Are You His Back Up Plan?

Name: Sheila |  Location: New York, NY |Question: I recently had two dates with a man from Match.com.  Both dates lasted 3 to 4 hours. At the end of the second date he told me how much he enjoyed hanging out with me and that he really liked me. I reciprocated and said the same. He also said he wanted to go out again this week. Our last date was Friday night. I sent him an email on Saturday thanking him for dinner telling him I looked forward to seeing him again. This morning I received and email from him telling me he had fun too, but that he had been seeing someone else and has decided to see where things go with her. I didn’t know what to say. He had just told me two days before that he wanted to see me again. He said that people are often tempted to date multiple people that they connect with online and that that hasn’t worked for him in the past so he’s decided to focus on this one particular woman.Then he said that, should things not work out, maybe we could reconnect in the future.  That made me feel like he didn’t value me or my feelings and was thinking of me as a possible back up plan. What kind response should I give him? |Age: 37

Well, let’s back up for a minute.

That made me feel like he didn’t value me or my feelings

This sort of self-flagellation just isn’t healthy. He didn’t value you?  That’s an extreme thought, isn’t it. Isn’t that brutal? I hear women say this to other women, and I don’t think they really understand how statements like this chip away at a woman’s sense of self. Really, this is us projecting our own feelings of low self-worth on to the man (and possibly other women.) It’s an ugly way of trying to taint or poison our minds in to believing that men are crap. Convince yourself that men are crap and they’ll treat you like crap. That’s how that works.

I value things that mean a great deal to me. Usually, those are things that come with sentiment or serious purpose or that fulfill an important need. I value my friends. I value my mother’s cigarette case that she bought at a church bazaar. I value my laptop and phone. I don’t value my furniture. I don’t value my clothes. Don’t get me wrong. I like them. I enjoy them. But should my furniture all go away, I’ll survive. I’ll just replace it. My laptop dies? I’m screwed. It’s hard to attach a lot of sentiment in to someone you went out with twice, know what I mean?

This guy took you out twice. His decision to focus on one specific woman that is not you is not a statement to your value or the value he is supposed to have had for you. It was two dates.  If anything, the fact that he communicated his thoughts in an honest and timely fashion should tell you that he likes you and respects you. Our value is not based upon what others think of us. We determine our value. How a man that we barely know treats us is not a reflection on what our worth is.

Now, let’s discuss the back-up plan idea. That’s an unattractive way of describing it, though to some degree it is accurate. He is leaving the door open should things with the other woman not work out. Is he wrong for doing this? I don’t think so. He’s just keeping his options open. Is he foolish for putting it to you in this way? I think so, yeah. But he’s probably thinking, “Hey, I’m being honest. Women say they want us to be honest, right?” He probably thinks he’s doing the right thing. I don’t think he’s trying to put you down or disrespect you by saying it. I also believe he’s trying to say, in an awkward way, that he was genuinely interested/attracted to you. Most men are just not going to break down and write some love letter or testimonial about what a great date/person you are. I don’t think this should be held against him. If he comes back around, go out with him if you’re available. But only do so if you can let go of any possible resentment, or else you’ll be trying to make him pay for something you think he did, but that maybe he didn’t actually do.

Of course, it’s going to be hard to get past feeling like second choice should he contact you in the future. But you don’t know that you were second best. He could have had 5 dates with her and 2 dates with you. You weren’t so much second choice as you were late to the party. He could have based his choice on various things. Maybe he took things to a physical level with this woman and prefers not to juggle. Maybe he feels obligated to her because he’s been out with her more. And, yes, maybe he likes her more right now, but that makes sense since he may have gone out with her more and spent more time with her. There are dozens of reason why he’s choosing her that have nothing to do with you.

And, yes, he very well might be lying, cushioning the blow because he doesn’t want to hurt you or doesn’t want to leave the situation ambiguous or open for discussion. Again, this might not be about you.

What you do know is that, for now, the door is closed on this possible relationship. The whys and details don’t matter.  You should reply and say you understand and good luck. DO NOT thank him for his honesty, though. That will make him think that what he said was appropriate. It really isn’t. I think men are confused about what constitutes honesty, at least as honesty is defined by women. We need to figure out what sort of honesty we prefer before we start requesting total honesty from men.

