Help an anxious dater
August 13, 2018 9:33 AM   Subscribe

How would a non-anxious person react/how can I react to this dating scenario?

I've had two intense dates from Tinder with one person on the past two weekends. On the first date, we talked /made out for hours- like maybe 5- and had a natural rapport. We kept in touch via text that week (not every day) and arranged to meet up this past weekend. Throughout, he had many positive/complimentary things to say to me.

This past Fri night we met up again. There was a SNAFU- he texted me to say he was working on something and running late, and didn't know if he could make it in time to get the food for the picnic we planned (before outdoor movie). He didn't give me any times. I was upset because of past experiences with flaky daters and expressed that maybe we shouldn't hang out (perhaps an overreaction of mine). He said he still wanted to, and I agreed.

We had a good time- after the movie we came back to my place and literally stayed up the entire night talking and making out. (I wanted to hold off on sex). He left early in the morning. During our time together he mentioned several things we could do together in the future; he seemed really into everything we were doing and it was clear we liked and enjoyed each other.

Later that morning when I woke up I texted him to say I was glad I hadn't cancelled and that I had an awesome time. A few hours later he replied to me with something similar, and positive. Later that evening I text him a link to something we had talked about. I didn't get a response, and the next day (more than 24 hrs later) I just texted him "hi" with a smiley face. That was last night around 9pm; right now it's 12:30 in the afternoon and I haven't gotten a response (previously he would reply to texts very quickly).

I feel really anxious that after such an intense time together with talk of future plans he may be ghosting me. OTOH, I guess it could be too early to say that. But I don't know how to deal with the waiting.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

I was thinking of waiting a day or two and contacting him again to see what's up. Good plan?

I also feel sad that after such an intense time together someone would distance themselves, if that's what's happening- but it's happened to me before. Any idea why people do that? It was very clear and obvious that he liked me. He did also mention a bad breakup at the end of last year.

(another data point- he is a lot younger than me- I'm 39 and he's 28. However, this hasn't felt like an issue and I usually date younger men.)
posted by bearette to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So it has been 48 hours, and two positive txts from you since he has contacted you? I would assume something is wrong with his ability to maintain adult communication and mentally move on. Sorry. It is better to know now than after a few weeks of games. Ghosting isn’t a “you” problem, it is a “them” problem and there is nothing you can say or do to make people mature faster than they want.
posted by saucysault at 9:41 AM on August 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

It doesn't sound good, but there's not a lot you can do about it at this point. If I were in your shoes, I'd wait a few days, and text him with an invite out to a specific *thing*, on specific date at *time*, and ask if he wants to go. Ask him out, let him say yes, no, or to ghost you. Then you'll have your answer.

It's been great, and maybe it will still be great, but maybe not. Try not to overanalyze it - you're not in his head, and you can't know what all is going on.
posted by hydra77 at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm in a similar demographic to him, and I would say that this is a small flag that you should note, but it's not an indication of what he's thinking.

I've been similarly slow to reply to new acquaintances, not because I don't like them, but because engaging requires emotional energy I may not have. Do you know if they're in a particularly busy time at work? Or what's going on in their life besides you? While you have had two good dates, you're still likely low on his priority list and he may be devoting his energy elsewhere, while having the full intention of replying later.

If he doesn't respond tonight, I would send a third message tomorrow morning. If he doesn't respond by tomorrow night then I would take it as a sign that he's no longer interested.
posted by matrixclown at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Later that morning when I woke up I texted him to say I was glad I hadn't cancelled and that I had an awesome time. A few hours later he replied to me with something similar, and positive. Later that evening I text him a link to something we had talked about. I didn't get a response, and the next day (more than 24 hrs later) I just texted him "hi" with a smiley face. That was last night around 9pm; right now it's 12:30 in the afternoon and I haven't gotten a response (previously he would reply to texts very quickly).

So it sounds like the timeline was: Saturday afternoon was the last you heard from him, Saturday evening you sent him a link to something you talked about, last night you texted him "hi" with a smiley face, and you haven't heard back from him since Saturday afternoon.

Personally (and this is one dude's opinion), I wouldn't be so anxious. As an outsider to this situation, it sounds like he had a busy weekend since then and is back at work this morning. I am not someone who is glued to my phone and depending on what's going on in my life, it can take me a few days to get back to people too, especially people I don't know that well or haven't known that long or who I don't see often anymore. And for me, if I don't have time for a discussion about something via text (like about a link someone sent me), I won't reply until I do. This is coming from someone who is about the same age as the guy in your Q and also feels ambivalent about dating for my own personal reasons (mostly insecurity and a lack of wanting a committed relationship at this time in my life). It is also, of course, possible that he is ghosting you. I think hydra77's advice to give it a couple days and invite him to a specific thing at a specific time and see what his response (or lack of response) is is the best course of action here.

