Don Juan or Bill Gates?

He's charming and talented, but he has no friends and spends all his time either on the computer or reading!

Published March 6, 2003 8:01PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I'm kinda confused. I met a guy at the gym who seems great. We saw each other there every day for two weeks before he finally said hello and asked me out. By then we had exchanged a dozen glances and I had a huge crush on him. We got drinks that night and went to his place, and it was wonderful. I've been there several times since. He loves to talk about all kinds of things, he's got my type of art on the walls and two Yale degrees. He cooks great meals and tells wonderful stories of college and travel abroad. He's friendly and funny with strangers, cares about all the right causes, and plans to retire at 40 and save the world after writing a scathing satirical novel. He's almost perfect.

But ... there is something missing. He doesn't seem to have any friends! He has family around, an out-of-town Yale buddy or two that call now and then, and some old high school chums that he blows off, and that's it. He spends all his time on the computer working instead; apparently the gym is all he does to get out. He says he's happy this way, but I wonder how normal it is for a 30-year-old guy to live in a cave, metaphorically speaking. I alluded to this fact that he doesn't seem to have many friends or outside interests and he said he basically finds most people boring (!), he sucks at everything besides computers (completely false), and he'd rather just read (!!).

So now it's like there are two guys, the super-charming, fascinating, flirtatious guy that swept a skeptical girl like me off her feet -- and the subhuman alter ego of Bill Gates.

Which one am I supposed to think I am dating?

Confused in the City

Dear Confused,

There are many people who do not need a lot of friends. One or two good friends is sufficient for them, and they often prefer to converse in small groups, or one-on-one, rather than in a large crowd. They work well in solitary pursuits and have extraordinary powers of concentration, perception and discipline. He may be like that. It's perfectly OK to be like that. There is nothing wrong with him.

If you are fairly extroverted, if you feel energized by being in large groups of people, if you have a wide network of friends and acquaintances, then it can indeed seem strange to meet someone who does not seem to require that kind of contact. But I assure you, there are many people like him. They are perfectly normal, and many of them are some of the most extraordinary and accomplished people in the world.

If his social orientation is a serious problem for you, he may not be the guy for you. On the other hand, you and he may just need to talk about your differences. You might need to tell him that if you two develop a serious or exclusive relationship, you will sometimes need to go out to parties and clubs with your friends and leave him at home. See how he feels about that. It's likely that he'll have no problem with it. He might on occasion want to accompany you, but for the most part, if he is indeed introverted, he will probably prefer to see you when you are by yourself and not in a large crowd.

Good luck. With all the other things you two seem to have going for you, it would be a shame to let this temperamental difference stand in the way.

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By Cary Tennis

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