Relationship weirdness
June 25, 2015 6:47 AM   Subscribe

This is a clear case of DTMFA ... right?

Hey gang,

I'll try to make this as brief as I can. A few months ago, a guy I have been friends with for a long time (around five years) sent me an email basically saying he has always wanted to ask me out and how do I feel about that? The kicker is that he moved to a different city last September. I am certainly wary of long-distance, but I admit that I was intrigued by the unusual nature of this overture and we started talking on the phone once a week. (He hates texting and does not have a smartphone.) He is a quality human - generous, kind, funny in a dry way, and very cute. I already knew these things.
Another important wrinkle is that he's a bit more religious than I am (both Jewish), which is something that seems to concern him more than me, but is definitely a thing.
We've now met up three different times, each time kind of escalating the level of intimacy - the last time, a few weeks ago, I stayed with him in his city and there were sexytimes, which were very nice. Around this time, we agreed we are "dating."
However, the whole time I've felt a kind of emotional detachment and difficulty expressing feelings verbally. I've kind of chalked it up to being kind of emotionally clueless but I'd started to feel kind of frustrated by it. Last night on the phone, it kind of came to a head when I suggested that maybe we talk more than once a week, or that we could expand to other media. He said something along the lines of "I should feel excited by that suggestion, but I don't." This led to a Pandora's box of a conversation where he expressed further frustrations with our religious differences. He also said that he wasn't sure he wanted us to visit again without talking through some of that stuff more. The only take-away I got was "I'm not really sure why I feel this way but I'm not that excited about it." I think then I began to realize that maybe this guy just, well, isn't that into me. Despite the visits and the signals he has been sending that he is interested and the reassurance that he wants to keep dating, he also seems maybe not as emotionally invested as I am or something, and of course, being told that he doesn't really want to talk to me more or see more is hurtful. (What is dating if not that?) Maybe he's not sure what he wants, but right now he's just throwing the burden of sorting that out onto my shoulders, which doesn't feel great. I wanted to sleep on this a bit, but it still feels shitty this morning.

MeFi, there's nothing else for me to do here but walk away, right? I know what real love and real commitment is, and I have too much self-respect to linger around waiting for a dude who either doesn't seem to like me that much or seems really confused about something kind of basic to a relationship. Especially a long-distance one, which might be a terrible idea anyway, but is really a terrible idea in these circumstances. Is it worth having one more conversation, or is this DTMFA?

Thanks, as always. :)
posted by bookgirl18 to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't get what you need from a relationship out of this arrangement. And you're not going to.
posted by grouse at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]

He may not be that into you. But you clearly aren't that into him, which is more important.

Dump The Reasonably Nice Guy Who's A Bad Fit Already
posted by French Fry at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2015 [51 favorites]

It sounds like it's not a love match. Let it go before you get more invested.
posted by amro at 7:00 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Neither of you is really that into the other. Frankly, if he were, he wouldn't have waited until he moved away to ask you out. In addition, long-distance is shitty, but I think it's especially shitty to be starting out a romantic relationship, or when there's no end-date in sight, both of which appear to be true here.

This isn't the right dating situation for you.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:01 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's DTMFA, because I don't think he's a MF and there's not a long enough history to deserve the A, but yes, you should move on. He's not filling your life with joy and happiness, so move on and find someone who will.

It shouldn't have to be this hard, this early.
posted by twirlypen at 7:02 AM on June 25, 2015 [11 favorites]

I am also not happy (with him) that things are going downhill after fun sexytimes. Things should be going better after that! (in my opinion)

I guess you could work it out, especially if both parties want to put in the effort... but.... meh?
posted by Jacen at 7:05 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

He said something along the lines of "I should feel excited by that suggestion, but I don't." This led to a Pandora's box of a conversation where he expressed further frustrations with our religious differences. He also said that he wasn't sure he wanted us to visit again without talking through some of that stuff more.

Eww no. This guy sounds really shitty. He sounds like he feels he has few other options so he's grudgingly willing to keep things going with you, but he's not even willing to give enough to expand your conversations to more than once a week. Fuck that.
posted by jayder at 7:11 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

To me, the red flag here is the divergent levels of religious interest. He sounds like he is going to insist on a certain level of religious commitment that you are not particularly keen to give. My best (female) friend married a man who kept escalating his religious commitment. He insisted the home be kosher after spending the first year or so of their marriage eating lobster and bacon. He insisted on lighting the candles every Friday night. None of this is unreasonable, unless it is. I would be concerned with the emotional part, but I would first work out the religious part. Sure, the easy way is to walk away now, but I see working on it for a little while longer as a reasonable path too.
posted by AugustWest at 7:11 AM on June 25, 2015

"Hey, I hope you find what you're looking for, but I don't think this is a good fit for either of us. Have a nice life."
posted by inturnaround at 7:12 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

You don't mention *how* much more Jewish he is than you, but if it's leaning into orthodox, my bet is that he wanted to have sex with you and now feels guilty about it as a way of repairing his image of himself after "sinning."

