Trust and The Grey Area
December 27, 2008 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Trying to figure out if some "grey area" behavior on the part of a boyfriend should be raising red flags.

Say you end up finding out that, a few months ago, your now-boyfriend was courting another girl at the same time he was courting you and didn't let you know--even though he had told you that he was only interested in dating you at the time, and was not seeing anyone else. Say you also find out that this boyfriend slept with said girl (Girl #1), as well as another girl (Girl #2), while you were dating--mere weeks before you exchanged "I love you"s and became a couple. One of these girls had been described to you as just a friend in previous conversation. While the framework of exclusivity was not yet in place, the train was heading fast in that direction, and that desire not to see other people had explicitly been stated on several occasions.

After discovering these facts (from two other friends--not from your boyfriend), would you feel justified in asking your boyfriend to let you know if there had been romantic history with any of his many other female friends? Would you feel your trust in him to be compromised at all? This is my situation. I'm normally a very trusting person, but I feel that that has been shaken a little bit, and am wondering if I'm being unreasonable.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You exchanged I love you's and THEN became a couple? That seems a little off to me...
posted by GleepGlop at 8:48 AM on December 27, 2008

dtmfa. Need you really ask? He misrepresented his intentions with other girls deliberately, it seems to me. Not a healthy way to start off.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:49 AM on December 27, 2008 [6 favorites]

Merrrr, it's more like a shady gray area. Just weeks before exchanging I love you's? How long have you been together since then? If it's like, a year and you KNOW he hasn't cheated on you and that now he definitely KNOWS he wants you and only you (although how would you know that if you thought that before and it wasn't true?) then maybe he was just an idiot who couldn't make up his mind in the beginning (I've been there and I ended up 200% committed to and in love with the guy I ended up choosing)...

But I just wouldn't be able to trust him ever again if he mentioned a girl who was "just a friend" from now on, and my curiosity would make me ask about romantic relationships with all his other female friends, which would not be healthy for the relationship, even if he was innocent from now on. So, to me, the relationship would be doomed. I wouldn't trust him again.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:52 AM on December 27, 2008

I'm very much in the "till you're a couple, you're single" camp. That said, you don't say you're not seeing anyone else if you are, in fact, seeing other people. And sleeping with them.

In my own ethical framework, his actions were fine, but his lying about them is very very not fine, and absolutely is call for red-flagging. If he hadn't lied ("I don't want to see other people") I'd be saying look, sorry, but different people treat pre-Relationship time differently, and trains heading in directions don't mean they've arrived... but he lied, and not a 'lie of omission' but explicitly being false, and that's Seriously Not Cool.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2008 [13 favorites]

Right now there's an Elephant of Infidelity in your room. Until you acknowledge and discuss the Elephant, it will get in the way of most everything.
posted by terranova at 8:57 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Soooo, wait a minute. Your 'boyfriend' was screwing two other girls while simultaneously claiming to be exclusive with you? Was it a once around the block type of deal with these girls or an ongoing thing? If he was regularly tomcatting around to all three of you then, uh, I would seriously consider that to be a major flaw in the relationship. How could you trust that he's not still 'friends' with these other women?

I personally have never understood that whole proclamation of exclusivity thing. Either you're dating somebody or you're not. Maybe I just was never the kind of person to juggle more than one guy at a time. I mean, kudos to those who can/do, but *for me*, you're either in it or you're not.

Girlie, I don't know if you're one for confrontation, but I think this calls for at least a discussion. If for no other reason than the matter of STDs, etc. I think that it's probably also better to bring it up in a calm conversation rather than during an argument when it might slip out during a fit of anger that you are aware of his previous actions. I just think, however, that you need to know how you will react to his answer. How are you going to feel if it was a one time thing? Are you going to be cool with it and be able to trust that it was in the past and won't happen again? What if he admits that these indiscretions were concurrent with your relationship? Are you willing to DTMFA? These are things that you need to work out in your head before you bring it up with him.

I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Hugs to you.
posted by dancinglamb at 9:04 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

If he told you he wasn't seeing anyone else, but he was, then that's not a gray area. That's him not being honest with you. If someone is not honest with you, it makes sense not to trust him.
posted by amtho at 9:05 AM on December 27, 2008 [6 favorites]

You can ask but are your really gonna believe what he has to say. Personally, I think it depends alot on where you were in the relationship at that time. You might have been just a friend and never known it. Frankly, I don't think every woman I've ever been on 2 dates with deserves to know the status of every woman in my life. Frankly I don't think my wife needs to know every woman who has ever made a pass at me. Romance tends to be full of lies and half truths and frankly the better for it. As Voltaire says the definition of a bore is a man who tells everything.

