Destined to be alone due to lack of guts
April 17, 2012 4:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm a female with no game trying to decipher the latest chapter in a lengthy saga with a guy I'm interested in. Talk some sense into me one way or another.

Hi all,

Well, I'm back. I am the woman who posted the following question months ago: Previous chapter

By now, I'm sure most would think this had been resolved one way or another, but between my lack of game, courage, and general confusion, the situation is still a little bit in limbo.

I apologize in advance for the length, but here goes. In March, a male friend of mine that I am very interested in attended a work event that I was heading in Europe. we are in connected lines of work, however, it is not something he normally would attend. He requested the invitation and stated that it would allow us to spend extended time together.

March came and we still met at this conference, but his trip was drastically shortened by his employer because he was asked to leave early for another business trip. So, we only ended up spending a couple of hours together one evening (and that meeting was "crashed" by one of his coworkers) and one additional evening together. There were a lot of hints that there may be something going on both in a phone call before the trip and during the evening we spent alone together (he queried friends in advance about where to go, picked a rather scenic location, again paid for everything, seemed flirtatious, stayed out so late with me that he only got 3 hours of sleep before having to get up and fly to his next location, called me in the morning to make sure I got up in time for my work), but ultimately, I completely failed in sharing my feelings and the opportunity came and went. Yes, I was mad at myself and I purposely didn't update this site because I didn't think update was worthwhile.

Fast forward to the most recent interaction. So, my "friend' had made arrangements to come to my city again this month for work and that trip was to be adjacent to a single day off that he would have on a Monday. So, i took the day off and the plan was we would hang out on the Sun (after his work activities were over) and again on Mon. Sun, we got together for dinner and have a great time. I felt like there was flirting on both sides (and I'm a horrible flirt), our conversations seemed to be at a deeper level, and we just seemed to have a great vibe/chemistry/connection. We shared a bottle of wine, so I was also a bit more relaxed by the end of dinner.

Post-dinner, we went to a bar. Our close interaction continued and we added to it by whispering to one another, touching more (just one the arms, really), and talking a bit more in depth. I was really focused on moving the situation forward, so when we got to talking about what we want in the future and whether he is ready to "settle down" (his words, not mine), I perked up. "So, you said you are not ready to settle down. Does that mean you don't see a relationship or family in your life in the future?" And he said, "not at all. I just mean I'm not ready to pick a place to live and stop traveling. But, I think the woman I end up with will be someone who also enjoys traveling and is also open to living in different places." So, I ask, "what other characteristics are you looking for in someone?" He starts describing who he would like (description fit me and often things listed were things I actually said) then asks me the same. AS I'm describing what I want, he's agreeing, saying he wants that too, etc. Then I add, "The only fear I have is that I become ridiculously shy about sharing my feelings once there is someone I'm interested in, so I'm worried that a great person who meets all of these criteria is going to pass me by because I can't get up the courage to tell them I'm interested. I wish I could be bolder and say how I feel, but if I even get close, I can't go all the way." He expressed surprise about this and seemed a little quiet.

On the way back to his hotel, he keeps talking about how much fun he had and how he's looking forward to tomorrow. When we get back to the hotel, he eventually leans in to hug me and then gives me a kiss on the neck (upper part near the ear). Then he rushes out of the car, says he'll call me in the morning and that he hopes I don't "ignore his call."

OK, so this seemed like progress to me and I felt the stage was set to be completely honest the next day. So, why am I writing this? Well, the next day, strangely enough, things seem to be off. We spent about 9 hours together, but from the start, it was like we weren't connecting as much. This is not to say we didn't have fun at any point or that we didn't talk, but we just didn't have the same energy between us. Part of this may have been linked to all the false starts with plans. It was raining on and off, so we couldn't do any of the outdoor things we planned, another place we wanted to go was closed. But, we did have some good moments - cracking up about a book that we found in a store (and he bought me said book), talking about some personal details related to his family and mine, etc. But yeah, I felt like we were both tired and dragging and I was distracted by the death of a friend's father the night before (which I didn't mention to him in an effort to keep the day light and fun, but probably should have). I did ask him if he was ok though and he said he was having fun and was happy to have a day off that was relaxed and spent with good company.

So, a few other notes: I always offer to pay and he never lets me, but at dinner and drinks that night he quickly agreed we could split the check. I don't mind, but I mention it because it was a change. He was also less touchy with me on the second day too. FInally, when I'm bringing him back to his hotel, we discuss when we might see each other again. He notes that he has a trip back to the US in June and will try to coordinate his flight so he can have a day in my city on the way out of back. Then it's time to say goodbye. We go to hug and I kiss him in the same place he kissed me the night before. I don't think he was going to kiss me again, but guess what? Well, this hug occured in the car and while the car was in park, the engine was running and I accidentally pressed the accelerater, which revved the engine right at the moment I kissed him and we both started and broke apart. He then says, "Well, on that note, I guess I'll go" and that was the end of it. I was so thrown off by the whole things that I didn't have the presence of mind to get things out before he left the car.

I'm so frustrated I decide to send him a text when I get back to say a bit more. I won't detail all of it, but I thanked him for a fun two days, said I really appreciated the efforts he's made to stay in touch and see me, and said "I hope you know how much I really like you and enjoy seeing you (and I wish I could say more than that) " and signed, "xo, superfille" The parenthetical statement, while cowardly, was a referral to my statement on Sun about how I had trouble coming clean about my interest, so I thought he would pick that up quickly.

Well, I haven't gotten a response to the text.

