I’m In Constant Fear Of Losing Him — How Do I Calm Down?

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I am a 56-year-old teacher, and met a nice man in March. He ended it after a short time. I felt he was making a mistake, but left him alone. I started dating and saw that he was on Match.com again also. I sent him an e-card for his birthday in May. He responded nicely, but gave me no indication he wanted to start dating again. Then he contacted me and said he found an old cell phone message from me and he wasn’t going to erase it because I am so nice. We started dating again in the beginning of June, and saw each other every day of his week-long vacation (he initiated it).

Now he is back to work and I am insecure. I always worry (because he ended it with me once before and also ended a six year relationship before me easily) that it might happen again. It’s terrible to live in fear. I have more invested in this now, and would probably be devastated if he did end it. He doesn’t know what I’m going through when we’re not together. Technically this relationship didn’t start in March, but June when we resumed. It just started, but I feel so connected physically and mentally, and it’s driving me crazy! How can I get to a place where this doesn’t immobilize me? I’m so afraid of losing the happiness and peace I feel when we are together. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you. Nancy

Hey Nancy.

You’re not at peace.

Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.

You’re not happy.

You’re going crazy.

And you’re asking ME how to enable you to continue this pattern?

Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.

You must have mistaken me for someone who wants women to have unhealthy relationships with emotionally unavailable men.

You must have confused me with a man who thinks that men should be in control and that women should just put up with all nonsense.

You must have misremembered some blog post where you thought I said that the ideal relationship is one where you’re walking on eggshells, anxious about the present, insecure with the future, and consistently questioning your man’s integrity.

Any readers ever feel what Nancy’s feeling?

Any readers have a POSITIVE tale about how their panic-inducing relationship has lasted for thirty years?

If so, let me know in the comments section that you’re the exception.

But the rule, Nancy, is this:

Your man’s job is to make you feel safe.

Your man’s job is not simply to be smart and sexy and appealing, but to be consistent and kind.

Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.

And if you’ve been with a guy for over 6-8 weeks and you still have questions about whether he’s your boyfriend, guess what?

You’re in a toxic, one-sided relationship that benefits him and is going to crush you in the long run.

Here’s a brief video clip from a speech I gave to a group of singles with the 8 Things that Your Boyfriend Must Do To Be Your Boyfriend:

Therefore, your question, Nancy, shouldn’t be “What do I do to calm down?”

Rather, it should be, “Why would I feel nervous or insecure around this man?”

Chances are, it’s because he’s not doing most of what’s in the above video.

And if he’s not giving you those 8 things, the only course of action is to walk away because you’re not getting your emotional needs met.

If, of course, you choose to stick with him — as most women would – you’re pretty much just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Goldie

    @ Margo, thanks for the invitation to go somewhere else, but I think I’ll stick around.
      
    Good question to why the post came across to me as harsh. After giving it some thought, maybe it’s because of this:
      
    “Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.
    And if you’ve been with a guy for over 6-8 weeks and you still have questions about whether he’s your boyfriend, guess what?
    You’re in a toxic, one-sided relationship that benefits him and is going to crush you in the long run.”
      
    Is this six weeks from their first date to the point where he needs to take down his profile and call himself her boyfriend?
      
    And, if that doesn’t happen in six weeks, she should turn around and leave?
      
    Is this supposed to work both ways? If I start seeing a guy, do I have a six-week deadline, too? Because I’ve had that happen. This year, I had a guy who, after three dates and maybe four weeks after he’d first emailed me, told me he was going on vacation for ten days and, if I didn’t find anyone else by the time he came back (that would’ve been a total of six weeks), then we’d be getting off the site together. (I hadn’t managed to find anyone in the ten days I was given, but still told him we wouldn’t work as a couple. He went right out and found someone else immediately.) I had another one who started calling me GF after ONE coffee date and kept mentioning how he couldn’t wait to get off the site… I hardly even knew the man at that point. (Told him I wasn’t ready for anything that serious, never heard from him again.) Both men reminded me of a timeshare trade show I’d once been to, where they put you in a room, close the door and tell you that they’re offering you a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but you have to sign right now. The deal expires today at midnight and won’t be there tomorrow.
      
