TeenHealthFX is wondering if there is something going on with this guy that he has a hard time committing to intimate relationships with other people. If he has a hard time (for whatever reason) being in a close, intimate relationships, his anxiety or discomfort in dating someone (especially someone he really cares about) might affect his behavior in the relationship in a negative way. He could end up doing things like cheating, breaking-up quickly after starting a relationship, being inconsistent in how he treats or relates to a significant other, or whatever else. If he truly cares about you, and has enough awareness to know that functioning in close relationships is an issue for him, then he will probably want to prevent a bad situation where you could get hurt by staying out of a relationship with you to begin with.
FX appreciates that it can sound confusing that he could like you and still do something hurtful. But remember it is not you, personally, that he is reacting to if he does something hurtful – he is reacting to his discomfort in being closely connected with another person and would have that reaction with any person. FX doesn’t know exactly what has caused this discomfort, but assumes it must be connected to problematic relationships with his parents, other caregivers, and/or past girlfriends that have subsequently made it difficult for him to connect to others in a healthy way.
If he is telling you he doesn’t want to start something out of fear of hurting you, FX thinks it is important for you to listen to him and respect what he has to say. FX gives him credit for having the awareness not to let a relationship happen if he feels clear he will be hurtful in some way in the end. And FX thinks it is important for you to trust that he knows what he is saying and for you to set your sights on someone who is comfortable being in close relationships with others.
If you want to ask him what makes him think he would hurt you and how he imagines he would be hurtful to you, you certainly can. FX doesn’t know how he will feel about your question and how much he will want to get into details about it – but you can certainly try. Just remember that whatever is going on with him is a statement of a personal issue he is grappling with – not a statement about what kind of a person you are. And keep in mind that asking him about it does not remove this issue he has so that everything will be fine for you two to date.
If you find you continue to be confused about this situation and how to best deal with it, please speak with a trusted adult such as parent, friend’s parent, extended family member, or school counselor. Relationships can be very confusing things, and it is often helpful to have adults (who have had their share of relationship experiences) provide you with some support and guidance.