Q: Dear Rachel,
I’m freaking out! Everything was perfect with my boyfriend of four months until a month ago. He was attentive and affectionate and I fell hard for him. Then overnight he turned distant and cold! We arrived home after a perfect weekend getaway, and now he’s avoiding me like the plague. I don’t know what I did wrong, but he refuses to talk about it and I feel like I’m losing him. How could he talk about marriage one day and not return my calls the next?
“What did I do wrong?”
A: Dear “What did I do wrong,”
First off, you haven’t done anything wrong. It sounds like your boyfriend has a classic case of Greener Grass Syndrome. GGS is basically an emotional freak out that some men experience in the early stages of a dating relationship. This syndrome most often occurs in a man when his emotions intensify, like after a romantic vacation or before he enters the next stage of commitment in a romantic relationship. Fear sets in and instead of focusing on what he has to gain from the relationship, he focuses on what he has to lose, like his heart, his independence and his ability to sleep with other women, (even if he doesn’t want to sleep with anyone else). While a man reassesses his new relationship in his head, he may appear outwardly distant and aloof.
This stage in a relationship is never easy, especially for the woman. She often feels scared and insecure that she’s about to lose the man she loves. However, if she tries to hold on more tightly to her partner, she’ll only push him further away.
So, what can a woman do during this time? Keep yourself busy! Temporarily avoid the urge to have deep talks with him about where the relationship is going. This behavior will only increase his confusion and make his decision-making process more difficult.
Do nice things for yourself; hang out with friends, take a bath, focus on your career ambitions and live as full a life as possible. Let him sort things out and initiate contact when he’s ready. Then, when he’s more relaxed, you two will have time to redefine the direction of your relationship. Have faith that if you and your guy are meant to be together he’ll contact you soon. You’re not playing a game; you’re respecting his need for space. By letting go of control and enjoying your own life, you’ll reduce stress and increase the chances of him quickly returning to your side.
Q: Dear Rachel,
I’m a relationship material girl, but the guys I date always cop out on me after a couple of weeks. It’s not like I’m having one-night stands. Why can’t I find a relationship material guy?
“Relationship Material Girl”
A: Dear “Relationship Material Girl,”
Don’t give it away too soon. And when I say, it, I mean your heart. At one time or another, most women have behaved like an emotional floozy and given their heart away too easily before their date had earned it. Most guys can put on a good show for a couple of weeks, but it takes time to really get to know a man and learn about his relationship goals. Is he even looking for a monogamous relationship? If so, he needs to earn your devotion over time by showing you he’s a consistently solid guy, worthy of your affections.
Occasionally, emotional floozy-like behavior goes hand in hand with jumping the gun in the sexual department as well. Because a woman’s sexuality tends to be closely tied to her emotions, it’s important to hold off on sex until you really get to know a guy. If he’s a relationship man, he’ll respect your boundaries. You’ll be showing him that you value yourself and he will value you, too. I know your mother or your religion probably told you to wait to have sex for moral or spiritual reasons, but it’s also a very practical way of safeguarding your heart on the frontline of dating. By getting to know a guy before sleeping with him, you’ll avoid becoming attached to the wrong guy (wasting months or years of your life) and you’ll avoid unnecessary stress in the early stages with the right man by not putting too much pressure on your budding relationship before it has time to take root.
Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For dating advice, contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.