I'm saying this as a Jewish person by the way - this "do something I want and then feel guilty about it" is a kind of neurotic quirk that I find both endearing and a PITA. If you're going to move forward with a relationship, it can likely only happen if he deals with his issue about whether he's religious enough, or if you decide to become more orthodox.
posted by jasper411 at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

My take is he is looking for wife candidates and you seemed like a possibility. He gave it a tentative go with you and when he realized you weren't willing to meet him on the religious aspect, he decided he would keep it casual or break up rather than invest more in a relationship that, from his perspective, has no long-term potential.
posted by Dragonness at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is why you date and don't draw up a marriage contract the first time you get together with someone. You're looking for a fit, and this wasn't it, and you both seem to know it. No harm (maybe a little sadness), no foul, find new people and be happy!
posted by xingcat at 7:24 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you both tried on the relationship for size & it doesn't quite fit right. It doesn't make either of you bad or your time wasted as now you have learned a little more about what you both do & don't want. It sounds like he is looking for wife candidates. I suspect this might be a better friendship than a "relationship".
posted by wwax at 7:25 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: ... Not to threadsit too much, but I should clarify that yes, I know he is looking for wife candidates and the religion is a hurdle - he's been really upfront about that and has said that that is one of the reasons he didn't ask me out when we lived in the same place. I am not (necessarily) opposed to becoming more Orthodox - I'm pretty observant myself (keep kosher, go to synagogue pretty much every week) and I've kept Shabbat in a past life, so I'm familiar with how it works. But I think what I am envisioning is more "I think you're really great, so I'd like to sort out the religion piece, here's what I need from you, how does that sound?" I'm not going to become more Orthodox overnight. I'd consider meeting him halfway if he made me feel more appreciated and valued on my own. Which may be the reverse order of the way he needs to do things, but I think that's where I'm coming from.
(Carry on, y'all are the best.)
posted by bookgirl18 at 7:46 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I were in your shoes, I think what would make me feel confused and hesitant is the disconnect you're experiencing between his words and his actions. His first approach was so bold and forthright, and now he's behaving very differently. That disconnect is telling, and I would hesitate to get involved further. Like you said, long distance is something to be wary of, and that's in the best possible case, where both parties are enthusiastic.
posted by minervous at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

If you still want him, and believe that "love is a battlefield" then here is a tactic to turn things around: write to him and tell him that you feel that he took things too quickly with you physically without the right amount of emotional commitment, and that while you are willing to meet again, it won't be until you've had several more phone conversations so you can get to know each other without the physical being a distraction.

While this is a bit of a religious angle to take, you can be honest about your actual religious inclination during those conversations, and iron it out. I feel like this isn't standard askme advice, but it's my advice nonetheless...
posted by cacao at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, so you've got three hurdles to cross before you can have a mutually-satisfying relationship with this guy:

1-the distance between you
2-the lackluster emotional investment
3-flavors of religion

#1 doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon, which is meh. #2 is a problem both of you are experiencing; you're both meh and neither one of you have much skin in the game. Which might be solely because of #1 and #3. But #3 isn't going to change until #2 changes, and #2 won't change until #1 and #3 change.

You see the problem here, I'm sure.

He wants someone who is not you. You could maybe shoehorn yourself into being the person he wants — into a woman who's okay with weekly conversations with a guy who doesn't want to be closer to you emotionally or physically until you also become more orthodox, then maybe you might qualify as a wife candidate — but why on earth would you want to do that to yourself?

This just isn't a good fit. That doesn't make him a bad person: he's got every right to want what he wants. It doesn't make you a bad person for not being willing to accommodate him; you have every right to want what you want, too. Sure, every relationship requires compromise, but differences in flavors of some religions (even when it's the same religion!) are not comparable to differences of opinion about the One True Way To Load The Dishwasher. (Knife points go down, goddamnit!)

