Tale of two Dudes.
October 17, 2011 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me sort out this ridiculous dating situation. Please.

So. After doing quite a bit of soul-searching lately after one failed relationship attempt after another, I finally made the consicous decision to remove my online dating profile from the internets. This was a very wise choice and I'm glad I made that decision to just take a breather. However, I'm now suddenly finding myself living in a dating-type of hornets nest. I'm looking for some advice and/or anecdotes on how to manage this situation or about a time where you were in a similar situation and things actually worked out for the best and future.

I'm a woman in my thirties, and I've just absolutely had it up to my eyeballs with online dating. It's ridiculous and I'm sick of feeling like everything is so forced and sped up. I'm exhausted. Anyway, I made the decision to pull the plug on my dating profile once and for all and just be me and love myself, my friends and my family and life in general. This was extremely liberating and feels very healthy! As a result, I feel like the quality of life around in chez floweredfish is just awesome and life is in an incredible state of affairs. Great!

Enter the hornet's nest.

Recently I had two guy friends on two seperate occasions in the past month and a half, right around pretty much the weekspan tell me that they had crushes on me. Where I had not really even considered dating either one of them before, and neither are really the physical type I'm attracted to, after a little bit of thought I figured why the hell not and have been going on dates with both. I've been seeing them both for the 6 weeks or so and it's been pretty awesome. I've told them both that I need to take things super ultra slow and they are both respectful of this.

The issue is that I know that eventually I'm going to have to make a decision and have no intentions of leading them on, but I'm also not ready to decide yet, because I can't. I hope that this is ok and part of the process, but I could honestly see myself in a LTR with either of them. They're both funny, sweet, active, smart, have their lives in order for the most part and have a ton of common interests with me. I have fun with both of them and dearly care for them both (hey, both started off as friends of mine after all!). The other issue is that they are acquaintences and knew each other before I entered the friends group. However, what I'm learning though is that I don't think they really like each other, so this just adds an extra wrench in the works. There's been a bit of other-guy bashing that's been entering a few of our conversations lately over dinner.

I've kissed them both and that's the extent of any of that, and I've made the decision to refrain from sex until I've been dating someone for a good solid 6 months, because frankly, I'm done it for awhile and really want solid intimacy in my next relationship. FWIW however, one is a horrific kisser and the other one is a ridiculously good kisser. The horrible kisser I have more non-kissing fun with and he's quirky and hilarious. The amazing kisser comes across as dead creepy if you don't know him well at all, but once you get under the hood, he's a very quietly charming guy who I feel very comfortable around and can be my unhinged self and he doesn't think I'm crazy.

Any advice on how to manage this situation? I'm not ready to be labeled as anyone's girlfriend and I'm sure that my decision will be clear in time (hopefully?). Has anyone been in this situation before? How about some anecdotes from your past or stories of similar where the relationship that eventually bloomed actually worked out for the long haul? My goal for my next relationship is to settle down and get married and be ridiculously happy for the rest of my life. I am in zero rush to do this or have kids by the way, and if I were to end up with either of these dudes, I know I would be ridiculously happy with either. Yes, I know that this is a good problem to have, but I just don't to crush too many souls in the process.
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd give it another month and see how you're feeling. I'd also quit talking to both guys about the other, because it's a recipe for disaster and drama.

IMO, the good kisser who you feel comfortable being yourself around sounds like a better choice. Relationships aren't built on quirky hilarity.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2011 [9 favorites]

YMMV, but crappy physical chemistry is pretty much a dead end for me. With Horrible Kisser, do you feel there's good physical/sexy chemistry and he just needs technique tips, or is the experience just overall no good? It doesn't matter how much emotional intimacy you have with someone, if the physical chemistry isn't there, that's a friendship, not a romantic relationship.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 11:19 AM on October 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

The horrible kisser I have more non-kissing fun with and he's quirky and hilarious.

You need to tell the horrible kisser he's a horrible kisser, and explain to him why, and exactly what you'd like him to do, and to how many decimal places.

"Baby, baby. I love ya'. You're quirky. You're hilarious. But you need to do XYZ. And you gotta stop it with the ABC. Now, let's practice it for several hours."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am in zero rush to do this or have kids by the way, and if I were to end up with either of these dudes, I know I would be ridiculously happy with either. Yes, I know that this is a good problem to have, but I just don't to crush too many souls in the process.

It's fine to be super-slow at first, but if you make no decision, you might lose out on both as they are still free to date other people.

