Is he not asking me out more because he is laid back or not into me?
May 8, 2016 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I am still seeing the guy I posted about previously. But am I a convenience girl or does he genuinely like me?

Met a guy online & he asked to meet after a few days. I was very keen and we did but now we are in this pattern where I feel I have to nudge to ask when is free that week and after that he gives me a free day/s and asks when suits best for me.

He is new to the city but he basically never makes plans other than nailing down a time and day. It is always up to me to choose what we do. This turns me off because I own a business and make plans all day. His work focuses on "deliverables" so I guess he does too.

On the last date, I asked if he is a more spontaneous planner. He admitted he was and I freely admitted I am a planner. As in, by Sunday I am usually planning out the week in terms of work, friends, family, hobbies. I have a rich and full life and I have enjoyed him being part of it!

So, crunch time was when he announced he was going on a trip with no mention of when we would next see each other. I was annoyed because I had been waiting on him to initiate the next date & I told him I am not interested in seeing a date once every two weeks. He said he feels the same and hopes we can plan more activities when he comes home. At this point he immediately planned to see me in a week's time. We met, had dinner (yes, I chose the place!) and we had a nice time. He shared photographs from the trip and held my hand throughout the date.

Now, it is Sunday and earlier this morning he contacted me. We had a sweet chat, but I left the call feeling slightly resentful because he has not initiated another date three days after the last one. And after I told him this is planning day (don't get me wrong, I am willing to bend a little - but it seems he isn't?).

After every single date he sends a couple of follow up messages to say he had a great time so by the time I get home, I always have a couple of messages from him and it makes me smile. He remembers things I have said, like a tiny tidbit about a house that I have loved since I was a child. He remembered this weeks later, although I mentioned it once in passing. He supports me and offers advice and now that we have slept together a couple of times, he really makes love to me and it is wonderful. He doesn't pressure every time we meet however.

Unfortunately I know I will be fundamentally unhappy with a person that does not make plans with me - like I will always be guessing their interest level. So how do I navigate this week? I hate being in daily contact with soneone who will not grab the bull by the horns. And I already have plans for 4/7 makes me feel anxious. I fear we are going to get into this never-ending pattern of me initiating and him agreeing while I become resentful.
posted by Ariel432 to Human Relations (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He has told you that he is not a planner. You have told you you ARE a planner. But - have you CONNECTED those dots for him?

He may be thinking that you were just making conversation when you asked if he was spontaneous, and may have no idea this is bothering you as much as it is. I know you also said "I don't want to go for 2 weeks without knowing when I'm going to see you", but he also may have thought that was a one-off, and may be thinking that you're cool otherwise.

You may need to have another talk with him about "know how we talked about how I am a planner and you aren't? Well, here is how I am FEELING as a result of that." That may make him realize "oh, this isn't just a quirky difference, this is something she actually doesn't like."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sounds like this is who he is. The question is: is this something you can live with? Everyone is going to have flaws. If this is a dealbrealer, that's fine. But if he's wonderful in every other way, would you be able to adjust to this?

If you really will be fundamentally unhappy, let him go now.

(But wondering where the need to plan each and every week comes from, and how that feeds into it. It sounds like planning maybe mitigates your anxiety, which might be something to look as as well, and someone who doesn't do that hits your anxiety button.)
posted by Vaike at 12:22 PM on May 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Sadly, Vaike, I'm not sure that it is. It is particularly important to me to have evening plans because I currently work from home (& probably will for the next year) AND I'm a writer on top of that. A lot of solitude, so social time planned out is important to me. Also, my friends are awesome people with full lives & as I respect this and their time, I plan ahead. They do the same with me.

Some members of my family were militant planners as I was growing up. Interestingly, I always go for guys who are NOT this way. But never have I dated a man where I was not sure if he actually wanted to date me. Those more spontaneous guys still asked me to do specific, cool things in advance. I think it is important to note that I am not a militant planner though- just last weekend I went on a trip and we just drove and ended up wherever! My biggest fear is that he's happy to go along with what I want, while not being fully into it.
posted by Ariel432 at 12:32 PM on May 8, 2016

Why not try a spontaneous date with him to see how it goes, just once or twice? Since you plan your weeks in advance, this might mean you make some backup plans if he's not into hanging out whichever night(s) you pick, but maybe it'll be fun. If not, at least you tried to see things from his point of view, before calling it quits.
posted by destructive cactus at 12:49 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

It sounds like if you stop asking him to do things you guys will never hang out again. That would be a deal breaker for me, blech. Maybe point it out directly: "I enjoy our time together but would like you to plan something." If he doesn't you know for sure how invested he is in the relationship.
posted by jessca84 at 12:50 PM on May 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

Do you both have a day that you can set aside that would just be for you and him? I feel like if you guys stuck with one definite day that you know you'll see each other, it would be less nerve-wracking.

