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Is it over already?!
February 5, 2013 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Over the weekend, I turned down an invitation to a birthday party (from a man I've been seeing for 3 months) because I wasn't actually invited to it by the girls who held it. It just so happened to be one of several incidents in which I have turned him down for weekend festivities. Now he seems to be ignoring me...or am I going crazy?

Backstory: I have been working at a very small company with 10-15 people. Over the past months I have come to be quite close with some of my colleagues here. And through their introduction and encouraging, I started going on dates with one of my colleague's (B) roommates and best friends A, and things have been going very well between me and A for the past 3 months. We have gone on many dates, to concerts, and hung out at his place. Since I also work in a particular profession with a rather small social scene, we tend to know other people who are also of the same profession this town, and thus everybody among our mutual friends ends up being everyone else's boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/colleague.

I've been seeing A (26/m) for the past 3 months. Everything's been going smoothly, we had been texting each other back and forth every other day so far. Last friday, after spending the evening with him walking along a boardwalk and having a very sweet time, he mentioned that there was a birthday party coming up the day after, held by two girls (one of which is my colleague B's girlfriend, and another who's an acquaintance). Since I'm friends with the former girl and wasn't invited to the party by her in any way (even though I ran into her and had drinks with her and her friends the same friday night, she never brought it up; and she has in the past invited me to some activities), I thought perhaps she had intended for it to be a more private gathering so I turned it down because I didn't be to be intrusive. Now thing is, I happened to have turned down a couple other things A has invited me to in the past (because it was always kind of last-minute and casual), and they all also happened to fall in the weekend. I decided to be honest and told him that I just wasn't comfortable with going to a party that I "wasn't really invited to it". And in the response, this is what I got from him:
"Actually, this is my fault I'm sure. You were invited but i'll make sure you feel comfortably invited in the future. Have a nice evening if you're just chilling out!"

At the time, I thought he was being sweet and thought nothing of it and told him I appreciated it. That was Saturday. So far today, I've asked him to see a movie (that we made plans to see last week) with me this week and have gotten a reply (a whole day afterwards) from him saying that he'd be available on Wednesday. I replied, making conversation but he hasn't replied since. It was unusual for him because from our interactions in the past even when was he was busy he was always good with responses. Later tonight I decided to give him a call since I came to a realization that he might be holding a grudge (judging by his text above) and wanted to explain and make small talk, but was directed to a voicemail after 4 rings...

SOO, I guess the question is, did I come off as high-maintenance with the whole thing about being uncomfortable with going to the birthday party? And was his text meant to be a sarcastic & angry response? Has he written me off for good? And really, has this question revealed any bigger issues concerning my attitude towards social etiquette and dating? I've already made a phone call, and definitely don't plan to call again. It seems like a petty issue, but I've never had such an abrupt end to a dating relationship so I don't really know how to react to this. I'd appreciate any insight. Thank you!
posted by 01080591 to Human Relations (59 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If he's free to go to the movies with you on Wednesday then it seems unlikely he's written you off for good. It sounds like you're massively overthinking this.
posted by caek at 5:15 AM on February 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


The text doesn't sound super-sarcastic to me.

But question for your question: how many times have gone on dates or to parties together? Trying to figure out if you've turned down a lot of his invitations lately.
posted by Mercaptan at 5:17 AM on February 5, 2013


I am pretty sure that one is allowed to invite the person they are dating to their own birthday party. It is his birthday! He is probably really disappointed you won't be attending for what sounds like a sort of formal social protocol reason. If I were him, I'd be miffed, and would think you didn't like me that much. If we were casually dating and not serious, I would probably not even tell you so.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:20 AM on February 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


If I were in his position I'd be pretty upset that you didn't come to my birthday party for what seems like a sort of legalistic approach to etiquette. The party was for him, he can invite whoever he wants, especially the person he's dating! It doesn't seem like he's written you off but he may have pulled back a bit if he's concerned that you may not like him as much as he thought.
posted by brilliantine at 5:27 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is his birthday!

It was a birthday party, but not a party he was throwing and not a party that celebrated his birthday.

It sounds to me like a lot of this can be sorted out by relying less on texting for communication because a lot is missed and up for misunderstanding with texting, as you can see. When you see him on Wednesday, why not ask him?
posted by Houstonian at 5:28 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


You've only been dating three months. You need to relax a little bit. A change of plans does not mean It's All Over. He's probably busy and trying to make time with you when he can.

On preview, though, I agree with pazazygeek (although, reading the question again, I'm not sure it is his birthday -- is this right OP?): he mentioned that you were invited to the party, so he probably wanted you to come. Is there a reason you don't want to go other than the circumstances of the invitation? Do you want to go to the party now that you've been "properly" invited? If so, there's no reason why you can't change your mind now and accept the invite.
posted by fight or flight at 5:28 AM on February 5, 2013


Hello everybody! Thank you for the responses so far. Just crucial thing to clarify: The Birthday Party in question is that of two girls - one of whom is the girlfriend of my colleague B (A's roommate/best friend). I know the girlfriend, and she knows me; but she never invited me to it.

