He Said “I Love You” on the Fifth Date and I’m Freaked Out!

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Dear Evan,

So, I met this great guy online. We’ve been exclusive nearly from the start and we really like each other.

However, he’s moving really fast. He said I love you on the 5th date. I just had a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. He’s said repeatedly that he will take this at my pace, but he’s made it clear that he’s found “the one” and that’s me! While all this is great, it’s a little frightening. Are these red flags? He’s been divorced and dating for about 6 years, so he’s been there and done just about all of that. I’ve only been divorced and dating for about a year and a half and am still finding my way through life as an independent person. He says, and he’s proven in subtle ways, that he’s willing to give me whatever space I need-that he loves me and that’s it for him.

Is this normal? I’ve never experienced this kind of strong emotion from a man. Was I just with the wrong guys if they were more apathetic? If I was more apathetic?

I am falling in love with him, at my own pace, but I’m just wondering if my dating radar isn’t picking up on something here.

Help me figure out if I’m missing something here or do I have a really great guy?

Steffi

Dear Steffi,
I really relish these role-reversal emails, because it just goes to show that it’s never just a “man” thing or a “woman” thing.

Men can be prudish about sex and emotionally vulnerable.

Women can be on the fence about commitment and concerned about clingy men.  

Relationships are about people with emotional needs. And those needs are universal.

The above links are probably somewhat instructive. After all, you’re not the first person who’s been concerned that a man has fallen for her too fast.

But let’s take your question on its surface, based solely on what you told me.

Let’s give this guy points for the important things. First of all, he’s being real with you. No games here. (Funny how people complain that they don’t like games, then when someone is nakedly honest with them, they get that “deer in the headlights” look?)

You’ve become the perfect vehicle for all of his dreams and desires, and, from that pedestal, you can’t be on equal footing.

Second of all, he’s self-aware enough to see that he’s freaking you out, which is why he came back with, “We’ll take it at your pace.” Which means, roughly, “I’m going to do a very poor job of pretending I’m not totally whipped on you, and I pray for the day when you show me you’re whipped on me, although that probably won’t happen because it’s hard to respect a guy who is so whipped so soon.”

What’s heartening about your situation, Stef, is that you say you’re falling in love with him at your own pace. That’s usually not the reaction that women have to guys who come on too strong. Credit goes to you for seeing this guy as the man he is, rather than being overwhelmed by his one-sided passion. That said, there IS a red flag. This guy is projecting a LOT onto you. You’ve become the perfect vehicle for all of his dreams and desires, and, from that pedestal, you can’t be on equal footing. I suspect he knows intellectually that you don’t walk on water, but when he’s going through that “puppy love” phase, there’s no room for realism….

I spend a lot of time thinking of the value of passion in a relationship, and what I’ve figured out is this:

Passion is blind. It may or may not mean that you’re compatible or that you truly love each other. What passion DOES do is provide such clarity of purpose that there is no second guessing. Sam Harris does studies on the biochemistry of belief and I suspect that he can affirm this. The chemical rush that we get when we’re in love is the same one that allows people to be suicide bombers as well. Helen Fisher’s book, “Why We Love,” delves into the same thing. The kind of love that your boyfriend is experiencing is like a cocaine high-with all the highs and lows that come with it.

People get carried by passion all the way to the altar, and never stop to think whether this person is the best long-term investment.

The problem, therefore, comes when that high goes away. What do you really have? This, I suspect, is the greatest cause of divorce. People get carried by passion all the way to the altar, and never stop to think whether this person is the best long-term investment. They’re too blinded by “love.” All those couples who say, “You just know” sound really positive and passionate…until they get divorced. Thus, passion creates a bond; it doesn’t necessarily portend a healthy future.

So, Steffi…you’re much better off with this guy than a guy who is apathetic about you. But only if you respect him. And that’s where this kind man is going awry. By laying his cards out on the table and telling you that you’re in control and that he’ll do whatever you want, he loses a piece of what makes him attractive. It’s hard to be a masculine leader if you’re so willing to follow behind a woman like a lovesick puppy. My guess is that this guy is a really good man who is in that delightful space where he just wants to declare his love with reckless abandon. As long as you don’t hold this against him, as long as you realize that this is a GOOD thing, as long as you realize that you can’t ask for much more than a DEVOTED man, well, you may just be the big winner.

