Should I try to "grow" feelings for this person or listen to my anxiety?
November 29, 2016 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I have been dating this guy for just over a month now. I knew him previously from HS, but we reconnected through a dating site. I had a huge crush on him in HS but I wasn't sure how I'd feel as that was a long time ago (25 now). Before we met I was honest and said I wanted friendship to start off with, cause I assumed he'd expect a hook up right away. We've hung out five times now, and been texting a lot but I'm not sure how I feel still.

I feel pretty comfortable with him, find him easy to talk to, and he has been really sweet to me the whole time. He compliments me a lot and says really nice things. And it's especially nice, cause I know he's typically a "bad" boy, likes to hook up with girls, but he's told me he wants to get to know me more and take things slow.

The problem is I haven't felt this excited feeling or "butterflies" with him this whole time. In fact, I've felt pretty anxious. I'm naturally a pretty anxious person, especially in relationships but it's not an I'm scared he doesn't like me anxious, it's I don't know if this is right anxious. After the third date, I still was not feeling strongly about him. Sometimes I'd feel a hint of attraction, or admire things about him, but no overarching impression of I really like this person. The biggest thing that made me uncomfortable was how messy his house was, and some of his lifestyle habits. After that date I told him I was looking for something casual. I wanted that because I am lonely and have been wanting to explore things physically with someone too, though I didn't tell him these reasons. But then I felt bad, like I'd pushed away this guy who had been so nice to me, and interested in me, and who was fun and had good qualities. So I told him it came out wrong and asked if we could talk about it, and said I was just confused about what I wanted, didn't want things to go too fast. He seemed a bit hurt and said the signals were a confusing, but that he liked me and was enjoying getting to know me so going slow was okay with him.

Then on our fourth date, we ended up making out intensely. On our fifth date, I felt happy to be around him, was having fun though a little anxious, and felt attracted to him. Even noticed that he tried to clean up his house a bit which was sweet. I had a desire to cuddle up to him, but when we cuddled I didn't feel strong "lovey" feelings. We made out again, and there was a lot of sexual chemistry, more so than I've ever had in my life, and things went way faster than I had wanted them too but when I wanted to stop he was totally fine with it. But again after, I didn't feel much those "I really like him" feelings and felt very anxious the next day because of it.

I like that he is really nice to me, that he is flirtatious, have some interests in common like video games, and he's adventurous, he loves animals (has this sensitive side), artistic (same as me), has a dark side, good looking, and he can joke around. He also is quite sexual, and I'm not very experienced but would like to gain more experience, and I think that I am quite a sexual person too when I can feel comfortable. What I'm unsure about is that he isn't very clean (messy house), stays in a lot, smokes weed a lot, some different beliefs (he believes in some sort of spiritual dimension that encompasses everything, I'm an atheist at this point), not very ambitious. I'm pretty intellectual and he will talk about certain things like religion and politics with me, and I appreciate his views, but we don't have a lot of intellectual conversations. I'm pretty put together at this point in my life, have a good job, going to school again, thinking about saving for a house and stuff, though in terms of relationships either romantic or friendship wise I feel I am severely lacking.

Part of me really values having in my life, cause I'm seriously a huge loner right now, and there's a lot of great qualities in him. Also I fantasize about him a lot sexually. But the other part of me constantly feels anxious and possibly guilty that I am leading him on by keeping him around. It IS nice to spend time with him, and I really enjoy the physical aspect of the relationship too but he's a lot more affectionate with words than me and I feel bad for holding back affection but scared to be dishonest. Especially those moments after we are intimate, I feel bad for not feeling more cuddly or close to him.

I wonder if I should put more into this and see if it can go somewhere if I try to act how I'd like to feel, even though I don't have these butterfly feelings for him. Or if I should say flat out I just want a casual relationship as I've already hinted that I was confused before. Or end it completely. Any advice?
posted by oracleia to Human Relations (16 answers total)
Here are a few things that are true about dating:

- You don't owe anyone you're dating anything but kindness and honesty.
- You can stop dating anyone at any time for any reason at all.
- Lots of attractive people like video games and animals. LOTS. Like, SO MANY people.

You don't have to make any kind of decision about this guy right now! You're only 25, you've only been on a handful of dates hang outs with him. If you want to see him again, go on another date. If you don't want to see him again, don't. Just listen to yourself: if it doesn't feel good, stop.

You can continue to date other people, too, if you want. It doesn't have to be all about this one dude you're only kinda-sorta are interested in right now.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2016 [15 favorites]

Ask yourself what you want from a relationship right now. Would it be ok with you to have a relationship that is primarily sexual? It's ok to want that and it's ok to want that with this guy. Do you want something more long-lasting? That is ok too. It sounds like this guy isn't making you feel that way. That's ok. Just because someone is kind to you, does not mean you owe it to them to fall in love. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.

