Now You See Me, Now You Don’t.

habituation in relationshipsA philosopher by the name of Alan Watts once said, “If you put your hand on the knee of a beautiful woman and leave it there, she’ll cease to notice it. But if you gently pat her on the knee, she’ll know you’re still there. This is because you come and go. Now you see me, now you don’t.”

There’s truth in that. Many women have confided in me about their true desires for a romantic relationship. Very often their description includes something along these lines: “I want us to be together all the time, like two halves of an inseparable whole.”

It doesn’t work out very well for the very reason alluded to by Alan Watts. Any constant stimulus is subject to the brain’s capacity for adaptation. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Have you ever stared at a fluorescent green object for ten seconds and then looked at a white wall? If you have, you know what I’m going to say next. Magically, a fluorescent pink silhouette appears in your vision as you stare at the blank wall.

Why does this happen? This is because of habituation. Your eye begins to adapt to the bright colors of the fluorescent green, causing you to perceive the opposite color when the fluorescent green object is suddenly removed from your persistent gaze.

It’s the same thing that happens when someone gets rich. For a short period of time, they bask in the wealth, enjoying the sudden opulence and many benefits in brings. However, after a short period of time, the feeling of happiness fades because being wealthy becomes normal.

Surprisingly, the same thing happens after we face most types of hardship. Research studies have consistently shown that we tend to adapt to changes in our environment, essentially by getting used to them. It happens on the microscopic level in the retina of your eye when you stare at a bright object. It also happens on a more global level when you experience a sudden change in your life for the better or the worse.

We adapt to the things that remain consistent in our lives, even if we did not mean to. What does this mean for your relationships? Does it mean you should come and go, disappearing and reappearing in your man’s life? Not exactly.

Here’s what I think. Men enjoy women who have other things going on in their lives. It’s actually more pleasurable to be required to pursue someone just a little bit in order to enjoy their company. Let me give you an example to illustrate this point.

Jeffrey comes home every night to find Jill sitting on the couch, anticipating a discussion of each other’s day before they turn to their routine of watching television together for several hours. It’s the same thing every night. They both love each other very much, but this constant routine has dulled the excitement of the relationship.

Contrast this with the lives of Peter and Jenna. They are both active socially with their respective groups of friends, and they also enjoy spending time with mutual friends as a couple. They both have hobbies they pursue independently, and a few hobbies they enjoy together. When Peter wants to go on a date with Jenna, he cannot assume she will be available. He has to ask, “Jenna, are you available Friday night if we wanted to go catch that new movie?” Jenna’s response is, “I have rehearsals that night, but I’d really like to do something fun with you this weekend. Could we do it Saturday night?

Jenna doesn’t come and go from Peter’s life. She is consistently loving, and she puts him at the highest priority when it comes to her commitments and relationships. However, she is not a hand resting on his knee. She finds the balance between spending time with Peter and pursuing other avenues for enjoying life.

habituation in relationshipsWe are all different. Some of us men are more introverted and really do prefer larger amounts of time with the one person we have a deep and intimate relationship with. Some men don’t have that many friends or hobbies. Yet the principle remains the same. You just have to adjust it to the individual personality of the man you are dating. You still come and go, but the “going” part is less frequent for a man who feels happiest staying at home with his best friend (you).

There’s another reason I recommend you come and go. It has to do with you rather than your relationship with him. You will be a more vibrant human being when your relationship needs are met through varied channels. I believe there is truth in the adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

When you diversify the way you spend your time and energy, you grow in a more balanced way as a human being. It’s kind of like the advice given to authors who are told they should read widely from a variety of genres rather than sticking with only the type of literature they read and research themselves. There’s a sort of cross pollination that just happens to be healthy for both, you and your relationship when you spread out your social energy.

These blog articles are meant to be helpful for you, stimulating your thinking in ways that improve your world of relationships. To that end, allow me to leave you with a question. How is your balance? Do you have a good balance between romantic pursuits and nonromantic pursuits with your time and energy?


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72 thoughts on “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t.

