A few months ago I started dating a guy I had met many years ago.  Our families are friends and I happen to be very close to his sister.

He is probably the most handsome guy I’ve ever dated.  He is tall, slender and somewhat athletic.

We had a great connection at first.

After a month or so, I thought the relationship was not heading in the direction I wanted.  I tried to talk to him about it, but the conversation was a disaster.

I thought I was not going to hear back from him, but we have seen each other a few times since.

I can absolutely say that there are many differences between dating in the US (where I lived for 15 years) and dating in Colombia.

Machismo is a predominant trait in Latin men, especially in the Colombian Caribbean coast (where I am from).

Most men are raised to be alpha males – dominant and very controlling of women.

Latin American women – myself included – glorify masculine pride and condone many aspects of macho behavior.

Even though things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years or so, most of the women in my generational group were raised thinking that men should provide for, protect, and defend their families.

I have not dated that much in my life and I am not the savviest when it comes to relationships or men, let’s face it.

I feel confused and find myself playing games and planning strategies, which is not the healthiest thing when I am working on being more genuine.

My love life is not something I can easily discuss with my family and, when I talk about it with my close friends, I end up with different versions of well-intended advice and this only makes my mind go around in circles.

I am a big girl and only I know what I need and what I am willing to put up with and until when.

I am in a huge dichotomy.

On one hand, I really need a distraction, get out of the house sometimes and have fun, but on the other, there’s the social pressure of finding the right life partner this time and knowing at all times where the relationship is going.

I saw him about two weeks ago and the chemistry is still great, but I don’t want to settle for as little as he is offering to me at the moment.

His behavior is erratic and strange and my sense is that he is going through his fair share of problems.

There’s got to be something better and more wholesome in a relationship for me.

I don’t want to find myself accepting someone’s love crumbs again.

I am scared to death to put my feelings out there and get hurt, but as much as I want to avoid it, this is a risk at any point in any relationship.

I know I can be in a position of control if I want to, but I am afraid of being rejected.

Part of me does not want to lose him or the idea of him because I feel lonely at times so I’d rather cling to the memory of when things were nice and special instead of seeing what is really there.

At this point I have three choices: I can sit it out and do nothing (which is what I am doing), I can be more proactive and reach out, or I can just forget it entirely.

While I give it some thought, I should let the feeling of doubt run its natural course instead of obsessing over or trying to figure out why things are not working out as I want.

I have to stop taking it personally and think it is always my fault, or something I said or did, or what his issues are, or my absolute favorite – he is probably seeing someone else – because it is a pointless exercise that only generates anxiety.

In two years in Colombia, I did not feel ready to start dating. He is the only man I have allowed myself to go out with because of the history between our families and because I am extremely attracted to him.

A good friend of mine once told me to think about relationships in terms of fit. He might not be the right fit for me, but he could be the bridge to finding the right one.

Without a doubt, I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to dating and this story is definitely to be continued, but in the interim, I am going to try to be emotionally available and open to meeting more people.