Ask the Advice Goddess

FACE THE MUZAK
For two months, I've been dating a guy I've known for two years. When we're together he seems really into me, but when I call him, he either seems distant, or says he'll call me back, then never does. Maybe he's shy? Maybe he's not a phone person? Regardless, his running hot and cold like this is really confusing. How can I approach him about where we stand without scaring him off?

-Left Hanging

Perhaps he's so paralyzed with love for you that he can't dial.

There might be somebody, somewhere, who's technically unable to return a call - maybe a goat farmer in the Himalayas? Actually, even Tibetan monks have cell phones under their robes these days ("Can you enlighten me now? Can you enlighten me now?"). Chances are, Goat Boy just forgot his Motorola RAZR at the Katmandu Starbucks after posting on his website about getting LoJack on all his goats.

Unless your guy was literally raised by wolves - in which case, you really can't blame him if he responds to a ringing phone by crawling under the coffee table and cowering - he knows full well the statement he's making by leaving your call unreturned. But there you are, making excuses. Guess what? Any guy who's too "shy" to call a girl he wants is too much of an ingrown toenail of a man to be in a relationship. And "maybe he's not a phone person"? If given the chance to call in for free seats on the 50-yard line, something tells me he'd find it in himself to pick up the phone.

Meanwhile, you're at the two-month mark, the point at which men feign an interest in taking women to the ballet, and this guy doesn't even feign an interest in returning your calls. Do you really need to ask him where he stands? He's not standing next to the phone dialing your number. Isn't that enough?

Typically, if you ask a man, "Can we talk about the relationship?" he'll say to himself, "Thanks, but if it's all the same to you, I'd rather do two hours in a tank of giant cockroaches." Just let the relationship happen, and sift through the available evidence: When does he call you? A week in advance to reserve you for a special Saturday night, or as he's pulling up to your apartment at midnight to grab some quick tail? Does he seem less interested in your longterm goals than your position on edible underwear? And, take history into consideration: In the two years you've known him, has he had girlfriends? If so, how many squirted glue in his car locks or began writing a serial novel about what a jerk he is on women's bathroom stalls across town?

Men tend to lose interest in women they don't have to chase. You don't have to become totally unavailable, just give the guy more than 20 minutes between "Hey, I just ate an olive!" and "Wanna hear the latest on my hangnail?" By calling him before he has the chance to not return your call, you get to cling to the illusion that he's interested, thus avoiding the essential question: If you stop calling him, will he ever call you? If he doesn't, drop the phone, take the bitter pill, chase it with a few pints of Haagen-Dazs and be on your way. In the long run, it beats staying with a man simply because he has yet to untangle himself from the telephone line you've been trying to turn into a leash.

LUST IN TRANSLATION
After my third date with a very shy but playful man, we stopped by his office. I admired his paperweight, and joked I was going to keep it. When I set it down, he picked it up, smiled, locked it in his cabinet and dropped the key down the front of his pants! I've read books on body language, but this really stumped me. He has yet to make a move. Was he purposely calling attention to his lower extremities? What signal was he trying to send?

-Baffled

Are your coworkers in the habit of impressing the boss at staff meetings by randomly dropping staplers and paper clips down their pants? The guy was probably making an advance - of sorts - the sort favored by a guy so wimpy that, on the third date, he has to resort to office supply hide-and-seek instead of simply kissing you. Forget trying to dissect your date like your eighth-grade biology frog, and focus on how he makes you feel. If the answer is "amused, titillated and still interested in him," flirt shamelessly with the poor thing - your way of telling him the coast is clear to do more than suggest carnal activity with office décor.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail [email protected] (www.advicegoddess.com)

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