Sometimes, early in the getting-to-know-you stage, one of both of you become so smitten that you find yourself emailing, calling, texting or IMing multiple times throughout the day. You can have an ongoing IM or text conversation throughout the whole day, getting little else done. Yet you are having fun, excited by the attention and getting to know the new person.
Whenever this has happened for me, it has been trouble. Yet when I’ve been smitten, I ignore the signs. However, if it is the man who is apparently smitten, I have learned to be receptive, but to create a little distance. How? By not responding as quickly as I might to an email, IM or text message.
Because if I’m not enthralled at the same level as he is, responding quickly and frequently can send a signal that I am equally enchanted. This is sending the wrong signal. Usually, at first, I am a bit cautious, having learned it can be easy to become besotted with someone, even before you’ve met them. Then you’ve fallen for the illusion of the person you barely know, rather than the real thing.
Also, with just a little encouragement, some people can go from feeling affection or fondness toward you, to full on obsession. This happened to me this week, with a new man I’d met online just a week ago. We enjoyed each other’s communications, and it escalated quickly. The IM responses quickened to where soon we were responding to the other before a message was fully typed. He’d call me within 10 miuutes of signing off the computer at work, wanting to chat on his way home. He’d text, email or IM me throughout the evening at home.
We met for lunch 4 days after our initial contact, and he was already wanting to hold hands, put his arm around me when walking, hug and kiss. Needy? I think that would be an accurate statement. Even though I am comfortable with and appreciate attention and affection, this felt like too much too soon to me.
Yesterday, we IMed a few times, then he called a few minutes after logging off to talk to me while he was doing errands. “I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you,” he said. While I appreciated the sweetness of the sentiment, I teased, “Thanks. I thought you might have forgotten all about me in the intervening 20 minutes since our last IM.”
A few hours later, I received this email:
“I am writing this because I see myself falling back into patterns of behavior that I don’t like. I am becoming obsessive about you, and I don’t approve o f that in myself. As you pointed out, I had spoken with you only a few minutes before, and yet I had to call. I have spent a number of years trying to work through this tendency, and I guess I haven’t managed it yet.
“You are a spectacular lady, and I truly want you to find someone who is as awesome as you are. But until I get my head squared away, that isn’t me.”
I applaud his self-awareness to realize he was falling into old patterns. He had told me that one girlfriend had broken up with him because she felt smothered. I could see that. Obsession is never healthy. As we saw in “Fatal Attraction” and other works, it can lead to sad outcomes.
So no matter how much you enjoy affection and attention, if you feel you or he are obsessed, best to do what my guy did and back away.
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