I’m dating this guy who ends conversations saying he’ll call me at a certain time. Like, “I’ll call you over the weekend.” Or “I’ll give you a call tomorrow.” Or if he has to take a call on the other line, he promises, “I’ll call you back in a few minutes.” And then he doesn’t. He always ends up calling, but almost never when he said he would. Should I read something into this, or should I just know to ignore whatever he says when he’s getting off the phone with me?
FROM THE DESK OF GREG
Dear Call Waiting,
Yes, you should read something into it “He’s just not that into you.” Here’s the deal. Most guys will say what they think you want to hear at the end of a date or a phone call, rather than nothing at all. Some guys are lying, some guys really mean it. Here’s how you can tell the difference: You know they mean it when they actually do what they said they were going to do. Here’s something else to think about: Calling when you say you’re going to is the very first brick in the house you are building of love and trust. If he can’t lay this one stupid brick down, you ain’t never gonna to have a house, baby.
The “Things Are Really Tight Right Now” Excuse
I have a boyfriend who I’ve been living with for three years. I’m about to turn thirty-nine, and I have started bringing up the idea of long-term plans, like, say, marriage. He always seems open to it, but then talks about how bad his finances are. He’s an investment banker who works for himself, and he lost a lot of money in the past two years, a lot of clients, as well, and his business really has gone down the tubes. He says he’s under a lot of pressure. Am I being unreasonable to want to know where this is all going? Please let me know.
FROM THE DESK OF GREG
Dear Pressure Cooker,
What the heck are you thinking, lady? Of course you should know where it’s all going. Do you not value yourself and your time? Certainly three years invested earns you the right to know what your future holds. Any investment banker worth his salt would agree with me. Everyone lost money over the past two years; the stock market crashed and the economy has been in the toilet, and yet imagine—many have still managed to get married. If you are both in your late thirties, and you’ve been dating for three years, and he’s not begging you to be his wife, you might want to take this stock tip: Mr. Dow Jones is just not that into you.
There will never be a good time, financially, to get married, unless you’re Shaq or Ray Romano. But somehow people manage. If your man is using money as an excuse not to marry you, it’s your relationship that’s insecure, not his bank account.
So you can stay with him and continue to audition for the part of wife, or you can go find someone who doesn’t need a decade or two to realize you’re the best thing that ever happened to him.
The “But His Wife Is Such a Bitch” Excuse
I’m dating my married boss. We’ve kept it on the down-low so no one will find out about it. I really, really love him, and he loves me. I know it’s wrong to date a married man, but his wife is so awful to him. She calls him names and tells him that he’s stupid. They never have sex. He tells me that I’m the only thing keeping him going. How can I leave him when he’s going through such a hard time and I love him so much?
FROM THE DESK OF GREG
Really? We’re having this conversation? I’m really going to have to explain to you why you shouldn’t be dating a married man? Well, okay: Here is the lowdown on your boss. He’s married and having an affair, which indicates to me so many things. First, he’s okay with being dishonest. (Nice.) Second, he’s fine with cheating on his wife. (Super.) Third, he has no regard for his marriage. (What a gem.) Fourth and most specifically to you, he has no real regard for you, because what you’re getting from him is scraps—stolen time that’s cloaked in shame. (Just what you always dreamed of as a girl, right?) And because this is a workplace affair, who do you think will be asked to leave when the romance goes sour or becomes watercooler fodder that threatens his job and/or marriage? You. And whose reputation as a serious business-person will be compromised? Did you guess you? Good girl. Regardless of how much his marriage sucks or how awful his wife is to him, it obviously isn’t that bad or he would get out of it. A good relationship should not be lived in secrecy. Go find yourself one worth living out loud.
I know things seem a lot easier when your affair is with a man whose wife is an evil, shrieking, insulting hag. No matter what their relationship or circumstances are, you are still helping a man cheat on his wife.
Let’s agree you’re better than that.
The “But He Misses Me” Excuse
My boyfriend and I had been dating for two years, living together for one. We started fighting and having all sorts of problems. He broke up with me three weeks ago and I moved out. Of course, I’m devastated. The thing is, he calls me all the time. He wants to chat. He asks about my friends, and wants to know how my family is. He likes to keep up with the little details of my life, just as if we were going out. My friends all say I should stop talking to him, but I think he misses me, and I like that. I miss him. I feel if I stay in touch with him, it will remind him of how great I am, and eventually he will realize that we should be together again. What do you think?
FROM THE DESK OF GREG
Dear Misty Watered Colored Memories,
So glad he likes to keep up with the Way You Were. Who doesn’t need another phone pal, especially since you have a new phone and a new apartment? Put him on hold and listen to me, missy: A man who wants to make a relationship work will move mountains to keep the woman he loves. If he’s not calling you to tell you he loves you and wants you back, it should only be because he’s showing up at your new residence to do it in person. If he’s not trying to romance your socks off with dates, flowers, and poetry, it should only be because he’s too engrossed with his couples counseling workbooks and is prioritizing getting back on the right track. If he’s not doing any of that, he may love you, he may miss you, but ultimately he’s just not that into you. Stop taking his calls and let him really know what it’s like to live without you.
Don’t be flattered that he misses you. He should miss you. You’re deeply missable. However, he’s still the same person who just broke up with you. Remember, the only reason he can miss you is because he’s choosing, every day, not to be with you.
It’s very tempting when you really want to be with someone to settle for much, much less—even a vague, pathetic facsimile of less—than you would have ever imagined. Ladies, please, keep your eye on the prize. Remember always what you set out to get, and please don’t settle for less. If you can’t do it for you, do it for everyone else: These guys are able to exist because there are a lot of women out there who allow them to.