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Where did 30 years go suddenly?
February 20, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Seeking Dear Abby, handholding and guidance for Dummies. Yes, this is about a man and yes I'm feeling totally clueless. Help.

I've met someone. (Are those the right words?) And while we have been in some email exhanges and some meetings due to having met through work, I had sensed something the last time we'd met (the 10th). Bear with me, I'm not only clueless and rusty but I've virtually given up this game because I'm forever crossing cultures. Last time there was that awareness, the kind where your eyes meet and look away rapidly. And an odd little sideways exchange of pointless emails on Valentines Day that gave me a faint red flag.

Today we met for coffee [on a work related but not directly work reason away from his office] and he found a way to let me know he's separated. I let him know I'm menopausal. (insert your grin here)

Now what? I have another month here in this location. And a history of not having picked up on the various (local or cross cultural) cues between genders that has left me with over a decade of virtual singlehood feeling very clueless in general (and consequently having given up), yet now complicatedly grinning my head off while feeling like I want to puke. If you were all here I'd be running around like chicken with my head cut off.

I don't even know what do next, if anything. This may be incoherent but believe me, I tried to calm down and wait till I could write. Ask me questions, tell me what to do, help, I don't want to screw it up before even getting a chance to find out if there's something there. (This doesn't happen to me very often)

[I could insert the whole bunch of overthinking here that it might be nothing, that I'm imagining it and that this is a molehill I'm turning into a self indulgent askme but bear with all that as well]
posted by infini to Human Relations (66 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ask him out.
posted by editrixx at 7:42 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did, today.
posted by infini at 7:45 AM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


As hard as it might be, stop trying to decipher the signals. Listen to what he says and go from there.

Oh yea, and ask him out. For a meal.
posted by cabingirl at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meaning I found a way to ask him to meet me at the coffeeshop away from his office which is now done with.

[er, maybe I should leave this for a while and go away now and do something soothing ;p else I fear I'll turn into a threadhog]
posted by infini at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2012


One thing that calmed my nerves during a very pivotal car ride with a lovely lady about a year ago was the realization that I was proposing something that stood to make this other person's life a whole lot better, and that if they knew where I was coming from, they would want me to make a move.

After thinking about this for a few minutes, I got to a point where I couldn't wait to kiss her out of the blue.

And it worked.

But if it didn't, the awkwardness would have been her problem to deal with, and the regret that comes with not taking the chance would not have been mine.
posted by alphanerd at 7:53 AM on February 20, 2012 [25 favorites]


Here is what you do: meet him for coffee. Sit down with him and talk. Talk about everything, nothing, anything. Discuss poems. Trade bad jokes. Compare childhood stories. Smile. Look into his eyes when you do it. Laugh. Talk some more.

Most of all, relax. Breathe. Let yourself enjoy this feeling. Enjoy sharing this time, don't overthink it too much.

When you're done with coffee, ask him out to lunch. Rinse, repeat.
posted by fight or flight at 7:56 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since you invited him for coffee, I kinda feel like the ball's in his court now. But you might send him an "I enjoyed having coffee with you" email, and touch on something you two laughed over together at the time. Maybe include that great line you thought of 10 minutes after the coffee date was over?
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take a deep breath and enjoy the feelings. Honestly they are great and awesome and should not be rushed through, enjoy the seasick happiness, giggle uncontrollably, run around the house screaming. Then take a deep breath, and another one if needed.

From what I can gather from amongst your happiness you asked him out and he's interested so now you get to go out again, you get to do all your firsts. First handhold, first kiss, first walk in the rain whatever. They are all great, and scary and exciting. Enjoy them. You are only there for a month, figure out what you want and make a move, if you are lucky it all gets better, if worst comes to worst you get to have an awkward month and then you move on. Ask him out to dinner, a walk, around for a movie night what ever is culturally appropriate where you are. Have fun.
posted by wwax at 7:59 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Enjoy the moment with that person. That was always the key to successful dating for me. Don't focus on what might be, focus on what is. And hey, feel free to be giggly and joyous about this - nothing wrong with it!
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:00 AM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Meaning I found a way to ask him to meet me at the coffeeshop away from his office which is now done with.

Yeah. Ask him out again, on a date. And have fun. And don't overthink it. Or if you do, that's okay, just be you.
posted by editrixx at 8:02 AM on February 20, 2012


This other person, they are not a Big Scary Person For Whom You Must Do Everything Right Or Suffer The Consequences.

They are just a guy, with hopes, fears, insecurities, etc. Your job is to get to know him better, and to be open to whatever happens. His job is the same.

