How to Encourage Initiating Conversation in a Way that Doesn't Make Me Seem Obnoxious

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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:08 am

Okay, so I've been out with this guy twice, and we have plans to go hiking on Sunday. He's smart, got a good sense of humor, didn't seem bothered by my having anxiety (and we ended up talking about the Hyperbole and a Half 2 part depression comic), attractive, all sorts of positive qualities. And we seem to have really good conversations, especially in person.

But here's where the problem is. So, I initiated contact with him first. Initiated the first date. And the second. We've been texting back and forth since the first date, but I'm always the one who starts those conversations, too. He always responds, and the conversations are fun and sometimes flirty, but when we hit an end point, he never starts a new conversation. On our last date, while we were still sitting in the movie theater, he said something like, "we should do this again, but not on a week night", so he's at least attempting to initiate dates at this point, and I'm pretty sure he's still interested. As we were getting ready to drive our separate ways, and talking about weekend plans, he said we should brainstorm, and I said that yes, we should, and that he should do that and then maybe initiate a conversation, and he seemed very much aware that this was something he both wasn't doing and should be attempting to do. He still didn't, though. I gave in a texted him yesterday, which again led to a good conversation.

So, I guess my question is, how do I keep encouraging him to pull his weight, while not coming off as needy/controlling/etc? I think some of the problem is that his last serious relationship was in high school (he's 33), so texting both wasn't an option, and wouldn't have been necessary since they would have seen each other in school every day, so this aspect of dating is fairly new to him. So I'm trying to be understanding about it, but to also address that this is something that's necessary for me in a relationship (contact that isn't always initiated by me, that is). Any suggestions?
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Post by Guest on Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:28 am

Hmmm, well how serious is the relationship? If it's getting serious, I'd talk to him in person about your methods of communication and how he's gotta meet you halfway there otherwise, it's not gonna workout.

I dunnou if that sounds too nebulous or how close you two are now. Hell, I have a hard enough time trying to get girls to respond! So I dunno how good my advice/idea is Razz

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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:33 am

That's part of the problem - this will only be our third date. If it was officially a relationship, I wouldn't bringing it up as a "serious topic", but I feel like it's too early for that.
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Post by Autumnflame on Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:45 am

Is this a serious relationship yet?

After two dates it strikes me as a little early to be bringing up initiation patterns, though I suppose that depends on how much contact you have in between the dates. I'd actually probably wait until after date three or four, if you see it going anywhere.

As far as a possible script: "Look, it's important to me to have a reciprocal relationship, but right now I feel like I'm always initiating the conversations and the dates. This makes me unhappy because it feels like our interest level isn't equal, and I don't want to perpetually chase someone who's uninterested." Pause and let him respond, let conversation flow as normal, and if it seems appropriate maybe say explicitly at one point that while you'd be thrilled to see/talk to him again, if he doesn't contact you first, you won't be contacting him. And if he doesn't, oh well - it wasn't going to go anywhere, then.
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Post by Guest on Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:54 am

Well, I see three questions:

1. How often are you initiating?
2. Are you okay with it if you have to initiate always, if that's the price of the relationship?
3. What would happen if you just didn't initiate until he did?

He may be having his communication needs met by the conversational level at which you're initiating. Maybe he doesn't need/want to text more often than you're already texting. If you just didn't text him, do you think he'd eventually contact you? And if not, do you really want to be seeing him if he doesn't care enough to reach out when you haven't?

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Post by Suika on Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:56 pm

What if he just isn't good with taking the initiative?
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Post by Guest on Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:06 pm

jcorozza wrote:That's part of the problem - this will only be our third date.  If it was officially a relationship, I wouldn't bringing it up as a "serious topic", but I feel like it's too early for that.

That's what I figured and that's understandable.

Although I think Autumnflame has the right idea lol

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Post by eselle28 on Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:50 pm

If it were me, on the next date I'd bring up a general idea for a date that I thought sounded fun. If he seemed amenable to the idea, I'd suggest that he call/text me to let me know when it would be a good time to meet up and do that thing just as we were saying goodbye. Then I'd do what you did last date, and I'd try to stick to it. It's hard, but at some point, I think people (regardless of gender) need to be on the same page enthusiasm-wise and that initiating contact is part of that. Your mileage may vary.

