J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My new flame is very unreliable and makes me fidget

Dear Ms Peirano,</p>I (f, 36) met a man (Felix, 40) at a party with whom there was an immediate attraction.

J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My new flame is very unreliable and makes me fidget

Dear Ms Peirano,

I (f, 36) met a man (Felix, 40) at a party with whom there was an immediate attraction. He then asked for my phone number and called me every day.

For our first meeting he then suggested a drink on a weekday night at 9pm which to be honest didn't sit well with me as I have an eight year old daughter. Nevertheless, I was of course happy and also excited. He then spontaneously postponed the meeting to 9:30 p.m. because his meeting had lasted longer.

Our meeting was very nice and intimate and we kissed goodbye and again wrote briefly every day. He suggested doing something the following weekend (ie about ten days later) since he was out and about in between. The weekend was approaching and I tried to hear his plans for me from his words. But he said he wanted to see an old friend again and definitely wanted to do sports. I was a bit disappointed until he asked what I would be doing on Sunday afternoon.

I took Sunday afternoon off and organized childcare for my daughter and then he called me at 5pm and asked what I wanted. We went for a walk at 6 p.m. and had a bite to eat. It was very nice again and he is very physical, puts his arm around me and compliments me.

I don't want to list it all now, but that's how it went for the next two months. We've also had sex a couple of times, which was really nice. He has a lot on his plate, is very busy and does a lot (or everything?) spontaneously, at least with me. Whenever I asked what he was doing the next evenings, he would openly tell me about his plans (sports, meeting friends, traveling for work). But he also told me that I am the first woman since his last girlfriend with whom he can imagine a relationship. He also has feelings for me. He doesn't meet any other women either, he said that himself.

But I notice that I'm getting more and more tense and dissatisfied because he proposes so few meetings and then shortens them or spontaneously cancels them (he calls it "postponing"). I've also tried doing my own thing and planning my weekend so that I don't have time for him anymore. I also put the phone on airplane mode on purpose so he can't reach me and so I won't be disappointed. I did that once on a weekend when he didn't call in time for our meeting. He didn't even notice.

Sometimes he announces that he wants to come over in the evening and stay at my place. I then ask when he's coming and he says around 7 p.m. Then he only comes at 9 p.m. or later, reports in between and says that he still has something to do, and by then I'm actually already in the mood to go to bed.

I asked him about it and he didn't really understand what I meant. The conversation was kind of stupid. He also said that he now feels under pressure and whether it wouldn't be nicer to meet spontaneously if both were interested. I then said that reliability is very important to me and he said he would take that to heart. But after that nothing has changed and I feel insecure and disappointed. I'm in love with him and I want to try, but I'm at my wits end right now. What do you advise me?

Best regards, Nancy G.

Dear Nancy G,

You experience something that I have heard very often from women in the first phase of getting to know each other. Incidentally, I have never heard that from men in this form. I can imagine that it has to do with traditional expectations when choosing a partner, in particular the widespread idea that the initiative for the meetings should come from the man. Most women do not want to chase after a man and are afraid of putting pressure on him with their desire for contact. That is why many women, just like you, adopt a wait-and-see role and hope that the man will reliably get in touch and suggest regular nice meetings. Many men, on the other hand, do not realize what is going on in the minds and hearts of women and how unsettled and stressed they are by the fact that he does not report or does not report enough.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

Incidentally, there is a guide (admittedly very controversial and also adapted to American society) on how women can ensure that you find a partner who will woo you through strict rules of conduct. This saves you the frustration you are experiencing right now. Read through this too and see if you can adopt some of these rules: Ellen Fein, Sherrie Schneider: The Art of Finding the Man for Life. All rules in one volume.

I would like to put my finger on this personal and societal sore and advise you to deal with the issue on a societal level.

Understanding sociology will make your problem more general and therefore less personal. Therefore, the question of whether you may have done something wrong or whether something is wrong with you carries much less weight.

The sociologist Eva Illouz has dealt intensively with the choice of partner in our time and comes to the conclusion that the choice of partner in modern times is subject to the laws of capitalism: supply and demand determine the market.

There is an asymmetry in the choice of partner in the age of online dating: men benefit from the oversupply of potential partners, while women suffer. I also observe this in my practice: the women fight and strive for the man, while many men allow themselves to be courted. And that again has nothing to do with the old image that the man should woo the woman and that the woman should never chase after the man. It is a very difficult situation! I recommend, even if it is painful to read, that you use the books below as a basis.

Eva Illouz: Why love ends. A sociology of negative relationships.

Eva Illouz: Why love hurts. A sociological explanation.

So much for the basics. But now I'm going to be more specific and describe a few strategies you can use to free yourself from your helpless and wait-and-see position.

To make matters worse, sooner or later the situation leads to a power game: the man behaves freely and only thinks for himself, the woman puts up with it or tries to create commitments. This puts her in a supplicant position, and the man can accuse her of exerting pressure. This, in turn, is bad for her self-esteem because she is not respected, courted, and valued, but constantly feels like a nuisance and rejected. Here we are again at the asymmetry that Eva Illouz already named.

At the resolution level, this situation would be relatively easy to sort out, allowing you both to get out of the awkward entanglement. You could discuss how often you both want to meet and make those meetings binding. The rule of thumb would be: rather less frequent meetings, but they should be binding. There is a language rule that clarifies between you exactly whether the respective appointment is a binding meeting or an option ("Maybe I'll come by tonight. Then I'd let you know by 8 p.m. and be there by 8.30 p.m.") At the same time it would be important that you set limits and say, for example, that a spontaneous visit after 9 p.m. is too late.

That doesn't sound difficult and it really shouldn't be, unless deeper motives play a role here, such as a bonding disorder, a lack of respect for others, or deficits in time management.

In any case, I would advise you to strengthen your own life again and make nice plans for your free time independently of Felix. You've known him for two months now and you're already letting your life revolve around him, even though it's so unsatisfying. It would be good for both of you to change this imbalance quickly.

Kind regards and all the best to you Julia Peirano

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