Also, I have turned him down for the weekend 3 out of 5 times so far. But we see each other 2~3 times every week!
posted by 01080591 at 5:31 AM on February 5, 2013


Since I'm friends with the former girl and wasn't invited to the party by her in any way (even though I ran into her and had drinks with her and her friends the same friday night, she never brought it up; and she has in the past invited me to some activities), I thought perhaps she had intended for it to be a more private gathering so I turned it down because I didn't be to be intrusive.

Why wasn't his invitation valid? Do you think he would have asked you to go with him if he didn't think it would be totally cool for you to show up? If I were in your boyfriend's shoes, I'd be irked by your second-guessing his invitation, and by your prioritization of rules you made up about invitations to birthday parties over your desire to be/do things with him.

He went to the party alone, right? Where there were people the both of you knew? Maybe he had to field awkward questions all night about where you were and how come you didn't make it.

And was his text meant to be a sarcastic & angry response?
Objection! Speculation! You absolutely have to ask him about this. We can't tell you.

Has he written me off for good?
Probably not! Ask him!

And really, has this question revealed any bigger issues concerning my attitude towards social etiquette and dating?
Too much guesswork. If you want to spend time with your boyfriend, and he invites you to spend time with him, do it. If you don't want to spend time with your boyfriend, maybe look for one you do want to spend time with.

I've already made a phone call, and definitely don't plan to call again.
So you brought your own abrupt ending! You want to date him still, but don't want to call him again? Sound like something out of The Rules. *ptooey* UGH, The Rules.
posted by carsonb at 5:32 AM on February 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


Usually in these situations a person who has been invited should ask the host if it's okay to bring someone else who has not been specifically invited. I don't know if your guy did this or not, and I don't know if you asked him if he did this or not.

It seems like you guys are not communicating effectively, and that possibly you need to stop guessing about stuff like motivations and feelings and start asking about stuff like motivations and feelings. And most likely do a lot more in-person chatting, and less typing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:36 AM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Apologies, I misread the question and didn't realise the party had already happened. Disregard my advice about accepting the invite.
posted by fight or flight at 5:36 AM on February 5, 2013


Also, for what it's worth, if I was dating someone who kept turning me down for weekend plans, I would assume they are comfortable with our relationship being on the fairly casual end of the dating spectrum. Ymmv, but that might be something to keep in mind if you don't want things to be like that.
posted by fight or flight at 5:41 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sounds like you need to get out of your head.

Really? You turned down an offer to go to a party as his date because you weren't specifically invited? Weak.

Sounds to me like you need to clue the guy into what you're thinking. When next you see him, be sure to tell him:

"Dude, I've been thinking that I'm sending the wrong signals. I really, really like you and want to spend time with you. I've been thinking too hard about things and not really enjoying time with you in the moment. I really regret not going to that party with you. That was dumb. I want to spend more time with you, and I'm sorry if it seems like I don't."

Honesty. What a concept.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [30 favorites]


Well, it seems like he is the one to suggest most of your dates and then you turn down more than 50% of his offers. Maybe you should try to be more proactive here?

It also helps to own up to ones words and mistakes and my guess is he would appreciate if you told him that it was a misunderstanding based on your own expectations and that/how you wish to move forward. No big talk but just a frank conversation.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:04 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


May I ask why you turn down things on the weekends?

Yeah, I know you see each other a couple times a week, and nothing says you need to change that, but....there's a difference between the kind of time you can spend with someone on a "school night" and the kind of time you can spend on a weekend. Weeknights compell most people to go to bed a little earlier and behave a bit more responsibly because they need to get up early and go to work the following morning; weekends, you can sleep in, so you can let down your hair a little more. That's why a lot of people like to do a lot of "dating life" on the weekends.

If it's just that he seems to be asking you to things when you've already had things scheduled, I'd make sure he knows that - and that it's not that you're intentionally turning him down, it's just he has unusually unlucky timing. Then ask him to do something yourself - on a weekend - to prove it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, talk to him.

From the other side, I could see him at these parties thinking that it'd sure be nice to have you there with him, but alas there you aren't. Once it happens three times, it sorta seems like a pattern.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:10 AM on February 5, 2013


He must really like you to continue asking you out after multiple rejections, but nobody will be persistent forever. I agree with Ruthless Bunny that I think a little groveling might be in order if you want to save this thing. And then going forward, be flexible when he asks you to things last minute, or start asking him to things with whatever advance warning you feel you need.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:13 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


B and B's girlfriend likely left it up to A to invite you, seeing as you and A are semi-quasi-sort of maybe dating. They may not know what exactly is going on between the two of you. (I certainly do not).

There seems to be an impasse here; A seems to be treating this casually (possibly as a defensive response to you turning him down for weekend dates) while sticking with it showing that he's quite interested (as ThePinkSuperhero notes). And you seem to express here that you're quite interested in him but it also sounds like you want him to be more aggressive (by say, asking in advance with clear plans for weekend dates, etc.)

You can help break this impasse by clearly expressing your desires or in some other way making it clear that you are interested in him.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:21 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd say, three months in, it's probably time for some honest conversation about how you're feeling and where things are headed. Talk with him.

I don't know what he's thinking, and none of us can. But if 3/5 of the time I'd asked you out for a weekend you'd said no, and we were seeing each other twice or maybe three times a week, I'd think you wanted to keep things the way they were -- fairly casual.

Or, I guess, I could think that you just had some real social anxiety issues -- or dating "rules" issues -- given the invitation to the party and your response that you wouldn't go because you weren't "invited" (did you really spell that out? it doesn't sound like it).

