Help me reign this talker in so I can get to know him better.
December 5, 2010 10:58 PM   Subscribe

We all hear about too little communication during dating and a relationship. How about the reverse? Help me assert my need for less communication in a new friendship/potential relationship.

So a few months ago I wrote to MeFi about wanting to branch out into internet dating without alienating my mom, and thanks to your support I was able to do that and have since met some really nice guys. I need your help again, and this time I need guidance on how to assert myself and the way I function in a relationship (platonic or romantic) so that I do not damage a budding friendship irreparably by freaking the fuck out. I am not sure how to communicate my needs to my new friend.

Here is the sitch: The last gentleman I had the pleasure of going out on a date with was, initially, almost perfect. We hit it off, we have a lot in common, I was attracted to him, and I admired his life goals enough to actually brag about meeting him to my friends and family after the date was over. (I'm still bragging, actually.) Both of us expressed interest in seeing each other again, and even sort of tried to plan a future date then and there, though we live about 3 hours away from each other.

About a week after the first date, this guy decides he has to talk to me every day. I get texts. I get Facebook messages. I get voicemails like, "Hey, saw XYZ, was thinking about you, just wanted to say hi!" which were cute initially until they started coming in almost like clockwork. My response was to put the brakes on the situation, cancel the second date as graciously as possible, and to say, in no uncertain terms, "Hey, I need to take things really slow right now. I'm overwhelmed."

The guy immediately said no problem. I was relieved, and went along my merry way, saying hi and forwarding fun things relevant to our interest here and there until suddenly the bi-weekly+ calls, texts, and messages started up again. I tried to set designated times to talk; he messages me outside of those times and also sends me reminder messages like "Can't wait to talk to you tomorrow!" citing excitement as a reason.

I do not know what to do anymore. I am definitely interested in getting to know the dude, but I am offended and turned off by the constant need for contact because I am someone who can only handle so much non-face-to-face human interaction at one time. I don't do phone calls all that often, texting is minimal, and when I feel like talking to you on Facebook, I'll give you a shout out, maybe arrange a hang out if I'm able to, and then go back into hibernation. I am, in effect, a Borg, as I was born an only child and am very, very used to having a great deal of distance from people so that I can be alone and be with my thoughts.

I am now about 75% sure said gentleman and I are not compatible romantically and the thought of going out on another date with this guy is sending me into more anxiety than I can handle. I do not want to alienate him, though, as I genuinely like him and am attracted to him. I want to continue to get to know him, and I am assuming positive intent despite being thoroughly and unabashedly annoyed. I get the impression he's just really excited, but as we have diametrically opposite needs, I don't want to be dishonest about the newly formed disconnect. I'm worried he'll view my backing off as me leading him on, because I was very, very effusive on our first date as he was such amazing company.

If you were this gentleman, how would you like to be told that the constant contact is making it impossible for me to connect with you? Additionally, how could I communicate to you that I genuinely want to continue to get to know you at a slow, casual pace without sounding like I'm giving you the gentle let down?

Specific verbage is appreciated as it helps me understand how to phrase things.
posted by patronuscharms to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not a man, and I'm not socially brave at all. However, I would say this:

"The constant contact is making it impossible for me to connect with you."

"I am now about 75% sure said gentleman and I are not compatible romantically and the thought of going out on another date with this guy is sending me into more anxiety than I can handle. I do not want to alienate him, though, as I genuinely like him and am attracted to him. I want to continue to get to know him, and I am assuming positive intent despite being thoroughly and unabashedly annoyed. "


This seems strange to me. If you're overwhelmed with anxiety at the prospect of another date with this guy, he's probably not the right one for you.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:15 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the way you told us makes it really really understandable. The way you told him ("I need to take things really slow right now. I'm overwhelmed.") could be interpreted any number of ways. Unless you specified that it was about the communication level, if I were him, I would probably think you were saying you were overwhelmed by monogamy/becoming "serious" or something like that, not necessarily by the frequency of communication.

