Sweet Guy or Crazy Person?
October 22, 2010 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I am currently dating an ex, and we've been back together for about a month now. Everything is going really well, except for the fact that I'm starting to get a little freaked out about his revelation that he thinks I'm his soul mate and that he never got over me from the last time around. Does this guy sound sweet and sincere or potentially unbalanced?

About six and a half years ago, I ended a year-and-a-half long relationship with a man who is 12 years older than me--I was 22 at the time, and he was 34. Overall, the relationship was a good one, but he wanted to start thinking about marriage and children (he was divorced at the time with a nine year old daughter) and I wasn't anywhere near ready. Also, I was a college student living at home and he owned a restaurant, so there was also a large disparity in our responsibility and maturity levels that made things difficult at times. I was pretty self-centered and insecure, and he was frustrated. I broke up with him and quickly began dating a fellow student, and my ex was very, very hurt by it.

We had been good friends before we started dating, and after the break-up, we remained in semi-contact; I would call him maybe once a year or two to catch up. He had a 3 year relationship, and I eventually got married and had a child. During this time, on a few occasions, he hinted at the fact that he was still not over our relationship. Honestly, it was really selfish and borderline cruel of me to keep calling him but I couldn't see that at the time. I just didn't want to let go of our friendship completely since we had been really good friends before we had dated.

Anyway, I am now divorced and I've been single for a year, and he is also single again (you know where this is going). Another friend of mine called me about three months ago and told me to look in our local paper because there was an article that mentioned me. It turned out to be an interview with my ex about the inspiration for the names of the menu items at his restaurant, and in the interview he mentions me by name as one of his inspirations and basically calls me his soul mate and says that he still thinks about me all of the time and wishes me the best in life. I was really shocked, and my first reaction was to think that it was a really crazy way of letting me know that he wants to get back together. After a couple of months went by, though, and I thought about it, it began to strike me as really sweet and meaningful. So, I called him.

I played dumb about the article, and suggested we meet up sometime. We have gone out three times now over the past month. We have had a really good time on every occasion, he has been a perfect gentleman, and we still have chemistry. But he has made it very clear to me that he still loves me after all of this time and that he never got over me. He says that he has thought of me almost every day these past 6+ years and that he often prays (shorthand here for communing with spiritual forces--he's Native American) for my happiness. He even told me that his three-year relationship was one long rebound from our relationship. He's not pressing me for an inappropriate level of intimacy or commitment (yet), but I'm beginning to wonder if this is a sign of emotional issues. I hate to be such a cynic, but (1) I'm not so savvy about interpersonal relationships (2) I have some commitment issues so I can't trust if my concern is valid or if I'm just scared as hell by a guy who might actually NOT be an asshole--in fact, I broke up with him before because his commitment level scared me to death, and (3) I don't know if me initially thinking that this was all sweet and romantic is only because I've been brainwashed by romantic comedies.

Please help. Does this sound like weird, stalkery, or desperate behavior or a nice guy holding a torch for a long lost love? Obviously, I am taking this whole thing very slowly and cautiously to see how it will play out but I'm wondering if I should run for the hills.
posted by mudlark to Human Relations (49 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not really in a position to judge if he's a crazy person.

But the thing is, he's really in love with you, and you're wondering if he's a crazy person. He likes you a *lot* more than you like him. I think the nicest and best thing you can do is not see him anymore, so he can get over you and get on with his life.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:12 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do you really want to walk away from someone because they think you're the only one for them?

My second wife and I dated in college, then broke up for various crazy reasons. Neither of us ever got over the other. After our first marriages disintegrated, we got back together. Now we're deliriously happy.

I think you should look at your own fear of commitment, and ask why you're turning away love?
posted by musofire at 2:13 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

the attention from an older man who dotes on you and thinks you hung the moon is very intoxicating and powerful. after your divorce and being single for a year, i could see how tempting it would be to press those buttons again. however, i think what you thought about your phone calls then goes double for now - to quote you, Honestly, it was really selfish and borderline cruel of me to keep calling him but I couldn't see that at the time. why can't you see it now?

whether crazy or not - this man is convinced he loves you, deeply, completely. you don't even really seem to like him that much. please don't break his heart to give your self esteem a boost.
posted by nadawi at 2:17 PM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

This guy's in love with you.

