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Casual relationships and gender norms, plus any feedback on this guy's behavior?
December 12, 2012 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Mixed signals from a guy I made out with. What do they mean? Any hopes for further fun? And also, on a philosophical level, what are your thoughts on women pursuing men and differences in the rules of the game for dating versus casual fun?

So, Met this guy a couple of weeks ago when out with some friends. We had kind of a fun and random night, and made out at the end. He struck me as someone who is a natural flirt and who is enjoying himself at the moment (mentioned within my hearing to another person in the group that he is dating a lot recently), but it was kind of fun to hang out with him and be pursued for the evening.

I didn't see him for a couple of days afterwards, but eventually ran into him around school and, well, upon seeing him it occurred to me that I would have liked to have made out more. So . . . I sent him a fb message and asked if he wanted to hang out. I think it was pretty obvious that I wasn't thinking date level hanging out, more fwb hanging out, or at least that was how it was meant. He replied almost immediately in the affirmative. I messaged back a bit later to set up a time/day. And . . . he never messaged back! Grrr . . .

So, that was maybe two and a half weeks ago. Ran into him about a week ago in the library and he seemed happy to see me and walked with me back to the apartment complex where we both live. He opened the door to the apartment complex for me in a kind of demonstrative way, then when it seemed like we were going to part because I was taking the stairs and he was taking the elevator, he turned around and wanted to walk up together.

So, at this point my pride is probably rightly saying not to message him a second time (plus enough time has passed that my motivation to do that has gone down) but I feel slightly baffled by his behavior. Should I pursue him any further? And more philosophically, in your opinion, how do rules (or guidelines if you will) for pursuing differ when you are looking for something casual versus something that would go in more of the 'dating' category? And, perhaps even more philosophically, how do you think these sorts of rules should/do differ for men versus women. Present situation aside, I am a girl but I kind of like pursuing people (in addition to liking to be pursued as mentioned earlier), or would like to pursue people more. But I always feel frustrated that pursuit of men will make me seem desperate or something. Your thoughts on any/all of this multipart question would be greatly appreciated!
posted by thesnowyslaps to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are no rules

You'll come off as desperate to plenty of people you'd never want to know and won't have to be around ever again
posted by MangyCarface at 8:37 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't pursue him any further; the ball's in his court and if he is interested, he'll let you know. It's more attractive to play it cool--that's just a fact of human psychology, regardless of gender. We all enjoy the pursuit to some degree, and want the person we can't have (or the person we don't know if we can have, and want to find out). I'm not saying that's right or fair, but it's true. Maybe not universally 100% of the time, but certainly in my experience.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:40 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will address only one part, because yeah, relatively speaking, I'm old, and I don't know the "rules" for how younger adults date these days. (The fact that they might actually be dating and not just hooking up gives me some hope for the future though. Also to appropriate a song title: There's no fucking rules, dude.)

Present situation aside, I am a girl but I kind of like pursuing people (in addition to liking to be pursued as mentioned earlier), or would like to pursue people more. But I always feel frustrated that pursuit of men will make me seem desperate or something.

So pursue people. It doesn't make you seem desperate, it makes you seem confident and like you know what you want. People who think it makes you seem desperate aren't people you want to date anyway.

In fact, that is probably the number one thing I have learned in years of dating (much of it admittedly unsuccessfully): be yourself, don't be afraid of scaring people off, those 90-95% of the people you scare off are the people you don't want to date anyway, stop wasting time playing games with them, pursue the other 5-10%, you'll be much happier that way.

As they get older, more people, regardless of gender, will begin to figure this out, whether or not they can articulate it in words, or if it is just sort of a subconscious thing they know.
posted by noonewilleverloveyou at 8:41 AM on December 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


Since your neighbor specifically said he wanted to get together give another try. Ask your neighbor out on a hang-out/date. Grab a pizza, or a pitcher of beer somewhere. See what happens. If he blows you off again, there's your answer. Move on.

You can pursue men as much as you like, just don't be all stalkerish about it and don't be all bajiggity about it if you get blown off or turned down.

