What are the most revealing signs you're not into someone?
April 23, 2016 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Besides the very obvious that leave no space for doubt, I'm mainly talking about those ambivalent situations when you're not quite sure if it's you, them or the timing.

Er...asking for a friend. Let's say this confused friend is dating someone for a few months and the person is great, nothing is wrong with them, they are into her in a very obvious way and they do a lot to show it, but she feels ambivalent and it's not clear if and what is missing. He is very nice and sweet, and has other traits too that she appreciates, which makes her feel guilty and wonder if there's something wrong with her for not falling for him, especially when he goes out of his way to show how he feels about her.

What behaviors in yourself tell you that these ambivalent feelings won't get better with time and you should get out now before you hurt them? Is the mature thing to let go of them, or to accept that you can't always fall in love head over heels at first sight, and sometimes you just have to learn how to love someone great?
posted by ariadne_88 to Human Relations (36 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reading this I wonder if the issue is one of sexual incompatibility. Does she find him attractive? When she goes to kiss him does she think "Yes, definitely more of that" or "Ehhhhh."

In my experience, if you aren't attracted to someone you just aren't. Sure, it can take a couple of dates to get comfortable enough with someone to find out, but it sounds like this couple has known each other for more than a handful of dates. Waiting around to see if you might become attracted to them just leads to more hurt for everyone involved.

Other questions to ask, if I'm off-base and there is a strong mutual attraction: What qualities are important to her? Does he have those qualities? Does she respect him? Does she enjoy being around him, aside from the ambivalence? Do they have common values and interests? Does she feel respected by him (separate issue from feeling liked)?
posted by bunderful at 2:17 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


If date plans get cancelled, is your friend secretly kind of relieved? Does your friend see the other person's name on the caller ID and just not pick up? Does keeping the conversation going seem like a chore? Those have been my revealing signs.

Listen to those feelings if they are there.

The other person can check a lot of boxes and have a lot of traits that you admire, but for whatever reason it just doesn't click. And that's fine. Nothing is wrong with you. Or the other person.

A relationship can be "casual" for awhile if you're both comfortable with your feelings, but if the other person is a lot more intense about the relationship, it is probably best to be honest and end it. There will be hurt, but that is unavoidable.
posted by pantarei70 at 2:19 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


If you're not in love in the early months of a relationship, that's the biggest sign you are wasting your time. If you think about that person all day, can't wait to be with them at night, that's what you want. Ambivalence, I don't think is worth it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:21 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


Do you want to make out with this person and/or touch their butt? If not, you probably never will.

I've heard differing reports on this subject but I don't think it's common to not be attracted to someone physically and then later, after a short time, to find that those feelings have magically emerged because you like them in some other way. You can live your life however you want but accept that if you keep dating this person you may spend five, ten years of your life waiting to feel attraction with someone who just doesn't turn your crank for whatever reason.
posted by deathpanels at 2:21 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


He is very nice and sweet, and has other traits too that she appreciates, which makes her feel guilty and wonder if there's something wrong with her for not falling for him, especially when he goes out of his way to show how he feels about her.

This sort of sounds to me like she is good to him more than he manages to genuinely be to her. He has positive feelings for her and makes sure she knows it. She is kind of meh about the whole thing.

The thing is, love is both a verb and a noun. Loving feelings in one person are typically caused by loving actions by the other. So, basically, what I am hearing is that she treats him well and he tries to skate by on telling her how much he has big feels while failing to actually do good things for her that would get that same big feels reaction out of her.

There are no right or wrong answers here. You leave when it makes sense to you to leave. If you have nothing better to do and this isn't some total fucking disaster and you are still puzzling over it and can't quite decide, that isn't some kind of crime. Sometimes things get better. Sometimes they don't. But what I am hearing here is she treats him well and he really doesn't have anything comparable to offer.

I also suspect he is subtly trying to guilt her into staying and make her feel there would be something morally wrong with dumping him. To me, that suggests he will never be worthy. He will never earn his place. He knows he has found a good thing --for him -- and wants an easy answer and that basically makes him a nice, sweet user.

So, I would start going "Um, what's in it for me? Yanno -- what's my motiviation?" and if he didn't buck up, I would likely move on.
posted by Michele in California at 2:45 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Does she find him attractive? When she goes to kiss him does she think "Yes, definitely more of that" or "Ehhhhh."
Some times she likes it, some times it's ehh, but even when she likes it it's more because of plain physical arousal rather than because of the person.

