What's the protocol here? (Dating)
October 23, 2010 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I've been informed that a woman in our social circle circle finds me attractive. I am attracted to her, but I don't want a relationship. What is the best move here?

Last night my friend informed me that a mutual friend (acquaintance to me, friend to him) has a mini-crush on me. She's really attractive and fun, but overall I don't think we have a ton in common based on the couple times I've met her. I know for a fact that I am not interested in a serious relationship with this person.

Still. I haven't been with anyone in a few years now and it's really starting to feel like a rut these days. I want to either ask her out or try to even make a move if it's the right setting. I'm seeing this as a way out of this slump and maybe finally having a little fun - but that's all I really want right now. And I don't want to take advantage of anyone. I imagine this can be avoided by being honest and upfront, but how can I be honest and upfront without sounding like a sleazy jerk? I feel like the second I'd open my mouth to say something like "hey, listen...I just think you should know that I'm not looking for..." it's just going to come off like I really don't give a shit and am just "tryin' to get some". Which is not the case at all - I DO give a shit, and I really don't want anyone to get hurt*.

And I know it sounds like I'm over-thinking this, but even for future reference: At what point does the honesty and upfrontness come in, in a scenario like this? After the first kiss? During the first date/hangout session? Before/after having sex (if I make it that far)(ugh, wouldn't that be a buzzkill?)? Is it something you try to casually slip into a conversation, or is it a "I have something to tell you" sort of thing?

How do you make it clear that I am looking to have fun but that I don't really don't see things developing into a relationship? I do have to make that clear if I want to go through with this, right?

*I understand that for all I know she also might be looking only to have some fun. But I'd rather be prepared than hope for the off-chance that she's not looking for a relationship.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ask her to dinner, make it clear during the "where you are with your lives" conversation that you are not looking for a relationship right now, and if she is willing to see you again, assume she has the data she needs to make an informed decision about spending time with you.

I could make it more complicated than that but I think that as long as you are consistant in your messaging, there isn't any need.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:47 PM on October 23, 2010


At the risk of it all seeming kind of middle-school, what does your mutual friend know about her current emotional or relationship worldview? You've got a resource, use it!
posted by aimedwander at 5:56 PM on October 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


You have control where you go with this relationship (if at all), just follow your inclinations, let it be what it will be. Placing constraints and anxiety on it up front will probably taint it.

relax...
posted by HuronBob at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you are getting way ahead of yourself. You don't even know her that well. How can you really know whether you want a relationship with her? Even if this assumption is correct, how do you know she wants a serious relationship?

You really just have to feel the situation out as you go. If you are getting some serious relationship vibes from her, then you need to tell her you really like her, enjoy hanging out with her, dating her, but you aren't looking for something serious right now. You should probably have that conversation before you sleep with her. I think that's the kind of conversation you have maybe 3 or 4 dates in. You should also let your friend know this as he may have an idea of what she is looking for.

Also, there are a lot of women out there who are looking for a serious relationship, but will settle for casually dating a nice guy they find attractive and they have fun with, while still dating other people.

I have these two friends who years ago liked each other. He was a white guy and she came from an immigrant family who expected her to marry within her culture, religion, etc... He wouldn't make a move because oh no what would her parents think, how hard would the relationship be because of these issues, on and on. Her reaction: uh can we make out a few times and maybe go on actual date before we start pondering whether I can introduce you to my family?

So yeah, moral of the story: don't overthink it and don't be a mind reader. Just be honest with her and disclose your intentions before you get in too deep emotionally or physically.
posted by whoaali at 6:19 PM on October 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Last night my friend informed me that a mutual friend (acquaintance to me, friend to him) has a mini-crush on me. She's really attractive and fun, but overall I don't think we have a ton in common based on the couple times I've met her. I know for a fact that I am not interested in a serious relationship with this person.

There's an old saying that goes like this--"Don't shit where you eat". This is not some random person, but a person that is in your social circle.

Don't do it.
posted by 6:1 at 6:19 PM on October 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think you should let her know, prior to sleeping with her, that you're not looking for a serious relationship. My perception is that some women, more than men, will not sleep with a man who's not at least a prospective relationship partner. So, if you were to sleep with her without telling her, she would likely feel used. You can tell her in as casual or serious a tone as feels appropriate, but you need to tell her before you have sex.
posted by jayder at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do nothing. If SHE approaches you...take it from there.

Till then, just try not to geek out.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2010


"hey, listen...I just think you should know that I'm not looking for [a relationship right now, but I like you] and I really don't want anyone to get hurt. [Would you be up for coffee sometime?]"
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"There's an old saying that goes like this--"Don't shit where you eat". This is not some random person, but a person that is in your social circle.

Don't do it."


since when is dating someone from your social circle forbidden...??? sheese...before the days of pickup bars and club's, thats sort of how it was done?
posted by HuronBob at 6:35 PM on October 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was going to say what DarlingBri said, make it part of your overall story. You're really into being single right now, that sort of thing.

