Push me, pull you

Joey answers listeners’ questions live every Monday, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., on V101.1 FM.

How do I end a relationship with a guy I like? My boyfriend and I have been together since our first date. Everything was perfect until two months or so when he panicked and backed away. Since then, it’s a constant push and pull. I’m tired of it. I want a real relationship.

If I’m present and available to him, he pulls away in little ways, like not making weekend plans with me until Saturday afternoon, not returning my calls or being physically distant. We’re attracted to each other (although we rarely have sex) and we have fun together, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. I keep hoping he’ll change, that he’ll see how great we are together, but he never seems to appreciate me. What should I do?

End the relationship with the guy you like if you can’t accept his inability to be the man you think he can be. After seeing the reality of what he is willing to offer in a relationship, why would you expect him to suddenly change? A saner path is to encourage yourself to think differently. Either stay in the relationship as it is, or exit and move on.

If you choose to continue with this guy, notice your emotional response to his behavior, but don’t talk to him about it. Instead, strip the emotions back to the thoughts that triggered them. For example, let’s say he begins his “come hither / go to hell” dance and you feel angry. Peel away the anger and discover the thought: “He doesn’t appreciate me.” Then confront yourself fearlessly, examining all of the ways you fail to appreciate yourself. Focus your energy on changing you, not him. If you commit to this process, you always will know what to do.

I’ve been divorced for six years and have dated a series of men who don’t have their acts together in one way or another. They are either emotionally unavailable or financially challenged or socially incompetent. I am beginning to think I should have stayed married, but I felt like my brain was dying because my husband was so boring. I am an attractive, dynamic professional woman with no children. Where are all the men who are my equals?

New York? About five years ago one of my friends voiced the same lament to her brother, who had moved from Sacramento to New York. He said, “It’s not you, it’s Sacramento.” He was astonished at the accomplished men he was meeting and the accomplished women he was dating in the Big Apple. Feel better? Well, he was wrong. A few years later, his sister met an attractive, dynamic professional man right here in River City and married him. The thing is, it didn’t happen on her schedule. She yearned for a partner for years before the right one showed up.

But what if there is no right partner for you? Can you be single and satisfied? If you’re always seeking a companion to complete your life, you may not be independent enough for a relationship with a dynamic professional. Those Type A personalities are busy, so you have to hold your own. Can you?

Your complaint about dating men with social, emotional and financial problems is understandable. Not because I think there are a ton of losers in the dating world, but because we are all human and we have issues. Men and women arrive in a relationship with their wounds, anxieties and inflated egos. The question is always this: Whose neurotic ego are you willing to tolerate because his spirit is so magnificent that it enriches your life? Try approaching dating with that spiritual sensibility and see what unfolds.

Meditation of the Week

I went to Bodega Bay recently and talked to sea gulls about my life. Seriously! I sat on a log facing the sea, planning to write in my journal. Two plump gulls waddled up and stood directly in front of me, about a foot away. So I asked if I could unload, then did for about 30 minutes, complaining, questioning, and slowly moving to acceptance. Who is your therapist?