Slight of Hand – The Subliminal Break-Up

As I prepared for an upcoming teleclass on male dating behavior (readers save $7 – register with promo code ATWYS – ONLY $13) , I realized that men (and women) have a fascinating way of breaking up with people without actually breaking up with them.

It’s The Subliminal Break Up. Here’s how it goes. The man/woman you’ve been seeing for a few weeks/months initiates a conversation that goes something like this:

“I really like you. I think you’re cool and I have a lot of fun when I’m with you. And the sex is bananas! But I just want to be clear about something. I’m not in a position to be any one’s boyfriend/girlfriend. I’m just not able to commit to someone in that way right now.  I just didn’t want to lead you on because I care about you and don’t want you to get hurt.”

Translation:

“I’m sensing that you’re getting too attached. Since I know that it’s almost impossible for someone to go backwards once they’re invested, I’m making a pre-emptive strike before things get messy.  I meant what I said for the most part. I do like you. But I don’t see myself ever having a real relationship with you. So I’m going to put the onus on you and let you decide how to proceed.”

The goal here is two-fold. The dumpee will make one of two decisions:

1. They will decide that this is an unhealthy situation for them and cut ties. That way the dumper doesn’t have to be the bad guy and can avoid a potentially sticky situation. The dumper is not attached or invested, so if the dumpee walks, it’s no skin off their nose.

2. They will continue seeing this person and having no strings sex with them, waiving the dumper of any responsibility should the dumpee get hurt. When the dumpee has their moment of clarity and realizes s/he can’t take any more of the casual nature of the relationship, the dumper has a prime defense…”I know I’ve been acting like a boy/girlfriend, but I told you I wasn’t looking for anything serious!! So this isn’t my fault!” And they’d be right, which just makes the dumpee feels worse.

It’s a win/win for The Dumper. They get to avoid the drama and conflict OR they get free sex with no obligation and responsibility.

This is one of those situations where “honesty” comes in to play and we erroneously give someone credit when we shouldn’t. Many of us have a bad habit of glorifying someone for “being honest.” Here’s the thing. We’re supposed to be honest. When I would bring home A’s on my report card, my father barely said a word. When I finally broke down one night and asked him why he never acknowledged my hard work, he put it to me simply.

“You’re very smart. You’re supposed to get good grades. ”

Whatevs, Dad. Algebra is hard! It took me about 30 years, but I eventually got it. Praise someone for doing what they’re supposed to do and you instill a false sense of confidence and begin to expect less..from them and from yourself.

The really troubling thing is that the fact that we are so grateful for honesty implies we’re not used to getting even a watered down version of it. Or we don’t recognize it when we see it. There’s honesty and then there’s brutal honesty. We say we want brutal honesty but…we really don’t.

We place people on pedestals for “being honest.” But as DMN said recently, some people actually use “brutal honesty” because it’s the only way they know how to detach. So, in effect, we’re impressed by some one’s cruelty and possible manipulation.

Many people would be on the receiving end of the conversation above and think, “Wow. At least they’re being honest. They can’t be that bad.” And so they continue on with said person, not really understanding that what that person was doing was trying to trick us in to going away. They were putting the responsibility on us. Either we walk away or we accept the person’s terms and conditions, thereby surrendering our self-respect. And when we’re in it, we have no idea that we’re being manipulated. None at all. We’re too thrilled that this person has been “honest.” We think it makes us special to them somehow.

The thing to take away here is that, sometimes, people are only as honest as they can be. That’s not something to find impressive, as many people lack the self-awareness and accountability needed to be truly and genuinely honest.

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95 Responses to “Slight of Hand – The Subliminal Break-Up”

  1. Paula Says:

    Lots to ponder in this post…I think it’s pretty insightful, Moxie.

    I think there are definitely people who attempt to shift responsibility for a breakup by being “honest” in the way that you describe above. I think there are people who know their partner is becoming emotionally invested, know they don’t feel the same way, but will say nothing — knowing that their partner is afraid to push the issue, and are willing to keep going out and having the great sex as long as their partner doesn’t call them on it. And, I think there are people who are genuinely conflicted about how they feel (they don’t want to break up, aren’t yet ready for the next level, but haven’t ruled it out in their mind), and their values compel them to tell the other person in an effort to make sense of the situation, but are not doing so in a manipulative/avoiding responsibility sort of way.

    So, of the three approaches, when there’s a mismatch in how the two parties feel, which is preferable? I’m a fan of number 3: the more information the better, because I’m not overanalyzing all the mixed signals, and questioning my own judgment when and if things eventually do go south. Between 1 and 2, I’d rather have 1, because even manipulative honesty is better than dishonesty by omission. And an active attempt to be honest, as inadequate as it may be due to a lack of self-awareness or is only done for the purpose of passing the buck, is preferable to an effort to be dishonest or deliberately withhold information.

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  2. Vox Says:

    A recurring theme that I notice in your posts, Moxie. Hypothetical situation or not, the men in your posts always call the shots and the women (or you, if its an autobiographical anecdote) can only react. Women never have any power. What I mean by that is the difference between writing “He was a jerk who chose me because he sensed I was an easy target” vs “I made a mistake by accepting dates with a jerk due to my own bad judgment.” You can’t do anything about the former, but the latter you can control.

    As I read your scenario in this post I thought, why didn’t the dumpee have a conversation about the role of relationships in the dumper’s life prior to having sex? No, you aren’t guaranteed to get the truth, but isn’t it a little better than beginning a sexual relationship with someone when you know want more than that? I’ve certainly brought it up many times before, and the answer often is, “Well I am not sure about whether I am ready to be in a relationship just yet so let’s wing it.” I translate that as: Casual sexual relationship, and as such I can decide whether or not I want to proceed. (At this point, I don’t.)

    I just can’t see sleeping with someone for months, until they clarify that there is nothing more available for me. It doesn’t make any sense to me… why would anyone over the age of 35 live like this? It’s ok to have needs, and to do what you can to get them fulfilled (within reason of course). Saying what you want up front is a do do that.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      I said:

      It’s The Subliminal Break Up. Here’s how it goes. The man/woman you’ve been seeing for a few weeks/months initiates a conversation that goes something like this:

      the dumper has a prime defense…”I know I’ve been acting like a boy/girlfriend, but I told you I wasn’t looking for anything serious!! So this isn’t my fault!”

      I didn’t imply anything in regards to gender roles in these situations. I made it clear that this was a situation that both men and women were guilty of.

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      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        I just noticed that I said “she” when I meant to type s/he. But there were a couple other references that made it clear that this wasn’t just something that happens to women.

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      • Vox Says:

        My comment really isn’t about gender roles per se, it is about how you perceive yourself (and others) as being powerless in interactions with the opposite sex.

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        • Paula Says:

          Although it may have happened to her personally, I read Moxie’s scenario as being a common one to analyze for her dating teleclass. God knows plenty of women have written in for help with versions of this same scenario here.

