My friends keep telling me to "just get laid" but it feels gross - what should I do?
December 28, 2010 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Should I suck it up and get into a relationship with/sleep with someone I'm not really attracted to, to gain some relationship momentum (ie break the streak) and get over someone I can't have?

So as a precurser to this post, you should know:

1. I am an attractive and confident woman who is 28.

2. I have had a career since I was 18 (classical musician), am a workaholic, and haven't had many relationships, mostly because I don't find people I'm attracted to physically and intellectually that often.

3. I'm hung up on a guy who has a girlfriend. It was a case of weird timing: They had been dating for 6 weeks and she found out she was getting transferred 3 hours away and after the first three dates that didn't go so well (his words were "we both thought 'yuck' for three dates but then on the fourth date 'something just clicked'"). We met the day he agreed to move with her (in a professional way - he and I have mutual friends), started talking at 10:30pm and got kicked out at last call (2am on a Monday), had an instant connection that just grew and grew. Fastforward a few months, I tell him I have "romantic feelings" for him, he says he has "strong romantic feelings" for me too, but I say that I would never trust him if he left his current girlfriend for me and being a homewrecker is not something I can live with... he suggested we "put a pin in it" route and agreed to be friends (just to be clear, he's very reserved but never said word one about leaving her - but I preempted any of that with the "I won't be able to trust to you if you dump her for me"). We talk on the phone/email once in a while (he's been gone 2 months, we've talked maybe 4 or 5 times) about life, music etc, etc and he looks at me with big lovey doe eyes but the fact of the matter is, he moved with her and he's sleeping with her so I'm trying to get over my feelings for him and be happy that he seems to be happy in his new city and in his relationship (I guess he's happy, he never mentions his gf to me - he describes her to others as "nice", and she has a habit of buying him things. She spent over a 1000 dollars on one of his Christmas gifts - again super evil/completely stupid of me to have hope that his relationship is not based on pure, undying love but rather lust with a little convenience thrown in).
My current city is his hometown, and he has said many times that he intends to move back permanently since his family is here. We didn't cheat or anything, but there was a tilt and lean almost kiss that I put the brakes on, and we had a lingering embrace/hug that again, I wiggled out of when he was trying to extend it. This is his first serious girlfriend, according to our mutual friends who have known him for most of his life. He was going through some crap when he met her, and is finishing a few classes for his degree, and is getting his "sh*t straight" according to him.

4. I'm trying to be a good person and not love somebody I can't have, and not be selfish and hope it doesn't work out (that seems like bad karma)... he's a good friend now and I truly do want him to be happy, however he find happiness. For me to imagine I might help make him happy someday is just selfishness, I know. He knows how I feel, he feels the same way but he must feel more for her since he left with her (they've been going out for about 8 or 9 months at this posting).

5. I haven't slept with anyone in 8 years.

6. I can't get a thrill from any physical stuff with another guy unless I imagine it's this guy who left. (I also can't uh hum, arrive by myself unless I'm fantasizing about him... fml)

7. I defriended him on FB, I deleted his number from my phone, I ignore him on IM. I took up yoga and belly dancing to get my mind right, I got a sort-of promotion at work, have been doing stuff, asked all my friends for blind date recommendations, and started some grad school work in the past three or four months to try and move on. The problem is, I'm kind of shy and composed in the guy department. I almost never find a guy I am into enough to open my heart to. But I did with this guy and I'm just torn to pieces. It's not getting better. Unfortunately, I have hope in my chest that just will not die, no matter how many different ways I try to kill it.

Because I'm trying so hard to get my heart/brain on track/off of this other guy, I've been dating a lot. Most of the guys really like me and text a lot, email, request more dates, but they're all just a dead battery in the physical attraction department. The latest guy, we'll call the Prof, has a good job, he's kind of funny, but there's a few red flags (he's a little immature given his age of 35, and not in the good way - lots of drunk FB pictures, he's a little stuck up, talks a lot about his ex's, lewd talk, I wiped my mouth off after his first kiss - he couldn't see me do it, but my initial reaction was NOT good), the first time I saw him I literally had a frowny face :( appear in my head - I am NOT attracted to him. But he's chasing me, and will NOT give up. Because the last 8 years have been a series of false starts and straight up not dating, I think I'm need a new strategy.

Part of me wants to trust my heart and initial reaction and say "no way Jose" and take on a Jane Austen-like bravery to wait and "bonk only for true love" or something... the other part is full of my friends saying "Just get laid!" and my guy friend's experience of "something clicking" (though to be honest, I think that clicking might've involved his member getting serviced somehow but that's rude of me to speculate because I guess love can grow from "yuck"...? I can believe that love can grow from "meh" but "yuck"? I think lust can grow from "yuck" or "meh" but AGAIN rude and out of bounds of me to speculate because that just fuels the stupid hope machine that is my heart)...

Should I trust my initial "yucks" to all these guys, or just suck it up and start sleeping with someone I'm not into to get over this other guy?

I really want to be a good person and not use anyone. But I'm just not built to be slutty. I've never had a one night stand. I don't know how to sleep with someone I'm not that into. It's like asking me to fly a plane. I wouldn't know where to start. Press the big red button? Who knows? :)

I think that's a good thing but I'm getting lots of advice from girlfriends who have more relationship experience than me - they say if I sleep with these guys they'll start to grow on me and other men will be more attracted to me (when it rains it pours) and then I can dump this guy for someone I actually like. They also say it's been so long I'm putting the "penis on a pedestal" ala 40 Year Old Virgin but I don't know... Leading someone on like that seems evil. Also, giving myself away physically like that makes me queasy. But maybe that's my problem!? Maybe I'm too old fashioned and the dating world has left me behind?

