Comment: I’ve been seeing this girl for about six months. We have not had “the talk” about being exclusive, but we have been seeing each other a few times a week recently. I really enjoy the time that I spend with her, and we get along great. However, I just don’t think I am ready to be exclusive yet. While I have not cheated on her, I have been approached by other women about going out, and I am interest In doing so. She will text or email me every day. It does not feel nagging or needy when she does so, but it is clear that she is into me.
However, I don’t want her feelings to get hurt. Part of me knows that it is her responsibility for how she feels, but I am aware that the actions I take have repercussions. I am 41, and she is in her early 30s. I am divorced, and do not want kids. We have not talked about anything serious like that, but she knows that I went through a painful divorce several years ago, have repeatedly gotten “too serious, too quickly” in the past, and I don’t want to make that mistake again.
I started to bring up the conversation the other night, but her job was just cut, and she just gotten the news, so I did not want to pile on to the emotional drama that she was experiencing. Part of me says that that was just a copout for not telling her, but the other part says I was being sensitive to her needs.
I know what to do, I just don’t know how to do it. I want to keep seeing her, but I just want to back off a little bit until I am ready to get more serious, whenever that may be.
If you’re not exclusive then you’re not doing anything wrong by dating other women. My advice to you is to go out with these women that intrigue you and see what else is out there. You might realize that the woman you’ve been seeing for the past 6 months is the one to whom you’d like to commit. If she is assuming you two are exclusive but not expressing that belief to you, that’s on her. I’m sure some people will say that you need to be upfront and honest from the start with the women you date. In an ideal world, that would be nice. However, that’s not really in your best interest. It should be understood by now that someone who does not express a desire to commit doesn’t want to be committed at that point or at all. The onus is on the person for whom commitment or exclusivity is a priority to bring it up. However, if this woman has given you signs that make it clear she thinks of you as her boyfriend or that you and she have long -term potential, then you need tell her that isn’t the case and give her the choice to stay or leave.
I know some of the female readership will take issue with this, but I would just pull back a bit and wait for this woman to speak up and ask what’s going on. Let her bring it up. When she does, you don’t have to tell her you’re dating other people. In fact, don’t tell her that. That’s unnecessary. Use this inquiry to gently remind her that you and she are not exclusive. If she says that she would like to be monogamous then you need to be clear about where you stand. Until then, there’s no need to go looking for problems where there are none. Scale things back so that you and she aren’t seeing each other – and therefore growing dependent upon each other – so frequently.
She’s not bringing anything up because she probably doesn’t want to rock the boat. It’s even possible that she likes things exactly as they are. I have said this before: women her age aren’t anxious to settle down with men your age. If she knows you don’t want children, and she does, then she’s either hoping you’ll change your mind or has no intentions of having children with you. If you clarify anything with her it should be the subject of having children. That’s only fair.
If you want to back off then back off. There’s nothing preventing you from doing that. Now let’s address something else that you said.
but she knows that I went through a painful divorce several years ago, have repeatedly gotten “too serious, too quickly” in the past, and I don’t want to make that mistake again.
It takes two to tango, Christopher. Whether you’re expressing a willingness to commit verbally or through actions, you’re still communicating an interest level that may or may not be genuine. If you’re not looking for commitment, then don’t see a woman three times a week. It’s not that you don’t want a relationship. You clearly do. What you don’t appear to want is to be exclusive to just one woman.
Going forward, should you find yourself back out there again, be mindful of your tendency to allow things to spiral out of control and take on the form of a committed/serious relationship. Make sure your actions align with your intentions.