Is this a healthy behavior in a new relationship?
March 5, 2018 7:31 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend of about 2.5 months asks for reassurance of my feelings/love for him and it is pushing me away/scaring me. Is asking for reassurances on feelings so soon a sign of insecurity or is this just me being a little guarded in my first new relationship after a pretty abusive (emotionally/mentally) relationship?

I know the term "normal" is up for interpretation (maybe healthy is a better term) and is different for everyone, but in still learning about myself, what I am looking for and healthy relationship dynamics so I'm curious about a behavior I have noticed in a recent new relationship. I have been in a committed relationshp for a little over two months- this is my first real relationship in two years since seperation from my ex who was/is very toxic, manipulative and verbally abusive person. I spent a lot of time focusing on myself, being happy as a single mother, therapy and figuring out why I allowed a lot of behaviors. I am still learning to actually trust my own instincts, gut and how I'm feeling due to the fact that I allowed a lot of abuse and less than behavior in my past.

My current boyfriend of 2.5 months told me that he loved me within the first month of us dating. I chalked it up to him being older (early 40s), hes been divorced for years, and knows what he wants, and is the "realtionship type." We connected pretty well and have the same outlook/values. But hearing someone tell me they loved me after only a few dates sent a 'proceed with caution' feeling through me because I did not feel like he knew me enough to determine that. I expressed to him that I liked him a lot, that I was happy, I thought he was an amazing person so far, but that I wanted to get to know him better and wasn't ready to share those words yet. He understood, but I could tell he pulled back a bit (not texting as often, not sharing his feelings, not giving us the same attention). He told me that he feels who I am is who he has been looking for, which is great but maybe I'm a skepticist and I don't feel those fireworks or immediate attraction/connection to someone- it takes me some time to learn about them, get to know them, and really see.

I am a very slow moving person in love, I don't open up immediately, but when I do I am a very open loving person. I try to express my feelings, I make him a priority, I'm always listening to and assuring him that just because I am not "doting" over him (he said he was used to women doting over him or verbally telling him how much they liked him) or praising him or our relationship that I care and love him. I am more of a giving my time, attention, affection and doing small special things shows my love type of person, at least initially.

He doesn't seem to get it, and every two weeks he asks how I feel about him. He says he isn't sure that I am all that into him, and that he is looking for "fireworks" and doesn't want to settle for anything less than that. So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine," when we are just two different people with two different love languages in a sense. It's a deflating feeling, because I feel I am doing my best and that I do like him a lot and I do have great feelings with him, but that I just need time to fully give myself and open up and really fall in love. He knows more about me than anyone, I have opened up my heart and life and time to him in hopes he could see but it just doesn't seem like enough or that he gets me. I can't keep reassuring someone of how I'm feeling, when I feel like I'm doing the best I can do. It's pushing me away from what could be something good. Otherwise from what I know and see, he seems like a great guy, but I feel as though I'm being cornered or pushed to be something I'm not or to say I love you every day. I'm probably going to lose him unless I learn to open up, and I fear that I am just so guarded and skeptical from my past that it will hold me back from something that could be good. I don't know if someone professing their love so soon, and trying to get me to be exactly where he is is a sign of incompatibility, or if its just me being scared to be hurt again. I have no fear of loss, no fear of this not working, I'm not trying to hang on to something because I'm comfortable or need a partner- I just want something special, something that flows, something that feels comfortable not something I feel is being rushed. Any firework kind of love or feelings never ended well- the relationships that I felt were the most fullfilling starting with a slow process of getting to know one another.... but this particular man is making me feel like any woman after 2.5 months should just KNOW that they are in love, and that if I'm not he thinks he wants to find someone that does.
posted by MamaBee223 to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're both entitled to feel the way you feel. What he isn't entitled to do is to try to push you to feel the way he does. You need to have a conversation where he agrees to back off, calm down, and give you space for your own feelings to develop. And you need to be clear that by putting pressure on you in this way, he's eventually going to turn things sour and push you away. If he's not willing to do that, he needs to go find someone who wants to move as quickly as he does.
posted by pipeski at 7:43 AM on March 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

It's normal for two people to have different love languages and speeds at which they share their feelings but it sounds to me like he is putting way too much pressure on you and not respecting your position to take the relationship slowly. While he is willing to pull back for a bit to ostensibly give you space he is coming back at you pretty strongly within a couple of weeks? If you setting boundaries puts you at risk of losing him I would say that it's not a loss for you AT ALL. Good for you for questioning this type of behavior because you are in a much better place to take care of yourself!
posted by waving at 7:44 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Normal? Healthy? I dunno, people are weird.