Look, this is going to resolve itself. Wednesday is soon, and if you don't hear back from him, you have your answer. But yeah, he might be annoyed with you, he might think you're not into him and he's done trying, he might think this is just too much work, or he might be totally into you and things are fine. But although things could be fine, I'm of the view that, if you feel like something is wrong, something is almost certainly wrong.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:31 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, his text very well could have been sarcastic. He invited you, you told him you couldn't go because you weren't invited, and he said it was "my fault I'm sure"? And then you said "thanks" instead of "oh, no, it wasn't your fault, my concern is that the host might not want me there"? I think you likely have some damage control to do -- if it's not too late.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:34 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you two already sleeping together? If not, then it's possible his attempts to invite you out over the weekend are actually an invitation to sexytimes (because as others have pointed out, not having to work the following day makes it easier) and by turning him down for weekend stuff, you are effectively setting boundaries and establishing your time together as friendship rather than dating. Consequently, he has decided to refocus that romantic energy elsewhere.

Of course, if you two are already hooking up, then I can't really see any plausible reasons for him to act this way, unless maybe he thinks that your rejections mean he is coming on too strong.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:38 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you were consistently willing to see me on weekdays but not weekends, I might assume I was your second string date and that you either had, hoped for or preferred to hold out for better opportunities on Friday and Saturday nights. You have some fence mending and some 'splaining to do, IMHO.
posted by carmicha at 6:38 AM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Stop texting as a primary means of communication, and the question about sarcasm will be resolved. Texts are a terrible medium for conversation. Call and speak to him. Express your concern that you are being misunderstood. See what he says.

Better yet, do so in person.
posted by ellF at 6:54 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, please stop with the texting.

I just messed up something rather promising by relying on texting.

A communication medium that can be interpreted in two utterly different ways is a pretty crappy tool for navigating the treacherous waters of early dating, when you think about it.
posted by Salamander at 7:06 AM on February 5, 2013


You're letting your attitude about colleague B's girlfriend and the social circle in general interfere with, and set various rules for, this relationship. I imagine it feels a bit sticky, but if I were the guy I'd be a bit miffed that you were letting imaginary social circle protocol and neuroses dictate the relationship.
posted by blazingunicorn at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just crucial thing to clarify: The Birthday Party in question is that of two girls - one of whom is the girlfriend of my colleague B (A's roommate/best friend). I know the girlfriend, and she knows me; but she never invited me to it.

I'm not sure why you think this needs clarification. It was obvious from the initial post and the commenters before yours all took it into account.

Most likely scenario, in my opinion: A/A's GF didn't invite you because they didn't know if B was serious enough with you to want you there, so they left the invite to B. B invited you. You turned him down for what seems like a really lame excuse because, really, why wouldn't someone get to invite their significant other to their own birthday party?

If you're turning down weekend plans because they're not "advance" enough (rather than turning them down because you have conflicts) you're playing mind games and you really ought to knock that off if you actually like this guy.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2013


His response to your declining of the party invitation sounds like he was pretty upset about it: "Actually, this is my fault I'm sure. You were invited but i'll make sure you feel comfortably invited in the future. Have a nice evening if you're just chilling out!" He invited you to the party; therefore, you were invited! And then you made him go alone, which sucks. I understand that it wasn't a party for his birthday and he wasn't the one throwing it, but it still sucks. From my experience, generally it's clear when party attendees can bring dates, and he probably felt like it would be cool to bring you.

It sounds like he's gotten the impression you've blown him off repeatedly for pretty much no reason. And really, from what you said about why you've turned down other invitations of his, it sounds like that's exactly what you've done. His invitations are too last-minute, too casual. Basically, they don't seem important to you.

If you want to see if there's any chance of this still working, cut the texting crap. Give him a call. If he sends it to voicemail, don't leave a smalltalk message that doesn't actually say anything. Be honest with him. If you want a relationship with this guy, stop playing Rules-type mind games, stop messing with him, just be a human being and treat him like one as well.
posted by wondermouse at 7:15 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I decided to be honest and told him that I just wasn't comfortable with going to a party that I "wasn't really invited to it".

This is goofy, needlessly dramatic, and more than a little high maintenance. Inviting just one side of a couple to a party with the tacit or explicit understanding that both are invited is super common. She didn't mention it again because she thought you already knew. You're taking the whole thing way, way too personally.

So far today, I've asked him to see a movie (that we made plans to see last week) with me this week and have gotten a reply (a whole day afterwards) from him saying that he'd be available on Wednesday. I replied, making conversation but he hasn't replied since. It was unusual for him because from our interactions in the past even when was he was busy he was always good with responses. Later tonight I decided to give him a call since I came to a realization that he might be holding a grudge (judging by his text above) and wanted to explain and make small talk, but was directed to a voicemail after 4 rings...

Chill, biscuit. You guys have plans on Wednesday. Wait until Tuesday evening, give him a call, and make plans. No more pointlessly obsessing over whether you ruined things last week when it's water under the bridge at this point. Don't look for proof that people don't like you--you can always find it, if you dig deep enough. Just relax a little bit. Because otherwise, yeah, things might implode because you're being a bit high maintenance. I'd be bummed if a girlfriend of three months wanted to have some long, dramatic conversation about whether or not she was really snubbed when it sounds like just a stupid miscommunication.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


I understand why you declined the invitation. You weren't invited to the party by the hosts who, if they weren't sure how things stood, could have (and should have) asked your boyfriend whether they should invite you. Failing that, your boyfriend should have asked the hosts whether he could bring you. Now, if he did that and neglected to make that clear, it was his mistake.

