Help me understand this romantic mindf***
January 27, 2018 7:37 AM   Subscribe

My lizard brain thinks he's my soul mate

For some reason my brain thinks this boy is my soul mate. I don't know if he's played some trick on me or used some weird boyish ninja tricks to ensare me or maybe he fed me a love potion, I don't know. I don't even believe in soul mates, but I still have these stupid hopes that something will turn it all around and my dream will come true one day.

A couple weeks ago I was obsessed with this situation, so this is Askmefi is my followup. Basically I starting hanging out and hooking up with this guy I randomly met 4 years ago on a bus.

I met up with him and told him I don't want a friends with benefits situation, that I liked him, wanted to date him, wasn't interested in casual sex because I would get attached and clingy, but that since he was leaving town for several months I guessed that it wasn't gonna work out. He sort of hemmed and hawed and said he wouldn't really want to start something long distance at this point since he's leaving in 2 weeks. But he didnt really say that he wasn't interested. At some point he also mentioned he doesn't like talking about feelings (WTF).

Then the weirdest part happened, which is we got into a 2-hour long, deep political discussion. It felt pretty weird because I felt like he was probing my mind looking to understand certain things related to racism, affirmative action, and identity politics (I am pretty left wing and believe in intersectional feminism and he seems to be socially conservative although he also has punk tendencies which I can't quite wrap my mind around). It was actually a very interesting and respectful discussion and in the end I think he saw my point of view and the flaws in his lack of awareness of his privilege, and I got the sense that he respects/admires my convictions. It felt like all of a sudden he became super interested in my mind. (Which doesn't help me in my predicament because it proves he's not just interested in me for sex). But it's possible that these questions were just pressing on him from the cultural climate we live in, and he just wanted to understand the ideas behind them, and that he enjoys coming to face ideas that are in opposition to his own. I don't understand why he would want any of this at this point.

Another aspect is that it's possible he's going through a depression because he did mention he was cutting out alcohol because it makes him depressed. And maybe all of this weird confusion has less to do with any romantic connection and more to do with him being depressed.

Also, this is a situation that for some reason really upsets me emotionally. For some reason I am really attached to this guy, maybe in love with him. So it's hard for me to just chill about it.

After that marathon discussion, I still haven't been able to come to terms with this situation. I can't figure out whether I need to completely cut him out and try never to think of him again, or whether I should see him one more time before he goes away (which I think we planned to do although I haven't heard from him in a week and a half) and maybe get in touch with him when he comes back this summer. I am tempted to write him an email to sort of clear up where I am at, but I'm also worried that he doesn't want to hear from me for some reason or that he'll ignore the email. I'd actually like to stay in touch with him when he leaves just because he's someone I like talking to. But because he's an interesting conversationalist, it means that when you talk to him, you have his full and undivided attention, and this is easy to mistake for some kind of spiritual connection.

So should I cut him out completely in order to find peace of mind? Or should I see him once more and ask him to just tell me it's never going to happen? Or leave it open ended and see if he ever contacts me again? The complicating factor is that I felt so conflicted and obsessed with this that I deleted him from my facebook (also was sort of suspicious that he might secretly be a libertarian). At the time (a week ago) this felt like the right decision because I started a new job this week and really had to focus on what's important. But now I feel bad because we had said we would talk before he leaves and I didn't mean to just cut contact without explanation, but I felt so destroyed at that moment that it felt right. Now I wish I hadn't done it. Anyways, I know this is all pretty silly but I'm hoping someone can provide some insight into why I might feel so strongly for this person and what I should do about it.
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He's leaving in two weeks, so in two weeks you don't need to worry about it. For the next two weeks, take care of yourself. Don't text/email him. Have coffee at a nice coffee place and bring a book you like. Call friends and suggest you go and visit a museum. Go to a follow-up rally from the Women's March, carry a sign you made yourself.

Don't try to force yourself to "get over him" or "cut him out completely" (though deleting his contact info from your phone would be a good idea, just find other ways to occupy your time.

Thinking of you!
posted by arnicae at 7:47 AM on January 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

Our brains are designed to decide every guy is our soul mate, regardless of any kind of truth in the matter. I do it every time too at the slightest interest of anyone who barely might be interested. I think a lot of people do.

