Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Do Some Guys Commit Too Fast?

I'm a Twentysomething. Many of my guy friends are about the same age and single. For a few of them, their lack of a significant other is absolutely unbearable -- and not just on Valentine's Day. These guys are constantly falling in love with women they barely know. One date, two dates, and then they use the "L" word after dessert and a movie.What are they thinking?I usually get a distressed phone call or text message a few days later when they can't understand why the woman they've just met (but know for sure they love) is not returning their calls. They've only left 41 messages -- and that's after another 16 hang-ups. Maybe their true love lost her cell phone? Maybe their true love lost her cell phone? No. Maybe they should drive by her house to talk personally? Heck no.After a few more weeks and a dozen more whiny messages, these relationship-needy guys get the hint -- and so does the girl: stay away from guys who fall in love before the appetizer gets cold. For the next few weeks, my brokenhearted friends mope around like the world is over. They keep asking themselves why the relationship didn't work out. They thought she was perfect. They thought she would make a great wife. They thought she would make a great mother. Mother! They haven't even met her mother. They haven't spent a Thanksgiving dinner trapped at her parents' house to see what the family is really like. Yet they pine for this goddess of love whose middle name they do not know.What has led these intelligent Twentysomething men to this position of neediness, clinginess, and recurring heartbreak? A few factors are at work.

Great expectations, instant gratification
Many Twentysomethings have grown up always getting what they want. They got the clothes they want. They got the car they want. And they're used to getting what they want immediately and on their own terms. They expect to walk into a coffee shop and get their triple-cream-mocha-latte with sprinkles made just for them. They also get their favorite DVDs delivered directly to their home, their emails forwarded to their phone, and up-to-the-minute weather bulletins displayed on their computer screen. They even have the option to get fresh groceries delivered, but they won't because they can't cook unless Mom helps.In addition to being raised on instant everything, these consistently head-over-heels-in-love Twentysomethings have huge expectations. The real world hasn't always gone the way they wanted The real world hasn't always gone the way they wanted -- instead of making CEO in a year they make 4,000 copies in a day -- but they use their 12 credit cards to fill the self-esteem gap. The one area in particular where these frustrated Twentysomethings have not yielded their expectations is meeting that special someone, falling passionately in love, and spending a lifetime traveling the world while their kid's diapers are changed by a nanny (okay, so maybe that's my dream).
Now add to this mix of high expectations and instant gratification the reality that many Twentysomethings grew up spending little quality time with their parents. Instead, they learned how to have a healthy adult relationship watching a combination of He-Man and HBO. Luckily, their parents have a chance to make up for lost time, since these Twentysomethings still live with them. But mooching off Mom and Dad can only last so long, 35 at the max, which adds to the motivation to find that special someone who knows how to wash underwear without turning it pink. All of which leads back to them rushing into love on the first date and saying so on the third.
Advice for the lovelornGuys, if you're a Twentysomething and consistently heartbroken in three dates or less, here's some advice your friends are probably too nice to give you:
Raise your standards -- having a shadow doesn't mean she's perfect for you.Start each relationship as friends.Take it slow.Recognize that someone out there is right for you.The secret to keeping that special person is to not scare them off on the first date. Make her laugh, feel comfortable, and want to hang out with you again. Give her a call a few days later, not a few times the next day. Let the relationship takes its natural course.If you're not feeling the love, move on. And if you are feeling the love, don't say it right away! Instead, invite her on another date. And maybe, just maybe, she'll tell you the L word first.

Jason Ryan Dorsey, 28 years old, is the author of "My Reality Check Bounced! The Twentysomething's Guide to Cashing In on Your Real-World Dreams."

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