Need help with my ''post'' pandemic attempt at a relationship
January 25, 2022 12:25 PM   Subscribe

It's like my brain can't remember how to do this.

During the pandemic isolation, I was lonely and I saw a therapist who recommended I read the book 'Attached' about attachment styles and relationships. What I took from that book is that having close relationships is a natural desire and that if I want a successful relationship I should be with someone with a 'Secure attachment style'. the therapist seemed to think I want this more badly than I admit to myself as I've been more focused on personal fulfillment with my career, hobbies, friendships and travel, as well as managing a social anxiety disorder. So anyways, I decided to start being more serious about dating so that I can find someone with a secure attachment style (I think my style is anxious, fwiw).

Recently a couple I am friends with set me up with one of the husband's friends. I agreed to give it a try because I'm tired of online dating. And this person is really great, and a special person, but I am struggling with the relationship because I feel a lot of internal and external pressure and I’m not sure how to deal with it. We started going out in November so it has been almost 3 months since we met.

One thing that has been difficult is that the wife of the couple (whom I am close with) is not really subtle about the fact that she is really excited about the prospect of me and her boyfriend's friend being a 'cute couple’. This made me really uncomfortable from the start as it made it hard for me to discern what my own feelings towards him really were.

Another aspect of pressure I'm feeling is that he has told me he never breaks up with anyone, he will always try to make it work because his own parents have been together since their early 20s (ie: like 40 years). This is a positive thing to say, however it also makes me feel like no matter what happens, if the relationship fails then it's automatically my fault and the friendships around us will be told that story.

The thirdly, when he was in his early 20s he got brain cancer and had to have chemo and surgery. Happily, the surgery was successful and he is now in remission. He does have some invisible disabilities related to the surgery, such as short term memory difficulties, getting exhausted from cognitive exertion and needing a lot of rest. But he is in remission (hurray!) and is physically healthy and from what I know is still intellectually and personality-wise the same as he has always been.

The part about this that I am struggling with, though, is the way the cancer has affected his academic trajectory and his career. He obviously had to take time off school and is only now finishing his degree, 10 years after starting it. That’s fine with me and obviously I would be a horrible person if I held that against him.

What’s vexing me is that he said he doesn’t intend to work because his parents gave him a big trust fund. He thinks that working in a day job where he would make less than his investments make him is a waste of the precious time he has left. Now, there’s nothing red-flaggy about that, he’s clearly good at managing his finances. But as someone who has worked since the age of 16, and paid for my own degree and worked hard to get a career I can be somewhat satisfied with, and who derives a significant (though not excessive) part of my identity from my work, this concept of not working just scrambles my brain… imagine ‘DOES NOT COMPUTE’ scrolling across my forehead. I also found out he originally wanted to be a doctor, but that didn’t work for reasons other than the health issues. He seems to think any career other than that is beneath him.

After processing all of this, I’m left with very little mental energy to focus on the prospect of enjoying a relationship with him. I feel like I’m jumping through mental hoops just to rationalize it. If I could cut out the noise and describe how I actually feel, it’s that he’s a very kind, intelligent, caring, and conscientious person who is trying very hard to fit in with his peers after a traumatic health scare. I want to support him as anyone would and I feel that ending things with him would make him spiral into a depression. I just can’t find any free space in my head to contemplate whether I actually want to be with him or if I’m just doing it because my therapist and my friends told me to!! Sometimes I feel like because I am financially independent and enjoy living alone, I have too much freedom and don’t know how to make decisions to make myself happy. Any tips would be helpful!
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're not that into him. Or, if you are, it sounds like you're not in a good place to date, and that is okay.

You don't have to date him just because he's going to be lonely or depressed if you don't.

You're not a public utility. Dating is supposed to be fun and exciting and maybe a little nerve-wracking.

Do you feel comfortable working this out with your therapist? Like, saying that you feel they're pressuring you to date? That's what I would suggest. I think you need to work on boundaries and on knowing what you want and asserting it. Dating without having that kind of stuff firmly in place is maddening (as you're experiencing!)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:32 PM on January 25 [18 favorites]

Sometimes I feel like because I am financially independent and enjoy living alone, I have too much freedom and don’t know how to make decisions to make myself happy.

