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Help Me Navigate and Not Screw Up this Budding Online Relationship
April 26, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I've been talking to a guy online for 4 months. He's cute and seems like a decent, fun guy w/ a full life and lots of friends. We've exchanged a lot of info/flirted through email, but nothing too deep. At first he took great interest in me - emailing me with open ended questions, always asking how I was doing and replying a day or two later. I went away for 2 weeks and he said he'd miss me, etc. Because of how silly I was with the guy I liked before him I was trying to manage my expectations ("nothing could come of it and it'd be okay!" I told myself) and play things cool by only reciprocating what he gave me, but recently we've hit a snag...

3 weeks ago I mentioned an event coming up in passing and he asked me outright if I wanted to go with him. Finally! I said yes and made a joke. He responded saying fantastic and commented on the joke w/ one of his own. I felt like his reply was curt and should have included details about the date so I decided to not say anything else. 2 weeks passed and the event was leaving town. He came online the last day of the event but didn't write me. I still hadn't written him either.

I broke my own rule (sort of) by emailing him a short message pointing to a link I thought he would enjoy. I say sort of because technically I had never responded. He answered right away saying how much he liked the link and made a comment. No mention of our missed date! I replied and it took him 8 days to finally reply to me, today! A light, short message/joke unrelated to our date; no open ended question, no asking how I've been!

In the past we've made small talk about meeting up twice.. (one serious where he threw out some options and I said I'd be ok with either but asked another question in my reply and we kept talking from there) and one joke (where I said I was starving and he offered to cook for me if I came over). Other times he'd ask me what I had planned for the weekend and I would say work or tell him my plans but that never went anywhere with him suggesting something.

He is a self professed nerd and says he is kind of shy, but I don't trust that shy guy crap after the last guy I thought was shy!

Now, I don't know what to say to him. Should I just forget this one and call it a lost cause? Should I reply to him and apologize for not replying/mentioning the date and let him know I'm still game if he wants to try again? Should I ask how he's been - try to start up a conversation again? I feel like there's this big elephant in the room we are both avoiding!

The last thing I want to do is chase this guy after my last experience so I don't know if I should interpret his short, spaced out replies as telling me politely he is disinterested since before he showed such interest in what I was up to ... and I don't want to push him away and appear clingy if he's just in that retreat phase but could come around. I also don't want him to think I was not interested when I didn't reply after he said fantastic, because I actually like what I know of him and want to get to know him better. I just want things to be easy and flow naturally, help me navigate this "mindfield" I'm on!
posted by soooo to Human Relations (71 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why don't you just meet him for a beer or whatever and go from there?
posted by clockzero at 9:30 AM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who is going to be the first Metafilterian to yell 'Just ask him out already'!!

Plus I think the first time if you brought up the event, it was actually your job to give the details and not just drop it after he expressly asked you if you wanted to go together. But I am a terrible dater so take my advice here with a grain of salt.
posted by bquarters at 9:30 AM on April 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Some guys really are shy. I don't think you can really call this one properly without having met him. I say break the ice, test the waters and at least see what he's like in person. You're wary enough that you won't get sucked in blindly this time. The phrase "who dares wins" doesn't equate to "who dares wins every time".
posted by fearnothing at 9:32 AM on April 26, 2012


I felt like his reply was curt and should have included details about the date so I decided to not say anything else.

I guess I'm not sure why you didn't say anything. He didn't include details, you wanted details, you are not "chasing" someone if you firm up your plans or ask him to.

But if you've been talking online for 4 months and haven't met, and he's warm & friendly online and only skittish when the real world beckons, then having a real-world relationship with him is unlikely whether you "chase" him or not. And who knows why, maybe he's not who he says he is, maybe he's too anxious, maybe he's .... it doesn't matter.

I just want things to be easy and flow naturally, help me navigate this "mindfield" I'm on!

Life is too short to spend it navigating other people's "mindfields" (great word!).
posted by headnsouth at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2012


first: Why so long with the talking online and not meeting?

second: I think you are actually going to have to "chase" this one a little. He probably does think you aren't interested because you were being way too passive... and the fact that he's taking a long time to answer you and not asking you any questions sounds to me like he's moved on. Just ask him out already, if you're still interested.
posted by sm1tten at 9:35 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


...should have included details about the date so I decided to not say anything else.

When people use phrases like "passive aggressive", this is the kind of thing they're talking about. You made up some rules for your interaction, you didn't tell him what they were, and then you blamed him for not following the rules. For some people those rules may be intuitive, but apparently not for him.