 

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44 Responses to “Are You His Back Up Plan?”

  1. Saj Says:

    Sorry if this makes little sense as am full of wine but yes get rid of the pity party.

    You go out with two guys, once is a slightly better match does that mean you don’t “value” the other guy or disregard him? Uh no you still think he’s awesome but hey you got more awesome next to you so you go for that.

    The guy asking to be a backup plan though was a stupid move. He should have just left it at that and if it didn’t work out touch base but that is just a tad bit narcissistic to tell someone hey option number two I hope you’ll give me a shot if option number 1 doesn’t work. Applying for jobs doesn’t quite work that way and their are little emotions evolved so that was silly on his part.

    For how you should respond who knows. Say good luck and it was nice meeting you and keep meeting other guys. Nothing is nicer then a guy who thinks you are the bees knees and wait for that rather then mmmm I guess she’ll do but man this other girl WOW.

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    • Sarah Says:

      This is bizarre- I believe I dated this person from match.com
      because the Exact scenario played out for me. He talked much
      about the third date rule..I didn’t go along – hmmmm
      He gave me the same story verbatim – met someone else, wants to see where it goes,
      back up plan and all. Found it funny to get 7am good morning texts
      and appear so interested for the 2 weeks. Be glad you got out now.

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  2. joe Says:

    This situation happened to me but I am the guy. What I did differently was I told the girl the reason that I couldn’t go on another date with her and that is it. I didn’t leave the door open and say if things don’t work out with girl number 1, I’ll give you a call. I think that is sleazy because that implies I am not so sure about the girl I chose.

    Of course, I would call her if things don’t work out with the girl I chose but I wouldn’t say that. I know I probably should expect a whipping and probably years of, “I wasn’t the first choice” or she may have found someone else. Good women are hard to find so it is worth trying.

    I agree with Moxie. Don’t take it personally and move on.

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  3. Capt. Jack Sparrow Says:

    Don’t take his reaction too personally. There’s a million possible reasons why someone decides to date one person and not another. Most of them are subjective. I’ve posted this before, but the first thing is to make yourself the best “you” possible. You will attract higher quality guys if you present the best you.

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  4. Bob Says:

    No reason to feel rejected. You, him and woman he is focusing on all had brief encournters. He just made a decision from very short term interaction. The other lady may have given him more eye contact, or maybe even less eye contact. If you two end up going out later then after a while just ask him why he made the decision that he made.

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  5. Craig Says:

    The OP is correct that she is the back-up plan. The dude likes the other chick better at this time (or maybe they were a little further along) and wants to see where that goes. I see nothing wrong with that. If anything, it is honorable that he was honest about it and isn’t wasting the OPs time. A lot of guys would continue seeing both women (and hopefully getting sex from both) for as long as he could get away with it. The fact that he was honest with the OP and gave her an explanation shows he did value her feelings. If he hadn’t valued them, he would not have even responded to her, he would have pulled the fade.

    So how do you respond to this? Easy, you be a good sport about it. Wish him good luck and tell him to look you up should things not work out. I was my now fiancee’s back-up plan on Match.com. When we were first communicating online she told me she was seeing someone and he had asked her to be exclusive. So I wished her well and told me to look me up should things not work out. Guess what? A month later, they split and she reached out to me. We’ve been inseparable since. The moral of the story is that sometimes the understudy ends up getting the starring role – so don’t burn any bridges, because you never know…

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    • Stacey Says:

      Except I think the difference with your situation, is that you had just been communicating online when the other guy asked her to be exclusive. It’s not like she had gone out with you twice already, and chose him first over you, correct? If that’s the case, it’s signficantly less of a blow to your ego. In fact you could still let yourself think that had she only met you in person before deciding, she could have chosen you. This woman unfortunately can’t think that anymore. Two dates in, he clearly prefers the other woman so much as to let this one go (if only for the time being).

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    • Maargen Says:

      What a great story Craig! What I like about it is that it flies in the face of what seems to be the objective of most of the posts here: to pre-judge situations and people as much as possible, looking for reasons why things won’t work out, and, as a consequence, making sure that things don’t work out.

