I’ve been seeing this guy for nearly 3 months now. The Sunday before last (so 10/31) I asked the question we all love to hate: are we just friends? Before I launch into his response, here’s some background on the two of us.
I moved to MD from NY on August 1st. I’m 28 with a bachelor’s degree and I work in the marketing end of health care at a large academic hospital system. I hate this job and plan on starting nursing school soon. Anyway, a week after I moved here, I met a guy (32, RN, divorced finalized 2 years ago) through my house mate at a party she had at our place. We chatted a great deal at the party. I saw him out a couple more times after that, the following week at yet another mutual friend’s housewarming party, and then a few days later at a bar celebration for a different mutual friend’s birthday. The Saturday following our friend’s birthday, he called me up and asked me if I wanted to go out (which shocked the hell out of me, because he wasn’t really on my radar, so to speak).
Ever since our first date, we have seen each other every single weekend with the exception of ONE, when I had to go back to NY to tie up some loose ends. For actual one-on-one dates we’ve had about 7-8, but thanks to our ridiculously large circle of mutual friends, I have more than enough opportunity to see him at multiple gatherings.
Recently he invited me to go out with him, one of his two absolute best friends, and his friend’s girlfriend, which went well. He started a new job in mid-September working from 3 PM to 11:30 PM, and I was positive I wouldn’t see him at all, but he has kept up the trend of wanting to see me at least once a week, even if it’s just for lunch before he goes to work. We do not have a physical relationship right now (we haven’t even kissed), but he’s always had very positive body language (lots of eye contact, leans forward and listens closely and all that), and whenever he does touch me, it’s respectful touches on my hand, arm or back. And of course we always hug when we part.
Our friends have volunteered all of the information about his past relationships, including his ex wife. I didn’t even have to ask and I actually knew a lot about it before he ever asked me out. He even gave me an overview on our first date of all his relationships, minus his marriage (he said I could ask my housemate about his ex wife). From what I understand, every woman he’s dated has been emotionally unstable, extremely dependent, and needed to be “fixed” in some way. I learned that his ex wife proposed to him after dating him for 9 months, and after a year of being married, he is the one who filed for divorce because she would literally come home from work and go straight to bed, and sleep through the entire night. The others were clingy, or needy or just crazy according to our friends (one mixed narcotics with alcohol often). And my friends always say he’s co-dependent this and co-dependent that. Everyone sort of knows we’ve been hanging out, but it’s not like I get interrogated anytime our friends see me out and about.
For myself, I was in a very tumultuous relationship from the time I was 18 until I was just shy of 25. I was engaged to this man; he was my first practically everything (he was also the same age as me, I met him at college). In hindsight it should have ended 6 months after it began, but it lasted nearly 7 years. I put up with a lot of lying, a lot of cheating, a lot of passive-aggressive behavior patterns, and a lot of pain & tears. In a way it was my own fault for not getting out sooner I’m sure. I would constantly catch him cheating on me with girls online. One girl in particular stalked me for a good 8 years (yes 8, long after he and I split up for good). Our relationship ended when I walked in on him and another girl in his bed while he was “taking time away from the relationship”. I don’t fall easily at all, so aside from my ex fiancé, there have been 2 others: a guy I dated for a year and a half which I ended up breaking off because I moved from MI back to NY, and a guy I dated for 3 months who, while he had a huge positive impact on my overall because we were friends for a good while first, things just didn’t work out. In the last 4 years with the exception of the 3rd guy, dating has been kept to an absolute minimum for me. For a very long time I didn’t want anyone to even look at me.
Anyway, with that out of the way, as I said, because it had been a while, I felt it was safe to ask the current guy if we were just friends. I do like him a lot; while I haven’t fallen for him, I really could see that happening and I wanted to know where I stood with him. He launched into this detailed explanation of how right now in his life, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to give a relationship the attention it would need and deserve, and that he has so much “bullshit” that he’s dealing with right now that he didn’t think it would be fair to drag someone else through it with him. His current job makes him absolutely miserable and he hates it (I’ve known this for a while), partially because of the people he works with and partially because he never gets to really see anyone outside of work. As an example of how miserable he’s been, he told me that one night after getting home at 1:30 AM, he just “sat on his porch and sobbed for a good 15 minutes”. He said he has been trying for a while now to find balance for himself in his life. He said that it’s not that he doesn’t want a relationship, it’s not that he doesn’t want to enjoy life again, just right now he wasn’t sure he could handle one. He emphasized it wasn’t because he didn’t like me, and added that I was new to him because I am not like anyone he’s ever been with. He also added that he still wanted to hang out with me, spend time with me, continue getting to know me, etc. After he said his piece, he asked me if I understood any of what he was saying (which believe me, I did because I spent the better part of the last four years finding balance myself and finally am now moving in the direction I want to be), and then asked me if I had plans for the following Friday (I didn’t), and thus secured me for Friday 11/5 and left.
