Not that into someone vs general relationship anxiety
May 26, 2015 11:41 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to sort out my feelings. I can't tell if I am abandoning possible relationships because I am not used to being out of my comfort zone or if I am just not that interested in someone. How do I figure this out?

I have been single for a few years now. My life is pretty full with work and hobbies. I live by myself and am naturally an interovert. I enjoy coming home each evening to peace and quiet to watch movies and TV shows I like. I also enjoy having weekends free to do whatever I want. I am comfortable. But I get lonely and often feel like I would be happier in a relationship.

I have been seeing someone for a month or so. This seems to be a pattern for me. I got excited during initial couple of dates but now I feel like seeing him is an obligation. I don't look forward to dates and miss just having enough time to disconnect and think. I don't think this particular guy is a problem because this happened every time I started dating someone. Here is a list of things that bother me:

-Daily calls=just too much
-Sleeping over = I never get a good night sleep so I end up feeling tired and am not at my best at work.
-Date nights = conversation is kind of draining and I just long for not having to try to be cheerful and interesting
- Expressions of affection = I say them back but they feel fake and empty, like I don't treally think of him/miss him
-Resentment of automatically having to spend most of the weekend with him

This guy is not excessively clingy. We see each other twice a week but with sleep overs. I can see that lot of these things just come with being comfortable with single life and "set in your ways".

In the past, as soon as I end the dating situation, I feel huge releif - like a burden has been lifted. But then few weeks after I start feeling lonely again. I never miss the particular guy, just sort of feel like it would be nice to have someone that is there for you no matter what. Occassionaly I miss having company that friends just don't fill.

I am not sure how to deal with conflicting feelings. I don't want to be old and regret being completely alone.

Should I push through my initial discomfort? On the other hand, maybe if I dated a guy I was REALLY into - I wouldn't feel this way? Occassionaly I met guys that I felt genuinly excited about. Those guys never felt the same way, so my comfort zone was never really threatened.
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (12 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, so I'm basically dating you at the moment. He has a greater need for introvert-recharging time than I do, so in practical terms we skew towards his needs: no sleepovers (same sleeping difficulty as you have), we don't have a specific 'date night' (although for Reasons we do see each other the same day every week; we just don't make a Thing about it), we spend most of our time watching TV or playing video games--not so much draining conversation.

What I'm saying is, if this is a guy you want to keep seeing, it is totally okay for you to set boundaries around what you do and don't like.

You feel like poop after a sleepover? "Hey, I like you. And the thing is, I don't sleep well when there's someone else in the bed; I spend the next day cranky and wooly-headed, and it's starting to affect my performance at work. For the most part, from now on, I can't be doing sleepovers anymore. Maybe on the occasional weekend night so the next day isn't quite as crucial." (And, one way around this; let's say he's at your place. Cuddle on the sofa until bedtime, he sleeps there and you sleep in your bed. Mayyyybe if it's something that works for you, he can wake up five minutes early and climb into bed for a morning snuggle? Everyone gets their needs met this way.)

Date nights are draining? Skip the date nights. Get together when you're both excited to get together. This also handles the automatic weekend thing. You may also find that the time you spend with him is less draining when it's coming from a place of want, and not a place of obligation. "So, Guy, I do like spending time with you. And I really need time by myself as well, and I'm used to being able to be a bit more freewheeling about my time. So while I like making plans with you, I'd really like it if we could take a step back and make plans with each other when we both really really want to, without assuming that the other is automatically free."

Expressions of affection: if you're not feeling them, don't say them. "Dude, I really like you. And being really vocal about affectionate stuff isn't really my thing, you know? So please don't be upset if I don't say things very often."

Daily calls. "I really like talking to you, and every day is starting to feel a bit intrusive into my daily schedule and my 'me time.' I'd like to dial that back a little." And negotiate from there as to what is a comfortable frequency for both of you.

