Honesty v. Mystery v. Good Faith v. Transparency
October 28, 2008 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm really confused about how and when to bring up your level of interest in relationships.

Background: I dated three different girls and they both fell in love with me, and stayed in love with me for a while and I was oblivious to it, and eventually I broke it off, and all three felt I used them. One of them started taking Zoloft because she was depressed about it. And I felt guilty for years that I was a serial heart breaker and so I didn't date. Then I developed new policies, but I don't think I'm getting it right.

This is how these new policies of being upfront and honest have played out:

Scenario 1: I was good friends with a girl and then I started to develop feelings for her. And I felt like I should be honest and so I took her out to dinner and told her that. I didn't ask her what she felt, I just felt I had to tell her because I didn't want to have a friendship under false pretenses. But then she criticized me (and so did my friends) for the move. She said something like, well, that sort of killed the mystery. And my friends said, "you revealed too much."

Scenario 2: I slept with a girl three nights in a row, and I felt things were getting hot between us and I knew I didn't want anything long-term out of us, and so I told her that. She said I was being presumptious, but I felt like I was sparing her heart break. My friends said maybe I was too quick.

Scenario 3: I've been sleeping with a girl for two weeks now, we're boyfriend/girlfriend. I tell her, "okay, I'm really into you, but I don't want anything long-term." She gets mad for a bit, then says, "okay, fine. But I'd rather pretend you never said that." I guess I'm okay with that, but I'm confused because it seems like she's screwing herself over.

I don't understand what is the "good" way to deal with this. On the one hand I feel that people are telling me to just date, have sex, pretend you're in love, and if you're done, you're done. On the other hand, I see all the suffering and emotional turmoil this causes when one person knows they're not in love and the other one clearly is, and nobody says anything. Or is it just that nobody likes downgrades, whether through breakups or otherwise, and you'll just have to bite the bullet whenever. I had one girl even tell me that I was too honest.

I'm looking for some good principles about this issue. I not even sure what the issue is named. Honesty v. Mystery v. Good Faith v. Transparency?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Tell them you don't want anything long term BEFORE you sleep with them, dingbat. Then if you still get play, then everybody's on the same page.
posted by headspace at 7:55 PM on October 28, 2008 [13 favorites]

Why do you keep telling people that you don't want anything long term?

And maybe you should stop having sex with people that you're not interested in having relationships with? While I am no prude, it appears that those 3 scenarios were not dating at all, rather you just having sex with people.
posted by k8t at 7:55 PM on October 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

In scenario #2 and #3, you waited until after you slept with girls to reveal your intentions. That's what's defined as being a douchebag. You set them up for heartbreak and then wonder why it is they found your honesty displeasing?

In scenario #1, it didn't sound like she was very interested. Move on.

Honestly, I'm just going to suggest that you stop being a douchebag. If you lead people on, sleep with them and then try to define it afterwards, you're going to break hearts (even little bits at a time) almost every time.

You want to find something real? Stop settling for something fleeting. Treat people's hearts a little nicer. It goes a long ways.
posted by scabrous at 8:00 PM on October 28, 2008 [10 favorites]

Gonna second headspace and k8t here: The "issue" here is that you're having sex way too quickly. You're having sex with girls before you even know what you want with/from/for them, and then you're surprised when they're confused and hurt? For most normal people, having sex is a Big Deal. You really aren't treating it that way. Seriously man, keep it in your pants unless you're willing to deal with women as real people with real emotions, not just vaginas.
posted by valkyryn at 8:05 PM on October 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

What exactly do you want? A relationship? Or sex? Define this and you'll get better guidance.
posted by Riverine at 8:21 PM on October 28, 2008

I don't think there is such a thing as "too honest" but there is such a thing as "tactless." There are ways of telling someone you aren't interested in a serious relationship without just dropping it on them as a non-sequitur, which can come across as presumptuous (2) or unnecessarily mean (3).

While you are dating (before you are sleeping with them) you can hint or mention these things in conversation as they arise. It seems like you aren't having many real conversations with these women and are instead just trying to cover your ass by making sure to mention (in no real context) that just because you are sleeping with them doesn't mean you are interested in something long term.

