Did I scare him away or is it genuinely just because of his travelling
November 22, 2018 5:19 PM   Subscribe

So this guy (30) and I (25F) had known each other at work at Uni (he's staff and I was postgrad student) for over a year but never really properly talked to each other, until at some event at Uni ( I don't work there anymore as I finished a year ago) we were talking for quite a bit. And I could tell there was a mutual attraction between us. A few days later I friended him on FB and we started texting daily. The texting was a bit intense with him sending all the lengthy messages and asking all the questions, and I mirrored him doing the same. He even bought me 16 big blocks of chocolates after I joked about it...

The first time we hung out was for me to pick up the chocolates from his place. And we ended up talking for hours and getting dinner (he paid) and another few hours of talking after. After I left he texted me saying it was good 7 hours with me. The next weekend we were doing some baking together ( I suggested first but it was quite subtle and he picked up the hints and responded very well). This time we kissed, and for many times that night. The next day we went for a walk (he suggested) and had dinner again at his place (I asked for this one) and things were great. We made out a lot and he initiated most of the kisses. The week after I crashed his dinner twice (only because he said I was always welcome to do so) and things were still great. And those times I slept over (didn't have sex). He would still text me in the morning and we shared our days everyday.

But after that week I sensed things were a bit off. We still texted but he was less affectionate and flirty. And he didn't ask me out. So at that weekend I just asked if he wanted to take a walk. When we were together he was acting different. Still acting interested in me but didn't kiss me at all. And when I asked if we should do dinner together he didn't sound very keen. I probably shouldn't have but I insisted as I just wanted to talk to him about it then. We ended up having sex (BIG MISTAKE!! I did not plan to do it and he was apparently not ready for it either. But we both thought each other wanted it so we did it...) But after that he acted as distant as he could. So I finally had the gut to ask what was going on with him. Then he said, he thought things were going too fast and he's freaking out and he needed to slow down. He said he's an awkward person and speaking from past experience his normal speed was really slow. He said after buying the chocolates he felt awkward. Also he was told he had to go to another country which is 10 hour flight away for work for 4 months and his contract for his current job ends after that, that's probably part of the reason he's freaking out. When I asked why he still did all those things, he said things were just :perceived happened" (very confusing terms). I asked if he liked me and he said yes. I wasn't very convinced but he said he could have stayed in his office (he had a lot of work so worked at every weekend) but still came out to spend time with me. I did not take the whole thing very well and acted upset that night. But the next day after work he still texted me and we continued texting daily so I was a bit confused. I purposely lessened the frequency and length of the texts with him but still kept it daily.

3 weeks later we hung out again (I asked). We were a bit distant than before at the beginning but he started to get close to me later on. We stayed up until almost 1 am (his bed time is 10pm). When I left we kissed at the door. But after that night, he STOPPED initiating contact. I was even more confused as I thought things went well that night. So a week later I texted him saying if he wanted to end things with me that's fine but don't do it with silence. He replied to appologize and said it's the same concern about him not being around for 4 months in the next 5 months, but happy to talk about it and even have a proper dinner. I was so desperate for an answer and took his words seriously so kind of pushed him to have that dinner the next weekend. But he was sick and seriously busy and worn out that weekend (he didn't tell me until we met) so I failed again to have the conversation. But I guess part of me just simply wanted to see him again...

2 or 3 weeks later I pushed for the last meeting at my place. That was a week before he took off. When we were together I could tell he's still attracted to me and interested. I asked if travelling is the main reason why he's holding off (his plan had changed becoming 1 week Germany + 1 week US + 2 months Africa + 2 months Singapore, so lots of travelling). He said yes, also said he didn't know where he would end up being for his job afterwards as he didn't know if his contract would be extended. Our city is quite small with limited job opportunities so there's a big chance he will end up with a job elsewhere. At the end he had to leave before he was too sleepy to drive, but he didn't walk away straight away from the door. He stared at me and we ended up kissing. Might have taken 15 mins for him to leave.