My heart is broken, ya know. But I don't want to hurt/lead someone trying to fix myself, and I don't know if that's going to make it worse or what. I mean, I didn't want to fall in love with this other guy (tried SO HARD to distract myself, went on 30 dates in 4 months to try and find someone else), and feel so guilty for not being able to get over him when he's with someone he's living with, like I'm sending evil vibes their way or something... Ug, I'm a mess but I'm really trying! Should I change my non-working ways and try to sex my way out of this box of sad and lonely, mefi? Advice please.
posted by vilolagrl to Human Relations (53 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
everyone's different.

i know your friends mean well giving you this advice, but it sounds like you know yourself and it would be going against your grain.

all the sexy-time stuff will still work perfectly well when you do find someone who gives you the 'spark'! don't sell yourself short!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:44 PM on December 28, 2010

Uh no. You shouldn't have sex with people you otherwise wouldn't want to sex up, because you won't enjoy it and it'll probably only make you think of the other guy more.

What you need to do is get out more and meet people with whom you might actually want to have relationships/sex.

You can be as slutty, if I must use the term, as you like. But I don't think sex with people you find unattractive is going to fill the largely emotional void that's still troubling you.

Also, as difficult as it may be, if you're not going to go for it with your friend, you really ought to think about a vacation from the tortured "friendship" entirely. You may really need some distance from him to move on.
posted by drpynchon at 9:45 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really want to be a good person and not use anyone. But I'm just not built to be slutty. I've never had a one night stand. I don't know how to sleep with someone I'm not that into.

I don't know if I'm allowed to speak for "slutty" people (I don't know that they'd consider me one of the pack, certainly not now that I'm married), but everyone I know who sleeps around does it because they enjoy it. If you don't want to sleep with someone, you shouldn't. If you're grossed out by a guy, you shouldn't date him just because he will not quit. I think you're doing everything right at this point, it's just going to take time. Sooner or later, chances are you will meet someone new and this will all fade into the background.

Although let me just say one thing about your "dream guy"- only in a fuckin' Taylor Swift song is every great man saddled with some burden of a woman (I'm beginning to suspect Taylor's a misogynist). He is choosing to be with her, not you, and that's a reflection of who he is. He's the guy that doesn't want to be with you. Stop making excuses for him as though you're star-crossed lovers. You are not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:45 PM on December 28, 2010 [52 favorites]

No! No sex with people you aren't attracted to! No! No! If you're going to have meaningless sex, it should be with someone you're attracted to! (Or any sex, for that matter.)

Also, there's nothing wrong with the other guy dumping the other girl to be with you. It happens all the time. Millions of relationships start that way. Sometimes, you're with the wrong person and you meet the right person. What is wrong, in my book, is what you're doing now: carrying on an intense romantic friendship with him in a way that's essentially an emotional affair. That's not fair to anyone involved.
posted by yarly at 9:51 PM on December 28, 2010 [6 favorites]

TL;DR(all of it). Some people are hookup people. They can have sex and enjoy just the physical aspects of it. Other people are not hookup people. They need to be both physically and emotionally attracted to the person and this usually takes a time to build.

You don't sound like a hookup person. Having sex with a guy you aren't in any way attracted to because your friends like the idea doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to me. And it won't help you get over Mr Fabulous.

Here's the realist/pessimist way of looking at it: you've already completely ruined your chances with Mr. Fabulous. You've constructed this elaborate fantasy about what it would be like to date him that has almost certainly diverged from reality. It will never work now. No matter what happens, it will always be a disappointment to what you imagined it would be like.

For crying out loud, stop climaxing to the guy. Or at least realize it's just an escapist fantasy and not at all real. You had the right idea with FB, et al. just continue further.

WRT dating, stop being so frantic if you're not enjoying it. How did you end up bonding with Mr Fabulous? Try to recreate that (after all, it worked once). Try to form real connections in your extracurriculars and see what develops there. You never know, there might be a guy pining away for you and you don't even know it.
posted by sbutler at 9:52 PM on December 28, 2010

When something you want just isn't happening, it may be that you're focusing on it too much. It's also possible you're just not ready for the right guy yet, or that he's just not ready for you. Leave it alone, and relax. :) You're too smart to be over-thinking all this right now. You'll attract your next person in good time.
posted by patronuscharms at 9:52 PM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: I will say, I have no illusions about him having some secret love for me. He's with her. Not me. I get it. Half of me wants to believe that bs about me and him working better than him and her but the other half knows (as I said in my post) no matter how much he likes me, he must like her better. He moved with HER. But that's why I need to get over it. Because it's not going to happen, but for some reason my dumb heart is holding on. My question is NOT "is he going to pick me?" because he already didn't, my question is "will meaningless sex help me forget him cause I've tried everything else and I'm really lonely and I don't know how to fix this and I've tried everything else"

And I didn't mean to make a blanket "all people who have many partners are slutty" sorry, that sounds like a moral judgement. I just don't know how to do that. I must be missing that gene.
posted by vilolagrl at 9:52 PM on December 28, 2010

Getting into a relationship with someone you are not attracted to and using him to get over someone else seems to me to be really selfish and not at all fair to the other person. As for just sleeping with someone...wait until you find someone you are attracted to and sleep with him instead. If you aren't enjoying yourself it won't work.
posted by naoko at 10:02 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Don't sleep with Red Flag Guy whatever you decide. He's not good enough.

Sex can be lots of Good Fun and it doesn't have to be about leading people on (where did you get that idea, I wonder?)

If you want to change your attitude towards sex as a way of opening up yourself to more life experience - Go For It!

Might be just what you need. Feeling sexy is great.

But sleeping with folks you don't like on any level does NOT feel sexy and will undermine any good intentions you have in this dept.

I agree it is time to try something new! You are in a rut. You have the wrong idea about this other fellow you're pining for, as well. (per your update - ok - you already know)

That "gene" you are missing? I think maybe it's an ability to see sex as a way of exchanging energy with someone in a different way. Sex is conversation on a physical level.
posted by jbenben at 10:04 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

The people who say "the best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody else" are not (always) right.

First of all, for your mental/emotional health, stop fantasizing about him. Think about anything/anyone else. An ex, the cute guy who bags your groceries, some faceless new mystery man - anything that gets you out of that habit.

And secondly, please listen to ThePinkSuperhero. I've had two "star-crossed lovers" in my life - both of whom I crushed on for longer than was healthy. They've both dated & broken up with multiple women since we met. None of those women was me. One wants me to be his best friend (the kind of best friend, apparently, who he can flirt with while dating other people he never introduces me to), the other (the last time I saw him) tried to get me to hook up with him despite the fact that he's engaged to someone else. Both of them like the attention. Both of them genuinely like me. Neither of them will ever be my boyfriend. I wish I'd realized this - literally - years ago.