I've been ghosted before too and if they don't get back to you within a week, just forget about them is my personal opinion. I've also taken more than a week to get back to people I was talking to on Tinder when I wasn't ghosting them (we hadn't met up yet, so not sure if one can count that as ghosting in the usual sense), only because I was super busy and didn't really have time to date (coupled with the aforementioned ambivalence, tbh) -- which is really a clue about how much time/effort someone can give to a relationship anyway.
posted by sevenofspades at 10:12 AM on August 13, 2018

Previously: here or here

But you sound a bit intense, far too early. Wait for him to get back to you.
posted by Kwadeng at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I totally feel for you here as I really hate the way people "communicate" in the dating scene of today. Given how things went when you first connected as far as the speed of responses, I definitely think the sudden lack of response is his way of saying he's not interested in moving forward. It's a really crappy way to communicate as it leaves you hanging and contemplating what you should do and trying to figure out his thought process. Of course it would be so much nicer if people could just say hey thanks for hanging out but unfortunately I'm not interested in pursuing a relationship with you. While that might hurt at least you know exactly their feelings and at the end of the day I think that's a more mature way to conduct one self in the dating world. But alas, most people simply resort to ghosting. It's the norm of today.

Now all this said, it's very possible that he eventually responds to you and may even initiate getting together. And it will be up to you to decide if you're interested. If you really want to, try reconnecting in about three days. If no response move on...better to end it now then get more involved only to see it end when you're even more attached. Hope this is helpful.
posted by ljs30 at 11:39 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

If I were you, I'd give it until Wednesday, maybe send one last text if I felt like it, and then be done if he didn't have a good explanation (followed by changed behavior, mostly in terms of sticking to a scheduled time to meet up, which failure would be more concerning to me than contact over text).

But if I were him and I had spent more than a few hours in the company of a new person, I'd need a few days to recover--and I'd want some of them to pass without any contact. That's a lot of time and energy to set aside for a stranger, no matter how attractive they are. Once infatuation has some time to develop, it's a different story. Holding off on the amount of mental bandwidth you turn over to someone new is every bit as valid as holding off on having sex. What you say here, "I also feel sad that after such an intense time together someone would distance themselves," is precisely why. This may not apply to him at all, or it may be incompatible with your own needs if it does, but two days of space after an overnight date (assuming nothing really vulnerable, or otherwise warranting reassurance, which the Saturday morning text kind of is already?) is not that long.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:59 AM on August 13, 2018

Best answer: If I were in your situation I would not do any more initiating and let him reach out to me. I'd channel my time and energy into other productive pursuits (such as continue exploring other dating prospects). I wouldn't fault him for taking days to reply nor would I immediately write him off, but I would take his current unresponsiveness as a sign that we might have incompatible ideas about what constitutes good communication and considerate behavior in the early stages of dating.
posted by tackypink at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I’ve dated a lot. Younger. Older. Tall. Short. Et cetera.

I’ve learned that whenever a man stops being consistent with me in communication, interest has been lost. It was definitely always a red flag for me. Ghosting someone, I’ve found, is their way of leaving the door open for a later return. Everyone who has done this to me has come back at some point in the future (one was yeaaaarrrsss later — I didn’t even remember him!).

I’m sorry to say that, but it’s the nature of dating. People come and go. It wouldn’t surprise me that he thought he could hook up with you and when he didn’t get what he wanted, he moved on in his mind. I get that he liked you, he probably did, but with everything being in the early stages, that means nothing.

It also bothers me that people say, “The man is busy!” Typically, when a person is conditioned to expect a certain behavior from their interest and they lose that consistency suddenly without warning, then something has changed and the gut feeling is mixed with anxiety which leads to questions like this. It takes 10 seconds to send a text.

If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother contacting him again. That’s the trick for getting over that anxiety that you feel right now. Pretend he died or got kidnapped and push him from your mind. Go on another date, keep looking, or apply your energy elsewhere. And who knows? He might text you next week asking how you are. Ignore him. Show him the same courtesy he showed you.
posted by AlexandriaParis at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2018 [25 favorites]

To maybe put a sharper point on AlexandriaParis's excellent advice: date someone who wants to date you. If someone is reacting to you with anything less than excitement and enthusiasm, let them pass by. It is better to be alone than to be grasping for attention from some vacant shell of an idea of a text message of a shadow. You know what you want. Don't settle for less. Block his number.
posted by Kwine at 3:45 PM on August 13, 2018 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. We had such an intense and fun time, and future plans were talked about, etc. that I just feel so angry and dejected, and I am really fighting the urge to message him- I know I shouldn't, esp. right now. If anyone has tips on how to fight that urge (esp. when I am home alone at night and it's harder to distract myself) I'd greatly appreciate that too.
posted by bearette at 4:55 PM on August 13, 2018

Ok, you asked for a distraction, and this is weird advice but perhaps read the Taffy Brodesser-Akner profile of Tom Hiddleston for GQ. Its online. Anyway, basically Taffy and Tom have a series of intense and gratifying conversations. There are hugs, there are promises. Its like they fell in love.