So, you do have to make a choice or you force the choice being made for you. No one wants to be months down the line and not be valued enough to just be seeing someone casually if they're crazy for you. It may end up making them feel crappy and not valued.

All things being equal, except the kissing and possible outwardly-seeming creeperishness? Go with the other guy. In the end, at least one guy will be disappointed. The earlier you decide, the less crushing the blow will be. Waiting to make a choice won't make it any easier on you...or him.

Good luck.
posted by inturnaround at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2011

You may not be in any hurry here, but there is a chance that by not picking soon, they will BOTH lose interest. It's one thing to take things slow in the context of a new relationship; it's another to hold someone at arms length while you date other people for months before you decide to date seriously. You aren't really giving anything a chance to bloom here, because they may both be feeling uninvested or insecure because of your lack of investment ...

It may very well be that you just aren't ready for even the beginning of anything serious?
posted by yarly at 11:24 AM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

What makes me wonder me in this question is that one could really be as good as the other. I don't believe in soul mates, or I at least believe that a person can have multiple soul mates, but I can count the amount of people that I truly feel intimately connected to on both hands. If I'm lucky I meet about one person like that a year. So, to me, it seems unlikely that both of these guys are like that. I understand that this might not be true for you, maybe you feel connections with lots of people. But maybe ask yourself who you really feel connected to. And take your time. I get a frantic sense from this question.
posted by amodelcitizen at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know exactly how long you can keep both of them on the go, but given the rise in snark, I'd suggest you're approaching the upper limit. You probably have to make a choice before too much longer -- you may not be ready to make the call, but they are.

Going silent about the other one is not an option, not without risking having neither one in the end.

I just don't to crush too many souls in the process.

There's going to be a minimum of one. Try to keep it to that. It's been fun, but now you have to make the decision, or else it will be made for you.

As for which of the two, enh, I'll say the guy who you're comfortable with.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:26 AM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

You say that one of the guys "comes across as dead creepy" until you get to know him. I read that and thought instantly of a friend of mine who is well aware that her husband makes other people (especially women) uncomfortable, but thinks that's just how he "seems" until you "get to know him." Well, I've gotten to know him and still think he's a creep. My friend is just so used to thinking of her husband's socially inappropriate behavior as a personality quirk that she expects her friends to continue socializing with him. It makes it hard to be friends with her.

So, I would encourage you to think more about why you say this person comes across as so creepy. Do you really mean something else? Or is he actually creepy? Because there's nothing wrong with having a unique, or even odd personality, but grown men (well, everyone, man or woman) should know how to behave respectfully toward other people.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2011 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Everything sounds great, and I am sure you will eventually come to a decision yourself if you give it a few weeks. I don't think there is anything wrong with going out with both guys, since you will be making a choice soon (a few weeks, like I said), and the risk of hurting someone or being hurt is always there, we all know that.

My only objection would be:

- "My goal for my next relationship is to settle down and get married and be ridiculously happy for the rest of my life"

IMHO, this adds a considerable amount of pressure to the whole thing, I just hope you realize that this may or may not happen in the end.

Good luck!
posted by emphatic at 11:37 AM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so far, and this is helpful.

To clarify:

- I haven't been talking about either one of them to the other one, but have noticed a slight rise in snark about the other one if they happen to come up in conversation. I haven't been encouraging the snark.

- Good kisser knows about bad kisser's crush on me. Bad kisser doesn't know about Good kisser's crush on me but I think he suspects it.

- Physical attraction to bad kisser outside of kissing isn't totally there, but I'm really attracted to his personality because he's very warm and kind and funny. When he touches me it feels a little shy and hesitant, whereas I enjoy purposeful, well-meaning touching. I don't like feeling like I'm being handled like a china doll, so I don't know if this trend would continue with bad kisser if we were to progress physically. The kissing is horrible though.

- RE: creepyness. Good kisser is really just socially awkward and just comes across as a little...off, but not in a bad or mean way, just in a weird way if that makes any sense whatsoever. He's kind and respectful though and is smart but can come across as a little dense.
posted by floweredfish at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2011

Can you really (really) imagine living with/loving with someone who is an horrific kisser? Going to sleep with the dreadful kiss on your lips. Waking up and looking forward to . . . ??? I'd give that a great deal of thought and a great deal of weight in my decision making if I was in your position.
posted by nickji at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: It doesn't mean you should sew it up with and become boyfriend/girlfriend with on-the-surface-kinda-creepy but fantastic kisser guy, but I can say with great confidence that you should stop dating someone that you aren't attracted to and think is an awful kisser, and just be friends with him. Don't think of this as a choice between two potentials.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2011 [10 favorites]

Thinking about it some more:

"I'm not ready to be labeled as anyone's girlfriend" and "I've made the decision to refrain from sex until I've been dating someone for a good solid 6 months" -- to me that restricts the amount of time you have to decide.