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          • Vox Says:

            And they too need to take an active role in their sexual/romantic lives. Waiting around for the other person to decide the state of your relationship is foolish.

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          • Paula Says:

            I think it depends. Relationships develop at different paces for different people. You can insist on having the “where is this going?” talk really early on, but you’re running the risk that a person who really doesn’t know yet is in a no-win situation…either they tell the truth, triggering Moxie’s analysis above (i.e., I should break up because this person isn’t able to give me what I want) or they don’t tell the truth, and their partner gets prematurely invested emotionally based upon deception.

            That’s definitely not a win/win for The Dumper, who is only put in the situation of being a Dumper because he or she isn’t able to make commitment decisions on someone else’s timetable.

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          • Vox Says:

            I have never had a “where is this going” conversation in my life… total waste of time. I do tell men upfront what I want, and I ask the same question of them, on date #1, date #2 tops.

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          • Paula Says:

            So if they don’t know on date #1 or #2 whether they want to be in a relationship with you, they’re gone?

            Wow.

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          • Vox Says:

            If they don’t know on date 1 or 2 whether they want to be in a relationship in general, I am gone. And if they don’t see me personally as relationship material by date 3 or 4, I am also gone.

            I just don’t buy into the “I don’t really know what I want so let’s just wing it and see how things develop” song and dance. When a man says to me, “I don’t know what I want” I know for sure that he doesn’t want ME… so I’m gone.

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          • Paula Says:

            For me, it’s back to the Golden Rule. I think you’re right about the if they don’t want to be in a relationship in general by 1 or 2, it’s best to move on or be prepared to fully accept it’s all about the sex — not that you’re going to change them.

            But I don’t always know by 3 or 4 if I want a relationship with them…if we’ve spent less than 10 hours total or 1 night together, I can’t make that judgment, so I’d hate to hold anyone else to that standard. And I’ve been in situations coming out of prior relationships where I met someone interesting with potential, but I was in absolutely no shape to commit to someone again so soon.

            Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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        • AmyRose Says:

          “When a man says to me, “I don’t know what I want” I know for sure that he doesn’t want ME… so I’m gone”

          @Vox- What is the age range of the men you are dating?

          Reality check.
          Quite honestly, based on your posts it really seems like you need to start being accountable. Every man out there can’t have something wrong with them. Start looking from within and maybe date someone you wouldnt conventially. I think it you knocked down some of those walls you might appear a bit softer and more personable. It seems like all you do is dangle sex in front of these guys and when they get to know you and lose interest based on your personality you blame it on them lacking something and deem yourself empowered. I am calling shenanigans on your whole “game”.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

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          • Vox Says:

            It seems like all you do is dangle sex in front of these guys and when they get to know you and lose interest based on your personality you blame it on them lacking something and deem yourself empowered. I am calling shenanigans on your whole “game”.

            Huh? I dangle sex in front of guys? News to me… when did this start exactly? Oh right, never.

            I don’t have a “game.” I just know what I want, and I state it honestly from the start. And I ask men straight up what they are looking for.

            Folks, I’m not the one with the fuck-and-chuck dating problems. I’m not the one who believes she’s constantly being duped by narcissists…

            My approach isn’t anything magical or revolutionary in the slightest. And to tell you the truth – now that a handful of women disagree with my approach, I feel even more confident that I am on the right track.

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          • Vox Says:

            whoops, hit send too soon. I date men in their 40s. When did I ever say that every man out there has a problem? I actually have had pretty decent success within the last year, and sadly I just ended a brief three month relationship. So what are you talking about?

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    • Bill Says:

      The reason why you are afraid to ask is because you might now like the answer. Women can easily sense the man they are dating may not be into having a relationship with them but they are hoping if he gets to know me enough he will change his mind.

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  3. Christy Says:

    @Vox–its all about “perception” BINGO!

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  4. wishing u well Says:

    Personally – there IS no smooth way to detach when one person is more attached than the other. I’ve been on both the dumping and the receiving end of these types of scenarios. Let’s call a spade a spade: total honesty can be cruel. I would rather cut my left arm off rather than say to a guy, “Hey, since we’ve been hanging out for the past couple of months and you no longer feel the need to be on your ‘best’ behavior with me – your XXX (insert hot button issue here) has really turned me off. This is why I’ve already begun moving on and wish to end things here. But good luck to you!” Especially when said guy is invested and has clearly made steps to move things in a serious direction. I’m a fan of the speech above – it allows the dumpee to leave with a semblance of dignity and gracefully exit. And if the recipient chooses to hang around “hoping” for things to change, well, P.T. Barnum said it best. There’s a sucker born every minute.

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    • wishing u well Says:

      Note: my premise for this attitude is that everyone should believe in themselves and that they are “good enough” to be with a person who is a good compliment for them. There are single people everywhere. When a door closes that ends a chapter in one’s life, it is important to lick your wounds and move on, excited about what the next chapter in life may bring. Wish them well, and take the time to wish yourself well as you move on to other things…

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  5. Saj Says:

    I have to agree with Vox though Moxie’s analysis of this situation is good and interesting.

    It’s a trick but it’s an easy one to side step. You state up front what you want right away which in this case is a relationship and not casual and you are dating to see if you are compatible in that way.

    You don’t have sex or dating or looking to date other people if you can’t get a clear answer what the other person is looking for. Catch phrases like lets enjoy the ride while we determine compatibility or I find you incredibly sexy why not have a little fun or it takes me a long time to determine compatibility though I’ve already determined that I want you in my life in a serve my needs basis are to be seen as red flags.

    The lets not reward bad people for pretending to be good people by being honest about being bad people is great. A dog that’s been kicked around so much that if he gets a pat on the head once a week and thinks well at least I’m not being kicked anymore is forgetting about all the other dogs who are getting walks and love and proper treatment on a daily basis. The expectations get lower and lower to the point of not being punched in the face is seen as a good thing to strive for and you are a princess for expecting more then that.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “You state up front what you want right away which in this case is a relationship and not casual and you are dating to see if you are compatible in that way.”

      Oh, so you’re one of those rare women that is looking for a relationship and not casual sex? While you’re at it, you should also gauge my reaction when you announce that the table is round, the sky is blue, and the ice cubes are cold and the sun will rise in the moning.

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      • Saj Says:

        We already had this conversation in another thread. It’s so you can’t go oh gee willikers I had NO IDEA! that you were upset with our casual sex arrangement. I know vaugeness is 95% of your game so stating the obvious is to close that loophole. You should learn more variety in your attempts to solicit casual sex.

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        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          ” It’s so you can’t go oh gee willikers I had NO IDEA! that you were upset with our casual sex arrangement.”

          I can’t? Why not. I can say whatever I want. I can say “I changed my mind.” Or, “I thought you changed yours.” Or, yeah, more likely I wouldn’t be saying anything at all.

