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What constitutes romantic feelings varies with individuals

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

What constitutes romantic feelings varies with individuals

NY, NY: A friend of mine (whom I have also dated very sporadically over the past few years) tells me he thinks we have great physical and emotional chemistry. We talk about anything and everything, and always have fun together; he says he thinks I'm beautiful and an amazing person, yet he does not have "romantic feelings" for me.

Not about a relationship with this one guy in particular, but as a general question: What else is necessary in order to develop romantic feelings toward someone?

carolyn: Tough to say, since there's no universal set of feelings, not even one for each sex, as we often seem to want to tell ourselves.

It could be that he's not interested sexually — or interested only in sex.

It could be that he equates romantic feelings with butterflies, which he'd be unlikely to have with you because he has known you a long time.

It could be that he doesn't envision you as his life's centerpiece, as his kids' mom, as the companion on the rocker next to his, or as his daily wake-up call.

It could be that he enjoys you immensely but doesn't think about you when you're not around, which is fairly common and which people find difficult to reconcile with romantic ideals.

You didn't want an answer about one guy's intentions, but it's always about what one person is feeling — which of course could be anything.

Some of this "anything" may appear to be hopeless (sexual attraction, say) and some may seem to be reversible errors of perception (e.g., that butterflies matter). However, since changing someone's mind isn't up to us, every obstacle he sees is as real as he believes it to be.

Ask, don't pressure, brother to reconsider for grandma's sake

family reunions: My octogenarian, recently widowed, not-in-good health grandmother wants a family reunion this fall. My folks have generously offered to pay transportation and lodging costs for my siblings and our respective families, to make sure our grandmother gets her wish.

My brother said he's not coming to the weekend, as they're "too busy." Busy would be the "general" busy — nothing specific was cited. He would have to travel via air halfway across the country — admittedly a hassle these days — but my folks are taking care of that for them.

Any way to impress upon him that our grandmother would greatly appreciate his and his wife's presence? We don't have reunions often.

carolyn: Please don't "impress" anything. If he's brushing this off in a way you're afraid he might come to regret, then you can ask him to reconsider, while also noting that if it's too much for him then you'll understand. Assuming you would understand, of course.

But if your call sounds like a guilt ploy; if you're angry that you're busy, too, but you're rallying; if you're sick of the way your brother always does this and no one ever says anything; if you secretly think his wife is behind this and you're sick of her driving a wedge between your brother and his family — i.e., if there's a bigger agenda here, then you either need to come clean with him or just accept that he has made his choice.

What constitutes romantic feelings varies with individuals 10/16/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 3:58pm]

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