Do I keep dating this guy?
December 10, 2011 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Do I keep dating this guy?

I'm attracted to a guy I met recently who is 20 years my senior (I am in my mid-twenties). Our chemistry - physically, intellectual, emotionally, spiritually - is pretty strong on both sides.

He is quite a lot bigger than me physically, and on our first date, I found myself trembling when we got close and afraid to kiss him (this was related to my own history around men, and not about him at all as I was actually attracted to him). A few days later, he told me he didn't want to pursue things because he "wants to be someone who inspires trust [in me]" and disliked my fear. A friend of mine said that this was pretty narcissistic of him; that my emotions should be more important to a potential partner than his self-image. We had been on only two dates, so I thought it was a bit premature and made one attempt to reach out, which he didn't warm to, then let him have his decision.

In the last week, though, he has been contacting me. He seems very attracted to me, but he is clearly conflicted about whether he wants to date me, or even date at all, he says. He's still interested in kissing and cuddling with me, and is even on a dating site that he regularly checks, on which he says he's looking to fall in love with someone amazing that he can be with for a long time, and describes a relationship much like the one I can sense we could possibly create together if we were both committed. The last time we met, he told me I'm too young for him. He's interested in finding a woman he passionately loves that he can see himself marrying and having kids with. His friends have told him that if he wants a serious relationship, he needs to date women over 30. He says this is another reason he has pulled away even though he has not met any women over 30 that he feels the same chemistry with as he does with me.

I'm thisclose to laying down some ground rules - I don't want to get closer or even spend much more time with him unless he is serious about me. But when he talks about his reasons for not wanting to get closer, it seems as though he is confused and that extending my patience here may be worth it. I've offered that if he is confused about whether or not his fears are worth listening to, that he talk with me about them to get a better sense of whether or not these are real concerns - I'm willing to be perfectly honest if I don't match up with what he wants. For example, he may be ready to have kids within the next few years, whereas I may or may not be ready within the next several. Many of our mutual friends have said that I should not date him for varying reasons: one said she doesn't trust him, a couple have said he is full of himself, another says he is too complex, and the consensus was that I would be good for him but he wouldn't be good for me.

As for my own desires, I'm happy to have a steady partner I can rely on to show up and be happy with while I finish grad school over the next 3-4 years, and if we are still together then, discuss it from there. Trust, mutual attraction, financially stability, and shared passions are all important, of course... a simple and functional partnership is ideal to me, and I have a lot to offer when it comes to creating it with the right person. I could definitely see marrying the right person, but would want to be with them for at least a couple of years first. And I know I won't be considering having children until (well) after school, and have also been considering moving to another country (it may or may not be worth mentioning that the fellow I'm talking about loves to travel).

So, do I keep trying with this guy? I'm pretty sure I'm going to pull back and let him make the next move if he so desires, then tell him that I need him to be serious about me if we are to continue seeing each other, and take it from there... Is anything I've mentioned a red flag? I like the idea of my faith in him being a gift to us both, and am excited about what we could possibly create. It could be a very beautiful partnership. But I dislike how he doesn't seem to value me as I am and has been trusting his own fears instead of talking through them with me directly.
posted by dolce_voce to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In the last week, though, he has been contacting me. He seems very attracted to me, but he is clearly conflicted about whether he wants to date me, or even date at all, he says.

The last time we met, he told me I'm too young for him.

So, this week alone he has rekindled his interest to you and then told you that you are too young to date. So he was interested, went on a date and decided he wasn't interested. Then went on a second date and then decided he wasn't attracted to you for a different reason. Maybe there was a date in between those two, I am not sure from the wording.

He is 45. All this confusion about whether or not he wants to date you and the sort of relationships he wants to have with you might be understandable at your age, but at his? I think you could do with someone whose maturity is closer to their age.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Your gut says don't date him.
Your friends say don't date him.
He says don't date him (but maybe come over for some kissing and cuddling, just as long as your emotional state meets his demands, because kissing and cuddling with someone 20 years younger might be fun for him).
Random internet person (that's me!) says don't date him.

You guys have only had two dates and there's already drama, which really doesn't seem "simple and functional" to me. I can't see why pursuing this would be even remotely a good idea.

There are plenty of awesome dudes in their mid 20s looking for the same things you are. There's no reason to get hung up on a guy in his mid 40s who still doesn't know what he wants. Just my 2ยข.
posted by phunniemee at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2011 [29 favorites]


The last time we met, he told me I'm too young for him. He's interested in finding a woman he passionately loves that he can see himself marrying and having kids with. His friends have told him that if he wants a serious relationship, he needs to date women over 30. He says this is another reason he has pulled away even though he has not met any women over 30 that he feels the same chemistry with as he does with me.

