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Ring-Around-The-Ego

I'm a 22 year-old college guy with dating problems. Every time I meet a woman I want to date, it goes bust. My friends say I'm too aggressive. Recently, I met a woman I liked. After we talked on the phone a couple times, I asked her out. She told me to give her some time to think about it. I freaked out and told her that if she had to think about it, we probably shouldn't be going out. I wasn't aggressive or anything, and I took my time by going with the flow. What is it that women want? I'm ready to throw in the towel and sit on my hands.

--Gun-Shy

HELLO, GAPING Wound. I hate to dash your hopes of being chosen Zen Buddhist Centerfold Of The Month. Unfortunately, on the Richter Scale Of Laid-backness, you score much closer to those guys from the Middle Ages who earned their living dumping boiling oil on uninvited guests.

Your angry guy attitude probably stems from some painful childhood case of Ring-Around-The-Ego. Maybe, when you were six, you got left behind by your parents at a highway rest-stop. These days, whenever somebody bumps you in the abandonment issues, or even gets close, you snarl like a junkyard dog to guard yourself from revisiting that feeling you had when the station wagon zipped off into vacationland without you.

Whatever the origins of your anger, until you dig them up and start sifting through them -- preferably with a therapist's assistance -- your approach to women will continue to be about as laid-back as the lions chasing the Christians around the coliseum. You might assume you can hide your hostility; after all, it is a colorless, odorless gas, right? Wrong. Tucked deep into the double-helix of Girl DNA is special protective Hostility-Vision; (think "Anger-Cam.") It allows them to see the rage that seeps between the lines of everything angry guys say and do.

If you manage to keep your cool when a woman says she needs "time to think about" going out with you, you might discover that her reason has very little to do with you. Maybe she's just broken up with someone; maybe she's just gotten in touch with her lesbian side. Put a big Bandaid on your wounded ego and go take a couple of yoga classes. Even if they don't calm you down, you'll probably be too sore afterward to start shaking your fist at women who reject you.

Unless you also have nail-biting issues, don't bother sitting on your hands. Instead, try going into dating situations without any expectations. Just look at every woman as a possibility. If your goal is simply to have fun on your dates; even when a woman isn't interested in you, you won't take it as if she just peed on your family crest...and she, in turn, won't feel compelled to start fumbling for the number of Rent-A-Moat.

Copyright ©1998-9, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.