#779: Cool, attentive boyfriend or a Klingon dressed in Cling-wrap?

Ahoy Captain and Crew!

So I’m seeing a Dude. We’re very new; I started dating him about two months ago but one month in, I went to Spain for a month and just got back.

I like this dude. He’s handsome, smart, and seems to have his head together. The sex is great. But! There are some issues, already. He lives across the street from me. My last relationship was long-distance for five years, and I’m quite used to my independence and need a lot of space. My ideal relationship: I see him maybe once or twice a week! We have amazing sex and fun times! We also occupy ourselves with our friends and work! We get closer from there over several months naturally, as we discover more about each other and realize how much we like each other! Maybe we wind up practically living at each other’s houses, at some point!

His ideal relationship (as it seems to me): I am literally over at his place allll the time, spend the night allllll the time, and am very very intertwined with him unless he’s at work, allll the time, from the moment of meeting him on.

We’ve had some issues around this already. He asked me randomly (I think it was on our third date) when I was going to “make time for him.” (on a date, when I was literally making time for him as we spoke). I say something complementary about the décor of his apartment; he replies with a snarky comment about how if I liked it so much I’d be there more. On our second date, he said if we weren’t spending Christmas together we’d “better be spending Thanksgiving together” (I was still trying to decide between several different options for Thanksgiving, all of which were friends / family who were not him, as we’d basically just met). Later, he said he didn’t say that thing about Thanksgiving.

So I just got back from Spain. I called him when I got back, and he wanted me to come out to a bar to meet him. I didn’t want to, because I was jet lagged and had a headache (did I mention I started having chronic headaches shortly after we met? Unrelated to him—I swear). I said no to the bar, and he said “I’m coming home to see you then!” Anyway, I was headachy, jet lagged and tired, and at first I said yes (because I really did want to see him), but then thought about it and called back to ask if we could reschedule for the next day because really I just wanted to go to bed and recover from the trip. He seemed upset and hurt, and made some snarky comments about how I “seemed to have a set bedtime.” I suggested meeting up the next afternoon and he seemed irritated by the whole idea. Anyway, I guess we are meeting up tomorrow afternoon but now he seems to have some sort of feelings about that.

I want to give him a chance, but I really don’t like this pattern. The headache situation is pretty bad; I’m very worried about it and am proactively trying to address it (lots of doctor’s appointments; I’m getting health insurance next week, etc.) In this situation, I seem to have less capacity to deal with relationship demands.

I’m not sure how skewed my perception is though; I’m not sure if a). my last long-distance relationship messed up my idea of what a “healthy” relationship or getting-to-know-you pace is, or b). if my headache is basically making me unable to be in a relationship; or c). if he’s being wayyyy clingy (or more accurately, would be more comfortable if I was wayyyyy clingy) and wanting to push this relationship along faster than I’m comfortable with. My instinct says c, but I guess I just need to see what others think.

Thank you all!

You’re welcome.

Sorry for what I’m about to tell you:

Klingon smiling a toothy smile

Your gut is correct and you are smart to see an uncomfortable pattern early.

Missing you and wanting to see you is one thing. There is a constructive, not annoying, not clingy way to say “I’d like to spend Thanksgiving with you, if you’re up for it.” Or “I’m so glad you’re back, I’ll happily come over tonight, but if you need to rest let’s meet up tomorrow instead.”

The snarky comments, pressure, and instant insistence that you’ll spend every waking moment together is bad news. If you want to give it one more shot to see if he chills out, try, “Hey, I am happy to see you, but these snarky comments about how I don’t spend enough time with you are a giant turnoff. Please stop it.

I hope he apologizes and knocks it off. If he doesn’t, or if he explains why he can’t help being this way because of (long sad story), realize that this is just the way he is: Incompatible with you.

259 thoughts on “#779: Cool, attentive boyfriend or a Klingon dressed in Cling-wrap?

  1. Amen to the “incompatible with you.” There isn’t a perfect or correct amount of “together time”- only how much and what kind feels comfortable for both (all) members of a relationship. If he needs more than you feel comfortable giving, then you aren’t compatible and that’s no one’s fault, really. Just a thing that is true.

    1. Yes!
      Whether it’s friends or romance, I’m a huge advocate for “incompatible for you”. I got a lot of crap for it when I was younger, but I have no problem parting ways with a very nice person that just isn’t right “for me”. And the fact that they aren’t right for me doesn’t make them a total ahole- we just didn’t fit! And that’s okay.
      I feel like there’s this narrative out there that if you break up with a perfectly “nice person” or don’t want to be super-friends with someone the rest of the group likes then there’s something wrong with you. This is not true. This doesn’t make me cold or flighty- I just know when someone isn’t for me. They’re probably perfectly lovely for someone else- that someone just isn’t me. And that’s okay. It’s high noon at the I’m Okay You’re Okay Corral, and it’s best we congeniality part ways (or respect each other’s social space in the case of group friendships) before somebody utters fighting words and things get personal. Because when you try to force a relationship that just doesn’t fit, you get a ball of resentment and hurt feelings where you could have just parted amicably.

      1. Yes. I broke up with a guy while back who was a perfectly nice guy, we just weren’t suited for each other. Similarly, I am backing away from a friend who has very different expectations about our friendship. I wish them all the best, and hope they have great friendships/relationships in the future – with people who are not me.

      2. My last big break up (in fact my only *real* break up of an adult relationship) was more dramatic for my friends than it was for me. They were constantly trying to do the whole “he’s such a jerk! I can’t believe xyz” spiel and my feelings were more along the lines of “No, he was perfectly respectful and let me know that he realized we weren’t going to work, instead of jerking me along for the rest of my life and trying to turn me into a person I’ll never be.” You can be a jerk in how you break up with someone (though just because you hurt their feelings doesn’t mean you are a jerk) but it’s never jerky to end a relationship when you realize there is no potential future due to basic incompatibility.

        He very quickly found someone who wanted his style of relationship and life goals (not so quickly as to lead to conclusions about infidelity though) and I never had to give up on being pragmatic and grounded (and later found someone who needed and valued that quality in a partner). Sometimes i do wonder how they’re doing: his entire approach to life requires a certain amount of charmed luck that he had in spades and may or may not run out. Given how rich and indulgent his parents are…. I doubt it has.

      3. Yup. I’ve had this happen a couple of times before with people who wanted to be friends with me and spend a lot of time with me, and I just… if I’m going to choose to spend my free time with someone, I have to actually really enjoy spending time with that person, and them just being a decent person doesn’t mean we’re compatible. And yet this has inevitably made some of my other friends and acquaintances so confused. Nothing needs to be WRONG with someone for me to just not want to spend a lot of time with them.

        1. ETA: though I would agree with Comrade PhysioProffe below that in this particular situations, the passive aggressive snark is beyond incompatibility and into red flag territory.

      4. “It’s high noon at the I’m Okay You’re Okay Corral, and it’s best we congeniality part ways”
        This is awesome

    2. Yaaaas. I recently met a lovely gal who on paper was super compatible with me. Yet within 5 minutes of being in her company it felt like someone had hooked up a hose to my body and sucked out all my energy. I couldn’t even tell you why I felt like that – I didn’t see any red flags. Then I met this guy with completely different values (his politics are downright offensive to me) but being around him is energizing for me – a rarity.

      Sometimes there isn’t even rhyme or reason for why you like someone! They just *feel* good.

      Though if you ask me, this guy is chock full of evil bees and is not compatible with *any* human who isn’t all about incorporating some serious drama and dysfunction in their life. I have “Runaway” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs in my head now.

  2. My skin crawled off my body and into the next room when I read about this guy. I’m admittedly something of a freedom-hound anyway, but God. RUN.

    1. You’re not alone in seeing sketchiness (I wrote a really long post about this over the weekend). If/when the LW breaks up it is time to cut contact & do NOT try to be friends. This dude is way too intense for “friends.”

      1. The thing that worries me most about the King of Crimson Flags is that he lives across the street from LW. My hackles are up at the mere thought of that. It’s giving me a mental soundtrack of screeching violins, because it feels like the whole situation is a Hitchcock film plot waiting to happen.

        1. Yeah…I’m not saying “don’t ask out a potential Mx Perfect just because they live across the street”, but this is why we got the “don’t date your hallmates” lecture freshman year of college. Even if it’s a relatively amicable breakup, it’s just awkward if you logistically can’t help seeing them all the time. And there are fewer convenient time constraints if you don’t have to go out of your way to see each other. And if something is actually really wrong, living down the street makes it so much worse.

        2. That’s exactly what I thought, too. LW, you really need to look after yourself. I’m not saying this guy will turn nasty if you break up with him, but in case you do, and he does…

          This guy will be at least vaguely familiar with your routines. Do you live alone? Is there always someone around?

          You might also want to think about how you will react when you bump into him. He might try for either snark or begging. If I were you, I’d prepare myself for this so I could respond with a nonresponse like “I’m fine, thank you” (even if he doesn’t ask) + keep walking + no eye contact.

          And if he tried to block my way, I’d be sooooo ready to call the police. Not that this is an option for everyone, I know. But if like me you have the privilege of being able to expect the police to be on your side, don’t be afraid to bear that option in mind.

          You might think my response seems a little extreme. But this guy throws up a lot of red flags for me, and he seems likely to indulge in the sort of behaviour that needs to be nipped in the bud HARD to stop it escalating into a nightmare.

      2. oh god, this letter brings back memories of my old long distance relationship.

        I would arrive jet lagged and dead beat (because for me it was actually 2 days travel). And this guy would actually try to keep me awake so he could have sex!

        This made me cry! and even if I never had sex with him at these times- the whole thing was just about him constantly and forever.
        Flush this one imho.
        It can get worse, mine did.
        Adios to any guy who doesn’t recognize you need to eat and sleep

    2. Seriously. Red flags so big you could see them from space. This is just the kind of thing Darth exes do in the beginning. Maybe it’s just my history, but my gut says run, run for the hills!

    3. Yeah. There’s wanting to spend a lot of time together and being disappointed when it doesn’t happen, and then there’s snarky comments and being rude about LW being understandably tired and headachy right after an international flight. It seems like he’s trying to make spending a less amount of time than he’d like with him too much of a hassle.

      1. One can understand why he might be disappointed not to see the LW when they get back from such a long journey. However, whining at the LW about their headache is not the way to handle that disappointment. That’s call your friends and complain territory. I agree with your point about making it a hassle not to spend time with him.

      2. Even if he wasn’t being so passive-aggressive about how the LW structures their time without him, I would see a point of concern around him specifically not getting the ways that chronic headaches can affect people. They are new to the LW and I wouldn’t expect the bf to handle that health concern perfectly from the get-go, but he doesn’t sound particularly interested in learning the logistics of being a good partner to someone who is managing a new health concern.

  3. I can hear the alarm bells clanging through the Internet as soon as I read how he makes snarky comments at you and gas lighted you about his comment about Thanksgiving. I too am incredibly independent and, I’m sorry to say, once sacrificed that in the name of Relationship. LW, don’t let that happen to you! The relationship turned into a cesspool of abusive, rapey suck. I’d have rather been caught between Scylla and Charybdis.
    I’m not saying your Dude is a rapey abusive asshole, but he sounds rather controlling and entitled to you and your time. Personally I’d bail before things got a chance to get ugly(er), but if you think he’s worth the effort, the Captain’s scripts for confronting him about his Klingon tendencies are great.

    tl;dr my advice: proceed with extreme caution and one finger on the launch button for the Nope Rocket.

    1. Yes, exactly. Controlling, insensitive it’s-all-about-him & how he wants things, no validation for your separate needs/wants/preferences/choices and your TOTALLY VALID RIGHT TO WANT WHAT YOU WANT ahem. I’m unfortunately going to predict that when you call him on it/try to break up he could get very nasty indeed, and you may want to prepare for that with some safety planning – get your things back from his place first, if you talk in person meet in a public place, have some back-up both logistical and emotional – like if you get guilted/invalidated into questioning yourself and your choice, have a friend around who is prepared to support you to stay clear and help you not bite that hook, and also to witness/help protect.

      And – dude lives across the street from you? Erm….

      He just does not sound like a person i would trust to respect boundaries. He can’t do it while you’re dating, and is remarkably nasty about it for a guy who theoretically _wants_ you to want to be around him. What’s he going to do when you dump his a**?

      Good luck, stay safe, you can do sooooooo much better.

    2. Book_Belle, I’m so sorry you had a rapey abusive Darth guy and so glad you are now free and safe (I hope).

      What you said. Yeah, the gaslighting in LW’s tale put me on Red Alert. Also, his statement that sort of accuses her of having “a set bedtime” took me back to this post:


      The Good Captain called it “a freaking short course on how a creepy, boundary-pushing dude operates” and continued, “You are not the one doing it wrong here!

      “Let’s review his (mis)steps:

      “1) ‘You’re very guarded.’ He wants something from you (for you to be unguarded), so he typecasts you in order to get you to prove that you are not what he thinks. Pick-up artists and their ilk call this a ‘neg,’ Gavin de Becker* calls it typecasting, i.e. ‘You must be one of those proud women who can’t let anyone help you’ = You might let me carry your groceries to your building to prove that you are not ‘stuck up’, even though you don’t want me near you at all. ”

      The Captain included this footnote, so I’m repeating it here:
      “*Obligatory notice that the Domestic Violence chapter is very flawed. The opening chapters, where he describes creeps in action and breaks down the ways that they try to erode their victim’s boundaries is very relevant.”

    3. If the Thanksgiving comment was the only thing, in isolation, I wouldn’t have taken it as gaslighting, but as natural forgetfulness. In the context of the rest, however, I too had that thought.

      1. I agree. The T-G comment alone is nbd. Coupled with his re-casting her compliment on his décor as snark, however, perhaps he thinks LW’s Reality needs reworking..

      2. I’m honestly not sure gas lighting is always intentional. The memory is not good, and people can very easily re write past events, especially the details of how things were phrased. And I’ve known friends who would do this quite often with innocuous events to make them more favorable to themselves.

