Ask the Advice Goddess

Reality Czech

I dated this guy for 10 months, and spent the entire time battling his "I'm not good with commitment" stance. Although I was tortured that he would never commit or tell me he loved me, I stayed because I felt so deeply for him. The month after we quit speaking, I discovered he'd gone to the Czech Republic and gotten married! After all that time I spent loving him and struggling with his being emotionally unavailable, how do I come to terms with the fact that he was not only able to be in a relationship, but a relationship of the most serious kind?
—Still Hurting

Things are not the things they are not. A squirrel, for example, is not a sports car. You can stand under a tree demanding that it become a Porsche Boxster "THIS MINUTE!" until you get nodes on your vocal chords, but trust me: Nodes on your vocal chords are all you'll have to show for it.

Pelting a man with little motivational acorns like, "Whaddya mean, you're 'not good with commitment'?!" and "Isn't it time you started loving me?!" is equally effective. So, you wanted a committed relationship. You found yourself in the arms of a man who was vocal about wanting anything but. This was your cue to do one of two things: 1. Wave goodbye immediately; 2. Avail yourself of some hot nights and enjoyable afternoons, and then wave goodbye.

People fall in love; they don't get shoved into it. They're attracted to what is or seems at least slightly out of reach, not what's constantly in their face, nagging them raw. You'd think this would be common sense, but judging by all the women outraged that some commitment-averse man refuses to bend to their will, perhaps it's simply "sense." Like you, many women seem to favor the disgruntled factory worker approach to getting their demands met, and picket relentlessly for better conditions: "Unfair relationship practices!" "Long hours, no diamond!" Unfortunately, this is no way to provoke desire in a man — except, perhaps, a burning desire to escape.

A man isn't insane or wrong if he informs you he doesn't want to commit; he's simply setting the record straight. Why, exactly, "should" a man commit? Because you've expended considerable time and energy trying to bludgeon him into marriage material? Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. All a man really owes you is the truth about his intentions (or lack thereof); for example, "I'm not good with commitment." If, after hearing this, you decide to thrash around for 10 months, trying to prove him wrong, don't lay the blame on him.

Maybe there's nothing you could have done to make this man want you, but making your relationship more like a love affair than a prosecution might have helped. If it's any condolence, it shouldn't be long before his "compliant" mail-order bride learns the ropes, then figures out how to make a nice man-leash out of them. That said, why he married somebody else is irrelevant. Why he didn't marry you is irrelevant. All that matters is what you didn't do, which is take responsibility for meeting your own needs, when it was blatantly obvious that he wasn't about to meet them. Loving somebody "deeply" is no excuse for being deeply unrealistic. The next time a man tells you he doesn't want to commit, take him a little more seriously than you would a 4-year-old who's informed you that a giant purple flying saucer is landing on your front lawn.

Biting the Bulletin

My girlfriend broke up with me, saying she wanted to date around rather than be in a relationship. Soon afterward, she started seeing another guy. When I kept asking if they were "just dating," she said it was none of my business, then proceeded to block me out of all three e-mail addresses and ignore me when I'd stop by her work. She finally reported me to campus security, charging me with harassment. I just want to be friends. How can I tell her I'm sorry?
—Stalking Wounded

When your girlfriend broke up with you, you didn't expect much; just that she run a CNN-style screen crawl across her life, broadcasting up-to-the-minute news of her romantic activities. Well, guess what? She's a woman, not a wire service. The only message you need to get is the one she keeps sending ... and sending: She wants nothing to do with you. You can't date her, you can't be friends with her (i.e., lie in wait for the opportunity to date her), and you probably shouldn't even wave to her in the hall. What's with the expectation that people "should" be friends with the person who dumped them, anyway? It's a nice concept. In practice, it can be a bit like palling around with the neighbor who ran over your cat.

Copyright 2004, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail [email protected] (