Here’s the synopsis of The Almost Couple attraction dynamic, using fictional characters Eve and Adam:
Eve has decided that she must be madly in love with Adam. She thinks he’s amazing, charming and handsome and can’t stop thinking about him. They’ve been casually dating for the last year, although she doesn’t feel like she can call herself his girlfriend because he is still too casual with her. They meet up once a week or so, as he has availability in his schedule, and they share a physically intimate relationship. As far as she knows, she is the only woman in his life. When together, they discuss what’s going on with each other’s individual lives and share life stories. Adam has come to her rescue many times when she has needed urgent assistance, so she knows he cares about her and yet they never discuss a future together or plan trips together. When Adam does go on business or family trips, he doesn’t invite her. Eve would love to change this, but she’s afraid to bring it up. She feels Adam may be scared of commitment as a result of past heartbreak and she wants to be the one to nurture him back into feeling secure. She often wonders what she could say or do differently to prompt him to finally feel comfortable enough to commit to their relationship in a meaningful way where she can feel secure knowing they are on the same page with their romantic partnership and she can confidently call him her boyfriend.
In this scenario, Adam appears to be available for a casual romantic relationship with Eve, yet isn’t in any hurry to secure this relationship with Eve through inclusive “couple” language or behavior that indicates he’s committed to an exclusive, long-term relationship with her. She also doesn’t appear to be high on his priority list, since she is treated more like a friend-with-benefits than an official girlfriend. Eve also has been too timid to communicate that this bothers her; she fears bringing this up would cause her to lose out on any relationship with Adam. She is investing her time, emotions and energy into a relationship in the hope of seeing an eventual return on her investment; however, she’s done so without any reassurance from him that there will be a return in the form of a committed relationship.
Eve is holding Adam to a subconscious expectation of commitment that he may have no awareness of. She has been so casual about their relationship and hasn’t communicated any desires or expectations nor has she set any specific limitations on their relationship arrangement that might suggest that she’s holding out for a different outcome. Adam receives all the benefits of a girlfriend, but only on his terms and not hers. Adam may suspect she will eventually want more, but since she isn’t behaving in any way to suggest this nor is she talking about it, he probably assumes everything is fine as-is, for now.
Because Eve has committed herself to Adam in her behavior and seems to have no standards around reserving that kind of commitment for a guy equally invested in the relationship, Adam will likely never see her as a valued catch. After all, her affection requires so little effort acquire and maintain that he has no reason to think he’s special in her eyes. He has every reason to think Eve has a low self-worth and just needs a man in her life (any decent man).
Contrary to what Eve may believe, her behavior prevents Adam from experiencing what it is like to be with a woman whose behavior is consistent with having set standards and expectations around her worth and priority level. The value of her desire for him becomes diminished, in his mind, by this perceived lack of standards, as her affection appears all too easy to win.
Eve is justifying the partnership’s imbalance through a savior mentality (“She feels Adam may be scared of commitment as a result of past heartbreak and she wants to be the one to nurture him back into feeling secure”). Anytime a woman is seeing something that is not expressed by the man, outright, she should first examine whether or not she is, instead, witnessing a reflection of her insecurities where there is plenty of room for other interpretations of his behavior. One could easily re-state this view of Adam as one for Eve: Eve may be scared as a result of past heartbreak, and she wants to be nurtured back to feeling secure. The fear of “commitment” part doesn’t apply to Eve because she views a committed relationship as the solution to her fears (by the way, it’s not). She is projecting onto Adam that he just needs more convincing before this is also a solution for him and she is willing to save him.
Note she has also been “rescued” by him several times in their relationship and this is an equivalent to proof of his devoted love in Eve’s mind. If rescue equates to an expression of love for Eve, then she will also look for opportunities to rescue Adam (whether or not he needs it) to show her love. His behavior that puts distance between them serves as a chasm for her to cross to save him (though she seeks to save herself).
Our subconscious mind will always direct our attention to anything that might resemble our emotionally-charged issues, even if it means seeing a distortion of reality. While it’s a safe assumption that Adam, being human, most likely doesn’t want his heart broken, it’s also safe to assume he will want to find a way to make the woman of his dreams a priority if and when he has an opportunity to be in a committed relationship with her.
As in the previous scenario, Eve is holding on to a future vision of what their relationship could be instead of evaluating what their relationship is in the present. Eve is more in love with a projected future version of Adam than the current non-committed version of Adam, and more importantly, that Eve isn’t evaluating the relationship based on her present desires for a mutual, committed relationship they are both equally invested in. She is behaving as if she doesn’t value herself and she chooses not to make her desires a priority in her life at the same time she is complaining that Adam is not making her and her long-term desires a priority in his behavior.
She is most likely afraid that Adam is the only guy of his kind who loves her and she uses this to justify hanging on to the hope that one day, he will come around to want the committed partnership she desires for them. If she communicates her desire to him, she’s afraid he won’t feel the same way she does, and she will lose any future chance of the dream relationship with him ever evolving. The fear of Adam leaving her altogether, or confirming her fear that he doesn’t view her as a potential girlfriend, is much greater than her fear that their relationship will remain casual forever. In the casual relationship, she can sustain herself by the mere possibility of Adam changing his mind and behavior over time. Other underlying fears for Eve include the fear that she is unlovable, that no other partner-worthy men exist that are available to her and that she will never have another chance at love if this one doesn’t pan out.
Eve would greatly benefit from a stronger connection to her self-identity, discovering ways she can find happiness and worth outside of a romantic partnership. She can then master self-love and the behavior that supports it, in and out of committed partnerships. This connection requires getting clear on her true desires, setting standards around those desires and making those desires a priority in the way she approaches her life and dating. She can still date casually and have fun, but she will be able to confidently articulate reasonable expectations related to her desires and self-worth to potential suitors. Expanding her social contacts and increasing her interactions with men would also go a long way in helping her to feel confident realizing that Adam could only be the last-hope option for a woman lacking self-confidence. The world outside of her present imagination consists of many potential partners who are waiting to meet a woman like her and hoping to create a long-lasting partnership.
Eve could learn a great deal about how to get a better handle on her self-love and have more control over her fears by using the information found in the book.