        Not saying that makes it OK, just to remember that it’s not necessarily a conscious malicious choice. Some people are to invested in their image of themselves as a “nice” person to let themselves remember all the times they were actually dicks.

        1. As someone with a terrible memory who frequently forgets things she’s said, using your forgetfulness to derail/dismiss a comment is still bad.

          If I invited someone to something in a way that made them feel uncomfortable which I forgot about later and they brought it up with me, the issue of my conduct would still need to be addressed.

          Bad -> “I don’t remember doing that. ”

          Good -> “I don’t remember doing that, but I can see how that might make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry I said that, and I will avoid being so pushy/forward with you in the future. We cool?”

          1. Yeah, I’ve definitely had that happen, and I usually go with something along the lines of “wow, I have no memory of that but I’m sorry I hurt you. If I do it again, can you try to call me on it right away so I’m sure I know what you’re talking about?”

          2. Absolutely. It’s still an abusive behavior whether he’s thinking “Oh let me just tell her that didn’t happen lol” or not. No question, absolutely icky red flaggy.

          3. IME, the REALLY bad ones don’t say “I don’t remember that.” They say, “I did not say that” followed by layers of “why are you lying?” and “how could you say I’d say something like that?”

          4. My memory is for shit because my parents gaslighted me constantly throughout childhood. So I end up saying “I believe you, but I honestly have no memory of that. I’m really sorry I hurt you.” I like SarahTheEntwife’s phrasing and will start adding “If I do it again, can you try to call me on it right away so I’m sure I know what I’m doing?”

        2. Then let me rephrase:

          >If the Thanksgiving comment was the only thing, in isolation, I wouldn’t have taken it as a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity, but rather as natural forgetfulness. In the context of the rest, however, I too had that thought.

          1. I’m not trying to say that he isn’t gaslighting her. Just that he’s not doing it intentionally, or perhaps really the word I’m thinking of is consciously. Which still doesn’t make him not abusing her, or showing signs of possible future abuse.

            Abuse doesn’t have to be intentional or conscious for it to be abuse. That’s really what I was trying to say.

            (Just like my comment didn’t have to be intended as unnecessarily argumentative for it to be that way, sorry if it was.)

          2. @shinobi42: I think I get what you’re saying. There’s intentional gaslighting, there’s genuine forgetfulness, and then there’s cherry-picking your memories in your own favor.

        3. Agree. My SO has a mother on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder* spectrum, and she legitimately forgets/rewrites history in her head (stuff that she does wrong, of course. Anything SO does wrong is remembered forever). It’s bizarre. So she’s gaslighted us/SO quite a few times but I don’t think it’s intentional; I think she honestly remembers things differently. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s abusive and shady and YO, DON’T PUT UP WITH THAT SHIT FROM SOMEONE YOU AREN’T OBLIGATED TO BE AROUND. LIKE A BOYFRIEND YOU’VE DATED FOR 2 MONTHS.

          *I’m not internet diagnosing LW’s boyfriend as have a personality disorder, just using an example of one for how people can do abusive and shitty things without necessarily understanding they are being shitty or abusive. Plenty of non-disordered people gaslight and manipulate alllll the time, and it usually comes from a place of entitlement.*

    4. I’m a clinging vine who likes lots of togetherness and this guy is freaking me out. Seriously, “make time for me” on date 3? You are still finding the other person’s rhythms for the first few MONTHS of a relationship. You don’t get to start changing them up front. That’s a huge concession. “Make time for me,” not “can you clear Friday evening, I’d love to see you.” Awful.

      1. I also enjoy early immersive bonding and this guy is too much for me.
        At best he seems like the kind of person who is never happy, someone who spends a perfect day at the beach picking sand out of the potato salad. At worst, his red flags are showing.
        I think the LW is right to recognize that things just aren’t working out.

      2. Yeah… By date 3 you’re still working out whether this is a relationship or not. It’s not the time for demands like making time, because you don’t have the foundation for that to be something essential in your relationship yet, if you even have a relationship.

        1. By date three I’d expect to know whether they like tea or coffee best. Thanksgiving plans together and “making time” seem extremely premature.

      3. Same. If someone asked me when I would “make time for them” ***while I was actively on a date with them*** I think I would just give them a blank look and say, “Er…right now?” And then think to myself, “…and not ever again.”

    5. “entitled to you and your time”

      That is an (scarily) awesome phrase that I hadn’t even considered until now. There just seem to be some people who think “I am GOING OUT OF MY WAY to make time for you because I am SUCH A NICE PERSON and that means you OWE ME YOUR ATTENTION otherwise RUDE.”.

      I am very happy to say I’ve only ever encountered this in friends/work situations; if I met it in an SO (or even putative SO) I would peace-out extra fast. The only time I ‘owe’ someone my time/attention is if they are literally paying me.

  4. Hey LW. I am in a new relationship, 6 months in and I was struggling with the same issue. I had set up my life to be pretty complete without a boyfriend and had things on most nights. He came along and is smart, sexy, funny and I have fallen in love with him but I struggled (and sometimes still struggle) with the amount of time he would like to spend together. I am fairly introverted and need some down time so I think this has contributed to my feelings. However I let him know pretty early that I struggle with being “on” all the time and would not be prepared to give up my hobbies/friends as they are important to me and that is what made me attractive to him.
    He was totally cool with this. He checks in with me to make sure I am ok with spending time with him. He set up a note in his phone early on listing the days that I have other things on and doesn’t try to make plans with me those nights. He checks in to make sure I am still cool with the time we spend together and when we move in together (he wants to whenever I am ready, I am happy to leave things as they are for now) he has said he will make sure our place has a room dedicated to me so that when I am in it I am off limits.
    This is why I fell in love with him. He gets me and my needs and supports my free time and my alone time. Over time I have wanted to spend more time with him and have reduced my extra cirricular activities but this has been at my choice when it felt right to me.
    If you have to pressure someone into spending time with you and make them feel bad when they can’t (or don’t want to) then this is not cool at all. I can see that you are going to spend the rest of your relationship with this person either dreading saying no to them or agreeing to spend time with them just to keep the peace. How much fun does that sound?

    1. Seconded. Married to my guy, and I said very early in our relationship (like, second date?) that I was very independent and introverted and needed alone time. When I said I needed alone time, it was me, not him, etc. he was super cool about it. He gave me my space, and still does now that we’re married.

      People who want a relationship with you will respect your needs. People who love you will definitely respect your needs. This guy? Not so much.

      1. YES. Mr. Celette and I live in a 1000 ft apartment and are both very introverted. We both get it and are super good at either clearing out when the other person asks or doing that whole “I am pretending to be invisible” thing. Either way, space in a relationship is a totally doable thing.

    2. …can we just clone your boyfriend? Or figure out how to implant his awesomeness into the general population?

    3. Yesssss. I have one of those too and it is amazing. We are nudging up against cohabitation now and, for the first time in literally decades, that conversation didn’t make me pack my bags and run for the hills because of how considerate they have been around my time, my limits and my social life… such as it is, with my limits.

      This dude? Sounds like bad news. He is setting off every OH FUCK NO alarm bell I have.

      1. Yup. My husband and I both do our own thing and always have done. Sometimes, that happens to be the same thing and we spend time together. Our shared interests brought us together after all. I have one hobby that’s super important to me and he knows he’s always welcome to accompany me to the approximately weekly things I do with that, but he only has done about 3 times in 5 years. We are both cool with this and almost never socialise together when other people are around – unless it’s something formal, he spends time with his friends and I with mine. We are blissfully happy in our relationship.

        The relevance of this is that I am someone who likes to spend alllllll the time with someone when I am in love with them. But my husband isn’t. And you know what? I get that, have always been OK with it and actually like it now. He was my first relationship for several years that wasn’t long distance, so that might have played a part.

    4. Thanks for sharing such a great summary of what effective communication and boundaries can look like! My partner and I lived in shared dorm suites for half of college (shared common areas and bathroom, private rooms) and even though we’d been together for two years when we started that, neither of us was allowed entrance into the other’s room without knocking and asking for permission unless it was a pre-arranged or emergency situation. We needed to maintain that private space. This weirded out several of our friends, which in turn weirded me out – a committed relationship shouldn’t have to involve giving up all of one’s private space and quiet time.

  5. I was the clingiest when I was dating, and many a boyfy and I spent 24/7 together. In that regard, this guy may make a great boyfriend, for someone ELSE. He can be great without being great for YOU.

    However: The snarky assholery about your space and your boundaries is NOT okay. He’s prioritizing his wants (to see you) over your needs (for space, for rest, for health). Not okay, never okay, not okay. So in that regard, he’s not a great boyfriend to you or anyone else.

    I’m so sorry. 😦

    1. Yeah, I am someone who prefers lots of contact, but I don’t ASSUME that others feel the same way and I don’t EXPECT it to happen after a few dates. I would never state my preferences as expectations, especially not in the 1st month of dating! I am also prepared to break things off with someone who needs a lot of space, for both our sakes. This guy seems to lack awareness of the fact that people have different dating preferences and the way he goes about expressing his is… just… icky.

      It also feels less natural to jump into constant contact as I get older, because I’ve got a job, friends, routines, etc. The bedtime comment strikes me as really immature and a BAD SIGN.

      1. Seconding the bedtime comment – sleep is good and healthy and important, and there are plenty of people who do need to stick to a regular bedtime in order to be functional and happy in the rest of their life. There is nothing wrong with this and major side-eye at Dude for trying to frame it as something negative about LW.

        1. Right?? I thought it was super weird that he hated the idea of a person having a “set bedtime.” Set bedtimes are a thing that many (most?) functional human adults try to stick to, especially if they have a regular work schedule. I don’t always (or even usually) abide by my bedtime, but I certainly have one, and if someone I were dating had such utter disregard for the concept, I’d start placing the fault with him, not me.

        2. I was coming here to comment I have a set bedtime and I love it. I have a set start work time and I love my job and want to succeed so I need x hours of sleep to make that happen. That doesn’t mean occasionally an AWESOME book/movie/tv show doesn’t suck me in, but not too often because I’m an adult now.

        3. Also, this isn’t a Saturday night on a lazy weekend where the LW can sleep in the next morning; this is jet lag central, and anyone who doesn’t go ‘ugh, transatlantic flight, I’m in awe you even considered meeting up’ is doing a song-and-dance routine with a red flag. Plus ‘can’t see you, headache’ should elicit nothing beyond ‘get well soon’.

      2. The bedtime comment strikes me as really immature and a BAD SIGN.

        I know, right? I mean, I came home from Seattle a while back, and was totally useless for a day afterward. (Red-eye flight, blurgh.) I was also pretty useless for the day I WENT to Seattle. (Also red-eye.) My friend got me some food and let me rest, because she knew jet lag SUCKS.

        Seriously, who whines about someone not coming to visit after a long flight and a nasty headache? Dude.

  6. About the headaches, I’ve realised mine are set off by certain foods. Starting a food diary could help you figure out if yours are also triggered by what you eat.

    1. My headaches are often set off by heat (too many blankets) or light (window behind computer monitor). There are so many possible causes.

      1. My last round of them were caused by neck strain. It turned out to be coming from the way I carried my tote bag.

      2. And some of those causes are weird. I, for example, can’t wear necklaces for more than 30 minutes without developing a massive headache. I also have to be super-careful about the positions of my computer monitors, or I will come home in need of massive doses of Advil. It took me forever to identify those as causes.

        1. bodies are weird.

          when I had an office job, I had RSI problems. i eventually figured out that if I didn’t wear nail polish, my RSI symptoms lessened by a good 85%. NAIL POLISH.

          1. NAIL POLISH! (Do you type differently when you’re wearing it, in an effort not to chip it? I do.)

    2. Jumping on this bandwagon. For me, it’s not that if I eat a certain food I will for sure get a headache. It’s that caffeine makes it easier for other triggers to cause headaches. When I drink caffeine, it is more likely that glare or low blood sugar or a change in the barometric pressure will give me a headache. If you are going to track foods, do what the Orthodox Jewish acupuncturist at the drug rehab center told me to do. (The $800 an hour neurologist never gave me this information.) You eliminate certain foods from your diet for a week or ten days to determine if they affect your headaches.

      Also discovered that oral erythromycin can cause headaches (i.e, they can cause swelling of some optical nerve – can’t remember the details).

      And not getting enough sleep can cause headaches for me! So stick with the bedtime!

      1. Me too! I can have caffeine, or I can have aspartame, but I cannot have both. Life got a lot better when I figured that out. (Good riddance, aspartame!) I grew up in a house where having 4+ Diet Cokes a day was considered perfectly normal.

    3. I began having migraines in my late teens, when I began taking the pill to control my testosterone-laden polychystic ovaries. I wouldn’t have made the connection between hormones and migraines on my own, but then, two years ago, I stopped taking them, and the migraines stopped. And then, two months ago, I got an hormonal implant, and zas! they are back. I read the medical instructions and, apparently, a small percentage of women report migraines under the pill. It astonishes me that none of the neurologists I visited ever asked me about it…

      1. Doctors can have huge blind spots about things outside their specialties. I once had a really bad run of migraines. I was in the middle of working through trying different medications for them when I had a routine opticians appointment and discovered that my glasses prescription had suddenly changed after years of being exactly the same. New glasses, no more headaches. Not once had the doctor suggested getting an eye test, as I sat in their office right in front of them wearing my glasses.

        1. Seconding this. I’ve had regular headaches my whole adult life, but they got a lot worse a couple years ago. I thought it was from the stress and long hours in front of a computer as a postdoc, but then I went and got new glasses. The stress and long screen time haven’t changed, but the headaches went from daily to maybe one or two a month!

        2. My weird headache situation was wearing glasses at all. When I was 8 years old to probably 14 or so I used to wear glasses, and I’d get moderate back-of-the-head headaches practically every day. I never knew what caused them until I got fitted for contact lenses and started wearing them daily, and suddenly, POOF. Not a single headache in sight.

