help new relationship between vastly different yung'uns work
April 21, 2014 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I haven't had a boyfriend since I was 16 and I'm 22 now. I'm dating this new guy for less than a month now, and though we both seem to want to make it work, I feel we have pretty different communication styles. We've also been through quite a lot during the past few weeks which we may need help getting over. I'm incredibly bad at dating, inexperienced in romantic relationships and honestly want this to work. What do I do?

I really like him! From the little I know him, he's sweet, he's incredibly smart, he's patient, he's hard-working and dedicated, fun-loving and adventurous just like me. He also puts in lots of time and effort to try to see me more, whether it be for a quick coffee or a beer or anything...He texts me all the time and we're in constant communication. I really like that, as I value communication over most things in a relationship.

However, we're both the same age and probably both immature with relationships. We've been on around 4-5 dates, and had some issues:

I've been overly emotional every time we've hung out, either weeping about his being distant or getting angry at something that I've assumed he's doing or not doing. It's my bad - I'm emotional and intense in general, and even 1 beer really exacerbates that. I have basically decided to quit drinking in general for a while and especially on our dates. The dates are otherwise super fun, we can talk for hours and I love getting to know him more and more.

We hung out recently and had a misunderstanding based on something relatively trivial, basically that I had to leave a lot earlier than I thought. I know he'd planned a really nice evening together, with dinner and all kinds of other fun things. It was sweet, but I live pretty far from him and had other commitments...I guess I estimated the time wrong. I told him I could stay longer, that I could make it work, but he kept saying "No, it's fine, you obviously need to be home for something, so it's fine." I apologized and asked him if he was OK with it, and he seemed incredibly defensive stating that he's 'fine' dozens of times.

Then he opened up. He said he can't handle how emotional I am (with the crying, the angry for no apparent reason, etc) and that we're both young professionals, we should have fun and have no drama, just enjoy each other's company. He'd said this before, I'll admit but I did get emotional again during the third date and though we did have a lot of fun (and he asked me to come over the very next day)I did not do very good 'self checking' when it comes to my emotions.

I conceded with everything he said. It's true that I overanalyzed everything he did and probably pre-judged him...just like guys often do to me. I said I was sorry, and he insisted he was fine. We talked/argued like this (no yelling of course, just talking) for almost 3 hours which we could've used making out. It was...depressing.

I didn't realize how depressing it was for him, though, until I left him and got onto the bus home. He basically texted me saying I wished I'd said 'fuck it' to my other commitments, saw that he really wanted me there. Well, why didn't he articulate that to me instead of saying that I'm fine 100s of times? O_O if he'd actually said that, I'd have been turned on and probably done it.

Kindness gets you way farther than defensive baiting, right?

Anyway, he was angry and I tried to pacify him and we have set up two more dates. I think we like each other a lot and I really appreciate his getting over my emotional outbursts. I want to make it up to him.

I feel like we need time apart to do that, though, if only not texting for a few days or something... I mean we just talked on the phone and he was cold, distant and made meanspirited jokes the whole time. And when I tried to call him out on it, asking how he's feeling, he insists he's over it and that I'm the one overanalyzing.

I don't understand what to do. I want to help make this work because he's a sweetheart, we're compatible (it rarely happens that I feel connected and attracted to someone AND that they can handle my energy and intensity)...We just have really different communication styles and are probably immature in relationships. What can I do to help him get over it, to let the relationship thrive rather than rot too quickly?

Our next two dates are alcohol-free and he keeps saying he really likes me and wants to see me again. There's no sex involved yet fwiw, and I appreciate him for taking his time with me even with the kissing. I can tell he doesn't want to screw this up either, he wants to give it a chance, but he doesn't maybe communicate his emotions very well and expects me to be a mind-reader, maybe.

It sucks that we're having this much trouble in the first few weeks of us dating. But I've certainly learned a lot about myself during this process...hope we can make it work 'cause I know it'd be great. How can I help him open up and tell me how he's feeling rather than bottling it in? How do I stop overanalyzing and start having more fun? What can I do to curb my emotions?

Overall, what are your thoughts on this? Thanks so much.
posted by rhythm_queen to Human Relations (58 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have dated and been with two kinds of guys:

A) Those that make you jump through hoops;

B) Those that do not.

Sometimes A) can seem really worth it and you jump and jump and jump through those hoops because the end result is really good sex or compliments or some other reward. But the downside is you spend a lot of time being miserable and second guessing yourself and, in general, in agony.

B) Nice guys. Who say, I love you, you are so sexy. Despite not wearing make-up, wearing sweatpants, being yourself, having bad days, being emotional at times (they roll with it), and in general, appreciate you for who you are. They don't diss you and while they can get cranky, as we all do, they love you as a friend and lover. They have good and bad qualities, and you learn to get along with them and communicate the things and it's not so bad. A nice and warm and loving comfortable guy.

I prefer B. Having been through A a lot. It's super stressful and not productive and not how I want to live my life. YMMV.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:22 PM on April 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

This seems like a lot of drama and pretty exhausting. Have you looked into seeing a therapist?
posted by discopolo at 6:23 PM on April 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I know someone's going to say it, so I'll say it (and it's true): the first few weeks of a relationship are supposed to be nothing but smiles and rainbows and elation and puppies. If you're already working this hard, and he's being weird and distant and cracking mean-spirited jokes, it's not working, no matter how great you can imagine it could be in your head. You should say thanks but no thanks and move on.

Further, you're young. Like really young. Maybe you want to be in a relationship right now, and I know you wrote that it's been six years already. But it sounds like your emotions are a real jumble at the moment, and maybe you should take more time to sort through that and get yourself straightened out before dating more. You have a really, really long time to start dating again, it doesn't have to be now, and it will be so much better and so much more satisfying if you have a better handle on you before you start thinking about another person.
posted by The Michael The at 6:25 PM on April 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Did he repeatedly say he was fine without you asking, or did you keep asking if it was OK? Both are really not necessary -- if you had an obligation and explained that, then have the self-confidence to stand with that. You don't need to ask someone if they're fine with your obligations.

Likewise, if he really wanted you to stay, he could voice that he really wanted you to stay. If he kept saying he was fine without being questioned or provoked, then he was passive-aggressively communicating that he wasn't fine with it. Which, either you didn't make it seem like a compelling reason, or he didn't care.

I would say this: if you feel emotionally stressed, ask what you want in that situation, and voice your concerns, if you have any. If you don't have a preference, then see what the other person would like. If it sounds fine, go with that. It's fine to feel stressed or emotional, but it's experience in dealing with others in a relationship (and age, and life experience..) that helps you separate that from your interactions with others.
posted by mikeh at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

From what you've written (in less than a month you've cried on almost every date, he's been distant and nasty, you've been angry for no reason) you and this guy are absolutely not a good fit.

If you're going through this so early in any relationship, it is not a good relationship.
posted by kinetic at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2014 [22 favorites]

And as The Michael The said, early dating shouldn't be this hard.
posted by mikeh at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2014

Best answer: I want to help make this work because he's a sweetheart, we're compatible

If you have already cried in his presence multiple times, and he's been pissy at you more than once, I don't know what definition of "compatible" you are using, but that is NOT it. No no no. This is not how a healthy, happy relationship starts. Keep the next two dates (two? couldn't trust yourselves to take it one date at a time?) if you want, but they better go off 100% perfectly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:28 PM on April 21, 2014 [19 favorites]

If things are so intense after less than a month of dating that you are literally weeping every time you hang out, you need to find someone to date who you actually enjoy spending time with.