You have 2 questions to ask yourself: If he was a low down cheater would you still feel like being in a relationship with him was worth it? If he is faithful would you be glad to have left him?
If the answers are yes and no, get some clarification.
posted by Rubbstone at 9:07 AM on December 27, 2008

I agree with Tomorrowful. Until you've made an actual agreement to be exclusive, it is unreasonable to expect someone you're dating to be, well, exclusive with you. However, the fact that the guy lied to you makes him untrustworthy.
posted by epimorph at 9:10 AM on December 27, 2008

even though he had told you that he was only interested in dating you at the time, and was not seeing anyone else

Anon, he lied to you, flat out. It will be very difficult to build up trust in this relationship, and you're not being unreasonable, at all, for not trusting him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

My advice for all of this would be totally different, had he told you he wasn't looking for a relationship or commitment before you officially became a couple. However, you don't say "I'm not interested in anyone else!" while fucking not one, but TWO other people. That's a huge violation of trust. It's also something he hasn't revealed to you yet.

Confront him with this information, and ask away about history with other female friends. If he refuses to answer, that's a pretty good sign you should walk away. If he does answer and you don't like what you hear, again, walk away. If after the conversation, you still have an icky feeling that doesn't go away, yet again, walk away.
posted by piratebowling at 9:11 AM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know people who have dated several people at once for a period, and then settled down and stuck to one exclusively. I would say it's a problem if they're not honest about it, though. You need to find out the truth, and decide how comfortable you are with it.

My two cents: It doesn't sound good.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 9:12 AM on December 27, 2008

Hey, if you want to find out if he will answer honestly, put the facts on the table about one girl, and ask were there any others. If he doesn't acknowledge the second, that's all you need to leave. I'm reminded how I was once having a "we need to be completely honest with each other" conversation, when she got a phonecall on her mobile, which she said was from her sister, even though the bloody phone was so loud that I could hear it was a guy and even identify him by his voice. Man was her face red.
posted by fcummins at 9:18 AM on December 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

This can all be true and not cause for alarm, depending on the timelines.

If he said he wasn't seeing anyone else AFTER sleeping with the girls AND while STILL continuing to date them, then you have lies, which are a red flag.

If it did not happen in exactly that order, then he may have been entirely truthful about it all, and I wouldn't put much weight on it yet.

Put bluntly, up until you are a couple, anything he tells you (about who he is/isn't dating) is going to be up to his definitions of what constitutes dating. If your definitions differ from his (and they probably do) then that is likely what's going on, not dishonesty.
For example, if he has a "friend with benefits" where neither he nor she considers it a romantic relationship or one with any dating potential, but they have sex from time to time, then he's correct to say he isn't dating anyone.
As a couple OTOH, your expectations of exclusivity have weight, and you should have sufficient communication that your expectations of each other match.

I don't think you have enough information (or you don't present enough here, anyway) to make the call whether it was a red flag.

My suggestion: You're a couple now. Judge him on his actions after that point.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:25 AM on December 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

Getting together can be an emotionally confusing time. And ESPECIALLY if he thought he was heading into a real relationship with you (which is a pretty big decision), he may have seen this as his "last chance" to hook up with someone else. If you had already decided on exculsivity, then of course this is a betrayal, but it doesn't have to be a dealbreaker.

if you're already wondering if you should DTMFA (as you must be since you posted in AskMe), then what could it hurt to just ask him about it? "Look, I heard this. It raises red flags with me, but I don't know exactly what it means. Can we just talk about it?" This will do two important things. First, it will let him know that this sort of thing is not easy to get away with around you, and second, it cements you in his mind as someone he can talk problems through with rationally, so he's more likely to come to you on his own when there are issues. And if you're not satisfied with his answers, you're of course entitled to DTMFA.
posted by hermitosis at 9:30 AM on December 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

If these things happened before you were officially a couple, I think that your friends should have minded their own business.
posted by brujita at 9:31 AM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Been there. In fact, I sound like Girl #1. Funny thing was, I *thought* I was you! This isn't worth your time and you don't have to take it on. Pack up and go. If it turns out you were too hasty, you'll be drawn back in a convincing way. It's not up to you to pave that path.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:35 AM on December 27, 2008

