Dating Filter: Something feels off
November 30, 2016 12:13 AM   Subscribe

I've been dating someone long distance for a few months and have noticed a sudden shift in our conversations the last two weeks. He is still in contact daily but has subtly become less affectionate. I feel like he is no longer emotionally invested and I don't want to continue. How do I extricate myself gracefully from an undefined relationship?

Background: we had been casually seeing each other for a couple of months when he moved about 6 hours away by car for work. We were not exclusively dating at the time but kept in contact and continued to have enjoyable chats. Around mid October I visited him at his suggestion and we had a wonderful time. The trip was more intimate than I expected and our connection deepened in a way that surprised me. During that same trip, he started to broach a larger conversation about our status, but I suggested we don't overthink it due to the long distance nature of things and ensured him I was fine with exactly where we were, which was enjoying each other's company and letting things develop organically. He seemed on the same page and we continued on our merry way for a solid month after my visit. Since then, we've been very affectionate and talked often about future plans to see each other, trips etc - all topics and ideas he initiated.

Then about 2 weeks ago we had a day where I didn't hear from him at all and I got a weird feeling. This hasn't happened between us since my visit. After that day, his energy toward me has been different. He still contacts me daily, but he does not say affectionate things or flirt with me at all, nor does he actively engage when I try to be playfully affectionate. He talks to me like a friend only. I pointed out a few days ago that it seemed like something had shifted between us but he said he hadn't noticed. That conversation was vaguely more flirty and we discussed me coming for a visit, but the interaction felt more driven by me and he has not followed up to confirm any dates when I left the ball in his court.

I'm not sure how to proceed from here. I know something is different and I brought it up in hopes of having some sort of resolution, but he didn't bite. He is still initiating contact every day and it's confusing me. I don't need exclusivity or broad promises, but I do want things to feel romantic and connected. Before, he was never vague in his affection or enthusiasm and I felt completely secure with him up. Now I'm feeling uncomfortable and insecure and not enjoying our chats due to the stress the uncertainty is causing. I'm not an insecure person by nature but my spidey senses are off the charts that his emotions are elsewhere. It's ok if he is moving on, it would be sad and I'd miss him, but I wasn't in the market for a LDR when we met so I get it. In my heart of hearts, I feel like he is having an emotional connection with someone else and is either trying to down shift us to a friendship, keep me warm while he decides or just doesn't know how to manage the emotional conflict he is having and is kicking the can down the road indefinitely. I'm not comfortable doing that and would like to resolve it one way or another.

How do I step back gracefully here? Since we aren't officially a couple, I'm struggling to figure out how to have this conversation without sounding like I'm accusing him of something or asking him for commitments I am aware that we did not explicitly promise each other. Can you give me any tips on how to step back without making a capital case of it? I don't want to go dark on him as that feels immature and silly and will extend this discomfort and ambiguousness I feel. What can I say that is more clear than "my spidey senses are telling me you are not as into me as you used to be and I think we should end it?"

Thanks for your help in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're very eloquent and reasonable. Write him an email that says what you said here. Maybe more concisely, but mostly the same.
posted by wutangclan at 12:21 AM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

While I've enjoyed our time together, I'm not feeling the same connection from you anymore. I think it's time we went our seperate ways. I have great memories and wish you all the best.
posted by Jubey at 12:56 AM on November 30, 2016 [16 favorites]

Since you've only been casually dating for a few months and some of those months have been long-distance, I don't think you owe him a long email or big explanation. I would just send him a short note. Tell him you're not feeling it anymore, so you won't be in contact anymore.
posted by colfax at 2:24 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

OK so he was making you feel secure and you want that from him, but you were not at all willing to commit? Sounds like he's preserving his heart. If you want more, visit and ask for more. If not, let him go.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:00 AM on November 30, 2016 [14 favorites]

While I've enjoyed our time together, I'm not feeling the same connection from you anymore.

Why blame? Just say you're not feeling it any more.
posted by Leon at 3:36 AM on November 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

It sounds like your instincts are spot on about what's happening here. Long distance can make you doubt this, because the other person maintains plausible deniability about the unquantifiable thing that's different.

You can't get that safe, affectionate feeling back unless he chooses to give it. So nthing others' suggestions above for how to end it.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 4:27 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Since we aren't officially a couple, I'm struggling to figure out how to have this conversation without sounding like I'm accusing him of something or asking him for commitments I am aware that we did not explicitly promise each other.

I don't see where you are not a couple? In a relationship, you need to ask for what you want. If you want flirtatiousness and romance and commitment, then you can (and should) ask him for all of that, regardless of your "official" status or expectations you had going into the relationship. If he is not willing or able to give you that (for whatever reason - no need to imagine an emotional affair on his part), then you end it.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 AM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

The people saying that you should walk away may be right, but I don't think there is a reason to not try a direct conversation first, where you articulate clearly what it is that you are looking for. If he responds positively and follows up with actions, then great; if not, then you can go to the walk away step knowing that you gave him every chance to step up.

Personally I don't think I'd want what you are asking for (which sounds to me like a lot of the emotional work of a relationship without all of the benefits of a relationship) but it is what works for you and at least for a time was working for him. But there is the possibility that his feelings have changed and this pattern is no longer what he needs.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:32 AM on November 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

This is totally why the slow fade was invented. If you're long distance anyway just stop writing back to him. This could have the side effect of making him more interested, because people are fickle.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you've been contacting each other every day that's a pretty intense relationship. If someone I was dating long distance told me they didn't want to define our relationship and whatever happens happens, I would definitely take a step back and try not to get too personally invested.
posted by xammerboy at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

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