I think I’m moving too fast. How do I fix it?

Recently, I was checking out a dating advice Reddit forum and came across a post which I thought posed an interesting dilemma. It asked a question that seemed pretty relatable, so I wanted to answer it. Full disclosure, I’ve edited the question for clarity and context:

I met this guy and we went out on a first date. We had drinks together at a pub and watched some movies at his place and the date seemed to go quite well. We kissed, and he gave me a big hug when he sent me off at the station. I got back home and sent him a good-night text and he ignored it (The message was marked as “read” on Whatsapp). On the second day I sent him another message, and he responded. I then asked him if we were still on for another date next week (as we agreed on during our date) and this message was also marked as “read” again. By then I knew I was moving too fast for him so I stopped sending messages.

It’s been two days now. I know Snapchat story doesn’t mean anything, but he still reads all my Snapchat stories. I think I was too proactive about texting and that made him feel suffocated. Had I not sent messages straight after my first date and let him cool down, things would have been in a better way. 

How should I mend it or what kind of text I should send (as well as when) to make things happen again?

Demetrius says:

The reason I wanted to answer this question is three-fold. First, I want to discuss the general concept of coming on too strong, and how you can walk it back a bit. Second, how to avoid coming on too strong when you’re really interested in a person. Finally, when to recognize when “coming on too strong” might just mean a lack of interest.

It’s common for people to come on too strong after a date or two. You get a good first feeling about someone, and your actions reflect your enthusiasm. You’ve been so disillusioned by the state of your dating life for so long, and you FINALLY go on a good date, now you’re coming on too much too strong. It happens. It’s happened to me, where I come on way too strong too soon, and I’ve been on the receiving end of, let’s call it overly enthusiastic based on the interactions we’ve had.

Common or not, understandable or not, it sucks to be in a position where you know you’ve just come on way too strong and need to walk it back. Truth be told, when I’ve been in this position, where I recognize that I was a little too eager with someone, the damage was done. That’s not an universal truth, but my experience. Take it with a grain of salt, but consider what that means based on who I am (a straight man), who I date (women who date men), and my dating history (extensive and varied). Maybe it’s just my experience, maybe it says a lot about what coming on too strong means in general, maybe it says more about what it means to come on too strong when you’re a man who dates women. I can’t say that any of those things are true, just sharing anecdotal evidence here.

When trying to walk back my over-eagerness did work, in the rare instances that it did, this is what I did. Your mileage may vary but hey, here’s what worked for me:

  • Never acknowledge that you think you came on too strong – I don’t why but looking back when I said “sorry I came on too strong” or “I know I came on too strong”, there was a 100% chance I’d never see that person again. Ever.
  • Stick to a 1-for-1 texting rule – If I send a text and they don’t respond, I don’t text again until they respond. If they send a text, respond to that text. Simple.
  • Cut back on language that implies excitement – Instead of saying “Can’t wait to see you” when planning a date, I’d stick with language like “looking forward to it” or “see you then”.

It might seem like dishonesty, but for whatever reason, these strategies seemed to work the most. Indifference, for whatever reason, can seem more attractive than genuine interest. It isn’t about sending one specific text to fix things, it’s about changing how you approach communicating with someone who might feel you came on too strong.

But I’m guessing that in the future, you don’t want to get to the point where you have to feign disinterest because you showed too much interest. So, let’s discuss the best way to not come on too strong.

  • Put your excitement into context – I’m all about grounding yourself in dating, so try it. Sure, this person seems exciting and amazing, but what are any of those feelings based on? Instinct, hunches, and a small sample size of evidence that they’re great. It might be true, but treat your hunches with skepticism. Yes, they seem great, but its way too early to tell if this is who they are, or even if they’re compatible with you.
  • Stick to a 1-for-1 texting rule – This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite rules for texting. Though, to be honest, it might just be because I generally dislike texting, so this might be harder for you to do than it is for me. So here’s another/alternate texting rule…
  • Save small talk for in-person conversations – Resist the urge to try to get to know the person you’re interested in wholly over text. Get the basics out-of-the-way, hell, you can even get the deal breakers out-of-the-way over text, but when it comes to conversational stuff, save it for in-person.
  • Don’t overshare – What makes you interesting, complex, and a dynamic human being is a wonderful mix of experiences, stories, and anecdotes. Some of these anecdotes are better told once someone gets to know you a bit better. No matter how well you think you know someone after swiping right and exchanging messages, please remember that they’re still a relative stranger.
  • Don’t gush over them – I’m sure that you have a good handle on recognizing a quality person, and I’m sure that the person you’re interested is really as amazing as you think, but in the early stages, avoid the impulse to tell them how great they are. Save it for like, the 5th date or something.

Not foolproof tips obviously, but it can’t hurt to play it cool, especially after the first date. The longer you’ve been dating someone, the less you should adhere to these rules.

Here’s something to keep in mind if you ever feel like you’re either coming on too strong, or came on too strong, and that’s why things didn’t work out with someone. Sometimes, when you think you’ve come on too strong, you didn’t necessarily lose someone’s interest, they weren’t really that interested in the first place. I hate to break it to you but if someone is not all that interested in you to begin with, they’ll find any behavior that would be considered “extra” to be off-putting. Coming on too strong, text too frequently, too proactive when it comes to date planning, you name it. If someone isn’t really that into you to begin with, it’s easier to find a behavior to be a deal-breaker. If someone is really into you, they’re likely to tell you that you’re doing too much, and suggest you tone it down.

One last thought. While it can be beneficial to be a bit aloof when dating to avoid coming on too strong, if dating this way would make you unhappy, don’t do it. If in your heart you know that that’s not something you can do, don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve. If you want the sort of partner who would never tell you that you’re coming on too strong, feel free to disregard everything I said. As always, date the way you want to.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.