It sounds like either he's not that into you, or he's not that into dating, or he is totally into you and into dating you, but has no idea how to make that happen. You want things to flow "naturally", but clearly this is not what comes naturally to him. So tell him what you want:
"I feel like I'm pushing you to do things together. When we talk about an idea (like [example]) and you don't follow up on it, I feel like you're really not that interested in me. I was really hoping that after I took the initiative to suggest something, you would reciprocate by helping make those plans."

Explaining this to him may feel aggressive, but that's better than passive-aggressive.
posted by aimedwander at 9:35 AM on April 26, 2012 [44 favorites]


It's time to make the leap.

I have found that the best way to get people to do things is to offer up that you are willing to go to X place on Y day. You sound interested in meeting him, so jump!
posted by ibakecake at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if you live in the same area and you're reasonably certain he's not a psychotic murderer, just arrange a meeting. This online-only relationship business is really a lost cause.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do I have this right?

You: Hey look the circus is in town! I love the circus!
Him: Do you wanna go to the circus with me?
You: Sure, I'll ride over on my miniature bicycle! Ha ha
Him: That's so funny, how do they ride those mini bicycles, anyway?
You: {sulk, that's curt--why didn't he suggest a particular date to go?}

Is that right? And then the circus, or whatever, left town? And you didn't suggest a date? Or send a reminder, "hey--the circus is leaving town next week, and we still haven't gone--are you free Thursday?" or something?

This is when you have to ask someone out or suggest a time for your date.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2012 [58 favorites]


He might be disinterested, but I don't get what you would have to lose by simply asking to meet with him. Worst-case scenario is that is he is disinterested, and then you'll at least know one way or the other.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2012


HAHAHA That is so funny Admiral because it's pretty much exactly how it went down! Thing is I don't want to be the aggressor or play the man's part. That's what got me into so much damn trouble the last time. I'm trying to play the feminine role (which I admit is against my nature as I have a tendency to be very aggressive)
posted by soooo at 9:44 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you want something to happen, don't wait for it to happen, make it happen.

You have agency in your own life. You can set dates for things. You're not powerless and it's not a sign of weakness to take the bull by the horns and ask for a specific date.

It is NOT playing the man's part (in a historically gender binary sense). He already asked you out. You were the maintainer of dates and knew more about the "circus" than he did likely.

And stop trying to play a role...play YOURSELF. Then you don't get into any trouble because you're acting like you want to act instead of something from a playbook you didn't create.
posted by inturnaround at 9:46 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Suggesting an actual time to meet, after you've already agreed to meet, is not aggressive. It's just dating.
posted by chowflap at 9:46 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


It looks to me like he's asked you out three times, and each time you've said yes and then immediately changed the subject and never mentioned it again. It's not that he's shy, it's that he's interpreting your behavior as indicative of polite disinterest, and now he's moving on.

If you want to rescue this one, email him and say, "Hey, sorry our circus date didn't pan out. Could we still meet up for drinks sometime? My favorite bar has a great happy hour menu. It's the Beehive over on Glisan and 81st. How about Thursday at six?" No more games!
posted by milk white peacock at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Thing is I don't want to be the aggressor or play the man's part.

That's a strange way to characterize actually just talking to him without playing games. Your story reads like you're playing a lot of games with rules he doesn't know because you want him to say something you haven't given him the script for.
posted by OmieWise at 9:49 AM on April 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


Being feminine is being receptive. Blocking his date request is the opposite of that. Blocking it with humor sounds like a protective mechanism that is keeping you from being open and vulnerable.

There is no exact 'way' of being feminine. At this point, you are going to have to say something. Even something as simple as, "hey, it's been about 4 months, I would really like to meet you in person." Allow him to take it (or not) from there.
posted by Vaike at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ok, soooo--glad I got that straight.

Look, we all come from different places, and if you want to be pursued, that's fine. But I'm totally with inturnaround here--things happen in this crazy world because you make them happen. In the land of adults, there is really no stigma to being a woman asking a man out, or to being a man asked out by women. You don't need to reinforce old gender roles; if you got burned in the past for making moves, then you're with the wrong dudes. That should not change the way you live.

