You’ve been dating around for a few years, having second dates or more with a dozen or so men. You have enough experience under your belt to notice that in the past there’s been a shift of behavior that has preceded a guy’s going poof or breaking up with you. There’s a change in something that he had done predictably. Maybe he usually makes contact at least once a day, or typically asks you out for the weekend by Thursday, or wants to have lunch during the week as well as Saturday night.
Because of the behaviors of past guys, you’re on the lookout with the man you’ve been seeing for a few months. You’ve been blindsided in the past, but in retrospect the signs of a change were there, you just didn’t interpret them as pre-break-up or pre-poof signals.
You’re watching for a shift in pattern that might reveal a change in his perspective about you. You are aware if he skips a day of contact, since he typically calls/IMs/texts each day. You contact him on those days, and he seems glad to hear from you (assuming you don’t yell at or guilt him). You try to not be overly sensitive, bordering on paranoid. But you notice when there’s a change in patterns.
You wrestle with yourself to not make more out of it than that he was really busy or distracted by work/kids/life. But the question resurfaces, “Is this the beginning of the end?”
Ideally, you let it be, noticing but not commenting unless it happens a handful of times. At times life gets overwhelming for most people, and as long as a missed day of contact doesn’t spread into 3 or 4 days, you’re probably fine. However, if the pattern of pulling away begins to repeat itself, don’t be surprised if he goes poof or you get one of those dreaded “it’s not working” emails.
Even if you bring it up as gently as possible, with no blame or guilt, it’s a rare man who will admit he’s having second thoughts about your seeing each other. Some will try to cover it up, more from not wanting to hurt you or have a confrontation than from purposefully lying. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring it up — you should see what he says. But even if he comes back with, “I’ve just been crazy busy with work and the kids lately” he will know that you’ve noticed and it may help him feel okay about coming clean. It’s like when as a kid your mom found you doing something you shouldn’t have, at first you may fib to see if she will ignore it. But if you had any conscience and your mother was not crazy, you may have confessed to her after a while.
And this knife cuts both ways. If you find yourself behaving differently toward him than in the past, perhaps your feelings have changed and you just haven’t articulated them yet. If you used to answer no matter when he called, and now you let it go to voice mail if you’re doing something else that may be a sign you’re less engaged. Or you used to invite him to dinner during the week and now you’d rather watch The Bachelor, notice if you’re feeling less interested in your time with him.
So notice the shifts and see if they are signs you should pay attention to or just ignore. If you choose the latter, at least you won’t be completely blindsided when the “Have a nice life” email comes through.
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