Let us know how it goes.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Jessica

    I could not have come across this posting at a better time. I am 29 he is 44. He has never been married, does not have any kids and we instantly connected through an online dating service 8 weeks ago and are supposed to meet for the first time in a couple of weeks and I am petrified! why? he has already said I love you, I need you, wants 3 kids, calls me his wife, calls my sisters “his sisters in law”, has told his parents about me, oh yeah this week alone, I have received an expensive bracelent from tiffany’s and a bouquet of roses!

    I feel suffocated and overwhelmed! How can this be! he is exactly what I had prayed for? a man that communicates, gets my wierd sense of humor, he is the perfect age (I love older men) so..why do I feel like he has “ruined it” by wearing his heart on his sleeve like that? I have been in his shoes before and I know what un-reciprocated love feels like but I don’t want to get married next week? I have told him that he needs to give me time to get to know him and have suggested that he stays in a hotel when he gets here/rents a car etc but he literally cried on the phone asking if he could sleep in my spare bedroom! He finally agreed to take things slow but he has been taking on a guilt trip about it! I feel like the “bad guy” here!

    Do I trust him, yes I do – but do I want to make the news for inviting a potential Ted Bundy into my home – absolutely not! I have worked really hard to get to my high level position at work and I am taking 2 unscheduled vacation days July 4th weeked to spend 5 days with him but he wants to be here for the entire week (from the previous weekend – 9 days) so that we can spend more time together? I expressed concerns about leaving him alone to roam the city because I have work but he does not care? okay..am I being a total bitch here? Please be honest? I want to make “us” work but I also don’t want to feel this kind of pressure. Thanks! Jess

    1. 21.1
      Debra F

      Run like hell girl !!! This is not normal. He is looking for something but it’s not a relationship. He appears to be a very “needy ” person. Do not trust him and DO NOT LET HIM KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. !!! Sounds like his next step is that he may quit his job ( if he has one ) and move to where you live and possibly mooch off of you or worse yet…….just move on………..

    2. 21.2
      Maureen

      Jessica, please…please…reread your post very slowly and from a perspective of your best friend. Some key words you wrote should send up a whole bunch of red flags. For example:
      Supposed to meet for the first time, but yet he’s calling you his wife, etc. Way over acceptable boundary lines.
      Crying on the phone. Who does that?
      Do I trust him, yes I do. WHY? How do you even know this man in 8 weeks of online activity? Seriously you could end up dead. No joke.
      I want to make “us” work but I also don’t want to feel this kind of pressure. THAT is your intuition and reasoning skills screaming at you to not go forward with the idea of him in your home yet. And just how badly do you want to make it work? Write down those reasons and really look at them. Are they out of desperation? Need? Insecurity? Loneliness? What are they? Because you barely know the man, have never met him in person and yet want to make this work when everything you know down deep inside is yelling…take it slow.
      So…do yourself a favor and take it slow. Do not allow him to stay in your home. If he cries, this isn’t your man. You deserve a man, not a boy who is going to cry when he doesn’t get his way.

    3. 21.3
      Butterduck

      Jess,   he just can’t stay with you in your home. Lock up your checkbook, valuables and computer. That isn’t courtship. It’s manipulation. Good men don’t act that way.

  2. 22
    Honey

    @ Jessica–If I were you I would end this IMMEDIATELY, before he has a chance to be in your home. Although it is tempting to interpret his actions as sweet or devoted, it seems pretty clear that he is not interested in true communication or connection with you–instead he is in this for him. He has given you a “guilt trip” for laying down ground rules that make yourself comfortable, is constantly pressuring you for things that you are not willing to give, and gives you presents that IMO are TOTALLY inappropriate if you haven’t even met yet.

    If you think that there is a possibility and the guy is just clueless and socially awkward, then by all means he should still come visit. However, you should REFUSE to let him stay at your house and put your foot down about the 5 days (not 9) as well. I would also recommend that he rent his own car so that if you don’t get along he won’t be without transportation. Tell him that this is a basic safety issue for a single woman and is non-negotiable. If he truly respects you and wants this to work than he has no choice but to adhere to whatever boundaries you set.