If he can do a bit more in the date initiating department, then I think it might be worth sticking with this for awhile longer until it seems appropriate to have a conversation about how you'd like him to say hello a little more often. It seems like something that might be a symptom of either him not needing to communicate as much between dates or him perhaps preferring some communication method other than texting (33's smack in the middle between a generation that pretty much only texts and a generation where some people still prefer phone/email/IM, and maybe he aligns with the older group in terms of this preference).
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Post by Caffeinated on Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:13 pm

I would suggest using one of the scripts I've seen at Captain Awkward, and ask him what would his ideal amount of texting and conversation in a relationship look like. That's what I'd suggest.

What I would actually do if I were in your shoes is after the next date, maintain radio silence until he contacted me. If he never did (or didn't within a reasonable time frame) then I'd consider that a breakup.
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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:25 pm

Autumnflame wrote:Is this a serious relationship yet?

have a reciprocal relationship, but right now I feel like I'm always initiating the conversations and the dates. This makes me unhappy because it feels like our interest level isn't equal, and I don't want to perpetually chase someone who's uninterested." Pause and let him respond, let conversation flow as normal, and if it seems appropriate maybe say explicitly at one point that while you'd be thrilled to see/talk to him again, if he doesn't contact you first, you won't be contacting him. And if he doesn't, oh well - it wasn't going to go anywhere, then.

This is close to what I have in mind, it's just not serious enough for that yet, but at the same time, I don't want too ingrained in this pattern before it can even get to there, if that makes any sense!
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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:34 pm

ElizaJane wrote:Well, I see three questions:

1. How often are you initiating?

Maybe ever couple of days? Back when we were just talking through OKC, I'd hear from him at least once a day, and once, when I didn't hear from him for like a say and a half he apologized for taking so long to respond (I hadn't complained about it or anything - I've had people wait much longer to respond. Once...three months. Oy)


ElizaJane wrote: 2. Are you okay with it if you have to initiate always, if that's the price of the relationship?

Nope. More than half? Sure. Always? Nope. This puts a huge imbalance into a relationship, I think.

ElizaJane wrote: 3. What would happen if you just didn't initiate until he did?
Not sure. I actually tried to do that this past weekend, but by Sunday evening, when we hadn't ironed out details beyond "movies Monday", I actually needed to know where we were going and when (I don't have a smartphone, and don't usually have access to a computer at work), so I ended up having to contact him again. And his response was basically, "oh, you didn't want to scramble at the last minute to figure it out" which was said sarcastically. I was like...dude, if you had wanted to get things more settled, you could have contacted me, too!

ElizaJane wrote: He may be having his communication needs met by the conversational level at which you're initiating.  Maybe he doesn't need/want to text more often than you're already texting.  If you just didn't text him, do you think he'd eventually contact you?  

This is possibly true, though it's not as though he brushes me off when I contact him or anything, so even though the anxious part of my brain thinks he might be not interested, the logical part doesn't. And the fact that he knew I was going to ask him to take more initiative, and seemed willing to do so, makes me think it's not all in my head. Also, he mentioned that his friends have called him out for being terrible with "modern communication". I'm guess I'm looking for an ideal way to ease him into occasionally starting a conversation - I can't tell how much of it is just lack of habit, lack of interest, or just not being good at coming up with things to talk about on the spot.
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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:38 pm

Suika wrote:What if he just isn't good with taking the initiative?

I mean, I don't think he is (at least in this kind of thing - he clearly can do it at work, and in his education - dude went to Cornell and has an MBA, so it's not like he's lazy or bad at putting himself out there in other realms of life). But I think it would be pretty crappy for him to be like, "yeah, I'm bad at this, sucks for you", and to his credit, that doesn't seem to be what he's doing.
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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:45 pm

eselle28 wrote:If it were me, on the next date I'd bring up a general idea for a date that I thought sounded fun. If he seemed amenable to the idea, I'd suggest that he call/text me to let me know when it would be a good time to meet up and do that thing just as we were saying goodbye. Then I'd do what you did last date, and I'd try to stick to it. It's hard, but at some point, I think people (regardless of gender) need to be on the same page enthusiasm-wise and that initiating contact is part of that. Your mileage may vary.

