What Do I Do If A Guy Is In Love With Me, But I Don’t Feel As Strongly Yet?

I have met this guy who thinks I hung the moon. He is considerate, calls me everyday, sees me often, shares his thoughts and feelings with me and wants to make me happy. I like him too and think this could grow into something but I am not moving as fast emotionally as he is. He says he is “smitten” with me. I have told him I like him, and the qualities he has that I appreciate including how he treats me. We have similar views on religion, politics and interests in common, we have chemistry. How can I let him know I am not as “deep” into the emotional “love” feelings at this point as he is without discouraging him or making him feel bad?

Carol

When you become so gooey with love that you literally think a person could do no wrong, you blind yourself to reality and open up to getting very hurt.

Dear Carol,

It feels a lot better when you’re the one who is smitten, doesn’t it? Because as we’ve discussed before, the moment you become smitten with someone, you cease being a critical thinker.

Suddenly, this guy is under the impression that he is dating the person who hung the moon. What a feeling! The person who hung the moon couldn’t be selfish, or jealous, or flaky, or emotionally distant. And if she is, who cares? She’s with me!

The flaw in this type of thinking is twofold:

First, idealizing someone is patently dangerous. When you become so gooey with love that you literally think a person could do no wrong, you blind yourself to reality and open up to getting very hurt. This is the pain I caution against when we talk about “passion”. Great feeling; rarely good for you in the long run.

As we saw in our last reader letter, a man’s passion pushed his wife into a quietly suffering relationship. Now he’s with a woman who feels trapped, who wants out, who silently (or not-so-silently) resents him for what she feels is a mediocre marriage. I think it’s a very telling tale about the clarity of passion.

Which is just a long, roundabout way of saying the old cliché, “love is blind”.

The other flaw in the blindness of passion is how it makes the other person feel when it’s not reciprocated. The guy who calls four times a day, buys you flowers every week, and is already talking marriage after a month is great – if you feel the exact same way about him. But when a guy moves much faster than a woman emotionally, the woman is almost always inclined to respect him a little less and pull away a little more. Same goes the other way around, which is why it’s not considered great dating form to talk about where you’d like to get married on date 2 or your kids’ names on date 4.

Now what makes this question a little more interesting to me is that I know Carol well. She’s a former star client of mine, who keeps me up on her progress, and posts on my Facebook page. Moreover, she’s in her early 60’s and is naturally very good at attracting and understanding men. Thus, her dilemma is no surprise – this kind of thing happens to folks like her all the time.

And if you’re going to deal with this in a way that’s consistent with the rest of your personality, Carol, you are best served by being authentic and vulnerable with him. The next time you have an amazing evening and he tells you he loves you, sit him down and tell him the truth:

More likely than not, he’ll tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy…and then start smothering you again. That’s the thing about smitten people; they just can’t help themselves.

I like you. I like how you treat me. We have similar views on religion, politics and interests in common, we have chemistry. I’m just not as “deep” into the emotional “love” feelings at this point as you are. And while I don’t want to make you feel bad, I just thought you should know that we’ll have a lot better chance as a couple if we take things a little slower and give my feelings a chance to catch up to yours.

He may be momentarily stung, but probably not too bad. More likely than not, he’ll tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy…and then start smothering you again. That’s the thing about smitten people; they just can’t help themselves.

But as we’ve discussed privately, this is a far better problem to have than the alternative: 500 variations on He’s Just Not That Into You that we deal with all the time here. Thanks for sharing a positive story of a man’s ability to be devoted, and your patience with giving him a chance.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    Good advice! I agree, I think there is no harm in doing what Evan has suggested here. He may not like it, but if he really wants to be respectful and considerate of your feelings he should be able to oblige.
    Also, another alternative would be simply to distance yourself from him a little so that you can take some time to think what it is that you really want. To do that you would not necessarily have to do anything differently, except to tell him that you just want some time to think alone if he happens to call or ask you for a date, when you would rather be alone.
    I would just make sure that you communicate to him that you do appreciate all of the things he is doing right. As long as you communicate that he is successful in making you happy, I would be confident that he will continue to want to date you.
    And while you are taking the time to think about your relationship with him, if he seems like the perfect guy for you too, I would examine, why is it that you are feeling the need to hold back? Are you scared to commit? Are you afraid that he may not be as great of a guy as he is pretending to be? Are you worried that he will not love you after he realizes that you actually did not hung the moon?
    Dating can be a delicate balancing act, especially when one person wants to go faster than the other. But it sounds to me from Evan’s description that you are a very wise and mature. I also think the more you know yourself and the more mature you are, it is naturally for chemistry to develop faster.
    And since you probably know much more of what you want than say when you were on your twenties, it seems to me that the fact that you have been able to attract such a great guy into your life definitely reflects your own maturity level. So while it is good to be cautious, I think sometimes it is also wise to strike when the iron is hot :).
    Wish you all of the best!

