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A medical problem

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 16, 2009 10:08 AM

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TheRealJBar, one of our loveliest commenters, has suggested that Love Letters readers gang up and donate to Globe Santa. For obvious reasons, I like that idea. Applause for JBar for being giving and creative and thoughtful and … well, the list goes on.

No pressure – I know money is tight – but if you want to follow the orders of JBar, you can get info here. You’re welcome to mention Love Letters when you donate, if it pleases you.

If you’re open to giving in person, I’ll be at the Globe Santa station at the Prudential Center this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. I’m not exactly sure where they’ll be setting up – hopefully inside – but I’ll post more when I know. I’ll be the one in the Santa hat holding a giant cup of coffee (and maybe a bag of Skittles). Feel free to stop by and say hello.
Chat at 1 p.m.

And here we go.

Q: Meredith,

Love the column! Been thinking about this for a while now and everyone I ask gives me a different answer. I like what you have to say in general, so I thought I would give you a try. I am a late-20something who got out of a long-term relationship a while ago. I have dated since, although nothing serious. While at some point I want to settle down, I have fun being single and have a good group of friends that I have fun with.

About six weeks ago I met a boy -- well not a boy, a man. He is a friend of a friend and we met at party. We hit it off immediately, both ended up having too much to drink and then wound up leaving the party together. We kept everything very PG, and I can honestly say I am not sure I have ever had so much fun with someone. The next morning, things were great and he got my number.

Now here is comes the tricky part. He has a tough job – in medicine. He works all the time, works weird hours, etc. He is not all that far along in residency, so he is also still taking tests which require significant amounts of studying. He works nights, weekends, 16-hour-days, etc. I come from a home where my parents worked long weeks, so a work schedule such like this does not bother me. In fact, I like and appreciate my own time to do my own things with my own friends. I am different than most girls in that I am not looking for someone to be with 24 hours a day, which is something I find a lot of men don’t really understand or assume.

Anyways, after we went home together that night, things started slowly. I ran into him the next weekend and my friends hung out with his friends at the bar for while before both groups went our separate ways. We texted the rest of the night, trying to meet up, but it never happened. We texted once or twice a week, each taking our turns initiating the texting, mainly about weekend plans or jokes we have. I was out of town one weekend, so couldn’t meet up, then he was on call. Three weeks ago, we met up out and again ended up back at his place, this time, things moved to PG-13.

Again, I had more fun with him than I can remember ever having with someone. Since, our texting has been more frequent, but he has worked every weekend since so we haven’t seen each other.

So, here is my question … For the most part, all signs point to the fact that he is just looking for someone to hook up with when he is able to go out. I interpret his continued texts as ways to ensure that when he is available, he has someone to call, although, he tells me he has fun after we are together, and he does make an effort to text. When we are out, I can’t lose him – if I walk around the bar, he follows. He is attached at my hip with his hand on my back or around my shoulders all the time, to the point where I have to ask him to chill as I don’t do PDA in bars. He tells me how attracted he is to me when we are together, so I guess I don’t know how to read it. When we aren’t together, our texts are very innocent, no mention of feelings at all.

While I know he works a lot, the logical part of my brain tells me if he wanted to hang out sober and alone, he would have made an effort to. Because of his job, he has very little time for fun and/or dating. I am not sure if this is the reason we don’t hang out more or if it’s because he is simply not that interested. I often wonder if he would like too, but is scared to ask or scared to move more quickly as his schedule makes any relationship tough. If it’s the job/no time, I would like him to know I am open to less traditional ways of dating (aka couch dates/sleepovers that start at 9pm when he gets out work). I am also open to more lose interpretations of relationships with him, meaning, sticking to PG-13 sleepovers for now. I am not looking to be with him 5 days a week, especially at this stage.

I generally just have a fantastic time when I am with him and would like to have more of those times than we do, regardless of where it may end up or be defined as. I have no clue how to figure out if the reason we don’t is because of his job, because he doesn’t want to date, and he thinks I want to be serious (as all men think 29–year-old females just want to get married), because he is scared or because he just isn’t all that into me. If the answer is to ask… how? I am traditional in the sense that I think the guy should do the asking for dates/hangouts, etc. Since he's not -- and I don't know why not – is it bad for me to ask him to hang out, or should I take the fact that he is not asking me as a sign he doesn't want too and leave it as that ...

Thanks for your thoughts!

– WWMWD (Wondering What Meredith Would Do), Philadelphia

A: WWMWD, what would Meredith do? Hmm.

Well, I’d probably call Mr. Doctor and say: “Hey there, Mr. Doctor, I was wondering if you’d like to grab a late-night dinner and movie when you have a night off. I don’t mind if it has to be at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, after you’ve removed someone’s spleen. I get that you have a job with weird hours. I’d just like to hang out. And if dinner-and-a-movie is too exhausting after a day of removing spleens, we can stick to dinner. A person’s got to eat, right?”

I’d be that literal. Because really, why not? He either wants to hang out or he doesn’t. If his reaction to being asked is to run in the other direction and to assume that you want to marry him, let him run.

But if he likes you and is open to getting to know you, he should jump on the invite. Why wouldn’t he want to be asked out by someone he likes? If this has been about his awful schedule, he’ll probably say, “I want to hang out, too, and thanks for not minding that it has to be at a weird hour.” Smitten is smitten. If he’s smitten, he’ll be in. If this was about convenience and sleazy bar hookups, well, asking him out on a respectable date is a quick way to get to the truth.

I think your hesitation is less about being traditional and more about fearing rejection. And I totally get that. I’d ask him out – but my fingers would probably be shaking while I dialed his number.

You set a precedent that it was OK to text and meet up without plans. It’s time to demonstrate that you’d like a bit more effort.

And -- good that you held off on R-rated behavior until finding out what’s what. I think that dialing his number would feel even riskier if you hadn’t.

Readers? Am I wrong? Should she wait until he asks? Is his schedule a good excuse? Ever dated a doctor? What should she do? Share.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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