Do you like it? That's what matters. Do you like this dynamic, do you like this interchange, do you like the degree to which this topic dominates your < 3 month relationship?

I would not like those things, I bet a lot of other folks wouldn't, some folks would. What matters is what you want, and it sounds to me like you don't want all this.
posted by French Fry at 7:51 AM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine," when we are just two different people with two different love languages in a sense.

This is game-playing. He's told you that he's basically withholding affection/altering his behavior until you start acting the way he wants you to act. A healthy response would be more along the lines of "okay, I feel how I feel and you feel how you feel and it is perfectly reasonable not to start declaring platitudes of love one month into a relationship and we've talked about it and we'll just proceed in good faith because I believe you and these are early stages yet". But he's not listening because he's already decided that you're the sort of person he wants to be with, you seem perfect and therefore he loves you and why can't you just act the way he wants you to now?

You've been in a relationship for 2.5 months. That isn't very long. And because it isn't very long he's insecure about how you feel about him. Lots of people aren't completely secure in an early relationship because it's an early relationship! That's fine! But instead of dealing with his emotions and recognizing that feelings and relationships take time to develop and that it's probably unreasonable to expect to develop love for someone after a month, he's pushing you to fix this for him, for you to behave in a way that you've already told him you don't do until you know someone better and punishing you when you don't. Your response is totally healthy and reasonable. He should accept it. Instead he keeps bringing it up, which suggests he won't believe what you say and that it isn't about what you say. It's that he wants to be treated in a very specific way without developing the relationship to merit being treated that way and compares you to other women who have doted on him. In other words, all these other women have made him feel like he's their reason for existing straight off the bat, you aren't doing that and he's going to leave unless you start doing that. No. That is not how healthy adult relationships work. He sounds extremely immature.
posted by Polychrome at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2018 [28 favorites]

Speaking generally, you're not wrong to respond cautiously to a romantic partner moving very quickly, especially after you've explained your own preferred pace. Rushing you off your feet is an abuser's tactic. I'm not saying that this particular guy is one, but your instincts are sound here.

he said he was used to women doting over him or verbally telling him how much they liked him

This sounds pretty offputting to me. It's not so much a "this is what makes me feel cared for" statement as a "this is what women are supposed to do for me, why aren't you" statement. At the very least, it's a signal of potential incompatibility.
posted by praemunire at 8:19 AM on March 5, 2018 [18 favorites]

I would be uncomfortable with this, too. It feels very pushy to me, bordering on manipulative. He's not wrong to want someone who is on the same page as him, but you're not wrong, either.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:20 AM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

This phenomenon:

So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine,"

is almost always going to not work out. It's not unusual for people to move at slightly different speeds, and it's fine as long as the person inclined to move faster just gets that the other person doesn't and it's not especially a point of chafing or distress. An open line of communication about whether everyone is comfortable and okay with how things are going is great, constant complaining that you won't do what he wants isn't. Patience and willingness to wait (and wait and see! damn, some things take time to develop), especially with a partner recovering from abuse, is great. Anything less than that isn't.

I think it is clear that whatever this guy is looking for, it's not what you're looking for. That's fine, it really is, you're better off going through a few early failures to get the hang of your own boundaries and taking care of them. Let him go.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:21 AM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Another note, it almost sounds like you regard his demographics ("older (early 40s), hes been divorced for years, and knows what he wants, and is the "realtionship type."") as maybe positive, but I do not. I'm in my mid-40s and my peers who have been divorced for years? They got married when they were young enough that they and their partner didn't really know what they were getting into, he got binned when his refusal to step up and participate finally reached critical mass, and he's been unable to maintain a long-term relationship since because women over about the age of 34 know better. He's the "relationship type" in that he wants to find a nice lady to take care of him (probably while he makes his entire contribution in money rather than emotional engagement) and tell him how great he is but not bother him with her own emotional needs. I know this is a broad-brush portrait, but you'd be getting different types of interaction from him if I was very wrong.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2018 [16 favorites]

He is a divorced man in his 40's, and his options are likely limited. That said, he chose you instead of someone half his age because his greater mileage makes it easy for him to impress someone with less dating experience. He simply wants a more intimate relationship than you right now. That is never going to change, because that is not how people work.