SO, here's my question. I have two friends that say I should end it here and if he never writes back, so be it. And then i have one friend and one family member saying the email was still too ambigious and other parts were rather unfamiliar and formal and I should consider reaching out via email (or even better, by phone!) and being more direct and honest. I'm inclined to think I put myself out there already in my text, he knows exactly what I meant, and that's why i haven't heard from him. Thus, this is the end of the line.

That brings me to my question, hive mind. What would you do? Write again? Realize you've said enough, anyone can understand what I meant in the text, and call it quits? Also, any insights as to what happened between Sun and Mon that seemingly changed his interest level?
posted by superfille to Human Relations (64 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: By the way, I've strongly considered that he may feel he can make no further committments right now because of his insane work schedule (honestly, he's often in 4 countries in a 2 week period) and that is keeping him from stepping forward. He has certainly made iut clear that he has trouble keeping up with his friends and family at home, they find it irritating, and it's difficult for him. However, I have read PLENTY of responses on here saying that if a guy is really interested, he will find a way and make it happen. So, I'm trying not to make excuses here.
posted by superfille at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2012

I just read both of your questions. This is so much angst and drama that could be avoided by one simple conversation. My personal style would be to just call or email him and tell him directly that you're interested in him, would he like to go on a date the next time you two are in the same location?
posted by insectosaurus at 4:19 PM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]

What is your ideal outcome? A long-distance relationship? You moving to be with him and travel around with him? Him settling down in your city? Hooking up when he's in town?
posted by brainmouse at 4:19 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm really sorry but this is just... very teenaged. You are a grown woman. Please call him and ask him "are you interested in dating me?" You are speaking in tea leaves and expecting clarity here and you are not going to get it this way.

Being clear is not going to scare him way or whatever it is you're afraid of. Being clear will get your question answered and just... move this on, one way or the other.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 PM on April 17, 2012 [26 favorites]

If you can't bring yourself to call, and I feel you there because oh man do I hate the phone, please feel free to copypaste this exact text into an email.

Hi! I really enjoy the time we've spent together and I would very much like to date you. Would you like to date me?

[ ] yes
[ ] no

(you may eliminate the check boxes if you think they are too silly.)
posted by elizardbits at 4:25 PM on April 17, 2012 [10 favorites]

What DarlingBri said. I'd add that even someone who's very into you is only going to have a tolerance for all this ambiguity and uncertainty for a certain length of time. Bite the bullet if you're interested.
posted by Kirn at 4:29 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

You both sound way too reticent. You know how they say people with the same astrological sign aren't compatible? (they do say that, right?) I can imagine a relationship between two grown-ass adults, neither of whom has the fortitude to make a damn move, is going to be pretty hard to maintain.

Why can't you either be forthright or just make some kind of real move?

I don't get it.
posted by jayder at 4:33 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

You told him who you were -ie unable to express affectionate or intimate feelings easily- and he listened and backed off. It's the advice I would give anyone in the dating world: listen to what they you about themselves. There were lots of opportunities for intimacy in your hanging out times and it didn't happen. Then you made it explicit that he'd have to do all the intimacy work and it is maybe just not what he's looking for.

I don't want to hurt your feelings but I have been fed up in the past with a guy telling me he can't express his feelings, me persevering despite this, and despite my natural love of expressive people, then putting in much more intimacy work for little 'return'. Getting a text later hinting at possible intimacy, now at a remove from our time together? I'm over running that game now, it's just too exhausting. Sorry, I know that's a bit harsh.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:38 PM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

I say back off. If he wants you, he'll come get you. You don't have control over what he does, so stay positive, keep on livin', and don't sit around waiting to hear from him! If he wants to make things happen, they'll happen, no matter what you did or will do in this situation. Quit over analyzing his actions or what you said or he said - the ball is in his court. You've made your interest clear from the sound of things. Try dating some other guys for now. Stay busy to keep your mind off him.
posted by sunnychef88 at 4:40 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The text was the equivalent of a thank-you note; there wasn't anything to respond to. If you want something more from this guy (and I agree that you should try to picture exactly what that is), you should bring it up with him! You could start talking about it now, or you could wait until he's in town again in June.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:45 PM on April 17, 2012

Right now, you have Schrodinger's Romance: It's both the start of something amazing, and a disappointing and embarrassing fizzle-out, at the same time. And 50% of something amazing is better than nothing, right?

But you can never get to more than 50% of something amazing if you don't rip the metaphorical box open and see what's really inside. It may be that the fizzle-out is what's inside, but isn't it better to know for sure? The longer you wait, the more doofus-like you'll feel for investing your heart and soul in this thing, if it really does turn out that he's not into it.

And at this juncture, it really is a simple question of whether he's into it or not. There's nothing that you can do right now (barring acting like a full-on loon, of course) that will make him more or less likely to want to throw in with you. You can't mess this up, in other words, because it's either already messed up, or it isn't.

So ask. Just ask. And if you get something nebulous and indecisive for an answer, then you should probably move on-- unless nebulous and indecisive is what you want in a partner.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:48 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are we sure there's no other woman involved at this point? This kind of sounds like the kind of low-commitment catch-as-can fun a guy could have if he had the kind of job that took him away from the wife & kids a lot.
posted by Ys at 4:48 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think he's looking for something fun, here. People who are into traveling around and living in different places and never really settling down are mostly about fun and adventure. I'm not entirely sure he really wants to talk about feelings and your insecurities. I think he just wants to have fun.

