I need advice on dating an artist.
I really like him, I want to keep dating him, and the insane part of my brain feels like maybe I can change his mind about having time for me. The stubborn part of me wants to tell him to fuck off.
Here’s The Thing is an advice column/newsletter where I mostly yell at people to either stop dating someone or ask their crush out or to go through their grief. Or I talk about weird things that came to my mind that no one is paying me to write about. I can never decide if I should capitalize the “the” in Here’s The Thing or not; apologies on lack of consistency.
I recently started dating a guy I met on Tinder. On paper, he's literally everything I could want in a prospective partner - 6'2, 32 y/o, artist, chef, musician, Scorpio (I know, I'm insane, but I'm a Sagittarius so cut me some slack) and broodingly handsome.
Our first date went as well as I could've hoped, even in a pandemic. We quickly scheduled another, which happened to be on my birthday. I have a bad habit of dating men on my birthday who end up disappointing me, so I should've seen this coming. We got together again a few days later and we had sex. Of course, it was great, and I ended that night feeling excited about dating someone who was (seemingly) as interested in me as I was them.
We make plans to hang out the following weekend. A couple days pass of texting as usual, (pretty much all day, with notices of going to bed, getting busy, etc. as we had been doing for the few weeks prior). A few days before our next scheduled hang, he goes radio silent, and I don't hear from him for multiple days.
Growing tired of putting myself into spirals about it, I send him a text on the day of asking if he's still wanting to get together. He says he'd be "down" and asks what I think (???) I tell him I'm trying not to read into the fact that we haven't spoken in a few days, and he responds that he got busy, and in that time he's been thinking about what he wants, needs, and what he can give to other people. He then apologizes if he made me feel "left out". He asks me how I feel, and I tell him that I've been enjoying dating him, but I ask if this is something he feels he has time for. He says he wants to, but he knows that the honest answer is probably that he doesn't, because historically, that's how things go. I then proceed to tell him it's probably not a good idea for me to continue seeing him, and he says he understands and that he's sorry, feels terrible, etc. He follows up by asking if it's a possibility in the future, which felt like asking me to still hook up without the responsibility of dating me (right?). I don't respond.
Now, I'm left feeling like I should've still seen him that night? I really like him, I want to keep dating him, and the insane part of my brain feels like maybe I can change his mind about having time for me. The stubborn part of me wants to tell him to fuck off forever (but not actually tell him, just never speak to him again) (I'm a Capricorn venus).
Do you have any advice for what I should do? We had such a great connection and I worry I'm putting too much pressure on him upfront, but I also know I need to make my wants and needs clear from the beginning. HELP.
Ok, this might be a bit too harsh of me, and it might be too heavily based on my personal beliefs, so excuse me for this, but my very first impression of your letter is that you’re putting a lot of control of what happens to you on outside sources.
Your letter begins with you giving a lot of power to your astrological sign, for example. Astrology is perfectly fine to believe in and use as a guide, though despite being a fellow Sagittarius, I’m not a huge subscriber personally. Nor do I feel like you or I is “insane.” But you have decided that you being a Sagittarius means something and that him being a Scorpio means something. And that those things are immutable or at least very fixed. You then talk about how you guys went on a date on your birthday, which is apparently a habit for you—something you’ve given a lot of power and meaning to, despite the fact that you seem to keep doing it and it seems to keep going badly. (According to you). In the subject line of your email, you asked for advice dating an artist, as if him being an artist decides his behavior or proclivities.
And this isn’t even touching on how you let him decide how the relationship goes and what comes next.
My impression is, to be super frank, that you have bought in far far too much to the idea of a fixed narrative. That things have gone this way and therefore they always go this way. The problem with this—well, one of many problems with this—is that it keeps you and your life stuck in the same patterns. Partially this is because some things are a self-fulfilling prophecy. The other part of this is because once you start seeing things one way (I’m the kind of person who always dates people who X, I always mess things up by doing X, people always let me down by doing X), it’s very very very hard to not see everything as evidence of what you already believe to be true. It’s like when you buy a new car and then all of a sudden you feel like you see that kind of car everywhere. There aren’t more green Honda Civics on the road!!! You’re just already focused on them, you’re familiar with them.
You have given power in your life over to all kinds of labels and other people as if you have no hand in this, as if all this stuff is happening to you. It suggests, to me, a lack of self-esteem. It seems like your only way of feeling like you’re in control is to give up your control entirely to other entities.