    Honestly, your scenario sounds every alarm bell I have and I would run in the other direction as fast as I could. But maybe that is just me? I can’t wait to see what others think.

    1. 22.1
      Andrea

      I so agree with you..

  3. 23
    Honey

    Jessica, let me also recommend that if you do try to end this that you do not try to provide him with any sort of lengthy (or even any) explanation. You met online, and you’ve never met in person. You don’t owe this guy ANYTHING.

    In my experience fellows like this have a tendency to perceive explanations as the jumping-off point to negotiations. I.e., when you say that you’re breaking up with him because of x, y, and z, he figures that as long as he (appears to) have a plan for overcoming x, y, and z then there is no reason the relationship shouldn’t continue. Then he’ll make you feel unreasonable and guilty for sticking to your guns, or even like a liar if it comes out that those aren’t your real reasons for continuing to refuse him.

    The less you give him to work with, the more power you will have. Simply say, “This isn’t going to work for me and I’d rather we not continue contacting each other.” If he presses you for an explanation just refuse–his response will tell you all you need to know about next steps (such as saving all the e-mail correspondence if you want to make a complaint to the dating service or the police). I know this may seem like over the top advice, but it is SO much better to be safe then, as you say, Ted Bundy’s victim.

  4. 24
    Selena

    It’s not just you Honey. It would sound every alarm bell I have as well. Honestly, this man’s behavior is so completely over-the-top it’s scary. He’s calling you his wife? Refering to your sisters as his sisters-in-law? And you’ve never even met?

    Jessica, he just sounds so unbelievably manipulative to me–please don’t agree to his terms. If you do want to meet him have him stay in a hotel at the very least.

  5. 25
    Glenda

    Jess,

    I TOTALLY agree with Honey–You need to end this ASAP!!! This guy is sending up HUGE red flags, and you need to run away from this relationship as fast as possible!!!

    I’ve facilitated a women’s domestic violence group in the past, and this guy sounds like he fits the profile of someone who MAY fit into the category of an abuser. Some of the signs are someone who rushes into a relationship and declares their feelings inappropriately early (and telling you he loves you when he’s never met you IS inappropriate), he’s already claiming you as “his own” by calling you his wife, he’s getting inappropriately upset when he doesn’t get his way (such as staying at your house), he’s trying to control you and manipulate you into getting his way by using the whole guilt trip thing, and now he’s sending way too expensive and too many gifts in a short time period to make up for his poor behavior. From my past experience with women in the support group, unfortunately, these type of things don’t bode well for a relationship.

    Other things to ask yourself about the relationship is why has he never been married at 44 but is suddenly in such a rush to do so now? And how did his other relationships end–was it always something the women did and he was never at fault? If so, that’s another red flag, because if he’s the type of personality I’m afraid he may be, then he won’t feel he’s done anything wrong, EVER.

    And your Ted Bundy comment tells me that your intuition is telling you that you really don’t feel safe the more you are learning about him, no matter how wonderful things were at the beginning. I’m a big believer in listening to your intuition, especially in situations like these, since it usually is picking up on small but VERY important things we overlook for one reason or another. PLEASE reconsider meeting this man. And if you have any doubts, you may want to look at Dr. Irene’s website–www.drirene.com. She has lots of wonderful information on verbal abuse on it. While I cannot say that is what is happening in your relationship, from what you written, it does not sound like the basis of a healthy relationship.

    Best of luck to you!!! And please keep us posted!

  6. 26
    Eda

    Jessica,

    I agree with all the other ladies. Please end your “relationship” with this man right now. He does not sound like he is stable and he is demanding way more from you than you should give. In my opinion, any man who really cares about a woman would put her safety first. As soon as you indicate you don’t feel safe doing something that he has requested, he should back off and say and mean, “I don’t ever want you to do anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.” The fact that this man has tried to make you feel guilty about your boundaries and concerns is an important warning sign that you should not ignore. It is a sign that you need to run away and never, ever connect with him again….no phone contact, no email, no texting …nothing. Please don’t ever feel that that putting your safety — of your heart, your body and anything else important to you — is bitchy behavior. It’s the behavior of a sane and confident woman who cares for herself.