I am proud of you for being independent.

Also, I agree that you are having trouble making decisions that make yourself happy, but it's not because you're financially independent and living alone!! Those are good things that give you the freedom and space to date who you want.

You may have grown up thinking that feeling like you "have" to make someone happy or you "have" to live with someone, or tons of pressure, is the only way lasting relationships are formed. This is not true! Generally, feeling pressured, pushed, forced, or coerced (even if just by circumstance) makes it easier to have messed up unhealthy relationships, because people don't feel that they can just walk away. But a happy, healthy relationship is easiest to have when everyone is there of their own free will.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:35 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

Ugh the people who set you up make me want to barf. I absolutely hate shit like this. My question to people who always try that is "Would you want to date this person if you were single? If not, why?" If the answer is yes, sometimes they're trying to live vicariously through you. Eww, not cool. If no, is it because they have different hobbies or interests or preferred body types or are they just trying to unload their "trash" onto you because they don't full respect or appreciate you -- or the other person for that matter?!

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this attachment style stuff but fwiw I finally have a secure attachment style after lots of therapy and work, hooray! That's cool but it doesn't make dating or relationships any easier tbh because everyone has their own set of issues. Mostly I've learned that I am awesome on my own and happier than in a crappy or even so-so relationship because I refuse to settle. My therapist backs me up on all of this! As my mom said, too: "You're not a snob. You just have standards. Everyone is welcome to have them!" Or my dad: "Any reason why you don't want to date someone is enough, even if it seems petty or silly. You don't owe anyone anything!" I've been on over 100 first dates in two years; I had a relationship for a few months that felt so great but ended up not working out. I was so sad and I'm often lonely, despite having a ton of friends. Speaking of which, I think you and I would be friends if we knew each other in person based on the cool answers you've given. I wish I had figured all of this out years ago but no better time than the present, better late than never, blah blah blah. I'm on the right path and so are you.

This guy sounds like a piece of work: not for his invisible disabilities (non-issues if you actually liked him), not for his delayed degree (also a non-issue if you liked him), not for his questionable work ethic (such a turn off for me, too) but for his weird and immature value system, among whatever icky vibes you're feeling but can't put into words. We don't owe anything to anyone except to ourselves in scenarios like this. My biggest takeaway from COVID, aside from how lucky I am despite setbacks, is that I want to spend time with people I really like. And I only want to have relationships with people whom I respect, admire, and really like. You just aren't into this guy and it's OK. I probably wouldn't be either; we like who we like and that's cool. He will eventually find someone who loves him for who he is and will work through the crap. You will find someone who loves you for you who you think is the bee's knees.

Perhaps if you get to know him as a friend, you'll change your mind but I doubt it. Please give yourself the gift of letting this go and the permission to yourself -- and also him, too -- to find someone you actually genuinely like. It could happen in ten years or it could happen tomorrow but wasting time with the wrong person rarely helps speed up the process. Good luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 12:47 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]

I think I would struggle with a date's no intention of working myself, so I get it. Like what is the plan once he finishes school? What would he do with his time every day? Does this feeling like things are beneath him extend beyond work to household chores and supporting you in unglamorous ways, the way partners do? He won't even do the work of breaking up even if he's not really feeling it, so maybe he's kind of checked out, period. If he's going to volunteer or do something meaningful to him but not remunerative, would that be different for you than if he planned to sit around and read Reddit all day? Does he want to be a stay-at-home dad?

It is not on you to stay with him to avoid hurting his feelings because he's been through a lot and your friends would like to be successful in setting you up. It could just be a mismatch.
posted by *s at 1:05 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]

he has told me he never breaks up with anyone, he will always try to make it work because his own parents have been together since their early 20s (ie: like 40 years). This is a positive thing to say...