All in all, I think you are the only one who acted correctly in this circumstance.

Now, stop with the texting.
posted by Dolley at 7:28 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it possible that the person throwing the party did not invite you directly because she had already talked to this guy you are dating about the party and asked him to invite you? And then maybe he just forgot to tell you about it for a couple of days? Doesn't the birthday girl know you two are dating? Usually when one half of a couple is invited to something, this means the other half is also invited by default. If you have been dating for three months, the party planners may consider you to be a couple falling under the default dual invite rule.

I do totally understand why you would not want to feel like you were inviting yourself to a birthday party, but I'm not entirely sure you weren't invited. I think you should just call him and say that you feel bad about missing the party with him, and you have been worrying since that you might have given him the false impression that you did not want to spend time with him. Tell him you were just genuinely worried about showing up someplace you weren't invited, and also that you missed him you hope he had a nice time. Tell him that next time something like this comes up, you would like for him to call the host / hostess and say, "Hey, is it okay if I bring 01080591?" just so you can go without feeling nervous.
posted by BlueJae at 7:32 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


And really, has this question revealed any bigger issues concerning my attitude towards social etiquette and dating?

Possibly, but there's not really enough information to tell. I mean, if you're always turning down "last-minute and casual" I'd be annoyed if I were him. And there's nothing at all wrong with saying, "I'd love to go to the party with you; are you sure B's girlfriend is okay with me being there?" If he responds, "I guess..." then you could say, "Could you find out? I tend to be uncomfortable unless I know my presence is expected," etc., etc.

If these people you're hanging out with are tons more casual than you're used to, you're probably really over-thinking a plate of beans. Either start being more loose and casual or let the poor guy know you don't roll that way and need more concrete invitations/plans, etc.

And I think this relationship is a bit too new to rely on texting as your primary planning mechanism. Phone calls to establish hanging out time, texts to confirm or suggest specific things to do with that already established time.
posted by cooker girl at 7:41 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't understand your timeline here:

So far today, I've asked him to see a movie (that we made plans to see last week) with me this week and have gotten a reply (a whole day afterwards) from him saying that he'd be available on Wednesday. I replied, making conversation but he hasn't replied since...Later tonight I decided to give him a call since I came to a realization that he might be holding a grudge (judging by his text above) and wanted to explain and make small talk, but was directed to a voicemail after 4 rings

I mean... all that happened today? Is Wednesday tomorrow? If there's a chance you might actually have this movie plan with him tomorrow, give him a call with the specific movie time and place you want to go to. It's worth mentioning to him that you feel weird about that party situation, aren't sure you did the right thing, and are sorry if you made him feel like you didn't want to go with him. If he ignores you, yeah, back off.
posted by wondermouse at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2013


The most useful thing for you to learn is going to be this, I think: The fact that you would only do A Particular Thing if you felt A Specific Way doesn't mean that if another person does That Particular Thing, that person feels That Specific Way.

In other words, *you* would fail to text back for an entire day only if you were feeling peevish, and *you* would perhaps express yourself sarcastically by saying something like "Have a nice evening if you're just chilling out." That doesn't mean that's what *he* is doing.

You quote him as having told you that you were invited, meaning it's entirely possible the hosts said, "Hey, bring her along, by the way; I hope she'll come." Yes, yes, they could have told you directly, but I think that's a perfectly okay way to "invite" somebody's girlfriend. That's why he's blaming himself -- he's saying, "Oops, yeah, my fault, I didn't tell you that they actually did invite you, but that's cool. Won't happen again. Have a good night." I don't think it's sarcastic. I don't think it's passive-aggressive.

You're worried about whether you came off high-maintenance about the party, but if you really like him, I'd be a lot more concerned about adjusting to his communication style, which is not exactly like yours, and about not reading too much into when you get texts back and when you don't. I'm normally not a Mars/Venus person, but I will say that in my experience, a lot of women I know have much higher expectations about the rhythms of communication and response times than a lot of the men I know. You date somebody long enough, and he'll go a day without texting you. I mean ... you know. Life does go on.

I think you're attributing absolutely everything that happens to his specific feelings toward you, when if you were on the other side, you'd see that he has other things going on, he has a life, he has work, and it's entirely possible that you're not hearing from him because those things are briefly -- briefly! -- interfering. Don't defeat yourself. Don't be looking with your secret lizard eye trying to spot the moment he's preparing to dump you. It will make you unhappy, and other people really don't like it.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:19 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think people are being a little hard on you about the party attendance. A's friendship with the party-throwers predated your relationship, right? So, sure, it's understandable not to want to crash the party if they didn't mean to invite you. I think part of the confusion is that a lot of posters seem to think it was A's bday, but I don't see any indication of that in your description. So, yeah, if it wasn't a party for him, it was fine for you to question whether a +1 was intended. I mean, I think it would have been weird for them to exclude you in any case, but their being weird wouldn't have made it less awkward for you to attend.