This is ALL about your feelings for him, not vice versa.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:18 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like he's crazy, but it does sound like he is very romantic and and it sounds like you are not very romantic. This makes me wonder if, despite the other ways you "work" together, you are maybe not very compatible in this one area.

Also, if I were in your position, I'd be worried that he might have you kind of up on a pedestal, which is flattering, but not a great place to be for a real relationship.
posted by lunasol at 2:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

There may be other actions you're not talking about, but naming a sandwich after you is clearly not stalker behavior. It doesn't even involve you, really. It's just a name for a sandwich. If there were things he did while broken up that really did affect you directly, then you should be worried, but from the incomplete description you've given, it seem like the above posters hit the nail on the head.
posted by yeolcoatl at 2:23 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Point taken, drjimmy11. I know it sounds bad, and maybe it is for the reason you've mentioned. But I do have strong feelings for him. There's just something about the intensity of his feelings that scares me, and I can't tell if it's because the intensity of his feelings signals a potential problem or because I'm scared of strong feeling (which I am). So, I need other people to tell me how it sounds to them.

And thank you, musofire. I'm not sure what's going on here, but I have identified that I am, underneath it all, pretty worried that I won't live up to his expectations. That maybe he thinks I'm some perfect, amazing person that I'm not because he's obsessed and not in love, and that we'll both be disappointed in the end.

I can't tell if that's my insecurity talking or just my prudent side.
posted by mudlark at 2:23 PM on October 22, 2010

Best answer: He sounds intense. That can be great if you're feeling the same, but you're not, it seems. So it comes off as weird to you. But nothing in your description says crazy at all, just madly in love with you.

The big thing, IMO, is that he says he prays for your happiness. Not that you return to him, or that you miss him and realize the horrible mistake you made, but simply that you be happy. That's love. It may not be love you want, but you clearly like the guy, so why not take things slow and see how you feel.
posted by nomadicink at 2:24 PM on October 22, 2010 [9 favorites]

He doesn't seem to have any specific emotional issues beyond being in love with you. That's a nice thing. Be sure to treat that with the regard it deserves, would be my only advice.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:27 PM on October 22, 2010

Response by poster: nomadicink--I agree with what you're saying about the praying for my happiness, but what I wonder about is the fact that he told me that he prays for my happiness. Maybe I'm being neurotic, that is certainly possible, but does it seems odd that someone would come right out and tell you all of this stuff?
posted by mudlark at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2010

Maybe I'm being neurotic, that is certainly possible, but does it seems odd that someone would come right out and tell you all of this stuff?

To me, yes, because I'm not that way. But your description of the guy indicates that is the type of person that is pretty straight forward about this stuff. You don't sound as though you're way, so that's probably why you're perceiving it as alien and weird. And I think that hints at the "problem" in that you two see the world a bit differently and process thoughts and emotions differently. That's not a relationship killer but you both need to understand that different, if it's truly there (remember, I'm just random stranger on the internet who's guessing).

To put it differently, someone up thread mentioned that he seemed like he puts you on pedestal. If so, do you enjoy being on a pedestal? If not, that sort of attention may be draining or irritating in the long run. Or you may grow to love it and appreciate it. It sounds like something worth exploring, as long as you're upfront up your worries with him.

Finally, just because he's a great guy doesn't mean he's a great guy for you. You may be his soulmate, but that doesn't mean he's yours.
posted by nomadicink at 2:36 PM on October 22, 2010

Best answer: Hmm, well here's what I'd want to know--has he expressed to you any feelings of anger or bitterness over the last breakup?

What maybe is bothering you (and would bother me) is that from your description he seems to have you on some sort of pedestal. Surely you are a wonderful person, but not perfect--does he seem to see your flaws at all? Not care, necessarily, but see them? Because they are part of you too.

Possibly the thing that's bothering you is that he is focused on you to the exclusion of other things, which might signal insecurity or an immature outlook on the world.

If that's the case, the pressure you are feeling is not so much fear of committment as fear of having those kinds of expectations on you .

But maybe that's not it.

