Question: I am 31 years old, and I have been dating this girl for about a month now. We met online and hit it off right away. Things are going between us, I think, but I have one concern. She acts very differently from the girls I met so far. On one hand, she treats me well when we are together. She makes herself available to go out, hasn’t canceled or been late even once. (We haven’t had sex yet. We are taking it slow, since she recently broke up with a guy who really hurt her). On the other hand, she doesn’t do any of the things that other girls do who have been interested in me. She never initiates contact. She never sends a “thank you” text after our date, and she never texts me first at all, but she is good at getting back to me if I am the one to contact her. She never calls first but always returns my calls. Recently, I was on the phone with her as I was driving and my phone died. When I recharged it, and turned in on there is no indication that she even tried to get a hold of me or was worried. Last week, I did a little experiment. I didn’t call or text her for 3 days, and she never bothered to get in touch with me, until I finally texted her. This behavior is puzzling to me. What do you think it is? And how should I handle this? – Alex, Florida.
PH Answers: There could be a number of reasons for this seemingly ambivalent behavior:
(1) She is extremely, extremely traditional. She believes that it’s a man’s job to initiate contact not only in the beginning but throughout the relationship or at least until a committed relationship is established. This could be coming from her family values, or religion or both. Some guys like this kind of extreme expression of femininity and submissiveness, while others (including myself) would be put off by it.
(2) She has been brainwashed by such dating advice as “The rules” that instructed her to be a challenge, to play hard to get and to make men prove themselves thoroughly before she finally submits to them physically and emotionally. She would especially want you to prove yourself to her if she has recently been hurt by a guy, like you mentioned. In an attempt to never come across as needy and desperate she went to the other extreme.
(3) She likes you enough to go out with you, but she doesn’t like you enough to bother to contact you first and put her ego on the line.
I could see how this behavior would bother you. Even the most confident, dominant man wants to know that he is being wanted, and I hope that as many women as possible get to read this.
I think the best way to handle this issue is similar to handling many other touchy issues with someone you started dated. Bring it up and talk about it. You don’t have to accuse her of anything or make a fight out of it. Just ask her why she never contacts you first and encourage her to be honest with you. This is much better than trying to read her mind.
You might think that bringing this up will make you come across as needy, but it won’t, if you do it the right way. You are not begging her to call or text you first. You are just being curious about the reasons for her behavior.