THE BACKGROUND: Does this happen to you? I have observed that in my past, men have professed love for me that has seemed wholly inappropriate. I could see their sincerity in their eyes, in their body language, all over their faces, but it was just not possible for it to be real, at least to me. There was always something missing. Either there had been too little time together, or some other reason why there was no intimacy whatsoever. There was sometimes passion, in varying degrees. However, there was almost never any intimacy, and there was absolutely never, in the cases I'm talking about, any remote possibility of commitment. For me, for it to be love, especially in the beginning of a relationship, passion, intimacy, and willingness to commit all have to be present for it to be love. Without those three factors, I could never feel loved, no matter how hard the man professing it claims to feel it. Recently, for example, I have had what I thought was a completely harmless flirtation with a man who has been a friend for about a year and a half. We used to play an online game together, and though he doesn't play anymore, we have kept in touch. As far as he knows, I am very happily married, and completely satisfied in my marriage. I will admit to flirting shamelessly, especially in the last four or five months. He said something outrageously raunchy one day, I responded in kind, and it went on from there. Tonight, I received the most beautifully written, most thoughtfully laid out, bare, vulnerable, passionate, and intense poetry anyone has ever written for me. And I have no idea what to do with it. Reading it, I can see that he has clearly read more into things than I ever intended to be written into the history of our interaction. I am stunned, as I always have been when someone whom to me was "just an attractive guy" tells me they are in love. I will figure out what words to use to make my feelings clear, in the gentlest way I can. His words express and reveal an incredible amount of vulnerability, and I'm honestly deeply flattered, so I want to be careful with his feelings. This event caused me to reflect on my history with this kind of occurrence. I wanted to figure out if there was anything I was doing that would cause such a strange imbalance. Not to sound egocentric, but a dozen or so of men I didn't love have claimed to love me, and claimed it insistently; this is the third one in the last 12 months. On the other hand, I have been in love with two men who didn't love me back, but I knew it was one-sided, and never told them. Every man I have ever verbally expressed love to reciprocated. My question is, why is it this way? What do I do that makes some men misinterpret our communication this way? One of my friends is like me, but to an even greater extreme; so many men tell her they are in love with her, that she simply dismisses them all, and never believes any of them actually love her, unless she loves them too. On the other hand, I believe a small number of those men really felt... something. I don't know. I guess I don't believe them either. Then again, none expressed themselves as eloquently as this last one. I don't know if that makes what he claims to feel more legitimate, or if he's just the most articulate person who ever claimed to be in love with me. Nah. There is attraction, and I suppose a certain measure of passion, and there is a bit of intimacy, but zero possibility of commitment from either of us. So it's not love. Not to me. The main difference I see between us is that she is significantly more physically attractive than I am, and I am a much better flirt. A male friend of mine frequently finds that women tell him they are in love with him, or he discovers that some of the women he's sleeping with have begun to believe he is their boyfriend, even though he explicitly explains that he isn't looking for a girlfriend, just a female friend to fuck. He explains it over and over, and they keep explaining how much they love him. One woman bought him $40K worth of rims and sound-system improvements for his car as a surprise to demonstrate her love. How do people get to that point with someone who feels so much less for them? THE QUESTIONS: Is it flirtation alone? Is it finding common ground on unusual topics? Is it physical attraction? Is it an attraction to the conversation? I have noticed that some people I know are always involved in unrequited love. What is it about them that causes them so frequently to love people who will never love them back? What is it about some people that makes other people, people they may not even consider friends, think they have fallen in love with them?