It looks to me like you explained this to him and he sent a nice text back acknowledging his part in the confusion (but it was too late for you actually to go to the party?), and all is well. IF his email was in fact sarcastic and he's giving you the cold treatment now, the communication problem is on his end. But I wouldn't assume this is the case; it doesn't fit with his still being on for the movie. Plus that would be some cold cold sarcasm, totally out of proportion to what was a plain old misunderstanding.

Just go to the movie with him, and tell him again, in person, that you're sorry for all the weekend plans that haven't panned out, that you didn't mean to send mixed messages, and that you hope to do stuff with him on many future weekends to come.
posted by torticat at 8:22 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's difficult to parse what actually happened based on your account, but I will say that if I invite someone, anyone, to stuff and often get turned down, then I stop inviting them to do stuff. Sometimes, that means that they'll do as you have, and invite me when they feel like hanging out again, but that sort of this usually happens with certain friends of mine - ones with whom I don't maintain the kind of daily communication you describe. When I'm romantically pursuing a woman, if she turns down or cancels on two invites in, say, a month, and she's not sick, then I assume she's not interested, and I back off. That means not only do I back off in terms of invites, but I also back off emotionally - if we've been chatty on texts, I'll be likely to chill with that as well. Part of that is my not wanting to be the douchey pushy guy, and part of that is that I really don't want to emotionally bond with someone I'm interested in who isn't interested back, because the inevitable breakup will hurt more.
But if I back off and she invites me out, then I'll likely accept the invite and see what happens. That seems to be what your man is doing here - wondering why you don't like to spend time with him on the weekends, and waiting to see what Wednesday holds.

And there's a relevant question here: why do you keep turning down his invites to do stuff on the weekends? Maybe ask yourself if you really like the dude. If you did, you'd make time for him and look forward to it. But you seem to be halfheartedly doing that. In romance, anything but a resounding, immediate "YES!" is really a no.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have turned him down for the weekend 3 out of 5 times so far.

It seems like you don't want to be involved with him.

But we see each other 2~3 times every week!

If you both work M-F, then weekdays are when you fit people in for a few hours here and there. Weekends are when you get to integrate people into your life.

You declined his invitation to a party because you weren't invited to the party. That makes no sense but it tells him that his invitation isn't good enough.
posted by headnsouth at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Understand that I intend this gently and in a friendly way. Just because it is your tendency to add so many layers of meaning and intention and consequence into the decline of a party invitation or a text, does not mean 1) that's what he's doing too, or 2) that what you think/feel is happening is objectively happening. The way you are framing your own interpretation of the actions of a person you're dating could be where the issue lies, not in his actual actions/words.

Most people are not thinking about sending a passive-aggressive text to you to punish you for not accepting an invitation. It seems like you might be applying these ideas to this guy because it's how YOU are thinking about dating, but if we take away the games and the rules, he said basically "hey I understand, and I hope you have a nice night." I can't tell where you "came to the realization" that he's upset or holding a grudge, but is that something you do when you're dating someone, so you assume he's doing that? I can't tell where he "ended the dating relationship," but are you thinking that because passive-aggressively cutting off contact is a way that you end dating relationships, so you assume he's doing that?

Dating is a lot easier when you don't bother with imagining that it's a game and there are rules about it or things you are supposed to do/not supposed to do. One way to accomplish this is to communicate clearly so as to establish a good precedent of mutually understanding where the other person is coming from, so that you don't have to spend a lot of time wondering what the other person is thinking.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hi all, thank you for the illuminating responses! It looks like most people take issue with the fact that I have turned him down for the weekends in the past. I admit that my reasons for turning down his weekend plans could be construed as Rules-y...but to clarify, here are a couple of them - (1) It was the way he asked sometimes that didn't seem like a real invitation to me. He would say something like "Oh I should have mentioned this to you..but a bunch of us are going on a boat trip tomorrow, you wanna come?" and I would feel like an afterthought! So I would say that it's a bit late for him to ask and suggest hanging out another time. (2) Several of the things that he had invited me to, my friends & colleagues also ended up showing up to. Thing is, I understand that his relationship to them predates ours, but I feel that he's become my point of contact when our friends could easily ask me too! I don't consider him my boyfriend yet (maybe a conversation's on the horizon soon), so I feel like these guys are defining my relationship for me when they do that. But like many of you have mentioned, the above reasons are in my head, and he's likely not seeing it the same way I do. I guess this is something that we can talk about when we have a deep talk moment next.

(As for the timeline, I'm 12 hours ahead of our North American readers here, so sorry for the confusion! It's just past Tuesday midnight where I am!)