I guess what i'm saying is: everybody poops. Building a person you go out on a date with up to be a Big Scary Person is a sure way to not be able to be yourself when you're around them, and isn't that what you want to be doing?

Relax and enjoy.
posted by softlord at 8:07 AM on February 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Call him. Say, "I really enjoyed having coffee with you. I wonder if you might like to go on a date sometime?" Have a suggestion ready for what to do (dinner, movie, walk in the park, etc.) for when he says, "Sure!"

I can't think of a single guy I know who wouldn't be absolutely flattered and pleased at that sort of request. Even if he declines, well, at least you've nipped the awkwardness in the bud!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:09 AM on February 20, 2012


I think that even if he's not interested, or just not in a place to date, it's always a pick me up when someone asks you out in a kind way. If there's any awkwardness it would probably be from him not wanting to hurt your feelings.

It helps me when I think of asking someone out as an expression that I think they're great. Who doesn't like to hear that they're great? From the info you've given, I think he likes you too. Just remember that if he's not interested it's not because *you're* not great, it's just because he's in a different place.

It was a wonderful moment when I realized that, even though rejection always stings at least a little, there's something good and powerful in that experience. Even if it hurts, I feel really good that I did something scary and intimidating for me. I feel really good that I took the chance.

Good luck!
posted by f_panda at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


He let you know he is separated. That is not divorced. Is he legally separated or is he merely feeling justified in cheating?

There is a good chance he will go back to his wife, a chance that increases if he has children.

If you don't think that you deserve better, then go for it. I'm sure he would be happy to use you. He is clearly interested.

I think you deserve better. Find someone who is completely single. I too have trouble reading signals. I finally conditioned myself to do a complete flip where I tell myself that any man who is not married probably wants to sleep with me. And then I decide if I want to let him. This is beneficial in the sense that I am no longer spending my time wondering if he likes me, instead, I am spending my time deciding if I want him.

Is this man someone that you want? Or is he someone that you hope wants you? If the answer is yes for both questions then, you have something.
posted by myselfasme at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


If nerves are an issue, ask your doctor for some Klonopin. I've taken in before on first dates, and it helps a lot.

This last piece of advice seems overblown. Being separated is no big deal. I'm separated, and I'm not going back to my wife, so... It may not work out, sometimes these things don't, but don't treat it as though every single attempt at dating is potentially "the one." You'll have a lot more fun that way.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 9:13 AM on February 20, 2012


Is this man someone that you want? Or is he someone that you hope wants you? If the answer is yes for both questions then, you have something.

*gush* Did I mention he's an ex Green Beret? And goes on and on beanplating the same shit I get obsessive about? *feels frissons, hopes mods will rescue her*

Take a deep breath and enjoy the feelings. Honestly they are great and awesome and should not be rushed through, enjoy the seasick happiness, giggle uncontrollably, run around the house screaming. Then take a deep breath, and another one if needed.

I'm 46 next month. I feel like a giddy 16 year old. I want to die. No, I want to get back to the marketing strategy I was working on with the same focus and concentration instead of googling him.

It may not work out, sometimes these things don't, but don't treat it as though every single attempt at dating is potentially "the one."

I don't think its nerves, just a pragmatic knowledge of how options narrow and come fewer and further between the older you grow. But I hear what you are saying.


He let you know he is separated. That is not divorced. Is he legally separated or is he merely feeling justified in cheating?


He first contacted me about 4 years ago based on seeing a critical article of mine that has since gone on to be cited in my industry area's guru's book. He's no fool and our world is too small. I've never heard a personal peep out of him until today's 'careful to be clear' reference. I also acknowledge I'm biased right now towards the positives. The downside yet honest answer to this point however is that at my age and stage of life, I don't care. Its not my responsibility to be responsible for his morals or headspace but only to deal with what comes out of it on my end.

My concern (hence my askme) is the fear of not even getting to the point of figuring all this out (in context of relationship) because I've missed a signal and not noticed the interest until far too late which was my experience the last time (2010, different continent).


But you might send him an "I enjoyed having coffee with you" email, and touch on something you two laughed over together at the time.

Yes, thank you. It was good to get feedback that the ball is in his court now and I already know he's out of the country this weekend. We laughed over some cliched oldfashioned sexist male double standards I'd recently experienced, in fact he kept laughing over it saying it was so that if one didn't laugh about it, one would cry. I'm glad he got it.

I will admit that my only hesitation comes from his seemingly constant state of high alertness - he raises my adrenaline levels due to his always being so 'high alert' (he spent 10 years in emergency work) and yet its not the uncomfortable anxious high alertness of hyper awareness of the other.