      Your openess to hearing from this woman if and when appropriate lead to your now being engaged. I can’t see why the OP can’t just say “good luck” to this guy, without trying to read anything at all into his response. There’s no reason to infer anything at all about her “value” to him, or decide that he arrogantly assumes that she would be available and willing to see him if things in his life change, or that she would be “second choice”, or that he shouldn’t have told her exactly what is on his mind. These are all thoughts designed to give her a reason to blame the guy for something (specifically – telling her the truth)

      I particularly don’t understand why posters here seem to have a problem with people telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Yeah, I know – I’m naive and/or stupid. Or maybe I see the results of dating the way it’s done by the majority, and feel that the usual way of going about things don’t usually lead to what people say they want: a strong, committed relationship.

      There is nothing wrong with a guy deciding to focus on one relationship, then calling someone else if that relationship doesn’t work out. We all seem to agree on this. But people seem to think there’s something wrong in *saying* it. Why? Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because saying it can lead to all sorts of assumptions and inferences from the woman. But why is the speaker the one who is solely responsible for the hearer’s inferences? Why, instead of telling people NOT to be “too honest” and tell the truth, aren’t more people advising each other to stop infering stuff and jumping to conclusions when they hear the truth??

      There are only three things that the OP should take away from what this guy said to her: 1. Another factor in his life, unrelated to her, make this the wrong time for him to get to know her better 2. He would have liked to get to know her better if the other factor in his life permitted it, and 3. If the other factor in his life changes, he’ll let her know, and which point she can decide based on the factors in her life at that time what works for her.

      What the heck is wrong with that??

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  6. Stacey Says:

    Well the good thing is that this guy seems relationship minded- otherwise he would just have continued dating both of you. He clearly likes you enough, otherwise he wouldn’t leave the door open to reconnect in the future.

    At the same time, he is kind of a fool to say that, and you have to ask yourself if you want to date someone like that. (Sometimes honesty, another word for lack of a filter, could be a sign of stupidity: i.e. he sounds like a guy, who if you asked if he thought your hot best friend was prettier than you, might say yes she is! but you’re nicer, or something like that. )

    Anyway, he probably doesn’t realize that his statement, while clearly well meaning, makes him sound full of himself, and like he’s assuming you would just agree to that. (And even if that’s the truth, he should know better than to show that.) The natural response from anyone with an ego would be “thanks, but no thanks buddy, best of luck.”

    However if you still really like this guy for whatever reason, you could take his statement at face value, wait a few weeks/months and then contact him again, “checking in.”

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    • Maargen Says:

      Let me get this straight: Let’s say a friend told you she was pissed off at her boyfriend. You ask why, and she says it’s because she asked him if her “hot best friend” is prettier than she is, and he said yes.

      Your response to this would be that the *boyfriend* was being stupid??

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      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        They’re both stupid. Her for asking the question, him for answering it honestly.

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      • Stacey Says:

        Yes, because even if it’s true, admitting it to his girlfriend would just cause unnecessary drama. His girlfriend is not asking in order to know the truth, she is asking for reaffirmation of his feelings for her. If he can’t read between the lines of her question, then he is stupid. If he can, but chooses not to, then he’s a jerk.

        Why, what would your response be Maargen?

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        • chuckrock Says:

          don’t ask a question if you do not want an honest answer.

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        • Maargen Says:

          My response would be to my girlfriend to stop asking stupid questions – *especially* questions that she doesn’t want to know the answer to. Instead of encouraging women to be less insecure and to seek constant reaffirmation in indirect ways, we think it’s better that we’ve trained men to lie to us?? Really??

          Rather than telling women over and over that it’s unacceptable for them keep their insecurities forever instead of doing what it takes to resolve them, we instead tell guys that the accepted, expected, even requried response is to make liars of themselves in order to indulge women’s insecurites?

          If the guys should be able to learn to lie on demand, why shouldn’t we instead have women learn not to put guys in a position where they have to lie in order to “reaffirm” their feelings?