Does she respect him? Does she enjoy being around him, aside from the ambivalence? Do they have common values and interests? Does she feel respected by him
She's naturally argumentative and she enjoys having intense conversations (they're in the same field, so those topics are definitely of interest to both) but he's more of a "pacifist" who prefers to not get into a debate that might get heated, and that annoys her. They do have common values and interests and in general there is mutual respect, but she feels that she has a "dark side" that he wouldn't comprehend or identify with.

Do you want to make out with this person and/or touch their butt?
It depends. He's constantly showing her physical affection and she feels a bit smothered. But can you resent someone because they want to hug or kiss you a lot? That's fucked up, no?

One more thing that makes her hesitant to end it is that her friends/family think he's so nice and great, and she should give him a chance and not end it prematurely.

If date plans get cancelled, is your friend secretly kind of relieved?
Well she's been talking a lot more about the "importance of independence and being given space in a relationship" lately...
posted by ariadne_88 at 2:46 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


But can you resent someone because they want to hug or kiss you a lot? That's fucked up, no?

You totally can resent that. And, no, it isn't fucked up. People need the amount of affection they need. More is not better unless it is wanted. And if she doesn't want it, no, it is not better and, no, she isn't fucked up for feeling however she feels about that.
posted by Michele in California at 2:48 PM on April 23, 2016 [24 favorites]


Your friend has our permission to politely dump this guy and move on with her life.

Do you want to make out with this person and/or touch their butt?

Thanks deathpanels, for my newest relationship metric!
posted by scrubjay at 2:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [14 favorites]


I also suspect he is subtly trying to guilt her into staying and make her feel there would be something morally wrong with dumping him. To me, that suggests he will never be worthy. He will never earn his place. He knows he has found a good thing --for him -- and wants an easy answer and that basically makes him a nice, sweet user.

I promise I won't show my face again and thread-sit, I really need to address this because it might be onto something. She's picking up on that but so softly that she's not sure if she's making it up. But he does do a lot of nice things for her, he's very supportive, and generally shows his feelings with actions not just words. She can't figure out what is turning her off.
posted by ariadne_88 at 2:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, to me, "nice" and "sweet" but "just not into him" sound like superficially nice in really generic ways, like buying chocolates and flowers on Valentine's because it is the thing people do on Valentine's while having no fucking clue what matters to her in specific. She could be a talking blow up doll, he would buy the exact same chocolates and flowers. It wouldn't vary at all. His niceness is about putting on a show and that isn't how you make an intimate relationship work. Intimate relationships are about knowing exactly, specifically what works for this unique individual and adjusting your actions to line up with what they want and need.

He puts on a good show. The asshole relatives buy that shit. What business is it of theirs who she gets with? Geez.

Your friend should dump this guy and stop introducing boyfriends to the family so much. The family has issues and is interfering with her perfectly good ability to judge for herself what she does or does not like in a guy.
posted by Michele in California at 3:00 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


So he's a nice guy, sex is more about "you're here, let's go" than "you GET here and LET'S GO," opposite conversational styles, ambivalence...

You have my Official Internet Permission to break up with this guy and find one that makes you go WOW YES PLEASE.

I mean, your friend does.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:05 PM on April 23, 2016 [11 favorites]


(Be nice, be gentle but firm about your boundaries, use Miko's script.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:06 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here's Miko's script in case anyone needs it.
posted by zadcat at 3:15 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


But can you resent someone because they want to hug or kiss you a lot? That's fucked up, no?

Michelle in California has already covered this but just to underscore - NO. It is not fucked up. Different people have different thresholds of preference for affection, and that can vary based on circumstances. However, it does make it sound like this just isn't the right guy for her.

One more thing that makes her hesitant to end it is that her friends/family think he's so nice and great, and she should give him a chance and not end it prematurely.

If they think he's so awesome, let them date and marry him. She has already given it a chance.

She has my permission to break up and move on.
posted by bunderful at 3:20 PM on April 23, 2016


even when she likes it it's more because of plain physical arousal rather than because of the person.

Oh my god, please, DT probably decent but not-for-you guy. The heart/crotch complex wants what it wants. Not fair to either of you to keep this going.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:25 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


You never need a justifiable reason to feel off. The feeling is the reason. You don't owe love to someone just because they treat you well. That's the bare minimum for interaction.

