Contact between dates
April 26, 2016 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I've been seeing a great guy. All of his behavior indicates that he's interested in me... except he's almost stopped initiating contact in the past week. I'm anxious as hell about this. I need help figuring out what this could be and how to approach it, if at all.

Disclaimer 1: Yes, I have an anxiety disorder. No, I am not medicated. I think the anxiety makes my feelings worse but I don't think that's the only problem here.

Disclaimer 2: Yes, this is the same guy from my last question, who I spent 11 hours with and felt SUPER OVERWHELMED. Yes, he listened and slowed it down.

I've been seeing this guy for a little over a month. Really, he's great. He's super kind, super funny, doesn't pressure me into doing anything I'm not comfortable with.... I really, really like him. And he has seemingly shown his interest in a variety of unmistakable ways. He took me to a very nice restaurant last Friday but kept where we were going a surprise. We go for hikes. We went for a walk along the river during sunset one night, his idea. We walk around the city together. He holds my hand. If I'm cold he'll take off his jacket and let me wear it; he'll even help me put it on. He's going to buy a bike so we can go on bike rides together (he says he's been thinking about doing this anyway). Last time we were together, we made a list of things we want to do together, a couple of which included taking short trips together. We wrote down thirty things total and figured that if we do one a week we would be done by November. So, I mean, clearly the kid sees [i]something[/i] together.

He told me when we started seeing each other he wanted to keep it "casual". He had just gotten out of a relationship and it was "fresh". Fine. Since then he's said that he wants to work toward a relationship and he's "not sure [his] feelings are casual". Again, fine. As long as he can commit, which I feel like he will, he can take time to sort through his feelings. I'm in no rush.

Here's the problem. For a while we would alternate texting each other. I'd initiate, he'd initiate, etc etc. It made me very happy that we adopted that little system without discussing it. Now, suddenly, in the past week, he's stopped initiating. He's only texted me first once in the past week to confirm plans. He also surprised me with that nice restaurant this past week, and we wrote up that list, so it's not like he seems less interested overall. It's only with texting.

I'm anxious and crabby about it. I really like the damn kid and, for me, a significant drop-off in initiating contact indicates a waning level of interest. This is how it's gone in the past for me. He'll text me back if I contact him, but it takes a while. He indicated on his okc questions that he wants to communicate with a significant other every day.

Obviously no one can discern his intentions for me... but, I mean, does this SEEM alarming? Could it be that he's not a texter and as he gets more comfortable he forces himself to text less? Should I bring it up to him and, if so, how? I'm tempted to text him and say hey, I miss hearing from you between dates! How was your day? But I literally contacted him yesterday, so that may seem needy, and is it better to do it in person? If at all? I've never been in a serious relationship and this is all new to me. Any input is very appreciated.
posted by Amy93 to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Alright so I post this question and check my phone and the damn kid just texted me literally RIGHT AFTER IT POSTS. Keep this in mind when answering. Perhaps tips to manage my seemingly unmanageable anxiety may be in order here.
posted by Amy93 at 5:41 PM on April 26, 2016

I find one of the best ways to handle anxiety is to describe the issue, and then answer myself as if I was advising a friend with the exact same problem, and then follow that advice. It's a form of metacognition, and it helps me separate the sensation of anxiety from the circumstances of it. So what would you tell yourself if you saw what you had posted?
posted by gryftir at 5:55 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Why not ask him?

I find being really honest about my feelings and asking when I'm confused is really refreshing to others. Do this in person or on the phone, not in a text.

"Hey, I noticed that you're not initiating texts with me, what's up with that?"

You don't want to ask because you're afraid he'll say, "Eh, I guess I'm not as interested as I thought I was." And if this is the case, it will suck, but I'd rather know sooner than later.

Usually, it's nothing, and you're obsessing for no good reason. I think it's wise to acknowledge it. "It's just me being anxious."

The more you talk and are honest, the easier relationships become.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 PM on April 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

I don't have advice on mitigating anxiety, but his actions, especially after your update, do not seem alarming to me. It could be that he is not a texter and as he gets comfortable he naturally (not forces) himself to text less. It could be that he was particularly busy or some family crisis came up. To me, actions have always spoken louder than words. Granted, someone could interpret texting as an action, but I do not. The list of things you have done together and the surprise dinner just in the last week mean to me that he is interested in you. More than in the casual way his words in his profile said.

I don't know if he knows you have anxiety tendencies. But, if he doesn't, if it were me, I would mention it. Then it becomes one less thing to worry about.
posted by AugustWest at 6:28 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

QFT: The more you talk and are honest, the easier relationships become.
posted by AugustWest at 6:29 PM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

"Hey, Guy! Lately I've noticed that you're a lot quieter in terms of texting, and that you don't initiate conversations as much. Everything OK?"

If any part of the above seems like an impossible thing to say, that's not great.

If you say that, and he doesn't respond in an honest and open manner, that's really not great.
posted by Sara C. at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

It made me very happy that we adopted that little system without discussing it.

Yes, but that also means that you haven't discussed expectations as to communication frequency/initiation or any of that, and since this is obviously important to you, you should do that!

Don't second-guess his reasons; ask him. If he can't respond in a satisfactory way upon being asked, that is on him. If something's upsetting you and you don't bring it up, that is on you.
posted by destructive cactus at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I have bad news. You can't read his mind. What you can do is try to temper your emotional reaction to not receiving texts from him. Because once that insecurity starts creeping in, it can really do a number on a new relationship. (Source: experience.)

Your question reminds me of myself when I was single - I'd pick up on certain behaviors that cued to me things weren't going to work out, and then i'd explain them away with logic of how, "no - he really does like me because he did/said XYZ." I too suffer from anxiety, but that didn't change the fact that 100% of the time my gut ("he's not into me"), not my head ("but he made plans with me last week"), was right. Seriously. 100%.

