Social Question

mostlyclueless's avatar

Is being "scared of [one's] feelings" a real thing, or just an excuse?

Asked by mostlyclueless (701points) July 5th, 2011

In a dating context, if one person is being somewhat distant and hard to read, there are usually two explanations that are offered: (1) the person is just not that interested, or (2) the person is interested, but has been hurt in the past and is scared of getting involved.

I am wondering if (2) is bullshit. People get hurt all the time, and rebound into relationships that end up being successful, or just deal with their pain and manage to act like normal human beings.

I am dating someone who ended a 12 year long relationship about 6 months ago. We have had many conversations about it and agreed to proceed slowly and with caution, and to just date casually for a little while.

About two months in, we had a long conversation and agreed that we were comfortable making it a little more serious, and considering it a full relationship.

This was last week, and I feel like I have been getting very confusing mixed signals since then. We were both out of town for the holiday weekend, and I barely heard from him the whole time, which gave me an uneasy feeling. The day we got home, he said he was tired and didn’t want to get together, and he had plans for the following night also, so I haven’t seen him since.

My friends say he is probably scared and doesn’t want to get hurt again. I think that sounds like an excuse and probably means he just doesn’t like me. Either way, I worry this means I need to just abandon this relationship, and I was hoping to get some (gentle, please) feedback either way. I am crazy about him and would love to make it work, but I don’t know if I’m just deluding myself.

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16 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

That’s a real thing. Many people don’t have the same tools others do for dealing with emotions, and can feel them more intensely. So for them, those emotions look like a giant tsunami rather than a little swell.

But, despite the reality of it, it is important to get over your baggage and act like an adult in a relationship. So if he’s not, then you’re not being treated fairly.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve never seen #2 turn out to be true but I’m sure sometimes it is.

marinelife's avatar

There is no one answer to your question. Bus based on the specifics, a 12-year relationship that only ended six months ago, I would want to go very cautiously if I was you.

There is a chance you will just be the rebound girl.

There is a chance he is still hung up over his last relationship.

Do not rush into this. I would call and tell him that you were more comfortable just taking it casually for now.

King_Pariah's avatar

#2 is legitimate especially when there are those of us who suffered early life trauma or some other sort of trauma and have found it difficult to both relate to someone emotionally and to cope emotionally. I don’t think you understand our inability, fear, and/or sometimes unwillingness to emotionally connect with someone.

Kardamom's avatar

I believe that some people are afraid to enter into new relationships because they are afraid to get hurt. And those people avoid getting into relationships.

When somebody says that after they’ve entered into a relationship (like as in your case) they are really saying that they’re just not that into you, or they have not been able to get over their ex, or that they’ve found someone else that they like better. I fear that you have been treated to being this guy’s rebound relationship.

zenvelo's avatar

I know of instances where #2 is real. I am also aware of instances where #2 is real but the person wasn’t fully aware of that being a motivation.

If you are interested in this man, let him know you are wiling to support him emotionally while he works through it (that is, if you are willing to do so). If you cannot tolerate this, tell him nicely that you can’t wait for him to be emotionally available.

Either way, be direct, honest, and not harsh in your conversation.

MilkyWay's avatar

I agree a 100% with what @Kardamom said. She says it in the most perfect, clear way ever.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

More lurve for @Kardamom‘s 2nd paragraph, that’s what I’ve seen time and time again happen to people around me and I think it’s weak but it happens a lot.

roundsquare's avatar

Okay, but wait… this guy hasn’t said that to you yet, right? Your friend has said that to you about him without really knowing whats going on.

You’ve been going out for two months, that is not that long yet. There is a decent chance that he thought he contacted you a few times but was busy (or occupied with friends, etc…). Also, maybe he was tired and had plans for the next night. Or, maybe something else happened and he’s brooding. You don’t know yet. I’ve definitely had girlfriends complain that I didn’t contact them (enough) for a weekend when I was away and it meant nothing other than I was with friends I hadn’t seen in forever.

Stop jumping to conclusions and talk to him first.

Cruiser's avatar

If a person is genuinely interested in you they would make an effort to make you know this by showing you respect for your feelings and the time required to make an effort in any legitimate relationship. Anything less is a passing fancy.

athenasgriffin's avatar

It is not an excuse. But anyone who will admit that is probably lying. I would never admit that I am terrified of falling too quickly to someone I was in danger of falling for.

Mariah's avatar

I’m not very experienced in relationships, but I am experienced in a more general fear of my own emotions, so I hope my perspective might help you understand this better through your friend’s eyes.

Sometimes when I get overly stressed, I get physically ill in a big way. I’m talking months long illness with hospitalizations. Knowing this, I have become quite phobic of stressful situations. I never want to take chances or do anything that could potentially cause high stress levels and trigger a bout of illness.

Probably your friend doesn’t have this same problem, but what might happen to him is that getting hurt by someone he cares about triggers depression. Depression is no more fun to go through than a physical illness, so I can certainly understand that he might have developed a phobia towards situations might trigger, or that have at some point in the past triggered, a depressive slump. It’s scary to learn how vulnerable you are to your thoughts and emotions, to discover they can actually hurt you. I doubt he’s just telling you bullshit.

Haleth's avatar

If he really wants to be with you, he’ll be with you. Excuses and mixed signals are a wishy-washy way of distancing himself.

Coloma's avatar

6 months out of a 12 year relationship is a rebound, sorry, just is.
I mean someone has to be the rebound, but, I have a firm rule of not dating anyone less that 2 YEARS, out if not 3 or more from a serious, LT relationship.

I’m sorry to be blunt, however, it is highly unlikely this guy is ready to jump back into a full blown relationship at this time.

It’s a proceed at your own risk, but honestly, it’s a case of possibility vs. probability, and the probability of this turning into a rewarding LT relationship is slim to none.

Sorry, the voice of wisdom and maturity.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ll back up @Coloma in that it seems 2yrs is the time it seems to take for people to get past serious relationships and be all present in the current one. Time isn’t always your friend though, you can’t pick and choose where you are in your recovery/independence/self discovery blah-blah at the time another good match come around. It can be real hard going to work through the baggage alongside someone. I’ve done it and many times I said I wished I had gotten out but then I might have missed out on a good thing because I didn’t want to do any dirty work. It’s all a gamble, weigh what you know to be good against anything you think could be, prepared for that not to pan out- there will be your guide to put up with the shite or not.

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