          And if the fact that he thinks her friend is hotter than she is is *really* reflective of his feelings for her (rather than an objective opinion that has nothing to do with her), what does she want? To have him lie so she can continue to feel she’s with someone who’s more into her than he actually is? I just don’t get it…

          To answer your question: my response would be to tell my girlfriend if she needs affirmation of his feelings for her, she needs to learn how to communicate so she can deal with that directly, rather than ask trick questions.

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          • Stacey Says:

            I see your points, and I think you are making valid and interesting arguments. However, I don’t think we can just eliminate natural feelings like insecurity or jealousy by consciously willing them to go away. I think they are there from birth for biologically necessary reasons- starting from early sibling rivalry for parents’ attention, to competing with a co-worker whether overtly or subconsciously for a promotion.

            That being said, we look to our significant others for support, and warmth and comfort. Part of the equation of being in a relationship is being able to comfort the other person,and that may mean learning to handle their insecurities, which don’t just go away by rational thinking. Your advice essentially would make a woman have to suppress her natural feelings of closeness to him, her need for support, and not turn to her guy for comfort, because he should be purely rational and truthful- under some moral principle.

            At the end of the day, the partner is really just being asked to comfort her at minimal cost to himself. And if I place more importance on not hurting someone’s feelings, rather than telling the truth, each and every single time, so be it.

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            • Maargen Says:

              I don’t expect insecurities to go away overnight, just by rational thinking. I expect rational thinking to be the norm rather then the exception, though. So if someone is acting out of jealousy and insecurity, I can send the message that this is ok and tell their partner to put up with it and accommodate it, or I can send the message that insecurity and jealousy are not conducive to long term happiness, so they should be dealt with and minimized. Yes – this takes work. But it’s work worth doing.

              As for getting comfort and support from a partner, this is one of the major reasons why I think it’s important to make sure the partner is honest with me. If I ask my partner if I look fat in my jeans, what good does it do me for him to say “no” if he’s thinking “yes”? At the end of the day, I’ll learn that what he says is no real indication of what he thinks, so we aren’t really communicating at all. Him saying “no” doesn’t necessarily mean he loves me – it might mean he doesn’t want to cause a scene. It might mean he doesn’t love me enough to lie to me (definitely not an interpretation I would have, but it seems to be the reason why this is a “wrong” answer to most people), it might mean he’s still attracted to me, it might mean that the jeans fit just fine…ultimately, it means what *I* think it means…it doesn’t tell me what *he* thinks.

              Isn’t it more comforting to know that if you ask your partner a question, the answer will be honestly indicative of his thoughts…rather than your insecure interpretations of his thoughts?

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              • SB Says:

                I like you, Maargen.

                I only wish my bf hadn’t dated crazy women before me because now, when I ask a question seeking an honest answer (why would I ask it otherwise??) he tells me that he isn’t falling for “that trap” and won’t answer. Thanks, ladies, I only wish I could communicate with him in direct, honest, mutually respectful ways. *sigh* so be it.

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              • Stacey Says:

                No. If I come down with a terrible illness, and my partner comes to see me at the hospital, I hope when he sees me, he lies through his teeth and tells me how beautiful I look. And not that I look sick and pale, and tired and weak.

                Will I know he is lying? Yes.

                But would I still want to hear it, as a sign that he cares about me? Yes.

                Even if his additional reason for lying happens to be that he doesn’t want to cause a scene, his motives of caring for me and avoiding argument don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, I would read his desire not to cause a scene with me as an additional sign he cares about me in and of itself.

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                • Paula Says:

                  For me, personally, I can’t imagine anything worse than having a partner lie to me day in and day out because he thought I was so insecure that he had to, or that lying was a way to show he “cared about me.” If I knew he was lying about me being beautiful, what’s to mean he’s not lying when he says he loves me, or when he says he’ll stand by me. That’s when you can stick a fork in me, I’m done, I have no right to be in a relationship any more. I might us well go it alone if my values have been compromised so much that I’m willing to be with someone who lies to me regularly.

                  Lying is not any kind of solution to one’s failure to eliminate jealousy and insecurity — there are hardly any biological explanations for behavior that we do not, as humans, have the ability to rationally overcome, or at the very least, be accountable for rather than shoveling the sh*t to our partner’s side of the fence.