At the end of this extra month (or whatever), happy winner Buddy X isn't going to have a girlfriend and isn't going to have sex. He's 'only' going to have the opportunity to keep dating you, with an eye to one day getting either/both of those. He's 'only' going to have -- presumably -- then-exclusive dating, at a level not all that more significant than what he has now.

As such, I really think that you need to make your decision much faster than that. Six weeks should already be enough to answer the question 'do I want to keep dating this guy?' And you do.

A slow pace is fine and all, but the price of that is that you need to make a call.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2011

good kisses and social grace are not small things when it comes to a long term relationship. As someone who tends to go out with odd guys, I can tell you that day to day life is a lot easier with someone who is good with people.

on the other hand, the most important thing is how much do you enjoy yourself when you are around them. is time spent together fun, happy, comfortable? which one do you think you could spend the most time with? which makes you smile more? who can you imagine growing old with and being one of those cute little old couples that still hold hands? who not only lets you be yourself, but brings out the best in you, helps you to be your best self?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:15 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second giving ot another month or 2 before you decide. Have you gotten into any arguments with either one? I think it's important to get a glimps at somebody's 'bad side' since everybody is putting on their best behaviour for dating. The answer should 'feel right' to you-and it will once your heart has made up it's mind

Godd luck!
posted by Frosted Cactus at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2011

From your descriptions, I don't think either of these guys is doing it for you. At all. So I'm going for choice c - keep looking!
posted by hazyjane at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: First of all, if you're dating both of them even just casually, they both deserve to know that you're also seeing the other guy... or at the very least, they deserve to know that they're not the only person you're spending time with. Things could get ugly if they find out some other way, and resolve your issue by destroying both relationship and friendship potentials.

I've been through this same situation recently. Well, not the same, but similar... both men knew about the other... and one of them decided to pursue a different girl instead (even though I told him over and over he was the one I was in love with, he became convinced that I had serious feelings for the other guy). I'm now dating the second guy and things are going pretty well... in spite of the drama that we went through to get to this point. Taking various factors into consideration, I think it was the right choice... even though I still resent that it was made for me.

As to your situation... The way you describe them makes the good kisser sound more appealing as a partner... Passion and chemistry are important to relationships, especially in the beginning stages. Its possible bad kisser could be taught some technique, if you are comfortable assuming that role within the relationship.

If you aren't looking for forever right now, don't look at whether they have the potential to father your children and such... look at which one you are happier spending time with, which one you are more excited to see when you know you have a date to look forward to in the evening.. Is there one you daydream about more than the other? One you smile for no reason over?

Are they both making snarky comments, or is just one of them doing it? Is that a sign of immaturity or just jealousy? What kind of attitude is it that he has when talking about the other? I mean, are they trying to make the other one look bad so that you'll choose them, or is it just "dude I can't stand him" type commentary?

I'm with the others who have said give it another month or two, or more... Keep on the same track of not getting intimate with either one until you're sure of that connection you're looking for... make sure they both know you're going on dates with someone else, and understand you're not looking to get serious just yet... Over time one may fizzle, or become more intense and your choice will be easier to make.

Just realize that you could wait too long and end up having the decision made for you, or even lose both of them... but if you're not ready for a relationship, don't jump into one just to avoid losing the guy.
posted by myShanon at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you need to flip this around and look at this from their perspective.

How would you feel if good-kisser guy were secretly going out on dates with a woman you know. Pick a specific woman in your social circle and imagine him kissing her the way he kisses you. How would you feel?

Now imagine quirky hilarious guy is secretly dating that friend-of-a-friend of yours who you just can't stand. If you found out, would you start to wonder about his good judgment?

Suppose that you don't find out about the other girl until two months after you have chosen your guy. The other woman is in your social circle -- you'll find out sometime. Would you feel flattered at having been chosen over the competition or bothered that there had been a secret?

Keep in mind that they may not see the world like you do. One or both of them might be assuming exclusivity (many people see that as the default). The one you choose may be quite bothered even if he found out long after the fact. I'm not saying that it's right that they'd be bothered by it, but it might be how they'd feel.

