Should I wait, or just give up and go back to my singletude?
February 24, 2015 12:59 AM   Subscribe

I met someone at work a little while ago. I thought he was gorgeous and worked up the courage to say hi. Not only do we have a lot in common, he turns out to be one of the sweetest, most respectful people I've ever dated: very understanding, reliable, actually responsive to calls and texts, accepting, wanted to take things slowly, the works. And then I call him after not hearing from him all weekend, and I get his voicemail. He still hasn't called me back, and I'm wondering if I've done something wrong.

I gave him a summary of my dating history on Friday. Not too much detail, but I did tell him it's been frustrating, partially because I'm not great at reading people. (He does know that one person I dated was much older than me, which he found off-putting. I don't know if this explains his lack of response).
I let him know that I really liked him.
We've been dating for almost three months, and do something every weekend (and often in the middle of the week), but this time, when we hung out before he dropped me off at work, it was 'I should have time, but I'll let you know.' I never heard from him. I called him this morning before I left for work, and got his voicemail; I didn't leave a message.

This is a person who offered to let me use his vacuum cleaner because mine wasn't working last week. This is a person who, when he wasn't feeling up to socializing at an event I'd invited him to, dropped me off at said event and offered to pick me up if I needed it. This is a person who, until now, answers calls from me even if he is busy. This is a person who actually responded to my question about how often he'd prefer to hear from me with 'Don't worry about bothering me. Call me as often as you like.' (I'm so scared of being seen as clingy that I don't contact people I date more often than twice a week.)

Have I been suddenly dumped again? People going suddenly cold on me has happened to me A LOT. Should I give up on this guy?
posted by oogenesis to Human Relations (62 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You're overthinking this. It's only been a few days. Maybe he got busy. Happens all the time. Call him tomorrow and propose a date within the next few days, even if you get his voicemail. That way there's something clearly time-sensitive about the message and it will be hopefully prioritized accordingly.
posted by inturnaround at 1:07 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wait, so you called him this morning and haven't heard back - it hasn't even been 24 hours and you're already freaking out?! Whoa, you need to calm down. He's at work... He's working! He might be in a meeting or busy. Deep breaths. Give him a chance to respond before you assume you've been cast aside like yesterday's news.
posted by Jubey at 1:16 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

Some clarification:

I normally would not freak out after calling someone and not hearing back right away, but if a pattern of communication is in place already, I come to expect that. I have NEVER gotten his voicemail when I call him. Ever. EVER. This is a first for me. He usually responds to me within hours, if not minutes.
He's unemployed. Not to say that means he can't be busy. He often is, but he's never kept me in the dark.
posted by oogenesis at 1:40 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just take it as a datapoint. The next time you talk, I would expect an "oh I'm really sorry I didn't get back to you quickly, I was.... [insert reasonable explanation here]." If that's not the response then yeah he might be cooling things off but that's nothing you did wrong, 3 months is about the point people decide if they want to continue.

Fwiw (projecting my own experiences here) when people say "call me as much as you like" but they're not the one doing the reaching out, the imbalances in the relationship rarely even out over time as they're used to being the ones who receive the calls not make them. He could be the type to be warm at first and then change his mind. If you guys didn't talk all weekend and no reply to your call today then yeah I'd be puzzled too. For sure.

But don't shirk back. Call him again later today or text him "hey did something happen? / what's up?" and address it head on. That's the only way to know for certain, the rest is just guessing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:08 AM on February 24, 2015 [15 favorites]

Yesterday at work my mobile phone sat on my desk all day, looking perfectly normal. At 4:30pm I realized I didn't get the "leaving!" text from my husband, but no big. On the train I couldn't get my daily Bonza puzzle because of no connection. Frustrated, I rebooted my phone and 8 text messages from as early as 8:15am and a voicemail from my bank streamed in.

Call him again, and leave a voicemail. If still nothing, I would knock on his door mid-week and make sure he's not flu-stricken. If he seems fine, then it's time for the exit interview.

I'm sorry, this is so hard.
posted by kimberussell at 3:19 AM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

I don't think it's worth worrying about at this point. Either there's an explanation for it - his phone died? Something important came up? He has terrible food poisoning and can't stop pooping? - or it's over. Worrying about it isn't going to change his mind. Give him another day or so and if you still haven't heard from him, call again. If it turns out that his way of ending things is to ignore your phone calls, he's a jerk and he definitely wasn't worth all this worry.

(You mention that it happens a lot to you that people go cold suddenly, which made me think: do you generally give people a summary of your dating history so early in dating? Do you have a habit of over-sharing? When I first started dating, I made the mistake a couple of times of being too open with the guys I was dating. I thought that I was being honest, but really it just made it seem like I had so much more baggage than I actually have. It scared a couple of guys off. I have since learned that it works much better to let those details come up naturally, rather to unload them on another person who doesn't know me well enough yet.)
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:53 AM on February 24, 2015 [11 favorites]

He could have had a family emergency or some other unexpected life event that he isn't comfortable or prepared to talk about yet. Or he came down with the flu and has been sleeping it off. Stuff happens! It sounds like you are sensitive to this because of the conversation you had on Friday, but you have no reason to think that his slow response has anything to do with that. Give it some time before throwing this guy out the window.
posted by deathpanels at 4:03 AM on February 24, 2015

Life is unpredictable and something may have come up that leaves him unable to get back to you right now. You write that he's a good guy. Good guys don't just abrupt cut things off.

In the future, think of this as a lesson in unpredictability. It sucks if you like routine and knowing exactly how things go down, but life throws curveballs and we all have to hang in there. So, deep breath and wait another 24 hours or so.