I was thinking of doing some version of this, but maybe giving him a specific day to let me know details by (I have a busy enough schedule that this isn't unreasonable, I don't thing) - maybe have a "deadline" would be helpful?

eselle28 wrote: If he can do a bit more in the date initiating department, then I think it might be worth sticking with this for awhile longer until it seems appropriate to have a conversation about how you'd like him to say hello a little more often. It seems like something that might be a symptom of either him not needing to communicate as much between dates or him perhaps preferring some communication method other than texting (33's smack in the middle between a generation that pretty much only texts and a generation where some people still prefer phone/email/IM, and maybe he aligns with the older group in terms of this preference).

He did initially suggest using google hangouts, but since I don't have a smartphone, and I rarely get to use a computer at work, this isn't a great option for me most of the time. We actually tried it out a day or two before the first date, and he was messaging me try to figure out where/when to go, and then finally realized, since I had mentioned the lack of smartphone, that it was going to be very difficult to plan this way. As far as the date initiation goes, it does seem like he was making more of an effort to make it clear that he wanted to go out again, which is why I'm willing to be a little more patient then I might be with someone else.

Something else that's odd that I noticed - when we are texting, despite saying that he's often busy while at work, the conversation seems to fall off, fairly consistently, when he gets out of work (it's like he takes a nap on the train home and then forgets he was ever in the conversation). Not sure what to make of that, but it does tell me that being busy at work isn't the issue.
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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:40 pm

I admit, I'm pretty biased in that any time I've seen this pattern early on and still gotten into a relationship with the guy, it turned out his lack of conversation initiating/date planning was a symptom of him not being very into me (into me enough that he'll date me if I'm doing most of the relationship heavy-lifting, like planning dates, initiating conversations, being the first one to bring up "dating" topics like monogamy, and so on.)

One memorable occasion was when I'd been on a 2nd date with someone, and at the end we'd both talked about how we'd like to see a movie, maybe Wednesday. No further concrete plans were made. He didn't seem that enthusiastic, so I never contacted him to make the plans more concrete. I did finally hear from him, on the night we were supposed to go out, with a text "So.... still up for movies?"

Like... seriously dude? What kind of weird game are you playing?

Come to think of it, it's been extremely predictable that if I asked the guy out at first (or make the first contact), he seems to assume that I will be the one making the concrete dates from there on out. I started inferring that it meant he wasn't that into me, but maybe there's some other weird thing happening with the guys in our generation where the assumption just seems to be that if the girl makes the first move, she is the Relationship Taskmaster forever and ever.

Based on my own experience, I'd decide to try to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible, either by discussing it, or by passive-aggressively not contacting/planning anything and seeing if he picked up the slack.

I think Eselle's idea is the best one, but I fear that any kind of pressure on him like a deadline is going to come across as needy or controlling (it did for me when I tried that one time.) I finally got to the point where I gave the guy a silent deadline, in my head; if he hadn't made plans with me by the deadline (usually a week from our date) without any kind of explanation, I'd just move on. Friends blamed this behavior as the reason I was single for so long but really, life is too short to spend with someone who isn't enthusiastically planning to see you in the early stages.*

*My mother always said that if the beginning of the relationship has more than a tiny sliver of drama, odds are likely it won't pan out. The 2nd date-three months should be rainbows and fireworks and treacly romance, not haggling and having to force fundamental-relationship-issue conversations. I think sometimes she may have a point.
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Post by kleenestar on Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:09 pm

I would suggest separating the texting issue and the date-initiating issue and addressing them separately.

If it were me I'd start with the date-initiating issue. "Okay, it's your turn now" is a nice light way to make it clear that he has to do it. I would say something like "I need the details X amount of time beforehand if I'm going to be there" and then leave it at that. Don't remind him, don't do the work for him, don't compensate for him. If it means you have a disastrous date, then you have a disastrous date! But it's just one date, and it shows him that you are not going to do all the date planning work for him.

As for texting, I like the idea of saying "what is your ideal level of communication." It sounds like he wants to communicate more with you but he isn't used to talking to people who don't have regular computer access during the day. Asking about communication styles might help get at that in a non-confrontational way. But I'd wait on that until after he's planned and executed a date. Linking the two will not just be more stressful for him, it'll also create this "bad at initiating" narrative that will become its own thing that has to be addressed. I'd say focus on specific behavior for now - you don't have enough data to need to worry about patterns.
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Post by jcorozza on Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:21 pm

kleenestar wrote:I would suggest separating the texting issue and the date-initiating issue and addressing them separately.