I realize I've been freaking out over something that happened over just the past 18 hours (from my first text about the movie to his voicemail), so I'm gonna sit on my thumbs and bring it up when I call him about the movie tomorrow! Since some of you seem to doubt it, I do really like him! But to be honest my affection for him is something I'm new to, in the sense that there were no crazy fireworks in my head when we first started (as opposed to my previous relationships), but rather something that builds up stably over time as I get to know him better as a person...so I guess I've come off as a bit "controlled" and not crazy-passionate. But is that wrong? (< not rhetorical)

Anyway before I go off in a tangent, thank you again so far! It's helped me to reflect on how I approach dating and the whole perspective thing. I really appreciate this. Will work on "playing it straight" from now on...hmmm yeah
posted by 01080591 at 9:38 AM on February 5, 2013


Both 1) and 2) are super rules-y and high maintenance. You feel like an afterthought? It's one thing if he texts you when he's already out and it's late, but it sounds like you have some ridiculously stringent dating rules. If I were in his position, I'd assume that you either don't like me or are a manipulative player of dating games.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


Here is the thing. I am like you. Or, I was like you and I am trying not to be like you anymore, because it was MAKING MEEEE INSANNNNNE. You are doing a lot of overthinking and over-analysing and also some catastrophizing ("I haven't heard from him in hours IT'S OVER," which literally was something I almost said to myself yesterday.) I TOTALLY get where you were coming from with the party -- I don't want to crash stuff to which I haven't been specifically invite, either -- but sometimes when you get so controlling about the way things unfold, you get in your own way. When I did stuff like this, it wasn't to play games or to be manipulative, but it was because I was scared of getting hurt and I thought the only way to protect myself was to be very rigid about The Ways Things Should Be. But really, that just meant I was making myself cray cray.

What I have been trying to do is treat the person that I am dating the way I would treat a close friend -- in the sense that, if it's a situation where I would just call my friend and be like, "are we going to XYZ tomorrow still?" I just call the dude and ask. Or if he asks me off-handedly to a boat trip, if I want to go, I go. You wouldn't feel put-off if a dear friend asked you to do something spur-of-the-moment, you know? This doesn't mean that you should treat the person casually, or that there isn't romance involved as well, or that you're friend-zoning the guy. Just that romantic relationships are so much easier when you stop doing all that If I Do X, It Means Y and If He Does Y, Then XYZ shit. And the easiest way for ME to figure out how to stop doing that is to think, "hey if my friend X did this, how would I handle it, and what would I think it means?" It brings me off the ledge. (Obviously, this only works if you have functional and successful and low-drama friendships in general.)

He's just a person who likes you. Not everything means something. Things will be okay. I promise you, if it's over because of this, it was never going to work out long-term anyway. But be more honest and less analytical and you will be way happier.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:00 AM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


It looks like most people take issue with the fact that I have turned him down for the weekends in the past.

Well, some people are. Some people are saying you're reading to much into texts and overthinking more generally.
posted by caek at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2013


Um, I don't really understand the pile-on here. She didn't turn him down because 'omg the rules say you must look like you have a full social life', but because he asked sorta last minute and she didn't fancy it.

Also, OP, you have one sympathiser here. I hate the idea of going to a birthday party that I wasn't explicitly invited to. Of course, if your fella had actually said 'guests are totally welcome, the birthday girl said so' then it's a different issue. Heck, even then I wouldn't go because parties full of people you barely know often suck.

It does sound like you could do with being a bit more engaged, but that goes for him too. If it transpires that he's being passive aggressive (though he could well be fine) then you need to talk to him about that because you both need to communicate better.
posted by dumdidumdum at 10:13 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Invite him to do something cool with you next weekend.

I wouldn't want to go to a party if I hadn't been invited directly by the host, unless it was phrased as "Anna invited me to her party and she also asked me to invite you." Inviting people to stuff is very very simple and straightforward to do, and I marvel at the trillion and one ways that people manage to fuck it up and make it all ambiguous.
posted by tel3path at 10:28 AM on February 5, 2013


to be honest my affection for him is something I'm new to, in the sense that there were no crazy fireworks in my head when we first started (as opposed to my previous relationships), but rather something that builds up stably over time as I get to know him better as a person...so I guess I've come off as a bit "controlled" and not crazy-passionate. But is that wrong? (not rhetorical)

I know that feeling. It can be hard to back off on the controls, especially if you've been burned in the past. Thing is, if this is earnestly progressing to a potential serious relationship, trying to control everything and not letting the other person into what you're honestly thinking is counterproductive, it makes a lady crazy, and it frustrates the guy who might be genuinely interested in you and keeps him at an uncomfortable distance.

Imagine the kind of relationship you might be hoping this develops into naturally. If it's a relationship where you can be kind and honest and open with your feelings, and you are able to show you care for the guy without feeling like you're going to scare him off by actually giving a crap about him, eventually you need to start acting like it.

You know how they say you should dress for the job you want? If you start acting more the way you actually want to be able to act in the sort of relationship you would like, this should work itself out, without you driving yourself crazy second guessing everything and reading into everything he says.
posted by wondermouse at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're doing a lot of assuming, chickadee. You:

- are assuming it's already over! But he hasn't said it's over. You haven't said it's over. So why are you panicking about it being over? You are panicking over something that hasn't happened. That sounds exhausting. At least panic after something happens, okay.

- you are assuming some stuff about his intentions. It's cool if you're not into last-minute invitations. But to read that he thinks you're an afterthought when he makes them? Why? I don't see that here. After a lunch date, instead of going home to my regular scheduled plans, I went on a last-minute, impromptu trip out of town with my boyfriend early in our relationship. I assumed he asked at the spur-of-the-moment because he could just not get enough of the spicy magic between us, and wanted more. He could not get enough, indeed! That trip was magical! There are many reasons why your dude could have asked you on he boating trip the way he did, and not all of them are bad.

