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Ask Chelsea: “Dear Cougarstan”

Chelsea Rinnig is one of Borderstan writers. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Chelsea Rinnig is one of Borderstan’s writers. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Looking for advice on how to accomplish your goals and make changes in 2013? Email Chelsea at askchelsea[AT]borderstan.com.

Hi Chelsea:

I recently started dating a (much) younger guy. I am comfortable with the age difference and it’s a lot of fun. But he expects me to initiate every time we go out or get together. I find it a little strange, and it makes me wonder how much he’s really into me. But I also wonder if this is more normal among couples in their 20s these days? I hate the “rules” and all that other crap, but I am also used to guys pursuing if they are interested. I asked him about it and he eye-rolled me, I couldn’t really get a useful answer.

Thanks! Cougarstan

Dear Cougarstan,

It’s true — this sort of behavior definitely pervades the twenty-something dating scene these days. Men and women view themselves more equitably now and, therefore, believe that both have not only the responsibility, but also the ability to pursue a potential love-interest.

First you have to ask yourself this question, though: is he actually expecting anything of you? Regardless of shifting gender norms, roles or duties, a man who desires you wants to spend time with you. And so you’re absolutely right in that respect — a guy will come after you if he is serious and if he wants you.

My advice? Put the phone down. Resist the urge to call, text or what have you and see if he initiates. It’s not obeying any kind of rule or playing games, it’s allowing yourself the opportunity for him to give you what you want. If what you want is for him to initiate something, then you have to back off and let him come to you.

That being said, do you really want to develop a relationship based off of eye rolling and unfinished, vague conversations? If you can’t have a constructive discussion with this dude, then he is clearly still a boy and not a man you want to depend on emotionally.  While every little thing you’re feeling every time he doesn’t text you back does not merit a serious, heart-to-heart discussion of what it means, you DO want him to respect you and your concerns and to listen to you, too.

And last, if none of this really matters to you at all and you want to keep it casual, then all the better!  Maybe you just want someone who you can call to “hang out” with every so often.  Relax and just call him when you want. This is fantastic as long as you understand that you can’t expect anything more of him if he’s not already willing to give you that on his own.  You say it’s fun the way it is now — so enjoy that! But you must ask yourself what you want and go from there.  If you want more, you can’t demand that of him.

Don’t expect from others that with which you cannot provide yourself, first.

Always, Chelsea

Note to readers: Under DC Law, Chelsea Rinnig is not licensed to practice, and does not represent that she practices: psychiatry, psychology, social work or professional counseling of any kind. This column is written for entertainment purposes only.

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- who has written 45 posts on Borderstan.

Rinnig moved to Borderstan in Fall 2011 from Baltimore and hails originally from Los Angeles. Her dedication to the local food movement and commitment to eating simply and nutritiously have led her to both develop her culinary skills and write about her tasting new dishes both in her new city as well as her own kitchen. You can find Rinnig working downtown on weekdays, selling stone fruits and berries at the Dupont Farmers market on Sundays and splurging at fine restaurants here and there in-between. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.

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