If you spend all your time waiting for something to happen to you, sometimes you're gonna miss the circus. And the circus, my dear, really is not to be missed.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


jebus. you've been talking to this guy for four months online. he's already asked you out a few times but your "rules" have gotten in your own way. just ask to meet him already—something you should have done four months ago—or move on.
posted by violetk at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


He asked you out, you blocked him he's probably not going to ask you out again but follow your lead now. Ask the poor guy out for a nice meetup some place.

You can be feminine and ask for what you want the 2 roles are not mutually exclusive.
posted by wwax at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2012


So - he asks you out, you say yes, and then turn it into a joke as if you're just making fun of him and have no intention of going out with him at all? Like Lucy pulling the football away?

I'm surprised he hasn't had the self-respect to stop talking to you after the second time you did that, but since he hasn't, perhaps you can rescue the situation by getting back to him with a date and time.
posted by tel3path at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


You are not a mind reader and neither is this guy, and neither are we. If you want to know what is going on with this guy, ASK HIM.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2012


You're not being feminine, you're being... something else. At the very least, short-sighted, trying to force a kind of shy guy into chasing you.
posted by sm1tten at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The way you talk about this makes it clear that you have some kind of rule that he has to plan every detail and you're not allowed to suggest anything:

I felt like his reply was curt and should have included details about the date so I decided to not say anything else. ... (Why does he have to be the one to include details? Why can't you suggest details?)

Other times he'd ask me what I had planned for the weekend and I would say work or tell him my plans but that never went anywhere with him suggesting something. ... (So, you equate him not suggesting something with things never going anywhere? Was it not within your power to suggest something?)

The last thing I want to do is chase this guy...

Now, that's all up to you. But if you're going to take this approach, you have to take the bitter with the sweet: if you're going to leave it entirely up to him to plan or not plan things, well, guess what? You're not always going to get the outcome you want! If you want to exert more control over getting the outcome you want, then OK, make a suggestion. Choose one or the other.

In this case, I'd say things have gone on so long with nothing happening that it's a sign that neither of you has the motivation to make something happen. So, move on to someone else. Or, if you disagree with that, just communicate with him directly and plan a straightforward date instead of letting the games/drama/minefields drag on for months.
posted by John Cohen at 9:59 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait.. .. what? 4 months of communicating online and you haven't met yet? What's this world coming to?

Ask him out somewhere already. Pick a spot, ask him to go there, meet, eat, drink and be merry (but not too much).... If you like him, then see him again.
posted by WestChester22 at 10:00 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing you're doing is not getting the results you desire. The way to get the results you desire is not to continue doing the thing you're doing, which from your comment seems like not a good fit for you anyway, but to do things differently. If you want things to be different with the guy, start doing things differently!

N.B. but I don't trust that shy guy crap after the last guy I thought was shy!

He's not the last guy. He's a new guy. Don't saddle him with the last guy's faults.
posted by GreenEyed at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Four months without meeting means that neither of you are sufficiently motivated to pursue this in the real world, and you've probably well passed the window where meeting won't be hideously awkward.

Game-playing isn't feminine. This "no you go first" thing is mean and kind of dishonest and an awful foundation to build a relationship on. Open your mouth and declare what you want, and if you don't get it move on.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2012 [23 favorites]


I'm trying to play the feminine role

Stop trying to play "the feminine role" and start playing "the fellow adult role." Communicate your needs. This is what grown people of both genders do.

In any case, I agree with everyone else that it's high time you meet in-person or at least have a phone conversation. Seriously, there are limits to interacting via words on screen, and you have discovered them.
posted by scody at 10:04 AM on April 26, 2012 [27 favorites]


It seems like you joke around a lot (I'm that way too), but what I have learned is that people don't like this all the time. Find a balance between cracking jokes and being able to have serious conversations.

I don't think you should call it a lost cause, but you certainly shouldn't let things stay where they are right now.

Right now, it's easy for the interest to dwindle because you two haven't even met up in person. Change this, like yesterday. Or should I say, like three months ago?

It's going to be extremely awkward, but it's up to you in regards to whether or not that initial awkwardness is worth it.

Be direct when you message him by saying something like, "Sorry about the confusion about meeting up earlier. I don't know what happened there, but, I hope we can meet up soon!"
posted by livinglearning at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2012


Thing is I don't want to be the aggressor or play the man's part. That's what got me into so much damn trouble the last time. I'm trying to play the feminine role (which I admit is against my nature as I have a tendency to be very aggressive)

If you're naturally assertive, then maybe you're drawn to guys that naturally aren't.

Which means that maybe this guys naturally isn't assertive.