Nah, to me this is a red flag. You don't want to date someone who has a history of dumping people for petty reasons or who flees at the moment of conflict (because some degree of conflict is inevitable), but you don't want to date someone who will continue to date you merely out of inertia. You want someone to date you because they are excited about you! Especially at only three-months in. Someone who never dumps people as a policy is not emotional mature - sometimes emotional maturity is knowing when a relationship isn't working for you and ending it.

But yeah, like Rock 'em Sock em, the main thing that jumps out to me is that you don't sound that into this guy:

If I could cut out the noise and describe how I actually feel, it’s that he’s a very kind, intelligent, caring, and conscientious person

Ok, he's kind, intelligent, and caring - all good qualities! But are you excited to see him? Do you miss him when you haven't seen him recently? Are you attracted to him?

Sometimes I feel like because I am financially independent and enjoy living alone, I have too much freedom and don’t know how to make decisions to make myself happy.

Nah, this is what will save you from getting into a relationship that doesn't add to your happiness. (This is somewhat beside the point, but I also would be put off by someone who viewed any work besides being a doctor as beneath them)
posted by coffeecat at 1:05 PM on January 25 [24 favorites]

I think your gut is pretty clear on how you feel, actually. Your post suggests very strongly that don't want to date him. There is none of the excitement and joy I would expect if you did. You're just clouding that clear signal by adding in all this thinking about friends and attachment and expectations and therapists and stuff. (No shade; I do the same thing all the time to my emotions which is how I got so good at recognising when it's happening).

Thought experiment: imagine you could wave a magic wand and remove all of the social pressure to date this guy (including any possibility of hurting him by breaking up). It's all just gone. What is your first reaction?

I'm guessing it will be relief, followed by a desire to break up with him. That's okay. And if I'm wrong in my guess, whatever the feeling is, that is okay too. Listen to that voice.
posted by contrapositive at 1:19 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]

If tomorrow you woke up and you magically were already broken up with him and never had to see him again, how would you feel? Relieved, I bet.

You sound about as enthusiastic about dating him as you would be to get the oil changed in your car.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:25 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]

Best answer: If I read you correctly, the pandemic and your personality traits and your life experiences have combined to make you, as of today, into someone who enjoys your own company too much to feel like it's worth making an effort to build a deep bond with someone else, with all the emotional minefield traversing that involves. Sure, it might be wonderful to have someone you love in your life, but it seems like a lot of work to get there, right? It's a lot like people who want to be writers: most of us want to have written a book, often we want that much more than we want to actively write a book. Sigh.

If I read you correctly, you're a person who is in no danger whatsoever of rushing headlong into a foolish partnership based on an attraction that has taken 2 seconds to develop, kind of like me. Since I'm the same way too, my entire goal when I meet someone these days is to stay open towards the other person and remain attuned to myself.

I turn my analytical assessments totally on myself, looking for my feelings and my gut reactions and perhaps that elusive ping of a weird, fluttery feeling of attraction. I turn my most naive, non-judgmental gaze on the other person and do not give two shits about assessing them or cataloguing their pluses and minuses. Pure openness to them, attunement to every minute thing inside myself.

Let me reassure you that this strategy will not lead to disaster. You can trust yourself completely that you won't fall madly in love overnight and happily give up your life savings to bail him out of jail tomorrow (should he end up in jail tomorrow). You are not that person. You know yourself. So you can let that fear go. You don't have to be careful right now, not in these very early stages.

In these very early stages of meeting someone, give yourself room to breathe and feel things out with your body and your emotions. Make room for this person to reveal themselves. Be curious and explore.

Treat your meetings with every new person like taking a hike, not like buying a plot of wilderness. When you take a hike, your attitude is not assessing. You're not thinking to yourself, look how rotten that tree is, it will need to be cut down, and it will probably cost this much to get it cut down and clear that area for my garden shed. Do you see the difference? Try taking a hike with this person. You never have to return to hike the same trail if you don't want. Or, you might return two or three more times just to explore more paths, and then decide you're interested in hiking somewhere else next time. Eventually you might find a hiking trail you like so much that it feels like home and you return there over and over and over again to hike it like a ritual, because it calms you, because you revel in the familiarity of the trail. But for now, this is an exploratory hike on a new trail. This is fun, too! Be open to it. Enjoy it.
posted by MiraK at 1:36 PM on January 25 [36 favorites]

It sounds to me like you didn't want to date him but your dipshit therapist and friends pushed you into it, and now you don't know how to break up with a guy you don't like at all because your dipshit therapist and friends might be mad at you? And also because you're afraid that it's too mean to break up with someone who once had cancer.