I think it would be fine to just say something like,

Hey Mike,

Just wanted to let you know about something that's been on my mind a bit lately. We kind of talked about this before, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

I cam be a bit of a Borg sometimes ... I was born an only child and as such am very, very used to having a great deal of time to be alone with my thoughts. I really value this alone time, and so I don't deal well with much non-face-to-face human interaction at one time. I get really overwhelmed at the idea of daily or even bi-weekly contact by phone, email, Facebook, etc. It's just how I am.

I just want to be clear that I like you very much, and I am very attracted to you, and I found you to be great company, so I really do not want to alienate you. I would love to continue getting to know you at a slow and casual pace.

I'm worried though that we have opposite needs. Although I really like you, I don't know that I'd ever be able to engage in very much non-face-to-face interaction. I think I may always want to avoid it, and I think that amount of interaction makes it hard for me to connect to/get to know people without wanting to withdraw. If you need more interaction than I can provide, I completely respect that. If you think we may still be compatible given my needs and your needs, that would be awesome. What do you think?
posted by Ashley801 at 11:18 PM on December 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


Oh, and you could also talk a bit about how you know it can be hard for some people to tell how the other person feels about them when there's not very much contact ... how some people feel insecure and not-cared-about, and that the other person is disinterested ... you could tell him that if he's feeling that way, he can always ask you and you will tell him honestly, and you can show him your feelings in other ways.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:20 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'll have to be direct with this particular guy: "stop with the continuous texts, emails, and facebook notes. You're pushing me away."
posted by MillMan at 11:42 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, two things...

First off, I don't want you to assume that your reaction to him is in any way strange, abnormal, or in any way not okay.

This guy is contacting you way too much for how little he knows you. Every woman I know would say that it smacks of desperation, and your instinct to lose attraction towards him is totally warranted.

Secondly, you don't owe him anything. It would be nice and courageous of you to give this man the feedback he so clearly needs. At the same time, if this is causing you tons of anxiety, you're well within your right to just ignore him forever. Your emotional needs should be paramount.
posted by dualityofmind at 12:21 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


patronuscharms: I tried to set designated times to talk; he messages me outside of those times and also sends me reminder messages like "Can't wait to talk to you tomorrow!" citing excitement as a reason.

I do not know what to do anymore. I am definitely interested in getting to know the dude, but I am offended and turned off by the constant need for contact...


One thing that strikes me is that instead of trying to alter his behaviour, you could clarify his expectation and possibly reframe it. I take it that if we're supposed to talk on Thursday and I send you a text on Tuesday and Wednesday like the above, you feel pressured to reply and interact. FWIW I don't think that a) really counts as contact b) solicits or requires any response c) is actually demanding anything of you.

Were it me, I'd be fine with you ignoring the emails and ignoring the texts. The way I run my relationships, I don't see any reason to hide that I'm thinking of you, but if I let you know I am, I don't need you to do anything, either. Perhaps you're just very different in how you read these events. And maybe that's a dealbreaker, but it seems like you otherwise really like him and he likes you, which is why I'm suggesting you might try to look at things from a different POV.

Having said all of that: block him on Facebook. Seriously, let this be a lesson to you not to add people as friends in early dating situations. If you wouldn't bring him to brunch with all of your friends right after the first date, don't add him.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:33 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't fully understand what you want. You "say hi and forward fun things relevant to our interest here and there" but when he does his own thing here and there, it freaks you out. Is it that he responds via voice mail, text, and fb, rather than email? Is it the twice a week frequency?

I'd figure out what it is and go with this:
Dear Mike:

It has been great getting to know you, and I really enjoyed our call last week. As we learn each other's quirks, I thought I'd explain a bit about my communication style. We talked about this before, but I don't think I explained myself very well.