    Too much pressure, in my opinion, on all sides. I could be wrong, but, for people in their 40s and 50s with families, kids, elderly parents, responsibilities, etc. on both ends, that hardly allow for one-two evenings of face time per week, six weeks sounds pretty unrealistic for a person to commit, or expect commitment.
      
    My opinion on this one (and I’m still fairly new to the dating scene…) is that they just haven’t talked about what one another’s expectations are, and probably expect different things. He’s living in the moment, while she’s worried sick that what they have may not last for the rest of their lives. I see a big disconnect here.
      
    I agree that, if she isn’t happy with the way things are, and he is happy and content and won’t change a thing, then she shouldn’t stick around. But, IMO, that has nothing to do with the six-week timeframe or whatever. (Though, in their case, it’s been three months!! – enough to decide whether you’re a couple or not.) It has everything to do with her living in constant fear, and him not having a clue that she does. Doesn’t sound like being “so connected physically and mentally” to me.
      

  2. 22
    Joe

    There’s nothing in the letter that tells me this guy is an asshole and/or a player.   To be honest, it just sounds to me like Nancy is really insecure, and insecure people do not make for good relationship partners.

  3. 23
    Anne

    I personally would like to hear from Evan on what are the signs of emotionally unavailable men & why they join online dating sites to begin with?! From reading the responses it seems that  many women deal with men like this. Out curiousity I’d like to hear what the male  thought process is on persuing a relationship they obviously dont want. Are they clueless or are they aware of  what they are doing?  Personally I would not let the fear of him leaving  consume me; unavailable  IS NOT  something we as women can change  and waiting  around for  round # 2 of heartbreak  is careless on the womens end.  However an explanation of why emotionally unavailable men troll online dating sites would bring some comic relief perhaps to all of us women who just wonder what the heck these men are thinking! Thanks Evan :o)

    1. 23.1
      Catherine

      Anne- this is a very good question! I’m in my 40s and recently started dating again after a long marriage. I can’t tell you how many guys contact me through match.com, yet “aren’t looking for a relationship”. I don’t get it – why are you pursuing one then? Is this the old “men look for sex, women look for love?” Isn’t that what hookers are for?

      I did date one guy who wanted to take things slowly and I thought that was a reasonable request. However, as things (slowly) progressed and started looking like a relationship, he backed off more and more before finally disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle. After 7 months of dating! I knew right off the bat he was emotionally unavailable (he pretty much had it stamped on his forehead) but still – why pursue something you know you don’t want? Anyway, things played out pretty much as I expected they would with this type of emotionally unavailable man – I’m just happy he didn’t wait too long to show his true colors! We are friendly and still talk on occasion. Maybe I’ll ask him why men behave this way and post his answer here 🙂

      1. 23.1.1
        Selena

        @ Catherine # 23.1

        You wrote:”I can’t tell you how many guys contact me through match.com, yet “aren’t looking for a relationship”.

        And then you relate an experience with a man you dated for 7 months with this “I knew right off the bat he was emotionally unavailable (he pretty much had it stamped on his forehead) but still — why pursue something you know you don’t want? ”

        I have to ask Catherine…Why would YOU pursue something you don’t want if you determined right off the bat this person was emotionally unavailable? Do you see the irony hon? 🙂

        1. Selena

          Adding: Catherine, I didn’t write that comment to be mean-spirited. Your post just struck me as amusing. I’ve had many of those “smack myself in the forehead” realizations myself. Lots of them. 🙂

