My awkward problem is this: I’ve been dating this guy for about two and a half months. He’s nice! I like him! He seems to like me! I’ve stayed over at his place a few times and he’s been to my apartment. But he won’t introduce me to anyone in his life (and isn’t that keen on meeting anyone from mine) and it’s starting to weird me out. Am I overreacting?
We see each other a couple of times a week, usually. He won’t hang on weekends, because he goes to visit his family in another city. Though sometimes, he has said he is going to visit his family and then tells me he changed his mind and stayed home in this town and hung out with his brother all weekend, but he never suggested I meet his brother. It’s like he is Mr. Secret Squirrel about his life. This week he is hosting a friend/ colleague from his company’s office abroad so he told me we can’t see each other as much because he has to work/hang out with this guy until fairly late every day.
At no point did he suggest that I come meet this person and say hi and we have coffee or something low key, though he did discuss with me tourist places he should take this guy. I felt too awkward to ask directly, “hey, your colleague buddy sounds cool, I’d like to meet him”, because he was so cagey (he has not even told me the guy’s name). They are spending the weekend on day trips and I understand why he might not want to invite me to those — he wants to spend time with his buddy & colleague, that’s all cool. But not to introduce me at all seems odd?
I have wanted to introduce him to my friends (I am an ex-pat in this country and my friend pool is fairly small because a lot of people have left (we live in a war zone) but he is a bit dismissive of the things we do – boardgames, Cards Against Humanity etc. Not openly hostile, just “oh that seems weird”.
I have no clue why he doesn’t seem to want me to meet people from his life, and I know it’s pointless to speculate. He is very introverted and maybe it doesn’t occur to him that people can socialize? Is that making excuses for him? Or am I overreacting?
How can I raise this with him without sounding weird or pushy or something? I’m getting really tired of it!
Thanks for any wisdom and insight,
Sometimes a relationship does have an encapsulated feel, where it all takes place in this liminal Relationship Space with no connection to “real life” and that is a red flag, like, hey, are you hiding me? Are you hiding from something? Can we at least go to dinner or a movie sometime? (Here is one of my favorite short films about the subject of hidden relationships. I don’t have a transcript but here’s a detailed textual description and analysis.)
However, a lot of people don’t introduce new romantic partners to their friends and family until after a few months in, and it’s not particularly meaningful one way or the other. You want the new person all to yourself when you can get time with them in your busy schedule. You want to make sure that the relationship is gonna “take” before you cross the streams (see every: “After a breakup, how do we deal with the assorted friend group fallout?“ letter). It doesn’t occur to you that the person wants to meet your friends. It doesn’t feel quite like the right time. etc.
For example, three weeks after The Gentleman Caller and I got together my parents visited, and I did not introduce him to them, because “Hey, meet this great guy I’m sleeping with who you may never see or hear about again” didn’t feel right, nor did “Hey, awesome dude, meet my parents and Really Get To Know Our Issues As A Family!” I knew he was a keeper when he helped me shame-clean my place before their arrival and then left, and I knew he thought I was a keeper when a month later when he said “My mom is coming to town at the end of May, I really want you to meet her.” Introducing each other to our best friends felt like a big deal. Him coming to a screening where I teach was a big deal. You and this dude may be on different schedules and have different importance values assigned for all of that. The culture of his family might be that people don’t bring dating partners home until it’s very serious, but the culture of you is that it’s great to meet people early and see how they all fit together before it’s very serious. I’m talking about personal history/culture things, but there are also Culture-cultural differences here, yes? Do you know what they are?
I can’t read this guy’s behavior for you like tea leaves and tell you what’s “really” going on. I can tell you that if it’s a problem for you, then it’s a big enough problem to discuss. And I can posit that if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with him, like, you don’t feel like the answers will be reassuring ones or you’re afraid they’ll reveal some cracks in the relationship and how he thinks about you, then that’s part of your answer right there: You have attraction and fun and possibility, but are shy yet of intimacy and closeness. You’re not quite relaxed into this thing. Which could just be a “too soon” thing or could be a “not quite right” thing or could be a “there are different expectations at play here, sort them out” thing. It’s up to you whether you give it a little more time to see if it resolves on its own, or whether you talk to him about it, but know that you are allowed to ask him about this and seek reassurance. This isn’t an audition where you must fit perfectly into his life and his way of doing things in order to belong.
You’re right that inviting yourself along is awkward, so when you do talk about this, one place to start is “My friends are getting together for dinner and games on this night, would you please join us? I’d love for you to get to know them.”“But I’m going to spend time with my brother.” “Great, please bring him, too! The more the merrier.” (Make the invitation specific and place it on the space-time continuum because “do you want to hang out sometime” is not a date.) If he refuses, then it’s a way into the bigger talk of “Well, it’s important to me that we get to know each other’s people. I know game night isn’t Your Exact Thing, but it would mean a lot to me if you’d make the effort for a few hours.” “I’ve been really wanting to introduce you to my friends, and to meet some of yours, it’s one of the ways I show that I care about someone and it’s one of the things that makes me feel cared for, to know that I’m part of someone’s life. I get the strong feeling that you move on a different schedule from me about all of that, can you give me some insight?” and see what happens. Good luck with this (and with that “war zone” thing, too, way to casually throw that out there).