I know I really should have left things here and just let go. But the night before he flew to Germany I called him and asked why him didn't want me to wait for him.He said it's unfair for me to wait. And again the same conversation about his job and how he didn't know what's going on with all this. I can tell he's quite unsatisfied with his career (has been working 6 years but never had a permanent job). And he's quite ambitious with his phD and MBA. I told him I understand, which I really did. I asked him to at least tell me how he feels about me. He said he enjoyed spending time with me, but he couldn't build up things formally with his lifestyle (he also traveled to another city for work every week), and he felt uncomfortable how this impact other people around him like me. I fell really sorry that I put so much pressure on him and made him reveal all his weaknesses. After the phone call I just sent him a text saying I really like him and enjoyed spending time with him too but felt sad not being able to spend more time with him, and tell him not to feel bad about it cos it's not his fault, and wish him luck with his travelling). He replied:" Blablalba... I do too, but do feel bad about all my travelling and insecurity looking ahead. Blablabla.."

I didn't reply to this, and we just completely stopped talking. Now a few weeks past he's gone to Germany and US and back to town at the moment for a week, and then will go to Africa for 2 months. I'm not trying to reach out although it's tempting to. I know things should be really ended now. And I know I was being too pushy on him especially at the end. But I just can't help wondering, did he break me off only because all his travels and career up in the air, or does he just not like me enough to be with me no matter what, or did I scared him away by acting too pushy/needy and moving too fast? He's not that kind of guy I would worry getting involved with other girls when he's overseas - as mentioned, he's slow and awkward when it comes to girls. And he doesn't have much dating experience. But I really just want to know the real reason here.
posted by yellowpurplered to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That is literally a wall of text!!!
Honestly, having read only the last few sentences, I would say that if a guy broke up with you, it is over. There is no way to know for sure exactly why but you do know for sure that it is over and you will be better off investing your energy into being sad and moving forward because know else here can read his mind for you.

That said, I have a rule that when there are two possible explanations that both seem possible, I go with the one that makes my life better. Why torture yourself when you can't possibly know. So my vote is "be kind to yourself. He said, it was because his life was up in the air. Believe him. You can't be certain it is true but you also can't be certain it's not. So why not believe?
posted by metahawk at 5:30 PM on November 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

But I really just want to know the real reason here.

Unless you go develop some heretofore unknown psychic powers, that's just not going to happen. The exercise here is not to kill yourself trying to work out every possible thing you remember about the situation and guess every thought he ever had and somehow work out some kind of conclusive proof for why he is the way he is. The exercise is to get used to not always knowing why relationships don't work out. The internet can't tell you. He gave you an answer--if you don't believe that answer, then there is literally no way you'll ever know. This is as sure as it gets. If you're having trouble with that, I'm not kidding here, a therapist is a good place to work on that.
posted by Sequence at 5:37 PM on November 22, 2018 [16 favorites]

Believe what he said. It's perfectly reasonable. I strongly doubt that anything you did or said made him stand-offish.
posted by wryly at 5:39 PM on November 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

He was trying to scrape you off carefully before you had sex. Then you had sex, and he felt guilty and felt like he had to drag it out a little longer so it didn't seem like you guys had sex and he immediately dumped you.

He lost interest, but you'll never know the reason. Just assume it's because he has to travel a lot, and move forward. There's nothing to learn here from an autopsy of what happened because this is just one dude. The next person will be their own person. And unless you have a habit of, like, using people's cats as towels, it can all be chalked up to "It's not you, it's me."
posted by headspace at 5:40 PM on November 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

The real reason doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all. He made his choice--he does not want to be with you long distance or to plan to be with you when he gets back. Whyever he said it, you have to take him at his word and let him go.

The reason it feels like it matters is that you think you could have done things differently and gotten a different outcome. But at this point, it's over, and the only outcome is the one you have. If you're worried about next time you meet someone, then think about what you didn't like or feel comfortable about with your behavior with him--the things you wish you hadn't done--and decide which of them you'd rather not duplicate.

But that's not even about the outcome; that's about working to be the person you want to be.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:56 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sorry for the format. I had paragraphs when I was editing but it came through like this. I am new here and have no idea how to fix it..
posted by yellowpurplered at 6:00 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you email a mod via the contact form reachable from the bottom of the page and ask them to break it up into readable paragraphs they may do so for you.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:05 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

He’s not putting in any effort at all to be with you. Which should tell you everything you need to know. If this guy wanted to be with you, you’d know it.

