|Bear is scared.
Act 1. Boy meets girl, and he is CRAZY about her. He tells her how truly amazing she is on the first date. He holds her hand, hugs her, kisses her, etc. They have three dates in three days. The girl has never felt so happy in her life, and he says he's never felt so happy in his life. He literally says she is literally the Girl of his Dreams.
Act 2. Girl tells the boy her deepest, most personal, most private feelings, either by email or in person, but usually by email. She tells him that up until she met him, boys had treated her like crap. They had cheated on her, or pressured her, or dumped her for other girls, and just generally made her feel terrible, but he has changed all that, and showed her what a real man is. She is just so grateful. Thank him. Thank him. Thank him. God bless him and keep him forever.
Act. 3. Boy emails girl to tell him that he wants to "take it slow" for now. Maybe something will develop in the future, but for now they should just ease into things. Boy disappears for three days. Zero radio contact. Boy emerges from oblivion to "like" something she says on Facebook. Girl cries a lot and wonders what happened.
Okay, the emailing and Facebook part is new. In my salad days we wrote 16-page letters and left phone messages when we knew they were out. However, the Crazy-Affectionate Guy/Grateful Girl/Disappearance of Guy dynamic has been around forever.
I was in pain, my little Singles, when I read of the latest version of this story because it couldn't have happened two nicer kids. Unless you count their parents, who apparently never taught them how to behave around the opposite sex, there was no villain at all. It was just a psychic accident waiting to happen. It was Completely Naive Girl and Complete Naive Boy out for a spin in on the freeway of love without either having learned how to drive.
It reminded me that it was time once again to underscore one of the most annoying traits in the normal male psyche, and it is a guy's desire to be stopped from going too far when going too far is his idea in the first place. It is also time to remind girls not to push for total emotional intimacy in the first week of dating, or to presume that a young man will become even more glued to your side when he hears that all other men his age apparently think you are the runt of the litter.
Commentary on Act 1. The guy is crazy about the girl. Great. Why, though? Is it who she is, or who he thinks she is? It is in her best interests (and his, not that he knows that) to tell him to take it easy until they know each other better. Meanwhile, she has work to do, hobbies to pursue, friends, family, chores, etc. Therefore, although she really likes him, she should tell him that she can only see him ONCE this week, so that he understands that she is not [just] God's gift to him, but a student/worker, with needs and interests of her own, other friends, a family and responsibilities. Her time, like his time, is valuable, and she is delighted he has room for her in his life, and she has room for him, too, although right now not so much. Three dates in three days is 2.5 dates too many.
Meanwhile, I am sorry to say this, but it seems that guys can make out every night with a different girl and forget all their names by Monday. They do not have the same body chemistry as women and therefore don't fall in love with a girl--even a nice girl who is nice to them--just because they made out. However, women are in danger of falling in love with a guy--even a jerk guy who is a jerk to them--just because they made out. Alas. It's sad, but I have come to the conclusion it was nature's gift to cavewomen who got dragged home by cavemen they didn't even know.
The reason why you don't kiss boys on the first date, or first week, is so your discernment isn't stolen from you by your hormones. Your hormones don't want you to marry Mr Right. Your hormones want you to reproduce, ASAP. Making out is a gateway drug. There, I said it again.
Commentary on Act 2. Young men long to be one of the guys. They generally want to be thought of by other men as normal. They want what other men want because other men want it. They measure their masculinity by the masculinity of other men. At the same time, young men compete with each other, and they look for ways they up-one each other. "You might be richer than me, but I have a hot girlfriend, ha ha." Never underestimate how important the opinion of other men is for young men while they are still sorting out the transition from boy to man.
This is why you DO NOT tell young man that other men have treated you like crap. You want your young man to assume that other men think as highly of you as he does, and he's really lucky that for some mysterious reason, you like him better than them. It's probably his [whatever he thinks he bests other men at].
What a shock to discover that the Girl of his Dreams is not universally acclaimed as a Dream Girl but might actually be the kind of girl who gets picked last for, or dropped first from, the team. Whoops.
Also? The depths of feminine passion can scare the living daylights of a guy not actually Bronwell Bronte, let alone some 24 year old. Imagine some 24 year old who still makes minimum wage realizing that he has become responsible for the happiness of the Girl of his Dreams who turns out to be not entirely dream-like but awfully REAL. Mommmm-ieeeeee!
Commentary on Act 3. So now the poor schnook is terrified. He did say all those things to that girl, and she seems to have taken him seriously, and so now what? Last Sunday morning, he would have walked a mile for one of her smiles, and this Sunday morning he is hiding under his pillow wondering where else he can go to Mass. He is very confused. Do you have to marry a girl just so you don't join the long line of guys who dumped her? And because he is a guy--a young guy--he will inevitably come to the conclusion that it's all "her fault."
All women everywhere should play a drinking game in which we all take a slug whenever a guy, whose fault something obviously is, says "This is your/her fault." On the other hand, allegedly one-out-of-three women in England has had an [A-word], so it's not like women-in-general have this massive moral high ground anymore. Incidentally, I know of a little American lady with lots of fetal livers for sale.
My friend McK, who is now Father McK, once said--as a young man in my kitchen in Boston--that he was afraid to date girls (or to kiss a girl, I forget), in case he "went too far and she didn't stop" him. He blushed when he said that; he was a tremendous blusher. He was one of these guys who think it's great when women slap a guy who "gets fresh", wonder why more of them don't do it, and are horrified to discover it's mostly because women are terrified the guy will punch them out.
Anyway, I think (in concert with the authors of the 1990s publishing phenomenon The Rules) that on some level, nice young men, honourable young men, want to be stopped from running through the course of a love affair in eight days, which the too-much-too-soon types almost certainly will do, unless stopped. (My favourite image of this phenomenon is of the dog who finds the dog food bag open and eats and eats and eats until he vomits. Poor dog.) They won't want to rush through True Love Forever in eight days, and they won't believe this is what will happen if the girl doesn't throw speed bumps in the way, but this is indeed what happens.
The upshot is two unhappy people, both of whom would have been a lot better off if they had exercised a little prudence and self-control, both wondering how much each is to blame. Meanwhile, the best thing the girl can do is to back off entirely until the boy has emerged completely from his man-cave, where he is hiding, and treat him rather more aloofly from now on.
Main Take-away Points
1. Don't make-out on the first date. Or the second. Or the third.
2. Don't go on three dates in one week. Give him time to recover and, ideally, pine.
3. They need to pine. It's good for them. They don't think it is, but it is.
4. Don't tell young men your most intimate thoughts and secrets unless it's been months, marriage is in the air, and it's a make-or-break-he'll-find-out-one-day-better-hear-it-from-me situation.
5. Never tell eligible young men other men are rotten to you. The reason why you broke up with the last guy is that you didn't really have much in common.
6. Never write an email you wouldn't want read at your funeral. (Do as I say, not as I do.)
7. If he disappears after hearing your most intimate thoughts and secrets, don't go looking. He is sitting in his young man cave, licking his paws and shivering. Oooh! Scary women! Scary Real Life! Scary, scary! And I, for one, don't blame him. He probably used to wear Spiderman jammies.