It's also a good lesson in maybe taking a step back and count to ten if someone doesn't react the way you had anticipated in your head (I do this all the time). You like behavioural patterns, right? Try to get into a pattern of stepping back and allowing a day or two to pass before you start worrying.
posted by kariebookish at 4:33 AM on February 24, 2015

Trust your gut, this is so common there's actually a name for this phenomenon: ghosting. I'm sorry, if this is what's happening it still sucks, but maybe it'd be comforting to know you're not the only one who's ever experienced this.
posted by Yellow Silver Maple at 4:59 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to be the dissenting voice. You usually do something every weekend, but this weekend when he dropped you off he was completely non-committal and not only did he try to see you, he didn't even contact you, even after he said he would. I wouldn't say give up, necessarily, because that may be jumping the gun, but I do think he has gone cold. I don't think 3 months into a relationship is particularly soon to talk about past relationships, but he could be reading something into it. If that's the case I'd say it's probably his issue.

I'm really sorry. This sucks.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 5:02 AM on February 24, 2015 [18 favorites]

Wait, you didn't even leave a message? How is he even supposed to know you want him to call you back? If someone calls me and doesn't leave a message, I either 1) don't even notice they called because I don't get any special notification when they hang up, or 2) assume that they butt-dialed me and that if they wanted to talk to me, they would have left a message. Or a text or something. A failed communication is not actually a communication.

There's a first time for everything, especially in a three-month relationship. You've got a lot to work out together, and a lot of assumptions/misunderstandings/routines/communication styles to get to mesh. If he's been great so far, don't assume that there isn't possibly a more reasonable explanation--or that "instantly calling back means I like you, also, therefore not instantly calling back means I don't like you" is not the calculus going on in his mind.

But yeah, if it's important to you, do let him know explicitly about the calculus going on in *your* mind when you try to reach out and don't hear back, after an established pattern of more communication. His reaction will tell you a lot--he'll probably either be horrified that he accidentally hurt you and take steps to communicate how/why to bridge the misunderstanding, or he will be dodgy and try to blame you for expecting so much. Pay attention. But don't go in assuming malice--there are still reasonable explanations from what you've said so far.
posted by spelunkingplato at 5:09 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm just curious... you say he dropped you off at a party without attending it with you because he "didn't feel up to socializing?" That's a weird reason. I usually don't feel up to socializing either, but that doesn't mean I'm going to drop of my SO to some party by themselves. Has he ever introduced you to his friends or gone out with you in public where you both got a chance to meet others as a couple?

If not, he may not really be that into you in the first place and may just be hanging onto you as a side dish in case something else doesn't pan out for him.
posted by manderin at 5:14 AM on February 24, 2015

If he really wants you he'll come after You. Don't chase him if he wants to pursue this he'll call you. If he doesn't then you have not wasted time on someone who has another. Good luck and don't settle.
posted by BarcelonaRed at 5:44 AM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

I gave him a summary of my dating history on Friday. Not too much detail, but I did tell him it's been frustrating, partially because I'm not great at reading people. (He does know that one person I dated was much older than me, which he found off-putting. I don't know if this explains his lack of response).
I let him know that I really liked him.

It's possible this talk coincided with a really common point for the "audition" phase of dating to be over and the relationship to go forward or not. You sound like a very decent person so I doubt whether you hit any of the real hot buttons, like people being mean when they talk about their exes. In any case, don't blame yourself if he's decided it was over at the same time you had this talk. There's kind of a schedule to dating and this sort of thing happens. (If indeed it is happening now; you don't know yet.)

Reading between the lines about him-- he's unemployed-- which of course could be for any reason or no reason-- he decides not to attend a function with you. Does he possibly have less tolerance for social things than you? Is he depressed? He may have a different energy level than you and he may be doing you a favor by pulling back, having sensed an incompatibility.
posted by BibiRose at 6:05 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Nobody will be able to tell you what's up in your relationship from reading your question. It's totally possible that he's just not that into you, and he's ghosting on you, or that he's a lousy boyfriend all around. It's also possible that his grandma or phone died, or he was in a car accident and is in the hospital, or any of another million perfectly sound reasons for suddenly being incommunicado for a few days.

The only way to find out is to leave a message, say "Hey I'm worried I haven't heard from you, is everything OK with you?" and then wait to hear back. It's slow and it sucks, but it's really the only way.
posted by Andrhia at 6:06 AM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Well, one thing I can say is: you haven't done anything wrong. You have to be yourself. At the beginning of a relationship you may want to be a little guarded but by three months you can and should start letting your guard down a bit.

Call or text, ask him on a date, see what happens. If he cuts things off and isn't interested anymore it's not your fault. It's ok to be yourself and to talk about yourself.
posted by sockermom at 6:06 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

He's kind of a hermit and really fucking shy, @manderin. I noticed before I started talking to him that he rarely spoke to people at work unless he had to. We've gone out in public numerous times at this point, and he has met one of my friends. I've done my best to let him know that he's not expected to do so that soon and that I'm fine not dragging him to social events. I spend a lot of time alone, and described myself to him as a 'hermit with a social life.' I figured it might be many months before he was comfortable with meeting new people, anyway.

Is three months that early to be talking about this stuff? (I'm horrible at dating.) If so I wasn't aware. I didn't even realize I was oversharing in the past until someone I started dating two years ago (who is now a close friend) told me.
posted by oogenesis at 6:21 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you are doing fine. The process is just generally sucky alot of the time. Nthing not to blame yourself. One more concerned call in a few days sounds perfectly reasonable. Sorry about this.
posted by Captain Chesapeake at 6:58 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

You say you met him at work but then you mention he's unemployed. Was he laid off after you started dating? Did he quit? Was he having problems at work? Are there some deeper issues regarding employment/depression? I can see how that might play into his mindset regarding your relationship.
posted by lydhre at 7:06 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is three months that early to be talking about this stuff? (I'm horrible at dating.)

