Am I expecting too much?
November 9, 2011 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Reasonable Interaction Wishes: Okay out there, help me either adjust my expectations or hold out for communication/relational interaction I'm wanting. Am I expecting too much?

I'm an introvert but a deeply-relational one. After years in a relationship with a very shy and relationally challenged man, I'm dating again. But I'm finding myself frustrated because the men I have dated recently don't seem to want the kind of regular communication/interaction I do. Am I still just choosing the "wrong guy"?

Specific examples:
Bachelor number 1 is verbally expressive and complimentary (which is a great change from the ex) and when he spends time with me, he can express appreciation for who I am. However, his idea of a relationship is seeing a woman every two weeks for an evening and then, if his workload allows, getting in a 10 minute phone call or skype once or twice a week.

Bachelor number 2 has initiated about a once a week skype (this one is long distance), a text message maybe once every day or two (two lines), invited me for a visit and offered to share costs (bonus points), but seems to rely on me for the communication initiation.

Bachelor number 3 is local, will text frequently, often at his own initiative when he doesn't hear from me (and often back and forth a dozen times throughout the day/eve -- which I LOVE -- just the interaction and indication that he WANTS to connect with me and is thinking about me), meets me for coffee a couple of times a week (mostly my suggestion), initiates getting together for 'sexercise'...but doesn't want to talk or go out for dates.

Okay, so here's what I'd like:
I imagine a "real" relationship to include:

Being pretty excited about each other, especially at first. And wanting to talk every day. For the long-distance, at least a meaningful conversation at night before bed. Not just a ten-minute token that feels like he's trying to do his "duty." (15-30 minutes....or occasionally an hour or more indicates a guy is really into me, likes talking/being with me and it's mutual).

He wants to see me....(I want to see him -- and Skype will suffice, long distance). And if he is really into me, more often than once a week.

He wants to "do stuff" together. This doesn't happen all up front, but going walking/hiking, seeing a film or concert, cooking together, or just being in the same space while working on our own things. To me, that's a normal relationship and I want that, that impossible to have?

Eventually, he wants to keep me around and enjoys my company/presence in his life enough that he (as I will) is willing to "pay the price...make the sacrifice" -- to go out of his way and put his heart and some serious actions out there. Take vacation time to go on a trip with me...and maybe even pay for it if he can (I'm a big girl and pay for myself, but someone doing that for me would be SO refreshing).

I swing between either expecting too much or not enough. I just feel confused now as to what is even possible and reasonable. I've balanced out a lot of codependent tendencies....and sometimes I fear I'm TOO independent now....take care of myself and don't expect anyone to...and yet, I'm finding myself feeling starved for a mutual, mutually desirous, mutually "I wanna spend time with you" relationship.

Am I expecting too much in terms of time and "wanna spend time with you?" Please understand that even though I want this regular connection, I still am introverted and need time alone, completely detached from all people on a fairly regular basis. I take trips to a cabin alone every couple of months and need regular "work on my art/writing" solitary time. I also have friends and support so I'm not looking to one person to meet all the emotional needs.
posted by sleeping beauty to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing that sounds off to me is the amount of phone conversation.

Even in a long distance relationship, 15-30min a day, every day, is a lot. I wouldn't think of 10 minutes as a 'duty' thing necessarily. More like a check in and catch up. Some days it may be longer but even if many days it's 5-10 minutes, I wouldn't think of that as neglectful if you are two busy people and there is mutuality in the calling and affection in the calls.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:02 AM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You're not too independent and you're not expecting too much -- you're you. And you simply haven't found the right match yet. Don't be surprised -- this is hard for everybody. Give it more time, and keep yourself out there "on the market."
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:02 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you are expecting too much too early in the relationship. It sounds to me like guy #1's approach is reasonably casual for modern dating. Guy #2 looks to be about the same. Not sure what's going on with #3.

When you're just beginning a relationship, no one is going to want to talk for a half hour plus every single night. That is the very defenition of too needy.
posted by Think_Long at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Make a list of "Need to haves" and "Nice to haves".

If they can't satisfy the "Need to haves" move on.

You are allowed to want certain levels of communication and it doesn't make you weird or strange. Don't compromise on communication that you're not OK with.
posted by floweredfish at 11:06 AM on November 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

Have you told any of these guys about your expectations? Do they know this is what you want? No one can read minds. If you haven't, then you should. If you have, and they haven't attempted to compromise or meet your needs in some way, then no, it's their problem, not yours.
posted by greta simone at 11:08 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

What you describe is almost exactly my relationship with my husband while we were dating (we lived two hours apart). The phone time does sound a tad excessive, although since he had a long commute we'd usually talk for 30 minutes while he was in the car. Once he was home, he wanted to unwind. Maybe a quick text before bed but that was it.

Dating is a numbers game. Be up front that you are looking for something long-term and romantic rather than casual or just sexual. I went on probably 50 dates before I found my husband.
posted by desjardins at 11:10 AM on November 9, 2011

A half hour of conversation on a daily basis at the start is a bit much. Is it impossible? No. Is it a standard that will let otherwise great guys slip through your fingers? Yes.