          I realized eventually that no matter how well a pair of glasses are fitted, they always eventually slide down the bridge of my nose, because my nose gets greasy over time and the nose pads can’t hold them in place – so I unconsciously tense up the muscles behind my ears to try to hold them higher so I can still see out of them. To this day, I can only wear my glasses for 8 hours at a stretch before the headache starts to come on. As an adult, I recognize the signs of a stress headache, but as a kid I never knew and my parents were constantly puzzled about why I complained about headaches so often.

          Bodies are weird!

          1. Ooh, now that’s really interesting! My husband gets headaches that he puts down to his glasses (he has some things going on with his prescription other than plain old short sight, and it changes quite often) but he also has really greasy skin and that’s definitely a possibility worth bringing up with him. Thank you!

        3. OH my god, thank you! I should totally go get my eyes checked! I’ve been feeling headachey and disoriented and couldn’t figure out why, but yeah, the last time this happened my prescription was out of whack.

      2. Weirdly enough, when I was diagnosed PCOS and prescribed the Pill, my migraines vanished. To this day, if I stop for more than four or five days, WHACK – bashed between the eyes with the migraine cosh. Aren’t bodies weird?

      3. Same here. I had migraine auras that progressed to full on hallucinations (shadows moving and appearing like people in the dark, not “oh look at the purple elephants”) and my neurologist told me that it was from an acid trip from earlier in my life. Except . . I have never and would never do hallucinogens because they *terrify* me. A year later my gyno asked about auras/migraines and I was like “yes!” so at her suggestions I went off the pill and 10 years later I have zero issues with headaches, auras, or hallucinations. Apparently there are small number of us who just don’t take well to hormones.

        1. I had *awful* headaches the couple of years I spent on the Pill. Never mind the weight gain. But no doc ever made the connection for me. Oddly enough, though, same hormones coming naturally and in higher doses when I was pregnant gave me no trouble at all.

          1. That is because the hormones in prescription form are tweaked a little to become patentable. But this also changes their performance, sometimes in very nasty ways. If you need hormones, a natural form (for instance, USP progesterone in a cream is bio-identical) is always the better choice.

            Sign me,

            Sorry I had to figure this out on my own but glad I finally did

          2. @Wayof Cats:

            If you need hormones, a natural form (for instance, USP progesterone in a cream is bio-identical) is always sometimes, for some people the better choice.


        2. That’s my mother. Her reaction to any hormones is MIGRAINE

          So, no reputable gyno would have prescribed the pill for me.

          Many years later, when trying to get pregnant I was of course on hormones.

          Cue the disappearance of my migraines.

      4. I was on the pill for endometriosis for years. Then one time I went to get a repeat and the GP started asking about migraines. No more pill for me, especially with a history of stroke (at a young age) in my family.

    4. Mine were triggered by elevated stress hormones in my body. The year I stopped talking to my abusive parents? The migraines dropped in frequency from 2-3 per month to 1-2 per year

      1. My trigger is (really) head injury. If I bump my head on a zipper putting on a pullover, I clear the next three days. Did I mention they are opthalmic migraines, and make me blind to computer screens? So much panic, thinking I had injured my head worse!

    5. Hopefully you get your headaches figured out. I’ve always had occasional migraines and have lots of triggers, but one that really confounded me for awhile was I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. I had finally started doing it without meaning to while awake and asked my dentist about it and he said it was near 100% I was doing it in my sleep. Had a mouth guard made and voila, headaches gone. But yeah, heat, motion sickness, strong smells (gasoline, mint-flavored gum/mouthwash, some perfumes, some food smells, having my hair up when it was long and thicker (getting older was good for thinning my hair out a bit) etc.), repetitive sounds (especially if they are loud), fatigue, hunger and more can all lead to migraines. Caffeine, Advil, going in a cool, dark, quiet room, sleeping/resting, getting on solid, un-moving ground if motion sick, getting out of constricting clothing, all help me out. I’ve mostly got a handle on them now that I can tell when they are coming and if I am able stave them off or at least start soothing them before they get really bad, but it took me many years to even figure out I was having migraines and then to figure out what was triggering them and how to best treat them when I couldn’t avoid them.

    6. Sorry for the continued derail — I have spent years with a migraine problem, and any number of doctors tried and failed to come up with something consistent to ease the pain. Finally a few years ago the nurse practitioner at my workplace prescribed me with a medication designed for high blood pressure that’s also used to treat headaches. Overnight my number of migraines dropped to maybe one or two per week (I used to have them nearly every day), and those easily treated with OTC stuff. I know everyone’s different, but it’s worth a shot, especially since it took so long for anyone I saw to even try it.

      (Not sure if a post like this is OK, apologies if not!)

      1. It’s totally fine by me…I am loving the headache stories. Mine has been awwwfulll…it started out feeling like a sinus infection but with no congestion, and just moved around my head and face, behind my left eye, and sometimes at the back of my neck. On bad days it feels like someone punched me in the face. On better days it’s still there, but faint.

        Yesterday I went to a chiropractor, who said it was caused by a misaligned pelvis. He did some adjustments and today is the first day in a looonnnggg time that I’ve been headache-free (at least most of the day). I’m holding off on getting excited about it because some things have seemed to help before, only to have it come back after a few days. But I have a follow-up appointment this weekend and I’m crossing my fingers.

        1. Just as a data point, because something might help: I have had bad headaches for a really long time, which have to been set of by different things. In hindsight, part of it was stress related* (especially at the back of my neck), a lesser part of it was due to how I carry myself (what helped were exercises where I use my back, leg and foot muscles), part of it was not drinking enough (there were times I drank maybe one glass of water a day – I know, that’s really extreme) and finally, the biggest issue lately was due to food. In my specific case: histamine. A lot of people can get headaches after eating soy sauce or drinking red wine, but that’s food with really high histamine. If you’re sensitive to histamine, headaches can be set off by far less than that.
          You mentioned wanting to try a headache diary. If you feel like it, write down what you eat over the day and cross-reference it with lists of high-histamine food/food that contains histamine.

          By now, my headaches are pretty much gone or I know, where they come from (usually stress, histamine or being really tense). I wish you luck in finding your special cause.

          *I also had really bad headaches when I was in a sketchy situation which got much better when I got out. Maybe part of it is your body telling you you’ve had enough of this guy. Maybe not.

        2. The final “cure” for mine, after 3 months of daily migraine, was botox.

          NB I’ve had migraines since menarche. I still get them occasionally. They suck

        3. Based on your description, I was also thinking something musculoskeletal in the cranium or sacrum. They mirror each other, so if you find the only temporary relief with the sacral adjustments, then the problem is likely one or more of your skull bones. All of which can be pulled out of whack from intra- and extra-cranial sources. Given your positive response to the chiropractor’s work (indicating that this may really be the source of your issue), I would recommend trying a few months of craniosacral therapy. (Disclaimer, yes, I am a craniosacral therapist.)

        4. If you’re getting a good response to placebo treatments like chiropractic, then could be there is a significant stress component to the headaches, So maybe the start of the headaches coinciding with the appearance of Klingon Dude isn’t so coincidental after all. Fingers crossed that the headaches will stay away, now, anyway!

          1. Er, nice sweeping comment there with the “placebo treatments like chiropractic”. Yes, the underlying theory is out-there (as is osteopathy’s), and I’m no fan of spines being popped for the sake of it, but the majority of their manipulation techniques are the same as those used by physiotherapists. In fact, physiotherapy “borrowed” quite a number of osteo/chiro techniques for their practice.

            So for actual mechanical treatment of mobility issues, if it makes you feel better calling certain techniques “physiotherapy” instead, maybe that will help you not throw out the baby with the OMG alternative therapy bathwater.

  7. Your story is setting off my “Klingon” alert alarms – and I’m generally a “deep into Klingon Space” myself kinda gal. (working on it….)

    The Captain’s advice is, once again, sound. I’ll tell you what I’ve told my friends when they’re in these situations. Have a conversation with them and give the person a chance to understand your needs and an opportunity to balance your needs with their wants. If they discount your needs, ignore your boundaries, or “forget” all about the conversation quickly, all aboard the Nope Train. But, as a Klingon myself, I suggest that should at least give them the opportunity to try to meet you in the middle. But just once chance.

    1. Good grief, Spouse and I spent five minutes going back through Trek wikis trying to figure out what about Kurn was relevant to this letter to make that the picture, missing the obvious!

      This guy is not the right guy. Remember, the early time of a relationship is when people are on their best behavior – if he’s whining and berating you about how much time you spend with him already, it’s not likely to ever get any better.

      1. Sidenote: Can I just say I love that you guys did that b/c that was my first instinct too and then I was like, OHHHHHHH got it.

          1. So I had not thought about the Klingon picture till I saw carlie’s comment and the mention of that the character’s name is Kurn. Think Think Think, Is this a play on the word “kern” ie to “adjust the spacing between (letters or characters) in a piece of text to be printed” generally to make the space between them more pleasing. My reaction was wow that is an impressive deep level pun, perfectly on point for the issue.

            Not until after that did I get to the “Cling-on” pun.

      2. Agreed. And if this is his best behavior, I don’t think I’d be impressed by his worst.
        LW, for what it’s worth, my partner had to beg off plans at the last minute a week ago because he wasn’t feeling well. You know what I said? “I’m disappointed, but I’m sorry you’re not feeling well,” and rescheduled because I don’t think my need for snuggles supersedes his migraine. It’s okay to have feelings of wanting to be close and spend time together, but there are plenty of ways to do that without being a passive-aggressive complainer.

      3. Egnaro, that’s a beautiful interpretation! That guy’s kerning is DEFINITELY off. He’s Arial Narrow when he should be Courier New.

  8. I’m the sort of person who likes to put lots of energy into the people. Even friends remarked on my intensity in my early 20’s, comparing me to an adolescent Labrador.

    After several bad relationships (platonic and romantic), after lots of therapy, after lots of work on recognizing and respecting boundaries, I’m more like a well-trained adult Labrador. Instead of accidentally knocking you down with my affection as you enter the door, I sit and wiggle my butt excitedly, wait for you to put your things away, then jump on the couch so we can cuddle.

    Instead of being hurt spending years trying to mute my self enough to befriend aloof Persian cats, I befriend people who share my level of investment. We can tumble about in a cheerful pack together.

    (Still love the Persian kitties, just from a respectful distance)

    1. Yes! What a great metaphor. I am also a Labrador – and I’m lucky enough to have a Golden Retriever partner who likes that as much as me! I just want to add that the Persian Cats don’t have a responsibility to train us eager puppies. LW, don’t feel like you have to train this guy not to jump up – he has to figure that out himself, and if you like him enough to help, great, but don’t feel obligated.

      1. Exactly! Training another person is coercive, and puts the relationship on an unequal footing.
        Adults train themselves, as needed. And they don’t change fundamental things about themselves. The best you can hope for is a more thoughtful, respectful version of the person they are.

        The way this guy is dismissing LW’s needs in service of his own is Not Okay. But all the best scripts CA can offer is only going to get LW a guy who asks nicely to spend all their free time together. If that’s not what LW wants, best to end things now.

    2. I 99% love this analogy. My only issue is with your use of the word “investment”. People with different relationship styles can be just as invested in relationships as Labradors. And Labradors can be pretty univested in a specific relationship, because they just jump on people indiscriminately.

      Neither style is inherently more invested or more cavalier. It’s a good idea to focus on relationships where both your styles match AND your level of investment match. Confusing style with commitment is likely to lead to bad results for everyone.

      1. I am very discriminate about who gets jumped on. 🙂

        Which is the corollary to the fallacy that Persians don’t love as much. There are over a million people in my metro area, and about 40 who are jump-worthy to me. Spouse has about 10 jump-worthy people. I married a Persian, after lots of counseling we can appreciate each other’s style of devotion. (New Relationship Energy, it’s a hell of a drug)

        I’m not in-discriminate, Spouse isn’t less capable of love. They simply prefer fewer foci, and me more.

        What was meant by investment, is the amount of energy brought to a relationship. Which is different from the amount of love.
        It’s the difference between a friend that sees you every week, and helps you plan your children’s birthdays, and organizes a night out because you seem a little down, and one who you haven’t seen in six months, but when your building is condemned, and you have to move into a new apartment in two weeks, they’re there with a truck and dolly.

        The love is the same, but the day-to-day investment of energy is less.
        Some people are put off by someone who is a text-you-everyday friend, they don’t want that level of energy put into them, or to feel beholden to return it at that level. So I try to befriend other people who operate on that level as I am less likely to exhaust them, or feel used by them.

  9. Two minor notes:

    1) Headaches suck, and I hope you are able to get them sorted soon. Yay for being able to get health insurance. Much sympathy, and wishing you luck with them.

    2) SO THE HELL WHAT if you do have a fixed bedtime? I have a fixed bedtime, at least on work nights. So do many adults I know. I can and do make exceptions, but those are limited to once a week and cannot be extreme. Some people need more sleep than others. Some people need a routine. Mocking this is not okay.

    Thus endeth the rant.

    1. My headache neurologist put me on (drumroll) a super-regular bedtime, among many, many other lifestyle changes + medication. It makes me a lot less spontaneous and some of it is a giant pain in the ass, but it’s worth it because it’s brought my migraines from nearly constant to still-more-frequent-than-I’d-like-but-I-can-live-a-normal-life-with-them.

      And you know how my husband reacted? “This stuff will help you get fewer headaches? AWESOME. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” The exact polar opposite of a tantrum. This is how someone who’s at least as concerned about your welfare as their own will respond to the things you do for your own self-care, and it’s what you should expect of a partner, OP.

    2. #2: YES.
      Whatever, maybe I’m a boring adult, but I wake up at 5 am for work. That means that aside from my sole exception of my martial arts class Sunday/Wednesday and rare medical stuff, I need to be in bed by 9 pm weekdays to function. That means, some weekends I am even in bed by 9 because I am too tired to do anything else but lay there.