Instead of trying to come off as the good guy for saying something (which is the right impulse but I think you are doing it at the wrong time and in the wrong way), you should listen to them. They might be telling you the same thing in other ways in which case you don't need to confess all that, or they might be hinting at real relationship stuff in which case you can pick up one of those balls lobbied your way and segue it into a talk about what you are each looking for.
posted by rmless at 8:24 PM on October 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

I'd just like to note that the one woman of the six that you describe yourself actually "having feelings for" is the only one you did not sleep with. That. Do that.

In other words, as other folks here are saying, get to know a woman first and develop feelings for her before you sleep with her. Either get to know a woman as a friend first and then if you develop feelings for her ask her out on an actual date, or ask a woman you think you like out on a date and then take things slowly. Then don't confess anything else to her at that point -- don't tell her you really like her, don't tell her you're not looking for something long term, don't tell her that you want to sleep with her. Let things develop a little more slowly, and see what you are feeling. If you later find that you are not looking for something long term with her, imho you should just break up. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:26 PM on October 28, 2008

On the one hand I feel that people are telling me to just date, have sex, pretend you're in love, and if you're done, you're done.

What? Who is telling you this? This is a recipe for disaster. Are you interpreting this from Girl #1?

The problem isn't, I think, that you discussed your feelings with her and thus ruined the mystery. You ruined the mystery by perhaps being really, really unromantic about it. Especially the "I didn't ask her what she felt" part. It sounds like you just sat her down and unloaded all these emotions on her and came across way too strongly.

People want mystery about early stage flirting. Coyness is often attractive. That's what flirting is. People don't want mystery when you're sleeping with them. When you're having sex or in a relationship with a person, that is the time to be upfront about your feelings and intentions.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:28 PM on October 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

Forget for a second talking to any other person about this: What do you want do? There have been plenty of relationships that have arisen from just hooking up, but that's not exactly an auspicious circumstance under which to convey to a woman that you're interested in her beyond the (very) short term. So do some compatibility triage: If you have no interest in a particular partner beyond sex, and she's mutually interested, go for it and stop thinking so much. Sex can just be sex - it's the other shit that gets people disproportionately involved and thus the other shit both of you need to avoid (unless, of course, there's mutual interest in a relationship).

If, on the other hand, you're actually interested in someone beyond screwing them, you should probably do something upfront to establish that: go out to dinner/concert/whatever or stay in and goof around and watch movies and cuddle before/concurrently with having sex, AND NOT blurt out something awkward about it. This isn't a hard and fast guideline, but it makes your intentions more clear. My sense is that you are sending out a ton of mixed signals and/or seeing inexperienced (read: naive) women who are missing whatever clear signals you're sending.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:55 PM on October 28, 2008

Just the other day, dozens of answers to another question were almost unanimous in the concept that there's zero need to be exclusive with somebody until (usually after some time) you sit down with them and arrange a verbal contract to be monogamous.

In other words, sex is apparently assumed to be (quasi-) casual, even in a dating situation, until stated otherwise. Today, it seems to be a different model in operation, ie the "be explicit & upfront & negotiate your booty calls before doing anything".

That bizarre contradiction aside, I might try to answer the question.

I see two distinct situations here:

1. You feel like sleeping with somebody, but don't really want a LTR with them.

2. You are really into somebody & want the LTR.

In situation 1 (your Scenarios 2 & 3) what magic is there to spoil by being explicit about what you're after? This would be the situation to say "by the way, if we do this, it's just for fun, ok?" or words to that effect, so everybody's on the same page.

In situation 2 (your Scenario 1) that'd be the time to keep your trap shut, and use all the flirty, romancey stuff early on. Occasionally, you might meet somebody who wants to go in hard & deep from day one, but most times you've gotta ease into it or you'll scare them off.

But yeh, your two situations are not analogous at all, so it's basically not in any way just one single question of "do you explain where your head is at earlier or later?". The answer is different for each of the situations.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:00 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Honestly, if you just want to boink, maybe you should just stick to one-time hookups on Craigslist. If you want a girlfriend, don't immediately boink her.

I hate to stereotype, but odds are higher a girl is going to take your boinking her as meaning that you are into her in That Way.* Especially if you repeat the boinking. And if you act in a romantic/schmoopy-ish manner (I don't know if you do or not, just saying). Girls tend to believe your actions more than your words, so if your actions are not so much treating her like a booty call when you tell her that she is, she's gonna be mad and feel led on. I bet there's something here about your actions that to them translates as your liking them more than you actually do, but I can't tell over the Internet. At the very least, have these "I don't care how wonderful you are, I am not going to be your boyfriend or anything more than a frequent fuckbuddy" conversations on date one and she can head for the hills if she wants without her heart getting involved. Which reminds me....