If that's not what you're looking for, I would suggest moving on because this is going to wind up hurting you big time. You sound like you're both in two different places, both trying to get what you need, but not really wanting to be the person who steps up and says "I really want to be in a deep relationship with you" / "I really just want to have a laugh and shag you."
posted by mleigh at 4:49 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like he wants a hookup when he is in town and is now playing push and pull to keep you in the line up without having to commit now that you've verbalized your feelings.

He probably didn't want to hook up with you that weekend or send any strong signals after you said as much that you REALLY LIKED HIM and wanted something serious because only a huge jerk would knowingly hook up with a different intention. He is avoiding giving you the answer you don't want, while not saying anything, to keep you groomed as a hook up. This just seems like classic unavailable man behavior.

Don't be his fallback girl. Detach and keep yourself free for someone who will really give you what you want.
posted by cakebatter at 4:53 PM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]

SO, here's my question. I have two friends that say I should end it here and if he never writes back, so be it.

Why, exactly? I'd just keep going along. This is about your tolerance for ambiguity. Its hard to get together, not easy. So keep at it.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think the problem is that she was ambiguous. He reacted by pulling away, not becoming physically affectionate, and not responding to her texts every time she made it clear that she was potentially catching feelings and not just going to give him an easy, uncommitted hookup. His actions are showing his words, and if she asks him out I predict that he will either not respond and then pick back up again with flirting when enough time has passed/he is coming to her city soon, or he will be forced into giving a false promise and then not following through. And then we will see another installment in the saga.

I only say this because I and other friends have gone through this exact same thing with this type of man, as if it is a script they are all following from somewhere. Maybe this is different though, but I'm not very tolerant in thinking everything is maybe an exception if it is giving me heartburn.
posted by cakebatter at 5:07 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think he likes you, wanted to move forward with you, but mistakenly thought you had another guy in mind when you did the hypothetical, "Gosh, I don't know if I could be forward enough to tell him I'm attracted to him!" speech.

Seriously, if ever there was a moment to telll him how you felt, that was it! You could have just looked him in the eyes and told him the perfect guy for you was him.

Or even, for all the traits you wanted, start teasingly describing him, tossing in things like "wears a blue shirt, khaki pants, answers to the name John".

But you didn't do that, and now you've muddied the waters. He used to pay for you because he was looking to date you. But now he thinks you're interested in a mythical other guy, so he's okay with you paying your share because he feels you've put him firmly in the friends column.

I'd pick up the phone, arrange to meet him and tell him how I felt if I were you. Unless you enjoy all this drama, there's no reason not to tell him. I'm honestly not sure what you're afraid of--even if I'm wrong about his feelings and you two decide to stay friends (but I'm not wrong!), at least you'll know where you stand, instead of being stuck in limbo like this.
posted by misha at 5:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's already not dating you, so you've got nothing to lose by asking him if he's interested in dating you. Obviously it'll be slightly awk for a bit if he says no, seeing as you're part of the same professional community, but it's amazing how quickly everyone forgets about this stuff.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Not to thread sit, but I just wanted to add- cakebatter, just to clarify, the text was sent after we parted. I never sent any texts to him before the day that he was pulling back.

This is great feedback everyone. Also, I can see why someone would think he just wants to have fun, but who just wants to have fun and never makes a move after this much time? The players I know tend to want to play and make it very obvious within a meeting or two where their heads are at. On the other hand, I'm clearly clueless about everything related to male/female interaction, so I may well be wrong.

I would appreciate any additional insights anyone may have. Thanks so much!
posted by superfille at 5:20 PM on April 17, 2012

if she asks him out I predict that he will either not respond and then pick back up again with flirting when enough time has passed/he is coming to her city soon, or he will be forced into giving a false promise and then not following through. And then we will see another installment in the saga.

If that happens, at least we'll be able to give an evidence-based DTMFA and the questioner will actually know where she stands. One really can't spend one's life on what ifs because of the possibility of getting hurt.
posted by howfar at 5:21 PM on April 17, 2012

Also, I can see why someone would think he just wants to have fun, but who just wants to have fun and never makes a move after this much time?

But who is interested in more with you and doesn't go after it? Other than you.

Honestly, it looks like he doesn't like being alone on his trips to your area so he spends time with you, a local. He's a nice guy so he doesn't have sex with you, but he doesn't want to promise more to you than he can deliver and, after your discussion about goals, you made him realize you wanted more than he could deliver so he pulled back the next day.

If you want any hope of anything happening, you have to be gutsy and tell him how you feel. All or nothing. Right now you already have the latter anyway. Might as well risk your nothing for something.
posted by inturnaround at 5:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes, he's more than likely looking for company. If he's married or otherwise entangled, he'll be perfectly content to do very little with you - the fun is in the spending time with someone who isn't his SO (without the guilt attached to sleeping with you).

If he's not otherwise engaged, he's as passive as you are and you need to step up here and see what's going on. But I will bet that he's just after some no-drama fun (regardless of whether he's married or whatever) whilst in town.
posted by mleigh at 5:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

You have pushed him away a number of times. From talking about what you want in a guy to the last text, which, to me, sounds like "I wish I could say more, but unfortunately I am just not that into you". No wonder he is not contacting you. I know it is hard to express your feelings, but it's really not fair to the other person to do all the work. You need to find your most comfortable way of communicating (teasingly, directly, etc.), which will help you get your thoughts out. I suck at it, so I like to write letters and notes. But I do make sure that I communicate somehow.

