Lively interests make people interesting


March 06, 1994|By SUSAN DEITZ | SUSAN DEITZ,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I've been seeing a man for about six months, and I like him a lot. His job requires him to be out of town for a few months. I write to him frequently (his schedule is erratic and he's hard to reach by phone), and so far all I've gotten in return is a couple of messages on my answering machine. I miss him, and he says he misses me, too, but his behavior indicates that he barely thinks of me.

It's not that I don't trust him; I do. I just feel that this growing relationship needs a little more nurturing. How do I convince him -- without nagging or whining -- that I need more attention?

A: Your message will come across the way you want it to if you start building a life that is not tightly wrapped around him. Get out and start making friends, join groups, enroll in a course, plan a short trip, give a party. Shifting your mind to other horizons will take the pressure off this relationship and enable you to speak with cool conviction rather than sticky neediness. (You'll be doing yourself a favor, too, making your life more satisfying and interesting.)

The problem may be that your man's top priority is work, while yours is the relationship between the two of you. Before you make any speeches, though, rev up life without him, and make things happen on your own. You may discover he doesn't fill your needs and find someone whose priorities are more compatible.

Q: I am 20 years old and am having trouble deciding my sexual identity. One week I like girls, the next I like boys. With this confusion I'm having trouble finding a relationship steadier than one-night stands. All I want is to love someone and be loved in return. Can you help?

A: Smart of you to search for answers now, when you are young and flexible; gender confusion is a troublemaker because it affects so many parts of life. Talk to your family physician or your local mental health association and ask for a few appropriate referrals. Meet with them but don't make a choice until you find a counselor who is accepting and comfortable to be with. Then work hard to find out what makes you tick. That inward adventure is a must if you are to find peace of mind and the love you deserve.

Q: About a week ago I met a woman at a local beer bar (alcohol was not a factor). There is a strong mutual attraction, but she still seems apprehensive about dating. I don't want to scare her off but I am impatient for a Yes.

How can I let her know how I feel without coming on too strong?

A: Send her flowers with your phone number tucked in, and let her decide the timing of the next contact. Giving her the control will make her feel less wary and will probably raise you in her estimation, since only a confident man can relinquish control.

But know up front that this is a gamble: She may be flattered but decide to pass. Pressuring her in any way would be counterproductive, so put any follow-ups to the flowers out of your mind. Mutual attractions don't always pan out.

Q: I am 28 and recently widowed, having trouble readjusting to single life. I was married nearly four years and don't know how to act on a date anymore. Do you have any advice on how to meet men who will understand my situation? I guess it's going to take some time before I'm ready for anything serious, but I could use some friends.

A: Focusing on friends rather than prospective suitors is the better way to re-enter the single community. Be open, receptive, genuine. Get out and follow your interests and put romance from your mind for the time being. Settle into a comfortable routine, become at ease being in your own company and build a life that pleases you. The rest will follow.

Q: How can I communicate my interest in a woman without coming on too strong or weak, and without her thinking I'm giving her a line? If I tell her flat out she seems interesting, she'll think I'm being too direct; just the thought of approaching someone out of the blue gives me the chills. How can I come across as my natural self without turning her off?

A: Stop shivering and come in from the cold: Start choosing meeting places that downplay social pressure and encourage naturalness. That means hiking clubs, the Sierra Club, church singles groups, bowling groups. The woman you want is out in the world, doing the things she enjoys. She is looking for a good guy who shares her tastes. Be that man.

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