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Dear Philippa,

Why is it that every time I seem to get close to some great guy, and often right after we've had an incredibly romantic time together, he seems to get cold feet and backs off or just disappears? Am I scaring them off?

�Shauna, Phoenix, AZ


Dear Shauna,

Let's start by playing the scene over to get some perspective. First, how long have you been dating this guy? If this keeps happening fairly early in the relationship, it could be a case of you expecting instant intimacy. That's where you're snuggling up close on the sofa after a romantic evening and you start talking about what you'd like to do together next weekend, or the great friends you want to introduce him to, the special place you'd like to take him to---get the picture?

While you're picking out silver patterns and planning your days and nights together, he's just living in the moment, a great romantic or exciting moment, but in his mind you're both still getting to know each other.

You may not have even have said these things. But if you are thinking them, he is probably reading the signs. The level to which any of this scares him could depend on how long it's been since his last relationship ended.

Maybe he's still carrying a torch for someone else. Maybe you are too wonderful for words and he's just not ready to be close to anyone at this time. There is any number of reasons why someone gets cold feet.

Disappearing guys can make you may feel like you want to give up dating or put up an emotional wall before you allow yourself to feel this vulnerable again.

Shauna, you don't have to shut yourself down or monitor your own behavior so you don't scare someone. You may have to be a little more realistic and take things slower before jumping in and letting your romantic expectations run wild. That's why I suggest dating several people at the discovery stage before getting emotionally involved with just one guy. This allows you the time to figure out who you really want to invest yourself in. I'm talking about using a little more restraint and caution until you know more about each other's emotional availability.

Don't be afraid to ask questions about dating history as you get to know each other. Share information about yourself so your questions don't sound like an interrogation.

I used to suffer from what I call Romantic Fantasia. One of the reasons some of us get involved so fast is because it's been a while since anyone has jump-started our heart or hormones. We may also be afraid that it could be a long time before the next great guy arrives.

Forget scarcity thinking. You don't have to settle. You don't have to spend time with someone who runs hot and cold. You deserve consistency in words and action.

See your romantic nature as a gift. When the right guy comes along he'll appreciate this quality in you. We all get scared as we develop intimacy with someone. The right person will value you enough to admit he's scared and he'll want to work it out. This has been true in my life and I know it can be true in yours.



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