Ask Jono: The Five Approaches To Dating
I love your column. So I decided to go to you for advice. Basically, I have this guy friend. Recently, we went to the movies. I did the little trick where I put my hand on the armrest between us, and it worked and we ended up holding hands. It was great.
I'd suspected he liked me for a while, and I like him, so it's all good, right? Well, I've never had a boyfriend before. In the days after the movie, he's texted me every single day. I do this extracurricular (I'm in a circus), which sometimes conflicts with hanging out. He wants to come watch me so we can go out after, saying if I'm interested in it, he'd love to watch it. My problem is that since I have absolutely ZERO experience with any of this, is this normal? Like, him wanting to get involved in other parts of my life? I don't know if I'm scared of commitment or something, but the whole thing seems like so much all of a sudden. I mean, I'd love to go out with him more, but is it too much too fast (the movie was only a few days ago) or am I overreacting?
Okay, wait. Back up. The circus? Look, I know how this sort of thing works; people who work someplace interesting always immediately point out that it's not as interesting as it seems. You're probably all "Oh, it's just a regular boring afterschool activity like any other. I always have to circle the block to find someplace to park my elephant, and then they always send me to Costco to buy a twelve-pack of lions, and some days, your walrus just refuses to do a somersault!" Well, most people work in a building doing something so boring that you could switch it with a different building overnight and they wouldn't notice, so they are going to be interested if you mention something like this. Don't discount the curiosity factor here.
Knowing nothing else about this guy except what you've told me, I think he's probably a decent guy. I don't think it's weird that he's texting you so often, assuming the texts are like "whats up" and not like "here is a picture of my butt," but since your big event so far was hand-holding, I kind of doubt that there's anything too sleazy about him. Also he wants to come to your circus, which... sounds really filthy, but you know what I mean. In any case, he seems genuinely interested, and I think he's just pursuing what is usually one of the Good Guy approaches to dating.
So if you personally feel like someone is too interested, too quickly, try to slow things down without relying on the common expressions (people almost always hear "I just need some space" as "You are a failure hole"). Explain that you need time to do actual things without him around, and instead suggest doing something later. ("I'd love to hang out, but I have to teach a bear to ride a unicycle; let's do something next week!") I think he's just trying to display his interest, though, which is one of the fairly normal approaches to dating. Here, for the record, is how I would break them down:
This is the approach where the dude skulks around and stares at you a lot but never actually does anything. If you are for some reason responsive to his whimpering affection, and you approach him, he will claim he doesn't know what you are talking about, and furthermore that he has to go, and he will dive out the window. Once outside he will resume staring at you. Later that day you will find a note on your locker that says you are beautiful and maybe has some poetry about dreams written on the back. This is not a very good approach.
Generally this approach involves a guy asking you on a date, which you will both know is a date, and then he will follow it up by asking you on another date. You will go datey places like movie theaters and restaurants, and you will wind up kissing at some point, and if any of this is confusion you should perhaps look up "dating" in the dictionary.
A dude taking this approach will claim he needs your help studying or something, because physics is so hard and you are so smart, and then maybe he will say a bunch of hamfistedly romantic things about covalent bonds and magnetic attraction. If you don't catch on that your presence puts his electrons in an excited state, as it were, then he will never make the first move. Without realizing it, you may already have been on two or three things that this person thought were dates.
A genuine interest in your life is pretty much always a good thing. Relationships fail for lots of reasons—incompatibility, infidelity, ghosts—but rarely because the dude was too interested in the girl's hobbies. Unless, of course, you feel like he's moving too fast, but we've already covered that.
Oh, these guys are interested in your extracurriculars, all right. They definitely want to visit your circus, if you catch my drift. They want you to catch their drift, if you understand my italicized innuendo. Insincere-seeming interest in your life combined with overly flirty behavior is often the mark of a sleazemonster.
For what it's worth, I think your boy is firmly in the Genuine Interest camp. If you start getting the vibe that he just wants to walk your tightrope, then I'll take that back, but it doesn't seem that way to me. So only go as fast as you're comfortable with, and tactfully let him know you want some space if you need to, but I'm pretty confident that he's just trying to care about the parts of your life that are not just the naughty parts.
What do you think? Are daily texts too much?