Incidentally, girlfriend #3 is raising a red flag with me. She's literally going to pretend that you said you don't want to be with her long term? UH-OH, anyone who is all "la la la denial" sounds worrisome.

* Not all girls attach that quickly, but they are harder to find. Again, Craigslist.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:39 PM on October 28, 2008

I think I must be incredibly naive and old-fashioned, BUT

- having sex is as close as two people can get
- while I don't think you have to love someone, shouldn't you at least really like them?
- I'm a girl, and if I had sex with you I would likely assume that you actually kind of liked me, and therefore wanted to hang around a while and see where things went.
- If you just want no-strings-attached sex do what the rest of people who want that do -- go to meatmarkets and don't sleep over

posted by Flying Squirrel at 11:21 PM on October 28, 2008

- I'm a girl, and if I had sex with you I would likely assume that you actually kind of liked me, and therefore wanted to hang around a while and see where things went.

This, definitely. Plenty of people don't expect to have a written guarantee of a long term relationship before they'll have sex with you, but they will be irritated if you have already written the possibility off and not made that clear before you had sex. When dating a lot of people are in the "want to see where things go" category.
posted by Nattie at 11:56 PM on October 28, 2008

Sorry for posting twice in a row, but it occurred to me to add a few things...

If you've been dating someone for months (which it sounds like you may have been with the first three girls you group together) but never had any intention of a long term relationship and you're not in love with them, that's a douche thing to not be clear about. The longer a relationship goes on, the more you give the impression that you're okay with a long term relationship. If you want to stay with someone for months at a time but do not want a long term relationship, you need to be clear that's also what they want.

Regarding Scenario 1: When you got to the point you had feelings for her, you should have tried asking her out and dating her. That's what you do when you like someone. It's kind of weird to say, "By the way, I have feelings for you, and I thought you should know. Yup. That's it." As time goes on and you date more, you reveal more of those feelings. Dumping them out there at once does kill the mystery and flirting, but it also puts someone in a weird position if they aren't entirely on the same page as you from the beginning; someone might want to date you but not feel that they can return your feelings in full yet. This is where "seeing where things go" comes in.

Scenario 2: She might have said you were being presumptuous as a defense mechanism; she may have been hoping for more and it stung to hear otherwise, so she pretended it was ridiculous. Even if she wasn't, her reaction doesn't mean it's somehow better to not be open about these things. But you should have made it clear before the sex, either way.

Scenario 3: It's confusing for someone to call someone their girlfriend if they're not at least open to the possibility of it being a long term thing. Some people do this but they're upfront about it -- what I'm saying is if someone had taken to calling me his girlfriend, I would think he was in the "see where things go" category unless he said otherwise. If you've written off a long term relationship but still have an official relationship, this needs to be something people know before you sleep with them.
posted by Nattie at 12:17 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, I'm the one that asked this question.

Let me elaborate on Scenario 2 for example, and you can tell me the kind of pickle I've been in.

So I liked this girl. I slept with her. Then we slept some more, and it all happened within a week. But then I learned some things about her that made me not want to be boyfriend/girlfriend with her, but just potentially be friends with benefits.

She tells me she wants to be exclusive with me. Then I start to panic, thinking she's falling in love with me, and so in order to prevent any potential heart break, I just call her up, tell her I don't want to be her boyfriend.

She says, "damn." I talk to her a week later, and she's annoyed by me, saying I was too presumptuous, i.e. I made a mistake assuming she wanted boyfriend/girlfriend. And I'm confused because it's almost like she would've rather I just said nothing, because hell maybe she didn't want boyfriend/girlfriend anyways.

Maybe I should have said, "I want to be friends with benefits" but I feel like I'd be accused of assuming she wanted to be more than friends with benefits.