Honestly, it sounds like you're kinda not really into him--whether that's him specifically or your dating pattern I have no idea. Seems to me that it might be worth negotiating your boundaries in a clearer way, and seeing how it goes from there.

Beyond that, maybe it's worth actively looking for someone who is also introverted? There are past Asks that cover this if you feel like searching. Basically it sounds like it would be great for you to be seeing someone who has the same need for alone/free-spirit time that you do.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:27 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I got excited during initial couple of dates but now I feel like seeing him is an obligation.
Occassionaly I met guys that I felt genuinly excited about. Those guys never felt the same way, so my comfort zone was never really threatened.

So, with the guys you are actually dating, are you maybe not really excited about them from the beginning, and maybe talking yourself into seeing them past the first date because of a fear of being alone?
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:33 AM on May 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

I wonder if you're moving too fast with these guys. If it's only been a month and you don't quite feel right expressing affection yet, maybe it's too soon for twice a week sleepovers and spending most of the weekend together. Some people would feel just fine about being that couple-y at the one-month mark, but it doesn't sound like that's working for you. Maybe you're following some script in your head about how you think relationships are supposed to be paced, or you're letting the guys lead you too much. If either is true, it's not so surprising if it sometimes feels like you're going through the motions. You're not acting naturally.

You may well find a guy who shares your introverted tendencies, or you may meet a guy who thrills you so much that you just can't get enough of his company. Both are real possibilities. In the meantime, I'd say honest with this guy. If you want to be with him but it feels like things are going a bit too fast, say so. Maybe he even feels the same way.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:08 AM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I live by myself and am naturally an interovert. I enjoy coming home each evening to peace and quiet to watch movies and TV shows I like. I also enjoy having weekends free to do whatever I want. I am comfortable. But I get lonely and often feel like I would be happier in a relationship.
I am not sure how to deal with conflicting feelings. I don't want to be old and regret being completely alone.
There is a huge gray area between being lonely and sad forever and being in a committed relationship.
posted by deathpanels at 4:39 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of the first pieces of dating advice that my older brother gave was not to talk on the phone too much (or even at all) between dates. That way you're looking forward to seeing the other person and talking with them, and you actually have things to say. To me it sounds like a lot of the problems you are experiencing come right back to the fact that you're talking on the phone too much. Stop doing that. I'd try to steer any phone call he initiates towards organising the next date. Maybe with something like this,

"Oh, man, I'm having such a busy week. Are you still up for [eating burritos] on Friday night? Great! I'm really looking forward to seeing you and hearing about how your week was. I better get back to this project I'm working on. Have to get it finished by the end of the week. See ya!"

It's hard to miss someone if you talk every single day. And missing helps build anticipation before the next date.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:34 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's possible that if you push through, you'll get over these issues (if you really do like this guy).

I was single for a long time before meeting my then-girlfriend, and at first, I could never sleep when she slept over, and I desperately craved my own time and space and looked forward to my nights alone. The sleep thing was fine after a couple months or so, and now I actually sleep better with her here and worse alone. We moved in together after a year or so, and I got over the feeling deprived of me time thing, too. I could still hang out with my other friends, I could still read a book, I could still work out, whatever -- it was more just a question of what I was used to, I think (being alone), and becoming used to something else (being with someone).

On the other hand, it's possible that this guy just isn't it for you. You don't even enjoy talking on your date nights a month in? Are you attracted to him? How is the sex?
posted by J. Wilson at 6:24 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh boy, I could be you. I love being kind of a hermit and I love living alone and when I need to recharge I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't even want to think about anyone. Even my dog knows well enough to just quietly lie on my feet when I want my down time.

Things you need to do:
-date people you actually like
-be HONEST about who you are

This doesn't happen if you're dating people you're actually interested in. You should feel like you want to see them. If you don't, not a good relationship for you.