You've been going out for three months. At three months you should be basically coming up with excuses to ditch work to spend all day smooching. Instead, at three months you're on Metafilter writing an essay about how much you want to break up with this person except you can't because of Thinking Thinkery Brainstuff Guilt.

I say dump the lot of 'em.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:45 PM on January 25 [35 favorites]

I am sure this guy is fine on paper for somebody, but he wouldn't be for me and it doesn't sound like he is for you.

I'm sure your friend means really well, but this may be a good lesson for her in lowering her expectations. I would say don't deep-dive into your reasons (I think that straddles the line of the harmful kind of gossip since he's her friend too), just stick to the line that he's great and you wish him well, but you just didn't feel it in a romantic sense.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:55 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]

Wanting to support someone who is a kind, intelligent, caring, and conscientious person is not the same thing as wanting to date that person. That you don't know if you want to date him is not a reflection upon you, nor any kind of judgement of him. It isn't a zero sum game. It's possible you could just build a friendship with this guy if you like him enough to pursue that and he's interested in that (and will respect that boundary). You would still be supportive as a friend, and if you decide not to build a friendship with this guy, it doesn't mean you don't care about him. However traumatic his experiences, you ultimately don't owe him anything more than basic resepect and decency.

I do agree with coffeecat that the whole, "I never break up with anyone" is a pretty serious red flag. Definitely something worth getting him to really elaborate on if you do decide to date him. As for your friend who introduced you and is just dying for you two to be a cute couple, she just needs to cool her dang jets.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:57 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

You shouldn’t have to for yourself to like someone. It doesn’t sound like he is a romantic match for you. And there are no rules that say you have to be in a romantic relationship.

If you don’t want to date him, Tell him, “it’s been nice, but I don’t think this will work for me.” No further explanation needed to him or the friends that set you up.

You are not responsible for his feelings or reaction to this news. As long as you are kind - or even neutral - then nothing after is on you. He is not allowed to hold you hostage with how he may react.

I think you should focus on putting yourself first. Not your friends. Not the people you date. What YOU want.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:04 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

It will never be easier to end this relationship than now. The longer you are together, the more attached you both will be, and the more integrated you will be into each other's lives. It sounds like you have all the information you need, and you're just not that into this guy. Someone can have a bucketfull of good qualities but not be a great partner for us.

At this point in the relationship, three months in, I'd expect you to still be really excited about this person! It sounds like you aren't excited at all but you are trying to talk yourself into it.

As far as not working goes: it sounds like he's incredibly fortunate to have tremendous wealth and not have to work. That is definitely a very privileged lifestyle! So, what does he do with his time? I can imagine being with someone who didn't necessarily have a traditional job but had some sort of project, especially one that gave back to the world, who volunteered or kept busy in his community otherwise. That's me, not you -- but it's totally okay for you to decide that you don't want to be with someone who is independently wealthy and doesn't do much with his time beyond leisure (if that's the case). Also the thing about no career other than doctor meeting his standards would be a turn off to me too.

The worst reason not to end this relationship is because of how he would feel about it. That can't be part of your consideration, especially so early! Your job right now is to figure out what you want and need, from this relationship if you want it at all. The kindest thing you can do is end the relationship at the point where you realize you all aren't a good match.

I want to reiterate: it's not going to get easier to break up. It's okay to break up.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:10 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like I get where your headspace is and I have encountered this a lot as a person who I think has a tendency towards anxious attachment (at least in my analysis, not confirmed by a therapist or even friends or anything :) ).

Here is what happens for me:

- When I am not sure if someone likes me, my brain spends a lot of time thinking about whether or not they like me, my anxiety just needs something to latch onto.