In other words, the message I'm getting from her is, "don't worry about whether or not I want to be your girlfriend, I can take care of myself. You do what you want, and I'll do what I want, you don't need to protect me from being heart broken."
posted by pauldonato at 12:18 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been in similar situations, and I was more comfortable once the guy said he wasn't looking for a relationship, because that suited me. but if I had wanted a relationship, I might have acted like I totally didn't to avoid seeming rejected, and I also know people who hate having everything out in the open and explicit because that way they can't just pretend that you were both agreeing all along. I don't think there is one answer that will work for all girls. I guess the only thing to work on is don't come across as arrogant ("I know you're probably in love with me and everything because I'm so amazing, so I wanted to let you know that we're not actually going to stay together" is very different to "I've been figuring out what I'm feeling at the moment and I decided I don't really want a full-on relationship. I don't know if you could tell that already so I just wanted to let you know what I'm thinking.")
posted by jacalata at 12:38 AM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree with everyone who says you are sleeping with these people too fast. Take everything a little slower, get to know these girls better, and then make a decision about where you want to go with the relationship.

I personally think you handled scenario 1 the best, but I would establish the fact that you don't want a relationship after your mutual attraction is established and before you have sex.
posted by PFL at 4:31 AM on October 29, 2008

saying I was too presumptuous, i.e. I made a mistake assuming she wanted boyfriend/girlfriend

Well, she probably did, and is trying to save face now. But you were somewhat presumptuous, she said she wanted to be exclusive and the non-presumptuous response to that would have been "I don't."
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

okay, I think I'm starting to get the pattern of what's going on in Scenario 2 & 3. Girls do want the honesty when sex is on the table, but still nobody likes rejection, and also nobody likes to feel like you're babying them, regardless if you're doing the right thing.

But, I'm still a little bit confused, actually, about Scenario 1. While it seems clear, looking back now, that in the pursuit, I should've maintained mystery to increase my chances, here was my thinking: I didn't want to make it seem like I was sneaking a relationship into a friendship.

I'd feel like I was taking advantage or being dishonest with the friendship if I was doing that. I wanted to turn a friend into more than just a friend, and I felt like the best way to do that was announce it.

If you like a friend, do you just start pursuing like you would a normal date? I'd feel like you were somehow tricking your friend.

Or maybe that's the eternal pickle with dating. Everybody wants to be tricked into dating someone they like. It's called seduction if they like you, it's called being a jerk if they don't.

I think I felt too intimidated by this girl, (because, looking back now, she was kind of a mean-spirited and sarcastic girl, and so I interpreted it as disinterest), and so I just threw it out there to cover my bases in the (likely in my mind) case that she wasn't interested in me. That way I couldn't be accused of being a jerk. But looking back now, I think she was curious about the potential with me and I didn't have to play it so overly safe.
posted by pauldonato at 8:18 AM on October 29, 2008

For the folks in this thread complaining that there is some sort of double standard because folks should be able to date without wanting anything long term, I just want to say that I think the folks who are telling this guy to have feelings first are trying to answer his whole question. I don't think the problem here is just that this guy wants to be able to date without long term consequences, though that is perhaps one problem he outlines. I think another problem this question raises is that this guy keeps dating people that he doesn't doesn't develop any serious feelings for and he doesn't sound like he is happy with that. That's why he's getting so much advice in here to develop feelings before doing the deed; not necessarily because it's objectively wrong not to, but because from his question it seemed like he wants to get at this larger issue, too.

Frankly, I am confused by scenario #2 and the follow up comment from the poster, too. I thought being boyfriend/girlfriend was synonomous with being exclusive, so it seems contradictory to me that the woman would say first that she wanted to be exclusive and then say that he was being presumptious in assuming that she wanted to be boyfriend/girlfriend. I really did think that's the same thing, so maybe she is just trying to save face and keep the relationship going in the hopes that you will change your mind. Not really sure. But either way it is better to do what you have done in scenarios #2 and #3 than what you were initially doing -- once you know you don't want something long term I think it's better to speak up about it than keep someone thinking that you might want that for some long, indefinite period. Maybe you won't get grateful reactions when you tell women this, which is understandable since it's a type of rejection, so maybe you're just going to have to steel yourself for giving out the bad news. But the reactions you're getting now in #2 and #3 are much better than the reactions you got before where women felt strung along and sank into deep depressions because of their abiding love for you, etc. At least this way your dates know sooner rather than later what your feelings are, so their level of hurt is likely to be shallower.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:19 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you like a friend, do you just start pursuing like you would a normal date? I'd feel like you were somehow tricking your friend.

