There’s little more frustrating than the inability to anticipate.
Let me explain. I have a friend (and no, this "friend" isn’t a pseudonym for Aubrey O’Neil Sabala; this is an actual friend in an actual Southern city with actual frustrations as you’re about to see) who is thoroughly ensconced in a full-out Un-Relationship. She and the guy are fabulously NotDating™, that undefined gray area where both are very clearly Affected by each other (caps intentional) but won’t make a commitment; or, to that end, even acknowledge to each other that the situation exists. In fact, they’re not even hooking up (anymore) and are what most would consider Just Friends (no reference to that crappy Ryan Reynolds/Amy Smart movie from last year.) The main frustration – at least, as I see it – isn’t their stagnant status but the inconsistency. On any given day, she doesn’t know what she’s going to get: the affectionate, flirty guy or the somewhat aloof dude who seems to have convinced himself to intentionally withhold the affection that would usually come normally.
My Mom defined this for me back in Middle School (Sue Sabala’s wisdom was the first influencer for the relationship that writer that I’ve become) – she called it "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back" to describe that any time a guy gets out of his comfort zone, he’ll inevitably pull back. I’ve renamed this "The Rubberband Theory" and unfortunately have not only experienced it firsthand, but see it happening to many, many of my friends. And before I get the backlash from all of you guys out there that complain that I’m overgeneralizing and harping on your gender again, I’m sure this happens with girls too; I’ve just seen it mainly in guys from my experience.
Anyway, the Rubberband Theory has only one defense: inaction. As it is with much in life, people have to get places themselves, be it in relationships or otherwise. Just as you can’t lead a horse to water, you can’t lead an unwilling pseudo-partner to finally take one step closer to possible commitment, and putting pressure on them is only going to backfire. It’s not fair, it seems illogical, but the antidote to Rubberband Theory is to be aloof; after all, a Little Aloof goes a Long Way.
Playing games, you say? Quite the contrary. This is just the appropriate response to the situation; inaction (i.e., what they are essentially doing by taking a step backwards) requires inaction on your part, not only because it gives you the perspective to understand what they’re doing, but it also provides you with the opportunity to decide how you feel about that. Without any context of manipulation, you’re essentially taking your OWN step back by not reacting, and (hopefully) are able to judge the situation in its entirety.
That, or make out with his best friend. That’s sure to cause a reaction, though probably not the one you’re looking for.