relationship_coach_20110527.jpgHi, Miss Aileen,

I met this guy some months ago while we were reviewing for the board exam. He's from a province where culture and religion are very essential elements of their personality. I, on the other hand, was born and raised here in Manila. He’s very shy and simple while I am an extrovert and somehow extravagant. Although our differences were pretty apparent, we grew close and became good friends. There were times when we would stay up all night just talking about random stuff until the wee hours of the morning. On his last night here in Manila, we found out that he failed the exam. Our relationship turned physical that night--the first and last time it happened. He confessed that he liked me and would like to get to know me further.

We kept on communicating even after he returned home and our “relationship” became deeper. He came back to Manila to take the exam again, and we saw each other frequently during this time. But he decided to start his working career in his hometown. A few days after he went back home, and his efforts in communicating waned. I was so confused and depressed that one night when we were chatting, I told him that I felt we have gone past the boundaries of friendship. My heart broke when he told me that he just wanted to be my friend and he never saw me as someone more than that.

I don’t understand how he thought that was possible. I don’t want to believe it but I don’t want to give myself false hopes either. Was I just assuming or is there a deeper reason for his reaction?

(name changed to protect the identity of the writer)

Dear Zeny:

First of all, I’d like to give you a hug.

So many women have been in this same situation, and it’s something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. (Or maybe we would because it’s just that painful.) I’d like to congratulate you, though, for having the courage to take this next step forward and this effort you are making to learn from your experience in order to move on.

Too many people go through the same relationship mistakes over and over again because they never bother to learn from their experiences. And although these lessons may sometimes be painful to accept and face, really acknowledging them and taking them to heart will at least ensure that you won’t need to experience the same thing again.

In this situation, you will need to remember two very important lessons about men and relationships:

LESSON 1: Men and women fall in love for very different reasons.

We already know men and women are different. We know it in our heads, but we often forget it in the application.

For women, spending time together, being there for each other, spending long hours in deep conversation with each other, and--yes--having sex with someone can make us feel closer to a person, and these are often enough to make us “fall in love.” Especially the sex part, as studies have shown that the “bonding hormones” released in a woman’s body during sex can stay there for months. Which explains why a woman might cling to a guy she had sex with and feel like he’s “the love of her life” when she would readily have had a different opinion about him if she didn’t have all those hormones messing up her judgment.

On the other hand, men don’t experience the same bonding with a partner when they have sex. In fact, it works the other way around: Sex with a woman only becomes a big deal for a man when he’s already deeply in love with and committed to her.

Sex by itself does not make a man fall in love, and neither does “always being there for him.” Instead, a man “falls in love” after a gradual process of him finding you physically attractive, experiencing more confidence and feeling “more of a man” when he’s around you, recognizing you as someone important in his life that he’d enjoy making an effort for, and then deciding (in his mind) that he is at a stage where he’s ready and willing to commit to you.

If you review the progression of your friendship in this light of “what makes a man fall in love,” however, you might realize that there were some important elements that got skipped over, or maybe even hurried. In the end, the answer is simple: he decided he wasn’t in love.

LESSON 2: A man's inclination to value you and/or pursue a relationship with you is directly proportional to how much you value yourself.

Your guy most likely had no idea why he wasn’t seeing you as “relationship material” either. Most of us really don’t understand why we do the things we do or feel the things we feel while we’re in the middle of an emotional situation--unless, of course, you’re actively working to understand these things (like if you’re working with a coach while you’re dating, for example).

But here’s a quick inside peek into a good guy’s subconscious mind:

  • When a woman is giving him too much, too soon (and yes, having sex with him has a lot to do with this) and he knows perfectly well that he hasn’t really done much to deserve it, he will assume that she gives away the same amount of herself to any guy, not just him.
  • Even if a guy was already falling in love with you, this imbalance (you giving him too much, him knowing he hasn’t earned it) will unconsciously make him realize you’re not that valuable--simply because the situation is telling him you don’t value yourself.

This makes him think twice about his feelings and subsequently back off. It’s harsh, I know, but you’ll recognize this truth when you flip the table:

Imagine a guy giving you a house, a car, a laptop, a cellphone, and a marriage proposal at a stage when you know for sure that he doesn’t know the real you quite yet, and you know it’s still way too early to think it could be real love. Would his generosity make you feel more attracted to him, or would it make you rethink how much he values himself, and make you want to take a step back?

The ways that men and women can give too much, too soon differ, but the end result is the same: a relationship is that isn’t balanced or paced right very rarely works out.

The good news, though, is that you’re now free to make a clean start with someone who may be more ready to value and love you. And as long as you keep these lessons in mind, then chances are, your next courageous leap into love will have a much happier ending this time.

Tell me how it works out.
-- Aileen

(Photo by ~ Erebos via Flickr Creative Commons)

Want to get in touch with Aileen Santos, the Relationship Coach? Here’s how:

If you'd like to send me a comment, a question, or a problem for me to work with in these e-letters—or even a success story!—then please e-mail me at I'm so sorry that I won't always be able to respond directly and personally to your letter, but I ABSOLUTELY WILL READ YOUR LETTER.

I would also love to answer it in detail in this column and to turn your letter and my answer into books and articles that can help thousands of other women who find themselves in the same situation. (Please let me know if you'd like me to just read your letter and not answer it here; otherwise, I'll change the names and some details and go for it.)

To help me write a truly helpful answer, please keep your e-mail in a simple format:
1. One or two paragraphs only, please, and
2. Be as specific as you can—the details help me really get a feel for your unique situation.

Please also feel free to click on the “share” and “like” buttons above so you can share these insights with your friends—they’ll love you for it!

DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this column is an expression of opinion and is not to be construed as legal, medical, or professional advice. This material may only to be used for personal entertainment purposes.

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