In the early stages of dating, decoding and deciphering signals can be the hardest part. What’s his normal behavior? What’s his I really like you behavior? What’s his I’m about to ghost you behavior? It’s all a bit murky when you’re not familiar with a person’s normal modus operandi. And it creates a perfect storm (no intentional reference to Frankenstorm, which is raging right now) for daters who love to overanalyze everything. I would know nothing about that.
Disclaimer before I go any further here: if the person you’re dating does something that doesn’t sit well with you on a gut level, don’t ignore that. For example, one time I was dating this guy who yelled at me and told I was embarrassing him when I gave him a kiss in front of his friends. A peck on the lips, no tongue, mind you. I was like, “Well, I understand that we all have different levels of comfort with PDA, but BYE.” That was a no-brainer. It wasn’t going to work.
While there are lots of unacceptable behaviors that warrant you to take action, there as just as many that warrant you to chill the fuck out and stop overreacting. If you know you can be that type of overthinky dater, with PTDD tendencies (ME!), it’s important to make sure your reactions are proportionate to the behavior in question.
Below, some examples of things you might be (no, probably ARE) overreacting about. So check yourself.
1. His best friend is a lady. So, maybe one time they got drunk and had sex and realized that they were thoroughly repulsed by each other romantically. You’ve probably done that, too. It was nasty and the thought of ever touching tongues or any body part with that person again sends you into a convulsive fit. He feels the same way about his best lady friend. If he wanted to be dating her, he would be. Now let them have coffee in peace.
2. He’s friends with his ex. As long as it’s not recent, like they broke up last month, or there’s a weird, unhealthy obsession or something, I tend to respect a man who’s friends with his ex. That means that he wasn’t a piece of shit to her and it gives you a preview of what would happen if you two broke up. He’ll be kind to you! Praise him for being a decent human being and get over it.
3. The amount of porn he watches. Lots of men (and women) watch porn. It has nothing to do with how much they enjoy having sex with you. It’s a separate entity. You do what you want when you’re masturbating and let him do what he wants.
4. A text or email from a female co-worker. He works with women. Occasionally they will need to communicate about work. You work with men and occasionally you will need to communicate about work as well. Your Spidey senses will go off if there’s anything atypical about the communication. Otherwise, don’t waste your energy.
5. He’s not in the mood one night. It has nothing to do with his porn watching. Or whether or not he’s attracted to you. You weren’t in the mood that one time when you had horrible cramps. Believe it or not, even though men don’t get periods, sometimes they don’t feel like having sex either. As long as it’s not a regular thing, give him a pass without a second thought and create an atmosphere of boundary-honoring and consent in your sex life.
6. He forgot you had an important meeting at work and didn’t bother to ask you about it. You can remind him that it was today. He has a lot of things to remember, as do you, and he probably didn’t forget your annual review on purpose.
7. He didn’t say it back when you told him you missed him. Some people aren’t super verbal like that. My boyfriend likes to say “likewise” when I say something sweet to him. I know he means it. And if he says nothing back at all, the fact that he’s blushing like crazy tells me all I need to know.
8. He didn’t to respond to one of your texts or emails. Just because you personally return every text message in three minutes or less doesn’t mean the person you’re dating does. There are responders, non-responders and occasional responders. People have different relationships with their technology and until you know what his is, don’t freak out if he doesn’t get back to you for 24 hours. If he shows up for your dates, contacts you regularly and displays a genuine interest in your and your life, you can take that as a positive sign.
9. He told you he needs a night to himself. Asking for time to yourself is healthy and necessary. Feel free to do the same. Wanting to be alone is not something to be taken personally.
10. He doesn’t want to introduce you to his friends/family yet. He’s probably not hiding a deep, dark secret, he’s not embarrassed of you, he probably has a reason that you’re not privy to. People can be weird about that. I know I am. It’s my issue. Eventually, you’ll either meet his friends and family, or discover the reason. Don’t sweat it.