I am an awesome dude (ask my girlfriend!) but I would be god-damned if I had to have a "meaningful" half-hour-long conversation over the phone every single night. Hell, I can't even tell you where I am going to be every night "before bed", and I don't live the most exciting life.
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also Bachelor #3 wants a friends-with-benefits situation and if you're looking for a capital-R Relationship, he ain't it.
posted by griphus at 11:12 AM on November 9, 2011 [8 favorites]

How old are you and how old are theses guys? When I was in my 20s and work was basically show up, answer some phones, wait to go to happy hour, a lot of interaction at the beginning of a relationship was fine. Now that I'm in my 40s and I have a real career to think about, a mortgage, a dog, friends, bills, etc etc etc it doesn't matter how excited I am about a woman, I do NOT want to see/talk to her every friggin day. I want my interaction with her to be a BREAK from responsibility, not an added responsibility. But I am me and you are you. So, you need to keep looking til you find the dude who has the same expectations as you.
posted by spicynuts at 11:13 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with griphus about #3- FWB for sure.

In regard to the rest of your demands, in the beginning, 30 mins or even daily phone conversations are too much in the modern dating world. However, after you are more committed, I think you should expect to communicate in some way (phone/email/whatever) once a day or see each other. In a long distance committed relationship, I would think you should definitely be talking by phone or skype once a day. None of this should be out of obligation- it should be out of a desire to talk to one another. I don't think 1 and 2 are doing too badly considering that you are not in an exclusive relationship yet.
posted by superfille at 11:24 AM on November 9, 2011

Once you're in a committed relationship, it's fine to expect some form of daily communication.
posted by timsneezed at 11:27 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I could have written what you wrote (except you have way more bachelors than I do). If I understand you correctly, you are not talking about setting a thirty-minute phone call and checking it off each night. You just like, want to feel like he wants to see you and talk to you! I mean hello!!! Sometimes I will get a text message that is like "Gee I was thinking about you last night, we should have hung out" and I am like "!!! What was stopping you from calling me last night and saying so??"

So my answer is that I don't think at all that you're expecting too much. I don't think it's unreasonable to want to feel wanted, especially in the beginning of a relationship. And I don't feel particularly desirable if I'm occasionally flitting into a guy's mind on a fortnightly basis. You will know the level of communication that you need--the frequency, the length, the medium--in order to feel what you want to feel.

The short answer is probably that these guys "aren't that into you." Or more precisely, aren't into you in the way that you need a guy to be into you in order to feel sexy and desirable and secure. Bachelor #3 in particular is totally a lost cause for some kind of long-term sacrificial commitment.

And if you want a book to back you up, I really liked The List (link to Google eBook). It's like The Rules in reverse (not the opposite of The Rules, but more like, The Rules is about how the woman should act, and The List is about how you should expect the man to act). If you are vehemently anti-Rules then don't bother with The List. But if you look at the reviews breakdown on Amazon, there are surprisingly few negatives compared to positives for a dating book.
posted by thebazilist at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2011

Best answer: My now-wife and I had a very long-distance relationship for more than three years. (By very long-distance, I mean that three hours difference in the time between us: she was in Eastern, I was in Pacific.) The first time we talked on the phone, we talked literally all night. By the time we were in a thing, our habit was to speak pretty much every night for a couple hours, usually from about 6-7 PM Pacific until she went to sleep.

I didn't do this out of responsibility but because I legitimately enjoyed catching up with her and spending time together (even remotely). If guys don't feel this way about you, then you are not the right one for them, at this time in their life at least.
posted by kindall at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

Some people like to talk on the phone more than others. If I'm just getting to know someone I absolutely HATE it. For me it's disorienting. I think I have some hearing difficulties and partly depend on reading lips, so that's one of my reasons.

I love texting or emailing back and forth though, and I do like somewhat regular communication(daily with texts) but being expected to talk on the phone every day is too much for me in the beginning.

I'm a girl and this is sometimes a problem for me. I would never talk on the phone at all if I had my way.

OTOH I've known people who talked to the person they were dating for hours every night.
posted by fromageball at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Since it's come up a lot....I don't expect a half-hour, meaningful conversation every night, especially at the beginning of a relationship. But I would like at least the desire to connect for a few minutes. Eventually, I'd like to be living with someone and for that to be part of the living arrangement -- communication. I'm not ever going to be legalistic about it. It's about whether there is a natural "desire" to connect. And I'm totally okay when I guy I'm dating lets me know he's working that night or tied up. I don't expect to hear from him.
posted by sleeping beauty at 12:41 PM on November 9, 2011

Response by poster: P.S. The communication regularity was never, oddly enough, an issue with the ex. He wanted to connect daily, and felt lonely if we didn't, and I felt the same. There were just other issues with him.
posted by sleeping beauty at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2011

Best answer: You sound like the sort of person who will really, really benefit from an explicit, someone awkward and probably not romantic "Expectations" conversation when you seem to be going from just casually going on dates with a dude to dating exclusively.
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2011

