Beware The Don Draper Syndrome

Comment: I am in dire need of some insight into a situation I’ve recently experienced. Before I begin, let me tell you some things about myself that I believe have relevance here. I’m a 34-year-old female, never been married; pretty fit and decently attractive. I’m a prolific first-date dater and I’ve never had a serious, long-term relationship. Growing up I was painfully shy, and while my shyness faded in my 20s I was still an extreme introvert. In the last five years or so, I’ve made concerted efforts to be more outgoing and have made changes in my life to make me a healthier and more available candidate for sharing my life with someone.

I don’t think of myself as being picky about men (certainly though, that could be true of me in my 20s). If someone asks me out or I’m contacted via an online dating site and he doesn’t creep me out or disgust me in some fashion I usually say yes. But… I’ve never been interested in dating for the sake of dating. If I don’t see potential for something more serious in a man within the first five dates or so, I move on. I just can’t fake interest, and I grow irritated and frustrated and eventually resentful when men start wanting to move things to the next level and I still feel nothing (which is why I never get past 4-5 dates). I’ve been out with many nice men, but I felt nothing, no inkling of attraction on any level. I’ve spent nearly every date I’ve ever been on thinking “please don’t let this be the night he tries to kiss me”. That’s not to say that I’ve never been attracted to anyone, but the time in between meeting these men is measured in years. For a long time I thought I was asexual.

Fast forward to July, where after years of online dating, dating services, and meeting people through common interests/activities, I meet “John”. John contacted me via an online dating site. (This entire story, by the way, runs about five weeks). We exchanged a few emails and found we had a few things in common. We agreed to meet for drinks. I’ve learned to expect nothing from these meetings other than some pleasant conversation and an opportunity to meet someone new. It sounds corny, but when I first saw him, there was an instant click. (This never happens to me). He was a gentleman; funny, thoughtful, and intelligent. His picture did not do him justice. We had a great conversation; we got kicked out of a restaurant before we called it a night. Before we parted, he said he wanted to take me out on a real date and so we made plans for the weekend. Our next date went just as well, and again we talked late into the evening. We delved more into what each of us was looking for in a relationship, and agreed that we were looking for similar things. He brought up the thought that he sensed chemistry between us, and I agreed. I thought he had a lot of the qualities that I was looking for in a partner, and I was attracted to him on multiple levels.

Our third date was not quite as smooth. He was a bit moody and distant at the start, but bounced back towards the end of the evening. I didn’t read much into it at first. The next time we met we had sex (I had been by this point fantasizing about sex with him), and the evening ended with a long stroll through the neighborhood and more wonderful conversation. He did the gentlemanly things, like opening doors and walking on the street side of the sidewalk. He listened to me attentively. I felt like we were making a real connection. I told him I’d like to see him again, and a few days later we meet again, but this time he’s moody and distant. We met in the early evening and I was expecting to grab dinner, but he says he already ate. The air is thick with tension, so thick that I ask if he wants me to leave. He tells me to stay. We have sex again, but the evening ends as awkwardly as it began. I didn’t hear from him for days afterward (normally he’ll text me a good morning just to say hi). I start to wonder what that means and I call him just to say hi. He’s again moody and distant, and doesn’t sound interested to hear from me. He says he’ll call me tomorrow but doesn’t.

A few more days pass, and my mind starts churning. I start to wonder. My last “relationship” was with a best-friend-turned-boyfriend who ended up using me for sex. When I continue not to hear from him I send him a text asking him what sort of game he’s playing. (Bad way to handle it, I know). He’s angry with me and I don’t hear from him.

A few days later I call him. I’m angry but I want to know what’s going on, and want to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I’d hate to have things end over a misunderstanding, if that’s what it was. My intention was to find what his intentions were, but somehow the conversation morphs into being all about me. He said my text hurt him; that he’s a sensitive guy, scared (he actually used that word) and he’s been burned in the past. He said he doesn’t like aggressive women (I don’t see myself in any way aggressive, so I’m not sure where that came from). He says I don’t talk much and I need to open up more (a fair statement). One troubling comment that continued to bother me was that he said he wanted a kind woman (basically, implying that I am not). He used examples such as: he offered me part of his meal, I declined, but I failed to offer him any of mine; and I’ve never invited over to my place (and cook dinner for him) even though he’s invited me over to his (I was in the process of major spring cleaning and I knew he was a neat freak. Also, I don’t have a habit of entertaining people in my home, which is not to say I’d never invite him over). I admit to not always being fluent in social graces (I isolated myself from people through most of my 20s) but my intentions are never purposefully hurtful. I find it helpful when people point these things out, though I’d be the first to admit it is no one’s responsibility but mine to remember these things. Still, I think his comments are overblown.

We reach an understanding and things begin to move forward again. This phone conversation is followed by a number of others, and many nights over the following week or two we have 2+ hour conversations (I’m a girl who often has guys complain that I don’t call enough!), initiated by both of us. I invite him over to my place and cook for him. The evening was memorable and we seem to really click. He brings me some things that I’ve mentioned that I’ve needed but never picked up for myself. He’s very thoughtful. We’re comfortable with each other and I feel like he really listens to me.

