Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why do guys back away when I say I love them?

Lean in close for best results.
so i've been dating a man from the coast guard for a month. things were going well. until i told him i was in love with him and would like to be his gf. then he deleted me from his facebook and gchat!
he told me we were different and i wasn't his "type". although i will beg to differ that i'm no one's "type". haha, actually when i ignore men - or act like they don't matter much - this is when they seem to think i'm their "type". and this is when they i think i'm the hottest thing since [insert creative word here] or some bs.
so, in closing i told the coast guard that i have a problem over reacting, i get delusional (especially when i haven't eaten in 3 days), and emotional. and that i was sorry for being overly expressive. i guess the plan is to hang out in a month...? after things have cooled down... or is this lame? i seem to never learn my lesson - i'm too expressive. and i keep shooting myself in the foot.
happy times.
THEY THINK YOU'RE THE hottest thing since the last girl they thought that about. :)

It's natural for people to get excited about someone new, especially when they're really eager to be in a relationship. Their feelings kinda hijack their mind and they start thinking the person is just about perfect, or at least perfect for them, and they start getting clingy and say crazy ass shit like "I love you."

Take a second to reflect on your past relationships and you'll notice is that those feelings eventually fade. It might take a week, it might take a year, but when they do you realize you've basically been hallucinating. You realize that you've been more obsessed with your hopes and projections about who the person might be than who the person actually is. Suddenly you realize that this person does have flaws and isn't as perfect as you thought. You then decide if you want to stick it out or not. As far as I'm concerned, this is when the authentic relationship really begins. Or ends. Watch this scene from High Fidelity, because it illustrates what I'm saying perfectly and because Catherine Zeta Jones gets a much deserved pwning.

What's happening with you, I think, is that you're succumbing to that hallucination and confessing your feelings prematurely. That's a red flag for most guys because most guys don't like clinginess. Clinginess is interpreted as a sign of lacking value, since someone with plenty of value would have options and wouldn't be so eager to get into a relationship with us. It's like Woody Allen said: "I'd never belong to a club that would have me as a member." What we guys are looking for is balance. We want you to get close at the same time we start to get close, not before, not after. To us that says "I'm not desperate to get into a relationship, but I'm still interested in you. U WANT?"

I wouldn't suggest that you try and force yourself out of the hallucination (psychologists prefer the term positive illusion) because I think that's just a recipe for disaster. The hallucination is emotional and it just takes a while for those emotions to fade. What I would suggest, however, is that you keep this all in mind next time you want to confess your feelings. You can realize you're in the middle of one of these emotional trips and either laugh at it or just wait it out. You don't have to stop being nice or interested or even get the least bit uncomfortable. Just continue with getting to know the person and keep your feelings in perspective. When you sense the two of you are both getting closer, you can say something sweet like "I think I'm starting to hate you less."


Anonymous said...

Amazing pick on the clip from High Fidelity. Right on point. The beginnings of all relationships are delusional.

Anonymous said...

This piece annoyed me. For one thing, your comments about "most guys" are unnecessarily gender-specific. Most *people* don't like clinginess because it feels like obligation. In the High Fidelity clip it's the guy who is guilty of the idealizing/clinginess and the woman who is turned off.
Also, I disagree with the comments about parter value. When someone thinks a potential partner is worth less because they express an interest in them, it's indicative of *their own* low self-esteem (cue Woody Allen line). It's healthy to express genuine interest in someone and it's healthy to acknowledge that interest in a mature way. What this guy did (unfriending her) is not a mature reaction, yet you are advising your reader that she is the one with the problem. That she has to change herself to accommodate cowardly losers. I think that's a bad call.

edahn said...

I'm glad you wrote, even if you were annoyed. I always appreciate it.

First, I used the word "guys" because the asker was a girl asking about guys. I agree 100% that both guys and girls are looking for balance.

Second, you're right about how neediness creates obligation. I agree 100%. I considered writing about it, but I have to conserve space here. I do think that value is a big part of it too. We can agree to not disagree.

Third, about the other party's low self-esteem, I have to disagree. There are certainly times when guys (or girls) should be open to accepting love and care, but to spin it as the guy having low self-esteem is wrong. If you really think your logic through, a guy who gets freaked out by a girl who says she loves him on the second date with big, vacant, obsessive eyes is really suffering from low self-esteem. That can't be right.

What happens in relationships over and over is idealization. People fall in love with their ideas and projections and succumb to the illusion that this person is their medicine. And they quickly develop a hollow but intense love. It happens whether you want to admit it or not, and it's unhealthy. In those situations, I advise people to look at themselves and figure out what's going on with their mind and feelings.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that people have a tendency to idealize prospective partners – this is a prerequisite to falling in love and falling in love is (arguably) a necessary part of embarking on a committed relationship. So asking people not to idealize their partner is like asking people not to fall in love or not to experience sexual desire. It’s an exercise in futility, hard-wired as we are to engage in these behaviors to sustain the species. If we were all about being rational, many more of us would discount LTRs as doomed to failure. A little bit of delusion sweetens the pill.

After 2 dates, he might be justified being a bit surprised by a declaration of love, but they’ve been dating for a month – that’s enough for some people. In any event, being “freaked out” is never an appropriate reaction unless you are in actual physical danger, so pretending he doesn’t have a problem and it’s all about her is a mistake, IMO.

More indicative of her low self-esteem is the fact that she’s apologizing for having and expressing her feelings and she’s doing everything to accommodate his feelings whilst he is doing nothing to accommodate hers. She is setting up a precedent that is just going to lead her into a world of pain and disappointment. And your advice is that she needs to learn to shut up until he’s ready to hear what she has to say... I don’t see how that is going to help her improve her circumstances.

edahn said...

Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think you're making a strawman argument. For one, I never suggested she NOT IDEALIZE her partner. I advised her not to act on those feelings and put them in perspective. I am, by and large, against repression because it doesn't work.

Second, I don't think his reaction is appropriate or inappropriate. It's his reaction and it's understandable. Could he have dealt with it with a little more class? Absolutely. You'll get no argument from me there.

Third, I hardly think I've told her not to say anything until he's ready. That's her call. My focus was on her waiting out the idealization stage. There are definitely things I could have said to lower her self-esteem and I did my best to avoid those. At the same time, just telling her that everything is fine and that she should just believe in herself would have been bad advice because this is obviously a pattern in her relationships. Hence, I did my best to delineate what's happening and suggesting a way to break the pattern without crushing her self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

I like Edahn's advice on this. I think the first woman commentator is just being a pesky critic and trying to pick out everything potentially wrong with his argument, but it is sound. Just because she does not agree, does not make his argument any less sound, so who is she to criticize it as if she knows better.

edahn said...

^I agree!