It depends on what "this stuff" is. If you feel like he bailed because of the talk, then maybe review what you are saying to see if it it sounds unnecessarily off-putting.Can you run what you usually say by a platonic friend and ask how they would react to being told this by someone they were dating? Of course, it may also be that you revealed something that actually makes you and him incompatible. In which case, better now than later.

I do think the work situation may be a big part of this. If he quit or got fired from the place where you both worked, that may be difficult for him.
posted by BibiRose at 7:20 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ask him. Seriously, life is too short to play the waiting game. Call him again, and if he doesn't answer, leave a voicemail saying, "Hey, what's up, I never heard back from you. Is something wrong?"
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:22 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]

First of all, you are who you are, and you shouldn't be ashamed of anything you've done in your past. Personally, I never felt the need to discuss all of my past boyfriends with Husbunny. Why? They may come up in conversation, but the past is past. I only know about his Ex because I knew him when they were breaking up. I've never met her, but they're Facebook friends so I know about her and her husband and her kid and etc.

So if he's decided to break up with you based on this conversation, you're well rid of him.

Now, is it time for you to go completely to pieces? No. Call the man and leave a message. If he doesn't call you back, leave it alone. Keep some dignity.

I'll reiterate, if it was something you said, or if this is just his chicken shit way of ending things, either way, you are well rid of him.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:29 AM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

A sure way to not be horrible at dating is to be honest and yourself and ask someone when you don't understand what they say/do. As Bunny says, if that runs them off then you're better off anyway. It's hard to be emotionally good with that but it's worth the effort and the end result is better than not being yourself. Listen to Ruthless Bunny.
posted by phearlez at 7:39 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

He knows you called and want him to call you back even though you did not leave a voice message (because: supercool 2015 technology + people under 40).

You sound really upset, insecure, and anxious about this. I just read your prior Asks. How's therapy going? Be extra gentle with yourself right now - this is hard territory to navigate sometimes and I know you feel like THIS is the part where you have been burned many times before.

"I gave him a summary of my dating history on Friday... (He does know that one person I dated was much older than me, which he found off-putting. I don't know if this explains his lack of response). I let him know that I really liked him."

Some things to ponder: think about what led to you choosing to share this information with him at this point in time. Why now?

When he judged you for having dated someone older than you in the past -- how did that part of your conversation go down, exactly?

What was the order of events in this conversation? Did you close with something to the effect of "I really like you" AFTER he judged you for your past partner? Just trying to understand what the pattern and tone might be here. In short: I don't think you're necessarily wrong or "overthinking this" for worrying a bit about whether or not the way you are, say, presenting your narrative about your past, etc is having an effect on your relationships with these types of dudes.
posted by hush at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have also realized that no good can come from sharing your experiences about ex's. At best it can be neutral, but I feel like that is rare. One of the most attractive, refreshing things we all love about new relationships is that feeling of *newness* and hopefulness- where, with any luck, both people feel like there is a clean slate and start to develop a mutual desire to make a new history together. You have to reason that, by logical necessity, anyone you are in a relationship with has had every one of their own past relationships fail (unless there was a death), so in revealing history of your own past relationships which failed, you are likely connecting to unpleasant associations and memories that they carry on their side. Maybe much, much further in the future, when you thoroughly know each other, these kinds of things could be good to share; but then you have to think that at that juncture you are both obviously great/solid fixtures in each others lives and what use still would it serve to revisit the past together?

To reiterate what others have said, whether or not this conversation you had with him did or did not play a role in what may be going on right now does not matter. If his feelings were to the same level that yours are, the relationship could absorb whatever little curveballs occur without derailing. Keep a very small window for him to display his interesting and feelings, but pull your own ejection cord and save your dignity if this remains in limbo for much longer.

I am so sorry this is going on for you right now. Remember, they all don't work out until they do, so there is an amazing relationship out there somewhere for you. I know when you are in the middle of it, that is little solace, but keep hope alive and always look forward to the future. Sincere best of luck to you.
posted by incolorinred at 8:15 AM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

He knows you called and want him to call you back even though you did not leave a voice message (because: supercool 2015 technology + people under 40).

Right. Unless he dropped his phone in the toilet, or there was some kind of carrier hiccup, he would know I called.

You sound really upset, insecure, and anxious about this. I just read your prior Asks. How's therapy going? Be extra gentle with yourself right now - this is hard territory to navigate sometimes and I know you feel like THIS is the part where you have been burned many times before.

It was great, but I couldn't afford it and am waiting to save enough to go again.

"I gave him a summary of my dating history on Friday... (He does know that one person I dated was much older than me, which he found off-putting. I don't know if this explains his lack of response). I let him know that I really liked him."

Some things to ponder: think about what led to you choosing to share this information with him at this point in time. Why now?

I realized that I really like this guy, and I want to know more about people I like and for them to find out more about me. It's really that simple for me, and I've shared some things with him that would have been dealbreakers for a lot of people. He's done the same with me.

When he judged you for having dated someone older than you in the past -- how did that part of your conversation go down, exactly?

What was the order of events in this conversation? Did you close with something to the effect of "I really like you" AFTER he judged you for your past partner? Just trying to understand what the pattern and tone might be here.

I said that before I mentioned the older person. He seemed almost disgusted by the idea that I would date someone that much older, so maybe that was the final straw for him. No clue.
posted by oogenesis at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is exactly the reason why I consistently advise people not to rely on comms technology for managing relationships. Texts are worst but phones run a close second.

Any communication that's emotionally important is best done face to face. That way you'll know, instead of letting one of the endless ways that comms tech can fail turn into an opportunity for self-torture.

Track him down and talk to him.
posted by flabdablet at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's going to be hard for us to notice things that you didn't notice because we weren't there. It's up to you as to how you handle this, but keep in mind the decision (to going back to your singletude) may have already been made for you. Another thing to think about: say he does call you back, and apologizes for not contacting you all weekend; is this behavior/reaction acceptable to you, going forward?

