He keeps hanging out with me as friends but is in an open relationship.
March 13, 2013 5:36 PM   Subscribe

I like a PhD student at university, who sat next to me a couple months ago in a cafe on campus and started talking to me. He is in an open relationship, so although he is free to be with girls, I told him I don't want to hook up with him. He said he still wants to be friends, but has been texting me everyday since. I enjoy his company, and want to be his friend but I don't know if this amount of communication is wrong for his 'girlfriend', and if he is interested in me.

He has asked me out for a coffee and to watch a movie in the cinema (where we did not hold hands), and he always initiates contact. They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much, but must like her at least a bit otherwise they would not be together. I realize that he is playing with her feelings and I question his morality. He says he won't fully break with her because he doesn't want to hurt her feelings. The strange thing is that I never see them together, he is always with friends and very rarely with her. No pictures on facebook indicate they are together either.
He may not like me in that manner, but if he does I don't want him to think I am easy and can have me on the side while enjoying his other girl. I keep my distance and do not flirt though, to save my feelings which are growing for him. I would rather be friends than be nothing at all, so I risk losing our friendship if I tell him that I have feelings for him, but we only live once and I have not many whom I have connected to like this.
I am confused as I believe in karma and don't like the idea of hurting this girl's feelings, but he makes me feel like it is fine what we are doing, seeing as we are not even flirting, unless you count us talking every day. I have asked him if this is ok and he said it is fine that we are not doing anything wrong. Is this amount of contact with him alright even on a friendship level, or should I stop answering his texts and seeing him for coffee, or would it be worth telling him how I feel?
Thank you..
posted by lovisa91 to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think your gut feeling is right, that he is trying to get you on the side. He doesn't sound like a good guy at all, I think you should stay away from him. I would bet big money that if you tell him how you feel, you will regret it later.
posted by facetious at 5:42 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't think you should even keep hanging out with him. He sounds a bit shady, and you sound like you deserve much better.
posted by xingcat at 5:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

Ask him to introduce you to his girlfriend. They're in an open relationship, right?
posted by nacho fries at 5:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [21 favorites]

Ok, you have a couple different things going on here:

1. What do you want out of this relationship? Do you want a platonic friendship? Do you want to date him? Either is fine, but you need to be realistic about your own feelings.

2. Either he is free to date other girls or he is not. If he is not, he is lying to you and that is a bad thing. If he is, then stop worrying about whether his behavior is ok with his girlfriend. Do you think he's lying? Then drop him. Just drop him. He's not friendship material. (It sounds like you do think that, and his behavior is consistent with that particular flavor of cheating, so...)

3. If you decide that he is likely not lying, AND you want to date him, tell him that. Don't beat around the bush and play games, just tell him. If you think he is not lying BUT you don't want to date him, then stop worrying about it and hang out with him if it makes you happy to. Men and women are allowed to be friends.

Honestly, I think there's a good chance that he's a player and he's not treating either you or his girlfriend honestly, and I think on some level you know that. So act accordingly.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much, but must like her at least a bit otherwise they would not be together.

That's not how open relationships are meant to work. He sounds like a jerk.
posted by jacalata at 5:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [41 favorites]

You may not be flirting or taking it further -- but that's what you want, and he's not available (in a way that works for you, or maybe at all). These are great reasons to walk away.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:11 PM on March 13, 2013

It really bugs me that guys like this give people who are legitimately in open relationships and on the up and up about it a bad name, and make people suspicious of the concept in general.

They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much ... He says he won't fully break with her because he doesn't want to hurt her feelings.

Wow, what a bag of dicks. I doubt this guy is even that great to his friends. There's a million bad reasons/excuses for this "I don't want to hurt her" crap, but the first one I think of is "I always want a plan b" and it just gets more pathetic from there.

Cut off contact with this guy and watch him become a creepy manbaby desperate for your attention. You'll know you made the right choice after he either rages out or just doesn't leave you alone.
posted by emptythought at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

You are not responsible for the girlfriend's feelings, he is. She is accepting this jerk. She is allowing him to treat her like a doormat. They are not married. You are doing nothing immoral by accepting this jerk. You are doing nothing immoral by allowing him to treat you like a doormat.

