Snoop snoopy snoop
January 6, 2009 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Relationship woes! He wants a relationship, then he doesn't, then he does again. I want this to work out, and seemingly so does he, but I have my doubts after finding "a letter" to some other girl... what to do?

Met a great guy in May. I knew from the start he was moving across the country, but we said it was casual, so that was no problem (I was sleeping with two other people at the time and he had a couple of one night stands).

Inevitably, we grew closer. I came to like him more than expected and opened up in a way I rarely have with anyone. Two weeks before he moved away in August, he said he wanted to make it exclusive, and that he would like us to be living in the same place in a year's time. I had my doubts because we hadn't spent much time together by then but thought about it and a few days later said yes.

I had been looking to move on anyway, my current location and job don't offer much in the way of what I'm looking for in the long-term. Also my job contract was coming to an end, and I had been looking for jobs elsewhere already, so I focused the job search on his new location. I interviewed for several jobs, and landed a great one. So far so good.

During that time (up to mid November) we were seeing each other about every other weekend. He's a student again and was feeling the stress, I tried to be supportive and undemanding. I have my own stresses but am much further along in my career so they don't pose the same kind of daily pain his seem to. I noticed over the course of a few weeks, contact went from mutual and loving to mainly one-sided (from me) and "just checking in" (from him).

I tell him about the job offer and he gets cold feet. Says he wants to be friends or casual again. I say okay, I understand, this is moving fast and I wasn't 100% ready to be in a couple anyway. Casual is good for me. We see each other less frequently but still talk, and things are positive. I go out on dates and assume he is too. I accepted the job in his area and found a place to live, but didn't tell him that because he's not my boyfriend anymore and I tried to make a decision based on "what if we never met, would I still take this job?"

When we were still offcially together, we booked a vacation for New Year's in a foreign country where neither of us knew anyone. We went. In the back of my head I'd been thinking if it went well, continue on as we are and see what happens after I move; if not, gently end it and move across the country anyway to start a job I'm excited about.

The vacation went fantastically well. It was as much time as we've spent together, and it just worked on every level. We connected deeply, and on the way home, he asked me to come back to where he lives rather than go back to my city. It was clear he wanted to say something and didn't want to do it in the airport. I changed my travel plans and went back to his for a night. We talked. Turns out he wants to rekindle things.

Then I found the letter he wrote some other girl.

I wasn't snooping (he had about ten draft copies scattered all over his desk and I was looking for a pen) but I shouldn't have read it. It contained a very emotional plea to a girl in his class who obviously, in the time we've been apart, he's grown close to but probably not slept with. She obviously has rejected him. There were also notes outlining a phone call which made it clear he HAD sent the letter, it upset her, and he called to apologize for sending it. I guess all this happened the week before we went away.

Worse still I went and sought out her photos on Facebook (she and I have three friends in common). She's a real flirt, that much is clear, and a party girl. Very different from me in terms of look and interests, mine are much more outdoorsy like his. Also she is about 10 years younger than me or him (we are early 30s). I can definitely see the appeal, she does not look like she would demand anything from him at all. But then I thought I wasn't demanding all that much, after all, he asked me for the commitment and I didn't even want to move in with him when I relocate.

Last semester they were carpooling to an out of town campus in her car every day, this semester they are on different campuses. I can see in retrospect he was probably flirting with her before we split and being single again pushed him to try for something more with her.

I decided not to ask him because we were not a couple when he made his intentions known to her, when she rejected him, or when he wrote the letter. Also I felt if I hadn't found the letter I would probably be thinking differently about him today. However it did disturb me mainly he seems to fall very quickly! I'm much slower to get emotional about people.

He's been calling and texting since I got home, asking how I feel and where I stand and being generally sweet, loving and everything he was in the beginning before the stress of his studies started to get to him. I just don't know. My instinct is sit and wait, don't move forward and don't move back. But I am moving to his city soon and should probably tell him that so we can both make an informed decision. I'm just confused. Am I only his backup girl? Or is it possible he really does mean the things he says about me? In general my impression of him has been of an honest, straightforward person but now I'm starting to wonder.

