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Connect The Spots

Nine months ago, I started secretly dating an out-of-town coworker, only seeing him when business brought him to the city. Company rumors pegged him as a big player, so I wasn’t surprised when he said he’d just come out of a relationship, and only wanted a casual fling. Having just ended a relationship myself, this sounded ideal. We kept it light and fun. When months went by between his visits, I wrote him off with no hard feelings. But, when work brought him back, something had changed. We spent hours just talking. He started calling me constantly. He sent me a plane ticket, and I visited him. He says he’s falling in love with me, but rumors about him persist. Even his driver told me what a womanizer he is: on the phone telling one girl how much he misses her, then saying the same thing to the next girl on the line. I don’t want to get hurt, but I’m falling for him. If he is a player (and I gave him a “no strings attached” fling) why would he pursue a real relationship? Am I naive to proceed?

--Play It Again

There comes a time in a player’s life when the existential emptiness of meaningless sex with a different woman every night leaves him longing for more. That’s generally when the player expresses special feelings for one particular woman, hoping to make a more profound connection with another human being -- while continuing to sneak out for the existential emptiness of meaningless sex with lots of other human beings.

Just because a player’s found love doesn’t mean he’s going to stop looking for it. Perhaps that’s why there’s an aspiring Annette Bening in every woman. Bening is more than a movie star -- she’s the woman who turned Warren Beatty into Ward Cleaver. It’s the ultimate female ego-polisher, to be the one who had what it took to tame the beast. The truth is, there’s no woman fabulous enough. Only the beast can tame the beast. Maybe he grows weary of sales-pitching a different “what’s her name” into bed every night. Maybe age puts a muzzle on his screaming hormones. Eventually, he might start wanting a relationship enough to stop living according to the principle “if it moves, is female and under 75, try to have sex with it.” Of course, he could also be one of those guys who wants it all -- a wife and a revolving harem -- plus the luck and skill to maintain it all without getting chopped into little pieces in divorce court.

Remember, the road to this guy’s bed is paved with good intentions, all of which probably sounded sincere at the time. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll keep his pants on -- and an even better chance if you Krazy Glue his zipper. In other words, if you can’t live with infidelity, you’re contemplating a life with the wrong guy. Forget telling him how you feel. It’s a player’s job to tell you what you want to hear. Nothing he says proves he’s boyfriend material; only that you slipped past his finely honed psychological defenses, probably by not putting up an offense. The way you play this, if you’re willing to take your chances, is absolutely expectation-free. If visions of diamonds and forever dance before your eyes, inform them that your establishment doesn’t have a cabaret license just yet. Should you apply for one? Time will tell. In fact, a year down the road, it should be very clear -- whether this was the summer the leopard changed his spots, or whether he just got really, really tan.

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.