Finally, only have sex with people you'd like to have sex with. Having sex with someone doesn't fix anything. Meeting someone who makes your heart go pitter-pat? That works. Meet more people. Remind yourself that if he were your boyfriend and was hugging/flirting with other girls the way he has done with you, you'd be furious - or at the very least very hurt.
posted by pammeke at 10:08 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

No. Just, no. You should not have sex with this guy you're grossed out by. It's one thing if you're not sure, it's another if you're disgusted by the person. This is all from the perspective of what it will do for you.

To top it off, you say you want to be a good person here, which again requires not banging this dude. No one wants to fuck someone who is disgusted by them. (What do you think he would say if you told him, "Let's have sex and then I never want to see you again because I am repulsed by you"?)
posted by J. Wilson at 10:19 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I think maybe part of me not wanting to let go of this guy is that it's been 8 YEARS since I've been with someone, and at least five years since I met someone who I really, really liked and he liked me to. And frankly, I'm pissed and afraid I won't find anyone else. It's not fair, and yes life isn't fair. But I try to be a really good person, and smart, and considerate (which is why cheating is not something I could be involved with, though from what some of you are saying, we're kind of emotionally cheating now?... I just can't cheat. I can't. I think that is a good choice, I don't care if millions of relationships started that way. None of mine will) and I've made really active steps to be dressed well, stylish, groomed, chic at all times, smiley, friendly, actively trying to meet new people etc etc over the past years.

I just moved to a new city this summer, scrounged up literally 9 (... creative people have to cobble together stuff to pay the bills) new jobs, and am working 10-12 hours a day 6 days a week, on top of being lonely (though not alone) and actively wanting and searching for a boyfriend for at least five years.

Honestly, I'm angry and sick about my situation. I've been doing everything everyone has told me to. All the "get a boyfriend" advice, I've followed it. For at least 5 years. I've been to therapy, I've read the books, I've tried a million new things. But it's own damn fault because I just can't find a person to fall for who isn't in a serious relationship (this is the only time this has happened, this isn't a pattern btw). Plenty of them have fallen for me. That's not the problem. I'm the problem. My heart is the problem.
posted by vilolagrl at 10:22 PM on December 28, 2010

"I won't be able to trust to you if you dump her for me"

I had to stop reading 2/3rds in because I was getting an anxiety reaction from your overthinking. You've created a Catch-22 scenario for every pivot point in your life and you've done the opposite of your gut in every example. Don't sleep with the Prof. Do call up Guy #1, ask him how his relationship is going. "Are you happy?" "Are there sparks?" Yeah, it's a shitty thing to do to his SO on the face of it, but morallythis whole put a pin on it thing is exactly the same deal except everyone involved gets to feel insanely miserable but you get to continue that oh-so-sweet avoidance of doing anything about your life.

I quoted the above line because it demonstrates the impossible scenario you created. If he wanted to be with you, he was damned if you do, damned if you don't. The real world is not a novel with clean plot lines and convenient timing. It is messy and you never get anything without risk.
posted by Skwirl at 10:22 PM on December 28, 2010 [14 favorites]

"Should I suck it up and get into a relationship with/sleep with someone I'm not really attracted to?"

posted by delicate_dahlias at 10:28 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

It also would help to stop analyzing Guy 1's relationship. None of this "I *guess* he's happy, it's just a lust thing, it's just a convenience thing, he feels about me how I feel about him, it was a case of weird timing" bullshit. You're making excuses for why he's not with you, which makes it tremendously harder for you to get over him... and all you really have is, what, he tried to kiss you once?

On preview, I also agree with Skwirl that you might as well call up Guy 1 and ask him if he's happy in his relationship and if he's rather be with you. Hearing "I am happy; I don't want to be with you" might make a world of difference to your frame of mind. And if he wants to be with you? Well, it's not cheating if he dumps her for you rather than carrying on an affair.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:30 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Skwirl makes a lot of good points. Also, I missed the part where you are still actively in touch with the guy you are pining for!

The best way to get over this guy you are pining for is to cease ALL contact with him. For good. Forever. No more. None. Nada. Stop. It. NOW.
posted by jbenben at 10:30 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just can't cheat. I can't. I think that is a good choice, I don't care if millions of relationships started that way. None of mine will

It's not cheating if he breaks up with her first. It's not the cleanest situation on the books, but it's not cheating. Also, in the scheme of things, breaking up a relationship that's not even a year old is hardly a huge deal. It would be much different if he were married, there were kids involved, etc. (None of this is to say that it's the right thing to do to go after him -- he may not be really into you, it may be more drama than you want to deal with, whatever.)
posted by yarly at 10:39 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been doing everything everyone has told me to. All the "get a boyfriend" advice, I've followed it. For at least 5 years. I've been to therapy, I've read the books, I've tried a million new things.

Have you tried NOT focusing so much energy on trying to get a boyfriend?

You sound pretty miserable between this whole... boyfriend/unrequited love/pressure to be in a relationship/frustration from not meeting anyone + your admitted workaholism. Now, I don't know, maybe you have a lot of other cool stuff going on in your life, but if not, it's time to find some ways to make yourself happy whether you have an SO in your life or not. You're allowed to do fun and enjoyable things even if they have nothing to do with getting a boyfriend.

I just think you should start doing nice things for yourself without regard to the man-attracting element of doing them (like, buy yourself a new lipstick if YOU like it, but don't buy it only because you think it might attract attention from men). Read a fluffy novel, get a massage, bake a cake, etc etc etc whatever it is for you.
posted by hansbrough at 10:40 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a more succinct way to say what I'm trying to say is: get yourself a reason to get up in the morning other than pining over Taken Guy.
posted by hansbrough at 10:42 PM on December 28, 2010


Meaningless sex will not help you in any way get over an unhealthy preoccupation you have with a guy living in another city.