So MeFites, what would you do? I'm ready to move, that much I know. What I don't know is what to say to him, or to bring up the letter, or anything at all. I've been avoiding his phone calls and texts because I can't think of a single thing to say to him that doesn't sound accusatory.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
First of all, think what do you want, knowing what you know do you want to stay with him, yes or no?

If the answer is no, then just break things up with him before moving to his town.....

If you do want to stay with him, then dont tell him about the letter, one of the reasons why he probably went after this girl was the proximity (she is right there!!!) and cause probably it wasnt someone he could take seriously (you said she was flirty and less demanding and younger) so he gave it a try.....after the original rejection the challenge grew and this made him want her even more and thats why you see the sappy stuff......

He probably realized the person he should be with was you...and decided to give you guys a try......

Of course this is just one of many plausible scenarios so just dont take my word for it.....

after all thats all he is promising to give it a try.....in a sense you might be the backup...if this bothers you a lot dont do it....but there is nothing to say that this guy will not feel as strongly about you as he felt for her.......
posted by The1andonly at 9:27 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think your earlier question of "what would I do if he weren't in the picture" is a wise place to start. If you'd be moving anyway if he didn't exist, then go ahead and move. And it is fair to tell him, but not because you Have Expectations Now -- it's only that if you move and then don't tell him, it'd be weird if you ran into each other at the gas station or something and he was all, "what are you doing here?"

I think you're taking the news of this other girl with the proper perspective -- i.e., you weren't "together" when that was going on, etc. I think your instincts to "wait and see" are probably wise -- you have information you didn't have before, but the real truth of how he feels towards you is only going to be something that comes out over time. After all, who knows, you could get there and after spending more "normal" time together when you're not both on vacation you could find out that you aren't too keen on him after all.

I wouldn't necessarily mention the letter thing -- because it's not about the letter as such, it's about what it's triggered in you, which is...you're not sure. And there could be a lot of reasons why you're not sure, not the least of which is that while you may have had a vacation together, you haven't been living in the same place consistently and so there are a lot of unknown variables that you want answered still before you Commit To Something. Which is perfectly fair.

Tell him you're moving, tell him you want to keep seeing him, but also tell him that you want to wait until after you've moved and settled before you both have a State Of the Union about the relationship and what exactly each of you wants. And then have that State Of The Union talk and figure out what the two of you each want then.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Life is too short to worry about the motivations and insecurities of other people. Move on with your life. Take the new job if it was what you were going to do if you didn't know him. Stop reading people's letters and snooping on facebook. Stop catering to the drama. You already know this. You now have permission from the internet to be happier than this guy will make you.
posted by qwip at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh lord.

Look, there is so much going on here, that it is highly unlikely you're going to be able to move forward in any healthy way with this guy.

There is no "window of opportunity" here. You both have established a history of on-again, off-again mini drama and there is no reason to think that it is going to subside.

That doesn't mean this has to end, but you shouldn't expect things to dramatically change from the way they have been up until this point.
posted by wfrgms at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I go out on dates and assume he is too.

Now you don't have to assume, you know! He went out with other people, same as you. Did dating other people ruin what you had with him? It doesn't sound that way. So why would it be that way for him? Because he "seems to fall very quickly"? Well, so what? That doesn't have anything to do with what's going to happen in your relationship in the long-term.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:34 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are you sure he was stressed by school, and not stressed by the hot 23 year old in his car every day?
posted by sondrialiac at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2009


Both of you were/are dating around, it sounds like, so I wouldn't be alarmed. The other girl rejected him anyway. As for her being completely different from you, don't let that get to you too much, either. I have a very smart, sensible guy friend who used to regularly date "hot chicks" who were major flirts, hard partiers, and dumber than bags of hammers. And they'd break his heart or turn out to be drama queens, and he'd just go find another one. Long story short, he ended up marrying a really awesome girl who's not like that at ALL, and they seem to be very happy. Not everybody knows what they really want right off the bat. Which also means that you can move on from this guy, too. Be happy. Dating's supposed to be fun. So is being single!
posted by katillathehun at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This doesn't sound too alarming to me either, other than the fact that he moves faster than you do. Since you already decided to move and take the job regardless of him, I would say proceed as you planned and just date this fellow and see how things develop. You might also want to mention to him that you prefer to take things slower, and maybe you'll find a more comfortable level of intensity for both of you. It doesn't sound like this is on the table, but in case it does come up, do not under any circumstances move in with him. Have your own space and life aside from him so things can develop naturally and without unnecessary pressure. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2009


Unless you're blatantly lying to yourself (and us), your post makes it sound like you have a good grip on both how you feel towards the guy, and how to deal with potential disappointments in relationships. You seem to have handled his inconsistencies fairly well, are self-assured enough to move across the country and seek out new employment when your current positions don't satisfy you, and know more or less what you want.