Also, protip? Don't date someone who lives so far from you that dates have to be scheduled to the hilt. Likewise if you have a ton of other commitments that take precedence over the relationship. If you don't have time to date right now, you just don't, and that's OK. And if you're in a situation where that has to happen because you are just So Incredibly Wild About This Person that you can't possibly pass them up in favor of your night class or Sunday dinner with your family or whatever, you need to get really good at communicating openly about snafus like the one you describe in your question.

There is no reason for somebody to be "fine" with you accidentally double booking yourself and having to flake. Either you explain the situation fully and they 100% get what's up and are completely cool about it because it's not actually a big deal (and they understand your situation, if it's something totally uncancelable), or you move other stuff around in your life to accommodate them (if it is cancelable). Just... say what's up. Speak plainly. "Omigod, I am so, so sorry, but I just realized my accounting final project meeting is tonight, not next Wednesday. But I will 100% make this up to you. Dinner tomorrow night is on me." "Shiiiiiit, I just realized I told my dad I'd help him winterize the cabin today. I really don't want to go, but it's kind of a big deal. Can I booty call you later and we can turn this dinner into a midnight snack?" As long as you're not constantly pulling this sort of thing, it's pretty understandable and nothing to be angry about.
posted by Sara C. at 6:33 PM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you're obsessively hunting for signs of and making assumptions about rejection. If you're an overanalyzer (in your words, "defensive baiter"), quit second-guessing people and practice taking their words at face value, and see what happens when you trust them.

Because (absent other details) the drama consequent to this:

I told him I could stay longer, that I could make it work, but he kept saying "No, it's fine, you obviously need to be home for something, so it's fine." I apologized and asked him if he was OK with it, and he seemed incredibly defensive stating that he's 'fine' dozens of times.

wouldn't have happened, I don't think, if you'd not pressed him.

This guy showed his interest through his behaviour (texting all the time, making an effort to see you). If that level of communication isn't enough to reassure you of interest, it might be better to date guys who talk more.

Also, if needing a lot of reassurance has played out in other relationships, it might be a sign of anxious attachment, in which case, this book might be helpful. (If it's just with this guy, you're just not compatible.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:49 PM on April 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Many people learn about themselves and what they need from relationships after breakups, but you're in the fortunate position to discover this BEFORE additional aggravation.

1) It is entirely possible that your emotional turbulence needs moderation. If one beer has you feeling significantly out of sorts, either your alcohol tolerance is very low (a possibility), or it destroys whatever personal mechanisms you have for keeping yourself on an even keel. A therapist would be far more useful, in this circumstance, than simply avoiding alcohol. Although,

2) It's usually a sign of mismatch if you're experiencing constant anxiety and distress about a potential relationship. Even in the presence of all the other feelings! Dating someone should give you butterflies, not knots and tears. If you need lots of reassurance, you may have an anxious style of attachment; other posters have pointed to some resources about that, so check them out when you can!

3) "I know he'd planned a really nice evening together, with dinner and all kinds of other fun things. It was sweet, but I live pretty far from him and had other commitments...I guess I estimated the time wrong."

I may be jumping on the way you worded this, so take this with a grain of salt if this doesn't apply to other social situations: developing a stricter sense of time management and probably developing a mindfulness of the time others are spending would make situations like this a lot smoother to deal with in the future. BUT:

4) "I told him I could stay longer, that I could make it work, but he kept saying "No, it's fine, you obviously need to be home for something, so it's fine." I apologized and asked him if he was OK with it, and he seemed incredibly defensive stating that he's 'fine' dozens of times."

Anyone who does this when presented with a situation they don't like probably has poor communication skills, which lowers the prospects of a healthy, stable relationship.

5) "I mean we just talked on the phone and he was cold, distant and made meanspirited jokes the whole time. And when I tried to call him out on it, asking how he's feeling, he insists he's over it and that I'm the one overanalyzing."

...NOPE. Nope. Nope. Drop him.

There are plenty of other people within closer range who are sweet, intelligent, funny, think you're insanely hot, will respect you, and will communicate with you clearly instead of resorting to passive-aggression and snark. This is how he's probably going to behave EVERY TIME you guys have a difference in opinion, or if you do something he doesn't like.

Save yourself the boxes of Kleenex, girl: if this is him putting his best foot forward, you don't wanna take another step with him.
posted by Ashen at 7:00 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I saw something in your post that was a real revelation for me when I figured it out, so I hope that maybe it helps you also.

Constant communication isn't the same as having good communication. I have days in a row where my boyfriend and I just don't get around to talking much or at all. It's fine, because I know that we are both just busy people who really like our lives and times alone, doing our own thing. If there is something that I realize we need to talk about, I usually wait until the next time I see him in person, and I bring it up in a well-lit, comfortable room, making sure that we're both reasonably well-rested and not hungry. Those are the things I need to communicate well with my partner.

So if I were you I might evaluate all of the communication you have - not just the texting and the emailing and the phone calls. It sounds to me like actually you don't have good communication, for whatever reason, based on what you've written here. It does not matter why - the fact is, your communication just doesn't seem to gel well. And that's OK.

It's so hard to walk away from someone who is really sweet and lovely and wonderful but just doesn't work well with you. That is unfortunately what you have here. You prize communication, and this guy can't communicate. He told you himself, by saying something was fine - repeatedly - when it was decidedly not fine. And him insisting he's "over it" and that you're "overthinking" things... people who do that are shutting down communication, which creates an environment in your relationship where open communication is not a given. And that can be very difficult to deal with! It's everyone's choice whether or not they want to talk about a given topic with their partner, but if it's important to you that your partner talk about these things and actually tell you when he has a preference about something - and it is, really, this stuff is definitely important to you, you talk about that a lot in your question - I don't think that it's going to work with this particular guy. I'm sorry, it's tough. You are strong and you'll be OK.
posted by sockermom at 7:19 PM on April 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: You know how I know you still fit into the category of "young"? You don't seem to think it's at all weird that you've had four dates and already are crying in his presence. Even without experience, believe me, people in their 30s and beyond realize this is not usual, even when they're emotional themselves. There's a reason he's said he's not really okay with this--it is vastly more attachment than anybody should feel to somebody they barely know, and it's a thing you need to work out with yourself, not with him.
posted by Sequence at 7:22 PM on April 21, 2014 [25 favorites]

Best answer: You are both acting in totally inappropriate and unhealthy ways. Whether or not you're compatible, you're absolutely not emotionally stable enough to be committing yourself to a relationship. Not that you don't deserve one or whatever--but whatever relationship you end up in when you're this unstable will be bad, or it will be ruined by this instability.

This is way more than just being young. Both of you are evincing some major problems here, and since you're the only one you can control, I suggest you really consider working on your problems seriously. I'd suggest the same to him if he were here, but he's not, so let's focus on you.

I mean, you had "commitments", but had he been firm enough, you would have broken them? So they weren't commitments at all, it was a test and a game. This is really rude and unhealthy. The crying or getting angry? Likewise.

You need serious change in your behavior, not finding someone who will go along with your "intensity". Therapy would be a good first step. Also important is realizing how not okay this is, because it's really not okay. Happily, you can change it if you try, it's not inherent to you. But you do need to try to change it if you want to be happy and healthy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:30 PM on April 21, 2014 [28 favorites]

Most people don't cry on dates because their dates don't make them cry.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:37 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi. I'm gonna tell you what is up because you asked what is up.

It is probably not going to be knowledge that thrills you to hear. It may kind of hurt. If it does, I am sorry. It is not my intent to hurt you. I would like you to know good things and live the best possible life a person can live. And you asked for understanding, and I believe I can give it to you.