Also, don't fool yourself. If you are 100% into a casual thing, then cool, go for it. But if you're looking for love, don't think you can turn casual into a relationship. It rarely works out that way.

Be fun, have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:44 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


So . . . I sent him a fb message and asked if he wanted to hang out. I think it was pretty obvious that I wasn't thinking date level hanging out, more fwb hanging out, or at least that was how it was meant.

When dating, be careful about living in your head. The signals you think you're sending, especially by texting, Facebooking or Tweeting maybe not what you intend. Always be clear in what you want.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


If you want to pursue, pursue. If a man isn't cool with a woman pursuing him, well, he's probably not a full participant in this new century anyway, and probably best to let him go. As for the casual/dating distinction, I'd lay it out as exactly that.

All that said, I would not pursue this particular guy any more at this moment. You've put it out there, and it's up to him to respond. And, TBH, he hasn't really jumped on that -- sorry.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:52 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should I pursue him any further?

No. It'll be a headache. He's not super into this and the radio silence gap of a week and a half tells me everything I need to know. It's kind of a normal thing to act more interested when the person is actually in front of you, but if he were into you, he'd have messaged you after running into you.

And more philosophically, in your opinion, how do rules (or guidelines if you will) for pursuing differ when you are looking for something casual versus something that would go in more of the 'dating' category?

In a FWB type of situation, things need to just sort of fall into place naturally. I know that sounds like one of those arbitrary rules of cool but really, that's how it works. Any amount of actual effort - or any amount of need for effort (outside the bedroom) will mess things up. A workable FWB situation is an ephemeral, fortunate happenstance. If anyone's doing any pursuing then something is wrong.

And, perhaps even more philosophically, how do you think these sorts of rules should/do differ for men versus women.

Some guys will be insecure about being pursued. I want to say that the good ones won't, and by and large I believe that, but society doesn't really prepare men to be the pursued party, it doesn't give them the tools to handle being chased, even though it's flattering and assertive women are fuckin' hot. So maybe cut dudes a little slack if they don't seem certain how to process the attention. They'll catch on eventually if they're worth your time.

But when it's good and the two of you have a good energy going, you'll sort of pursue each other and it won't feel like there's an imbalance in the effort.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:52 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think pursuing is great. ONCE. You already used that one up (the FB message), and that's totally cool. But should you keep pursuing? No.

I'll admit it: as a woman, I'd much prefer that men did all the pursuing. But they're not going to, and it's 2012, and all that. So I'll pursue, but one time only. If that doesn't yield results, either he's too clueless to be real, or he's Just Not Into Me. Either way, I'm done.
posted by Salamander at 9:01 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


His behavior seems pretty clear to me- he had a good time, he'd do it again sometime in theory but has no interest in setting a date at this time (which probably means it'll never happen). I think you gave it a shot and that's good. He wasn't into it this time, the next guy might be next time. All you can do is ask.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:04 AM on December 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I certainly don't think it reads as "desperate" or unattractive when the woman's the pursuer in a relationship (either casual or romantic). But I think it's important to recognize that this sets up a particular dynamic, and to be comfortable going in on the same way you've begun. If you start out by actively courting a guy, then it's reasonable for him to assume that you'll continue to be the pursuer, while he gets to occupy the position of sitting back and accepting-- or not-- your attentions. This may convert at some point to a more egalitarian scenario where you pursue at first, and then he turns around and pursues you right back-- but there's no particular reason why it should, because those aren't the ground rules you've established. (The part where you messaged to set up a day/time for a meeting, for instance: when he didn't respond initially, wouldn't the pursuin' thing to do have been for you to send a quick, friendly follow-up text to check if he got the message?)