As far as I can tell, the only real issue is that you're not certain about the depth of his affection towards you, because in the short time during which you two have been apart, he seems to have fallen hard (and gotten over) someone else you don't seem to respect very much. But his dating record while you two were explicitly "over" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with you, or where your relationship will go now. As mentioned above, a significant contributor to your initial attempt at a relationship not working out seems to have been the distance factor - and that's fair; some people just aren't good at doing the long distance thing.

You were going to move anyway, regardless of whether or not this relationship worked out, right? So move, tell him you're going to move and if you're having reservations, tell him you want to take it slow and date properly (and maybe exclusively) before making the leap to cohabitation. If it works out - lovely! You now have a boyfriend. If it doesn't - you've gotten over it before, and you can again, and now you have a cool new city to explore, too.

All the extra doubts of carpooling, flirting, letters, and whatnot, seems to be mostly harmless now that it's over, and it's just fuelling the self-doubt and drama for no reason. I'm not judging you by any means; I probably would have done something similar in that situation. But recognize that it's not constructive to the bond between you two in any way, and that it may be totally irrelevant. Unless you two have explicitly discussed dating histories while you two were apart and he has shielded her completely from your knowledge, I'd just try to let it go. Best of luck!
posted by Phire at 10:23 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


The part I'm not so clear about is your aversion to simple communication. As in, even though you went on a vacation together and "connected deeply," you didn't bother to mention to him that you are moving to his city?

Maybe I am being far too reductionist here, but I don't see anything that can't be solved with a) honest conversations and b) patience and a willingness to let things happen at their own pace. But your current practice of keeping things secret and making assumptions, while simultaneously reaching prematurely for clarity, isn't working real well for you.
posted by Forktine at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2009


I'm confused... did he meet this girl, and then decide you two should see other people, or decide you two should see other people, and then meet this girl?
Is he going to decide he doesn't want to be exclusive with you anymore everytime one of his classmates catches his eye? I don't know the answers to these questions, but they're worth pondering, I suppose.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are a second choice. Which is crap. DTMFA.
posted by paultopia at 10:48 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


You are a second choice.

This is quite possible, of course, but not in any way indicated by the information in the question.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:59 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Go with your instincts to wait. For now, focus on your new job, your move, and adjusting to your new city.

But you do need to tell him you're moving to his city - he's going to find out eventually, and the longer you wait the weirder/harder it's going to get.

I want to know why he left all of those draft copies on his desk when he knew you would be at his house. I honestly don't know if I should read anything into that. I'm inclined *not* to, because you have thus far thought of him as straightforward and honest.
posted by KAS at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2009


Aquaman, I hope you weren't JKing about the first bit of your answer, because I agree with it.

Anyway, if you're going to stay with this dude you need to come clean, especially about finding the letter. Give him a chance to tell him how he feels about you. Don't blame him for looking for someone else too, but don't let him off the hook for being flaky. But mostly, decide what you want. If he's worth it, and expresses himself clearly and eloquently about how much he wants only you, you still need to decide if you want to get back into it--you're moving to a new town, which can be as exciting as it is scary. Maybe you should make an appointment to holler at him 6 months from now, after you've settled in?

Also, I AGREE WITH FORKTINE should be an acronym. IAWF. I tend to say it a lot.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:06 AM on January 6, 2009


The letter was sent before you connected on the vacation. It appears his feelings for you have changed. I would not be concerned with the letter.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2009


My response, deleted because of a harmless bit of joking about, was that EVERYONE is a second choice, unless you happened to marry that cute little girl you met in sunday school back in 1950.
posted by Aquaman at 11:47 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


You've got to decide whether you want to be in love for your whole life. If so, realize that you are in for a life of disappointment. Why are you interested in someone your age, though? I thought it is time-honored tradition for the man to be older? What do you think of this marine's idea of marriage: Am I In Love With Her? Hell No.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 12:15 PM on January 6, 2009


...Jesus, Peter_meta_kbd, that's depressing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on January 6, 2009


Yea. That's miserable peter_meta_kbd.