      This isn’t being anti social. This is not dying of fatigue. Someone who cares about my well being would not want me to pass out at the wheel of my car because they couldn’t wait one extra day to hang out.

      1. For all that a lot of people have to get up early for work, there’s a weird stigma against early bedtimes (at least among city folk). I think that there’s nothing wrong with your sleep cycle and you should stick to it if it makes you healthy and happy.

        1. Yes, I have a pretty early bedtime because I get up earlier than most for work, and I have a few friends who act like I’m abandoning them unreasonably early when I leave an event so I can get some sleep. My partner and I actually had a big argument about this yesterday (I think it’s a rude thing to do to someone who’s obviously exhausted, he thinks it’s a sign they like me and want to hang out with me).

          1. Grrr, this is a huge social pet peeve of mine and I’m firmly on your side.

            Rant: I used to have a group of friends who pulled the whole “whine, plead, cajole, physically block the door, rifle through your purse to steal your car keys” song and dance when you tried to leave the group early, and it made me see RED. Basically if anyone wanted to leave before the whole group decided they were tired, they had to be persuaded/tricked/borderline coerced/actually coerced into staying anyway, and the whole group consisted of several people who worked odd jobs at odd hours and stayed out anywhere from midnight to three a.m. on a whim.

            They didn’t want to stay out *alone*, see? They wanted to hang out with their friends! Who they loved so much! So much that they completely disrespected their stated boundaries and didn’t care if they were tired or late for their jobs or risked getting into an accident on the drive home! And you couldn’t get them to see how f’ed up it was because “we just want you to stay and have fun because we like you so much!! 🙂 :)”

            Funny, I’m only still friends with the other 2 people in the group who also had problems trying to leave early…

      2. Yup, yup, yup, me too. Exactly my schedule, except sometimes I can’t go to bed by then, in which case I end up with afternoon naps after work a lot.

    3. Yeah, I was a little puzzled by this too. I gathered that this was some kind of “…and that’s so fuddy-duddy!” comment, but… regular bedtimes are good for you. They are invaluable for insomniacs like myself. It is a bit as if I marched up to someone and accused them of eating a balanced diet, or castigated someone for flossing daily.

      1. If this boyfriend is as Darth as he seems he might be, it’s basically “how dare you be into effective self-care!” level accusation meant to make LW feel bad for being a perfectly normal, functional, healthy human being so that Darth can fix LW into being.. not all those things.

      2. My sister-in-law was texting a guy from a dating site, and he asked her to go out with him that night, 3 hours from the time of the text. She said “I can’t tonight, I have a family thing, how’s tomorrow?”

        His response was to call her “non-spontaneous” and say it must have been her “age showing.” He was 2 years older than her. she dodged a bullet there! Anyway, this letter and your comment reminded me of that.

        1. Her “age showing”?!
          Wow. That’s rather creepy. I suppose the accusation was meant in the spirit of “you’re like an old person for being so non-spontaneous.” Sometimes keeping obligations is cool, and being spontaneous causes problems. The restaurant requires reservations, the concert is sold out, they already ran out of free macchiatos, whatever.

          1. Not to mention that he had no idea what the “family thing” was. It could have been her sibling’s wedding or a grandparent’s 100th birthday party. And even though it was just dinner with her brother and me, you still don’t ditch plans you’ve made in favor of a person you haven’t even met yet!

        2. Ewwwwwwwwwww. Being spontaneous is all about jumping into interesting and unexpected things that happen to come up WHEN IT’S ACTUALLY POSSIBLE. “Spontaneous” is not actually a synonym for “irresponsible”, but it sounds like plenty of people try to use it as code for “not having my shit together in the slightest”. Planning is actually what allows for spontaneity: taking care of the stuff that IS expected in advance can then make it possible to go for the unexpected without one’s life turning into a trainwreck.

          1. This reminds me of the LW a while back whose boyfriend thought “spontaneous” meant “sitting around doing nothing and being available all day waiting for me to hang out,” i.e. “not making any plans except the ones I want to make.” So the opposite of spontaneous, really. More like completely passive and never doing anything unless it’s someone else’s idea. So a lot of people, in addition to what you said, also use “spontaneous” as code for “me, me, me.”

          2. (nesting is gone, responding to drashizu)
            I used to go through this with an online friend back in the AIM days. We had a lot of mutual interests so we 80% of the time, chatting with him was fun. But he’d also do the thing where he’d message me and literally say, “Hey, talk to me. I’m bored.” Like that’s what I was there for.

        3. Yuck. One of the things that let me know my husband was the right one for me was that I told him up front that I am not spontaneous and don’t like surprises, and that I don’t care if that makes me a “granny.” He replied that he’d rather stay in and metaphorically tell the kids to keep off his lawn, and that all his friends called him the “Old man” of the group. So we sit at home together on our separate computers and hibernate. It’s bliss.

      3. This is a thing. I can’t tell you how shameful it is in certain social groups to take care of yourself. Even things like “no, I don’t give my infant mountain dew” and “why yes I do use floss” illicit a chorus of criticism and teasing and even boundary pushing/demolishing.

        It’s usually a defensive reaction along the lines of: “I am such a train wreck! They’re going to notice! Quick! Ruin all their healthy habits so they are train wreck like me and I won’t feel so lonely and self-conscious!” *Bonus* if the “train wreck” can then “fix” the other person, thus proving they are actually the “better” person.

        At least that has been my experience of people who habitually find the lowest common denominator and insist they, and everyone else around them, mimic the most unhealthy decision maker in the group otherwise you are mean and judgmental.

        1. Wow. This is a great breakdown. This is basically what I deal with at work every day and this comment really puts things in perspective. I workout at lunchtime in the company gym and say no to the sweets or other food that get passed around the office and it’s a constant struggle dealing with the defensive reactions from the women around me. So many hostile comments and boundary pushing. I feel like I’m doing it (taking care of myself) AT THEM. They, literally, want to control what I put in my mouth.

          1. You shouldn’t have to deal with that at work, but can you say something like, that looks lovely, I’ll have some later? Or even take some ‘for later’? They don’t feel rebuffed, you don’t have to eat the offering. Makes the daily routine smoother.

          2. One of my Things is being unable to bear people making comments on what I’m eating. I used to work in an office in East London where a lot of people went out for local street food at lunch time, but I’d always bring in home made stuff. Anyone who saw me eating would almost without fail comment “Oh. That looks…healthy” as if it were a bad thing. I didn’t really get it.

      4. “Oh, yeah??? Well, I bet you wear comfortable shoes! And-and-and… you engage in MODERATE EXERCISE! HA! OH! Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day! WIMP!”

    4. It felt to me like the negging thing mentioned above.

      “Oh, you have a set bedtime” [implied negativity/such a child!]
      And LW’s supposed to respond “No, I don’t!”
      And then he can go “Good. I can come over tonight/you can come see me tomorrow evening after you’ve done all the other things you’ve said you have to do, because it’s not like you have a set bedtime”.

      1. Negging, typecasting, etc., all depend so heavily on the recipients caring a whole lot what the speakers think of them. The whole line of conversation disappears with a cheerful, “Yep! That’s how I am!”

        That’s why I’m surprised to see them used so often by relative strangers as part of an effort to create an attachment, because it seems to me that they’d be devastatingly effective coming from someone whose good opinion the recipient has no choice but to care about — bosses, landlords, parents you have no choice but to live with, etc.

        1. Or noticing it’s happening–for whatever reason, I often don’t notice that people are trying to neg me until much later, so at the time I tend to respond by either ignoring it (surely you didn’t mean to say that! let’s just pretend it didn’t happen), or address it directly, because if you don’t react defensively but factually, negs just become weird blurted statements. Oddly enough, people who are negging you are never willing to explain that they were trying to put you on the spot.

          1. Haha yes this is so me. It’s sometimes taken me YEARS to realize something was a “neg”. Like, a few times I had guys insisting my eye color was contact lenses. I do have pretty striking eyes so the first time they ask I was just “haha nope”, but then they’d keep insisting. So then I’m like, Okay, you’re weird and I’m going away now.

            It wasn’t until 15 years after the fact I realized it was a neg. I honestly have difficulty with people who ask questions they don’t really want an answer to. So if you ask me something I expect my answer to be accepted. I can be very literal!

          2. This is in response to manybellsdown since nesting is maxed out:

            I’ve had this happen too! The contacts thing, but also once, weirdly, a guy who kept insisting that I looked like I was about to cry and that my eyes were “glinting” weirdly (???) like I was tearing up or something. I figured the first time it was just a trick of the light and he was worried I was upset, so I assured him, “Nope! I’m actually in a fine mood right now,” though I also was getting tired of talking to him and didn’t smile cheerily as I said it.

            But he argued with me. Argued, for almost 5 straight minutes, that yeah, I *was* upset and about to cry (?) because my eyes looked teary and I wasn’t smiling. Eventually I just got up and walked away, confused as hell, but now I’m wondering if he was trying to neg me to make me, I dunno, smile at him? Put on a more cheerful act to convince him I wasn’t upset… and, in so doing, act like I liked him more than I actually did? Negging is such a weird, nonsensical behavior.

          3. @drashizu – Oh my gosh, yes! Same thing! I have the… well, I’m just gonna go ahead and call it “resting bitch face” because the word doesn’t bother me. My natural resting face is mildly frowny. So a lot of times dudes would ask me “Why do you look so sad?” And I’d say I wasn’t and they’d just keep bugging me about what was wrong. “Well, NOW I’m getting pissed off at YOU, buddy!”

        2. Because relative strangers are playing the odds. This is especially likely if the person commenting is cis-het-male and the person commented on is any kind of female.

          After all, many (most?) girls are socialized to Please Others to our own detriment. And to believe that our needs are less than others’ wants. And to value ourselves as less than….

          And thus, to need others’ approval. (Especially male, their, approval)

          So these men expect that if they tell a woman she’s less, for any reason, she’ll try to diminish the flaw he has declared

    5. I concur that the bedtime thing is weird and highly unpleasant. I also get up at 5 (um, 5:30) to get to work at 6:30 (um, 6:45.) I have to drive 25 miles/30 minutes one way on an interstate where the speed limit is 70 mph to get to my job. If I don’t get at least 6 hours of sleep (preferably 8) I am a danger to myself and others. ooo, so fuddy-duddy to not want to die in a horrific car accident caused by falling asleep at the wheel!

      1. I can function on less sleep than I like, but I LIKE SLEEP! So I have zero problem telling anybody, sorry, can’t, it’s past my bedtime. People who are all “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” are going to be incompatible with me. That’s okay.

        1. Well, there *is* also the fact that sleeping is my #1 hobby. *go team sleep* In all seriousness, it is all about compatibility, but it rankles me heavily that someone would say or imply that prioritizing sleep is the inferior choice.

          (re: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” — that’s nice! if I don’t sleep, I’ll be dead a hell of a lot sooner. NOT A NET GAIN.)

          1. Ha, my friend tried to pull the “oh pleeeease stay out, you don’t need to go home this early!” thing on me a few weeks ago despite me repeatedly pointing out that I HAD A FOUR MONTH OLD BABY at home and if I didn’t sleep early I wouldn’t sleep at all. In his defence, he doesn’t really understand how babies work and has such a rude awakening coming when his wife gives birth in January!

  10. I get relatively clingy in new relationships, but if someone I’d just recently started seeing even NICELY suggested Thanksgiving or Christmas plans I’d be kind of weirded out, unless I had already said I didn’t have plans, or it was some kind of friendsgiving or something. If he made snarky demands about it, it would be all the NOPE. Let’s not even get started on what would happen to someone who tried to demand my time while I had a headache (and I even know what cause mine–I’m so sorry you’re dealing with the pain plus not knowing, LW).

    And he wanted to know when you were going to “make time for him” on the third date? Was the third date, like, three months after the second? Seriously, there are so many things in your description of this guy.

    Even if the only problem were that you two simply have incompatible relationship styles, that could happen without him being a controlling whiny jerk. If you feel like it, tell him straight up what bothers you and give him a chance to save face and make amends. But you don’t owe him a relationship tomorrow just because you’re in one today.

    1. Yeah, that holiday thing was BONE-CHILLING. I like spending a lot of time with my SO, but I don’t like quickly blurring the lines between a new relationship and my pre-existing family life, and it feels weird and pushy for someone to insist on it. I don’t want to integrate someone into my life in such a major way if I’m not sure they’re going to stick around– and on a second date I’m still deciding if I want to commit to a third date, you know?

      LW, you are not wrong to have some heebie-jeebies. It is a major warning sign if someone is pushing to get too close too quickly. You are smart to recognize this dude’s pushing for what it is, and totally within your bounds to be irritated by the way he doesn’t respect your stated boundaries.

      I’m sorry you’re having health problems and I hope they resolve soon.

    2. now-husband and I started dating in March, and started discussing Christmas plans in about September / October, when we had already agreed we were moving in together in January once his lease expired…
      That said, we do joke that if we had met a single month earlier, we might have travelled to Europe together (instead of him going on his own), but he was making final payments 2 days after we met, so that was a bit soon. 🙂

    3. I don’t think I’d see it as weird unless it came after my already mentioning that I *had* plans, but that’s only in the event of suggesting-it-nicely. (And I also don’t see Thanksgiving or Christmas as substantially different from Arbor Day, so this may also be a weird-worldview thing.)

      In line with all the other pushy-and-rude behavior the LW’s boyfriend is displaying, it’s probably a bad sign and part of a pattern.

  11. Upside is: it sounds like you’re super together and all you needed was some validation. Yeah, this is totally annoying, and grounds for ending the burgeoning relationship.

    Downside is: chronic headaches are the woooooooorst and so is entering into the unique zone of hell that is populated entirely by medical specialists. Get a good PCP early on so they can help you coordinate your care. And totally break things off with Mr Clingo, he’s way overboard.

  12. I am laughing at the part about his being snarky about your having “a set bedtime” (but am sympathetic about the situation overall). When my husband and I went for our pre-marital counseling, we started out by talking about politics and religion, topics on which my husband and I disagree strongly. (He is somewhat of an agnostic, but did go to pre-marital counseling because he didn’t see how it could hurt anything.)

