A Good Example of the Wrong Chemistry

Dear Toni--

I am a 32-year-old single woman who has been dating a 32-year-old man for two months. This man, in my opinion, would normally receive a very high score. He is a fairly handsome guy with a great personality and mutual moral convictions. He is marriage-minded and is very attentive and complimentary to me.

The problem is that he seems very feminine to me. His mannerisms are feminine, he is somewhat soft-spoken, and his total demeanor at times exudes softness. There are things he sometimes says that I don't normally hear from a man's mouth.

Since I thought that maybe it was just me, and that I had the wrong perception, I have asked him if others had ever mistaken him for being gay. I also asked him if he had ever fantasized about being with a man or had ever been with one.

Each time his answer was no.. never.

Honestly, I really don't think he is gay. He has had previous relationships with women and is the father of three girls who do not live with him.

This guy in every other way would be a great catch...but I find his feminine demeanor to be very distracting, somewhat of a turn off, and publicly embarrassing.

What advice could you offer me regarding an otherwise great guy, but one who is just a little too soft for my taste? --In Like But Not Lust

Dear In Like But Not Lust--

I'm a little surprised that you are asking me for advice regarding this situation, because you really do know the answer already. You sum it up in that last line (above). His is "too soft" for your taste.

This is a great example of a lack of chemistry. It also helps to illustrate that chemistry is NOT just about looks, great personality, mutual interests, etc. It exists on a very basic and primitive level. We have no real control over it, and it explains why folks fall for the "wrong" one while overlooking the one who seems so "right".


Your head tells you this guy would be a great "catch". He seems to have all the right stuff- except the required amount of magnetism to hold you.

It is good to use your head when looking for the right one. You need to THINK about what kind of guy is right for you and not settle for something less. However, you can't will yourself to have all the right feelings about him.

Marriages do begin this way, and some of them do make it, depending on the people involved. However, if you find him "embarrassing" and a "turn-off," I doubt you would make it to the altar, or very much beyond.

Not only is this not fair to you, it isn't fair to him either.

My advice is to let him know that even though you think he's a great guy, you don't think he's the guy for you. He could make a good friend, if he's interested in this.

Then go out there and continue to think about the right kind of guy for you. Really think. But don't forget that...

Your heart and gut both need to be saying "YES".

(from February 2004)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Knowing this is "The One" vs Settling"
List of more
"Attraction and chemistry"

"Do the clothes make the Man?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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