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How to understand a libertine nerd who acts shy / busy ?
March 3, 2008 3:34 AM   Subscribe

NerdTalkFilter : What is guy talk about anyway ?

What does a (nerd), (in an open relationship), (that is going downhill) (which im not supposed to know about) (guy with values), (mysterious and probably shy) Very Busy Guy (in a PhD program that makes him work 24/7)

/// mean, when he repeatedly says that he is "Entirely Available" to help me, (though he is super super busy), invites me ocasionally on get togethers with friends i don't really know, only talks about common things in person, yet makes romantic hints to me when we talk online ?

What could he mean ? The reason i am confused, is because after sending him mixed messages (he was talking about inviting me over to eat a few months ago, after we had just met, but i was going through hard things of my life (cf previous posts), and, underlining this, politely turned him down because i wasn't feeling like getting close to new people would be wise at the time. He knew it, and we lost touch, mostly due to busy schedules, both being in grad school. 4 months later I went on a few dates with one of his friends, who never told him about it (both are super nerds), and he saw us, which made me rather uncomfortable, therefore i left (we were at a café). Since then, he has mentionned wanting to hang out with me once, which we tried a few times, planning on him dropping by for a drink (casual talk once again), but he didnt contact me afterwhats (it happened 2 times); and every time i'd call him, he'd be very nice and say that he would be honored / glad to be of any help i would need (for class or anything). A rather gentlemany manner, it seems. But then, not showing up or calling back looks a bit rude Or not interested to me.

On the evening of the café episode, i heard from a newly-met mutual friend whom i talked to, that the guy im talking about, had a girlfriend, which i didnt know about, and that she was in another city.. also, that they were in an "open relationship", and that his gf had heard about me (looks strange for a nerd / gentleman, but thats okay..). His gf knowing about "me" kindda freaks me out, especially since i wasnt aware of their relationship, and wasnt supposed to know about it anyway.

Let me add that the guy is known for being quite oblivious or dense, often late and focused on his schoolwork, which could explain his odd behaviour. But, since we are both "taken", or it looks so at least, i don't feel right making another step towards him (though he has shown quite an interest to spend time with me when we first met).. How could i find out about his possible true thoughts, without confronting him ? (i dont want to be the girl walking out on his relationship, and neither do i want to hurt his friend with whom ive been on dates).

All i really want is to know him better, since a lot of things got in the way. Im not even talking about dating.

Before I finish, id like to add that i have told him already that i felt like i was disturbing him when i called (since he wouldnt follow up), but he responded by saying it really wasnt the case, and that he was particularly busy at the time (which is all the time). Thanks a lot if you can explain me all these nerd code messages :)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If he really wanted to get closer to you, he would. It sounds to me like he's telling himself he wants to get close to you, when he actually doesn't. Or perhaps he really does want to get close to you, but he's too scared.

The only way you're going to find out is to ask him. Strangers on the internet can't tell you what he's thinking. Only he can do that.
posted by Solomon at 3:51 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh Jesus Christ, just be an adult and ask him out already. If he says no, you'll get over it. If he says yes, go have a good time.

Ditch the catty approach and stop reading too much into everything. What you suffer from is not a lack of understanding, it's a lack of communication.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:54 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You and your friend have a problem wholly unrelated to nerdism. Forget about that.

You both suffer from a powerful dose of insecurity. You both fear rejection. He can't make a move in person, and you can't make any move at all.
posted by poppo at 3:55 AM on March 3, 2008


Ditto above. He's trying to flirt with you but is uncomfortable about doing it in person and probably bad at doing it generally.
posted by beerbajay at 4:07 AM on March 3, 2008


On the evening of the café episode, i heard from a newly-met mutual friend whom i talked to, that the guy im talking about, had a girlfriend, which i didnt know about, and that she was in another city.. also, that they were in an "open relationship", and that his gf had heard about me (looks strange for a nerd / gentleman, but thats okay..).

This sentence? Made my parser throw an error.

Really, you are over-thinking this whole thing, trying to read personalities, intentions and attitudes from a mess of cryptic, partial and irrelevant information, from the tea-leaves of casual comments, looks and hearsay. One the best bits of advice I was ever given was "Say, don't signal." Asking him isn't "confronting", it's seeking clarity.

when he repeatedly says that he is "Entirely Available" to help me, (though he is super super busy), invites me ocasionally on get togethers with friends i don't really know, only talks about common things in person, yet makes romantic hints to me when we talk online ?

What could he mean ?


What could he mean? That he is entirely available to help you, that he wants you to go along with him to get togethers with his friends, that he wants things in common with you, that he's hinting at romance? Do you think?
posted by outlier at 5:19 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't even parse this. What do you want?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:20 AM on March 3, 2008


I have no concept of what the characterization of being a "nerd" has to do with this and you need to seriously just talk to him directly about how you feel about taking your friendship further. Also, when that time comes, be succinct.
posted by Asherah at 5:35 AM on March 3, 2008


All i really want is to know him better, since a lot of things got in the way. Im not even talking about dating.

Are you sure? Because based off of everything else you're saying, it sounds like you do want to date him (or fuck him, or something). There's nothing wrong with admitting you like someone, even if they don't like you, or aren't available. This particular dude sounds like he's not really available. He's busy, distracted and has a girlfriend (who he probably doesn't have time for, either). Don't pin this one on "guy talk" though - I think you're just having a basic failure to communicate right here.

