Dating Spock
January 16, 2015 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm head over heels infatuated with a guy who has commitment issues and low emotional IQ. How to proceed without jeopardizing my own needs?

I met an undergrad who is studying math and physics. I immediately became infatuated with him since the summer. He kind of acts like Spock at first impression with talking in monotone and being void of emotions and all. We really started talking since November which gradually led to talking almost everyday and going on dates once or twice a week. We hold hands and kiss. We have sex although he has a very low interest in it.

I found out he has trust and commitment issues. During winter break, he toyed with me to test my reaction by saying stuff like he's apathetic, selfish, and what not. When I was fed up trying to reason with him (yeah I know lol), I stopped talking to him and he apologized a week later saying that he didn't mean what he wrote. He was just testing my reaction because he's afraid that a pretty girl likes him as he doesn't see what's there to like about himself.

So I started to know him as himself since and I fell for him even harder because I saw the more human side of him. I love sending random memes to each other and having somebody to say good night to every night. We share the same humor and talk for hours about controversial topics. I was sure he felt the same.

Anyway, the infatuation got out of hand. I felt really agitated when I'm not with him and disappointed when he doesn't make time for me. I didn't want the infatuation to dictate my actions, but logically looking at the situation, I felt that it was reasonable to ask for reassurance that he likes me back because at this point he's told me that he doesn't know, and to be put higher on his priority.

Basically, he got scared and reverted back to his winter break behavior. That he's apathetic about me and he's too stubborn to compromise because that would put him in an uncomfortable position. He doesn't want to think about me, doesn't want to have the conversation, and other things are a priority right now.

The only time he was vulnerable with a girl was his first girlfriend. She broke his heart and vanished. I tried the whole I'm different, I won't do that to you thing and he didn't buy it because his second girlfriend said the same thing and they didn't work out.

I told him that being hardened is cowardice. That he needs to give this a chance to see where it leads because relationships don't follow the same patterns. He told me he has to think about this later because he has other priorities blah blah blah. I asked him when he'd get back to me and he says he has no idea.

We're going to talk about this again tonight and I need help. I'm not sure if it's entitled to want more attention and assurance, but I'm not too thrilled with the situation now. Maybe I need wait even longer, but it took him 8 months to become a couple with his second girlfriend. Not thrilled about that either. I'm not sure how to deal with somebody with these issues so can somebody enlighten me?
posted by squirtle to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My way of dealing with this would be to walk away. He has low interest in sex, is emotionally closed off, and he plays games.
posted by radioamy at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2015 [72 favorites]


he toyed with me to test my reaction by saying stuff like he's apathetic, selfish, and what not

When people say this to you in a romantic partner context, they are not "toying with you". They are telling you they are not interested in a relationship with you.

It's like low-emotional-IQ guy code for "I'm afraid to break up with you but seriously I want to break up with you."

You deserve better. DTMFA. It's sad that he doesn't have the nerve to say what he wants or do the job himself, but now you know so you know what to do.
posted by Sara C. at 3:46 PM on January 16, 2015 [61 favorites]


It's not "entitled" to want more attention and assurance, but you aren't entitled to get it from him. It doesn't sound like he's in a place where he can offer it. I think you're right, you'd be waiting for a long, long time to get past "not too thrilled" (i.e. forever, more than likely).
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


This sounds like a recipe for misery.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:52 PM on January 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think this is not only a waste of your time, but also that you pushed this far past the point of reasonable. If you were the guy in this situation, you would likely be getting called some nasty things here for pushing this over and over and over.

Yea, on one hand he wont come right out and say he's not interested, but his actions are either communicating that or are just totally tiresome.

I would just never talk to this person again, if i were you.
posted by emptythought at 3:53 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't date people who insist you make them your top priority, but refuse to make you theirs.
posted by kagredon at 3:55 PM on January 16, 2015 [31 favorites]


Don't date people who "test your reaction" by telling you they don't care about you.
posted by jaguar at 3:56 PM on January 16, 2015 [45 favorites]


You can want whatever you want, and you can need whatever you need.

You cannot make him give those things to you. You either accept him the way he is, or you do not. This guy could not be telling you more clearly who he is without taking out a billboard. He does not want a relationship with you.

He told me he has to think about this later because he has other priorities blah blah blah. I asked him when he'd get back to me and he says he has no idea.

Do you not care about his feelings? Is this guy just a scarecrow or a cardboard cutout and you're writing "boyfriend" on his blank face with a Sharpie? He's literally telling you he is not interested and then you're going "okay, but we're together."

