I'm caught up in love, he's now holding back so how can I maintain my cool?
August 27, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

So I've been dating this really cool gentlemen for 2 months. We are taking things slow but I find myself getting caught up with him. This is a problem. It's a problem because now he's holding back a bit whereas he was stronger in pursuing me before. Can anyone share advice as to how I can keep my cool so he doesnt become disinterested? Also, how will I know when a man has become disinterested? I'm rambling, sorry but when i become infatuated or "in love" I can't think straight and I lose my sense of self. Save this poor girl from herself. Ha!
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
We don't know him or you. It would probably be best for you to talk to him.

That being said, don't pretend to be something you're not. If you're into him, be into him.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2009

Standard advice: Nobody here can know your gentleman's motivations or feelings. So you should ask him why he is pulling back.

People in relationships hold back for all sorts of reasons. It seems like you are assuming it's because of you. Unless you've asked, you can't know for sure.

Just be upfront: "I feel like you are holding back in our relationship. [provide some examples of why you think that is]. Why?"

Then listen.

Also make it clear that you want the relationship to continue and grow.

You are not wrong for wanting more. Hopefully he is willing to give that.
posted by baxter_ilion at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

More info please. Can you give us some examples of how he is holding back as compared to how he acted before? Guys tend to start to get disinterested when they sniff a sense of desperation, or if you are making firm long-term plans (planning the wedding, what you'll name your kids etc.) before he is ready. You should rent the movie "I Love You Man", and make sure you are not in any way replicating the behavior of the friend of Paul Rudd's fiance, who is desperate not to be single and comes across way too strongly.

Two months is not a very long time in dating terms, but it's also natural to get hung up on someone you really like. Try and maintain solo activities for yourself, keep hanging out with your friends, read books and the newspaper so you'll have new and interesting conversation pieces for when he is around. You also sort of have to gauge the type of guy he is, some are very independent and feel threatened by any perceived constraints of a relationship, whereas others are happy to jump right in.
posted by the foreground at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's going to be hard to give you any constructive advice, since we don't know you or him. My guess is that you'll know he's not interested anymore if he stops returning your calls, so you might want to have a casual conversation about where you think things are going. If you discover that he's not looking for a long term relationship, you're going to have to rethink your approach.

I get the whole "playing hard to get" thing, but that's a tricky dance, and you run the risk of seeming indecisive or disingenuous. If you want to slow things down, then not spending as much time with him is probably the safest way to go. Out of sight, out of mind. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. If you're not exclusive, then spending time with someone else might also help to put things in perspective (or make it worse, depending on the other person).
posted by Diagonalize at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2009

Communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, so ask HIM.

I'm the same way when it comes to men I really dig. I keep my independence by taking at least two days a week without him to do my own thing. If you're worried he'll get disinterested if you spend more time apart, he's not really a guy you should be with.

As for why he's pulling back: this is a shot in the dark but maybe he's just getting comfortable. It's not hot romance all the time, you know? Maybe he doesn't feel the need to woo as much now.
posted by caveat at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2009

You need to be friends with the fear that vulnerability brings with it. I advise being right there with the feelings when they occur.

Let me guess, there are times when this stuff bothers you and when it does not. It is like you are just doing fine and then, BAM! you are thinking about him, thinking about how you feel vulnerable and feeling afraid that you might get hurt.

The idea is this: to break down how you are feeling minute-by-minute instead of seeing this as a global problem. Because it isn't a problem of your life, it is a problem of dealing with the feelings.

First, get used to the idea of feeling your feelings without reacting to them. Next time you feel afraid of losing his interest, just sit there with that feeling. Whatever you reach for at that moment to relieve that fear, don't reach for it. Train yourself to just sit there with the feeling without calling anyone, eating anything, E-mailing anyone, anything. Just sit there and continue what you were doing, while making yourself 100% aware of how those feelings are coursing through your body. Repeat every time you feel this. This is how you become friends with the fear.

Second, you cannot read other people's minds. Realize that these feelings have zero relationship to what is going on outside you. The very solid truth is that your feelings are not a method of reading the mind of another person and the fact that you feel one way or the other is not a window into the mind of another person. It is your reaction to feeling vulnerable. So there is no need to react to those feelings. You can just feel them and do nothing.

Finally, look at how those feelings interact with other feelings and situations. If you are anything like me, you might feel pressure and fear regarding work or money issues that you don't want to think about and use your also difficult feelings about your dude to distract yourself. It is a little-known secret that it is much easier to distract oneself from thinking about bad things by thinking about other bad things, rather than good things. This is because you can relate to the feelings without ignoring them. Thinking about good things is hard because the bad things intrude. So, pay attention to what is going on. Note if you start thinking about the guy problem right after your boss yells at you or when you learn your 401k has gone down. If that is happening, focus on feeling bad about the thing you don't want to think about, rather than the guy. It is this process that gives rise to obsesssion, which I think describes your problem.

I would spend exactly zero time analyzing what he says and does and what it "means" and focus on the only thing you can change, which is how you think about things.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2009 [68 favorites]

I seem to say this a lot in these kind of questions, but you deserve to have someone who is just as excited about you as you are about him. You really shouldn't have to pretend to feel a different way than you do in a relationship. If you start down that road now, you may be on that road for the duration of the relationship. I've seen the push-me-pull-you dance (when you act coy I'll pursue you, but when you're interested I'm not) all too often and it usually ends in heartache.

