Dear Gay Love Coach:

I met this really cool guy and I have shown a great interest in him. We had a great time for the past several dates and now he seems withdrawn and distant. I’ve asked him if anything is wrong and he says “no”, but I sense his non-verbal behavior shows differently. I just got an e-mail from him that says “I recently ended a relationship that went pretty sour, so I’ve had reservations about getting involved with any other guys. I’m sorry if you feel I’ve pulled away, but it’s not you in any way, just me and my reservations. I hope you understand.” What should I do? Should I attempt to assure him that I’m still interested, but not expecting a relationship? What communication should I convey to him that we could continue our dating? Or is he saying that he wants to stop dating me and move on? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Dear Confused:

Ugh! It is SO frustrating when you meet someone you really like and it seems like things are going along famously and then BAM! Something like this happens. I’m sorry things have hit a snag for you and can appreciate your feeling confused and wanting to tread carefully so as not to alienate him any further. It is positive that he was able to share with you what is going on with him because this is a gift to you of sorts…you have information from him now that will allow you to make some logical decisions for yourself instead of having nothing to go on, which is often what happens in situations like these.

Often times when people in dating relationships distance or withdraw, it is because they are facing some sort of emotional trigger or intimacy fear. It may appear this man you’ve been dating shared some feelings of fondness for you as well; the more you got to know each other, the more triggers he began to experience in the aftermath of his prior relationship-ending, thereby leading him to pull back. It’s important for you to recognize that this is more about him than it is you, so please try to avoid any self-blame or rejection beliefs. It is critical after the ending of a relationship that people grieve for the loss of that relationship, in much the same way we grieve for the death of a loved one. Until he completely grieves his past relationship and is able to “let go” and move on, he will likely sabotage any future relationships with the “baggage” of unresolved emotions and issues. Consider yourself fortunate that he was able to be direct and honest with you about where he is right now, otherwise you may have suffered the consequences of being a “rebound” partner. It’s also important to ensure that you’ve been reading his signals appropriately and that you’re not assuming withdrawal/distance from him when it might not be that at all. Make sure that your excitement about meeting “a great catch” doesn’t come across as insecurity, neediness, or moving things along too quickly as this can cause someone to pull away if things are not being paced at a comfortable speed. Especially in the early stages of dating someone, proceed slowly and let the intimacy develop naturally.

So where do you go from here? First, I would encourage you to relax and take a step back by taking the emphasis off of him and putting it more squarely on yourself by examining your needs and requirements. Where are you at this particular stage of your life? Are you looking for a relationship, and if so, what kind? Are you looking to build a long-term partnership with someone, or are you solely looking for recreational dating and companionship? It’s important that you craft a vision for what you want so that when you’re dating, you’ll only date men who are in alignment with that particular vision. What are you looking for in a man? What are your needs, both negotiable and non-negotiable? For any serious relationship to work, emotional availability is a very important quality. If you’ve been reading his signals appropriately and he really is distancing, my concern is that your friend may not be emotionally available to you or anyone else right now; in fact, he’s explicitly stated take that at face value. If you’re just looking for casual dating with “no-strings-attached”, that would be a different story with him, but you have to be very honest with yourself because the decision you make will be in accordance with your specific needs.

If you still want him to be a part of your life, approach him gently. From what he wrote to you, he seems somewhat vague in what he wants from you. Don’t make any assumptions and I concur with your idea…casually approach him and empathize with his situation, validating how difficult it must be for him after his last relationship. By connecting with his feelings in this way, he may be less defensive and guarded because he sees you conveying an understanding instead of pressuring him. Then basically let him know that you’ve enjoyed getting to know him thus far and you would be interested in continuing to see him, either in the context of just a friendship or on a casual-dating basis with no expectations, and see what he says (because it doesn’t appear that he’s ready for anything more than just that). What do you have to lose? But be sure you’re going to be ok with “just friends” or “no-strings dating.” Any hidden agenda or false hopes that “he’ll come around” will only end up hurting you in the end. But again, if you’re looking for a serious relationship, unfortunately he’s not going to be able to meet you half-way here because he’s not emotionally available if he’s being honest with you.

Then get out there and live your life, keeping your relationship requirements/needs in the forefront of your mind so you can appropriately screen potential dating partners for their suitability. And, if after talking with him he’s still not interested in “hanging out”, then it’s best for you to know this now before you’ve invested too much of your heart into it. Also work on developing pacing and other relationship skills to ensure smooth, successful transitioning in relationships to bring about balance so as not to rush intimacy and temper the excitement and “high” of attraction.

I wish you the very best with this! Just be sure to stay true to yourself no matter how strong other feelings/urges are to the contrary. It’ll be difficult to “stray from the path” if you know who you are and what you want. This is the best insurance to protect yourself when you’re out there in the dating jungle! Good luck to you! You’ll be great!

— The Gay Love Coach

The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed.None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Be Sociable, Share!

Post a Comment