This is normal. When men date, it's common to have multiple projects going at the same time. It lessens the emotional impact of any single rejection and it helps take the edge off a too-intense, too-early focus on one single person, which can come off as neediness. And the process of forming an exclusive relationship is, from the man's side of things, a lot like bringing closure to these other entanglements. Which is to say that, from your perspective it might look like: we kissed, said "I love you" and then were in a relationship. From his perspective, it might look like: I liked her, decided to taper off with the other girls, we said I love you, and then I started bringing things to a close elsewhere and focusing on her specifically. A short process for you but something that could be spread out over weeks or months for him as he settles into exclusivity.

The fact that he didn't tell you any of this is probably because a) it's none of your business, and b) if he told you it would become a relationship fact, when it reality it was a pre-relationship condition.

He might be a cheater, so watch out for that. Be wary about moving forward too hastily and look for telltale signs. At the same time, your other friends might be trying to sabotage your new relationship by carrying tales that speak to your insecurities and damage the basis of trust in your new relationship. Don't give them veto power over what is, ultimately, a strange and indescribable process of mutual accommodation and growing-together that is happening between you and him. If things go south between the two of you, let it be because you decided they weren't working and not because some busybody friend got under your skin and planted seeds of doubt.

Also, have fun. Laugh long, make love, cook together and read to each other. These are the things on which an enduring relationship is built.
posted by felix betachat at 9:37 AM on December 27, 2008 [16 favorites]

Did the guy lie to you, or did he tell you the truth?

Personally, I don't tolerate "white" lies and misrepresentations. If someone can't be straight up honest with me, even by saying "I don't wish to discuss that", then that's not someone I want to be with.

He should have told you he was sleeping with other girls, if only so you can get yourself tested (which you should be doing anyway with a new sexual partner).

Bottom line: get out. The guy is lying to you at points, and twisting/omitting the truth at others. That's not going to be a healthy relationship long term.
posted by Solomon at 9:54 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm going to take the opinion here that you shouldn't necessarily dump him, but that should be on the table. To quote a great movie line, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

When I date anyone past a 2nd date, I make it clear that I'm in for exclusivity. If that isn't what they're into, fine - that's what I'm looking for, though. When I first started dating my (now) fiancee, I told her that I wanted to be exclusive almost right off the bat. I don't juggle relationships, I don't manage that well. I can't have more than one hook going at a time. That's a situation that usually ends up rather hellish for me.

But that's me. If you feel betrayed, if you feel like he cheated on you, you're never going to be able to justify it, even if he gives you the best explanation. Are you ever going to be able to let him go out with a female friend again with full trust? If he says a girl is just a friend, are you going to feel that twinge of paranoia every time?

If you are, it isn't worth it. If you can get over that, though, then that's fine.

This is a story about perception - what he perceived that he did, and what you perceived that he did. Maybe he's a guy who has different expectations than you - some people can easily say "I love you" to one girl, mean it, and go out and fuck other people. Some people can't.

Talk to him - tell him what you know. Get his side of the story. If he's nonchalant about it, lay out exactly what you think he did wrong. Give him a chance to respond. Then think about your own feelings - can you accept this? Or is this going to eat away inside of you for the rest of the time that you're together? I have friends who are married to guys (and gals) that cheated on them early in the relationship. And you know what? Some of them STILL don't trust them to be alone with members of the opposite sex.

Sorry about the rambling - but in all seriousness, this is about your perception. Get all the facts from him, balance that against your feelings, and make your decision.
posted by SNWidget at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2008

The lying about these issues is the problem. If some one isn't telling you the truth, then it is your business, especially when it comes to sex, because you are having sex with everyone he had sex with and sexually transmitted diseases around. Many, many people find it hard to tell the truth when it isn't to their advantage. Dating those people can be difficult.

I'd have a sit down and ask him if he was being truthful with you when he said those things in the past. If he says yes, then confront him with the evidence he does have.

Trust but verify is the name of the game when it comes to relationships.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's cool to deliberately misrepresent who you are and aren't sleeping with, even if you're not exclusive. If you don't want to talk about it, say so.

I'm not all big into monogamy at all times, but HONESTY ABOUT OTHER PARTNERS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. If you're boinking someone, they need to know that you're boinking someone else.