So, first things first, we've gone around the OKCupid mulberry bush a few times now and I remember your profile and I just went again to look and confirmed that you are, in fact, a knockout. For real. Objective fact. Your face is the kind of face that makes people want to say promises. That is what we are working with here. I do not say that as an internet come-on, because ugh and furthermore no, but because it will be important later.

"Gosh, FM," you are perhaps now saying in a voice I can only assume is a good voice to listen to, "That's real sweet of your monstrous self, but here I was all bracing to hear stuff I didn't want to hear!" Which leads me to this.

I've been overly emotional every time we've hung out, either weeping about his being distant or getting angry at something that I've assumed he's doing or not doing. It's my bad - I'm emotional and intense in general, and even 1 beer really exacerbates that. I have basically decided to quit drinking in general for a while and especially on our dates. The dates are otherwise super fun, we can talk for hours and I love getting to know him more and more.

I don't know what his behavior has been on all of these dates, but let's look at facts. You've been seeing each other for less than a month. Five or six times. Each of those times, you have either started crying that he's being distant, or you're getting angry at something you assume - even you admit it's only an assumption, and you're the one telling the story here - he's doing or not doing.

Now, again, I don't know what he's been doing. I don't know much about his interactions from one minute to the next. But I do know that if I were in his situation - if I were on date four (hell, even date two) and the waterworks started because I was somehow being witholding with someone who's barely more than a stranger, I would get the check and I would put on my coat and hat and that would be the last we would see of each other.

So there are two questions you should be asking yourself, and one question has the potential to be maybe sort of life-affirming and the other does not at all. The former is this, and concerns his bad behaviors: "Why am I letting him get away with this?" The latter, and it will be a much more uncomfortable question to answer but you should really at least think about it, is, "Why is he letting me get away with this?"

There are about ninety quadrillion possible reasons for why he might be letting you get away with this (boundaries out of whack, insufficient self-respect, recently got out of a fucked-up relationship and hasn't taken the time to unfuck himself) but I'm going to barf up a huge glob of intuition all down the front of my ensemble here and you can run with it if you want.

The fact that he's already making mean-spirited jokes but still demonstrating enthusiasm for seeing you and already making plans and whatnot is - to me anyway - a huge tell. It spells out his modus operandi in ten-foot-tall letters. My estimation of you up above may seem unkind, yes, but rest easy, because my estimation of him is extraordinarily so, and I do not have the hope for him that I do for you.

So, again, you asked what's up so here's what's up: He's running out of patience for your drama-llama tendencies, but you're also a knockout, as noted above, and he's hoping to cozy up to your nethers. He wishes to place parts of him into or onto parts of you. He will stick around for, I don't know, a couple weeks after sex is on the table, but once he's filled his boots, he'll be on the midnight train to Not Texting You Back.

"But he seems so nice!" you may be insisting. "We have so much to talk about!"

You do, yes. Here's something that most people don't like to admit: A guy who's only interested in you for sex is (quite often) not actually faking his interest. He's not putting on an act. He really is listening to you, and he really does want to see you, and whatnot. He's not pretending. What separates a guy like him from the more upstanding dudes of the world is the complete lack of self-examination which stops him from noticing that he seems to have this habit of falling into short, intense bursts of fascination with women that does not sustain itself once they've welcomed him into their bed, or from doing anything about it if he does notice.

"But then how can I tell if a guy's only interested in me for sex?" you may now be entreating.

Well, some of them (but not all) really are pretending, and you'll know them when you see them. But otherwise...I hate to say it, but if a guy seems mostly on the up and up, the only way you can tell whether or not he's going to break your heart is to give him the opportunity and see what he does with it. There aren't cheat codes. Life's about getting your feelings knocked around a little bit, now and again. Welcome to adulthood. It sucks here sometimes.

Anyway, back to him and back to you.

It seems very likely to me that he's gonna bounce once he gets his hammer wet. It also seems likely to me that even if he didn't, you would want to seriously examine the situation here because this is all too much fuss and bother for someone you've been on less than a half-dozen dates with. It should be fun and easy in the early going, and what you are describing is not easy at all; it is partly fun, with widely-scattered patches of banging your head against a wall. I don't think the two of you are a good fit.

I don't think he's a horrible person, necessarily, and when he says you overanalyze, he may not be talking about what you think he's talking about.

I think it would benefit you greatly to talk to a therapist. Being intense and emotional may be a point of pride for you, but it's really not helping you out here in the adult world. I read this story and I can't help but wonder what his side of it would look like. I don't think he's a saint here, obviously, but I also think there are things you're doing which you may not be aware of, either in the moment or at all. And I think a therapist would help with that. I definitely think that the attachment you exhibited is very far out of the ordinary and is something which needs to be addressed but you will not be able to fix by yourself.

Which returns us to the question of why he's letting you get away with this. You can't always rely on other people to communicate their own boundaries in an effective way, so while you work on this with a therapist, you need to be the person who monitors your own behavior. You can't just shrug and go, "Oops, I didn't do very good self-checking!" You've got to just actually do self-checking. Sooner or later, you have to be the one to ask, "Why am I being allowed to get away with this?"

You probably won't like the answer, it's true, but you'll like it much more than you'd like what happens if you don't ask the question at all.


Probably shouldn't date this guy. Definitely should talk to a therapist. You can do it. Good luck!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:38 PM on April 21, 2014 [54 favorites]

Best answer: You've asked a number of questions about being too intense for people and it negatively affecting your relationships. This issue isn't going to go away on its own and you may want to consider working with a therapist to find better ways to communicate and interact with others. Your drama is not your personality. If you're crying or picking fights during every date in a new relationship with someone you consider compatible, you have some issues that need to be addressed.

If you do go on additional dates with this man, try very hard to be mindful of your reactions to things and work on not indulging every impulse you have. It's not fair to get moody or angry with others just because you've imagined some kind of bad behavior or transgression. Don't let the thing that he finds attractive about you be the unhealthy drama you create.
posted by quince at 7:52 PM on April 21, 2014

Response by poster: Famous Monster-

I feel like on our first date, I started off with the assumption that he's just trying to get in my pants. Then on the second date, when I tried to kiss him, he was blocked and distant and that's why I teared up. I didn't bawl, I just couldn't help it and I teared up.

On the next date, after I got annoyed over something silly, we talked about why he didn't try to kiss me and he finally said it's because he thinks I have a bad opinion about him and that I seem overly defensive at times, and he doesn't want to screw it up by kissing too soon. He also wanted to make sure it wasn't just the alcohol speaking when I was cozying up to him. After that there were plenty of kisses, we explored the city and had way too much fun dancing and I felt. so. connected and thrilled.

And then when I went over to his place the next day, I only had 3 hours to spend with him and he was not happy about that. I feel like any kisses we've had, I've been the one initiating. I'm attracted to him and like him so much.

Since then we've talked, Skyped, texted...and though it seems hard to talk to him, I still want to give this a chance, because he gave me a chance after my crying. I do appreciate what you've said FM (and super flattered by your compliment, wow) but...Well, I'm not sure if I want to make assumptions like that...they just haven't been serving me well. I didn't realize just how presumptuous and anxious I am til this guy, and its opened my eyes a lot.

PS. Just bought that Attached book. Really enjoying it so far (google books is amazing)
posted by rhythm_queen at 8:01 PM on April 21, 2014

What in the world are you crying about and getting angry about in the first handful of dates, with someone you barely know? I'm trying to figure out why you think having random emotional outbursts are an acceptable way to treat a person, especially a person you want to be dating.