I cannot read him yet (and thats probably what bothers me) but have always respected him and his work since I've come to know him, both as a distant contact and now as a direct colleague. He's also been extremely responsive on email and that has led to me writing him my thoughts (neutral observations not personal) from the field of stuff I can't blog publicly about. He did clearly tell me he trusted my intuition today.

I'm leaning towards getting the gush out, which I have done so here and then just letting it be adn leaving the ball in his court. Its just that the casual ignorance that permits easy emails and thoughts feels more self conscious now that the awareness has been permitted to come in between us. I feel torn between running away adn ignoring everything to go back to that comfortable space and actually wanting to get around to doing something about my very imbalanced work/life balance.

GAH.
posted by infini at 10:22 AM on February 20, 2012


I'm also realizing that if I were anywhere near a country with therapists, I should probably be seeking one out now.
posted by infini at 10:34 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree that the ball is in his court. The ball is in his court when you are 100% certain that he knows you'd like to go on a date with him. There is some chance right now that he might think you're just being friendly.

Ask him out to something where there is no doubt that you are asking him out on a romantic date. THEN the ball is in his court. If you're worried that you're going to miss out on you and him being a thing, don't just sit back and wait.

Ask him out.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:37 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Less reading of tea leaves, more picking up the phone.

Ask him on a real date, not a potentially ambiguous coffee. Use the word "date" when you ask him.
posted by ook at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2012


Ok, lets break this down into the handholding part of this 'cry for help' here ;p

When do I make the next move?

Today I asked for his number, set up a time and met him at "the French Veranda where we first met" to quote his email.

Last week I'd set up a meeting for this Friday afternoon and there had been some mentions of beers casually in between but today after we returned to the office side of things, he brings up that by asking "Are we still meeting on Friday?" and I said "hey you guys still owe me beer" (there were others present by then) and then they laugh and go "Oh no even our plans have changed (as mine have) and we're in [redacted country]"

So the best I could do at that point was say "Alright but you have to buy me beer before I leave the country" etc

I just did send a thank you email saying only those words.
posted by infini at 11:43 AM on February 20, 2012


(Laughs at self. Y'all know I've never dated, right? Ever.)
posted by infini at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2012


Not sure I follow, but if you are both still going to be in the same physical location for the next few weeks, and you want to date him, you should ask him for "a date" using that word specifically. Anything else invites unpleasant (to me as an American male) levels of ambiguity, and leaves me wondering where we stand, especially if we are connected in some fashion by employment. If you already have a meeting set up for Friday, I think you will have to wait until after that to do so, though.

The cultural differences you mention may play into this somewhat, so perhaps you could be more specific about where in the world you both are coming from?

Also, if he remembers where you first met and is asking if your future plans are still on, then he is definitely into you, and would probably be thrilled to be asked out officially.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2012


He sounds interested, but you gotta chill and let him make the next move. It's not about being sexist, it's about being fair and taking turns. You made the last move, now it's up to him.

To me being separated isn't a big deal but do you know he isn't actually just plain old married and only "separated" by virtue of being in a different country than his wife temporarily? Because if he's just trying to cheat on his wife then I know you feel that you don't really care at this point, but if you go along with it the pain you will feel afterwards will be absolutely immense.

Please be careful of your feelings and try to remember there are other men out there. 46 isn't exactly past it you know, although I know it can feel like that sometimes. Wishing you luck.
posted by hazyjane at 12:11 PM on February 20, 2012


Last week I'd set up a meeting for this Friday afternoon and there had been some mentions of beers casually in between but today after we returned to the office side of things, he brings up that by asking "Are we still meeting on Friday?" and I said "hey you guys still owe me beer" (there were others present by then) and then they laugh and go "Oh no even our plans have changed (as mine have) and we're in [redacted country]"

I can't follow this at all. You were planning to meet this guy and other people for drinks on Friday? And you were planning to meet him for drinks in between? But now the other people are going to be out of the country... and you are too? So you are NOT seeing this guy on Friday?

Also somewhere up top you had said you're only going to be in the same country with this guy for a month... what are you looking for? A fling? I'm not sure you're going to get to know him well enough in a month to be able to decide if you want a long distance relationship, so if it's just a fling you want, make a less subtle move than asking him for coffee.
posted by desjardins at 1:51 PM on February 20, 2012


This thread has been immensely helpful for me in many ways, including making me get back out of bed at 1am to come here and tell you that. Also I realized I had forgotten to eat all day.