Unless you live in McMurdo Station or some other desolate place, I bet there are other men, who live close to you, who will want you just as you are, and want more of you than a weekly phone call. Go find those dudes.
posted by culfinglin at 8:31 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want to stick around, cool...but you have to make it clear to him that you need him to be clear with himself and you what he wants. If what he wants is reasonable to you, then yay. If not, then move on.

Bottom line is that it's always shitty when someone says they didn't feel as enthusiastic about you as you did about them and they don't want to spend more time with you. He's gotta be the one to state what he wants. If he can't articulate it, then your relationship is, functionally, over. Move on.
posted by inturnaround at 8:31 AM on June 25, 2015

Not jewish, but religious -- in a situation with religious differences, the more religious person almost ALWAYS sees the situation as a bigger deal than the lesser. Let's take kosher foods as an example. For me, a pepperoni pizza is just lunch. I can't even remember if I had any last week. I listened to a podcast last week where a man talks about eating a mushroom pizza that may or may not have been kosher (he was very hungry and he let someone else buy it so he wouldn't know - rabbinical loophole time!). This was 15 years ago, he's 30 now, and not even that religious anymore, and he remembers it like it was yesterday.

So agreed that he doesn't sound like a MF, but it's probably time to go.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:42 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know he is looking for wife candidates and the religion is a hurdle - he's been really upfront about that and has said that that is one of the reasons he didn't ask me out when we lived in the same place.

Wow. This is all kinds of messed up. This is why he didn't ask you out when you lived in the same city... but for some reason he decided to ask you out when you're separated by hundreds of miles?

That makes no sense.

It sounds to me like he is lonely in his new city, and you are (I hate to say this) the victim of his desperate attempt to have some female companionship?

DTMFA and move on.
posted by jayder at 8:42 AM on June 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

Really, if you love someone, you want to be with them, and you make it happen.

People complicate this -- endlessly -- but it really is that easy. If it isn't that easy, move on.
posted by argybarg at 8:51 AM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't know if this is just me or what, because everyone else seems to think he's such a nice guy, but this whole scenario of him burdening you with his long-held feelings after you were no longer in the same city, sleeping with you, and THEN deciding you're not religious enough (after he slept with you!!) just smacks of double standards, passive Nice Guy syndrome, viewing women as magical objects through which men discover themselves, and general shittiness to me.

Shrug. I'd be a little more weirded out and angrier if it was me.
posted by quincunx at 8:56 AM on June 25, 2015 [36 favorites]

It sounds like you have a really good head on your shoulders.

Yes, the getting involved with you only after moving and then telling you you're not religious enough for him after sleeping with you is rather strange.

Sounds like he's sorting out what he wants. Look at him sort. Just sortin' it out there.

If you aren't having fun with things as they are, move on. Find someone sexy in your own city.
posted by Pearl928 at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sounds like he is looking to get married, and the only thing he knows for sure is that he's not looking to marry you. So this relationship has an expiration date on it already.

Religious differences and how to get around them is something you add into the state of the relationship talks when you know you want to be together and you're trying to figure out how to make it work - otherwise, I suspect he's just dangling in front of you the reason he's planning to use when he dumps you so he can tell himself it won't take you by surprise later. It's entirely possible that these differences aren't significant to you and where you want to be religiously yourself - but in a different relationship, with a different man.

Not sure what you are getting out of this. From my reading of your description, he's a FWB pretending to be a boyfriend while he sorts out his new life in his new location.
posted by Mchelly at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2015

"I should feel excited by that suggestion, but I don't."

Wow, this line could have come straight out of a Woody Allen movie from the 70's. Like a cartoonish level of neurotic/entitled/disrespectful Jewish guy mishegas. This guy is garbage and the things he's said and done about sex, religion, and keeping you at arms length indicate that he's got some major issues with women kicking around. Ditch this misogynist frum creep and find a nice Jewish boy (if that's important to you) who won't lay a fucking guilt trip on you for not liking you enough to want to talk to you more than once a week.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:53 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

It seems this liaison hasn't been a total disaster and has had some decent elements to it, but now it has run its course (not a particularly long course) and I hope you can politely agree that the chemistry isn't there and call it a day before drama kicks in.
posted by intensitymultiply at 1:34 PM on June 25, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. I am sad, and mad. And, perhaps worst of all, mourning the loss of a friendship too. I am pretty emotionally invested (that happens to me after sexytimes, as expected) - so I guess better to pull out now before it gets worse. Thanks for your stellar advice, as usual.
posted by bookgirl18 at 4:50 PM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

« Older Where to watch a Women's World Cup game in Toronto...   |   Hotel recommendations in SF for a romantic getaway... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.