You do need to man up and send one more text/call/whatever and really say that you like him in that way. As, so far, you have blown him off, and now are wondering why he is gone. Stop thinking and just do it.
posted by Vaike at 5:57 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Doesn't seem like you have very much to lose by telling him. Have you tried to pinpoint what it is that you're afraid of happening if you say this to him? It doesn't seem like you're saying that 'he's such a great friend that I can't risk losing him over this'.

Have you watched the Chris Rock routine about men who are platonic friends with women? I think you should watch it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why are you pursuing someone this wishy-washy???

If he was worth all of this bean-plating, you'd know by now.

I think you should either:

- Ask him directly what the deal is? And no apologizing for putting him on the spot, either!


- Just drop this entirely, and blow him off in the future. Maybe he has a serious STD? Or a wife back home? Perhaps there is strict a prohibition against dating colleagues in his company, or who knows???

What we DO know is that he is the sort to never ever talk about IMPORTANT THING no matter how many opportunities you've given him. He's not someone you can trust intimately. Really think about what I mean by this. Imagine being married to someone who withholds pertinent information or emotions fairly often. It would drive you, or anyone, NUTZ!

There is something up with this guy. We don't know what that thing is. It could be a deal breaker, or not.

But his inability to open up? Deal breaker, IMHO.

Whatever you decide, good luck.
posted by jbenben at 6:02 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a guy, I would definitely take "I wish I could say more" to be code for "let's just be friends." You sent him the wrong coded message!
posted by violinflu at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

You are being a total chicken.

He seems nice. Nobody here can tell you if he's "safe". You are so cautious, trying to check all the angles. There's no way to be sure he's got the right attitude, right life situation, right whatever for you. You have to do what the rest of us idiots do and jump in. You have to risk screwing up.

If you want it/him.

Do you want it/him?

If you want it, go get it.
posted by griselda at 6:11 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've read both of these questions and Jesus Christ, just get him to come to your place/hotel room to watch a movie and ask him to share a blanket because you're cold already.

He likely hasn't made a move because y'all live in different cities and/or countries normally, yes? But you need to start learning how to ask for what you want from people instead of waiting for them to read your mind. I'm serious.

If you wait for others to come to YOU and tell YOU what THEY want, you get what's offered. You can say no, but you're not proactively choosing your romantic interactions with others. Does this make sense?

When you ask for what you want by telling someone you're interested, you'll be shocked how often you'll get a positive response. And hey, it's what YOU WANTED.

Especially as a woman looking for love, I found I dated far more interesting men when I did all the asking and pursuit. Too bad more women wait for happiness to "find them," but I know not everyone's comfortable with that mindset.

That said, I can't see going after this guy if I were in a similar situation. But that's because I'd hate to find out I had awesome sex and/or sudden feelings for a man I couldn't see on the regular. But that's the only problem I see here is that time's a-wasting and the next time you see him, he might be seeing someone because you never tried and instead got stuck in this soul-sucking ennui that can only come from unrequited feelings for someone.

If anything juicy happens, though, I sure do hope you post an update.

[ON PREVIEW: edited to add I think violinflu nailed dude's reluctance/motivation issue 100%]
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:12 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think you will ever be able to get a satisfactory post-mortem of this date without his input. My guess is that he's looking for a regular, commitment-free fuckbuddy, and you've given him the impression you're looking for a capital-R Relationship.

Either contact him and find out if he's interested, or let it go. We can't intuit the answer for you.
posted by elizeh at 6:48 PM on April 17, 2012

He's European. I would interpret this slightly differently. His conversation the night before at the bar was more likely than not an expression of interest and a way to gauge yours prior to taking things further. Growing up, (afaik, northern europeans in particular) young people do not date one on one like they do in the US (based on what my German friends have said) and tend to go out in groups - by the time they actually like someone and want to date them, the situation is usually much further ahead in interest than with the more 'casual dating' aspect as common in the US.

Also, from the style of your questions, you're really overthinking this tremendously. Pull back from the beanplating, relax and continue expressing clear statements of responsive interest (if that is what you want) but do keep the cultural difference in mind.
posted by infini at 6:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hope you know how much I really like you and enjoy seeing you (and I wish I could say more than that) = 'I wish I could say that I was interested in more than what we have been doing so far, but I can't, because I'm not'.

I like elizardbit's idea, with an additional comment along the lines of 'if you say no, I'd love to continue hanging out with you, because I really enjoy your company'.
posted by dg at 7:09 PM on April 17, 2012

He's European.... Growing up, (afaik, northern europeans in particular) young people do not date one on one like they do in the US...

OP's previous post made it clear she is not a young person, though. I am on a tiny device so not reading through that again but I believe she clarified she's 40+.

superfille, you titled this post "destined to be alone due to lack of guts" which indicates to me that you know exactly what the problem is here - lack of guts. You are 100% relying on him to make the first move to bring clarity here. You need to ask a question that will generate an unequivocal answer, because the equivocal has been making you crazy for weeks and weeks and weeks here.

Look at it this way: do nothing, no guy. Do something, maybe no guy but maybe, guy!

Wouldn't you rather maybe guy?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:12 PM on April 17, 2012

You're articulate. You can write a thousand words twice over about what you perceive is going on with this guy and yet you can't bring yourself to relax and tell him "I'm very attracted to you. I'd like to see where this goes." That's unfortunate and I feel for you but it frustrates ME to read your posts.

Love is risk. Sex is risk. Drinking and touching arms and playing Cryptograms until 3 am is not risk. It's titillation which prolongs anticipation. And what happens when we prolong our anticipation but we don't ultimately get any satisfaction? That's right; we get frustrated. You're both now frustrated by the other, confused by the other, and you, in particular, are sort of flailing around trying to keep this guy interested but unable to make a direct move. That sucks but there is no piece of magic here that's going to help you. You have to make up your mind to take a risk.