*ton of bricks*

That's basically it. I'll figure out the logistics you're asking about, desjardins, but its not a barrier at this time. We both travel too much for that even to be a considration else you'll never get anywhere, I just realized.

alphanerd's comment is what had me awake.

Yes, we were supposed to have a meeting Friday this week but its been cancelled. So now there's nothing in the near future.

The thoughts and questions put out by all of you made me think through and that's when I realized that I'd fallen like a ton of bricks. Ok, so now what? The thread has also made a) relax b) gain confidence and c) makes me want to do something about this so...

I'm going to write one of my usual blathers tomorrow and include an open ended broad spectrum invite to feel free to drop by anytime he wanted to continue the beanplating from today.

For those concerned about this separation bit - I put together some things I'd heard him say earlier and realized that he's actually moved to this location because its her home country and the kids are here. His house is in another country on this continent.

For those who were asking about cultural backgrounds, its N. European and S. Asian. Neither have lived in our passport continents for more than 15 years.

If anyone thinks that throwing out that open ended invite to continue blathering (as part of a regular rambly email like we've exchanged before) tomorrow would be too pushy too soon, please let me know.

And once again, thank you (and hopefully I'll get around to remembering to eat)
posted by infini at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2012


I'm going to write one of my usual blathers tomorrow and include an open ended broad spectrum invite to feel free to drop by anytime he wanted to continue the beanplating from today.

It's not too pushy and it's not too soon. It's not pushy enough because you don't have a lot of time with only a month. Email him and ask him explicitly if he'd be interested in a dinner date. He's a grown-assed man and you are a grown-assed woman and we can expect him to decline gracefully if the answer is no. But generally the universe is better at giving you what you want when you ask for it.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:24 PM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


An "open ended invite to continue blathering" sounds like the opposite of pushy: it sounds ambiguous and could mean basically anything.

If you want to go on a date with the guy, ask him out on a date. It really is that simple. Not a work meeting, not drinks with third an fourth wheels along for the ride, not ambiguous open-endedness; a date.

If you're interested, show interest. If he is too, great; if he's not, he'll let you know, and then you can get on with life.
posted by ook at 3:27 PM on February 20, 2012


I think you should go with something specific instead of something open-ended. Something like, "I was disappointed when that meeting got cancelled because I was looking forward to seeing you again. I'd love to have dinner with you instead if you're still free." Done over the phone or in person rather than via email, something to make him respond in real time. And it's not a big deal that you're following up quickly.

At that point, he'll either say yes, or he'll make a counteroffer if he's interested and booked.

Your greatest chance of success is to act like this is something he wants until proven otherwise. Bring this fight to his doorstep, and put him in a place where he knows what you're after, and you know that he knows what you're after, and that turning you down has to be an act of volition on his part, with no pocket-veto, leaving-him-an-out, open-ended plans stuff.

Make him tell you no to a clearly stated question if he isn't interested.

The future isn't written in stone, and it's something you can actively shape, influence, and create with your actions here.

Please don't let this pass you by because you left something ambiguous or waited for someone else to take the action that would make you happy. Not when you can force that clarity or take that critical action yourself.

You are offering him something very, very, very, very, very, very, very good. So good, that you're pretty sure he wants you to do this.

If he says no, there are no apologies to be made from your end, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you wanted or were trying to do here. Chalk it up as his loss, or an honest mistake of the sort that happens occasionally between attractive people, and if he finds the aftermath awkward, that's his problem.
posted by alphanerd at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


He will say yes or no or make a counter offer. At that point you will know where you stand. You will live.

Ask him out on a date. If you have that mysterious dumb phobia about the word "date," then at least be very clear you intend to take him out and pitch some woo. (Not an endorsement of the phrase "pitch woo" in your actual invitation.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:16 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell us what happens!

(re: the word "date": it's my impression that this is an American thing, and neither of the people in this scenario are American or maybe even native English speakers....so not sure if explicitly saying "let's go on a date" will mean the same thing. But agree with the general idea that she should be proactive).
posted by bearette at 6:49 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


infini: "If anyone thinks that throwing out that open ended invite to continue blathering (as part of a regular rambly email like we've exchanged before) tomorrow would be too pushy too soon, please let me know."

In case it wasn't clear from others - nowhere near pushy enough, maybe not even soon enough. Why tomorrow, not today? I can understand doing this via e-mail if that is the way you are both used to communicating and that gives you both some breathing room if your request makes him uncomfortable in any way. If you are anything like me, e-mail will give you the freedom to be much more open about what you are looking for than a conversation.