Move on. He may some day become a decent human being but, chances are, it won't be for you.
posted by myselfasme at 6:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ugh, if he is willing to trash talk his girlfriend(!) to someone he barely knows I can only imagine how he is disparaging you to everyone else, including his girlfriend (usually you are cast as the desperate woman that keeps throwing yourself at him in the most humilating ways). These types of manipulators have the charisma to convince you they are sharing a secret with you and the two of you are special co-conspirators against some common enemy (like his girlfriend), however he is playing that game with everyone that will play it though. Anything you have shared with him, any vulnerabilities, have probably been laughed over by him and someone else. Ugh, just ugh.
posted by saucysault at 6:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [17 favorites]

I've just been in a somewhat similar situation- yes, he is playing with her feelings AND he is playing with yours.

You feel a special connection with him? That's because he is trying to seduce you.
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]

This is not an open relationship, this is a man who lacks the experience and maturity to behave with integrity towards his partner. He may be cute and nice and whatever, but he is clearly telling you that he's not dating material. Beleive him, and do whatever it is you need to do (which you didn't ask about) to snuff your feelings for him.

But to answer your actual question: yes, this amount of contact (daily texts, regular meetups) is fine for friends, and standard for many friend pairs. That is not the troublesome part of this equation.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Don't try to just be friends with someone you want to date. Whether you mean to or not, you will push the envelope of the experience more than is healthy.

Don't try to just be friends with, or even date this guy, because he's a goddamn idiot. He's doing something shady to this girl he claims to be in an open relationship with, and if you were dating him (which is what he's going for here), he'll do it to you, too.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would rather be friends than be nothing at all

There is no friendship here.
posted by nickrussell at 7:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

All you have to lose by confessing your feelings is confirming that he can, in fact, in some way, have you and his girlfriend too.

This guy isn't your friend, by the way.
posted by sm1tten at 7:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

What Darling Bri says.

Also: They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much...
If he doesn't like her, why is he with her at all? That display of contempt is a red flag you must not ignore.

This guy is a train you need to miss.
posted by Pudhoho at 7:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

So I guess he doesn't think it will 'hurt her feelings' if he talks trash about her to women he's flirting with, or if he is just using her until he finds someone he likes more?

What a considerate guy.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much...

Did he really say this, verbatim? It profoundly doesn't jibe with open relationships, so I'm wondering if it's a misunderstanding. If not, bleah.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:04 PM on March 13, 2013

Frankly he sounds like a guy who is just trying to get as much nooky/nookie as he can with as little responsibility and commitment as possible.
posted by Dansaman at 9:56 PM on March 13, 2013

He's openly shown you that he has zero character and the integrity of a parasite.

He's pulling some kind of svengali-type moves on you, clearly, because if you were in your right mind you would NEVER find someone like this attractive.

Look at him objectively. He's a shitty human being, just awful. He's supremely unattractive. Grok tis about him.

He is playing with your feelings, btw. I don't know what the real story is with his girlfriend, and this is not relevant to you, either. All you need to know is that he's talked shit about her while buttering you up.

There is definitely some lying going on as well, even though you/we don't know what parts of his story are lies. Again, the exact details are not relevant.

He's nothing but a user. This fact is glaringly clear.

posted by jbenben at 10:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I realize that he is playing with her feelings and I question his morality.

You already nailed it, especially the second half.

When he gets tired of you too, he will treat you as he is now treating her.
posted by cairdeas at 10:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing the advice to just get away. I've done the open relationship thing, too... and you're plainly not doing it right if you badmouth your S.O. in front of someone you hope to date. The guy sounds like a total sleazeball. Just get away.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm with jbenben on this. What, exactly, do you find likeable about a person who treats those closest to him with such blatant disrespect? He isn't nice, he isn't a good person, and honestly he isn't all that smart either, unless you count a sort of slimy manipulative cleverness. If he has superficial assets (looks, charisma, ego) that draw you in emotionally, but you know in your head that he's bad news, don't put yourself knowingly in the position where your emotions are going to get played on.

"Ooh, this looks like a dangerous cliff. I think I'll just inch a bit closer to the edge... just a leeeetle bit closer..."

Everyone reading this post, knows how this story will probably end.

