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Am I a Masochist?

Dear Mark and Sophie,

I'm sure many other women have experienced similar situations. I met this guy 6 months ago through online dating. He's 41-year-old, never married, well traveled, accomplished, intimidatingly smart and informed. He's my intellectual touchstone. I describe him as inherently nomadic and mentally unavailable, as he's actively involved with all these big international projects, one day he's in Africa, and the next he'd be in South East Asia. You could never get him! I think he enjoys that.

I don't know whether it's the fact that I'm addicted to the exquisite pain of wanting someone so unattainable, or the fact that he has reached my highest expectations everywhere else, I'm incredibly patient and compassionate about him. Between the two of us, I'm always the one taking the initiatives getting in touch, whereas he, this "big important guy", never really seems to care either-or.

It couldn't be clearer to me, or to anyone who heard this story, what I should do. Stop torturing yourself and find someone that treasures you and loves you more than you love him! I don't know if I could. I don't know how to stop caring about him, and how not to break down in tears when I think about him, or more accurately, not having him. I even tried seeing others but he's the one that really matters.

What do you think? Maybe there is no cure and I just have to follow my feelings?

A masochist

Mark's advice

Well, you put on the leathers, and I'll get the wips and chains. This is all sounding a little self-destructive to me. You aren't the kind of person who chases after married men, rock stars, internet CEO's, men who are basically un-attainable, are you? Yes you are. Admit it. You're looking for the hunt, but not the kill. As long as that person is a challenge, then bring him on. You don't want someone your equal. You want someone who's better than you. Okay. Now let's assume that person wants someone their equal. Where does that leave you? Hmmmm. After many milli-seconds of thought on this subject, I'd recommend you stay chasing this guy you can't really get. You're not going to be happy chasing someone who's easy. There will come a point in your life (when you're old and ugly), where you may have to settle for someone your equal. You don't want to spend your golden years sipping soup through your dentures all by yourself, because you were too picky before you lost your looks.

Sophie's advice

Dear Masochist,
I hate to say it again but could it be he's just not that into you? Please masochist - you sound like a very intelligent woman and you're seriously selling yourself short. Let's try a little experiment. For at least a few weeks, don't contact him - not one bit, not even an email. If he contacts you - WITHOUT any facilitation from your end, then it's time to find out from this man where things are at and where they're headed. If he does not contact you - guess what? He's just not that into you!!!! I know that you're afraid to stop calling him and want to avoid confrontation of any kind for fear of losing him, but you cannot lose something you never had in the first place...You DESERVE a full-time partner. I know this, your friends know this but that insecure person inside of you (you know, the one you never let see the light of day) does not know this. It's time to fill her in. And there is a cure to chasing the unattainable man - it's called self-respect. Having said that, sometimes you just have to be gentle with yourself, realize that you are in this position to learn things and let it play out until you are tired enough of it and have reached your bottom. Cry when you can, deal with it and if you wish to play it through longer than you already have, do so. You are smart enough to eventually move on and you will be ready for it.

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This comment is coming from someone who has been down that road SO MANY TIMES... I honestly can't imagine not perceiving any attractive (to me) man in a way that presents me as his peer. [more] I want you, Masochist, to consider, if you haven't already, writing down EVERYTHING you experience in a diary. Not just once a day ~ EVERY TIME you have an emotion about an important man for any reason, write it down. I have become connected to a fella who REMINDS me of every other guy I couldn't have but really wanted. The difference with this one is that he actually IS interested, but the SIMILARITY is in his busyness. I react to him with the same apprehension and self-condemnation as I had to his predecessors because I can't let myself love. I can't lower those walls. If I did, I'd have to face how imperfect and needy I see myself to be. I CANNOT believe my guy friend doesn't see me as a pest, so I start reliving every bad experience and projecting it onto him. Fortunately I briefed him on this situation early into knowing him, so he's aware it's not his fault or responsibility to take care of me. Incidentally, we have 'us' photos taken by a mutual friend who winks at me whenever she sees us around each other. Nice pix too.. but I digress. Well - no, not really: the physical proof of my currently GOOD relationship is my only real anchor to what I can trust about him. It's been a year, and we have this sort of 'puppy love' way about us. He's always been a busy guy but is frequently on msn, so I can reach him. Granted, I too have been the initiator. However, for New Year's Day he took charge and brought me to a party as his 'date'. Very different behaviour since all year he'd been passively mild. This was exciting. The pix remind me I have grown. Still, the old stuff plagues me. When he's preoccupied and not acting as connected, I panic. I remember all those awful feelings, and it's ALL I can do to not scream at him. It is not his fault. He's been fair, patient and kind to me. I got in a bad mood the other day and explained it, tho' I basically believe he just chalked it up to one of my sporadic baggage-moods. The point, after you've made it this far, is that even when you DO meet a guy who surprises you with mutual companionship and apparent interest, you WILL expect the past to repeat itself. Be prepared for it, but know this one thing (AND MAKE IT PART OF YOUR GUT) - we attract our emotional equals. If you find a good, decent guy who likes you for you, it is because you have grown beyond the masochism. You won't believe it yet, but it's true. Tell him he's separate from what you will feel inside due to your history, but make a decision to never blame him for what scares you. Hugz, Kim.