Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Are You A Romantic Freeloader?

Some do whatever it takes for a night on the town.

23 year old actress Erin Wotherspoon wowed the blogosphere this week with her admission that she is a romantic freeloader. "I've got a pretty face and a pretty extensive Urban Spoon wishlist. We all know that getting what you want in life can be tough. Which is why I've decided to let someone else finance my dreams. My dream? To eat in pretty restaurants without costing me a penny," Erin confided in her personal blog.

Extreme? Sure. But Erin serves as a good example of a general trend. For men to grasp the concept of the unusual case of Erin, they must understand that generally speaking, women do not like to be alone. There are formal dances, holiday parties, office and family get-togethers, club, debutante and sorority functions and Friday and Saturday date nights that demand an escort. They simply need somebody to be that guy. They may even decide you are boyfriend material, but if you don't make the cut for the part-time or permanent position, they will begin to look elsewhere for suitable candidates. They may be still dating you, but that loving feeling is slip sliding away.

Adolescent boys and men need to understand that taking someone to the Homecoming dance or a nightclub doesn't mean true love forever. Accept the concept that 99% of your dates will end up short of matrimony or a long-term relationship and enjoy them for what they are—a chance to go out, have a fine evening, polish up your conversation and dancing skills and live for the moment. 

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Men need to realize that popular and skillful women may be cultivating future candidates even as they are currently dating you. These women can theoretically never be without an escort if they carefully end one dating relationship as they begin another. At this point many men will rage at being used. But the truth is, dating was originally meant to be used... as a tool to determine compatibility, not to force a relationship into an artificial intimacy by pretending you have found your soul mate for life.

Rushing into a serious physical union with someone you barely know (becoming "joined at the hip") can lead to possessive relationships with a partner who doesn't know how to bow out gracefully. Men and women should date to get to know someone with no strings attached and when the relationship ends they should not  resent it. If both parties are not satisfied with a superficial dating relationship, they should be free to leave it at any time without guilt. Unfortunately, inappropriate affection creates a false bond that then makes it difficult to break without hurt feelings, bitterness or even stalking. Don't become bogged down with someone who isn't right for you so you are stuck when the right one comes along. By getting to know someone before you become physically involved with them, dating can be used to secure what so many of us want:  a serious, long-term, committed relationship that may lead to marriage.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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