Hopefully this isn't the case for you. But I think either way you'll have your answer soon enough. Either he'll step up his game or he'll ghost. (I actually wouldn't advocate talking to him about it at this point. It seems premature to be making demands around level of contact, etc and could come off as overly insecure.)

Either way though, I'll leave you with this: Worrying about it (and researching his OKC profile for clues) definitely won't change his feelings or behavior. And it won't make you feel better either. So, as futile as I know this advice is, try not to dwell. Distract yourself. Realize that he's just a piece of the rich puzzle that is your life and he should consider himself lucky to be a part of it.

Good luck, and I hope things work out!
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 6:55 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Instead of asking him to explain his behavior (and maybe get defensive), you could also simply tell him what you need in terms of communication to feel cared for and secure.

With a month of dating under your belt, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to have a conversation about communication styles and preferences. I have found that it's nice not to spring a relationship conversation on someone, but instead set aside some intentional time. Like ask him out and say, "I'd love to grab some coffee and just talk about us and where we're at and how we're feeling."

Then during this conversation you can bring up communication style. Start by asking him, how often and in what way he likes to communicate with an SO that he's involved with. Then share that you like regular texting, that you like to feel that everyone is pulling equal emotional weight and that there's reciprocity in who initiates, and anything else that's important to you. And then you may have to figure out how to balance your expectations and desires, with his ability to meet them. And vice versa.

These kinds of conversations can feel awkward or uneasy, but they can be huge anxiety relievers. You're not a mind reader. He's not a mind reader. And this way no one has to guess or is left wondering about what the other person wants or is thinking, which is what gets the anxiety wheels spinning.
posted by brookeb at 7:42 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just so you know, I don't have too much anxiety normally. But when I am in this stage of a relationship I am extremely anxious. I analyze every pause, punctuation, or turn of phase. Like, ALL DAY LONG.
This is not who I am normally, so I make it a point to not show this unusual side of me that only comes out very rarely.

I am very careful to be my "normal" self even though it feels a bit like faking. Normally I wouldn't be "needy" and thinking or asking "Why didn't you text this morning?" or "I thought you might call after you got in from being out with the guys", etc.

When I am in the beginning of a relationship I know I am evaluating that person. If someone is being too needy for me, I would back off because that's NOT what I want in a relationship. I would get scared off, for sure.

So I seem to be in the minority about be super truthful about your feelings. If you need a certain level of contact, texting, etc, let that be your guide. If you need LOTS of texting in your relationship, let him know. But if you think this texting thing is just your anxiety about the uncertainty of the new relationship, fake it to make it. Pull back and just take it slow.
posted by ReluctantViking at 7:43 PM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites] told him you felt overwhelmed and to slow it down, so isn't it possible that the less frequent texting is his way of slowing it down and not overwhelming you?
posted by kapers at 8:04 PM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

Clarification: Yes, I told him to slow it down. Yes, we kept doing the alternate texting thing after that happened, which I was perfectly fine with. This is happening a while after that conversation. I've thought about that too, but the fact that it's been as long as it has makes it seem like that's not the cause here.

Answers are very helpful. Keep them coming.
posted by Amy93 at 8:07 PM on April 26, 2016

I just want to point out that the "alternative texting" is a kind of point scoring and is not a healthy relationship tactic. If you want to say hello, say hello. If you want to ask what he thought of GoT, ask what he thought of GoT. If you're wondering what he's up to and why you haven't heard from him, ask him.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:11 PM on April 26, 2016 [15 favorites]

In my experience a slowing down of texting just means he's got things to do when he's not around you, if he's making/confirming plans with you and returning your texts everything's fine.

I've dated guys who texted me all the time and it had no relationship with how serious they were about me, it just indicated they were on their phones a lot. My current bf only has intermittent phone access when he's at work and keeps busy when he's not so our texts are mostly little hellos and making/confirming dates, it's been nearly a year now and we connect most days via text but not always. Also most of his texts/responses to me are hilariously short but that's just how he is with that form of communication and I know if he texts me more than once in a row he's either pocket-texting or something bad's happened, I find it funny instead of anxiety-provoking now. The key part though is that we always know at least roughly when we're getting together next, he's super reliable in terms of making/keeping plans, and our actual time together is great.

If you prefer to get "good morning" or "good night" texts or a once a day check in let him know it'd make you happy, although that contradicts you telling him you wanted to slow down/keep things casual so you might need to explain to him what's going on. If you want to text him, text him, if you want to make plans with him, do that. If he likes you he won't mind, remember you can't really screw that part up if you're acting out of a sincere desire to connect with him but continue being aware of your anxiety.
posted by lafemma at 9:23 PM on April 26, 2016

Nthing that score-keeping is bad and sets a bad precedent. Instead of noticing whose turn it is to do what, check in with yourself by asking yourself how you feel at any given moment. Good? Safe? Still into it?

And the best relationship/life advice I know is "you can't say the wrong thing to the right person, and you can't say the right thing to the wrong person." If you're worried that speaking up will make him lose interest, it's best to find that out now. No point in playing it cool.
posted by witchen at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

"You seem quiet. Everything going okay?" is the right approach, versus "why don't you initiate texts anymore?" Based on what you've said so far, and projecting my own experience with a very considerate relatively frequent texter who sometimes goes quiet, the most likely explanation for why he's not initiating texts is that he's busy/stressed out over something that's taking up more of his attention.
posted by babelfish at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2016

« Older How can I optimize my new wireless listening...   |   My ISP thinks I downloaded GoT, but I didn't.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.