Here's the thing - the more you abnegate responsibility for making yourself happy and satisfied and look to another person to make it okay for you to pursue your own happiness and satisfaction, the more frustrated you will become with yourself, and the more you'll project that unhappiness onto your world. I understand; I couldn't for the longest time ask for a raise or stop hanging around with people who brought me down or show my husband his worth to me by doing simple little things to make his life a little bit easier without his having to ask. And what did I feel when I couldn't pursue my own happiness? Well, I turned it around so that it was the world denying me happiness, or I made a sport of flagellating myself for being a coward, a loser, a fraud, etc. I see evidence of both mindsets in both of your posts.

So, what are you going to do about it? Really. Ask yourself what it is that you want - another date when you are both in the same city? A long weekend with this guy? To lean over and kiss him and ask him to come upstairs with you? Or do you want him to want you, or to make all of those gestures to you so that you don't have to? Figure that out first. If what you want is HIM, then you have to act accordingly and pursue him. If what you want is for him to make all the moves, well, then, you're just going to have zero control over what he does and you're basically at square one with this thing. Personally, I think you should either call him and tell him, simply, how you feel, or just lean in and kiss him if he calls you and asks to have coffee or something. Frankly, I think that's the best way, because if you start talking - and I mean no offense, I'm just reacting honestly to your verbosity - you're going to say too much and just further confuse the issue. Thinking it over is doing nothing for you. Doing is now your only option. Isn't it?

Either call him and tell him, directly, that you are interested in him and would like to see where things go, or ask him out for another drink, meal or cup of tea and lean in for a kiss ON THE LIPS before you part ways. Take a risk. (And lastly, please, please, please stop texting things you're better off saying in person or in a one on one telephone call. Texting is insufficient to the task of direct communication. It's great for a.) be there in five minutes; b.) I am at [place], do I need to pick up more [thing]? or c.) checking in when you haven't the time or inclination to talk. It sucks for clearing up misunderstandings. So, yeah, do yourself a favor and stop that.)
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: DarlingBri, we are both early/mid 30s. Don't know if that qualifies as young or not anymore :)
posted by superfille at 7:31 PM on April 17, 2012

OK but you're not, you know, 24. Please be a grown-up. If you don't ask, you don't get.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

True, but what I meant was that growing up, European men may not have had the same dating experiences that American men would have had in their youth, by the time they reach their 30s or 40s.
posted by infini at 7:42 PM on April 17, 2012

I'm with misha. It would have been entirely reasonable for him to interpret your saying that you have a hard time expressing your feelings as a sign that you don't really have feelings for him. BECAUSE going out 1:1 repeatedly with a guy who changes his travel plans to be with you and spends 3+ hours with you not talking about work IS dating. At least, it would have been for me in my late 20s and early 30s and would be for my friends.

I think that if you want to see more of him, you have to call him and say that you would really like to see more of him. If June seems far away, maybe you could go to him for a weekend?

Decide what you want, and then tell him. Even though he's a colleague, he's far enough removed from your work that you won't lose face if he says no. But I'll be shocked if he says no to a specific invitation for more socializing & potential intimacy.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:15 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

you wrote your first (epic) novel about this back in october. seven months later, you wrote an equally exhausting sequel with the exact same plot and narrative. seven months later. have you been bean-plating this situation for seven months?? jebus. as the saying goes, shit or get off the pot. either tell the guy how you feel and what you want—and be explicitly clear about what those things are—or move on already!
posted by violetk at 9:21 PM on April 17, 2012 [13 favorites]

He also may have read your continued insistence on splitting the check as another sign of disinterest.
posted by gentian at 10:06 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Girlfriend, I get it. It's thrilling to hang out with him, basking in what feels like a mutual crush. The uncertainty! The butterflies! So addictive. And if you just make space for him to make the decisive move, to be the pursuer, to demonstrate his urgent need for you, to play this out in accordance with culturally-established mating patterns, well then everything will be perfect.

Or will it?

I want you to think about this: what if he never makes that move? What if this never ends?

At this point, nobody but him knows what's going on in his head. You've been flirting like crazy with each other, acting like two mutually-attracted people act, for months now, but you haven't had sex yet or even really kissed. You've possibly (likely?) sent him some mixed signals. He pursues you to spend time with you, but never takes it further. He kissed you, sorta-barely, once.

I understand it's fun (and thrilling!) to speculate what he might be thinking, what might be going on, but where will that leave you if this never goes anywhere? And make no mistake, that is definitely a possibility, given the glacial pace things are moving at now.

I want you to think about endgames here, and think about how you would feel if they came to pass. I'll give you a few:

1. You don't do anything. Things continue on the way they have been (i.e. nothing happens), maybe for a whole year, and ultimately you fall out of touch.

2. You don't do anything. He suddenly becomes more assertive in his pursuit of you, you fall in love and get married and live happily ever after.

3. You tell him how you feel, and ask him how he feels. He feels the same way! You live happily ever after.

4. You tell him how you feel, he feels the same way, you make out but it feels like kissing your brother. You move on and meet someone nice.

5. You tell him how you feel, he doesn't feel the same way (or is married or is gay or "isn't ready for a relationship"). You move on and meet someone nice.

6. You tell him how you feel, he feels the same way, you spend a lot of time together, and a few years later you find out about his [boyfriend|girlfriend|wife and kids] back home in Germany.

