Why Did He Bring His Girlfriend On a Date With Me?
October 12, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Online-dating filter: Should I confront him about bringing his girlfriend on what I thought was a date, or just let it all go?

I am female, 31, and I've just started dating again after my shitty marriage ended. I've had a few dates in the past few weeks, and I'm getting more confident and laid-back about the whole thing. I'm not looking for anything really serious.

About 3-4 weeks ago, a guy emailed me on a popular online dating website. We chatted for a couple of weeks in email. He seemed nice. He asked me to dinner, and that went well. At the end, I said, "This was fun. Do you want to do it again?" He said, "Sure, yes," and sounded like he meant it. Then he followed up by saying that he had been kind of seeing another person for a week and a half.
By my calculations, he'd asked me to dinner since he'd started seeing this other person, which said to me that they weren't serious. I said, "Well, whatever, we can be casual. Honesty is good." Blah blah blah. I might have said something about being friends, but really I totally got the impression that he liked me and I liked him, and maybe he wanted to just date around a little, be casual, and that was all fine with me. We are both slightly nerdy, with reserved, quiet dispositions, and we were having a great conversation with a lot of laughing.
He emailed me immediately the next day and talked about getting lunch again the next week (which was last week). We exchanged numbers, real email addresses, etc. Funny, flirty emails ensued over the next few days. In addition to lunch, we talked about going to an afternoon event on the weekend (this past weekend). He said that there are other people at his work that were interested in that event, and maybe there'd be a group or something. We met up for lunch on Thursday as we had planned, and that went well. He talked generally about the weekend event and that one of his coworkers in particular would probably attend with us. I thought that was fine, no big deal, sounds like fun. On Friday afternoon, he emailed me to ask if I want to see a movie that same afternoon and said this same coworker might want to see it too. He namechecked her for the first time. I said, yes, great.

I met up with him and this coworker for the movie and then we ate a very casual dinner afterwards. I thought they were just friends and coworkers, but it dawned on me that this is the girl he'd been seeing for the past few weeks. She referred to him in a very familiar way, and she put her hand on his thigh. After dinner, we headed back to the cars and they were obviously leaving together. He mentioned the weekend event plans, and she was the only other person coming to it with him (and me). I was more than a little crushed because I like him.
When we met to go to the event on Sunday, they arrived together. She obviously thought that she's dating this guy. She was touching him, using the word "we", commenting on what they did together the previous day. It sounded like they have been dating for months, but she was still in the touchy-feely honeymoony phase. He was hard to read and did not touch her like she touched him. I was friendly and acted normally, but I was totally uncomfortable and felt like a third wheel.

For no good reason, I like him. He doesn't seem to be as cruel or manipulative as it sounds on paper, just probably oblivious. He is late 30s. (She is probably early 20s, but I don't think that's a factor.) To be clear, he and I were just flirting with some extended eye contact, etc., but we never actually touched. But I know flirting and I know chemistry and I know what a fucking date is.
Meanwhile, he is still on the dating site. His profile is active. He is listed as single. He instigated the conversation and dates, though I was an active part of the planning and conversation- I'm just saying, he was proactive with me and not just reactive.

So. Should I just walk away without explanation, or should I confront him about this and ask him what the hell he was thinking by inviting me to events with someone who clearly considers herself his girlfriend? I can't think of any logical explanation for his behavior, but I'm (for no good reason) willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Please remember, none of us are confrontational people, so demanding an explanation would be a big deal for me. I don't want to confront him by email, and I really hate talking on the phone. He mentioned seeing me again when we left after the event, so if that did transpire, I could potentially agree and then use that to confront him, but it would totally stress me out.

God, I feel like a moron, but I don't know what lesson to learn here. WTF?
posted by aabbbiee to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why bother? The cretin has made the situation abundantly clear. What could be gained from asking him? Unless you're interested in polyamory, this is not a situation that warrants any further emotional investment.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

He blew it. Move on.
posted by spilon at 9:42 AM on October 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

The only lesson to learn here is that this particular guy is a clueless asshole. I'm sure he was perfectly likable, but that was a error on his part. He's really not worth your time.
posted by katillathehun at 9:43 AM on October 12, 2009 [5 favorites]

Hmm...oblivious or not, this is a shitty way for him to behave, and doesn't really sound all that honest. I would say you should stay away from before you get any more involved. There are other more honest and less strange-signal-giving fish in the see.
posted by dubitable at 9:45 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

He sound like poly folks that make the assumption that the rest of the world is poly, too.
There's nothing cruel there, just extreme cluelessness. I would ask what's up. Totally calm and non-confrontationally: "Hey, what's up with the other girly? Are you wanting to date both of us? If so, I'd like to know so I can consider whether or not that's something that I want to do".
If it's an open or poly situation, evaluate it to see if you want to proceed. If not and he's suddenly switched to friend mode without giving you the direct heads up, DTMFA.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2009

The most logical explanation to me is that he's hoping for a threesome. Seriously, this is rude behavior - kick him to the curb. I would perhaps give an explanation on the light side ("I like watching Big Love, not interested in living it") but let him know it's at the very least inconsiderate if not outright douchebaggery.
posted by witchstone at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2009

It is actually spelled out on my profile that I am not poly, because I am bisexual and I get a lot of poly emails on that site. This actually came up in our first conversation.

