Dear Neil: Almost universally you’ll hear women say they want a guy with a “good sense of humor.” What exactly does that mean? Am I supposed to be cracking jokes all day long? I tend to be on the serious side. What am I supposed to do?
Not Understanding in Longmont, Colorado
Dear Not Understanding: Humor is associated with being light-hearted and playful. Being able to laugh easily. Able to take the slings and arrows from life in stride without getting morose or down in the mouth.
To put it another way, women don’t want someone who’s a downer, who’s complaining about his lot in life or about all of the misfortunes that have befallen him. Women don’t want a guy who is heavy-spirited, lacking in light-heartedness, or who comes across as burdened, depressed or just plain no fun.
You are not being asked to crack lots of jokes, although one or two wouldn’t hurt. What is being asked of you is for you to be interesting in what you talk about, and entertaining when you can be. In other words, you can’t be BORING. How can you be entertaining without telling lots of jokes? Tell a particularly interesting or compelling story about something that happened to you, an obstacle that you had to overcome or a lesson that life has taught you. If you mix that with being interested in and asking questions of her, you’ll come across as both serious and light-hearted—which is less superficial than solely light-hearted—and you will not be perceived as boring.
Dear Neil: I am in a relationship with a wonderful person who loves me. I just haven’t been able to love her back in the way she loves me. She is a quiet, gentle person, and I appreciate her kind, loving qualities. She has extraordinary faith in me, and has traveled 12,000 miles to be with me—far from her family. But no matter what I try, our relationship has not lit my fire. I think I want her to be something she is not. Also, she is 41, and I want a family. I love her but I’m not in love with her. I can’t continue in a situation where I feel I’m with the wrong person no matter how much she loves me. How do I sort this out?
Stuck In the Wrong Relationship in New Zealand
Dear Stuck: The painful lesson life compels all of us to learn is that there in no magic in being loved when you don’t love someone back. Love is not something you can force yourself to feel, or will upon yourself. It’s an energy that controls you—rather than you controlling it.
I would advise you to ask yourself this one question: is there anything she could do that would change your mind about her and engage your heart toward her? If so, what is it? If you can answer that question, communicate that answer to her, and let her know that this matters to you a lot. Then you are giving the relationship a fighting chance.
But if your answer is “no,” there is realistically nothing she can do that would assist you in loving her. Then if I were in your position, I would let her go. It’s got to be right for both of you, not just one of you. And being in a relationship with the wrong person, keeps you from finding the right person.