Distance can be a sign that the person you love isn’t into you. But sometimes, being into you isn’t enough for a happy relationship.

 

Tara KrebsThere is a question that many, many women ask themselves. It haunts them in the night, like a ghost, and not the sexy kind of ghost that occasionally inhabits Whoopi Goldberg. The scary kind of ghost.

The haunting kind.

Is he actually into me?

The Good Men Project posted an article yesterday called Is He Really ‘Just Busy’ or Not That Into Me? A woman asks whether the man she’s seeing has hidden motives for saying that he’s had a hectic day at work and that’s why he isn’t responding to her. The implication in her question is that this is a pattern, not a one-time occurrence. Could it be that, secretly, he’s not that into her?

My answer is: it doesn’t matter if he’s actually busy. Dump him.

If your partner isn’t making time for you, don’t make time for them. A person too busy to surround you with feelings of love and safety is fine if you want a hollow relationship; the trappings of partnership without the really good stuff. For a different woman who needs less quality time with her man, Mr. Busy might be the perfect match. Maybe he provides things that she really needs, like material security or shared future plans.

But if you want to feel loved and safe, Mr. Busy has already shown that he isn’t going to make it happen. Everyone has different needs in a relationship, and he has shown you that he cannot meet yours.

This has nothing to do with how much he likes you, or even loves you. Different people simply have different things to offer, and different needs, in relationships. I stayed with a guy for years despite him being genuinely too busy to meet my emotional needs, because he loved me. He was giving me all sorts of love, but it wasn’t the love I needed, which was simply for him to be present with me. He couldn’t do that because he was always so exhausted from being so busy all the time.

Eventually I realized that love does not equal satisfaction in relationships. Despite loving him too, I had to leave. I left much better equipped to communicate what I need in a relationship. You can too!

Having interests, commitments and accomplishments outside of a relationship are vital. A person isn’t worth your time romantically if you aren’t just the center of their world, but the entirety of it. That doesn’t change the facts of your needs, or your partners’ ability to provide for them. This goes both ways – no self-respecting person is going to want to be in 24 hour constant contact with you. If you feel that you need massive outside reinforcement, it may be based on unacknowledged insecurities within yourself. Needing a partner to make you feel ok means you aren’t ready for a relationship, full stop.

Sometimes people are genuinely busy. And every so often, all men must retreat into the infamous ‘Man Cave’. He gets a faraway look in his eye, doesn’t really respond to what you say, and needs time alone for a few days. From my experience, that’s as much part of being a man as menses is part of being a woman. Part of being in any relationship is patience, flexibility and understanding. Everyone needs space to recharge and be by themselves sometimes.

Many young people – myself included, though thankfully I’ve outgrown this – will bend over backwards to try and make relationships work. I’ve seen so many young women do this—every single one of my girlfriends. We compromise way, way too much. We agree to terms that we actually aren’t comfortable with. We think we’re doing what’s necessary to make a relationship work, or to make this guy like us, or keep him happy.

Instead, we’re making really happy relationships impossible for ourselves. To feel safe, we have to be comfortable. To be present and authentic in love, we have to be honest. It’s scary as shit for men because they’re taught that having genuine emotional needs makes them weak. And it’s scary as shit for women because we’re told that men are infantile morons who are scared of real women and real love; like easily startled deer, who must be approached slowly, carefully, with complex subterfuge… and then BAM! The fish is in the mixed-metaphorical boat!

The thing is, most guys aren’t actually like that. Sure, there are some who are not looking for a relationship and will lie about that to get you into bed. But for each of those, there are about 99 who want very much to love someone and be loved honestly in return. The only way to weed the awful ones out – and the great ones who just don’t have what you need – is to be honest, right from the start.

Men: be clear about what you want. Be even more clear about what you want to provide. And if the woman you care about is denying her real feelings to try and please you, remind her that you like her, not her ability to placate. Remind her that she is safe with you, and that you care for her.

Then she won’t have to wonder if you’re into her or not.

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Great news! This is now a featured article at The Good Men Project. I love those guys!