New Relationship Communication

Dear Toni--

I met a guy at school and we have been seeing each other for two months. We relate well and have fun together. He's a full time student and also works for his dad on Saturdays. I work full time and am a part time student. We live 50 minutes apart and see each other on Thursday nights after school and on Tuesday nights. We also chat online every weekend. We really like each other, and share what is happening in our daily lives. We have told some of our friends about each other, but have not done any introductions yet.

I know two months is early in a relationship; however, I am questioning a few things. He cancelled a date one Friday night and later told me he had spent the time with friends. He explained everything online later and it seemed that he was being honest that he couldn't get away on time to see me. I can understand this happening once. However, this past Sunday he was supposed to be in my area for a job interview. He never came. Later that night he explained online that he stayed home to study, etc. I commented that he could have let me know. We could have met for lunch or dinner. I explained that I'm not asking for all of his free time, but he just laughed it off.

Is it too early to see this behavior as a red flag? Am I overreacting? Perhaps he sees Tuesday as our "date" night? I hesitate to ask him because it is early in the relationship. I like having him in my life, but feel I must be aware of warning signs. What's your opinion on how I should approach this? --Unsure

Dear Unsure--

You appear to be someone who has it pretty well together. You have goals and are managing your priorities well. You have a lot going on, yet want to give time and attention to this budding relationship. On the face of it, you don't appear to be someone who overreacts or who is unrealistic about time constraints and the demands imposed by the full schedule your new friend carries. Therefore, I don't think this is an issue and so my answer is no to that question.

Your second question holds the key to this situation. You said that you are hesitant to discuss these things with him because of the newness of the relationship. Then you asked "how" you should approach it. The age of the relationship does not dictate the necessary communication that needs to happen. Right from the start, it is important to communicate openly and clearly. It is not only okay, but also healthy, to open up a discussion of the expectations you both have regarding the time you will be spending together. There are different ways to go about this and it's best to do what feels most comfortable for you. Using I statements, such as "I enjoy our time together and wonder if you feel the same." It's also OK to ask him if he feels that your relationship is putting any strain on his ability to get everything else done. Bring up the weekend in advance and make suggestions about things you could do together. As long as you are able to be sensitive to his priorities and can handle it if he can't do something, it is a good way to open up more talk about the two of you and where you are headed.

Use your good judgment and instincts to guide you in not pushing too hard, too fast. Then really talk to him about things. If he avoids, becomes defensive, or pulls back, then he isn't ready for anything more than what you have now. If not, then your relationship will move ahead at whatever pace it (and you two) can handle.

(from November 2004)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"She's Interested and I'm Not; and Vice Versa"
List of more
"Problems with communication"

"When Dr Jekyl Becomes Mr. Hyde"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008-2015 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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