    Father Tim asked if our disagreements about politics were going to be a big problem. I said no, that our biggest problem would be (and I have been so right!) is that we do not agree at all on bedtime. My husband is a night owl and I am an early to bed person. We fight about bedtime more than any other topic.

    1. Years ago when I was about thirteen, I read a Penny Vincenzi column in a random copy of Good Housekeeping magazine in which she said that small agreements about daily life are so much more important to a successful marriage than agreement about the big topics. I can’t remember the exact sentence, but it was something like, “my husband and I do not often agree on the great themes of the day – religion, politics – but we do agree on the small things, like not talking during the Archers and the Daughters not eating breakfast in their dressing gowns.”

      I definitely prefer going out with someone who shares my politics and with whom I have broad agreement on the how/where/why of religion, if not minor details like actual belief, but I’ve never forgotten the pure wisdom of the need to agree on the small things of day-to-day life.

      1. Threadjacking to say I too read that Penny Vincenzi column in Good Housekeeping when I was about 13 and mentioned it to my partner just the other day! What a weird coincidence I still remember being appalled by the revelation that she was a Conservative.

    2. I had to reply to this, because my parents had the exact same bedtime conflict (my dad was a yawning-by-9pm, up with the birds kind of guy, whereas my mom is still going strong at 2am but will happily sleep til noon). My mom said that it helped a lot when she explained that her not wanting to go to bed at the same time was NOT related to desire for sexytimes and that their life got way better when they reached a compromise where he would go to bed nice and early, she would enjoy her alone time (while he later had quiet time of his own before anyone was up) and what would happen is, she would *wake him* for funtimes when she went to bed – at which point, he was pretty rested and quite up for this (I’m guessing not every night, but there was no need to get into details!) and felt desired. And of course, they found other times to act on that too that weren’t situated around bedtime. Basically, they decoupled sexytimes from sleepytimes as a natural-go-together.

      1. This is what Spouse and I have had to do…we’re still working on it, but I’m a night owl who needs very little sleep, and he’d sleep 75% of the day if he could; we basically never go to bed at the same time. I can’t imagine giving him a hard time about turning in before 10, though. That’s just asshole behavior.

      2. Yes! Nowhere in my marriage vows is it written that I have to stay up until 1 am, nor does my husband have to go to bed at 10 and lie staring at the ceiling for hours. We are not five-year-olds; we do not have to have a set bedtime. I go to bed when I’m tired; he comes to bed when he’s tired; sometimes we meet in bed for fun things and then I go to sleep while he goes to watch TV. It’s all good. 🙂

      3. This is exactly what my wolf does! He sleep sleeps at odd times and only about four hours at a time. I fall unconscious for six to eight hours when I hit my bedtime. So what happens is I’ll head to bed, he’ll stay up and maybe doze in his chair, then come in and wake me up at about four a.m. Sometimes we just snuggle, ha! Then we spend the wee hours of the morning snuggled together and whoever wakes up first makes breakfast.

    3. SO TRUE. My ex husband thought it was okay to follow me into the bathroom to monologue at me while I showered, and then to continue said monologue when I was in bed, under the freaking covers. I’m sure he would have found ways to be abusive if I were a night owl, but the bedtime thing was a very convenient opportunity to be horrible.

    4. We’re similar on the bedtime front! I like to go to bed early (10ish) but my husband can’t get to sleep before about 11:30 and often goes significantly later. I’ve never seen why this should be a problem though. Like, I go to bed at 10 and he joins me when he’s ready. I have never seen any reason why we would have to go to bed at the same time (not that I’m assuming you are, but I know some couples do). The only thing is sometimes he accidentally wakes me but if I’m already asleep it’s usually not too hard for me to get back to sleep.

    5. In the first year or so of my marriage, my husband would get upset because I went to bed too early (I had to work early, so got up around 5 and crashed by 9:30) and left him alone watching TV. Fast-forward seven or eight years, and he would get upset because I stayed up too late and he had to go to bed by himself. Looking back, I think it was more of an introvert/extrovert problem than anything else – he felt abandoned unless I was right next to him all the time, and I loved the peace of being the only one awake in a quiet house, whether it was at dawn or midnight.

    6. Sometimes I feel like a giant weirdo b/c I LOVE sleeping with someone. I fall asleep faster, I sleep better, and when I have nightmares (almost every night) there is another human there to comfort me. I am not sure if this makes me a giant ball of need, but having a partner who doesn’t want to go to bed with me is very, very hard because one of the things I want a partner for is co-sleeping. Touch is my primary love language and the partners I have had who also love to fall asleep beside me and sleep with our bodies wrapped around each other, often made for my most stress-free relationships.

      That said, I do not bully anyone, let alone brand new dating partners to snuggle or sleep with me. A) it’s poor form and b) it takes a long time to build the trust required for me to enjoy co-sleeping with you. I think LW’s dude is just using the bedtime thing as a neg and manipulation tactic rather than a failed communication of “I like to co-sleep with my partner.”

  13. To the LW: I think there are two issues here.

    1) The degree to which your and his desires/expectations for levels of life-entangledness and degree of contact compatible;

    2) The way these desires are communicated.

    With respect to item 1, it may be that there’s a disparity between your and his needs/wishes regarding amount/pattern of contact. It doesn’t mean that either of you are necessarily being unreasonable or wanting unrealistic things, it just means you have some degree of difference in how you want to do relationships. This doesn’t have to be a huge problem, *if* you can both find ways of negotiating some compromises that you’re both happy with. The key elements there are *communication* and *negotiation*. And that’s where we come to item 2.

    I’m not seeing a lot of respect or willingness to negotiate coming from him, based on what you’ve written here. What I’m seeing are demands on your time, and grumpy peevish passive-aggressiveness if he doesn’t get his way. These are all big red flags, to my eye. If I were you, I’d sit down with him and tell him that you’re not comfortable with the way he’s been responding to you when these situations come up. Put it to him that that he’s giving the impression that he feels that he owns your spare time, and that’s not acceptable – YOU get to say how you allocate your time, not him. There WILL be times when you’re not available to him or don’t want to socialise with him, and that’s not about not wanting him, it’s simply about needing/wanting to have some downtime/time with friends/whatever on occasion.

    How he responds to this will tell you all you need to know. If he’s all “Oh crap, sorry! Yes, I see how that could be a problem. How can we fix this?” then you can put those red flags down; he’s just a bit clueless/angsty/self-absorbed and it didn’t occur to him that it would be an issue, but now that you’ve pointed it out, he’s onboard with working with you to find a better way of dealing with these situations. On the other hand, if he gets pissy or dismissive or tries to gaslight you or tell you that you’re being unreasonable or that it’s all your fault… mount up your Nopetopus and Nope your way home. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  14. Me, reading this open-mindedly:
    “make time for him” (while on date, and it’s date#3): Oh. Nope.
    “aggressively passive-aggressive about you never being there”: Wut. Nope.
    “better be (anything), said on date 2”: UH NOPE.
    “guilting you about a “””set””” bedtime (read: does not believe in boundaries, or selfcare, or even sleep (???), where you are concerned)”: NOOOOOOOPE.

    I recognize this pattern and unfortunately I have only seen it get worse from this point, I’m sorry to have to say. He may even think he is saying these things in that jokey plausible-deniability ribbing joshing kinda way har har … but it is still not funny.

  15. Dear LW,

    Two comments:
    1- Check the headaches. Grades are awful.

    2- You’re not spoiled by LDR but you’re probably incompatible with your bf.

    The Captain addressed how you might handle things and yet I think you and he will spilt anyway

      1. I am in the middle of grading AND have a headache right now, and I can confirm that grades are awful.

    1. A healthy relationship is what works for you – not the norm (living close together, monogmous, general timetable for living together, marry, have kids etc. ) Such a releif when I finally worked this out!

      Your perception of what a healthy relationship for you seems to be spot on. Don’t let this guy gaslight you into minimising your needs to pander to his wants.

      If this is his best behaviour (which at date 3, should be) I would not stick around to see his bad behaviour.

  16. Um. I would like to say (in addition to “I hope the headaches get better” and “Run, run away from him”) maybe look at moving, too. He lives across the street? If you say you don’t want to see him anymore, what are the chances of that happening? Will he leave you alone, or will he start staring at you as you leave your home? Will he start monitoring when you’re home and not home? Will he make snarky comments at you? Will he try to do other things that I don’t want to think about?

    He might not do any of that — he may leave you totally alone. But this red flag is pretty much flying right in my face.

    1. The living across the street but is the part that makes me think the LW should consider breaking up with him now and blaming it solely on her sad unavailability due to her headaches, or anything else that might help minimize his butt hurt. I think it’s clear it won’t work, and minimizing future horribleness due to proximity should maybe be the focus.

      1. Nah, with a guy like that, he’ll see that as being “We could be together if not for ____.” I wouldn’t put it past him to dismiss her headaches as not that bad, and to keep pressing that they can get past her headaches, and if she really loved him, etc.

        To say nothing of what happens if she starts dating someone else.

  17. These are the kind of comments my mom makes to me — but we have decades of history, a parent/child relationship, and actual long-distance between us. They really damage our relationship, and again, read the list above. In a brand new relationship? RUN. Flee that bunny. Trust your instincts.

    As for your headaches — good for you for being proactive. Trust your instincts on that, too, and stay proactive. If you are female (guessing) and have headaches, sometimes the medical profession can be dismissive of “just” headaches. I’ve got them, too, and being persistent is important.

    LW, trust yourself.

  18. I hope your headaches get better. I used to have chronic ones due to anxiety. I’m wondering if your headaches are your body’s way of telling you that you’re not in a good situation. Certain emotions can manifest as pain.

    The dude isn’t great. His snarky comments are manipulative and disrespectful. Pushing a relationship along very fast is one of the signs of an abusive or controlling person.

  19. Clingyness & relationship speed preference could be a just-not-compatible thing, or maybe a thing you put up with if you like everything else.
    However, snarkiness/hurt/irritability when you express your (reasonable!) wants = Bees! Run!
    So is boundary pushing and announcing what “will happen” when given a soft no.

  20. Wanting to see you a lot’s not a problem per se. What is a problem is that he has no desire to arrange his own needs to make sure yours are met too. LW, from what you say this guy has no interest in what’s best for you, what makes you happy or even what keeps you healthy. Go with your instinct: you don’t need this.

  21. I want to echo pretty much everything that everyone here has already said, and also add one thing.

    It may be the case that you are used to a different level of contact because of your long distance relationship. That doesn’t make this dude’s desired level of contact somehow better or more right for an across-the-street relationship. You are allowed to want as much or as little contact in a relationship as you want, regardless of the reasons. What you are not allowed to do is force (or coerce) hang-out time on someone who wants to have doing-something-else time.

  22. Hi LW! I am so sorry about your headaches! I have both allergic and stress migraines, and it’s kind of horrid, so I hope you get that sorted.

    About your terrible boyfriend: you have a terrible boyfriend. Some of it is probably just that you’re mismatched; maybe for someone who wants a boyfriend that acts like a needy chihuahua, he would be perfect, but he sounds exhausting to me.

    I want to address the “across the street” thing. I dated a guy who lived across the street once (we both lived in apartment buildings on densely populated blocks), and it was SUPER convenient until it SUPER wasn’t. So that’s probably a thing to think about. I’m not saying move, as it is very possible to make the other person avoid you, rather than vice versa, but it’s definitely something to consider, depending on how worried you are and what your neighbourhood is like.

    Basically, though, you seem fine and like you have reasonable expectations. He seems clingy. It’s not your imagination.

  23. LW, you raise the possibility that your expectations about pace and togetherness and stuff may be skewed by having been in a long-term LDR. And I say, so what if they were? Our past experiences shape our expectations and our comfort levels with all kinds of different things. However your feelings around amount of time spent together and speed with which a relationship should progress came to be, they’re your feelings. You’re not wrong to have them, and you have no obligation to try to change them.

    Best-case scenario: the two of you have incompatible ideas about how relationships progress, and he isn’t good at putting on his big boy pants and using his words to ask for what he wants, so he’s passive-aggressively Not Directly Asking. Is this really what you want? One or both of you is going to be uncomfortable or unhappy about the amount of time you are or aren’t spending together, and when he doesn’t get what he wants he can be kind of immature and shitty. That doesn’t sound like much fun.

    Worst-case scenario: ably covered by other commenters already, so I won’t belabor the point.

    1. “Our past experiences shape our expectations and our comfort levels with all kinds of different things. However your feelings around amount of time spent together and speed with which a relationship should progress came to be, they’re your feelings. You’re not wrong to have them, and you have no obligation to try to change them.”

      So much this!

  24. Yeah, same with the echoing, it sounds like you’re just fundamentally incompatible. He might be a great guy and all, but neither of you are ideal partners for each other, and better ones for each of you exist. It doesn’t mean you’re not both good people. It sounds like it’s better to just break it off now while it’s relatively easy.

  25. Hey LW, I don’t think your feelings are off at all. I’ve been the person in the relationship who wants to spend more time together than we were currently. There is a reasonable way of expressing this need, which for me consisted of talking to my partner directly and saying, ‘hey, could we try doing X?’ where X = more regular dates, staying over on weekends or whatever you think might be a fun thing for you and Partner to do that makes more time together. This was a good way of doing it for me because I could say ‘it’d be nice to see you more often, let’s do things we both enjoy together!’ and avoided me feeling like I was just putting all my needs and anxieties at his door to fix. I got to frame it as something that would be nice for both of us.

    What bugs me is that this guy isn’t talking to you directly. He’s making indirect comments to let you know he’s not happy, but won’t come out and say what he needs. He’s also not just letting you know that he’s unhappy – the comments have a flavour of ‘I’m unhappy and it’s your fault for not figuring out exactly what I need in this relationship and doing it.’ I think that even if you were being unusually distant (which I don’t think you are; a couple times a week for dates is pretty standard at the start of a relationship in my limited experience) the real problem is the passive-aggressive snarkiness.