There is nothing wrong with him feeling the way he feels, nor are your feelings invalid. Where another respondent sees his behavior as pushy because it clearly makes you uncomfortable, I'd ask you to take a step back and appreciate the wisdom behind the first sentence in my response.

If you haven't talked about your previous relationships, I'd urge you to let him talk about his. I see his behavior as a manifestation of a basic insecurity, which I also see as completely normal if he has been hurt in the past.

If you don't have that level of curiousity and can't bear to let him open up and be vulnerable to you, then I'd suggest ending the relationship, because it simply means that you can't give him what he wants, and clearly he isn't giving you what you want. (Is he meeting your needs otherwise, and do you expect him to change his behavior? "Yes" and "no" respectively give you the greatest chance of having a fulfilling relationship.) If he is otherwise decent to you, then I'd urge you to stick around and see what develops.

You know whether you are into him or not. He wants to know if you are into him. What is to be lost through honesty? Even if it comes in the form of "I don't have the same strong feelings, but want to see what develops."
posted by Mr. Fig at 8:30 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine,"

is almost always going to not work out. It's not unusual for people to move at slightly different speeds,

Agreed. Accepting his statement of love at face value, he's in deeper than you are. For you to get to the place where he is -- however long that takes -- you will need him to reveal more of himself. But he would need to open himself even further to someone who may or may not be on that same path at all. That's an untenable situation, the reasonable expectations of both sides being fundamentally opposed.

Let him go.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:48 AM on March 5, 2018

Just as a counterpoint.

I think it's normal to be bummed and maybe moderately anxious when stuff is still new/uncertain and your partner doesn't seem to be as into you as you are into them. I think this gets complicated by differences in love languages, especially early in relationships- when a person doesn't express their feelings in the same way you do, and you haven't had lots of time to accumulate evidence of their feelings, it can be hard to trust other signs that they're into you. It feels very much like mixed messages when the love language that's most important to you (in his case, words of affirmation) isn't being expressed, but other signs of affection are there. I've learned (from Metafilter) to listen to the message I don't want to hear when I'm getting mixed messages- so in his shoes, I'd believe you weren't into me, too.

When I've been in similar situations, I've found it really hard to resist the urge to check in and get reassurance that things are still okay. It's something I have to constantly monitor and work on in myself. Sometimes, I cope with the uncertainty of this kind of situation by pulling back on expressing my affection- not to manipulate the other person into giving me what I want, but to slow myself down when I'm feeling extra limeranced out and reduce the frequency with which I feel disappointed when I express affection and things aren't reciprocated in quite the way I want.

If he's anything like me in that regard, he probably needs to have a check-in with himself about whether his needs can be met by how you express your feelings. It sounds like he prefers to receive words of affirmation, while you prefer to give acts of service and quality time. It's possible that he can learn to trust how you express your feelings, but he'll have to accept the fact that how you express your feelings isn't going to change and figure out if he can live with that. If he can't get to that place in himself, he's going to shoot himself in the foot and push you away.
posted by quiet coyote at 8:49 AM on March 5, 2018 [11 favorites]

His behaviour creeps me out.

He constantly asks you if you love him yet, and when you say no, he's less nice to you? That sounds super manipulative. Especially with him telling you that all other women always dote on him? ... no.