Given the mutual friends, they will find out eventually. Try to gauge now how each of them will react to the news. You might do well to tell (both of them)/(the one you choose) before they find out from someone else.

This is just my perspective, but if I were one of the guys you were kissing and I found out you were regularly kissing someone else I'd almost certainly break it off with you. I would feel that I had been led on and cheated on. I would not feel that it was OK. I would not think it was part of the process. Knowing that I had not been chosen by you would feel like having been rejected by you. That's just my perspective, but you should be aware that one or both of them may feel the same way.

There's been a bit of other-guy bashing

It would be so much worse for me if I found out that my kissing-partner was having difficulty choosing me over someone I don't respect.

I would be ridiculously happy with either

This is really amazingly great. So many people have so much trouble finding one person. I've been a bit of a downer, but set that aside -- you've got a lot to be happy about here. What worries me is that your current course of action might end up breaking three hearts. You could lose both of them. I strongly advise choosing soon.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:33 PM on October 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

My goal for my next relationship is to settle down and get married and be ridiculously happy for the rest of my life.

That is sort of incompatible with everything else you said. You can't take it super slow but have your eye on the altar the entire time. Your goal should be "find a relationship that adds value to your life", not "marry the next person I get in a relationship with." You can not guarantee that the next person is the one you will marry, and if I were either of those dudes I would dump you if I thought you were expecting that right off the bat. You can not shortcut the process of meeting new people, having life experiences with them, seeing if you want to keep integrating them into your life. It's a huge mistake to think you can and it shortchanges the people who would like to spend time getting to know you, not getting interviewed for the position of your husband.

Also, neither of these dudes sounds like a catch. In some contexts I think kissing can be worked on, but sounds like you're not there.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also keeep in mind... there is little coincidence in the timing between you deciding to love yourself without focusing on finding a potential mate... and their finding you more attractive. Someone who is confident about themself is always going to be more appealing than someone who sees themself only in relation to the people they spend time with.

If it doesnt' work out with either of these guys, someone else will come along. There is no magical formula in the fact that they came out of the woodwork... they were attracted to your confidence, others will be as well.

You might want to consider focusing on that original plan... telling both men that you're casually dating others while you decide what it is that you really need from life/etc...
posted by myShanon at 12:39 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dramaz! No!

I also vote you stop dating both of them and keep looking.

It's uncool this has all been secret. They'll both be unhappy when they find out. Quit now while you are ahead.

You sound like you are settling a bit. No! There is someone campatible out there for you. But these guys aren't it. Also, this will blow up in your face sooner or later if you keep with it, so bounce now.
posted by jbenben at 12:53 PM on October 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've dated a couple bad kissers. Bad kisser #1 was more experienced than I was at the time, and I was perhaps shy about correcting him because of it. Eventually, I did try to teach him. He continued his same pattern: Lots of tongue and slobber. I think for him, kisses were only enjoyable in that one tongue-thrashing style.

Bad kisser #2 only started out as a bad kisser. He would give quick, hesitant little pecks. He was less experienced. With no talking, only lots of practice and taking the lead to demonstrate what I liked, he was a very fast learner and shot up the ranks to good kisser in no time. That's because he paid attention, responded, and didn't already have a "set preferred style" he enjoyed that was in irrevocable conflict with mine.

The question is, which type is your bad kisser?
posted by Nixy at 1:09 PM on October 17, 2011

Also, I'm just going to throw this out there: You could sleep with one or both of them. Don't lie about the situation. Explain that it doesn't mean you're exclusive, etc. But if you really need a tiebreaker, and if bad/good kissing may translate into the bedroom...well, that'd be good to know.
posted by Nixy at 1:13 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's been a bit of other-guy bashing that's been entering a few of our conversations lately over dinner.

I really can't offer any help one way or the other, but this would set off my alarms. It's one thing not to like the other person, but trash talk, the unfriendly type, isn't a good sign. I'd see it the same as a date that treats wait-staff poorly or is rude to children.
posted by bonehead at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do they both know:
- You are actively someone else
- Sex is off the table for the first half-year
- You don't even know if you'll be ready to be exclusive then

If you haven't, these things are very important to let both guys know, lest you end up losing both because they're hurt you weren't open with them about your intentions. Dating someone for six months before doing it when you know you're exclusive with them during that six months and they consider it to be a relationship is a LOT different then knowing even after those six months we may still not be considered "together" and she's seeing other people. Six months is a good deal of investment for just the kind-of-possibility of a relationship one day. If I were one of your guys and found out what was going on I would feel betrayed and stop dating you. And this is if I didn't know the other person you're seeing. If I knew you were kissing both of us without the other knowing I would be hopping mad.

