Written for Soulmatch

Dating Q&A #17:

Dating Dilemma: What If He Needs to Keep Secrets?

I have a job with a federal agency that doesn’t allow me to discuss what I did or where I have been for a long period of my life. Everyone I date is always concerned about this missing past, even though I try not to let it into the conversation. I do not want to lie or create a story. How do I handle this situation? – David T., 47, Branford, Conn.

David Wygant answers: You made my life so easy; you answered your own question. I want you to look at what you wrote me. The answer is right there. If someone can’t understand your life and what you do for our country, than they don’t deserve to be with you. People have stopped trusting each other in the world and you can only be who you are. Be honest, up front and the right woman will understand and respect everything about you. Keep me posted and thanks for watching out for all of us.

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: I’m not surprised that your dates are asking, especially if it becomes obvious that you’re avoiding it. If one of my clients were dating you and became suspicious, I’d give her strong warnings about dating someone with a big secret. You have two choices – either you can make up a ‘cover story’ that tells something about what you were doing, and avoids the problem, or you can say outright that it’s a secret. For example, Superman could explain his history as “I’ve been a reporter for the Gotham Gazette for the last few years.” Or, he could say, “I’m sorry, I can’t talk about that for security reasons, but if I ever get married, I’ll tell my wife.” Surely there must be some point at which you would tell a potential wife about at least of the basics, if not the details.

The Insightful Dater answers: David, you lead a life of mystery and that can be exciting to women. The above explanation and some kind of photo ID or documentation about your connection to a Federal organization should be enough to quell inquisitive minds – without giving away State secrets or any of the info you are ordered to keep on the down low. Keep it honest and if you are telling the truth, you should be able to get over this hump with the right special person.

A kiss before good-bye

I have been on quite a few dates in the past couple of years since my last relationship, and everything goes great. There is usually even a great kiss goodnight, but then the men never call again. What is going on? – Najala R., 25, Marietta, Ga.

David Wygant answers: Dating is a numbers game and you are just playing the numbers. How many dates have you been on? There is no right number of dates till you meet the next great person in your life. Sometimes you meet someone right away and other times you need to go out on a lot of dates before you have that special wonderful connection with another person. You need to forget about the number of dates you have been on and continue to meet men till you find one that responds to you.

Keep going and if a man does not call you a few days after the date, then move on, and tell yourself that he does not deserve a great woman like you. During the dating process the less you take personally the better you will feel at the end of the week. If a man does not call then he is not on the same page as you. You need to keep going and enjoy the ride; the payoff will be worth it!

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: It’s very difficult for me to tell what’s wrong with such a little bit of information. If this is happening every time, I’m guessing that the men feel that you’re different in person than they expected, so they make the best of the first date, but aren’t interested in pursuing you further.

Seeing yourself as others see you is not easy, but I think it would be helpful here. It’s way too awkward to call up the men you’ve dated and ask them why they weren’t interested, and you probably wouldn’t get an honest answer, anyway. So, I think the only option is to ask someone you already know, preferably a male. If you are on friendly terms with a brother or male friend, or maybe even an ex, whom you trust, perhaps you could ask him to evaluate your profile, and help you compare it to the reality of you.

You can also try stepping back, reading your own profile as if it belonged to someone else, and looking for what it describes and promises. Then, compare that to what you’ve said to dates, how you’ve appeared, and how you’ve behaved. Are they similar, or are you giving two entirely different impressions? If you give your dates mixed messages, such as appearing playful in your profile, and then being very serious on the date, or vice-versa, the confusion may work against you. Or, if you’re trying too hard to please, being too perfect on the date, it may cause them to believe you’re not honest. Think of your profile as an ad, and see if your ad promises what you deliver.

The Insightful Dater answers: The first thing you should do is figure out what your relationship goals are and then make sure you are matched up to those who share them. If you are going out with guys who are not looking to get serious and you talk of wanting a husband right off the bat, it’s a quick way to insure you will never hear from them again. Conversely, if you just got out of a relationship and are looking to play the field, some men may take that as a sign you’ll flake out and they are saving themselves the headache. Try to pay attention to what you want and what those you are choosing to date are looking for – there’s got to be a clue to the pattern in there somewhere!

Serious conversation

I’ve been seeing a guy for a couple of months and would like it to get serious. I’m afraid of saying something and scaring him off. I have a difficult time just waiting to see what happens since I feel like I’m wasting my time if it’s not going turn into something, but I know that most men don’t like being pressured. My friends are telling me not to push it, keep my options open, and play hard to get. I don’t know what to do! – Christi H., 29, Austin, Texas

David Wygant answers: Tell your friends to stop giving you bad advice. Go ahead, play games and what you will get back is a relationship based on games.

Be up front with the guy and be honest. Feel free to ask him the tough questions. If you want to get serious with someone and he just wants to hang out wouldn’t it be better to find out now instead of playing a game and wasting your time?

As for being scared and saying something that scares him off, that is wasted energy, you need to be able to be free with your words and feelings. If you are all bottled up and scared to express yourself, then you are not being true to yourself and you will spend your life wondering what you should say and not trusting your gut on matters of the heart. I despise games and feel that they are a total waste of time, you sound like a great woman, and this guy should be lucky to have met you.

Keep me posted and remember tune out your friends’ bad advice!

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: I agree with your friends. What’s the rush? Relax and enjoy this time with him – you need time to find out if he’s interested in a more serious relationship, and if he’s the kind of person you would like to share your life with. This takes much more time than a couple of months. You haven’t even seen the reality of each other yet. If you relax and take your time, you’ll have a much better chance of creating a successful relationship. If he’s making an effort to see you, and enjoying his time with you, he’s interested, it’s just way too soon to know whether he’s marriage material or not. I’ll bet you read the last couple of pages of a new novel before you finish the book, too. That’s no problem with a book, but trying to get to the end before you’ve experienced the middle can really put a relationship off track.

The Insightful Dater answers: Yes, this is a dilemma – and there is no easy answer. Best case is to get his thoughts on the matter without having to make a strong statement on things (no ultimatums, please!). Is he a sports fan? What about playfully asking a hypothetical question? Allude to the fact that you’ve been thinking about the two of you and frankly, you are curious about things but don’t want to make any changes or cause either of you to freak-out. Maybe play with an analogy… “so, if a prized player could get a trade, but thinks that the team he’s on could work out well for him…how does he know that he should stay put?” If you are lucky, maybe he’ll answer in sports terminology and you’ll be clueless and have to ask for a translation…which may be hard for him, but listen closely and watch his body language. Good luck.