- When I am feeling like it is going well, my brain flips and spends a lot of time thinking about whether or not *I like them*, thing two that my anxiety likes to latch onto.

It becomes hard in this context to figure out what I *actually* feel. That to me is a harder question to answer, but I think coming back to what some folks in the thread have mentioned - do you feel happy when you are with him? Could you see yourself being happy with him in the long term? That is kind of the way to go here. And remember that you don't have to make decisions about this today. You can always give it a little more time and eventually the answer will probably become clear to you.
posted by knownfossils at 2:15 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

I feel like I’m jumping through mental hoops just to rationalize it.

This is a feeling. ("Pressured.")

If I could cut out the noise and describe how I actually feel, it’s that he’s a very kind, intelligent, caring, and conscientious person who is trying very hard to fit in with his peers after a traumatic health scare.

I would characterize this more as a belief, or a perception of him. Not a feeling. What is your feeling when you picture getting together with him? Excited/anxious/turned on/tired/etc.? (Feelings wheel for reference.)

I want to support him as anyone would and I feel that ending things with him would make him spiral into a depression.

This is a fear. At three months of dating, you owe someone a kind conversation and perhaps not to dump them the same day, for example, their cat is gravely ill. You do not owe it to them to be a lifelong depression shield.

I just can’t find any free space in my head to contemplate whether I actually want to be with him or if I’m just doing it because my therapist and my friends told me to!!

I'm a sample size of one, but when I'm dating someone that I'm excited about, I know it. That said, I think it's worth really taking some time to sit and do the contemplation. Maybe pick a weekend morning, get a croissant and a tea, and have a think.

Sometimes I feel like because I am financially independent and enjoy living alone, I have too much freedom and don’t know how to make decisions to make myself happy.

Who taught you that there's such a thing as too much freedom for yourself?
posted by warriorqueen at 2:38 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I would try the following:

- Ask your friends to completely check out of the relationship for 3 months. Not a single question or comment or hint about it, no group hangouts. Tell them the truth: "I really like __. I also really care what you think. It's hard for me to hear my own inner thoughts about this relationship when I feel loving interest from you. May I ask you to try not commenting, even hinting, about our relationship at all for, say, 3 months? I just want to make some quiet so I can attune to my own inner voice."

- No more discussing the relationship in therapy

- Don't think about the other questions for a bit. When you think about them, say out loud, "Not today. I will think about this in May."

- Give yourself 3 months to just enjoy the relationship and see what happens. Spring will come and you'll have had some less-pressured time, and then you'll get that burst of springtime energy and your path forward may be more clear.

- You say you define yourself to some extent by work, which I totally get because I do too. I think it's really reasonable that someone who almost died and then sustained a lingering invisible disability might then start to define himself by THAT experience.

- Lingering health stuff (like brain fog) usually means the person needs extra rest. Plus he may not be being 100% transparent to you, or even to himself, about the cognitive changes he's experienced. And he probably has a bunch of PTSD to get through. I would try to make space for that perspective as being really valid and also admirable. Recovery takes time. Ten years is a fair chunk of time... but then again, almost-dying is a big deal!!

- He might also want to re-prioritize later - work more, go back to med school or study something else, or find a way to contribute to society through volunteering or consulting or donating, mentoring, writing a memoir, foster parenting, etc. It's reasonable to assume that what he feels and does today is not how he will always feel or behave.

- In my own life, I'm trying to de-program myself around internalized ableism and capitalism- maybe this is something you could think about too. Try following a couple of anti-capitalist social media accounts, like Dr. Devon Price and The Nap Ministry, just to hear some other perspectives on work and life.

I think he sounds really cool and in your shoes I'd want to make the effort to quiet the noise, give yourself a timeline to just BE before deciding, and give the relationship a longer chance. Good luck!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:42 PM on January 25 [16 favorites]

It sounds like you like him but are not totally ready to commit, which I think is completely fine at the three month mark. However, it sounds like he's already committed to you (because he commits to every relationship he's in) so you probably need to have a conversation about this.

I would also personally have an issue with the not working (unless maybe he was working on something creative or charitable or similar and just wasn't making a salary from it) and the fact that he never ends relationships. I don't think those are universal deal-breakers but if they are an issue for you that's enough.

