Carolyn Hax: If pursuit is his game, don’t bother playing

Carolyn Hax
Columnist July 18

Adapted from a recent online discussion .

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

A guy I dated for about three months ended things a few weeks ago because, in his words, I didn’t let him “pursue” me enough (read: I got too invested too quickly, and started contacting him more than he was comfortable with). He said that he cared about me very much, but that he wanted to feel that the person he was with was a bit “hard to get.” I was sad, but understanding, and I ended all contact.

Right on cue, after about two weeks of no contact from me, he started calling, texting and e-mailing again and eventually wanted to meet up for drinks.

This seems so on the nose (I didn’t call, so he suddenly felt ravenous for me again) that it’s almost insulting. Then again, I know it’s commonly believed that guys/people love to pursue, so maybe I did do the wrong thing by denying him that opportunity before. What do you think? Give him a second chance, or let go on general principle?


(Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

Pursuit for the Sake of Pursuit?

“It must have been LARP, but it’s ooover now . . .

This whole love-to-pursue thing — what do people do with it once they’ve committed to each other? Do they demand/promote an aura of mystery in their shared home? All body noises and hygiene rituals get rushed discreetly into locked, soundproof bathrooms? All unsightly ailments get immediately quarantined and tended to by hired nurses? All calls and texts go unreturned for a time — not a fixed amount, but instead on a random-reward system to maximize cravings?

Yes, pursuit is a rush, a two-person amusement park. But it’s better at teaching you about yourself than it is at bringing you closer to others, because it’s not about the other person; it’s about what the other person does for you. Fine to learn on, but otherwise pretty thin.

If it’s life companionship you ultimately want, and you’d rather stick yourself with pins than play the izzy-gonna-call game, then pass. True partnership is about finding someone you get along with so well, and find so beautiful inside, that the outside is just a pleasing window to the good stuff. It’s about the “what” of wanting to be with someone to the extent that the “how” is beside the point. You will call or text or stop by, s/he will call or text or stop by, whatever, it’s a foregone conclusion that you had a really nice time last night and one of you will initiate some sort of communication soon.

If you’re up for a game, then fine, give him his second chance — he might grow up to be a lovely person someday. But go into it knowing this: He isn’t calling because he realized his error in breaking up with such a great person. He’s calling because he gave you strict instructions on how to hold his attention, and this is your reward for following them to the letter. Instructions that include wanting him but pretending you don’t. Barf.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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