I have met this guy who thinks I hung the moon. He is considerate, calls me everyday, sees me often, shares his thoughts and feelings with me and wants to make me happy. I like him too and think this could grow into something but I am not moving as fast emotionally as he is. He says he is “smitten” with me. I have told him I like him, and the qualities he has that I appreciate including how he treats me. We have similar views on religion, politics and interests in common, we have chemistry. How can I let him know I am not as “deep” into the emotional “love” feelings at this point as he is without discouraging him or making him feel bad?
When you become so gooey with love that you literally think a person could do no wrong, you blind yourself to reality and open up to getting very hurt.
It feels a lot better when you’re the one who is smitten, doesn’t it? Because as we’ve discussed before, the moment you become smitten with someone, you cease being a critical thinker.
Suddenly, this guy is under the impression that he is dating the person who hung the moon. What a feeling! The person who hung the moon couldn’t be selfish, or jealous, or flaky, or emotionally distant. And if she is, who cares? She’s with me!
The flaw in this type of thinking is twofold:
First, idealizing someone is patently dangerous. When you become so gooey with love that you literally think a person could do no wrong, you blind yourself to reality and open up to getting very hurt. This is the pain I caution against when we talk about “passion”. Great feeling; rarely good for you in the long run.
As we saw in our last reader letter, a man’s passion pushed his wife into a quietly suffering relationship. Now he’s with a woman who feels trapped, who wants out, who silently (or not-so-silently) resents him for what she feels is a mediocre marriage. I think it’s a very telling tale about the clarity of passion.
Which is just a long, roundabout way of saying the old cliché, “love is blind”.
The other flaw in the blindness of passion is how it makes the other person feel when it’s not reciprocated. The guy who calls four times a day, buys you flowers every week, and is already talking marriage after a month is great – if you feel the exact same way about him. But when a guy moves much faster than a woman emotionally, the woman is almost always inclined to respect him a little less and pull away a little more. Same goes the other way around, which is why it’s not considered great dating form to talk about where you’d like to get married on date 2 or your kids’ names on date 4.
Now what makes this question a little more interesting to me is that I know Carol well. She’s a former star client of mine, who keeps me up on her progress, and posts on my Facebook page. Moreover, she’s in her early 60’s and is naturally very good at attracting and understanding men. Thus, her dilemma is no surprise – this kind of thing happens to folks like her all the time.
And if you’re going to deal with this in a way that’s consistent with the rest of your personality, Carol, you are best served by being authentic and vulnerable with him. The next time you have an amazing evening and he tells you he loves you, sit him down and tell him the truth:
More likely than not, he’ll tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy…and then start smothering you again. That’s the thing about smitten people; they just can’t help themselves.
I like you. I like how you treat me. We have similar views on religion, politics and interests in common, we have chemistry. I’m just not as “deep” into the emotional “love” feelings at this point as you are. And while I don’t want to make you feel bad, I just thought you should know that we’ll have a lot better chance as a couple if we take things a little slower and give my feelings a chance to catch up to yours.
He may be momentarily stung, but probably not too bad. More likely than not, he’ll tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy…and then start smothering you again. That’s the thing about smitten people; they just can’t help themselves.
But as we’ve discussed privately, this is a far better problem to have than the alternative: 500 variations on He’s Just Not That Into You that we deal with all the time here. Thanks for sharing a positive story of a man’s ability to be devoted, and your patience with giving him a chance.