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How soon is too soon to start feeling restless in relationship?
May 25, 2011 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Should I be concerned that my SO is already scared of feeling "trapped" because of our long-term/forever potential after 2-3ish months of dating (and 7 of close friendship)? He mentioned noticing other women more than normal and equates it to feeling scared of eternal monogamy. Is this a giant red flag? Or am I picking a fight with someone willing to be honest with me about his feelings? Or both? More details inside. (anon because he and mutual friends are aware of MeFi handle)

Notes:
I recently ended a 5 year relationship
We are both in our mid-to-late 20s
He has been in previous LTRs
He seems to generally be the one driving the serious nature of the relationship: saying ILY first (and soon!), asking for a move-in (and me not accepting because I dont feel ready), generally talking about the future and our lives together in it
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are some people for whom monogamy is not a real preference. Nothing wrong about that. He might be giving you a head's up.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:04 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this is a huge red flag. It's great he's being honest, but I think it's important to know if you feel monogamy is something you would value in this relationship. If it is, think pretty hard about how far you want to let this go. I'm sorry. This is sad.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


because of our long-term/forever potential after 2-3ish months of dating (and 7 of close friendship)?

2-3 months...long term / FOREVER potential? I think you need to re-evaluate your standards.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:07 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I met someone I was completely nuts about in a "forever" way, I wouldn't be scared of monogamy. I'd be thrilled to my bones that I didn't have to keep going on with the ridiculous and demeaning charades of dating.

I am suspicious of anyone who says "ILY," very early. To me, love is accepting someone wholesale while knowing them very intimately, and I just don't think it's possible to know someone that well within a couple of months. True, you were friends, which is great, but now you're in an intimate relationship. Different from being friends, for sure, so the rules have changed.

I would just advise caution, I suppose. It wouldn't hurt to slow your roll a bit in this affair.
posted by amodelcitizen at 2:13 PM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I recently ended a 5 year relationship
We are both in our mid-to-late 20s
He has been in previous LTRs


Are there any ommissions here?

I'm guessing you're 25-26. Had a boyfriend from the age of 20...he might have been your first, or first serious relationship. Now you're 'bounding with this dude.

Have you been in any other LTRs, or only one?

Do you think you may be looking for something that wasn't in your last relationship...but a little too fast here?

Do you think your perception of LTRs might be influenced by the fact that you got out of a 5 year relationship "recently"...and are now onto another guy hoping this is "forever".

Sure he's moving fast (love, moving in)...but maybe you're moving too fast in the commitment region. I'm not making any judgments, I just think it would be better if you talked to him about his perception of "forever" or commitment and figured out what to do from there.

He mentioned noticing other women more than normal and equates it to feeling scared of eternal monogamy.

ETERNAL? Is he bouncing off words you throw at him (eternal...yikes), or is he saying them on his own?

Have you been in any relationships that lasted between 1 month and 1 year? Because I think you just landed in one.

Good luck, and I hope you both find what you are looking for...even if its with someone else.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:14 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you asked him why he's pushing the relationship forward so quickly when doing so makes him feel trapped?

There's not enough information here to really tell if it's a "red flag" or not because plenty of people start freaking when a relationship lasts more than a couple of months and they have to consider where things are going, and especially since you say he's been in LTRs in the past then maybe he has some issues/fears related to those past relationships. We can't predict whether he'll get over it or not.

As for your reaction, I also don't feel there's enough info to know if you're just "picking a fight" with someone who's being honest about his feelings because you haven't explained what that entails. I can say that getting angry at someone -- if that's what you're doing -- for expressing their feelings doesn't seem to be a helpful solution to situations like this. Either you accept how he feels and keep the pressure off him until his crisis passes, or you break up with him. Getting angry at him just means things are drawn out and ugly until you break up, or else he feels browbeaten into commitment, the relationship stays rocky, and you break up later anyway.