  1. Riyo said:

    Thank you very much Coach James! It’s your higher thoughts and it is true that a beautiful relationship carries and pushes each other for adjustments based on what both do. If both are always the same in the comfort zone, it will never grow. But we all experience that it is bit tough for everyone to act independent when we are in the relationships. And yes, I get addicted to his romance and I’m going to be his only in my mind, however, in the reality, there should be always some muscles to work out within any relationship.

  2. Sarah said:

    Very insightful. After a 24 year marriage, I made the horrible mistake of being too clingy in a new relationship. If only I had seen this earlier to remind me of WHY the marruage lasted until death did us part! Now I am left wondering if there is anyway to repair your mistakes ( plural…I did everything…to many texts, too many calls, and just to needy).

  3. Andrea said:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and all of the comments and your responses. Right now I am going through a very hard time. My boyfriend of two and a half years just had the worst fight we ever had about 3 days ago, I am learning allot about myself as we have argued allot lately. To make a long story short I am giving him his space, but how long should I wait to try and talk to him? Or should I just wait for him to talk to me as he had in the past? How long should I wait? I am in allot of pain, we live together. He is talking to me, but doesn’t stay in the same room with me for long.

  4. Jessica said:

    Oh wow I am so great fun for this blog.
    James please help.
    I and my baby daddy have had a great relationship before our baby.but now after the baby things are a bit different.He does not spend so much time with us.I was hoping that he would speed things up.maybe stay together plan a life but he is a bit hesitant.We both have great jobs but is like he spends a lot of time at his job.
    how do I get him to give us all of him.even if he is not present but just to call us.worry about us.
    how do I get him to want to plan for our future.
    I have become a nagging gf.and sometimes I think he second guesses if I am really the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with because of the nagging.I love him more than anything in my life . How to I make him want to spend all his time with me.?Thank you James

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Jessica. Maybe you are trying to skip over a couple of steps here. Maybe you’ll have more success if you focus on just the next step.

      What is the next step for your relationship right now? Think about the story of your relationship. What is the logical next step toward building a mutual sense of trust and belonging?

  5. Pikake said:

    True to a degree. However, if people never put all their eggs in one basket, they are probably the avoidant attachment type. Have you studied attachment theory? Read Dr. Sue Johnson?

    Yes, I agree there should be other things going on in your life, but if you fill up your time too much with other activities, you won’t make each other a priority. The richest, closest relationships spend a lot of time together.
    If people only read a wide array of books, we would have no experts. An expert needs to focus on a topic and read about it. If you don’t become an expert on each other, then the relationship will always stay at a superficial level. It is possible to be balanced and healthy and still be super close and spend lots of time together and focus on each other

    • Leigh Passick said:

      I met a man 11 months ago. Stole my heart almost immediately. I won’t comment on the sadness and hurt not too mention the losses that also came with this man. Point in this comment is that when he put his hand on my knee, or on my shoulder I felt a connection that was like no other. So thank you for your comments and thank you James for your blog.

  6. Jo said:

    Hi James!
    Thanks so much! Im very inspired by this article!
    I used to believe that Im this type of independent woman who has her own friend circle and hobbies and will never completely rely on someone else. But I failed it in my last dating/relationship experience. Even until today, I don’t really know how to define this – we’ve been dating for 8 months and split apart at the point deciding how to move forward.
    His name is James (oh well). He is a very smart and innovative person. Ive received so much inspiration from him, and I could even say that he widened my view and made me more creative about life. But meanwhile, he is a very distant person when it comes to close/intimate relationships, even with family. He didn’t like people set a very high expectation on him and was concerned that I relied too much on him in the very end.
    I have to admit that I was in a very down period when our path crossed. I didn’t behaved like the confident independent real me in front of him. Instead, I felt insecure, and was needy even sensitive with small things such as whether he responded my messages timely.
    We had a nigh-long sincere talk before. We both hoped to make some efforts to change our stagnant situation. But after two months apart (I was traveling overseas), he didn’t want to keep his promise anymore.

    I know that now I really should focus completely on my life and rebuild myself. But honestly, I never experienced such pain and still incautiously think about him everyday after almost a whole month of breakup. I guess my inner emotional mind really want him back.
    Im not sure if I should – cause I don’t want to go back to the old path with a dead end; And I don’t even know if he felt exhausted about us and has already moved on
    Even if I beat all those doubts, im not really sure HOW to make it work.

