Dear Neil: I am in a stable dating relationship, which I very much sought and wanted. But after two years of living together, I find myself looking at all the hot men that come into the restaurant I work at, wondering whether I should make myself available in order to date them. Recently, I was asked by one such man for my phone number, and I told him that I was in a steady relationship and wasn't available, but then I thought about it for days, thinking that perhaps I had made a mistake by turning him down.
There is nothing wrong with the man I have been seeing over the past two years. He is kind, generous, affectionate, loyal, trustworthy and easy to be with, and yes, we have broached the subject of getting married at some point down the line. So why am I looking at other men - and sometimes salivating over them? Is this a sign that I'm not ready to settle down or that, perhaps, I'm with the wrong man?
Attracted to Others
in San Francisco
Dear San Francisco: If you're alive and you have a pulse, you will find yourself sometimes erotically attracted to other people. Almost everyone does, even those in committed relationships and/or marriages. Even older people who have been married forever. Of course, it takes self-restraint to not act on those impulses and desires because doing so would seriously violate the trust and closeness you have with your current partner.
What you're leaving out of this discussion is what real life feels like in a stable, intimate relationship. Sooner or later, the hotness of a new relationship diminishes. There's something about daily life - laundry, paying bills, cleaning up, mowing lawns, shopping for food, cooking meals, handling broken windows or torn screens - that is decidedly unsexy. Almost everybody experiences this, and that's when people talk about having to work at romance, closeness and connection - often for the first time in their relationship - because it takes very little effort when you're courting each other.
People fantasize about other hotties largely because their relationship has lost some of its romance and erotic allure, and a hot stranger is easy to project your fantasies onto. But you don't know this dreamy stranger, and you don't know whether he would also be kind, affectionate, loyal, trustworthy and easy to get along with. And even if he were, once you get to know him and settle into a more stable domestic routine with him, you'll likely wind up with the same feelings you have right now, and even then, you'd still be attracted to other men.
You're describing your two-year relationship as appealing and desirable, so you have something worth fighting for and preserving. It would be a shame for you to throw away a great relationship for someone you don't know - and who may not measure up to the man you already have.
Dear Neil: I divorced my husband of 25 years and am now ready to date again. But the world has changed since I last was in the dating scene, and I don't know how to navigate it. Several friends have told me that one of the most common places for people to meet each other is on online dating sites. Might you have any suggestions for how to write an eye-catching online dating profile?
Looking Again in Vancouver
Dear Vancouver: I have several suggestions. First, accurately describe your body type, height, age, profession, education and whether you have children living at home with you. Many women make the fatal mistake of misrepresenting their age and body type, and if you do so, you risk that the man you're meeting on a first date will be let down or disappointed when he first meets you. Also, you're looking for a possible relationship, and it's never good to start a potential relationship with a lie. For the record, men most frequently lie in their profiles about their income/financial status and about their height.
Second, describe yourself in some detail. What do you enjoy? Dancing? Tennis? Travel? Antiques? Describe those activities. Where do you like to travel to? Are you a good tennis player? How good? What's unique or different about you that somebody else might find interesting or amusing?
Third, post good photos of yourself, with at least one being a close-up face shot and at least one being a full-body shot. Don't put in photos of your children, family members or your pets - a man might meet them later, but he's not going to choose you because of them. Make sure your photos are recent - again, you don't want a potential suitor to be disappointed when he meets you.
Forth, use humor if you can pull it off.
Fifth, what is romance to you? Describe it.
Sixth, what are you looking for? A casual relationship? A friend/companion? Marriage? Children? Say what it is you're looking for, so a man can know up front whether he fits that description.
Don't spend a lot of time writing each other back and forth. It's all wasted energy until you meet each other and can determine if there's chemistry and mutual attraction. If either of you find that you're not attracted to the other, the relationship is likely to fail no matter how good your connection is. So develop thick skin because virtually everyone gets rejected some of the time. Hopefully, you will also find what you're looking for.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 19th year of publication, and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: www.heartrelationships.com.