I guess, again, I don't know if I was the one who was clueless. Did he expect that we were just going to be friends without telling me, and then moved on from there?
posted by aabbbiee at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2009

You shouldn't feel like a moron. The problem is him, not you. Just be thankful you were able to figure this all out early on before you got sucked any further into his world.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2009

What, you need us to tell you what to do here? Please.

Move on.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2009

No, it's not you. He's more than a bit clueless. If you're truly interested in him, it might be worth chatting (or emailing since you both seems comfortable with that) about what his intentions are with you and that other woman. But yeah, not cool.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:53 AM on October 12, 2009

I could potentially agree and then use that to confront him, but it would totally stress me out.

Then don't. Seriously.

From the sounds of it, I'd almost guess he's probably the first guy you've had some sort of connection/chemistry with since the shitty marriage ended. Unfortunately, I'd guess that's almost clouding your judgment here.

You met him online, had a couple of interesting dates, and he's just... fucking oblivious. And oblivious doesn't tend to be a one-off happenstance either.

End it. Don't linger over him. Don't give him the benefit of the doubt because he hasn't earned it. Send him an email, tell him you've met someone else and you want to pursue that instead. Wish him luck in the future and move on. Ignore any and all contact he tries to make after that.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:53 AM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

He's being a jerk. Possibly a clueless jerk, but I doubt it. It seems like he's trying to have his cake and have a way out too.

Be grateful you found this out pretty early on. Move forward and find someone who genuinely cares and is on the same page, because you deserve that.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2009

A lot of online dating experiences are of the "cut your losses and run like hell" variety. I'd say that goes in this file. Sorry and good luck.
posted by ShadePlant at 10:00 AM on October 12, 2009

This sounds like utterly clueless to me, without any malice. Possibly compounded by this other woman being more into him than he is into her; not sure.

Either way, it seems like there's a dramabomb waiting to explode there, and do you really want to be hit by the shrapnel?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:07 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. I agree- he's probably the first person I have even sort of liked since my marriage ended, and that's definitely clouding my judgment. And I agree that obliviousness tends to be a character trait, and it's not at all my kind of thing.

I am going to send him an email just for my own sense of closure, not demanding an explanation, but just being plain that I thought this was crummy.

I appreciate your comments!
posted by aabbbiee at 10:12 AM on October 12, 2009

Well, I'm kind of like you in that confrontations stress me out even when I know they're necessary. Thing is, talking to someone about something like that doesn't have to be a confrontation. Just say "Hey, I have a question. I kind of like you, but I'm looking for a more exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend situation, and you seem to be in this other thing. Should I keep looking?" It's not accusatory, it's asking for information and providing some of your own. Lets him know that you're not ok with being the third wheel or the "other" girlfriend.
posted by ctmf at 10:51 AM on October 12, 2009

Did you do that thing (lots of people do) where you put "looking for friendship/companionship" instead of looking for a relationship on your profile because you didn't want to sound uh.. whatever and scare people away?

If so, is it possible he's taking that literally and treating you as a hangout buddy with eventual possibilities and thinking that's what you wanted?
posted by ctmf at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2009

Holy crap, why the hate on this guy? When he said he was seeing another person you said alright, let's be friends. He took it from there. His behavior is perfectly consistent with the agreement you made then.

The weirdness in the air that you are feeling is not an unusual outcome for internet dates. On the Internet, you see a lot of people in parallel, and eventually one person shifts to being your SO and everyone else shifts to being your friend. Then everyone either sticks around or moves on.

I guess the guy could have been clearer on the status of his relationship with this girl, rather than simply saying she is a coworker. But I suspect he is not entirely sure what the state of their relationship is himself. His girlfriend is probably much further along thinking of the two of them as a couple than he is, and he feels awkward about the whole deal himself. That might make him a bad communicator, but it doesn't make him a bad person.