I ask if he wants to get together again. We agree to meet again at my place, but this time I want to do an activity of some sort, as I feel the focus so far has been too much on sex. I make a few suggestions but he doesn’t want to do any of them. Finally we make plans to check out a new restaurant, but when he gets to my place, he is again moody, distant, and not hungry. I ask him if he is okay and he says he is tired. Meanwhile I’ve had a very stressful day and I need to vent, but he doesn’t ask me anything about it. I insist on dinner because I’m hungry, but also because I think that the evening would turn into nothing more than a sex date if we didn’t get out. At dinner he is moody, distant, and a little curt. I don’t have much to say, as I’m still stressed and he’s making me uncomfortable. He makes a comment about something that I find funny, and I call him, in a playful manner, weird for thinking so. He responds offended that no one likes being called weird. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. He makes a comment as to how this is how it’ll always be if he doesn’t open his mouth. When the bill comes I say let’s go dutch, whereas normally we’d take turns paying. He insists on paying. Dinner is a mess.

We get back to my place, and he’s still moody, but I invite him up for a few minutes (I have no intention of having sex). We sit for a little bit and I suggest watching TV. After a few minutes he says he can’t stay late. We talk a little bit and as we’re sitting my legs brush against his, and he moves away from me. I don’t ask him about it. He eventually gets up to leave and as I approach him he swings the door open and walks out with an angry “bye” and slams the door. I must of stood staring at the door for two minutes thinking, WTF. It occurred to me later that I was a bad host as I forgot to offer him something to drink, even though I made a special trip to pick up what he likes (this is going back to his comment about being kind). Over the next week I call him twice, first to say I wanted to talk about what happened and the second to apologize if I offended him. I know it’s lame to call back before he’s had a chance to do so, but I know he’s sensitive and I didn’t think he’d initiate this type of call  (he’s a little shy) but might be willing to talk. I never hear from him again.

I am perplexed as to what happened here. I fluctuate between: 1) him never being all that interested in me and using me for sex, 2) that I scared him off, 3) that I was too easy and not a challenge so he got bored (even though I’m the most non-prolific lover I know), 4) I’m not what he’s looking for, or 5) he’s got serious issues that have nothing to do with me. I am very angry and upset by how this whole thing played out. I feel like he’s judged me and made assumptions about me that are not correct. I’ve felt like an emotional yo-yo, but it’s really my fault for getting emotionally invested in someone I didn’t know all that well or for very long. What I do know is that sometime after the first time we had sex I became the initiator of dates. Maybe I was too forward here, and I admit I wanted to see him on a weekend (he works every other weekend) so I could change things up a bit, as doing nothing but eating date after date has left me bored when I’ve dated other men and I didn’t want that to happen here. Additionally, I was still concerned we were too focused on sex. Maybe my taking the lead made me sound needy or pushy, or that I was imposing too much of myself too quickly.

I feel like we were communicating in different languages and constantly misinterpreting each other’s actions and words. I am saddened by how all this played out but also perplexed. He’s the first man I’ve ever met that I wanted to try to make things work with, or to at least see if there’s something special here, and I was hoping that he would put forth the same effort. I do not have a long string of prior relationships to use as comparisons, where did I go wrong here? Was I a doormat? And is this about me or about him?

State: VA  Age:34  Name: Erika

Photo Credit – WK Interact- http://www.coolbuzz.org/entry/12-angry-men-for-motion-portraits/

 

Well, it’s about both of you. But let’s start with him first.

One word that immediately makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up is “moody.” I don’t know of this guy truly is moody…or if he just likes to be withholding or disapproving in some way so that women will work harder for his approval. I’m guessing it’s the latter here. I don’t like this guy one bit. He has you second guessing every move you make. That should ALWAYS be a red flag to anyone.

Here’s why I’m so suspicious: The awesome first date! The date that surpasses all others and seems ideal. I’d guess that, nine times out of ten, those situations either go nowhere or they flame out pretty quickly. People like this man – and I’m talking about men and women here – present themselves as so impressive and wonderful on that first meeting. And then they change. Right when they know they have you. The minute you start expressing any kind of insecurity, they’ve got you. It’s a manipulation tactic. Someone who changes faces that quickly and that often is a person to avoid. We all have our bad days. But this guy seems to have them frequently, and inflicts them upon you. That is abuse. Don’t stand for it.

This guy is often trying to make you feel like you aren’t doing enough or not appreciating his efforts, yes? Yeah. And if you say something, even in a teasing way, that refers to him in any way other than positive, he gets mighty snappy, right?

Run. Do not walk. This guy is toxic. I call it the Don Draper Syndrome, after the lead character in TV’s Mad Men. This guy is a controlling, manipulative person. Serial egoist and narcissist. The only women who stick around for men like this are the ones impressed by the charm and trimmings. Or women who think that by getting the attention of this man it is somehow a reflection on their worth. Kind of like Meghan, the naive and simple and alarmingly young secretary that Don proposed to at the end of last season. Faye, the educated psychologist, was tossed aside.  She was getting too close to seeing Don for the imposter that he was. Plus, well, she was needy and insecure and had her own issues. A Don Draper will rarely date a woman on his level. Those women run too high of a risk of threatening Don’s tenuous self-esteem. They’ll go for younger, or less educated and professionally unestablished types. That way Don has more power in the dynamic. The easier it is to manipulate you, my dear. Don’s way of showing a woman he cares is to brag in some way and show her off. But really, it has nothing to do with her. Her existence in his world barely matters other than to prove he’s desirable.