I called him this morning before I left for work, and got his voicemail; I didn't leave a message.

If you want to know what happened this weekend, you should definitely ask him. I agree with everyone in the thread saying that people should act according to what they feel and not 'play games'. As for the vacuum, rides, etc: I think that 3 months is still within the 'doing nice things despite not being a nice person' window, if it matters.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Too soon to call.

It could be that he was anticipating something coming up this weekend that would take all his resources but didn't want to talk about it (Like say family visiting or something).

Leave the voicemail message and then make a point of doing something interesting with someone else this weekend. That way you at least have something talk about next time you meet up and at best have a broader social support network.
posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2015

You have a limerance problem. You have strong feelings. You are uncomfortable with them. The rest is a question only he can answer.

I say first, you start a program of acknowledging these feelings and how they make you feel uncomfortable and then let go of them. Here's how it works. Every time you have the anxious doomy feeling, acknowledge it to yourself silently ("I'm having a doom thought moment"). Then let the feeling go and move on to the next thing. It may be 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 hours when you have the feeling again, but just repeat the process, even if you start out doing it every 2 minutes. Eventually it slows down.

Next, you need to understand that this guy is not the only guy in the world. Are you exclusive? If not, I say you do what my friend does, goes out wearing something "off the shoulder" and go and flirt with some men at a mixer or happy hour. Go ahead and even give out a number (unless you are exclusive). You've put a lot of eggs into this basket. Take a couple of them out, it will be lighter and easier to carry.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

I see two options here. One, try to read into his actions and/or guess at what it all means, or, two, ask.
posted by 724A at 11:13 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

"He seemed almost disgusted by the idea that I would date someone that much older"

Disgusted? Ugh. I know everyone is obviously entitled to set their own dealbreakers but seriously? It's gross that he sat in judgment of you over that of all things when you were being vulnerable in an ongoing intimate relationship that felt so safe for you. Frankly, he sounds immature for having such an odd issue with your past. Ok, so that was a very helpful follow-up because I think I'm seeing this more clearly now.

This: "I call him after not hearing from him all weekend [and for the last 3 months you've been hearing from him EVERY weekend], and I get his voicemail. He still hasn't called me back, and I'm wondering if I've done something wrong."

No longer agrees with this: "he turns out to be one of the sweetest, most respectful people I've ever dated: very understanding, reliable, actually responsive to calls and texts, accepting, wanted to take things slowly, the works."

You deserve someone who isn't scandalized and "disgusted" by the completely innocuous and wonderful details of your life, such as the not-shocking-at-all news of you having once dated an older man. I'm sorry. I know you were really excited about this guy and believed you were a true fit. If he ever bothers to get in touch with you again, nobody will fault you for ending things right then and there. In the meantime, remember that you are a worthy person who I'm confident will find a strong, kind, and thrilling partner who, like you, "swims in the deep end of the pool" (to borrow Amy Poehler's parlance.) Big hugs to you.
posted by hush at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]

Judgmental asses. Oh how well I know them. Oh how many I have dated.

This guy is a jerk. You are well rid of him. I don't know specifically what is going on w/r/t this weekend and not returning messages, but his reaction to your disclosure about your prior dating history is just ludicrous. It's not a red flag, it's like a frickin' neon orange flag with flashing lights on the edges.

You need a romantic partner who can accept your imperfections, and here he is being all judgey about something that isn't even a real imperfection, but just a difference between how he would apparently go about his dating life and how you have. People have pasts. Yours doesn't even sound particular unusual. He should go fuck a Barbie doll--plastic, perfect, and soulless--and leave humans alone.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:52 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Your dating history is what it is in terms of the age ranges, personality types, etc. you have dated. It's also in the past. What right has he to be disgusted? Why should your want to change you past if he doesn't approve of it? It is part of what brought you to your present and probably part of what's made you who you currently are in some way or another.

It sounds like you give him a lot of disclaimers/apologies if he is telling you not to worry about bothering him and you're telling him about being bad at reading people and worrying to him about being clingy. It also sounds like the bar for him being a really great guy may not be that high if it includes things like, "actually responds to calls and texts." That is lovely in this day and age but should be more like a given than perceived as a rare and great personality trait. Also it sounds like you are idealizing him a little bit (or a lot) because the part about him letting you borrow his vacuum cleaner and being nice about not wanting to go to your social event and picking you up afterward sounded a little bit like you were rhapsodizing him for doing very ordinary things which was a little confusing.

It's hard not to be neurotic about dating. It's really stressful to like someone a lot and to be trying to figure out whether they like you back. Maybe just keep in mind: 1. It may or may not work out. 2. If it doesn't work out it's not the end of the world. 3. He's not a perfect person or the be all end all of your dating future. And lastly, I should take my own advice here, but -- mellow out and don't be insecure (for your own sake, not to be desirable for him. It might have the side effect of making you more desirable to him, though.)
posted by mermily at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sorry, he's just not that into you.

The Brad Pitt Rule is in effect here. Or rather, the Angelina Jolie Rule.

Imagine that Angelina Jolie has called him and left a voicemail asking to see him. When would he respond? Instantly, of course! Because there would be NO question about his interest, right?

He's not responding to you. Therefore, his interest in you is questionable.

Sorry, it's time for to move on.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:44 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow. Wowwwwwww. I think people are reading WAY too much in to this, and from the way you've written this question i think we have no real way of knowing how disgusting he really was. For all we know, from what you said, this could be an eyebrow raise "wow, i really didn't expect that" sort of thing and everyones just running with it like he's turbo-satan.

Similarly, this is a really short period of time to be freaking out about. I'm generally a prompt replier, but sometimes i miss a call and then get caught up in family stuff/work/whatever and now that i've locked and unlocked my phone it no longer shows up as "OMG U MISSED A CALL" on the main screen and i just forget about it until tomorrow, especially if there wasn't a voicemail.