I’ve sort of been this guy before. I would have an initial attraction to a woman and give off strong signals of interest, but lose that interest quickly for whatever reason, but then not have the courage to tell them outright “No, I won’t want to date with you, I’m very sorry.” But also not saying “Yes, I do want to be with you!” because I didn’t want to be with them. And so then there’d just be all of this...uncertainty as I dicked around without being honest and having a frank conversation with you. Everything you’ve written sounds like that’s whats happening with this guy.
posted by fso at 6:07 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

LOL at your wall of text! GIRL (?) you need to learn to divide your thoughts up into paragraphs.

Also for AskMefi they have 1. one-sentence question, 2. short-summary, 3. details. Perhaps you should follow that formatting if you want more people to read your question.

Anyways, this Q reminded me of The Love Gap.

The theory provided in the Love Gap is that if a guy doesn't feel secure in his own career yet, so he probably will not want to complicate things by risking himself emotionally in a relationship. Some women are the same way, but this is more pronounced for men because they are socialized to believe that their success is intrinsic to their value (sort of like how women feel about their looks). If their career is not on track, they feel unsafe, and don't want to heap on the extra pressure/risk of a romantic relationship.

You can't really control how he feels, so If I were you, I would let go / give up on this guy. He sounds like a lost cause for now. I would focus on my other life goals and date someone else I was attracted to, who does feel secure/ready (they are out there, trust me.)

If he wants to pick it up again later after travelling, he knows where to find you, and you can consider it then.
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 6:24 PM on November 22, 2018

Honestly, I think he already told you the real reason: he has to travel for an extended period, and he doesn't know when or if he'll be back in the same city with you at the end of it. Maintaining a long distance relationship under the circumstances you outline here would be challenging even for two people who had been dating exclusively and long-term -- I've seen how challenging it can be even for married people! Trying to make it work so early in a relationship would be way, way more difficult for both of you.
posted by halation at 6:27 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

[Fixed the formatting problem, carry on.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:46 PM on November 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

Okay so, I feel your pain. I really, truly do. Now, I’m going to say things you don’t want to read.

I read a story the other day that truly, truly touched me. This guy was in college and he also had band practices. He was busy and his gf at the time was just too much for him. He scheduled a time to meet with her to end things. He wanted his freedom despite how right for each other they were. He knew he’d never meet another woman like her.

He sees her in the distance approaching the point where they were meeting up. He immediately realized that she was the one and he would never do better. Never. He loved her and couldn’t bear the tears and pain. Instead of breaking up, he says they’re going to see something or the other. And he married her a few years later. She’s pregnant with their first child.

The point of this story is that busyness doesn’t really mean much. It’s a cop out. If he liked you, he’d be all over you. He wouldn’t give other men the opportunity to be with you. He would try to stay in touch. He would move heaven and earth to make this happen no matter how inconvenient it was to him.

My boyfriend is the same way. Any inconvenience, and it doesn’t phase him at all. He would do anything I asked or needed. That’s what you want.

Not someone who will run away.

He’s not interested. Accept it. Don’t think you can sit there and know how attracted someone is to you without knowing their thoughts. Sex is different from love. Like is different from romance. Men are very, very different from us.

In the future, tone it down a smidge. Stop asking to hang out or go on dinner dates. This is the reason the advice like this on the internet exists. You do not know where you stand when you chase a lukewarm man. Chase a hot man. Run from cold men.
posted by AlexandriaParis at 7:28 PM on November 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oh, I had been in a similar situation. Very recently, in fact. I alternated between trying to figure out what I could have done differently and trying to determine what possible reasons/external factors could have prevented him from being with me only to realize that well, really, the only correct and truthful answer is that he just didn’t want to.