  2. 2
    starthrower68

    I’m not sure it’s an entirely bad thing if it takes time for a woman’s feelings to a man’s; when I start to question things is if I get that heady, intoxicated feeling right off the bat; not that it isn’t good, but it’s a good indicator that I probably lost my objectivity. As long as he’s not being a creepy stalker, why not give it some more time, especially if you think there’s potential? But if he does go back to smothering you, and you can’t deal with it, then you will have to rethink things.

  3. 3
    Lynn

    Evan, as usual I think you are spot on. One thought though: the key word for me in the title to this blog post is “yet.” The writer has given every indication that she expects she is falling in love with her suitor, only just not as fast. She must certainly use this key word when she expresses her feelings to the man. I would bet that there is a lot of promise for this couple!

  4. 4
    Paul

    I hate to say it, but have you considered that if you are indeed in your early 60’s (not far behind myself), and assuming you are looking for a happy relationship to spend the rest of your life in, and that here is a guy that is head over heels for you, aren’t you looking a gift horse in the mouth a little here? I mean, isn’t that what all women want – a guy that cherishes them? Women say they do all the time. Maybe instead of him slowing down, maybe you need to speed up a little…or risk loosing him. Otherwise, maybe your just not that “into him” and you ought to move on. But everything else you say about him is really positive…remember what Evan always says about not settling, but compromising? Maybe he could slow down and you could speed up a little and meet in the middle. Just a thought. This brings to mind something I saw in a movie once and I thought there was nothing sadder…a group of old women, well into the 70’s still waiting for “the one” to come into their lives…

  5. 5
    cindym7878

    I have been single for almost five years after a 22yr marriage and have been VERY cautious when it comes to allowing myself to fall in love, because I am the type to become smitten with a man. I agree with you Evan, that if you are the type to become smitten, it does blind you to the reality of some of the warning signs of who or what a person does. BUT, because I am aware of that, I hold back for awhile so to get to know the person pretty well before I allow those feelings to come flooding thru. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way!! I enjoy loving someone to where I think they hung the moon!! Why not….he deserves to feel extra special with me!!! Love is special and there is no other way to experience it but with an open, vulnerable heart!!

  6. 6
    Zann

    Isn’t that just the way? You wait and wait to find the guy who gives without qualms, who overtly shows and states his feelings for you, follows through, doesn’t keep you guessing, AND there’s chemistry, but then, when you finally get it, it’s all just a little overwhelming, a little uncomfortable for no specific reason and you find yourself wanting to yell “hold it.” I don’t know Carol, but I can say for myself that when this happens to me, the questions start filling my head and I go into this mode where I think I must protect this poor man from his own feelings for me. It’s not that I don’t think I deserve his adoration, I just find it downright irrational that a man should be so sure of his deep devotion to me when he hasn’t had enough time to really know me & all my little (but adorable!) quirks. But then I remind myself that it’s not my job to protect the guy from getting hurt, nor do I have the power to do that, even if I wanted to. I get a little anxious knowing that I’m the one who’s instigated his current state of smitten high, so it stands to reason that I can also be the cause of his unpleasant fall from that wonderful la-la land. The result is guilt and worrying about whether I’m “leading him on” if I don’t feel exactly the same. That’s why I think Evan’s advice is excellent. To be able to voice your concern in a way that’s supportive, tender, & genuinely appreciative is the best route. But HE may not feel so great about it, and I think his reaction will be telling and you’ll see how mature and grounded he actually is. He can say he’s disappointed, he can even feel a little wounded, but if he’s serious about wanting it to work, he’ll take it in stride and hang in there. But if he’s hostile, I think that says a lot about his true nature and his need to control the situation. I had an experience with a man earlier this year who repeatedly told me, after our first meeting for coffee, “I hope you know, I’m totally smitten with you.” The fact that he said it so soon, and then so often, combined with the fact that I didn’t feel smitten with him (yet), made me pull back a little. When he sensed my ambivalence, he became furious and accused me of being like so many of his past women, stringing him along and taking advantage of his generousity when I obviosuly wasn’t intending to commit, and he wasn’t going to take it any more. Bu-bye. This told me tons about him as a person and I was glad this side was revealed to me before getting more involved with him.. So, I do think stating what you’re feeling and will help get your point across without being harsh or waffling too much. Hope this helps, and good luck.