  4. 24
    Kim

    Wow, I think I know this guy … in the form of  three men I have dated in the last six months.   Two of them had the sense and self-awareness to be honest with me that they weren’t looking for a commitment, and I reacted accordingly.   I continued to date and enjoy myself when and if they called, not waiting around to see if they would. The third totally confused me with his push and pull dating technique to the point that, after the third push, I said buh-bye!   And he was charming, witty, handsome, successful … a real alpha type … and complimented me constantly, said oh-so-wonderful things to me the whole time we would be together, and then disappear for a week or more without so much as a one word text.   Yes, it hurt, but I realized that this guy was not worth having, at any cost to my self-esteem.   I care about myself too much to endure this kind of treatment, and Nancy, I agree with Evan  and the other posters here, you  should definitely cut this one loose, because you will end up in a miserable state, and still not have a boyfriend.   I remember something Evan said once on his blog … that a man is not real UNTIL he is your boyfriend, and that  means he needs to be doing all 8 of the things in that great video.  It’s the yardstick I use to measure them all by now.   Now, I have been dating a great guy for the last two months who is cute, funny and a blast to be around, has asked me to be exclusive, he calls at least once every day, has told me he loves me, has introduced me to friends and family, has met my kids and is great with them, talks of things we will do in the future, and treats me like a queen.   I have no insecurities that I will lose him, or that he will leave me.   I adore him, and feel that he is real, and IS my boyfriend now.   The thing is, once you have a for-real relationship, none of those insecurities will be there, because he will be doing everything he can to convince you that he is genuine.   And that is worth waiting for, Nancy.   If you are feeling frightened and alone with this guy … you are.   Listen to how you feel … your emotions are trying to tell you something!

  5. 25
    nathan

    I’m not terribly enthused about this guy either. Maybe he’s realized he made a mistake the first time, but the whole “nice” comment as the reason for keeping her phone number and getting a hold of her again doesn’t sit well with me. “Nice” usually doesn’t equal “I’m really into you.”
      
    That said, I agree with Lily @2 that it could be too early to have all those “boyfriend factors” in place and functioning. Two months should be enough time to have a decent sense of where you stand with a person, something Nancy doesn’t have. Which is troubling. But the level of trust needed for deeper commitment isn’t always there after two months, especially if significant time hasn’t been spent together. Beyond the vacation together, how often have they seen each other? Is there increasing communication outside of the time they spend together?
      
    I feel like the letter doesn’t give us enough detail to really know what to think about her situation. Perhaps if she’s reading, Nancy could tell us a bit more.

  6. 26
    U

    I don’t think Nancy’s predicament has anything at all to do with how her boyfriend is treating her, but has everything to do with how she’s treating herself. The insecurity, fear and anxiety are symptoms of a bigger issue that she needs to address through meditation, yoga, therapy, or anything else that may help her. If she doesn’t take care of her mental well being, the boyfriend issue will be moot because he’ll dump her again and she’ll have no one to blame but herself for not taking responsibility for her own life.

  7. 27
    Goldie

    @ Anne #24:
      
    ” Out curiousity I’d like to hear what the male  thought process is on persuing a relationship they obviously dont want. Are they clueless or are they aware of  what they are doing?”
      
    Not an emotionally unavailable guy, but I’ll take a stab at it…
      
    Some are fresh out of a divorce/LTR and want to take it easy for a while.
      
    Some are fresh out of a looong marriage and need time to figure out what they want (other than “not anyone like my ex”).
      
    Some are just out of a loooong marriage prior to which, they didn’t date or almost didn’t date, and want to play the field to make up for lost time.
      
    Some have other personal stuff going on, and don’t have the energy to invest in a serious relationship, but get lonely like the rest of us.
      
    Some are all of the above.
      
    Bottom line, IMO very few of these guys do the things they do on purpose, because they want to deliberately hurt a woman, to prove a point, or feed their ego, or use women for their own short-term purposes. Most are nice guys that don’t want to hurt anyone, but are at a stage in their lives where they, well, just can’t help it. Some outgrow this stage eventually, some don’t.
      
    Just my guess… How close was I?

  8. 28
    Ruby

    Goldie #24

    I’d say you are pretty accurate. I’d like to add as a type a man I dated that had gotten very burned in his marriage, hadn’t dated in a few years, and was just beginning to date again. Despite the passage of time, he still wasn’t ready. It takes some people quite awhile to get over being dumped, longer than you might think. I would also to the list one of the worst offenders: The Separated Man.

  9. 29
    lawyerette

    Anne – I think the answer to that question is “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Unlike women, men are perfectly happy to enjoy the benefits of a low-commitment, low-effort  arrangement with a woman they have no interest in marrying. Guys are fine to go out sometimes, enjoy your feminine company, and  sleep with you if you’re willing. Especially if you do all the heavy lifting of contacting him, making plans, and generally making it easy for him. That’s why Evan advises women to mirror men’s effort and to avoid trying to take the lead on dating. That way his intentions will reveal themselves through his efforts.