What was a good first step was cutting this 'friend' out of your life because you are obviously not able to just be his friend. You clearly have ulterior motives to the 'friendship' and those motives were / still are causing you suffering. Forget about him. Keep dating, keep meeting people, keep living your life.

"...and haven't had many relationships, mostly because I don't find people I'm attracted to physically and intellectually that often."

More likely your relationship problems have less to do with other people than they do with you. If you went on 30 dates in 4 months and found no one who was remotely interesting and attractive...the problem is you. Period. You may need to lower your expectations and stop comparing real people to some fantasy in your head.

No other guy you meet stacks up to your 'dream guy' simply because you have built this guy up in your head for months and months and months in isolation. You never lived with him, you never dated shared a few conversations and coffees. You didn't have to deal with the totality of who he is and so instead you filled in the blanks and made him your White Knight. He is everything you think you want because, for the most part, he lives in your head. You might also explore the idea that maybe you are more attracted to him because he is taken.

Its hard, but keep doing what you are doing. Keep dating, keep meeting people - and when you do, work hard to focus on their redeeming qualities...not some checklist in your head. But most of all don't stress so hard about it. You don't need to 'find a replacement.' Stop grasping at this.
posted by jnnla at 10:43 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Read Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns. Focus on the sections involving romantic perfectionsim.

Keep going on many dates. Allow several dates with each guy. You can go on as many dates as you like and yoiu aren't required to have sex with someone.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 PM on December 28, 2010

Fastforward a few months, I tell him I have "romantic feelings" for him, he says he has "strong romantic feelings" for me too, but I say that I would never trust him if he left his current girlfriend for me and being a homewrecker is not something I can live with... he suggested we "put a pin in it" route and agreed to be friends (just to be clear, he's very reserved but never said word one about leaving her - but I preempted any of that with the "I won't be able to trust to you if you dump her for me")

I really am having trouble grokking why the idea of his breaking up with this girl is so terrible, but the idea of you having a prolonged romantic interchange with him behind her back, complete with admissions of feelings and near-kisses, is not. Emotional infidelity is just as bad, if not worse. Are you sure you want a relationship, and not a dramatic, pseudoromantic, star-crossed sort of thing?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:50 PM on December 28, 2010 [16 favorites]

First thing, if you are going to do this, don't do it with this guy. You seem borderline repulsed by him. You will not enjoy it and the bad experience will probably just made you want the other guy more.

I've done a version of what your proposing and I'm glad I did. However in my case it was a good friend who I liked as a person even though physically I wasn't attracted to him and didn't see any long term potential. The important part though was that I was pretty attracted to his personality and I liked him as a person. The relationship had some huge ups and downs, but all in all, it did wonders for my self confidence and gave me a lot of hope. It also helped me move on from some very self destructive infatuations/quasi relationships.

Ethically, I was always honest with him that I only saw it as a casual relationship. I don't think I used him, but I would be lying if I didnt say that despite my best efforts to be totally honest and upfront, feelings grow and he was hurt when it ended, but we're still good friends and he's since agreed it was for the best.

So tldr, expierment with altering your standards, especially the superficial ones, but don abandon them entirely. You have no idea where it will lead you, but you sound like you need to mix things up a bit in order to move on from him.
posted by whoaali at 10:52 PM on December 28, 2010

Nth-ing dropping contact with the guy you're all limerent over. Nothing good will come of it, and you'll just make it harder for you to get over him. That ship has sailed, you weren't on it, and although you can accept this intellectually, you still aren't over it emotionally. Sever ties and cauterize that bleeding wound.

Don't sleep with people you find repulsive, either -- that's a good way to make yourself feel like a cheap tramp. I'm a much, much sluttier person than you. I've had lots of sexual partners, and I'm totally happy with having sex with people I have no intention of having a relationship with. But I don't sleep with people who I don't find attractive, and I don't sleep with people who I think are assholes. This Prof. guy sounds like an asshole who you aren't physically attracted to -- sleeping with him is a terrible idea.

I might actually take a completely opposite tack. I would take some time completely off of actively looking for a boyfriend. Dating is hard and stressful, especially if you aren't the one-night-stand kind of girl, and I've always found it easier to work through times of romantic turmoil in isolation. Yeah, you'll be lonely, and yeah, you'll be sad, but you can work through not wanting to be with the focus of your obsession. Because while you're still infatuated with him, you're going to be constantly comparing any other date to him, and they aren't going to measure up because they won't be him.

Also, I'm kind of curious about your standards/expectations. 30 dates in 4 months, and none of them included a single person you found the least bit attractive? Frankly, either you're really good at attracting assholes, or you have unrealistic expectations of your fellow humans. I'm not saying you should sleep with people you don't find attractive. But what I am saying is that if you have big rainbow-colored Lisa Frank unicorn dreams of the Perfect Man, you're probably going to have a much harder time finding The Slightly Imperfect But Actually Exists Man, which is what the entire planet is populated with.
posted by kataclysm at 10:57 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, speaking from also being prone to unrequited love feelings, I can say that the better a date will be as a distraction to such feelings is proportional to the number of butterflies they produce for you. The Prof is like, -20 butterflies for you. You will feel fracking miserable afterwards. You find him pretty repellant by your own words.

Even somebody with a few butterflies going for them is going to leave you feeling pretty confused, but that kind of confusion could be a good thing. Let's say Guy #1 produced 10 butterflies for you. Somewhere out there there is a guy who will produce 20 someday. But a 6-7-8 or 9 could be a really healthy jumpstart to your sex life if that's all your looking for. (Mr. 9 butterflies would be way worth holding on to.) I would be pretty surprised if there wasn't at least a 7 in your dating pool.

Sex is a good thing and doesn't have to be so fraught. In lue of actual fluttery feelings, make pro/con lists, but only list the things that matter to you and exist in any particular one-to-one moment. Opens doors -- yes. Makes you laugh -- yes. Has a cute dimple -- yes. Has a lot of money -- who cares.

Also, for those of us who are prone to this kind of stuff, it can take a lot longer to get over unrequited limerence feelings. Up to two years. Not everyone experiences limerence, so not everyone can put themselves in your shoes. Just be easy on yourself.
posted by Skwirl at 11:16 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: *Terrible* idea.