Which means that all this time he's been waiting for you to make a move except you've decided to try to be something you're not because you're "playing the feminine role".

Just be you. You got this guy to talk to you by just being you, right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:10 AM on April 26, 2012


If you want the type of guy who will be bold and definitive and pursue you, that's fine. But once you've learned that a particular guy doesn't have those traits- and four months is plently long enough to wait to find out - you have to either give up on dating him because you wouldn't want him anyway, or reevaluate the type you want and ask him out yourself.

There is a sort of middle ground where you say something like "so when are you going to ask me on a date already!?" But since your communication has been so non-committal for so long, it might just turn into another round of flirty nothingness.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:18 AM on April 26, 2012


The last thing I want to do is chase this guy after my last experience

Is this in reference to your previous two questions on Ask? If so, that "last experience" isn't this experience at all, so don't compare apples to printer ink.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:18 AM on April 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


It wasn't being the aggressor or playing the man's part that got you in trouble last time (per your previous AskMe). It was not taking "no" for an answer, and continuing to pursue someone who wasn't interested in the same thing you were.

This situation is different. There appears to be mutual interest. Ask to meet. If he says yes, be prepared for it to go either way, though. Four months of written banter doesn't mean you'll actually be compatible or attracted in real life.
posted by quivering_fantods at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


just ask him out already
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 AM on April 26, 2012


The behaviour you're describing would absolutely send me mixed signals. You mention you want to do Thing X, I agree, and then you... make a joke? Instead of suggesting a day or confirming you want to go together? That seems like deflecting. But you brought up Thing X to me so you want to go with me! But... what?

And I'm not that passive a person. I can only imagine how confused a less assertive dude would be in this situation.

Playing the feminine role does not mean playing games or being passive aggressive. Beginning a relationship by misrepresenting yourself is never a good thing and will never lead to what you want. Just be honest, be assertive but respectful and stop with the crap.
posted by buteo at 10:48 AM on April 26, 2012


Based on Admiral Haddock's script, I would guess that he didn't realize you really wanted to go on a date. He thought you were using humor to get out of turning him down cold. That's why he's been weird. He thinks he asked you out and was turned down - gently and pleasantly, perhaps, but still turned down.

Now, if you're flinchy it's easy to wrong-foot someone like that. I've done it myself when there was a lot of ambiguity and I was basically being too dorky and insecure to be direct. I don't even think it's awful or a passive-aggressive character flaw or whatever. We pick up a lot of cultural messages about how it's shameful to be turned down and it's inappropriate for women to ask directly for what they want. We also pick up stupid ideas about how it's best to have plausible deniability about "liking" someone - it's weak or dangerous or stupid to show that you like someone, because what if you like them more than they like you?

Honestly, I think it's leftovers from junior high and all the social and sexual shaming that happens to people around then. (At least that's what it is for me!)

So look, ask the guy out already. If you really want to clear things up, you could even say something like "I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to go to the circus - I'd really like to meet you, would you like to meet up for a beer [give specific date range here]". That would maybe let him know that you did want to go to the circus but something intervened.
posted by Frowner at 10:51 AM on April 26, 2012


I totally fail to see how not being upfront with your desires is "playing the feminine role." You can be both bold and womanly; the two are not mutually exclusive. I think this is a great opportunity to expand your view of what you are capable of and what it means to be a woman.

As an aside, I'm going on 5 years married to the most wonderful nerd in existence. I had to ask him out on our first (and second) date. It was a little scary but also very liberating. Just be very direct and go for it.

Good Luck!
posted by teamnap at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2012


he asked me outright if I wanted to go with him.

This was him asking you out. But before this:

he threw out some options and I said I'd be ok with either but asked another question in my reply and we kept talking from there

This was him asking you out. He took the plunge and you gave a non-committal response and you said nothing about it afterward. He read this as you brushing him off.

I said I was starving and he offered to cook for me if I came over

This was him asking you out. This was one of those things where he was only joking if you didn't take him up on it (which is to say, he was not really joking). If you did, he would have cooked for you.

he'd ask me what I had planned for the weekend and I would say work or tell him my plans but that never went anywhere with him suggesting something.

This was him tentatively asking you out. Of course it never went anywhere, because he'd ask what you were doing and you would say you were working or had plans. He took this as a shutdown.

He is a self professed nerd and says he is kind of shy, but I don't trust that shy guy crap after the last guy I thought was shy!

