Break up with a man I'm not very attracted to? Feeling crappy.
April 1, 2013 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I have been dating a man for just over a month that I met online. He is 41 and I am 33. He is simply lovely: kind, attentive, complimentary, generous, funny, smart, gainfully employed, family oriented and wants children, likes me a lot, socially/environmentally conscientious, cooks well, nice sense of style, has friends, etc. And, I'm not very physically attracted to him. I am 5'2" and his profile says he is 5'7" but I think he exaggerated ~two inches and has a slight frame. He is very fit, but the cave woman in me seeks a more commanding physical partner. There are other things about his physicality and bedside manner that don't "do it" for me, either, but the main thing is that I just prefer bigger men.

I was skeptical of his appearance/height when I decided to meet him, but hoped that attraction would grow if he were the right match for me (I have experienced this before with former BFs). I was drawn in for a month because he is so great in so many ways, but fundamentally the physical attraction is not growing. I lament the possibility of breaking up with him because it'd be a loss for me and I don't look forward to hurting him. The first time I laid my hands on him, my instinct was "no." The last time we were physically intimate, I experienced some aversion. We've fooled around a handful of times in total. I am getting aroused with him, but it feels driven by arousal and not attraction, and the last time it felt very efforted.

Grasping at straws today in anticipation of our date tonight. Intellectually, I would like to date him a little while longer, but I was out of town this weekend and made myself sick over it...loss of appetite, reasonably depressed, spiraling/circular thoughts. Do I listen to my body or my brain here? In the past when I felt this confused and uneasy, I have broken it off with the man I am dating and generally don't look back. This guy is such a catch, however. I fear letting him go too early (maybe things will shift in the next month?), but want so much to be honorable/respectful towards him and - the longer we date - the more specific of an explanation I'll feel obligated to give him. Alternative to breaking up or staying together is to tell him I'm having doubts...or is that just a death knell?

A sidebar: why do I feel this crappy? I'd like to be more capable of dating, independently evaluating the guy, and deciding more quickly and instinctively with less fear that I'm making the wrong decision and going to devastate and blindside the guy. A couple of years ago I was in a very drawn-out break-up where I worked myself into a deep, dark rabbit hole. I have integrated some of the lessons I learned from that in more recent dating situations, but would still like to feel more resilient and skilled in these situations. I have dated a lot of men and the trauma of dumping and being dumped is really wearing at me. I am somewhat panicked about meeting someone (period) and in time to have biological kids.

Thanks in advance for any insight.
posted by AlmondEyes to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have been in his shoes, and I'll tell you, it sucks and I wish she would have broken up with me, or I would have figured it out faster and left earlier. I could very much tell that she wasn't all that into me, and it left me feeling pretty crappy about myself. If it's a mismatch, it's a mismatch, and if he's so awesome he'll find someone who's really into him.

And you'll find someone you're actually attracted to, too. Being single is not worse than being in a relationship you're unahppy in - no matter what the reason for the unhappiness.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:04 AM on April 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

You definitely can't change your preferences, nor do you need to apologize for them! It's okay to just not be that into someone, even if they look like a catch on paper! Break it off now instead of later.
posted by wrok at 10:04 AM on April 1, 2013

There are guys that can be a great guy on paper but you don't click with. It's okay, and it just is what it is. It is perfectly valid if you just aren't feeling a spark.

And as for avoiding the "oh god should i or shouldn't i what do i want is this a bad choice or not" second-guessing: I am yet again going to recommend the one and only self-help book I ever thought was worth a damn. It actually does a very good job of helping you cut through the "what do I want and how do I know it and how do I handle letting someone down" and all the other weird things about dating that suck donkey ball sweat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I was recently in such a similar situation that i'm sort of wondering if you are dating the same guy that i did!

I felt bad about my cavewoman instincts too, but they are what they are. If you are feeling an actual physical aversion to him, and are really so unattracted to him, well... you can't force it. Physical attraction is one of the main things that differentiates a friendship from a romantic relationship, and if it's not there, it's not there.