You wouldn't enjoy sex with a 'yuk' man. It might even be traumatic, given that you're far from casual about your body, it's been years since your last physical encounter, and you have a strongly romantic sensibility.

Worse, you might find yourself confused, developing an attachment to an unsuitable guy through some kind of post-coital rationalization. Because right now, you don't have the emotional habits of someone who can do casual sex. (I speak as someone who's lived as one such creature, in the past.)

Time will do most of the work. Help it with distraction. You need to starve your longing. You've already decided this guy is not allowed.

Literally snap yourself out of extended ruminations about him - go to another room, make a physical gesture, or sound, when your mind goes there. Anchor yourself in the present moment. Continue to fill your days with busyness unrelated to sex or its preludes. Maybe even leave your city for a while - take a few gigs out of town.

These are crude techniques, I admit, and they rarely work at night, but you can't let this fixation continue (however plausible it might have been if you had a different moral character).

Not trying to be offensive - again, I've been in a similar position - but it might be true that you're a little bit 'behind' others your age, who've prioritized relationships, felt easier or more open about starting them, or had more relaxed standards. Your peers have had a few loves and losses, learned what it's like to negotiate intimacy, to be with and leave another person.

No shame in not having had those experiences - you were doing different things - and with luck the next guy you meet and like will be cool and supportive and happy to be a teacher in these ways. But it's possible that a kind of, forgive me, immaturity, might be fuelling the intensity of this attachment. Maybe exploring that idea will help give you enough distance to navigate this situation more clearly.
posted by nelljie at 11:28 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I agree with everything. Immaturity is a good word for it - I know intellectually it's immature but my heart still seems to go there. He's being immature too - he shouldn't be continuing a friendly relationship with me or "putting a pin in it" because it's not allowing for anyone to move on.

I just thought that part of an adult was being able to get over romantic feelings and be friends with people. I can see that I just need to avoid him altogether because no matter what the future brings (ie he moves back and I run into him at the grocery store, etc etc), NOW it's not going to happen. And I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I actively tried to break up a seemingly happy home, but I will say if this happens in the future, I'm going to ask - do you want me or her? and live with the answer.

And you're right, I don't have the emotional habits of someone who can do casual sex. Just not me. It would probably fuck me up more.
posted by vilolagrl at 11:37 PM on December 28, 2010

I just moved to a new city this summer, scrounged up literally 9 (... creative people have to cobble together stuff to pay the bills) new jobs, and am working 10-12 hours a day 6 days a week

That could be part of why you find nobody attractive IMO. Especially if any portion of this is retail or food service. When I worked that much, I felt alienated from the entire world and spent my free time lying on my kitchen floor.

Honestly, I'm angry and sick about my situation. I've been doing everything everyone has told me to. All the "get a boyfriend" advice, I've followed it. For at least 5 years. I've been to therapy, I've read the books, I've tried a million new things.

Yeah, let it all out. Fuck this romantic treadmill. All that bad advice. All that effort. Just stop trying for awhile! It sounds like you need to wallow for a bit, feel sorry for yourself, grieve this guy. Maybe, for just a few days, stop trying to be better already and just accept how much this sucks.

But it's [my] own damn fault because I just can't find a person to fall for who isn't in a serious relationship (this is the only time this has happened, this isn't a pattern btw). Plenty of them have fallen for me. That's not the problem. I'm the problem. My heart is the problem.

Here's where I disagree with your approach. You can be like "it all sucks so much. I've tried everything and it still sucks!" all you want. When you turn on yourself all bitter and accusatory like "it's your fault, heart!" and "but it's ME who truly sucks," that is not going to help anything. It's understandable -- people in pain lash out at whoever is closest to them sometimes -- but beating up on yourself makes it worse, not better, correct me if I'm wrong here.

You actually have two separate problems: you're heartbroken and in terrible pain, and you have a multi-year solitary streak that leaves you lonely. It's tempting to combine them because getting a boyfriend would solve the second and distract you from the first. But they're distinct. Your intense pain is more or less bad luck and will be solved, basically, by time. Problem 2 is something that you can work to overcome, but you might solve it by luck, though I don't think you'll solve it until this pain fades somewhat. Either way, don't blame your current pain (problem 1) on whatever aspects of yourself that have kept you from finding true love more easily (problem 2). For now, go easy on yourself, and hang in there.
posted by salvia at 12:16 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm going to ask - do you want me or her? and live with the answer.

Five bucks says he continues to waffle even if you do this. The kinds of guys who do this live on female attention and need some emotional psychodrama to keep their ego going. Bonus points if he is engaged or already married. It's semi-normal to do this once in your twenties while you're still figuring out relationship boundaries, but guys who do this repeatedly are pure evil. I was just talking to a friend who moved to Europe to be with a waffler who ended up being secretly married.

Emotional affairs can be just as damaging and brutal as physical affairs. Also, ask yourself, what would you do if this guy finally went out with you and then dumped you after a week?

There are a lot of red flags in your post that imply you have structured your life so as to make intimacy difficult or impossible. Why is that? You might want to look into therapy to address this.

Prof sounds like a predator who smells inexperience. Stay away.
posted by benzenedream at 12:27 AM on December 29, 2010 [19 favorites]

Lots of good advice, on not shagging people you don't find to be vaguely respectable humans.

If I could make one point.

Re: I couldn't trust someone who left their current short term partner for me.

This seems like an idiotic rule. Its a question of the circumstance and situation, but also what you want - and you wanted this guy. Whilst as adults, we can, with some effort, exercise a degree of control over our own emotions - we have no control whatsoever over the emotions of others. There are no guarantees that significant others won't cheat on you, or just leave you for no obvious reason (see: Ask-Mefi ad nauseam). That's what makes relationships difficult - its not so much trust, as blind faith based on something you think you might see in that other persons character.

For what its worth, I'm almost continually surprised by just how monogamous the vast majority of people really are!

Also I second benzenedream on why have you structured you're life so as to make intimacy difficult or impossible?
posted by munchbunch at 2:36 AM on December 29, 2010

Just want to add: I do hope that when all this feels further away, you give the 'meh' guys a chance. I like the idea of the butterfly scale - for 2nd dates if nothing else. When you're ready to be open to new people, that is. Actually, everything I'm saying from here out pertains to a period in the near future when everything hurts less.