On one-hand, if you genuinely get the sense he does not care for you, or doesn't respect you and your time, then you should pay attention to these assumptions, and act accordingly. If you get the sense that, you know, he's all crushed out, maybe you shouldn't let yourself get crushed down by the weight of your assumptions. At least open up some real communication, not this slightly Rules-y thing you're doing. It may make you both feel so much better.
posted by vivid postcard at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2013


OP- you mention turning down other events "because it was always kind of last-minute and casual". Is it possible that's how this person usually operates? This may be an interaction mismatch where you expect rigidity of formal interactions and they expect fluidity of "just hanging out y'know?".

(I ask because I am also kind of last-minute and casual and I've had that casue issue with people that aren't that same way.)
posted by anti social order at 11:08 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm of the opinion that if a guy wants to go out with me (well, when I was dating) that the plans needed to be firmed up about 72 hours in advance. The reason? I didn't want to be convenient-girl. I wanted him to put some thought and effort into it. It worked both ways, if I was inviting, I'd give him some lead time too.

Now, there are exceptions. If someone's rich uncle is coming into town and wants to get up a group for a pub crawl...well shit, count me in!

If our group of friends got drunk and decided on a quick weekend in Vegas, and I was free, I'd be up for that.

You have to be selective, and you want to impress upon your dates that you're worth planning for, but don't dismiss stuff out of hand because it doesn't conform to your 'rules'.

Don't over-think things, but go with your gut. If he seems genuinely last-minute and casual, and isn't taking you for granted, then don't worry so much about getting your bathing-suit and joining his friends on the boat.

Only turn down a date with a guy if you really are busy with something else, aren't interested in doing whatever he's proposing, or it feels like he thinks you have nothing better to do than sit around and wait for him.

You are not Domino's Pussy. You don't deliver. But you can be flexible.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm of the opinion that if a guy wants to go out with me (well, when I was dating) that the plans needed to be firmed up about 72 hours in advance. The reason? I didn't want to be convenient-girl. I wanted him to put some thought and effort into it. It worked both ways, if I was inviting, I'd give him some lead time too.

Yeeeah, I think it's this kind of attitude that strikes people here as rules-y. It's fine if you don't like last minute plans, but the fact that this guy does doesn't mean that he sees you as a booty call or that he's taking you for granted or that he doesn't care. More likely, it's just how this person operates socially and has nothing to do with his valuation of you whatsoever.

(2) Several of the things that he had invited me to, my friends & colleagues also ended up showing up to. Thing is, I understand that his relationship to them predates ours, but I feel that he's become my point of contact when our friends could easily ask me too! I don't consider him my boyfriend yet (maybe a conversation's on the horizon soon), so I feel like these guys are defining my relationship for me when they do that.

This is pretty convoluted. Not only do you expect him to understand a strange set of social rules (and they are strange, for people who are fairly young and casual about socializing), but you expect those around you to place the same weight on extending invitations to you through your date. How are all of these people supposed to know what all of this means? I sure wouldn't. Better to assume the best of people, I think: they want you there and figured this was the easiest way to extend an invitation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure she is not turning down last minute plans that were last minute because he was making them JUST THEN.

Instead it sounds like he had already made those plans with other people and then threw her invite at the last minute. Would that not make you feel like an afterthought?? I would feel like shit if someone I was dating had this whole big elaborate plan with other people and didn't bother including me as part of the group until the last minute and I would turn them down too. Its just lazy and careless of him.
posted by cakebatter at 1:13 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's fine to not like last-minute get-togethers. But you show someone you're interested by proposing another plan when you turn down their invitation for a last-minute get-together. "Want to come out for pizza tonight?" "That won't work for me, but would you like to do brunch on Sunday?"

The thing that sounds Rulesy from what you've shared is that you don't suggest other plans, and that you don't tell him you prefer plans made farther in advance.

I would honestly give up on you because it would seem like too much trouble to try and read your mind. But good news, it doesn't seem like this guy has given up, so you have the opportunity to make a course correction while the relationship is still afloat.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:18 PM on February 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Most people don't hold their weekends open for people who for whatever reason won't/don't/can't reciprocate. It is NOT about being "peeved" or passive aggressive resentment. It is about finding happiness, and trying to surround yourself with well-matched people.
posted by 99percentfake at 2:20 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is "rules-y" stuff, but you can be however you want

But

If you haven't explained these rules to him, he doesn't know they exist.

He just thinks you don't want to do stuff with him.
posted by French Fry at 4:12 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Instead it sounds like he had already made those plans with other people and then threw her invite at the last minute. Would that not make you feel like an afterthought??

Perhaps he, knowing she had already turned down weekend plans (or out of general nervousness), was a bit anxious about what she would say, and would put off asking (or would try to ask in a way that seemed as "casual" as possible) because of that anxiety.

He could be totally thoughtless.
Or he could be, you know, human, and thus have other quirks/issues/habits that could explain this. Why automatically jump to an assumption that he is using or disrespecting her, if he is otherwise an awesome dude?

Unless she talks to him about it, she can't know for sure. And neither can we.
posted by vivid postcard at 6:35 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I read his reply to you as being really thoughtful and nice. I don't see any sarcasm there at all. It seems to me that he understands why you're turning the party down this time and he'll make sure that you're 'properly' invited in the future.

