Geometry of the Relationship Sense.
October 11, 2011 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Love Triangle-type situation Filter: Halp!

I've recently found myself in the middle of a ridiculous situation and could really use some advice on how to get through it.

Background: I'm a 33 year old single woman city-dweller. My past year has been spent picking up the pieces after a brief (8 month) relationship with a committmentophobe ended in February because I told him that I loved him and he essentially bolted (after of course, traveling together, spending all kinds of awesome time together, meeting each other's families, etc. etc. I felt totally used and broken, and therefore took some time off). I have been on dates since, but no real prospects. I ended up joining a bowling league in late June to get out of the house and have managed to meet a ton of really solid, good, new friends.

Around August or so, one of the guys in the league developed a crush on me. I know this because I have people literally coming up to me and telling me that it's painfully obvious and they almost feel bad for him. He's a sweetheart though, and we seem to hit it off, so I've been spending more time with him to see if anything happens. Well, I think I've been slowly developing feelings for him, and it's pretty awesome! Even my non-bowling friends approve! Nothing has really happened between us, because it's just turning into this slow, smoldering Thing rather than a flash-in-the-pan Thing. This is very, very different for me because I tend to go into things full throttle, but I'm just going with it. The issue is that he's horrifically shy and and several years older than me, which makes me anxious due to my past with the committmentophobe. Where normally I would make a move, I'm nervous about putting myself back into a similar situation. Other than that, we obviously have our shared bowling league interest, similar humor and he's supportive, funny and very nice. He's not really physically the type of person I'd go for, but I've been told that giving something different as a chance is a good idea. Overall, we have a blast together and see each other about once or twice a week on top of bowling night.

Meanwhile, a different guy friend on the league, who is friends with both me and the shy-guy-crusher confessed to me the other evening that he also has a crush on me. He actually asked me out on a real date though. I did not see this coming at all. He has not told the shy-guy-crusher about any of this and they are teammates/acquaintances. The issue is though, that I would also give this guy a chance because we get along great. He's a little closer to my age, and I could see it working for us too.

HiveMind, what do I do about this situation? I really don't want my poor bowling league to get screwed up with drama. I like both of these guys and could see myself dating either but am feeling confused. Has anyone been in a situation like this? What advice can you offer me? I feel like I'm at a point right now where *I* need to say something to someone. Shy-guy-crusher and I have been spending lots of time together but nothing has happened and meanwhile the other guy asks me out to dinner this week (I said yes, but am now wondering if this was a bad idea).

As of right now, I was thinking about confronting the shy-guy-crusher, but I also don't feel ready to have the whole gf-bf conversation, mostly because I feel like we're not there yet and I'm still figuring out if I like him. I like taking things ultra slow actually, because I've been so kicked around in the past. I'd be OK with dating multiple people until I figure things out, but I'm concerned that they're actually friends/acquaintances/teammates and I see them both on a regular basis. However, I don't want to string anyone along and create a mess. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lordy. Well, my thought is that you are basically a free agent now. One date does not a relationship make... Assuming you don't act like a drama queen or cause trouble, any other reactions are on other peoples heads. Feelings may get hurt and relationships may get ruined, but... that's not exactly your fault, is it? Act like a reasonable adult, and assume others will follow.
posted by Jacen at 12:42 PM on October 11, 2011

If you think you could like the second guy, why not go out on a date with him? It's just dinner. And who knows, maybe you could end up getting through dinner and realizing "wait, I don't think so after all."

But if you're concerned about drama, maybe keep it to just dinner for now, and then if it gets back to the first guy, it's time to have a talk that you...kinda have been shy about making a move with HIM, too. It sounds like you feel more comfortable with things progressing slowly with both of them anyway, and...there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:42 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is why when you don't ask someone out, you lose out. It's harsh, but it's also just kind of life. Go out with the guy who asked you and give him a shot first. If it doesn't work out, maybe long-smouldering guy will still be smouldering away.
posted by Nixy at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]

Date the guy who actually asked you out!

I would probs keep it secret from the whole group unless and until the dating turned into a full on relationship.

Shy Guy isn't really a part of this unless you are serious about him. Sure you like him, but you said yourself he's not really your type. Also, despite what everyone speculates, you don't know about Shy Guy's level of interest in you because he has never asked you out on a date! That's huge. Shy or not, he's an adult. He should be able to ask you out by now if he truly liked you in that way. And let's say you were to get involved with Shy Guy romantically... It sounds like you'd spend the entire time guessing his feelings on things or accommodating his fragility. This guy's neediness sounds like an intimacy killer to me, don't you agree.

Discreetly date the man who has shown proper interest in you if you like him back.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

If guy # 1 can't screw up his courage to ask you out when he (reportedly) really really likes you, I'd think he wasn't good relationship material anyway.

Who wants to go out with somebody so lacking in agency that they can't (or wont) go for what they really want.
posted by overhauser at 12:54 PM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]

Meanwhile, a different guy friend on the league, who is friends with both me and the shy-guy-crusher confessed to me the other evening that he also has a crush on me. He actually asked me out on a real date though.