I know, because I went through my phase of chasing That Guy, that you think if you just do all the work for both of you that you won't have to go find a real boyfriend, but he will eventually get irritated and change his phone number or fuck someone else in front of you to get you to go away.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


I also went through the phase of chasing the Guy and it didn't work out, and I am so relieved that it didn't! I have a feeling this infatuation will not last... I wouldn't say he is a jerk, but he seems to put himself first and not know how to have a normal relationship.
posted by akita at 4:03 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


He was just testing my reaction because he's afraid that a pretty girl likes him as he doesn't see what's there to like about himself.

You aren't going to convince him out of this perspective, and it's extremely bad juju to date someone who is afraid of you.

That he needs to give this a chance to see where it leads because relationships don't follow the same patterns

Yeah. If you're finding yourself attempting to impose an objective sense of the concept of relationships at the beginning of a relationship you already aren't on the same page. "Webster's Dictionary defines cowardice as..."

I know all of this is probably hard to read, and that sucks, but I believe there's someone out there who has all the things you like about this guy and none of the bad. Long story short: infatuation is not the same as compatibility.
posted by rhizome at 4:03 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a certain reasonable level of effort required to start a new relationship, and this far, far exceeds it. File this guy under "work in excess of reward" and move on.
posted by kythuen at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I'm reading in this is a true lack of respect for you as a person, and a lack of respect for your emotions. Either one would be a deal breaker, but together? I think if you continue to pursue him you are opening yourself up to a lot of heartbreak and emotional misery. I mean, he may have a lot of other great qualities, but those are two huge negative qualities that are very hard to overcome.
posted by mosk at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Response by poster: What confuses me is that he keeps going on dates and doing what couples do this whole time.
posted by squirtle at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2015


Best answer: He's just not that into you. Sorry. It sucks, I know (oh believe me I know), but that's the long and short of it.

He's meh about sex with you, he's emotionally closed off from you, and most importantly--utter dealbreaker for me--he is playing games with you.

Maybe he's damaged, maybe he has issues, and those certainly deserve compassion and understanding. But at the end of the day he is still responsible for his behaviour, and his behaviour is screaming "this is not a guy for you."

So that's the nice, you need to look after you side of the advice.

The more stern side: dude told you he has other priorities and you're trying to dragoon him into staying together. Speaking from sad, bitter experience, you cannot push someone into being with you and have it be healthy in any sense of the word. The sum total of your 'discussion' needs to be "I have realized I am trying to push you into a relationship you don't want. I'm sorry for that, and it's probably best for us to sever all contact. Take care of yourself."

And then block, delete, unfriend. Walk away and think about what it is that is pushing you to try and drag him into something he doesn't want.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2015 [48 favorites]


That basically means he has filed you under "reward far in excess of effort" and is proceeding accordingly.
posted by kythuen at 4:09 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I dated a Spock once. I fell for him hard and pursued him with very little reciprocation or encouragement on his side. I stayed in the strange limbo of a relationship we had developed for many months because I thought he had a low emotional IQ, as you expressed it here. He seemed to have a deep intellectual life, which is what drew me to him, but he was often seemingly apathetic and showed little emotion. He kept going out with me and seemed to enjoy being with me, so I thought to myself, or rather dreamed, that he had feelings for me but struggled to show them or commit fully because he was afraid. In the end I got so frustrated and felt so hurt that I broke up with him and he never called afterwards.

Maybe my experience is different than yours, but it does sound to me like your Spock is very self-absorbed. When I realized that my guy was not afraid but rather was just as indifferent and estranged as he seemed, that he was in fact simply self-absorbed and not a nice guy, I started to break free of my infatuation. Your guy sounds a bit similar to me: immature, uninterested, or unable, to connect with you, and unkind.

Looks like the prevailing opinion here is the same: he's not worth it, and I agree. Two people in a relationship have to meet half way, to be vulnerable together, and perhaps above all, to be a priority in each others' lives. The fact that he told you he has other priorities seems to be the most hurtful thing of all he's done. That's an unkind thing to say and think about anyone who cares about you.
posted by poilkj at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


During winter break, he toyed with me to test my reaction by saying stuff like he's apathetic, selfish, and what not. When I was fed up trying to reason with him (yeah I know lol), I stopped talking to him and he apologized a week later saying that he didn't mean what he wrote. He was just testing my reaction because he's afraid that a pretty girl likes him as he doesn't see what's there to like about himself.

He's manipulative and keeping you on eggshells. He's also telling you there isn't much to like about him. Maybe he's right.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 4:23 PM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Response by poster: Thank you for your insightful comment poikj. Are we dating the same Spock?
posted by squirtle at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I asked him when he'd get back to me and he says he has no idea.

This is everyone I dated in my twenties.

