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Early relationship expectations

28 replies

GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 11:59

I'm taking a step back from dating and reflecting on what I need from relationships. I can suffer from crippling relationship anxiety in the early stages. Generally uncertainty is not a good thing, and of course you can't avoid that in an early relationship. But I know there are some things that exacerbate this:

  • intense contact at the start
  • inconsistent communication patterns (extreme ones e.g. texting me every hour from 8am and calling at bedtime one day, then the next day nothing after lunchtime)
  • uncertainty over when next date is
  • texts in general - hate them, especially blunt ones or unclear ones

There are loads of really great things about me and I am very aware of this problem. I try very hard not to push it into the woman I am dating.

I have trouble communicating my needs. And worse trouble with deciding to walk away if the woman I'm with can't meet them in any way.

I know that some people just cannot handle this. That's fine. But in general is it reasonable, after explaining that I can suffer from anxiety and that I am constantly working on it, to say these things and then see what the other person does?

"I can't handle too much uncertainty in life - I start to worry. What would really help is to not spend longer than a couple of days wondering when our next date will be."

"I really like hearing from you, but if we communicate every hour then I will worry on the days when that is not possible. Can we try a more sustainable communication pattern?"

"Texts can cause misunderstandings that cause me to worry and assume the worst possibly. I always prefer a quick phonecall when both of us have time if it's about arrangements or to discuss anything"

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Shoxfordian · 25/04/2021 12:07

I wouldn’t date someone who said any of that to me after a few meetings, it would be too much pressure. Can’t always guarantee I’ll be able to text on a pre agreed timing if I’m busy. I’m probably a bit avoidant anyway but this would be way too much


Allwokedup · 25/04/2021 12:08

I wouldn’t say any of that. I think you need to have some therapy before you dare anyone. It’s causing you too much pain.


emilyfrost · 25/04/2021 12:09

YABU and way too intense. It’s not okay to put such pressures on someone like that.

I think you need to work on yourself before you try entering a relationship.


GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 12:13

@Shoxfordian I think I need to look at the communication of that then - I don't expect pre-arranged timing. It's more about whether I can accept a rush that lights up my phone on one day and then silence the next. So I have to be boundaried and not accept the rush.

OP posts:

romdowa · 25/04/2021 12:13

You 100% need to work on yourself first before dating.


GertrudePerkinsPaperyThing · 25/04/2021 12:18

I agree you need to work on your own anxieties first.

However if someone keeps you hanging on too much, or has these inconsistent patterns of contact, maybe it means they aren’t for you? The early stages of a relationship are by definition uncertain- that’s what a lot of people find exciting about it!

The request about the texts and preferring phone calls is particularly unreasonable in my eyes as many people really hate phone calls, and a quick text does the job so much more easily.


GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 12:22

@GertrudePerkinsPaperyThing can understand that. Think I got burned by someone who would send extremely blunt and unclear texts, then I'd be left with wanting to ask questions, but I'd feel like that wasn't a good idea as they are probably busy.

OP posts:

JackieLavertysWeirdVoice · 25/04/2021 12:29

I think you've made significant progress in recognising important things about yourself.

However, the answer is also to be found within yourself, by working on changing negative thought patterns.

I don't think the answer is oversharing your anxieties with someone you barely know.

Maybe you could light-heartedly talk about being 'a work in progress' (aren't we all?) and see where that conversation leads, both ways? That would be more organic.


Whatisthisfuckery · 25/04/2021 12:32

I think you are more than reasonable in being up front and clear about what you want from a budding relationship. I’m not sure however how I would react to somebody being quite so specific. I might feel it a bit controlling and needy and it might point to an anxious attachment style that could lead to serious issues down the line.

In short I’m all for being clear and having boundaries and certain expectations, I just think you may be straying into controlling and it would raise a red flag to me.


GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 12:36


Thank you. I'm wondering about my last experience. There was a lot of over sharing on both sides. I think being repeatedly told how she'd rapidly changed her mind about her last girlfriend and so dumped her very suddenly after 5 months together REALLY DIDN'T HELP

So I honestly don't know if lockdown plus some of these factors made it worse.

Really wish I'd gone for some CBT during that. I honestly don't know if anxiety will slow up when I eventually next date, because life will be very different, but I'm worried it will because my brain has learned some unhelpful patterns.

OP posts:

GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 12:38

@Whatisthisfuckery think that's why I haven't communicated this before. All I'd want to do is give them information about what happens for me and saying what I think would help. Is up to them whether or how they respond to that.

OP posts:

WorraLiberty · 25/04/2021 12:39

I honestly couldn't handle that as for me, the best part of dating was the unpredictability and excitement.

I also wouldn't want the responsibility for someone else's anxiety disorder when they don't at least appear to have taken enough responsibility for it themselves.


JackieLavertysWeirdVoice · 25/04/2021 12:45

[quote GeekyGirl42]@Whatisthisfuckery think that's why I haven't communicated this before. All I'd want to do is give them information about what happens for me and saying what I think would help. Is up to them whether or how they respond to that.[/quote]
Tbh I think that sounds like giving someone the recipe for how to fix you.

And that, I'm afraid, is going to leave you wide-open and vulnerable to piss-takers.

Have you done any 'work' on setting boundaries?


StarCourt · 25/04/2021 12:51

It does sound as if you are passing the buck for the way you react onto the other person and trying to control the way they act towards you.


GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 12:52

@JackieLavertysWeirdVoice not sure I want someone to fix me. Just understand to me. I am terrible at boundaries. And self control. Think what would really help is if I learned not to co-create an intense relationship over text before even meeting up. I know that is not at all what I want, yet that's exactly what I just let happen, in place of actual dates being arranged.

OP posts:

Marcis · 25/04/2021 12:54

I think this is too much.

With everyone I know we might text all day one day if something big is going on but another day not speak at all. I would feel very odd at being told to have a sustainable communication pattern- sometimes you want to talk more and sometimes less!
Sometimes you can’t commit to another date as you have stuff going on...I’ve got pals I want to see who I haven’t made arrangements with yet as we have stuff on the nest few weekends.

I think this is part of rolling with the punches of life and then you are much more likely to end up hurt and anxious when people withdraw due to your rules.


ForThePurposeOfTheTape · 25/04/2021 12:54

That sounds too regimented. I'd expect a heads up that they can't text much tomorrow as they are visiting family but I wouldn't have rules about how long is too long before texts iyswim. Sometimes there's unforeseeable emergencies in life and I wouldn't want to be beholden to worrying about how you would interpret that.

Uncertainty about next date could be a personality thing. I like planning and knowing ahead of time too so if we said at yesterday's date that we should meet up next weekend, it would be good to know well before Friday night if you meant Saturday, Sunday or overnight because I wouldn't want to be waiting like a lemon and clear 48 hours for what might be a drink for 3 hours.


Whatisthisfuckery · 25/04/2021 12:58

OP you need to work on maintaining your own boundaries, rather than expecting ther people to maintain them for you. What you’re suggesting is actually a risky strategy, because it doesn’t take much to play by your rules long enough to hook you in, at which point you would be vulnerable. No, you need to be able to police your own boundaries so that people can show you who they are and how they behave, then you can decide if it’s compatible with you or not. Telling somebody up front exactly how and which lines to stay within to gain your trust is like giving them the code to your safe.


GeekyGirl42 · 25/04/2021 13:00

@ForThePurposeOfTheTape I'd be quite happy with "it'll be next weekend" to be honest, but yes would want to firm it up at some point... wasn't even getting that.

Wondering now.... If these feelings pop up, it might be that there's other problems (wrong timing - lockdown, wrong person - lovely but not ready for a relationship) in play.

OP posts:

PriestessofPing · 25/04/2021 13:01

[quote GeekyGirl42]@JackieLavertysWeirdVoice not sure I want someone to fix me. Just understand to me. I am terrible at boundaries. And self control. Think what would really help is if I learned not to co-create an intense relationship over text before even meeting up. I know that is not at all what I want, yet that's exactly what I just let happen, in place of actual dates being arranged.[/quote]
I think you’re part way there. You’ve recognised what you find hard and have started to think of ways you can communicate needs in a non-aggressive way.

That’s great stuff! But, I do think you’d be better off doing work on your boundaries and self-control before you do any more dating. There
must be other areas of your life you struggle with self-control for example - can you start there?


ForThePurposeOfTheTape · 25/04/2021 13:02

Puzzled by not liking blunt or unclear texts. Blunt texts are clear aren't they?


HowWeAre · 25/04/2021 13:02

Personally would be too much for me.

I would hate a structured time to be messaging someone and that would instantly put me off as would the phone call thing if I had anything to discuss. It’s nice to be able to text someone little things about your day rather than not being able to. If I was thinking ‘oh I can’t message this person this particularly thing as they don’t want me to’ I think for me the connection would fizzle out.

Often people know they want another date but can’t tell you when it would be within the next couple of days. I know for me personally even when I want to meet my friends it can take me more than a couple of days to let them know when I can as I have things to do with work and other things to plan before scheduling my free time. This would be too much for me very early on in a relationship and too demanding.

For me what you’ve listed would feel too much like a work schedule.


Candycane57 · 25/04/2021 13:03

You can be clear about what you're looking for in a relationship, and ask if they'll share what they look for too, but you can't outline the terms and conditions- especially in the early stages of dating.

We all have different ways of communication that are affected by timing, ability, interest etc. If someone only has time to send you a quick text one day, and then a long phone call the next, you can't do anything about that.

You could try to be more open minded to different communication styles- look up different personalities and how they communicate. It might be that you actually don't need this intensely scheduled communication system or you can find someone who wants it too.

If the woman you're seeing starts to show irregular communication patterns, try to find out why- is she tired, working, busy, etc. And then you could ask if she could let you know when she'll be away from her phone so you don't worry.


HowWeAre · 25/04/2021 13:07

I also think when you’re early on in a relationship you spend a lot of time getting to know someone via text message and that’s crucial for me (can also save a lot of time wasting and face to face meetings). Me and DP don’t text any where near as much when we’re apart now in comparison to when we first started seeing each other.


Whatisthisfuckery · 25/04/2021 13:11

Op is your problem that you struggle to say no? I mean, most of the things you have written would be classed as a bit shitty in my book, being all messages one day then nothing the next. I mean if they said they were busy or something then fine, but generally one gets a feel for if one’s having the piss taken or not. You actually have got a reasonable grasp of what the red flags are. Where you’re falling down though, as I have said, is that instead of being able to let the red flags play themselves out and reacting appropriately, you’re suggesting telling people up front what you think red flags are and how to avoid raising them.

  1. Nobody decent is going to raise those red flags anyway.

2. What could be better for an abuser than someone who tells them how not to raise their suspicians?

You need to work on the bit that comes after you seeing the red flags, because it’s essential you allow people to show themselves so you can see their red flags if they have them.
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