Men: How comfortable are you around them, in casual contexts? When you're not sussing them out for dating potential? Do you have good male friends, co-workers, or brothers, that you can talk to about things that matter (and don't)? Is it possible your perceptions of men in general could do with looking at? Wondering if you've had the chance to just hang out with guys, in safe, expectation-minimal, environments, enough to properly get how utterly human they are.

Time/opportunity: regular proximity itself can encourage little sapling feelings of friendship to grow into great oaks of lust. Which is why universities and offices are relationship incubators. Your lifestyle doesn't offer this kind of pattern of opportunity. So, when the time is right to be open again, don't blame yourself, or 'fate' - you may have to accept that extra planning in this area is part of the deal.

The activities you mentioned - belly dancing & yoga are great for self-recovery and distraction. They're structured, and are mostly populated by women (well belly dancing anyway). Ideal for right now.

Would you be into activities with a more co-ed demographic? (Later on!)
posted by nelljie at 2:56 AM on December 29, 2010

you should not.
posted by 3mendo at 5:00 AM on December 29, 2010

"I just thought that part of an adult was being able to get over romantic feelings and be friends with people."

Not if those people aren't your friends. He knows he's keeping you attached and making it hard for you to move on, but he doesn't care because he's well looked after already. So, even if he has some sort of genuine feelings for you, he's not suffering the same kind of torment. All the costs and responsibilities are landing on you. CUT OFF CONTACT. If he has any kind of good intentions at all, he needs at least to learn that hurtful behaviour makes people go away.

Obviously, don't sleep with anyone you don't fancy. I mean why even bother. Really.

And I think you also need to accept that you're going to feel bad for quite a while. Part of the problem is you're exhausted, running on empty, and feel unrewarded for all your efforts. The other part of the problem is that you're in pain and heartbroken. I could tell you to find some technique of not thinking about it, but I have never found one that actually works (YMMV though). JUST DON'T DO ANYTHING SELF- OR OTHER-DESTRUCTIVE and you can think about whatever you want. (Caveat: I include fantasizing about the guy among self-destructive actions, because that's just behaviourally conditioning yourself, so if not fantasizing about him means you have to sit on your hands for a long time, sit on your hands.)
posted by tel3path at 6:20 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just thought that part of an adult was being able to get over romantic feelings and be friends with people

It is, sort of, but it never gets any easier with age. The trick is probably learning to be friends *despite* romantic feelings from the past, or from an unrequited attraction. One doesn't replace the other, and the two options offer very different rewards (and dangers) that are not fungible.

You do learn with age and experience that love comes in as many flavors as there are people to love. But knowledge and peace are two different things.
posted by spitbull at 7:28 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

No, don't sleep with somebody you don't like/aren't attracted to/don't really want to sleep with. Not worth it. You sound a bit dubious about this whole "breaking the streak" thing, and rightly so. Maybe that works for some people, but you don't sound like the kind of person to give their affections away lightly, and I can't imagine that this would really make you feel better about the situation.
posted by number9dream at 7:56 AM on December 29, 2010

I just thought that part of an adult was being able to get over romantic feelings and be friends with people.

Part of being an adult is realizing that you can't be good friends with people you have unrequited romantic feelings for.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on December 29, 2010 [14 favorites]

It's the rare person who can go from romantic feelings to purely-platonic friendship without a hefty break in between.

Also, never go on more than one date with a "yuck" person. "Meh" people? Sure, go for it. I found that most internet-dating-site dates were "meh" the first couple of times, but a few of them started to really click after that (my current 3-year-plus relationship was at first a "meh").

This guy you're pining after? He's stringing you along, keeping you as his back-up plan. This should make you angry. You deserve more. Tell him that he should contact you only when (not if) he's moving back into town, and not before. If he does end up moving back, maybe you'll be in a new relationship by then, maybe not. But you should move on and live your life assuming he's not coming back. Move forward, and stop contacting him. You deserve better than being some guy's back-up plan, no matter how charming he is.
posted by chowflap at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2010

When you said "I won't be able to trust to you if you dump her for me" did he protest or argue? Think about that.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:34 AM on December 29, 2010

Please, for the sake of the little baby quonsar, read How to Break Your Addiction to a Person. You need to move on in getting over this guy.

On your own! Having sex with someone you don't find sexy is just going to reinforce all of your toxic presuppositions that only Mr. Magic Person has the power to make your pussy purr.

Getting over unrequited love is hard work. But it's work worth doing, because then you can move on and meet someone else who's awesome.

And as others have said, stop whacking off to fantasies of Mr. Magic Person. You're just digging yourself further into the unrequited love hole every single time you do that. Our brains get into ruts like that really easily; what you're doing is like Francis Galton's experiment with Mr. Punch--it's really simple to reinforce illogical beliefs simply by repeating actions associated with them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You also need to stop being friends with this guy, at least for now, because you clearly can't compartmentalize at this point.

I mean, you're not really friends with him, anyway. He's being a friend and you're kind of being a stalker. Even though you sound like a very ethical stalker, this isn't a healthy friendship for you--the disappointment and frustration it's bringing you far outweigh the upsides.

If you just didn't return his calls for a few months, he might not even notice, you know. He's the center of your world, and you're a nice girl he talks with a couple of times a month. Yeah, maybe he thinks you're hot and he's flirty and maybe he'd like to kiss you or take you to bed; why not? The point is that he's not your boyfriend and doesn't want to be your boyfriend because he's someone else's boyfriend.

If you're hanging onto the friendship because you're afraid of hurting his feelings by cutting off contact, don't worry about that. The worst case scenario is that he will be miffed that you weren't a true friend but just someone who wanted to get with him.

The best case scenario is that after a breathing space, when you've gotten over your obsessive crush on him, you can be a real friend to him and he to you.