    I want to become a better person in relationship so I subscribed your newsletter. BUT this time, when it comes to real life, my hands are tight.
    Please please give me some advice!!

    -Confused Jo

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Jo. First, it’s good that you are open to moving on if that needs to happen. But if you want to give things a try again with James, it will be a multi-step process.

      The first step is to get clear on why you are currently separated. Is it really because you were sensitive and a bit insecure? That may have set some events in motion, but he didn’t leave you then. He left when you were apart.

      Find out if he is open to being in your presence again. No big talk. No agenda other than spending time together. See if the spark that initially drew you together is still capable of igniting something special between you.

      James

      • Jo said:

        Hi James. Thanks for taking time to help me get out of confusion!

        For figuring out why we got separated – his description was “You’re not sure what you can get. Im not sure what I can offer. And sometimes I feel that you like me more than I like you. It may not be fair to you.” Honestly Im not sure if I did like him that deep or Ive just been needy about something I didn’t really get.
        I think we were actually good while I was away – basically texted everyday. The sincere night-long talk happened before my trip and the breakup talk happened after I came back. So sometimes I just wondered probably we just didn’t have good timing.

        As for possible actions… I said that I wanna pull off everything from him to better move on (was in a terrible mood that day). He was upset and then agreed to respect that. After two weeks, I asked him a favor to be one of my volunteer application references, he refused. We actually met via dating app, so don’t really have mutual friends in real life. As far as i see, I felt quite hopeless to get even simple things going again… T,T

        Hmmm… thoughts?

        -Jo

  7. SocialB said:

    Dear James,
    I read your emails, blogs, and watch some videos. I would watch them all but sometimes the 45+ minute videos press me for time. I have purchased your virtual books and just wanted to remind you that you are doing exactly what God or whoever your higher power put you on this earth to do. As far as balance. After just about 40 years of life, trials, tribulations, gains and of course losses I am finally starting to find balance for ME! And of course my child. I have found several times in my life that I have chased the absolutely wrong men, and new it but also have read so many books such as yours that I was adapting to their needs or wants thinking they were testing my strength and adaptability amongst men and or the relationship I was trying to make work. Bottom line is a relationship is not 50/50 it’s 100/100. And until that man, that real connection comes out of the wood work(per se) I as an intelligent woman, and mother have to do just what you stated and continue working on number one Me and my mini me:). You inspire me, and I am grateful that for whatever reason I found your site and actually did something about it instead of ignoring it or trashing. It. Thank you so kindly, and you are the realist truest definition of an author. Have a blessed day.

    • James Bauer said:

      Wow, thanks! I appreciate the encouragement.

  8. Cherisse said:

    James,
    I have read your stuff and it all makes sense and has helped me to better understand men in general.
    i have to admit I still get stumped by their reactions. I don’t initiate contact ever, when they text I don’t respond right away, but it seems once I do respond (which my responses are always light, but show interest in what they say). I don’t get a response back or the interaction is very dry and dull.
    I’m not confident that there is even an attraction on their part, yet they continue to contact me.
    I’m wondering if all this “interaction ” is just a BTN connection or that I’m not going about creating or maintaining the attraction (if there is even one there) I don’t feel I have the right understanding of what is going on and then what is the best way to keep interest going.
    Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!!
    Cherisse

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Cherisse. The answer would depend a lot on the circumstances under which you came to know each other. I understand the frustration you’re describing, but a good answer would require a deeper understanding of what original contact you had with a guy.

      It’s okay to initiate a text message after he initiated the first interaction. Try touching on some point of common interest or a question that pulls him into your world. Start with a vague question like, “Hey, could you help me with something?” and progress from there toward something more specific like, “You might remember my friend Susan who was there with me the night we met? She’s looking for help to get her dog to quit barking all day. I think you mentioned you have two dogs so I told her I would ask if you know a good dog training school or a good book to recommend on the topic?”

      Obviously, specific questions like this must come from things you learned about him during your interaction. Be genuine, but it’s okay to stretch a bit to find an excuse to ask for help or opinions.

      The key is, start vauge. Get a back-and-forth going based on nothing more than his curiosity about what you’re about to say. Only get specific toward the end of your dialog. Then, follow up with updates about the situation he helped with.

