Dear Dr. Binazir,
Hello! My name is Kevin and I am a senior in college. I have really enjoyed reading your Tao of Dating emails for the last few months. The advice and philosophy you offer is both constructive and life-affirming. Additionally, I am continually impressed by the respect, humility, and humor with which you communicate. In short, thank you!
Right now, I’m in the middle of a difficult situation and I trust that you more than anyone I know might be able to help.
Last spring, I met a girl who has changed my life. I noticed her immediately – she sat in front of me in the Gospel Choir and would frequently look back at me and smile/stare, never saying a word. I knew from her comportment (and the fact that she always brought her biology text to rehearsal) that she was someone with whom I could become close friends, and hopefully more. After weeks, I finally worked up the courage to introduce myself. We became fast friends. Even though we do not share mutual friends (she is a sophomore), we have gone on hikes, runs, and bike rides together. We have a meal together once every other week. This past summer, since she worked in a lab near my house, we had a wonderful picnic on the Charles River.
I am sure that this sounds very straightforward so far, but there is one major complication – she has a boyfriend. He is my age and goes to another school. They met in high school and started dating when he went to college. He and I have met and hung out together a few times, and while we are not going to become close friends, he’s definitely a decent guy. He is in love with her, but to be honest, she seems surprisingly ambivalent toward him. Even more inexplicably, she has never called him a “boyfriend” and never mentions him to me unless he is present. When she told me that he would be joining us one day over the summer, she called him “my apartmentmate.”
Over the spring and summer, things were moving on a very fast, positive trajectory. Now, with only six weeks to go before the end of the academic term, things have slowed – but not for any discernible reason. We had an hourlong breakfast two weeks ago and are planning to do a challenging dayhike with a small group next weekend. Her birthday was Tuesday, so I gave her a card. But it just seems like something is ‘off.’
Her behavior over the last week has been uncharacteristically fickle. One day she was enthusiastic and flirty and the next day she was uncommunicative and tense. In short, she seems conflicted – as if I may be both a source of happiness and confusion. (To think that I may be a cause of anxiety is a terribly frustrating thought!) If time were no object, I would take this as a signal to step back. Moreover, she will be in Spain next term and I will be in Greece for my final term in the spring. Even though we only live an hour apart (Massachusetts to New Hampshire), unless she were to break up with her boyfriend, we will likely not see each other much (if at all) after I graduate. I know that if I do not tell her how I feel soon, I will not have a second chance.
Basically, I am at a novel impasse. I have never attempted to date a girl who was in a relationship before and she is the only girl I have ever met that I would do anything to spend my life with. What should I do?
Thank you again for all your insights and in advance for your advice.
First of all, thank you Kevin for your astute observations on the nature of my work. Constructive! Life-affirming! With gobs of respect, humility, and humor! I agree. Especially the part about humility.
Tomfoolery aside — aww man. Could I write a book on this one.
Oh wait, I did. It’s called The Tao of Dating for Men. And I wrote it specifically for the brainy, overthinking, underexperienced dudes who populate the Ivy-type schools that our good man Kevin attends (he’s at Dartmouth).
This letter touches upon many themes that are relevant to the love lives of college boys, so we’re going to blunt-dissect them one-by-one, because that’s the best way to see all the components of folly that’s going on here — and destroy them in the process :)
Why does all of this sound familiar to me? Because I was Kevin not too long ago, all through college and medical school. Man what I would give to have those 8 years of my life turn out differently.
But I digress. Let’s begin with Theme #1:
1. You must get out of the scarcity mentality
This is the big no-no when it comes to college romance. Let me break it down for you: there will be a time in your life when (more…)
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Written by Ali Binazir MD MPhil on 10 January 2011