The Don Drapers offer nothing more than the idea of prestige. Pretentious parties, fancy suits, “glamour,” gifts, etc. They are distractions from the real man. They want props, not people. Don Draper married trophy wife Betty, the blonde, beautiful model. She was nothing more than an extension of his self-loathing and narcissism.She was  someone to look good on his arm and to provide opportunities to have his picture taken. If Don Draper existed today he would LIVE for Facebook and Twitter.

Whenever Betty dared speak up to Don, like to call him on his rampant cheating, he’d go on the defensive and try to belittle her. Which usually worked, because she had no sense of self either. Fun Fact: Don Drapers are often cheaters. Because it’s all about them and their needs.  Don Drapers need a woman with no real identity outside of her man. The last thing a Don wants is  woman who sees through the smoke and mirrors act.

OP, your guy didn’t ask you about your day because he didn’t care. It’s all about him. You are there to validate his existence, not vice versa. He continues to critique you, telling you you don’t trust enough, are too this or too that. He’ll make light of things that matter to or bother/hurt you. It’s all to make you vulnerable and keep you focused on you. That way you’ll be too distracted to see all his shortcomings and flaws.  This man is not capable of having a healthy relationship. With anybody. He’s not scared, nor has he been “burned.” (Boo hoo.) He wants you to be sympathetic so that you don’t even think about turning the tables on him. The Don Drapers always present themselves with low bandwith in some regard so you’ll gingerly walk on eggshells with them and not call them on anything. Usually these people ( women can fall under this category, too) are just an act. A fabricated character. Just like Don aka Dick Whitman, who stole somebody’s identity so he could forget his past as the poor/common son of a prostitute.

Fuck that noise.

The greatest fear for someone like this is to know you see right through them. They present an image. Not a real person. Deep down they don’t really like themselves. Fun Fact Part Deux: These people are usually heavy drinkers. In the latest season of Mad Men, Don Draper’s facade was falling away. His wife left him, his business was failing. In short, he was a mess. And it showed all over his face. He’d sit alone in his apartment writing in his journal, scotch or bourbon by his side because he needed the booze to help him face his demons. The contempt they exhibit for others? It’s really for themselves.

Don’t you dare give this man another inch. You’ve already let him in and see what chaos he’s created within you? Stick with this guy and he will weaken you. But then, you were prime for the picking. Here’s why:

You already think you’re damaged somehow. You think because you haven’t had a long term relationship or can’t seem to find anybody that there’s something “wrong” with you. Well, there’s good news and bad news. Bad news? There is something broken. Good news? It can be fixed. You said  a key word in your letter: isolation. You isolated yourself for a long time. Man oh man, the damage we can do to ourselves when we live trapped in our heads. The abuse we suffer at our own hands.  You’ve been second guessing yourself your whole life, maybe even beating yourself up. You have to stop doing that. You grow irritated with yourself (note: not the men you date) because you don’t feel what you think you need to feel. There you are, being hard on yourself. You sit on those dates and you fear that they’ll want more, before you’re ready. It’s all self-sabotage. You’re afraid that these men will see you for the , excuse me, “broken” person you think you are.

Listen. We are all broken in some way. There’s aspects to what you’ve written that, unfortunately, I don’t feel qualified to address. That’s why you need therapy. You need to change how you perceive yourself. If you don’t, you’ll continue to fall for guys like this. Hollow, empty men who have to mentally beat a woman in to submission just to get her to stay with him. Congrats, brah.

 

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31 Responses to “Beware The Don Draper Syndrome”

  1. dimplz Says:

    Agreed. So Don Draper. I can say to the OP that if she’s going to get anxious about whether a man is using her for sex, she may want to wait until she’s ok with whatever outcome may arise from having sex with a man. If you’re prepared for the worst case scenario, it will probably work out better for you. I don’t think there’s such thing as having sex with someone too soon, as if they are the right person for you, it won’t matter. However, I know that sex complicates the relationship, especially if it’s burgeoning, and clouds your judgment. Had you not slept with him on the 3rd date, you would have seen him for the asshole that he is. But, since no one wants to admit that they made a mistake by sleeping with an asshole, you keep allowing him in, and you kept initiating dates, trying desperately to cling to a man who was never that into you to begin with. It sucks that people do this to one another, but he’s not obligated to spend more time with you just because you slept together, and neither are you. I don’t know if you are an icy person, but I can see where someone who doesn’t know you well would think that. But he doesn’t get a free pass at all. He was definitely being nit picky, but it was because he was looking for a way out. You could have been a gracious host and perfect, and he still wouldn’t have wanted to stick around, because he doesn’t want an attachment. He wants to have a good time and have sex and date around. It’s tough to discern all this in a short period of time, which is why I think many people wait to have sex. The truth is, someone will appreciate you for who you are. Even if you are occasionally clueless or antisocial, believe me. For the right person, each of you will bend when you are emotionally mature enough to do so. I think based on your letter, you are extremely conscientious, but you lack self-esteem. You have to work on this more, because dating wears it down a lot.