If it were me I'd start with the date-initiating issue. "Okay, it's your turn now" is a nice light way to make it clear that he has to do it. I would say something like "I need the details X amount of time beforehand if I'm going to be there" and then leave it at that. Don't remind him, don't do the work for him, don't compensate for him. If it means you have a disastrous date, then you have a disastrous date! But it's just one date, and it shows him that you are not going to do all the date planning work for him.

I may have explained this poorly - it's mostly that I'm always the one to suggest the concept of a date - once that's out there, and we've picked a day, he's usually fine being part of the planning process.

kleenstar wrote:
As for texting, I like the idea of saying "what is your ideal level of communication." It sounds like he wants to communicate more with you but he isn't used to talking to people who don't have regular computer access during the day. Asking about communication styles might help get at that in a non-confrontational way. But I'd wait on that until after he's planned and executed a date. Linking the two will not just be more stressful for him, it'll also create this "bad at initiating" narrative that will become its own thing that has to be addressed. I'd say focus on specific behavior for now - you don't have enough data to need to worry about patterns.

So, I ended up bringing this up anyway, in more of "am I just bugging you?" kind of way. His explanation was that work is super busy and takes up a lot of his brain space, so that a conversation isn't going to be the first thing on his mind (it probably doesn't help that my job right now is not very challenging, so I have too much EXTRA brainspace). Which is why he'll respond to what I'm saying, but doesn't out of the blue message me. But I also said that as it is, it feels very one sided, and that I don't like that, and he said he would do his best to every now and then send a "how's it going" type of message. He didn't try to tell me I was being obnoxious/needy/whatever or anything, or that my expectations were ridiculous. I think it has a lot to do with him not really needing to prioritize much besides work in like...10 years. I'm also getting the feeling that he puts dating in a separate mental compartment from work, and therefore doesn't put much thought about one while doing the other.
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Post by jcorozza on Fri May 01, 2015 7:20 pm

So, after that quick discussion, I said I appreciated him making an effort, and haven't texted him since. When he got home from work today, he sent me a "how was the rest of your week?" text, so...assertiveness for the win?
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Post by kleenestar on Fri May 01, 2015 7:26 pm

Aha, gotcha! That's awesome and a better situation than it sounded like at first, and I'm delighted he texted you. Smile
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Post by eselle28 on Fri May 01, 2015 8:23 pm

Yay! Glad to hear he's willing to talk about this with you and that he's responsive to your needs!
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Post by OtherRoooToo on Sat May 02, 2015 9:09 pm

Glad that went well.  I'm quite late to the party, but I was going to third (or so) AutumnFlame's suggestion.

jcorozza wrote:I think it has a lot to do with him not really needing to prioritize much besides work in like...10 years. I'm also getting the feeling that he puts dating in a separate mental compartment from work, and therefore doesn't put much thought about one while doing the other.

This seems kind of ... epidemic these days.  I feel like I run into a fair number of dudes like this too.  Like -- they're out of practice, and nobody has seen fit to tutor them even a little concerning its comparative importance. Or even mention to them that it might be important.

Glad it seems to be working out, though.

Smile

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Post by jcorozza on Sat May 02, 2015 10:58 pm

OtherRoooToo wrote:
This seems kind of ... epidemic these days.  I feel like I run into a fair number of dudes like this too.  Like -- they're out of practice, and nobody has seen fit to tutor them even a little concerning its comparative importance.   Or even mention to them that it might be important.


I know, right? I feel like in most of my relationships, I have to teach the guy how to boyfriend properly. For some reason, I'm supposed to know automatically how to girlfriend, though.
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Post by OtherRoooToo on Tue May 05, 2015 12:13 am

jcorozza wrote: For some reason, I'm supposed to know automatically how to girlfriend, though.

Don't even get me started on that one.

Marty and some other ladies have spoken at length about that overarching cultural expectation that we ladies "just know"  how that sort of thing should go ... all the nuances.   And we never, ever have trouble with the thousands of things that go into making up social discourse.  Oh, no, our moms & aunties didn't even have to teach us ... we were *born* just knowing it.

And not only that -- we were also born knowing how to girlfriend and/or wife for each & every different type of dude (because dating a gamer who occasionally banks and a banker who occasionally games, I have discovered the hard way, are two completely different sets of circumstances).