    Finally and importantly, please don’t feel that this guy is the only man who will get you and your weird sense of humor or do many of the things you want. I know too many women who have stayed in bad relationships with men because they have this crazy belief that there is no other man out there who will want them. If thoughts like that are swimming around in your head and making you reluctant to let go of him, please erase them from your mind. They are not true. When you let this guy go, you will be free to find a man who really will love and respect you.

    Good luck.

  7. 27
    sheseizereason

    Jessica –

    Your guy sounds either obsessive or insincere. If it’s the former, he’s scary, and if the latter, he’s cheesy. Do you have a preference?

    – ssr

    P.S. Congratulations on Baby Vee, Mrs.Vee.

  8. 28
    Steve

    Jessica;

    If this guy isn’t a kook or a neurotic, he is emotionally immature. Whatever he is, you are not going to get a rewarding relationship with him. None of those things makes him a bad person, just a person you will be happier not to be involved with.

    Send him a brief, polite note like the one you posted here explaining this to him. Make that you absolute last contact with him ever and do what you can to make sure that he can never contact you again.

    Good Luck

  9. 29
    Jessica

    @Honey, Selena, Glenda, Eda, and sheseizereason – I am crying so hard right now because I took a stand and lets just say that things did not go too well. I am too upset to write down the details.. but I am literally, shaking. Glenda, he threatened to come to GA and find me! He does not have my home address (just my work – where the gifts were sent) – I did not give that to him, he found it through our communication on what I do for a living. As embarrassing as it maybe I have to come clean with my Boss on appropriate security measures. You know what is so strange is that I did not know about this website but for the past 2 days I have been tossing and turning ..scatter brained, restless especially today .. because he had started to plan our holidays and my birthday weekend.

    I finally sat back and typed the word “obesessive men” and found this Forum. You have no idea the things that are running through my head right now! – I will give an update in a couple days.. but.. I am literally shaking and crying because each and every thing that you all wrote is coming to pass. – I am not easily moved by alot of things but..this has shocked me to my core. I sought an honest opinion even 6 hours ago.. and I know keep saying this.. but each and every word has come to pass..

  10. 30
    Steve

    Honey;

    You have some interesting thoughts in post #25.

    On the one hand, I had a friend in college who attracted the kind of guy you described and trying to negotiate closure with them only got them more entangled in a nasty way.

    On the other hand, not everybody is a basket case and feedback on what didn’t work can be the first step on sending some people on their way to improving themselves.

    What do you think about sending some brief feedback explaining what didn’t work before cutting the person off?

    On the one hand I think it could backfire with people who are far gone. They could take it as an insult and get angry. On the other hand the feedback might help a clueless but otherwise nice person.

  11. 31
    Steve


    Honey May 29th 2008 at 02:26 pm 22
    If you think that there is a possibility and the guy is just clueless and socially awkward, then by all means he should still come visit.

    I disagree. If he is harmless, but THAT socially clueless there is no way either of them are going to have a rewarding relationship together. Aside from being nicer to her it would be nicer to him to end it sooner.

  12. 32
    Steve

    Jessica;

    I wrote some posts before I read your post, #29. Please disregard everything else I had to say. Close your web site account where this guy found you, immediately. Call a battered women’s shelter. Explain your situation to them and ask them for advice on how to handle things from this point on.

    Talk with your boss and do not feel embarrassed under any circumstances. YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG You are not the first woman something like this has happened to and you will not be the last. You were just trying to improve your social life like any human is entitled to do and you stumbled across an unfortunate person the way many of us could have. Do not feel bad about it. Get information on how to protect yourself, do it, and move on.

    Good Luck

  13. 33
    Glenda

    Jess,

    You are an incredibly strong and brave woman to have read everyone’s feedback, digested it, taken it to heart and acted upon it so swiftly!!! I’m truly sorry to hear that everyone’s fears have been realized and the situation has turned really ugly.