I totally understand the infatuation, the connection, the feeling that you just might be the only woman who understands him - the real him.

What I had to do (and it took a few times. a lot of times.) was to have a good friend of mine tell me my own words back to me as if she was dating someone like this. She'd say "and then he just disappears and I don't know what's going on" and I'd reply, "Why the hell would you put up with that? He's obviously not ready for this and you are!"

Sometimes we need to care for ourselves like we would care for other people.
posted by Merinda at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would guess his other two girlfriends left him because of this kind of behavior. He blames them and can't see he's the only common denominator.
posted by cecic at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I don't think this is going to ever get better. This is who this guy is. You can't change him. Best case scenario, it's still unfulfilling and weird, but just not all the time. Do you really want that? If you can muster up the strength, I'd try to cut off ties so you can move on and get over him eventually. It won't happen overnight, but cutting off contact is really the best way to do it, in my opinion. Or you can try to date him again, but know full well it will be frustrating and unsustainable and you may wish you hadn't put the energy into it. Sometimes you just have to pursue a love interest you know is bad because you can't help yourself. It sucks.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:05 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


What confuses me is that he keeps going on dates and doing what couples do this whole time.

He keeps going on dates with you because he's able to have the good parts of a relationship without doing any of the work.
posted by radioamy at 5:34 PM on January 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


When someone tells you something about themselves, believe it.

Here's what you say to him. "Spock, I think you're a really great guy and I like spending time with you. I wish we were more on the same wavelength. I need someone who puts me on the top of his list of priorities, I need someone who loves sex as much as I do. I need someone who wants to be my boyfriend and I just don't think you're as into it as I am. It's been great, I wish you well."

Then go no contact.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:41 PM on January 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Run. And look for someone who wants to be in a relationship with you. Trust me, save yourself the heartache.
posted by lunastellasol at 5:49 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Give him the same amount of energy he gives you and see how long he wants to stick around. It's usually illuminating!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:59 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you decide to break up, don't be surprised if he goes full on angsty 'But now I miss you'. He might be smart but he sounds like a perfectly average, perfectly predictable jerk.
posted by spunweb at 9:37 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Best answer: People like this tend to keep us hooked in the hope that one day, they'll drop their guard and finally give us the affection and commitment of which we know--we KNOW!--they're actually capable.

Except that we don't know. We've bought into our own story, the one that the indifferent prince or princess will come around in the end, once they finish grad school or get over their ex or deal with that thing they're dealing with. So we keep hoping, and making excuses, and pretending that our needs are getting met.

But there's a cost. The more time we spend trying to interpret ambiguous signals and forget about our needs, the harder it becomes for us to identify how a good relationship actually feels and how to recognize the people who are capable of co-creating it. Because those people, the ones who send clear, consistent signals and make the time to see us and care about meeting our needs? They're busy doing those things with the people who've learned how to do them too.

It can take years to break this pattern and join the second group of people. Do you have those years to spare?
posted by chicainthecity at 12:09 AM on January 17, 2015 [27 favorites]


An anxious person will always set off an avoidant person, and vice versa. The anxious person desires more closeness, so the avoidant person pulls away, which causes the anxious person to ramp up contact levels, which causes the avoidant person to withdraw further, and so on.

This person is not a bad person. They're just a bad person for you. Stop and have a think before trying to enter into another relationship about what it is you want from it; then look for someone who can give you that. Don't yoke yourself to someone who won't give you what you want.
posted by Solomon at 2:05 AM on January 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how to deal with somebody with these issues so can somebody enlighten me

These aren't issues; he's just your standard selfish jerk.

I don't think you need to get together to discuss it. Just break up with him. There's a chance that'll bring out the "I didn't appreciate you, give me another chance" instinct in him, but -- as someone who pursued her fair share of guys like this -- I highly recommend you just walk away. You're not going to miss this guy when you look back at this period in your life.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:30 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


he toyed with me to test my reaction by saying stuff like he's apathetic, selfish, and what not.

If those things were true, would you like him? If what you've seen so far is the "real" him, if there's nothing else secretly in there for you to "discover," is he the guy for you? As a general rule, when people tell you these kinds of things, you should believe them. Either they're true, or they believe it enough that it's a self-fulfilling situation.

he apologized a week later saying that he didn't mean what he wrote.

Oh, the old "I was just testing you" backtrack. What is he, 12? Yes he did, but then he missed you so he changed his story. He wants permission in advance to be apathetic, selfish, and what not, but still have you giving him attention when he wants it.
posted by ctmf at 2:43 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm just going to point to a question I asked a while ago, and say no more.
posted by starcrust at 2:10 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


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