At any rate, you sound reluctant but tempted in your post. And if you're feeling unease, you are probably feeling it for a reason, whether that reason is about him or about you doesn't really matter.
posted by emjaybee at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Um, maybe not something you hear every day, but it's in the same vein as "I wish you all the best", is it not?

I think it may be time to do some working on commitment issues if you think they are a problem in your life. He very well may be a creepy creepster but nothing in your post suggests this as such.
posted by amicamentis at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2010

Response by poster: Also, I promise that I'm not the cold-hearted non-romantic that I probably come off as here. For full-disclosure, I've been in several abusive relationships and I am now pretty much full of self-doubt and fear about relationships. I do care about him, a lot. But, his intensity and his forwardness about his feelings scares me and makes me question him. Abusive men are also often very "intense." That may be why I am wondering if he's got some issues. He has definitely never done anything harmful to me, at all. He is really one of two guys that I have dated who has been really good to me. But I remember, even the first time we dated, that his depth of emotion for me really freaked me out--I was also worried he'd go off the deep end if we broke up. He didn't, but all of these recent admissions about how he never got over me make me wonder if he did a little bit. I don't know. I'm probably the crazy one :)
posted by mudlark at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2010

Best answer: "praying" for someone you love's happiness is also a way to find release of letting go of them if they have left you for some reason. It helps deal with the emotions in the day to day life.

yes, you are being neurotic. just be responsible
posted by The Lady is a designer at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm being neurotic, that is certainly possible, but does it seems odd that someone would come right out and tell you all of this stuff?

It isn't odd if you are familiar with the person saying it. Since you two have some history together, he is comfortable with speaking his mind with regard to how he feels about you. What seems odd is your constant questioning of his intensity of feeling.

Perhaps you should tell him that you'd like to take things slow, initially. If he is as truly in love with you as he seems to all of us to be, he'll understand:

He's not pressing me for an inappropriate level of intimacy or commitment (yet), but I'm beginning to wonder if this is a sign of emotional issues.

This is a good sign. He's told you how he feels, but isn't forcing you into something you may not want.
posted by Everydayville at 2:43 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also: your tone in the question sounds rather suspicious and wary. Understandable, perhaps, in dealing with an ex. Do you find that you behave this way towards close friends or family and past boyfriends as well, or are you just on your guard with this one guy? It just sounds like from your post he is coming at this relationship from a more romantic place than you, that's all. If you don't like that, well, that's fine. But could you see this as something you can get over? What kind of emotions are you returning?
posted by amicamentis at 2:43 PM on October 22, 2010

But, his intensity and his forwardness about his feelings scares me and makes me question him. Abusive men are also often very "intense."

Abusive men and non-abusive men both eat with forks and wear shirts. Some of them probably even like the same sports team/car/video game/movie/hobbies. That fact doesn't make any of those thing wrong in and of themselves. The fact you are equating the intensity of his feeling with abuse means, to me, that you're still not over the abuse. Has this guy ever abused you? Not just hitting, but verbal or emotional abuse? Nothing in your description indicates that he has done that. Do you know what the guys faults are? What sort of stupid and/or uncaring things has done when ya'll have been a couple?

Have you talked about this stuff with him? You should and maybe look into getting some therapy, it might help you deal with this and the abuse aftershocks.
posted by nomadicink at 2:45 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: He's not in love with you. He's in love with the picture of you he's been carrying in his head all these years. I'm betting after everything you've been through since then the picture is nothing like the reality, if it ever was. Personally I'd rather be with someone who sees me as the person I am rather than some mythical soul mate. There is way too much baggage here from him, ug.
posted by shelleycat at 2:46 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: He hasn't done anything at all abusive, with the exception of telling me on the phone one night about six months after we broke up that he was thinking of doing himself in. That really worried me. But, he always remained completely functional and responsible and he did seem to move on somewhat. The fact that he threatened to harm himself though did stay with me. It was definitely a low, low point in our break-up process. He never did anything, obviously, and after that he went on to have a relationship and he has always been responsible and hard-working, so I guess he didn't really let it consume him. Still, there was that.
posted by mudlark at 2:53 PM on October 22, 2010

You were less secure when you broke up with him, and he was hurt. It appears that now, he is acting like a perfect gentleman, while still not disguising his feelings for you. If he'd been the one to break-up or be inconsistent about his feelings, then perhaps you should be worried. But from what you write, he's been a pretty straight arrow, and he's been upfront about his feelings. In a perfect world, that's how it should be.

