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What if our feelings aren't perfectly mutual?

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Anonymous asks:

This question isn’t about a sexual issue, but I was hoping you could help me anyway. I’ve been going out with this guy for about 4 months now, and I’m getting a bit antsy. We’re both really busy with college and work, and we find it quite hard to organize dates and so on (we don’t go to the same college). Neither of us has invested a whole lot into this relationship, if you can call it one, but that’s fine with me at the moment. So that isn’t the problem. The one thing that’s bothering me is that I’m getting the impression that I ‘like’ him more than he does me. At least emotionally. Physically, there aren’t any issues. But I don’t think I want to be in any sort of one-sided relationship. This is the first guy I’ve ever been with, and I like him a lot, so I really don’t know how to approach this. Should I talk to him about it, or just let things go on as they are and see how they work out? Am I being completely neurotic?

Heather Corinna replies:

It's fairly unusual for two people to be on the exact same page in the exact same way at the exact same time.

It happens, for sure, but especially as relationships are just forming, it's realistic to expect that at any given time, any one person may feel a bit more intense or a bit less about it.

Four months is certainly what we'd consider a new relationship, even with the dog-year velocity that the relationships of younger people can have. When relationships are first forming, for any of us, we all bring our own sets of needs and wants to the table, our own sets of expectations, our own personal preferences, and we're usually trying to figure out both a) what the exact nature of the new relationship is, and b) how it works or doesn't with all of those things we measure it against. To boot, everyone has a different timetable in any given relationship with how fast or slow they move, how much of their feelings they divulge, express and withhold AND we all also tend to express how we like a person differently.

So, it's pretty easy to see why it'd be awfully normal for any two people to not find themselves feeling EXACTLY the same way at the same time very often. Even in longer-term relationships, where people have deeply committed to each other, we all have days where one party is comfortable, but not amped-up about things, and the other is feeling super-crazy in love.

Not knowing more details than you've given me, I'd say that if you're feeling really stressed out about this, there's no reason not to talk about it. After all, if you want a healthy, balanced relationship, you need to be able to openly communicate with each other (and being able to do that regularly is far more important that each of you liking each other in exactly the same way, or exactly as much all the time).

I don't see a need to make this The Big Serious, but you could certainly initiate a conversation in which you simply express that you've been having some insecurities and worries that the two of you might not be on the same page, or might not have the same kinds of feelings for each other. Then you talk about the way you're feeling about him, then invite him to express to you how he's been feeling. I'd also go ahead and express that this being your first dating relationship, you sometimes feel a bit lost and uncertain what to expect: anyone is going to understand that.

You might also see what you can't do to get a bit better organized about dates: I think you might feel better if those were a bit more solid, and it's always fun for everyone to have a date solid on a calendar to look forward to. So, how about sitting down with both your datebooks and finding some times over the next couple months where you both DO commit to a date or two, maybe be creative and think of some cool things to do so that you both have that to look forward to, and you can feel a little more security and investment?

Lastly, the advice I'd leave you with is to try and strike a balance of real enjoyment of this in the flow and managing your worries and fears. It's pretty amazing and exciting to have a dating relationship for the first time, and as scary as it can be sometimes, and as tough as it can be now and then to make the doubts sit in the corner, and accept that you're taking an emotional risk, if you get too wrapped up in the worries, you miss all of the fun stuff. Even if the worst happens, we all survive heartbreak, disappointment or rejection, we really do, and most of us will more than once in our lives. But the joyous stuff doesn't happen everyday, and we don't run into people we connect with everyday, so while it's wise to protect ourselves in some ways, and manage our expectations smartly, it's also really important to just roll with things as much as we can, too.

written 08 Sep 2007 . updated 31 Jan 2014

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