                  It scares me that there are guys reading this who might take this as more of a license to lie than many of them already think they have.

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                • Paula Says:

                  I would read his desire not to cause a scene with me as an additional sign he cares about me in and of itself.

                  The more I think about this, the angrier it makes me. Nothing against you personally, Stacey — I’m not mad at you, but furious about this sentiment.

                  I was married to and lived with a guy who fell out of love with me over a year before he said anything to me about it. That’s a year filled with lies: every “I love you” was a lie, not to mention everything else he said to me during that time that implied we had an enduring relationship that would go the distance, or that implied the problems were not anything to do with our relationship, but based upon his career uncertainty or job unhappiness.

                  That was a year of my fertility at a time when I didn’t have it to waste. A year of further draining my finances (with part of that year with him unemployed and me supporting him). A year of holding back my career, stuck in a city that made sense if we were going to have a family, and didn’t at all if we were going to split up. A completely wasted year of my life, that I have nothing to show for.

                  All because he didn’t have the desire to make a scene: the courage, the cojones, the maturity, the decency. It was NOT because he cared about me: if he had, he would have talked about it so that we could have tried counseling, or parted ways a year sooner.

                  If anyone can’t understand why I demand honesty in a relationship, that is why, and if you’ve ever been in a similar situation, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t either. Tell me I’m your backup. Tell me you’re just not that into me. Tell me I’m too fat for you, too old for you, or too whatever it is that doesn’t make me the one for you. Just don’t tell me a lie — not once and not ever — because I can guarantee it isn’t what I want to hear, whether it’s a little white lie or a big old whopper. I’d rather never hear a single compliment or reassurance, than to hear a false one.

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                  • Stacey Says:

                    First of, I am sorry that happend to you Paula. If it means anything, it sounds like the entire ordeal has made you a stronger person.

                    I think you and I are talking about a different type of honesty. Whereas I am talking about a little white lie, i.e. telling someone who is sick and can’t do anything about it, that they look beautiful, or making his girlfriend feel pretty for a day compared to her friend who always gets the attention, – what you are describing sounds like grand scale deception.

                    I am only advocating, as always, that people think about what effect their words will have before they say them. In your example, your ex-husband’s lies came at a great cost to you, one that surely outweighed any benefit he derived from them. In my example of the woman being sick, her boyfriend’s lie that she still looks beautiful results in the benefit of improving her mood and making her feel loved that outweighs any marginal cost. to him of feeling like he hasn’t been completely honest .

                    I think we may feel anger- as a response to fear- because we are afraid we won’t be able to tell when someone is lying to us or telling the truth, thereby losing control of our reality, of our lives. That is not the case with little white lies- with them you can still see the truth- the hot friend isn’t any less hot, and the sick woman isn’t any less sick- the two of you are still on the same page. You are still in control of your reality- the white lie- as a temporary illusion just momentarily made it better for both of you.

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                    • Paula Says:

                      One person’s white lie is another person’s grand deception. One person’s ability to read between the lines is another person’s obliviousness. When dishonesty because the default, as opposed to honesty (because once you start lying, it’s hard to stop), then it’s easy to lose track of your own boundaries, much less someone else’s.

                      Everyone should think about their motivations before they say or do something. As I’ve said here before, being honest is not a license to be cruel or manipulative, and there are many instances where being honest does not compel full disclosure — you should know the difference between lying by omission and volunteering unsolicited information. But good intentions don’t excuse lying, whether it’s a little one or a big one.

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                • Maargen Says:

                  You know, this always gets my goat. We’re talking about regular, day to day interaction, and then someone pulls out an extreme case, as if the measures taken for an extreme case should be the ones adopted for *every* case.

                  Extreme cases call for extreme measures.

                  That’s not at all what I’m talking about here. Now I’m talking about the norm for every day situations.

                  Also, I think that an accumulation of “little white lies” leads to the situation Paula went through: what her husband said weren’t a true indication of his thoughts and feelings. I don’t mean just about the big things – I suspect that the “little white lies” helped create a false sense of security for her (correct me if I’m wrong please, Paula)

                  When I’m with someone that I feel will tell me the truth even if it stings, everything he says takes on more value, escpecially the positive things – he wouldn’t say it unless he really thought it and meant it. That, to me, is priceless.