  7. 7
    Slim Pickens

    Yikes, for a couple of minutes I thought the one I’m smitten with wrote that! But it’s not, at least a decade older than me. Mine told me more or less what Evan suggested, she’s not there with me at the moment. And hell yeah it stung, but I think I bounced back very quickly. She was right and I appreciated her honesty, she easily could have taken advantage.
    Part of my problem is that I’m not quite divorced. Even though it’s been 2 years, I’m still just a touch needy. Damn. I do think I’m going to be an exception though (right), I have pulled back a little and am not smothering the one I like. It’s hard, I have to catch myself once in a while, but we do seem to building a friendship now. For a brief moment it looked like it was all over.

    I don’t often comment hear, but I read fairly often and am always impressed by Evan’s advice. I think he nailed what to do with this one too.

  8. 8
    Emily

    This doesn’t answer the question directly, but in my experience, the falling in love part–when it’s right–happens at the same time for both. And if it doesn’t, then it’s NOT right. I found many a men on a certain dating site that rhymes with “HayDate” to fall in love pretty quickly…only to realize that they “fell in love” with any Jewish woman of child-bearing age, halfway decent looking, sporting a brain cell or two, who laughed at his jokes, even if the laughter was feigned. Therefore, when it’s real love, I feel that it happens mutually, and be wary of anyone who falls in love at a (signifcantly) faster rate than the partner.

  9. 9
    hunter

    I think we need more details from Carol. If a woman is very attractive, a man will think she hung the moon, and they will tell her so. On the other hand, a woman will be uncertain, if a mans’ financial stability is not worth mentioning to her friends.

    1. 9.1
      basil

      really?  i can’t speak for men…but i can most certainly speak for my XX self and tell you i don’t care what a guy makes.  it is irrelevant to me.  geesh.   not everyone is into the superficial.  some of us actually like a person for their character, their intelligence, their wisdom, their empathy, their heart, and how inspiring they are.  

  10. 10
    Carol

    So Evan, I followed your advice and he is willing without reservation to give me all the time I need. I’m not sure where the “smothering” comments came from, that is not an issue. We have discussed that I am more of a free spirit than he is and there haven’t been any questions or comments when I go out with other friends instead of going out with him. In the past I have experienced that “hit over the head” type of love, it worked with my husband, but not with my old high school boyfriend. No question that your logical brain just doesn’t work well in that situation. If I had a checklist this guy would get a very high score, and I like him better the more time I spend with him, so I won’t rush into anything and regardless what happens I know I have been honest with him.

  11. 11
    downtowngal

    Good advice, Evan, but I think your response was more about what the guy should do than her. Nonetheless, this relationship sounds like it has potential. Carol mentions she has some chemistry w him and they share values/enjoy time together so that’s a start. And women often take longer to ‘warm up’ than men; we’re designed to be more discerning about these things.

    And Paul #4, you can’t expect anyone to “speed it up a little” – if she’s truly not feeling it, how the heck could she “speed it up” without faking it? Or using him?

    I dated a guy recently who seemed very forward, even mentioned what type of wedding he wanted on our second date (true!). Though he was a good guy I realized he was somewhat selfish, it was all about what HE wanted and expected me to spend every weekend before we had a chance to really get to know each other.

    I like Evan’s advice about being honest w him and keeping it positive (i.e. stress to him what you like about him). The right guy will respect your pace.

  12. 12
    DateDaily

    I think that if he started treating you like you weren’t the person who hung the moon, you’d fall for him, too. It’s weird how human nature works, huh? Because he thinks you’re awesome and it so nice to you, you tend to walk the other way. But if he took his balls back and stopped contacting you as often as he does, I bet the tables would turn very quickly.
    I think you need to hang onto to this guy, because there aren’t many out there like him.
    DateDaily Staff

  13. 13
    Karl R

    Emily said: (#8)
    “in my experience, the falling in love part when it’s right happens at the same time for both. And if it doesn’t, then it’s NOT right.”

    I’m inclined to disagree. I started dating a woman just over 2 weeks ago. I’d say that we’re rather smitten with each other, spending most evenings & nights together, sending emails & texts when we’re not together, etc.

    This lady is not someone brand new in my life. We’ve known each other for about a year (as dance partners), but we didn’t start to get to know each other well until we had a two hour conversation 2 1/2 weeks ago. However, given some things she has said, I’ve gotten the impression she was paying a lot more attention to me during the past year than I was to her.

    For example, she clearly remembers meeting me for the first time: roughly when it happened, who introduced us, what happened. Her description of events sound vaguely familiar, but I don’t clearly remember any time spent with her until 4-5 months later.