Also, are you me?? Seriously I'm going through the exact same situation, so I totally sympathize with what you are going through. I've only had a couple of dates with a guy I like, but it's frustrating trying to get together with him. I'll be following this thread closely. Feel free to memail me if you want to vent.
posted by littlesq at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't think this is a case of a planner vs spontaneous person. I think it is a case of one person making all the effort and the other person making minimal effort. I dated a guy like this and found it frustrating, plus like you I couldn't tell if he actually liked me or if it was just easy for him. It fizzled when I stopped making the effort. Now i have a partner who does make an effort and it's so nice- I know he's excited to be with me, and I'm not burdened by constantly being the one to make plans. I'd say to give your guy a chance by clearly telling him what you want from him- "make an effort, initiate and plan things etc" and if it doesn't change, it's probably time to move on.
posted by emd3737 at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

[OP, Ask is not for back-and-forth conversations. Please review the FAQ or contact the mods if you have questions about how Ask should work; we've been over this with you a few times and while it's fine to ask questions about your relationship, ongoing frequent questions about the same situation aren't going to work here, and chatty conversations back and forth about the problems don't work here either. If that's what you're looking for, you may need to find another venue.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:09 PM on May 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Stop initiating. You'll never know how he feels if you're the one doing all the work. If he steps up, great. If not, there's your answer.
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 1:15 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm confused. Why are you "waiting for him to initiate"? It sounds like you believe there are/should be rules on who contacts who and when.

If you want to go on a date, ask him.

If you feel like you don't want to be the one initiating everything, that's a totally valid preference.

And YMMV, but the guys I've dated who are so reluctant to make plans mostly turn out to be not that into me. You don't sound ready to move on, but eventually you will probably get tired of this dynamic and find someone who doesn't have the same reluctance to make plans.
posted by guster4lovers at 1:27 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

if he doesn't initiate, he's just not THAT into you. He enjoys your time together because he likes you but he's not in love and probably never going to be in love with you. For some people that's fine, they are okay with being with someone that doesn't set them afire with ardor. For other people, they need to know that the relationship is going somewhere bigger, better. Yours isn't and that's what you *really* want to know, I suspect.

Even the most laid-back person will initiate a get-together occasionally if the relationship is full of fiery passion etc. You have a more tepid relationship and he's okay with that. It will probably never reach fiery stage though.
posted by Smibbo at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tell him plainly that you need him to ask you on a date without being prompted. Tell him how it makes you feel and that this is important to you. Then tell him you'll be free next Tuesday (or whatever, and don't say another word about it. Plan on spending the evening alone taking a walk, or trying a new recipe, or reading a book, something that can be interrupted. It could be that he wants to make plans with you but doesn't plan as far in advance as you usually do--maybe he'll set something up the day before, or call you at 5pm the day of. If he misses it entirely without discussing alternate plans, you have your answer. Once you know how long it takes for him to initiate you can figure out if this is something you can live with. If that's too last-minute for you, tell him you need to know 2 days in advance and stick to it. If he wants to keep seeing you he will make the effort. If he doesn't, break it off.
posted by impishoptimist at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2016

A guy who is into you will talk about getting together with you. Will plan stuff, will be excited about you. If you're not getting that vibe...he's not into you.

I might say, "I'm not feeling the intensity from you that i enjoy when I'm dating someone. What's your level of interest?"

For now though, I'd stop initiating. If he falls off the face of the earth..."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am still seeing the guy I posted about previously. But am I a convenience girl or does he genuinely like me?

As I replied to your last question about this guy:

"If you like this guy and want to see where it goes, the only way to do that is to be open and honest about where you are and what you want."

