Daniel and I are the same in just about everything, with one exception: I love him and want to marry him, and Daniel hasn’t made up his mind. We’ve been friends for a decade, and eight years ago he suffered heartbreak when his then-girlfriend dumped him to marry someone else. Three years ago, when I asked Daniel if we could take the friendship to another level, he said he couldn’t love anyone but his ex, and he couldn’t say yes to us because it would be unfair to me since he didn’t love me. In the years since then, it’s been a roller-coaster ride—I moved out of the relationship twice, only to come back. He’s a wonderful man, but he lapses into silences that are long and painful to me. When we meet, we have a great time together, but then he goes quiet again. I call him and he doesn’t respond. He says he feels a lot of guilt because he knows he causes me pain. It’s been a few days now since he has responded to any of my calls or emails. How can I make this into a lasting relationship, make him see we are perfect for each other, and get Daniel to fall in love with me?
Charlotte Bronte, acclaimed author of one of the most passionate love stories ever penned, did not marry the real-life man she passionately loved, who was the basis for that novel’s hero. He was already married, and apparently didn’t return Charlotte’s sentiments.
Instead, she married the man who passionately loved her: Arthur Nicholls, a man who secretly pined for Charlotte for eight years; a man who shocked her with a proposal before she was even aware of his interest; a man who pursued her in the face of threats from her father, job loss, and Miss Bronte’s own statements that she didn’t know if she could ever return his love. But Charlotte did marry him. She did eventually fall in love with him.
And achieving all that only took Arthur about ten years.
The problem? You aren’t courting a woman, and unfortunately, you cannot court a man. Although literature and real life are redolent with stories of men who have won Fair Lady’s heart through sheer constancy and devotion, those techniques plain don’t work on men.
Men either love you or they don’t. It’s that easy, and that difficult.
To my knowledge, there’s no controlled study where scientists tally the results when women attempt to make men love them. But there’s abundant indirect evidence about men’s emotional lives:
—Men are more Likely to fall in love at first sight than women are. Men typically fall in love fastest and first-est, and they say so. It doesn’t take them years, and it doesn’t take them longer than it takes women. Daniel’s repeated denial of feeling love for you, especially over such a long time, is best taken as a fact rather than a challenge to you to make more effort.
—Men who love need little and sometimes no encouragement to pursue their Chosen One; see Arthur Nicholls, above, and data on stalkers, the great majority of whom are male. If you are looking for ways to show a man enough devotion in order to win him, you’ve already lost him.
—Men’s experience when they fall in love is intensely physical, and not necessarily based on logical matters such as whether you’re an ideal match. There’s truth to the saying that men fall in love with their eyes. As Helen Fisher found in brain scans, men literally get a bit high off the sight of youth and beauty, and specifically, at the sight of their beloved. And you can be beautiful, yet not Daniel’s type. Either he feels it, or he doesn’t.
—Dopamine is necessary to the fall in love process for men. The longer the object of Lust is sexually and otherwise elusive, the more his dopamine rises and the more s/he becomes the object of Love.
All of which hints at two ways a woman can win a man: by demonstrating her fertility (youth/beauty) and fidelity (being hard-to-get). And there’s a third: raising one’s status by evoking competition and thus jealousy. But even that won’t work unless the man is already inclined to fall for you. And courting a man is the opposite of being hard-to-get.
So, much as I’d like to say otherwise, it seems that Daniel’s not wavering or confused; he’s simply not in love with you. It’s not your fault, or his ex’s, or even Daniel’s. He may be choosing to live in the past and nurse his pain, or he may be recoiling from admitting he doesn’t feel chemistry with you. But he’s not making a choice whether to love you; that choice has been made by his biology. It’s not in his control, never mind yours.
In sad conclusion, it feels to you as if your love is perfect, but perfect love doesn’t rest solely on similarity; it needs reciprocity. Daniel shares friendship with you, but not more. I don’t know whether he’s languishing in dreams of a hopeless relationship, but as long as you hang onto Daniel, you are. So please, for your sake, emulate Miss Bronte and how she finally dealt with her own lost cause:
Don’t call or write to Daniel anymore; don’t spend more time with him; don’t cajole, plead, or explain to him the logic of why you belong together. Do end the contact; do grieve. And then, move towards mutual love in your life. It will not be with Daniel. But if you close off contact with him and open your eyes to What Is, you may just find that Love is there.
All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., and LoveScience Media, 2012.