Anyway, sometimes very lovable people are unlovable to you. It's a matter of click -- let this one go.

My signs:
+ After a perfectly great, mutually satisfying conversation I think... "Eh."
+ I don't strive to initiate. Coffee dates, kisses, anything.
+ I don't think of them when they're away, and if I do there's a slight feeling of guilt.
+ I feel uneasy at light levels of physical affection, despite being a very handsy person in general.
+ I use generic descriptors like "nice, kind, sweet." I can't think of anything bad to say but I can't think of anything good either.
+ I don't automatically note their special likes or preferences.
posted by fritillary at 3:40 PM on April 23, 2016 [32 favorites]


It's extremely obvious from the way this post is written that your friend already knows they're not in it for the long haul with this person. There are no "signs" to read in oneself: you just know you're not feeling it. They wrote in the post that they aren't that into the person. So... that's the answer. You either are excited about someone or you aren't. Nothing in the post implied even the tiniest bit that your friend really likes their partner and wants to stay together. Everything implies that things are not working out.

Nobody falls head over heels in love after months of dating someone they're not excited about. That's not really how love works. You don't have to feel it right away, but generally you meet someone, you like them, and you're stoked to see more of each other. And that feeling builds, rather than deflates. If your feelings go away, lessen, or become ambivalent, that's the answer. There's no "I was really not attracted to Kristen and then one morning I woke up and we were in love."

Your friend needs to break up with this person and free them up to find someone whose feelings are reciprocated.
posted by Sara C. at 3:56 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


He sounds a bit pushy and smothering in a fake-nice way, she sounds disinterested but guilty, as though she "owes" him just because she doesn't hate him and he's not evil.

If guilt is the main motivating factor for sticking around, then that is "fucked up," as you put it.

Time to move on.
posted by kapers at 4:20 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


As for signs you're not into him, I'd say "not being into him" is a big one. I'm not being glib; I think it's just a matter of realizing it, not trying to rationalize it away, and admitting it.
posted by kapers at 4:24 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


She's naturally argumentative and she enjoys having intense conversations (they're in the same field, so those topics are definitely of interest to both) but he's more of a "pacifist" who prefers to not get into a debate that might get heated, and that annoys her.

This might be a telling point. Some people prefer a domineering partner, or at least a peer. Maybe the way he ducks arguments feels almost submissive to her? I'm kind of pacifistic, except when I'm grouchy, but maybe your friend doesn't respect someone who avoids verbal combat and other kinds of combat. If he can't either best her in an argument or battle her to a draw, she may have a gut feeling that he's not in her league.

Some people are attracted to heartless dicks. If that's what they want, I'm not going to argue. It might be Freudian, or maybe we can blame Charlotte Bronte. It would be different if she had been miserable in previous relationships and wanted to break the pattern.
posted by puddledork at 4:33 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have a really good explanation for why she resents the affection.

Affection in such a relationship is part of the sexual nature of the relationship, thus it is not entirely distinguishable from sex. If he were forcing sex on her while she said "no", we would view that as a terrible crime.

No means no, even when it comes to hugs and kisses. If your friend thinks of it that way, does he still sound "nice"?
posted by Michele in California at 4:39 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you find yourself always walking a few steps ahead of him / away from him. Even when you tell yourself not to.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:16 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think it's his inability to reciprocate via behavior that he's her equal, and that's why she instinctively is not into receiving affection from him (I know that's how I'm tweaked). It just ends up feeling phony (like artificial sweetener) when what you really want is something that feels real. Tell your friend she deserves someone who she can share her 'dark side' with (whether that's black humor, a bit of kink, whatever). Then having to share her space and body with one of these male-creatures won't feel like the chore it is when all they have to offer is 'nice', yet nothing in terms of their ability to navigate the badlands of the soul.
posted by human ecologist at 5:20 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you ask this question...it's not right. Just because he's nice doesn't mean you owe him anything. You both have to feel the same. She doesn't. Done.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


"does she ask others if she's into him or if it's not meant to be?"

the fact that your friend is asking this question of us is a good sign that she's not that into it. if she was into it, she wouldn't be asking other people if she was into it, the world would be screaming "YESSSSSS" all day long at her. that's what love is like.

who cares if the timing is wrong or if it's his fault or hers. tell your friend that she deserves to hear YES coming from her insides.
posted by andreapandrea at 6:15 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


But can you resent someone because they want to hug or kiss you a lot? That's fucked up, no?

