I have a girl problem. Original, I know, but this time I’m already dating her. We’ve been extremely close friends for three years and dating since December, and there have never been any issues with our relationship. We have similar interests and viewpoints, but there’s just enough difference to keep it interesting. Now, though, I have a problem, and the problem is that I’m not sure I actually have one.
I’m not even sure if there is something going on, because I have a tendency to see patterns where none exist and to overreact to them. But lately I’ve been seeing signs that she’s just not that interested anymore. She doesn’t smile at me when I enter the room like she used to. She seems to be more interested in making conversation with other people than me. When we do talk, she uses shorter answers than she used to. It’s not like she’s going out of her way to avoid me, but the vibe I’m getting is that I’m becoming something of an annoyance. I’m a clingy person, but I’ve been trying my damnedest to give her her space. I’ve talked to a close mutual friend and she doesn’t think I’m out of line, but I still have this feeling.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to send this letter, because like I said, I tend to overreact to things. Everything I’ve described is a lot more subtle than I’ve made it sound. We could just be moving out of the cutesy-new-couple phase. That’s probably what’s going on, and I’m probably just overreacting like normal, but I can’t be sure, and I really don’t like not knowing what’s going on. What are some of the things that this could be?
What could it be? A lot of things, really! For instance, it could be a natural side effect of your romance having exited the honeymoon phase. It could also be that she's feeling smothered and needs a little space. Or, of course, it could be that something else in your girlfriend's life is stressing her out, making her anxious, and distracting her from being entirely present. Maybe she's got trouble at home. Maybe she's stressed about school. Maybe she's got terrible diarrhea and is using shorter sentences because she's devoting 95% of her available energy to not making Play-Doh in her pants.
But here's what I can tell you for sure: if you don't stop clinging, overanalyzing, and scrutinizing her every move for evidence of waning affection, she won't be your girlfriend for much longer. Because you're going to drive her crazy.
Which is awful not just for your girl, but for you, too. You're like a guy on a fabulous cruise, only you're convinced that the boat could sink at any moment, and so you're spending all your time poking around the engine room and looking for weaknesses in the hull—instead of what you should be doing, which is playing shuffleboard and sunbathing and enjoying fruity drinks with tiny paper hats in them.
And you deserve those drinks with the paper hats, darling! You do! But more importantly, you need to find a way to enjoy them without being on constant guard. There is no point to being in a relationship if you can't accept the basic premise that yes, this person likes you—but that even a person who likes you needs room to be a person, and to be sad or distant or stressed sometimes, without also being smothered and scrutinized by a boyfriend who takes everything personally.
So while you say things like, "I'm a clingy person" and "I tend to overreact to things" as though they're foregone conclusions, I'm here to tell you: they aren't. You do not have to spend your time analyzing your girlfriend's speech patterns for signs that she no longer likes you. You can choose to trust in her affection, and to trust that if something is wrong, she'll have the decency to tell you so. You can realize that analyzing your relationship for signs of trouble is a useless, corrosive, exhausting endeavor that will not save you so much as a single iota of heartbreak, even if you turn out to be right.
And you can start today—by deciding, right now and from this moment forward, that you're going to enjoy your relationship, have faith in its integrity, and take your girlfriend's interest as a given until she tells you explicitly not to. Please. The other way lies madness and is no fun at all.
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