                  As for reading a guy’s avoidance of a scene as a sign of caring in and of itself…well…wow. I don’t see where to begin with that comment, so I’ll leave it alone.

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                  • Paula Says:

                    No, you’re not wrong, Maargen…once you start with the little white lies, it becomes easier to keep extending the boundaries of the truth, and sending someone in a direction that you know is the complete opposite of where they should be going.

                    When I’m with someone that I feel will tell me the truth even if it stings, everything he says takes on more value, escpecially the positive things – he wouldn’t say it unless he really thought it and meant it. That, to me, is priceless.

                    I couldn’t have said it better. For someone like me whose trust has been violated, that quality becomes non-negotiable — and much harder to find in a world where guys are given the message that it’s OK to lie in a wide variety of circumstances: because women are insecure; because women expect you to; because you have no game/won’t get laid if you don’t, etc.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      I agree with the methodology (i.e. trying to understand someone’s motivations by imagining yourself doing or saying the same thing) but I don’t know if I agree with the conclusion here – that the guy is necessarily stupid.

      He’s only “stupid” if the guy honestly intends this girl to be a “back up” girl. If that’s what he wanted to achieve then I agree he is stupid because that’s not an effective way to achieve that goal (for the reasons you said – i.e. any sensible woman would be turned off by such a statement.) A better strategy for him to achieve THAT goal would have been to keep her interested over time and not commit to any position, either positive or negative. Insulting her outright is risky. May have worked in this case (and caused her to spiral into obsessive, analysis moder) but it’s risky. Some girls wouldh’t react that way.

      It’s possible however that he doesn’t care whether he sees the OP again and he merely reached into his bag of “polite-sounding” break-up excuses and this is the one he happened to draw. In that case, he is not stupid. He’s just trying to let her down easy. If he doesn’t want to see her again (or doesn’t care) then “insulting” her under the guise of honesty could be quite effective.

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  7. An Says:

    “This sort of self-flagellation just isn’t healthy. He didn’t value you? That’s an extreme thought, isn’t it. Isn’t that brutal? I hear women say this to other women, and I don’t think they really understand how statements like this chip away at a woman’s sense of self. Really, this is us projecting our own feelings of low self-worth on to the man (and possibly other women.) It’s an ugly way of trying to taint or poison our minds in to believing that men are crap. Convince yourself that men are crap and they’ll treat you like crap. That’s how that works.”

    Wow. Powerful paragraph. I personally needed to read that, lately I’ve been very guilty of this, and I know better. Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. LT Says:

    I agree with the other comments…just say “thanks for letting me know and good luck”. Then stay positive and keep yourself busy with friends, family and more dates!! And if this guy decides to reach out to at a later time and you are still available, give him one more chance…you never know what will happen!

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  9. Devon Brown Says:

    The reasons WHY someone decides not to go out with you again does not matter as much as the fact that he/she decided not to go out with you again. Actions are so much more telling than words. And we spend so much time trying to decipher the why in things that we miss out on life around us. The guy stopped a possibility for a relationship. Okay. What reason is there to spend another second thinking about him then? We can’t change people. And we can’t ever completely know someone. So we can only work with their behaviors.

    – Devon

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  10. Paula Says:

    If people are using an online service to date, assuming they’re trying, they’re getting multiple opportunities to date.

    Right now, there are six guys who have not been ruled out and could be in my life a month from now, and a couple more with whom I’m communicating and may go out with soon. I feel like things will sort themselves out the way they’re meant to: I will decide against some; some will decide against me; things will continue with some,. Maybe I’ll get it down to one at some point soon, and maybe I won’t, or if I do, it might not be with any of the ones I’ve seen recently. There’s one that I thought had been ruled out a month ago who made a reappearance, and since he’s the one I’m most interested in, I’m going to see where that takes me.