That said, the classification of one of the girls as "just a friend" could very well be accurate; some people sleep with their friends sometimes.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:05 AM on December 27, 2008

I'm with Tomorrowful and epimorph. That said, I'm not sure I agree with you that the next step is "ask about his past with all these other people." Why does the historical record matter? The real question is what happens now and in the future. Do you trust him enough to stay together, etc.
posted by salvia at 10:22 AM on December 27, 2008

It's not so much that he slept with other girls or was dating other's the fact that he LIED about being exclusive with you. If he is willing to lie to you about something like that when you are just "dating", I imagine that this will continue. I don't know...just starting out the relationship by lying to you is not the way to go.

Personally, I would break it off. But that's just me. I'd be interested to know what he would actually say if you confronted him with this information. I would not be surprised if he totally denied it. For some reason, people can be confronted with STRONG evidence of infidelity and still deny deny deny.

I wouldn't ask him about relationships with his other female friends. I think he would either lie about it or if he was honest it would probably be painful to hear.

The fact is...he LIED. Multiple times about being exclusive with you. Get outtt.

Good luck. Sorry that happened to you. It seems like we've all been girl #1, girl #2, or you at one point or another.
posted by pdx87 at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2008

I keep re-reading your description and, honestly, I can't tell if he lied or not. Your writing is extremely indirect. For example, "that desire not to see other people had explicitly been stated on several occasions" -- who said that? How was it said? Why was it expressed as only a desire and not an agreement? Language is very weird, and people are even weirder, and people falling in love are the weirdest of all.

Because we don't have a transcript and you have only memory and he has only memory, and memory just doesn't work as well as we think it does, there's a good chance that he was being honest or at least thought he was, and when he thinks back on it, he'll remember himself being even more honest. Then you'll get caught up frustration and anger about something no one can perfectly recall. And by the way you phrased your tale (second-person and hypothetical) I'd guess events are a little foggy.

So if you were both feeling things out, just becoming involved, talking cautiously about the way you feel and what might be, then let it go. You are where you are now and you were not there then. Neither was he.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

"After discovering these facts (from two other friends..." How are these facts and what he told you was not? How are these two other friends able to know, exactly, what was going on with your now BF and the other girls? And how did this come up a few months later?

Your friends could easily be wrong even if they do mean well - purple monkey dishwasher and all that. They were not involved, and they are talking about "a few months ago."

You need to talk to him, and you need to decide if you trust him to be telling the truth about when things happened, and what they meant to him at the time. If he swears up and down on a stack of bibles that NOTHING happened with another woman after he was with you, you'll have to trust your instincts.

Are you willing to accept the possiblity that does consider one of the girls a friend, now? Despite what might have happened in the past? Given what I know from your post, that's as likely as him being a dog.

What happened with these "new facts"? Did they create a doubt that was never there before? Or confirm what were feeling all along? Did you have doubts before? On the train ride to exclusivity?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2008

In my own ethical framework, his actions were fine, but his lying about them is very very not fine, and absolutely is call for red-flagging.

Nail on the head. Want to date/screw multiple people at once? Go for it. Enjoy. Use appropriate safe sex apparatus. But what you do not do is claim to any of them that they are the only one.

Dump him. Not worth wasting your time with someone that dishonest.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:25 AM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

he lied to you about being with other women before you had even signed up for an exclusive relationship. once again, perhaps being with multiple people wasn't a big deal but the dishonesty should be a definite red flag. leave, leave now.
posted by big open mouth at 12:49 PM on December 27, 2008

I'm with kingfisher on not being able to figure out the sequence of events due to vagueness and passive-voice. I can't make any solid recommendations, so I guess you should have a talk with him and lay out what happened and in what order. Apparently you two need to compare your attitudes toward the relationship and that's not something I/we can do with what you've written.
posted by rhizome at 12:57 PM on December 27, 2008

This sounds like a semantic issue: you say you weren't yet exclusive, yet you're upset that he wasn't, er, exclusive. Explicitly "stating a desire not to see other people" isn't the same as making a promise not to see other people. (I also have to wonder how your friends know that he did these things, why they decided to stir up a bunch of shit, and why you take their word for all this and assume he's the one being devious.) So I'm not convinced he lied, as other people seem to be. I think SNWidget has it- you had/have a failure to communicate. What he thought of as trying to figure out if you were going to be exclusive may be what you thought meant you were exclusive. Like you said, it's a gray area. Is it worth sorting out what he thought and you thought and what you meant and what he meant? Maybe. Is it normal to feel upset? Yeah, because your expectations of his behavior were not met. Did he do something wrong? Not necessarily.