I understand why you declined this specific invite and I might have done the same in those circumstances. I wouldn't want to go to a party where the hosts didn't invite me despite having opportunities to do so, and if you saw them socially but they didn't mention the party then I would also have assumed they didn't want me there. I wouldn't then want to turn around and go anyway as someone's date - it would make me feel like a second-class attendee.

It would be different if the hosts only knew you through this guy, in which case you could assume they left him to do the inviting.
posted by RubyScarlet at 7:06 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's not asking you to these events on behalf of the hostess. He's asking you to attend as his date. It's pretty normal for people to bring dates to things like parties and outings. The polite thing is for him to ask the hostess/host in advance "hey, is it cool if I bring a date?" but a party situation doesn't always even warrant that.

It sounds like you're a little insecure about your role in this group...but you're not doing yourself any favors there by excluding yourself based on assumptions about their social motivations.
posted by desuetude at 11:26 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


(1) It was the way he asked sometimes that didn't seem like a real invitation to me. He would say something like "Oh I should have mentioned this to you..but a bunch of us are going on a boat trip tomorrow, you wanna come?" and I would feel like an afterthought! So I would say that it's a bit late for him to ask and suggest hanging out another time.

That's your prerogative, and I'm not a guy anyway, but I would find this kind of response a sign that a relationship was going to be unworkable. I have a chaotic work schedule and chronic, unpredictable health issues, and that means that planning ahead can be tricky for me -- but conversely, when I do unexpectedly have extra time, the people I will try to spend it with are my most loved friends. Someone who read last-minute invitations as a sign of Disrespect would make me sigh very heavily inside. (Someone who had other plans already, fine, different story.)

Who knows whether this guy has any similar issues, but I guess my point is just that there are a lot of people who don't give you a lot of advance notice, for a lot of reasons, and not all of them reflect that person's valuation of you. Maybe the group boat trip had been in the works for a few days but he'd only just decided he was going to join in, and at that point he wanted to see if you could come. Maybe he realized he was missing you more than he expected and wanted to add more chances to hang out together than you'd originally scheduled. Maybe he was trying to advance your relationship status by Being A Couple In Public more. But who knows unless you talk to him, rather than making a guess and then refusing on the basis of it.

Sometimes casualness is a sign that you're becoming enough a part of a person's life that they want to integrate you into the spontaneous things, the group things, the not-a-technical-date-I-just-like-having-you-there things.
posted by shattersock at 3:43 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


(1) It was the way he asked sometimes that didn't seem like a real invitation to me.

So sometimes he asked you out for planned-ahead, formalish dates and sometimes he invited you spontaneously to things. This is a good thing. The spontaneity says, I want to go on adventures with you. If he's spontaneous all the time, yeah, I could see that being a problem, but it doesn't sound like that. It sounds like a nice mix of plans & impulse. If that's not your style, that's ok, but you should talk to him about what you both want.
posted by headnsouth at 5:02 AM on February 6, 2013


OP: he mentioned that there was a birthday party coming up the day after, held by two girls ... so I turned it down because I didn't be to be intrusive.

I decided to be honest and told him that I just wasn't comfortable with going to a party that I "wasn't really invited to it". And in the response, this is what I got from him: "Actually, this is my fault I'm sure. You were invited but i'll make sure you feel comfortably invited in the future.
(emphasis mine)

This sounds like it happened after the fact. Did you actually explain this to him at the time, because it sounds like if you had he would have allayed your concerns right then and this whole thing could have been avoided. Are you giving him any reasons the other times you turn him down?

As French Fry said: "If you haven't explained these rules to him, he doesn't know they exist. He just thinks you don't want to do stuff with him."
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 AM on February 6, 2013


Dear all, I have just returned from our movie+dinner date (it is afterall a "school night"!) I asked him about his weekend and the party, and took the opportunity to tell him that I wish I did go afterall, and explicitly explained my original reason for turning it down on saturday and apologized for acting like I didn't want to hang out with him on weekends. He laughed and told me not to be silly, and that he understood. As an attempt to be more pro-active about hanging out on weekends (and being more serious about us), I mentioned that my colleague (B again) had been making plans to go hiking this weekend, and ironically enough, he had heard nothing about it so far! It's like a complete reversal of the situation we found ourselves in on Friday! We agreed that we both wanted to do it, and that we would join the hiking group together come saturday. We went on to have a very lovely time at dinner and the movie.

Before we parted for the night, A asked me to hang out this Friday and obviously I said yes! So it looks like we'll be hanging out throughout all of this weekend!!

I'm so happy that everything turned out just fine, and surely do feel silly about freaking out over this incident. But I'm also glad to have turned to you all for advice, because this conversation has given me a lot of insight into how my usual approach to dating could be perceived in ways that I had not expected, and that My Way is not Everybody's Way. Obviously, I'm not going to change overnight, but this group conversation means a lot to me, and hopefully its impression on me will make me out to be a more in touch with my feelings, and to be okay with revealing them to people I like and care about. I've gone through this thread more times you will believe me, and appreciate every response (but will highlight, nonetheless, some that really hit hard since this question is resolved after all) Thanks again everybody!!
posted by 01080591 at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am really happy for you!

However, please accept my apology. My response above could have done with some tempering, I fear it was too sharp. Given the chance to do it over I would have given you the same advice but left out the spitting and overly presumptuous rhetoric.

Here's to life, love, and the continuing discovery of self!
posted by carsonb at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2013


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