Look, he may not be a creep. But ... you haven't invested enough to take that risk. Dump him.
posted by MangoNews at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2018 [10 favorites]

Find someone who is emotionally secure enough to share their strong feelings with you with no strings attached. This guy says he loves you after a few dates (flag!) and then is desperate to extract the same declaration from you? That's just not what an emotionally healthy and secure person does. Then changing his own behavior to punish you by withdrawing affection while also telling you how other women gladly dote on him? These things becoming his pattern so early in a relationship aren't good signs. I wouldn't take this much further. He's already showing you that he expects you to fall in line with his wants and needs and has no problem being manipulative in order to get what he wants on his timeline. It's just not respectful of you and your differences. And, "love" without respect is not something you should want or tolerate.
posted by quince at 9:11 AM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Does he have anxiety issues? I do. I have throttled back on asking for reassurance from my partner (of 8 years) because it makes him uncomfortable. But I still pressure him sometimes because I have serious anxiety and PTSD and trust issues (yes, I’m in therapy) and he’s not the outwardly demonstrative type. We have eventually hammered out a communication system that works for us. But be aware it may be due to unaddressed anxiety issues on his side.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 9:18 AM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

He's shared A LOT of personal stories with me- and I listen without judgement, and always make him comfortable expressing whatever he felt comfortable with. e have both shared almost everything about our pasts and how it has kind of created who we are today. I've told him of my past and told him that I just needed patience and that it was no reflection on my feelings of him, and that if that didn't work for him I completely understood that he would need more or something different. He understood, but it's just repetitive cycle where it's like he hears, understands but then I feel him pull back. He pulled back recently because apparently he said "I love you" before bed one night and I didn't respond (because I hoenstly didn't hear him, I think I had fallen asleep already), so he said he was offended and I could tell something was wrong.

Anyway, I know about all of his past relationships, why they didn't work, his family dynamic, and what makes him the way he is. There is probably some anxiety in there, and fear of abandonment issues as well. He seems like he has spent the last 4 years of his life after his divorce going to therapy and realy focusing on his mental health, and himself. I want to see his side, and I'm trying, which is kind of why I posted here. I want to be open minded, but I also want to protect myself.
posted by MamaBee223 at 9:26 AM on March 5, 2018

Honestly, he sounds like a lot of work. You've written a lot about a relationship that hasn't even be alive for three months. I was kinda on the fence about going slow and giving him more time until you mentioned he was "offended". Umm. No. This seems very controlling. With your history I would back off and re-focus your energy on other priorities. You don't have to dump him, but he shouldn't be your main priority (and he shouldn't be occupying your head-space so much when you are not with him).
posted by saucysault at 9:44 AM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Ugh, this seems like too much. Put yourself first here - this is too much too fast. Go ahead and nicely end the relationship - you are looking for different things.
posted by Toddles at 9:57 AM on March 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Just as a different, less Machiavellian possibility to some of the "he's manipulating you, he's playing games' (really, folks?) viewpoint.

I opened this because, frankly, he sounds like me, and I was curious how the discussion was going to go.

To me, what I read in his "pulling back" behavior is that he is afraid he is coming across overly intense, and that by doing so, he is scaring you, and that he doesn't want to lose you. I wouldn't be surprised if he also picked up on your "proceed with caution" feelings.

Were I in these circumstances, that's what I'd be doing and feeling. I can become attracted to someone rather quickly, and I already know that my feelings are usually stronger than "average". So if I told someone I loved them, and they responded by saying they liked me but weren't ready to say those words yet, and if I picked up on "proceed with caution" behavior on their part, I would think to myself, "I am coming on too strongly, as I certainly can do, and I'm in danger of scaring her off. Red alert, red alert, back off, I'm such an idiot, I have to play it cool."

And I would "pull back" in the exact same manner you describe him doing. Because that's the cue I would feel as if I was picking up from what you had outlined.

Although I know (admittedly, in a vague way) what you mean when you speak of love languages, that is not well-spread knowledge across the male gender, so he may not have that metaphor handy for his cognitive model of your relationship.

In this circumstance, assuming you are interested in having this develop, I would sit down with him. I would tell him you are interested in keeping this relationship growing, and I would point out to him that although you're not ready to say those three words, you have demonstrated some signs of interest that perhaps he missed. (Sometimes we men need to get hit over the head with a giant Captain Caveman club a few times to get the point.) I would see if you could find a simple primer for love languages that you could forward to him, too.