You may "scare off" some guys, but the ones that are worth all of your attention and affection will will love you for being your enthusiastic self.

You know a guy is disinterested when you have to do all the work to be around him or keep things fresh. If you start feeling a little desperate, that's usually a good sign.

Good luck!
posted by Kimberly at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

Oh, I've been there. Now that it's been a year and we're the two schmoopiest people alive I laugh to think about the days of struggling not to seem too interested.

Here are some things I forced myself to do in the beginning. Keep in mind, these are not rules. Every relationship is different, and I find all that game-playing shit tiring. However, these are the guidelines I set for myself because I knew if I let myself run wild I'd be totally creeping him out by showing up at this house in the middle of the night to wrestle him to the ground with cuddles.

-Let one day of no-contact go by before calling him.

-Don't call unless you actually have something to talk about, like making plans or something you think they'd find interesting. You're allowed to make stuff up.

-Go out with other friends without him! Hell, I still go out with other friends without him.

-Choke the words "I love you" back down in your throat if you have to ram them back with a broomstick.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2009 [16 favorites]

Ironmouth and Juliet Banana are both totally spot-on.
posted by scody at 12:34 PM on August 27, 2009


Basically make it clear very clear you have 'advanced' and then just ignore him. Like you've forgotten he exists. He'll wonder where your interest has gone and feel compelled to get it back.

Just like you are now :)
See how that works?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:30 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the wonderful advice. I will take each and every post into massive consideration. If he doesnt believe I am worth it, then oh wells! At least I know my worth to know when to get out.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 1:32 PM on August 27, 2009

Ah, man, I know this is not the advice you asked for, but I think the worst thing you could do is pretend to be less interested than you are.

Because the worst case scenario isn't scaring this guy off. If that happens, better it happens now.

The worst case scenario is becoming emotionally invested in someone who will, in fact, be turned off when he realizes you really like him! Or in someone around whom you cannot be yourself, who isn't into you exactly as you are. Or in someone who is just not that into you, period. That is a good way to get your heart broken, slowly, over the course of weeks, months, or years.

As long as your degree of being caught up with him isn't in the range of bunny-boiling, I say don't hide your feelings.

Don't you want to be caught up in love with someone who is also caught up in love with you?
posted by Ashley801 at 2:38 PM on August 27, 2009

There's a big difference between pretending not to be interested (which I think is a poor idea) and maintaining appropriate boundaries/taking it slow (which I think can work wonderfully well).

The point is not to fake someone out--the point is to respect the other person's boundaries and not trigger their anxieties. The Rules is stupid because it's about manipulating people; taking a relationship at the pace of the slowest participant is actually about respecting people.

If you think about it, we don't "rush into" friendship very often: you meet someone, you get to know them over a period of time, you start confiding in them, hanging out more, until a close friendship develops. That's not considered "fake".

That said, my husband and I went from "Hi, glad to meet you" to "YAY, WE'RE GETTING MARRIED" in the space of a very few weeks, so that works too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sidhedevil, I'm assuming you either haven't read The Rules or read it with a preconceived assumption about what it would be about, because it is literally about "taking a relationship at the pace of the slowest participant."

Manipulation is acting a certain way in order to elicit certain behavior in another person. But you are supposed to do The Rules regardless of what you think the man will do. Maybe not calling him will make him crazy for you, and maybe it'll make him lose interest and walk away. But you do it either way, because either scenario is a blessing -- he's pursuing you more, or you've just saved yourself from someone who's not that interested.

I agree that you shouldn't manipulate him. You can't make him like you more than he does (despite what incorrect interpreters of The Rules may think). So if you're trying to pull him into liking you more or pursuing you more, because you think you can remind him that you exist or remind him to like you or be interested in you, STOP. If you're calling him because you think that his hearing your voice will spur him into asking you out, don't. If you are making yourself more sexually available than you might otherwise want because you think it'll make him more interested, don't. Get the idea? Don't confuse trying to get him to respond in a way that you want with "doing what you feel."

And GOD, don't ask him why he's "pulling away." If his pulling away was all in your head, it won't be after that conversation. You might as well ask him why he's not in love with you yet, or tell him that his level of interest in you isn't enough.
posted by thebazilist at 6:34 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sidhedevil, I'm assuming you either haven't read The Rules or read it with a preconceived assumption about what it would be about, because it is literally about "taking a relationship at the pace of the slowest participant."

No, I have read it, and I disagree with your assessment of the book's message entirely. I can go into the basement and find the thing and we can parse passages to support our opposing points of view on this, but I don't think that would help the questioner at all.

I think your interpretation of the book is incorrect; you think my interpretation of the book is incorrect. Let a thousand flowers bloom! Let a thousand schools of thought contend!
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

Well, update. The guy broke up with me. He fessed he wasn't feeling a connection. I think he didn't even give it a chance with our schedule. But whatever. I don't feel good about it but I'm living on with my life. Thanks again guys.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 5:50 PM on October 4, 2009

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