You sound wary about him, but you don't give us a real reason to support that feeling. While your gut instinct can be meaningful, it can also be wrong. But it appear you've always contacted him, not the other way around. How is that "stalkery" or "desperate"? I can't feel your feelings here, but since he's acting appropriately and you have no past issues with his behaviours (except for his high level of commitment), I can't imagine why you wouldn't keep seeing him.

Just take it slow at first.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:56 PM on October 22, 2010

StrawmanFilter: You are a 30ish divorced mom, and in my experience this means you are doing at least one of three things: trying to get married again, school/job 40hrs/wk, or partying heartily. Since you don't mention time-crunches and you're squicked out by his intensity, I'm gonna guess you're in party mode. If so, it'll last two or three years before you get sick of it and try one of the remaining two options. He's in his mid-40s, has already done the school/job thing and apparently is not a huge partyer. Good luck! Frankly, given the chemistry and hookupability and everything you describe about you and him, I have no idea why you're not into it. What does he lack besides indifference towards you?
posted by rhizome at 3:00 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I ma not in party mode. I am a full-time student and a stay at home mom who never goes out and has not dated at all since leaving my husband. Also not, looking to get married per se, but certainly open to marrying again. He doesn't really lack anything. Everyone has made really good points here and I really appreciate it. This has been VERY helpful insight for me, really. I think now it's more my problem, and a combination of me having been seriously burned in the past and a bit relationship-phobic an him being more intense than most people.

So again, thank you all so much. Any more insights are very welcome!
posted by mudlark at 3:05 PM on October 22, 2010

Best answer: Possibly the thing that's bothering you is that he is focused on you to the exclusion of other things, which might signal insecurity or an immature outlook on the world.

um, what? he obviously isn't so focused on the OP that he hasn't run a restaurant successful enough to be written up in the newspaper.

OP, i can understand how you might have doubts about your ex/boyfriend's feelings. i'm recently in a relationship with a man who is really effusive and intense about his feelings for me as well, proclaims on a daily basis how amazing i am, and tells me he's never felt this way about anyone before, even when he was with his wife, and knew a month into dating me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me (and even told his parents and brother this early on). we even, on occasion, joke about his "mild obsession" with me.

on the one hand, i love it because i've never been with anyone before who looks on me like i've hung the moon, but on the other hand, it also makes me a little uncomfortable at times because i do feel rather that he's placed me on a pedestal and i wonder how such proclamations can be real and sincere. i do, however, have discussions with him about the issues i have and the things that don't make me such a perfect person and i believe he recognizes my flaws but feels the positive things about me far surpass the negatives. like you, i come from an abusive background as well (altho it was abuse from my father and not former boyfriends), so i tend to land on the skeptical and cynical side of the fence more often and not and the kind of lovey-dovey, wide-eyed enthusiasm that my partner expresses toward me is sometimes difficult for me to believe as something entirely sincere. but…i also knew my boyfriend when we were teenagers: we sat together in math class for three years, he tutored me weekly, we apparently even went to a school dance together. and even tho it took us 20 years to reconnect, i can see that he is still the same great guy i knew when i was younger and that the person he puts out there as being is exactly the person he is—and no, that isn't some creepster stalker person, but rather just a person who tends to wear his heart on his sleeve.

even tho i know that marrying my boyfriend and spending my life with him is an eventuality, i still sometimes have doubts. but i believe these doubts are mostly about me and because of what my friends like to point out is due to the fact that all my past relationships have involved me being the pursuer rather than the pursued, and the difficulty i have with accepting love without being suspicious of the motivations for it. so my point is that i can't tell you whether you should stay with this guy or move on, but i think it is worth examining what you do know about this guy and how he's treated you and continues to treat you, and why it's so difficult for you to accept the love of someone who genuinely cares about you and your happiness. if you honestly just aren't as into him as he is into you, then, yes, i do think you need to move on so that he can move on. but if you're reluctance is arising out of issues you have of accepting love from, as you say, someone who's not an asshole, then maybe you should hang in a little longer and try to take his words and actions at face value, because it does sound like you could do with having that kind of person in your life.
posted by violetk at 3:15 PM on October 22, 2010 [8 favorites]

My only thought: don;'t worry about age difference. I am 29 years older than my wife and we are still in love these 27 years of marriage later!
posted by Postroad at 3:16 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should go for it either way!