Good luck. I suspect that this guy's into you and that his behavior is positively motivated in that he just doesn't want to fuck it up. (And despite trying to speak from his viewpoint, no, I'm not him.)
posted by WCityMike at 10:04 AM on March 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Being "offended" because you didn't do what he wanted is abusive behavior. Being sad about it, or worried, those are feelings appropriate to the circumstances.

Offense is for men who don't really like women to have agency. You didn't insult his family or say something racist, you failed to say what he wanted you to say.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Offense is for men who don't really like women to have agency.

Or, you know, offense is just offense. Stating that particular emotions, when displayed, are always equivalent to a sinister motive is not particularly conducive towards good communication.

Absolutes exist in science much more than they do human relations.
posted by WCityMike at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Being "offended" assumes the person who offended you had ill intent in their actions or words.

If someone doesn't respond to a statement by me, I assume they didn't hear me, were thinking about an answer still, didn't feel my statement needed a reply, or misunderstood my comment. To leap to offence, feel wounded and then share with the person that they "caused" you to feel that way speaks to their worldview. Offense is close to contempt and resentment, not healthy emotions in a relationship.
posted by saucysault at 11:01 AM on March 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

He's shared A LOT of personal stories with me- and I listen without judgement, and always make him comfortable expressing whatever he felt comfortable with

Just as anecdata, I've caught myself doing this kind of thing, convinced that it's part of my charm, but as I've grown older I've started recognizing it as an anxious reaction that causes me to push the relationship towards intimacy faster than it might normally.

It's a gambit, betting one's vulnerability will be matched, at the very least out of politeness or social obligation but hopefully out of chemistry and connection, in order to bind the relationship more tightly together. In this light it could be seen as a form of manipulation, but I don't think it's easily separated from "how one thinks relationships could go." That is, if both people are like this it's probably not so much of a problem.

I can see it also being a form of setting the relationship up for a fall, to provide an exit, where "I've done everything I could to demonstrate my interest in the relationship (via information overload), but $otherperson has not stepped up, so I'm out of here."
posted by rhizome at 12:16 PM on March 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Anyway, I know about all of his past relationships, why they didn't work, his family dynamic, and what makes him the way he is.

He's probably gained some sense of how others see him through therapy, but the grain of salt here is that, even with some hindsight, how we view ourselves in relation our families and significant others is a personal perspective. It might be that he's looking for love (including attraction) and, eventually, a mutually supportive relationship but it's easy to mistake the latter for a need for validation. And it sounds like he's maybe looking for validation.

If someone said they loved me at that point and it wasn't an incredibly mutually enthusiastic relationship, I'd be questioning whether they love me or the idea of being with me, a person who cares for them.
posted by mikeh at 1:31 PM on March 5, 2018

This might be setting the standard "high" but I believe we should all have high standards anyway...

A standard development model describes child behaviors as goals driven (chase good thing, reject bad thing) and adolescent behaviors as transactional (maybe hold off on a "good" thing - like stealing - if there is a potential for negative punishment, and you may do a "bad" thing - like doing homework - if there is a potential for positive reward, like praise or achievement). Adult behaviors are described as principle and ethics focused: doing the right thing regardless of the potential reward or punishment.

So if someone is offended that when they say they love you but you don't say you love them back - that's transactional. If someone "pulls back" in response to you pulling back that's transactional as well. That to me, is not adult behavior. If they truly believed that you both had a future together, they would act in a manner "true" to themselves / their feelings / their principles while they gave you a reasonable amount of time to decide for yourself if you want to reciprocate. Because if they can't do that for a period of months or even a year, what does that bode for a long term relationship where there WILL be periods where either partner can feel distant or unloved from the other? What then, will they fall back into a transactional type relationship model again?
posted by xdvesper at 3:22 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think this is being way overanalyzed psychologically...the responses are exhausting. And it appears you're mentally exhausting yourself trying to read into it, how to feel and think about it, rather than address it and take action, and use results to give you the answer you're looking for.
It seems a situation where compromise is necessary, like in any given relationship. The positives seem strong enough to try, given the comfort level and honesty in communications established in just 2.5 months is a strong point. But depending on your personal priorities, maybe they're not, you know better than anyone what you're capable of and willing to accomdate for.
He has high needs in this area, you have low needs. He'll have to lower his expectations in respect to yours, and you'll have to find the least intrusive way of meeting his in respect to his. Everyone has expectations in a relationship, but no one gets everything they want.
Perhaps try a small amount of reassurance. Honestly, a text every 2 weeks, (when you've indicated this is the extent of his request), when he's feeling anxious/unsure isn't actually that much work, nor does it require you to extend youself very far beyond your comfort level. If this satisfies, then you both win. If it doesn't, and it appears to increase his demands of you instead, then you may be valid in your concerns about it potentially being a warning sign of worse to come.
You may be slow to attach, but some are quick to, and do want some level of reassurance that it's safe to do so, in protecting themselves much in the way that you are doing for yourself.
posted by OnefortheLast at 4:29 PM on March 5, 2018