I’m not saying this guy did anything good—I’ll get to him and what to do about him in a second—but he was begging you to tell him what you thought or felt on the phone and you did a good job of explaining how his actions made you felt (SUPER KUDOS FOR YOU FOR THAT!!! That is very very hard!!!) but you still seem hesitant to tell him what you want or to take an action of your own.
What the hell do you want? Do you want to date someone who disappears for a few days? Do you want to date someone who isn’t sure about you? Do you want to date someone at all? What are your dealbreakers? What are things you’re more flexible on? What are your boundaries? What are things that you appreciate? Not because of your birth chart or your job title or an online quiz you took back in 2004. Because you’re a person with needs and desires like everyone else. I strongly recommend you do some real thinking and soul searching before you start dating again, no matter how casually or seriously. I recommend you sit with yourself—which can feel like a cruel prescription if you’re already feeling lonely; I know. I know!!! I’m sorry—and really do some hard work on what you’d like to get out of dating and love and relationships in general. Think about what you deserve, desire and demand. Get to know yourself through your OWN words. Not the words someone else wrote down about what people on your birthday are like (even if those are very accurate and helpful!!! Challenge yourself to define yourself for yourself).
Ok, now for what to do about this guy.
You stand to gain very little by trying to start dating someone who is not capable currently of dating you, for whatever his reasons are. You stand to gain even less by telling him to fuck off. All that will do is create animosity between you and someone you will likely not see again. It will not teach him a lesson or make him feel contrite. (In fact, he seems to be a least a smidge aware that he’s being shitty already). The moment will not feel good in a month or a year or 5 years, most likely. It will possibly make you feel better for a moment or two, but I even doubt that. Mostly it will read as an overreaction to someone mishandling a break up after a couple dates. (I know you likely know all this because as you said, you don’t want to actually say fuck off, you just want to ignore him).
What I think you’re wishing to say when you desire saying “fuck off,” is “This hurt me.” Which is an ok thing to tell him if you so choose, although please know that there’s a high likelihood that nothing much comes of that admission. Sadly, despite feeling a great connection with him, he is not ready for this. He has told you as much with both his words and his actions. I do not think this person is a good candidate for you to put more emotional effort into, or to lay yourself bare for.
Here is a sad fact: you cannot make people want to treat you as well as you deserve. You cannot make anyone feel the connection you feel or put in the time and effort you put in. You cannot be so kind to someone that they fall in love. You cannot make him make time. It will not work. It’s a bullshit system, I agree. I think you ought to be able to trick people into liking you, but it doesn’t work. Ever. Not one time.
The only things you can do are mourn and work on yourself. Mourn this. This sucked! This was sad! You lost something—not him, a thing you did not “have” after a couple good dates, but rather the hope of a relationship starting up. Hope is a very very tough loss. And I both hope and assume that you haven’t lost your faith in a good romantic future entirely. I hope your enthusiasm for dating is only momentarily dimmed, not snuffed out by this one guy not being as good of a fit as you originally thought. The truth of dating is that a lot of relationships are going to start out seeming great and then are going to fizzle. Or they’re not going to work. Or the person has to move to Billings, MT. Or you don’t like them. Or you realize you two aren’t looking for the same things. Or one of you changes or both of you change or you find out they pronounce gif the weird way (like jif). There are a million reasons why relationships don’t work out, even after a few good dates. And it sucks. I’m not for a second pretending it doesn’t.
I encourage you to, whenever you feel you’ve done the amount of mourning it takes to get here, find some good in the relationship, even though it didn’t last 59 years and 4 kids and 6 dogs and 2 houses. Enjoy the nice times you did have together, wish him well, take any lessons you can, and keep building a life that you want and that you like.
In the very short term, before said mourning process over this ending commences, you don’t need to reach out to him at all. It seems like you both said your piece and that it’s pretty much over. If you do decide to reach out, I encourage you to lead with kindness and gratitude that you found out so early that this wasn’t going to work, but again, I think your best option is to write this off as a nice time that didn’t work out and keep moving.
In the future please know that artists do not behave in any specific cohesive way and that many of them do not drop off the face of the earth before a date. Also, please make plans for your birthday next year that revolve around YOU and you alone. You deserve it. You deserve someone who wants to be there, who doesn’t feel like making time for you is a loss at all.
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