Does he want me to chase him?
May 2, 2011 9:18 AM   Subscribe

We had been together for just under 2 months and things seemed wonderful. Out of the blue, he dumped me. Is he looking for a chase or does he want to be left alone?

2 months ago, I met someone from an online dating site. We went out and initially we just clicked. Things moved rather fast and he suggested we be exclusive after 3 dates/3 days, which I was glad to do. We were pretty much inseparable. We saw each other 4x a week, 2 of those were always over-nighters. After 3 weeks, I told him I loved him. He reciprocated. Sex was always amazing, we could talk for hours and we were just all out crazy for each other.

A little background- I'm in my late 30's with 2 children, he's in his early 40's with no children. Both divorced, financially stable, no prescribed meds or diagnosed mental disorders, college grads, and independent. My MO in relationships past has been to bail when things look like they might be headed south. When we first started to get serious, I told him this. His response was "I won't let you bail."

Fast forward to a little over a month. He's from out of state and his parents were coming in town to visit for the weekend. I guess I figured it was just a given that he would introduce me, but he didn't. We didn't see each other that weekend. I brought it up in causal conversation but he really didn't address it. No big deal, I hadn't introduced him to my children yet anyway. The following week, he had a job interview. (His job is ending this summer, something we had previously discussed.) He brings up casually that he hopes he gets this job, so he doesn't have to relocate. Huh? Relocate? This is the first he EVER mentioned about that being a possibility. Things became a little uncomfortable after that and he left. Not on a bad note, just not on a great one. I ended up going to his house after...maybe not a smart move on my part, but I did. We talked for a bit, I stayed over. I couldn't sleep. In my panicked sense, I rationalized that it would be better if I just ended it, because he was probably going to hurt me anyway. I left in the middle of the night without waking him. During the next day, I re-thought things. We got together that night and I told him I left because I couldn't sleep and was afraid my tossing and turning would wake him. Later, I confessed that I was ready to bail. He told me again, he wouldn't let me.

All along, he's said things referencing 'the future', 'the aisle', saying things like 'we just fit' and 'I can't sleep when you're not here'. I had decided to introduce him to my kids. Again, besides the stuff above, nothing disagreeable at all.

Last week, when I left in the morning, he seemed stand-offish. We really didn't talk over the next couple of days. We had plans to see each other Tuesday night. He was coming over and he didn't show. Just didn't show. No phone call, no email, nothing. I was genuinely worried, I tried to call twice, no answer. About 2 hours after he was supposed to be here, I got an email saying it was a good thing he didn't come over because he got a page and ended up working. (Which is why he said he didn't answer when I called.)

The next day, I sent him an email that basically said I didn't understand why he couldn't just pick up the phone and say he wasn't coming over. I said I felt like something had been off since Sunday and wanted to make sure we were still on the same page. He sent me an email back saying he would be over that night to talk.

He shows up and out of the blue, tells me he's breaking it off. He said he didn't really have an answer to why. He made a reference to our relationship saying that in the beginning, relationships are like a roller coaster going downhill, fun and scary at the same time, but eventually they level off and start the uphill climb. He said we never leveled off and his fight or flight kicked in, and flight won. The whole conversation had me just blown away. I cried, he was teary eyed, he hugged me, we kissed, he pulled away and said he didn't want to do this because we would end up in bed and he felt like that would be taking advantage of me. When he left, he kissed me. I told him that when I told him I loved him, I meant it....he said he did too.

So, since then, I've sent one email. It said I just didn't understand but regardless, I wished him the best. There has been no attempts on his part to contact me. He didn't answer the email.

Here's where I'm stumped. He was always straight with me, I really don't feel like there is someone else. (I even asked that question when he dumped me and he said no, said he was sorry he couldn't give me more of an explanation of why he was ending it.) Everyone tells me NOT TO CONTACT him at all. It's almost been a week. The thing is, since it's been referenced, does he want me to chase him? Does he want me to just fade away? Is he just scared? It's just so hard to digest that we went from super hot to ice cold in a day. I miss him, I DO love him and I'd love to see him again, I just don't want to ruin any chance I might have of that happening. Advice please??
posted by Jayes8ch to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Let him go. His behavior tells you that the person you thought you loved might not be the person he is. At over 40 years old, he should not be playing games and if he is, you don't want to bother with him anyway.