Somewhat awkward. Somewhat. Not someone.
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2011

Best answer: I really don't think the OP is too demanding or weird at all. I met my current girlfriend on OKC and began hanging out a lot (3-4 times a week) within a month or so, because we really dig each other. What you're looking for exists, OP, it's just a matter of finding it.
posted by speedgraphic at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2011

When my relationship was long distance, we would Skype most nights but that was usually just leaving it running all evening (we both spent a lot of time at our computers) and speaking when we had something to say; it was more like hanging out together while doing our own things.
posted by carolr at 1:08 PM on November 9, 2011

Ok, so you want a "real" relationship. That's cool.
#1 I would read as: super-busy, just wants something "lite". Doesn't have time for the type of relationship you want.
#2: If you talk 1x/wk, plus a quick text message each day (I think wanting to keep contact everyday, even if it's short, is a message in itself) seems promising. I don't really understand "seems to rely on me for the communication initiation" when you said he initiated the 1x/wk skype? And he also invited you for a visit and to share costs. Sounds like he took the initiative on that. Good signs.
#3 doesn't want to talk or go out for dates = doesn't want a "real" relationship.

Bachelor number 3 is local, will text frequently, often at his own initiative when he doesn't hear from me (and often back and forth a dozen times throughout the day/eve -- which I LOVE -- just the interaction and indication that he WANTS to connect with me and is thinking about me
Yeah but you know why he's doing this right? This one isn't going to turn into a real relationship.

I think all of your likes for a relationship are absolutely reasonable, except for the "meaningful conversation at night before bed." A quick check-in to say hi, how was your day, etc. is fine, but something deep? Let the quick check-in turn into that (if both of you have the energy/time), but don't expect it every day. It could happen everyday, but don't expect it. Like I said, even wanting to touch base everyday is a message in itself.

If it was me, I'd explore the potential of #2 and not get too stuck on who's initiating contact. The important point is interest. If you're interested in him, he's interested in you, is happy to hear from you when you call him, maybe he thinks you prefer doing the communication initiation. Him initiating contact less than you isn't something that you should look at in isolation, you know?
posted by foxjacket at 1:21 PM on November 9, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, and when I say "Meaningful," I don't mean "Deep, intense conversation every time!" Meaningful to me means, "I'm thinking about you. I like you and want to talk with you and connect for a few minutes because of that, and check in with each other/how we are, etc. And maybe say some nice things to each other and flirt a little now and then."

Often I'm WAAAY too tired for whatever "meaningful" people are imagining I'm meaning!
posted by sleeping beauty at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2011

Best answer: I apologize if this advice is redundant, and here it is.

Expectations are a dicey way to frame these things, because people all have differing standards about what's normal/acceptable/desirable.

You're definitely not expecting too much. You're simply expecting what you want! Let guys know what you want. Be assertive about it -- that way, the people you get involved with will know what to expect, and you'll get a better sense of how they do or don't fit into what you want. Make it so that talking about your needs and wants is part of the getting-to-know-you process of meeting someone new.
posted by clockzero at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about rewarding the behavior you like?

If someone sat me down and said they expected contact every day, my gut reaction would be, well, you'd better have something entertaining every day to keep this from being a chore. Nobody wants to be the person who gets the day's whine dumped on them, or having to deal with a conversation like:

"Hi! How was your day?"

"Fine. Nothing happened. How was yours?"

"Fine. I think I'm going to do laundry."

"Oh, whites or colors?"


Make sure you have some jokes on tap or collect some interesting tidbit or observation to fire back and add value to the exchange. He contacts you - you respond with something witty or saucy. You might get a better response that way.
posted by griselda at 2:06 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Based on your clarifications, I think your expectations are totally reasonable. In my experience, whenever a guy has been really into me he's wanted to talk daily. The thing is you (generic you) want that desire to connect to come from a natural place; you don't want to train a guy into behaving like that out of obligation. Even if he does you won't feel like it's authentic and he'll give it up after awhile.

So basically you'll find out pretty soon whether the guy you're seeing has a compatible communication style. If he doesn't I would end things rather than trying to pretzel yourself or change him. I dated a couple of guys who needed way more space than I was comfortable with, and no matter how hard I tried to pretzel myself I never felt happy. Just rest assured there are plenty of men who will be totally excited about dating with you and want to talk to/see you as often as you desire.
posted by timsneezed at 2:13 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't let men and/or society define who you should be or what you should want.

That's your one and only mistake.

Wait. Your other mistake is having "sexercise" with someone who only gives you half of what you really want and then telling yourself you should want less so as to fit into a mold that will never fulfill your needs.

Stop thinking you must "earn" this good treatment you require!

If anything, raise your expectation
and stop wasting time on the types of men you are involved with now. Someone who is operating on your level will more or less be in sync with your expectations right from the beginning. At least IMHO.

Stop trying to "earn" that which you naturally deserve and drop anyone that enjoys making you jump through hoops - that's my advice.
posted by jbenben at 2:32 PM on November 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

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