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          • Saj Says:

            Haha and I can go well that’s good because we didn’t have casual sex to begin with if we are going to be playing hypothetical situations as my standards are above average to those who wait til exclusivity before doing the deed. Two comments in when you first started posting here and I had a sour taste in my mouth about your character so I don’t think you are as good at deception as you like to claim.

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            • DrivingMeNutes Says:

              “Two comments in when you first started posting here and I had a sour taste in my mouth about your character so I don’t think you are as good at deception as you like to claim.”

              Just so I fully understand your genius, Saj. Are you saying that because I genuinely believe that world is full of dishonest people that it means I’m somehow bragging about being “good at deception.” Trust me, with people like you in the world, it doesn’t take much talent to be a con man. You need reading comprehension skills. I’m not one of your juvenile, doofus ex-boyfriends. I am not trying to fuck you. You do realize that, don’t you? Jesus, I’m anonymous Internet commenter. If I’m saying something wrong or ilogical, go ahead and prove it. I will admit it when I’m wrong (and have). I don’t care what you think about me personally.

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              • Saj Says:

                Sigh no you usually change the subject or ignore direct questions or try to shift the argument to a place where blame can be put on the woman while the man is completely blameless.

                There are bad people in the world, yah duh stating the obvious like you said I do, and just as you are allowed to say whatever you want I’m allowed to say that those people shouldn’t be rewarded with sex and this is what you do to avoid that.

                You obviously try to bait me all the time by taking quotes word from word in other arguments to blast and make a point. So what’s also been said here is that if somone takes a lot of offence to something it could be because there is a sembelence of truth there that makes you uncomfortable.

                Sorry if the spelling and grammar has been horrible lately as I don’t have access to my spell checker atm :(.

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                • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

                  Sigh no you usually change the subject or ignore direct questions or try to shift the argument to a place where blame can be put on the woman while the man is completely blameless.

                  He really doesn’t, though. What he does do is highlight common issues about women that usually are what make them undesirable to men:

                  *They insist they can handle the truth when they can’t
                  *They have to be right and get the last word.

                  While he may not be the most diplomatic, he tells women the truth. (Or at least his truth.) And then the women spend countless hours analyzing him and counter-arguing thinking they can outsmart him or get under his skin or they think they can attack his manhood and masculinity (something else I find really annoying) hoping it will get the right reaction. What you’re failing to realize, sort of like with Vox’s example above about sticking the guy with the bill,…these guys don’t give a shit. You’re not so much trying to get DMN to admit to being wrong. You’re trying to matter to him and some regard. There’s nothing you can say to these men to make them care.

                  If women would stop trying to deconstruct DMN and the many, many guys like him (many fo which are perfectly nice guys who just happen to approach situations differently) and just listened to him, they’d learn things that could actually help them when dealing with men.

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                  • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                    Well, you can feel free to deconstruct all you want. What self-respecting hijacking troll wouldn’t lke that?

                    But, thank you Moxie. I don’t thnk I am looking to “blame women” for anything. If anything here, I tend to “blame” the complaining party – male or female. But only in the sense that I try to highlight how people need to take the OTHER person’s viewpoint into account when making relationship/dating choices. And, I try to help provide information about that “other” person by giving my honest viewpoint. Okay? Some might call that empathy. But, that’s all. That’s the spirit which you should view my comments. One person’s (a guy) mostly honest viewpoint from which you can assume (if you wish) that there are other guys out there that feel/act the same way. Not everyone, of course, but enough to possibly matter in making your own choices.

                    As for my highlighting what makes women unattractive. I love women, When they insist that they’re right or that they can handle to the truth but can’t? That doesn’t make women particularly unattractive to me. I can deal with that. I’m not even really trying to help women become more attractive. I try to help them make better choices. What I said earlier about wanting to help somone who I think is making a dumb mistake? I really do feel that. But no good deed ever goes unpunished. And, really, this is entertainment.

                    Ok. Big hugs.

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                  • Saj Says:

                    No it’s not trying to matter at all…lets see how do I explain.

                    It’s not when they tell the truth about how they feel that troubles me becaues that’s fine and useful information but it’s when types like that (or other guys who are not looking for a relationship) try to give women tips on how to be more appealing and attrative to THEM when those guys woman should be avoiding at all costs if they want something long term.

                    There are many toxic people out there or slightly toxic and many of them can seem harmless but they are gigantic time wasters especially if a woman is older and her options become less appealing.

                    When you have guys *not just DMN but some others as well* are telling women to sleep with guys right away or to not speak up I get worried that some women might take advice and end up wasting time and getting hurt. I have nothing at stake in the dating market anymore but the same as him I do want to try to help.

                    I think it’s usefull to hear how non relationship people think and opperate but women should listen to guys like Joe or Speed in how to be more attractive because those type of guys seem to be the ones who value a long term relationship.

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                    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                      “I think it’s usefull to hear how non relationship people think and opperate but women should listen to guys like Joe or Speed in how to be more attractive because those type of guys seem to be the ones who value a long term relationship.”

                      Better yet, why just “listen” to them when they’re here, they’re single, they’re available and they’re so interested in a relationship. Let’s put everyone’s money where their mouths are, as they say. Have Moxie set the single girls up with the “relationship” guys and report back the results. I fo rone would honestly love to hear how it goes and have suggested this before.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

                    • Saj Says:

                      Joe is married and as for Speed I have no idea. The people who post here can be seen as cartoon versions of what one might run into in the dating world. We aren’t really super duper unique snowflakes and know plenty of people in our personal lives who resmemble people here. I know two seperate women who remind me a ton of Moxie and while those two are married their own personal feistyness shines through.

                      Each forum attracts it’s own variety of posters and lurkers. If you go to baggagereclaim, hookinupsmart, askmen, jezebel you’ll get an even more extreme demographic but I think things here tend to be a bit more balanced in viewpoints.

                      If I were single and I saw versions of guys who resembled Joe and Speed I would be a lot more interested then the sorts who jump from casual fling to casual fling to casual fling.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

                  • Vox Says:

                    What have you learned from guys like DMN, other than to go with the flow and accept fuck buddy status over and over again while the guy “figures out what he wants,” which never is you so naturally he eventually grows bored of banging you and blows you off…? I’ve learned to say “No thanks” because my self respect dictates it.

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                    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                      I”ve never advocated tolerating crappy treatment from anyone. In fact, I’ve argued repeatedly that women should stop chasing fantasy guys and be more realistic. I never complained about paying the check. So, again, Vox, I think at this point you’re either drunk ot confusing me with someone else.

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                    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

                      Let’s see:

                      *I’ve learned to stop equating sex with a certain level of treatment
                      *I’ve learned that using sex to get exclusivity or attention from a man is a really bad idea and usually only attracts doormats or liars who will say anything to get laid
                      *I’ve learned that “going with the flow” doesn’t include accepting poor treating (with the exception of Don, about which I’ve already admitted ad nauseum was a huge mistake on my part).