You really need to not be building this up in to a bigger and bigger snowball until you talk to him again, because you're going to be frontloading a bunch of stress and anguish that is entirely you, and not his fault at all, on to him. And if anything is going to weird him out, it's that, because that's crazymaking stuff and just generally offputting.

If he's been this consistent, it's just a speedbump and something probably happened. Honestly, i don't think you even deserve some "my moms house burned down and the cat died" type of explanation. It's been less than 24 hours. Even very reasonable nice people are not 100% prompt repliers or always available.

At this point there just isn't the info to rule anything bad in either of these situations here. He's not the most judgemental asshole ever, and he's not "ghosting" or pulling away. Less than 24 hours.

There's an element here of yea, it would be nice if he reassured you when you talked again, but almost all of this is anxiety in your own head that you need to deal with because it's way beyond normal.

seriously though, the number of people in here going "if he cared he's response INSTANTLY". what the hell? that is not normal. it's just NOT.
posted by emptythought at 2:48 PM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]

It wasn't until maybe a couple of years ago that I realized I should have been expecting these things from people I dated. To me, they are not ordinary. I also don't talk to people I date about clinginess. I might feel that way, but only my friends know.

I'm used to people standing me up, people who like me but are too shy to do anything about it, and people who are super-mega-into me right away who treat me like the second coming until they realize I'm only human. That's what I'm used to. This guy did none of these things.

I don't know that I'm idealizing him if I enjoy his company and tell him so. I don't meet very many people I like in that way, and that's the case whether I date like crazy or just go with whoever strikes my fancy.
posted by oogenesis at 2:49 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think 3 months is late for ghosting or "not being that into you" advice. It's long enough that you can get to know someone and know how they usually act in situations, and realize they're not acting the way they usually do. I think if he's not responding and you expected him to, it's fair that you'd be upset about. I'm not sure though if it means he wants to end things, and I agree that it's hard to read if he was disgusted by your dating history. I also don't think it's a problem to talk about your dating history, it's not like a first date or something. Hell, I told the person I'm dating all about the last person I dated and how that ended (it wasn't really a dating thing with the new guy at the time, so a little different maybe but) and he didn't seem daunted.

If he doesn't call back by the end of the week. I'd try him again and if he's still avoiding you, move on but that would be a seriously crappy thing for him to do. If he's thinking of breaking up with you, at this point he should do it properly (not getting into modes of communication for that, but "no communication" is not it).
posted by zutalors! at 3:01 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wait a day.

When I had this happen to me before, I had left some stuff over at dude's house. I told him I needed it back, which forced us to meet again and him to acknowledge that yeah he was pretty much being a dick and flaking on me.

If you can come up with an excuse like this, do it. "Hey Nathan, I hate to bug you, but I really need my favorite jacket back. Can I swing by?"

Even the biggest dick in the world will typically give you your stuff back, and give you like, a grunt of closure at that point.

Caveat: you are allowed to do this if you get the disappearing flake act. You are not allowed to do this if he's really truly actually used words to break up with you and you're just trying to get him back.
posted by quincunx at 4:46 PM on February 24, 2015

I disagree with zutalors---3-4 months is actually when the person you're with sort of shows you their true colors/stops trying as much/shows you how well you'll fit into his life/starts managing your expectations.
posted by discopolo at 6:20 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh god this brings back bad memories. I'm very familiar with the Ghost and if I could give my younger self one peice of dating advice it would be: pick up the phone and leave him a fucking message asking what is going on instead of sitting alone in your apartment, trying to be the Cool girl waiting for his call. Life is way too short for that bullshit and you deserve so much better.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2015

Call. Leave a message.

Since he sounds like he's relatively introverted, I would not be surprised if he was just having a bit of an antisocial episode. Even for the people I love I find it hard to reach our for a day or two if I've hit a stressful patch. Talking about your exes might've brought up some bad feeling from his own past which he couldn't really deal with.

But call. CALL. Communicating sensibly can be stressful and difficult. It's still the best thing to do.
posted by solarion at 6:58 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

In fairness to the OP here, if you re-read this Ask you'll note that it's actually been FOUR days now since the OP has heard anything at all from this guy. Four days now since Friday when the guy said in response to her query about when they'd be getting together again: 'I should have time, but I'll let you know.' Four days since she got the "disgusted" vibe from him.

Well, he hasn't let her know, and she hasn't gotten any communications from him at all since then. Nothing all weekend long - which the OP says is definitely a first since they started dating 3 months ago.

So the OP called him this morning, and has not heard back from him yet. That's "less than 24 hours," yes. However. This means he's been going no-contact with her for 4 straight days now. Which, again, is a sudden, drastic change in the overall course of dealing that's been established between these two for the past 3 months. So no, on these facts, the OP is not just anxiously "freaking out" here over nothing. Again, as the OP has said already: "We've been dating for almost three months, and do something every weekend (and often in the middle of the week)." But suddenly he's gone poof for the last 4 days now. The OP is definitely not crazy for assuming something is amiss.
posted by hush at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

But suddenly he's gone poof for the last 4 days now. The OP is definitely not crazy for assuming something is amiss.

Something is very amiss. Contact for the last three months very reliably, then nothing for this weekend?

When you get such a divergence from routine after solid respectful interactions for months, the probability of something genuinely unusual like car accident, misadventure etc goes up in my mental reasoning.

Example series of events:

- You talk about your dating history on Friday. He is put off.

- This makes him feel iffy enough that he doesn't commit to solid plans this weekend. (This could be bad, if he is being unfairly judgemental about your dating history. Or it could be he has unresolved past issues where age difference brings up -bad- associations to him.)

- He thinks he might have a hard time being pleasant around you this weekend, and resolves to probably work on other plans unless he feels better.

