Comment: I’ve never learned how to “shop around” in a dating situation. Since I first started dating at 18 my method was “instant relationship”. There was no such thing as “casual dating” to me. I ended up getting to know the basics about the majority of the guys I dated WHILE we were in a committed relationship. The “getting to know each other” phase always happened after we’d made it exclusive. That made it difficult to call off when it was obvious the guy just wasn’t for me. After a shit nearly year-long relationship (just awful) I turned to online dating. Met a man within a week for “casual dating” and figured he’d keep it casual too. Nope. A gillion hours of phone conversations and a few dates later and I was hooked, but I kept my mouth shut. Within a month he took the plunge and told me he loved me and boom, together. It was actually a pretty great relationship but 9 months later I find out he doesn’t want to have kids, ever… aaaaaaaand crash and burn. So now, I have the opportunity to date. To actually “date” and not “relationship hunt”. I’m tired of putting so much effort in up front only to discover later that there’s a serious problem that could have been nixed earlier. But.. you know I have no clue how to date more than one person at a time. I feel like I’m cheating! Especially if it was a good date.I understand when I write it that it sounds irrational but it seriously gives me anxiety! I’m not looking for a man to instantly fill a hole in my life, because I’m happy right now with me and mine, but it would be nice to have the opportunity to meet someone with potential to be a life partner SOMEDAY. How do I tell a potential date that I’m not looking for anything serious right away without making it seem that I’m just not interested in commitment period? Or without giving the vibe that I’m looking for a casual sexual relationship? I’ve been in relationships for nearly 10 years but I have NO CLUE how to date. Helpful hints?
City: Little Rock
I think the first thing you need to do is establish what it is you want. You’re kind of all over the place here. You want to date but you always “end up” in relationships. If you want a relationship, one that has potential to be long-term or even permanent, then you need to date with that goal in mind. To me, it sounds like you’re a little wishy washy about what you want.
I’m tired of putting so much effort in up front only to discover later that there’s a serious problem that could have been nixed earlier.
Let’s take the example you gave about that one guy not wanting kids. If you’re someone who is looking for something long-term that could lead to settling down, then this is one of those questions that you ask in the early stages of dating. If you never brought it up, then you’re equally at fault for continuing with the relationship. You’re taking an extremely passive role in all of this. That’s the main issue that you have. You’re sitting back and allowing things to happen to you rather than taking control from the start.
If you want to casually date someone, then from the get go you need to implement boundaries and stick to them. That means no gazillion hours of phone calls, no three dates a week, etc. You have to be very clear about what it is that you want and proceed accordingly.
You don’t tell someone you’ve only been out with a few times that you’re not looking for anything serious, just like you probably shouldn’t be upfront about seeking a serious relationship. These are things that should be revealed once some kind of consistency has been established. If you’re clear on your goals, then your behavior will probably communicate what you’re looking for. If you want casual then you have to act casual. Telling someone you’re looking for something casual negates the casual! Did you learn nothing from Joey Tribiani?
I don’t want to date people who feel they have to warn people about what kind of relationship they seek. Your dates should be able to determine that on their own. The people who have to include disclaimers in their profiles or offline conversations come off defensive and presumptuous.
That said, the reason why you’re finding out that these men you’re seriously dating aren’t compatible for you is because you’re not speaking up and asking questions. No, you don’t have to declare your intentions on the first few dates. But when someone tells you they love you or when things start to resemble a serious relationship, that’s probably a good time to communicate your expectations.
You’re letting the relationships happen to you instead of being a proactive participant. Maybe you’re not speaking up because you don’t want to scare them off. I don’t know. It sounds like you’re going along to get along hoping things will magically work out to your benefit. You ultimately want something long-term. You’re not really looking to date anybody casually. That’s the disconnect.
You need to choose which option you really want.