Also, whenever I see what you've raised -- especially running in nerdlike circles, where this kind of thing is practically honor-bound to raise its head -- I think of this, which kind of breaks my heart every time I read it again.

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Post by Prajnaparamita on Tue May 05, 2015 8:58 am

OtherRoooToo wrote:
jcorozza wrote: For some reason, I'm supposed to know automatically how to girlfriend, though.

Also, whenever I see what you've raised -- especially running in nerdlike circles, where this kind of thing is practically honor-bound to raise its head -- I think of this, which kind of breaks my heart every time I read it again.

Okay, I know this is getting into derail territory, I'm sorry, but this is something that has occupied my solitary thoughts for a very long time now, but I've never posted about for a fear of men responding with BUT NOT ALL MEN/IT'S NOT FAIR BECAUSE YOU'RE A WOMAN or whatever, and I frankly didn't feel like I could cope with that so better to remain silent.

I have ASD (though alternately diagnosed at various times in my life as NLD or Asp, but ASD now) and when interacting with geek guys it was like there was a target painted on my forehead and a giant neon sign floating above me saying "LOOK! This young woman is socially anxious and insecure, as well as having a poor grasp on social interactions and frequently misjudges the intentions of others! She will be easily manipulated our of her terror of doing anything wrong and inability to feel certain in her own reading of situations!

Ugh so many feels this morning. I can spin this off somewhere else if people want.

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Post by OtherRoooToo on Tue May 05, 2015 12:00 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:
Okay, I know this is getting into derail territory, I'm sorry, but this is something that has occupied my solitary thoughts for a very long time now, but I've never posted about for a fear of men responding with BUT NOT ALL MEN/IT'S NOT FAIR BECAUSE YOU'RE A WOMAN or whatever, and I frankly didn't feel like I could cope with that so better to remain silent.

I have ASD (though alternately diagnosed at various times in my life as NLD or Asp, but ASD now) and when interacting with geek guys it was like there was a target painted on my forehead and a giant neon sign floating above me saying "LOOK! This young woman is socially anxious and insecure, as well as having a poor grasp on social interactions and frequently misjudges the intentions of others! She will be easily manipulated our of her terror of doing anything wrong and inability to feel certain in her own reading of situations!

There's a thread here about Autism in Girls that might be helpful ... or where you might find people to PM with ...?  
/thoughts & suggestions only, since I didn't start the topic

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Post by jcorozza on Fri May 08, 2015 5:14 pm

Sigh. Well, that didn't last. We went out a third time over the weekend, and that went well, and we made tentative plans to hang out on Friday. We continued to chat throughout the week (he talked a lot about how hectic/stressful his job is), and yesterday afternoon I wanted to make sure Friday was still on, and he said, "No, sorry, I'm not going to be up for it. Maybe next week?" Which to meet felt like he was blowing me off (I even had someone else read it, and they thought the same). I got a bit annoyed (mostly that he hadn't actually bothered to come to me first to tell me this), and then he told me it was because he was going to get super gross/dirty at work, etc, and then eventually that "if cancelling plans once was going to cause drama maybe we shouldn't continue". And I tried to explain that cancelling plans wasn't the problem, it was how he did it, and that I didn't like that I always had to ask about this kind of stuff. He basically decided that he's not in a good place to be in a relationship what with his job stuff (though, really, what with how he's dealing with his job stuff, I think), that he would keep my contact info, but I should look elsewhere. And then when I asked what "I'm going to keep you contact info" was supposed to mean (friendship? false hope?), he said, "You win, I'm an asshole. Don't contact me again, this is done." At no point was he apologetic for wasting my time when he's not in a relationship place. I'm actually really frustrated that he cut contact like that, because I have some things I would still like to say, and I feel like it's his way of keeping control.

So much sigh. This kind of thing has been happening a bit lately, where the guy thinks he wants a relationship, then, after dating/talking to me for awhile, realizes that a relationship is not a magical thing where I come and serve his support needs but have none of my own. It's fine to not be in a place for relationships, but it would sure be nice if they didn't use me as their guinea pig to figure this out! Anyone else experience this before?
jcorozza
jcorozza

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How to Encourage Initiating Conversation in a Way that Doesn't Make Me Seem Obnoxious Empty Re: How to Encourage Initiating Conversation in a Way that Doesn't Make Me Seem Obnoxious

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