You have to be willing to get him to describe his specific fears, and to talk about them in a non-judgmental way, if you want to resolve anything. "Scared of eternal monogamy" is really vague. What is scary to him about monogamy? Is it the idea that he'll never fuck anyone else? Is it the idea that he's putting a lot of trust in you and you might betray it? Is it the idea that he might spend years with you but then it doesn't work out later, just like his other LTRs? Is it the idea that you might not be the one for him, but he would stay with you anyone?

If he has been unwilling to elaborate, consider that your reaction (if it is indeed to "pick a fight" as you described) may be why. If he has elaborated, then you need to talk with him about what would make him feel more comfortable, or whether you're willing to move slower, or that he needs to quit driving things forward because that's confusing for you, or whatever the specific issue might end up being.
posted by Nattie at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone who is resorting to those tired tropes already after a couple or three months basically isn't that into you.

Or, considering the fact that he was previously the one who was steering things to move freakishly fast - he runs extremely hot and cold and is probably best avoided regardless of his feelings for you.
posted by Sara C. at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


My now husband did exactly this when we were first dating. A lot like you, we were very close friends for years before things turned romantic. I was just coming out of a 5ish year relationship, we were in our mid to late 20s etc.

I think the particular circumstances moved up the time frame on freaking out about certain things. We knew each other very, very well and were very emotionally close before we even got started dating. So, fore example, he knew I wanted kids but wasn't sure he did leading to him having a panicked conversation with me about 3 weeks into our dating relationship. We already loved spending time together so were moved in together from practically day one, but it was fast after my previous break-up leading me to freak out a bit about never really being independent, needing a man etc. All of this was discussed very openly and honestly, because we were so emotionally intimate before it was a relationship and sometimes felt wierd and red flaggy to me too. In the end it worked out just fine for us. We've been together for over a decade, have a kiddo, etc. I think what was helpful was honest discussion, but also the ability to lovingly tell the other one "Hey, why don't we just date each other for a few months before we make a lifetime commitment to each other."

Your guy may have just gotten in the habit of confiding these kinds of things in you as a friend, when he might keep them to himself in a new relationship. That is great for later in your relationship, but for now, it's ok to want a little "getting to know you" mystery too. Table the serious stuff for a few months, if you really like him. Also consider what he's been like over that previous 7 years you've known him. If he has managed monogamy before, chances are he will again. If not, there is a discussion for you to have in a few weeks.
posted by goggie at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would end it, personally. It's good that he's being honest with you, but honesty doesn't automatically mean he's the one. Especially if he's not sure he's the one, either. So, actually, let me rephrase - end it if you're looking for a monogamous LTR with him. Adjust your expectations and keep communication going with him if you're willing keep the relationship terms open.
posted by katillathehun at 2:30 PM on May 25, 2011


.. I don't know- even after seven years of being buddies, three months is really quick to be all "IT'S YOU AND ME TILL THE END OF TIME." This is a whole new kind of relationship.

He just got finished with a five-year relationship? Is there a chance he's going through a bit of the crazy? I would say slow the eff down on every single thing.

If he's telling you he's looking at other ladies- that is some rude bull shit right there. When you're out to dinner does he stair at the server's boobs? Why would you do that? Could it be that he's prepping you for his infidelity, or getting you ready for a let-down?

I'm behind just slowing down completely for a little bit. Tell him that you'd feel a lot betting if you didn't freaking talk about long term for six months. Take the pressure off and just get to know eachother romantically.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


He is noticing other women? Golly. I am over 80 and I do that all the time and have been married 28 years. But I adore my wife and can not imagine life without her. Men look. Now there may be other things worth considering, but I think you are getting some sound ideas here.
posted by Postroad at 2:36 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


If I met someone I was completely nuts about in a "forever" way, I wouldn't be scared of monogamy. I'd be thrilled to my bones that I didn't have to keep going on with the ridiculous and demeaning charades of dating.