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  2. Vox Says:

    For most of my adult life, the question of when to have sex with a man seemed very difficult. I finally figured out the answer when I was pushing 40: when you are being treated in the manner you desire from a lover. It isn’t the number of dates at all. He was distant and moody on the third date, and you shagged him anyway the next time you saw him. The treatment you are getting before you sleep with a man is the same treatment you will receive after you sleep with him. He could be distant and moody, but you’d still sexually gratify him. Why would his behavior change? There’s no reason for it. You locked in “distant and moody” as acceptable behavior, and as a result you found yourself dating a distant and moody guy. Instead of letting him be distant, you kept setting up dates with him and banging him – more rewards. Had you not slept with him in the first place, he would have blown you off after the 4th date. I’m sure of it.

    That said, I get it. When you go a long, long time without feeling a connectionto any of the men you’ve dated – and I am talking about emotionally, sexually and more – it feels so damn real when it happens. It becomes very difficult to recognize those feelings as being one-sided. I’ve certainly been there, especially as I navigated the dating world after my divorce. you have to stop, take a deep breathe, and really examine the other person’s actions over all else. It’s easy to let your emotions cloud your judgment. Believe me, the day will come when the the signs that were there all along will be very obvious to you. Don’t feel bad because there is good news: you CAN feel a connection to someone else, so now you cam stop dwelling on your romantic history. It no longer applies. That was just practice, the next one will be better.

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  3. Trouble Says:

    This guy has serious issues that have nothing to do with you. The right kind of guy is not going to be constantly moody. You aren’t constantly going to be walking on eggshells. I understand that you don’t often feel desire, so you’re loathe to walk away from a guy with whom you do feel a connection. BUT, this is not the right guy. Several of us have a history of abusive relationships, and I will tell you that every single abusive relationship that I’ve ever had started out JUST LIKE THIS.

    Moxie’s right…toxic guy. Do not date this guy. I guarantee that you will regret it down the road. These are classic red flags for an abuser.

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    • Andrew Says:

      Toxic girl meets toxic guy. He’s a moody manipulator. She’s a time waster. She certainly wasted the time of all the other guys because she was not ready for a healthy relationship; five dates are too many, if you are not feeling a guy, maiximum three dates and you let him know. Rights and wrongs almost seems academic as we try to make sense of this mess. One hates being callous in saying they deserve each other. And, I am definitely not going to go the route that a time waster is better than a manipulator (as many on this board seem to think) or vice versa. And I know I am going to get lambasted for that last sentence, because people don’t like to hear about their foibles.

      Since she wrote in, it becomes incumbent upon us to help her. Therapy, absolutely. Working on one’s social skills even more important. Dating is just a subset of one’s social interractions. I would strongly advise the OP to get herself out there where she is meeting a lot of people especially members of the opposite gender in situations other than dating. Get comfortable talking and interracting with guys. Volunteer work could be good. It’s also a great way to get us out of overly focusing on the trivialities of our lives.

      And as unfair as it might be to the guys you may date, go on dates. Just let guys know real early if you are not feeling them. Trust me, if you feel that way, there is only a small chance that will change.

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  4. Beth B Says:

    Where I actually said, “Oh, No,” out loud, as I was reading the story, was the sex after the first “moody” behavior date. Game over. ‘Cause there’s no going back from that; he knows all he needs to know at that point to play you like a Stradivarius. True, toxic guy, RUN AWAY! But also true, your Picker is Busted, girl, and you don’t even know it. The good news here is that you’re already on a journey where you say you’ve done some inner and psychological work. Keep going! It takes a lot of courage to change, but as you can read in the comments here, you’re not alone, and you can change this for the better. That guy was a wake-up call; now you can move on!

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  5. Kurt Says:

    I agree with Moxie. If I seem “moody” on an early date with a woman, it is probably because she has done something that I think is unacceptable such as being rude or inconsiderate. I don’t like feeling like this, so if a woman makes me feel like this on an early date, I cannot envision why I would ever want to see her again. However, the guy in the OP’s letter seems to want to continue going out with her. He is either playing some type of game or he is just going out with her for sex.

    I should note that although she would probably never admit it, I do get the impression that the OP seems to like the fact that she doesn’t know where she stands with that guy.

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  6. Paula Says:

    Just say no to the drama. A guy like this who wants to keep you perpetually off balance is bad news. He’s got a bunch of things that he’s identified are wrong with you, and instead of being able to reply with all that is wrong with him, he’s got you doubting yourself and mostly agreeing with him. Nothing happened here that you could have prevented or changed…Moxie’s right: get some therapy, try to do some more dating, and let this one go, knowing you’ve dodged a huge bullet.

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  7. Vox Says:

    I have a hard time pointing the finger at the man in this particular tale. Toxic, controlling and manipulative? That’s not what I see when I read the OP’s tale. I see the story of a man who was very clear that he didn’t particularly like the OP, yet the OP continued to chase him anyway.

    If a man is distant and moody with me on the 3rd date – a point when we are all on our best behavior in order to impress each other – he is clearly communicating that he doesn’t like me much. The proper response isn’t to ask him out again and again, as the OP did. If the OP herself didn’t keep setting up dates with this guy, they would not have started sleeping together… because he didn’t even like her enough to ask her out again after that dud of a third date. He slept with her on the fourth date because she offered. Yes it seems cruel and unfair that men will have sex with women they don’t even like, but that’s reality in the jungle. If you offer to have sex with a man who doesn’t even like you – which is exactly what happened over and over – you can’t cry manipulation when he accepts your offer. This guy didn’t even pretend to like the OP. How is that manipulative?