Sometimes I feel like because I am financially independent and enjoy living alone, I have too much freedom and don’t know how to make decisions to make myself happy.

On the contrary, I think this gives you the ability to choose relationships because they enrich your life, not because you need them to survive or to have someone to live with.

Also, one thing I think can happen when you start going to therapy is you figure out what your "issue" is and then you start to think any relationship problem is because of that issue. But sometimes people just aren't compatible and that's ok!

If you do decide to stay with him, I think you should kindly ask your friend to chill.
posted by lunasol at 2:45 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like you're getting a lot of advice to just cut and run now, as if you're in some kind of danger, and I want to speak up to encourage you to remain open to connection.

You do not have to date this guy - or *anyone* - unless you want to. But at least allow yourself the opportunity to figure out whether you want to. Which means you must be willing to jump in and play, not dip one toe and run away screaming (and not just sit around conducting thought experiments on what dipping a toe might be like, either!). It's okay to just play, explore, be open, take a dozen hikes with no pressure.
posted by MiraK at 2:50 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]

I disagree with the crowd. I think this trust-funded man who almost died in his 20s and is ambivalent about paid work sounds kind of fascinating and could be great for you. Your commitment to and investment in your career and independence are awesome but they could also be related to your anxious attachment style if said attachment style arises out of childhood neglect or abandonment, which it often does. Your life now includes this fortunate guy who does not want or need to work. Okay. That is unusual. Does he do interesting things with his time? Do you need someone who was abandoned or neglected by his parents (total assumption, sorry) and had to make it on the hard streets of Montreal like you? Additionally, for those of us with anxious attachment styles (yes, me too), there is nothing kinder a partner can say than, "I will never leave you." Did you let yourself have a moment of calm assurance when he told you that?

You mentioned you fear he will spiral if you leave the relationship. Is there anything in his personality or history that makes you think that? He sounds like he has a pretty good head on his shoulders. Does he have a history of depression or self-destructiveness?

Lastly, what is so bad about being half of a cute couple your friend helped make happen? Isn't there a part of you that would like to be part of a cute couple? At risk of overplaying devil's advocate/armchair analyst, I just wonder if some of your independence is about deprivation, i.e., so independent that you do not allow yourself to have ordinary, innocent needs and wants. A solid relationship, especially for the anxious, is about feeling safe. You do not feel quite right in this one. That is clear. But could you try to locate what is setting off the alarm bells? Could it feel wrong because it is stable? I think that can happen sometimes.
posted by ponibrown at 3:29 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]

I’m gonna be completely honest here, I stopped reading your question like two thirds of the way through because your disdain for dating this dude was too palpable. You deserve someone you are psyched about, and he deserves someone that is psyched about him. Take the energy and openness you are trying to bring to your current relationship into the next, with someone you actually vibe with. Or if you don’t find that vibe, use that energy to meet a wider net of people. Either way, free this guy from obligations towards you.
posted by Mizu at 3:31 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]

Count me as also concerned about the idea that he never breaks up with anyone. And also, has he never had a day job of any kind? To me, the combination of these things makes it sound like he may be rather fragile and risk-averse. Admittedly, that's a lot of reading between lines, and if true, it's understandable in someone who's been through a life-altering illness and who may in fact be looking at a limited lifespan. (Does he talk about the time he has left as if he thinks it is brief?) But it sounds like the way he lives is pretty circumscribed and very different from the way you have been living.

The thing is, though, you are at the three-month mark which is a very typical time to break things off just because you've tried and don't see it lasting long term. There don't have to be a million specific reasons.
posted by BibiRose at 3:32 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

The idea that a person "could be great for you" isn't more important than whether you want to be with that person, are attracted to that person, are excited to see and get to know that person. The OP talks about wanting to support him but doesn't at any point bring up like, attraction, chemistry, being excited to see him.