                      Most importantly:
                      *I’ve learned that “going with the flow” means taking things date by date. Sometimes I’ll hit, some times I’ll miss. But right now I’m hitting and getting treated well in the process. he could totally turn out to be a dick. But he also could end up being someone really special.

                      Oh. And I got a free flat screen out of it.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

                    • Vox Says:

                      DMN, I don’t know anything about you and I don’t follow nor search on your posts. I mentioned your handle as a direct response to Moxie who name-checked you and said women aren’t learning enough from you. Other than that, you are simply a part of the collective male posters here in my mind. I don’t think anything more than that is needed on my part (or yours).

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                  • Paula Says:

                    In case I haven’t made this clear with some of our most recent comments back and forth, I like DMN and think he makes things around here more interesting than pretty much any other commenter. Most of what he’s said is very well reasoned, and I know I’ve learned a lot about the “many, many guys like him” from his posts.

                    But here’s my sticking point these days, and if that’s deconstruction, so be it. It doesn’t make him a horrible person, just not as logical as he likes to think he is.

                    * He is disinclined to be in a relationship, although there is potentially the woman out there who could change his mind.
                    *Brutally honest judgments about women (you’re too old/fat/unattractive/crazy) go through his head
                    *Being a nice, dateable guy in real life, he doesn’t say those things to women, because he’s socially aware
                    *If she says “I want someone who’s open to a relationship,” he says “I’m definitely open to a relationship and in seeing where this goes.”
                    *But if a woman thinks he’s interested in a relationship, then it’s her own delusion, because guys lie about such things in order to get laid.
                    *He doesn’t care whether women delude themselves, in fact he counts on it.
                    *But yet he’s an honest guy and doesn’t misrepresent how he’s feeling

                    *Those other guys say “In case you might delude yourself otherwise based upon my behavior, I’m not ready for a relationship right now”
                    *Those guys, they’re lying; they are just saying that to be manipulative.
                    * What they really mean is that you’re too old/fat/unattractive/crazy for me to want anything but casual sex, but you don’t want to hear that.
                    *If they really said that, you wouldn’t sleep with them any more.
                    *So they’re dishonest guys, part of the “everybody lies when they have an interest in the outcome” contingent.

                    If you prefer hearing “I’m not ready for a relationship” to “I’m definitely open to seeing where this goes,” when trying to figure out whether to open yourself emotionally to someone, that’s just a personal preference — you can’t trust that it’s an accurate assessment of their honesty. No, but since I apparently can’t trust either statement, I’m not buying that hearing equivocation as opposed to “I’m open to moving forward” is somehow less honest instead of more. Because with equivocation, the onus *is* on me to be cautious; when someone is saying “full steam ahead for now,” not so much.

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        • Vox Says:

          Actually, my reason for saying it up front is to gauge his reaction by watching him and hearing his response. It has nothing to do with casual sex arrangements, not in my case.

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          • DrivingMeNutes Says:

            My response to that on a first date would be “I am definitely open to that and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes. And, I really appreciate you letting me know. Now…. what would you like to drink?” And, it would be sincere since I already knew you wanted a relationship (or are open to one) since that’s why we’re both on this date presumably. Gauge away…

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            • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

              Exactly. Most men upon hearing a woman state, after one or two dates, that she’s looking for a relationship, are going to say exactly what DMN said. Because either they genuinely don’t know what they’re looking for or they know they have to say something along these lines in order to avoid further discussion. The guys that women want, the men with options, are just there to feel things out and have fun. If they enjoy being around the woman – sex or not – they’ll see her again. If they don’t, they won’t. That’s as far as they’re thinking. They’re not sizing a woman up trying to determine whether she’s girlfriend/wife material.

              A guy just looking to get laid is going to say whatever it is he thinks will help him achieve that goal. That’s why it’s pointless to bring this up in the first few dates because the woman doesn’t have a beat on who the guy is and what he’s looking for.

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              • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                Sorry, and this whole idea that a guy is pinned to some position by his silent assent is just retarded. Even people who’ve been married for decades can change their minds and get divorced. You think because he doesn’t loudly object or scurry away in fear when you reveal to him in the first few dates that you’re “a relationship girl” that means I’ve committed to you in some way?

                I’ve seen no evidence that the people who comment here have so much experience or the great judges of character they say they are. Most people make bad decisions. Anyway, If one’s entire experience with men is with juvenile, frat-boy, doofuses, I can see why they may think it’s so easy to figure these guys out.

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            • Vox Says:

              My response would be to order 3 more drinks, and dessert, then to stick you with the billing I’d never accept a second date with you. I know a rote response when I hear one…

              Maybe now we know the source of your dinner check complaints?

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              • Vox Says:

                Damn cursor, it’s “stick you with the bill knowing I’d never accept…”

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              • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                If you can cite to an example where DMN has ever complained about paying a check, I’d love to hear it.

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                • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

                  Okay, one, you need to stop talking in the third person. Rather douchey.

                  Two, I think it’s interesting that any woman would think the man would let the date go on for much longer after a conversation like that. A man will gladly pay a check like that if it means never having to see the woman again.

                  It’s like that scene in a Bronx Tale.

                  “For $25 you’ll never have to see him again. You got off cheap.”

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                • Vox Says:

                  Great, then the night would end positively for us both.

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                  • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

                    Seeing as though 5 minutes ago your reaction would be to “punish” the guy by ringing up a large tab, I’m thinking you’re going to walk away disgruntled and annoyed. He’s going to walk away unfazed.

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                    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                      That’s because she’s imagining “me” at the scene (which is why I douche-ily used third person) rather than real life person who would not be remotely rattled by her declaration and would respond appropriately. I doubt, in her real life, that there are magic words that are required in response. She’s saying she’s “gauging” and I believe her. I just don’t think there’s any reason to think she has a basis to “gauge” someone she doesn’t know, as you, Moxie, suggested in your prior comment. A million different guys with a million different intentions — both good and bad – could have a million different responses to her.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

                    • Vox Says:

                      It’s not a punishment. it’s me salvaging a bad date by getting what I can out of it. My taking the free meal is no different than guys taking the free vagina so many women offer up at the end of a bad date.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

                • Paula Says:

                  You do realize that DMN is a character commenting on this blog that perhaps bears little relation to who this guy is and how he behaves in real life. He’s made that clear on a number of occasions.

                  I suspect the person behind DMN isn’t nearly as douchey — or “nutes” — as his posts might have him appear to be. Given how heartily he personalizes his role as the Devil’s Own Advocate, using the third person might in fact be more appropriate.

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                  • Saj Says:

                    Oh so we can role play on this blog then? I want to be Saj, the prudeful punisher!

                    Being a veteran of role playing (don’t judge) usually the ones who insist they are just playing a character are the most similar to their rl counterparts rather then the people who don’t say much about it at all.

