Why You Should Treat Men Like Options


Name: micky | | Location: CEDAREDGE , co |Question: I was just recently introduced to this guy through a mutual friend. I live about 250 miles away from him, (I am a teacher)and he just moved to my hometown. I spend a lot of time back home and I will spend all summer there.  He asked this friend to give me his number, so I texted him that I got his number, enjoyed meeting him, and if he ever wanted to meet somewhere to give me a call, and my number as well. He texted back ” Hey it was great to meet you too! I got wrangled into some other plans this wkd, but next time your in town give me a holler!” My question is I am going to be home this weekend, do I call him or do I just forget about him? He seemed like a really nice guy, but he could just be giving me a brushoff, and I really don’t know what to do! I need some real honest good advice. |Age: 28


Name: micky |  | Location: Grand Junction , CO |Question: I was introduced to a guy through a mutual friend and he told her to give me his number. So I texted him and told him I enjoyed meeting him. He texted back and said it was great to meet me too, and next time I am in town ( i live out of town)to give him a holler. So two weeks later I am back and I text him asking if he wants to meet up. He texted back that he had to work and he already had plans for the evening. Should I just move on or should I give it another try? If I ask again will he take that as a sign of neediness, or what? He didn’t say lets meet up next weekend, but my friend said that he might not want to for fear of what my schedule is like…and she said it was Easter Weekend and h may have had legitimate plans. So confused… and I am interested in this guy, but I would like to get to know him better, so what is the deal here? |Age: 28


There is no deal here.  You are a woman he met one time that he thought was cool and, should his schedule allow it, would hang out with it. It’s not that he’s giving you the brush off. He’s just not thinking about you. You live 250 miles away. You’re not really a viable relationship option for him. Sure, he might get together with you at some point. But he’s not investing any time or thought in to you.  You, on the other hand, are trying to decipher his actions. Stop that. You’ll never know what he’s really thinking.

The first sign that this guy wasn’t all that invested is that he asked your mutual friend to pass along his number to you instead of asking the friend for your number and contacting you himself. That right there tells you all you need to know. He is not going to pursue you in any way. He’s not going to drive out to see you. He’s not going to meet you in the middle.

People like this, who make no real effort, don’t deserve this much thought. I’m not saying he’s a scoundrel for not immediately trying to see you again or for tossing off comments like “give me a holler.” He’s just doing what many people do…keeping their options open while not locking themselves in to anything.  There’s nothing wrong with that. I doubt he’s saying these things to intentionally confuse you. In fact, I really don’t think you factor in to the equation all that much.

I used to sit and watch my male friends flirt and hit on any attractive woman they encountered. It wasn’t really about the woman.  We meet someone we find attractive, we talk with them a bit, we ask for their number or give them ours. It’s almost a Pavlovian response.

This is why so many people wonder why, after they give their number to someone, they never hear from the person. Often times there isn’t an ounce of actual intention to call the person. It’s just a conditioned response. A safety measure, really. They load their phone up with numbers and then, if the mood strikes them or they have nothing to do, they call the person and ask them out. Again…this does not automatically make them shady or lazy or not looking for anything substantive.

Now….is it possible to convert one of these situations in to something more substantive? Sure. If you can relinquish the need to control the outcome and the situation, you can use these scenarios to your advantage. But you have to understand that timing plays a key role. People can change their intentions and desires at any given time. Someone might not be looking for anything serious one month. Then two months later they decide they want a relationship. It happens.You have to stop trying to bang a square peg in to a round hole and just sit back and let things unfold.

Where we often trip ourselves up is that we place far too much importance on insignificant levels of attention or effort. You want to contact him again? Okay. Wait until you don’t care whether he replies or not. You need to take the same casual approach to him (and other men) as he is taking towards you. You can not let how or if he responds to you control how you feel or how you think. This guy is not the only man on earth.It’s this sort of mentality that encourages us to latch on to the wrong people.