    If you wanted to, you could try starting a conversation with him about it when the behaviour’s not happening at that moment. ‘Hey Dude, from some of the comments you’ve made over the past (however long it is) it seems like you’re not happy with how this is going. Do you have anything you want to talk about?’ I would also be tempted to say ‘What do you mean by that?’ in the face of a snarky comment – like, dude, I can tell you’re pissed off at me, I’m going to call you on it.

    Feel free to not do either of those things, though. If you’re unhappy in this stage of dating someone, when it’s all supposed to be shiny and new with everyone on their best behaviour, you absolutely have the right to say eff this BS and leave without educating him on what he did wrong.

    1. Yes, this–it’s very nice that he wants to spend more time with you, but the way he’s addressing that need isn’t very nice at all. And like Enantiomeria recommended, if you’re going to give this relationship another try it would be good to address his comments in the moment, to see if he backs down and apologizes or if he digs in his heels and continues the irritated behavior/snark. Good luck, whatever you decide!

    2. Yeah, I come from a family with a very long legacy of passive-aggression (both sides! thanks parents!), so when people I’m dating or friends with try to get passive aggressive at me my hackles get right up. I’d advise that if you do want this relationship to continue, try Enantiomeria’s scripts, whilst keeping your boundaries and desire for alone time firmly in place. If he continues being passive aggressive, you could try saying, “Your passive-aggressive comments about me not spending enough time with you makes me not want to spend /any/ time with you. Is that your aim?”

  26. That your last relationship was long-distance and that you need a lot of space doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with either of those, or that the LDR somehow “spoiled” you. It might mean that long distance is what works best for you, and/or that you would be happier not living with a partner even if you were in the same city or neighborhood. Or it might just mean that while you can live with a partner, as long as you both have time to be alone, it’s not essential for you to have a committed relationship.

    This is tangential to whether this guy is a good idea for you but might be worth keeping in mind, either for future relationships or if the current guy apologizes and knocks it off and you keep dating.

  27. Dang. Some people really get into that initial flush of dating and want to be together 24/7 and hang out all the time and move in together and plan their future. And that’s normal for some people. But snarky comments and sly insults and pressure are very bad behaviors and, as everyone else has noted, big red flags.

  28. Yeesh, this makes me want to nope the fuck out of here. This sounds exactly like my first boyfriend, right down to the getting mad at you for wanting to sleep. In my case, it took a year for me to even begin to notice how controlling he was, and by then I was invested enough – and accustomed enough to the abuse – that it was the better part of another year before I was finally able to leave him. You’re still in the early stages; unless this guy does a complete and sincere 180 when you call him on his shit, my advice is to trust your gut and get out now.

  29. Even apart from the snarking and demands and everything most of the time, I… would not expect to be seeing anyone immediately after they’ve returned from an international holiday unless we lived in the same house or they were dropping something off on the way home. I’d just assume they wanted to go home and sleep! If they didn’t it would be nice, but changing your mind and asking to put it off until the next day should seriously be totally understandable even to the clingiest labrador in the dog shelter.

    1. Indeed. FWIW, I have a relationship where I tend to feel clingy and the other person sometimes goes on long trips, and there is a completely reasonable way of getting to see them on the day they get back: I pick them up at the airport. And then I talk as much or as little as they want to talk, and I drop them off at their house, and unless they are obviously feeling particularly social, I then _go home_.

      I suspect the LW is perhaps lucky that he didn’t offer this, though, as the stress of worrying if he would actually go home after dropping them off would be not so good.

    2. Actually that part made sense to me. In the past, I’ve wanted to see my SO immediately on my return, and immediately on their return.

      BUT if my SO had wanted to rest, I’d have been fine with it. And there have been times I have only wanted sleep too.

    3. Yes! From the clingiest labrador. I would absolutely want to spend the VERY FIRST MINUTE that Partner was back in town with them. However, I would know that this is a completely unreasonable thing to expect, and would do my best to keep my disappointment in check and not let any of it show, because my unreasonable wishes are not Partner’s problem. They’re mine.

  30. My ideal relationship progression sounds like yours, LW. (Your ideal, not your reality.) My partner’s is more like your partner’s. I want/need lots of alone-time to decompress, and he craves lots of us-time. But it took me a while after reading this to even make that connection, because it’s… so drastically different. I never felt pressured to spend more time with him than I could. We’re both in PhD programs so our schedules are chaotic, and I’ve got two aging cats who have gotten kind of insecure and needy in their golden years. I want to be home a lot. I’ve… never had to justify this to him, or come up with an excuse or anything. I’m happiest with spending weekends at his place where we cuddle for a while and then sleep separately; he’d be happiest if I spent every night at his place with him wrapped around me like an octopus. What we’ve worked out is basically the schedule that works for me because it’s all I can do, and I squeeze in a weekday night when I can.

    This has never been an issue between us. He’s never pouted or gotten nasty or accused me of not wanting to be with him. Because of that, I am much, much more comfortable with him a year in than I was at the beginning, and my need for alone-time is decreasing because I can decompress around him.

    I don’t think your problem is incompatible relationship standards. I think your problem is his nasty attitude. That sucks for you and I’m sorry if you have to back away from this exciting new relationship with its stimulating conversations and fun sexytimez. But in the long run… I think that way madness lies.

  31. OP, I hope I’m not being too pessimistic here, but this sounds way too much like my controlling ex boyfriend with psychopathic tendencies.

    At first, I actually thought the clinginess was a cute sign that he was really into me – we were both geeky late-bloomers with no dating experience and we had put a lot of hope into what was the first relationship for both of us – but it quickly escalated from getting slightly pouty when I couldn’t rearrange my plans to see him into making snarky comments and being a right mardy bum for several hours, and finally into gaslighting the fuck out of me and making me believe every other person in my life wanted to control me and break us up. And he had seemed like such a reasonable, kind, level-headed guy when I first met him.

    This is just my gut feeling and it’s heavily brought on by personal experiences, but if I were you, I’d run away fast.

    1. I feel the same way, possibly because of personal experience.

      I had an ex that, at first, was way not clingy to the point where he kissed someone else and thought it was no big deal. We were 16 at the time, so I didn’t really blow up about it but asked that it didn’t happen again. Then I also found out he was dating someone else when he asked me out, but that he planned on leaving her because he loved me (16 year olds amirite?) Next thing I know, he starts wanting to spend all his time with me and I found it endearing because I was having trust issues since all the weird stuff before and because he was my first boyfriend, and I thought that’s what it was supposed to be like.

      Fast forward through time and he’s chasing me through a field of snow, shoeless and crying, because he didn’t want me to attend plans with a friend he had known about a week before. That and flipping over desks and cornering me in a bathroom because my friend reminded me that I was to go to her house that day, soon after I agreed I would go to his.

      Point is, snarky remarks about what is and isn’t enough time spent together = back sign. Very bad. Clingy is nice when it’s wanted, not forced. And clingy paired with controlling, I feel, is a common occurrence (quite unfortunately).

  32. So LW said I want to give him a chance and also I started dating him about two months ago but one month in, I went to Spain for a month and just got back.. That *was* a chance. That was lots of chances. It sounds like you dated Dude for a solid month before leaving and given how you describe him, I think it’s safe to assume you two spent quite a lot of time together in that month. What more could you possibly owe him?

  33. My gut reaction to your letter is: run like hell! The passive-aggressive snarky comments are way out of line, especially this early in the relationship, and the “you better” is downright scary. It’s disturbing that he tried to steamroll over you when you told him you had jet lag and a headache. Who does that?! It not only sounds like it’s all about him, but he doesn’t even seem to see you as a person in your own right – more like a possession that should be there whenever he wants it. I’m reminded of a book titled “Why Does He Do That?”, in which the author theorizes that an abuser sees his partner like a doll or teddy bear that will always behave exactly as he wants, and then gets irate when “it” dares to have any needs that contradict his own or otherwise gets “out of line”.

    I wouldn’t be so sure the headaches have nothing to do with him, either.

  34. LW, I have chronic headaches/migraines, too. I hope you get yours solved. For me, it turned out to be pain causing high blood pressure causing more pain causing more pressure…bad cycle to be caught in. Regulating sleep helps, as does medication, for me. Best of luck here, because I know this can be such a frustrating, hard road–and with it being an invisible illness, it’s one that so many people don’t understand.

    The gaslighting–of the Thanksgiving mention/”nope, never happened” variety–is worrisome to me. I also read his behavior as pretty clingy, and the snarky comments as out of line. There’s a place and time for snark, I think, when it’s done humorously, but this doesn’t sound like that kind of snark. I think your radar is working really well.

    I hope if you say something to him, it breaks him out of the pattern, or if you choose to walk away, you can do so with a clean break.

    Regardless of whether it’s his attitude sucking or incompatible relationship styles (or both), you deserve to have a relationship at your own pace/comfort level. None of this should be forced/coerced/foisted upon you. I hope that whatever choice you make, you find that comfort.

  35. As a datapoint on the “what’s a normal relationship like?” question that got tangentially mentioned: A friend and former coworker of mine has been very happily married for about a decade, and he and his wife still live in the separate houses across town from each other that they lived in before they got married. So that’s very much a possible thing that people do, and it seems to be working quite well for them.

    So, LW, if that turns out to be what you want, go for it!

    (Although, of course, at the moment you just seem to be having entirely typical desires for contact in a one-or-two-month relationship, it sounds like to me.)

  36. It’s one thing to be incompatible due to varying levels of clinginess. It’s another thing to make bitter, rude comments about it.

    Like, I’m a clingy individual because I’m extremely introverted and actually get depressed if I’m alone for more than 3 days. But I also would not date someone who hated that? And I wouldn’t make bitter, mean comments about it??? Like. What.

    LW, this person is being really petty and mean-spirited and self-centered. Big no. No no no.

  37. Red flags everywhere. I’m sure others have addressed this in detail: I just wanted to say good luck with sorting the headache situation out. Some Darth Vaders would be all considerate and caring about a health problem, especially at this stage. The fact that he is selfish about it is an even bigger, redder flag.

  38. I *am* someone who likes to spend lots and lots of time with someone when I’m in love with them (even if we haven’t known each other that long), and this guy still sounds like bad news to me. Nasty comments like those, whether it’s when you’re jetlagged or not: damn. Denying he’s said them later on: worse. I don’t know if just incompatibility and different relationship expectations/needs is the biggest problem.

    I don’t think your ideas about relationships are off, or that your health makes it impossible, and I think being far more clingy than you is the least of the wrongness.

  39. I am here to stand up for sleep! I have been in relationships where, as they deteriorated, the other person kept me awake to harangue me for hours. I’m fairly low maintenance but I require all my sleep and all my food. Someone who doesn’t respect that is acting like a terrible person. That’s, for me, the biggest red flag.

    This one time, I was dating a guy and I went away for a while, and when I came back he demanded to see me and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, going so far as to drive all the way across town and climb in my window, after I told him not to come over. I had been assuming we’d start seeing each other again when I got back but the climbing into my house (even though he’d done that in the past and I’d welcomed it) just kind of killed any residual affection on my part and I told him to leave & that was it for us.

    1. Hurrah for good sleep, and all the commenters championing it!
      One of the reasons I’m still able to be friends with one of my exes was that we realized conversations we had late at night tended to stress one or both of us out and tended to accomplish nothing other than making us sleep deprived, so we initiated a 10 pm cutoff for talking to each other. I think our breakup would’ve been emotionally messier if we hadn’t been willing to discuss boundaries like that.

      Also holy crap, moss, I am very glad that the window-climber is out of your life now.

  40. This sounds to me like he has constructed an entire “this is how it should be” performance/relationship around you, LW, and you’re not saying your lines properly, so it is messing up his whole play. Alas, alack! Forearm to forehead! Dramatic clutch of pearls!

    You are attracted to each other, how great! You live so close, how convenient! But no, you are a person who enjoys your own company and wants to have alone time sometimes, while he wants to envelop you slowly like The Blob.

    My hackles are raised at the “right across the street” part of your letter, which they wouldn’t have been if he weren’t gaslighting you and negging you when you assert a preference, need or boundary.

    You seem to me like you know what your ideal relationship would be like. Maybe it is time to spell/write it out, and say “this is what I want and need,” with emphasis on this person respecting your boundaries and taking “no” for an answer gracefully. You know how often you want to sleep somewhere other than in your own bed. You know what other activities you enjoy doing weekly or monthly that make you too tired to socialize. You know how often you like to go out at night or try new things, if you like that at all, and maybe you don’t! You know how much time basic chores and hobbies take each week. These are things related to self-care and responsible adulting, and even if a new exciting relationship gets you to neglect them for a while, you already know long-term that it isn’t sustainable if you want a clean home, to not be tired while at work, to feel healthy and happy, and to continue with the activities and hobbies (or scheduled TV shows or long baths or whatever, you do you) that keep you learning new skills or thinking new things or socializing with platonic friends or otherwise fulfill you. You can try suggesting that he do the same: think honestly about his wants and needs in re: time spent doing couple stuff and time spent doing his own stuff alone, and spell those out.

    If Neighbor Guyfriend doesn’t like the picture of a relationship you paint, there’s the answer for both of you. (Also, beware any protestations on his part that he can compromise or change his preferences. Inevitably this is not true. He will keep pushing to get his needs met, and to mold you like modeling clay into the shape he prefers/needs/wants, because you’re SO CLOSE, etc., etc., and that way leads to increased unpleasantness. If you can’t meet his (equally reasonable) relationship needs, then, despite convenience of location and initial approval of each other’s smarts and looks, you know it isn’t going to work out. You both need your needs and wants addressed, and right now (and maybe always) there’s a mismatch.

    On the other hand, if you already know there’s a fundamental mismatch, a slow fade and being extremely “boring” and busy might be a better idea. You know best.