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                    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                      Um, well, that was Paula boasting on my behalf. I try to be honest here, I’ve never claimed otherwise. It’s just that the person in real life doesn’t talk so much or express opinions on everything and sometimes isn’t so brutally honest. Sorry. I hope the real life Saj is different from her character here too, for her sake.

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

                    • Saj Says:

                      Saj, The Prudeful Punisher! slays DWM with a +5 Logic Blast

                      DWM returns to haunt “And That’s why you’re single” as a ghost

                      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

                    • Paula Says:

                      Have you noticed that we all are characters now? I’m apparently blue, hexagonal, with a Mona Lisa-esque smile. Saj is an green agitated isoceles — those tightly clenched teeth are obviously holding back the sexuality you’re repressing. And DMN is back to displaying his smurf-ful self.

                      But wait, DMN, you try to be honest here, but everybody lies. So do we believe you when you say you’re a nice dateable guy in person? I actually do, but we’ve established that’s my blind spot. Because if you’re 1/10th as honest in real life as you try to be on here, then you’re probably 10 times more honest than all the guys from which you’re trying to warn me away. And I like that.

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              • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                Well, tell me what would be an acceptable response? It’s your turn to help me out.

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        • confused Says:

          I’ve been agreeing with your threads, but I’ve had issue with the word vagueness-this is the correct spelling. That’s it. :)

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  6. Paula Says:

    I said it in another post, but I think it’s also relevant here…there are at least two different kinds of honesty.

    One is honesty about your own feelings: are you in love? do you want a relationship? are you just in it for the sex? There is no other person I can turn to to find out how you feel about me, so I think it’s incumbent on you to be honest about how you feel, especially if I’m committing myself emotionally or making life decisions based upon what you tell me.

    Another kind is your judgment of me: you think I’m ugly/fat/crazy/stupid or defective in some way that affects how you feel: “because you’re X, I’m not in love with you/don’t want to be in a relationship with you/only want to have casual sex with you.” Being honest in that situation (especially when the other person hasn’t asked for a reason) is unnecessarily cruel and unnecessary. It doesn’t change the outcome. And since the judgment is just one person’s opinion, they don’t have to get it from you in order to have the truth. It’s reasonable that it conflicts with other people’s opinion or their own opinion of themselves.

    So while the first kind of honesty may be manipulative, designed to force the other person to initiate a breakup or accept the consequences, it doesn’t have to be brutal. Only the second kind has the potential to be that way, and if you’re using it to force detachment, don’t kid yourself that it’s the honorable kind of honesty.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      There may be a distinction in principle. But, in practical terms, there is no difference between “my feelings about why I don’t want to date you” and “my judgments about you.” They are very much related. Let’s say I decide I’m no longer interested in you because I think you’re a little old for me.

      I say “Look, Paula. I think you’re great. Really, you’re the BEST. I just don’t think I’m interested anymore, k?”

      In real life, you’re not going to “okay, thanks for letting me know.” You’re going to ask questions. You’re not interested? Why not? really? I’m surprised, thinks seemed to be going well.

      Now, I have to give you a reason. Am I going to say “you’re too old for me?” Maybe. But, more likely, I’ll try out something else first. “Paula, like I said, I think you’re AWESOME. The BEST EVER. But, I’m just not in a place right now for something more serious.”

      Paula: “Serious? Who said anything about serious? We’re just getting to know each other. I never meant to put pressure on you. Casual is great. I can do casual”

      Me: “No no no. I didn’t mean that. I know you never asked for anything more. Yes, casual has been great. I just feel like it wouldn’t be fair to you because I feel like you want more.”

      Paula: “What gave you that idea? I never asked for more.”

      You see where this conversation is going? You’re never going to get “YOU ARE TOO OLD FOR ME. THIS CONVERSATION WAS OVER ANHOUR AGO.” Normal, polite people that care about each other simply don’t engage in this form of dialouge.

      And, my point is. What is the point of demanding the bullshit at the top. Why do you need the lines about “mixed signals” and “not being sure” and “not in the right place.” It is ALL bullshit. The real reason (in my example) is that you aresimply too old, or some other crappy, shallow reason that you don’t ever want to know.

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      • Paula Says:

        >>>In real life, you’re not going to “okay, thanks for letting me know.”

        That’s where you’re wrong. Because that’s exactly what I did in this situation. It’s the very first response I made to him, every time he said that he was still figuring things out. And it was the very last thing I said to him when we agreed it was never going to work, that I very much appreciated the way he handled the situation and wouldn’t have asked him to do a single thing differently, even though I obviously regretted the outcome.

        It’s the kind of behavior I want to encourage, in him and in all men, so why would I make him regret ever saying it by trying to pin him down? That makes absolutely no sense to me.

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        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          If all you said was “thanks for letting me know” this would not have required the extended discussion over weeks and weeks. You’re telling us that it was ALL him talking? You just listened quietly. He would come to you and say “Hi, Paula, just wanted to tell you I’m still not sure…” and you’d say “okay, thanks for letting me know?” Doubt that. And, if that it was happened, the guy is beyond manipulative.

          You are thrilled with the way he handled things because he managed to end things with you without ever telling you the real reason and, at the same time, making you think that he did. Thus, your feelings are spared. He’s walked the extremely fine line between sharing that he wasn’t interested in you (his feelings) without telling you why (his judgments.) You walk away thinking “I AM a great girl, but we’re both adults and he was just confused about what he wants. He was so honest about his confusion though, so I respect him!”

          But, I still don’t think this is a realistic expectation. That discussion I had with hypothetical Paula above is one I’ve had many times. People don’t take a simple no for an answer..

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          • Paula Says:

            I started to type out everything that happened, but realized that you aren’t going to believe me anyway, DMN. It’s gotta be hard going through life not believing anyone. Plus, I’m not an OP asking for everyone to be commenting on my situation — it was supposed to just be an illustrative example of when honesty was expected and given.

            But yes, I did thank him every time. I didn’t ask the “why?” question, and no, he never did tell me the real reason he’s not attracted to me (nor I him). I told him what I derived from our respective behavior: essentially that we each needed the other person to be the one making the first move, and since we were so much alike, that never happened, and so the chemistry generated when you know the other person really digs you and you really dig them never blossomed. He thanked me for my honesty and for giving him something to think about. Basically, in our conversations, we were both honest about our ambivalence in a perhaps excessively analytical fashion, and each expressed gratitude for the feedback from the other person. We’re neither one “simple no” kind of people, in that we want to find out what makes something work or not, without lying or unnecessarily hurting the other person’s feelings, and managed to do that.

            I made a couple of stabs at escalating things, which he responded favorably to (contributing to the confusion) but it was probably too little too late, plus I realized that I don’t want to be in a situation where I always have to take the lead. (As one friend of mine said, “you sound like a couple of lesbians here, and you’re usually in situations where, given how you feel about sex, it’s like two men involved.”)

            It felt different, certainly, and it didn’t work, ultimately. So perhaps it doesn’t mean a single thing about how relationships should happen. But for me, it demonstrated a way of communicating that I found refreshing, and that there are some people in the world capable of feeling the same way I do about how to approach things.

