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Is he trying to soften the blow or is he telling the truth?
February 22, 2013 6:35 PM   Subscribe

A guy I've been dating for 3 months seemed to be withdrawing for about two weeks (such as me having to initiate contact first, and not making plans to meet me, and not following through), although he never stopped showing interest. I asked him what's wrong and to tell me if he doesn't want to see me anymore so I can move on. He said he didn't lose interest, it's that he has been having a few personal problems lately and has been distant even with his friends. He says he doesn't expect me to wait. Is he just trying to soften the blow because he's not interested in me anymore or is he telling the truth?

What I don't understand is, why can't he just tell me he wants to take it slow because of this instead of cutting it all off? Maybe he's depressed? That's purely a guess since he said he's been withdrawing from his friends too. Is that a normal symptom of depression? He wasn't even trying to make plans to see me. Shouldn't he want to see me to enjoy himself if it's true that he always has fun with me as he says?

I know I have to move on either way, and that's what I'm doing. I just want to know if you think he was telling the truth or not.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total)
 
None of us know him. Why don't you believe him? If it were me, I'd just believe what he was saying, because he's the one in the best position to know what's going on with his life.
posted by jaguar at 6:44 PM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's no way for anyone to answer this except him. Think of it this way, if you can't take his word for it, how much future is there here? Move on if you want, and consider how much you feel you can trust him if he resurfaces.
posted by bleep at 6:48 PM on February 22, 2013


ok so

1) no one on the internet has psychic powers with which to read his mind

but:

2) generally when your question is "did the person mean what they said, or was it actually a weirdly complicated lie with secret explanations," well, it's usually the former.

further:

3) even if there is some sort of hidden meaning behind the lie, so what? Apparently you've decided to dump him, so what does it matter? It doesn't even change anything.

4) I'm unsure why you think the "he wants to take it slow" formulation is magical. He was withdrawing from you and he told you why. Why do you want him to say some other stuff that probably isn't true?

5) yes, withdrawal is a common symptom of depression, and your ideas about treatment are wrong. There's a reason people see therapists for it, and that reason is not "but if they just went out and had fun with their boyfriend/girlfriend they'd be better!"
posted by kavasa at 6:50 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It could be either. I've been this guy both in the truth situation and the kinda-sorta-not-the-whole-truth situation. In the latter, it's not that you're lying per se, but more that you're not totally sure how you feel about where things are going, and it can be so hard to get the emotional space you need to figure that out while heavily engaged in the relationship.

I think you need to have a more detailed talk with him. Whatever the situation, him telling you he "doesn't expect you to wait" is pretty much a tacit break-up.
posted by threeants at 7:00 PM on February 22, 2013


Like those above say, there's absolutely NO WAY any of us can tell you what this guy is thinking. But based on: he doesn't initiate contact with you, he doesn't make plans with you, and doesn't follow through on meeting you, along with saying he doesn't expect you to wait for him, I don't understand why you're even asking why can't he just tell me he wants to take it slow because of this instead of cutting it all off?

Because he doesn't want to take it slow. He wants to cut it off with you.

You don't need this guy. Just walk away.
posted by kinetic at 7:10 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"me having to initiate contact first, and not making plans to meet me, and not following through" = he's stopping showing interest.
i think you know what to do.
posted by zdravo at 7:22 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He says he doesn't expect me to wait.

My hunch: he is avoiding breaking up with you directly. He wants you to pull the trigger (or fade away conveniently).
posted by nacho fries at 7:30 PM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Two things are important to know:
1) There is no such thing as mixed signals, and guy that you're dating who is in to you will make certain that you know that he is into you.
2) Many guys are total wusses who will do anything to avoid initiating a break up.

ergo: No - he is not trying to 'soften the blow' for you, he's trying to soften the blow for him. (and the corollary: he is likely not telling the truth.)
posted by Kololo at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


He's doing the slow fade. Take him at his word and call his bluff. Break up. There is someone else out there for you.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:25 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He wants you to perpetrate the break up. Do it. Forget this boy and find another.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:50 PM on February 22, 2013


Unless you've agreed to an exclusive arrangement, you're free to date other people. Either he'll get his personal business together or he'll fade away.