No. It's hard for him to screw up the courage to ask you out. When he doesn't see a return on that risk, he backs off. This is what it's like to be shy. I strongly suggest you start trusting that shy guy crap, because it pretty much explains this whole mess.

Anyway, that brings us back to the present, and the circus.

The game-playing you've been doing has been sending him strong hints. It sounds like he finally decided to take them, and the circus was the last straw for him. He's made overtures and you have not reciprocated, so he figures you're not interested. I realize you're trying to watch out for your heart, but the route you've decided to go with this, the games you've been playing - they mean your behavior is indistinguishable from someone who's not interested and won't say so directly.

This is why he didn't mention the date, this is why he only replied with a short message. This is also why he took eight days to reply: He was into you, he thought you were into him, maybe he's been wrestling with this a little, and now he's taken the hint and he just might have moved on.

If you actually like this kid, email him right the hell now and ask him if he's free tomorrow and if he'd like to meet if so. Have a time and place in mind. If he's not free tomorrow then ask him when he is free and plan something. Let us know how it goes, and good luck!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:04 AM on April 26, 2012 [24 favorites]


Thing is I don't want to be the aggressor or play the man's part.

best of luck with that. going by your post, he's asked you about your plans (presumably to see if you were free) and you told him you were busy, he asked you out or over a few times and you've either not agreed to or cut off contact with him. after months of this, I'm surprised you guys are talking at all. if you like him, act like it. "The man's part" doesn't mean anything useful anymore. If you want a guy who acts "the man's part" the way you're describing, then this isn't the guy for you. if you want this guy, then ask him out because he's tried. repeatedly. and though I'm sure you didn't mean it, you sent out a strong "not interested" message. so now, honestly, you've gotta make it clear you are, in fact, interested.
posted by shmegegge at 11:08 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if he says, "Want to go to the circus with me?" following up with, "Yes, I'm free Wednesday" or whatever, won't exactly make you the "aggressor" in my book, since he did still ask you out.


I don't have any rules about who is supposed to be the "aggressor" but I do have a rule to not string it out for 4 months online without ever meeting in real life.
posted by RobotHero at 11:17 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Other times he'd ask me what I had planned for the weekend and I would say work or tell him my plans but that never went anywhere with him suggesting something.

Why would he suggest getting together if you told him you had to work or already had plans? You indicated that you were unavailable...

I don't trust that shy guy crap after the last guy I thought was shy!
The last thing I want to do is chase this guy after my last experience

It's generally not conducive to healthy relationships to punish current/future partners for the perceived faults of previous partners.

Thing is I don't want to be the aggressor or play the man's part.

Early on in my relationship with one of my ex-girlfriends, we were driving around in her car and she noticed that she was low on gas. She pulled into a gas station, put the car in park, and turned off the engine. She handed me her gas card, which I thought she wanted me to hold for her while she put her wallet away. After a few seconds, I realized that she wasn't reaching for her seat belt, so I asked her if she wanted me to fill the car. She answered in the affirmative, and I started to get out of the car before she added, "Pumping gas is the man's job." I chuckled at what I thought was her joke, until I realized that she was quite serious. After I got done doing my man's job of pumping the gas, I asked her some more questions about her view of gender roles and realized that she had some rather rigid and archaic notions. I told her that I had no problem pumping the gas, but that I expected her to get her cute little behind into the kitchen to make me a sandwich when we got back to my place or hers. If pumping gas is the man's job, then sandwich making in the kitchen is the woman's job. I should have told her to put on heels and a skirt, too, but I didn't think of it at the time.

She didn't appreciate that.

Naturally, I didn't expect her to. However, it served as a convenient place to begin a fruitful discussion about our expectations of each other. We were together for several years, and we took turns pumping the gas after that. And making sandwiches.

You're welcome to approach this situation however you like, of course, but you might consider that many men these days will misinterpret coquettish behavior, and those who don't might enthusiastically press additional gender characteristics on you.

All that said, I'd suggesting pointing your online beau to this discussion, or at least filling him in on what's been going on. He has the right to know that you like to play headgames and to decide from there whether it's worth pursuing that kind of relationship.
posted by jingzuo at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, he already asked you out and you made a joke out of it, which can reasonably be read as a way to turn him down through deflection. It's not his fault he isn't a mind reader. If you want to go out with him don't be passive-aggressive or jokey or anything; say "yes, I would like that" when he asks you out.