I agree with his friends. You should both think about what it means to have a 20 year age gap - mid twenties/mid forties is a huge gap that you've already seen create differing needs. If you have another five or so years of life experiences you would like to have before children, he's deferring his plans for children until his fifties, a big ask. Ditto, your needs. And, the already this whole interaction is drama, angst, questionings, vacillations, bargaining, game-playing amongst competing sets of friends. Like high school, no wonder he doesn't want to be drawn into kid games. Why do you? Bleurgh, run away.

my emotions should be more important to a potential partner than his self-image

I think on the first, second, third,... tenth date, you don't have the cache to dictate terms of attraction like this. Both things are important, especially when one person's responses to the others is somewhat one of revulsion.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:31 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


No.
posted by miles1972 at 11:32 PM on December 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


You ask if there are red flags, then list a big one immediately after. And that's not even counting the three or so in the text prior. So, yes, there are red flags.

Reading through this, I couldn't help but translate your question to, "Do I like drama?", so I'm going to redirect that back to you: do you like drama? Because if you don't, this is the wrong tree to bark up.

With that, you're about to be embarking on the most difficult level of education in our society, and I presume you want to do well and end up successful in your field. If you focus on a relationship rife with drama, you will not have the energy or attention span for your studies and duties. I've seen it again and again, and it's a choice that needs to be made consciously: education of the utmost quality because that's what you've committed to, or whatever you can scrape by on while maintaining whatever grip you can on a relationship? If I were you, fortunate enough to be looking forward to higher education on top of higher education, I would choose the commitment to my success and academic growth.
posted by batmonkey at 11:37 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus no. Talk about a litany of red flags.
posted by jaymzjulian at 11:38 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You deserve someone who is totally into you. Don't waste your time here.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:47 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hahah, ok ok ok! You are all right. I guess I already knew; I just needed a bit of outside perspective to cement my confidence in this decision as the chemistry between us has been real, even if the alignment between us is not ever going to work (he is also allergic to cats and I have one).

I feel really grateful to have the opportunities I have now and would love to have the supportive company of a partner who digs the work I'm doing and really enjoys his time with me. Grad degree, here I come...
posted by dolce_voce at 11:48 PM on December 10, 2011


Just FYI: If you start dating someone, they end it, then they come back soon after and want to hang out but have a list of reasons they can't be in a relationship. . . they want to be your fuck buddy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just be aware of what's going on.
posted by auto-correct at 12:16 AM on December 11, 2011 [28 favorites]


I'm attracted to a guy I met recently who is 20 years my senior (I am in my mid-twenties). Our chemistry - physically, intellectual, emotionally, spiritually - is pretty strong on both sides.

He is quite a lot bigger than me physically, and on our first date, I found myself trembling when we got close and afraid to kiss him (this was related to my own history around men, and not about him at all as I was actually attracted to him).


I know you say the chemistry is there...but I don't think its there physically from what you've written.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:28 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok hal_c_on, I get that you think that, and it is neither true nor relevant.
posted by dolce_voce at 12:41 AM on December 11, 2011


I got a weird feeling from your post. The whole thing suggests that the two of you are engaged in some weird, silly dance, with you taking the "oooh you're so big and strong ... help me somebody, I'm scared" role and him playing the "oh, get away from me silly woman, you're not worthy of me" role. I don't even know what it means, maybe you would be GREAT with each other, but I can't help noting that what you describe doesn't seem real or sincere, on either of your parts.

[He] is even on a dating site that he regularly checks, on which he says he's looking to fall in love with someone amazing that he can be with for a long time, and describes a relationship much like the one I can sense we could possibly create together if we were both committed

Come on. You know you're grasping at straws when this is one of your reasons why it should work.
posted by jayder at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The issues he has with you seem to be of the type that are non-negotiable. Whether he is right or wrong in saying that you are too young, you can't change your age. Whether or not you inspire trust in him, you can't change your (initial) primal reaction to a big semi-scary man.

It isn't like he is telling you that he needs better communication or wants to go out to dinner more. You could compromise on stuff like that.

What he has done is tell you that he has a set of mental check boxes for what he wants in a future wife, and that you are unable to check off all the boxes do to reasons that are out of your control.

That alone should tell you not to get involved with this man.
posted by Shouraku at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


He is quite a lot bigger than me physically, and on our first date, I found myself trembling when we got close and afraid to kiss him (this was related to my own history around men, and not about him at all as I was actually attracted to him). A few days later, he told me he didn't want to pursue things because he "wants to be someone who inspires trust [in me]" and disliked my fear.

When you stop investing in this guy, you open yourself up to the possibility of dating a man who will respond to your triggers, fear, and history with compassion, warmth, and respect.

He's already written off the possibility that inspiring trust is within his power.
posted by endless_forms at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


He says this is another reason he has pulled away even though he has not met any women over 30 that he feels the same chemistry with as he does with me.

