By Rodale Inc.
Trust your gut…
You’ve finally started dating a guy you actually like – he’s funny, charming, thoughtful, and you have no doubt he likes you back. Later, bad boys! Your new man always returns your calls, never ditches on a date, and is actually emotionally available – except for the fact that he may be too available. Like, all. the. time.
You might think there’s something wrong with you – I mean, this guy has all of the qualities you wanted so badly in your past relationships, but now you suddenly want to tone them down a few (okay, maybe a lot of) notches. What gives?
“Women who are attracted to those bad boy, emotionally avoidant type of guys often dream that these men will come forward in the way we long for,” says Wendy Walsh, author of The 30-Day Love Detox. “But if they actually [start to] behave that way we often move away from it because it doesn’t follow our natural schema for love.”
Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stick it out with the good guy, as he could be the key to finally understanding the elements of a healthy relationship. Unless, that is, you’re dealing with a good-on-paper guy: you know, the dude who’s studying to become a doctor or comes from a wealthy family. “There’s a whole other scenario where you like him for the wrong reasons and you’re trying to be physically and emotionally attracted to him, but you just can’t get there,” says Walsh.
So how do you know if this is the guy of your dreams or if that pit in your stomach is actually a red flag signalling you should cut things off – fast? We asked top relationship docs to help us decipher whether he’s just too into you.
1. He Texts You Non-Stop
Waking up to a “good morning, beautiful” text message is sure to bring a smile to your face and give you an extra bounce in your step as you commute to work, but if homeboy’s following up with a whole slew of additional texts well before your lunch hour, you might need to pump the breaks.
“If you’re always the one receiving the call, text or Facebook chat, it tells you that he’s not getting the hint,” says Walsh. Whether you’re swamped at work and don’t have the time to continually check every single message or you just want a little space, which is totally okay, it’s best to be straightforward and let him know.
If responding to his texts with a simple “I’m busy during work hours, so it’s best to text me after,” doesn’t solve the problem, try having that conversation with him in person. “Setting the boundaries early on let’s him know that this is how you prefer things to be, so that he won’t take it personally and think you don’t want to talk to him all of a sudden,” says Walsh.
2. He Wants You to Meet His Family… Before the Third Date
Not ready to meet the Mr. and Mrs. (and, gasp, potentially the future in-laws)? If you’re stomach drops at just the thought of sitting at his dining room among those who cradled him when he was a newborn that’s okay – it just means you’re not ready.
Meeting his family should be an exciting experience that gives you confidence and assurance in the status of your relationship – not one where you’re filled with dread and anxiety. “This is a serious milestone in your relationship, so when the conversation is broached abruptly or too soon, it can bring a shock to the system,” says Walsh. “Until you’ve been brave enough to have the ‘what are we?’ conversation and, at the very least, a discussion about sexual exclusivity, you should avoid being introduced to any family members.”
“Setting the boundaries early on let’s him know that this is how you prefer things to be, so that he won’t take it personally and think you don’t want to talk to him all of a sudden.”
Your best bet in this scenario? Tell your man you’d be more comfortable if you were together longer before you start branching out with family and friends. “Declining something like a family dinner can be taken very personally, so it’s important to explain that you care about him but you’re just not ready for that next step,” suggests Jane Greer, author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship.
3. He Shows Up Unannounced and Wants to Take You Out
The thought of it might sound romantic, but the actuality? Not so much. What this essentially means is your guy expected you had no plans or, at the very least, assumed whatever you had going on was something you could easily cancel last minute.
“What might be seen as a grand gesture to him can easily be taken as a stalker-type of experience for you,” says Walsh. “Yes, you want to be wined and dined, and think it’s sweet that he’d go out of his way to plan something special for the two of you, but this is a sign that you need to set your boundaries more clearly.”
“Before you make a confused expression and perhaps even close the door in his face, hold your frustration inside and communicate with kindness,” says Greer. “Let him know that your schedule is well-planned and that if he really wants to take you out and do something nice for you he needs to check with you first – and well in advance.”
4. He Offers to Take Care of You in Kinda Weird Ways
Your friends might think it’s absolutely adorable that he knocks on your door with chicken noodle soup when you text him to say you’re home with the flu, but it might leave you feeling a little claustrophobic. “These gestures are thoughtful, but unless you expressed that you need his tender loving care while you’re coughing up a lung, he shouldn’t assume you have an open-door policy,” says Greer.
And the same goes for suggestions about nutrition and how you take care of yourself – though it might be that he truly cares and wants the best for you, if you’re not doling out these pieces of advice to him, he shouldn’t be sending them your way either. “You want to tell him that you appreciate his concern and his care, but that if you have questions or want recommendations from him, you’ll let him know,” says Greer.
Worried about coming off a little too strong? Don’t be, says Walsh. “If it’s too much, too soon, you have the ability to control it. However, if you try to control it by just being less responsive or less available, that stirs up more anxiety in him and makes him come forward with more.”
5. He’s Encroaching on Your Me-Time
If you mention that you have an amazing membership at your neighbourhood gym and he sounds intrigued, he very well may sign up to score a look at you huffing and puffing on the StairMaster. But if he starts investigating to find out where you hang out without you providing that information, he is definitely overstepping his boundaries, says Greer.
“If he starts hopping on your bandwagon to the point where your alone time is being compromised, you have to say something immediately.” It’s quite possible that he sees your gym time or evening run as an opportunity to get to know you better and partake in an activity that makes you happy – totally harmless. So if you explain to him that this is something you enjoy doing alone, and provide a few examples of activities you would like to do with him, he can better understand your point of view.
“If a guy reacts negatively to this, that tells you that he’s easily injured and probably doesn’t have the self-esteem to be in a good, solid relationship,” says Walsh.
6. He Says “I Love You” Before You’ve Decided if You Even Like Him
If this willingly vulnerable phrase has popped out of his mouth to a surprise face from you (that doesn’t have you feeling all kinds of butterflies), it may be too early in the relationship and mean that you’re not ready. “As women we always imagine what it will be like the first time these words are expressed, so when it’s not even close to our timeline we feel very out of control,” says Walsh.
If you’re unsure of how you feel, but think you might be on the same page down the road, your job is to reassure him. “Tell him you think you can get to that point with him in the future, but that you’re just not ready yet,” says Walsh. “Then you have to have an inner monologue with yourself at a later date to really configure your feelings and come to a solid understanding of whether or not you think you could get to that point,” she says.
But if you’ve been feeling like the relationship has been on the rocks well before he pulled out the big “L” word, it’s only fair to pump the breaks with him and cut your ties loose. “If you’re certain that there’s no future with this person, give him the opportunity to find someone new,” says Molly Barro, author of Matchlines for Singles.
There is an element of break-up grace that you should have if you’ve realised that you need to cut things off with an attached guy. “Always remember that he might look better to you in a few months – or even years,” says Barrow. “Accept that a relationship right now may not be right for you, but try not to become a destructive hater and needlessly hurt people who simply want to love you.”
Always keep in mind that no one can make you be in a relationship – especially one that you don’t want to be in – and that it’s a woman’s right to choose a partner. “As a modern woman who owes her freedom to generations of women who have fought for equal rights, take charge of your life and love the partner you actually want to love – not just some guy who’s emotionally too available.”