To me, it doesn't sound like he wants you to chase him. It just sounds like he broke up with you. I'm sorry if that's harsh.
posted by something something at 9:29 AM on May 2, 2011 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: If it matters to anyone, he's Aries and I'm Gemini.
posted by Jayes8ch at 9:30 AM on May 2, 2011

He said we never leveled off and his fight or flight kicked in, and flight won.

Everyone who is telling you not to contact him is right, but you are hurting emotionally and the only thing that FEELS right is having him back in your life. He dumped you, and it hurts, and he doesn't want to be in a relationship with you.

He doesn't want you to chase him, and if he did...? Would you want to be with a guy who needs to feel 'chased'? What about when you 'caught' him?

And the Arias/Gemini thing does not matter.
posted by amicamentis at 9:32 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, lets assume the unlikely scenario where "he wants you to chase him". (I don't think this is the case, BTW.) Do you really want to continue to pursue a relationship with someone who is willing to hurt you deeply just to get attention? Mind games are deal breakers.

Contacting him is lose/lose at this point. Listen to your friends and don't contact him.
posted by halseyaa at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is a very disturbing story.

The answer is no. He wants you to go away. You may never really know "why." You're free to do whatever you wish of course! Throw things, stalk him, be a mess, take out a newspaper ad about how awful he is, or about how you want him back, or what have you. But the overall least painful, most helpful thing to do is to never speak to him, to be upset, feel terrible, get it out of your system and recover.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2011 [8 favorites]

does he want me to chase him?

...if he does, he's a manipulative asshole and chasing him will just lead to more heartbreak. NOT TO CONTACT him at all.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:34 AM on May 2, 2011 [9 favorites]

It's a simple matter of respect. You should respect him enough to honor his wishes and leave him alone. I strongly doubt this is the case, but if he wants to be chased, then he doesn't respect you, and you should have enough self-respect to leave that alone.

And if he does change his mind, he knows where to find you. If at that time you still have any respect left for him, then you can choose to resume contact.
posted by lynnshaze at 9:35 AM on May 2, 2011

I'm really sorry you are going through this, but you should listen to your real life friends who have told you to not contact him at all. Most, if not all, of the responses that you will get here will be the same.

He did not leave you a special clue that says "I'm being coy and want you to pursue me." Believe what he says unless you are a person that enjoys drama - which is fine if you accept it. However, with children in the equation when you are hurting and constantly thinking about your relationship with this man, your relationship with your children will be effected.

We cannot tell you what he wants or how he feels. A conversation with him to find out what he wants will not help because his final decision will always be "I do not want to be with you."

You need time. It's slow and painful, but it works.

Your star signs do not matter.
posted by spec80 at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The thing is, since it's been referenced, does he want me to chase him?

I don't know where you're getting the idea he might want this. Is it because he said he wouldn't let you bail earlier?

(for the record, I agree with others that if somehow he does want to chase you, that's something you want no part of)
posted by pupstocks at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do not mean to dismiss your pain. I agree with spec80. I pray you take the time that you need to heal. Your real friends will not steer you wrong. Ever.
posted by lynnshaze at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, things were not wonderful up until he suddenly broke up with you out of the blue. You've had weirdness since his parents came to town and he started talking about relocating, which I think you're saying happened a couple of weeks ago. In a 2-month relationship, a couple of weeks is a significant portion of time.
posted by pupstocks at 9:46 AM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Anecdotally 1-2 months in is when I used to figure out if this was going to be a long-term relationship or not. The honeymoon excitement period starts to fade and the reality of the relationship begins to set in. This often contradicted my previous behavior, but the first few weeks everything was new and exciting. Often I didn't have a great explanation other then some amorphous feeling just wasn't working for me. It was never a knock on the person, but the spark just wasn't really there. I tried a few times hanging on to see if it was just a hiccup but it never ended up working out so I learned to trust these feelings and end things sooner then later.

When I made the decision to end things I'd pretty much go radio silent. I felt it was better for whomever I was ending things that way, and usually easier for me since I didn't have anything concrete to base my feelings on and couldn't easily explain myself.