Really? The only women he feels chemistry with could literally be his daughters? This strikes me as psychologically immature, if not totally fucked up.
posted by namesarehard at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh bollocks.

Oh maybe he could passionately love you if you could just mold yourself to fit his requirements and he wants a woman who won't have her own emotional responses to the situations he creates. In the meantime, you could maybe try to give him a bit of persuading, hmm, and I bet he has a checklist of positions in which he would like you to try to persuade him.

Yargh. You know how some people never really quite grow up? Well...
posted by tel3path at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2011


Holy red flag, batman. The cat is the least of your worries.
posted by sm1tten at 4:33 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


it is unrealstic to expect someone who you rejected physically, for any reason, "valid" or not, to be totally into continuing to pursue you. Every person has feelings and whether or not it is your fault for your pushing him away, he is a human being and feeling rejected sucks. How much of all of this have you explained to him. It is normal for a person to be wary of rejection once they have been rejected before.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:35 PM on December 11, 2011


Jayder - that wasn't one of my reasons for saying it could work. I was simply noticing his inconsistency in how he was essentially rejecting me and then looking for what he felt with me elsewhere. And "ooh, somebody help me I'm scared"? Honestly that is just plain false. You might have noticed the opposite happening with the way I've been handling this... or maybe you didn't... oh well...

namesarehard - valid point, but there seems to have been a misunderstanding: he was honest in that what he feels chemistry that he hasn't felt for anyone, over or under 30, not some kind of blanket desire for super young ladiez.

Anyway, the other answers on here have been wonderful (quotes below), and I've marked all that have helped me with "best answer". At this time, I feel quite resolved about it already, marked question "resolved" for this reason... so, bye for now!

~

munchingzombie: He is 45. All this confusion about whether or not he wants to date you and the sort of relationships he wants to have with you might be understandable at your age, but at his?

phunniemee: maybe come over for some kissing and cuddling, just as long as your emotional state meets his demands... You guys have only had two dates and there's already drama, which really doesn't seem "simple and functional" to me... There are plenty of awesome dudes in their mid 20s looking for the same things you are. There's no reason to get hung up on a guy in his mid 40s who still doesn't know what he wants.

honey-barbara: You should both think about what it means to have a 20 year age gap - mid twenties/mid forties is a huge gap that you've already seen create differing needs.

batmonkey: you're about to be embarking on the most difficult level of education in our society, and I presume you want to do well and end up successful in your field... If I were you, fortunate enough to be looking forward to higher education on top of higher education, I would choose the commitment to my success and academic growth.

Tell Me No Lies: You deserve someone who is totally into you. Don't waste your time here.

auto-correct: If you start dating someone, they end it, then they come back soon after and want to hang out but have a list of reasons they can't be in a relationship. . . they want to be your fuck buddy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just be aware of what's going on.

Shouraku: What he has done is tell you that he has a set of mental check boxes for what he wants in a future wife, and that you are unable to check off all the boxes do to reasons that are out of your control. That alone should tell you not to get involved with this man.

endless_forms: When you stop investing in this guy, you open yourself up to the possibility of dating a man who will respond to your triggers, fear, and history with compassion, warmth, and respect. He's already written off the possibility that inspiring trust is within his power. [loved this! Thanks]

tel3path: Oh maybe he could passionately love you if you could just mold yourself to fit his requirements and he wants a woman who won't have her own emotional responses to the situations he creates. In the meantime, you could maybe try to give him a bit of persuading, hmm, and I bet he has a checklist of positions in which he would like you to try to persuade him... You know how some people never really quite grow up? Well...
posted by dolce_voce at 7:14 PM on December 11, 2011


A few days later, he told me he didn't want to pursue things because he "wants to be someone who inspires trust [in me]" and disliked my fear. A friend of mine said that this was pretty narcissistic of him

I'm not that big, but I like small women. Unfortunately, this has sometimes led to some...um...physical incompatibilities. The first time, it was ego-boosting. Over the course of a decade or so, it became really, really annoying.

I wouldn't be too bothered by his initial reaction. It's very possible that he saw your reaction to his size as a harbinger of things to come, and wanted to avoid yet another incompatible situation.


Really? The only women he feels chemistry with could literally be his daughters? This strikes me as psychologically immature, if not totally fucked up.


I actually attempted dating "people my own age" (mid-late 30's) when I was single a couple of years ago. It's more difficult than people give credit for. I met lots and lots of women looking for fathers for their children (and little else), lots more looking to cheat on their husbands, drug abusers and/or alcoholics trying (or not) to get straight, women who had spent their youth relying on looks and now had no job skills and needed a sugar daddy to support them, and very few who were just nice people who happened to be single.

Finding emotionally healthy, single 20-somethings is SO. MUCH. EASIER.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:27 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


coolguymichael - What's that quote from Dazed and Confused? "I get older; they keep staying the same age..."
posted by dolce_voce at 2:07 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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