I was born an only child, and so I am used to having a great deal of time to be alone with my thoughts. I treasure my quiet time, but because my job is busy and fairly stressful to begin with, I don't get much of it.

When I said that I'd like to take things a little bit slowly and that I was feeling overwhelmed, what I meant was that I only like to do so much non-face-to-face communication. I can get really overwhelmed at the idea of daily or even bi-weekly contact by phone, voice mails, email, Facebook, text messages, etc. It gets to be too much for me somehow.

So, as we continue getting to know each other, I thought I'd ask if we could calibrate how we communicate. You often send these great little notes. They're so funny, but I sometimes feel like I need to respond when I'd rather just chill out on my own. What would be more comfortable for me would be if we [concrete suggestion: plan on seeing each other maybe once or twice a month on the weekends, and in the meantime, maybe schedule a phone chat or two, or exchange something like 2-3 emails.] Those would be the best modes of communication and about the right level of frequency for me.

Thanks again for all your excitement, and I hope my explanation here doesn't dampen it. I look forward to connecting and definitely want to get to know you more over time. I just know that when things become too much too fast for me, I start to freak out a little, and I don't want something like that to get in the way needlessly.

Thanks a lot for trying to understand my quirks here, and if you have any thoughts or questions, I'm happy to explain more. Otherwise, do tell -- how was your big event on Monday?
P.S. I totally understand your viewpoint, and think it's courageous really to be clear about what you want rather than just getting weirded out. In his shoes, I'd probably appreciate your clarity and communication. There is some risk, however, that it will feel like you are trying to control the exact type of communication and/or its frequency, so this may raise flags for him about controlling behavior as well as the one you are aware might exist (wanting different amounts of communication).

Also, I would not use the word Borg. It's just too complex of a concept. Do you mean that it is futile to resist your crushing will? Are you part of a collective? Do you regenerate damaged body parts? If he doesn't know what you mean, and he tries to figure it out via Wikipedia as I did, it's totally unclear, which is not good when combined with a message that's tricky to begin with.

Good luck! I hope you guys can get the hang of what works for the two of you and enjoy this exciting new dating relationship! :)
posted by salvia at 12:56 AM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


To me, you sound like you're really distant from this guy now. Your description of him is kinda insect-like - he's this little thing irritating the hell out of you. Not trying to condemn you. I just don't think that this is a good start to a relationship of any kind. This guy has ignored and forgotten what you asked of him and he agreed to. He's ignored all the signals you tried to send him to slow down. You and him are just not on the same level at all. You talk about being anxious, and it sounds like you're defending yourself from him. Not good.

I think it might be impossible to maintain a friendship with this guy. He's obviously very keen on you. You're not keen on him. It's about 99% likely that, no matter what you say or do to try and convince him that it's not going to happen, he's gunna stay in love with you. I think there's no soft let-down here. You just need to reject the guy.

I would, as soon as possible, frankly express yourself to him. 'Greg, you're texting me too much. I'm not your girlfriend, and even if I were, I wouldn't want to text me all the time.' Then stop putting out friendly signals. Stop forwarding him funny random stuff and other shit which to him feels like boyfriend/girlfriend stuff.

And don't beat yourself up. I can sort of picture this guy. He's not a bad person, but he sounds like he's wrong for you, especially because he ignores hints. And that's it, full stop: he's wrong for you. It's not your fault. Don't apologise for being who you are, and wanting what you want. And don't fool yourself and let others use guilt to trap you into being and doing otherwise. Because there are some people, who might be nice, but they're just chains around your neck. Unnecessary. And it's not your job to help teach them to treat people better. They're the only ones with that responsibility.
posted by schmichael at 12:57 AM on December 6, 2010


I've experienced something similar. I would tread carefully. This may be a little unfair, but he knows it's bothering you and he's doing it anyway. It smacks of insecurity and boundary-crossing to me.