You had a great friendship, the only reason your broke up was because you were in different stages in life.... I get your reticence having graduated from a few abusive relationships myself (including with family) but really - YOU ARE MISSING A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY HERE:)

Look. If he turns out to be more of the same, you'll figure that out fairly quickly.


Best Case: I suggest that you open your heart. The truth is, you (probably??) have no idea what a healthy sustainable relationship looks like. From where I am now in life, I can tell you that it IS normal for your partner to adore you. This state of being is also normal for my older friends that have been happily married for 35+ years. Just because it is a new state of being for you, doesn't make it wrong.

Worst Case: If you let go of the neurosis and manage to get a little more involved, and then you don't find yourself adoring him back... you can move on. If you get to know him better and you discover he's emotionally immature... you can move on. In this way, you'll both have final closure on the relationship. Nobody loses.

Opportunities like this don't come along everyday. GOOD LUCK!
posted by jbenben at 3:28 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: He doesn't sounds stalkery to me, he just has strong feelings about you. If he had placed an ad in the newspaper about the sandwich he named after you, then maybe that would be weird, but the journalist chose what to put in the article, so I don't think he was trying to get your attention that way. I think it's obvious that you also have feelings for him - even after you broke up, you kept in communication with him and then when you found out he still has feelings for you, you called him up and suggested hanging out.

I think what's happening to you is like what they say about a dog who chases cars. What would he do if he ever caught up with it? Sorry about the metaphor, but I think it's true about many people. We run after our desires, but actually getting them is kind of threatening because it means there's nothing to run after any more, so you have to say "There's something wrong with it, it's not exactly what I want," so you can find something else to run after. So I think your ambivalence about him is a paradoxical sign that it's exactly what you want, and you're unconsciously sabotaging yourself. This isn't dysfunctional, people are just like this, they enjoy suffering and pining after a fantasy, and they invent obstacles to prevent themselves from making the fantasy real. If you think about it, being in a relationship with an asshole is exactly this pattern - his asshole behavior is the obstacle that keeps the ideal relationship at a distance.

The problem I see is that his entire fantasy of you depends on the obstacle of your lack of commitment which he could unconsciously be complicit in sustaining - maybe he needs you to be inaccessible, the one that got away. Hypothetically, if you turned around and said "OK let's do it, let's get married!" he might be like the dog who caught up to the car, he'd be confused, even threatened by the sudden access to the object of his desire.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:37 PM on October 22, 2010 [14 favorites]

I think he feels he's known you a very long time and doesn't have to hide anything from you. His sense of discretion is a bit off, but they call it "crazy in love" for a reason. If he seems stable in other areas of his life, I wouldn't be worried overly worried by it. He's not changed his tune, and he's being respectful as things begin anew.

My grandmother used to say it's far better to be in a relationship with a man who utterly adores you than to be in a relationship where the dynamic is reversed. Old-fashioned advice from a 1960's housewife.
posted by lizbunny at 3:48 PM on October 22, 2010

Response by poster: Awesome answer, AlsoMike :) Thanks.
posted by mudlark at 3:52 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

He definitely does not sound stalkerish - in fact, quite the opposite. Even though he has been thinking about you often over the years, it seems like he has let you be in control of when and what kind of contact you have had. I think if you hadn't indicated your interest in dating again, he would have never brought up the subject - just send you wishes for your own happiness in his thoughts.

I think the most important question will be whether he can see the real you or if he needs you to make yourself fit into his picture of the perfect woman. Similarly, he need him to be able to take care of his own needs and be a real partner, not automatically give into you in every matter. To find out the answer, you will have to give the relationship enough time to move past the honeymoon phase and see what happens when you two encounter the inevitable bumps.