- On Sunday he's feeling a little better, and then after lunch he steps out into the street, gets hit by a car, and is taken to hospital.

- You don't get news for some reason - he's unconscious, the paramedics only call family numbers in his phone, the paramedics don't go through his phone at all, etc.

- You're left waiting.

Maybe he went really cold. People get turned off by all sorts of things, and the comments above have nicely illustrated that side. But if you have had -no- contact, that's weird. When things are weird, unlikely becomes a little more likely.

I can't recommend a course of action on this advice; I don't know how much of it is actually applicable (would you get called? how much do car accidents put people out? why did he call off this weekend?).
posted by solarion at 8:22 PM on February 24, 2015

In your shoes, I would pump myself up to make one more call, and leave a message in a neutral-but-generally-cheerful tone saying something like "hey you, just checking in because I haven't heard from you, wanted to make sure you're okay!" If he answers, say basically the same thing.

It's important to be yourself, and be honest about your feelings, but since you don't know what's up, I think you're more likely to hear back from him if you can avoid conveying any of the stewy, fraught anxiety that this kind of situation can inspire. If he's going through a tough time, especially if he's not super social, I can imagine him not feeling up to returning a call when he knows you are WORKED UP AND WAITING. This sounds trite, but now is an AMAZING time to get a new hobby and do it to the complete exclusion of worrying.

Possible reasons you may not have heard back, since I enjoy speculating:
-He actually missed your call somehow, it can happen.
-Legit emergency.
-He enjoys hanging out most weekends, but is getting to the point when he'd like an occasional one to do something else, but doesn't know how to talk about that.
-Anxiety episode.
-He's cooling off. I think three months in that's pretty unlikely, that would be rude and strange. In your shoes I would find the anxiety crushing, but you've gotta remember that there's no magic thing you can say or do to make him like you. You wouldn't even want to if you could. Just keep being your awesome self - hell, get awesomer between now and when you hear from him.
posted by zibra at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I think it's a huge mistake to assume any causation between the dating history talk and the silence. That is your anxiety brain doing its thing.
posted by zibra at 8:29 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I pretty much agree with everyone who thinks he's giving you the ol' silent dump/ghosting treatment. It's out of character for him, you possibly said something to put him off (though sometimes that doesn't even matter and ghosting happens no matter what you did, I think I turned off a guy by leaving a message saying "Tag, you're it" once. Could be ANYTHING), it's been four days, and almost nobody EVER turns out to have been in an accident/completely out of contact.* I'm sorry this happened to you, happens a lot, with anyone and everyone, to the best of us. If he wanted to talk to you, he would have done it by now, especially in this day and age. And anyone who pulls that shit after three months is a cold bastard, in my opinion. Even the most introverty of introverts could manage to text or e-mail you by now if he wanted to.

* I have heard of one verified case of this, ever, and she ended up ditching the injured guy for the non-injured guy she was dating at the same time because injured guy wasn't around because of oh, being in the hospital.

If someone pulls this on me, I leave it on them. If they want to contact me, they can. I've done the last-ditch check-in call and they've all been ignored, and anyone I've ever left it on "you can contact me" status, hasn't. In your case, assume it's over unless you hear back from him. He knows you want to hear back from him, so it's up to him if he still cares to or not.

Unfortunately in my experience, some dudes can just snap and get over you in a second even after lots of dating, and that might have happened here. Again, I'm really sorry this one is probably a loss. (And maybe not mention your dating history unless you have to in the future? Maybe?)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:09 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gave him a call this afternoon, and left a message. Still nothing.

He moved recently, so I don't have his address.

He gets one more call from me (and I'm tempted to make it an angry one, because he already burned a bridge with me by doing this. I'm just burning the other end. 'CAUSE SERIOUSLY, FUCK THIS SHIT. I don't get angry enough with people in my opinion), then I chalk this up to experience, stop dating much younger guys entirely, and move on with my life.

And yeah, I suppose my dating history is one more thing I can't really share with anyone? The longest-lasting sexual relationship I've ever had (in which I was a secondary partner to someone) came out of my sharing almost nothing emotionally, and then when I needed to, I was terrified to do so. I almost don't understand what relationships are for at this point if you can't emotionally lean on the other person sometimes and if people aren't genuinely interested in each other as people.


Thanks for all your advice, everyone.
posted by oogenesis at 10:18 PM on February 24, 2015

And yeah, I suppose my dating history is one more thing I can't really share with anyone?

I wouldn't say that it's something you can't share at all, but I think it's about finding a middle ground. Some details come up naturally, and others don't need to be brought up. But I think it's a bit odd to give someone a summary of your dating history, because it's not something that he necessarily needs to know.

But my views might be a bit more extreme on this than others because my ex was constantly talking about people he'd dated, people he'd had sex with, people who got away, people from his work who liked him etc. all to try to make me jealous. So, now I don't want to hear very much about anyone's exes ever again and I don't feel the need to share very much of my own dating history with anyone because I know how hurtful it could potentially be.

While at the same time each new relationship is a chance for us to get closer to finding someone we're actually compatible with (eg. working out what our dealbreakers are), each relationship is a fresh start. Why sully a fresh start with private details about past people?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:59 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

[A couple of comments deleted. Folks, just give the OP your advice and don't argue with other commenters, please. Oogenesis, sorry for the hurtful situation and I hope this thread has been helpful with your problem, but I just need to note that this thread shouldn't become a sort of ongoing general conversation of various issues. It's fine to post later about other questions that come up.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:01 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seems like he's ghosted you. I'm sorry. That's such an insensitive thing to do.

He gets one more call from me...