So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine,"

I will also go heavily against the grain here and suggest that he's both demonstrating and communicating to you that he is making attempts to accomdate your needs, and asking for feedback, i.e."this is what I'm doing to both respect your needs and my own. What do you think/is it ok."
If it was manipulative, I doubt he'd be telling you what and why and asking you for input.
posted by OnefortheLast at 5:20 PM on March 5, 2018

he said he was used to women doting over him or verbally telling him how much they liked him
He says he isn't sure that I am all that into him,

Here's two more.
-This is happening
-I've never experienced this before so,
-It makes me think and feel this
-So I am expressing this so,
-You may either validate or clarify my experience

I guess maybe I can see your confusion. Upon first look, this appears to be great communication.
But after a bit of thought, I'm now also unsure if he's in actuality being incredibly direct/upfront or trying to bulldoze your behavior, because it appears I overlooked this comment:

and that he is looking for "fireworks"; and doesn't want to settle for anything less than that
THIS is perhaps a concern; Because it's not YOUR concern, but he's framing it as such. Does HE feel "fireworks?" Yes? Then that should suffice. No? Then he's either being quite impatient or he's demanding the impossible of you, and yes, attempting to manipulate your behaviour . Call him out on this concern and his reaction should tell you what you need to know.
posted by OnefortheLast at 6:04 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Omg. I hate my browser.
He can't both be: so in love and so sure about you and also "unwilling to settle" at the same time. You may have a smooth-talker douche here. Or a dude who needs a heavy valium script.
posted by OnefortheLast at 6:16 PM on March 5, 2018

I've fianlly settled on: This is just so totally a classic example of male/female internal dysfunctions in realtionships.
Here we have a slow moving thoughtful methodological woman. You know, the "play it cool" girlfriend. And the guy just going apeshit crazy ready to set sail and get married kinda crazy over her.
Reverse the roles aaaaand... you have the anxious "clingy girl" who the guy figures there just must be something wrong with her to like him so much.
The cool girl is debating ending otherwise gpod things over having to send a 30 second reassurance text once every 14 days.
The clingy guy is tripping over himself bending over backwards doing flip flops just trying to say or do something, anything, to have the girl just say, yah i like you too.
Reverse gender roles in your head and see if your answer remains the same. I guess bottom line, anxiety is a bitch for eveyone involved. However, it's a 30 second one for the op and a 2 week at a time one for her boyfriend. Sounds like you're "just not that into him." It's ok to break up over this.
posted by OnefortheLast at 11:00 PM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

After the part about him being offended that you didn't say "I love you" when he said it, it struck me that he's probably not in love with you. Instead, he craves something, and you are the most convenient person he can project that concept onto. He's in love with some idea of you, with something that you might come to be for him, but it is an illusion he has attached to. You will never match the version of you he's imagining. You should walk away.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:49 PM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

he said he was used to women doting over him or verbally telling him how much they liked him

So, as a result he said he pulls back to meet my level of attraction- he changes his behavior to "match mine,"

Yeah, no. He wants something specific from you - doting behavior, lots of verbal affection - and is having a tantrum when he doesn't get it. He's not "matching" your behavior, he's trying to manipulate or punish you until you comply. This is not a cool way to treat someone you allegedly love.

I'd also be extremely concerned about this escalating, because it's very much a "well you made me do it" way of thinking, and so far he's got you questioning whether he's "matching you" or being a jerk.

He's a jerk.

Find a guy who doesn't behave like this. There are tons out there.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:45 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

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