To be in a healthy relationship requires a balance of independence and interdependence that will probably stretch you beyond your comfort zone because it is new and scary. If you are a book person, let me know and I will try to come up with a good recommendation for you. Since you are recently out of an abusive relationship, you might want to see if you can get some free or low cost counseling that is available for women who experienced domestic violence (in most case, I think, emotional abuse entitles you to services even if there wasn't any physical violence.)
posted by metahawk at 4:15 PM on October 22, 2010

So he's been madly in love with you for six years and during that time he's watched you marry someone else and the craziest thing he's done is take your occasional calls, pray for your happiness, name a dish at his restaurant after you, and get a little overly sappy in a puff piece interview? I don't think he's crazy. I think he's an emotional and passionate guy, but I definitely don't think he's crazy. He seems to understand boundaries. He accepted the break up even though he was hurt. He didn't lash out in any way at you about it or when you moved on and married someone else. He doesn't sound stalkery at all, in fact it sound like he has zero stalkerish tendencies. He has shown that despite his strong feelings for you he can take no for an answer and respect your boundaries, he's just not afraid to put it all out there.
posted by whoaali at 4:38 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

He sounds like a nice guy with no game. If he played it a little closer to the vest, you'd probably be a little more interested and a little less freaked out. It's difficult to tell, though, whether you're actually interested, or if you just are willing to settle for what's easy and available.

I had a friend in college who was a lot like your guy. After years of worshiping a girl above all others, she finally gave in and they got together. And then she shat on him the second someone better came along.

To you I say: Stick with this guy. He's a little needy, but sounds like a keeper.

But if he wrote into MeFi with his side of the story (he loves you while you can't make up your mind if he's worth being with), I'd urge him to run far away as quickly as possible.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing not-a-stalker for the same reasons mentioned by a few people above. Also nthing take it slow -- there's nothing in your description suggesting craziness or abuse from him, but your history might tend to make you look for it even when it's not there, and it might take a long time and a lot of evidence to the contrary in order to stop doing that. On the other hand, if you soul-search and you find you're simply just not that into him, be kind.

As for the potential pedestal issue, personal experience tells me it's not a dealbreaker; true love can survive having to adjust one's perceptions and expectations to reflect current realities, as I can attest now that I've been living with my ex-that-got-away for the better part of this year and have had to face quite a bit of that, as I'm sure has she. It's work, no question, but it's completely worth it.
posted by treblemaker at 5:02 PM on October 22, 2010

I agree that he sounds like a nice guy with no game in the sense that he's not playing around. Personally, I find this highly desirable in a potential lifetime partner. Regardless of your choice, do him the service of responding in kind. Be up front if something makes you uncomfortable, or if you're not ready for a certain level of intensity. If he can handle this with grace, you may find that you catch up and even overtake him some day. At least that's my story.
posted by Manjusri at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2010

People who have been in abusive relationships often end up unconsciously seeking another one; somehow, the abusive relationship comes to seem normal, and normal relationships seem unappealing.

I'm wondering if you're feeling indeterminate doubts about this relationship because it would be a *good* one. It doesn't feel like other relationships, so maybe there's something wrong.

Have you worked through the issues that led to the abusive relationships? Maybe working on that would also help you figure out how you really feel about this guy. If you really do have doubts, help you make them more determinate--or maybe figure out if you're anxious because it'd be a different kind of relationship than you're used to, but it'd be healthy.
posted by galadriel at 6:01 PM on October 22, 2010

I would be very bothered by the fact that he was in a 3-year relationship with someone else while apparently having you in his mind as a perfect soul mate--did he tell her about this?

There seems to be an integrity issue there.

There's being devoted, then there's using other people. If you're devoted to one person and with someone else in the meantime because you can't get that person, you're using them.

I, personally, am a huge fan of commitment and devotion. My partner called me his soul mate 3 months into our relationship and has demonstrated that commitment over years. It's not that. Like I said, it's an integrity issue.

Could you imagine being his ex that dated him for 3 years, reading that article? What a horrible blow to her to find out that he didn't take their relationship seriously--or at least was willing to humiliate her by implying that in a newspaper article.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:14 PM on October 22, 2010

Seriously--nice guys don't date one person when they know they really want someone else.