We do this for several reasons:

1. The person we’ve latched on to represents something to us – Our infatuation or attachment to this person isn’t even about them. It’s about how they make us feel about ourselves. I was talking to my friend M. recently about the “caste system” theory. This theory implies that there are certain types (or “calibers”) of people that tend to exclusively date those who are in the same “class.” Some might call it shallow, and often times it is. But it’s also a case of like attracting like. The guy who takes pride in his expensive suits and fancy dinners is usually seen with a woman who places the same level of importance on labels and status. I know that I am not polished enough to ever capture the attention of one of these men. And that’s okay. But for years I wanted one of those men because I needed their approval. Some men or women are always going to be out of our league.  Not simply because of their looks, but because our core values are so different.

2. We’d rather focus on someone – anyone – than be alone with our thoughts - A lot of people need to  have someone on which to obsess or focus. Just the idea that someone out there might want them is enough to carry them through. As long as there’s someone out there that wants them, they’re okay. They don’t have to do any sort of personal inventory or be accountable.

3. We think this is our last chance - It’s only your last chance if you truly believe that. What’s really funny is that , even though we frequently find ourselves attracted to someone, we still believe that there is this shortage of men or women out there. If we’re always finding people that we like, how could there be a shortage?

4. We don’t really want a relationship and prefer to self-sabotage - The more common reason for getting attached to the wrong people is that they’re safe. They pose no risk. We can convince ourselves that we want a relationship and we support that claim by pursuing people that we know, on some level, we will never have. This is just another way we can avoid being honest with ourselves about our flaws or fears.

To the OP, this guy is treating you like an option. That’s how you need to treat him. Try it. The less importance you place on him, the less likely you will be to trip yourself up and get in your own way. That’s how we end up scaring or turning off people who could very well end up being right for us. If this is a consistent problem for you, you need to examine your behavior and figure out how you are contributing to this outcome. Figure that out and deal with it and you’ll be better able to take the relaxed and casual approach you need to get what you want.

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16 Responses to “Why You Should Treat Men Like Options”

  1. Horace Says:

    First, I want to point out that both of these women texted first. Exactly what just about every goddamn woman says is lame for guys to do (more than a few female commenters here have said as much).

    Second, why are women so easily invested, and why do they want us to be so easily invested? That’s rhetorical. My time is precious and I’m not just going to drop a bunch of it on some chick I don’t really know yet. In the case of these OPs, what’s wrong with the men already having plans? Women act so entitled to men’s attention and time, and get all butt-hurt when we fail to recenter our worlds around you. Here’s a clue: You… me… WE’RE ALL JUST OPTIONS… until we’re not.

    Third, if you want to call someone, call them! There’s no should or shouldn’t. If you want to know the answer to a question, ask the damn question! Dating is such a fucking child’s game. Don’t sit there all confused and emo and sniveling to a stranger for advice and validation on the Internets. Grow up. You’re a big girl now.

    • angel Says:

      We would not have all these books written, dating coaches and websites if is was so easy for men and women to understand each other.

      • Trouble Says:

        We wouldn’t have all these books written, dating coaches, and websites if adults acted like adults, and had the courage to actually communicate. Unfortunately, most adults don’t act like adults, they don’t have any common sense at all, and they’d rather talk to their friends or a stranger online about what is happening, rather than asking the person involved.

        Most humans are cowards.

  2. Doubtful Dater Says:

    Great advice! And timely for me too! I agree that the casual approach is really the best one (in most cases) because otherwise, it’s easy to get wrapped up in something that isn’t there.

  3. Paula Says:

    This was an important lesson for me to learn, but maybe the most valuable thing there is to realize when you’re single.

    Think about it, you’re brought up with a set of values that encompass monogamy, finding “The One” or your “soulmate”, having a boyfriend or girlfriend. If you were a misfit, late bloomer, or geek growing up, chances are you had one or several painful unrequited crushes, where you pined away after one person who you were convinced was the answer to your prayers. As your friends paired up and you didn’t, you wondered why it took so much effort to find someone, just one person, who wanted you back. Whether you were a serial monogamist, involved with only one person at a time, or single chasing one person at a time, the mindset was one, one, one.

    Wanting or having more than one meant you were indecisive, using people you weren’t truly interested in, or not really serious. If it advanced to dating more than one person, it meant you were incapable of commitment, a tool, a player, or a slut. And having more than one relationship, well, they may call it polyamory to make it sound more legitimate, but a lot of people (myself included) have real trouble with the idea. Generally when there’s more than one, it’s called infidelity or adultery.