You get to decide whether you are happy being his friend now that he is going out with this girl. I think you should, you clearly enjoy his company. Then you get to decide whether you're happy going out just the three of you, or if it feel too much like third wheel. Then you get to decide whether to announce these decisions to him or to keep them implicit and start answering I'm busy when he propose activities. But I don't see anything good that can come out from confronting him.
posted by gmarceau at 11:06 AM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just one comment - it struck me that it sounds like you're used to dealing with shit based on your crappy marriage - you put lots of effort in out of a sense of duty until it finally ended. I hope this serves to remind you that you don't owe any potential partner anything now. No explanation, no second chance, no nothing, if you don't feel like it. Doesn't mean treat people badly, but it does mean that if someone screws up like this, you can leave them in the dust. You're free!
posted by lorrer at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2009 [9 favorites]

I vote he's looking for a poly relationship or a threesome, for some reason doesn't want to go through that community, and thinks he can convert you. Or he's just incredibly awkward and uncommunicative -- not that those can't all be true.

I think it's fine to send him an e-mail asking what's up, although I think the tone should be more "um, what" than "omg what's wrong with you wtf?!?"
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2009

The most charitable think I can think of him right now is that he is literaly too stupid to realize exactly how this other woman's behavior around him actually looks to you (i.e., that this other woman is being awfully "hi, this is my boyfriend because we are A Couple In An Official Capacity"), and that that's why he hasn't put a stop to it in your presence, or clarified their relationship or yours.

In which case, sending him that email explaining why what he did was crummy will actually be doing him a favor, he's so stupid to have to be told "oh, you mean that's what one woman thinks when another woman puts her hand on my leg?"

Although, if he's so stupid that he needed to be TOLD that, you're probably better off anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2009

It could also be he's trying to date around, see what he likes, but that this other woman he dated a few times has gotten really territorial and keeps inviting herself along and hijacking all of his free time. That would not reflect positively on him, I wouldn't think, that he isn't able to be honest with this other woman that he doesn't want to be exclusive with her, and that he can't even tell her no, I'm busy this weekend.
posted by ctmf at 11:41 AM on October 12, 2009

So. Should I just walk away without explanation

Yes. Continuing to contact persons who stave off their own serious emotional issues with drama such as this only allows them to continue to run from their problems with antics like this. It makes it more likely that he will contact you again, repeating the difficulty you will face in staying away.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, it is a fucking DATING website. He knows exactly what he is doing.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:48 AM on October 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

He's either clueless, game-playing, or something else kind of odd. He's unlikely to be a good investment of your time. Politely decline further plans, as you are interested in an LTR, and he is dating someone else.
posted by theora55 at 12:34 PM on October 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm in the same boat as those who think that this guy was looking for a threeway or something poly and was hoping that your status as bi would help him get what he wanted, regardless of what your profile says regarding polygamy.

Tables turned, you may have been "the co-worker" to this other woman who knew none-the-wiser. Consider yourself the luckiest one in this awkwardfest and run.
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:09 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Er yeah, if you're listed as bisexual, and he's dragging another girl along on dates, the math isn't that hard here.

Even if you were looking for a threesome, this is pretty dishonest on his part. I'd tell him to get stuffed personally.
posted by cj_ at 1:44 PM on October 12, 2009

I want to be clear. I was not looking for an LTR or an exclusive boyfriend, and I would have been fine with him dating me and another person casually as long as there was honesty about everything. And I thought *that's* what we agreed to on that first date.

I just don't want to MEET the other person. I don't want to go out to the movies with him and the other person. And I think that's a reasonable expectation, one that shouldn't have to be spelled out.

So, update: I did send him a non-combative but plainly WTF, Dude? email. He did not realize that he hadn't been clearer about who she was, profusely apologized for the misunderstanding, is now exclusive with her but it happened quickly... lots of excuses, but all non-poly-related. He was just generally oblivious.

Thanks again, everybody. I appreciate it.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:46 PM on October 12, 2009

"The only lesson to learn here is that this particular guy is a clueless asshole."
whatever. yeh it's all the guys fault.
if i was going out with a girl, and she didnt mind me brigning other girls, and the other girl was into it - then i would do the same thing.
if you dont wana go, dont go.
but i would recommend talking to him like an adult about what you do want
posted by edtut at 3:29 PM on October 12, 2009

Idea stolen from a friend of mine: Remove "bisexual" from your profile, and replace it with two profiles, one as a straight woman looking for men, one as a gay woman looking for women.

You're two different people listed on the site that way. That way you get the same responses, but you immediately weed out all the creepy guys who are just fishing for threesomes.
posted by rokusan at 4:37 PM on October 12, 2009

« Older Help a Canadian find a new breadmaker   |   Ayudame, MeFi, por favor! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.