No use trying to suss out his intentions. You're not exclusive; make merry with new men.
posted by 26.2 at 9:14 PM on February 22, 2013


This happens, absolutely. He is probably not lying.

However, does it matter? He will be incapable of relationship either way. Cut bait and move on.
posted by corb at 5:35 AM on February 23, 2013


Is he just trying to soften the blow because he's not interested in me anymore or is he telling the truth?

Both. He's telling the truth but he's also not really so into you anymore.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:10 AM on February 23, 2013


Maybe I'm being too harsh, but it seems to me that he's taking the passive-aggressive, wussy way of breaking off the relationship, by forcing you to be the Meanie Poopiehead who breaks it off with him, rather than him using his words and telling you whatever he's feeling (that he wants to break up with you, that he's conflicted, that he really IS stressed out but wants to make a better effort to initiate things because he does care for you, or whatever).

This pattern of sneakily forcing the other person to do the breaking-up is sadly very common, and it's not just men who do it. If I were in your shoes, I'd cut my losses and move on. It's perfectly OK to not want to be left in relationship limbo. (And, if he really wanted to be with you, he would be calling and initiating dates and showing up for them even if life was stressful. People who are interested always find the time for the person they are dating. "Too busy" or "too stressed" are always BS reasons unless they refer to something like a death in the family or a new baby.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In cases like this, it is almost always a "Take the hint, I stopped caring about you, GO AWAY" situation. There may be a rare special snowflake where this isn't the case, but it's incredibly rare. Just stop calling him and accept that he's done with you, that's all you can do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:45 AM on February 23, 2013


"...I know I have to move on either way, and that's what I'm doing. I just want to know if you think he was telling the truth or not..."

This is a situation where you can safely take him at his word, without trying to decode his message for truthful content. He seems to have given you a reasonable, if not completely satisfying, explanation for not wanting to maintain this relationship. At this point neither of you have done anything to preclude eventually reanimating the friendship, so call it a good memory and let it go. In six months or so, if you get a call from him, you may have coffee and conversation, just to see what's up. Let this event will be a small caveat at that time.

In any case, in my universe, having a person take me at my word is a plus. I like it when people respect what I'm trying to tell them better than when they ignore me in favor of their own impulses.
posted by mule98J at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This happens, absolutely. He is probably not lying.

I have absolutely done this to people, and meant what I said. Here's what happens in my case. I'll be dating someone and it will be going great. After some period of time, I'll start to notice that I've been ignoring some other areas of my life. Maybe laundry is piling up, maybe I'm behind on my correspondence, little things like that. These things build up to the point that I start feeling stressed, and my reaction to stress is to withdraw. So that's what I do. And then the argument starts, and because I'm feeling stressed and borderline depressed, I'll either break up, or let myself be broken up with.

There is also an element of taking the person for granted. Where in the beginnings of a relationship, I will blow other things off to be with this person, as the relationship moves along, I will stop doing this, which gets interpreted as no longer caring as much.

Granted, this is just me. But you should probably have a serious, non-pressure conversation to directly ask him what's going on. In the context of "hey, I like you, how can I help, or how can I readjust my expectations?" sort of thing. Listen to his answer, and evaluate from there. If he continues to be squirrely, then you probably have to bail. If what he says is something you can live with, great. If it isn't, or will cause YOU to go into a similar stress spiral, then articulate that and figure out what to do.
posted by gjc at 5:50 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Withdrawal is a symptom of depression, yes. Perhaps his personal problems have surfaced in light of awesome new relationship, which he has come to realize he isn't really ready for.

He says he doesn't expect me to wait.

While it sounds like he's probably being honest when he says he has personal issues, THIS I would pay attention to. It sounds like he's expecting his depression/personal issues to last awhile. In addition, it sounds like he knows (without being able to explicitly say it) that he's not going to be emotionally available to you as he works through this stuff.

IMO integrate the positives of your relationship and be prepared to move on. Depression IS shitty that way. You can really fall in love with the positives that a person presents, but until they tackle their own inner negatives, they're never really available to you. Move on (if it comes to it) without taking it personally, if possible. Best of luck, anon!
posted by human ecologist at 5:20 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


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