I can't tell if this is what happened or not, its just a data point. But my gut feeling is to tell you to walk away and find someone who feels the same way you do.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:52 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wish I could zap into the minds of every woman on the planet what it feels like to be loved by a man like my husband. Afterwards, they would never, ever consider seeking a man like this. (I actually wish I could give every woman a man like my husband). Before my husband, I would have chased after this man or done similar things. Please know that the relationship you seek is not on the other end of any shenanigans like this. This is not how the man of anyone's dreams behaves no matter how scared (or whatever) he is. Those are things women say to try to convince themselves these men might be what they want.

The sooner you give up hoping and the longer you have with no contact from him, the sooner your pain will subside. I promise. You want a man who wants a woman who shows a solid sense of self-respect and would never allow herself to be treated like this. Focus only on being that woman.
posted by Original 1928 Flavor at 9:54 AM on May 2, 2011 [39 favorites]

I know that this might not help the pain, but:

When they breakup and vanish

It's not about you.
posted by moiraine at 9:59 AM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'll start this off by saying guys are dumb. That being said...

Fight or flight sounds honest, he took the easy way out. It sounds like he does care for you and does have loving feelings but he got to the fork in the road and decided to go a different path. Possibly the relocation uncertainty, understanding his true feelings, or your kids could have attributed but either way he was weak and bailed.

I'd recommend reaching out, if anything for closure. In a neutral place though, no need to hop in the sack to make things even more confusing. At this point though he's lost you not the other way around. If he wants it, this is his chance, if not then hopefully you can get some closure.

If this guy really is slime, you need to do what you need to do to move on, so if one more meeting for closure is what you need then do it.
posted by doorsfan at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2011

I don't think he wants you to chase him, but it doesn't matter anyway. When people try to get in each others' heads and guess what they really meant, it rewards gamesmanship and manipulation. Either a) he wants to break it off or 2) he wants you to chase him, and wants you to be a mind-reader, and would prefer you jump appealingly when he says "I'm not interested," and is a schmuck.
posted by itstheclamsname at 10:16 AM on May 2, 2011

He's a self-startler.
posted by MsMolly at 10:18 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anytime someone breaks up with you, you should take them at their word and respect the fact that it's over.

If he changes his mind and wants you back, he knows where to find you.
posted by Sara C. at 10:33 AM on May 2, 2011

He was "straight", meaning honest, with you until he wasn't. Or until he withdrew. And, who knows? That, too, could be an act of honesty.

It hurts, the being dumped, the end of things.

I honestly believe that whatever is subsumed within the word "dating" is not, nor should it be, complicated. He sounds like a mess, and it sounds like there was a lot of talkā€”both of earnest admonitions of "I'm not going to let you" (really bravado, and something I now laugh about when I encounter[ed] analogues in my own life experiences), as well as ambivalence on both parts. Suspended disbelief sometimes takes hold in early sex/dating/relating patterns with folks, where there are these little points of misunderstanding, but it all gets blurry and easily brushed aside in this swept-up timeline, and you can't believe that it's been two weeks, or two months, and then when it's over you can't believe it was (only) two weeks or months. And how committed or invested you realize you'd become.

There is no way to predict the behavior of another person, and there is no way to understand why or how or to what end. Emotionally, however, he simply does not sound trustworthy. I really hope that these sorts of teary endings and false rapprochement moments end as I get older, and for your sake, I hope your tolerance for such moments also becomes smaller and smaller. As with your patience for yourself.

Real people, smart people, mature people, know how to communicate. Those who want to communicate will communicate. You can choose what you want now, and you will see as time recedes that you are not beholden to what happened, and you get to claim those places back. The struggle really seems to be about staying open in smart ways, and not berating yourself for taking risks.

I think that part is really, really admirable.
posted by simulacra at 10:43 AM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

That your patience with yourself increases.
posted by simulacra at 10:44 AM on May 2, 2011

Best answer: The self-startler link is interesting, and it could apply here.

Or maybe he's just an ordinary guy, who was enjoying your relationship right up until the drama started.

His job will be ending soon. That's stressful for anyone. Then, when he gets a job interview and says he hopes he is hired so he won't have to relocate, you freaked out on him, left him in the middle of the night, lied about why, and then sheepishly admitted you thought about bailing.

I'm not surprised his ardor cooled a little after that.

