Ask Elana: Power Dynamics


Dear Elana, 

I am a 34-year-old woman who has been single for two years. Last week, I finally met a great Jewish guy, but he hasn’t returned my phone calls. I texted him after our date to tell him that I had a good time and didn’t get a response, and then I called him three days later to invite him to a friend’s party and haven’t heard anything yet. I’m feeling frustrated. What should I do? 

– My Phone’s on Vibrate For You



Despite the fact that you don’t hear your phone, I hear you loud and clear. After two years of missed connections, you finally found a guy who might be your beshert, and you can already imagine your future curly-haired children decorating your sukkah. The problem is that he isn’t picking up what you’re putting down.

First – and I say this with care – stop contacting him. No calling, no texting – find something else to do with your thumbs. I don’t care if he’s one of the chosen people, he needs to choose you, too. If he wants to find you, he knows how to get in touch.

The fact that he didn’t respond to your text or call tells me that he is either not interested or he’s pursuing someone else and hoping to keep you on the hook. Give him space. If he calls you, there’s a chance that you could develop a relationship, but if you keep running after him, you could chase him away permanently.

Right now, you should be less concerned with his call and more interested in how to establish power dynamics that build a lasting relationship.

Whether he comes to his senses and realizes that you are the milk to his honey, or you decide to meet someone new, here’s how to avoid moping around in sweatpants and eating leftover kugel while you wait for your iPhone to buzz.

I’m going to share a secret with you from behavioral psychology: guys aren’t “great” or not “great.” They are people, and they respond to reinforcements. If you teach a man he can navel gaze while you call, write and swoon, he’ll learn he can maintain your affections without lifting a finger. This is not what you want.

You need to establish power dynamics in the beginning of a courtship that will be in place throughout the duration of your relationship.

If you are always the one calling, arranging dates and texting him selfies from the dance floor of your niece’s bat mitzvah, then you are showing more interest than he is. You’re giving away your power, which makes you feel vulnerable, and ultimately makes you less attractive to him.

Consider the balance of power you want in a relationship, and then act accordingly from your first interaction. If you want an equal partnership, then make him feel secure and loved – and hold him to the same expectations.

The key isn’t to stumble upon a man who is “great,” it’s to find a mensch, a man who has good character and who likes you so much that he wants to match your level of affection and attraction. Put down that phone, and get out there. js

Elana Averbach is passionate about helping people find love. As a dating coach and licensed therapist, she helps clients optimize their online dating profiles, overcome approach anxiety, challenge self-defeating beliefs and develop skills for building attraction. Learn more at

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