It could be true that your guy’s travel plans, his being uncomfortable with the pace of your interactions, etc. may have factored in his decision, but this still doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t want to make an effort to be with you. He’s been telling you this. Believe him. I understand that his initial signs of interest make it more confusing, but if you think about it, apart from his grand gesture of chocolates, everything else was initiated by you.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. Please don’t think you scared him away or that you failed in some way. He is not the guy for you, that is all.
posted by theappleonatree at 7:36 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

It always boils down to, he's just not THAT interested in you enough to sustain it via any life stressors like LDR'ing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:36 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

It could be as simple and straightforward as “he thinks you’re a cool and awesome person, but the chemistry wasn’t there for him”. It sucks when you meet somebody great, and you want it to spark and it just doesn’t. Maybe that’s what happened. It doesn’t sound like you were too pushy, and it seems sort of silly that a person can have sex and that’s fine, but that a conversation is over the line and means a person is “clingy”. When you’ve been on dates with someone, it isn’t out of line to ask if they want to keep seeing you. But you asked and he did respond—unfortunately in the negative—so it’s time to take “no” for an answer.

In any case, it wasn’t doing it for him and he probably used his legitimate job schedule to break it off. Chalk it up to “swing and a miss”. It isn’t a reflection on you or your courtship methods.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:53 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sorry but I don't think he's interested. People lose interest for all sorts of reasons, try not to beat yourself up over it. I don't think you should keep contacting him.

If he was really into you...none of these things would be problems. And you wouldn't have to write this much text about it.
posted by thereader at 11:19 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

The week after I crashed his dinner twice (only because he said I was always welcome to do so)

This was maybe not a great idea after a week of dating/hanging out/whatever. I can see how it might feel to him like you’re moving a bit fast.

At any rate, it’s time to let go and move on. If at some future time he gets in touch and says he is settled down in your town with a new job and asks if you want to pick up where you left off, then you can decide if that’s still something you’re interested in. But I think it’s more likely that you’re not going to hear from him again, so don’t waste your time on analyzing what happened. You will find someone who really wants to be with you!
posted by amro at 3:23 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

You didn't scare him away, and it is genuinely just because of his travelling.

I know this because telepathy.

No, wait, that was a lie. I know this because he gave you every indication that he was straightforward and honest enough for somebody with your own perfectly sound judgement to remain interested in him, he never gave you any sound reason to disbelieve anything he told you, and he told you.
posted by flabdablet at 3:32 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The staff/student thing is a little weird too to be honest, especially if he was ever your lecturer, or friends with your supervisor or anything. Even though it has been a year since you were a student there, it's still a bit iffy. If as you say he's still hoping to get his contract renewed when he gets back, he may have realised it won't help his case if it gets out that he is dating past students. I think you should probably cut your losses on this one and consider it a bullet dodged.
posted by lollusc at 4:26 AM on November 23, 2018

Great relationships are made up of people who look at each other on a daily basis and say to themselves, "I am so damn lucky, I really hope I don't fuck this up."

It seems like you were there in the "don't fuck this up" zone, but he wasn't.

This isn't a reflection on you, it's just one of those sad little chapters that sometimes happens in the book of life.

Turn the page and start writing the next one.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:12 AM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

What everyone else said - he wasn't that interested, and he has other plans - but also, there are signals that as you make your plan to recover and move on, you might want to work on boundaries so you don't end up doing thigns like having sex in a bid to increase intimacy, even when you don't want to. Don't have sex because you think someone else wants it, have it because you want it (and they do too of course). And you might also want to shore up your sense of self-esteem so you can slow things down and not throw yourself in quite as hard. It's okay to give things the time and space to evolve - rushing in often ends up going to a place that doesn't feel good, for one or both people.
posted by Miko at 5:48 AM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is my hunch...

I think he wants to go travelling as a Single Person. He wants to keep his options open and be completely free to do whatever he wants while he is away. He doesn't know who he might meet while he is travelling... maybe he'll meet the love of his life? If that's the case, he certainly doesn't want someone he feels lukewarm about at home waiting for him.

If that is the case, then he is doing the right thing by not wasting your time.
posted by JenThePro at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2018

He’s not into you. It’s not your fault. You can’t know the exact reason why if he doesn’t tell you. This dude is a waste of your mental energy.
posted by a strong female character at 12:08 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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