The word 'date' may not have the same connotation as it would in the US - it's probably universally understood although not necessarily the appropriate word, but use whatever language works in your circumstances to make it clear that you are not setting up a meeting, you are trying to get together with him on a (very?) personal basis and that this is absolutely not a business matter. This is not a time to be ambiguous in any way. I think it's very likely that he is not sure about how you feel and is as unsure about how you feel as you are about his feelings. If I were in his shoes (I'm a male, a few years older than you), having you make it very clear that you are interested in a much more personal relationship would be a huge relief because I would know my feelings were reciprocated and I wouldn't be worrying about inappropriate advances or being rejected.

Why are you still reading this? Go throw yourself at him!
posted by dg at 7:33 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I appreciate what you are all saying and I'm taking it in the spirit of the messages rather than the intent. As bearette reminded me, cultures are different and what may be appropriate in one, may not be timely in another. Otoh, this thread won't close until the same month so I'll let you all know how it goes. Rest assured, I'm in a far better place than I was, not only just yesterday, but also in general, since 2006/2009. The rest is que sera sera
posted by infini at 11:14 PM on February 20, 2012


Today I asked for his number, set up a time and met him at "the French Veranda where we first met" to quote his email.

Last week I'd set up a meeting for this Friday afternoon and there had been some mentions of beers casually in between but today after we returned to the office side of things, he brings up that by asking "Are we still meeting on Friday?"


Yeah, he totally likesyou-likes you. Go ask him out on a date. Scoot. Go. He's not going to say no.
posted by desuetude at 6:54 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm in no hurry *grin* besides, I'm a lady, as he let me know by opening the door
posted by infini at 7:03 AM on February 21, 2012


I will ask him out if *nothing* (personal side) has happened by the end of Feb (and most likely I will be seeing him again in late April but that's the part I want to sense out first before making moves at this end). I won't let the month go by without knowing I had done something about this, as alphanerd has pointed out so articulately. But at the same time, I'm realizing that for my own comfort I need the time to digest all of this, I have been processing far more than I've shared here and some of my history is scattered on the green and there's a lot more happening that just this. I'm actually not fearful about it unlike all the other times and its something I've just noticed/learnt about my self in these past 24 hours (thanks to you all and this thread). I want time and I want a pace that's comfortable for me as well keeping what everyone has said in mind.


The spaces in between are often as important to the development of relationship as the times together. Sort of like white space in typographic design. I'm just speaking from instinct here at the moment but listening to it for a change.

And I don't think I could have figured any of this out without this thread.
posted by infini at 7:21 AM on February 21, 2012


infini: "I appreciate what you are all saying and I'm taking it in the spirit of the messages rather than the intent. As bearette reminded me, cultures are different and what may be appropriate in one, may not be timely in another. "

Sorry for not taking this into account and thank you for being gracious enough to take the advice in the spirit it was intended.
posted by dg at 1:45 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please post updates. I really want to know how it goes. thanks.
posted by theora55 at 6:55 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, he's off traveling this morning but we did exchange some emails late last night and there was one in my inbox first thing this morning - nothing important :) I'm glad that I listened to the hunch telling me not to push yesterday (because it would have had to be a 'no' from him) and now I need to pull back and focus on the work else I'll lose my own balance. Yes, I've had doubts that I've misread the whole thing but I'm struggling to be conscious of my own patterns of past behaviour and keeping so many of your insights and comments in the forefront.

I should probably find a way to donate therapist's fees to the green ;p
posted by infini at 10:01 PM on February 21, 2012


Let’s do beers next week if you’re in town.

Just received above, must be all those Metafilter vibes being sent so strongly to the middle of Africa ;p
posted by infini at 10:52 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since I'm trying to be all mature and knowledgeable about this one rather than all the fuckups I see in the rearview mirror - how do you continue to focus on your own life and not get carried away mooning about it? Are men more single minded as I've read in the past or women can do this to? One of the reasons I stayed away from entanglements is due to how they grab my focus and attention away from my output/work.
posted by infini at 2:01 PM on February 22, 2012


I run into this too... I think of it like that one issue as being like a really loud, distracting continuous noise that can't be turned down directly, but I can make it less obtrusive by "turning up the volume" on the other things going on in my life. So I make sure I stick with the gym and seek out the company of other people, and generally look at the other places I could also be investing energy.