If you want to get laid, the "open relationship" message sounds to me like a signal saying, 'yes I would sleep with you but do not have any emtional availability currently.' You also describe him as a libertine, so I'm guessing that you are trying to get laid here. So the short answer is based on the information you've provided, he probably would sleep with you but he doesn't sound like he is really dating material. If you want to sleep with him be direct and just say it - in person, over the phone, whatever. It can't possibly be more awkward than the exchanges you are describing (and I say this with empathy, not cynicism).

Also, forgive me, but is he your teacher? Or just a colleague? IANAA but maybe you need to start fishing further from home, if you know what I mean.
posted by SassHat at 5:35 AM on March 3, 2008


I see you're not a native English speaker from your previous question (also, sorry, but it's quite apparent in your writing). I'm wondering if the man in question is a native speaker, and if this is causing any misunderstanding between your two. Perhaps you speak the language better than you write it, but several people have had a difficult time understanding your question.

Also, from what you've said about your past, I suspect that you have trouble reading social cues if you were raised in a sheltered environment. Most of us figure out the deal with the opposite sex when we're a teenager, and it doesn't sound like you had that opportunity, so you're essentially going through your adolescent phase now. Perhaps the man in question is also a late bloomer, or perhaps he's insecure.

Adults are perfectly OK with asking each other out. It's not confrontational. You don't need to say, "What did you mean when you said...?" like he's on trial. Just say "I like you and I'd like to get to know you better, let's go to the coffeehouse and chat, just the two of us." If he keeps sending you mixed messages, back off. Go find something else to do. He will make his intent clear - either he won't pursue you or he will.
posted by desjardins at 6:41 AM on March 3, 2008


Ironically, I made my own English mistake in my first paragraph. It should be "causing any misunderstanding between you two."
posted by desjardins at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2008


SassHat gets it right:

If you want to get laid, the "open relationship" message sounds to me like a signal saying, 'yes I would sleep with you but do not have any emtional availability currently.' You also describe him as a libertine, so I'm guessing that you are trying to get laid here. So the short answer is based on the information you've provided, he probably would sleep with you but he doesn't sound like he is really dating material. If you want to sleep with him be direct and just say it - in person, over the phone, whatever. It can't possibly be more awkward than the exchanges you are describing (and I say this with empathy, not cynicism).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The guy is playing you for an ego boost. He knows things are sour with his girlfriend (who's existence he has purposefully kept from you) and he is looking for a confirmation of his attractiveness to others. You're providing that confirmation.

Whether this will develop into something romantic or not is really, seemingly, out of your hands. If you press him on the subject you may scare him away, if you wait for him you may never find out. You're in a Catch 22 and it's best just to walk away from this guy. Seriously, he sounds like a douche.

(Also, your writing style is bizarre.)
posted by wfrgms at 8:37 AM on March 3, 2008


ob: Well, regardless of her native language, that previous question makes me think that she needs to ask her therapist whether she's ready for a relationship at all.
posted by desjardins at 8:50 AM on March 3, 2008


What poppo said, I perceive all the signs as described by you and find reflections of them in my own behaviour.
posted by londongeezer at 9:20 AM on March 3, 2008


Well, regardless of her native language, that previous question makes me think that she needs to ask her therapist whether she's ready for a relationship at all.

Yeah that's true. Indeed if English is her native language, that's even more true...
posted by ob at 9:35 AM on March 3, 2008


The answer to “judging by his behavior, do you think he likes me?” is always “I don’t know. You should ask him.”

Your question also has a hint of “I have misgivings about this guy but I really really like him; please tell me that it will work out” to it. Can’t do that either. You don’t sound particularly comfortable about the fact that he’s in an open relationship, and you have every right not to be, because those things are tricky.

Assume that neither his relationship status nor his communication style are going to change, regardless of whatever happens between you. From there, you can probably figure out what the most likely outcome of all this will be. (My guess is more miscommunication and drama.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2008


Okay, let me see if I can figure out what's going on. I am a geek, so I've seen this sort of thing quite a few times.

This guy has invited you to hang out at some points. You say no, because you're kind of overstressed. Some time later, you go out on a date with another guy, and get spotted by the first guy. This weirds you out. You find out (from a third person?) the first guy's relationship status, and you're even more weirded out.

Right.

What it looks like to me is that guy the first wants to be your friend. Maybe your boyfriend, maybe not, but a friend. Just because you have breasts does not automatically imply that he wants to date you.

Most times I've seen a (geek) guy I know out with a girl, I tend to assume that they're probably friends hanging out, unless they are kissing, holding hands, indulging in PDAs, etc. Most of the geek guys I know assume the same, otherwise I'd be accused of infidelity every second or third day (I have coffee with my male friends, one-on-one, a lot. I even have them over my house, without supervision). What I'm trying to say is, you spooked over what was probably nothing. Mind you, every girl I have talked to about this sort of thing (Love Interest A saw me having coffee with Love Interest B! Oh no! what's A going to think?) has been getting worked up about zip. I come to this conclusion by asking A about what he thought about the whole shebang, often with a 'Oh, Girl was at the cafe with B, they seem like friends, cool' - even if they were interested. Especially nerdy types.

Okay, open relationships. I have seen more open relationships amongst geeks/nerds than I have amongst 'normal' people. There's a variety of reasons for this; geeks and nerds don't tend to have a lot of respect for social norms, and are often quite willing to throw them out the window if they think they have a better idea. They are often also emotionally damaged, and bad at relationships in general. And, they're frequently incredibly busy people. All this combines (in various amounts) to fostering nontraditional relationship styles, some of which are healthy, some of which aren't. Can't tell from this remove whether the open relationship in question is healthy.

My conclusion is: ask the guy. Do you want to be friends, have a fling, what? And what's the deal with the open relationship thing? Those are the questions you should be asking him.
posted by ysabet at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2008


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