    The moral of the story is, don’t sleep with men who don’t like you. The reason why the so-called Don Draper types don’t date women on their level isn’t because they want someone easier to manipulate. It’s because women on their level know its time to bail as soon as “Don” treats them like shit. Such a woman would have never gone on date #4.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      Have to disagree here.

      Before we parted, he said he wanted to take me out on a real date and so we made plans for the weekend. Our next date went just as well, and again we talked late into the evening.

      He brings me some things that I’ve mentioned that I’ve needed but never picked up for myself. He’s very thoughtful.

      Those aren’t the actions of someone who doesn’t like a person. Whether he really did or not is unknown. But I can see why she’d take those actions to mean that the man cared for her or at least liked her. It’s manipulation because he’d do these things and then swiftly change gears, throwing her off balance. Once he saw her become more submissive or docile (remember, he said he didn’t like aggressive women) after he’d criticize her, he just kept doing it. Like Pavlov’s Dog. Dog presses the lever, dog gets food. Man criticizes the woman, women backs off.

      If a man is distant and moody with me on the 3rd date – a point when we are all on our best behavior in order to impress each other – he is clearly communicating that he doesn’t like me much.

      Or that he had a bad day. I wouldn’t write off a guy after one instance. Two? three? Yeah. I don’t think his actions had anything to do with how he felt about her, because I don’t think he ever felt anything to begin with.

      The reason why the so-called Don Draper types don’t date women on their level isn’t because they want someone easier to manipulate. It’s because women on their level know its time to bail as soon as “Don” treats them like shit.

      Exactly. Which is another reason why these men date thew types of women they date. They’ll try to break in the women on their level, but eventually those women clue in to what he’s doing. The women not on his level usually are too inexperienced or immature to understand what they’re doing. They don’t make the connection.

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      • Vox Says:

        Or that he had a bad day. I wouldn’t write off a guy after one instance. Two? three? Yeah.

        So if a guy acts like this on the third date, and never asks you out again, you’d keep asking him out? Because that’s what happened in the OPs story. If he just had a bad day, he would have asked her out again and he would have apologized for having an off night. The OPs guy didn’t do that. He acted as though he didn’t like her, and she was the one to pursue him in response. He was done with her after the 3rd date, and she responded by asking him about again and having sex with him. That’s her fault, not his.

        Yes, it seems as though he was into her on the first couple of dates. So it goes, we often like people on the first couple of dates then things fizzle. Again, if you keep chasing a man who isn’t that into you, all while he continues to treat you like crap, that’s your fault, not his.

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        • Paula Says:

          Here’s what the OP said:

          >>>Our third date was not quite as smooth. He was a bit moody and distant at the start, but bounced back towards the end of the evening. I didn’t read much into it at first. The next time we met we had sex (I had been by this point fantasizing about sex with him), and the evening ended with a long stroll through the neighborhood and more wonderful conversation.

          I’m not sure where the “she asked him out on the 4th date” came from. She didn’t say that, as far as I understood it. She said that he started the 3rd date moody but bounced back, and that she had a great time with him on date 4 (which included sex and walking and conversation).

          I don’t disagree with this advice: “Again, if you keep chasing a man who isn’t that into you, all while he continues to treat you like crap, that’s your fault, not his.” But it all seems to be premised on her asking him out for date 4, and I don’t see where that happened.

          I think that what happened is after they had sex, either it wasn’t what he was expecting, or that he wasn’t much into her personality, and so wanted to throw his ambivalence back at her to blame her for things going awry. I’ve dealt with a couple of guys who couldn’t be accountable for their own feelings, and so want to throw everything back at me, and it can be maddening and keep you constantly off-balance.

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          • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

            I’ve dealt with a couple of guys who couldn’t be accountable for their own feelings, and so want to throw everything back at me, and it can be maddening and keep you constantly off-balance.

            Most people aren’t accountable for their own feelings. I think this is something that many people fail to understand. Self-awareness and accountability come from actively, consistently and consciously acknowledging your behavior and emotions. So many people never do this. That’s why you’ll find yourself in an argument with someone because of something they said, and they’ll look at you like they have no idea what they said was hurtful. The genuinely have no idea how their words or actions affect other people. But that’s usually because they don’t ever truly confront or acknowledge the pain they’ve caused.

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            • Charlie Says:

              “Most people aren’t accountable for their own feelings. I think this is something that many people fail to understand. [etc.] The genuinely have no idea how their words or actions affect other people. But that’s usually because they don’t ever truly confront or acknowledge the pain they’ve caused.”

              I’m curious as to what you think we should do in this situation. That is to say, if they haven’t given any thought as to how their actions affect others, what should we do? Should we lower our expectations of others? It seems in some ways might be the answer, but it also that it is weird to do so. For clarity I think we shouldn’t tolerate a specific person who is repeatedly hurtful, but I mean for people in general.

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            • Paula Says:

              What I’ve done in the situation with both people who recently tried to do this to me was tell them what they had done. Basically, I said to them that I’m tired of the grass on my side of the fence becoming greener from all the shit you’re shoveling over from your side. If you don’t hold yourself accountable for your feelings, then I’m going to call bullshit on what you’re expressing.

              Both are still in my life in varying capacities, but they never tried to pull the same sh*tdump again. If they were clueless (i.e., genuinely had no idea how their words or actions were affecting me) then now they do. And if it was deliberate, I’ve drawn the appropriate boundaries and they have not breached them again.