It's kind of junior high. It's not fun to date someone who has convinced themselves they can't be held accountable for their actions because their instincts or feelings are just too strong. But, unfortunately, any attention you give him will reinforce it.

I've said it before, but an essential part of true love and respect for another person is respecting their right to reject you or their need for space. I think he's not truly in love with you- people who are truly in love tend to be very sensitive to signals of rejection and more willingly self-sacrificing- but he's probably infatuated. And a bit immature. This does not make him a bad guy, but it does mean that it's possible the kindest thing you can do for him and you is break it off now.

Sorry if this comes across as too harsh. I'm projecting a little, 'cause I've been burned. (and I've also been the needy one, and realized retroactively it was pretty selfish) But, hey for what it's worth.
posted by Nixy at 1:20 AM on December 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


About a week after the first date, this guy decides he has to talk to me every day. I get texts. I get Facebook messages. I get voicemails like, "Hey, saw XYZ, was thinking about you, just wanted to say hi!" which were cute initially until they started coming in almost like clockwork.

Although you've framed this in terms of your preferences being slightly unusual and requiring justification, this sounds annoying enough all by itself. I mean, if you'd asked this question without saying anything about you being an only child and a bit Borg-like and disliking too much non-face-to-face interaction, it would still have made perfect sense. Which isn't to say that you should feel like you have to edit out anything about your usual patterns of interaction when talking about this situation, either to us or to him, just... maybe don't go blaming this on you.

It sounds like he's either oblivious to how this is annoying you (presumably he's only leaving a lot of voicemails because you're not answering the phone, which should be a hint to back off a bit) or, more likely, he deals with anxiety in these situations by going OTT with the contact. You want to cool things off a bit, he worries that this means you want to back out and responds by trying to get an emotional reading of the situation while simultaneously letting you know he's thinking of you and he really really likes you, you think "damn, ANOTHER Facebook message?" and drag your feet replying, he worries more, he pesters you more, you call off the next date, he worries even more and ups the contact... and so on and so forth.

So if I were you I'd have the conversation with him from that perspective. Which depends, of course, on whether you actually do want to keep a romantic connection going with him - if you really think this has gone past the point of salvage, then that's a while different conversation. But if you do want to keep trying, go for reassuring him at the same time as making your preferences clear. Salvia's suggestion sounds perfect.
posted by Catseye at 1:46 AM on December 6, 2010


Hey, bloke. I really like you, which is why I'm telling you this. I don't do electronic communication well. Frequent contact with anybody by phone or email or facebook or IM just pushes all my alienation buttons. Can we keep this relationship a face-to-face, in-person one, and save the phone calls and emails and facebook stuff strictly for organization and planning purposes? If we can't, I'm afraid it's just not going to work for me. When we're doing important talk, I want to see and hear and smell you, not some hideous machine, and I don't want electronics to cause misunderstandings that wreck things.
posted by flabdablet at 2:29 AM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just to be certain that I've got the lay of the land here: you've gone on one date. It went well. He's now contacting you more than you like. You asked him to adjust the frequency. He hasn't.

Now, "I am now about 75% sure said gentleman and I are not compatible romantically and the thought of going out on another date with this guy is sending me into more anxiety than I can handle."

Er...maybe your little inner voice is trying to tell you that this isn't the guy for you, period.

One great first date is great. When the followup from that date is getting on your nerves (and please stop blaming yourself for this...just seems like you 2 have conflicting styles), it's time to cut your losses, listen to that little voice saying, "I'm done here," and move on.
posted by dzaz at 3:12 AM on December 6, 2010


I don't fully understand what you want. You "say hi and forward fun things relevant to our interest here and there" but when he does his own thing here and there, it freaks you out. Is it that he responds via voice mail, text, and fb, rather than email? Is it the twice a week frequency?