    Zann said: (#6)
    “I remind myself that it’s not my job to protect the guy from getting hurt, nor do I have the power to do that, even if I wanted to.”

    In my current relationship, neither one of us believes that our relationship will last for a long time (due to a substantial age difference). But it’s entirely possible that one or both of us will get hurt when the relationship ends. Both of us have chosen to take that risk and to allow the other person to take that risk.

    To do this, both of us had to recognize that we’re dating a mature adult who is fully capable of making good decisions. And in order to make good decisions, we need to make informed decisions. By providing information about how she felt, Carol allowed this man to make an informed decision.

  14. 14
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    To Carol at #10,
    I think that is a very good sign. Sounds like you have met a really great guy, and a great coach to help you along also!! I wish you all of the best!!

  15. 15
    Sayanta

    “But if he took his balls back and stopped contacting you as often as he does, I bet the tables would turn very quickly.”

    That was an interesting choice of words. I just want to make sure I don’t misunderstand you- are you saying that showing genuine loyalty and interest in a woman is not masculine?

  16. 16
    downtowngal

    Sayanta #15, I think DD#12 is being a bit cynical while describing the theory that people only like what they can’t have.

    that doesn’t seem to be the case w Carol. It sounds as if she knows what she wants and likes/respects this guy, likes him more every time she sees him and can appreciate his charm. No games here.

  17. 17
    Carol

    Continuing the story–today my guy calls me and tells me that he doesn’t want to put any pressure on me and that I should just take things as slowly as I am comfortable. I breathe a sigh of relief, but also immediately feel better about him and what a great guy he is. He also says that if we give it time and I never fall in love with him, he will be hurt of course, but just wants me to be happy and hopes we would still be friends. This guy is doing everything right, every day I am getting more into him as I realize what a gem he is.

  18. 18
    downtowngal

    Carol, that’s awesome!

    This is a case study of communicating honestly (her) and respecting the other one’s feelings (him). As a result it appears to be making her like/respect him more.

  19. 19
    Frumpalicious

    I think someone always loves the other more although how can we measure the intensity of love? All I know is that it feels great when two people are in love, but it seems to be hard to come by.

  20. 20
    Sue

    Sometimes I feel I am in this situation. Perhaps it is pre-marital jitters but I always felt like he was in love with me and I just simply loved him. But from a lot personal reflection I’ve come to realize that “the one” that I’ve been chasing was really an improved version of myself which makes me feel very narcissistic.
    He is a great man who would be classified as the “nice guy”. So it can be tough sometimes because there is a part of me that wants that more masculine alpha male aspect that makes men more driven and passionate and a leader. Sometimes I don’t want to feel like the leader or decision maker. Anyway, I do realize he is a gem, it is just tough sometimes to not feel the chemistry or passion that can easily fizzle if I decided to elsewhere.
    All that rambling to say I agree with you Evan!

  21. 21
    Lance

    @Carol: Sounds great, I hope this one works out. The only other thing I could add is to make sure he feels loved at whatever level you’re currently at… if he’s a gem, he needs to be appreciated even if there’s catching up going on. Practice the love languages and let him know.

  22. 22
    Sametta

    Personally, I don’t feel comfortable when a man likes me too fast. I feel as though he’s only taking half of who I am and running with it. That type of fast liking could easily be interpreted as desperation. Because, I’ll ask myself, why do you like me so much and you barely have been around me long enough to see all of me? I feel more comfortable when a man has seen me in many different situations with many different personalities, then after, can still say, I like her, or, I am interested in her. I would believe that. I was friends with a guy once who was so smitten, he thought I was perfect and could do no wrong. On one hand it was sweet for someone to think of me that way, but on the other hand, it was a false perception of the entirety of my character. If I am going to be with someone, they have to know me in every way. They have to know I am not a perfect person. I don’t want a guy who thinks I am so perfect I can do no wrong. That is not reality. I feel better being in a relationship with someone who knows me for all that I am and accepts me. That type of relationship, I have more faith in. Then, here are no surprises or disappointments.

  23. 23
    vicky

    im currenty goin through the same thing, except ive never face to face met the guy. we have talked on the phone texted sent pics of each other so we know what each other looks like. i met him on facebook a year and a half ago. i like him alot and care for him but i stumbled when he told me he loved me… (which was like an hr ago) he stopped texting me and im afraid he wont talk to me. i care so much for him i just think its irrational to say i love you when we havent met face to face. He not blinded by love i dont think hes real.. and i hurts me that i hurt him. the only advice i can give you is if you care about him tell him dont make him feel like theres no chance what so ever. you can only hope he will understand how your feeling. i hope he does for my sake as well…

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