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Falling for the Attached: What to Do if He’s Unavailable


Our instincts, we’re told, are there to protect us, but sometimes we just want to go against them. Case in point: when we feel we’ve found that “perfect match” in a guy, only for our gut to tell us he’s already with someone else and, really, not so perfect after all. Hearing this tug-of-war tale one too many times, sex and relationship expert Ian Kerner lets us know what we should do when our instincts are telling us “no” and our hearts are telling us “yes.”
Dear Ian:
I have a feeling that this amazing guy I met is also seeing someone else but he hasn’t said for sure. Should I wait for him to tell me? And even if he is taken—is it wrong to pursue him anyway?
Let me tell you a little story—a modern update of that classic ever-so-quaint Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, blah, blah, blah blah–(I don’t know about you, but life seems a little more complicated these days).
In our real-world version, Unattached Girl falls for Attached Guy. Attached Guy expresses interest in Unattached Girl; they start “hanging out” together. Meanwhile Unattached Girl begins to develop, guess what—feelings of attachment. Now comes the cliffhanger: will Attached Guy become unattached from his attachment in order to become re-attached to the Unattached girl? If you’re as confused as that last sentence, then let me make it clear—THAT IS NOT A CLIFF YOU WANTING TO BE HANGING OUT ON!!
Look, in all seriousness, if you met an “amazing” guy, but you have a feeling that he might be attached to someone else then maybe, just maybe, he’s not so amazing. Maybe he’s not even halfway decent. In fact, maybe he’s despicable, duplicitous and setting you up for heartbreak.
Now perhaps you think I’m being too harsh, and that he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Fine, but what about you? What do you deserve—how about a guy who’s honest, straightforward and capable of making a commitment? So don’t give him the benefit of anything, because the only thing he might give you back is a whole lot of bull. And in the battlefield of dating and mating, the only one watching your back is you.
The truth is you’ll never know if you don’t ask. So don’t put it off—the longer you wait the more involved you get. Maybe he’ll tell you he’s unhappy, or in the process of breaking up and becoming “unattached.” Fine. He might really be telling the truth. But maybe he’s not unhappy. Maybe he’s perfectly content in his committed relationship, but looking for some action on the side. Trust me, there are so many guys who talk the talk without the slightest intention of ever walking the walk. So play it safe and tell him to give you a call when he’s disentangled and available.
And let me be clear: Don’t get sexually involved with him—the desire for sex plays heavily into the reward centers in the male brain. Lust and the pursuit of sex lay the foundation for romantic love. Lust is the precursor to romantic love, but if you hook up too quickly then lust doesn’t have chance to blossom. If you start hooking up with him, then you’re just letting him have his cake and eat it too. And guess who the cake is?
So go ahead: trust your gut and let him know your suspicions: who knows? Maybe he’ll smile, tell you you’re paranoid and then lean in for a kiss.
But before you lock lips, remember: even paranoids have their enemies.
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