As a bonus, when I finally do see her/hear from her/whatever, I'm someone who's got more good stuff going on in my life and more to talk about.
posted by alphanerd at 4:53 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh... Leaving my cell phone/means of contact at home when I go out helps too.
posted by alphanerd at 5:05 PM on February 22, 2012


If anyone's still up for answering... some more thoughts and questions:

1. What's the current day take on timing of 'when sex should be' and what not?

2. If you are given to understand that the man is willing to 'chase' you, what are you supposed to do ? i.e. Give him a bit of a chase? If so how? Pros and cons of this whole business, which leads to

3. candour and its downside, if any (i.e. for all that we may have progressed as a society, is a woman still under the gun of being considered too easy if its indeed too easy? )

Yeah, out of date and out of touch :p
posted by infini at 6:59 AM on February 24, 2012


1. What's the current day take on timing of 'when sex should be' and what not?

Whenever both people want and consent to it. But see my caveats below.

2. If you are given to understand that the man is willing to 'chase' you, what are you supposed to do ?

Personally I don't play these games. If you want to let him take the lead, fine, but don't drive yourself crazy wondering if he's going to call.

is a woman still under the gun of being considered too easy if its indeed too easy?

This depends on the guy, and you don't want a relationship with a guy who thinks this way anyway. I slept with my husband on the second date (at my initiation) because both of us wanted it and why not? We've been together seven and a half years. If he'd thought I was easy, he would not have been the right man for me.

This is not to say you SHOULD sleep with him as soon as possible - there are certainly benefits to waiting, and part of me wishes I had waited a bit longer. Not because I wasn't sure about my husband - I was - but it puts a level of expectation on the relationship that wasn't there before. There's no longer that will we/won't we dance after dinner and a movie; you've already crossed that line. This can take some of the flirtation and sexual tension out of it. Tension and anticipation is fun (and distracting, as you've discovered).

Sex can also make things complicated if you're hoping this will become something longer term. You can become more attached than you'd intended without first fully evaluating if he's someone you want to spend a lot of time with. For many people, it's difficult to see him/her with other people (if you're not exclusive). If you don't want to be exclusive, he may get upset. Be sure to have the are/aren't we exclusive before you have sex so erroneous assumptions aren't made.

I personally don't see having/not having sex as a moral issue, but if you or he have religious values about sex, while it's up to you whether to heed those or not, you might think about the potential guilt and complications that could introduce.
posted by desjardins at 7:45 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This can take some of the flirtation and sexual tension out of it. Tension and anticipation is fun (and distracting, as you've discovered).

This is primarily what I was worrying about I think, the uncertainty ... though its only gone in the sense of "by email we know the other is interested in pursuing something" ... gives me food for thought that there's still far more left to be continue being a little uncertain about... thank you.
posted by infini at 7:48 AM on February 24, 2012


Regarding the chase and when questions -

There's nothing to be gained from withholding anything from someone just to make them work for it. However, there are good reasons for giving only what you want to give and what you can reasonably believe will be received in the spirit you intend. I advocate going slow for people who don't seem to understand that there is not an equal sign between being willing to have sex with you and "thinks you are the most exciting/attractive/desirable." Doesn't sound like you have this problem. Just give him room to respond to your invitation, and you should be fine. Maybe if you think of allowing him to keep up with you and working in random to set the pace instead who chases who?

The problem with sex is the danger of thinking it means more than it does. A lot of people get into trouble by simply becoming too attached too soon (waste time with the wrong person, set up an imbalance with dependency, make an unwarranted emotional investment.) And some people have a big stupid where because they think of their sexuality as something shared with special people in an emotional way, they define anyone they sleep with as a special person with whom they share an emotional connection. This is how many people end up embroiled in very wrong and even abusive relationships.

Given your lack of experience, I'd suggest going slow if it looks like things are going to work out.

But hey - maybe jumping right into it is he way to go.

Do you have any kind of pattern that you are trying to avoid?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you have any kind of pattern that you are trying to avoid?

Yes. Not being able to reach the point of sex if I get too close to the person, interstingly almost needing to not have 'feelings' for the person in order to have sex (since my divorce in 2002), and thus, ironically, not really having any sex really (I hesitate to tell you the number of times since 2005 since it might not make it to the fingers of the second hand) and certainly none with all the men I'd fallen for or gotten close to.

Fed up of that, suspect given the processing since this thread began that I will not let this happen.

Also noticing now that we're clear we're interested and the anticipation has been put into place by circumstance (I'll leave town for four days about an hour or so after he returns and he's been out since his beer invite email) until sometime at the end of next week, we seem to be using email to push a few steps further ;p viz., clear flirting if you ask me ;p

Happy to spend time in a room with you and your whiteboard.