I mean, I can see how you want to make it work, so that you can have emotional outbursts whenever you're in the mood and he has to "handle" it because that's just how you are, but I can't really see why it's a good thing for the guy to have a relationship like this in his life?
posted by citron at 8:01 PM on April 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

OK, I see your followup. Sorry. But.. I don't know.. If he's being difficult too, maybe there's just no reason to make this work? I just don't get it. You don't seem to be having much of a good time with him, nor he with you.
posted by citron at 8:03 PM on April 21, 2014

Lots of good advice above. I tell you what, I would recommend you stop drinking, completely. You are just pouring gas on the fire. Your best self is not emerging under the influence. You need more clarity, not more intoxication. good fortune to you.
posted by jcworth at 8:05 PM on April 21, 2014

I feel like on our first date, I started off with the assumption that he's just trying to get in my pants.

Ah, I should clarify: I don't think he's just trying to get into your pants. What I think is that his interest is going to taper off once he does.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Speaking for myself, when I was 22, I thought that early big drama and tears and worries and anxiety and so many unspeakable questions meant it was a SERIOUS ADULT relationship. I learned this from TV and Movies because I didn't have much experience of my own to fall back on. Reporting from the other end of the decade, I now know the absolute opposite to be true.
posted by stray at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

I feel that you are backtracking here. First you say that you've been emotional on every date, either "weeping " or being angry, then you say that you just teared up and weren't crying. I'm just a little bit confused. Perhaps you are unaware of the connotation of weeping but to me it suggests crying for a prolonged period of time. And your q def made it seem like the crying has occurred on more than one occasion but I suppose that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, you remind me a lot of myself in some ways. I always considered myself a highly intense and emotional person and that had always been a point of pride for me. However, it has made being in relationships extremely difficult. First, just romantic relationships; but then the emotional outbursts began to influence my family and friendships, as I moved through my early to mid twenties and the stressors of adult life piled on and I had very few effective resources to deal with the emotions and anxiety; they would just kind of come out interpersonally and sabotage my relationships. Friendships and family are of course deeper and more elastic and can survive; romantic ties, not so much.

Anyway, I'm not saying that you have the same issues I do or that you need to do the same things, but the picture you have painted here is very alarming to me. It seems like you think that, independent of his behavior, it is normal to be crying and having highly tense fights with someone you're first dating. This complete demolition or just failure to set emotional boundaries and self-care is something I used to accept, and after yet another very intense 3 month relationship which ended poorly (tropes of abandonment from someone I barely know seeming distant have also played themselves out for me, as has crying prematurely in front of someone I've just been dating a few weeks) I have put myself on dating hiatus and am receiving treatment for bipolar II and potentially borderline personality disorder. Again, I'm not suggesting that you have an emotion-related psychiatric condition; becoming an adult is really challenging and it's understandable if you are experiencing a lot of emotions right now. Additionally, there's nothing wrong with being emotional. But there's a line between actually experiencing an emotion the way emotions are healthily felt - mindfully and communicating a message that we then listen to, but knowing we can survive that emotion, and experiencing a highly dysregulated emotion that seems to overwhelm every other message ones brain is sending, causes one to act out in various ways, most of them being self-destructive to ones actual goals in life. It might be a valuable exercise to look back on your life and ask if your emotionality has resulted in difficulty in other spheres of your life besides just relationships.

Anyway, my advice from reading your question is to not get into an emotionally involved relationship right now. You do not seem emotionally stable, and this is not a criticism it is a voice of concern from someone who kinda sorta gets it maybe at least as far as I can tell from this q and from past qs. I would seek out some therapy to sort out the anxiety around intimacy and abandonment (I think crying because a guy you've been on two or three dates with seems withholding def screams some serious abandonment issues that will rear their ugly heads in any relationship you end up in. I've been in that relationship. Trust me. Get the therapy instead). And then, when you're in a place when you can safely and healthily engage in a romantic relationship, you can do so with some relative confidence and stability.
posted by bengalibelle at 8:54 PM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't have much to add to the interpersonal-communication aspects of your question, because the previous posters have it covered. I think it's great that you are learning so much about yourself in this situation. That's an excellent place for you to start, because you're aware that you do need to learn some coping skills to deal with this.

Your question comes across as so tense, anxious, apologetic, and you spend most of it making justifications. I just want to give you a hug and tell you that it doesn't have to be this hard. Your phrasing says to me that you aren't listening to some core part of yourself, and you're asking us to convince you that what your gut is trying to tell you is wrong. I can really sympathize with being your age and in situations where you just feel totally overwhelmed by your emotions. I think I spent my late teens through maybe age 22-23 wishing that someone would just friggin' explain to me why this is all so complicated, already!

I will add to the chorus of gentle but firm recommendations that you see a therapist about your emotional stability, but I would like to recommend specifically that you seek out a DBT therapist. DBT emphasizes mindfulness and building emotional-coping skills, and is related to CBT (google the acronyms for more info). What it taught me was this: we do not have to be at the mercy of our emotions, and we have the power to choose how to respond to those emotions. This turbulence you are feeling is basically an issue knocking at your mind's "door" asking you to acknowledge it. The more you try to repress or avoid it, the harder it will knock and pound at you, causing your equilibrium to be imbalanced and spike all over the place.

Feelings are just feelings; they aren't good or bad, and are often irrational, to boot. Your entire post says, to me, "I'm sorry for having these uncomfortable feelings but I just can't seem to help myself; what should I do?" and "This person who seems otherwise awesome is pushing every self-esteem and self-worth button I have; what should I do?" My question for you is: why aren't you listening to yourself? And why do you feel like you have to tie yourself in knots to get him to validate your emotional needs? Has someone in your life convinced you that you are in some way unworthy, and by proxy, you are using your new smooch to get that missing validation? When we go after an emotionally unavailable person, it's often because we fear being vulnerable, fear rejection, and we use their unavailability as a reason to sabotage the relationship.

I think of emotional intensity and instability as a kind of early warning system for life. Right now, your internal warning system is telling you, "Whoa, hey, this is too much! I need to hit the breaks and figure out why this is upsetting me so deeply and taking up so much of my mental energy." This type of anxious obsession and rumination is exhausting, and like others have said, do you want your entire relationship to be one of miserable second-guessing, trying to read whatever portents and omens he dishes out, and miserably berating yourself when he lashes out? You deserve better than that. His communication style sounds like that of a petulant child and that's just going to add to your anxiety-spirals when it happens. You can like or even love someone a whole lot, but be completely incompatible in a relationship. It sucks, but it happens. If you can recognize this now, it'll save you a lot of heartache later on.

Lastly, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you check out a book called The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder. (FYI: it talks about some intense mental health stuff.) I think you might gain some insight from it, and don't be scared away by the subject matter. She speaks a lot about having an intense and anxious attachment style, and some of what she has to say about finding herself vis-a-vis relationships just might blow your mind. Good luck to you and please take care of yourself, okay? We're rooting for you.
posted by cardinality at 9:03 PM on April 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

bengalibelle makes a good point that "tearing up" and "weeping" are not the same, and so it makes everyone wonder whether you are embellishing and dramatizing relatively ordinary emotions, or whether you are actually whitewashing seriously inappropriate behavior on your own part.

One way for you to curb your emotions, since you asked, is to edit the language you use to describe them. Not to Metafilter. To yourself.

It is so easy to take an interaction and spin it into a catastrophe using only your own mind and hormones. (Oh lord do I know.) So instead of using the most dramatic language possible to process an experience, try using neutral language.

