One of the things I am always asked is ‘When should I contact him?’.
As in my post about the SMH article: ‘Are the rules redundant?’, my general advice is to contact him when you feel like it.
If you are excited about connecting with him, showing him that he is on your mind is not a bad thing, it is flattering! At worst, he will give you the impression that he doesn’t want to have contact as much as you do. If this lack of availability or disinterest continues, then this is VERY good information for you. It may mean he wants something much less intense then you do. In this case, it is better you know sooner so you don’t waste your time playing games to sustain a relationship that is going to be essentially unfulfilling for you.
HOWEVER, there are a lot of lovely ladies out there who are aware that their need for contact with their guy comes from an anxious or needy place rather then an excited, assertive place. They do not feel like contacting their guys but feel like ridding themselves of uncomfortable feelings. These ladies generally have an anxious attachment style (see my post Attachment styles and dating) and will tend towards obsessing about their dates; trying to edit what they say and do and how they behave around a guy so as to appear more desirable; being overly self critical and perfectionistic; and seeking reassurance from their date/friends/dating books and blogs like this one!
You CAN drive a more secure guy away if you give in to tendencies to seek contact to soothe your anxiety or other uncomfortable emotions. It also won’t be good for you in the long term because even if your guy is very responsive, you will begin to rely on contact and responsiveness from him to make yourself feel secure, rather then developing healthy emotional independence.
Functional Analytic Psychology (FAP) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) conceptualises motivation for behaviour as either Appetitive (moving towards something) or Aversive (moving away from something). The theory is that if you allow yourself to be motivated by appetitive drives, you will find yourself more fulfilled and more able to sustain your behaviour then if you are constantly running from aversive stimuli.
It is important to understand that the same behaviour can be either aversively or appetitively motivated depending on the context and feelings around the behaviour. For example, if I am buying fresh fruit and veggies, this behaviour could be about moving away from thoughts that “I am fat” and feelings of shame and self loathing. However, it could also be about moving towards thoughts about “I want to take care of my body and be healthy” and feelings of satisfaction and nourishment.
Another example would be the behaviour to stay back at work. This could be about moving away from feelings of anxiety and worry about missing a deadline. Alternatively it could be about moving towards feelings of curiosity and satisfaction and not being able to wait to see the finished product.
So, applying this now to dating. Have a think about some of the thoughts and feelings that would render contacting your guy a ‘moving away’ behaviour or alternatively, a ‘moving towards’ one. Below are some examples:
‘Moving away’ or Aversively motivated contact:
fuelled by feelings of anxiety and insecurity
wanting to know what he is doing (moving away from jealousy)
wanting to see if he will respond to you (moving away from fear of rejection/abandonment)
wanting to present a certain ‘image’ (moving away from beliefs about how unlovable you really are and fear of rejection)
making a ‘valid’ excuse to contact (moving away from beliefs that you shouldn’t seem interested or want connection (for fear of rejection) and therefore need to disguise your interest)
because your friend/family has told you to contact him (moving away from friend’s disapproval or your own lack of confidence which caused you to seek their advice in the first place)
because you don’t want to hurt his feelings (moving away from guilt)
because you are worried about being single and not meeting anyone (moving away from fear of isolation)
‘Moving toward’ or Appetitively motivated contact:
I would say as a general rule, that if you contact your guy in the same way you would one of your closest friends then you are on the right ‘moving towards’ track…for example:
feelings of excitement, curiosity, attraction, interest
wanting to hear how his day/week has been going
genuinely wanting to hear his opinion about something
wanting to share what has been going on in your world with him
wanting to invite him to something because you couldn’t imagine enjoying it more with someone else
wanting to give him some information that you think will be useful to him
Please keep in mind that it is not realistic to not have any of the anxieties or thoughts that would fuel the ‘moving away’ behaviour. These come with part of being human and our universal need for love and belonging.
I’m more pointing out that if you ask yourself: “Am I moving away from something or moving towards something by seeking contact with him right now?”and the answer is a resounding moving away, then stop, call a friend or try to distract yourself until the discomfort passes and contact him when you are feeling calmer and more confident.