How do I fall in love?

I'm with her and I like her but I'm shy and don't know really what I'm feeling

By Cary Tennis

Published October 22, 2012 12:00AM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I'm a 31-year-old man with a very childish mind regarding the world and women.

I've been into a relationship with a nice girl for six months now, and while I'm attracted to her by her personality and physical attributes, it bugs me that I'm not falling in love with her.

We work at the same place and get along very well. I enjoy chatting and talking to her, going out to public places, and having more private encounters.

I must confess this is my first relationship. I'm extremely shy and it took great courage to start talking to her. Since then we've been getting along well, but we've also been separated twice -- mainly because I started freaking out.

She seems very much into this, and I'd like to correspond but I don't know why I can't. Right now, I feel like a liar, but when we were separated I felt miserable and empty.

I owe her a lot, but I'm saddened because she's not after anything else than my affection and I seem to be unable to really fall for her. I just want her to be successful and happy, and safe from any harm.

Shall I continue with the relationship? Is it good enough if she feels loved? What if I am feeling love but I don't know it?

I need your advice, Cary.

Not Really a Person

Dear Not Really a Person,

Slow down.  She likes you.

Stay with her for two years. If after two years it doesn't feel right, tell her you have to go on a vacation by yourself. Go to a seaside resort. Get a room with a view of the ocean. Sit on the floor and pray. Ask what you should do next. Keep sitting there. Have a pitcher of water at your side. When you become thirsty, pour some water. Pour some water on your hands. Wait for the water to slowly evaporate. Listen to the sound of the sea. If there is a book you have brought with you, sit in a chair and read the book. Eat your meals alone. Go to the sea at sunset and walk for a long time. Don't make phone calls. Go to bed early and get up early. Write down your dreams if you remember them. Be polite to the people who run the inn. Tip generously but consistently. Don't shop for knickknacks. On the third day in the inn, write this girl a letter. Tell her how you are feeling and what your life is like. Talk about the future, how it could be. Tell her everything you want to tell her. Tell her everything you are thinking and feeling. Then put it in an envelope.

Think about sending it.

Send it.

Tell the innkeeper you would like to stay a few more days. Tell the people at work that you need a few more days. Find a place where you can exercise. Or if there is no place like that then just run until you are exhausted. Lift heavy things. Swim as far as you can. Do push-ups. Eat a good meal. Bathe well. Go to sleep early. Stay in the inn until you are truly ready to leave or until circumstances dictate that you must. When you come back and she asks you how your trip was, tell her it was very good. Tell her about the inn. Ask her if she would like to go there with you sometime. Ask her if she has vacation time. If she has vacation time, take out your calendars and mark them with the dates that you will go to the inn. When those dates come, go to the inn together. Greet the innkeeper with familiarity but reserve. Tip the innkeeper. Go to your room.

Open the windows and look out at the sea together.

Cary Tennis

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