Also, "I will never leave you" can be as much of a red flag as it can seem a green flag. Hearing that from a partner would make me think "okay, now I get to wonder throughout this entire relationship whether it's continuing because we both actually want it, or just because he's pledged himself it can't end". That's not cute or fun or romantic (I speak from experience being on both sides of this dynamic).

Respectfully ponibrown, it feels more like you're coming from a perspective of focusing on what this guy needs or what's fascinating about him on an intellectual level. He may very well be interesting to get to know as a person! But that's not a solid foundation on its own for a romantic relationship.
posted by augustimagination at 3:36 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]

Do you have fun when you're with him?
posted by amtho at 3:37 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]

One of the best things about being financially independent and introverted is that I can make choices to make me happy. There are lots of things about my partner that aren't to other people's tastes, but suit mine. Choose joy in the way Marie Kondo describes it. If your partner doesn't provide that then let them go.

Joy doesn't mean easy, or fun - sometimes relationships take work to get through something difficult. But three months in? That should be more joy than concern. Dude sounds nice and fun, and would probably be a good partner for me in many ways but doesn't suit you.

The "anything but doctor is demeaning" is a big red flag for me, along with never breaking up with someone. You don't get a 40+ year relationship with inertia or refusing to choose (my parents and grandparents have long marriages, or until death, and that's with my dad having been married prior to my mother) - you get those by choosing your partner and loving them and being joyous about them as a habit.

You sound like you're at very different parts of your life in a way that is unbalanced and unfun for you.

I would also like at the idea of being anxiously attached, given the ambivalence here and the independence.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:45 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

There’s nothing in your question about liking him or being attracted to him. You could force yourself to make it work, but why?

To be completely honest, I don’t think the job thing is a red flag because I don’t see what’s so great about working. Many jobs are useless and quite a lot are actively harming the world.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:35 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]

you shouldn't date him because you don't sound like you really want to. also because having two sets of prying eyes on you both all the time would be hell even if you did want to.

but I don't know what is with everybody trying to find fault with him for not wanting to work. people work for money. he's already got money. plus, he might die young. therefore, he is not working. this is an absolutely airtight and rock-solid decision he's making. he is obviously not devoid of interests in life or he wouldn't bother finishing his degree. not like he needs one to get a job.

you might try thinking of his disinterest in working-just-to-work as a parallel to your own disinterest in being in a relationship just to be in one. you don't have to have a boyfriend to survive, so you are not going to have this one. he adds nothing much to your life except a vague sense of obligation and dissatisfaction. you are right to feel this way. think of him as a job, and maybe you will see why he feels the way he feels about that.

most people are not as lucky as he is, but then, not everyone is as lucky as you are either.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:52 PM on January 25 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for the different perspectives and ways of looking at this. I really like the idea of taking the pressure off and giving myself time to figure it out. Asking for space from the couple who set us up will be important for me to do. I also want to talk to him about the "never breaking up with anyone thing."
I agree with those who said his decision not to work is justified and I do love the idea of framing this from a perspective of anti capitalism and of acknowledging the inherent ableism in my initial reactions. The thought of refusing to work is something that initially gave me anxiety but the more I think about it, I think that anxiety is actual related to the terrifying thought of actually having cancer and being in the mindset to make those decisions, which is something he lived through and I haven't. I do have fun with him, and he does make me laugh and I do miss him when I don't see him, but I need more tjme to figure it out. So thank you all!
posted by winterportage at 6:25 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]

I would 100% be with someone who had no intention of getting a career (especially if he had enough money to ensure I never had to take a job I didn’t want either—hubba hubba!)

And even I will say you don’t sound into him, and it doesn’t sound like a you problem. It’s quite common not to want to be with someone, anyone who acts like that’s unusual is forgetting what it’s like to be single and looking. I will add this: you don’t sound like you’re actually looking. More like you were talked into it.

You gave it a shot, it didn’t work out, they’ll all live.
posted by kapers at 6:29 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Rock'em worded a well written response.

You're not obligated to interact if you're in too difficult a place to really date.. you're not even obligated to speak to the person/can defer at any time (though in this circumstance it makes fine sense to continue - case by case makes sense)
posted by firstdaffodils at 4:10 PM on February 6

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