Q: “A man that I am extremely attracted to has been flirty, then distant, flirty than distant. I told him how much I would like to get to know him and he told me he will reach out when he’s ready. I’m heart broken! Not sure if I should take that as good bye. So confused!” — Dee T.
Love tug-of-war. It’s no fun at all.
And, apparently it’s top of mind, because I have received 8 questions via the ask page similar to Dee’s in the last month. This got me thinking…and reading. And the conclusion I came to?
Maybe hurts a heck of a lot more than no.
“In those years, the maybes of men grow more and more exhausting. Eventually you realize that you can just be alone. It gets less scary, but more importantly, the alternative, the maybes, suck. That their maybes are a lukewarm shower. You learn the pain of lukewarm. Of guys or girls that kind of want to see you but keep you on hold while they weigh their options. You learn that maybe hurts more than no.”
To clarify, this applies to both men and women. Men say maybe. Women say maybe. We all say maybe.
So, where do we go from here? Obviously, we can limit our use of maybe. We now know that it hurts people — so just be clear, why don’t ya! Do you like lukewarm showers?
However, not everyone you date will read this article. Maybe they don’t know the damage of a maybe. In those cases, I make one argument.
Nobody has time for that!
The next time someone tells you maybe, consider it a no and move on.
Don’t you want to be someone’s “yes!”?
I also heard from Jack via the ask page on this topic. He shared about an on-and-off romance with a childhood friend. Over the last 15 years, Jack’s friend has initiated a relationship and then retreated abruptly after a certain intimacy was reached. Upon retreat, she always expressed a maybe for the future. Another reader, Elizabeth, submitted a shockingly similar tale as well.
There are a host of reasons why someone might say maybe, instead of no. However, in these cases I believe the cause is truly insurmountable.
It’s called Commitment Phobia.
There is nothing you can do to make a relationship work with someone who doesn’t actually want a relationship (consciously or subconsciously). Retreating immediately after intimacy (sex and/or emotional closeness) is classic commitment-phobe behavior. If you are hearing “maybes” from someone who exhibits any of these indicators, run for the hills.
Sidenote: This is not to say that everyone who says “maybe” to you is a commitment-phobe. It’s also possible (of course) that they’re dating multiple people and not feeling those monogamy sparks with you.
Either way, maybe maybe should be taken as a no.
Choose to date people who are psychologically prepared to be a loving, consistent partner for you. You know that phrase love is pain. I don’t think that’s true. Love should be shared and enduring. You should feel like you can depend on those you love.
And the one thing I know for certain – you can’t depend on maybe.
Valerie Presley Ackler