This is what I thought too. I was confused by what exactly is going on. Maybe like Darling Bri said, just ignore the in-between messages?
posted by vincele at 4:17 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You live three hours apart and it's been several weeks since your first date. There don't appear to be any plans for a second date. It's hard even in an established relationship to keep a connection alive when you don't live in the same city and you don't see each other regularly. You want to get to know him but you don't want him to contact you. Just exactly how are you supposed to get to know each other if you don't actually get together on dates and you don't want him to contact you? Except when you say he can, but you get to "say hi and forward fun things" whenever the mood strikes? Sounds like a lot of mixed messages to me.

I can understand different communication styles and I can understand someone else moving too fast but it seems to me that your anxiety and the pressure you are feeling says more about you than it says about the guy you met.
posted by headnsouth at 4:29 AM on December 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I would simply say, "This is way too much, way too fast."

I have a friend like this who comes on SUPER-STRONG with girls he likes, for a few reasons: he's convinced girls love romance and that romance = coming on super-strong with a lot of interest; he's a tiny bit desperate because of his age and while he realizes it, he has trouble keeping it in check (his father had a serious heart attack at age 30; he's 29; he knows he gets frantic about finding the right woman because he has this idea in his head that his life will significantly deteriorate at 30 like his father's did); and he has a LOT of experience hitting on women but not much maintaining a relationship because of how strong he comes on, even though he badly wants to be in a relationship. He gets a ton of first dates because he is a genuinely nice, very good looking guy with a great job and an interesting life, but not a lot of second dates.

If this guy is like my friend, I will reiterate that my friend is a genuinely nice, great guy. He's awesome. But, otoh, when I've told him in the past that he is coming on WAY TOO STRONG, he's said, "What do you know?" and I've said, "Not only am I the only person in this conversation with ovaries, but I'M ALREADY MARRIED," (his professed goal), and he says, "Pfft. You don't know what women want." It's impossible to get him to see that he's setting off their creep detectors and making them feel self-protective and not giving them a chance to get to know him and learn to trust him an an appropriate, SAFE speed. (Because women do have to be careful in dating.) He has been unable to change that dynamic and, because he IS a really trustworthy, gentle, generous guy, cannot understand why women wouldn't see that he IS trustworthy and not a scary rapist who's going to lock them in the basement no matter how many times I point it out to them. Not a lot of self-awareness going on.

Long story short, if he's like my friend, he may genuinely be an awesome guy, but it's likely he will not find it possible to back off and slow down, no matter what.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:44 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


*point it out to him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:46 AM on December 6, 2010


I am a person like you. I understand exactly what you mean and have had constant problems with people over-communicating -- even after I've tried to explain why it is not working for me. Beep! SMS after voicemail after content-less email after BEEP! SMS after Google Talk etc. It's awful and their inability to throttle makes them both hard to understand and hard to respect. It feels insecure, needy, and they seem unoccupied. Ignoring these messages, as suggested above, leads down two roads: one, they feel ignored and are resentful (and that's not how I want to make people feel), or two, they write more to reassure themselves that you are getting the message (R u OK??) -- writing until they get a response. You know that classical mechanism. Intermittent reinforcement, it just makes things worse. So you can't do that.

I think flabdablet has it, but I would modify his words like this:

Hey, bloke. I really like you, which is why I'm telling you this. Frequent contact with anybody by phone or email or facebook or IM just pushes all my alienation buttons. Can we keep this relationship a face-to-face, in-person one, and save the phone calls and emails and facebook stuff strictly for organization and planning purposes? If we can't, I'm afraid it's just not going to work for me. When we're talking, which is special to me, I want to see and hear and smell you -- that's how I best connect with people in general, but as you might have noticed, especially with you."

The "hideous electronics" bit at the end is bad twice: it gives him to hang on to and makes you look like a technophobe, which is a major turnoff/dealbreaker in my world (maybe it's fine with you...). Keep the words about you and him, not about electronics.