I consider #1 to be the most likely to happen at this point. #2 seems quite unlikely, and a waste of your time.
#3-5: all positive outcomes: you either get together or stop wasting your time.
#6: this is a small risk you take when entering any relationship, but might be increased here. Only you can decide what to do, but Bertrand Russell once said, "Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."

If you're still considering not telling him after all that (or delaying telling him more than TWO WEEKS from today--do it over skype!), my suspicion is that you're addicted to the romance of the uncertaintly of the relationship, and/or you're afraid to lose his attentions, however meager they would be. At which point, I would kindly and gently suggest discussing it with a therapist.
posted by homodachi at 11:36 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, and by "telling him" above, I mean a conversation like this, in person, or over skype:

"Hey Günter, there's something important I want to talk to you about.

I really enjoy hanging out with you, and over the past X months, I've developed feelings for you. I need to know if you feel the same way, because if you do, I'd like to take it to the next level."

If you want to add an escape plan, like, "if you don't, I hope we can stay friends and have a good working relationship", you can do that or keep it in your pocket for if he says he doesn't feel the same way.

That's it. Say it slowly in front of a mirror, and go!
posted by homodachi at 12:03 AM on April 18, 2012

So I’ve been reading the responses here with great interest – and my answer is quite a bit changed from what it would have been 20 comments ago.

Here is how I interpret what happened: after quite a bit of pussyfooting around, and some more or less transparent hints on both sides, he finally gathers up his courage and plants that kiss on your neck – in my eyes, a hugely daring gesture (so much so in fact that I almost wonder if he was not, in fact, making for your cheek instead). If your neck was, in fact, his intended destination, then this is one of the most erotic ways possible for him to express interest (unless, of course, he is a player through and through, and there seems no indication of that in your story). The fact that he rushed out after that means, to me, that he is discreet and gentlemanly enough to allow what just happened to sink in with you, so that the two of you can have one of those amazingly charged and sizzling days the next day with a very likely resolution in the evening, should you find that you are agreeable.

The upshot is that at this point the ball is firmly in your court – it is up to you, the next day, to pick up where he left off, by all the means available for courtships. And there are many… Instead, you are confused, and down because of your friend’s loss (and I am sure that this showed, at the very least by a virtually complete absence of all those signs short of an outright declaration which would have allowed the courtship game to flow uninterrupted).
Unfortunately, instead of sharing your low feelings with him (which would have both explained why you are opting out and given the two of you the chance replace the lost erotic tension with increased intimacy), you chose to keep mum. So your vibe was in total discord with what happened the night before – hence the fact that your flow from the day before was interrupted. Then the blunder with the engine occurs. And then you send that rather unfortunate text message, which I was kind of reading in the spirit you sent it in, initially, until I saw some other of the responses here. Now I totally see it as utterly devoid of any trace of romanticism. “A fun two days” is something I have with a pal, or my friend’s eight year old, not with someone I have the hots for. With my love interest I had an incredible, an amazing, a wonderful time, or I love how those two days have come alive, whatnot, the world is not short of suitable clichés. Same with the appreciation of his efforts to stay in touch – this is something you say to your ex-mother-in-law, or in any case someone you respect, but are not terribly close to, and certainly not infatuated with. Others have already mentioned how your last sentence can be read as a complete damper.

Basically, you have unwittingly totally blown this guy off, the text message intended to clear up things has made matters worse, and you have dug yourself into a hole unless you are prepared to take matters in your hands, like people here suggest. Consider also that this is a pattern which started when you first met – not at all your fault, but it so happened that your get-together then was curtailed by your migraine, and that you refused to see him even briefly. Again, not at all your fault, and he would have to be incredibly churlish not be sensitive to your situation, but still – truth is that your interactions started with your blowing him off. And now you have a situation which to an anxious suitor (and this is what at this point you have in this guess-based courtship) is a string of rejections each time your friendly interaction is about to progress into “something more” territory.

If there is any generalization to be made about American versus European romance (and I feel slightly ridiculous making it – I hope it is self-understood that this is a huge generalization requires a lot of nuancing as soon as you take a closer look at details. Plus, obviously, not everybody fits this dichotomy – there are plenty of clear-cut Europeans, and coy Americans) it goes along the lines of ask vs. guess culture – American courtship seems much more “ask” based, as borne out in this thread, whilst in Europe intimacy and romance progresses via hinting, guessing, ambiguities which gather momentum which each new interaction until they crystallize into almost-clarity (of course, at some point you do get complete clarity. It’s very climatic) etc. In my interpretation of the situation, you pretty much reached pre-climax (in the sense used here), with him kissing you – and the last bit of work to push the situation into full climax mode had to come from you ( of course, in terms of this European’s preferences, the very last bit of work is “a man’s job”).

(As an aside for those who are outraged by the fact that in this kind of “guess” courtship the man is supposed to do all the work – this is not the case. The man (or “active partner”, I have a couple of gay friends who seem to have similar distributions of roles in their courtships) is merely the one who makes the very last pre-climatic move, everything preceding it is either pretty much shared equally, or actually the woman/apparently passive-role partner does most of the work on condition that the man keeps the ball in the game, however minimal his contribution. As can be seen in the Ops case, this way of approaching romance is fraught with problems, but it is wonderful when it works. It’s like having drama without drama, and it also offers a slow and steady, playful and exciting way into getting to know each other more and more intimately. By the time we go out, we tend to be quite enamoured with each other, already have a lot of common experiences, have already eliminated the most egregious dealbreakers, have a fair sense of communicational compatibilities and how to deal with miscommunication etc.).