(not a bad thing, if we can share thoughts and feel 'intimacy' that way ... then it wouldn't really be "sex on a first date" by then would it, were it to happen)

I also appreciate hearing back that ultimately its not games or rules that matter but your own comfort level and what's happening in the moment that should lead to whatever. But I'm also realizing in this area I'd really need him to take the lead, given my history.
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2012


Physical vulnerability vs emotional I guess but couldn't handle both. Knowing this might want to actually leap forward earlier
posted by infini at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2012


infini, I am rooting for you!

Here are some recommended readings:

This column by Cary Tennis at Salon is the most eloquent dismantling I've ever read of the damaging connection people make between sex and shame.

Feeling Good is a book on cognitive behavioral therapy. Its section on "reattribution" is awesome, and shows you how to flip people's negative judgments about you so they either disappear, or reflect poorly upon the people who made them.

1. What's the current day take on timing of 'when sex should be' and what not?


I think this is an unhealthy thing for you to be thinking about in the first place. Instead...

Do you want to have sex with this guy?

Can you give yourself permission to want it, and accept the consequences of going after it?

What's the worst thing that could happen if you wind up having sex with this guy before you currently project that you're ready? Would you be able to shrug it off as a case where you were simply proven wrong about your current assumptions by information that later emerged which you didn't foresee at this time? Like the realization that it would be awesome?!

2. If you are given to understand that the man is willing to 'chase' you, what are you supposed to do ? i.e. Give him a bit of a chase? If so how?

In this case, I think you should note his good taste, commend him on taking the initiative, and let him catch you, since you were gearing up to give chase yourself a few days ago!

In general, make sure a guy is after you, and not after a good chase, by acting as though he should be happy enough just to spend time with you. Because he should be!

3. candour and its downside, if any (i.e. for all that we may have progressed as a society, is a woman still under the gun of being considered too easy if its indeed too easy? )


I don't see this man pulling this bullshit on you.

Still...

Here is a better question:

What would you say about a man who would throw any kind of negative judgment at you for doing something he wanted, and went through considerable effort to get you to do?

"Easy" as you're using it is a lot like phrenology. You can use it as a tool for drawing a lot of bad conclusions about people, but none of them have any basis in reality. It's been replaced by something a lot more accurate. You'd be well-advised to show any guy the door, stat, who shows a tendency to judge people for their sexual behavior just as you would a guy who starts feeling the bumps on your head in an effort to get a handle on your personality.

Don't settle for someone who would do this to you, whether it's a lover or a judgmental "friend!" The energy you spend trying to accommodate yourself to this sort of destructive and disrespectful thinking would be far better used seeking out people who would never pull this of bullshit on another human being in a million years! They do exist! And better yet, I think this guy is one of them!
posted by alphanerd at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


thank you alphanerd.

I'd say that no matter what happens, I made some huge strides in these past few days (and focusing on my personal life for a change didn't hurt) - worst case, an extremely smart accomplished and attractive man and I spend some time together and what bigger boost could one ask for at this transitional stage (where niggling doubts of truly being on the shelf begin to play). I also 'clicked' to what had been the blockage in my life since my divorce.

On the other hand, those past ten years of singledom? Not wasted, I was just musing, as I've accomplished far more than I would have if I'd been distracted by all of this stuff rather than just having put it aside.

There's a fleeting bittersweetness for the last relationship (2010ish to early 2011) but looking back, even after the understanding that has now flooded me as to what I was defensively doing, I think its for the better.
posted by infini at 10:44 PM on February 25, 2012


We haven't had that drinks date yet although a) he said he has several evenings free next week and b) cancelled an appointment on Friday to make room for a lunch date.

Here's my latest beanplate worrying :

How do I hold on to my "ready to tip over" heart long enough until we figure out where this is going because I am really liking him more and more - on Friday, we met after almost two weeks of travel schedule clashes for lunch and he was not only way more relaxed than he's ever been before but said he was seriously looking for a new partner, which leads me to

how do I know he's not just after me for my mind? ;p seriously... because he interspersed his above statement and his suggestion that "open an office here" with stuff about his future business plans (and dream to build a billion dollar *rolls eyes, I know, I shouldn't but still* business)

What if he only wants me here for what I can offer his business?

