Mixed signals - is he just shy or just not into me - how to proceed?
November 11, 2018 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Been seeing a new boy who has treated me like a queen but is suddenly withdrawing? Is he shy or avoiding me? How do I proceed with this?

Back story time: I met a boy a few weeks ago, I was at a gig in the smoking area between bands when I first noticed him and he kept appearing in close proximity to me and we kept catching each other's eye. He was beautiful and each time I saw him he was alone, so after a couple of liquid courage beverages I approached him to talk to him "Hi, I've noticed you're on your own, do you need a friend?" He was very lovely, soft spoken and assured me that he did have friends around although he had no idea where they had disappeared. We spoke for a long time, forged a nice connection and got along so well talking about art and music and travel and food and our lives - but he had to leave pretty early into the night to drive back home (a town which is 1 hour away) as he had to work in the morning. We added each other on social media and had two mutual friends in common - he asks me how I know them and we discover he's pretty good friends with one of the girls who I am going up to do some modelling work with in his town the following weekend. He says we should hang out when I come to his town the following weekend.

The next day I message him to say it was nice to talk to him and he asks me which day on the weekend I will be in town and suggests we hang out on Saturday night when I am up there. He first suggests a drink, and then hesitantly suggests dinner - which I enthusiastically agree too - and on the Monday before the weekend he locks it in and makes a reservation to a very nice place on the beach - locking a date in this far an advance is seemingly unheard of in my age demographic (I am 27 and he's 28) in an age of netflix and chills.

Saturday night arrives, my social anxiety kicks in and I'm nervous as hell - but he's offered to pick me up from the train station and chauffer me around for the night. We grab a drink before dinner at a nearby bar, and it's obvious we are both a bit nervous but we start chatting and the conversation flows beautifully as it did the first time we met and we both relax into the evening. We have a great night getting to know each other and there's hardly a moment of silence between us, he asks a lot of questions and knows a lot about the world and it feels as if we have known each other longer than a week at this point. We go to dinner, we are the last ones in the restaurant laughing and chatting, he says 'I'm not sure if you would want to have another drink but if you do feel like it I will take you to my favourite bar in town,' he introduces me too all of his friends at the bar, another drink turns into several other drinks, the bar closes and we go back to his house to listen to records and have a few beers on his balcony by the beach. He didn't let me pay for a thing the entire evening, but I managed to sneakily pay for a round of after dinner cocktails.

He seems to be a bit shy and at this point we hadn't even kissed but reading books on his couch eventually turns into a sleepover. I usually have a pretty strict rule about not sleeping with someone on the first date but this feels so easy and natural it happens. The next morning he is nothing but a perfect gentlemen to me, we have a lovely morning and he offers to drive me to wherever I need to be driven as I have to start working with his friend. Before he drops me off he mentions he will be in my town for work during the week and that he would love to see me. Now I've slept with a lot of jerks who have ghosted me after sex so I'm over the moon that he's already tee'd up the next meeting. He messages me later that evening to ask me how my day of work went, and while we are messaging back and forth he says "Hope to see you on Wednesday?" :-)

The next week, we have our midweek catch up which is short lived as with both have early starts the next day, but he suggests another date on the weekend on the weekend and we settle for Sunday - the only day we both don't have plans. He drives me home and plants a sweet kiss on my lips before we part ways.

Now this is where it gets complicated: we are sending each other a few friendly messages throughout the week and having a bit of banter on Saturday night (the night before we are meant to meet) when we are both out drinking in our seperate towns. We're just talking about how our nights have been when he suddenly drops into the conversation out of no where "Hey I've gotta say... I'm moving overseas and can't be that present but we can obviously hang out and stuff I just want you to know that. :-) And I'm kinda wigging out about that but I already did it hah :$" - except it wasn't typed that well so it's pretty obvious he's drunk.

I don't reply until the next morning but the thing is he's already told me during our first date that he was planning to move overseas in March which is a whole 6 months away - so now I am confused as to why he had sent me that message because it was no surprise he was leaving? He replies the next day saying he was really drunk the night before and had been very ill all morning from drinking too much and he hadn't left his bed all day. He apologises and says he is so sorry but he will have to raincheck on our date because he's too sick to leave the house, but doesn't suggest another day. I haven't heard from him since but it's only been about 24 hours since he cancelled.

The problem: is I've had so many terrible experiences with men that I don't know how to take this. Was sleeping with him so soon a mistake? Is he just trying to get rid of me because we got what he wanted? I'm so confused because even after we hooked up he still seemed into me and he was the one teeing up all the dates and messaging me afterwards. Did I do something to spook him maybe? I'm not sure how to play it now - do I just accept that he doesn't want anything from me and leave it? I don't like guys very often and he ticks a lot of my boxes and I was enjoying spending time getting to know him better and I'm upset that I've had the rug pulled up from underneath me so quickly since I liked him. Advice would be appreciated!

Additional info: I am worried he might be a player but his friend who knows him well and that knows we went on a date with each other told me after the first date old that she was very happy we had met because he is a very kind, genuine guy who doesn't date or sleep with girls very often.