Coming back to your situation, in my opinion you dropped the ball and did not bring it back to him for that one last push before he can make things explicit. I’m sorry to say that this sort of dooms you to take a much more explicitly active role at this point than you might feel comfortable with, even if you don’t want to go the actual statement of feelings and intent route (by now though, even a “guess” would-be lover might have to shed the coyness and go all “ask”). Anyway, if that’s just not an option for you, I’d try to find an event that happens around the time when he is due back and which I know he’d like to go to – concert, exhibition, whatever, and take that as a pretext to talk to him. I’d call him, tell him that I happened upon such and such, it immediately made me think of him (talk a bit about the circumstances where the thing first came up, or whatever shared experience made you think he might want to do what you propose – somehow establish a connection between past common intimacy and/or experiences and what you are proposing), so I thought that we could do that next time he is there in June. Use this as a springboard to talk about the time you two had together – how amazing it was, how illuminating/wonderful in a fun way the book he bought for you is, etc. Use your words, the things you talk about, your voice, the way you respond to him etc. to create intimacy during your conversation, and to lead it to a point where you can say your piece without you feeling you are too blunt about it. That then puts the ball back in his court.

Lastly, a word of warning – this is all based on my interpretation of the situation as described by you. There is absolutely no guarantee that I am right, and it is not unthinkable that things stand differently. That he did, in fact, make for your cheek and not your neck, that he is a bit of a player, or that he is so weary of the problems which would beset a relationship between the two of you that he’d rather not go there despite whatever temptation he might feel (or that he started out romantically interested in you and then cooled to friendly interest, whatever else). But I am with everybody else on this one (and I am a confirmed “guesser”): the time for playing coy games has passed.

Good luck.
posted by miorita at 1:18 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: I decided to send him an email this morning. I realize that many of you think I should have called or skyped, but this seemed like the best way for me to ensure I would say exactly what I meant without prattling on and on. And, after reading some of your concerns about the way the text could be interpreted, I really wanted to make sure I didn't say the wrong thing. So, I'll let you know what happens.

Thank you all for your advice! The kick in the pants was definitely in order.
posted by superfille at 5:35 AM on April 18, 2012

I think you've done the right thing. I just read your first question and you said that, "We are in connected lines of work and our businesses do have a partnership, however, our positions in our respective workplaces do not require us to work together or interact in any way and we live far away from one another."

It seems like you won't likely run into him unless one or both of you makes the effort, so if he doens't share your feelings, you probably won't have to suffer too much embarrassment or too many accidental run-ins. Good luck, friend!
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:01 AM on April 18, 2012

No matter what the eventual outcome is, well done on doing what you had to do :)
posted by moiraine at 9:23 AM on April 18, 2012

Well, good luck, and sorry I wasn't here to give advice earlier, but I don't think an email is as good an idea as going back in time to when he was dropping you off at the hotel and when he tried to go to kiss you on the cheek/ear STICKING YOUR FACE IN HIS FACE UNTIL HE KISSES YOU. That was indeed your chance to make things clear. Next time (next guy) do that. Don't be afraid of being rejected. It's a lot easier than living with this constant doubt, believe it. It's actually kind of freeing. Just kiss him.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:47 PM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: Got a response to my text that was very cheery about what a great time he had and apologizing for the delayed response. However, there was no response to the parenthetical statement in the text or the email (not surprising, since he is not a frequent email checker/user). But, I may tell him I sent him an email and I'll try to keep the faith.
posted by superfille at 6:46 PM on April 18, 2012

Now the next step is to not go into the friend zone. Challenge yourself to say something flirty, sexy, risky in your next round of contacts. And remember the parenthetical comment was asking him to mind read. Something that he cannot do, so no more of that. Be direct.

And I dare you to kiss him the next time you see him. Each one of these steps will help you gain your self confidence. Even if it does/doesn't work out with him, taking these risks will allow you to open up in general to connect with others in the future.
posted by Vaike at 7:23 PM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, end of the story is that he's not interested. Thanks to all of you for your advice and feedback! I really do appreciate the quick responses I received and the encouragement to find out what I needed to know once and for all. In a way, I'm pretty surprised he was never interested in me since everything was so date-like (and I tend to err on the side of pessimism rather than optimism, so that's saying a lot), but I find my romantic situations never follow the patterns that the average person's does. I need to keep reminding myself of that and remind myself that it's better to "rip the band-aid off" earlier rather than later if this ever happens again.

I'm pretty bummed right now, but I'm hoping that my recovery from this rejection doesn't take as long to recover from as the last one did (2 years!). So, fingers crossed for that.

Anyway, thanks again! I'm sure those who answered are thrilled they will never have to read another novella about this guy again :)
posted by superfille at 10:09 PM on April 19, 2012

I'm sorry to hear that things didn't work out the way you wanted, but you're entirely correct to say that it's better to find out sooner rather than later. From how you described his behaviour, it sounded to me like he was interested so I'm surprised to hear that he wasn't. I wouldn't beat yourself up too much over this one; most rational people would assume interest from the signals he was sending. There's nothing left to do but say, "huh," and move along to the next suitor. :)
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2012

Also sorry to hear :( That's never a good moment. But I think the whole conversation is an overall positive because you now KNOW what your status is, which opens the door to new possibilities. Also, maybe just the act of doing this once [the whole stepping up & asking for a definitive answer] will help you in future encounters. Keep on trucking!
posted by Ys at 1:57 PM on April 20, 2012

Response by poster: I'm also surprised, cranverrymonger. But, the day after his text, which included a reference to his laptop being on the fritz, I sent him a message back that if he had received my email and was feeling like any response he could give would be incredibly awkard, he should feel free not to respond. So, he didn't. Unfortunately, I'm thinking this means that we probably won't talk so much anymore either which ends our friendship as well :( Definitely one of the more confusing "romantic" situations I have been involved with. I'm at a bit of a loss.