  10. 30
    Sherell

      


      
    “Too much pressure, in my opinion, on all sides. I could be wrong, but, for people in their 40s and 50s with families, kids, elderly parents, responsibilities, etc. on both ends, that hardly allow for one-two evenings of face time per week, six weeks sounds pretty unrealistic for a person to commit, or expect commitment.
      
    My opinion on this one (and I’m still fairly new to the dating scene…) is that they just haven’t talked about what one another’s expectations are, and probably expect different things. He’s living in the moment, while she’s worried sick that what they have may not last for the rest of their lives. I see a big disconnect here.
      
    I agree that, if she isn’t happy with the way things are, and he is happy and content and won’t change a thing, then she shouldn’t stick around. But, IMO, that has nothing to do with the six-week timeframe or whatever. (Though, in their case, it’s been three months!!”

    I soooo agree.   It may be an age /maturity perspective.   These arbitrariy dealines are not a once size fit all.  

  11. 31
    Sherell

    @23 That’s my take as well.   I would add that she should set her on rhythm everyday on the vacation maybe a bit much.   Who is to say why the first time he broke it off.   Maybe it was a   legitimate reason.   In any event, if she has decided to date him again, she needs to be a bit more relaxed and easy going!  She’s vested in him and he hasn’t even proven to be worthy!!!! Initially it is about going out and having fun and learning about a person.   I think many women get their feeling involved too soon.  

  12. 32
    Gem

    I think the reason Nancy feels insecure is because:

    A. She knows/feels, in her gut, (always trust the gut)  that she is more into him than he is to her.

    Because:

    B.   He broke it off after a short time in March.

    C.   Many weeks went by and he didn’t call her again.

    D.   It was HER that reached out and sent him a card re-establishing contact.

    Even though he says she’s nice and is hanging out with her it may be just because she’s convenient. She’s the persuer, and is being WAY to available, and I think she knows that she is more invested than him.

    I think there’s a very, very good chance that he will break it off soon.

    I feel for Nancy, but I’d slow things WAY down, stop sleeping with him if she is, and see if there is truly any intent for a relationship if that’s what she wants.

  13. 33
    Angie

    Nancy,
      
    I think someone mentioned this, but is this guy on the rebound from his six-year relationship?   You say he ended it “easily”, but that may just be your perception or maybe he doesn’t know that well himself because he hasn’t really considered why he does or doesn’t want to date someone.
      
    You shouldn’t be insecure.   If you have been in a relationship with this guy for three months, you should be allowed to flat out ask the question “Why did you break up with your ex?”
      
    I could see a scenario where he had to sort out his thoughts and feelings about his past relationship before he was ready to realize you were good for him.   What I can’t tell is if you are being your own worst enemy or if your intuition is telling you something that is missing from your email.
      
    Nancy, maybe this guy shouldn’t be dating anyone, not because he is a bad person or bad company.   You can still have an amazing physical connection or an amazing mental connection and that doesn’t mean the person is boyfriend material.

  14. 34
    Marie

    Oh, GAWD! It’s so painful that he’s not able to give me the 8 things. It took a lot of strength to end it but it’s taking even more strength not to call him and go back to settling for what little he’s willing to give. It would be so easy, he’d take me back in a second. But he’s not capable (or willing) to give me what I want & deserve. How do you ladies handle that getting over it period?
    It’s almost worse than being dumped, because not only do I feel rejected, but I also have to use my willpower not to fall back into the old pattern… if he was through with me it would hurt but at least there’d be nothing I can do about it.
    Grrr…. being strong and doing what’s best for the long run sure feels hard in the short term!!! But I know it’s worth it. He doesn’t deserve me if he’s not that into me.

  15. 35
    Robin

    To add to Gem’s post (#33), I would suggest that Nancy’s next steps should probably be:

    a) Take a few days away from him and figure out what she needs and what would make her feel the “happiness and peace” she feels with this guy, but on her own (or on her own terms).   

    b)  Acknowledge that there are other wonderful guys out there.   So, if this guy isn’t right for you (and I believe that this anxiety is her intuition telling her he is not), then she should let him go, and keep putting herself out there, no matter how difficult it is.

    c)  I would not call him, period.   As Gem noted, Nancy has made all the first moves to date.   If he doesn’t reach out to indicate that he wants to continue spend quality time with her, then it will be clear whether he cares or not.
    And here’s my two cents to Goldie (28)   beware these emotionally unavailable types.   I know this is probably elementary, but you should see some red flags if you’re just starting to date someone who is:-

    A- going through a major life change – changing careers,  recently unemployed or laid off,  etc. (who can focus on a relationship when they’re experiencing serious issues?).   The rebounders and recently separated fall in this category.
    B- a workaholic (can’t build a relationship with someone who will never make you a priority).

