Chemistry test

She says she loves the "literary" me not the "me" me. What does that mean?

By Cary Tennis
June 17, 2003 11:20PM (UTC)
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Dear Cary,

I am a fit man of average appearance (neither Brad Pitt, nor Quasimodo). Like many, I've fallen into an Internet romance -- many compelling e-mails and instant messages exchanged with an attractive, very sexual, captivating woman. Deep feelings on both sides and exchanged photos, videos and words of love leading to the face-to-face. Here's the problem -- a miss on the physical chemistry (my chemistry, not hers, being where the fault lay).


A common tale, but the twist being we've continued the correspondence post-meeting, and her feelings toward me, and her expressions of those feelings, seem as deep and loving as ever. She confesses to loving the literary me and not the "me" me. What should I make of this? Is it possible for a very sexual woman to emotionally love a man and not wish to make some physical expression of that (she does have other men in her life for the physicality she craves). I could understand had our correspondence tapered to a more conventional friendship, but I am very puzzled trying to understand her heart and would welcome any insight you might have into the emotional workings of those mysterious creatures.

Chemistry Challenged

Dear Chemistry Challenged,


Just to be clear: What I understand you to mean when you say "my chemistry, not hers, being where the fault lay" is that you weren't physically attracted to her. Your language, though vivid, isn't unambiguous, and some might think you meant something else -- that she wasn't attracted to you, for instance.

Assuming I understand you correctly, however, that it was you who didn't feel attracted to her, a few possibilities spring to mind. (If I misunderstand you, then what follows won't make any sense at all!) She may be saving face, pretending that she was never really interested in you physically either. She may believe that if she keeps up her blandishments, you'll come around. She may even, if she's very sensitive and somewhat complex, be acting out of an excess of politeness that you'd only find in Henry James. That is, understanding that by rejecting her you may have incurred feelings of both guilt and shame, she's saying, "No, you didn't really reject me, because I was never interested in that way. So you don't have to feel guilty." She's trying to make it easier on you.

Of course, it's also possible that she loves you in exactly the way that she says she loves you.


She may have accepted your physical rejection yet still feel strongly about you. From your point of view, maybe it doesn't add up. It's not always about sex -- even if it started out to be about sex. Women can be passionate but not sexual. They can love but not be in love. I've heard it said that rather than being centered in either sex or friendship or admiration-at-a-distance, women's feelings toward others partake of their whole being. So perhaps she uses a passionate vocabulary but she doesn't mean it sexually.

Now, actually, why don't we take this opportunity to talk about how much straight guys can love each other too. Lately I've been watching a lot of baseball on television, and I find something warm, by turns fraternal and fatherly, in the admiration baseball announcers express for certain players. There's a sense of character there; it's called class or good baseball knowledge or experience but it sounds like love. And it's said with gentleness.


Imagine if the announcer said, Man, I just love Rich Aurilia. He is my ideal man. He doesn't say that, exactly, but you can hear an abiding affection not just for the game but for its men.

It's not necessarily homoerotic. But it's passionate love and admiration just the same. So, what I'm saying is that you might as well take this woman at her word. It sounds like a valuable friendship. Don't screw it up. (That's a guy's way of saying "Good luck.")

Want more advice from Cary? Read the Since You Asked Directory

Cary Tennis

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