There are definitely people who I would say "got away" from me. I wouldn't say that they were my singular soul mate in a paper and if I did, it wouldn't be "nice" to my current partner or the people I dated in the interim.

How someone treats their ex is a good indication of their character, in my opinion.

I don't know if he's abusive or whatever, but realistically, maybe you should stay away from a major commitment until you're more stable and confident in your ability to tell the difference between an abusive relationship and a healthy relationship.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:18 PM on October 22, 2010

Seriously--nice guys don't date one person when they know they really want someone else.

what? so in your world, if someone you want is not available to you for whatever reason, that means you should not be dating anyone else or that would make you a douchebag user? the only honorable thing would be to be alone for the rest of one's life (or however long it takes to get over that person)? are you kidding? sometimes it takes dating someone else to get over someone. judgmental much?
posted by violetk at 6:33 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all again. It seems like you all, pretty much overwhelmingly, think that he seems like he's probably a nice guy and that I'm potentially the crazy one here. I'm actually pretty relieved. Before posting this I really was leaning the other way in my judgment of the situation.

To the posters who pointed out that him being in a relationship with someone else while still having feelings for me is a mark against his character: I've thought about this a lot, and really felt sorry for the girlfriend actually. I asked him about it a few days ago, and his answer was that he started dating her to get over me, and that he ended up genuinely caring about her, but ultimately couldn't marry her because he felt something was missing. Later, he found out that she had been cheating on him. I don't think that makes him a bad guy. If the intensity of his emotions isn't a bad thing, and is maybe even something that I should appreciate, then I can pretty safely say that he's a great guy. In fact, after reading all of these posts, I feel like I should call him right now and tell him that.
posted by mudlark at 9:25 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

That maybe he thinks I'm some perfect, amazing person that I'm not because he's obsessed and not in love, and that we'll both be disappointed in the end.

I don't think you're crazy. I think this up here is absolutely spot on and you should listen to your instincts more.

You left this guy and spent more than six years doing other stuff, having really not much meaningful contact with him, and yet he spent the whole time pining after the person he thought you still were. He simply doesn't know you that well now so the whole being madly in love schtick is inappropriate, and you are should take this slowly while you figure out how realistic he's being.
posted by shelleycat at 10:27 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's not stalking at all. Stalking is intruding into your life.

I'd bet he wants another chance and will be willing to trade the potential breakup for a chance at more. Let him make his own dating decisions.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 AM on October 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, Shelleycat, for the validation. I think this is definitely an issue and I'm glad to know someone thinks it seems obvious, too. I recently had a talk with him about the fact that I'm a very, very different person than I was and that he shouldn't assume anything about me anymore, and vice versa. He seems to understand and accept this, but I guess I have to give this thing a real chance to find out if we're really compatible. I'm just going to move really slowly and try to stop freaking out quite so much :)
posted by mudlark at 7:18 AM on October 23, 2010

I don't think he's stalking. But I can see your wanting to be cautious, given the abusive relationship thing. Look up the signs of abusive relationships on the Internet and think to yourself, "Is he doing this stuff?" Is he trying to cut you off from friends and family? Is he pushing you really fast into the relationship? Does he want to commit really fast, like shack up really soon or propose marriage fast?

So far, it doesn't sound that way. You could just be right for each other and had to wait a while to be ready for each other.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:38 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recently had a talk with him about the fact that I'm a very, very different person than I was and that he shouldn't assume anything about me anymore, and vice versa. He seems to understand and accept this, but I guess I have to give this thing a real chance to find out if we're really compatible. I'm just going to move really slowly and try to stop freaking out quite so much

This sounds very positive and good to me, for what it's worth. You're handling this really well and it sounds like he's doing a pretty good job too. Take it slow, listen to your brain, and enjoy yourself!
posted by shelleycat at 3:09 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

You left this guy and spent more than six years doing other stuff, having really not much meaningful contact with him, and yet he spent the whole time pining after the person he thought you still were. He simply doesn't know you that well now so the whole being madly in love schtick is inappropriate

I totally understand this, and it is my intuition in general, but I just want to note that different people express things differently, and there really are romantic-style people who leap all-in, and embrace a position entirely, rather than feeling out along the edges and being nuanced about everything the way some of us do. IN other words, this guy hasn't done anything inappropriate, it's just his feelings are more yes/no than some of us. That doesn't mean his position is going to change or isn't real.