Been seeing a new boy who has treated me like a queen but is suddenly withdrawing? Is he shy or avoiding me? How do I proceed with this?
posted by bebebardot to Human Relations (12 answers total)

Seems like he's trying to manage your expectations, so don't expect a lot. I don't think we can conclude he wants _nothing_ from you - it's quite possible that he would be down for something casual with a clear endpoint (=when he moves away in six months) - but right now his priority seems to be not to raise your hopes for anything more than that. ("I can't be that present, but we can hang out and stuff" = "I'm not planning to spend so much time with you as to risk getting particularly attached, because that would just complicate things for me at my inevitable depature, but if you're ready to settle for temporary entertainment, I'd be down for that.")

He seems to be at a moment in his life where he's not willing to invest a lot in a new relationship in a country he's about to leave anyway in the forseeable future, and that would be the case not matter what you do, so please don't fret about "mistakes". Sleeping with him might have sped up the process towards the inevitable a bit, but I think that was a good move on your part, because it might prevent you from wasting any more time on him if you're looking for a relationship with longterm potential. Don't feel bad, it was worth a try!
posted by sohalt at 12:43 AM on November 12, 2018 [17 favorites]

You are almost thirty. If you'd like to see him again, propose a date, with a fixed time and place. If he turns you down, it will sting, but then you will know that, for whatever reason, he's gotten cold feet, and you should scratch him off. (Don't maintain casual contact in that scenario, because you will end up sleeping with him again, and at that point you will know you have stronger feelings for him than he does for you.) You are much too old to be playing other games to avoid the Horror of Appearing To Be A Woman Who Has Actual Desires and Expectations.

(I would also gently suggest establishing a standard in your life that if someone asks you out on a serious date, it is normal, not extraordinary, for him to confirm those plans a few days in advance.)
posted by praemunire at 12:45 AM on November 12, 2018 [57 favorites]

I think given he cancelled then leave it for him to make contact and reschedule. If you haven't heard from him in a day or so then write him off.

I don't think he's being shy given you'd slept together, chatted and made plans, but could well be dating / met someone else that has become more serious hence why trying to let you down gently with the moving soon message.

Or possibly just drunk and hungover, so set a deadline for yourself of a day or so and then you'll know. I do tend to think of any raincheck / cancellation excuse as final unless they also reschedule at same time.
posted by JonB at 12:59 AM on November 12, 2018

he's already told me during our first date that he was planning to move overseas in March which is a whole 6 months away

That's more like 4 months, and he's already told you that your relationship with him has an expiration date, so if you want something more permanent, he is not a good choice.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:30 AM on November 12, 2018 [9 favorites]

If you're upset now, because of his behavior after one date, what's it going to be like if you date steadily until March? How will you feel when he leaves?

He could be confused about what he wants, he could be an asshole, he could be any number of things. It doesn't matter. What matters is that this isn't someone to start a relationship with because he is leaving in a few months. He'd be great for a fling, but it doesn't sound like you want a casual fling.

As I have very often told myself, it's like going to a coffee shop and trying to get an entree. It can be a really wonderful coffee shop with comfy chairs and good lighting and friendly baristas, but it just doesn't have entrees and isn't going to, and trying to fill up on biscotti will make you feel worse. Walk out of the coffee shop. Look for someone who can give you what you want. if you, like me, keep finding yourself in metaphorical coffee shops asking for entrees, it might be therapy time.
posted by bunderful at 5:54 AM on November 12, 2018 [30 favorites]

Best answer: Agreed that he is managing your expectations and very clearly telling you he is not an appropriate person to become emotionally attached to.

You obviously have a mutual attraction and get along well, but he is not changing his plans to move away. This is confusing from our (female) perspective because good connections are rare and hormones have you buzzing about the longer-term possibilities. He is not considering those possibilities. He is moving far away and made that known from the get-go. The fact that you met and had sex is nice, but it's not changing his plans.

He is 'into you' in that he is willing to "hang out and stuff" for the next six months - meaning he will date/have sex with you until it's time for him to leave. My advice is do not continue to "hang out" with him unless you wish to amplify your own sadness and dissapointment about the situation.

This kind of stuff is common for men in their twenties (even late twenties), and it is a clear signal that they are not yet relationship material, no matter how promising they may seem in the beginning. The good news is that he's being clear with you, so you don't have to be doubly dissapointed by finding this out later.

One of the perspectives I began to adopt as I grew weary of these types of experiences with men is: you have a choice in this, too. Stop looking at it from the perspective of "What did I do to scare him?" or "If I was more (insert desired quality here) he would drop his plans and fall in love with me!" No. You are two adults with separate agendas in life, and you should put your own self-interest first. As in, this guy may have certain qualities that 'tick off the boxes,' but is he really that great of a catch if he's moving away soon and therefore emotionally unavailable? That renders him pretty unappealing, in terms of real partner potential.

Start examining potential partners with the attitude of "What is this guy offering me? How is he demonstrating his interest and willingness to commit?" instead of "Am I enough for him?"