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          • Vox Says:

            You are right, we don’t know for sure how the fourth date came to be. The reason I assume she asked him out is, the OP has included all of the details about this guy which would lead her to view him in a positive light. (Long phone conversations, he enjoyed date #1 so much he immediately asked for date #2, being a gentleman, bringing her a gift, etc.) Had he done something positive after that date #3 misfire (such as apologizing for the moody behavior and asking her out for date #4) I should think that detail would be in the story. But we need the OP’s clarification to say this for sure.

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            • Paula Says:

              I took it as he started out moody, maybe because like Moxie said, he was having a bad day, or maybe because he was really trying to figure out whether to keep dating her. But by the end of date 3, he “bounced back” so things were good enough that date 4 happened (however their dates came about, whether by mutual agreement/assumption at the end of the last one, or one of them “asking”) and culminated in sex.

              I get the sense, though, that this guy doesn’t even realize when he’s being “moody,” and that an apology would be unlikely, because he’s too busy focusing on the OP’s supposed faults. Sort of like the Biblical admonition not to worry about the splinter in someone else’s eye when you’ve got a board in your own.

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              • Andrew Says:

                The attribution of blame game. It’s fun to read the competing opinions, but there is enough guilt to go around in this story to sugest we avoid that. There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the actual events and lots of conflicting things presented. It was curious that he insisted on paying that last time and then even more so, him not making any further contact. I am not sure that jives well with him being on the extreme side of any of the speculations about him. He may be as conflicted and confused as her. Or at the very least conflicted and confused while the events were unfolding, but resolute in his “hot potato drop” at the end

                The important issue for her, is going forward, which I addressed in an earlier post. When I was a youngster, an old man told me: There are two things you have to face in life, son, death and being dumped, and the sooner it happens to you, the better you are for it.

                My advice to the OP is this. Rejection with regards to dating, sex and relationships, is hard, and it never gets a lot easier. This is the first time you are facing this. Most of us dealt with this rejection the first time in high school, so we may all sound a little like jaded warriors or know-it-alls. Forgive me sounding like a know-it-all, but don’t become jaded. Don’t beat up on urself too much. Use it as a learning experience. Figure how your behaviors were destructive to your dating life. Learn to recognize unacceptable behaviors in others. And get out there and socialize more as I suggested in an earlier post.

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  8. Vox Says:

    I wish I could edit my post to say this at the end:

    I believe the OP is the one who had the power in this story, not “Don.” The OP chose to relinquish that power, as many women seem to do (and I have done myself). That’s my main problem with focusing on the guy and his supposed toxic nature. Had the OP exercised her own power (i.e. not sleeping with a man who is openly rejecting her), there would be no need for this letter. It would have been obvious to pass on this guy early on.

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    • Maargen Says:

      I’m trying to see where this guy was openly rejecting her before they had sex.

      It doesn’t seem to me that the guy didn’t like the OP. In addition to the stuff Moxie pointed out (bringing her stuff he remembered she needed, asking her out, long talks, etc,) she also mentioned that he would text her in the morning to say “hi’. That is certainly not an indication that he doesn’t like her. I also noticed that when he didn’t do this, the OP said that she “didn’t hear from him for days” – this would indicate that it took her days to call him to say “hi’. This doesn’t sound like a woman who’s pursuing a guy.

      Maybe after having two good dates and good daily contact in between it would only take one bad date for you to blow a guy off, but that could certainly be seen as being much too quick to the draw. If the OP weighed the previous interactions and decided not to dismiss the guy because of one bad date, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

      Could you quote the part of the post that described the guys’ behaviour before they had sex that the OP was supposed to read as rejection?

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  9. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    I’m having trouble seeing the manipulative behavior here too. Part of the problem is we’re getting a version of the story from someone who admits she is inexperinced and lacks social graces.

    First of all, the OP is clearly hung up on getting used for sex. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what that means. Sex is supposed to be enjoyable for both parties. If one party doesn’t especially enjoy the experience and the second party does, that doesn’t mean that the second party is “using” her. It means she doesn’t really enjoy sex. Which, it seems like she admits. This is the problem. It may be perfectly normal and natural for a woman not to be so interested in sex but the result is that the woman feels she needs something in return to justify doing it. I think that’s what’s going on here. What is she not getting from sex that makes her think she’s getting used.

    Second of all, we are talking about a FIVE week relationship. Moxie could be right but I think it’s more of a guy acting fairly normally – being “gentlemanly,” bringing groceries when he’s invited for dinner, etc. It’s not because he really, really likes her and it’s not because he hates her. But, she’s hanging on his every word and his “mood.” She doesn’t know the guy well enough to be trying to interpret his moods or the subtlety of his words.

    The reason he ended communication is because she didn’t have sex with him on that last date after she invited him up. She is hung up on sex. and is behaving oddly as a result. Many guys aren’t going to stick around to beg you to have sex with them, or discuss it, especially if you don’t seem particualrly . Your efforts to “do an activity” so you wouldn’t have to have sex was forced and was probably obvious to him- or maybe the OP even told him? (P.S. that’s insulting) So, he bailed. Five weeks? Where’s the manipulation?

