Dear Carolyn: I recently began dating a friend of a friend of mine, and after a great start, we’ve hit a snag. Our routine consists of me initiating communication 90-plus percent of the time. After several requests for her to reach out to me some of the time were ignored without explanation, I am now at a loss on how to confront the issue.
I have no issue with playing the traditional “man” role and pursuing/courting a woman, especially in a new relationship. But I don’t feel comfortable being the ONLY one who calls/texts/initiates dates/pays.
I ended the last several calls and dates with a pleasant, nonjudgmental, “Give me a call tomorrow, let me know how your day went,” or “Let’s talk; call me when you get home and get settled in.” She offered no resistance but didn’t follow through. So I haven’t heard from her now in several days.
I don’t think it’s healthy for me to engage in mind-reading or what I call “relationship CSI,” but I would like to know what’s going on. Part of me wonders if I should just move on until she’s ready to talk to me, if ever. What do you think?
A: “Relationship CSI” is a waste of time (unless you make a killing in syndication).
Reciprocation is important to you. It is something she doesn’t provide, even though you asked her for it specifically.
So now you have only one thing to do, and that is to decide which is more important to you: reciprocation, even if it means not dating her or anyone else till you get it; or her companionship, even if it means receiving it only on her one-way terms.
That’s it. Too often in early dating, people try to determine a reason for X behavior in hopes it’s a reason they can somehow change. But this is chasing shadows. Take people as they are – as in, decide on that next date, and the next, based not on promise but on the fact of what they provide and the fact of your enjoyment of it. “Would I like to see her?” Yes/No. “Would I like to contact her?” Yes/No. That’s it. It runs counter to the human taste for speculation and intrigue, so it takes some getting used to, but it also makes a kind of sense that becomes hard to resist.
Dear Carolyn: I called my first grandchild “my” baby, and my snippy daughter-in-law chastised me. I never did that again in front of her. But that baby is mine as much as she is anyone’s. I waited 60 years for a grandchild. I love her (and all my grands) deeply. They are a direct product of mine and my sons, their fathers. Daughters-in-law don’t have to be stinkpots. Not all mothers-in-law are.
A: Can’t imagine why she felt territorial.
Mothers-in-law are often lovely, of course, in a difficult, even thankless role. So what do you think makes a good one? Labeling touchy new mothers “stinkpots?” Omitting the mother when charting the provenance of a grandchild? Declaring with a straight face [pause to remind myself to breathe] a child they didn’t conceive, carry, birth or raise, is “mine as much as she is anyone’s?” (No, by the way. No, she is not.)
New mothers are exhausted, scared, hormonal and territorial. Grands come to this scene as the veteran parents, so it’s on them – it was on you – to forgive a daughter-in-law, respect her space and find ways to express affection that don’t tread on a rookie parent’s sensitivities, whether you empathize or not. How hard is: “Of course, I’m sorry. Is ‘my grandmuffin’ OK?”
What a pity to choose instead to be the chicken who still, to this day, blames the egg.