    It’s all about options, as we’ve discussed here recently. Sheila should take him at his word, date other people, and see when and if she hears from this guy if she’s still interested at that point. She may never hear from him again, in which case, she was second choice to the other woman. She may hear from again sooner than she thinks, like Craig’s story. But if she burns her bridges, she’ll definitely not hear from him, which may or may not matter, but I’d rather be open to life’s possibilities than let someone I’ve been out twice bring me down.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “Right now, there are six guys who have not been ruled out and could be in my life a month from now, and a couple more with whom I’m communicating and may go out with soon. I feel like things will sort themselves out the way they’re meant to: I will decide against some; some will decide against me; things will continue with some.”

      And, naturally, you have explicitly informed all six that each of them is but one of six (maybe more) currently under consideration. Vital information that they would need to know to make an intelligent and informed decision about you. Right?

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      • Paula Says:

        If any one of them lets me know that he would like to deepen the relationship beyond casual dating/getting to know you better/FWB, or asks me that question, then I absolutely would (or if I felt it was appropriate, would tell the other five(or however many there are — I don’t expect that number to stay so high for long) that I’m becoming more serious with someone else and no longer wish to see them). Otherwise, I’m assuming and they’re assuming I’m dating multiple people.

        And some of them do know about some of the others — the one who has the need to know the most has heard about all six, and I’ve heard about two other women he has recently dated (who knows, there may be more, but it’s not my business at this point), and the others know that there’s a guy I’m more serious about and have dated more times.

        I’ve never confused honesty with uncompelled complete disclosure (and I’m not talking lying by omission), which is why you shouldn’t be asking questions you don’t want honest answers to, or which are irrelevant to your decision-making, and why you have the right to expect honest answers from your relevant questions.

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        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          “Otherwise, I’m assuming and they’re assuming I’m dating multiple people.”

          You don’t know what they’re assuming. They could be totally blindsided by your revalation. That’s been my point. Someone else may have ridiculous expectations — doesn’t mean everyone has to cow tow to them. You think your assumption is fair, though, because it’s based on your experience and that’s enough for you to sleep at night. Thank you for helping me make my point.

          One assumption I make (similarly based on MY experience) and that helps me sleep at night is that people generally intend the consequences of their words. That doesn’t mean they are honest or mean what they say. The actual meaning of the words is sometimes incidental to the effect they are trying to create on another person. The consequences. That is why you would not tell a man you are dating six other men on a first date.

          That’s why, if someone is “brutally honest” or reveals something that would cause another person to reel in disgust, I ASSUME that the person saying those words INTENDS to make me reel in disgust, whether or not what they’re saying is true. (Unless, of course, an apology is immediately forthcoming and, even then……)

          In the case of the OP, this is a perfect example.

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          • Paula Says:

            Someone may have ridiculous expectations — agreed — but one that we’ve pretty much all agreed on here is that exclusivity should never be assumed until it’s discussed and agreed to by both parties, and many have talked about the plethora of options given to you by a dating site should you wish to avail yourself of them. So you’re right that I don’t lose sleep assuming that of any two people who meet through a dating site, one or both of them are going to be dating multiple people unless they’ve had the exclusivity conversation and/or completely deactivate their profiles.

            It sounds reasonable to assume that people intend the consequences of their words. Except they often don’t. How many times have all of us got into a disagreement with someone, a friend, a family member, or a significant other, because they took something completely differently from how you meant it? Your words caused them to be upset, angry, hurt (take your pick of negative emotions) when you didn’t mean for them to have that experience at all. You then spend a lot of time apologizing and explaining to get back in their good graces.

            Yesterday, alone, I got into two absolutely insane disagreements with guys I met online: one was upset that I didn’t get a joke he was making (that wasn’t clear and wasn’t funny) and wrote me off because of it; the other apparently believed that something I said to him in chat was at odds with my profile, but wouldn’t clarify before insulting me and blocking me. (With those two, it was goodbye and good riddance, but they were recent examples where my words were not intended to have those consequences.)

            If someone asked me on a first date if I was dating other people, I’d say yes. (Aren’t we supposed to demonstrate we have options, to increase our desirability?) I’m not sure why he would ask how many, but there are several ways I could answer: 1) Why do you ask? 2) Several, how many are you dating? 3) I’ve had a number of dates lately, but am still trying to figure out which have potential (as I’m sure they are as well), so I’m not sure how you define how many I’m “dating” at this point. All of those are honest responses, but not a single one compels me to say a particular number. If the guy kept pressing, I’d probably say something like, “well, I now know not to add one to the number, because you seem a little obsessed with this question.”