Poster, don't get down about all this. You're headed in the right direction. I think you should call boy and say you saw the letter and that it confuses you because you keep saying X but then you're acting Y.

So, what's the deal.

Put all the cards on the table and see if you want to keep playing.
I wouldn't, but that's just me.
posted by big open mouth at 1:35 PM on January 6, 2009


Forktine wrote...
The part I'm not so clear about is your aversion to simple communication. As in, even though you went on a vacation together and "connected deeply," you didn't bother to mention to him that you are moving to his city?

Yeah, this bugged me too.

Until you're ready to be straightforward and open in your communication, I would save yourself and him the trouble of further complications.

When you are ready to be straightforward and open, demand the same from him and get on with seeing if you can have a life together.
posted by tkolar at 1:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Forktine is absolutely right. Healthy, adult relationships are only possible when both partners decide to communicate like healthy adults.
posted by scody at 2:02 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I do tend to be conservative when it comes to how to make intimate relationship work. I do also tend to think that looking at half-empty glasses ends up with half-full glasses, while looking at half-full glasses ends up with half-empty glasses. But it does seem like the girl is kidding herself if she thinks there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In any case maybe I don't qualify to comment on this situation because I already couldn't believe it when I even just read about the open way they cheated on each other. Again, sorry if I overspoke to anonymous poster, I only meant to share the perspective that I apply in my life.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 2:38 PM on January 6, 2009


I only meant to share the perspective that I apply in my life.

That people of the same age can't be in successful relationships?
posted by scody at 2:56 PM on January 6, 2009


And that tradition trumps the pursuit of happiness, even if fleeting?
posted by Phire at 3:06 PM on January 6, 2009


Are there really so few attractive, attentive, sweet and dedicated guys out there that you need to think twice about this? I realize you guys built up something, but it doesn't sound like he values it nearly as much as he should. Even without knowing you, I can say pretty safely that you deserve better than that.
posted by Bageena at 3:39 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


To clarify, since you asked: the tradition of men being older in intimate relationships in Western and most other cultures is thousands of years old, and I think is often part of a successful route to a type of happiness I value. It doesn't mean that there won't be exceptions to that tradition that achieve happiness, or traditional relationships that don't have happiness. Yes, these are among the perspectives that I apply in my life.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2009


the tradition of men being older in intimate relationships in Western and most other cultures is thousands of years old.... It doesn't mean that there won't be exceptions to that tradition that achieve happiness,

Given that the average age difference in couples entering their first marriage is now less than two years, it seems to be less of an exception and more the dominant trend.
posted by scody at 4:45 PM on January 6, 2009


It's a good point, Scody. Do you by any chance have a good site to do cross-cultural analysis on the correlation of age differences of married couples and various outcomes like perceived happiness and divorce?
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 6:17 PM on January 6, 2009


funnily enough, your comment actually prompted me to look for general studies or statistics comparing age difference in married couples, but I couldn't find one! I was able to find census bureau statistics about marriage age in individual countries, but not much beyond that.
posted by scody at 7:06 PM on January 6, 2009


Does it have to be so all or nothing? Can't you just keep him on the list of guys you date, take it easy, and see what happens?

"I go out on dates and assume he is too." This is a good thing, IMHO.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:35 PM on January 6, 2009


Just ran across this post, so I don't know if you'll even still be checking it. I just wanted to point out that it seems like the more available someone is, the less interested he is. Moving away, his interest shoots up. You call every week, his interest declines. You get a job offer in the city, he gets such cold feet that you guys break up. A 23-year-old rejects him, he writes ten versions of a love letter. Broken up but on vacation with you, he's interested again.

This may be what you want right now. If you eventually want a relationship where you're not constantly on edge about whether or not he's into you, and where you're not always trying to prove how undemanding and unclingy you are, this might not become that relationship.
posted by salvia at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2009


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