"he was distant and blocked" ---> "he wasn't receptive to the kiss." The first is a dramatic editorial on the situation, the second a statement of fact.

The same with "being withholding," honestly, which seems to be what sends you round the bend with this guy. Someone you have barely known for an entire menstrual cycle cannot meaningfully "withhold" from you, okay? You don't get to demand total intimacy from a person after a few weeks. Work out what "withholding" really means as a statement of fact: "he didn't answer when i asked X." "He doesn't volunteer information about his day." etc.

Finally, you got some real good advice in the "how to be cool" thread that might come into play here: stop paying attention to yourself. Start paying attention to him. He thinks you have a bad opinion of him? Well why the hell is that? It's on him to speak his feelings and tell you what he wants, but when he does, you've got to be hearing him, and not spinning around in your own mind looking for things to get angry, annoyed, or weepy about.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:12 PM on April 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

urgh, it's late and i'm hungry, that last paragraph isn't so clear. When I say "pay attention to him" I don't mean, like, dote on and obsess over him.

I mean that when you're in conversation with him, really be present in the conversation. Hear what he's saying. LOOK for the very clear signs that "fine" doesn't mean "fine." The bonus of this is you can't be present and overthink at the same time, so this will help with the overthinking.

If you're present, hearing, and you STILL can't read him? Then yeah, odds are, he's being a mind-gamer. But I think from your own descriptions that he may actually be trying to communicate with you, imperfectly but honestly.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:17 PM on April 21, 2014

Yes, definitely recommend DBT. I'm doing DBT right now and it's been very helpful. For years I self medicated with drugs and used them, relationships, and isolation to deal with the intense emotions but DBT has allowed me space to love and accept my emotions (well, begin to anyway). Also I did not mean to come off as harsh or overly critical in my response. I am rooting for you! I just don't want you to be missing something if something might be there, and you should have all the help and support you need. You deserve it. :)
posted by bengalibelle at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, just for this situation here:

"Then he opened up. He said he can't handle how emotional I am (with the crying, the angry for no apparent reason, etc) and that we're both young professionals, we should have fun and have no drama, just enjoy each other's company. He'd said this before...."

This will come up again. Even if you're not being that emotional and he's somehow gas lighting you, the fact that he's said that he can't handle some aspect of you multiple times worries me. You shouldn't be in a relationship that makes you feel like you need to change because the other person "can't handle" you. If you're going to change, do it for yourself and probably by yourself (single) so you're not using him as an emotional crutch or barf bag. Not fair to either of you.

Okay I'm done now. Hope you choose the path that is right for you, for your wise mind. Hugs.
posted by bengalibelle at 9:41 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

In about 10 years time you'll look back on this guy and go "ugh".

This type of guy doesn't go away with age, BTW, he'll always be around, doing the same thing. So it's actually not because you're both young.

But for your own piece of mind, please leave him and find someone better.

hope we can make it work 'cause I know it'd be great.

Are you great now? No, move on. You'll find someone else.
posted by heyjude at 10:09 PM on April 21, 2014

Best answer: Oh, rhythm queen... I'm sorry to have done this, but I just read through some of your other questions (some of which I remembered). Ach. I think many of the issues you've previously talked about (and some that others have commented on in the past) are informing interactions with this guy -- they all seem to bear on it, in various ways.

The general picture I have of you is that of a person with a significant natural appetite for life, many talents, and lots to say and do, who hasn't been ideally prepared to manage her emotions. You've mentioned lots of family conflict, and seem to have suffered an absence of peace and stability, which (I think) has led to a basic anxiety and not a little disorganization (here, in forgetting about the transit times and schedule and your other commitments. And, the difficulty checking emotions, and as has been suggested in questions you've asked other times, in relation to talking too much or interrupting people. I mean I don't know what's what, but this are things you've talked about.)

So it seems to me you're caught between strong conflicting energies that go a little haywire when you're challenged by a high-stakes interaction: a desire to put things out and connect, which is at war with an anxiety and need for security, and, perhaps insufficient skills to manage them. So anxiety gets dealt with by putting more stuff out, which makes things go a little more haywire.

Like here, you felt a strong initial attraction to this guy (energy out), but were ambivalent because you were afraid he just wanted to get into your pants (anxiety/safety). So on that first date, your nerves got the better of you, and the interaction didn't go smoothly. (I am leaving his contributions to things to one side.)

The next time, you thought, aha, I'll deal with the awkwardness from the last date with 'energy out'. So you then drove the sexy stuff you both worried about and wanted. And you were still anxious, and maybe impulsive, so, you maybe didn't read whatever signals he was giving all that well (which ok, probably had something to do with traditional scripts around who's supposed to do what). And things went haywire again, and the result was just a flood of emotion that overwhelmed your ability to cope.

I don't mean to pathologize or diagnose you - like I say, I don't know what's what - but from your own descriptions, there do appear to be multiple things going on, perhaps related to the attachment stuff that's been noticed here, perhaps related to attentional things - and they seem to look like anxiety, impulsivity, and difficulty with organization. They're affecting your interpersonal relationships such that things are just much harder than they need to be, hampering either recognizing a bad fit and quitting it, or allowing a potentially good one to grow in its course.

At this point, whether these came to you through experience, or reflect something else, doesn't matter so much as dealing with them does. I think that if you can start to come to grips with these issues, interactions in general will be much smoother, and you might find yourself in pickles like this less often. I think you've got potential to be a truly powerful person, not just an intense one, and to have the kinds of fulfilling relationships you hope for.

Best of luck.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:12 PM on April 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

So on a significant number of your questions it has been recommended that you seek therapy. It's not clear to me, have you done that? Are you in therapy? If not, is there any reason why not? And if yes, are you talking about this with your therapist? (I've known people who refuse to discuss certain aspects of their lives with their therapists, for various twisted reasons. Not so shockingly, therapy doesn't do much for them.)

I hope you don't take the repeated calls for therapy as insulting. Many of us have done it and come out so improved in our coping skills that it's really impossible to read through what you're going through and not see how you would benefit from it. Man I wish I'd found a good therapist in my early 20s. Would have made such a huge difference in my life.
posted by Dynex at 10:13 PM on April 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

I am really sorry you've gotten a pile-on of opinion about your mental health and that I've contributed to it.. Take the details (including mine) with a grain of salt. I think the general point is that some of the difficulties that frustrate you are, according to readers of your words here, beyond what most people experience, and can be helped (by someone qualified to do that).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:27 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: “Having a boyfriend” isn’t really a skill set. Sex? Yeah, that’s kind of a skill set. But every person and every body is different, so that only goes so far. Small talk? Yeah that’s kind of a skill set. Being tough and knowing your boundaries and saying no? Kind of a skill set that comes with age. But ultimately, “having a boyfriend” just doesn’t really compute as something you can be good at or not good at because every man and every relationship is different, you grok me?

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t had a boyfriend since age 16. “A boyfriend” is not this dude. You’re not out of practice at “dating this dude” since you have never dated this dude until now. Stop judging yourself. Don’t ever say you’re “bad at dating” again. Being 22 does not mean you are necessarily “bad at relationships” either. I was in a solid relationship that was a hell of a lot better than most when I was younger than that. I mean, naïve, maybe? Hell yes. But generally in a way in which you underestimate your own worth, not overestimate it!

As to this dude, let me tell you my honest diagnosis. He sounds to me like he’s controlling. Why? Because he’s sweating hard to make things perfect for you, to get you where he wants you, and he pouts and gets upset when you ruin his plan. He’s a planner, right? You’re playing the role he’s cast you in, and when you can’t play, he gets angry. That leads to some things which APPEAR to be great things: he contacts you a lot, he puts in effort- but actually just means he’s play-acting for the sake of himself. Any time YOU write the script, he pouts.

