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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 12:01 am

The company you keep away

 I’ve got an intense attraction to this musician I’ve been dating for four months. He’s on the road a lot, plus he’s new to the city and recently out of a relationship. He says he’s not ready to get serious now and just told me he wants us to be non-monogamous. The more I try to get close the more he pulls away. My girlfriends told me to stop chasing him and be much less available. I tried being less present, which, to my surprise, made him miss me and be more attentive. I’m disgusted at the need for manipulative game playing. How much longer do I need to keep this up? –Hate Games

There are times it makes sense to chase a man, like if he’s wearing Lycra knickers and making a dash for the end zone or he’s just run out of your house with your TV.

However, chasing a man is an especially bad strategy when you’re looking for love. The reason for this goes back millions of years and comes down to what anthropologists call “parental investment” and how biology sticks women with the lion’s share of it. As I’ve explained here from time to time, before the invention of reliable birth control a single romp in the bushes could leave a woman with a hungry kid to haul around and feed. So women evolved to be the choosier sex – to cross their legs until the man vying to be their sex partner showed he’d be likely to stick around to provide for any ensuing Neander-browed children.

Men, in turn, coevolved to expect this choosiness from women. And though we’re living in modern times we’ve got some pretty antique psychology still driving us, so when a man today encounters a woman who seems easy to have, he tends to get the message that she isn’t worth having. This may seem awful and unfair but it’s just how things are. So lamenting the need for “game playing” is like expecting something different from gravity. Drop an apple and it’s going to fall; it will not lift off, circle your head a few times and then try to make it to Cleveland on tail winds before nightfall.

As for this guy, sure, you want him, but letting attraction and enjoyment alone determine whom you have a relationship with is like letting your taste buds do your grocery shopping. (Dunno about yours, but mine would not be lingering in the broccoli section.) Before you get involved with a man you need to check to see that he’s available and immediately disqualify any man who isn’t single or emotionally ready for a relationship.

Once you have a viable candidate, take steps to avoid seeming desperate, like by setting the timer on your phone for 20 minutes or an hour before you return a text. The more you do this sort of thing the more natural it will feel until you become hard to get instead of just playing it. Should you feel tempted to fall back into old chase behaviors just remind yourself of your ultimate goal – inspiring a man to want you instead of inspiring him to fill out paperwork to keep you 100 feet away from him at all times.

© 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon

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