You are enough, one million times over. Try to grow confident in that fact and eventually you will find a relationship with a person who is ready and willing to be the kind of partner you deserve.
posted by key_kat at 6:02 AM on November 12, 2018 [26 favorites]

I think he likes you and it's messing with his head that he has to leave in March, he's trying not to be an asshole by acting like a boyfriend and then leaving in a few months. I think you should suggest another date and give him one more chance to not flake if you are ok with seeing him until he leaves. Be clear with him though about what you want (exclusive versus not, how often you want to see him - weekly? biweekly?) if he continues to be warm to you and you're truly happy with the expiration date on the relationship and the fact that he's an hour away.
posted by lafemma at 7:55 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

This isn't complicated at all. He's making sure you know that this isn't serious and isn't going anywhere. He's moving away and starting a new life in four months. It's actually kind of cool that he's being upfront with you about it! I'm not wired to date someone casually and then go to their going away party, are you? If you are, keep hanging out with him and have fun. It sounds like you are looking for a deeper connection, though.

Going on a date with a man and having him ask you about making plans to hang out again on that date shouldn't send you "over the moon," but I understand why it does. Dating in your twenties SUCKS. It's hard for you to see it now, but a 28 year old man isn't a child and you shouldn't be pleasantly surprised when they act like an adult about dating and making plans. Don't buy into the millennial nightmare that "Netflix and chill" is all you can expect from men. Good luck out there, you're going to be fine!
posted by cakelite at 8:23 AM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm in a very similar situation, except my guy leaves in 3 months. He was up-front about his travel plans from date 1 and he leaves in 3 months. What about you - that is to say, are you at a place in your life where you are looking for a serious relationship? Sounds like you might be and that's totally ok. In my case, I am still healing from the end of a serious relationship earlier this year and while I re-calibrate, this situation mostly suits me. If you are looking for something serious, would it be in your interests to break this casual situation off now?

I will say, you don't have to make a decision about whether you are going to keep seeing him and stick to it. Like it's perfectly ok if you keep seeing him for now, but it becomes too painful later on and you decide to stop. I check in with myself semi-regularly. On the one hand, I love spending time with my guy but sometimes it hurts when he talks about his future plans in the new country.

Agree with lafemme that he seems into you & maybe that's messing with this head. I would encourage you to keep living your life fully & continue making plans with friends. So that in 6 months you don't feel (too) lonely when he leaves because you've poured most of your social life into being with him. I would personally wait for him to reschedule, but it's up to you.
posted by Willow251 at 12:52 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your very useful insights, been a long time lurker and first time poster and this has really helped me get out of my own head a little bit as I have a tendency to blame myself whenever a romantic situation that goes awry (which I am trying to manage through therapy and working on my self esteem) and thinking that I did something to scare them off instead of seeing things for how they are.

Most of my friends who have seen the whole thing unfold / met him agree with lafemme & Willow251 that he seems like he likes me.

Personally, I feel like it's only been a few weeks so it's too difficult to gauge if I want something long term with him or not - we are only just getting to know each other! I like what I've seen so far but who knows, maybe there are some other qualities that he possesses that I wouldn't find suitable for a long term partner. It's still such early days which is why I was a bit taken aback when receiving that message at 2AM on Sunday morning. Plus we live an hour away from each other currently, so I wasn't really expecting anything full for now as we are both very busy people with lots of hobbies so I was just enjoying getting to see him some weekends and having fun.

I did tell him my plans of going to Europe for six weeks in early May next year as a sort of 'recon mission' to see where I would want to live over there just before he told me he was moving to London - but I didn't mention that I'll probably be spending most of my time in London as that's where all of my friends are based (and free accomodation) because I didn't want to come off as a loon that was trying to follow him across the globe. I have a very huge fear of coming on too strong, or annoying people since I have been dumped by pretty much every guy I have ever dated or had a 'fling' with so I have a bit of a complex about it now.

Well it's Tuesday morning here now and I still haven't heard from him - the ball is in his court now I guess. I've deleted his number so I don't feel the temptation to message him again when I'm partying on the weekend. I can't tell if he's just feeling awkward about his inebriated message or if he's had enough of me already.
posted by bebebardot at 2:48 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't tell if he's just feeling awkward about his inebriated message or if he's had enough of me already.

There are other possibilities, you know. Maybe he thinks it wouldn't be right to keep dating when it's just going to make for heartbreak down the line. And that's a really reasonable reason to pull back from dating someone.

But it's a good thing you deleted his number. You say you aren't sure if you want something long term but folks don't generally write a 9-paragraph ask about something they aren't into.
posted by bunderful at 3:23 PM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ha ha thanks for calling me out bunderful - you're right I do like him. My town's pretty small and sort of full of closed minded guys and I'm a pretty weird chick so it's rare to meet someone with similar interests who just gets my vibe and someone who is over the age of 23 even?! There's way more women than men in my town and guys get their pick and play the field instead of settling down because they have so many options.
posted by bebebardot at 4:30 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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