Cave Guy

Dear Steve,
1) Why don’t they call when they say they’re going to call?
2) My semi/non-boyfriend & I have a treaty whereby we each have the option of seeing other people. The problem is this: he casually mentions other women (e.g. having lunch with them) but doesn’t say anything about who they are or if such encounters are dates. And this is not in the normal flow of conversation — he definitely brings up these incidents on his own initiative.
The prevailing theory is he’s baiting me to see how I’ll react, possibly because he’s insecure about my feelings for him. So far, I’ve given no reaction nor requested further details (my view is the only way the treaty will work is if we proceed with willful blindness as to the other’s activities). I like him but we’re not ready to be exclusive (thus, the treaty). Why do you think he does this and what, if anything, do I do about it? Sure, I could just ask him, but that would be far too healthy.
– Dazed and Confused

Let’s start with the first question, which is older than the pyramids. Back in cave man times, after a caveguy and a cavechick slept together, the caveguy would say, “I’ll leave you a cave drawing, and let you know when we can get together again.” The cavechick would check the cave walls for days, but no cave drawing would appear. Finally, weeks later, she would find a cave drawing of some wooly mammoth being chased by a bunch of guys with spears. She would then try to deconstruct the meaning of the cave drawing (much like modern day archaeologists). The actual meaning of the cave drawing is, “I’m gonna be hanging with my friends, chasing water buffalo.” What does this have to do with your question? I’m not entirely sure, but I think there must be some connection.

As for question #2 – A therapist would probably agree that the healthy thing to do is just ask your semi/non-boyfriend why he mentions other women. Fortunately, I’m not a therapist. I don’t believe people generally give honest answers to that kind of question – either because they don’t want to be honest, or more likely, because they don’t know the answer themselves.

I think he’s trying to provoke you into a more serious relationship by making you jealous. I also think he’s not entirely conscious of how he feels. Your “seeing-other-people-treaty” would sound awesome to most guys, and your guy probably thinks he has a great deal. His conscious brain must be saying, “dude, you’re so friggin’ lucky – a sex-only relationship – woo-hoo!”

But on the unconscious level, he has to be thinking, “wait, isn’t a woman supposed to become emotionally attached to a guy with whom she’s having sex?” On that level, he must be thinking: “If she’s not attached to me, she doesn’t love me.” This causes emotional tension (not to mention, cognitive dissonance).

Perhaps he deals with this tension by trying to make you jealous – thus proving that you are, in fact, emotionally attached to him. For men, sex-only relationships are fun only when the woman is unhappy with the situation and would really prefer to have the man all to herself. Maybe, he keeps bringing up other women so that you’ll demonstrate how much you really do want him all to yourself. That you give no reaction and ask for no further details must really get his emotional panties in a bunch.

So let me ask you: How do you feel? Are you jealous? It sounds like you’re just annoyed. Your desire to proceed with ‘willful blindness’ suggests you don’t really care all that much about what he does or with whom he does it. If you do care, that’s a sign that you should move on to another stage of the relationship.

If you don’t care, I suggest the following: the next time he brings up another woman, tell him that it’s just too painful for you to talk about – and could he just respect your deep feelings for him by not mentioning other women. Because he’s a man and this plays to his ego, he’ll believe it. Then you can enjoy the rest of your meal, and he can go back to hunting water buffalo.

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1 Comment

Filed under Advice, Dating, Philosophy

One response to “Cave Guy

  1. Stacey

    I have a similar problem…. My non-boyfriend is getting jealous of me seeing other guys. I don’t even bring it up. He does–Repeatedly. When he does I tell him I am not going to talk about that. I also tell him, ‘you know I want to be exclusive with you’…. but he hasn’t made the same commitment… So WTF?? He gets jealous but doesn’t want commit? So strange if you ask me. I will continue seeing other guys (without going into detail with my non-bf) until he makes up his mind or I get tired of it. LOL! 😉

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