In the meantime, you are seeing his not introducing you to his parents and not mentioning the fact that he might have to relocate as his withdrawing from you already. You feel like you want to know all the significant things going on in his life. You want to meet his parents, and he didn't even talk to you about it. You feel like he is the one not committed to the relationship, and consider just calling it all off.

So what you got was him retreating into his work just when you wanted reassurance about the two of you. Perfect storm of circumstances--he is already questioning the relationship after the drama of you admitting you were thinking of bailing, you are already upset at what you see as him withdrawing from you, and now he didn't bother to even call.

I think his breakup decision was a, "I might as well do it before she does. She's just going to bail later."

While, to you, this decision seemed out of the blue, and anyway, didn't he say he wouldn't let you bail?

He was caught up in the romantic ideal, and I think you were, too. Really, talking about 'the future' and 'the aisle'? You were together for a grand total of a couple months! Seriously, talking about marriage at that point seems really premature. And, sure enough, when things got real, you both realized there wasn't enough to keep going.

The only difference is that you thought of bailing and then reneged, and he stuck to it.

I don't think you should chase him, no. The romantic parts of both of you might like the idea of this, but your pragmatic side knows that even if you got back together, this would all just happen again the next time any problem at all came up.

Let him go, and concentrate on being someone, and being with someone, who can be counted on to stick around through all of life's ups and downs.
posted by misha at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

He said we never leveled off and his fight or flight kicked in, and flight won.

Only two months together? Well within the period when someone can bail for just about any reason. You're lucky you got a response this honest.
posted by hermitosis at 11:07 AM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

...So what if he does want you to chase him? Think about what it would be like to always have to be "pursuing" a guy, for years and years and years.

He's a human male, not a rabbit. You want a guy that will stay with you of his own volition.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sometimes guys do what I call "the snap." It's like someone snapped their fingers and they magically got over you in a second. I don't have any explanation for it, but it happens, and can happen at any time. Unfortunately. Sounds like this guy snapped to me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:51 AM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: What great responses, and I didn't think I would get any. Thank you all so much. Reading all of the above just kind of drove it home for me. I'm not going to contact him. I'll just keep my dignity at this point. It hurts but I'll get over it. If it hurts this bad now, how bad is it going to hurt the next time he decides to bail? If anything, I've learned something from all of this. I'm not going to be available every waking second for someone. I blew off a total of 4 girls-night-out dates for this guy. Even though my friends were adamant about "no guy is worth canceling on your friends for", I did it anyway. Life's lessons....I guess that's how we learn. :)

Again, thank you.
posted by Jayes8ch at 12:26 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

People say all kinds of things, make all sorts of promises in the dreamy stages of a relationship that should never be taken at face value. You led him to make the (overdramatic) statement about never letting you bail by labeling yourself as someone with that pattern. And then you invested part of yourself in his words - you thought his promise would make things safe. But real love is not safe. Now you are half-pointing the finger at him, saying, "but he said he wouldn't ..."

This is over and done, but you have an excellent chance to learn some lessons from this encounter that will benefit the next one. Don't label yourself, for one thing. Don't dictate the script of how the relationship will go in the beginning, and listen when a prospective partner tries that same ploy. You are only giving yourself permission to continue that bad pattern, and encouraging your partner to make idealistic promises that will most likely prove false (which you can then use to excuse your own behavior). Similar thing with the astrology reference - it's a label to excuse behavior or weaknesses. Astrology is most useful when it points to blind spots to work extra hard on to become a healthier person (like any sort of personality sorter - I tend to lump them together), not as a license to be a textbook gemini and make the mistakes gemini are said to make.

Once you see your own pattern, it becomes much easier to learn to change it and free yourself.
posted by griselda at 12:52 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

It is really nice to see your thoughtful update. You make a very good point about thinking ahead to the next time you would be hurt.

Original 1928 Flavor's comment is really spot-on: there are so many men in this world who are good at loving and caring and being in a relationship. They are worth waiting for, and they are worth holding your standards high for.

I know that you are probably grasping at different reasons why this didn't work out (because he wants to be chased? is it me? what did I do wrong??) but you have to remind yourself that sometimes, relationships just end.