My goal for my next relationship is to settle down and get married and be ridiculously happy for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately this is not a choice you can make. You can establish a relationship with the hopes that it will lead there, and evaluate your prospects with that goal in mind, but you can't ensure that the guy you choose is going to feel similarly about marriage nor that he won't change his mind some time in the future. However, the best way to put a prospective partner off is to not be open with them about your intentions or your dating and sex practices.

With regards to choosing between them, personally if Bad Kisser was not amenable to changing his ways I would go with Good Kisser. Life is too short to spend romantic energy on people you hate kissing.
posted by schroedinger at 2:10 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

You are wise to take it slow. I would not tell bad kisser he's a bad kisser, because it would be hurtful. I would, instead, coach him on being better at kissing you. Practice sessions will be fun.
posted by theora55 at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2011

These guys are friends who confessed crushes on you, not just random guys you just met on a dating site. They are also acquaintances of each other. This could easily blow up into all kinds of drama. You really have an obligation to treat your "friends" like friends here and be up front and forthright with them.

Have you told them that you're dating both of them? That you've decided you won't be having sex for six months? Have you told bad kisser that you're not physically attracted to him? You should.

FWIW, depending on how you told bad kisser about your need to take things slow, it's possible he's kissing you like you're a china doll because that's how he interpreted what you told him. You might want to try and clarify that you want him to be more physically assertive-- although this artificial barrier you're creating about no sex for half a year might make that hard to explain.

Really, the answer here is pretty clearly that neither of these guys is right for you. Possibly you're not even ready to be dating right now. Most certainly of all, dating two of your friends who are part of the same social circle without telling them things they'd reasonably want to know is a very bad idea.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:43 PM on October 17, 2011

I think a good deal of the hive is being unduly harsh on you. As long as you haven't told either of them they were exclusive, then you have done nothing wrong. I do think it's important that you make sure both of them know you are seeing other people...but you don't have beat them over the head with it like a hammer..."You know that guy you don't like? I KISS HIM JUST LIKE I KISS YOU!!!!" I think just letting them know you see other people is the extent of your duty on that front.

Also, it's true that if you don't make a decision soon, one or both of them might make that decision for you. It's also true that that might NOT happen. If you don't feel ready to make a decision yet, don't! One of them will put themselves head and shoulders above the other one soon enough. A month is not very long. THREE months is not very long. If drama happens, it happens, but avoiding drama seems to be a poor reason to make a premature decision.
posted by mreleganza at 6:46 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been thinking about this question and have a few more thoughts.

First, I agree that people are being too harsh with you. I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

Second, disagree with what several people have said, that this means neither is a match, so you need to break up with BOTH of them. If you've really struggled with dating in the past, and want to get married, that strikes me as bad advice. You claim you could be happy with either one. Just because you met both at the same time doesn't mean that there's an endless supply of men out there.

My first thought was to try to teach the bad kisser to kiss better. Here's some other ways to decide between the two:

- Pheromones. Which one smells better?
- Flip a coin. How do you feel? Disappointed or relieved? This may clarify your own feelings.
- Bedroom compatibility. Maybe there's a lurking incompatible fetish, for instance.
- Religion & politics
- Which one would your family get along with better?
- Which one has a better family?
- Money management, responsibility
- Annoying tics. These can add up and may drive you crazy over time.
- How did they treat their past girlfriends?

I find it very hard to believe that both of these guys are really totally equal in all aspects. In fact, it strikes me that if you're maintaining this mental block, throwing up your hands and saying "What can you do!" It's because you're actually very invested in one of them, possibly the one that you know is less compatible, and don't want to admit this to yourself. Or you've been keeping things superficial on purpose, afraid of what you might find. A recipe for disaster, that. I urge you to be brutally honest with yourself. Write out a pros and cons list. Expose your biases.
posted by Nixy at 9:41 PM on October 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

It's been too long since you started dating the 2. I imagine it's very stressful to date 2 guys at once?
There are few good advice here, have you tried to imagine how it will be like in few years? How they will be your kids' father? Maybe that will help?
posted by artofgiving at 12:55 AM on November 8, 2011

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