You might think so, but I can say from experience that it depends on when in your life this happens. I met my husband of 22 years(!) when I was just 16. We both felt, "This is the person I want to marry." But we'd never held down real jobs, gone to college, never seriously dated anyone else...there were lots of reasons why the timing of it freaked us both out over the years we dated.

I think he's crazy about you, and said so. And he thinks you are comfortable and compatible together and thought it would be cool to live together. I think you heard all of that and figured, "He's saying he wants a commitment! He wants us to always be together!" Because to you, moving in is serious business (I'm with you there, actually). And you probably don't say, "I love you," lightly either.

And now he is feeling trapped because he just said what he felt and didn't really think beyond this point. And he's back-pedaling. Since he's been in LTRs before, I wouldn't assume this is a red flag, just a sign that he's not very introspective and has a tendency to leap right into things. You know him as a friend--is he usually the impulsive type?

What I'd do is, I'd back off of the relationship talk. Take it day-by-day and week-by-week for a while and don't worry about "where all this is leading," or what "it all means". You've recently been in a serious long-term relationship, and you don't need to be rushing into anything like that again so soon. And if he brings up living together again, or brings up feeling trapped or restless, point out to him that he is the one putting pressure on himself and the relationship, not you.
posted by misha at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Men look.

Everyone looks. Only people who are extremely rude or lacking in social graces volunteer that information to their partners. Especially in the context of a fear of monogamy, not knowing if they have a future, etc. That's just gross, sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why should you be grateful for the honesty of someone warning you that he might decide to run off with someone else at any moment? If that were true, why would he want you to know that?

Also, he wants to move in already and you turned him down on that? Quick, better grab him and start putting up café curtains and going to Ikea before he runs off!

No, I seriously wonder about his motives. People who want to live together this fast are usually doing it because they want to lock you down before you figure out what's wrong with them. Proclaiming fear of commitment is not only inconsistent with that, but a very popular way of getting someone to cater to them so that they'll keep you around.

I think you should continue not to live with him and also pay attention to anything else that strikes you as incongruent.
posted by tel3path at 2:43 PM on May 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


He seems to generally be the one driving the serious nature of the relationship: saying ILY first (and soon!), asking for a move-in (and me not accepting because I dont feel ready), generally talking about the future and our lives together in it

VS

Should I be concerned that my SO is already scared of feeling "trapped" because of our long-term/forever potential after 2-3ish months of dating (and 7 of close friendship)?

Sounds like drama. Do you want drama? If yes, then stay and move in with the him. If not, drop him like hot potato and go find someone who's consistent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


He's saying "I have no clue what I want, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of doing things that are impulsive and emotionally risky!"

Seriously. He has no idea if he wants to commit or be monogamous but he's still wanting to move in with you. He has bad, bad judgment. Proceed with caution.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:46 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


He seems to generally be the one driving the serious nature of the relationship: saying ILY first (and soon!)

An article on a recent study:Men often the first to utter 'I love you'


From the article on the study:

Interestingly, a new study has found that when it comes to confessions of love, men often are the first to declare their feelings. Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t as quick as men to confess their love, despite their reputation for being emotionally-driven and relationship-oriented.

He's trying to tell you something, and I think he's trying to take back what he said about moving in and saying "I love you." Yes, it's normal for men to look at other women, but I think what he's trying to convey with that could be either that he wants to keep his options open and he's sorry he moved so fast but he doesn't want to dump you yet, or that he's honestly worried about how good of a partner he'll be, OR that he wants to fuck other women but still keep you on his roster but he'd definitely dump you if someone better came along. In the latter case, he wants to be a "nice guy" and give you the heads up that he wants a friends with benefits thing going with you without actually saying, "Can I have a pass to sleep with other women but still have you like me the way you do and let me sleep with you too?" It's sort of a tactic guys use to groom you into a hookup relationship.

No offense to your boyfriend, who probably needs recovery time from the end of his relationship, but you should find someone who has his shit together. It'll take a lot of time to weed the ones that don't out, but date a lot and often and you'll meet someone terrific who prefers committed relationships.
posted by anniecat at 2:50 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I just want to give a little bit of props to your boyfriend for being honest because some guys just hide that kind of thing and will waste your time while they hide it. That being said, I think you should dump him, but thank him for being honest because that will encourage him to be honest with other women in the future.
posted by anniecat at 2:54 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone looks. Only people who are extremely rude or lacking in social graces volunteer that information to their partners.

I disagree. I feel it's a sign a relationship is healthy and both people involved are secure and honest when someone can say those things. I have had bad experiences being the person who couldn't handle even hearing that my partner looked, and have found that people unwilling to be honest about that often either have something to hide or know their partners will blow up if they're honest. If a thought crime isn't a big deal, then neither should it be a big deal to talk about it. Sometimes the whole nervousness about whether it's okay to express those things causes more problems than it prevents.

There's definitely a way to be crass and insulting about it, like "I noticed this girl because she has nice breasts and I don't like yours," but the OP hasn't given us any way to tell if her boyfriend does that or not.

My husband and I both point out people we find attractive, and we're able to do this because we both trust each other. If I was in a relationship with a person and they told me they were noticing other women and it was making them think maybe they weren't ready for commitment, it would suck for me to hear but it wouldn't be bad for them to say it. I would want them to say that if that was the case.

I don't blame anyone for feeling it's uncool, but I think your characterization of "only people who are extremely rude or lacking in social graces" would do such a thing is crossing a line and over-generalizing. Very kind, honest people do it and have better relationships for it. You wouldn't like it if I had said that "only insecure and dishonest people can't handle talking about these things" would you? Just because something is sometimes the case doesn't mean it's always the case.
posted by Nattie at 2:54 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Always believe what people tell you about themselves.

It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. How people see and describe themselves governs how they act.

And sadly, there’s a converse rule, which protects me from the trap of false flattery:

Never believe what people tell you about yourself, unless they back it up with actions.
posted by Nixy at 2:55 PM on May 25, 2011 [32 favorites]


(Unless I'm mistaken, the two have been friends for 7 months, not 7 years. Carry on.)
posted by Riverine at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2011


I feel it's a sign a relationship is healthy and both people involved are secure and honest when someone can say those things.

But, like I said, it's all a matter of context. There's a vast difference between, "Haha, I was totally checking that girl out, wasn't I?" and "I feel trapped in monogamy, and lately I've been checking out other women a lot."

I mean, sure, at least the latter is honest. At least it gives OP a chance to be the first to make a run for it. But that doesn't mean it's good behavior.
posted by Sara C. at 3:51 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nattie's right.

There just isn't enough information here, frankly. (Something that I hate to say on AskMe because I think too many people give a load of irrelevant information.)

Could be something; could be nothing. But with only a little information, it's like a relationship horoscope which everyone projects their foibles onto.
posted by klangklangston at 4:30 PM on May 25, 2011


Agree with Klang and Nattie.

It could just be intimacy freak-out on his part, that came from his moving too fast. Maybe he feels weird because he proposed cohabitation and you (wisely) turned it down for the present time. Maybe he's going be drama queen and bail.

Take it one day at a time, like others have said.
posted by angrycat at 4:34 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe he runs hot and cold. But also, 2-3 months is a time when a lot of people actually start to take stock of the relationship. Not knowing this guy at all, my guess is that he was into you when things were new and exciting, now he's starting to *actually* think about the future and isn't so much into it... but he enjoys your company enough that he doesn't want to break up with you right now.

If he is being honest with you, he's being honest with you about something you really need to listen to -- his increasing ambivalence, at a time when ambivalence shouldn't be increasing if he wants a relationship with you. (Easier said than done, I know.)
posted by J. Wilson at 4:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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