But when you are dating someone you like, be honest about your need for alone time. If you need to sleep alone, then say so. If you don't feel like saying affectionate things, don't say them! If you feel like you always have to be "on" when you're together and that's why you dread a weekend, then propose that you just spend several hours on the couch together reading. Alone, together. You should be able to comfortably pass quiet downtime together. (The "let's just read" thing is one of my favorite partnered activities. You get the physical closeness but you also get to escape into your own world.) Don't make daily calls if you don't want to. How do you feel about texting? Start texting. I love texting, but I would nope the fuck out of daily phone calls so fast it's not even funny. Basically: advocate for your own personal needs! Get creative in ways you can spend time with someone while still allowing yourself the space you need. Be up front about it so the person you're dating knows that's just who you are.

The only thing on your list that worries me is "Date nights = conversation is kind of draining and I just long for not having to try to be cheerful and interesting." I think this is probably going to be fixed by dating people you're actually interested in, but it might be more of an expectation thing? Like maybe you're worried that if you're not cheerful and interesting the guy won't like you? Then so what? He won't want to date you? I don't see why that would be a problem. Be the person you always are, no veneer, when you go on dates. If the dude is in to you he'll want to see you again because he likes you.

tl;dr Don't try to force yourself into something you're uncomfortable with. If you're dating a guy and he gets bent out of shape because you're not giving him enough time or whatever, then hey--that is not a person you should be dating anyway. Eventually you'll find people who have the same need for alone time/relationship time as you.
posted by phunniemee at 6:50 AM on May 27, 2015 [13 favorites]

I think this is a hump stage unique to dating. Past marriage and living together, it's probably not nearly as bad because you're used to each other and it's less "special" and there's less effort involved making everything perfect.

Short term solution: have him come over to your place instead.

Re: "not excited"- this could mean anything. It could mean "I readjusted my expectations away from dating models" or it could mean "I literally forced myself to go out with someone I'm not at all happy to see or attracted to." I don't buy into this "hold out for someone super exciting!" so much though. I think you should like who you date, be comfortable and happy with them and have good sex. Do you need someone "thrilling" and "amazing" and all that? Nah, that stuff tends to fade in any relationship with enough boring reality anyway. But, shrug, maybe you're really forcing yourself to compromise too much.
posted by quincunx at 7:09 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would think about exploring your introversion and solitude, and decide if being alone is just your natural healthy state. In which case maybe you are part of the small percentage of the population who would be happy just never entering into a serious monogamous pair relationship and never getting married. Or maybe there are deeper anxieties and patterns that you might want to work out which would get you to a place where intimacy and close contact with a partner is more comfortable.

Not everyone is most happy in a serious pair bond! Some people thrive as single unmarried people, and/or are never really happy with the obligations of marriage or a serious relationship. You could read, journal, or go to therapy as ways to think about whether that's you. And of course it's a spectrum, not black or white -- maybe you are looking for someone who you see once a week without a sleepover? And that's all you want, forever?

If you get to the point where you accept that this is the end state for you, and that you aren't looking for closer contact and companionship, it might free you up to plan for how to meet your needs without looking for a serious relationship. Making weekly plans with family, for example, and building a close bond with any nieces and nephews (by blood or friendship). Gathering a group of other single people around you, say with a weekly potluck.
posted by amaire at 10:08 AM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you don't feel it, you don't feel it. Take chances on more physically attractive men.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I dated around for 2 years feeling very similar to you. I tried talking myself into people and just felt crowded and went off them after seeing them a few times. Then I met my significant other and almost 2 years in, I'm excited to see him and I love him more every day.
You're not meeting the right person and that's ok. Don't date if it feels this forced. I think you need to listen to your gut because it sounds like it's telling you the right thing.
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:10 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

In the first month of dating someone, I don't talk affectionately or see them more than once a week. It's still kind of... too early for that. I'm still just getting to know them for the first couple of months. Maybe you're rushing intimacy before you actually feel intimate?
posted by Guinevere at 1:09 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

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