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Evan,

I have been a fan of yours for years and have purchased many of your programs/books. I also am an avid reader of your blog and have enjoyed reading about your growth over time. Congrats on the soon to be new addition to your family! Thanks to you I do reasonably well in my dating life but recently was shocked over a conversation I had…

I met a man online and we had a nice date. He is an alpha male who seemed to still be emotionally involved with his ex so there were many red flags that had popped up for me. After talking for a few weeks after the date, he said he was concentrating on growing his business and while I was a charming woman he would like to get to know more, he didn’t feel he had time for a relationship right now. I was fine with that considering the warning bells that were going off. We remained friends and would text occasionally over the next couple of months.

We had lunch a few times. I had been looking at this as a friendship and then, yes you guessed it, he informed me I was invited over any time to have dinner and fornication. I told him I do not make a habit out of sleeping with my friends and politely declined.

A week or so later he told me he had met someone and that it felt “obvious.” I congratulated him and didn’t talk to him for 3 or so weeks. Turns out she was totally unavailable and things did not work out as he had planned. His response is what has me puzzled. He said, “Life is odd and hard to explain sometimes, but you get different vibes with different people. A small few I get a friend vibe with. A much much, much, much smaller group I get the I also trust them and would love to have sex with them! (your group, currently 1 member). Then there is the ‘I want to seriously date or partner up’ vibe. I think I felt that only twice while single, only once really strong – and that was the recent debacle that now has me jaded!”

This conversation took place a month ago and I am still pondering it in my mind. I have no desire to take things any further with him than friendship – that isn’t the problem. I have never immediately gotten an “I want to seriously date or partner up” vibe in my life! Not even with my ex-husband! Is it really that simple for men? Is their decision made after one date? I always agreed with you on the “men look for sex and find love” theory. I have almost decided this guy just trying to get me to have sex with him until someone he feels is better comes along. What do you think? —Cheryl

Cheryl,

While you (or he) might feel “in love”, these are merely feelings — feelings that correlate with a flooding of hormones in your brain — dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, testosterone, etc.

Most people are unreliable reporters of reality.

We know what we feel — and then when life smacks us in the face because our feelings don’t square with reality — we experience confusion and cognitive dissonance.

A perfect example comes from Lori Gottlieb’s excellent book, “Marry Him”. When she first met my fiancé, Lori writes, “His fiancé was cute but not gorgeous. She was 39 years old and looked her age. She wasn’t impressively accomplished. She didn’t disarm people with a rapier wit. She wouldn’t stand out in any way at a dinner party. She was, objectively, rather average. And Evan was madly in love.”

Lori thought I was supposed to be with a 29-year-old, thin, Jewish, liberal, intellectual property attorney who also wrote for the Huffington Post. Someone like Lori herself — only 10 years younger. How I could have chosen my wife was a source of consternation to this bright and talented author.

“What am I missing here? Why would a guy like that choose her?”

Your guy is experiencing his own cognitive dissonance right now.

But instead of looking for answers or talking to a coach, he’s going to just accept the fact that things didn’t add up — and go on his merry way. The definition of insanity, you know.

It’s the same thing we see on this blog all the time.

People put partners into different categories based on their feelings/passion from the first few weeks of dating, instead of considering the factors that will determine long-term success: how they spend money, where they want to live, how to raise children, how to live in the same space, how to quickly get over disagreements, how to do all the little things to make a partner happy, how to accept a partners’ flaws…

These are not things you can tell from an online dating profile. These are not things you can tell on a first date. These are not things you can tell in a month. These are not things you can tell in six months.

So while you (or he) might feel “in love”, these are merely feelings — feelings that correlate with a flooding of hormones in your brain — dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, testosterone, etc.

I know this isn’t the answer your question, Cheryl, but it’s more important than the answer to your question.

Being “in love” has little correlation to whether a couple lasts for the rest of their lives.

It’s about understanding how people operate and finding some measure of objectivity, instead of taking it personally.

Fact is, men do fall in love faster than women.

But who cares? There are way too many variables beyond being “in love” which are far better determining factors of longevity. Which is why I think this tangent is more universal and educational than the question you originally posed to me:

I have never immediately gotten an “I want to seriously date or partner up” vibe in my life! Not even with my ex-husband! Is it really that simple for men? Is their decision made after one date? I always agreed with you on the “men look for sex and find love” theory. I have almost decided this guy was just trying to get me to have sex with him until someone he feels is better comes along. What do you think?

Well, to your first question about falling in love at first sight, yes, it’s often really that simple. It doesn’t mean that love at first sight is wise; but it is that simple — a shot to the brain of love drugs and suddenly you can’t see things all that clearly.

And as far as the guy who wants to have sex with you until someone better comes along? Yeah, that’s about right, too.

If he were wiser, he may look closer to see if he can be himself with you, if you make him feel good when he’s with you, if you’re a fundamentally kind, selfless, easygoing person, if you share a vision of life that can be built together. But I’m guessing that he’s just like the vast majority of the population — driven by chemistry and wondering why things never seem to work out for him.

Let him go — and learn to understand and accept that this is the way many people operate in dating and relationships.