Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
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The guy I've been dating for three months has only had one relationship, lasting a year. On the continuum of Friends With Benefits and serious dating, I told him I was generally more toward the serious side, and he said he's in the middle. He does sweet things for me and treats me really well, but he's never verbal about his feelings or where he sees things going. I complained, and he said I "deserve better," but said he didn't want to say anything right then because it would be forced. Still, nothing's changed. His friends assure me he's "head over heels," but I'd like to hear it from him. He's the most solid guy I've met in years, but I'm a 38-year-old woman who wants kids, and I don't want to waste time in a dead-end situation.
There's a reason they don't put women in your position on interrogation duty at Guantanamo: "Why won't you tell me your feelings? Where do you see us next year at this time? Don't you love me? I'm 38, and I want a baby!" Sure, this is torture to a guy, but not the kind that's gonna make him talk.
I'm guessing your guy actually was "verbal" about how he's feeling. When you asked — and asked and asked — he probably told you "I dunno." And that's probably the truth. You know how girl parts are kinda different from boy parts? Well, girl brains and boy brains and hormones aren't exactly alike, either. Brain imaging studies show that men tend to have less brain matter for processing and verbalizing emotion, like a smaller orbital frontal area, says neuropsychologist Ruben C. Gur, "related to the ability to regulate and contextualize emotional experience." Research by Gur suggests that men's knee-jerk emotional response tends to be physical — like socking somebody — where women's is likely to be verbal. All in all, as Gur said to tell you, "some of the blunting of emotional expression in (your) boyfriend is part of being a biological male."
By the way, what's "the serious side of dating"? You sit around together in Amish shoes looking grim? A guy keeps seeing you because the fun outweighs the unfun. Any guy, even one who's looking to get serious. Of course, you should mention early on how much you want kids — winnowing out men who can't picture themselves saying "Come to daddy" to anyone who isn't wearing a sequined g-string.
This guy has been telling you a lot, just not in girlspeak. He told you he's had a single one-year relationship — which suggests his determination to marry and make babies may pale in comparison to yours. Still, he shows you in lots of ways that he's into you, he has some integrity, and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. If you'd like that to continue, work harder to figure out what he's saying his way instead of stamping your feet and demanding he talk like a girl. Maybe consider vitrification, a new process for freezing your eggs, which might help you stop accessorizing for dates with a stopwatch. Dinner and a movie are more likely to lead to future dinners and movies (and then some) if you aren't spending the entire time silently screaming at your date, "My eggs are aging by the minute! After this movie, they'll be a whole 92 minutes older, and that's not counting the previews!"
Tot And Bothered
I've been with my guy for four months, hanging out seven days a week. It's mostly good, but when I'm with friends, he'll complain he's getting shorted on attention. Last week, I invited him, but if he wasn't sitting between my girlfriend and me, he was miserable. Later, he said disgustedly that he has nothing in common with my friends, and called some "train wrecks." Some are far from perfect, but what's the harm in meeting a pal here or there for a beer?
There are times in a man's life when it's acceptable to turn to a woman and say, "Pay attention to MEEEEE!" All of these times are when she's his mommy and he's 3. Emotionally healthy adults have a natural sense of "Maybe we should take a break today" or "I think I'll just pick my nose by myself this evening." This guy is so small and needy that he has to shrink your life down so he'll be the only one who fits in it. Meanwhile, you've let him colonize your head to the point where you're actually wondering whether it's okay to meet a friend for a beer. The real harm? Babysitting this brat keeps you from meeting an adult man — one who also likes sitting between two women, but not because it doubles his chances that somebody'll catch his binky before it hits the barroom floor.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)