I hate this “I’m too emotional and didn’t do good self-checking” talk from you as well. Do you realize your entire question is one long apology for upsetting this guy? Do you realize what a complete bullshit move it is to get angry at someone for being upset and turn the tables so it’s THEIR fault? Straight out of the abuser handbook 101, whether or not he is one or realizes it. It’s a cheap, shitty move. Don’t even consider for a single second that it’s legitimate.

Fuck his mean-spirited jokes. Fuck his pouting. Fuck his bullshit. Fuck his making you think you’re the crazy one when he’s being purposefully abstruse and is just as, if not more, emotional than you are.

IT IS HIS JOB TO ARTICULATE HIS OWN EMOTIONS TO YOU. If he can’t even do that, HE’S the fucked up one, not you.

Bounce, sister.
posted by quincunx at 10:27 PM on April 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Hey, I'm one of the people who has been in your corner in the past, and who still is in your corner.

I think there are two ways that love expresses itself: through ease of give and take in a relationship, and also through sticking things out through difficult times, and deciding to invest in people anyway. That being said, you can generally tell when the second condition should attain, I think, and it probably shouldn't be prefaced by a whole lot of self-doubt in the first few dates. As a general rule (with exceptions), if you have to ask, it is perhaps a mark against the viability of the relationship.

Life viewed honestly is often not a bed or roses. But I do think it's true that if it's so hard from day one to connect, it's not a good time for the relationship, at the very least.

I agree with those who say it's probably worth taking close look at why an early relationship feels so emotionally difficult for you, when there should be more boundaries to intimacy still in place to perhaps buffer this kind of thing, at least in the beginning. However, I do think that the much bigger issue is some of the flags that he is raising. There's a whole lot of mindreading that he's expecting, and for me, that's almost always a definite deal-breaker. I can deal with emotional honesty that is sometimes a bit messy (especially if it comes with a healthy dose of self-awareness), but mind games that require you win a guessing game all the time to be in the good graces of a relationship really should be a deal breaker, no apologies.

I am always a bit hesitant to jump on the wagon of askme opinion based on second- and third-hand information, but even just putting the best spin on your own point of view, I would say that this isn't helping you at all, and is probably getting in the way of the person that you are very obviously aspiring to be.

Good luck, your friends at mefi are rooting for you.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:31 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have no idea what this guy is up to, but if you are crying and getting extremely emotional with someone you barely know - you need to stop doing that.

I could read into what he's doing, but honestly, the only thing that jumped out at me was the fact that you are crying on early dates with this guy. That is not normal. I would freak the fuck out if someone I had just started dating started crying.

If you're being an unreliable Mefi narrator and embellishing, then I regret wasting my time thinking about your question, but if you are actually crying and being inappropriately emotional on date #2 with someone: Get your talented, vivacious, and emotionally unstable self into therapy. Metafilter is not mental health help.

Or if this guy is just such an asshole that he's making you cry, then why on earth are you still dating him?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:12 PM on April 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Tough love below, skip if that's not your thing:

How can I help him open up and tell me how he's feeling rather than bottling it in?

As far as I can tell he's not the one with the Big Issues here. Sure, he could be a little more communicative - but he probably is afraid to do that because he worries you will go off the deep end when/if he does.

How do I stop overanalyzing and start having more fun? What can I do to curb my emotions?

You need to get thee to a therapist, right now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 - and do not date anyone until you've worked through your issues and are in a more mature state. Do yourself a favor and stop describing immaturity and emotional instability as "intensity."

posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:37 AM on April 22, 2014 [9 favorites]

I've been overly emotional every time we've hung out, either weeping about his being distant or getting angry at something that I've assumed he's doing or not doing. It's my bad - I'm emotional and intense in general, and even 1 beer really exacerbates that.

I have been through the other side of this, and if it were him asking what to do after his new gf cried or got angry with him multiple times after 4-5 dates, I would tell him to run far away because if it's this crazy this soon, it is only going to get worse.

You are not ready to be dating anyone if you can't control yourself not to cry or get angry unprovoked on the first couple of dates. If he's willing to put up with it, there is something wrong with him, which should worry you about continuing to date him, anyway.
posted by empath at 5:05 AM on April 22, 2014 [15 favorites]

He's not showing great communication skills if you were in a relationship -- but you're not in a relationship.

This guy doesn't really want to date you. He thinks he wants to date you, and he sort of wants to date you, but he doesn't really want to date you. As a result, and as a result of his cowardice, he's pulling a halfhearted slow fade -- which you are reading as distant, harsh, and uncommunicative, because you think you're in a relationship even though you're not.

Now, why did things not start well? He's controlling, and you don't have good control of your emotions. You can actually improve both of those issues. One, by not dating him (or any other controlling guy). Two, by engaging in therapy or something else designed to improve your ability to show normal emotional responses.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:44 AM on April 22, 2014

Girl, you need to stop. Claiming to be intense and emotional isn't cute, (have you seen Rachel on The Amazing Race?) Your BF has already told you that it makes him uncomfortable. So, as has been stated above, you really need to get into some therapy about why it is that you're so emotional in situations that CLEARLY aren't appropriate.

There are tons of people out there in the world, people you can have fun with, people you can develop bonds with, people you can have sex with. This guy isn't the last person on earth. So relax a little bit.

Now, why is it that you're so on edge with him? Why does he bring out all of this bad behavior? Do you typically cry when you're out with your girlfriends? Do you typically get overcome with emotion at work? If so, more to work on in therapy, but I'll bet that you hold it together pretty well in everyday situations.

So, what is it about this guy that's pushing your buttons? It's only one of two things:

1. He's doing it on purpose, as part of a method of beating you down emotionally so that you'll try to do anything to please him.

2. He's doing it unconscously, but so often that it's clear that while you might like being with him, you're incompatible.

Either way, you should probably stop seeing him, and examine what it is about these kinds of relationships that's bringing out these emotions. I too would be VERY uncomfortable with someone who went all Drama Llama on me every single time we got together.

If he's distant, no need to cry, simply get up and say, "Sweetie, it's been fun, but I've got to go."

If he's mean to you, just say, "that was harsh. I've got to go."

I'll tell you what I tell everyone, texting is just for relaying information, The bus is hung up in traffic, I'll be late, it's not for keeping in touch. People who text frequently find themselves feeling more invested than they really are.

Somewhere along the line your development was arrested, I'm guessing at around 14 or 15. It's not unusual, but you've got to get this undercontrol because it will only be more pronounced and more problematic as you get older.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:12 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Alcohol lowers inhibitions. Even the lightest of lightweights I have known only react emotionally after one drink if there is something they are not dealing with when they're sober.

So what are you not dealing with when you're sober? Just not drinking is certainly an option, but it's not going make whatever it is go away, and that thing or those things will just find other ways to come out. Deal with those things so they stop running your life.

p.s. Every person I knew in my 20s who described themselves as "intense" was (in hindsight) a massive ball of anxiety and insecurity.
posted by rtha at 6:20 AM on April 22, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: While I'm taking in everyone's responses, I can't help to feel in awe of everyone's perfect mental states here. Wow, seriously! I got intoxicated, teared up a few, got annoyed that he acted funny..then apologized. What a nutcase, right? Totes proves that my 'development stopped at around 14/15'. (What an incredibly insensitive and ignorant thing to say with absolutely no evidence behind that...)