    But until that point where you make a commitment to one person, you should have options. You need to have options. You need to be in a position to compare and contrast, to see who best fills your needs. You need to stop obsessing about a single person who might not work out, and is even less likely to if you become clingy, needy, or push things too fast. You need to have the self-confidence that if things don’t work out with one person, there’s always someone else around the corner. You shouldn’t settle for someone who doesn’t meet your needs, who doesn’t measure up, just because you’re so scared no one else will come along.

    If there aren’t any options in your life, create them. Start online dating or speed dating or singles meetups. Have friends set you up. Look up long lost loves, high school & college classmates, and old friends via Facebook. (Don’t re-enter destructive situations you’ve been able to escape, but otherwise, you never know what will happen when you find someone from your past.) Do anything you can to ensure that you’re not only thinking about just one person.

    Not only will the psychology we’ve been discussing in the last several posts kick in (with him too) but you are much less likely to fall into the traps that Moxie mentions, which can be very damaging to your self-esteem.

  4. Saj Says:

    Really spot on advice from Moxie. I never understood the point of obsessing over someone you aren’t even sure is into you yet. Why focus so much on the unknown. The OP doesn’t live in the same hometown yet so it makes the odds the guy is going to hard core pursue her even less.

    My husband was out of state when I met him online and while I really liked him I had no idea he was going to be willing to move for me and kept him in the friend zone and continued to cultivate more local options. He wanted to take a trip and meet me? Sure but you are still in the friends I think are cute zone. Oh you seriously want to move now and asked me to stop dating other guys. Ok i’ll take you seriously now.

    I’m horrible with people and a crappy flirt but I could still cultivate options of men to keep me from being focused on anyone. The OP should hussle a bit more and try this as well.

  5. LT Says:

    Great advice Moxie! For years I was the one who constantly obsessed over men whether it was someone I was dating or just a crush. Finally after reading many “self-help” books and deciding to take a different, casual approach to dating, I am finally having fun dating. Now I’m dating 3 three different guys and I’m finally just enjoying getting to know them and taking a “wait and see” approach. For once I’m not stressing about where things are going. I’m finding out what I want in relationship and what I don’t. Now I just have faith that whatever is meant to be will be.

  6. vox Says:

    To answer the OSPs question, this man is not interested in you as a romantic prospect. If you are interested in him, you will have to be the pursuer. Pick up the phone, talk to him in a charming way, and ask him out on a date well before your actual trip. In my opinion, you will be rejected, but that’s just my opinion about women pursuing men in general. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    I do agree with the advice that you shouldn’t get so invested in a guy you barely know. Wondering about his actions makes no sense.

    • ciscokid Says:

      “Pick up the phone, talk to him in a charming way, and ask him out on a date well before your actual trip.”

      Great advice. If you make an effort.. there will be an excellent chance you he will go out with you.
      Think about it … you have to have 3 eyes and a hump on your back for a guy to say ” no way in hell am I going to be seen in public with this train-wreck” Any sensible guy will take you up on the offer to go out on a date (unless his schedule is really hectic), regardless if he is not that into you. It gives the guy/girl a chance to get to know you. He might just meet one of the best chicks on earth… but how would you know if you don’t try.

      I just recently went on a date to the JJ Car show this week… it was probably the worst date in my entire life. My date had to be the most negative downer in the United States. It was soo bad that I contemplated numerous times on the Irish exit… but that wouldn’t have been fair and most importantly it would have been wrong. I painfully stayed on this date and even walked her to her ride at Times Square. I never once told her to lighten up, take a happy pill, etc.. but I tried to make the best of the date. A learning experience indeed(isn’t that what dating is all about?). I have a love for cars and events, etc. .. but man this date sucked ballsax.

      Now… that is an example of what can go terrible bad for a guy on a date. Unless you are planning to be a negative hunchback on a night out… I can’t see why you would jump to sooo many conclusions as to not asking this guy out?

