Many years ago, when I was a young first year journalism student my professor told me, unless I’m a columnist I should always keep my opinion out of the articles I write. She believed that a writer’s job is to present the facts of the story and let the reader form their own decision. I still remember her teachings as if it were yesterday. Thus, the reason why I keep my opinions to myself and my personal experiences out of the articles I write, until now! Only a topic about relationships could get me to forsake everything that I learned and use my job as a writer, to commiserate with other women.
So, I recently ended a very short-lived liaison with someone I thought had great potential. I call it a liaison because he wasn’t officially my boyfriend, but we were hanging out pretty regularly. Regardless of our status, I was still very excited about him. When I get excited about a guy, it usually means that we have a lot in common and we have connected on some unidentifiable level. There is both a physical and intellectual attraction, and that was totally happening with this guy. We had so much in common, we bonded over having experienced similar issues with relationships and family. Spiritually, we were on the same track, it was great. I was so optimistic. In the beginning he pursued me the way most men do at the start…you know, with fervor and passion. He was amazing and made me feel like I was the only woman in the world. Despite his gentleman like courtship I was still hesitant and wasn’t ready to trust him just yet. I warned him that my walls were way up, plus I enjoyed the attention and wooing. I felt comforted by the emotional and spiritual connection and thought we were building a foundation. As a woman it was nice to have a man going to extremes to attract me. We did all those things couples do when they still like one another.
For a while he was patient and acted as if he was willing to move at my pace. Then, the coaxing for me to loosen up got to be a little more aggressive. There were the suggestive comments about my physical appearance. There were also comments that had those semi-inappropriate sexual innuendos. No sweat I thought, I’ve been through this before. I understand, he wants to have sex, this is not a surprise. It’s what all men want. For men to have sex is the objective of their pursuit. It is that carnal instinct that drives all men. And let’s be honest ladies, it’s flattering to know a man wants to have sex with you. However, there is always that very important decision to make. “Do I like him enough to make him wait? Or do I go ahead, give in and risk him losing interest?”
I liked him a lot and chose to make him wait. With my “90-Day Rule” firmly in place, I side-stepped all his crude jokes, sexual innuendos, and his non sugar-coated requests to see my “Oh Face”. It got so bad, at one point it seemed as if it was all that he could talk about. It was incredibly annoying but I handled him.
We continued to talk and soon began to discuss our past relationships. I asked him what he was looking for in his next relationship. He said, “I’m looking for forever”. He wanted a relationship. He assured me that he was not the type of guy to be out there sleeping around. He was a relationship kind of man.
Well you know I fell for it, right? We eventually took it there and had sex. No, it didn’t happen right away. It wasn’t quite 90-days but it wasn’t like 45-days either. It was somewhere in the middle. Bottom line, it felt right and I didn’t regret it afterwards. That is, until the Backward-Shuffle started happening. Backward-Shuffle is when he pulls back from all the promises and verbal commitments he made to you before sex. You know those multiple “I’m Thinking About You” calls and text messages you received over the course of the day, well they’re now sporadic at best.
Now here’s the thing about the Backward-Shuffle. Men claim ignorance when accused of it, but it’s obvious they are calling less, doing less, caring less. It’s the result of the “Thrill of the Chase Syndrome”. They achieved their objective and now that little something in their genetic code makes them lose interest. They don’t have to work as hard as they did at first. It’s in all the books. Author and relationship counselor, John Gray writes extensively about it. So does television host Dr. Phil and radio talk show host Michael Baisden just to name a few. They all write about how men suffer from this well-known behavioral pattern, and they all write about how women should deal with this, but alas, very few women (myself included) have mastered how to avoid the effects of this Backward-Shuffle.
Us ladies freak the hell out! We call his phone numerous times and leave 4 minute long voicemails. Instead of letting him back away, we inundate him with questions of why and nag him to death that he doesn’t call as much. If we were smart, we would act like we were glad to see him go. But that is hard to do after you have had sex with him. It’s hard because it’s insulting and we start thinking that maybe we had sex too soon, so we’re embarrassed. We feel used and mad because we thought we gave the relationship enough time, yet he still backed away. We need to talk about it and pressure them hard for answers, but they think that women are psychos, when she’s really just pissed off. As a result, women end up erecting even higher walls that make it almost impossible for the next guy.
In many instances a man is simply not ready to be in a relationship. Maybe he’s holding on to his bachelor status for dear life, maybe he’s been hurt and is afraid to trust again, or in the case of my ex-friend, he is still suffering from a semi-recent breakup. Instead of being honest about their true feelings they continue with the game of pursuit. Their inner “Dog” takes over and they go after the bone because that’s what instinct tells them to do. Often times, it becomes a challenge and an ego booster for a man to get a woman, to let down her emotional guard. It makes him feel powerful! He may, or may not really be interested in anything steady, but the game is just too good to give up. So he gets the woman all involved by doing and saying exactly the right things, and when he gets his prize and those feelings of indifference sprout up, he leaves because he fell prey to the “Thrill of the Chase Syndrome”. The woman is thinking she’s going to introduce him to her friends, and he’s trying to figure out how he can turn her off so she’ll leave him alone without having to get his hands dirty. In some cases, he just disappears without a trace…no phone call, no explanation, nothing. Eventually, the woman gets the picture and she is left confused and feeling rejected. The anger spills out into every conversation and once again, the guy thinks, “This girl is a psycho.” When she’s really just, yeah you guessed it…pissed off.
Now let’s be clear she’s not just pissed off at him, she’s pissed off at herself because he did such a good job of convincing her that he was worth the risk. When things like this happen, women end up not trusting their own judgment. We wouldn’t know a good man if we saw one, because even the bad ones look and act like good ones at first. The worst part is that we put subsequent men through hell because of the hurt and embarrassment we suffered. If a new guy is understanding and patient, we might get lucky. However, in most cases, he just gets frustrated because he feels like he’s suffering the consequences of the man that came before him. Some men say we have too much baggage, but they don’t accept the responsibility for the role they play in creating that baggage. What’s really unfair is that the minute they want the woman to go away, they want her to go away quietly. If she doesn’t and complains about it then…she’s got baggage.
Where do women draw the line? What’s the difference between learning from past lessons and holding old sins against new men? I can tell you that the line is very thin…almost undetectable. I wish I could say it was easy but it isn’t. Again, we risk being labeled psycho, a bag lady or worse. I say it’s better to wait for the understanding, patient man who thinks we’re more than just the sum of all our baggage. It might take longer, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Men…please practice honesty. Don’t pursue her if you know the woman is looking for a relationship. It’s not fair and its downright mean. This isn’t a game. When your attempts to impress a woman start to feel better to you than it does to her, then you know you’ve reached the point of no return. If you are indeed a real man that is tired of the games and truly wants to find someone special, then please know in your heart that you are ready, and pack a little patience and compassion. The awesome lady you’re going to get will be well worth it
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