Q. Dear Rachel,
Somehow I always meet woman in the midst of a crisis and then I date them. Most recently, I dated a woman I met at the scene of a hit-and-run accident. She was crossing the street when some idiot hit her with his car and took off. Luckily I was there, so I drove her to the hospital. Thank God her injuries weren’t serious. That was a few months ago and now we’re broken up. I felt great for helping her, at first, like I was Superman to the rescue, but she began to depend on me for everything. Over time I felt suffocated. Why don’t my relationships last?
— Signed, Part-Time Superman
A. Dear Part-Time Superman,
Being a Good Samaritan to strangers in crisis is an admirable quality. However, helping and saving a romantic partner on a regular basis leads to a dysfunctional relationship. Trust me, I wrote an entire book on the subject. As you said, it feels good to help damsels in distress, at first, like Superman, but it’s exhausting to stay in rescue mode all the time. Heck, even Superman retreated to a cave to recharge his super-hero batteries. Once you establish a savior-victim pattern with someone, it’s hard to break that pattern down the road. Whatever dynamic you institute from the beginning of a relationship will set the tone for the length of that association. Therefore, you will increase your chances of a lasting connection with a date by implementing healthy boundaries from your first meeting.
Another problem with playing Superman, apart from the fatigue factor, is that you increase your chance of attracting helpless, high-drama women. You’ve met more than one woman in distress, which tells me that this is a pattern for you. If you feel suffocated by these women, you may want to modify the type of women you date.
“Don’t Help A Woman Be A Woman.” In other words, if overly dependent women wear you out, find a less-dependent one. We all have a deeply ingrained type, and I don’t presume to tell anyone to drastically change who they date. For instance, aggressive, super take-charge women would be too far on the opposite side of the spectrum for you. In your case, your best match may be only slightly dependent; just enough to occasionally trigger your protective/nurturing side. She’s capable of managing her life sufficiently on her own, but she may act dependent in some trivial way, like she needs help programming her new cell phone or DVR. A small dose of dependent behavior will create chemistry for you, without the unwanted suffocation and incompatibility of an overly dependent woman.
Your ideal match is out there. Reign in your super-hero tendencies when dating to attract the slightly dependent girl of your dreams. And if you encounter another woman in the middle of a crisis — feel free to help her, but please don’t date her.
Q. Dear Rachel,
How can I turn great sex into a relationship? The man I’m seeing says he doesn’t want a serious relationship, but we’ve been hooking up regularly for months and I think I’m growing on him. I know he enjoys our late-night rendezvous as much as I do. I’m not trying to turn a frog into a prince; I just want to turn a bachelor into a boyfriend. Any advice?
— Signed, Girlfriend Wannabe
A. Dear Girlfriend Wannabe,
If a man says he doesn’t want a serious relationship, he may as well be a frog because your likelihood of dating him is just as low. If you assume you know this man’s desires better than he knows his own, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. When a man says, “I don’t want a relationship/girlfriend right now,” believe him. Most men don’t play hard to get and rarely change their minds regarding commitment. Much to the chagrin of women like you, some men can sleep with a woman on an ongoing basis without forming an emotional attachment. Men tend to show their feelings for a woman outside the bedroom, while women show their feelings for a man inside the bedroom. In other words, some men can sleep with just about anyone, but they only go on date-like activities, like dinner and the movies with the women they like and want to date. This is the exact opposite of how most women operate and, therefore, a source of much confusion between the sexes. Therefore, if you and this guy have sex, but don’t go on public dates, consider it further proof that he doesn’t want to date you.
Don’t try to change him! You don’t want to have to grow on him — you’re not a fungus. He should make an effort to be with you. If he doesn’t, move on. And if, like most women, you can’t have casual sex without getting attached, don’t sleep with men who don’t want a relationship.
To avoid heartache, believe a man when he tells you he doesn’t want a commitment. In other words, if he looks like a frog, acts like a frog and tells you he’s a frog … he’s a frog!
Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. 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 more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.