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            • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

              Plus, I’m not an OP asking for everyone to be commenting on my situation — it was supposed to just be an illustrative example of when honesty was expected and given.

              Then don’t talk about it on the internet. I’m not trying to start shit up with you again as we’ve come to a good understanding here and offline. But discussing your personal life anywhere on the internet where other people have access to it is asking to be judged and analyzed. It just is. If you don’t want people challenging you or critiquing you, don’t discuss personal matters in a public forum.

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              • Paula Says:

                Fair enough, Moxie — I did bring it up.

                I was more troubled, however, with the facts being changed in the hypothetical, while it was still being associated with my situation. Whether you intended it or not, the assumption was that of course Paula was again having casual sex with some guy who didn’t care about her enough to make a commitment.

                As was pounded into my head throughout law school, changing one single fact in a hypothetical situation can change the entire outcome, and the entire analysis you use to get there.

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                • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

                  I didn’t change anything. I said the post was ~inspired by your comment~. I didn’t say it was a factual retelling. I can’t control what you infer from posts and comments. If you don’t want to be analyzed, don’t discuss your personal life here. Simple. I don’t know how many times it has to happen to you before you just learn that people are going to critique what you say. It happens to all of us.

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                  • Paula Says:

                    People are going to critique what I say. I expect that. If I were really that sensitive, I’d never leave the house or use the Internet. But when people critique what I don’t say, and what never happened, I’m going to speak up about that.

                    I don’t know how many times that has to happen before people realize I’m happy to and enjoy debating facts and hypotheticals, but am going to push back when it involves unnecessary personalization and/or factual inaccuracies. Like what you did on the weight post, when people were basing their negative assumptions about you on thinking that something just happened recently, when it actually happened several years ago and you had learned from the experience.

                    Carry on.

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            • DrivingMeNutes Says:

              “I started to type out everything that happened, but realized that you aren’t going to believe me anyway, DMN. It’s gotta be hard going through life not believing anyone.”

              Well, yeah, it’s truly a curse to see things as they are and not as one might like them to be as it is to be bound by rigid logic. I do need to learn to stand idly by and cheer people on, like everyone else does, while other people make obvious and stupid mistakes. I will need to get a new name to post under though. Or, at least, start taking my meds.

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              • Paula Says:

                I’m pretty much a bound by logic kind of person myself.

                Which is why it’s illogical to me to always imagine someone doing and thinking and saying the reverse of what they actually mean 100% of the time, especially when their words and actions are perfectly consistent with each other, and with my own assessment of a particular situation, and with what I know about my own behavior when confronted with the same situation.

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                • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                  Paula, you’re a lawyer, right? People interested in the outcome of a transaction/situation are motivated to lie. It doesn’t mean they’re always “lying” in a morally bad kind of way, and it certainly doesn’t mean they are bad people. They could be kind people. They could be lying to spare feelings, or to avoid conflict. It’s normal. The world is not black and white. Everyone lies.

                  Every day example. If someone tells me they “prefer Coke to Pepsi,” they could be lying or not. If I am holding a can of Coke and a can of Pepsi, I can safely assume they are telling me the truth because they’re motivated to tell me truth in that case. But, what if I work for Coca Cola and I am interviewing them for a job. Sure, they may be telling the truth. They may love Coke. But, they also may secretly hate Coke. They’re motivated to “lie” even about something stupid because they want something else. At that point, it is your oligation to become skeptical. That seems to be the blind spot for you with respect to your relationships.

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                  • Paula Says:

                    People interested in the outcome of a transaction/situation are motivated to lie.” “Everyone lies.

                    I’m interested in the outcome of most if not all of the transactions/situations in which I am engaged — I’m not an emotionless automaton, and like most people, I’m actively working to shape that outcome in a positive and beneficent way for myself. But that doesn’t mean I lie.

                    If I’m before a court, I’m ethically bound not to lie, even if my client has a motivation to. If a jury or judge believes I’m lying on my client’s behalf, they lose, and I may be sanctioned or censured on top of that. So I don’t do it, and wouldn’t do it, even if there were no consequences to doing it, like perjury [note: I don’t actively practice or represent clients in court, but I did earlier in my career.]

                    I don’t think I’m that remarkable, or the only single person left in the world who doesn’t lie. Sure, I withhold irrelevant and hurtful information — you would most likely find me to be polite and gracious in person. I don’t share every judgment that goes through my brain, although I don’t have that many really hurtful judgments taking up space there.

                    So maybe it’s keeping me single that I expect someone with whom I’m involved in a relationship to share the same values and consider it important to communicate honestly about how I’m feeling. That’s pretty much true of anyone in my life — my parents are the most scrupulously honest people you’ll ever meet, and anyone who I can’t trust to be honest doesn’t stay my friend for long either. In fact, most of my close friends are the brutally honest types, and I can be that way with them in return without causing offense.

                    But I don’t see it as being any different than the women who expect the guys they’re with to have the same relationship-oriented values before they have sex. I don’t need or expect them to lie to me in order to get laid, but before they get my heart, they need to have demonstrated that we have that shared value. And in my recent situation, when we answer hundreds of questions and are 97% in agreement, along with every other commonality we identified during approximately 40 hours of interaction, it’s not completely naive to think that we might — just might — prioritize honesty in the same way.

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                    • Saj Says:

                      no you aren’t wrong in expecting a man whom you have a relationship with to share your values. Sharing values can be the glue that holds a relationship together and if somone insists that lying is ok and that is in direct opposition to your values then you dismiss them from having any sort of romantic role in your life.

                      You aren’t alone in trying to be honest yet kind in your interactions with people and wanting the same in return.

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  7. trouble Says:

    Many people would be on the receiving end of the conversation above and think, “Wow. At least they’re being honest. They can’t be that bad.” And so they continue on with said person, not really understanding that what that person was doing was trying to trick us in to going away. They were putting the responsibility on us.

    I have no problems with this sort of honesty. If I am on the receiving end of this conversation, I have all the information I need to make a decision about this relationship.

    If I choose to stay in a situation that clearly isn’t going to lead to something longterm, whose fault is that?

    Let’s stop excusing people for choosing to stay in situations that clearly aren’t going to meet their needs.

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  8. Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

    If they don’t know on date 1 or 2 whether they want to be in a relationship in general, I am gone. And if they don’t see me personally as relationship material by date 3 or 4, I am also gone.

    I don’t buy this no nonsense act at all. This is just an excuse not to give anybody a chance or to force a guy’s hand, leaving you with nothing but door mattish guys who like being bossed around.

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    • Vox Says:

      Not true at all: I just ended a three month relationship. And of course, I’ve been married as well. Telling man what I am looking for as I date, and asking him what he is looking for as he dates women isn’t forcing a guy’s hand, it is being an adult. And if we aren’t looking for the same things, I’m gone. That’s being an adult too.