    I have to add that I am concerned that his response to “I am physically unwell” wasn’t concern but disregard about that and more pressure for you to conform to his expectations (and I may be wrong, but since you note you’re having sex, maybe he was also hoping to nudge you, with your headache, into having sex with him even after you said you felt unwell, which is really rude). That’s an exceedingly bad sign. At best, he is bad at handling disappointment, and needs to work on that. At worst, he is using his disappointment as a weapon by being snarky and punitive to pressure you into doing things his way on his schedule.

    1. This sounds to me like he has constructed an entire “this is how it should be” performance/relationship around you, LW, and you’re not saying your lines properly, so it is messing up his whole play.

      Yep, this. Any chance, LW, he’d been coveting you from across the way for awhile now prior to dating? That — or biding his time, dreaming away, planning or plotting out certain scenarios while you’ve been in Spain — might explain this ridiculously speedy, escalated timeline he’s got established for the two of you. If he’s “lived” out your collective future a dozen times already, his impatience about prodding you along makes sense. A really shitty, inconsiderate, self-absorbed, bullying kind of sense.

      That approach to a relationship — “I’ve got this covered; follow my lead; THIS is what you’re meant to be doing for me” — dooms it before it begins. Because that’s not a relationship: that’s a sexy play he’s written for a self-less and compliant character he’s attempting to foist upon you.

  41. I’ll ask my usual question: Imagine this never ends (because it won’t). Can you live with it a year from now? Five years from now? 10? People are on their best behavior when they’re first going out with someone. If this is his BEST behavior, imagine what his worst will be.

    You just started dating him. You do not have a 20 year marriage. This is not something you need to work out or work through. Cut your losses and exit–this guy not only doesn’t want to respect your need for space, he’s all up in your face about it when you’re on a date with him. I dated someone similar–he was nice enough but resented the hour I spent at the gym, or the fact that we didn’t spend all weekend together (dude, we went out on a weekend night and I stayed over, I have laundry to do and friends and family to see). We didn’t last. I have a friend like that and I’ve distanced myself greatly because it is exhausting and annoying to deal with complaints that you don’t spend enough time with someone when you are in the middle of hanging out with them.

    Also–I do have a set bedtime. I get up at 4:30 a.m. during the week. The one person who snarked about that got a long, cold stare from me, and after a few minutes mumbled something about “kidding, joking, er. . .”

    There are guys out there who will appeal to you in every way AND respect your space. Save your energy for them.

  42. My ex was a bit like this, he ended up being a real charmer…

    So I actually know a few relationships were both people wanted to see each other all the time and it worked out for them in a way. In a way that I don’t see them that much anymore because they are always with their partner. But whatever makes them happy. Anyway in these cases both people wanted a relationship like this, it felt comfortable for them. Sometimes it did take a while before they reached this place. But they always were able to find something that worked for both of them.

    I think that’s why so many people see red flags here. You tell him what you want and he doesn’t seem to want to listen. In your letter there is not one example of him trying to be supportive or attempt to make the differences work. Be happy that you know what you want and realize this isn’t working!

  43. LW this guy started the weird, bad behaviour *fast*. I feel like the faster this stuff starts the faster it escalates and the worse it is. This dude was controlling and manipulative and snarky on *date 3*. That’s how long he could stop his human-skin-mask from slipping – two dates.

    Sorry – that sounds really harsh. But this guy screams “will turn out to be really really unpleasant and maybe even dangerous”. Whatever his good qualities, put him on a rocket and fire it into the sun.

    The part where he lives over the road from you sounds worrying. But the longer you leave breaking up the more attached he’ll become and the worse it might be. At best this guy will be the source of many future comments on Captain Awkward about how you dated a really manipulative, possessive guy one time. He’s escalating really fast though so…yeah. Be safe.

    1. THIS. That description is not too harsh – Dude has shown an utter inability to deal with LW as a person who has zir own needs and agency. That’s not a red flag, it’s a giant flashing red LED array with a deafening klaxon.

      1. Yeah. Also, at only one month together this guy is *on his best behaviour* and most likely still trying to make a good impression. This is what he looks like at his best, most careful and considerate. :-O

        1. Or he’s trying to set the terms for the relationship (with him in charge), and counting on the LW to be doing the best-behavior and going along with it. I find the comparisons to negging in earlier comments to be very apt, since that is also an early getting-to-know-you stage manipulation that is part setting the agenda, part testing for malleability. But it’s not going to get better, no.

          1. Yes indeed – and if he’s doing it *consciously* (rather than out of neediness and defensiveness and poor conflict resolution skills) ye gods RUN NOW. I mean, also run now from the not-conscious stuff, because it’s also bad news, but it becomes way more urgent and scary if it’s a deliberate ploy.

  44. LW, I’m Nthing what everyone has said already. This guy may be a cool (seems… unlikely at this point) attentive guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s cool for you. There is no objective standard you need to be measuring this relationship against, only your happiness.

    Some time ago the Captain or a commenter (or both!) recommended a book called “I Feel Guilty When I Say No” by Dr. Manuel J. Smith. I’m reading it now, and it’s so striking how much of what he talks about in this book I’m seeing in your letter. Primarily, of course, are the manipulative comments your boyfriend makes to try to induce guilt or anxiety in you for not spending what he sees as the correct amount of time with him. A legitimately cool person who likes a lot of time together–like many of the commenters here!–would come out and say that they like spending time with you and would like to spend more time with you instead of making snarky remarks about bedtime and being at their apartment. A legitimately cool person would also try to make what Dr. Smith calls “workable compromises” to accommodate everyone’s wants–or not, agreeing that you aren’t compatible.

    What also struck me about your letter was what Dr. Smith describes as our natural inclinations to engage with manipulative behavior by justifying our wants. You don’t owe boyfriend an explanation as to why you don’t want to spend the night, and I suspect that it would just get pushback. “I need some alone time” or “I have other plans” or whatever is more than the bare minimum that boyfriend needs to back off. What I find illuminating about this book, which comes up time and again in the Captain’s advice, is that you don’t need any reason at all not to spend the night or to be in any kind of relationship at all with this or any other person. That you want time alone/away from boyfriend is reason enough to have time alone/away from boyfriend.

    This book is imperfect but so far, about a third of the way through it, HIGHLY recommended.

    1. I recently read “when I say no I feel guilty” and while it’s overall very useful, I think it needs a warning much like the warning on “the gift of fear” and its DV chapter. The chapter on asking for things in a sexual relationship is HOLY CRAP NO because the example given is a man refusing to take his wife’s no for an answer and demanding reasons for her no then demolishing them until she reluctantly agrees. And that’s not held up as an example of doing it wrong, but of doing it right!

      1. Oh grody! I haven’t got to that part yet. That seems suuuuper terrible and weird because it’s the opposite of what it’s been saying so far. I’ll read the entire thing, and then future recommendations may have to come with a warning. Thanks for the heads-up!

  45. Hey, LW, speaking as someone who’s been married for seven years and cohabiting for ten, your relationship expectations sound perfectly reasonable to me. Spouse and I are both introverts who like a lot of time to ourselves, and we make it work (even with a small child).

    He’s not a bad person for wanting to see you more than you want to see him. He IS a bad person–or at least, behaving very badly–for being a passive-aggressive jerk about it. At the very least, it indicates that he’s utterly incapable of expressing preferences and expectations in a mature and civil manner. At worst, he’s a controlling and potentially abusive creep. Either way, I don’t see this relationship working out in the long run.

  46. I haven’t read all the comments yet, but here’s my two cents. I got together with my boyfriend around a year ago. I was caught in new relationship high, but I didn’t push to spend Thanksgiving with him. I had a relative in town I would be spending the day with, he had a relative he would be spending the day with, we knew it was too early to combine family dinners. I may have wanted to spend all the important days with him, or been disappointed if he had plans when I wanted to hang out, but I wanted him to have time for his hobbies/friends/family/etc. I don’t want to be his whole world, nor for him to be mine. I am not perfect, but I understood this and tried to model good behavior in my relationship, and still do. The LW’s boyfriend seemed to fall hard and fast, but he hasn’t mastered the art of saying, “Ok, cool, I’ll see you later then,” and then going to do whatever it was he did before he met her. Some people want more couple time, and that’s ok, but we also need to respect boundaries. It might be a case of incompatibility, or something more sinister, but either way, this may not be the LW’s ideal relationship right now.

  47. I love spending insane amounts of time with my SOs, but the fact that he bitches at you for having your preferences is not cool. He’s not for you. Wave goodbye and off you go.

  48. LW here. All of what you guys is saying seems spot on. I hadn’t really thought about the violence potential of this situation before but that’s a really good point–I don’t think it’s likely, but if I do cut the cord I might blame it on my headache rather than making it about his behavior; might make it easier to stomach.

    As for the headache thing. I’m still in a discovery phase about what it might be, and a headache journal is a really good idea–I’ll start one today.

    There are other issues. He’s a restaurant manager and only works nights (sleeps late in the day) and wants to go out til all hours of the night on a Monday and Tuesday, which is when his off-days are. I’m a freelancer and I work from home, so theoretically I could go out all night those nights and sleep in the next day, but I don’t work well like that and weekdays are still workdays for me. I see the resentment around the idea that I get to “choose” my schedule more than most people though, and on his end I’m sure it looks like I’m just “choosing” not to rearrange things to his schedule.

    I get to choose that, though.

    1. Everything I’ve heard about freelancing is that successful long-term freelancing takes a lot of discipline — including things like “setting and sticking to a schedule”. Good luck with both the literal and metaphorical headaches!

    2. I’d try to minimize the headache angle because then it might turn into ever hopeful are your headaches better yet we have so much potential. I mean you can def say they are maybe a contributing factor, but generally it works better with an its not you is me(no really its you but i don’t want to ruffle your feathers), you deserve someone so much better who can give you the level of attention you need Kind of conversation.

      1. I’m a big believer in not giving people concrete reasons you’re breaking up with them in 90% of cases. A simple “I’m sorry, but it’s not working out for me” / “I just don’t think we’re a good fit and I’d like to break up” should really be enough.

    3. Yes. You get to choose. Yay for choice!

      If you’re gonna ditch him I think the headaches fall into the too much info, break ups don’t require a reason category.

      But that’s me. I believe no reason gets least argument from the other person. (“It’s just not working for me.” Lather, rinse, repeat)

      As reasons go “I have headaches and won’t be a good girlfriend” only leaves you open to the types who offer to take care of you. He (conspicuously) isn’t that.

    4. Oh, that freelance life – so often misinterpreted by those with different kinds of schedules. Good for you for holding your ground and maintaining your right to your most comfortable schedule, LW.

      Also, since this post has brought a little bit of discussion of headaches and chronic pain into the comments, I wanted to give folks a link to 14 Days – it’s an about-to-be-released tabletop game about living with chronic migraines. It’ll be buyable pretty soon, and in the meantime there’s a play through of the beta version on the gaming podcast One Shot. If anyone is either trying to understand others’ experience of chronic pain or trying to explain their experience to others, it’s a good resource to have around: http://makebigthings.com/14-days-a-game-about-life-with-migraines/

    5. hey LW! I’m glad that you are getting good things from the comments!

      I want to say a couple of things about schedules and about Living Too Close. Husteron proteron, Living Too Close to an ex can be handled even if shit got weird at the end. I mentioned above that I lived across the street from a guy I ended up breaking up with (because he cheated on me). We still ran into each other occasionally but I basically just Let It Be Awkward and he ended up changing his patterns because he couldn’t handle it, and then I moved a few blocks and basically never saw him again except at the odd JoCo show, but I was with my peeps pretty much anytime that happened and so it wasn’t awful.

      Schedules: Best Boyfriend and I have almost opposite schedules, with a shared weekend. He works 3-midnight and I work 9-6 (was 8-5 and I just changed it for exactly this reason). We spend the weekends together and he stays over on Wednesday nights. He’s had this same schedule the whole time we’ve been dating. I went from unemployed to working part time in retail management to my current full-time office job (yay!) and it has been a struggle sometimes, but overall we make it work because we communicate well about stuff, we aren’t passive-aggressive about schedule conflicts (or conflict in general), and we really respect each other and our work and pasttimes. Without that communication and respect, schedule conflicts can’t really be made to work long-term, I think. And sometimes we both get irritated about the schedule thing, but we’re never irritated at each other, because we understand that our schedules and responsibilities aren’t something we do AT each other, but something that we can support each other through. I’m understandably biased, but I think that we really do manage our schedule conflicts really well, but the heart of that is that respect for each other, and this guy just doesn’t sound like he respects you or your time.

      Also, headaches, if you think it’s a food trigger, don’t rule anything out. I get allergic migraines from brassicas and members of Fabaceae and peas, so broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes and all the rest, soy, lentils, beans, sometimes even peanuts, depending, and then of course peas and even pea shoots.

    6. So many freelancers could write letters about how the people in their lives don’t believe they’re doing anything during work hours that can’t be interrupted. All the other stuff aside, it’ll be a problem if you can’t get your boyfriend to understand that your work schedule is important.

      Good luck.

    7. Oooooooh boy, do I know that freelancer schedule thing. Full disclosure, I have a regular 9-5 day job and do art on the side, but there’s just so much guilt when you turn down plans because you’re not technically “busy.” That is, you don’t have plans with someone else, and you’re not doing acceptable planned stuff like “clean out the house day” or something.

      Honestly, if anything, I’d think as a full-time freelancer, it would be really important to identify the times when you feel most productive and set those aside for work times, and it would be just as important as his set work-times.

      1. Definitely. It’s even more important to protect your how-I-work-best schedule as a freelancer, because nothing else will protect it for you, and once you start to move things around it can be a very slippery slope.

        It sounds like this guy has decided that the LW is highly convenient — lives nearby and can (according to him) change her schedule to suit him right away. Isn’t that awesome (for him), he has to make no changes at all to his life other than put her in it. And I’m reminded of a key reason why someone pushing for a rapid relationship is such a red flag — they don’t even know you that well yet, so their relationship plans aren’t really about you. Put together, it looks like this guy has his life and wants the LW to role-fill.