You'll fall for him, he'll use you for whatever it is he wants from you; once he's satisfied whatever physical/ego/reassurance/esteem-boosting needs you were hand-picked to satisfy, he'll go on to someone else.

He isn't your friend, straight up, you're his latest target in a fun game. So many of us have been with people who turned out to be this guy, months and years into a relationship... and so many of us have cursed this guy wishing he had given us a hint earlier on, to save us the pain and trouble. This guy is giving you all the hints you need.
posted by celtalitha at 1:02 AM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

To put another way: when you see a cliff, you don't ask yourself "how close to the edge of this cliff, exactly, is it ok for me to stand? a foot? two inches? one leg hanging off the side?"

The correct answer is: Far enough that no trip, stumble, seizure, mal-intended shove, or freak hurricane could possibly in a million years send you over the edge.

In other words? As far away as you can possibly get.
posted by celtalitha at 1:11 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

"They are in an open relationship because he doesn't like her that much"

Did he say "I don't like her" or did he say "we're not primary partners / especially close?"

Because if the former, just run away now. a) that's not how healthy, never mind open and healthy, relationships work, b) it's a dick move to say that about his other partner, and c) it's seriously lacking in any adult boundaries to say it to you.
posted by zippy at 1:28 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

He needs her for sex and also thinks you will change your mind. Sounds like a guy who wants to sleep with many women without the commitment. Doesn't sound like that is what you want. Either way he does know that what you want is not what he can give so he keeps pushing you thinking you will change your mind. Annoying to say the least.
posted by pakora1 at 6:46 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think we're calling this guy a jerk based off of a single sentence of secondhand information. Snap judgments ain't cool.

Yes, it sounds like his relationship isn't going that well, and that an open relationship might be a bad fit for his situation. However, both partners seem like they're aware of the situation and aren't quite ready to break ties (sidenote: if he's lying to you about the open relationship, and is cheating on her, he is most assuredly a jerk).

However, given his situation, it's very possible that he just wants a friend that he can talk to. If you don't want to sleep with him, don't sleep with him. If he reveals that he wants to sleep with you, tell him to take a hike.
posted by schmod at 8:08 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think we're calling this guy a jerk based off of a single sentence of secondhand information. Snap judgments ain't cool.

To this, and what unknowncommand said as well;

I think people are passing such snap judgements because we've both heard people, who were assholes, say things like this verbatim. Not to mention the entire situation built up around it really stinks of asshole.

I feel like i find myself saying this pretty often, but why give someone who "quacks like a duck" and gives you a weird gut feeling a chance? there's so many people out there. Find someone who isn't questionable/sketchy in the first place. There's tons.
posted by emptythought at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but it wasn't a quote. The OP may very well have inferred it, which is a huge difference in terms of context.
posted by schmod at 6:49 AM on March 15, 2013

On the contrary, if two people are in a relationship it is inferred that they like each other UNLESS one person has made negative comments or acted in a way (snubbing, prioritising other people, obvious body language) that makes their displeasure with their partner obvious. Although some people may not gush about their partners, she has been friends with him for several months of daily contact and he has not shown through words and actions that his partner is someone he even likes except as someone he "doesn't want to hurt her feelings".
posted by saucysault at 8:10 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: He refers to her as his 'friend', and seems to hang out with me more than with her. She wants to be exclusive and he doesn't. Other than that I know little of their relationship.
I will see him tomorrow and ask him face to face about this situation. Thank you so much for the comments, seems like most think he is not good news. Thank you. Will write after I speak to him to say what happened.
posted by lovisa91 at 4:27 PM on March 15, 2013

I don't think they have an open relationship if she wants to be exclusive. I think you are confusing people by labeling it an open relationship (which is a very specific type of mutually agreed commitment with lots of communication). Or, it is a term used by dishonest people who think it gives legitimacy to spinning reality to different people based on the manipulator's needs. Instead of asking him, I'd be asking HER, but I am a big believer in karma and what goes around comes around. YMMV.
posted by saucysault at 5:52 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: He said he fancies me, but I have decided to drop this guy. If it already has started on a bad page then I doubt it will get any better. Thank you very much for the advice, much appreciated.
posted by lovisa91 at 5:33 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

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