The reason I like flab's answer is that it does not specify a frequency (more than a couple times a week or something). If you said "I can only handle three texts a week" that would not only give him something to hang on to, it also gives them something to get mad about "well, so what's ONE MORE SILLY TEXT going to do?" -- it makes you look unreasonable, which you aren't. Instead of specifying a frequency, you should specify a purpose -- "use this kind of communication to make arrangements to see me in person where we can ACTUALLY CONNECT".

It's hard to find people like us, and many people find our need for space and time terrifying. It's even harder to forge relationships where that kind of time and space can be comforting and strengthening (in reasonable quantities). Wish you the best.
posted by fake at 6:55 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that's better.
posted by flabdablet at 7:21 AM on December 6, 2010


Ignore messages you don't want to answer.

Answering messages you don't want to answer just reinforces the sender. (I mean, obviously, a message like 'HAVE TO CANCEL THURSDAY DOG IS GETTING SURGERY' needs answering, but 'HI QT :)' is best consigned to the dustbin of history.

Also, it really doesn't sound like you like this guy anyway.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2010


I agree that the modified flabdablet paragraph is the best for what you're looking for, but I also ask you to consider the following.

For me there is a big Eww Factor here. He's moving too fast for you. You told him that and he didn't listen.

To me, this is a red flag. It could mean that he will try to have any relationship with you solely on his own terms. I think your 75% sureness is an intuition you should not ignore.

I had something similar happen once. Within a week of dating a guy, he was constantly calling, wanting to monopolize my time, and disregarding that I had told him I wanted to take it slow.

Within two weeks, he had given me a ring (silver with semiprecious stones) and changed his relationship status to In a Relationship on Facebook without even asking me first. Also, he took his profile off Match.com. Again, without asking me. All the while, he was repeatedly asking me if I still liked him.

He started hinting that I should move in with him and not worrying about working because he could support me.

I told my mom about all this and she was very concerned. She said that moving too fast like that is an indicator that the person might become abusive. She really only confirmed what my gut had been telling me anyway.

I ran for the hills and still shudder when I think of him. In retrospect he looks desperate, insecure, and possibly dangerous. This may not be the case with your guy, but keep your eyes open.
posted by xenophile at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2010


Nixy: It's not fun to date someone who has convinced themselves they can't be held accountable for their actions because their instincts or feelings are just too strong.

It sounds to me like you've already communicated your preferences to this fellow and he just doesn't get it. This probably will get worse if you see him again.

The end.
posted by jbenben at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2010


For what it's worth, "take it slow" can mean a lot of different things to different people. Communicate your needs clearly with the fellow, and if that doesn't work, go your separate ways. Or if you're already too creeped out by the guy's incessant contact, move on now.

My SO was one of those folks who had to stay in constant communication when our relationship began almost 13 years ago. I liked her enough that I was OK with realigning her communication expectations to something more reasonable. Still slightly more than I was comfortable with at the time, but far beneath the incessant roar that things were at.

It took telling her in no uncertain terms that what she was doing was not OK with me, it was driving me away, and it needed to change. No "take it slow" or other indirect, mealy-mouthed suggestions. Just outright saying it. She was somewhat upset at my bluntness, but after that conversation the problem was mostly resolved.

Often, we say things in a less direct manner because we want to spare other people's feelings. Sometimes, we're not actually sparing anybody's feelings by doing so, we're just perpetuating bad feelings.

tl;dr: the problem isn't the volume of communication, the problem is the style of communication. Be bold. Be direct. People don't "know what you mean" unless you tell them what you mean and not something else that isn't really what you mean.
posted by wierdo at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2010


Try the modified flabdablet paragraph. If he continues to push your alienation buttons in ANY WAY, abort. It's premature to conclude he's nuts or abusive, but I agree that you should proceed with caution. I think it's just as possible that he's the sweetest guy in the world who's just a little clueless about how to move forward with you.
posted by jayder at 6:00 PM on December 6, 2010


Salvia, no sweat -- he and I are major Star Trek fans, and he would understand what I mean if I were to reference being Borg-like. But thank you for being honest about it sounding alienating!