I think the normal pattern here is to ask the person to do something that is decidedly date-like rather than simply a friendly outing, and don't announce your intentions with words but rather with gestures. Ask her out for an evening dinner and movie and bring them flowers when you pick her up. The idea is to let them start thinking about you in this new light and see how it sits with them. It might take a few outings before they start sending back their own signals because it might take her a little time to adjust and decide how she feels. Which is why the open declaration might not have been the best move -- she didn't really have a chance to imagine you as her boyfriend and see how things might play out before the delicious mystery evaporated.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:27 AM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

OP said If you like a friend, do you just start pursuing like you would a normal date? I'd feel like you were somehow tricking your friend.

Previously, and with differing perspectives in the comments.
posted by catlet at 8:38 AM on October 29, 2008


Yeah, I'm seeing a pattern. I think I was mis-interpreting these "save face" comments from girls as an expression of what they really want. I think the principle I'm getting is that the longer that sex is on the table, the more mystery starts to become a liability. When it's not on the table, mystery is fun (with conditions, see below).

I think there's three cases of interest: 1) You want Long-term with someone 2) you're open to long-term with someone or 3) you don't want long-term.

I think if both parties are in either case 1 or 2, it's okay to maintain mystery (unless someone is in waay deep, and you're not, or sex has been on the table). If at any point any party realizes they're in 3, that should be clear, and the attention should be on presenting that rejection while protecting egos.

I guess one problem I have is I'm trying too hard to never hurt anybody. People will inevitably get hurt, it's just a matter of how deep that hurt will be. I think I also don't have a personal taste for mystery whatsoever. All my relationships have occurred by osmosis, starting from friendships that just snowballed. So I don't know have confidence in feeding mystery, or catering to it. I guess, I'm sort of like the autistic-type in that in my ideal world, everybody would have a button they could press, only if the other person pressed it, which would reveal the level of interest to both parties. Hmm, sounds like a good facebook app idea. Oh wait, that's already there.

There was actually a time when I appreciated mystery, and I used to have crushes. But my pursuits always failed. And things got really confusing in college on a residential campus, where dating was taboo, and everybody was into just random hook-ups. Come to think of it, that's something a lot of people complained about on campus.
posted by pauldonato at 8:42 AM on October 29, 2008

I agree with your basic breakdown of cases of interest and how to handle them. And I think jacalata gives good advice above re how to deliver any "not looking for long term" news going forward. I do think that whenever you have to give this news it's possible that you're going to hurt your date, and she may say things to protect her feelings. But I still think it's better to inflict that more minor hurt than to have someone believing there might be the potential for a long-term relationship for a longer period of time as initially happened to you. Also, I just wanted to say that I think you have a great attitude toward all of this and I really appreciate that you are trying to hurt people as little as possible. (And I hope that you receive the same in return!)

And I didn't mean to imply that mystery was always fun for everyone -- there have been many times when I have wanted to give mystery a swift but punishing kick to the crotch and just KNOW what my date was thinking about me. I agree with you that this would be easier, but I think most of the time a relationship needs a little mystery in order to make a romance. It's like oxygen to a fire, and without it the flame splutters out. I suspect it has something to do with hormones. But in any case, I wish you the best of luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

@onlyconnect thanks for the supportive words. I expected to get flak from this thread.
posted by pauldonato at 10:53 AM on October 29, 2008

I'm sort of like the autistic-type in that in my ideal world, everybody would have a button they could press, only if the other person pressed it, which would reveal the level of interest to both parties.

It's interesting that you mention autism, because you do sound rather tone-deaf to the emotional components of this. Also the assumptions that everyone needs all the information right away and in a straight-forward (tactless) manner, and the assumption that there is a "right" way to date "girls" (as if we are all the same and expect you all to be the same).

If you slept with me three times in a week and then said "okay, I'm really into you, but I don't want anything long-term," I would be pretty sure you were just manipulating me for sex, and that would piss me off and make me feel dumb for falling for it. It sounds like "I like fucking you, but you're not worth any emotional investment." Maybe I'm not looking for anything long-term either, but you didn't even bother asking me that, and hearing that type of thing stings.

If you're not looking for something long-term because of personal reasons, let people know that before sleeping with you, to avoid letting them make a decision that they wouldn't have made had they known. (Bonus: Girls who are also looking for something casual will know not to worry about you getting clingy.)

If you're not looking for something long-term because they did something to turn you off, then maybe talk about that. (Or not, if you don't plan on continuing any type of relationship with them.)