We don't know if he really likes you but doesn't get that you prefer planning. We don't know if he doesn't give two fucks about you. There is only one person on the planet who knows the answers to your questions and that is him.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:50 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

It doesn't sound to me like you have actually asked him to "bend a little," more like you are expecting him to discern your wants from your comments. But, I'm speculating that if you stop initiating and planning, you will notice a corresponding drop in actual dates. I have an impression that he is much more casual about your dating relationship than you are. This doesn't mean that he isn't into you at all. It means that while it is important to you to nail down your week on "planning day," it is not important to him to know that he is definitely going to see you on a specific day.
posted by sm1tten at 2:49 PM on May 8, 2016

It seems to me you need to decide whether it will work practically with this guy if he never plans anything, separately from deciding whether it will work symbolically. Like, assume you were 100% certain he was into you and wanted to be with you - would it still be ok if he never plans anything*? You say no, but I'm not sure that's correct - you sound like you're a planner from a family of planners and you might actually be happier if you own all the planning in the relationship, in the same way that if you were a chef you might be happier if you own all the meal prep in the relationship and your partner just stays out of it. The fact that you tend to date non-planners seems like it supports this theory - do you not get on with other planners because their plans clash with your plans?

*That's "never" as in "except once in a blue moon when you say "hey, I really need you to plan something next week"", but he may still gripe about it or drag his feet or whatever.

There are plenty of perfectly happy relationships where one of the people does almost all the planning, and contra some above comments this doesn't signal that the other person isn't happy in the relationship or whatever, it just means this relationship has a particular division of responsibilities.

Anyway, if you decide this isn't going to work practically, like it's too much work to do all the planning, then obviously you have to split. But if you decide it can work practically, then you need to decide how to make it work symbolically - like, how to decouple his actions (ie, lack of planning) from how they make you feel emotionally. Obviously one thing is to go to therapy and talk about it with someone else, but another is to see what things he does do that signals that he's into you and see if there's a coherent narrative there you can tell yourself. He's not necessarily showing you he loves you by suggesting activities to do together, but he is by remembering things that are important to you, initiating daily contact (I guess? can't tell who's doing what), offering emotional support when you have problems, etc. Since you're a dater in the 2010s presumably you're familiar with the five love languages stuff, so you might approach it from that perspective.

Frankly from what you've described here and in your previous post this sounds pretty good, and personally I'd hate to blow it off because the guy doesn't have a relationship style you're used to, but it really is your call about what is a practical deal-breaker for you and what isn't.
posted by inkyz at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Try saying, "I would like us to make plans a week in advance. What do you think?" Then, ask him to plan the next date. Obviously it is not working to just not make plans, and hope he will take the hint. Also this from the brilliant Ask Polly:

You’re not even sure that you’re crazy about this guy. You’re just trying to WIN HIM, like a big ugly cheap toy at the state fair. You won’t know if you really do like him a ton until HE’S IN IT COMPLETELY. If you keep playing along with his “pal” routine, you might trick yourself into thinking that you’re in love with him, simply because he’s half-assed and therefore slightly mysterious. The last thing you want in your life is to get hung up on someone simply because he’s apathetic towards you.

posted by Owl of Athena at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think he sounds like someone who is just not that into you. I wouldn't wait about for him to change, I'd just start dating other people. If he's really interested he'll ask what's going on. Be honest and clear. If he gets the message then you can continue to date him. If he doesn't, at least you know.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:46 PM on May 8, 2016

What if you didn't plan anything and told him you are leaving it up to him? What would happen?

I think he seems to like you, but he also prefers to take things day by day. He may have no idea this bothers you or causes you to question how into you he is. Maybe you can mention it in a way that isn't demanding he change or accusing him of anything. Maybe if he realizes it bothers you, he will make an effort to change.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:39 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

The gender-swapped Brad Pitt Rule is in effect here. He's just not that into you. If he was, he'd be acting quite differently.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:00 PM on May 8, 2016

Hmm. I'm a woman in a very similar situation, except it's been over 9 months of dating. I do all the planning of dates, and suggest future activities. He's the one who clears space in his schedule for it. He also works a lot.

I generally initiate text messages and say more than he does. However, about once a week he will call me. I'm not 100% sure how into me he is either. For one, it's a semi-long distance relationship and he's not introduced me to his friends and family yet.

However, he has been making the 2 hour trip to see me every 2 weeks, and always calls the day before to set that up. Is that him initiating even if he's content to do nothing special during the date? I guess it is. I would have given up if on top of planning what we do, he also expected me to ask him out every time! The most I do is give him certain days I'd like him to be free (for special events) and then it's up to him to confirm that he can be or not. If he can't be (this is rare, if it's important to me, he makes it happen), it isn't a sign that he's trying to fade out of my life, just that he has things he can't get away from that day. He always makes up for it at a different time.

So, he's a passive live-in-the-present sort of guy much like yours, but I lean toward the idea that he is "into me" because of the regularity and reliability of his contact and visits, even if it's not at the frequency or the length that I'd prefer.