Headnsouth, if you were privy to the exact content of the messages I get, you'd understand why I am overwhelmed and why I am reluctant to go out on a second date with him. It has to do with the fact that I am not okay with having only gone on one date with someone, but he feels comfortable enough to put hearts, hugs and kisses in his messages to me, whereas I am only at a point where I just want to forward a LOLcat to say hi. Sometimes he sends me messages like, "Hey, remember how we were talking about x? I found this -- it's hilarious!" and it's a perfectly normal, casual thing. Do you see how that's different than the message about seeing a type of jewelry he thought I'd like and getting it for me? It's content specific. And, to a point, quantity dependent. I would be grateful if you would identify what it is exactly you think this says about me, as I assume it's something negative. How would YOU get to know someone who already assumes you're his SO?

To everyone else -- thank you so much for all of your input, and for validating my feelings. The reason I asked this question is that I have been in my friend's situation before. I fell head over heels for my last boyfriend and I came on so, so strong because I couldn't believe someone like him existed. I absolutely craved daily contact from him, and sought it out like it was some incredible source of pleasure and happiness. He and I had a decent relationship for a while, but it was clear that we were imbalanced. He was never brave enough to tell me I was pushing him away, and as such, I am terribly sensitive to the dynamics of being the overeager one in a brand new relationship. I would have wanted to be told, but I would have wanted to hear it in a very specific way.

After reading over your comments, I decided to text the new gent and ask him if we could postpone our phone date to another time. I need to really assess what's going on in my life before I decide what to tell him. Right now I'm thinking I want to just say, "Too much contact! Stop pushing me away!", but a part of me wants to be really honest and tell him, "I am so delighted to have met you, and I am grateful that we have had the chance to get to know each other. I want to be honest, though, and tell you that for me, there is no romantic component here. My overwhelming affection for you is that of a sister's, and I would be so happy if we could continue to get to know each other from that standpoint. I know how awkward it is to be told this after just one date, but I'd rather you know now than be expecting something different in the weeks to come. You're too incredible to be tied up in a romance that's not going to happen; I know there's someone out there waiting for you to find them."

I'm just not sure I'm ready to make that a reality, because he is such a special, wonderful person. Not enough data, I guess.
posted by patronuscharms at 6:06 PM on December 6, 2010


If you really want to do the kind thing, please don't tell him that you feel sisterly affection. I'm willing to bet this guy has heard variations on "I like you as a friend" many times. That's kind of the worst thing you can tell someone.

By all means, be honest about the overzealous communication, but maybe pull back on the "no romantic component" aspect. If you want to actually help him out (in terms of his future romantic prospects), the important part for him to know is that he's overdoing it.

Let me ask you this: Are you at all attracted to him? If he eased up on the communicating, would you still be interested in him, romantically?
posted by pourtant at 7:17 PM on December 6, 2010


I think I'd finally have the chance to breathe and find out, yeah. I think he's adorable. But if he's going to be clingy, I'd rather nip that in the bud now than go through the motions of going on more dates only to discover we are truly not compatible.

Maybe I'm being oversensitive. I just want some space, some ambiguity, so that he and I can both have outs if we're not right for each other. The constant need for contact makes me feel tethered. I feel like he'd be really upset if he knew I was still interested in dating other people. It's like he's made his decision already without giving me the opportunity to make mine.
posted by patronuscharms at 7:20 PM on December 6, 2010


I love mefi, the people here are very caring and open...

...to a fault sometimes.

You don't owe this guy anything. You've admitted you're not attracted to him. You feel anxiety when you think about how you're going to detach.

I say do it in the easiest, cleanest way possible. On the other hand, if you feel obligated to "take one for the team" and be honest with him... that's your prerogative. It can be really tempting to "fix" people and give them a better chance going forward; I've given in to that in the past. It never ended well -- they were never ready to hear it and it just created anger and resentment.

