Ultimately, time will answer your question. We encourage you to be cautiously optimistic: not jumping in, not running ahead with expectations, looking for indications that your relationship is growing -- but also understanding that it's possible that each of you have different expectations about where you want your lives to go and what you want out of the courtship.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry