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why is new boyfriend pulling away?
March 30, 2012 10:19 AM   Subscribe

How to respond when new boyfriend grows distant?

I've been dating a guy I met online for two months. We're both in our late 20s and live an hour apart. At first he came on very strong and seemed really into me. He was eager to commit, texted me all the time, was fun to be around, planned a weekend trip away. It felt great, if a little intense - I reciprocated.

A few weeks in, there was a slowdown. He started texting me 1/8 as much. He seemed less enthusiastic about seeing me. He acted kind of grouchy and quiet when we were together. This didn't seem to coincide with anything, like work stress or a fight. I gently tried to ask about this, and he grew very defensive, saying sometimes he is just quiet. He then said he felt like I was fawning and complimented him too much. Not 24/7, but sometimes. I was very surprised, but listened to the feedback and agreed to tone it down. It then occurred to me that he had never complimented *me.* No "you look nice today," "you're pretty," etc. I didn't think I complimented him too much, but was willing to adapt.

Anyway, after this conversation, he withdrew even more. I asked him to come to an event to support me, and he said it would not be convenient for him, and did not come. I began to feel hurt and to have real doubts about whether we were a good match. I said this to him. He then said it was very important to him to have me in his life, I am special, he likes the reflective conversations we have, but I was blowing things out of proportion. So we kept dating. A week later, he is still limiting the communication, acting "meh" and unenthusiastic, etc. He is not physically affectionate anymore. I have tried to let him have some space while still being warm.

This guy was so fun to be with at first. Was I wrong to say what I did? Is he just not into me? Is there any way to course correct now? Should I pull away and act "meh" too, or continue to be warm, or just break it off? I just want him to be like he was the first few weeks, and I don't know why he changed. I feel anxious and frustrated. This seems to be a pattern for me, where guys come on strong, then they back off, and I don't know why. How could I have handled this better? Is there anything I can do now to salvage this? We are still technically dating, he is just continuing to act distant and pull away. For all I know, he plans to dump me when I see him this weekend.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
He is not into you. He's doing the slow fade because he doesn't possess the necessary skills to call it off himself, so he's hoping to drive you away this way. Break it off.
posted by scody at 10:26 AM on March 30, 2012 [39 favorites]


I'm going to skip trying to guess if he's "in to" you, and ask .. why do you want him to be?

He doesn't compliment you, he refused to attend an event to support you, and he responds to your concerns by minimizing them ("blowing this out of proportion").

While there is probably value in looking inward to see what choices you might need to make differently, I think in this case, you can do much better.
posted by dotgirl at 10:27 AM on March 30, 2012 [33 favorites]


I used to be like your new boyfriend.

He sounds sensitive. If so, then he probably wants a mind-reader (whether he is conscious of this or not). He may still be into you if you do all the right things, which is really hard for any human being to do. If you want this to work, you'll have to be the one to initiate conversations as gently as possible.

Or, you're getting into relationships with the wrong kind of man. You mention that this is a pattern. Are you attracted to the same type of men, or are they different and all pull away?
posted by mild deer at 10:27 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sounds very odd to me. Either he's having second thoughts (over the first flush, doesn't like the distance, has another interest), or he's strangely controlling (via witholding). I think it's reasonable to (1) approach him again saying that you don't have absolute criteria for levels of attention, etc., but that it feels like you're now dating a completely different guy than in month 1, which is hard to work with, and (2) be prepared for the need to end things. It's always tempting to want to understand what happened, but beyond a few probes, there's no real way ever to figure it out, and in the end, you have to decide how you feel about the relationship you're left with, not about the one that it looked like you might have.

Good luck!
posted by acm at 10:30 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


What dotgirl said. Past behavior is a good indication of future performance. Why would you want to date someone who doesn't affirm or support you? There are plenty of nice men in the online sea. Go find another one.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:30 AM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know if you were fawning or complimenting him "too much" by any objective standard, if there is such a thing.

I guess you can take at face value that, from his point of view, you were fawning and complimenting him too much, because I can't think of any reason for someone to say that other than actually feeling that way.

As a general rule - if a guy acts grouchy, don't approach. He either doesn't want it, or he is trying to get you to fuss over him and you would be rewarding bad behaviour. If he's so grouchy you can't ignore it, politely excuse yourself and go home, because you don't need to be around someone who isn't good company, and if he wants to talk about it he'll go "I'm sorry, I know I'm being offputting, I just had a really horrible day at work and this happened..." in which case you can stick around and caretake him a little.

If a guy ignores you, don't chase after him. Same principle.

I would suggest that you start discreetly keeping score. Don't call/text/email more than twice in a row, so that you are communicating by strict turns. Reciprocate one gesture of his with one gesture of yours, but not two gestures of yours, or four.

I am not suggesting any or all of this is your fault. It's not like you started the relationship by mushing sled-dogs over the Arctic to Get Your Man. He led you to believe intensity was what he liked. Maybe you then did proceed to fawn over him, maybe not. If it was a mistake, it was a natural mistake, and it was certainly as much his mistake as yours.

But yeah, I'd suggest monitoring yourself for a while to make sure you're not overdoing it.

And as an overall rule, if he withdraws, don't pursue.
posted by tel3path at 10:31 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You should ask yourself what you gain by continuing to be with someone who treats you this way, and doesn't see a problem with it. It sounds like his feelings have changed, but he's not mature enough to be honest with you.

I say stop trying to figure out what you might have done to push him away and just move on. You deserve better.
posted by sundaydriver at 10:31 AM on March 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


How could I have handled this better? Is there anything I can do now to salvage this?

Try not to second-guess or blame yourself. 2-3 months is probably when a lot of people decide not to pursue relationships for whatever reason.

I agree with dotgirl; what's the point of this, for you? He lives an hour away; he's not physically affectionate; you can do better.
posted by BibiRose at 10:32 AM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


It felt great, if a little intense - I reciprocated.

Your instincts were spot on. Trust yourself a little more next time someone comes on too strong. This guy drew you in and now is teasing you with just enough little bits of affection to keep you on the hook. 2 months in and it's a LDR and he's already being like this? Move on.

When you meet someone, take your time to decide for yourself whether you like them, whether you want to see more of them, whether you want to commit to them, etc. Instead of following their lead, listen to yourself and go at a pace you are comfortable with.

Try not to feel anxious and frustrated. You deserve better than this.
posted by headnsouth at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2012 [24 favorites]


It could be that he's just not that into you, but it's difficult to say at this point.

Perhaps, he's got something going on in his life that he is having problems dealing with. I would inquire into what is troubling him in a different manner. Rephrase the question. Warning here: don't do it in a manner in which he feels to be backed into a corner. That would only make things worse, especially because you had mentioned "he felt like I was fawning and complimented him too much".

Good luck
posted by WestChester22 at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2012


two months in and he's already like this? you should be in a giddy, honeymoon phase at this point in your relationship, not stressed out, worried, and over-analyzing his actions and motives. move on. this isn't a relationship worth your time and energy.
posted by violetk at 10:37 AM on March 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


Was I wrong to say what I did? Is he just not into me? Is there any way to course correct now? Should I pull away and act "meh" too, or continue to be warm, or just break it off?

Yeah, you were totally wrong to be yourself. You should stop doing that immediately. Maybe you should totally make your entire life a reaction to please him. That'll totally work!

The only way to handle this situation is: do exactly what you want. Do not do something that you think is effective in manipulating the situation. Do you want to hang out with him? Hang out with him! Do you want to tell him he's pissing you off? Tell him! Stop thinking about this all and what he's doing and start listening to yourself. You might find out that "yourself" is actually saying "Wow this guy is being a total dick, who needs that?"

I'm sounding harsh because I want you to shake yourself out of this. It's not okay. But you are. There's nothing wrong with you.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:40 AM on March 30, 2012 [75 favorites]


It's not you, it's him. I bet this happens all the time--comes on strong, then the novelty wears off. Bet it happens frequently with his relationships. He also sounds like he's not particularly good at give-and-take. May be time to cut your losses and move on, or suggest that you see other people, and proceed to find someone who's more capable of relating maturely to you and genuinely returning love and affection.
posted by tully_monster at 10:41 AM on March 30, 2012


After dating who knows how many men, and trying to figure them out, I wholeheartedly second RJ Reynolds's advice.
posted by mild deer at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2012


It sounds to me like you would be happier if you were not in this relationship. If that's the case, you should not be in this relationship.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2012


Either he's depressed, or he's just not that into you. Break things off, and don't sweat it. This guy isn't worth your time.
posted by schmod at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, speedgraphic. Maybe it was when she described her response to his pulling away and asked if she was doing anything wrong? Unless she's wildly spinning her side of the story, he sure sounds like a self-centered jerk to me.
posted by tully_monster at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2012


What I'm saying is that the advice to "be yourself!!11", if the boyfriend followed it, might be leading to this exact same interpretation of the situation. Which makes him an empowered male, not a self-centered jerk.
posted by speedgraphic at 10:55 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to be like your new boyfriend. He sounds sensitive. If so, then he probably wants a mind-reader (whether he is conscious of this or not). He may still be into you if you do all the right things, which is really hard for any human being to do. If you want this to work, you'll have to be the one to initiate conversations as gently as possible.

I disagree. I think it's more likely that he does not know himself or what he wants, at all, and he goes into relationships expecting them to fit perfectly into the vague yet perfect version of A Girlfriend that he has in his head. He throws himself into relationships, but then, since you are a unique human being with your own quirks and interests, you do not match up with this image he has, and he resents you for it. Which is just so totally messed up.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


It sounds like this situation is very focused on what HE wants as opposed to whether you are getting what YOU want out of this relationship. You didn't do anything wrong. It is not about changing you or your actions to achieve a desired response from him. Be assertive, talk about what you want and need and what your concerns are. His response to this should be a good indicator as to whether this is a healthy relationship for you to be in.

Maybe you guys have fun together, but the romantic element isn't going to work. If you truly like him as a person, maybe there is a good friendship waiting to happen.

It just sounds to me like you are uncomfortable and questioning yourself all the time. That may not be his intention, but is that how you want to function in a relationship?
posted by retrofitted at 11:01 AM on March 30, 2012


I began to feel hurt and to have real doubts about whether we were a good match. I said this to him. He then said it was very important to him to have me in his life, I am special, he likes the reflective conversations we have, but I was blowing things out of proportion. So we kept dating. A week later, he is still limiting the communication, acting "meh" and unenthusiastic, etc. He is not physically affectionate anymore. I have tried to let him have some space while still being warm.

This sounds unpleasant to me. If he doesn't like how you act toward him and you actually gave him the opportunity to have the 'I don't think this is working' conversation and he both wants to keep dating AND wants to be all cold and unenthused....this is not the guy for you. In fact, it sounds like you'll maybe be dancing around trying to guess what he wants and not piss him off, etc etc and that's no way to run a railroad.

Seriously, there is this new ideology afoot in the land, one which says that women have to avoid saying what they think or feel, avoid asking whether we are even 'officially going out with' some dude that we're sleeping with regularly, and just do the dance of the seven veils on a daily basis for fear of "driving him away" or "seeming needy" or "causing drama". I blame the potent combination of porn and the internet, frankly - not that there's anything wrong with porn or the internet, but we have this new mythology about how men are these fragile wild-deer-like creatures who can't be startled or challenged on any level or they'll leave us for porn and OkCupid. To which I say, a fig for that.

Any dude worth dating has to be someone you can be relatively frank and direct with from the get-go, not someone where you have to hide your feelings and dance around a lot and micromanage your behavior and guess what he wants out of the relationship.
posted by Frowner at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2012 [51 favorites]


This seems to be a pattern for me, where guys come on strong, then they back off, and I don't know why.

To me the only "pattern" is that you are putting up with it. After a few WEEKS he starts acting grouchy and quiet when you hang out, and instead of bailing, you kind of sit there being super accommodating and accepting? You try to gently ask what's up, get a really defensive reaction and non-explanation, and try to be even MORE accommodating and accepting? You're scolded for sometimes complimenting him and your reaction is to try to "tone it down"??? Let me ask you OP, how far are you willing to tone your self down? I suspect you might be willing to sit there in a corner without making a peep every time you see this guy in order to accommodate his grouchy feelings. Why? Why are you willing to do this?

He then said it was very important to him to have me in his life, I am special, he likes the reflective conversations we have, but I was blowing things out of proportion.

All I see in this, from him, is me me me. He wants you around in his life to the degree that HE feels like it, for the reasons that HE wants. But he doesn't want to hear about what YOU want. He isn't interested in giving those things to you nor does he want to feel obligated to do so. And it's even worse that he expresses this with the line, "you're blowing this out of proportion." Not only is he not interested in giving you what you want, he will go ahead and try to make you feel selfish or crazy for having wants. Shitty.

How could I have handled this better?

Stop being so accommodating and bail when a guy starts behaving selfishly, expressing that he doesn't care what you want or that you are selfish or crazy for having wants. Don't be so willing to sit there taking it while other people act in a way that makes you feel bad. And like desperately try to get selfish people to behave in a caring way towards you.

The reason you are not getting caring treatment from these people is not because there's something fundamentally wrong with you or something you do. It's because you are looking for it from the wrong people.
posted by cairdeas at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


All we can know about this situation is what the OP has told us, which is that he's now blowing cold and expressing discomfort with the level of affection the OP is displaying and the amount of contact she wants.

I don't think he should be acting grouchy. But I guess if someone were new and I thought (fairly or not) that they were killing me with kindness, it might be a bit hard to say so. The socially inept way to deal with it would be to act grouchy until they asked what was wrong, in which case I might tell them. That's not an excuse for acting grouchy, but it might be an explanation.

Maybe he's an immature jerk. Maybe the OP is too fawny. Maybe they're just incompatible and neither of them is too anything, except for each other.

I would be very wary about trying to hang onto a guy who had displayed this much grouchiness towards me this early, whatever the reason. I would expect him to be that bad and worse ALL THE TIME once the bloom was off the rose (if it isn't already).

But if the OP wants to give him another chance, she could try following the pattern I suggest above. If it's a superficial problem, that might recalibrate it; and if the guy's just a jerk, a jerk he will remain, but he won't be a jerk that the OP is pursuing because, according to that pattern, the OP will withdraw in response to bad behaviour.
posted by tel3path at 11:07 AM on March 30, 2012


speedgraphic brings up an interesting point I'd love to disagree with, specifically for OP's benefit!

This person's words and actions are not in alignment. DTMFA.

Furthermore, the complete 180 in behavior without any explanation (plus actual denials that he's being different towards the OP when she inquires about his feelings/behavior) is so many shades of wrong, I'm incredulous that once I, too, fell for this bs in relationships when I was single.

There is no decent explanation for this guy's actions. Full stop.

OP, you know what to do.
posted by jbenben at 11:08 AM on March 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


After years of living with a man who made me constantly guess at his feelings and how he wanted me to respond, I realized that grown ups don't do that. Grown ups articulate what they want and how they feel. If, for some reason they don't understand or can't do that, they say "I'm not happy and I don't know why. Give me a moment to work this out."

Since that realization I have treated my friends, family, and partners all the same way. I expect you to tell me what's wrong. I am not a mindreader and I don't expect you to be. If I'm sad, I'll tell you. If you're sad and you need me to fix it, tell me and I'll move the moon to do so, but I'm not going to spend any more of my life guessing and walking on eggshells because I might have done something wrong. If you can't tell me what's up, then I'm going to assume it's okay and go about my merry way.

This guy either can't tell you what he wants or you aren't listening. Either way it may be way more drama than it's worth.
posted by teleri025 at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


And by the way, even though we have no way of knowing, this sounds exactly to me like a situation where he met someone else shortly after dating you and wants to keep you dangling for a while while he sees if anything happens there.

The reason doesn't matter though, the way he's acting is just not a good thing to put up with. If you two can't talk about it or you're not satisfied by the conversations you have about it, just cut your losses.
posted by cairdeas at 11:19 AM on March 30, 2012


I think a lot of people get way too enthusiastic when they first meet someone. Then they back off and act like they're irritated with the other person, when a more suitable target for their irritation would be themselves, for overcommitting. Back when I was dating, I found this really uncomfortable and tried to minimize it-- both in myself and in others-- by seeing multiple people at once and by refusing to get too involved with anyone. The problem is, if someone is of the mindset to come on gangbusters, they are only going to be more determined if you're not that interested, so the only way to avoid it altogether is to weed those people out immediately, and choose people who want to let things develop at the same pace as you.

I just really wish people wouldn't do this and I wish the dating culture (US in my case; forgive me if you are from somewhere else) encouraged a lot more shopping around for partners.
posted by BibiRose at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I began to feel hurt and to have real doubts about whether we were a good match. I said this to him. He then said it was very important to him to have me in his life, I am special, he likes the reflective conversations we have, but I was blowing things out of proportion

You're not blowing things out of proportion. It bothers you exactly as much as you decide it does and the fact that it wouldn't bother him, or even if it wouldn't bother almost anyone else, isn't really relevant.
posted by jacalata at 11:27 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just bounce. It's what he wants anyway and he's too immature to say it. He's doing the cold shoulder in the hopes that you'll leave him and he won't have to be the bad guy. This is because he's making the mistake of thinking that stringing someone along and playing mind games and being too shitty to say what you want are somehow not characteristics of the bad guy.

Even if this isn't the case, the fact is that if he were going through something then it's still incredibly childish not to be up front with you about it. No matter what his reasons for doing this are, you really should just bounce.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:34 AM on March 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Nthing the posters who say to let this one go. The moment you stop asking "is he into me?" and start asking "am I into him?" will be on of the happiest in your life. Seriously, it completely changed my outlook on dating and how I view myself. After years of dating losers, I'm now in a healthy relationship for the first time ever. But I wasted a lot of time trying to make things work with men who treated me poorly and obviously did not want to be in a relationship with me.
posted by anotheraccount at 11:37 AM on March 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


He sounds sensitive.

mild deer, you say "sensitive"; I say "insensitive". Potayto, potahto.

I have a habit of coming on VERY strong at first, too. I can be a puppy in my excitement over a new love interest, and have had to learn (still need to learn more) to greet at the gates of love with a gentle tail wag and an offered paw, instead of jumping up and slobbering them... At least I've managed to quit peeing on myself in excitement.

Perhaps that metaphor went a little too far.

Anyway, OP: he substitutes actual involvement in the relationship (being supportive, putting himself out for your sake, offering you validation through praise) with raw enthusiasm... which is unsustainable.

Go date someone more mature.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the story of practically every relationship of my early twenties. They started out full of promise and just kind of died after a month or two. It's not anything you're doing wrong, it's just that most relationships don't really get off the ground. But the more you emotionally invest in each new relationship, the worse it feels when it fizzles.

I think, at first, people are really into new partners because everything's exciting and sparky and the idea of finding love is just so great, and after a few weeks the excitement wears off and the reality of the other person kind of sinks in. This doesn't mean the other person's unappealing; it's just, whoa, there's an actual person attached to this.

If I could give any advice to my twenty-four-year-old dumped-yet-again self, I would give myself permission to be picky, and to break it off with people I wasn't super into or who didn't seem invested in the relationship. I really wanted to be in a relationship, and I doubted I'd find one, and so I placed way too much weight on "he seems really into me" as a measure of dateability without really figuring out if I was into them.