      I realize this probably is not your typical way of interacting with men, but maybe you would be open to trying something new?

      James

      • Cherisse said:

        James,
        Thank you for your response and I do like your suggestion to try and get some conversation started here. I’ll let you know how it goes!!!
        Cherisse

  9. RB said:

    James
    I enjoy your articles as they are very insightful. I myself have been in a relationship (long distance) for a year now. We went through growing pains and went our ways after five months. Things with work for him as well as life changing events for me drove us apart. We remained in touch due to the relationships that we had established with each other’s children (he has two girls 11 and 7 and I have a little girl that is 7). Both he and I are divorced. I found your book and began to read it when we fell apart, I gave him distance and time as much as it hurt. I pursued going on with my life. After very distant contact for about two months he began to come back around. He began to text and call. He started to make plans on his own to come and visit with his girls. He asked after the first visit (I had not seen him in months) if just he and I could go to the beach. We made plans and got away. We had a brief discussion that he initiated saying that someone had been pursing him and had become a “stalker.” He then explained to this young girl that he was not interested. He went on to say that she had seen social media posts of his about me. He explained that he did not have much extra time and that his girls came first then his career and any extra time he had he wanted to spend with me. Funniest thing about the talk (he did most of the talking while I listened) is that he said he was not in a place to make a commitment that he felt like it was not fair because he is striving to succeed at being not only a single dad but to succeed at his career. Since that trip he does the things that he says he was not ready to do. He text me every morning with “good morning beautiful and throughout the day, along with his texting me every night before he goes to sleep. He asks all the time when he can see me again. We have spent most of the summer together. We completely reconnected in the end of April and have been going strong since then. We do not put “label” on what we have but we do have an agreement that if I or he begins to find interest in another we will let each other know. When I made that statement to him, he replied “I do not want to see anyone but you, and even through our separation period I haven’t been with anyone or wanted to be with anyone but you. The distance bothers me because I cannot see you as much as I want to but you and I have seemed to make it a point to see each other as much as possible and I love spending time with you. I am not into an open relationship, and I am afraid of fully opening up.” I feel like he is a commitment phobic or a label phobic person. Which is ok with me, but he has made a point recently of telling me, ” I think the world of you and care more about you than you think you know. I do not want to loose you. You make me proud to have you stand beside me.” Recently I have received a promotion which will involve my moving physically closer to his location which he seems super excited about.
    James, question to you is how do you deal with someone who says that they do not want just exactly what they are doing?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi, RB. I’m always pleased to hear a success story like this. Thanks for purchasing a copy of my course and supporting my work. I’m glad the two of you got back together (even though he’s afraid to call it that).

      What’s happening here is actually fairly common with men. Men won’t commit to something they’re afraid to fail at. He’s still in position in his life where he he fears he would fail at living up to your expectations if he committed to being in a relationship with you. If a man does not believe he can “win” at something, he simply won’t play.

      Nonetheless, his heart is pulling him toward you. So he tries to have that real relationship with you as much as possible without making a verbal commitment. To be honest with you, I would not change a thing right now. He is clearly orienting his life around you as much as he can. Just keep encouraging that and time will do the rest.

    • Karoline said:

      Which book please?

  10. ČC said:

    I believe this works however I am at the moment trying to regain my trust with my husband. He was having relationship with our mutual female friends. So now I have no trust on him and our female friends. We are trying to work our marriage out and want to trust him again but I am at the moment angry when I start remembering all these betrayals.

    • Bree said:

      CC,
      I know and understand your pain. I went through it as well. My ex husband and I were exactly like the way James said it should be. We both did our things apart and together. However that did not stop my ex from cheating.
      We split up and I was a mess and angry over it all. But once I took my own part of the blame and realizes that I to was at fault for being a workaholic, it helped work on my self. And I was able to move past my anger, as I realized that the more anger I felt about it the more I was sick, depressed and the less he wanted to come back and try to make it work. I began working on me and my thoughts. He came back and for over a year we tried to make it work.
      Unfortunately we were not able to save the marriage but we saved our friendship which in the end was even more valuable to us both and we will love each other until the end of time. As we have come to forgive and let go of the past in order to move forward with the future and maintain a beautiful friendship.
      My point is, if you let go of the anger and distrust, you will being to forgive, you will come to see where this meant to go and how to get there faster.
      If you keep distrusting him and staying angry you’ll never mend the marriage.

