Cat and mouse? A listener's question

Love it when you send me questions! Here’s a recent one.

Hello there, I hope you can help me,

I live in Ireland and I met a girl a few weeks ago whom I like. I asked her out and she said she couldn't ‘cause she has a child and couldn’t get a sitter, so she invited me around to her place where we had a great night. The next day she cooked me dinner and I met her daughter who I got on great with, and the girl was shocked ‘cause she said her daughter never bonds with men like she did with me. Then over a week ago she went to Australia for four weeks with her family.

Before she left I was initiating all the conversation via text but she was replying straight back to me, and when it took her a while to reply she apologised for the delay. I assumed she wanted me to do the chasing because she has a child and she’s only out of a relationship a couple of months. She also asked me to help her out with something when she got back and also said she wanted to go out on a proper date with me. On the day she was leaving she was texting me right up until she got on the plane....Then I didn’t hear from her for a couple of days, and last Sunday she sent me a message via Facebook saying hello and letting me know that her phone wouldn’t work. I replied to her message and didn’t hear back, so I sent her a message on Friday again via Facebook only because it was her birthday—a humourous message, not a serious one. Now I’ve seen she’s been on Facebook since and has thanked everybody for the birthday wishes but she has not replied to my mail. Should I forget about her or am I reading too much into the situation and should I just wait for her to come home?

Please help! Regards, Mark

Hi Mark,

Thank you for reaching out. I am happy to be of service.

Here’s the way I see it:

You like this lady who seems to be giving you mixed messages. At first she seems very interested and intimate and then, not so much.  And because you can’t reach her directly you are making assumptions, some of which may be right; namely, that she might be trying to blow you off. But then you think “Why would she lead me on, introduce me to her daughter, text me every other minute, even talk about the future? Then just go cold?”  It’s only natural this radical change in behavior would cause you to wonder, is this hot-and-cold routine a “red flag,” is she someone that is just yanking my chain? Or maybe she’s just playing that old-cat and-mouse game to the hilt? Or maybe, Mark, she’s not comfortable telling the truth and is try to figure out how she feels, and because you have no formal agreements between you she’s taking that socially acceptable liberty that people who are dating take when they are conflicted. Which means you are forced to wait in purgatory until she decides.

Here’s my advice:

One, slow down. Slow is real. Let her words and actions speak for themselves. You have already expressed your interest. Just sit back and wait and see what she does next. If she does nothing, you have your answer. One thing I know about people; they ultimately do what they want to.

Two, remember who you are. To start with, you are a man who is clearly caring, who has a lot to offer someone and wants to do the right thing. This kind of integrity is rare and beautiful. You will want to find someone who respects this and also has these same qualities.

And three: keep in mind what you truly want. A good game of cat-and-mouse or a great relationship? While this lady may have captured your interest, she will have to meet your enthusiasm with matching values and skills, like honesty, integrity, and communication skills. Chemistry, while it “looks good and feels good” as my friend and colleague Eve Hogan always says, is only part of what it takes to make a great relationship.

Wait until she gets home and maybe don’t say a word until she does. Unless there’s something I don’t know, you have made it clear what your intentions are. Time to find out about hers.

Last, think through what I have said and make sure it feels right for you. Ultimately, trusting your own gut feeling and intuition is what I want to support; that’s the best way for me to help. For me to honor the impeccable navigational device you have right in your own heart and body!