Except he already asked you out and you (from his point of view) turned him down. So he probably won't ask you out again.
posted by Justinian at 11:30 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Hell, it sounds like he has asked you out several times! Once directly and a bunch of times indirectly. And you've more or less turned him down every time. I'm not sure you realize you've been turning him down?)
posted by Justinian at 11:32 AM on April 26, 2012


Oh, now I remember your previous question. The thing this has in common with that is your seeming inability to read people's intentions and sometimes even what they're literally telling you. The previous guy kept turning you down and you kept throwing yourself in his direction anyway; this guy seems to be attempting to ask you out, though maybe not as directly as you'd prefer, and you're discouraging him.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now that you guys put it that way... I didn't think I was turning him down, I was just trying to let him lead. I would normally be giving strong hints (I did this w/ last guy and afterwards felt like I had orchestrated and forced someone who was not really all that interested in me to begin with, to give me a shot. He warmed up for a little while and then it turned out terribly!)

BTW, it wasn't the circus - I knew the event was something he was interested in and teased him about knowing about it. He said he hadn't been there in a while and had won stuff the last time he was there. He asked me if I wanted to go with him.
I made a joke that only if he won some stuff for me and then added "Yes, I would love to go with you!". He then said "Fantastic. I can't make any promises I can still win (items) though". THE END - Radio silence

My first thought was, that's it? That's his reply? It didn't seem all that encouraging to me but maybe I was just being too sensitive or like many have mentioned had expectations for what he should be doing/saying that he, to be fair, isn't aware of.

(I kind of felt like that was even too much because if I hadn't mentioned it - he may not have asked me. I don't want to be rejected again for forcing a guy's hand, but I can see how I am taking out my previous experience on him... not good)
posted by soooo at 11:44 AM on April 26, 2012


That's all as may be, but that still doesn't change the general advice to "just be who you are and don't get bogged down in this 'playing the feminine role' crap." Just ask the guy out already.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2012


If the last guy is the guy in your previous two questions, your issue wasn't that you were assertive or "masculine", it's that he was sending clear signals to you that he wasn't interested in more after the first hook-up and you kept pushing and texting him afterwards.

You and this new guy haven't even met yet! There is nothing "masculine" about making very specific plans to meet. If you try to make specific plans, and he stands you up, or always has an excuse for why he can't make specific plans, that is when he's telling you he's not actually interested. Your "I'll ride over on my miniature bicycle" thing could be taken as "I'm just joking about going there with you" if the guy is highly anxious about talking to girls.

That said, like other posters have said, if you guys have been talking for four months and still haven't met, then that is sending signals to both of you that your communication skills seriously need work.
posted by schroedinger at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's not aware of your expectations. He has no idea what's happening behind the scenes. All he has to go on is what you say to him.

He takes a hint when you say nothing.

He takes a hint when you think his reply isn't encouraging enough and don't continue the conversation along the same lines, because to him it looks like you're changing the subject.

He takes a hint when he asks you out several times and it goes nowhere and then finally asks you to a carnival and this time you say yes but then say nothing more about it. At that point you're confirming his fears that you're not interested but too nice to reject him flat-out.

(I kind of felt like that was even too much because if I hadn't mentioned it - he may not have asked me. I don't want to be rejected again for forcing a guy's hand, but I can see how I am taking out my previous experience on him... not good)

You wouldn't be forcing his hand. You'd be catching the ball when he throws it to you, and then throwing it back, which is how this usually goes and how he probably is expecting it to go.

Right now, he's throwing you the ball and you're either not catching it, or you're catching it and then just letting it drop to the ground.

You will be sabotaging your own happiness if you keep applying these rules and games to people who aren't aware of them. Seriously, if you're into this kid - and only if you're into him and would like to see something happen with him - then contact him right now and make some plans. Close this tab, open your email, and message him right now.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2012


(I kind of felt like that was even too much because if I hadn't mentioned it - he may not have asked me. I don't want to be rejected again for forcing a guy's hand, but I can see how I am taking out my previous experience on him... not good)

Just to simplify things for you:

If you don't ask for what you want with this guy, nothing is going to happen.

If you do ask for what you want, something might happen, or might not.

