Pillow Talk with Diana: “He Freaked Out When I Said I Wanted a Relationship!”

Q: I was dating a guy for a month when a conversation about one of his friends turned into a talk about “us.” It hadn’t been anything serious, but I said I think that seeing each other as often as we did, it really should evolve to a relationship. The boy panicked.
This is someone who called me half the time, took me for a fancy dinner on my birthday, WANTED to hang out, asked that I not hook up with others (and I know he wasn’t either) and actually liked me, and yet, there he was telling me he could never be a boyfriend to anyone right now and that maybe we shouldn’t hang out anymore. It was actually a really disturbing freak-out. We haven’t spoken since. What gives?
A: Oh man, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? He’s totally into it, but bolts when we try to take the natural step forward.
I’ve never been a great mind-reader so I decided to take your question to someone who might have a bit more insight into the male mind–my boyfriend. So what’s up with a guy that wants to act like a boyfriend until you actually say the word “boyfriend”?
Boyfriend Adam says: “The whole “I can’t be a boyfriend to anyone” sounds like a cop-out–it’s ambiguous and that’s probably on purpose. It’s possible that he really does have something going on in his life, but I don’t know why he wouldn’t be more specific–and it seems like he could be a boyfriend to someone all month, before you said you wanted a relationship. He was acting like your boyfriend, regardless of whether or not he called it that. It sounds like for whatever reason, he changed his mind. Either way, it’s a lose-lose. Either he’s telling you the truth that he’s damaged goods, or he’s lying to you about why he can’t be a boyfriend to anyone, which isn’t a good indicator of any relationship to come. Finally–if a guy really likes a girl, he’ll figure out a way to make it work.”
I have to echo what Adam said, especially that last part. I hate to get all “he’s just not that into you” on you, but if there’s something I’ve learned over the past few years of dating, it’s to listen to what he’s telling you when he’s telling you he is unfit for a relationship. If he says he doesn’t want a monogamous relationship, then he doesn’t want a monogamous relationship. Whether he doesn’t want one at all or he doesn’t want one with you–it doesn’t matter.
And it sounds like you already know that. We can try to figure out exactly what happened until we’re blue in the face, and we may never know. What we do know though, is that whether he’s really a mess and can’t be in a relationship, or he’s just giving you a lame excuse, the end result is the same. He would make a bad boyfriend. And when you’ve only been seeing someone for a month, you want that person to be excited to be in a relationship with you. You shouldn’t have to drag them into it, kicking and screaming.
You weren’t out of line to expect your situation to evolve into a relationship–in fact, given what you told me, you already were in a relationship with him. He just didn’t want to call it that, and that’s his loss.
Got a question for Pillow Talk? Email [email protected] and we’ll tackle it next time!
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