(Remember that you don't have to tell him why you're breaking up with him. An "i just don't think you're the one" or "i'm not ready to be in a relationship right now" or "i need space" or whatever other line you need is fine.)
posted by Kololo at 10:09 AM on April 1, 2013

Good lord, just tell him straight up, on the phone or in an email: "you're an awesome guy because of these reasons, and I mean all of that sincerely, but I have to be honest with you that it's just not clicking for me physically and I need to move on. Thank you so much for giving us a chance, and I wish you the best of luck in your future romantic endeavours." The classic, "it's not you, it's me".

Please don't ask him out on a date to do this, just send a message.

Say I'm sorry, it's not working, you didn't do anything wrong, we're just not compatible, and [chop] done.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:10 AM on April 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

Everyone has preferences. Unless they are totally unrealistic given what you yourself are bringing to the party, there's nothing wrong with them - some people like tall people, short people, slim people, brown hair, blond hair, whatever. It doesn't sound to me like the things that you find arousing are completely unrealistic or unattainable.

In short, move on.
posted by modernnomad at 10:10 AM on April 1, 2013

The last time we were physically intimate, I experienced some aversion. 

Your issue is not "what should I do about him." For the life of me, I cannot understand why you would continue one day after this episode, except that you are convinced you are running out of options.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

You should be with someone because you like them not because they're a catch. You aren't going to have sex with his resume.
posted by spunweb at 10:15 AM on April 1, 2013 [11 favorites]

Been there, done that, stuck around way too long, and we both suffered deeply for it. If the chemistry's not there, it's just not there, and it's only going to get worse. This is not a referendum on how attractive or kind either of you are. This is just how it goes.

End things respectfully, kindly, and with good wishes. That way you're both a little closer to finding the right person to click with. This is the decent thing to do.
posted by scody at 10:19 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not as though you faked a phone call and left mid-date: you were open to possibilities and have given it more than the old college try. It's just not working for you and it's much kinder and more decent to have the, "I'm just not feeling it," convo now and let him find someone who likes the little guy.
posted by itsonreserve at 10:27 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

There are other things about his physicality and bedside manner that don't "do it" for me, either

It sounds like you're not into him for a variety of small reasons which add up. His height just happens to be the most obvious one, and the one you feel the worst about. Possibly because it's such a gendered trait? Or because it's something he can't change? Regardless, if you're not attracted to him, you can't force it. Someone else will be attracted to him, and you will be attracted to someone else.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:28 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I forgot:

I am somewhat panicked about meeting someone (period) and in time to have biological kids

Panic (for whatever reason) is not the place from where you want to make any major decisions of your life. Two other things to keep in mind:

1) Yes, you don't have endless time to have biological children, but neither are your eggs expiring this week; realistically, you still have several years to go, and you have no idea who you might meet in those years.

2) Getting pregnant and having a biological child is not where the story ends. You have to consider the family context into which the child is born. Do you want your co-parenting to be with someone you're not really attracted to? The significant stresses and challenges that are an inherent part of a long-term relationship and parenthood aren't going to bring you any closer to someone for whom your gut instinct is to say "no" when you touch. That's not a recipe for a happy marriage or a happy family.
posted by scody at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

People sometimes look down on others who state up front that they only like X body type, but preferences are preferences. They can be bent in some circumstances, but after you've dated a certain number of people, you tend to get a pretty good feel for what is going to work for you and what won't. I wonder if some of your bad feelings don't merely stem from the anticipation of causing this man pain, but also from guilt at the idea that this says something bad about you. Perhaps you worry you'll remain alone as some sort of karmic punishment for pickiness.

It would be amazing if we lived in a world in which such unfairly distributed assets didn't play such a significant role in our choices, but that's not here and now. You're lucky that you're in sufficiently touch with yourself to identify this as an issue now, and not five unpleasant, unfulfilling years down the line.
posted by itstheclamsname at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you don't have chemistry, then you don't. That's it.

