Relationship, not just sex at CU?

Originally Published: February 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 18, 2011
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Dear Alice,

I've had a great time here at CU, but all my relationships have been based on one thing... sex. Sometimes it is all that I want, but sometimes it is all that she wants. Any suggestions on how to find a "nice girl," just to have a good honest relationship with? I'm a model so I don't have problems meeting girls, just keeping them! I am also a very nice person, concerned with nature and I could never hurt a person's feelings if I tried. This leads to problems, however, because it is hard for me to "make my move" for fear of upsetting the girl. I have never been turned down for a first date — plenty of second dates though, but only because I make sure before the first date, through a friend, that there is an interest. If any of this makes any sense, give me a write!

—Seeking love in all the wrong places, Mr. Nice

Dear Mr. Nice,

It sounds like you're interested in having a relationship that goes beyond the sexual realm. However, you're finding that sex is easier for you to come by than love. You mentioned that sometimes you want more than sex, but the other person does not. And other times, all you want is sex. When you notice yourself wanting more than sex with someone, what is the "more" you are wanting? Is it that you want to spend more time with them outside of the sack? Are you feeling a deeper connection for the person? You say being a "nice guy" stops you from making a move, but what's not nice about telling a sexual partner that you have feelings for them beyond the sexual realm?

Often times, the most respectful "first move" is a simple statement that lets a person know you like them. Alas, this is sometimes not as simple as it sounds. For many, it feels risky. What most often stops people from making feelings known is the dreaded "R" word: rejection. It seems like this may be a concern for you because you state you won't ask a woman out without confirmation that she is interested. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you make of your need to know for sure that someone likes you before you ask her out, even though you don't have trouble meeting women?
  • You say you have trouble "keeping" women. Are these women with whom you want to continue having a sexual relationship? Or are these women with whom you would have liked to have a deeper relationship?
  • What happens when you "lose" them? Have you noticed any patters or similarities between these losses?

One option you may want to consider: wait a little bit longer before you have sex with a new partner. If you are attracted to a woman and she is attracted to you, try dating without sex for a while. This allows excitement to build. It allows for courtship — for a "dance," if you will. It allows you to notice what feelings you are having for her besides physical attraction.

Another possible issue that may be surfacing for you is a fear or belief on your part that you have nothing to offer a woman besides sex. You mention being a model and it sounds like you are used to people finding you attractive. As nice as this may sound, the flip side of it can sometimes be that other people who show interest in you may only be looking at you in a superficial manner. Perhaps you have received subtle messages from some in your life that your looks are all that you have to offer as a person. If so, you may have internalized these messages and it may make it harder to connect with people if you are afraid they will only see you in this way, as well. If this is the case, trust that these messages are false. This is easier said than done, by the way. But try. It may help to think about what you want in a relationship with someone — to have a list. Then, instead of looking for someone that fulfills all of those qualities, see if you are able to "be" these things as well. For example, you say you are "nice." What does it mean for you to be nice? What is it about how you interact with people that a partner might appreciate? Are you thoughtful? Nurturing? Loving? Notice your positive, non-physical attributes.

Self-exploration of this sort is not always easy. Learning to embrace "quirky" aspects of oneself is often quite challenging. Counseling may be very helpful in this regard. If you are a Columbia student, check out Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). If you are not a Columbia student but live in the New York City area and are looking for low-cost counseling services, check out the Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services (DHCEPS), out of Columbia University's Teachers College.

Props to you for striving to improve the quality of your relationships. Here's to hoping you attract a relationship that allows you to connect more deeply.

Happy dating,

Alice

March 18, 2011

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Sexual contact is a wonderful part of any loving relationship but, as you are finding out, it is not the only thing in a truly lasting relationship. As strange as it may seem I sometimes wonder if a...
Sexual contact is a wonderful part of any loving relationship but, as you are finding out, it is not the only thing in a truly lasting relationship. As strange as it may seem I sometimes wonder if a blind person perhaps has a bit of an edge in finding and building a real relationship. That way physical appearance and first visual impressions don't get in the way of discovering the more important aspects of a potential partner. The suggestion that you perhaps resist the initial urge to engage in sexual contact for awhile is an excellent one. Take the time to simply 'get to know' the other person on a non-sexual level. What makes them laugh, what they like to eat or drink, what they find entertaining, and so on are all things that will actually matter once the initial physical attraction has run its course. These are things that I like to call 'compatibility issues.' Good luck and I hope that you find what I did.