The answer is always, always, always "cut him off" for your own good. We don't have a cute acronym for it like DTMFA, but...cutting him off is always the answer.

In your case, you told him exactly what you wanted and his answer was hemming and hawing enough to indicate "I don't," so....yeah. He might like you a bit but not enough to keep pursuing it if you're not easily around. I get wanting to have the great conversations, but that probably won't keep up for long once he's gone, and you're right that he'll probably end up ignoring your e-mails.

One way or another this is going to end with you not getting what you want. I hate to say it. I'm having all kinds of deja vu about this myself now. But... you know he's not all in. You only attach more and he doesn't attach. All you can do is try to manage yourself and fight to detach.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:54 AM on January 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yep. DTMFA from your brain. Take control of your thoughts back. It sounds like he used "mirroring" techniques or something similar (NLP?) when you were talking with him to make you feel connected.

Generally, anyone that makes you feel strongly off kilter like this is ultimately very bad for you. You were right to block him. The next trick is to forget about him completely. I think you do that with a combination of mindfulness and something physical. Make new neural pathways and grooves. Start reading a great book. Soon you'll forget him.
posted by jbenben at 8:05 AM on January 27, 2018 [8 favorites]

I'm reminded of those articles that talk about the tricks video games use to get people hooked - like random loot drops, etc, that make you feel like you are making juuuuust enough progress that you can't stop now, success is right around the corner, I'll play just one more turn, etc. If you're an intersectional feminist, the feeling that you finally got through to a social conservative in a 2 hr political discussion is a major loot drop. It's hooking your brain into wanting to go back for more. But really, it was just one conversation in a lifetime of conversations you will have, and pursuing this connection is ultimately as pointless and addicting as playing video games at 2am.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:16 AM on January 27, 2018 [35 favorites]

there is no soulmate. there is only humans. choose carefully.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2018 [18 favorites]

He didn't play any trick on you, you're doing it to yourself.
You know at a gut level he's not right for you, but you're fuzzing that fact with lots of mitigating details (he's a great conversationalist, he's a little bit punkish, he might be depressed...)
Don't email him. You're not going to end up suddenly happy with this guy and you know it.
posted by mdrew at 9:13 AM on January 27, 2018 [10 favorites]

Sometimes people just have a good conversation. The world is a big interesting place and there is a lot about it to enjoy...if you do so for what it is and not through the single lens of Gotta Get Me A Man. You could have had that same conversation or level of connection with a woman, an older person, a tween - would it have been meaningless to you if it was someone who wasn't a candidate (in your eyes, if not the law's) for marriage?

From there you're trying to pretzel a bunch of red flags into Signs And Portents. The guy's just in a bad place in his life and is uncomfortable with emotions, that is not and should not be a siren call to you. Respect the dude's boundaries, which he politely stated, even in your imagination. He does not wish to be a part of this narrative. He might not mind having a friend, but you should probably recuse yourself in this case.

You might want to look into the forms of codependency that tend to manifest as "rescuing" or "fixing". This is not romantic and you are not in love with him (love is two-directional, just for starters), but it is a big old flashing-lights-and-sirens warning to you that you have some work to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:22 AM on January 27, 2018 [9 favorites]

This problem is just the tip of the iceberg. What you're describing is something I recognize very well because it's a pattern I've repeated again and again - being the person who's all twitterpated about someone who's unwilling to commit, super fun to be around but a little weird about anything emotional but not willing to have the insight to end things because they are hurting me and can only hurt me more. Reading the book Attached helped me understand that I have an anxious attachment style and how I can avoid these patterns in future.

So. Read the book. Tell this guy not to contact you again and delete his info. Accept that this will really suck and read prior asks about dealing with the end of a relationship.

Remember that falling in love is like a drug. When your brain starts telling you that you really need to contact him and see him and this was your one chance and there'll never be anyone else like him, remember your brain wants another fix of something that's really not good for you. Give yourself a hug and tell yourself "I love you." Meditate, do yoga, take up boxing, eat ice cream, buy new bras, go to Cancun. When you feel shitty anyway, remember that this is not a sign that you need to see him, it's a symptom of detox and of course it sucks. It will feel bad for a while. And then it will get better.

Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2018 [8 favorites]

You haven't heard from him in a week and a half and you're still alive. Do not see him "one more time." No good will come of it. LITERALLY NONE.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can appreciate the attraction you are experiencing by what you have described because there is quite a bit of mystery around his behavior and his lukewarm response to pursuing a relationship with you. But my rule of thumb, first made aware to me by my sister, is that you keep things cool in your head and heart until you have known each other long enough to have a solid and serious disagreement. I have arguments with my partner but I realize some people don't do that so I say at least have a big disagreement. If you have never strongly disagreed how can you know what kind of person he is under some stress? Is he avoidant, passive aggressive, physical, reasonable, calm, scary? People personalities are complex and falling for someone before you really get to know them puts you in very vulnerable to not calmly and strongly stick up for yourself like you normally might in the absence of limerence. You really don't know this guy yet. Slow down so you can really make a good choice for yourself based on what you value in a partner not just how they make you feel. And since you can't force and argument just for the sake of arguing you will need to wait until it happens in due course. I realize that may be never but that will tell you something too, just not this soon.
posted by waving at 10:26 AM on January 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this reads as harsh and if my interpretation is completely off base, but friend, you really need to get a better grip on yourself and your emotions. Your question just reads as though you have literally no agency in your life, and that's just a really crappy way to live.

You DO have agency, you DO have choices, you DO have the ability to see situations exactly as they are and without trying to add in subtext and meaning where none exists.

You met a guy and explained your desire for a relationship and that's great. What's not great is your refusal to read his response, which is that he isn't interested in that and he didn't want that. A nice long conversation doesn't change the fact that he doesn't want to date, that he's actually leaving, and that he hasn't contacted you in over a week to get together.

So what I would do is really try to figure out why you're making this choice. Why are blaming your lizard brain, saying you think you might be in love, wondering about his mental state (who cares) and wondering if he used ninja tricks on you? I mean, you would be far better served trying to figure out why you're putting so much mental space and emotional energy into something that just is not happening? Sometimes we like a person and they don't feel it and it sort of sucks but it's not really that big a deal. Don't MAKE it a big deal.

There are SO many people out there who will appreciate and love you. Don't settle for less. Get out there, forget this one hugely insignificant person in your larger scheme of things, and accept and let go fantasies about those who say they're not interested in anything serious. There are people out there who DO want something serious and the longer you keep this one dude in your brain, the less open you are to meeting those excellent people.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:46 AM on January 27, 2018 [15 favorites]

I'm depressed, but I still know when I feel a romantic connection with someone. I'm sorry, but he's not gonna give you the relationship that you want. It sounds like you would be happier dating someone who would be happy to talk about feelings. It's okay to want that! There are other people out there who want the same thing. I hope you can connect with one of them. That won't happen if you stay hung up on this guy.
posted by Eevee at 11:30 AM on January 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Honestly it doesn't sound like you two are that compatible; different political beliefs make relationships a lot harder, in my experience.

It's a huge red flag that he doesn't like to talk about feelings. Talking about feelings is pretty much a cornerstone of a healthy relationship and his declaring that he doesn't like talking about them indicates that he is unlikely to be consistently emotionally available.

Aside from that, you've written a lot of analysis of very minute details (what having a political conversation must 'mean' etc). I know it is a huge cliche but if things were right, you probably wouldn't feel the need to do this - you would know how he feels because he would have been open with you. I think you have to let it go.
posted by thereader at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can't believe what I'm about to type, but you're overthinking this even by Metafilter standards.

If you feel like going down on him, go ahead! Make some memories that will keep him up at night when he's five hundred miles away; make some memories that will make you smile sixty years from now in the nursing home. Or don't! That's fine too!

But whatever you do, do not land yourself in what-if hell. From reading your post, I suspect this is something you are particularly prone to. Do whatever you have to do so that, at the very least, you can know you saw things through. Even trainwrecks provide closure. Failing that, make whatever mental effort it takes to just stop thinking about it. Whichever works, so that you don't spend your next ten years thinking "if only that particular moment had been 2.6 percent more intimate". Don't do that to yourself.

(Also, if you really can't so much as take public transit without meeting the person you were Made For, then something tells me you'll be able to find someone else in short order, if that's what it comes to, no matter how impossible it seems now. Just food for thought.)
posted by queen anne's remorse at 5:17 PM on January 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

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