  11. debera said:

    Dating again after 30 years. Your advice is invaluable!! Thank you so much.

  12. Joann said:

    Unfortunately I am married to a narcissist. It’s been a psychological battle. For personal reasons I am unable to physically leave. I have discovered that slowly breaking me as his “supply” has helped. I no longer cater to him as he desires and have begun to find me again from outside sources. James, I appreciate what you have to say. I don’t just read, I do. Until some things in my own life change I felt like I was trapped. I may still be married but no longer feel trapped. I have discovered friends and a support system outside of this so called relationship. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • James Bauer said:

      Joann. Your brave choice to consolidate what power you have (and use it) will pay off in the long term.

  13. PHILLISTINE said:

    You are exactly right James. I just never really perceived it like that nor thought of it like that or in that particular sense. But again, you are so, so, so right and I profoundly concur and once again Thank You very much… It’s almost like an “AH HA Moment” and your point of view actually; in essence, hits home base in quite a few ways to me. But. you know James, it is just that I know me and how I am and also basically what kind of man I am interested in or even the kind that I would like to be with in a true, real, faithful, loyal, honest, beautiful, etc., etc., etc., type of relationship (for life)… but my point is that, OKAY, and I quite fundamentally GET EXACTLY what you are saying and your point in saying that that you have relayed in your topic above. And I know that we should pick and choose our partners as wisely as we possibly can because truly ALL IT TAKES is for ONE PARTNER to mess up a beautiful union (just once) and then all of that invested time has/had just gone to waste (for however long) over (in the end) “A NOBODY” who we just truly wasted a bunch of our precious life and time with in various ways… which is very sad But extremely true with so many men. I feel that “YES” there are some “REALLY GOOD MEN” out there that in cases such as what you speak of (they) can/could be quite faithful, honest, loyal, sincere, true, etc., etc., etc., with some form of real moral respect for themselves first before they could “Be Real” With Any Woman In Their Lives At Any Given Time. Because it is simply like my mother has always said to us, and I deeply concur, and that is that “A MAN WILL ALWAYS BE A MAN NO MATTER HOW YOU SLICE (in words of speaking) HIM”… therefore, unless he is truly dedicated to that SPECIAL SOMEONE in his life, then “WHO IS TO SAY WHEN” he would ever do something real silly, immature, and/or elementary and just to have “something different” and/or “JUST BECAUSE” HE CAN”… But then AGAIN to then mess up a good thing (in some cases that is right there in front of him, because there are many women that ACT AND DO JUST LIKE OR AS A MAN DOES by messing up their union in any way, shape, fashion, or form)…. It is just so crazy this day and time that “RELATIONSHIPS TODAY” are just BY NO MEANS, (are) as BEAUTIFUL AND RESPECTED AS THEY USED TO BE back in the day. I only know that I am in search of an all around “God Fearing” (FIRST AND FOREMOST) and truly Awesome and Together (and of course, there are other fabulous qualities than those stated here, but for lack of that much time and space I simply leave it locked right here/there) man who is ready to get real in his life with an Awesome and Together Woman. I feel that I am aware and know basically what I want as well as How I AM … I just deeply feel that those “REAL TYPE OF MEN” are very simply REALLY HARD TO COME BY, although, I do know that they DO EXIST out there in the GREAT BEYOND SOMEWHERE. To God Be The Glory, The Power, And Dominion Forever And Ever…That being said God knows my heart far better than I know myself; therefore, I will simply continue, and never cease PRAYING TO MY TRULY OMNIPOTENT FATHER GOD TO BLESS ME WITH A TRULY GOD FEARING AND TRULY AWESOME AND TOGETHER MAN IN MY LIFE THAT WILL BE PROFOUNDLY SPECIAL TO AND FOR ME AND FOR US BOTH TO CHERISH WITH GORGEOUS MEMORIES IN OUR WONDERFUL UNION (Through God’s Grace And Mercy) FOREVER.

