I had a catch up with a close single friend recently. She, like me, is all over the dating apps trying to match our way to Mr Right. Like me, she has also had, to others what appears to be a tough year. Breaking up from her long term boyfriend and then losing her Nan, who she was extremely close to. As I asked her to tell me about the latest guy she was chatting to, she said, ‘Well everything was going well and we were chatting lots but I had a bad day on Sunday and told him how much I missed my Nan and that I just needed hugs and sympathy. He stopped speaking to me as frequently after that and I don’t know if we’ll date now.’ As soon as she said that she’d mentioned her Nan to him, I visibly clammed up. What did she expect him to do?
This got me thinking about how, in the early stages of dating, there are lots of ways we can invest too much into someone we don’t really know.
I didn’t know how to break it to her. How to tell her that unfortunately, the guy didn’t know her well enough to care or be sympathetic towards her. They’d only been speaking a couple of days and sorry, but no one that is not emotionally invested in you is going to want your burdens laid on them. And also, sorry, but it doesn’t make them a selfish prick for doing so.
I was dating when my Mum passed away and I kept it from everyone I went out with. I hate being a Debbie Downer at the best of times and I just didn’t want to turn a situation that should be fun and exciting into a cry fest. Is it odd to negate talking about negative things early on? Or is it just sensible?
Putting the shoe completely on the other foot… Whilst dating I had met a guy who, during a witty bread based pun off in messages, told me he’d recently lost his Grandad. Whilst I felt sorry for him, having recently been grieving myself, I couldn’t help but think, ‘woaaaah way to dampen things there buddy’. Does this make me an uncaring bitch? Or is it proper that we don’t put our emotional baggage on to people we are not emotionally involved in?
A counter argument is that it’s a good way to tell early on whether someone has the ability to be caring, selfless and empathetic. This is great in theory. Unload all of your emotional issues and if that person is still there, carrying it all and is still totally in to you then it’s a clear sign things could go well.
But does this ever work in practise? Or are people dealing with enough of their own business to be getting invested in yours?
This isn’t the only way we over invest. Anyone with their eye on the ‘marriage and kids quick before my ovaries shrivel up’ door can be guilty of projecting hopes for a future with someone we’ve clicked with during early dates.
All the signs are there and things are moving along nicely so we can’t help but fantasise about a first holiday, what they’d buy us for our birthday or if they’re still going to be able to get it up after you’ve had 4 kids and 35 years of marriage.
But investing in this way is dangerous too. Our minds get so clouded with hopes and dreams for the future that we forget to live in the moment, enjoy the budding relationship for what it is and keep an eye out for any red flags. It’s so easy to be so invested in someone that all rhyme and reason goes out the door.
And when they inevitably dump you after 4 dates because they’re just not feeling it, you’re left wondering why the heck not, you were going to have a long standing, sexually fulfilling marriage with beautiful children and a house in France.
The point I’m trying to make really is that the early stages of dating should feel light and fun and without any baggage – whether that’s emotional or the burden of future dreams riding on it.
Do you agree? Do any of you have experiences of opening up and unloading extremely early on and it still working out? I’d love to hear! Tweet me with your thoughts!