We have a winner.

I don't think this is likely to be the case in reality, but the sitcom scenario would be that the shy guy actually doesn't have a crush on you and he/the whole bowling league is just playing a massive joke on him/you and/or have drastically misread the situation. Blow off the second guy and tell shy guy how you feel, and watch hilarity ensue!!! Shy guy is gay/married/a priest/just plain not interested!!! Quick, figure out how to get the second guy back!!! Laughs aplenty!!! Or not.

But in any case, the reality of the situation is that even if shy guy likes you, he doesn't like you enough to ask you out on a date, and/or doesn't have enough adult social skills to ask you out and therefore will be perilously difficult to communicate with in any putative relationship. So you should take the actual opportunity instead of the imagined one. Bird in the hand, &c.
posted by tel3path at 12:54 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also! It's presumptuous to tell smouldering guy that you're dating someone else in that apologetic it's-obvious-you-like-me way. Maybe you're wrong and he doesn't like you- but even if he does, leave the guy his pride. Don't "have a conversation" but let it come out naturally, preferably in front of others.
posted by Nixy at 12:56 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you really do like the guy who asked you out, I'd go out with him. I've been in a similar situation. Who knows how things will go? But if what you're looking for is a working relationship with someone who's not afraid to commit (rather than a true-love type romance with The One, who you think is undeniably your shy guy) the guy who's not afraid to ask you out is probably a better bet. Someone too scared to ask you out might be too scared to make the right choices when your relationship hits a bump. Courage is a good attribute in a mate.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:01 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you like the first guy? Do you really like him? If so, don't go out with the second guy. I don't see the point. If you aren't sure, like you say, then talk to the first guy, ask him what he thinks, and do it soon. Be honest and kind.
posted by amodelcitizen at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2011

Quietly smoldering away is not a commitment. Neither is dating. Go out with the guy who asked you out, if you want to. Don't rub it in Shy Guy's face, but the next time you're spending time with Shy Guy, why not suggest that he ask you out or, heaven forbid, ask him out?
posted by Hylas at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2011

I don't understand this advice to not mention it at all. If your intuition says that he has feelings for you, why is it such a big deal to say, "Hey, I'm going out with X. What do you think?" I think it's a hell of a lot better than just letting him slowly discover it at BOWLING NIGHT (my God!). If he does like you, it would suck to be possibly blindsided. If he doesn't, then who cares?
posted by amodelcitizen at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't understand this advice to not mention it at all. If your intuition says that he has feelings for you, why is it such a big deal to say, "Hey, I'm going out with X. What do you think?" I think it's a hell of a lot better than just letting him slowly discover it at BOWLING NIGHT (my God!). If he does like you, it would suck to be possibly blindsided. If he doesn't, then who cares?

Good point. Depends on how much alone time they have already, 'cause purposefully setting up alone time to tell him that could be kind of a bait and switch. Also depends if they're really "friends" or not quite there yet.
posted by Nixy at 1:33 PM on October 11, 2011

I was thinking OP and New Guy should keep their date private to avoid gossip or otherwise disrupting the good group dynamic that exists. Also, OP and New Guy don't need everyone up in their grill about one date! I believe in privacy.

This has the added bonus of sparing Shy Guy any embarrassment, if he even cares who the OP might be dating, which massively unclear at this point. Should OP and New Guy turn into an item, that news can come out organically.

Right now, I think there is nothing to tell that is truly of anyone else's concern. Again, I preach Privacy!
posted by jbenben at 1:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like there's a lot of discussion about this. I'd tone it down, because if either guy hears of speculation, it could be hurtful. Go out on dates. If you want to date smoldering Sam, ask him out, or ask him to ask you out. If you like Bachelor #2, continue to go out with him. It's okay to date as many people as you like, as long as you are honest about it, until and unless you make a commitment to some lucky guy to date only him.
posted by theora55 at 4:22 PM on October 11, 2011

Shy boys get no sweets. You can date the guy who had the balls to ask you out and also teach the other chap an important life lesson by telling him that although he was first to show some kind of interest, he was so non-committal that you weren't sure what his feelings were. Cruel to be kind and all that. I caveat my advice with the fact that I am very against men not being men (in the Gregory Peck sense) so therefore perhaps you should consider my advice as far right in that respect.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:15 PM on October 11, 2011

It sounds to me like you like shy guy. Otherwise, why are we even having this conversation? So if I'm right and you like him, ask him on a date. Use the word "date" or something, which obviously doesn't mean you have to have a boyfriend/girlfriend discussion, but it's progress beyond quiet smoldering.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:57 PM on October 11, 2011

Is there a reason you can't ask out the first guy?

All things being equal, go with the one who actually asked you out. But it doesn't sound like all things are equal- it sounds pretty clear you have feelings for the first guy. If so, you're doing the same thing he is- waiting for the other person to act. Everyone saying he obviously lacks "adult social skills" or whatever, is forgetting that you too are an adult, and that it's 2011. If you want it to happen, make it happen. If you don't want it to happen, what does it matter if he asks your or not?
posted by spaltavian at 5:51 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

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