      My way works for me, what can I say. If your way is working for you, then I guess it’s all good.

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    • Saj Says:

      Eh? If a guy sticks around it means he actually might be serious about you or open to the possibility as opposed to 100% not serious which is what happens if you are up front with a guy and he walks.

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  9. Vox Says:

    Seriously ladies, when you hear a man you are dating say, “I don’t know what I want” do you honestly believe that he may at some point decide that he wants a relationship with you? Do you start (or continue) a sexual relationship with that guy, if you yourself are searching for a serious relationship?

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    • Paula Says:

      If I think the guy is otherwise being truthful, then I believe he means what he says. DMN would tell me I shouldn’t, but I’m ready to join the cynical “how can you tell a guy is lying? his lips are moving” camp just yet.

      My last committed relationship came out of a sex-first situation, when neither of us were emotionally ready to commit to a relationship (I was 2 months out of a 6-year relationship/marriage, and his ex-fiance died right after they broke up, so we were both emotional wrecks). After a few months together, it deepened into a relationship. If I had applied your test (which would have been pretty hypocritical since I couldn’t say I was ready for a relationship with him on encounter 4), it never would have happened in the first place.

      It didn’t ultimately work out, but I’m not willing to say that it never should have existed, as he was someone who was very special to me and helped me considerably in recovering from a very dark time in my life.

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      • Paula Says:

        that should be “I’m NOT ready to join…”

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        • Saj Says:

          But had you had the conversation you two probably would have both come to the conclusion that you only wanted something simple right then and you still would have had that relationship.

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          • Paula Says:

            I’m not sure I understand this…under Vox’s formulation, if one of us couldn’t say by date #4 that we wanted a relationship, then it should have been terminated.

            In actuality, we did have a conversation about four months in (at the FWB level), where he told me he was still in love with an ex (the first post-deceased-fiance girlfriend), and “let me go” on Valentine’s Day. I said, “do what you have to do — I haven’t been ready to commit to you yet either,” he went to visit her, and realized that he really wanted to be with me. That was the point where it deepened into a relationship.

            So, this was a situation where he said “I don’t know what I want” and did later decide that he wanted a relationship with me, where waiting it out until we were both more emotionally ready made all the difference.

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  10. Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

    Seriously ladies, when you hear a man you are dating say, “I don’t know what I want” do you honestly believe that he may at some point decide that he wants a relationship with you?

    After 2 – 4 dates??? Neither the man or the woman should be expected to “know” if they see relationship potential with the other person.

    First off, why are you having the “what do you want?” talk on the first couple dates? Nothing makes someone look impatient, high maintenance and anxious than a question like that on the first few dates. If a woman made that kind a declaration or started that conversation on the first few dates, even if the man was relationship minded, he’s not going to lock himself in to anything with that woman. So of course he’s going to be evasive or non-committal. If it’s a couple month sin to it, then yeah, of course, it’s time to move on. But what ever happened to sticking it out and seeing what happens? As long as a man is giving positive feedback in other ways, following through, etc then what harm could come from having a handful of dates with him while pursuing other options?

    If she wants a relationship and she’s not sure where he stands and she knows she gets attached, then she shouldn’t sleep with him. But that doesn’t mean the guy isn’t a possible candidate. I have a good friend who met a guy on Match. They dated for about 2 months when she asked where things were going. He said he wasn’t sure, that he was still getting to know her. Everything else up to this point had been great. Had she bailed at that point, she’d have been shooting herself in the foot. A month later he said he wanted to be exclusive and they’re now engaged.

    I’m sorry, but there’s no infallible screening process. You either are willing to take the risk or you’re not. If you think 4 dates is a waste of time, then you shouldn’t be dating in the first place.

    Announcing on the first few dates that you’re looking for a serious relationship and expecting the man or woman to meet that expectation right then and there is self-sabotage.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

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    • Saj Says:

      There have been numerous posts besides just vox, trouble, and myself that saying on the first or second date that you are looking for a long term relationship (not with them but in general) has not backfired. You even have had men such as craig and others say they weren’t scared off by this or thought the woman high maitenence.

      A couple of months in is different then the first or second date where the guy knows 100% that it isn’t about him but what the women is trying to acheive through dating. If you are talking about risk why be afraid of risking stating what you want right away? You are risking sleeping with a stranger who is ambivilant which is unhealthy and dangerious but you won’t risk asking one question?

      Engaging with a sexual relationship with someone in a vauge ambigous manner just wastes your time if a relationship is your goal. What are you so scared of by speaking about your needs rather then tip toeing around his? These guys seem to have no problems with trying to get what they want so why should woman be more timid in this process? If a guy on a first date told you he is looking for a long term relationship would that make you think….wierdo? It the answer is yes that is where your attraction for men who are into long term relationships is suspect. It’s self saboging to let vaugness work in the guys favour so he can add another casual sex notch to his belt.

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      • kinlah Says:

        @Saj and Vox,
        Thank you for making perfect sense. I couldn’t make a better arguement than that. I sometimes feel that common sense is missing in the dating world…especially as we get older (or to others desperate).

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    • Vox Says:

      I was going to answer, but Saj has covered me well. I cosign on her post.

      The only thing I’d also say (yet again) is that I have NEVER had a “where’s this going” conversation with a man. It isn’t necessary because men know upfront that I am a relationship-minded person. So they will either get there with me, or one of us will decide things aren’t working out.

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  11. ~R Says:

    Moxie, I’m with Vox on her analysis but I liked your post. The title gives it away that you wrote it in “victim” mode. Recognize that the only way anything works is if both parties together create the reality. This truth is inescapable but you’re not owning up your part of it.

    One other thing – let’s all recognize that our advice is based on our experiences, which covers nothing more that a tiny sliver of reality. What may work for one, may not work for another.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      The post was inspired by a story Paula told in the previous post’s comments section. She was talking about a guy she had been out with a few times who would call her after each date and reiterate that he wasn’t sure what he wanted.

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      • Paula Says:

        Except that you put sex into the equation, which I made very clear wasn’t part of my story. (Or, in other words, Yes, we have no bananas.)

        He wasn’t doing it the way he did it to get more sex out of me. He was doing it because he was ambivalent and tends to do a lot of his thinking aloud, and he didn’t want to sleep with me until he knew for sure it was the right thing to do. The ambivalence has now been resolved against moving forward with me, in another one of *those* conversations.

        As disappointed as I am about the outcome, because we had both agreed, almost word for word, that “I really like you. I think you’re cool and I have a lot of fun when I’m with you,” I didn’t end up in a situation where his words were inconsistent with his behavior, so I was either confused or felt unable to trust him. If I wanted a platonic friendship — I don’t — that door is open. The very qualities that caused me to like him so much and determine that he was someone I would want in my life were exemplified by how he handled this.

