Dear Harry and Louise:
I am single, in my thirties, and dating. My guy friend says it takes six weeks. That is, after six weeks you’ll know if you can have a strong connection with someone. I am very attracted to the guy I recently started dating, but I must admit we don’t necessarily have a lot to talk about. We look forward to seeing each other, and we have a great time when we’re together; we especially enjoy cycling together. But the talking is often not there. The conversations are so brief that I’m not sure when, if ever, they’re going to take off. Am I worrying too much about this? My instinct is to enjoy the ride, but my guy friend (who has much more dating experience than I) says that if we haven’t found our groove in six weeks, then it’s hopeless.
What do you think?
Adrift in Arlington
• • •
Wow! Your guy friend might be on to something, akin to a Charles Atlas guide applied to dating. Rather than “Great abs in six weeks!” it could be “Speed dating in six weeks or say goodbye!”
Which is to say, your guy friend is full of hot air. To put a limit on the time it takes to establish a relationship is ludicrous. Love at first sight happens for the lucky few. For many happy couples, love sprang from long-time friendships. There is no telling when that deep connection and frothy feeling around the heart that we call love will sweep you away.
Examine your own feelings. You’re “very attracted” to the guy. Great start. But you don’t seem to have great conversations. I happen to be a guy who talks a lot. (Ask Louise—she’s occasionally asked me to zip it.) But most men are not that versatile in the art of verbal communication. Perhaps your cyclist needs more time to get comfortable, to build trust, to open up. All the more reason to let this relationship find its own rhythm, its own pace. If you’re attracted to him, sex might help. Just saying. Might give you something to talk about.
On the other hand, if you need a man who will gab early and often, and your cyclist is a quiet one—and you can’t find other ways to communicate that satisfy you—then you might have to move on.
But you need more than six weeks to make that determination.
• • •
I too have heard of this six-week rule. My understanding of the legendary, prophetic nature of the rule is that you’ll know within six weeks if you want to know more about the person who has recently entered your life. I can hear the collective fists pounding at the idea of strict dating laws, and I usually agree that there is no such thing as a hard-and-fast rule. This six-week theory may have something to it, however . . . it’s just not nearly as strict as your guy friend presents it to be.
In six weeks, you may know that you’re thinking about this new person often. You’ll know if you’re curious about how his head works; you may begin to feel real attraction to him. In six weeks, you may know that he makes steam come out of your ears and yet you look forward to your next meeting. In six weeks, you may be painfully aware of an irritating idiosyncrasy, but instead of wanting to cut and run, you begin contemplating how to bring it up tactfully.
There is so much you may be feeling in six weeks, but will you have established the basis of your connection with this new person in that time? Not likely. You are both complicated, fully realized individuals who have a great deal of discovery about each other ahead of you. Revel in this time of exciting, prickly, funny, embarrassing revelations.
The conversational back-and-forth is the most beautiful part of any relationship. Your new guy may be shy, awkward, or distracted. He may be an introvert in the true sense of the word, which means he finds his energy in being alone and not surrounded by many. This introversion could manifest itself as a slow starter who chooses to open up to very few people.
If in six weeks you discover that you want to see him again, isn’t this potential gem worth exploring for at least a few more weeks?
• • •
HARRY SAYS: Like many rules, the six-week “love ’em or leave ’em” rule is useless and, in this case, potentially destructive.
• • •
LOUISE SAYS: My eyes brightened as I read your reply about the “frothy feeling around the heart,” and then my head hit the desk as I read your suggestion of how to find a topic to talk about. You crack me up, but I really hope you’re not sincerely suggesting this quiet twosome hop into the sack to create conversational fodder.
• • •
HARRY SAYS: In the name of love, why not?