I'm curious though- has anyone ever decided they just aren't cut out for dating and decided to give up? I just don't like the way these situations make me feel...and I kinda don't want to do it anymore. I don't like the concept of being single forever, but I am used to the single life and there's nothing wrong with being single. Anyone out there made the conscous decision never to date again?
posted by superfille at 6:10 AM on April 21, 2012

Anyone out there made the conscous decision never to date again?

From about 2006 to 2010, the initial decision was proactive and that lasted about three years, then the last year was working my way back into accepting the realization that I did indeed want a relationship after all.
posted by infini at 6:44 AM on April 21, 2012

Never date again?

I would suggest taking a big Chill Pill before making any rash/melodramatic vows. It doesn't sound like you've been dating, per se, so much as obsessing over a fliration with this guy. I think you would do well if you were to actually date someone - try that instead of moping over this dude any longer. Try OKCupid and go out with a bunch of different guys and keep it low-pressure.

Part of getting over rejection is getting back on the horse.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:33 PM on April 21, 2012

Response by poster: Hi, yeah, I realize I wasn't dating this guy. Also, I have an OK Cupid profile (for a short time, I did eharmony too) and I go on actual dates (dates have generally been outside of Ok Cupid despite having the profile though- I have yet to be interested in any of the people that have written me and no one I write is interested in me, apparently). However, these have been the kind of dates where I just meet up with them 1-3 times in the hopes that some sort of chemistry will eventually emerge. It hasn't.

The bottom line is that the only people that have truly interested me in the past 6 years (meaning I have gotten to know them, felt strongly about our compatibiity, etc), have ended up rejecting me. And I honestly don't take rejection well. In other areas of my life, when I'm not enjoying something, I stop doing it. So, I guess I'm wondering whether I should do that here. This is honestly not some dramatic, rash thing... I've thought about it on and off for a few years, especially as I've become more unhappy about dating and the way it makes me feel. Essentially, this the only area of my life that makes me feel badly about myself. So, while I really would like a long-term companion, I wonder if it's even worth putting myself through this anymore.

Just wanted to clarify.
posted by superfille at 8:03 PM on April 21, 2012

I'm sorry things didn't work out! I really felt from your post that he was interested in you, too!

I still think it's best that you know now, anyway. This guy really sent mixed signals to you, and you'd just have been riding an emotional roller coaster all the time if you'd let this go on any longer.
posted by misha at 6:13 PM on April 23, 2012

Also, don't worry about thinking in such black and white terms. You don't have to 'never date again', but it's fine to take a break from dating. It's actually quite liberating to just focus on yourself.
posted by Vaike at 12:54 PM on April 24, 2012

Hey, I'm really sorry things didn't work out with this guy. Still, I definitely think it was for the best that you contacted him - at least you don't have to wonder anymore.

I'm also sorry you feel so burnt out on dating - I think dating breaks are sometimes a great idea. Best of luck in the future!
posted by insectosaurus at 9:48 PM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: Well, I'm ridiculously surprised I have an update to post on this story, but here it is. Apparently, I was wrong about the conclusion of this story. So above, I noted that he hadn't responded to my email after I gave him an "out" stating that he didn't have to reply to me if he felt it would be too awkward. Well, the lack of reply for quite a few days was taken by me as a no as well as a, "I don't really even want to be friends now." So, I thought the story was over and have been mulling over not dating anymore.

Well, yesterday, I came back from a night out and had an email from him. The sum of it was that he was sorry it took him so long to reply, but his laptop had major issues and had to undergo serious repair. However, he had been having the same feelings I have, was just concerned about all the challenges related to distance and his job and the concept that those things may be so problematic that an attempt at a relationship may end up as a loss to our friendship. However, he also feels like he is going to regret not trying, so maybe we should decide how to proceed give it a try.

Anyway, I thought people would want to know about the turn of events. I'm going to talk to him tonight or tomorrow and see how things go, but I think we are both in favor of trying and seeing where things go.

I know I was a difficult case, but thanks again to everyone for your comments and advice! Hope this story helps someone else in the future who has trouble saying how they feel.
posted by superfille at 12:21 PM on April 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Fantastic! I have to say I did wonder whether you were leapng to conclusions when you said you hadn't heard. I should have said at the time, sorry, but I'm really glad this has worked out positively so far. The big takeaway for you should probably be that you are attractive and desirable and that you can postpone the vow of celibacy for a few more years even if this doesn't work out. But it sounds like you've got a lot in common (like not speaking your bloody minds!) and you've got every chance of getting something great. Best of luck. Remember to relax and have fun.
posted by howfar at 1:09 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I should say attractive and desirable to those you desire.
posted by howfar at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2012

Ha! Yay!

And you had a great risk taking experience to boot. Now go enjoy the rest of it while being proud of yourself.
posted by Vaike at 4:03 PM on April 29, 2012

Congratulations :) Now, do yourself a favour and take this relationship out of the land of texts and emails! It's harder to take initiative in person but the potential payout is greater.
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:27 PM on April 30, 2012

Also, you can remove the "rejected" tag now.
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:28 PM on April 30, 2012

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