Sure you can, and no it's not fucked up. It's totally normal to not want someone you don't like that much to be all up in your personal space. Ergo, you don't like this guy that much.
posted by MsMolly at 6:19 PM on April 23, 2016


One middle-age married man's opinion . . . .Your friend should just go ahead an break up with him, so he can get on with finding someone who loves him back. Your friend doesn't need any more signs of her own disinterest. Speaking personally, there are several women who did me the favor of breaking up with me early and quickly. Of course it hurt, but my life is better for the kindness of a quick and early parting.
posted by ferdydurke at 7:00 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would ask, is it easy to talk to this person? Not merely unobjectionable, but natural?

My experience is that if talking feels good, the sex gets better over time. It seems harder to go the other way.
posted by yarntheory at 7:27 PM on April 23, 2016


The bit that runs through this discussion about how *nice* this guy is calls to mind this wonderful essay by infidelity blogger Chump Lady that focuses on the difference between nice and kind.

a lot of being nice is simply impression management... Kindness isn’t impression management. It’s about empathy. You have to be somewhat selfless to be kind. Kindness responds to people in need. A kind word. An act of kindness. You have to be outwardly focused and connected to others to be kind. Any idiot can do nice. Sustaining it when things get hard is kindness.

I think chumps, like most people, are fooled by nice. We see it as a short-hand for kind — surely this nice person wouldn’t fuck me over? But nice is often just superficial and doesn’t translate to kindness. It’s not enough to act inoffensive — you have to actually not give offense to people and refrain from hurting them. And if you do offend? You have to care, not slather “nice” all over it.


Sounds like the guy in question is nice, but underneath there the gal in question is picking up that he's really not very kind.

Pay attention the dissonance and drop him. It's not worth the mindfuck.
posted by Sublimity at 8:01 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


I went out with a guy who was genuinely nice (none of this secretly guilting stuff, he was a very good person, genuinely).

And it was still okay to dump him, okay? Just because someone is a really good person doesn't mean your friend is obligated to be with him.

Fwiw I felt similar to your friend, that I had a darker side I couldn't safely let out around him. I felt like I was always on my "best behavior" around him, I never got to the stage where I was comfortable just letting go and unleashing the parts of me that aren't so pretty.

So I ended up with someone who is really nice and a genuinely good person, but also capable of bonking me with a pillow when I need it in a way I never trusted the other guy to do, and he ended up married to a really sweet person who is a much better match for him, and we're both fine now.

(also the difference in conflict management styles is not a trivial difference to overlook, okay? John Gottman assigns matching conflict resolution preferences (confront, compromise, or avoid) as fairly significant to long term relationship success. There's nothing wrong with any of the preferences, but a mismatch adds a lot of strain over time, especially between confronters and avoiders.)
posted by Cozybee at 10:15 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


He is very nice and sweet, and has other traits too that she appreciates, which makes her feel guilty and wonder if there's something wrong with her for not falling for him, especially when he goes out of his way to show how he feels about her.

Is it possible that she feels, rightly so, that she is being subtly manipulated here? Is it possible that this guilt is something she is being made to feel, so that the pathway of least resistance leads towards him? Perhaps this niceness and sweetness doesn't actually give much of a person to connect to, and that's why there's no spark, there's no-one there to connect with? Maybe he is just showing her want he thinks she wants to see? Also, why does him displaying affection result in guilt?

If "how he feels about her" is caring, he will go out of his way to do what is needed to make her feel safe, respected, un-pressured. If "how he feels about her" is that he wants to take something from her, he might do things that appear to be gifts but have strings and pressures attached that result in him getting the things he wants to take. How does he really feel about her? The proof is in how much caring he shows towards her emotional state. Are his gifts and affection really about her, or are they about him?

He's constantly showing her physical affection and she feels a bit smothered. But can you resent someone because they want to hug or kiss you a lot? That's fucked up, no?

Notice how her physical boundaries are already being pushed, how she begins to doubt her own right to bodily autonomy? How he is such a nice guy and everyone agrees so why doesn't she just bend and give him what he wants / deserves?

I am not concerned about letting him down in the way that hurts him the least; that's his responsibility. I am really concerned about her well-being and the way things are just easily drifting towards a life with this dude in a way that requires her to deny her right to her own body and her own emotions.

She can't figure out what is turning her off.

