I seem to notice this pattern coming up when dating. For example, this most recent date...he initially messaged me, we noticed similar interests, we get to talking, and manage a couple dates within the span of a week. All seems to be going well with attraction, ease of conversation, and great chemistry.
On our first date, he says he's been divorced a few years and has been in recovery from alcohol and drugs for nearly 20 years. While I can't identify with his particular struggle, I shared pretty difficult experiences of loss on my end as well. I commended him for managing his recovery for so long. I tried not to dwell on it much in my conversations, especially starting off, so as not to bring the mood down. I kept his issue in my mind to discuss more deeply when we meet again.
Meanwhile, I can't help but get swept up with him acting so sweet and gentlemanly, complimenting how I look, how he thinks we're talking so well, and even how he would like future dates with me. The high of feeling in giddy early romance got to me. The third date never happens because I get an "I'm not ready for a relationship...Thanks for a two enjoyable nights...you deserve to be happy and not misled. I wish you the best" text from him the following day. It almost feels like intimate conversations on a first date or second feel as intimate as if we had sex together. It's a strange feeling of being emotionally connected and being disempowered at the same time.
I'll never know the details behind his ending it so soon. I felt uneasy about his past, but it was too early to call it a dealbreaker. Going forward, I feel hesitant about how deep I go with conversations early on. Yet aren't bringing up these conversations a necessary part of how we gauge compatibility and chemistry?
There’s a lot of focus on the pitfalls of rushing physical intimacy. I suspect that’s because society thrives off slut-shaming women. You rarely hear discussions around the downside of being too emotionally intimate with someone.
It almost feels like intimate conversations on a first date or second feel as intimate as if we had sex together.
That’s because in many ways it is.
We’ve talked previously about oxytocin and its role in bonding. Because those conversations tend to revolve around either sex or childbirth, it’s assumed oxytocin is only produced through physical interactions. That’s not true. The hormone can also be released during non-physical activities like dancing, yoga and - yes - discussing shared experiences. We don’t produce the same surge of oxytocin in those instances as we do after orgasm, but we make enough to give us a feel-good buzz.
When someone reveals something sensitive to us we often assume it means that person really likes and trusts us. If what they revealed is similar to something we’ve experienced, we might even feel a bond with them.
That’s the oxytocin. It makes us more trusting than we normally would be. That’s why it’s more prudent to open up to someone gradually. It’s prevents you from over-producing that oxytocin or producing it too early in the getting-to-know-you phase.
The third date never happens because I get an "I'm not ready for a relationship...Thanks for a two enjoyable nights...you deserve to be happy and not misled. I wish you the best" text from him the following day.
There are a couple explanations for his quick departure from your life.
After a couple dates, he realized there wasn’t long-term compatibility. His line about not being ready for a relationship could have just been an excuse, a way to soften the blow.
He realized after 2 dates he wasn’t capable of pursuing anything emotionally substantive at the moment. While he didn’t know it at the time, what he was actually looking for was an emotional - but brief - connection with someone. An emotional hook-up, if you will.
I felt uneasy about his past, but it was too early to call it a dealbreaker.
I think this might be exacerbating your confusion. He had a mark on his record in your eyes- his issues with addiction - and you decided to overlook it. (Which you should be willing to do if they’re in recovery, for the record. Someone’s past issues with addiction do not define them and are not a statement of their character. Addiction is a disease. ) Your disappointment is made worse by the bruise to your ego.
Yet aren't bringing up these conversations a necessary part of how we gauge compatibility and chemistry?
Yes. Peeling the layers of our identity and experiences is most definitely part of how we determine long-term compatibility. However, as you learned, revealing too much about yourself can lead to misplaced feelings of attachment.
If someone who doesn’t identify as neurodivergent overshares in those early stages of getting to know each other, pay attention. That could be a sign they have poor boundaries or are looking for a therapist rather than a partner. Or they could be trying to get you to lower your walls so they can worm their way in and manipulate you.
Don’t let this incident deter you from letting people in. Instead, think of this as a positive. Having experienced this will imprint in your brain why sharing too much, too soon might be a red flag. That means you’ll be less likely to repeat the behavior.
You didn’t do anything wrong. You did what your brain and the chemicals it produced were directing you to do: Trust someone you don’t know well. Now you know better.
Onwards and upwards.
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