        I’d run. Or at least call it all off before things got any further advanced, especially since he lives so close.

  49. There is something deeply satisfying about the fact that the advert I got on this page was for Vanish stain remover.

    I don’t say this often, LW, but you should listen to the advertising powers that be.

  50. “Later, he said he didn’t say that thing about Thanksgiving.”

    CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGAWOOOGA *flashing red lights, claxons and sirens everywhere*

    I was on the “hmm, too bad about this nice guy not being compatible” side of things until I got to this, but this was a HUGE red flag. Gaslighting you after (basically) only a month? That’s bad enough, but added to the passive-aggressive pushback against your boundaries (including those caused by a medical issue!) basically makes me want to ride the Nopetopus to the Nope Rocket and take off on a journey to the Hell No Nebula.

  51. Wow, this has giant red flags waving all over it.

    The commentary he’s making is disrespectful and manipulative. He’s trying to force you to fit yourself into the space he wants you, rather than come up with some kind of compromise or work with you. He’s ignoring your needs and prioritizing his own desires over things you NEED – sleep is necessary for health, and migranes are a problem and can disrupt anyone’s plans!

    My biggest worry is that he lives right across from you – I’d honestly be looking into moving at that point. I might be a tad on the overcautious side, but the fact that he’s so close and already proving to be so clingy and demanding reeks of ‘BAD NEWS’ to me. Possibly look into restraining order laws, see if you may be able to relocate, that kind of thing. If he goes really sour, you will want to have some kind of plan in place to protect yourself.

  52. To me, the incompatibility between your schedules and your expectations for how much time you will spend together and/or how quickly your relationship will develop is almost beside the point. They are important issues, but the thing that is jumping out in bold all-caps letters with marquee lights around them is the fact that he has shown nothing but disdain for ALL of the boundaries you mentioned setting (or attempting to set) in this letter. Whether it has been a minor push against your boundaries or snarky comments or showing anger/arguing about them – every single example you have given of you stating a preference that is different from his or setting boundaries of any kind includes a matching example of him trying to make that boundary or difference from his preferences go away.

    You could wallpaper your apartment and recover all of your furniture with the cloth from this red flag and have enough remnants leftover to make a whole new wardrobe. He is telling you loud and clear that *in the honeymoon phase of your relationship when people are showing the best possible versions of themselves* that he doesn’t believe you have a right to boundaries or any preferences that don’t match up with his desires. It’s possible that he won’t become a major Darth Vader boyfriend in the future, but from where I sit, it looks like a 99.9% chance that he will.

  53. I can’t tell you how many versions of this question I’ve witnessed. Even when you look at this in the best light, he is simply incompatible with you because you have different ideas of what a relationship should look and feel like. At its worst, he is very controlling and waving big red Darth flags at you.

    I think there is a certain kind of guy out there who feels some version of “I’m behaving in all these awesome boyfriend ways, and I have all kinds of esteem and wanting for this girl, therefore I get to keep her in my pocket always, and she should be playing the role of My Girlfriend 24/7.” The severity of the outcome can range from annoyingly clingy to dangerously stalky.

    My guess is that when you give him the “I’m sorry, I don’t want to see you anymore,” talk, he’ll counter with reasons why you should want to still date him, with “because I like you so much and think you are so beautiful” at the top of the list. (News flash: your liking someone is not a reason for them to be in a relationship with you where they are unhappy.)

    LW, if you aren’t feeling comfortable in the relationship, it’s probably best to end it. He’s doing his best to look good “on paper” so that this will be hard for you, and he will feel justified in his entitlement to you. But the most important part of the relationship is one that makes you feel comfortable and at ease, and that doesn’t seem likely here with such a mismatch of time expectations/ guilt trips for having a life outside of him.

  54. I’m a very independent person as well, and all these responses from fellow independent people are very comforting! I’ve never been in a serious relationship and one of my anxieties is exactly what the LW describes, except with no experience I wouldn’t know enough to recognize it as a bad thing (for me).

  55. “We’ve had some issues around this already. He asked me randomly (I think it was on our third date) when I was going to “make time for him.” (on a date, when I was literally making time for him as we spoke). I say something complementary about the décor of his apartment; he replies with a snarky comment about how if I liked it so much I’d be there more. On our second date, he said if we weren’t spending Christmas together we’d “better be spending Thanksgiving together” (I was still trying to decide between several different options for Thanksgiving, all of which were friends / family who were not him, as we’d basically just met). Later, he said he didn’t say that thing about Thanksgiving.”


    Run. He’s not trying to establish intimacy, he’s trying to control all of your free time. And that last bit I quoted is gaslighting. RUN.

  56. Run like hell. Do not look back. Do not attempt to be “friends.” I went to a dozen doctors who couldn’t diagnose the cause of my debilitating migraines, but the night I threw my sociopath husband out of the house, the migraines disappeared, never to return. Listen to your body!

  57. Cap’n is right again.

    Any kind of snark is uncool. Especially early on. Too soon.

    Attachment patterns vary from individual and calibrating the frequency and ampage is always a bit of a fix.

    I have been both clingy (once when I was the new kid in town) I didn’t have a big social ecosystem yet, I was dating within my small circle and so when she asked for a night off alone the first time I was all mousey coz my only other friends were headed to the same show. We didn’t last due to this “artificial” condition of me being kinda unhinged. Within a year of living here I was up to my neck in commitments and “interests” but it was too late.

    I have also started dating somebody at Halloween, who cancelled her family visit for Christmas on the 24th, to say “all the more time to spend with you.”

    And it felt too early… and a surprise. I was hoping to spend the day alone relaxing, reflecting and not having to be “on.”


    We broke up two days later when she insisted I tell her whether or not I think she is the “one.”

    You’da thought being worshipped might be uplifting, but instead, it is demoralizing. I told her “I’d prefer we just take each step naturally, like you’d care for any organism.”

    She had a flash of awareness. And said “Oh my goodness, you are so right.” And got up and left.

    I didn’t chase after her.

    LW, we cannot push the river. When somebody tries to push the river, with snark and accelerating the intamcy schedule, you can feel if it is natural to you.

    You have a natural resonant frequency that with the right person can make a standing tidal wave.

    This guy knows he lucked out: the attractive neighbour across the street went for it. This is a phenomenon. He is showing zero appreciation for that fact.

    I read a recent advice story which tell us to ask this question:

    Are you feeling compelled (like a child wants to run after the ice cream van)?

    Or are you feeling cornered?

    This sounds like he’s cornering you and it has to stop.

  58. “I’m not sure if a). my last long-distance relationship messed up my idea of what a “healthy” relationship or getting-to-know-you pace is”

    LW, there is absolutely nothing about your wants that is unhealthy. There is absolutely no set timeline on getting more intimate with someone, except for what feels comfortable for BOTH of you. He’s totally putting the pressure on you to be around him all the time, but he’s mean when you’re there and comes off as insecure and manipulative when you tell him you can’t be there whenever he wants you.

    Get away from this guy as soon as you can – there is no redeeming that amount of clinginess, and I think he will escalate his “snarky” comments to outright emotional abuse over time.

    Go have awesome adventures abroad, or just hang out doing the stuff you wanna do, and find someone who is fun to hang out with and respects your need for personal space, because Mr Klingon will never allow you a moment of freedom. He’s only going to drag you down.

    P.S. I’d be really interested to know if your headaches suddenly get better when you’re not around him any more. You’d be surprised.

  59. I dated this person. Kept it up for four months because I WANTED to make it work (they were super great in other ways) but now that it’s in the past, I have zero regrets about breaking up with them.

    The kicker: this partner, like me, was super into social justice and power dynamics, and their way of dealing with feelings of loneliness when I needed regular space/time/sleep away from them was to manipulatively frame my boundaries as ME BEING CONTROLLING, and trying to make me apologize for them. The hypocrisy, it burned. I left. I’m happy.

  60. I’m afraid the guy, if called on his behaviour, will take it underground and let it resurface later, or have it erupt in another form. I think he has amply shown her who he is and it is time to call it quits before it gets dangerous.

  61. Update: I saw the guy yesterday afternoon. He brought up how upset he was that I didn’t want to see him that night, and how “that didn’t feel like someone who’s been thinking about me for six weeks.” I got up and was like, “Um, I can’t do this. bye.”

    Later I ran into him on the street. Biiigg discussion about how my walking out on him was “just like his ex” and “big sad story about how I have no friends or family and it’s hard to let people in.” Ugghh. I mean, I DO still have the feels for this guy and there’s a BIIG part of me that just wants to jump in there and be all I’LL BE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!! But I also know exactly what I’d say to a friend telling me this happened to them.

    I’ve pinned down what bugs me about this whole thing: the whole time, I’ve felt like I have interacting with really pushy people in online dating scenarios. “If you don’t text me back immediately, you don’t like me!” “If you don’t want to go on a first date with me in the next few hours, you’re not spontaneous!” “If you don’t want to immediately have sex, maybe even BEFORE THE DATE STARTS, you are not worth my time!!” Ugh.

    I mean, I have dated golden retrievers and even BEEN the golden retriever sometimes (although I am definitely more of a Persian kitty overall). But I have a really hard time with people who want all the things (the sex, the intimacy, the entire relationship as it would be if we’d been seeing each other six months) before it’s naturally evolved to be that.

    1. So, that really long post I wrote over the weekend? “I’ll be your friends and family!” is how you get sucked into being with that guy. It sucks, because you do like him and care about him, but his pushy behavior was only gonna get worse.

      1. “if he explains why he can’t help being this way because of (long sad story)”

        Captain, you called it.

        LW, run and be glad!

    2. People like that want you to commit to those things (sex, intimacy, being their friends&family) before you really know them well (or at all), and conversely they also want this from you before they really know you. And then attack every boundary you try to draw, which is exhausting — and suggests that the reason they can commit to you without really knowing you is that they plan to change the person you are anyway so it’s not an issue.

      Glad to hear you’re dealing with him well, LW. Both him and his guilt trips and molding attempts.

      1. Such a good insight…that the reason someone wants real close, real quick and then honors no boundaries is because they were planning on changing you anyway! Zing!

        Or, I’ll add from personal experience, that such a person may be so committed to an ideal in their head that anyone good just HAS to be like that. They perhaps simply do not conceive that there are other possibilities, that people are funny mixes, and that everyone else is not obligated to follow their magical script or be wrong.

    3. Oh, good for you, LW. I know that’s rough, but man, you’re definitely better off for it.

      Y’know, I bet there are some similarities with his ex–in that she probably also didn’t immediately fall into the joined-at-the-hip-constant-font-of-love-and-validation that he wanted, and to him that’s “cold.” This dude sounds like he’s got some issues.

    4. “Just like my ex” = “I once dated someone else who it turned out also had boundaries”? 🙂

    5. The thing about you being ” just like his ex” is a manipulation technique to try and get you to prove you aren’t, but actually if there’s a shred of truth behind it it’s an admission of this being an established pattern of behaviour.

      1. Ha. Yes. I hadn’t thought much about the manipulation angle because it read to me like a total lack of self-awareness. “My ex had exactly the same trouble with my behavior that you do, and this somehow proves that you’re in the wrong instead of suggesting that the common thread in both breakups was my behavior.”

        LW, I actually wasn’t sure from your update whether you broke up with the guy or ended that particular conversation, but good for you either way.

  62. Just to echo what everyone else is saying, this guy is red flag city. Don’t doubt that you know what’s right for you– there’s no universal “healthy relationship” we all have to conform to. I’m in an LTR with someone whose ideal involves spending more time together than feels right for me. She doesn’t snark or guilt-trip me, she works to understand my limits and reach compromises, and it’s STILL the biggest challenge in our relationship. So this guy’s behavior just sounds like a nightmare. And if it’s like this now, imagine dating him for a year. Also seconding what others said about not “staying friends.” This seems like a person who, if he’s in your life at all, he will be trying to exert control over you.

  63. Never mind whether the degree of togetherness is right or wrong, or just not right for you. The dude makes snarky comments, has no regard for your physical wellbeing (jetlag, headache), and issues “requests” that sound more like threats. You *better* be spending Thanksgiving together? This is not the way Nice People treat their dating partners. It is distinctly Not Nice.

    I’m glad to see your update of nope.

  64. Yay, LW! Go you! I am so glad you escaped from his tentacles, er, clutches. Is it wrong that I am glad that he proved your decision right almost immediately? Stay strong, LW, in case you run into him again. We’re all rooting for you.

  65. The thing I’ll never understand about these control-through-guilt/ control-through-threat/ control-through-being-pitiful/ people is how they could have gotten this far without learning that the way to get someone to be with them is by being the sort of person people want to be with. Someone compliments your home? Note the thing that’s inviting about it, and capitalize on that. They’ll want to come back. Someone needs some sleep? Gosh they’ll want to see you all the more after they’re rested and refreshed. Someone gets headaches? Be the person who doesn’t give them headaches. I feel like asking: Why do you want a relationship with someone who feels coerced into even spending an evening with you? Wouldn’t you rather be with someone who actually likes you and doesn’t just feel sorry for you?

    Next step: Take care of those headaches, or if they mysteriously disappear after getting away from this guy for a while, let us know.

  66. LW: I am SO GLAD the decision was made to say goodbye to this dude.

    And his reaction? It speaks volumes; he has doubled down on the controlling behavior (i.e. pressuring you to stay together because “poor me”).

    And only after THREE DATES.

    To reiterate:
    — You can totally have feels and know that someone isn’t good for you.
    — It is totally okay to NOPE out of a situation (including the dating kind) at any time, and for any reason.
    — You are under no obligation to stay or to listen to or to volunteer any more time to this dude.
    — Having boundaries and needs does not make you an awful person.
    — Drawing those boundaries and stating those needs is good for you. And (as corollary) if it makes the dude uncomfortable, so what? That is on him, not on you.

    You’ve got this, LW. And I’m proud of you for heeding your gut and stopping any further romantic/friendship from forming with the dude.

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