Long Distance is Not the Big Problem

Hi, Karen,

I met a man on Match.com last year, after a very long “man drought”.  He was so sweet, he loves to dance – which is very important to me – and he was really into me…he “hit me like a ton of bricks”!  Here’s my problem: he lives in Georgia six months out of the year (he’s taking care of his alcoholic daughter’s kids while she’s in rehab down there), he’s broke, and he’s embarrassing to be with, because he dresses like an old hick.  I like things to be a little fancier than he does (he hates to go out to dinner, and I love it, for example), and I cannot get him to get rid of his hideous eyeglasses and buy the cool ones I wanted him to wear   To top it all off, he’s kind of boring to be with after a few hours (he’s older than I am).   I love the guy, but I’m not sure what to do about this situation.  He calls me his girlfriend, and knows I’m the one for him.  What’s your advice here?
 – Ginny C., MA

Dear Ginny,

You may not like what I’m going to say to you, but I cannot hold back (and I’ll start by way of an old saying: “You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”).

I’m going to basically ignore the long-distance situation you have, because I see a bigger obstacle to your satisfaction in this relationship.  I typically discourage long-distance relationships, but that’s for another ATC issue.

As a woman who is looking to attract the right man, you’ve got a couple of critically important jobs in that process:

1)    Know who you are, as well as what you want in a man (it sounds like you do);
2)    Observe – and be willing to see – the truth about the men you’re attracting…without trying to influence or change them in any way.

Why is that 2nd one critical, you may ask?

Well, look at it this way:  if you’re able to sway a man’s behavior in the beginning, you’ll be having a relationship with who that man is trying to be to please you.

Your risk (and it’s a huge one) is that he’s going to slide back to being who he really is, once you’re in the relationship.  If who he really is isn’t what you wanted, that’s not going to go well, is it?

Think about what this would lead to:

1)    You’re already attached and will have a much harder time letting go;
2)    You’re liable to become resentful, if not downright bitchy, because you feel so disappointed and maybe angry that he’s not being who he was in the beginning;
3)    He’s going to be hugely confused (or angry, or mean, or withholding) because he’s just been himself, and you chose him, so that must have meant that you accepted him, right?
4)    You will have gathered evidence (yet again) that men (won’t be there for you; leave you; let you down; don’t care…fill in yours here.).

There are probably even more consequences, but those are the ones that jumped out at me.

So what do you need to do?

1)    The first order of business is to remember that there are good men everywhere…steer clear of “lack” mentality, which is a surefire recipe for settling for less than you want.
2)    Never go anywhere near men without your “blueprint”, as I like to call it (the qualities you require, and the vision you have for the relationship), so that you can keep your wits about you and hold to the path that will lead you to the right man.
3)    Make sure you’re keeping yourself “honest” about what you’re seeing and learning about men you’re meeting/dating – keep your eyes open, and don’t fall into “wishful thinking”, which could cause you to miss things.  Reality is your friend here.
4)    The minute you know that a man is not a fit for you, set him free (I don’t mean that you get up in the middle of dinner – wait until you’re through, and then be through!).
5)    Have this be your favorite four-letter word in dating: N-E-X-T.

Not only do you do yourself a terrible disservice by dating a man who is clearly not a fit for you, you also do a terrible disservice to him.  If you’re with him, it’s reasonable for him to assume you accept him.  And you don’t.

You both deserve to be with partners who think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Move on, and give both of you a chance to find those wonderful mates.