It's 100% okay to make up something up. Here's a really easy one: "Hey, I like you and all, but I met someone locally and we really hit it off. Things are getting more serious and we've become exclusive. I enjoyed our time together. Best of luck."

People have been pulling stuff like that since the dawn of time, and it protects the feelings of everyone involved.

Let us know what you decide to do. :)
posted by dualityofmind at 7:55 PM on December 6, 2010


This is one of those situations where you should cut your losses. There will be other super-amazing people out there whose communication levels match your own.

YMMV, but I've been in this situation twice and both times when I told them to turn it down it never felt like they REALLY did - just that they were waiting for me to be "ready," and that difference in natural communication levels caused problems down the line.

Normally I'd say the guy could just be clueless, but you've already asked him to tone it down and he only got the hint for a short period of time. Also... you're already feeling anxious about communicating with him and it's only been one date.

If you'd like to see where things go I'd def. advocate being completely honest; let him know that he's moving too fast and you'd like to take more time to get to know him. Don't be afraid of hurting his feelings re: still wanting to date other people. It's better to be honest up front about where you guys stand.
posted by biochemist at 11:06 PM on December 6, 2010


I think I'm going to send him this...
Thank you for wishing me a better day today. That was really sweet of you to think of me. :)

I need to touch base with you again about taking things slow. For me, when I asked for us to take things more slowly, I was also asking for a lot of space. We’ve only gone out on one date, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with you, but I need to be honest with you. We’ve only just begun our friendship, and, like me, I’m sure you’re still getting to know other people, too. Unfortunately, the almost-daily texts and phone calls are making me feel like you’ve already decided what our relationship status is, and it’s pushing me away.

I am not someone who likes daily contact by phone or by Facebook or email, and at this stage of our friendship, even weekly contact makes me uncomfortable, because we don’t know each other that well, and I haven’t had the chance to breathe and feel like I can genuinely miss you. I mean, I don’t always have something to talk about on a daily basis, and when I see a text from you, or a phone call, it makes me feel like I’m under pressure to respond, and that makes me less likely to want to hang out with you in the future. Obviously if we’re planning a trip to see each other, texting/calls are necessary, but I need a lot more space than the average girl because anything other than face-to-face time makes me uncomfortable. I’m the same way with friends I’ve known for years. It’s just who I am and how I work.

I know this sounds harsh. It’s been really awkward for me to write it. But I like you a lot, and I don’t want to end something before we’ve had a chance to explore it, so I hope you understand where I’m coming from.
posted by patronuscharms at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2010


That's good and clear and unambiguous and ought to work. Well done you.
posted by flabdablet at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2010


Yes, that's an excellent email. It's direct, but not in any way harsh, mean, or any other negative thing. It also remains positive, so if there are hurt feelings it's because of what he's reading and not what you wrote.

Good luck, and remember that if it doesn't work out that you have nothing to regret, having done everything you could to communicate your needs and expectations. And there are plenty of other guys out there who would be lucky to be in a relationship with someone capable of such honest and open communication. It often takes years, if ever, for that to develop.
posted by wierdo at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2010


Thanks, you two. I sent off a slightly modified version (just added a "let's work out a time to see each other soon" to the end) and hopefully I'll hear back from him. I would not have been able to say anything without any of the above input in my mind, so seriously, thanks a bunch. I never thought this kind of thing would be so difficult.
posted by patronuscharms at 8:00 PM on December 7, 2010


In case anyone was wondering, the letter worked, and said gentleman and I are off to a wonderful start in a very slow and gently structured new relationship. :) Thanks for all your input.
posted by patronuscharms at 10:45 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always wonder! Thank you for posting an update! And what a nice way to see in your new year - I hope it works out the way you want it to.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:11 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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