Hey, I get the urge to call and tell him off, but I wouldn't. Taking the high road feels pretty good. Considering that he deals with messy feelings by hiding and that wouldn't have bade well for the future, congratulate yourself on having dodged a bullet and treat yourself to something great: rock climbing class, massage, nice bottle of wine, whatever floats your boat.
posted by kinetic at 3:03 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Resist the urge to angry-call him. It will only give him an excuse for his behavior (i.e., see, I knew she was crazy!*). Just drop him, no contact. Maybe he'll think about what a dick he has been.

Don't worry about sharing things about yourself or what rules to follow or when to do what. Play with what feels natural, tell the truth and put yourself first. There are a bajillion people in this world; there's no one way to date. The best you can hope for is to find someone who likes your style and vice versa. I've found that a lot of anxiety and insecurity about the early logisitics of dating a person (like when to call, when to hang out, etc.) means it may not be a natural fit. The best relationships I've had are the ones where the logistical stuff in the beginning is easy, exciting and mutual.

*not to imply you are crazy, just I can easily see this defense going up so that he doesn't have to think about the fact that he was hurtful.
posted by Katine at 5:50 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

He gets one more call from me...

No, don't do that. You won't feel better and he'll just think, I did the right thing, she's being all upset about this all out of proportion. Don't play the angry bitch for some asshole.

This is not the norm. People in your life shouldn't turn shitty. So you may need some introspection about who you are and what kind of person attracts you and to whom you are attracted.

As for not disclosing every detail of your history with someone being some betrayal of who you are...yeah, that's a bullshit fallacy. What has happened in your romantic past doesn't really have any bearing on any current or future relationships. You tell your therapist about your dating disasters, so that you can figure out patterns that are leading you to choose people who ultimately disappoint you. Your dates don't need to know that you have a history of choosing people who ultimately treat you like shit...because what does that say about them?

Fran Liebowitz rightly said, "Spilling your guts is as attractive as it sounds."

Don't spill your guts.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

Chiming in a +1 for the ghost treatment. The reason he hasn't responded is precisely because he's an awkward introvert who has no idea how to gallantly handle his decision not to proceed with a relationship. You've contacted him plenty. My advice is also to stop. Don't wait for him to contact you. It's not about waiting. Just get on with your interests, your passions, and only make room in your life for someone who treats you the way you'd like to be treated. (Assuming you're being reasonable and not a godzilla girlfriend, natch)
posted by lillian.elmtree at 6:21 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Three months is about the time that shit starts to get real. I should know, I asked this question a while back. It's been a while since then, but with the benefit of hindsight (and a successful long term relationship), I'm seeing that for a lot of people, 3 months marks a transition from "I like this person enough to date them" to "I like this person enough to have a RELATIONSHIP with them." With some people you move on to the real relationship phase, and with some people you don't. That's totally OK.

What's not ok is someone being "disgusted" with your past relationship history. I don't think this means that people you date should know all the details of your past relationships and be 100% OK with all of that, but reacting the way he did is unacceptable. I am not for spilling your guts UNLESS something that you are still working through is affecting your current relationship. I spilled my guts to my BF about a past relationship with an older man on the advice of my therapist, because things about that past relationship were bubbling up and affecting my relationship with my BF. He did not react with disgust--which is not to say that he was totally cool with it all--he reacted with empathy and concern on my part and a willingness to talk more and help me work through the emotions attached to that relationship. His reaction did wind up being a litmus test for the relationship--if he'd been disgusted, I probably would have not wanted to be with someone who would have responded that way.

Anyway, I know it's rough--I've been there a lot myself. But in the grand scheme of things, 3 months is not a long period of time, but it is just long enough for someone to reveal who they are. Listen when they tell you.
posted by Fuego at 10:52 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

He gets one more call from me (and I'm tempted to make it an angry one

Don't do that - it would make it, what, the third time since he went silent? If he's ghosted, and has suddenly just 'switched off' because he's just over you, this will validate the shitty way in which he's treated you. Hold on to your dignity and self-respect. Remind yourself he isn't better than you just because he walked away from you - ask me how I know this is the case.

The longest-lasting sexual relationship I've ever had (in which I was a secondary partner to someone)...

Secondary partner to someone? Does this mean the last person you were with was married, or in some way attached to someone else? If this is the case, you may need to evaluate what it is that's drawing you to such relationships, and perhaps figure out how to have healthier ones in which your needs are prioritized, and met. Also, Ruthless Bunny is right - don't spill your guts, especially if it was a primarily sexual "relationship".

...came out of my sharing almost nothing emotionally, and then when I needed to, I was terrified to do so

If I'm understanding this correctly, your longest sexual relationship was the result of you being emotionally distant? That's not healthy if you're looking for a nurturing, honest, long-lasting adult relationship. Also, and I'm not sure if you did this or not, but in general... at the three-month mark, this is not the sort of emotional baggage you unload on someone. It may not tip the scales in your favor. Overall, it seems like you do have some things to work through with regard to relationships, and perhaps it would be a good idea to take a break from dating for a while. There's a lot of chumps and assholes and broken people out there, and weeding through the pile can be emotionally draining if you aren't in a good space yourself. Again, ask me how I know this. Learning to be emotionally open is a very different thing from unloading a whole lot of baggage on someone you've just met. This may not have been the conversation you had with him, but (outside of his boorish behavior) it's totally fine if someone feels that they would not be compatible with you based on your dating history, if it raises red flags for them. I've walked away from such situations, although I've never broken up with someone in such a thoughtless way.

stop dating much younger guys entirely

Someone you dated was a lot older than you (was this the same guy you were a secondary partner to?), and now this guy is a lot younger than you. You say he found this off-putting, and while that's none of his business, it's possible that there's something about the way you date and who you date that he may have found off-putting, not just the fact that someone you dated was a lot older. It doesn't justify his behavior, however.

