DEAR ABBY: I met a wonderful man who was 14 years older who treated me like I have never been treated before. He opened doors for me, took me on actual dates, paid for things, met all my friends and family, and took me on my first vacation at 39 years old. He was very cuddly and such a gentleman. He even introduced himself as my “boyfriend” to some of my friends.
Seven months ago, we had our first argument and he asked me how I felt about him. I said I loved him and he returned with, “I like you a lot.” He said he didn’t feel as strongly as I did and doesn’t want a relationship.
When we broke up shortly after, he said he wanted to be friends. But he still called and invited me over for sex regularly for the next six weeks. I was very hurt, but I finally cut ties because emotionally I couldn’t handle it. He still wants to be friends but I cannot. He still will do anything for me and wants the benefits of being together without the labels.
It has been more than two months and I’m heartbroken. If I call him, he answers and talks like we are the best of friends, and it kills me. How do I get over him? Is it worth trying to see if we will work out? — BROKEN IN UTAH
DEAR BROKEN: This “gentleman” made clear that his feelings for you are not as strong as those you have for him. You are involved with someone who is honest about wanting nothing more than the status quo. If you’re willing to settle for being only FWB — which, I suspect, you have too much intelligence and self-esteem to do — go along with what he’s offering (which is very little). But if you do, know full well that it won’t “work out.” (c) DEAR ABBY
Wow, I feel sorry for her. This guy has an obvious appeal that I think would lure in anyone. He seems incredibly charming. And yet he’s okay using the letter writer for sex with the full knowledge that she’s in love with him and hurting from the lack of commitment between the two of them.
It can be so hard to recognize when someone’s not so great in the face of positive evidence and no negative evidence. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with him on the surface: he doesn’t deal drugs, he’s not aggressive and hostile, he isn’t overly attached to his mother, etc., etc. In the lack of anything like that, the only “bad” thing to be seen is that he’s continuing to lead the letter writer on for his own benefit.
But the letter writer can’t see that. She keeps hoping things will change, and then everything will be different. And she might look back at that argument from seven months ago and feel guilty or ashamed, as if this is all her fault. I sure hope that’s not the case.
I think the problem with this guy is that he’s shallow and not very empathetic. Thus, he’s able to turn on the charm and lovebomb this letter writer without realizing or caring that she’s hurting deeply. The letter writer needs to dump him, quit contacting him, and seek out someone with more depth and awareness. As charming as this guy is, he’s a flake. And that’s my best, most favorable appraisal of him. It’s all downhill from there, any which way you look at it.
I’ve known guys like this. The way to get over him is to realize that he’s functioning on a very surface level, very shallow and basic. To the letter writer, sex is soulful and meaningful and everything, and to this guy, it’s a good, fun romp in bed. She needs to quit having sex with him before she sells her soul to the devil, which might cheapen the meaning of sex for her. This guy isn’t worth her time.
All the guys like this who I used to know appeared to be very soulful but in reality were quite shallow. And I always gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were deep, because I couldn’t imagine that such shallow people could really exist. They exist, people, they exist.
It’s a pitfall, but if you encounter a great-looking man who’s charming, kind, considerate, and giving, you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if he has any depth. Now, here’s the hard thing. If he comments to you something like this: “My parents moved when I was in eighth grade, and I was the new kid in school. It was hard making new friends,” and then makes a sad expression, then you must fight off the urge to assume he has depth.
That pull to think, oh, he’s so wise and connected and knowledgeable needs to be squelched. Because I guarantee you that he wound up making new friends with his good looks and his charm by lunch period of the first day of school. He hasn’t forgotten it because it sounds like the sort of thing–on the surface of it–that can merit pity. Don’t fall down that trap. But if you find yourself weakening, then just remind yourself of the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through, and then compare it to making new friends at school.
And then, when you find yourself thinking, yeah, but I was friendless that one time, and it hurt, too, and I understand, then remind yourself that this guy didn’t give any specifics about making friends. He just said it was hard to be the new guy. He wasn’t talking about the time your best friend betrayed you, made everyone in your class gang up on you, shared nude photos of you with all the guys, and trashed your reputation.
My point is that those of us who have depth of awareness and experience shouldn’t be slumming it with shallow people who have easy lives and surface awareness. Let them do their own thing. The rest of us are meant for greatness.