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Health & Sex

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Decoding Men's Oddball Love Signals

His gifts are terrible. He talks when you want him to listen. His idea of a date is take-out pizza on the couch. Is this your guy's notion of affection and romance? Well, actually, yes.

The Mating Game

decoding_mens_love_signalsTo quote Cool Hand Luke (it's a guy thing), "What we got here is... failure to communicate" — a disconnect sown by the fact that men start lying from the moment we meet you. (Lying might be too strong a term. It's more like acting, or attempting to play the part of someone you might actually want to sleep with.) "A man is playing a role in the beginning of the relationship; so is the woman," Farrell says. "Eventually he acts more naturally — in ways that he never would on the first date — and it's hard for women not to end up feeling unappreciated."

Indeed, most guys will admit that during "the chase," we'll bend over backward to act all lovey-dovey, just the way you seem to like it. It's not as if sending flowers, cuddling on the couch, or tolerating your friends are natural acts for us. And once the chase has slowed to a crawl and we revert to our natural monosyllabic ways, your previously exceeded expectations suddenly go unmet.

As proof of this mating ritual, we offer Rob, 45, a shoe designer in Boston. "I've been married for 20 years now," he says. "And when we were first dating, I suppressed even the smallest burp. But familiarity breeds comfort, and these days I might show my love by, say, not closing the door of the bathroom while I'm using it. That's a married guy's way of saying, 'I love you so much that I'm opening up my entire world to you, even my most intimate moments.'"

Okay, so it's hard to call that a love note, per se. Regardless, while familiarity may breed many things, romance is clearly not one of them. Daylle Deanna Schwartz, a couples counselor and author of All Men Are Jerks – Until Proven Otherwise, knows the pattern well. "I once dated a guy who repeatedly sent me flowers — until the first time we had sex. And then never again," she says. "Then one day he came to my place with a bag from The Home Depot, and he said, 'I bought you something because I care about you.' Inside was a water filter. He said, 'I'm going to install it on your sink, because I heard on the news that there was a lot of lead in the water, and I want to protect you.' And I did see that as an act of love. Although I still wanted the flowers."

"I sent my wife daffodils, her favorite, in our first month of courtship. And I still do it! I'll often give her flowers when she finishes a big work assignment, just because I care." —David Tessendorf, 40 Pearl City, IL

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