Ultimately, the test of a relationship is how well you two get along. Like in a mundane doing-the-dishes way. When you're caught up in an intense new fling, try to imagine yourselves in a dull or awkward situation - you're in a traffic jam or you have norovirus or something. In the end, you're going to have to be yourself anyway.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


...I was blowing things out of proportion.

This guy's response smacks of invalidation. He could just as easily have framed it more neutrally as a case of differing expectations, and he should have copped to giving you those expectations to begin with before changing his pattern with you.

This seems to be a pattern for me, where guys come on strong, then they back off, and I don't know why.

It could be that this is a point of vulnerability for you, where you've not yet learned to interpret coming on strong as a sign that Something Is Up. Meanwhile, if this is something a guy needs to do to get your interest, you may be ignoring more measured overtures from people who would be healthier for you.

For what it's worth, I'd break up with this person. I think you'd probably be horrified if someone you were dating were feeling as confused and neglected as you appear to me to feel here, and that you'd want to work with them to address the problem constructively. You deserve the same treatment.
posted by alphanerd at 12:23 PM on March 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I read the book Attached last year and it had a lot of good advice about people like this, which I actually didn't listen to and ended up in a mess of a relationship that sounds somewhat like yours. Even if he is into you, can he really give you what you need in terms of attachment.
posted by melissam at 12:45 PM on March 30, 2012


You should break it off because this is not a relationship that is good for you to be in.

It sounds like he was excited at first but now is not that into you. Either he met someone else and is stringing you along, he isn't into you but isn't sure of that yet, or is too chicken to end it and wants you to. Whatever the case, how he is now is how he is and it does not a good partner make.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:48 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh boy. Nobody who isn't in the habit of making you grin like an idiot is worth this much work and self-doubt. I agree with others--move on and find someone else who heaps you with compliments and never makes you wonder whether you're showing too much enthusiasm for him or your relationship. Next!
posted by anonnymoose at 1:15 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


End it. He wants to anyway. By phone or even text is fine - ordinarily I think text is kind of cold but it's a LDR of two months and he's clearly not into it anyway, so it's fine.

Three months from now you'll remember him only vaguely; and eventually you'll be with someone who makes you feel like your best self, not uncomfortable and self-doubting.

Good luck. I know it sucks to have someone give you that ego boost and then withdraw it, but easy come easy go.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


For all I know, he plans to dump me when I see him this weekend.

Just saw this. Let's be honest--it sounds like you aren't seriously emotionally invested in this guy and the relationship (as such) isn't working for you. Why do you need to wait for him to get around to dumping you? Is he your boss? He doesn't get to call all the shots. Why not contact him, pull the plug in a nice and straightforward way, and treat this weekend as a chance to start moving on without his ambivalence lurking over you like a cloud? Go on a random date with someone new and interesting! Or don't--spend the weekend spoiling yourself! Your time is precious--don't let this guy who may not even be into you make you carry your dread around in a bucket while you wait for him to text you.
posted by anonnymoose at 1:27 PM on March 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


He then said it was very important to him to have me in his life

Don't be codependent. If you're not getting what you need out of the relationship (reciprocated attention and affection), let it go.

Everyone has extra energy (new relationship adrenaline) for the first few weeks, but an early test of compatibility is if both people can find the non-hormonal energy to stay interested and keep up attention once it fades.
posted by itesser at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just break up with him next time you see him. Trust me.

I am rather ashamed to admit that I was that same guy once in my younger days. I should have ended the relationship right then instead of prolonging it another 6 months. scody pretty much summed it up. Although I cannot make amends to her anymore, I did learn from my mistakes and am more mindful about such things.
posted by special-k at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2012


I want to second the recommendation to read "Attached." It helped me (and I'm probably a lot older than you) to look at dating and relationships in a new way - and explained why dating can be so discouraging (because there are a lot of "avoidantly attached" folks in the dating pool precisely because ipso facto they are more likely to be single, and stay single for longer, and recirculate in the dating pool).