I still wonder if I should be dating someone else who's more like what I expect out of a relationship... What keeps me with him is that he does care and he does listen when I present to him my concerns (though they don't always get fixed), we always have a good time together, communicate easily, and have some things in common that seem promising for our future together.

He is definitely a slow-and-steady, logical sort who doesn't get carried away by emotions, and maybe I am confusing that for lack of interest because I am quite the opposite: impulsive and emotion-driven.

Perhaps just talk to your guy about how you feel? From what you say, he sounds like he genuinely cares about you, but has a more laidback and less intense approach to relationships.

(sorry for the long share!)
posted by Sa Dec at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2016

A non/casual/spontaneous-planner's perspective & 2 cents:

He is new to the city but he basically never makes plans other than nailing down a time and day. It is always up to me to choose what we do.

Because I kinda don't actually care exactly what we do. Going on a date is much more about being with the person rather than doing something specific, I like doing lots of things and am open to new experiences - we get to date night and you wanna go visit the Botanical Gardens? Great! Let's go! You'd rather Netflix and chill with pizza on your couch? Cool! I'll order it now, pick it up on the way, and see you in 20 minutes! And since it doesn't bother me to not know exactly what we're going to do until we do it, it never really occurs to me that not knowing might bother you. You guys did make plans, by his (my) definition of the term - we nailed down a date and time. Then you get to pick what to do, because as far as I'm concerned it's all good. And this is probably exacerbated by him being new (like, a couple of months, if I'm reading your past question correctly) to your city - he probably figures that a bunch of stuff he might suggest you'd find old and boring, been there, done that, yawn.

This might very well be "fixable" if you use your words. Tell him directly that you would appreciate it if he would do more of the "suggesting things to do" and to let you know what it is ahead of time. This is not necessarily a major change in behavior, and he might step up if you specifically let him know you'd like it. (Although, to him, "let me know ahead of time" probably means 12-24 hours, not 4-7 days, so you may want to adjust your own expectations accordingly.)

And after I told him this is planning day

OK, bluntly, to us casual-planner-type folks, even having a Planning Day is an alien concept - you might as well have told him that Sunday is the day you fleebork your hyperflux capacitor. It doesn't mean anything to him. Heck, my first reaction to being told about someone's Planning Day would be, "Oh shit, I better not contact her on Planning Day so I don't distract her!!"

Again, he won't grasp that this is actually important to you until you actually tell him - it sounds a lot like you just kind of assumed he would understand that a lack of planning makes you anxious, but that's just not how his mind works, so he won't get it unless you spell it out.

Also, my friends are awesome people with full lives & as I respect this and their time, I plan ahead.

Sure, but the flip side of this is that "shit happens", especially for busy people - someone's kid gets sick, their plumbing explodes, a work project is suddenly on the verge of collapse so they gotta pull lots of extra hours, etc. etc. What happens to a minutely planned schedule when the inevitable changes happen? I suspect what you call "lack of planning", he calls "flexibility", which can also have value.

just last weekend I went on a trip and we just drove and ended up wherever!

This sounds like your take on this was that it was a pretty wild thing to do; but again, from another perspective this would be a totally normal way to spend a day off.

I will be fundamentally unhappy with a person that does not make plans with me - like I will always be guessing their interest level.

So far, it sounds like you're unhappy because he doesn't make plans the same way you do, and that you can't separate this from gauging his level of interest. As inkyz suggests above, this is something you might want to unpack, especially because you say you have a history of dating casual/non planners.

I left the call feeling slightly resentful because he has not initiated another date three days after the last one. And after I told him this is planning day (don't get me wrong, I am willing to bend a little - but it seems he isn't?).

Again, it doesn't seem you have clearly laid out what bothers you and how much it does and what he could do to alleviate your concerns. You're not bending all that much, really, just resenting him when he doesn't meet your apparently largely unspoken expectations, and he doesn't know he needs to bend.

Speaking from experience, when an anxiety-prone organizer gets together with a casual semi-planner, there's a certain amount of mutual, "How do they even live like that?" As the anxiety-prone organizer, you think it's obvious that telling someone "Sunday is planning day" means "Tell me when and where and what our next date is." To someone who would never have a planning day unless they were getting paid for it, it isn't. To him, spending more than about an hour planning your week in anything other than large brush-strokes is a waste of time and energy - something will happen that will throw the schedule into disarray, better to be able and willing to go with the flow.