Lastly I would say to be honest, but to be considerate of other people's feelings, and also to be open-minded. Maybe you're writing people off quickly. Maybe you see something in the first week that makes you not so sure, but if you would stick around and see, she would actually be a really good fit for you. Don't put up with crap, but be open.
posted by heatherann at 11:23 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Or maybe that's the eternal pickle with dating. Everybody wants to be tricked into dating someone they like. It's called seduction if they like you, it's called being a jerk if they don't.

Yes, the exact same set of behaviours could be either sweep-off-the-feet romantic or creepy & stalkerish, depending on whether the recipient is open or closed to the advances.

(with a proviso: it's creepy & stalkerish if you persist despite feedback that it's not wanted, which can also come in the form of a total lack of response. i'm remembering a guy who used to do things like make 100 little origami cranes, which he'd leave outside the place i was sharing with a female friend. it was awfully sweet, apart from the fact that she had zero interest in dating him, so after a while it became "hey, can you stop with the creepy stalkerish obsession & pointless gestures, already?")
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2008

You're wrong about hurt being inevitable, at least partly. Yes, when romantic (or even just sexual) relationships end, there is hurt to be had for everyone involved. If that isn't true for you, you have deeper problems, because that's not normal.

But there's a difference between that kind of hurt, being hurt by circumstances that aren't really anyone's "fault," and actively hurting someone. You seem to be doing a lot of the latter by sleeping with girls before you're clear with yourself about what you want, before you have a clear understanding of what they want, and before there's been any kind of communication about those things.

I've been in several relationships that didn't work out, and all of my exes still think I'm a decent enough guy, even if I'm wrong for them. I even keep in touch with the ones that aren't crazy. It's all about how you handle things.
posted by valkyryn at 1:38 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, my world tends to be bars, and so sleeping together/hooking up the first night tends to be the norm. And I'd feel like an idiot stopping things as we're about to undress and say, "okay, this is just for fun." But I think probably the smart thing would be to not go for the repeat sex unless there's more transparency.
posted by pauldonato at 2:51 PM on October 29, 2008

I guess I have a better understanding of the definition of "presumptuous" now. I think the flaw was not verifying or validating my assumptions about the other person before communicating with them. In Scenario 1, I came across as stupid, and in Scenario 2 & 3, I came across as a manipulative jerk.

In Scenario 1, I think I assumed that she might find me creepy if I asked her out or dropped hints, so I just threw it out there on the off-chance that if she liked me too, then we could skip any awkwardness in the transition from friends to more-than-friends.

In Scenario 2, I think the details on the ground say that she might've been falling for me, she was probably not in love with me, she could've also been sleeping with me to get to know me. I sort of made an implied assumption she was in love with me already, and so I felt it was my responsibility to stop things now. Looking back now, I could've yeah, asked, "So, by exclusive, do you mean boyfriend/girlfriend? or do you mean you like to be monogamous while dating, but we're still not serious?" (I wanted the latter, ended up with no more relationship).

In Scenario 3, (this is ongoing), I think the details showed for sure she was getting really excited about me, as we were planning things like spending Thanksgiving with her family a few hours away, and she was calling me darling, and sweetheart, etc. (after only 2 weeks!) But now, after we've fumbled through this (she's still with me), I think she just got carried away with lovey-dovey gestures (esp. since everybody around her is getting married all of a sudden), and maybe sort of seeing if I was taking the bait. Me saying, "I don't want anything long-term" was sort of my way of saying, "I have nowhere near the level of interest you do, so please stop deluding yourself." I probably should've asked, "so, yes, we're boyfriend/girlfriend, but we seem maybe more than that, maybe even "steady" is that how you feel? is that what you want?" then see what she says, then decide to state what I think.
posted by pauldonato at 3:23 PM on October 29, 2008

Agreed with most of the postings above, so I don't have anything to add but a comment on this:

o, yes, we're boyfriend/girlfriend, but we seem maybe more than that, maybe even "steady" is that how you feel? is that what you want?

I think most people (let me go further--let's say "everybody") considers "boyfriend/girlfriend" to be the same as "steady". As in "officially together". So that may help out with any confusion future relationship talks. In open relationships, it may not mean "monogamous", but it certainly does mean you've made a commitment and set down the ground rules.
posted by timoni at 12:06 AM on October 30, 2008

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