You have other friends and so does he. You don't need to sustain this friendship right now, when it's causing you more pain than it's worth. My guess is that you're fooling yourself about how important THE FRIENDSHIP is because you want a way to stay in touch and keep feeding the obsession.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:45 AM on December 29, 2010

--It's gross to use someone for sex or pretend like you're into them when you're not
--Guys who just "don't give up" are bad at respecting boundaries
--It's not really healthy to treat your body/your sexuality like a tool (using sex with one guy to make you more attractive to other guys)
--Having multiple partners and sleeping with people you don't want to sleep with are two different things

In terms of you finding it easy to talk to him, and like you "clicked"--he's from your hometown and you've spent a lot of time away from it. I did this too, and I find the vast majority of guys in my adopted city to be really unappealing even if they're cute, decent jobs, interesting's can be really stressful to date and it's rare to find someone that I feel "at home" with.

When I went back to visit hometown people recently I was shocked by how many guys seemed appealing and basically compatible!

Then again--bad luck might just be bad luck. Your friends seem to be giving you horrible advice because no one likes to admit that life can be random and that bad things happen to good people who are doing everything right.

I know I lucked out finding my current partner and if I hadn't gone to the right bar/event, chances are I'd still be very, very single. He'd had a few dates with someone else, what if they'd gone on one more date and "clicked"? It was just chance and rare timing. Life is like that sometimes.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:53 AM on December 29, 2010

You never lived with him, you never dated shared a few conversations and coffees. You didn't have to deal with the totality of who he is and so instead you filled in the blanks and made him your White Knight.


"Life's missed opportunities, at the end, may seem more poignant to us than those we embraced — because in our imagination they have a perfection that reality can never rival." -Roger Ebert
posted by mreleganza at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you know the answer to this.

IMHO, and I don't think you'd disagree, the reason you are so fixated on this guy is in large part that you don't think you can find anyone else you are that into. Not because you "put penis on a pedestal" or something silly like that. This doesn't sound like it's about sex whatsoever. This guy could be a eunuch. If you met guys you liked this much every week, this one guy would probably never have turned into a fixation at all, and you would have quickly bypassed him because of the girlfriend issue.

You have said that if he left this other girl for you, you could never trust him. I think at this point, given what he has *already* done, even if they break up and THEN you started dating him, you could still never trust him. After all, he was out flirting at a bar with you all night, telling you of his strong romantic feelings for you, looking at you with lovey doe eyes/giving you lingering embraces, and then there was that almost-kiss lean thing. All while he was LIVING with another girl.

I think that if you were in a relationship with him, these things would torment you in your mind every time he made a new female friend. He calls to tell you he's with his new friend and they'll be out late at the bar. What goes through your mind? What goes through your mind when he takes a solo trip to her town? And say you've had a rough few weeks in the relationship for whatever reason or feel like he's being distant or more disinterested with you lately. He insists they are just friends and you are being neurotic. It's torture being in a relationship with someone like that. It makes you CRAZY. If he does it to someone else, he'll do it to you, full stop. Don't play yourself into thinking he won't because you have a better or more special or more cosmic connection, or "work better" together, or he LOVES you and didn't love her, or whatever.

So I think you need to focus on finding more guys you are into, more often. That I think is why you are in this mental situation. I don't think sleeping with an unattractive guy will do a thing other than make you more depressed and hopeless.

You mentioned going on 30 dates in 4 months. Although you don't say, to me that says that you found most of those guys through online dating.

Some people have a lot of success with online dating. I think it's not for everyone. I personally have had WAY more luck with guys I meet in person. (I, like you, find myself interested in an extremely small percentage of people). When I was doing the online dating thing, I found myself on dates with a lot of guys I would have NEVER gone out with if I had met them in person instead of just seeing their profile and talking to them online. Not in a good way. Conversely, there are a lot of guys I've met IRL who I find extremely attractive, who I'd have completely passed over if all I saw was an online dating profile of them.

I think you should try this exercise: go to a place where you know there will be dozens to hundreds of guys in your age range. A baseball game, a technology lecture at a university, a museum, etc. The more aligned to your own interests the better, but it absolutely doesn't have to be something you are personally interested in. Look for the guys who catch your eye in some way. A guy who asks an intelligent/interesting question at the lecture. A guy sketching an interesting piece at the museum. Even a guy wearing an interesting t-shirt or even a guy you just think is really hot.

Just say hi to those guys. Make it your mission to say hi to all of them, every one of them you see. "Hi" is easy to do and doesn't require any bravery to say as you walk by or stand next to them looking at a painting or something. Someone of them will continue the conversation with you, or with some of them you'll feel comfortable saying more as a conversation opener. I think you might get MUCH better results that way in finding someone you have real chemistry with, than going on 30 random dates from
posted by Ashley801 at 12:12 PM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

why have you structured you're life so as to make intimacy difficult or impossible?

It's challenging for professional classical musicians to meet people outside of work, and the demographic of professional classical musicians is disproportionately straight women and gay men.

I have a number of friends who are musicians who find it hard to make romantic connections with guys because of the demands of their careers. When you work nights (as most concert performers do), it narrows your dating pool quite a bit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing those who say "don't sleep with a yuck guy." It will only lead him on and make him even harder to get rid of, and you will hate yourself.

I think a link to this thread is in order, and I'd like to reiterate that dating people you absolutely don't care if you ever see again is a bad idea. Don't date someone unless you can come up with a reason based on their personality to see them again. Don't date them because your friends said, please.

Look, horrible streaks happen. Sometimes you can't get lucky for anything on the planet. You just have to well, suck it up and deal with it. Boyfriends can't come on command. Nothing works until it suddenly does. I like to recommend that people in this sort of situation read The Curse Of The Singles Table for an example of someone trying very, very hard to break a streak and nothing works until it does. Her streak is shorter than yours (sorry), but it does make a point.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:28 PM on December 29, 2010


They're there to protect you from getting into very bad situations with unsuitable people. Feeling lonely and lovelorn isn't fun, but it beats being involved with someone pushy, disrespectful and repulsive.
posted by Corvid at 12:33 PM on December 29, 2010

You do not need a guy to complete you. You should feel complete without a partner, and if you don't then you should work on that instead of desperately looking for someone that will make your life wonderful. Only you can make your life wonderful - many relationships fail because people rely on others for happiness. The pressure of being another person's happiness is awful, and so is being so dependent and not having your own happiness when they are not available. I think you should embrace being single and try to move to just wanting a man instead of desperately crazily needing one.
posted by meepmeow at 1:09 PM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you know what you are looking for in a guy? Can you work with a notebook or therapist to figure it out? If you've honestly been dating like crazy for five years, I think your expectations may be a bit off. Noone is perfect. You need to have a list of "no compromise" things (not in a relationship, no kids, non-smoker, stable job - whatever it is for you) preffered things that you give a bit on (doesn't live with parents, has own car, physically fit) and things that don't bother you at all (has pets, huge nerd, doesn't like classical music such as the type you perform). I get the feeling that your list of no compromise things is too long.

