He's Just Talking About Tonight

Q: There's a girl at the gym who's hitting on me, hard. She's sexy but not somebody I'd do a long-term thing with. She seems kind of ditzy and desperate. I know I could go there, but it would be a one-time thing. The thing is, we both hang out at the gym a lot. So I would see her around and I think it might be weird after. But she's always talking to me and putting her hand on my arm or leg. It's hard to resist that for a guy. Should I just tell her up front that it's not going anywhere but we could hang out if she wants? I know most guys would go for it, but what if she makes things awkward at the gym? —Steffen-24

Dr. Pamela: Thank you for asking this question! It gives me an opportunity to combine a bit of behavioral psychology with relationship advice. A behavior will keep occurring if it's reinforced. The girl at the gym wouldn't continue to talk or touch you, if you weren't, consciously or consciously, sending signals that her behavior is acceptable, or even more than acceptable. You're allowing this situation to go on. I believe the term is flirting. But in this situation you may also be flirting with danger. If you sense that someone is ditzy and desperate, stay away. Otherwise you are courting trouble. You need to stop engaging this woman. Eye contact, smiling, funny or titillating conversation are all ways in which you are probably reinforcing her behavior. To change her behavior, stop reinforcing it. Don't' open a can of worms, unless you're ready to fish.

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