Simply tell him, "Sorry, I'm just not feeling it." And let it go.

Cut off all contact. De friend him. Find a guy that makes you tingle.

Just because he's a fine man, and likes you, doesn't mean you have to keep dating him if you don't want to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:31 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't waste his time or your own. Dating is NOT supposed to be like this.

Break up. You'll feel better immediately and you'll both be freed to look for a better match.
posted by bunderful at 10:39 AM on April 1, 2013

This is unanimous for a reason. Use seanmpuckett's script and break it off asap.
posted by htid at 10:44 AM on April 1, 2013

You're allowed to be attracted (or not) to whomever you are attracted to (or not attracted to). You're not required to be attracted to someone because they're kind, attentive, complimentary, generous, funny, smart, gainfully employed, family oriented and wants children, likes you a lot, socially/environmentally conscientious, cooks well, nice sense of style, has friends, etc. You don't owe him anything but the truth presented as kindly as possible.

You aren't feeling it and he deserves a chance to be with someone who does want him and you deserve to find someone you feel that about.
posted by inturnaround at 10:53 AM on April 1, 2013

I don't give a crap about height. We're out there. Let him go find us.
posted by 3491again at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

Break up immediately. He deserves someone who is into him, let alone not repulsed by him. It's the kindest course.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:45 AM on April 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just this past weekend, I was 'broken up with' (?) by an otherwise altogether congenial man with whom I had been on a number of immensely enjoyable dates over the span of about 2-3 weeks. I was weirded out by the fact that we had been on all these dates but hadn't even kissed yet, so I just straight-up asked before I was about to get out of his car: Hey, um, can I kiss you? And the look of utter dread that crept across his face right then... I almost opened the door and started running right then -- and I totally should have.

Because rather than being like, "Yeah, so sorry to drag it out, but I'm just not feeling it at all," he instead chose to describe the process of trying to force/convince himself to be physically attracted to me (because, he insisted, he was EXTREMELY attracted to me in every other way EXCEPT physically). He then moved on to explaining the fact that our technically-still-in-process date had -- totally unbeknownst to me, natch -- proven to be the final straw in Really Truly Finally Knowing For Sure that he could never successfully make himself feel that tingly feeling about me, ever.
Even though I ultimately barely knew the dude from Adam, the whole to-do actually made me cry (alone in my house afterward, good god, not in front of him), being told in such clinical and explicit terms that I was an unsuitable prospective mate specifically because of my face/looks, about which I a) cannot do much to change and b) have been indescribably insecure since approximately birth. I don't know why on earth he waited so long; he just kept saying he had been waiting because he was trying to make himself feel something he ultimately found he could not make himself feel... but I say, if you're trying to MAKE yourself feel it, you're doing it wrong. All of this dumb fuss can be avoided by stepping out with a few gentle, impersonal words.

tl;dr - Break up with him, but please, don't do it like that guy did it. Just use some variant of "I'm sorry, but I'm just not feeling it" -- as soon as humanly possible, for his sake and yours. If he has questions or complaints, just gently bring it back to your original point, and turn the lights out when you leave.
posted by divined by radio at 12:09 PM on April 1, 2013 [22 favorites]

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you should end this. The only explanation you need to give is that you've enjoyed dating him but have come to the conclusion that you just don't feel he is the right match for you. No need, in my mind, to tell him that you find him physically repulsive.

The reason you probably feel so crappy about it is because you feel panicked that you are running up against a clock and rejecting a guy who is essentially perfect on paper. It's great that you don't want to hurt his feelings, but sticking with this guy is a terrible idea for both of you.

We are told that when we look for our partners, we must look beneath the surface and not be so shallow as to judge a book by its cover. This is bullshit, in my opinion, and just because this guy is great in so many other ways doesn't make the fact that you aren't attracted to him any less a valid reason for dumping him. You would not enjoy making babies with this man, okay? And he deserves that experience as much as you do.
posted by sm1tten at 12:16 PM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

If it's a struggle to make it work, just don't engage. Wouldn't it have been much easier to tell this guy, after your first date, "Sorry, it just didn't click for me, can we be friends instead 'cause you're still awesome?"
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2013

If he felt about you as you feel about him would you want him to "stick it out"?