Other posters have given excellent advice regarding this man in particular. I wanted to address this part of your post: "This seems to be a pattern for me, where guys come on strong, then they back off, and I don't know why." Are you conventionally attractive, even beautiful, or else very charming and outgoing? This can be a problem when very attractive people (men and women alike) are dating. You are fantasy fodder - people look at you and fantasize about how wonderful it would be to date you. "OMG I want this person!" And it's all hearts and flowers and declarations of love - and then they get to know YOU and discover that you aren't like the fantasy they've built up in their minds. "She's not my perfect idealized soulmate so buh-bye!" Some guys leave and some take the chickenshit route and get all grumpy and distant and push you into breaking up with them. And it's nothing you have done, it's because you've failed to live up to a fantasy through no fault of your own.

Not all guys are like this, and the ratio of those who are tends to diminish as one gets older and the men in one's dating circles mature and stop being in love with love. The best solution to this is to take things slowly when you are dating. Get to know men as friends, and let them know you as a friend. Don't jump into IT'S TRUE LOVE! with both feet, and remember that those who sweep you off your feet in the beginning are usually more in love with love, and a particular fantasy, than they are with you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:48 PM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not to be alarmist or anything, but coming on too strong, too soon is a classic warning sign of an abuser. Not necessarily the beat-the-shit-out-of-you kind, but very often a sign of someone who likes to have the upper hand in the relationship and make you dance to their ever-changing tune. They are so intense at first in order to hook you in quickly because they know they can't keep up the facade of a nice, normal, healthy person for long.

Once they have you infatuated with them, the shit starts: they turn into some combination of cold, indifferent, picky, demanding, unreasonable, condescending, etc. At this point they are testing you to see what you will put up with. Any time they sense that you are about to bail, they will briefly pull out the hearts and flowers to suck you back in again, but it never lasts.

This creates a dynamic of intermittent reinforcement on your part. Every time the hearts and flowers comes back, it reinforces your attachment to the person because it creates hope that this time it will stick, that you've finally figured out what you need to do to keep the other person happy. But you haven't and you never will, because the only thing that makes them "happy" is having power and control over you and keeping you off-balance.

Of course, that is not the only reason someone might come on strong in the beginning... some people are just impulsive about love, or in love with the idea of being in love, and later they cool down when the novelty wears off. Either way, this doesn't sound like someone you're going to be happy with. I'm with those suggesting you cut your losses and move on.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:52 PM on March 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


It might help to keep reminding yourself that the hearts and flowers guy you got infatuated with is not the real him. That's a role he slips into whenever he needs to to get what he wants.

The real him is likely the distant, uncaring asshole you're just now getting to know.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:58 PM on March 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


He was eager to commit, texted me all the time, was fun to be around, planned a weekend trip away. It felt great, if a little intense - I reciprocated.

Looking back over this, this sentence rings a few alarm bells.

...he grew very defensive, saying sometimes he is just quiet.

This reads to me like a "this is just the way I am" type of stonewalling move. In my experience, the best response is a "Well, this is the way *I* am" move, with a redirection to figure out how to compromise.

Also, in my experience, those conversations have been pretty pivotal, and I've tended to regret not pressing the issue when I didn't, and being glad when I did, even when it revealed a damning incompatibility with someone.
posted by alphanerd at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2012


The honeymoon is over. It happens, people get into relationships quickly and find this is not what they are compatible with and they leave. It has been only two months, not enough time to commit to someone seriously.
posted by pakora1 at 9:34 PM on March 30, 2012


If you do break up with him, do not be surprised if he then boomerangs back to you in a few months. This is classic "The grass is always greener" behavior. Don't put up with it!
posted by Issithe at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2012


Stop calling, and be glad you found out what he's like now instead of years down the road.
posted by doreur at 4:37 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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