Also, be up front about the deal-breakers. For instance, don't hide your desire to be a starving artist, your disdain for her religion, your desire to find a girlfriend who will go snow-camping with you, or whatever it is.

If the flirtation is still going well, and if she seems to respond well to frankness, you might put your views on the table a bit more explicitly. For instance, when she says "you don't balance your checkbook every night? how can you live??", you could explicitly observe, "yeah, we sure are different. we'd probably make a terrible couple," and then add or not add something even more direct like "...but maybe a pretty good fling." Then, I'd forget you said anything and let her make the next move. This might only work in a romantic comedy, so YMMV; but all the successful friends-with-benefits situations I've heard about have involved some extremely clear communications, so the more clear you can be, the better.
posted by salvia at 6:38 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with HuronBob; the phrase "Don't shit where you eat" means don't date people involved with your professional (work) life, not that you shouldn't date people in your social circle.

That said, you might not want a serious relationship with her right now, but you may find that you reevaluate your position as you spend more time with her and get to know her better. I'd stop worrying about sex until you come to that bridge; when and if you do, be honest with her and she should respect that. You may not end up getting the outcome you want, but at least you won't feel like you "really don't give a shit and [are] just 'tryin' to get some'."
posted by axiom at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2010


The comment is usually meant for work circles, but at the same time, this is your social circle. All I'm saying is that if the situation isn't handled correctly, it could get very uncomfortable for him in around potentially some of his friends.

I think it's something to consider.
posted by 6:1 at 7:07 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


having done so before and seen the fallout of friends who have also dated within our social circle i am going to put in another vote for the "don't shit where you eat" mentality. if you break up it doesn't just affect you, it affects a whole group of friends who won't know who to side with (there's no REAL way to be neutral).
posted by raw sugar at 7:07 PM on October 23, 2010


People in your social circle, especially spur (two-degree/FOAF) friends of your social circle, are exactly who you should be dating. I sincerely can't think of a better idea.
posted by rhizome at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are over-thinking it. It's essentially free of risk for you, with enormous upside potential whether you acknowledge it or not. You don't know your tastes as well as you think, so think less and date more.
posted by NortonDC at 7:52 PM on October 23, 2010


Sounds like it's time to talk to her more when you encounter her, to see if there's any kind of a connection. Beyond that, why give too much thought to it?
posted by davejay at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2010


I would put the word about (discreetly) with the friend that you are not interested in a relationship, but find her attractive, as you said. This is not insulting (maybe not her scene, but at least it has the compliment of finding her attractive). If this information got to you via him, chances are that she meant it to. Thus you are staying within the 'rules of the game' (that is, people's expectations here) to respond in kind: that you think she's attractive, but are not interested in a long term relationship with her. Let this filter back to her and see what her moves are next. I think it's a little unkind to ask her out or similar when you know that she likes you, and you have no intention of taking it further-- if you were unsure about whether or not you might go further, that would be different.
posted by jojobobo at 10:09 PM on October 23, 2010


You tell her on the first or second date post conversation, post first kiss, pre-sex (if sex is even on the table at that point). That is the decent thing to do. At that point she has all the information she needs to make a decision. There's a chance she'll take it as a polite brush off so be clear you're not trying to brush her off. Just be honest. You don't make a big deal in your social circle of feeling her out or ask your friends to pass notes. That's grade school.

And yeah, try not to geek out.
posted by fshgrl at 11:50 PM on October 23, 2010


Even if you are totally frank, lots of people will say they are ok with a casual fling while secretly hoping you'll come round. So even if you do everything right, things might turn out headachey for you and your social life. Just a consideration.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:11 AM on October 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


About the 'don't shit where you eat' thing, it's because of this sentence: "I know for a fact that I am not interested in a serious relationship with this person."

From my perspective anyway. That's the difference between dating in a social circle and an outcome with a high likelihood of someone potentially feeling hurt or used.

If everybody's upfront that's a-ok but a lot of people do lip service to being okay with casual relationships when they're actually not ultimately going to be okay with it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:46 AM on October 24, 2010


Personally, I think that people who don't want to be in a relationship have no business asking anyone out, at all, ever. But after years and years I have finally learned that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily work that way. It's possible, though, that she thinks the way I do, so I ask you to be very very clear and upfront that you only want the sex and you will never be spending Christmas together.

Extra clear. Super clear. See, if my ears hear, "I'm not interested in being in a relationship but I find you very attractive," my brain might interpret that as, "oh, he just might change his mind about a relationship because I'm so special!!" So please please make sure she understands that that is NOT what you mean. And be prepared for the possibility of her never hearing you properly, and heartache ensuing despite your best efforts.
posted by JanetLand at 6:06 AM on October 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I think your phrasing in your question is pretty good. "I'm really only looking to have fun right now." Just be sure you say it seriously, not casually, and listen for her response. You might add the phrase, "I'm serious about that, so if you want something different we should not go out."
posted by JanetLand at 6:28 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fair thing to do would be to say to her, "I want to sleep with you, and there's no chance I want a relationship with you and might want a relationship with someone who isn't you. Are you down with that?" If she sleeps with you after that, then it's her own responsibility to deal with her feelings afterwards.

