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DSI--Date Scene InvestigationThe Diagnostic Manual of Dating Disorders
By Ian Kerner
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Ian Kerner
All right reserved.
Should He Stay or
Should He Go?
The Case of the Cad Who
The DSI 911
At 11:22 P.M. on March 6, 2005, DSI received a frantic call from Dating DUPE (Desperately Under Pressure to Evaluate) Ms. Amelia Jacobs, who'd been dating her boyfriend for fourteen months. Things were going very well, and the relationship appeared to be heading in a positive direction. She believed it was moving toward the "next phase," and the ARSE (Anti-Relationship Suspect Examinee) gave clear indications that he was of a like mind and heart. Then, without warning, he began pulling away. Boundaries were imposed on the amount of time they should spend together. Other social and work obligations were introduced that precluded Friday night pizza and a movie. To cap it off, the suspect began reciting all of his faults and shortcomings, as if he were offering up ammunition to seal the deal with his own bullet. At her wit's end, the woman called DSI with the age-old question: was it time to cut bait? The DUPE felt that her boyfriend was acting in ways that were commitment-phobic, and she wanted to know if this situation could besaved.
Our preliminary diagnosis of the ARSE suggests he suffers from a Fear of Commitment Compounded by Underlying Pressures (aka FOCCed UP).
FOCCed UP is one of the most common forms of commitment phobias (others include "I'm Just Not Ready Syndrome" and "The It's Not You, It's Me Complex"). Its onset often comes as a surprise, since most suspects will hide their reservations until their fears become overwhelming and then make a run for it.
The causes of this phobia are many and varied, though, as is usually the case, it tends to take root in childhood, precipitated by a loss or trauma, such as parental separation, divorce, or bereavement. In some cases, a child who witnesses unhappily married parents or abusive interactions will grow up reluctant to form intimate relationships. To avoid the pain of possible rejection or loss, such persons will distance themselves, in an effort to remain in control.
Parallel Case Anecdotals
A sampling of testimony from other recent DSI investigations reveals the following:
"Monica was a lovely woman, and I really think that, had things been different, I might have asked her to marry me. But I was just at a different place in my life, and I wasn't ready to make the sacrifices that such a commitment required. I'm sure in the end it will turn out to be a stupid choice, but it was an honest one."
-- Paul, 32
"I realize that I'm very set in my ways and hard to please. And I'm trying to become more flexible, but I don't feel that I should compromise what is really important to me to make a relationship work. Things with Jane were great, but they were never at a level where I felt that she was the one, so I saw no reason for the relationship to continue."
-- Mike, 35
"I was really surprised by the depth and intensity of the feelings that Jim expressed when I broke up with him. It was like a dam opened, and all of these emotions he'd walled off suddenly flooded out. It was sweet and lovely to learn that he cared so deeply for me, but it was too late. By the time he was able to communicate, I had already moved on."
-- Margaret, 28
"Todd and I dated for three years, but throughout that time, we were really only together for two years. It seemed like we broke up for a month every six months, mostly because I grew tired of how passive he was. But then I'd dump him and he'd make such a strong effort to win me back, and I believed that each time was going to be for real. There was a certain intensity to the pattern, even though I knew it wasn't healthy. Eventually I had to break things off for good, no turning back."
-- Summer, 33
The Dupe: Amelia Jacobs
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Fashion consultant
Relationship Rap Sheet/Ex Files
Past Serious Relationships: 5
Total Number of Sexual Partners: 8
Exes Still in Contact: 3
Has a history of being a harsh judge of character, but is also exceptionally generous and giving
Finds it difficult to maintain close friendships with other women because they get "too competitive"
Her desire for a relationship is strengthened by the fact that both her older sisters are happily married with children
During her sophomore year of college, Ms. Jacobs constantly compared her boyfriend to her older sister's fiancé, and eventually broke things off because he didn't "measure up" in ways she felt were important in a potential husband, including professional achievement and financial solvency, which her boyfriend remonstrated was rather difficult at age nineteen. When he expressed shock that she was dissolving a perfectly happy relationship for not living up to her marital ideal before age twenty, Ms. Jacobs said, "I'll have plenty of time for fun once I'm married. Until then, I'm staying focused."
Following a Valentine's Day dinner at The Olive Garden that wasn't as "romantic" as she had envisioned, accompanied by a second-tier box of chocolate by Lindt instead of Godiva, and a 14k gold-plated open heart necklace that was clearly a Paloma Picasso knockoff, Ms. Jacobs marched out of the restaurant and later withheld sex from her boyfriend for a week. Once he bought her a two-pound box of Godiva truffles and a genuine Tiffany 14k necklace, she made up for it by springing for a long weekend in a cabin in Vermont with a private outdoor hot tub, where they made love by candlelight in the middle of the night.
Excerpted from DSI--Date Scene Investigation by Ian Kerner Copyright ©2006 by Ian Kerner. Excerpted by permission.
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