I'll say it for her then. This guy is doing manipulative things in order to suck her in and this being turned off feeling is her noticing and fighting back. He doesn't realize he is doing it of course, it's subtle and relatively benign at this point (only some minor boundary violations so far, the kind you would explain away except what?? he's violating your boundaries already???)... and he has all kind of cover from the people around him which makes it very easy to explain away. I encourage her to trust her gut. Do not try to rationalize away those feelings. She does not have to understand why at the moment; she just has to listen to herself.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:40 AM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have linked this before, here on MetaFilter, but it is SUPER IMPORTANT and also the answer to your ... friend's ... question. I urge you to read it.

Dear Sugar - The Truth that Lives There
"There was nothing wrong with my ex-husband. He wasn’t perfect, but he was pretty close. I met him a month after I turned 19 and I married him on a rash and romantic impulse a month before I turned 20. He was passionate and smart and sensitive and handsome and absolutely crazy about me. I was crazy about him too, though not absolutely. He was my best friend; my sweet lover; my guitar-strumming, political rabble-rousing, road-tripping side-kick; the co-proprietor of our vast and eclectic music and literature collection; and daddy to our two darling cats.

"But there was in me an awful thing, from almost the very beginning: a tiny clear voice that would not, not matter what I did, stop saying go."
posted by adrienneleigh at 2:38 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I see no need or reason to denigrate or pick flaws in the man, who sound perfectly nice and sweet, but not your friend's nice and sweet. It doesn't even matter why she's not falling for him as she should be on paper. Suffices that she is not.

For both their sakes, she should let him go so he could find someone who would appreciate him more fully, and find someone she finds more viscerally -- not just superficially -- appealing.

Best of luck.
posted by enlivener at 5:12 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


THIS:

"I also suspect he is subtly trying to guilt her into staying and make her feel there would be something morally wrong with dumping him. To me, that suggests he will never be worthy. He will never earn his place. He knows he has found a good thing --for him -- and wants an easy answer and that basically makes him a nice, sweet user.

I promise I won't show my face again and thread-sit, I really need to address this because it might be onto something. She's picking up on that but so softly that she's not sure if she's making it up. But he does do a lot of nice things for her, he's very supportive, and generally shows his feelings with actions not just words. She can't figure out what is turning her off."

There was a time that I did not trust my gut about someone - I was still deeply grieving my late husband, and thought that I might never be able to move on - but everyone thought a certain guy was just right for me, and a "really nice guy"... mind you, none of them knew him outside of some recreational sports or socially at the pub. It turns out, he was a complete fraud, and stole my entire savings cushion. He caused me years of even worse grief than that of losing my husband, because I was forced to sell my house and move out of the relatively small town I was stuck in at the time. He actually made me think that I was going crazy mad - he tried to manipulate others in the social circle to believe that he didn't owe me anything, and told me outright that I was a total whack job. When I finally followed through and won my case in court years later, he decided it was better to claim bankruptcy than pay me back. We had a signed and witnessed loan agreement.

... so YES, she should listen to that nagging feeling. I knew for myself, but I didn't trust my gut. I should have.
posted by itsflyable at 12:49 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Look, there is a giant conspiracy on the internet telling people to listen to their friends and family. That's probably good advice for lots of people, but that's advice for people who aren't reflective, self-aware and in touch with their own identity and needs. That's a depressingly large percentage of the human race, but are YOU that person? Are you a person who doesn't know yourself?

Friends and family will mind-fuck you. Of course they like him - he's polite around them, reasonably attractive and treats you well. That's all the people around you can know and care about when it comes to your relationships so, yeah, based on the data they have, they are in! But remember, they are judging his worthiness from their data set and through their filters and expectations, not yours. It comes from a loving place - they want this to work out for you - but that's still about what they want, not what you want.

You are the one that has to touch him naked. And listen to him talk. And share your time and life. YOU are the one with the full data set, and if the numbers don't add up, listen to that. You have better data.
posted by amycup at 1:29 PM on April 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


For me it's always been that gut feeling telling me we're not quite clicking. Once I started listening to it, everything changed for me.

And besides, like Ruthless Bunny said, if she's asking these questions they are not going to last. She can give herself permission to say sayonara to the nice guy.

(Oh, and I suspect he's being over-the-top romantic because he knows she's just not that into him. I've had lots of guys pull this with me in the past, and it always turned me off even more. Rubber band theory, am I right?)
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 5:08 PM on April 24, 2016


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