It sucks that you're going through this situation. Take comfort in the fact that it's happened to many, many women before you, and will continue to happen to women after you. There's a lot of really inconsiderate people out there. Work on being an emotionally healthy you, and don't let these trifling idiots bring out your insecurities. Leave this one be, and move on.
posted by Everydayville at 11:11 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

An update:

@everydayville, I'm polyamorous (or at least open to it. I've had poly and mono relationships. No real preference either way). I was someone's secondary partner for a while. I didn't share my anxiety or depression with him, and I was absolutely terrified to, but I did share my love and my cooking. We're still friends.

He called me back today, and explained what happened. He had, indeed, been really busy all weekend with family errands and didn't have access to his phone. I didn't explode on him (I was raised by a highly volatile woman, and I do my level best not to emulate her, sometimes to my detriment).

Thank you again for your patience and your advice, everyone. I think it's time to reacquaint myself with my therapist. I can't afford not to see her.
posted by oogenesis at 12:54 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

"he already burned a bridge with me by doing this... then I chalk this up to experience, stop dating much younger guys entirely, and move on with my life." I hope this update also means you're moving on then? Hells yes, he burned a bridge alright. Kudos to you for not exploding on him.

"He had, indeed, been really busy all weekend with family errands and didn't have access to his phone." Translation: he did not care about your feelings enough to send even a quick text to that effect on, say, his own phone, or a family member's phone Friday or Saturday or even Sunday before going no-contact for four days. Nobody is that "busy" and unconnected suddenly out of nowhere. This is about priorities and you aren't one. Makes you wonder - if you had not called him twice in the last 2 days, when would he have ever contacted you again? And from the jump: if you had not "worked up the courage to say hi" at work, would you have ever even had this relationship in the first place? This reads like you had to do most of the emotional work in this relationship, and that can feel really lopsided and awful. You deserve far better than that.

"He moved recently, so I don't have his address." What? He has not shared where he living -- that's 100% incompatible with true intimacy.

It's also telling that you had a really crucial, self-revelatory conversation together on Friday, in which you got a "disgusted" vibe from him, and then suddenly he went incommunicado, claiming to have never been around anyone's phones "all weekend." (So what's his excuse then for not caring enough to reach out to you all day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday? Wait, no, his words do not even really matter because his ACTIONS are so deafening.)

If he cared, he would have. Men who run hot and cold like this are not worth your time. You're an amazing person (I've read all your Asks and I truly think you rock)-- please don't give dudes like this second chances. Please don't let them take up time or attention, instead put that time and effort into yourself. Therapy, yes! Because we pretty much all need it, not that there is anything wrong with you that led to this particular outcome. You are well rid of him.

"Chalking this up to experience" as you say is a good thing-- and crucially: practice the skill of not finding half-assed convenient excuses like Sudden Phone Loss Immediately Following Vulnerable Conversation Syndrome attractive. If, less than 6 months in, the relationship ever makes you feel anxious enough to write AskMe, judged for your past, or worried you've done something wrong because he's not calling... next!
posted by hush at 8:17 AM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

"He had, indeed, been really busy all weekend with family errands and didn't have access to his phone."

This kind of thing happens, though motivated people almost always find a way around it. When it happens after an ambivalent "we'll see" send-off without an accompanying "but I am committed to doing some things with my family so I may be a lot less available" it's almost certainly some bullshit, or at least an indicator that someone isn't treating you like an equal. When shit looks shady it's usually because it is.

Set your priorities and your deal-breakers where you like, but don't let someone shine you on about it.
posted by phearlez at 10:36 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't necessarily bin this guy right off the bat, unless you had made that decision already, but i absolutely think it's time to have a "hey, you did this right after we had this conversation in which i made myself vulnerable that was really awkward and stuff, that was terrible timing and it made me feel like shit, what's up?" conversation.

If his answers are anything but awesome, then yea, screw that.

I'm a bit sympathetic to the family black hole thing, and i think he might not have even realized the timing after that conversation because he might not have seen that conversation as a big deal at all(referencing back to the deal about how we have no idea what the meaning of "disgusted" is here).

I don't know, this just seems like a weird thing to break up over or draw a giant conclusion from if everything else has been as great as you described. Unless you were already getting weird vibes, or just kind of wanted to anyways and needed a legit reason... i just don't really get it.

It's weird behavior, but it's not outright fuckhead asshole behavior on its own unless it comes with a really stupid explanation. I would at least want to express my feelings, and see what the other person had to say if i was in your shoes.
posted by emptythought at 3:52 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh and to be clear, most of the reason i want you to ask for clarification here is because people who do weird shit like this often have hilariously transparent bullshit answers. If he is full of shit, it will become painfully obvious, and that will be good closure. If he's not, well then who knows. I'd still want to know though.

Being completely drained from the shittiness of family and just not wanting to talk to anyone is a legitimate thing, though.
posted by emptythought at 3:54 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

A final update:

It's been almost three weeks since I last heard from him, and two since I last contacted him. Calling him the last time made me so physically sick with anxiety that I almost left work that evening early. I HATE feeling like I'm bothering people as it is and I often feel that way when I call someone. If I call and keep getting a person's voicemail, or if I text and they don't reply at some point, I end up assuming they want nothing to do with me. Some of my friends do this and I struggle with whether to let them know that this isn't okay for me. On top of feeling like he hates me over what I told him, I can't deal with this. I'm not calling him again -- my sanity and my ability to function at work depends on it.

I don't think I'll be taking another year-long break from dating, though. I've learned a lot more now from this about how to share myself with people, and that I should try to find out if someone even wants to hear this shit before telling him/her (I didn't here, just told him in advance that I wanted to talk about something. He reminded me about it when we met up). Thanks, everyone, for your support and suggestions.

@hush: I am only very rarely asked out by people I actually like, so I have to ask them myself. If I waited to be asked out, I would have had very little dating experience and even less hope that I would find someone someday.
posted by oogenesis at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2015

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