“Never pursue a distancer.” This was the maxim I learned in grad school couples’ therapy classes. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. How could anyone keep going after someone who doesn’t want you? I would have more self-respect!
Until I really fell in love with a lovely woman who was less in love with me. Even as she gracefully and inexorably backed away, I kept making excuses to talk to her. Maybe if she knew how I really felt…maybe if we cleared up a misunderstanding…maybe if I understood why she didn’t want me…
Needless to say, this inner chatter accomplished nothing positive, except to confirm that pursuing someone who is distancing herself from you just makes the pain a little worse, like adding more salt to a wound.
Why oh why do we do this, knowing how it will end?
It’s just hard to let go of a fantasy, a dream. Even desperate clinging to elusive hope is better than sliding into a deep hold of unloved aloneness. Until you realize your fantasy is interfering with reality, where you might find an available partner.
There are two good reasons not to chase someone who’s not reciprocating your interest. If you “lose,” you’ll feel even more rejected. If you “win,” you’ll be stuck in a pattern where you do the giving, asking, seeking, and “working on the relationship.” Your partner will continue to be elusive and uninvolved. You’re signing up for a chronic condition of feeling ignored, neglected, undernourished, and insecure. Hopefully, you want better than that.
Sometimes people say “I don’t believe in playing games. If I want someone, I’m going to tell her!” That’s great–but once you’ve told her, listen to her answer, believe what she’s saying, and have the grace to let go if it’s not what you want to hear. That’s not playing games. That’s respecting yourself, and her too. It will help you be ready for the person who’s waiting for someone like you.
Glenda Corwin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for more than twenty years. She provides gay-affirmative psychotherapy, and consults with professionals and the general public on sexual issues for women in same-sex relationships. Dr. Corwin leads weekend sexual intimacy workshops for women, and in 2007 conducted a research project investigating lesbian sexual patterns. The very positive responses to her workshops and research were the inspiration for the book Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same Sex Couples. She is currently working on a book for single women, focused on dating and sex.
The daughter of missionaries, Dr. Corwin grew up in Colombia, South America. Her background gives her a deep appreciation for diversity of cultures, languages, and human connections. She also appreciates the lovely woman who shares her life in Atlanta.
For more information about Dr. Corwin and her work, visit her website at www.DrGlendaCorwin.com.