I know I wouldn't. Be Kind Rewind.
posted by French Fry at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2013

You are not some sort of magical reward he is owed for being a decent human being. Toss him back into the pool and let someone who also wants to jump his bones have a shot.

I actually like short men a lot. Again, we're out there.
posted by Phalene at 4:20 PM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

The above advice is great. It is a perfectly acceptable 'break up' reason to say "You are an amazing person, but I am honestly not feeling romantic chemistry with you." No need to get more detailed than this, and anyone who is super pushy about it is someone you don't want to be dating for reasons beyond their physical chemistry with you.

I also think it's interesting that you mentioned above that someone who isn't your physical 'type' turned out to be a great match and someone you could be physically attracted to after you met and developed romantic feelings for that person (in past relationships). I've experienced that too. Doesn't mean it will happen with every person I meet. Ultimately, attraction is a subjective thing, and there is not necessarily some easy-to-pin-down reason why it happens with Guy A but not Guy B. If you insisted you would only date male models, I'd say that you need to get some more reasonable standards, but it doesn't sound like this is the case - things just didn't click with this one guy.

Finally - this guy is not going to be 'devastated' that someone he's dated for a month doesn't want to see him anymore. And if he is, that's on him, not on you. I am sure you are awesome, but no one is so amazing that normal folks will be super distraught over a one-month-mark break-up. It will suck, but it will suck WAY less than you dragging this out for another six months and then telling him "Hey, I was never attracted to you and had to get over my aversion to you touching me to remain in this relationship for this long." If he responds to the end of a month-long relationship with extreme distress, that's not something you're responsible for or can control - he just has issues that he needs to deal with.
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:08 PM on April 1, 2013

Dump him. You don't see a future with him and it's really selfish to lead him on because you want to enjoy having him around "for a little while longer." Not sure what the question is here -- sounds more like you want someone to help you justify using this guy. Just do the decent thing and end it. Everyone feels bad when they dump nice people, but you have to be cruel to be kind.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:34 PM on April 1, 2013

He sounds super hot - to me, because I'm attracted to short, slim men.

If he's not attractive to you, break up with him so that he can meet someone else who does find him attractive. And you can find someone better suited to you.
posted by jb at 10:54 PM on April 1, 2013

You need to speak clearly and firmly, "Harry, this is going to difficult for me to say. You are a very nice person, kind and generous, but I have to tell you that I really don't think we're a good fit. We shouldn't date any more. I hope you understand." And then excuse yourself as quickly as possible.

This is best done in person at the very beginning of your next meeting. If you can't bring yourself to do that, the next best bet is email, in which case you can frame it more in letter form, adding something like, "Best of luck and much happiness in your life. Beth."

The thing is, most people who are broken up with already have a fairly clear idea that something is wrong with the relationship even if they can't put their finger on it. So your being clear and definite about the matter at least relieves him of lingering doubt.
posted by La Cieca at 11:10 PM on April 1, 2013

You can't fight chemistry (or lack thereof).
posted by bardic at 3:23 AM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you, everybody. I broke up with him last night, in person at the beginning of our date/meeting. Seeing him was very difficult as I do find him adorable, but not sexually attractive. He was very gracious and mature, I wouldn't have expected anything less of him. The conversation was relatively short and "I would have expected to feel more strongly by now" was all I really said/he needed to hear. I feel like garbage this morning and second guess the decision, but put trust in the fact that, if it were right, it would have been less confusing.
posted by AlmondEyes at 6:11 AM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Good move.
As for feeling bad, do the following. Go out and find a big, commanding man to date. I bet once you realize again what you were missing, you will not think about Mr. Adorable ever, and you will never make this mistake again. Instincts reign supreme
posted by Kruger5 at 6:28 AM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you, Greg.
posted by AlmondEyes at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2013

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