Ending semi-casual relationships to go exclusive with someone else
April 23, 2013 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I've been seeing someone semi-casually for about five months -- not quite a proper relationship, but definitely not just casually dating either. Recently I met someone else whom I now want to date exclusively. What's the script for this?

Bonus round: Also will be breaking up with someone else I've been seeing for a couple of weeks. Do I need to break up with her in person as well?

Background info: I'm in my late 20s, the women I'm breaking up with are early 20s. They are all aware of each other's existence. There is nothing particularly wrong with my relationships with either of them; I just want to try focusing on a single relationship.
posted by modernserf to Human Relations (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Use honesty.

For the person you're just sleeping with:
"I think that you're a great person, but I don't feel comfortable continuing to sleeping with you because I am getting into a monogamous relationship."

For the person you were dating:
"I'm sorry Someone Else, but I about to enter a relationship. It's unfortunate that we weren’t a match, but I wish you all the best in the future."

Are you just dating or are you in a relationship with this "someone else"? That might affect how you want to tell her. If you're not sure, a phone call is usually a safe bet for a relationship that only lasted a few weeks.
posted by Shouraku at 3:12 PM on April 23, 2013

I have been on the receiving end of both of these scripts.

When this happened to me, the person I was in the 6-month "non-exclusive" "not really a relationship" with was the only person I was seeing, and while I knew we weren't going to fall in love and get married or anything, I was pretty devoted and having a lot of fun. So it was pretty hard to hear and definitely merited a Breakup Talk. I think that's definitely what you should do. DO NOT just stop talking to her, or break it off via phone or text message or something.

IIRC, it went down something like the usual We Need To Talk thing, and the subject of the Talk was: "[other girl] and I have decided to be exclusive. I really care about you and want to be your friend, but we can't date each other or have sex anymore."

We were pretty aloof from each other for a long time after that, and during the whole time that they dated (which turned out to be years and years and could still be going on for all I know) we kept things very casual. Eventually we drifted apart, though my memories of him are fond and I enjoy keeping in touch via Facebook. I've always hoped that we would eventually have an excuse to be real friends again, though it hasn't happened for totally circumstantial reasons.

You should be prepared to handle this like a breakup.

OK, so on to the second situation, which is a little easier to deal with.

One time I was in the very early stages of dating someone who I thought might be have a girlfriend, but I wasn't sure and we weren't really talking about it. After about our third date I got an email that basically just said "I'm sorry to do this to you, but I'm starting to really fall for you just as my relationship with someone else is becoming more serious. I don't think we can see each other anymore. You are delightful, and I'm sorry for hurting you." We never spoke again. I once ran into this person at a public event and it was kind of awkward as we both pretended REALLY HARD not to know each other.
posted by Sara C. at 3:17 PM on April 23, 2013 [8 favorites]

I just made a mid-week date for drinks and said, more or less, "As you know, we haven't been exclusive. I have been seeing someone else as well, and we've decided to give the relationship a try with exclusivity."

He thanked me. I think it's always nice to tell people what's going on rather than just disappearing from their lives with no explanation.
posted by janey47 at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2013 [10 favorites]

I second what Sara C said.

Also: as with any other breakup, you can't guarantee that you're going to stay friends with either of these women. The fact that it's not-quite-really-a-relationship (in the one case) or not-a-relationship-at-all (in the other) doesn't mean that they're somehow obligated not to be upset — and the flip side of that is that if they are upset, it doesn't mean you did something wrong or you need to fix it.

Apologies for stating something that might be obvious to you. But I've seen (and, okay, participated in) a lot of messy breakups where one or the other party was like "But but but I don't understand! We said this wasn't a serious relationship! Why are you upset?"

So, like, I'm not saying anyone will be heartbroken. Just, you know, pay attention to the other person's reaction. Don't assume you're just gonna transition effortlessly into being platonic buddies; and on the other hand, don't assume you're never going to speak to each other again. It could go either way.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 3:30 PM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thirding what Sara C. said, right down to the guy I went on one date with and got let down by (except I then ran into him two years later because he was friends with my subsequent boyfriend and we were all at a party - my ex thought it was really, really funny).

The longer-term dating situation does warrant a breakup talk, though. The much shorter-term thing, you could get away with a call or an email.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2013

Best answer: Be honest but don't give reasons that are not asked for. Just say, in person, that you have really enjoyed your time together but you feel like she is a great person and you are keeping her from being available to someone who would love her the way that she deserves to be loved.

And then, after you delicately and decisively break it off with both women, take a week or two off from dating anyone before you commit to door number 3. Once you do commit, wait a month or two before posting anything on fb.

Coming from someone who was behind door number one, it sucks when you learn that it isn't just that he isn't into commitment, no, he just wasn't into commitment with you.

I do know of a man who would hook his girlfriends up with guy friends that he thought they might like and hope that they slept together and he could be done with her, guilt free. It worked at least once (not with me).
posted by myselfasme at 6:26 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's a breakup. You handle it like any other breakup. Graciously, kindly, and honestly.

When in doubt, stick with Miko's fabulous and much-favorited advice.
posted by 168 at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2013

Here's what I'd want to hear (especially if it's true (even if not the whole truth, which in my opinion is not needed nor helpful in this kind of situation)): "You are so smart, sexy, funny, interesting, caring, and all-around awesome. I have been having such an amazing time being with you. The thing is, it has become much harder for me--mentally and emotionally--than I thought it'd be to try to have multiple dating relationships at the same time. I need to take a step back, at least from the sex part, to... kinda get a grip, honestly. Is that cool with you?"
posted by argonauta at 8:42 PM on April 23, 2013

I'd do it over the phone so she doesn't bother to shave her legs. "Hey, just wanted to let you know that I won't be around since I've really fallen for someone else". Then get off the phone ASAP.

This is a really great idea if you want her to spend the next year telling everyone she knows that you're a complete and utter dickbag.

She might do this no matter what you do. But if you do it this way, she'll be right.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:18 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: O. Henry twist: broke up with all of them.
posted by modernserf at 3:05 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

« Older Hey Alton Brown! Any chance you're a Mefite? I...   |   한글 filter - help me stress "NO MEAT" in Korean. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.