All of which is to say, it's cool to be the pursuer, but not if what you really want is to be pursued. Just like it's cool to start up a FWB thing, but not if what you really want is a romantic relationship.
posted by Bardolph at 9:05 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


My rule is to match investment. Pursuing is dumb for either gender if it is not at least minimally reciprocated.
posted by skrozidile at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


If you're interested in him as a FWB, you should do this by inviting him over next time you see him in person. Obviously you run into him every so often -- next time you see him, ask him out for a drink. Spending some time just hanging out will give you a lot better idea of whether or not he's into you for further hookups or if you were just the catch of the night.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:12 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say let it go and don't message him. Pursue only if the other person responds - he didn't respond back, so just let it go.

He could have been holding the door to just be nice/friendly - don't read anything more into that.

Honestly, there are no rules. If you want to pursue someone then do it, just don't overdo it, if that makes any sense. Anyone who runs/doesn't respond isn't worth it, even in a FWB sitch.
posted by floweredfish at 9:18 AM on December 12, 2012


I think if you're going to message him, a good way to tread the fence here is something like, "hey dude, where are you going to be this weekend?" or "Thursday," or whatever. He's a random, he's not responding to making specific plans, so the only thing you can really do is to ask him how you can put yourself where he's going to be, i.e. "at his creekside," if he's just going with the flow. If he doesn't respond to that, then he really wants to keep it random.
posted by rhizome at 9:26 AM on December 12, 2012


I messaged back a bit later to set up a time/day.

Would you be comfortable telling us your exact wording for that message? I do my share of casual dating, and if I'm busy, someone who says, "let's set up a day!" gets less attention/brainspace than someone who has a specific plan, i.e., "let's do coffee tomorrow afternoon."
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the most part, you should forget about "signals" when it comes to dating. Don't try to read anybody's mind. If you ask him out, the worst that'll happen is that you might find out he doesn't want to...and that's not so bad. But I agree that talking on the phone or in person might work out better.
posted by wryly at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2012


Just came back to say actual face-to-face or ear/mouth to ear/mouth conversations are 1000% better than text and FB messages.

Actually talking to someone will tell you what you want to know, so much better than texting.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:01 AM on December 12, 2012


Ugh. It's not fun when you need to convince someone to give you a little attention. Let him find a little effort and show you a little interest.

There are no rules, but there is no reason to waste a bunch of your time on people who aren't actually interested.
posted by Blisterlips at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2012


For what it's worth - Facebook chat has been _really_ flaky for me in the past couple of weeks. Lots of messages not showing up, or getting notified of the message on one device/browser or not on another and all kinds of things that have caused communication failures between me and my friends. So there's a possibility that he didn't get the message that you are annoyed that he didn't reply to and that _he_ is annoyed that you brought up the idea of a date and dropped the ball.

I would try to set up the date via text or in person next time you run into him. (or by talking on the phone if that isn't as horrible an experience for you as it is for me).
posted by sparklemotion at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2012


I would not ever let anything hang on a Facebook message, or a text message, or even an email. It is very easy for people to lose track of these things. I mean, does anyone you know go through the day's text messages or FB messages to see if any fell through the cracks?

Just say something in person, or on the phone, if you're ever on the phone. Then they can get a sense of your tone of voice, and you can get an immediate response from them.

You can even make clear that the ball's in his court. You can say, "Okay, well, let me know!"

As for pursuing: what the hell, life is short. So long as you're okay with being rejected, go for it.
posted by musofire at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2012


Important question, alluded to above:

Have you ever messaged him on FB before? The mail system is flaky to say the least. There is actually a "feature" where someone who has never messaged you before gets sent to a hidden folder in the inbox!

And now that they've integrated chat and mail, who knows what craziness has ensued.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2012


go back to that spot in the library. Then walk home, then ask him up. wait until you can offer more make out for him to answer.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:22 PM on December 12, 2012


Yeah, Facebook messages are weird. If you send a message to someone you have never spoken to or are not FB friends before, it goes into another folder and I never see it. Well, until a year later when I dump that inbox. What a strange system it is....
posted by eq21 at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2012


You don't know if he ever got your message. Just ask him if he wants to [get a coffee, have a beer, go back to your place, whatever] next time you see him in person.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2012


Next time you see him, invite him to your place or text him day of a party. Planning gets date-y.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:20 PM on December 13, 2012


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