Only one of these two courses of action even has the possibility of getting you what you want.
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on April 26, 2012


I made a joke that only if he won some stuff for me and then added "Yes, I would love to go with you!". He then said "Fantastic. I can't make any promises I can still win (items) though". THE END - Radio silence

the problem with trying to read into this dialog is that it comes after 4 months of you guys communicating.

so here is what I propose: let's not read into it any more. do you like the guy? ask him out. he has reasons to be a little gunshy at this point, and you didn't want him to be gunshy, so let's just cut through this gordian knot. ask him out. if there's something you want, go get it. maybe it's a great relationship waiting to happen, and maybe it's not. there's only one way to find out.
posted by shmegegge at 12:02 PM on April 26, 2012


and for context: I tend not to reply to people who don't reply to me. if I make a joke, or ask a question, and get no response, my assumption is they're not interested and continuing would pester them. I mention this because it is completely possible for someone who is willing to make the first move to think that it would be unwise because the other person has lost interest.
posted by shmegegge at 12:04 PM on April 26, 2012


Ok, so I just responded to his email as per you all's advice. started out commenting on what he was joking around about, then I basically said by the way, sorry if it seemed like it, but i totally didn't mean to flake out on our date. not sure what happened there but if you could see me now i'd be giving you my most adorable puppy dog eyes. you're still my favorite, shall we try again? (then mentioned a date that we are supposed to be having good weather next week or the option of joining me at this event I'm attending on sat)

Fingers crossed - we'll see how this goes!
posted by soooo at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yay! Good luck, soooo!
posted by small_ruminant at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You mentioned an event in passing. He asked if you wanted to go with him. You said yes, with a joke. He responded with a joke. He didn't say "what are the details?" and you didn't say "here are the details." You two have never met.

Perhaps he meant it as "is this the kind of event you'd like to go with me to", rather than "do you want to go to this event with me?", or perhaps he took your "yes" as part of your joke and assumed you were trying to deflect the meetup suggestion with a joke. I suspect if either of you had been more assertive (such as you saying "of course, this means you need my address, which is [address]. What day should we go?" or forwarding the event details, or him saying "of course, this means I'll need your address, and can you go on [day]?" or asking for the event details) this whole thing wouldn't have been an issue.

Since I'm talking to you, not him, I'll say this to you, but it applies equally well to both of you: if you want something to happen, ask for it. You said "I felt like his reply was curt and should have included details about the date so I decided to not say anything else", but perhaps he felt your reply was joking and should have made it clear that you were actually interested, so he decided not to pursue it. The point being that, if you felt he should have included details, you could have simply responded "do you need the event details, or do you already have them?"

If you always leave it in other people's hands to take all the steps (after all, he had just asked you out, and so it was unfair to expect him to proceed without a clear signal -- non-joking -- that you were actually interested and saying yes) you're going to be disappointed a lot. Get a little, give some back.

Perhaps the next time an event comes to town, you could send him a note: "Here's another event that I'd like to go to with you, and this time I think we should actually go." Then see what he says.
posted by davejay at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2012


Oops, advice too late. Glad to see it's working out!
posted by davejay at 12:18 PM on April 26, 2012


You: Want to go to thing?
Him: Fantastic!
You: That didn't sound enthusiastic.
Me: Huh?

I would just advise generally against pretending to be any role except yourself - whether that's some outdated notion of "feminine" or anything else.
posted by Occula at 12:31 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


He said "fantastic". That word is not something that would be generally considered "curt". At best, you were being lazy.

Don't set up your own secret rules and then get upset when people don't follow them.
posted by spaltavian at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'm trying to play the feminine role"

This is why I get so angry when people recommend The Rules here. There are some good things in that book about not being a doormat, but far more often you get this kind of response.

OP, throw that book right the fuck away.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Don't set up your own secret rules and then get upset when people don't follow them.

In terms of life advice, this is 24-karat gold. Print it out and put it where you will see it on a regular basis. It will save you years -- years -- of confusion, drama, anger, and grief.
posted by scody at 1:19 PM on April 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Oh, fuck it, I see that I recommended He's Just Not That Into You in the last thread, suggesting that there might be good advice for you amid the gender-role rigidity static. It sound like you took a counterproductive message away from that book, if you read it, so my apologies if my poor advice was part of the issue.

Glad you and this guy are getting together in person. Be yourself--your coolest, most easygoing self, perhaps, but yourself--and don't play games, and you'll be on the right track.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:29 PM on April 26, 2012


Oh please let us know what his response is! I'll be checking this for days to find out :)
posted by Sweetmag at 1:44 PM on April 26, 2012


I'm with Sweetmag - please let us know his response. I'm sending good vibes your way and hope it works out.
posted by jaden at 1:54 PM on April 26, 2012


Shy people need reciprocation.