I do see a counsellor, have gotten out of drug addictions in the past, have quit many unhealthy relationships, gotten an excellent job and am moving out soon, am learning how to gain self esteem and self respect. But nope, all that matters is that I'm overwhelmed easily with my emotions, and that means I'm an emotional nutcase. Thanks, guys!

Oh, and when I call myself intense/emotional, it isn't because I cry a lot or am angry a lot. It's because I talk a lot, expect a lot of energy from people, think too much and am probably a pretty complex person. It's not something I'm proud of, it's something I use to describe myself.
posted by rhythm_queen at 8:26 AM on April 22, 2014

Hmm, maybe you are unconsciously blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault? In the past, sometimes I have gotten emotional or upset for "no reason" and then apologized and felt both embarassed and defensive when someone would suggest that I was creating drama. And I think part of it was not admitting to myself that my emotions were actually ways that my instincts were trying to tell me that something was hurtful, felt wrong, etc. Sometimes a look or a weird joke or comment is enough, if it hits you the right way.

On the first date, why did you think he was just trying to get in your pants? What did he say? What did you know about him before that date? Why did you date him in the first place if you had an initial negative opinion of him? Do you think that about all men who try to date you, or did he so something specific to give you that impression? What did he do on subsequent dates to make you think that he didn't just want to get in your pants, besides holding back on kisses? Maybe even though that made you feel vulnerable (and thus hurt your feelings a bit), it also helped you to realize that he was interested in more than just sex?

In the end, I do agree with posters above that this doesn't seem like a great match, and would encourage you to call an end to it. (You can still think someone is great and have them not be a great match. Future you will thank yourself for keeping your relationship with someone who pushes those buttons of yours short.) If it helps, I thought I was "emotional" and "intense" in relationships too when I was dating someone who wasn't a good fit, and it turns out I wasn't really those things anymore when I started dating someone who didn't draw out those qualities so much.

I would also gently suggest that you consider talking to your counsellor about latent self-esteem issues. Which, for the record, I have too and are common, especially in your 20s, but aren't necessarily productive or the road to happy. Good luck.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:42 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think people have piled on a bit, but I think it's really worth looking closely at the fact that you cry a lot and are angry a lot. I think that can be a good thing, and I'm glad that you're so honest and emotionally open.


Crying and anger are really not things that are strongly correlated to being on a second date with someone.

So. Why were you so angry? Why did you cry?

If it's because this guy was being a dick, well, it's the second date. It's perfectly OK not to see him anymore.

If it's because you overreacted (and, look, we all do, it's OK), you might want to think about how you can modulate your behavior around strangers you are trying to turn into friends, going forward. Because once you're out of school and relying on your own personality to make connections and get the things you want (as opposed to mommy setting up a playdate), you're going to have to learn to make a good first impression.
posted by Sara C. at 8:44 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

What a nutcase, right?

Is that really what you think people are saying or thinking about you? Are you genuinely assuming that because people think it's not, I dunno, usual to cry and/or get angry on multiple dates early in a relationship, after very little alcohol, that A) we think you're nuts and B) we are paragons of mental health?

People are pointing this out because a lot of us have been there, and we realized we didn't have to live there forever, and would like you to not have to live there forever either. There are happier, easier, and less volatile states to live in, where one can still feel and act in a full emotional range but without all that angst controlling you.

All of us are complex people. All of us have emotions. All of us react inappropriately sometimes. I say this with all compassion: These are not the things that make you unique. You are unique in many ways, but being complex, having emotions, and occasionally having them come out in ways that are less than ideal are not among them.
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on April 22, 2014 [14 favorites]

I do see a counsellor, have gotten out of drug addictions in the past, have quit many unhealthy relationships, gotten an excellent job and am moving out soon, am learning how to gain self esteem and self respect. But nope, all that matters is that I'm overwhelmed easily with my emotions, and that means I'm an emotional nutcase. Thanks, guys!

It's interesting that you chose to focus on those things that you identify as attacking you. And that those things have prompted you to respond in what is a pretty sarcastic and nasty way to people (me included) who are trying to help you.

Yes, I am very emotionally put together, and if you want to be, then you might want to actually consider what you are being told:

1. Your emotional outbursts, as you describe them, are inappropriate for the occasion.

2. That you are THIS emotional with this person, indicates that it's not a good match.

It's because I talk a lot, expect a lot of energy from people, think too much and am probably a pretty complex person.

You do realize that you're asking an awful lot from people with this. I talk a lot too. But I try to be mindful that the opposite of talking isn't waiting, and so I try to pause to give others an opportunity to chime in with their thoughts.

As for being a complex person. EVERYONE is complex.

You mention drug addiction in your past, you are young. If the addiction happened in your teen years and early twenties, it's highly likely that you ARE emotionally stunted, based upon the addiction. It's not an insult, it's an observation, based upon what you've written and based upon your follow up.

That's not to say that you don't have agency, you do. You've come here to ask a question because you detect that there's a problem. It's not really the problem that you expected us to help you with.

Some of us are older, we've all been through this, and we didn't have the Ask Metafilter community to rely upon to tell us when our worldview is rather warped.

I congratulate you on overcoming your addiction, on obtaining a good job and on your plans for the future.

I would suggest that you turn down the rhetoric in your responses, and perhaps take in a bit of what we've been saying.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2014 [9 favorites]

Mod note: OP, this is not a discussion thread, please limit follow-ups to adding more information not arguing with people here. Take what is useful to you and leave the rest.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:01 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I believe people are speaking to what you've said, not who you are. If you are wondering what's wrong with this situation, and expressing that you feel you're emoting intensely, and people respond to that... then we're not criticizing you personally, we're discussing behavior you asked us to discuss.

Is it possible you're addicted to intense situations and that you're putting intensity where there need not be any? I've definitely had those points in my life, and shared relationships with others very much based on that intensity. Maybe that is for you! If so, find someone else who shares that intensity. Not this guy.
posted by mikeh at 9:03 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's great that you have a counselor. Have you talked about this stuff with him/her? Does that seem to be helping at all? If not, have you considered finding a new therapist?

I think a lot of people are suggesting therapy not because they think you are a "nutcase" (something no one in the thread actually said) but because they also found it helpful when they were in a similar place. I've been where you are: 22, emotional, really wanting a boyfriend, upset with my body image, etc. etc. You've asked a fair amount of questions here that all sort of seem to center around the same thing, and it's something that we as Internet strangers who aren't having a back-and-forth conversation with you can't really help with - but a therapist can probably help with it.

I don't mean to attack you when I say that therapy is probably your best course of action. Therapy and some time alone. You seem very much to want a boyfriend - but have you tried getting to know yourself and dating yourself a bit? I find that in my life when I "want" a boyfriend that I am often (if not always) using that as a distraction from my inner turmoil. Do you take yourself out on fun dates?

All people are complex, emotional, and occasionally irrational beasts. Feelings are not facts. Something that is helpful for me when I'm experiencing those intense emotions that you describe is I ask myself "What are the facts?" Because if I let my emotions take over, or I let them push me along and dictate how I behave, I end up taking them out on other people. Perhaps when you start feeling intense emotions, particularly in social situations, you could step back and look at the emotion and say to yourself "What are the facts?"