    C- a serial dater.   (for me, relationship ADD – especially for someone who’s 30+ is a serious red flag.   If you’re dating someone who’s never had a serious relationship or a relationship longer than a few months, then its probably not going to happen with you.)

    D- exhibits any combination of the following behaviors:-
    – is only available for dates/time together at his/her convenience
    – doesn’t hang with you during weekends/weekend nights (or whenever (s/)he has free time
    –  doesn’t initiate contact or return calls(or texts or emails, whatever) in a timely way
    – uses texts a lot, but spends little time calling/talking face-to-face

  16. 36
    Kate

    Evan, I have two questions about “8 things your boyfriend must do to be your boyfriend.” When you say making plans for the future, do you mean going to a concert next month or something really heavy like getting married? And how long do you give your boyfriend to get to #8, saying “I love you” ?? That takes a bit of time but how long is too long to wait?

    1. 36.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Kate: As far as the future goes: yes and yes. A guy who makes plans to bring you to his family’s house for Thanksgiving is a guy who is on the right track. A guy who mentions that he wants to be married one day or starts batting around baby names is a decent bet.

      As far as WHEN all of this (including “I love you”) takes place?

      People go at different paces, but we’re trying to use best practices here: He should be your exclusive boyfriend in 2 months or so. He should say he loves you by 6 months or so. He should make both kinds of future plans for the next 2 years. He should propose after around 2-3 years if you’re under 40 and never married and maybe a little faster if you’re older. But not much faster: since “chemistry” wears off in 18-24 months, it makes more sense to see what your future looks like AFTER the initial thrill is gone. Those who dive into marriage without fully knowing someone often pay a very steep price.

  17. 37
    Melody

    Geesh!   This is speaking to me tonight as well.   I just ended it with a guy who I’d been seeing for almost 3 mos.   Our schedules (kids, work) only allowed us to hang out 1-3 times a week.   I was totally enamored with him – he was witty, attractive, and successful.   But, as soon as I was away from him it was all anxiety.   Untimely texting.   Inconsistent phone communication.   Not much reassurance about being “into me.”   But if I’m honest, I often have anxiety in this gray zone of “I’ve sunk  time into this guy and like him but don’t know where we stand” so I always second guess whether or not the anxiety is a “him” problem or a “me” problem.  

    So, I pushed my anxiety to a conversation in which he basically shared that he wasn’t feeling an emotional connection/attachment.   But yet he still wanted to see me because he thought we hadn’t spent enough time together.   He did share that he felt immediately emotional about a girl who was all wrong for him.   Ultimately,  I decided to act on the “I don’t feel safe” gut emotion and I pulled the plug.  

    But, given that I had a strong attaction to him, it’s a bit like cutting off the toe to save the foot.   And, a week later I am still unclear if a) I pushed him to define his feelings too quicklky; or b) I did the right thing in pulling the plug on an emotionally available man who “wasn’t that into me.”

    I see this same tension in the messages from the blog.   Evan, you often compliment your wife’s willingness to let you lead and not push where things were going, but then you also say that if things aren’t going somewhere after a period of time,  the girl should  pull the cord.   Those two things seem opposed to me – perhaps your wife was able to follow the lead because you were offering her the safety that these unemotional men are not able to offer a woman?   Maybe the message is to let him lead, but to bail if he’s not leading to the right spot?

  18. 38
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Goldie #28

    You NAILED it. Congratulations, now you can be a dating coach!

  19. 39
    morgan

    Goldie, I’m jumping on the bandwagon here  – your comments are sooooo  spot on   I love ’em.  

    EMK has a posse of very savvy, articulate commenters who add unique value to this blog.   You’re one of them.   Please keep commenting.  

    m
    x

  20. 40
    Kate

    Evan, thank you SO much for answering!

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