        I used it as an example of how someone honored my personal preferences (according to DMN) in a particular situation and I continued to respect it even when I didn’t get my desired outcome. (Yes, I do want honesty, even when I’m not getting what I want in conjunction with it.) I’m not wild about having it associated with a situation where someone’s being passive-aggressively manipulative, because I think it took an atypical amount of courage to be that open and direct in delivering bad news. But honestly, I didn’t even recognize myself in the scenario, given how it was altered.

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  12. Joe Says:

    I think you’re being a little cycnical here and taking easy pot shots without discussing the reverse. Given your prescribed scenario, what is the best way to break up?

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  13. pistola Says:

    “Announcing on the first few dates that you’re looking for a serious relationship and expecting the man or woman to meet that expectation right then and there is self-sabotage.”

    I would agree with this EXCEPT…I noted in my very last round of dating that *all* the men who gave me this very feedback are the ones who are NEVER going to be interested in a serious relationship. With anyone. So I think there is something to what Saj is saying, for sure.

    I’ve seen this play out a bit differently–the person giving said speech is not a Dumper but one of these ambivalent people who wants to drift in and out of the lives of others as they feel like it. The speech goes more like, “I’m not in a position to be in a relationship right now, but I’d be open to the possibility of one with you…” The unspoken text is, “if you are good enough, that is.” These people are the same people I’ve just described. They want all doors open and none closed, just open enough to step through when they feel like it.

    I don’t know that I think it’s necessary to have the “I want a serious relationship” talk right up front…a few dates often solves the question of whether to even go there all by itself…but early on, yeah.

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    • Paula Says:

      One thing that the guy who is apparently the subject of this told me along the way is that it tends to take him a while to become exclusive with anyone, but not because he wants to keep the door open to sleep with other people, and isn’t actually sleeping with anyone else in the meantime. It’s because he tends to be that cautious and deliberate about things.

      The problem with this scenario as I see it is that it does seem to penalize the stereotypical “nice guy” who does want to take his time and get it right, and who is very deliberately cautious so as not to create false expectations. That’s who I want to be looking for, at least on paper.

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      • pistola Says:

        “it tends to take him a while to become exclusive with anyone, but not because he wants to keep the door open to sleep with other people”…that sounds like bullshit to me. sorry to say that. because what other reason would a person have? If they are not sure about you and are “cautious and deliberate”, they can just date you till they are sure–exclusively–and if it doesn’t work out, just end it. To me this says “manipulator” bigtime–ie. “I need to be in control of what happens at all times.”

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        • Saj Says:

          Agreed. This is a whole lot of rationlizing for why someone doesn’t want to be in a commited relationship. It’s easier to accept that as reality to preserve self esteem but once you get some distance or go out with a guy who knows how to say yes or no without hours of conversation the smell of bullshit will get stronger and stronger as you think of this very situation.

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        • Paula Says:

          I think the bottom line is just that I need and want to hear different things than some other people do, and maybe say and feel some different things as well.

          >>>because what other reason would a person have?

          it seems obvious to me, because I’ve been on the other side of this equation too, is that you should want to do everything you can to prevent someone else from getting hurt based upon your actions. If I say something that someone misunderstands, and it causes them pain, then I feel pain. If I don’t say something in a situation where, if I had said something the pain would have been lessened for someone else, then I feel pain. I feel pain when someone develops feelings I don’t share, so I understand saying more rather than less to end things at a point before those unreciprocated feelings are fully developed.

          Perhaps others don’t feel any obligation in this situation, and it’s just my personal preference, as DMN would say. Maybe it’s based upon having been married to someone who knew for a year that he didn’t want to be married any more, but could not say a single thing to give me any inkling whatsoever that he wanted to end the marriage, while I continued to support him financially and emotionally and spend every last bit of time and effort I had figuring out how to make our marriage work.

          But I’d rather a hundred times over know what someone is feeling, even if it’s unfavorable, than not know what they’re feeling and be left trying to figure it out, or to find out that what I think they’re feeling is based upon lies. And that’s true every single step of the way, from before the first date to the conclusion of whatever it ends up being.

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          • pistola Says:

            I understand what you’re saying, Paula. What I’m saying is that there is something that does not make sense about the thought process of a person who would tell you that they don’t want to be exclusive because they are cautious but also not trying to leave the door open for someone else. It doesn’t add up all taken together.

            It would make sense if someone said one of the following:

            –I don’t want to be exclusive because that’s too much like a serious relationship and I’m not in that space (now/ever).

            –I don’t want to be exclusive because I’m dating around and still thinking I can do better than you, though I like you fine.

            –I don’t want to be exclusive because even though I’m not dating around, I’m interested in dating around.

            I’m saying that the combination of what you were told does not make sense. Each thing sounds good separately, but taken together add up to someone who does not know what he wants in general and is acting out that confusion in his dating life.

            We all go through being confused, but it’s my personal opinion that it’s better to take oneself off the market at such times until it’s sorted out.

            Reminds me of one guy I met who said, all in the same conversation, that he was not in a relationship place/wants a lover/does not want his lover to have other partners because he doesn’t believe in that. Just plain old confused. And therefore a lousy candidate for any kind of dating…

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            • Paula Says:

              I think it was a combination of “I don’t want to be exclusive because that’s too much like a serious relationship and I’m not in that space now” (it was prior to us meeting so it wasn’t “I’m not in that space yet with you”) and “I don’t want you to think I’m a sleazebag like women tend to think about the other guys who say they don’t want to be exclusive just so they can sleep with everyone in town.”

              He may or may not have been confused about me, and may or may not be confused period (he sure said he was for a while and acted consistently with that). But it didn’t come across as all that extreme or inconsistent, especially remembering my own occasions coming out of something relatively devastating.

              It’s all well and good to say you can figure out these things in the abstract, and if you don’t have them figured out, you should stay in the realm of the abstract, but it usually takes a real live person presenting themselves in your life for you to figure out where you’re at by comparison. And when that real live person is there looking to find out how you feel, if you care about them at all, you try to give them as many answers as you’re capable of giving, even if they’re a little confused or inconsistent.

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  14. trouble Says:

    I’ve pretty much always had the “sex” talk by date 3 or 4, with the sex talk being something along the lines of, “I really like sex, but I only like it within the context of an exclusive relationship, and that’s what I’m looking for.” Yes, some guys have bailed, but I didn’t do it in an attacking or confrontational way. It was always like, “Hey, we’re grownups here, and I like you. For me, dating is about trying to figure out if there is a fit, this is what I’m looking for, how does that fit with you?”

    I’ve had one guy make some really nasty comments to me when I was first single about how I needed to revise my standards, etc. if I wanted to date successfully. I took his words for what they were worth (not very much). I would say that 95% of the rest respected me and were cool with it. And my boyfriend thought it was fantastic, because he’s very much the same way.

    Let me put it like this: I’ve never regretted NOT sleeping with someone and I’ve never regretted having my standards. I have regretted sleeping with someone, and I definitely did a lot of regretful things before I developed my standards.

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