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    • Maargen Says:

      First of all, is doesn’t seem as if the OP is “hung up” on getting used for sex. It’s a concern many women share, and we know that there’s a possibility, especially at first, that a guy’s simply trying to establish a relationship based on having sex on a regular basis, but isn’t really available for the other components of a relationship that might be important to us. We don’t always suspect this, I think all the OP was trying to do here is rule out this possibility as an explanation of this guys’s behaviour,

      that the woman feels she needs something in return to justify doing it. I think that’s what’s going on here

      I particularly don’t see that going on here. She had sex with him when she felt like it. Other posters here have faulted her for that, saying that she should have had sex only “when you are being treated in the manner you desire from a lover”, or that she should not have had sex with him at all since, by having sex she was “reliquishing power”. The OP doesn’t seem to see sex as a power thing, or a reward thing. She doesn’t seem to expect anything from having sex with the guy at all (which is as it should be)

      Also, if a guy leaves and becomes uncommunicative because she didn’t want to have sex when he did, then that is definitely manipulative. As you said, sex should be enjoyable for both parties. She made no indication in her post that she didn’t enjoy sex with him, but just because she liked it doesn’t mean she’s obligated to have sex with him every time she invites him into her apartment.

      If he did leave because she didn’t have sex with him (and I don’t think he did), that would indicate that he’s not interested in spending time with her because he likes her and enjoys her company – he just wants sex. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – if that’s ok with her. If she wants to be with omeone who likes and cares for her, though, she would be right not to have sex with this guy. but again, I don’t thnk that’s why he left.

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      • DrivingMeNutes Says:

        If manipulation is orchestrating events to get what you want, then walking out the door and cutting off all communication when you don’t get what you want is the definition of non-manipulative. It may be cold-hearted, mean, cruel, etc but manipulation it is not. He’s not playing to your imaginary cameras – there is no reward for his behavior. In fact, I think she was the one trying to manipulate and upset that it failed.

        As I said, I don’t place confidence in the OP’s version of events. She wants to say he’s moody but she barely knows the guy. She wants to say “he blamed her” but I’ve heard that before from women who interpret everything in bad faith because of their own insecurities.

        She mentioned getting “used for sex” several times, I didn’t make it up. She mentioned being “asexual.” You can only get used for sex if you expect something other than sex to come from sex. (Ie if you loved the sex, then you’re not getting used). That’s an imbalance.

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        • Paula Says:

          >>>walking out the door and cutting off all communication when you don’t get what you want is the definition of non-manipulative

          Giving someone the silent treatment is a classic manipulation technique, if “what you want” is not necessarily sex, but to tip a power imbalance in your direction by triggering another person’s insecurities. Now she’s calling him to apologize, questioning her every action, unable to let go, when the previous night she was trying to set boundaries and play a role in deciding the evening’s outcome.

          Or, if he wasn’t that into her, but didn’t want to have that conversation, pulling away and refusing to communicate is also a common manipulation technique (I forget which guy talked about it on here before). The idea is to have the woman initiate the breakup and/or think it’s her fault, when it is exactly what he wanted all along.

          >>if you loved the sex, then you’re not getting used.
          The OP may not be that into sex, based upon how she’s described herself, but you lost me on how that relates to “if you loved the sex, then you’re not getting used.” You can love the sex intensely and want to have it until the cows come home, but if you’ve made clear that you want a relationship and the other person claims to feel the same way, then you’re being used if the other person wasn’t truthful about that and just told you that to keep the sex coming. In fact, I think you’re considerably more likely to be used for sex when the sex is good, because someone will keep coming back for more despite discomfort with and disregard for the other terms attached to it.

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          • DrivingMeNutes Says:

            Getting back to my original point: the OP is inexperienced and unenthusiastic about sex though she wants to try her hand at relationships and dip her toe into the world of men. She is worried about getting used so she tries to force non-sexual activities to test his interest and to make sure it’s not all about sex. It backfires and her suspicions are confirmed when it turns out, duh, he wants sex.

            When he doesn’t get sex on the last night, he says “bye” and slams the door in her face and cuts off all further communication.

            I do not see manipulation here. The “silent treatment” means he intends further interaction. Where is the evidence of that? Where is the evidence that he is trying to make it seem like her idea? He left. Which part of “bye!” is dishonest, slippery or unclear? Its about as direct as one can be, I think.

            The only evidence of manipulation is in the interpretation of his “moods” and words through the filter of an inexperienced and socially inept person who has only known the guy for a few weeks. So, yeah, I’m discounting that.

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            • Paula Says:

              If when he left the last time, he never intended to talk to her again, then I might agree with you. But he pulled this silent treatment once before until she texted and called and got him to talk about what was going on, so it appears this could be his MO for dealing with conflict. And I don’t see from what she’s saying that the last night was necessarily all about whether they had sex or not. From what you described, it was more about her wanting to eat in a restaurant, and him wanting her to cook for him.

              >>We get back to my place, and he’s still moody, but I invite him up for a few minutes (I have no intention of having sex). We sit for a little bit and I suggest watching TV. After a few minutes he says he can’t stay late. We talk a little bit and as we’re sitting my legs brush against his, and he moves away from me. I don’t ask him about it. He eventually gets up to leave and as I approach him he swings the door open and walks out with an angry “bye” and slams the door.

              Although she has no intention of having sex on that last night, she didn’t say she told him that, either when suggesting they go out to dinner first, or after the disastrous restaurant dinner itself. He says he can’t stay late. He moves away from her when their legs brush. He gets up to leave and slams the door goodbye.

