Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ask Rev. Lick: She's Not Quite Single...Again.

Valentine writes in:

So I recently got out of a 3-year Long Term Relationship with a Girl With Serious Issues (GWSI). Shortly before I met GWSI, I had met this girl "Melissa" at a young single's happy hour. She had an on-again/off-again out of town (i.e., across the country) boyfriend at the time we met. However, we hit it off incredibly well and there was an amazing amount of chemistry between us. Things started to heat up, but before things could go any further, I met GWSI and Melissa left town. Flash forward 3 years and change. Since the break-up, I'd been thinking about Melissa, and heard that she'd moved back to town over a year ago. Now the bad news: she's in a Phase-5 Relationship. I gave her my card, but she was pretty uncomfortable when I asked for her number. She didn't give it, but told me to email/IM her and we'd get together. My question is: now WTF do I do? Need strategy help here!
We'll get to the complex part of your situation in a minute, but let's start with your opening tactics here, which are fairly straightforward and obvious:
1) Wait a few days minimum before contacting her, to give her an opportunity to get in touch with you. This could give you some idea of how interested or available she actually is. Make other plans and talk to other women. If she does call, do not cancel plans you have to do something with her--make her reschedule to see you.
2) Assuming she hasn't initiated contact, then drop her an invitation to something you were going to be doing anyway. Ideally, this should not be on a weekend night. Whatever it is, it should give you time to interact with her one-on-one, yet not give her the impression that it's an actual "date". Good examples would be inviting her to see a friend's band play (drinks are involved, it's fun, and you're not there alone, but all your friends will be occupied the entire time), or meeting you for coffee in a bookstore where you will be catching up on some reading on a Sunday afternoon.

So what if neither of these happens or she doesn't respond? Then do nothing, and see if you run into her at another happy hour. What about on the "date"? DO NOT mention anything about her "other situation", and if she brings it up, just ignore it like it's not important at all. If there's no ring, she's still single: have fun with her, be flirty, get to know her better, and amplify the chemistry as much as possible. Make sure you're the one who calls it a night first. I would also suggest letting her make the first noises about, "Doing something again sometime."

Now for the complex long-term part of it. She definitely sounds like she's worth pursuing, but you have to be very careful about it. WARNING: Do not even think about getting emotionally attached to this girl until you've been dating her exclusively for at least a month. Assuming you can resume "dating-like" outings with her, and things continue to go well, you've got a good shot at success here.

Phase-5 relationships are always tricky, and the fact that she even told you about it indicates it's one of the more semi-serious varieties. On the upside, at least she's honest with you. The part you need to figure out, without actually mentioning it to her, is what's actually going on with her and this other guy. People get into Phase-5 relationships for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are bad or that should really concern you...hell, I'm even in one now!

Let's use mine as a comparison example. Why am I in it? Well, she went back on her medication for one thing. We had a lot of fun together when we were dating, the sex was incredible, and in this backwater town, neither of us really have any better options. We know we're not going to end up married one day, but for the time being we're content with the companionship and affection. We also have the freedom of not being in a "real" relationship--we take trips, etc, and do what we want without feeling the need to inform/ask the other one.

So how is this different from Melissa's? Well, for one thing she didn't give you the digits. This could mean several things: she's actually not as into you as you thought, that she's actually pretty serious with the other guy, that she spends a lot of time with the other guy and doesn't want to explain the phone calls, or possibly that she's just playing hard to get. Obviously Ms. Five and I don't talk about dating other people, but I don't think twice about exchanging phone numbers with a girl that I might be interested in dating.

My intuitive guess here is that Melissa's Mr. 5 is a bit more serious than she lets on, but a situation she also knows isn't going to eventually work out for her in the long term. She's open to being snatched away, but is only going to really break it off and walk if she's got a "sure thing" waiting in the wings.

How do you play this long term? You have to resume the "friendship with flirtation", and both see her on a somewhat regular basis and ramp up and amplify the chemistry and attraction. Make her think she's really missing out by not being with you. At some point, she needs to be reciprocating the pursuit and chasing you. Let her, give her the opportunity to do so. You will also have to break down the physical barrier--the difference between "just friends" and romance is whether or not there's a physical component to your relationship. In this case it doesn't have to be--and probably shouldn't be--all that many "bases", but you've got to get at least to kissing, snuggling, and some suggestive backrubs. And leave her wanting more. This will further lead to destabilizing her Phase-5 thing, and make her ready to leave it for you, her "sure thing". You hasten this by using the subtle ultimatum of "I'm dating other people and not waiting for you to figure out what you want--I don't have time for that." Do not ever actually say this to her, but let her know that you're spending time with other women without her, on a regular basis, because she's got some other guy-thing going on. And do so.

**I'd like to make this more of a regular feature. Feel free to email me your questions regarding life, women, dating, drinking, strip clubs, etc., or post them in the comments.**


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