            If someone with whom I’d had multiple dates asked me the same question, I’d answer it differently (assuming I feel the same way). I’d say something like, “I’ve had a bunch of dates because I’m trying to figure out what I want, and while some of them have shown more potential for something lasting than others, I’m really looking for a committed relationship. So when I meet someone that I feel that way about, and he feels the same way, I’m fine with letting the others know that I’m now committed to that person.” Then I would go on to talk about where I’m at with him in particular and expect him to do the same. See, that’s honest too. You don’t have to have the Clerks conversation (37 blow jobs!) in order to level with someone in a way that they can and should be able to trust.

            It’s much easier to justify the consequences of your words when they’re honest ones. Otherwise, you’re just elevating passive-aggressiveness to an art form. How about applying all the effort you would devote to deception and manipulation towards telling the truth in a way that brings about the exact same consequences that you intended?

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        • Maargen Says:

          Sounds as if you’re having a good time getting to know people, while trying not to misleading any of them about the actual state of affairs. Good for you, Paula!

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  11. marsi Says:

    Anyone able to write such a thing to a person is an idiot.

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  12. marsi Says:

    Well maybe the entire person is not an idiot but that is such a stupid and pointless thing to write. I dont know what the motives are. but it truly is stupid.

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  13. trouble Says:

    I had gone on dates with 3 men when I met my current boyfriend. I liked J the best of the 4 guys, but wasn’t willing to assume that things would work out with him after 1 date. I think it took 5-6 dates for me to decide that I didn’t want to date anyone but J. And, during that time period, I continued to occasionally see the other guys for coffee or lunch (we shared costs). When J and I decided to be single, I had to let the other guys know that I’d met someone I wanted to get serious with.

    The thing is…if I hadn’t met J, I could have seen myself having a relationship with any of the other guys, all of whom were very nice people with whom I had a lot in common. I just had more of a spark/connection with J, and he was the closest to what I was looking for in a partner.

    I don’t see that you have anything, really, to be super upset about. Dating is like an interview process. You don’t always get the job. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t qualified or great, it just means someone else was a better fit. Try not to take it so personally.

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  14. Saj Says:

    I was just watching Six Feet Under (only on season 3 so far) and the Nate character ended up marrying second choice because he felt it was the right thing to do (they had a daughter together when he cheated on his then gf with her)

    The show does a great job of portraying the downsides of a relationship when you go out with someone you aren’t super into because you feel you should rather then because you want to. I just had an amazing mothers day weekend with a man who from day one was interested and I just would hate people to miss out on that by letting themselves accept second place just to get the tepid relationship/marriage from it.

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    • Paula Says:

      But didn’t you want to kill him last week, Saj? Some people need a little more tepid than that.

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  15. Amber Says:

    The response you should give, if any, would be to express that you’re glad he’s found someone who rings his bell and you wish them the best, you love to hear about people falling in love! Don’t even address the possibility of reengaging, or you’ll might end up as a rebound/fallback/gal on the side, wittingly or unwittingly.

    About a year ago, this happened to me, sorta. I went out a couple times with a guy who was also seeing someone else. He was upfront about it. He decided to persue things with someone who was much younger, living with her parents, generally unsettled. He was part of my social circle so I would see them 2-3 times a month. At that point I was just desperate for someone to say that they wanted to be my boyfriend. Fast forward a year, during this time, he’s been keeping me informed of the ups and downs of the relationship, all the little stuff, we’ve become casual friends. Over that year or so, I concluded that I was so happy not to have embarked on a relationship with him. So, her parents move to Florida, and as this late 20s teenager is bound to do, she decides to go live with them because there’s no offer from the boyfriend to move in together. Here’s the punchline, one day, he approaches me and he’s just like, “so whaddaya think about you and me?” No, “let’s hang out”, no, “gee you look pretty,” nothing that would suggest that he was at all interested in having any sort of courtship, that somehow I would be 100% okey dokey with becoming his replacement girlfriend. I laughed, people are funny. We’re still friends, only.

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