              If he had been putting the moves on her and *she* pulled away, or told him in advance that he wasn’t getting any, then it might explain his moodiness. However, it seems to be based upon his perception that she isn’t a “kind” person or doesn’t offer him things when he expects them to be offered to him, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when he has her so adither that she forgets to do something which she had intended to do.

              You don’t have to know someone very well (or barely at all) to understand the difference between someone who engages you in conversation, buys you things and talks about chemistry, and someone who calls you aggressive, unkind, pulls away when you brush him, and storms out angrily. As long as those things happened, no advanced interpretation filter is required.

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  10. Paula Says:

    I am perplexed as to what happened here. I fluctuate between: 1) him never being all that interested in me and using me for sex, 2) that I scared him off, 3) that I was too easy and not a challenge so he got bored (even though I’m the most non-prolific lover I know), 4) I’m not what he’s looking for, or 5) he’s got serious issues that have nothing to do with me.

    1) He might not have been interested in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean he was using you for sex. Sex may have been one consideration in factoring in whether he wanted a relationship, however.

    2) You might have, if he had a particular conception about how you were supposed to behave and you didn’t fit that model. But having to suppress being angry when you feel you have been wronged or never question his behavior is classic controlling, manipulative behavior which can lead to an abusive relationship, so if he considered you an aggressive woman because you stood up for yourself, so be it.

    3) I think most of the guys here would attest that this calculation doesn’t really come into play when you like someone and want to be in a relationship with them, and sleeping with him on dates 4 and 5 doesn’t make you a wanton woman.

    4) Most likely it’s that, and you shouldn’t have to change considerably to try to make it work.

    5) ding ding ding! This level of drama after only having sex twice? Leaving in a huff because you don’t want to have it that night? After this happened:

    At dinner he is moody, distant, and a little curt. I don’t have much to say, as I’m still stressed and he’s making me uncomfortable. He makes a comment about something that I find funny, and I call him, in a playful manner, weird for thinking so. He responds offended that no one likes being called weird. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. He makes a comment as to how this is how it’ll always be if he doesn’t open his mouth.

    This wasn’t exactly putting you in the mood, even if you hadn’t been wanting to put the brakes on the sex.

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    • Angeline Says:

      ‘Putting you in the mood’ – neither is calling him weird for something she found funny. I think it’s an uncomfortable stew of him being touchy and her being socially awkward, a combination that is bound to end up like this over and over. Someone recommended earlier lots and lots of practice at interacting with people, not just on dates, but in general, and I think that’s a good idea. Feeling connected to other people doesn’t happen in a vacuum devoid of people. Some empathy, some genuine feeling and caring for them has to be there. This isn’t so much a personality flaw as a lack of practice.

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      • Paula Says:

        More dates will definitely help, certainly, but some people just don’t “get” each other’s humor, and sometimes that’s really hard to overcome. I had one date where a guy was basically berating me for not laughing at his lame attempts at humor, and between not knowing him at all, so being unclear when he was joking, and not finding his jokes funny when I knew he was joking, it was a mismatch from the start.

        I know I’ve used “weirdo” in a teasing, affectionate fashion, and if I did it with someone who I’d been out with at least 5 times and talked on the phone with for many many hours, I’d assume they’d understand that I was joking. But if he already has the script in his head that she’s not a kind person, then he’s going to find fault with everything she does, in a situation where she should be given the benefit of the doubt.

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  11. Maargen Says:

    I agree with Moxie and other posters here; this guy is bad news.

    What you need to understand OP, is that he will find fault with anything you do, no matter what. There’s no point in getting back in touch with him. He seems to be the classic, textbook model of the passive-agressive: his moodiness is calculated to keep you defensive and off-balance. And his list of grievances? Theyll be never-ending- there will always be something you did wrong to keep you jumping through hoops trying to please him.

    I hope since you’ve come out into circulation, you’ve taken the time to reinforce existing friendships, or make new ones: you’ll need your strong ties to friends and family to help you keep your head straight. If too much of your social interactions come from trying to date, you’ll be jumping back into your shell for cover in no time.

    I know how frustrating it is to feel that so many guys out there may be great people, but the one you can actually feel anything for on a sexual level is few and far between. Good luck out there. Have fun!

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  12. nathan Says:

    “He’s the first man I’ve ever met that I wanted to try to make things work with, or to at least see if there’s something special here, and I was hoping that he would put forth the same effort. ”

    How much of this narrative is excessive analyzing based upon lack of experience? She readily admits having “isolated” herself for most of her 20s, and not being very cued into social graces.

    While some of you are entirely too quick to judge this guy as a total user and abuser, his signals are completely mixed. He wasn’t initiating dates. His comments about wanting a “kind and non-aggressive” woman suggest he’s not sure she fits what he’s looking for. I don’t think he handled everything well, but it’s overblown to suggest that he’s mostly in the wrong here.

    Seems to me that she fell for a guy who wasn’t totally into her. Most of us have been in this position at some point or another, where you press forward too hard with someone who will only marginally respond. Just chalk it up as a learning experience, and move on.

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  13. sarah Says:

    Who cares how the 4th date came to be??? Why did the fourth date come to be is more like it. sounds like she slept w him too soon, got feelings for him and he pulled the fade, just in acting moody, not actually fading away. The OP should learn a valuable lesson about how she would like to be treated and move on. She seems to have very low self esteem too

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