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Dating Advice #60 - Struck Out Again!

May 9, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

He pushed hard for a breakthrough, but she backed off. The pattern repeats. Now he's burned out.

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am 39, outgoing, attractive, male.

I just stopped dating a woman I've dated only about two months. Initially we kept things light, but as time progressed I wanted to spend more time with her. She gave all the signals of wanting a committed relationship -- warmth, introducing me to all her friends, etc. She always seemed happy and content around me, though she never was comfortable talking about her feelings for me.

The other evening on the phone, she said she did not feel any chemistry, that "something was missing," and that she did not want to see me anymore. She also told me that our dating was a rebound from a long bad courtship.

This is my second such incident with two separate women in five months. I'm really beginning to feel, after all the years of struggling with the dating games, that I'm burned out and have lost my passion. What am I doing wrong?


Dear Warren,

First things first. You need to address your burn-out before anything else. Dating burn-out is a common reaction to a long period of unsuccessful dating. If you continue to date when you feel burned-out, you'll only compound the problem. Even if "Ms. Right" does come along, you'll be too emotionally worn out to notice.

We recommend that you take a two or three-month "vacation" from dating. During this time, concentrate on doing nice things for yourself. Start a regular exercise program if you don't already have one. Exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood, and it's also a healthy practice to enhance your lifestyle. Use the time you would have spent dating to do things you've been interested in but haven't had the time to enjoy before. Take a course, sign up for a concert series, go on a trip, or join a theater group. The possibilities are endless.

During your vacation, don't even think of dating. If you're approached with the name of a possible dating partner, explain that you're very busy but will be happy to discuss dating prospects in a couple of months.

Most people who go on such dating vacations tell us that it really helps recharge their batteries and view future dating more positively.

Now, lets talk about your two recent break-ups. The woman you most recently dated may have given you some warning signs that you missed because of your enthusiasm for how well your dating seemed to be going. For example, she wasn't comfortable discussing her feelings for you. After two months of dating, most people should be able to discuss their emotions. There may have been other signs that she was on the rebound and couldn't move on because she never finished grieving her loss.

Now that you look back, can you see them?

Something else you mentioned may provide a clue to what really happened. Look at how your courtship with this woman progressed over the time you were dating. Were you so comfortable that you increased the frequency of your dates to several times a week? This is a common strategy for men when a courtship seems to be moving forward. Instead of going out twice a week and calling each other in-between (which we think is an ideal dating pattern), they ask for three and four dates a week. True, during each date the good feelings toward her are reinforced. However, women and men are very different, and we've noticed that most women need more time between dates to let their emotions work themselves through.

Sometimes, women in even the most promising courtships start to feel overwhelmed, ambivalent, indecisive (and even nauseous) when there isn't enough time to sort through their feelings and otherwise carry on a normal life in between dates. A woman may feel wonderful about a man one day, and wonder what she ever saw in him the next. She may feel even more uncomfortable because she knows the man likes her a great deal, and she doesn't feel the same about him. Many people stop dating because the woman does not realize that she needs breathing room, and instead decides that there is "something missing."

We also suggest that you look back at the courtship that ended a few months ago, and see if you can identify a common pattern between the two. Did both women back away after you began to see a great deal of each other or started to move things forward quickly? By understanding the different timing needs of men and women, you can pace your dating better the next time.

Of course, it is also possible that these two circumstances were not similar, and you simply had bad luck. Whatever the case, we hope that when you return from "vacation," you will find that special someone with whom you can build an enduring and happy courtship and marriage.

Rosie & Sherry

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