But they didnt! (Or at least I don't think they did) My takeaway is that some people are really good at performing love. They just pretend they are until they're there.

So that's a bummer. But its a way to look at it.
posted by charlielxxv at 6:11 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm around your age. when I was his age, someone substantially older than me who liked me a lot was a flattering and attractive prospect. but someone that much older who got attached very quickly and seemed to get angry or upset when I didn't meet their social/romantic behavior expectations was really sort of alarming when I had time alone to think about what had just happened. even if I had a terrific intense time every time I was alone with them.

that may have nothing to do with why he hasn't texted, just like him being male may have nothing to do with it. but age is just as significant a part of stranger dating dynamics as gender is. you say it doesn't feel like an issue from your end, but it can be an issue in the younger person's expectations even when it's not an issue in their attraction. even now, I expect a certain equanimity from older people that I don't necessarily exhibit myself.

he might write back soon and ask you out again, there might be no problems at all. or he could be interested but trying to slow down. but if he never does reply -- you had two dates, you both followed up to say you had a nice time. then you made open-ended conversational overtures and he declined to answer. I wouldn't even call it ghosting to fade away after only two dates, as long as no sex was had and no specific third meeting was planned and no promises were made. even if they were great dates and you liked him a lot.

as to urges, don't contact anybody more than twice in a row without getting a reply unless you've known them forever or are afraid they're in danger. just never. and if you get two weeks or more of silence, don't go out with him again even if he asks you to.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:55 PM on August 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

If anyone has tips on how to fight that urge (esp. when I am home alone at night and it's harder to distract myself)

Delete his number? Allows you to mentally close the door on him, with the added advantage that you can do the whole “who dis?” routine very convincingly (because you legit won’t know who it is) if he ever does get back in touch.
posted by tinkletown at 8:34 PM on August 13, 2018

Best answer: You say that you wanted to hold off on sex. This is a good boundary to have, but not the only one you should consider IMHO. I'd recommend against having first dates that go on for hours, and hours, and hours - this is just way too intense for this stage of dating? Don't wait for him to say "ok, I better get going." Tell him you are having a wonderful time talking to him, but your beauty sleep is important, and be the one to finish the date. Otherwise, even though he did enjoy your time together, leaving in the morning he might feel overwhelmed. Leave a bit of mystery about yourself, things yet to be discovered. Leave him wanting more of the great time you were having, not oversaturated with it.

Same goes for the first date. Don't make out with someone for hours on the first date. I say this with zero judgment. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it just might be giving him a subtle feeling that you're giving a lot of your time and affection to someone who has not yet earned it, thus lowering your value in his eyes. He probably would not really think in these terms, it's just a feeling.

At a date number 1 - 5, he is still a nobody to you. Don't let a stranger to monopolize your precious time like that. Let him prove himself first, as a considerate and consistent communicator, for instance, if this is important to you. You can't know how good of a communicator he is yet, and what his level of interest in you is at just a second date. Especially as he started waffling a bit after the first date. Don't invest so much time and emotions into someone who may or may not prove himself worthy of considering seriously dating. Perhaps doing so will allow your own heart to take it slow(er) too, so that you don't agonize over his lack of text or attention if he happens to be a flake or not enough into you.
posted by LakeDream at 1:39 PM on August 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey All! I wanted to give an update for anyone who might check back or read in the future.

Thanks to your messages, I held off on texting, which was the right decision at that time because it made me feel less anxious after a couple days had passed.

However, after a week went by and I had pretty much written him off, I texted him to ask if I could get something back that I left in his car (of relative value).

He wrote back something like "Of course! How are you?!". And he told me he hadn't gotten EITHER of my texts. (Which may sound far-fetched, but I do have proof in another instance, with someone else, of a text of mine not ever getting delivered). He also said he wouldn't have mentioned the things we could do together for no reason, or just ignored my texts, and also said he had had a busy week and didn't want to bother me with texts.

So, jury's still out on whether there is a larger communication issue here, but I feel pretty secure he wasn't trying to ghost.
posted by bearette at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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