    P. S. Please acknowledge that I am not in any way, shape, fashion, nor form attempting to be facetious… I am (only) simply being quite real.

    Take care, have a very cheerful and pleasant morning as well as evening, God bless, and truly “PEACE” to you and yours.

  14. charlene said:

    I like the idea of a relationship that is inter-dependent. That being said, I have found it best not to hold onto anything in this life with a tight grip. I have also learned to not make anything or anyone your idol with the exception for me,God. Everything is on loan from him and he can give and take away as He see’s fit. It’s a blessing to have someone in our lives and yet a blessing to be available for others as a single person.

  15. Dana said:

    I have just got started reading your material. You could of written it about myself and my x husband. I can now see how I didn’t make him feel respected. I’ve been divorced now for 17 years, and I was married for 25. Your work could have saved our marriage. But maybe I’ll get another chance if it’s in the cards for me. Everything I’ve heard so far makes total sense. Thank you!

    • James Bauer said:

      You’re welcome, Dana. Thanks for supporting me in my true livelihood by making a purchase of one of my training courses.

  16. Melissa said:

    Marina, the Law of Attraction is always working whether we realize it or not, because it’s one of the Universal Laws. We’re always creating, whether by default or deliberately. Whatever energy we put out in our thoughts, feelings or vibrations, is what will boomerang back to us and show up in our life experiences, because we are very powerful creators. So, if I may suggest, and as someone previously suggested also, getting really clear about the kind of man and relationship you want is a great first step. Writing this down is very powerful because it focuses the energy even more. Think about it, visualize it and most importantly FEEL IT as if it is already happening in your life. Then RELAX and ALLOW it to manifest for you TRUSTING that it happens at the right time. Keep yourself in a high and nice vibration by filling your life up with things that make you feel happy, and focus on what IS working in your life and what you appreciate in your life now, This energy will draw to you the happiness you seek in a relationship with a man. We live in an Abundant Universe so trust in this Abundance. And if you have feelings of doubt or lack surfacing, shift your energy and thoughts back towards what you DO want instead to raise your vibration back up again, because that’s when the magic happens. Wishing you much happiness and love.

    • Carol said:

      Where is the “like” button? 😉

      Completely agree with you Melissa!

      And James, thank you for all of your sage and wonderful advise. Everything you share always feels so right.

      • James Bauer said:

        I love to see positive comments like these. It makes me happy.

        James

  17. marina said:

    The Law of Attraction never works for me. What am I doing wrong?

  18. N H said:

    This is so true, it’s important to find the right balance between doing things on your own, and being together. I was living with a very controlling man for 16 years, he only stayed at home for most of those years while I was working. A seldom time when I wanted to do something on my own with colleagues, old friends or family, it ended up in huge discussions where I for the most of the time let him decide for me. I didn’t even go to my grandma’s funeral thanks to that. Then, when I finally got out of the relationship, I met a guy I became really attracted to. He was the complete opposite, suddenly he just stopped answering my messages and it could go days and weeks where I didn’t hear from him. It made me feel desperate, which was a feeling I didn’t like about myself. And when he stated that we were just friends, I wrote him that I didn’t fit that well in a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship, wished him all the best and hoped for him to find the right woman for him.
    Well, I’ve been studying Law of Attraction, so I told the universe in specifics what kind of a man I wanted in my life. Within a week, I met him. He is soooo what I want, independent, but at the same time, loves to spend time with me. He used to keep only ‘playthings’, secretly wishing for ‘the right thing’, and we are completely open about everything. Like I told him that if he some day would find himself drunk and in a bed with another woman, it would be better if he told me, because I don’t go hysterical about something like that, and because having bad conscience and ‘dark secrets’ is a real relationship killer. I also told him that if he needs some space, he should just tell me. I have no problem with a man’s need for space, I just prefer that he says so instead of just suddenly withdraw or disappear. At the same time, he is really easy going with me, I have the time and space to do my own stuff, and he also has his own stuff that he can tend to. Said in short, we just feel comfortable together and spend a lot of time with each other, we just feel ‘at home’. And I have to thank James Bauer and his other relationship-author-friends for a lot of the insight I have about men and their secrets.

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