After I had a day to mull it over, I decided I wanted to be able to respond to all he said and lay my cards out on the table for him. Oddly enough, the next day he sent me a text message saying “sorry for being such a douche yesterday”, which genuinely confused me and made me ask exactly how was he a douche. His response was that he felt like a big whiner, that he just felt so out there and he usually wasn’t like that and mostly he didn’t want anyone to have to deal with him. I responded after thinking about it for a few minutes with if someone was there for him, they would do it because they wanted to be there, not because they felt obligated, and that he and I could talk more about it later if he wanted. More than ever, I really wanted to respond after getting that text from him and decided to do so the next time I saw him. (I actually ended up seeing him this past Sunday instead due to unforeseen circumstances on Friday, but he looked utterly exhausted and I only had an hour with him for lunch before his job, so I didn’t bring anything up.)
The cynic reflex in me has been nagging at me this last week, saying this was the same song and dance every guy (and gals too) give when they really aren’t into you, and they want to let you down easy while making themselves not seem like a jerk and keep you from feeling bad about yourself. It says to me don’t even bother with this guy, just cut and run, which sadly is usually my first instinct anyway. However, I’ve decided I really want to and should bring it up with him again just one more time. I want to tell him that while yes, I DO like him and have enjoyed getting to know him, I brought up where I stood because of two things: 1) I wasn’t even really sure if he liked me/was attracted to me; he’s pretty guarded/hard to read and 2) while I would like a relationship, it didn’t have to be decided right then; I just wanted to know if he, like me, could see us moving to the next level at some point (I definitely do not want to stay the way we have been indefinitely, so in the next few months opposed to the next few years is highly preferable). I don’t want to try to convince him to commit to me when I bring this up. I don’t want anything more than what he’s willing to give. And I certainly don’t want him to be with me if he’s not even sure if he wants to be with me.
I’ve gotten mixed responses from friends on this. Some say he really sounds like he’s going through a lot (these are all people that have known him 5+ years btw), others have a cynical response like the one I outlined. I’ve even posted on girlsaskguys and have asked a professional for advice (the professional was female though). What bums me out the most is if he still acts uncertain after I bring it up again from my viewpoint, because I know that means I’ll have two choices: keep investing in him and thus fall for him further and maybe never get what I am looking for, or to take a step back entirely. Neither option sounds all that great, and the latter is probably the one most people would say is the best one to take. Did he say all that he said to me when I asked if we were just friends as an excuse? That the bottom line is he really isn’t all that interested in me and just didn’t want to hurt me? Or does he seem to genuinely like me and maybe he really is trying to work toward being able to be with me?
I guess I should add he invited me to hang out at his place tonight, so I will probably already have had the conversation that I have been waiting to have with him before you have a chance to respond, but any and all advice you are able to give me will still be HIGHLY appreciated. Thank you so much for listening!
It sounds like this guy has made a series of wrong decisions in his lifetime so far and the reason he doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now is because perhaps he has learned from them and doesn’t want to make the same mistakes again. In all honesty, many of the characteristics you have outlined about him do not seem to be ideal of a good candidate for a serious relationship.
Let’s recap on what I mean:
- He has picked to be with the wrong women more than once through out his life.
- Agreed to marry someone who he didn’t initially intend to and resulted in a divorce.
- He’s 32 and doesn’t have a job that he considers a career.
- Just started a new job and hates it.
If you ask me, I don’t quite see why you would want to be with a guy like this. Could it be because you feel it’s time for you to start something serious with someone after nearly 4 years of just dating? Just something to consider.
Now to your question
I think what we have here is a guy who doesn’t want to be in a relationship period. There’s no doubt he has some feelings for you, other wise he wouldn’t constantly try to spend time with you but it seems to me that he has made a decision and being in a relationship is not something he wants to do right now.
I also suspect that he just wants to date around and not be committed, given that he has constantly been in relationships in the past, including a fail marriage. I guarantee if you were to invite him over to your house and give yourself to him, he would take you in a heart beat. So how is it that he would go all the way with you but not be willing to commit to a relationship?
Because he doesn’t want a relationship with you
Of course you’re right about his response just being a pretty way of telling you he doesn’t want a relationship. However I wouldn’t rule out that he doesn’t like you. I think sometimes a good girl comes into our life at the wrong time and it’s hard to make a decision to keep her or just let her go. A good way of doing this is by just dating them and not committing until we are 100% ready for a relationship. It’s sort of like just keeping them on the back burner.
My suggestion for you is to just respect his decision and not try to force him to commit because you will essentially be setting yourself up for failure.
At the same time make sure you don’t become a “friend with benefits” because again you will decrease any chance of a real relationship in the future. Try to make it clear that it was his decision to remain friends and that’s all he will get.
Also continue to date other people and do the same thing he’s trying to do with you, keep him in the back burner. This way you will still have a good friendship with him but he will see that you won’t be wasting your time waiting for something that could never come. In the future when he’s ready for a relationship if you happen to also be available then you can consider a relationship at that point.
By no means hold his decision against him and instead be happy that he was able to be honest and tell you he didn’t want a relationship at this point. Most guys will make you believe they want a relationship in order to “lock you in” and will continue to behave like they’re single behind your back.
I hope this helps and good luck…