My parents' nickname for me used to be "Emotional" and I've mellowed a lot with age - but it's not really with age, exactly. I've done a lot of work learning about how my emotions work and what they mean and how to handle them. I think that you'll get there, too. This is a rough period but you are learning about yourself and who you are and it will iron out over time and with work.
posted by sockermom at 9:07 AM on April 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I also meant to say that the snarkily-titled book "How to be an adult in relationships" might be a really helpful read for you. It really helped me figure out a lot of things about myself and my interactions with other people, not just in a dating context, but in a life context.
posted by sockermom at 9:09 AM on April 22, 2014

It's also worth noting that you titled the post "vastly differnet yung'uns." If you're vastly different, then you listen, observe, and learn. You don't need to live your life like someone else does, but if you're dating, it can open up whole new worlds in terms of your perspective.

It's easy for personal intensity, and the baggage you bring to a situation, to blind you from noticing that the other person is having a completely different experience than you are. Other people you date will have that going for them, too.

The only difference between "yung'uns" dating and old people dating is age and possible experience. I've known young people who have had amazingly well-balanced relationships. I've known old people who have had the most immature, hot-and-cold, clusterfucks of a relationship.
posted by mikeh at 9:16 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: But nope, all that matters is that I'm overwhelmed easily with my emotions

With all due respect, that is the problem you opened the thread with. That's why people are responding to it:

How do I stop overanalyzing and start having more fun? What can I do to curb my emotions?

You are who you are, and you deserve to date people who are on board with that and don't want to control or change you. But even in this very question, you seem aware that you will need to "check" your emotions (your words) and "curb" your emotions (your words) if you want to continue dating this guy.

And you asked us for ways you can do that--in literally so many words! So we gave those ways to you--therapy, among them. Perhaps the question you meant to ask is not the question you did ask. Or perhaps you were anticipating a vastly different answer.

You say that being "intense" isn't something you're proud of, but it does seem to be how you identify yourself in almost all of your questions here. So I'm sorry -- it probably feels like we're attacking your identity when we are actually just discussing specific behaviors. I feel for you--I remember very clearly being younger and knowing that my actions were...not getting me what I wanted out of interactions, and yet feeling like I'd lose my sense of self if I were more "controlled." This is an internal conflict that I resolved, largely, through therapy. And this is why people are telling you, keep working that therapy.

In this specific situation: you're telling yourself that this guy "can handle my energy and intensity", but you're lying to yourself. He can't. He's TOLD you he can't. You have to listen to what he's actually telling you. Which is, "no."
posted by like_a_friend at 9:55 AM on April 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: You know what, I told you what I wish someone had told me when I was your age. It would have saved me a lot of heartache to have someone (or a few people) simply tell me to my face that my method of dealing with men in relationships was totally inappropriate and not okay. It would have saved me a ton of heartache, because the only men who put up with that kind of thing have abysmally poor judgment or seek to manipulate someone weak. It would have saved me a metric fuckton of embarrassment, too. These kinds of stories and these approaches to relationships do not seem understandable and normal...they are, for most people, uncomfortable and embarrassing to hear. No one who hears this will be likely to recommend you for a job, or introduce you to a cute, nice friend.

Fair or not, the vast, vast majority of people in the world will react like people here have reacted when they hear stories like this. The fact that this seems really abnormal to many people is valuable information for you to have, and I hope you can hear that from us even though it's uncomfortable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:06 AM on April 22, 2014 [12 favorites]

Rhythm queen, I have been reading your AskMefi questions for a year. Obsessing over other people's reactions to you is a way for you to avoid paying attention to you.

You are jumping in deep lakes thinking you will find solid ground to stand on. This is not tenable.

Get thee to a therapist, NOW.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:36 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you believe that seeking therapy is for "emotional nutcases" (an idea and term no one here has used), then I can see how you would take the advice to do that as an insult. And if you believed that, and read through this thread where the overwhelming number of people are telling you you would benefit from therapy, I can see how it feels like an attack.

But seeking therapy IS NOT just for people with "insulting levels" of mental and emotional problems. And considering how many of us have told you we benefited from therapy, have you considered what a roundabout insult that is to us? Also, clearly if many of us are talking about struggling with similar issues we are not claiming perfect mental states.

Trauma during your teen years is a classic way to have parts of your make-up remain stuck at that age range. Addiction and drug abuse are classic ways to deal with trauma. Again, I had some emotional stunting due to trauma during those years, so to act like it's such a horrid insult is really an insult to me, and to many of us here.

I get how hard that all is, I don't talk about any of that with most of the people in my day-to-day. Support for mental issues is shit. And if you are pre-occupied with being cool and popular, any sign of weakness, especially mental, can be devastating. But it's going to be really hard for you to work on these issues if you believe the very fact that they exist is an insult.
posted by Dynex at 11:49 AM on April 22, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: While I'm taking in everyone's responses, I can't help to feel in awe of everyone's perfect mental states here. Wow, seriously! I got intoxicated, teared up a few, got annoyed that he acted funny..then apologized. What a nutcase, right? Totes proves that my 'development stopped at around 14/15'. (What an incredibly insensitive and ignorant thing to say with absolutely no evidence behind that...)

Stop backtracking. You said "weeping" in your original question. It's not our fault that you exaggerated to heighten the Romeo/Juliet drama of your post.

And frankly, getting drunk, "tearing up" and getting angry are weird behaviors on a second date. Sorry. I'm not a perfectly well-adjusted human, but I know how to control my emotions around other people. It's not unattainable goal. It's a basic social skill. That you can learn if you stop being so defensive and using your INTENSITY as your calling card.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I'm sure a lot of people have responded to your response, but I just had to chime in : I most certainly did not say that I am a paragon of mental health. I'm in treatment for a severe mood disorder and a mild presentation of personality disorder. By the way, using nutcase derogatively is highly insensitive. Sure, having emotion disregulation "problems" may not be socially desirable but it can correlate with some positive qualities, like being intense as in highly energetic, seductive and charming, and talking a lot, thinking a lot, etc. almost everyone in my group therapy is charismatic, intelligent, and complex but we've just needed a little extra help regulating our emotions, because we get overwhelmed by them.

Based on your question I'm just calling it as I see it. You don't need to change yourself to be more "socially acceptable" based on what responses to this thread say (and that's a dilemma I have faced many times), but it just might be worthwhile for you to understand that it doesn't have to be so distressing. And if a relationship causes you this much distress this early on, then you owe it to yourself to jump ship - you deserve to have one where the guy treats you well and doesn't claim repeatedly that he can't handle you the way you are. There's a lot of suffering that goes into the question you asked, and I feel for you. Don't treat your own tears and anger as if they're small social faux-pas...they're most likely a sign of something deeper and I think you should acknowledge that. In DBT we learn that if you ignore emotions they make themselves heard however much you want to look away. So that's where my advice came from. But you know, you don't have to trust me, I'm a nutcase :-P
posted by bengalibelle at 2:19 PM on April 22, 2014

Best answer: The thing is that pattern of behavior (attachment anxiety, emotional outbursts, etc) is normal behavior for someone that grew up around addicts/alcoholics and has had abusive relationships. You get acclimated to chaos, anger, fighting, etc as a child and then seek it out as an adult. It's a pattern that literally millions of people get into. And the first step to getting out of the pattern is realizing that life doesn't have to be that way and getting into therapy and working on recognizing and breaking out of that pattern.

You're not going to do it while trying to date people, though, and it's probably already too late with this guy. Either he's another guy that thrives on chaos or he's going to move on pretty quickly. He might actually be an abusive jerk and you might have been right to cry and get angry, but the way you're wired right now, you probably have a hard time telling the difference. For your own sake, you should probably sit on the sidelines for a while and figure out what kind of relationship is genuinely healthy for you, probably with your therapist or counselers help.
posted by empath at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Regardless of your own personal issues, you shouldn't be with someone who makes you cry.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:39 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

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