Has he been exclusive since you two promised to be exclusive? That's really what matters.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:25 PM on December 27, 2008

All I know is that, when I feel on the verge of blurting out that I love someone, I usually am not wanting to boink anybody else. That lack of wanting anyone but that person is usually a signal that I am feeling love. The lying aside, he may have very different views of what love is and that is the makings of a lot of heartache down the road.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2008

While the framework of exclusivity was not yet in place, the train was heading fast in that direction, and that desire not to see other people had explicitly been stated on several occasions.

The more I think about this the less eager I am to condemn this guy as a liar or a cheater. We can discuss for all eternity what you mean by "dating", "courting", and exactly how your boyfriend said he wasn't interested in dating others, and what he meant by that, but the fact is that you didn't think the "framework of exclusivity" was in place even after those statements had been made. So your interpretation of all this ambiguity, which matters far more than any of our interpretations of it, was that you weren't yet exclusive.

That said, to answer your specific question, you are pretty much entitled to ask your boyfriend any question you like, at any time, about anything. Equally, he doesn't have to give you the answer you want, so you do have to be prepared to deal with that possibility.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:08 PM on December 27, 2008

If he lied, the end. Lying is not "grey."

However, I don't know whether he lied from what you've written, and you don't know whether he lied since you can't necessarily believe your friends for the various reasons stated above.

You'll gain nothing from interrogating him about all his female friends and encounters. He'll become super defensive, as anyone would, whether he's in the wrong or not. Maybe it seems like it would be satisfying to get answers to all the questions going around in your mind about this girl and that girl, but separate what you want to happen and what will actually happen. When you confront him with "the evidence," do you think he'll swear to whatever it is you want to hear, swear that he loves you, and all will be well? Not likely.

I suggest saying something like, "You know, I recently heard a rumor about your behavior in the beginning of our relationship, and although the past is the past and I do trust you and don't want to believe what other people say, I want to make sure that now, in the present, we are operating under the same expectations and definitions when it comes to exclusivity and our relationship." See what he says and how you feel about it. If he seems evasive or whatever, that is your red flag.

If he feels like you don't trust him from the get-go when you bring this up, the conversation won't go well. If you can't give him the benefit of the doubt until you've discussed it, then the relationship really doesn't have much merit.
posted by thebazilist at 2:11 PM on December 27, 2008

Also, I'll just come out and say it, I'm not sure I agree with the popular "if he told a lie, it's obvious you must dump him immediately" line. Lying is bad, and if it turns out he lied you should not let him think he can continue to lie with impunity. But automatically dump him? That depends. Is he an amazing person who made a mistake and to whom you might like to give a single, solitary second chance? Does it count for anything with you that this took place early in your relationship when he might have been legimately confused about his feelings? Or is he a bit of a marginal case as a boyfriend anyway, so that this is more the last straw towards dumping?

"If your boyfriend did x you must get out of the relationship immediately" is only automatically true when x involves physical violence, IMHO.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:21 PM on December 27, 2008

You damaged the prosecutions case by letting the word "dating" slip from your lips. All is fair in "dating" and war.

The "dating" shield is gone now, any future crimes can be vigorously reviewed.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:12 PM on December 27, 2008

Bah. People lie to each other right and left during the courtship phase, particularly about these kinds of things. Let it go, unless you have reason to suspect he's still lying to you or is currently cheating on you.
posted by decoherence at 4:10 PM on December 27, 2008

He told you you were exclusive when you weren't. That's not just "not letting you know", that's an outright lie. It's not unreasonable to be upset. I would at least ask him for an explanation of his untrustworthy behavior.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:43 PM on December 27, 2008

People lie to each other right and left during the courtship phase, particularly about these kinds of things.

Speak for yourself, please.
posted by scody at 7:49 PM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

You'd think Neil Strauss himself was posting on Ask MeFi from the way people throw out definitions of "exclusivity" and stating the various timelines and rules and, basically, excuses that people have to not tell people they're dating the truth.