If you're not totally exact and clear about this, she might hope for the possibility of a relationship and there will be damage. You might lose all your friends and be called rude names behind your back for "using" her. So there should not be any spinning of what you want from her (sex) or what you're willing to give back, because she might end up believing there's a possibility of more.
posted by anniecat at 6:31 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't say anything like "I find you attractive" because to me that sounds like you find the whole package appealing and might be up for a relationship. Better than asking if you can sleep with her, stick with "I'd like to have sex with you" and though that might sound crude, it's really the only way of putting it that's not spinning it and can't be thought of as more than what it is. It's just dead on and will help her make a real decision for herself.
posted by anniecat at 6:35 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


since when is dating someone from your social circle forbidden...???

This isn't dating, this is no strings attached sex that he already knows isn't going to go anywhere. Dating is different.
posted by anniecat at 6:38 AM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]



This isn't dating, this is no strings attached sex that he already knows isn't going to go anywhere. Dating is different.


That's kind of a patronizing attitude to take seeing as nobody knows what she is or isn't open to.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:02 AM on October 24, 2010


I'm with anniecat: You do a bit of prevaricating and beating-around-the-bush in your OP, but what it comes down to is that you want sex. Hopefully. That's actually the more charitable reading-the less charitable reading is that you want the appearance of "gettin' some" or a nice girl to be your emotional crutch and listen to your woes and stave off loneliness in the meantime. Just in my world, there's nothin' wrong with some fun-NSA sex-but there is kind of something icky about "well, I guess I'd date you since I can't get anyone better, but be warned ahead of time that I've got license to bail. You see the difference? One is positive, yay sexytimes! Everyone wins! And the other is sort of just... "eh, sure, waste your time on me, I won't mind" and that's not positive or sexy or goodtimes for anyone. This is a case in which its actually okay and better to sort of spin it towards the sex direction, IMO. Just do it in a lighthearted, non-offensive, easy-to-reject manner and don't overthink it.
posted by Nixy at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2010


That's kind of a patronizing attitude to take seeing as nobody knows what she is or isn't open to.

How is that patronizing? They aren't bad people for wanting no strings attached sex and she may as well be open to it. But he has to gauge if she's open to no strings attached and he doesn't want to date her, he wants to have sex with her without having a relationship. That is just not dating. Dating is the formation of a relationship that may include sex but is not defined primarily by sex. He primarily wants sex where no hurt feelings are guaranteed and no relationship outside of friendliness is formed. You can't call a relationship that only extends to sex and no expectations otherwise "dating."
posted by anniecat at 8:15 AM on October 24, 2010


Iit's simple. Find out what "mini-crush" means to her. Do this by getting to know her. When you do, you'll definitely know how to proceed.
posted by marimeko at 9:06 AM on October 24, 2010


You want no consequence (no hurt feelings, no emotional damage, no diseases, no physical consequences (read babeees)) sex. I'm not going to repeat the comments of the other posters, but I will say, you are not likely to get it, especially if she has a mini crush on you. I read that as she like like likes you, and you only like (esp. her vagina) her. Receipe for disaster ensues.

Find someone else who only likes you OR who you have not already decided that you don't want to be with.
posted by zia at 1:00 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's really attractive and fun

This seems like the kind of data you can get from a few times of meeting someone, and if it's enough to make you interested in knowing more, I'd suggest a date.

I don't think we have a ton in common based on the couple times I've met her.

and

I know for a fact that I am not interested in a serious relationship with this person.

This confuses me. Was it difficult to talk to her? Does she seem to have completely different values? Unless it's a very clear deal breaker, I'm not sure how you know for a fact that you can't have a relationship with her.

Maybe you're jumping to conclusions prematurely without knowing her? That may explain this:

Still. I haven't been with anyone in a few years now and it's really starting to feel like a rut these days.

I'd suggest asking her on a date and just seeing how it goes. First few dates are just to test your snap judgment about whether you would have a relationship with her or not, and to see what she is looking for.

You don't need to make any weird creepy declarations (sorry, I sense you will come off as creepy because you aren't super experienced with the ladies I am guessing) until there is an opportunity to have sex, at which time you should be honest, as a gentleman would be.
posted by rainydayfilms at 2:28 PM on October 24, 2010


Frankly, you'd be better off not trying to tap this. The potential drama is too damn high. The part where people who likey-like you will tend to ignore anything they don't want to hear is pretty high too. And we don't know how great this chick is at detached nookie.

If you absolutely can't let this go, then do as JanetLand said and say FLAT OUT, "I just want a booty call AND THAT'S IT. I will never be your boyfriend." If she's actually cool with that, fine, but be very blunt and harsh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:14 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isn't dating, this is no strings attached sex that he already knows isn't going to go anywhere.

No. He doesn't already know it isn't going to go anywhere.

I'd go with HuronBob's advice.
posted by John Cohen at 7:06 PM on October 27, 2010


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