Gah, the overthinking mind...
posted by infini at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2012


That's this past Friday btw
posted by infini at 12:56 PM on March 4, 2012


And what he means is that he's looking for a new business partner because he did say that he'd cofounded two companies already with the other guy and was starting to think of the next - and then talked about all the things we had in common (as in interest areas/professionally)
posted by infini at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2012


I have no idea what cultures you are navigating here but I don't think that sort of very slow boil is how business overtures are made. If you need clarity, you should ask for it; you are not 16 and you're allowed to conduct your affairs like a grownup.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:38 PM on March 4, 2012


Yes, planning to this week Wednesday.
posted by infini at 9:28 PM on March 4, 2012


*pokes head into room*

*grins*

Um shall I mark it resolved ? ;p
posted by infini at 10:58 PM on March 17, 2012


That depends - do you feel, um, 'resolved'? ;-)
posted by dg at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2012


do you feel, um, 'resolved'? ;-)

I feel like this AskMe question is resolved, yes :) "we're gonna be starting something" is where I'm at with the gentleman in question. So naturally nothing there is resolved (is any relationship so easy to tag? ;p)

Update and resolution at the end of this AskMe:

Ask me questions, tell me what to do, help, I don't want to screw it up before even getting a chance to find out if there's something there.

I found out that there's something there. I know we're going to be doing something about it. What exactly, how and when is all still tbd naturally since he left early on Sunday morning for a three week trip but we did go out Saturday night (properly, no mention of work related stuff at all, to a club, with live music, dancing etc) and at the end of it I'm cautiously over the moon.

It has been a time of ups and downs and lots and lots of work for me during this period since I last wrote in this thread but I would like to say that if I had not started this thread at all, nor been in touch with some of you who only memailed me and also alphanerd's support, I don't think I would have had the confidence to navigate my way through the interactions to this level of clarity. I approached this from a position of 'worth' rather than insecurity, imho.

I would have probably hung back waiting for more and more clarity from his side inside of proactively expressing my interest (whether in written form, non verbal cues or directly) just like I've been doing for the past so many years.

I broke many habits of being and a lot of that had to do with asking myself at each juncture "do you want to do the same old same old and get nowhere or do you want to make something happen"

I was more detached and even keeled and would tell myself that everything I was doing that was nerve wracking was for me, not for him i.e. overcoming my inhibitions, being more proactive, being more flirty than always "work, work, work" and that, I believe, has indeed been resolved.

Wish me luck, we are meeting on 11th April (the day I leave) as he only returns on 10th.
posted by infini at 11:02 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]



I can't think of a single guy I know who wouldn't be absolutely flattered and pleased at that sort of request. Even if he declines, well, at least you've nipped the awkwardness in the bud!


In a crowded club on St Paddys night with crowds of drunks, I patted his butt ;p and he turned around with the biggest grin on his face. Thanks Askme ;p
posted by infini at 11:05 PM on March 18, 2012


If I were in his shoes (I'm a male, a few years older than you), having you make it very clear that you are interested in a much more personal relationship would be a huge relief because I would know my feelings were reciprocated and I wouldn't be worrying about inappropriate advances or being rejected.

Yes, it was only late last week when I used a combination of non verbal cues (meeting eyes intimately), an email saying I wanted dinner without any mention of 'work' and made it explicit that we suddenly made progress and he wrote back about things now getting personal and explicitly making clear that Sat night's invite was 'to get to know each other and see what things we might have in common not a business meeting'.

Is this to say I don't have a backpack full of bouncing doubts and fears and insecurities? No but I now know that we both know there's something there and as he wrote "we need to be tenacious..." given our transcontinental challenges.

Ok, its 9am monday, back to work :)
posted by infini at 11:18 PM on March 18, 2012


Sounds like a fantastic (if interim) outcome! Good luck on the 11th!
posted by dg at 12:19 AM on March 19, 2012


I'm going back on the 30th of May on a long term retainer!!! which he's managed to make happen for me. Yay! Oh and yes, I did tell him I liked him before I'd left, on the 11th of April in fact and he'd written back saying saying the feeling was mutual. Since then we've been working on getting me back there but with the flexibility to take on other more lucrative work as well ( the nuance is that I'll give "full time attention" here rather than fulltime clocking in) Yay!
posted by infini at 8:56 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


:-)
posted by dg at 4:13 PM on May 7, 2012


Hooray!
posted by tangerine at 2:25 PM on May 10, 2012


Oh just wait... I'm sure there will be another Askme or so later on down the line... we are doing "for Dummies" here :)
posted by infini at 9:27 AM on May 11, 2012


I dumped him last week. Over time, there were indications of double standards deeply embedded and non obvious but related to gender and ethnicity which led me to take this decision. If confronted with them he'd say oh no but then again when confronted he made a break for it. So it goes. On the other hand, the experience and this AskMe and the internal work in progress that I am is something that will stay with me and enable me to approach life and relationships on an entirely different evolutionary platform than I had been doing so in the past decade.

Thank you all for being here with and for me.
posted by infini at 5:39 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


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