The last guy I dated before Mr. M. was playing the same kind of thing with me, making it seem like he was oh-so-serious and that he had found an unexpected soul mate, and long conversations and heart-to-hearts. And then came the night I asked him to go to a show that was important to me. He said he was busy and couldn't make it. And then he walked into the bar next door with his arm around another woman, right in front of me, and yep, they were at the show. I mean, sure, he didn't lie, he said he was busy, but nothing in his actions towards me indicated that he was seeing other people, and he certainly never said it. A day or two later, when he called me (because I was just going to let it go and never talk to him again) all it took was him starting to say "well, you didn't ask me if i had a date, i did say I was busy" for me to know that I did not have enough energy in this lifetime to play these kinds of games. technical my ass.

The whole "well if you didn't SAY you were exclusive, using this particular sequence of words while standing on your head and holding your nose and blinking your eyes three times exactly, then you weren't exclusive, and your guy could have had an orgy at his place and never told you about it because you weren't exclusive" is baloney. Not EVERYONE plays by those rules. In fact, no one I know plays by those rules.

Ditto with the 'people lie to each other left and right during the courtship phase' - I might not be telling someone my complete life story when we were first dating, but I am not substantively lying about critical components of my life.

So do not feel that these 'rules' have to apply to you.

What is important here is not any kind of "rule" about "exclusivity," it is your comfort level. And if you are coming onto an internet web site to anonymously ask a group of strangers about whether or not you should be concerned is all you really need to know that you're concerned, you don't feel comfortable, and you don't trust this person. "I love you"'s or not, this is not someone you can build something with because YOU don't feel comfortable.

Here's the thing: guys hate the kinds of "we need to talk" discussions where you want them to weed through their past with a fine-tooth comb. I get that. But you've been put into a situation where the only way you'll feel comfortable is to have it. If I ever get into a situation where I have to have one of these discussions, I then know that the guy is not a guy for me. Not even a judgment, he's just not a guy for me, because we live and play by different rules.
posted by micawber at 11:05 AM on December 28, 2008 [10 favorites]

All is fair in "dating" and war.

That's for her to decide. If she doesn't feel comfortable with that way of looking at things, then, no she is not required to date anyone who feels that way. It is her call. The idea that it is "unfair" to break up with someone becuase they didn't realize that "all's fair in love and war" doesn't make sense. She's allowed to break up with the guy if she doesn't like what he did. Period.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

What makes this guy worth hanging on to? You need to dump this dude. Well, unless there is some shortage of guys that can hold off sleeping with other women while dating you that I wasn't aware of.
posted by chunking express at 7:43 AM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you have it backwards. You are expecting the guy to be exclusive to you without you having made a commitment to him to be exclusive to him, and then you call it "games" if he can't read your mind and so acts in a fairer manner.

These are not games. The cold reality is that 1) believing that you've found The One doesn't mean squat if she decides she's not interested in you, and 2) while you are trying to get to the point of exclusivity with Possibly The One, any romantic possibilities that you put on hold while doing so will be effectively killed, because women generally will not tolerate waiting in line.

Therefore, being exclusive with her when she's merely dating you, is more often than not a one-way ticket to not just being alone, but of burning the bridges of your future before you ever even had a chance to see if they went anywhere.

Bottom line: For the most part, guys WANT to be exclusive to you, and are trying to move towards mutual exclusivity as fast as they can. But until you're prepared to be exclusive to someone - and communicate that with them - then it's asinine to expect them to soak the costs of unrequited exclusiveness, because those costs can be so high that unrequited exclusivity is typically the domain of the young and naive.

Him not going into depth about how his prior engagement was a date, was not "games", it was politeness. Most people know at a rational level, but don't want to hear it.

If he had told you "No, I can't make it that night - I already have a date", I think you would have been incensed, in which case it's not the technicalities (tact) that is the issue, it's expecting exclusivity from others before you have given them a commitment to it yourself.
If, when he said "I think you're The One", you had said "Shall we be exclusive then?", I suspect he would have said yes, and then cancelled his date with the other girl.

Like pr0n, romantic comedies stand accused of damaging people's ability to form or maintain successful relationships. One such accusation regards unhealthy expectation of mind-reading. Even though it might be obvious to you that you're not dating anyone else, that is not being exclusive to someone.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:02 PM on December 30, 2008

« Older Help me find a 1980s t-shirt   |   Labor law help needed for socal govt contract... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.