Psychologically speaking

He gave me The Speech on New Year's Eve. He wasn't drunk. He's not gay. So why won't he shut up and kiss me?

Published January 23, 2004 8:54PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

Psychologically speaking, is it possible for a man to declare to a woman that she is the only person in the world with whom he can share his deepest feelings, that she is the only person who truly understands him, that he can't wait to see her, and yet not be at all interested in her romantically? All this on top of a completely platonic 10-year friendship, served up New Year's Eve at midnight, in a private conversation outside a party -- without so much as a kiss?

He wasn't drunk. He's not gay. I know this because he is an active heterosexual, and that is part of the problem. We had not seen each other since last summer (he goes to school out of state). Within five minutes of my arrival at the party he declared that he was glad that his summer crush would be at the party later, because it was so rare that his crushes were reciprocated. But she did not get there until well after he and I had had quite a bit of quality time together. She basically ignored him the entire evening, and he did not make too great an effort to spend any quality time with her. They did not leave together.

Am I crazy or was he trying to make me jealous? Or is it simply that men do not equate emotional intimacy with sexual and romantic intimacy? Should I initiate the conversation? I'm pretty old-fashioned in the sense that I think it's his responsibility to declare his feelings. But I could be wrong. Did I mention that I don't want to lose his friendship? And no, it's not much of a friendship if either of us is concealing such an important issue from each other. Cary, I just don't want our relationship to enter its second decade on these shaky terms.

Reluctant to Be Unrequited

Dear Reluctant,

"Psychologically speaking," you ask me, is what happened possible?

I would have to say that yes, since it happened, it must be possible, even psychologically.

What's required is an explanation.

You're saying that outside a New Year's Eve party a heterosexual man of long acquaintance told you you're the only one who understands him, and he wasn't drunk?

Perhaps he was on Percodan.

Could he be Amish?

You weren't wearing a bunny suit, were you? Bunny suits lack buttons. Usually after a man says you're the only one who understands him, he'll try to undo your buttons. But if a costume has no buttons, he couldn't very well undo them, could he? Except a bunny suit usually has a zipper. Perhaps he does not know how to work a zipper. Does he wear only button-fly jeans? That could be a clue.

Here is another possibility: Perhaps the New Year's Eve party was always at his house when he was a child. Perhaps every year he saw the same thing happen: A man takes a woman aside and tells her she's the only one who understands him.

Since you've known each other so long, maybe he thinks you're his sister. Do you live in the same house? Do you have the same two adults always telling you not to wear the bunny suit? If so, you may actually be his sister.

Oh, who knows. You're old-fashioned. There's an old-fashioned solution to this problem that you might try.

Put on the bunny suit, drink a pint of Old Granddad and blow in his ear.

If he hasn't moved in 30 days, call me back.

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By Cary Tennis

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