As long as you are honest with yourself and with him, whatever you decide here is perfectly ok.
posted by goggie at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's pretty clear you're not into this guy at all and you seem to be stringing him along because you're lonely. You should move on.
posted by shesbenevolent at 2:14 PM on November 29, 2016 [11 favorites]

I will also add that the guys I tended to like for having a "dark" side also tended to have messy houses and also tended to smoke a lot of pot, and at that point in their lives weren't really cut out for longer term meaningful relationships. Many of them were perfectly lovely people, some are still wonderful friends, but it may be that the things you're looking for as plusses might come along in a package with some minuses. It sounds like your intuition is telling you this. Listening to that is a skill that gets better with practice.
posted by goggie at 2:16 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't have to date this guy. After a month, if you don't have strong feelings in favor, and you *do* have some feelings that are telling you that you don't want to date this dude, it's completely reasonable to break things off.
posted by Sara C. at 2:17 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I never had real feelings grow from no feelings. I liked my current boyfriend instantly, and now I like him OMGevenmore but it was pretty much instantaneous interest. I don't buy the "they'll grow on you" theory, though lots of people sell it.
posted by zutalors! at 2:23 PM on November 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

I realize that everyone approaches romantic feelings/relationships differently, but for myself, I've literally never had a situation where early in a relationship I was feeling anxious and/or meh but then suddenly I fell madly in love with the person. Actively trying to "grow" my feelings for someone has only ever resulted in frustration and anxiety.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:32 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

This person is not going to the same destination as you, hence your anxiety about getting any further entangled with his life.

Tell him, "Thanks, but No Thank You. I'll pass." Done.
posted by jbenben at 2:32 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you're not feeling it, you're not feeling it. It doesn't mean he's not nice, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong, it only means you're not feeling it, and that's fine.

That said, if you're not feeling it, you shouldn't keep him around either hoping for feelings that aren't going to come, or for lack of a better option.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:33 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree that this has very little to do with this particular guy and everything to do with your anxiety about being alone. Don't use him as a placeholder because he meets the (low) bar of "eh, good enough." You may be the same age but you're at different, probably incompatible points in your life. Date other people and if none of those work out, check back in a couple of years, but he's not likely to turn into some neat and clean go-getter.
posted by AFABulous at 3:11 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My rule of thumb: When you list out all the pros and cons and tl;drs and whathaveyous, the thing you say last is what you really want, and you're just asking for permission.

Or end it completely.

This is what you really want. You have permission.
posted by Etrigan at 4:35 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Or end it completely.

This is what you really want.

I think she really wants to fool around with this guy without feeling guilty. You have my permission to talk to him about having a casual sexual relationship if you think he can handle it without getting attached. Be upfront about your desires and boundaries and see how he feels.
posted by lamp at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

And it's especially nice, cause I know he's typically a "bad" boy, likes to hook up with girls, but he's told me he wants to get to know me more and take things slow

Stop stop stop. Listen to, like, the entire history of womankind: this does not work out the way you want it to work out. You will not be the "special," "different" one, the one that "changes him." You won't be. Full stop. Either he'll cheat on you, or he'll turn out to have a disorganized mess of a life that will suck you down like a swamp. Or both! The one thing I can guarantee is that any special care spent on him will be wasted.

Yeah, I know, he's different, this is special. No, he's not, and this isn't.
posted by praemunire at 6:26 PM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

This sounds like you might be interested in a FWB situation with him, but honestly, the way you've framed your ask makes me think that even if you started out that way, you'd end up in a LTR, frustrated and angry about the ways his life doesn't match with yours. If you met an amazing guy tomorrow (hot AND neat?) would you still be into this guy? If no, he's a placeholder.
posted by instamatic at 7:28 PM on November 29, 2016

Thanks for the responses so far! After reading through what I wrote, and the comments, I realized that I have really WANTED to like him, but I don't have those romantic feelings for him. And I guess those feelings can't be forced. I do think a casual, FWB type relationship would be great for me at this point in my life, especially since I've never had something like that. I don't see myself getting attached if we were to mutually agree to something like that. And in terms of me being the one to change him, I wasn't naive enough to think that, but he genuinely has been very respectful and nice to me the whole time we've been dating, and even though I had initially told him casual relationship, he seemed to want something more. For me that's not been a source of the anxiety, rather just that I wasn't sure if I liked him. But I definitely have realized I need to talk to him about this, and end any romantic relationship we have going on. Anything else wouldn't be sincere of me and unfair to him.
posted by oracleia at 8:01 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think the nice respectful bit is just an act, and/or it doesn't matter because he's kinda a slob. But really, the nice respectful bit just sounds like a long con.

Dump him, either way.

ProTip: When someone makes you feel guilted or obligated, RUN. It's never what it seems on the surface. Never fall for guilt or obligation.
posted by jbenben at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

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