As a partner excercise, write down everything that sucks about the guy that you keep fantasizing about.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:09 PM on December 29, 2010

Sex with someone you love is a beautiful thing. That said, arranged NSA sex with a partner you like can be really therapeutic. I don't consider myself promiscuous either, but I found such an arrangement helpful in a similar situation. I placed an ad online laying out the conditions plainly, picked a guy I liked (yes, there are nice, interesting guys who will go for this sort of thing), we only met twice, and I was in control the entire time. He knew I didn't do one-night stands. He knew we weren't going to have a relationship. He knew the whole point of this was so I could discharge some relationship baggage. The sex itself was actually pretty vanilla, but it was incredibly liberating--for me, anyway, part of my inability to imagine dating other people was an inability to picture myself in bed with anyone else. This experience helped break down that feedback cycle. I don't have any regrets.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:26 PM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I understand your fatalism- you figure, since no guy can possibly match THE GUY, who is lost forever, does who the next guy is even matter? Aren’t they all equally not THE GUY, hence, all equally wrong for you? So why even bother to be picky?

No. The entire idea of sleeping with a new guy, any guy, is inspired by your feelings for old crush. It’s only a symptom of the problem you’re trying to cure, and acting on this would be shooting yourself in the foot. In a way, your feelings for old crush are being sublimated into actions with new guy. This happens a lot, IE, when people in committed relationships flirt with someone at a bar and then go home and have GREAT sex with their husband/wife, because that NRE (new relationship energy) has to go somewhere physically.

In a vacuum, before you met either old crush or The Prof, you would have no motivation to sleep with anyone randomly. What motivates people to have sex is more or less NRE. So, you’re trying to take the feelings you get from old crush, combine it with sexing The Prof, and hope for some Frankenstein monster of a relationship. It doesn’t work that way.

What will happen if you do this is the sex will be okay, you may get a little thrill out of knowing someone digs you. But then The Prof will become very clingy and controlling and will keep asking you if you looooove him and you’ll get tired of putting him off and will eventually lie to appease him. Meanwhile during sex you’ll still think about old crush, and whenever The Prof does something old crush sorta did, or says something old crush would say, you’ll get nostalgic and depressed and won’t be able to tell him why. He’ll think you’re moody and distant for no reason and will work doubly hard to win you over. And then in a few months it will become unbearable and you’ll break up with him and he’ll call you a bitch and curse your name and send you long rambling emails and probably stalk you and your self-esteem will take a nose-dive, you’ll hate yourself for making a stupid decision, feel like you used him, and will live in fear, and then will swear off all men forever and hole yourself up in your apartment. You won’t trust any men, and worse, you won’t trust yourself. You’ll think (falsely) that you tried everything and nothing worked so you’re completely doomed forever. You’ll be even worse off.

Then, after a while, when your feelings fade, you’ll think of The Prof and old crush together in your memory, because The Prof was really just a footnote rebound of old crush. That’s the only good thing about the whole scenario- having The Prof lumped onto your feelings for old crush might just be enough to break the spell, if it turns out to be as terrible of an experience as I outlined above.

Or, you could skip all of that and take the shortcut route, which is actually getting over old crush right now. To that end:

This guy you’re hung up on doesn’t sound that great. He sounds like any number of chumps I’ve known in the past. He’s tied around the apron strings of a chick he doesn’t even really like, who buys him nice things and sexes him up, and he just lets that go on? You’ve correctly identified their relationship as shallow, but you’re not taking it to the logical conclusion: Would a guy who was actually in love with another woman stay in a situation like that? Would a guy who knows what love is stay in a situation like that? Or would a guy who was in a situation like that be more likely to be a guy who has no problem with dallying with any woman who likes him? He doesn’t know what he wants.

I know your feelings feel so strong right now, and because you’ve tried to distract yourself they seem even stronger. But you’re wrong about that too. These feelings aren’t even as strong as the real feelings of real love you’ll have for an actual good guy when the time comes. Right now you’re operating on the assumption that your feelings are so strong, and you trust them so much, that you couldn’t possibly be wrong about this guy! But you know those little niggling doubts, those little moments when he laughed at the wrong thing, or he said something completely insensitive that you tried to rationalize away and push to the back of your mind, the time he ignored you at a party, that thing he said about someone that wasn’t very nice, whatever? Remember those little moments of doubt when he wasn’t at his best? When you thought, could I be wrong about this guy? YEP. YOU COULD. YOU WERE. Focus on those moments, and relive them over and over and over, until you feel foolish and angry for thinking he was something he wasn’t. That’s the only thing you can do to attack this nonsense head on. No distracting yourself, no sublimating. You have to pick his character apart logically.
posted by Nixy at 5:08 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The guy you like is clearly a jerk to his girlfriend and cheating on her emotionally. Not sure why you'd want to take her place.
posted by pineappleheart at 7:14 PM on December 29, 2010

It's challenging for professional classical musicians to meet people outside of work, and the demographic of professional classical musicians is disproportionately straight women and gay men.

QFT. And beyond that, despite the classical thing, the straight men (and women) are still musicians, no different from rock or jazz musicians, and your mama warned you right about dating them.
posted by spitbull at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2010

(The gay ones are musicians too, just irrelevant to the OPs limited options.)
posted by spitbull at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2010

« Older Howick to Auckland City, New Zealand: Can we rely...   |   Barbegal water wheel? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.