Let me unpack this. To a lot of shier people, there is a constant fear that people are only accepting their invitations - whether in a social context or a dating context - out some vague sense of social obligation or politeness.

The background to this is that when the shy person is themselves asked to some event, to turn down the invitation can be seen as "making a fuss" or "upsetting the other person's feelings", and so there is a general pattern of just accepting things as the path of least resistance rather than out of an active desire to accept the invitation.

To the more socially confident, this set of fears and obligations doesn't exist at all. Hence the scope for confusion.

One of the ways in which shy people deal with this is by tentative suggestions and expectations of reciprocation. Rather than going all in, they will, because of some fear that they have misread the situation, pass back a subtle hint in the right direction - providing the other person with a socially acceptable way out of the situation or a way forward.

If the shy person feels that they are doing all of the work in escalating the level of involvement, then they can rapidly feel that the responses they are getting are just subtle brush-offs or polite responses for the sake of politeness. This can result in them just dropping out of the interaction - there has been no reciprocation from the other side, therefore the initial fears were grounded and so it is time to drop out rather than digging in deeper.

I wonder if there is an element of this going on here?
posted by Jabberwocky at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Good to see you're finding how this pans out. I'm just dropping back in because this part really jumped out at me:

I'm trying to play the feminine role (which I admit is against my nature as I have a tendency to be very aggressive)

Don't let your concern about piling in too quickly lead you to pretend you're someone that you're not. It sounds to me like the 'feminine' role is almost diametrically opposed to your nature. Show your strong, decisive side, and keep it under control. Lack of femininity wasn't the mistake you made so don't try to fix the part that isn't broken.
posted by fearnothing at 2:14 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it seemed to me that you were deflecting with a joke -- not just avoiding taking the lead. He easily could have taken that as an expression of disinterest by you. Your follow up email was good and now you can see what happens.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:09 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Finally got my response - he said, "Ooh that looks like fun! I'm afraid I'm headed {redacted} for the weekend though :-/ Next time"

No mention of the day next week when we are supposed to be having good weather or trying to arrange anything. At this point I am thinking this is a clear sign I need to flush and move on. Am I being overly sensitive because I was just not going to respond at all (kind of like how I did before) since this seems like a clear signal that he is not interested in meeting with me.
posted by soooo at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2012


After this latest update, I think you're right not to pursue further. This time, you gave a clear "let's do X on Y" and he deflected. You have to assume that if he had a real conflict and wanted to try again, he would have suggested rescheduling in a much more definite way than "next time."

I wouldn't respond at all. Go find someone who actually wants to meet and is worth spending your time on!
posted by J. Wilson at 8:53 AM on April 28, 2012


yeah, I don't think we can say for certain whether that's a complete shutdown, but at this point it's up to him to make an offer and in the meantime you need to just move on because he might never do that. sorry it went down that way.
posted by shmegegge at 9:03 AM on April 28, 2012


Weird, because I think that a specific excuse (vs "busy" or "sorry I can't"), a frowny emoticon indicating his disappointment, and the "next time" mean that it's still cool to ask him to something else.

That said, you've invested a ton of time and energy into this and it might be time to step back and evaluate whether you're at a place where dating people like this (not aggressive and decisive) is a good idea for your self-esteem. It's not all about what he wants--think about what YOU want. Do you even want a guy like this?
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:44 PM on April 29, 2012


Turning down a date, it could just means he's really headed to {redacted}

But yeah, if he never gets his act together enough to propose a specific date for his hypothetical "next time," maybe dating this guy would take more energy than it's worth.

It doesn't have to be all about whether or not he's interested in you. A guy could really really like you, but still have a pattern of behaviour that's frustrating for you to deal with, you get what I'm saying? It's not your responsibility to suss out his true intentions. It is your responsibility to make your own intentions clear to him, and your own rules against being "aggressive" may have been interfering with that.

But if you proposed a specific date to him, I'll say you've got past that problem with the rules, so I'll give you permission to drop this if he never follows up with something more precise than "next time."
posted by RobotHero at 9:42 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, he could be no longer interested. Or he could be shy, especially after how it ended up the last few times he asked you out. Or he could be into playing games now too. I think this boat has been missed - probably about 3.5 months ago. Unless there's some significant distance between you, four months is way too long to go without forward motion.
posted by sm1tten at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2012


And I just want to re-emphasize, you can drop this because he's following a pattern of behaviour you don't want to deal with, not because it's proof of his lack of interest.
posted by RobotHero at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


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