For next time, something to keep in mind is just because the first few weeks or months of a relationship are super lovey dovie and romantic and wild, doesn't mean that you two are a good fit or destined to last forever. There is nothing wrong with romance but keep an eye out for promises that sound like they are being made too soon without the other person having had the chance to really get to know you. People that fall in love super easily may like the feeling of crushing but get bored when those heady endorphins don't last.
posted by amicamentis at 12:57 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

FYI, since you seem to attribute some value to the astrology thing: My husband is an Aries and would never, ever act like this. In fact he sounds like a twin to Original 1928 Flavor's husband.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on May 2, 2011

I have encountered (very very rare) men who may have wanted to be chased (can't say for sure because I never tested the hypothesis by actually chasing them). The phenomenon does exist. However, there's nothing in your story to suggest that this guy wanted that. I think he did in fact want to break up.

Unlike others here, I don't think there is anything absolutely terrible about a bit of mild gamesmanship. A teensy little bit of chasing could have made things fun. However, that's not what happened. Dumping you out of the blue far exceeds anything that could possibly be called "a bit of mild gamesmanship". So if he had done it to make you chase him, the words "manipulation" or even "emotionally abusive" would be more apposite terms.

I think that this is a case of getting involved way too fast and burning out just as fast. The links above seem pretty explanatory of this kind of thing. Sorry, it sucks.

And the whole "I won't let you bail" thing... sorry to have to point this out to you, but he was true to his word. He didn't let you bail. Unfortunately, kind of a "small print" type maneuver. Ouch. Again, sorry, it sucks.

I would suggest that in future you take it slower. This will protect you from all kinds of badness other than just this kind. Good luck.
posted by tel3path at 1:57 PM on May 2, 2011

I'm sorry, but him breaking up with you was entirely consistent with the messages you were giving him. You told him you were going to bail, and then, sure enough, walked out in him in the middle of the night. If a man did that to you, what would your reaction be? If this was just a game to get him to fight harder for you, well, you've now learnt not to play those.

The mixed messages of I'm going to leave, wait, I love you... Grown ups in adult relationships don't do this. The fact that you're now asking if he wants to chased says that all you see is game playing because that's how you act too. Leave him alone. Spend some time working on yourself and stop paying attention to starsigns. When you meet the right person you won't want to scare them off by telling them you're going to bail, when it works it's generally very straightforward. That's how you know.
posted by Jubey at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

this is eerily similar to the demise of my relationship at this time last year. check out my thread on "how do you get over somebody who dumped you out of the blue." Don't do what I did and reestablish contact in the hopes of winning him over. I promise you it won't work. Just let him go. You really don't want him anyway. He sounds like a giant manchild.
posted by timsneezed at 8:00 PM on May 2, 2011

I also don't think his fizzling out had much if anything to do with your behavior. If he was really invested, that wouldn't have deterred him. So don't beat yourself up.
posted by timsneezed at 8:10 PM on May 2, 2011

You can be grateful for the fun you had and lessons you will take away, even though you are sad about the current situation. It hurts, but it will get better. We promise.

Some of your story made me think of points in this blog post on 'Future Fakers'.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:50 AM on May 3, 2011

Sometimes when relationships get serious too fast, they can crash and burn. It sounds like that's what happened. Your guy realized he was in over his head, that he had committed to someone he really didn't take the time to get to know that well. There were probably a lot of red flags for him and things that scared him.

It sounds like you were insecure from the get-go, threatened to bail twice, created a lot of drama fairly quickly. (Not that I'm trying to blame you; it sounds like you were doing the best you can, and maybe with another person than him, you would've behaved more securely). He probably got scared by this.

But it also sounds like he jumped in too fast, too. It seems like both of you didn't go in with your feelings tempered by reason. From what I've seen, insta-relationships just don't work.

Also, the guy doesn't have kids and you were going to introduce him to yours. That's stressful for a non-parent dating a parent even in the best of relationships. In a new, whirlwind relationship with a partner that creates drama from the beginning, it isn't surprising that he freaked out.

He couldn't tell you all this, though. Either he's aware of it, and doesn't think it would be productive to tell you, or it's filtered through his brain as a big feeling of something not being right, that he may have really been too freaked out emotionally to parse and analyze at the time.

It's too late for this relationship, but take the lessons you've learned and with the next one, work on emotional stability and setting a more realistic pace for getting to know each other before committing.
posted by sucky_poppet at 6:32 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

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