I'm one of those detail oriented sorts who questions every little aspect of something, but some people see a movie and come out saying "wow, that was awesome!" not "I liked the first act, but I thought it was weak toward the end, and the part about B was really not believable, but I did love the backstory of A..." Everyone (and every movie) has flaws - you go in knowing that. Some people just don't feel the need to analyze as much as others.

It doesn't mean it's necessarily fake or a pedestal or projection. He may know you better than you think. He may know whatever matters about you, and be willing to embrace the rest. So while I completely understand the tendency to be scared by this, my advice would be not to bail because you're worried he's unsteady, but to let him know you need to take it slow, and to be honest with yourself about your feelings and your happiness with him, rather than focusing on questions about how real his feelings are.
posted by mdn at 3:33 PM on October 23, 2010

Best answer: Long story short, being with my husband makes me happier than I've ever been before even if I didn't think it would at any point up until my wedding day.

I didn't date him the first time because he wasn't difficult to pursue (he liked me more than I liked him when it came to romance) and I liked the hard to get type. I married a hard-to-get type.
Then when I went through a divorce 9 years later, I thought he liked the memory of me more than me or that liking me for so long was a personality flaw.
Then when we first started dating, I kept spazzing out -- secretly I knew this was a trick to get me to love him so he could break my heart as revenge.

We've been married for four years. I love him as much (if not more at times) than he loves me. I'm still weirded out by guys that sincerely like me and don't play games and I'm doing my best not to play games on him.

He did not, however, confess to a newspaper about his unrequited love. He just put "unrequited love" as an interest in his Live Journal profile and I knew exactly what he was referring to.

Does this guy love the real you or the pedestal you? One way to find out is to date him and make sure he knows the real you.
Is he a controlling freak or just a sincerely loving guy? One way to find out is to date him
and get to know who he is now.

The good thing is that if he really loves you, he's not going to do anything freaky -- like propose on the 5th date or legally change his last name to yours. And if he does anything freaky, you can stop dating him.

Right now you're seeing him through the lens of the guy he was, the relationship you got out of, your current feelings of self esteem, possibly some feelings of guilt -- if you're having strong feelings for him, the real him, and it's your emotional baggage in the way, the good thing is that he sounds like the kind of guy, a few more dates in, that you can say, "I have a lot of strong feelings for you, but I'm still raw from the divorce/finding my feet with you again after so long/working on myself. Let's please take this slow."

You're going to do fine. Good luck.
posted by Gucky at 3:44 PM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't doubt that he's in love with you and had many "what might have been" thoughts while you were apart... however, as far as the newspaper goes, keep in mind that he owns a restaurant and that is a salesman job. A touching romantic story would be very helpful and if he over-emphasized the poignancy a wee little bit to make a memorable point, no one could fault him.

That's he telling you now is just being honest.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2010

In fact, after reading all of these posts, I feel like I should call him right now and tell him that.

He sounds like a straight-forward guy. You should be straight-forward with him. Tell him exactly what you're thinking. I bet he's probably fully aware that it sounds a little wierd that he's been holding a flame for you all this time. Talk to him about it.
posted by empath at 6:00 PM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update:

MetaFilter (and all participating mefites), I cannot possibly thank you enough for being such an awesome resource. I now use this post as sort of a mirror that I can hold up to show myself how crazy I can be when I let my fears of intimacy/ abandonment take over my rational brain. I can say with 100% certainty that, if not for the advice and wisdom of everyone who answered this question, that I would have passed up an incredible relationship with an incredible man and continued to let my out-of-control commitment phobia dictate the terms of my life. So, thanks again for all of your help. This community rocks :)

posted by mudlark at 7:01 AM on December 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

« Older Please suggest an elegant, simple watch for a...   |   Gaga in the room so star struck cherry cherry boom... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.