    You are VERY wise to tell your boss about what is happening! And there is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed–YOU have done nothing wrong!!! While he may not act upon his threat, and I will pray for you that he does not, you need to be extremely cautious right now. I suggest calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, and they will put you in touch with a center in your local area. They will be a wealth of information on the laws in Georgia pertaining to restraining and protective orders and whether either is needed in your case, as well as helping you to do everything possible you can do to remain safe. All of these services should be free of charge.

    Whatever you do, do not take any more of his calls–let them go to voicemail and save the messages, in case you need them. Also, do not respond to any texts or emails, as Honey said before, even to tell him it’s over or go away, because for guys like this, ANY communication is an open door to keep contacting you and offers him a glimmer of hope. Just keep a record of everything!

    You sound like an intelligent woman with a great deal of common sense, and it sounds like you’ve handled yourself well throughout the relationship by setting boundaries. So please, don’t be hard on yourself–this is HIS issue, not yours!!

    Keep us posted, PLEASE!!! You’ll be in my thoughts!

  14. 34
    Selena

    Wow Jessica, I am so, so sorry. I thought the guy was over the top, but…wow, just wow. Please be careful, careful and write back here when you can.
    Jessica, THANK GOD you changed your mind about him staying with you! I’m so glad you found this board.

    I will be thinking of you hon, and praying this situation doesn’t go any further.

    Selena

  15. 35
    Honey

    @Jessica, I am so sorry to hear that all this happened! Let me reiterate along with everyone else that this is not your fault. Please keep us posted if you have a chance…

    @Steve–The one time that I tried to give a guy feedback on why I was ending it, it was this horrible downward spiral that led to him saying some very nasty things to me, so I tend to avoid it. And especially in Jessica’s circumstance she should NOT be talking to him. That’s not to say that there aren’t some people who can’t benefit from the feedback, or wouldn’t accept it graciously. I just have a hard time imagining who that might be–seems like someone who would accept my feedback would be someone that I wouldn’t dump (because we could actually successfully work on things).

    As far as giving a HARMLESS socially clueless guy a chance (your post #31), if they don’t get a learning experience somewhere then I think that’s crueller. Emotional maturity doesn’t happen overnight (I should know!). But I’m picking up what you’re putting down, all the same. Thank god Jessica didn’t take that portion of my advice…

  16. 36
    Steve

    Honey;

    Post #35

    I understand where you are coming from. Like I wrote, I saw what happened to you happen to some women friends of mine. Do you think giving an explanation in a note then cutting a guy off would work where discussing things wouldn’t? If I was a woman I would hesitate to do that for fear it would upset the guy enough to come find me.

    Having been the clueless, but harmless guy when I was younger I do like the idea of giving the guy a clue before cutting him off. I eventually figured out where I was going wrong on my own, but it would have been nice, useful, faster and less hurtful to have been given a clue. However, having been that guy as a young 20 something I can understand and endorse a woman not wanting to deal with the harmless but socially clueless guy.

    Thanks for being honest. Aside from Evan’s good advice one of the useful things about this blog is the honesty in the comments section. People are honest and write things other people need to read.

  17. 37
    sheseizereason

    That’s truly awful, Jess. And as tempted as I am to say he’s probably all talk and that he was probably just trying to scare you, you should take his threats very seriously.

    If you fear for your safety, stay with a friend or relative. Change your phone number. If necessary, your state may allow you to get a restraining order, which will help you by putting your local law enforcement on alert for your potential danger, and making it a criminal act for him to harrass you.

    Go to this website, look up your state and learn what you can do to protect yourself.

    http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=65&state_code=GA

    Please be careful and I’m really very sorry. This is not a laughing matter for you.

    -ssr

  18. 38
    sheseizereason

    P.S. Jess, see the link I gave for info on “stalking protection orders”.

  19. 39
    sheseizereason

    On whether or not to say I love you first, would anyone truly fall in love with a person whom s/he believed was going to think less of him/her for loving that person?

    1. 39.1
      Butterduck

      Sheseizereason #39,   that’s how I see it.

  20. 40
    Markus

    Jess,

    Sorry you are dealing with this. I would call the cops.

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