TL:DR - he's demonstrating that he cares for you in a variety of ways, but not in the way that soothes your anxious organizer. But your anxious organizer tendencies may be blinding you to the possibility that what's obvious to you is not obvious to him - you seem to be having a really hard time recognizing that there are other ways to approach life. This relationship may be workable if you have an explicit conversation where you both lay out what you need and would like from the relationship and figure out ways to behave that will get you both a version of what you need.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:01 PM on May 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

From what you write, it does sound like he genuinely likes you.

But it also sounds like the different attitudes to planning vs spontaneity are a bigger obstacle than you are prepared to handle, regardless of how much he likes you (or you like him). And that is nobody’s fault, your own approach to planning is a fundamental need for you, but if anything for your own peace of mind, you could try and accept that his own approach may be just his own way of being who he is, same as yours is to you. This is not the kind of stuff that is even a choice, it’s a character trait, and an approach to life in general.

If you do like him enough, you could give it a try, and communicate more clearly to him - he probably doesn’t have the slightest clue of how much planning you like and how the lack of it is causing you so much stress already. If someone tells me generically "I’m a planner, I like to plan", I don’t normally assume the level of planning you’ve described here. You may be underestimating how excessive your idea of planning may be for other people less inclined to it, and overestimating how much spontaneity he actually likes.

There is a huge level of variety in these things. My own work is similar to yours, but outside of work I’m more at the other extreme – work is where all my planning and scheduling goes, and I dislike planning anything in my non-work time. I like my social interactions to be as spontaneous as possible and I like to interact with people with the same approach. I will go along with exact planning when needed, and on special occasions, but I’m not fond of it being required on a regular basis. It’s not something I like to do, it would cause me a lot of unnecessary stress - just as lack of planning is stressful to you! And it would make me fundamentally unhappy to be expected to do that regularly. It’d be equal to asking me to change who I am and how I live my life. Same as for you, if someone expected you to change your own ways... For me, things like planning an entire week of social life ahead, and on a Sunday to boot, would be unthinkable. Just as it would be unthinkable for you not to do that. See how that works?

Can you try and see both sides a bit more here? You say you’re willing to "bend a little" but from your own description of what works for you and how this incompatibility is bothering you, it really doesn’t sound like you are that flexible - and that’s ok, it’s your prerogative, you’ve explained it clearly, but you see, that goes both ways.

Now, you feel like he’s implicitely demanding that you adapt to his spontaneity, but you’ve only started dating and maybe he is less on the opposite extreme than you assume, maybe he’s just been cautious and taking it slowly because you only started dating. You don’t know him that well yet. Maybe he’d be fine with a bit more planning, maybe you two could find a sort of compromise, and maybe it’d be even easier than you imagine.

If you do want to give it a try, then try and be more understanding of the nature of that difference, and keep the resentment at bay. It’s understandable from your point of view, but it’s not helping you, and compromise means both have to make a little effort. It may turn out to be an impossible effort because you’re really at opposite extremes, and it sucks but it’s nobody’s fault and you will have to let it go, c’est la vie. OR, it may turn out to be less of an effort than you assumed, and more enjoyable and worthy than you assume. Who knows? Only one way to find out. Good luck!
posted by bitteschoen at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Thank you everyone, for your help and advice.

I broke it off with this guy a few days ago. He kept stalling on making plans & used the phone as our main source of communication. Ultimately, I felt like was dating a phone. He constantly asked how I was and about my life & gradually I became closed off, feeling I didn't want to share my life with someone I never saw.

I was willing to be more spontaneous, but by the time we next saw each other it would have been 3 weeks! I gave him a choice - when he got back from yet another trip last week, I freed up some of my weekend. He said it sounds great but he would have to confirm...because he is waiting for confirmation of other plans! So, I make it clear I'm not going to be a convenience in his life. He jokes that he knows he needs to get better with planning & will prove it the following this time my feelings have diminished to just about nil.

He then confirmed that he would be going ahead with other plans/turned down my date offer, asking to see me the following week instead. I told him I thought we should stop seeing each other & he said 'Well, if this is what you really want...". I said I felt he was not interested re reluctance to make plans? Radio silence.

So, yeah. Feeling quite blue. Tears have been shed. Hoping it feels better soon.
posted by Ariel432 at 11:20 AM on May 23, 2016

oh crap, sorry to hear that Ariel432, that sounds awful! For what it’s worth, I admire that you were willing to make such an effort, too bad he turned out not to be worth it but you couldn’t have known that right away. That’s really awful, the way he behaved. You did nothing wrong and plenty right. Hope you feel better soon too!
posted by bitteschoen at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2016

« Older Identify a poem?   |   Statutes regarding restroom use Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.