      Stop going by your “Emotions & the What if’s”-#1 worst enemy for women!! Stop thinking about Everything and Just do it! An ex-girlfriend once bought this Louie Vitton bag that was the size of my hand in Vegas for $800!!. It was beyond me why she bought this b/c she never used the damn thing! She said she simply “Wanted it”… nothing stopped her.. no rationalization from others. She bought it!

      She wanted it, nobody could tell her different , and she did it!? If you want the guy- think about it-what makes him different that the ugly-ass bag?- Just do it!… done. If it doesn’t work out… guess what??-you learned and you move on.

      “In my opinion, you will be rejected, but that’s just my opinion about women pursuing men in general. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.”

      That old fashioned way of thinking is old.

    • Paula Says:

      In my opinion, you will be rejected, but that’s just my opinion about women pursuing men in general.

      I think that’s a prediction rather than an opinion (given that it will either happen or it won’t, regardless of what you think), but whatever you call it…so effin’ what!

      The point is not to care so much about being rejected, by a guy who lives 250 miles away that you’ve met once and texted twice, that it inhibits your actions in any way, shape or form.

      Here’s an article I read yesterday that I think everyone should read and take to heart: it’s probably the most inspiring and liberating thing I’ve read all year.


  7. Devon Brown Says:

    Once again, Moxie makes all kinds of sense.

    One thing that everyone has in common is that we think way too much. Not everyone has ulterior motives when crafting a text message. In fact, most people just sort of spit out whatever is on the tip of their brain at that moment without even a filter. The time that we take to wonder what the person meant, how we should respond, what the person REALLY meant, etc. should be better spent concentrating on how to make ourselves happy.

    – Devon

  8. Mark Says:

    Sorry, but I’m a little confused over your confusion.

    Not trying to be funny, but you said it yourself. You live 250 miles away. Granted, you visit your hometown often and for summers and the like….But the fact still remains you live some distance apart. So it seems to me that you are reading a little too much into this.

    I don’t think I would put to much importance on who text who first or otherwise contacted first. So it might help to think of these things as guidelines, not rules. He probably saw you as attractive and maybe fun to be around. After all guys are pretty simple on that level. He is aware of the distance factor so probably isn’t atttaching much importance to this. So It’s probably not the case that he is brushing you off. Rather, he sees this as a logistical nightmare.

    Now for the tough part-What is it you are looking for?

    If it’s a casual thing-ok then. If it’s someone to hang around when your visiting-ditto. If it’s someting more serious-then you got a problem. After all, how are you going to resolve the long distance issue? Especially, since you don’t even know if things would progress far enough to even think about making that sort of decision?

    So you might consider looking a little closer to where you live and work. It would make things a lot easier. Otherwise, you may find this sort of situation repeated.

    In any event, best of luck.

  9. Bill Says:

    Stop treating people like options. If you treat them like a option they will treat you like one too. Like attracts like.

    You should only be interested in someone when they are interested in you. Men/Women stop chasing after who isn’t interested in you. The amount of time you spend writing moxie, moaning, and etc -> could be spent with someone who is interested in you while your interested in him.

    • Paula Says:

      It sounds good in theory to say “don’t treat people as options,” but it’s only when your head is clear, and you can compare the behavior of different people, that you’re able to tell whether someone is interested in you. Otherwise, if you really really want them to be interested, you’ll delude yourself that every last thing they do indicates some level of interest, and make excuses for every behavior that doesn’t fit your theory.

      No one said anything about being rude or cruel, playing games, or treating people as if they are interchangeable or disposable. It’s all about not having the world revolve around someone else until you know whether they want their world to revolve around you, or even if they want to share the same universe.

    • vox Says:

      Totally agree. Just because a person is an option doesn’t mean they should be treated that way.”Don’t fantasize and pin false hopes on a person you barely know” is a much better way to view people.

  10. Christina Says:

    Moxie gives good advice, as usual. You have to be realistic about what is likely to come of this, and due to time and distance, it probably won’t be much. That being said, I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with giving him a call when you’re in town and seeing if he wants to do something.
    It’s totally fine for women to make the first move (that’s how I met my guy), but don’t keep chasing him if he doesn’t seem responsive. There should be a give and take!

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