Should I asked this guy if he's still interested?
September 5, 2013 9:28 PM   Subscribe

I proposed a date to a guy I'm seeing casually, and he turned it down without offering another solution. I'm starting to feel that I'm putting in more effort than I should at this point. Should I ask him if he still wants to date in general?

I'm likely overthinking this, but here goes. I'm a late 20's gal, dating again a year after my first-and-only long term relationship. Please help me figure out this dating situation. The progression has been like this:

- I met B (guy approximately the same age) through OKCupid around two months ago. In the messaging phase I wasn't swept away, but I dug him when I met him in person - he's cute, funny, smart and kind.
- Mostly due to my busy schedule in the beginning, we saw each other a bit infrequently (once every 1-2 weeks). I initiated almost all date plans. I'm a planner, he is spontaneous. We also have really different schedules; I have a day job, while he's a musician who works part-time (often evenings and weekends).
- We started sleeping together. It is (was?) pretty great.
- When we hooked up for the second time, he initiated a conversation about what I was looking for. I said I was looking for something that was casual and fun and not necessarily monogamous until things got more serious. He agreed, all was good.
- We continued the casual dating. I ended things with a different guy I was seeing (also casually). B made an offhand reference that he was still sleeping with another girl.
- When we're together, he's really nice and we act couple-y. I've met some of his friends.
- Our last date was pretty intense sexually, and I opened up to him about some parts of my life (opinions, experiences, etc.) that made me feel pretty vulnerable.
- After this, he went on tour for three weeks. I knew I wouldn't see him for this time. I texted him a few times, and he answered, although not with a lot of follow up. I was a bit disappointed but understood he was busy. I also realized that the casual/non-exclusive nature of our relationship wasn't really working for me anymore.
- He contacted me via text again today and we caught up. After some back-and-forth I asked if he would be interested in doing a specific activity on a specific day next week. He said he was interested but was busy with other things that day. All cool, which is what I said to him. But then he didn't suggest another day or date. In fact, the conversation fizzled after that.

I'm a bit perturbed here. I normally have no issues ignoring dating "rules" (ie. game playing) and just pursue the things I want - messaging guys when I want to, seeing them again when I want to, etc. And I do want to see this guy again, but I'm wondering if he's sending me the message that he's not interested by doing this. Even if that's not the case, I'm not interested in a relationship where I have to do all the work so that we can see each other... my willingness to organize our time contributed to my codependence and breakup in my last relationship.

Then again, we are explicitly casual! We never had a conversation about relationship expectations, since we're not in a serious relationship. Maybe I'm annoyed at him for not doing things that I never made clear that I wanted, or things that are unreasonable for our status. I'm not even sure if I want to be exclusive or not! My plan was to have another date with him to remember our dynamics and everything, then bring up the idea of dating exclusively after some more thinking. Also, since we haven't seen each other for a while, some of this might be "absence makes the heart grow fonder"-type idealism.

I was thinking about sending him a message asking if he was interested in seeing me again in general, since I'm having a bit of trouble figuring that out. My questions:

a) Should I send the text, or should I just leave it and see if he messages back? I'm trying to communicate directly here, but now I'm worried that text is actually passive-agressive.
b) Is there a different approach I should consider?*

* I know some people are going to say CALL HIM AND STOP TEXTING YOU SILLY MILLENNIAL GENERATION GOOFBALL, but we've never talked on the phone at all, and it seems like that would ramp up the seriousness level a lot. Plus I'm way more passive aggressive when I have to talk on the phone... emotions are scary.
posted by thick woolen socks to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Stop chasing him. If he was interested in you, he'd make an effort.

You're overanalyzing this because you really like him and you want desperately for him to reciprocate. So you're getting fixated. That's incredibly unhealthy. Stop sleeping with him, stop thinking about texting him, delete his number, forget he ever existed, and date other guys.

Guys who like you and are worth dating let you know. You keep chasing this guy, and I guarantee nothing good can come of it.
posted by discopolo at 9:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [33 favorites]

I was thinking about sending him a message asking if he was interested in seeing me again in general

Yes. For a first date, declining without an alternative is a rejection. Two months plus sex in, declining without an alternative is just a scheduling hiccup. He's had sex with you. Many times. Presume he is into you until proved otherwise.

we've never talked on the phone at all, and it seems like that would ramp up the seriousness level a lot

You should consider what it means for your relationship if you consider talking on the phone to be more serious than sexual activity.
posted by saeculorum at 9:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [31 favorites]

Then again, we are explicitly casual!

If you really do want something casual, sleep with other guys and don't act "coupley". You'll see him when you see him. Chill out.

Or decide that you want something more serious and date someone else.

I know that there aren't one size fits all rules for relationships, but generally speaking, casual sex is possible. Casual sex+intimacy+dating and other date-like activities=a mess.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

If it was just a matter of seeing him again, you could simply pursue him until you see him again, and I would say to send the text, and to basically keep on contacting him until he sees you. But you want something more, you want him to be interested in seeing you.

You seem more into him than he is into you -- you're stressed out about how much your effort you should be exerting, but if he felt the same way you wouldn't be feeling in limbo right now. I would advise not sending the text, not because you should be "playing games" with him or whatever, but because I think it's dangerous to get too far out of sync with him. You've suggested a date, he turned it down, he can counter or you can wait a little while and then suggest something else. But I think you need to dial it down a notch with him and pursue other people or other activities for a bit.

I'm not saying this relationship is doomed or whatever, I would just cool it a bit so things don't get too one-sided.
posted by leopard at 9:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: a) Should I send the text, or should I just leave it and see if he messages back? I'm trying to communicate directly here, but now I'm worried that text is actually passive-agressive.

Yes, send the text. No, it's not passive-aggressive (which is a term that is way overused/misused, IMO). It's direct. It's also the only way you're going to get an answer, if you don't want to call him.

I also realized that the casual/non-exclusive nature of our relationship wasn't really working for me anymore.

There's your answer. Stop second-guessing yourself and tiptoeing around him. It doesn't matter how you felt when you started seeing him; this is how you feel NOW, and it's perfectly valid. But he's not a mind reader. Tell him.

And I do want to see this guy again, but I'm wondering if he's sending me the message that he's not interested by doing this.

This is why you need to ask him, specifically, 'Do you want to keep seeing each other? Do you want to be exclusive?'

And listen very carefully to his answer, or lack thereof. Because at the moment, I think you're falling into the 'if I don't push him, things are likely to fall into place and work out better' trap. I did that, and it worked out horribly. Don't be me.

Two months plus sex in, declining without an alternative is just a scheduling hiccup. He's had sex with you. Many times. Presume he is into you until proved otherwise.
- saeculorum

You can presume he's into having sex with you, sure. You certainly can't presume he's into you enough to want to date you exclusively. Sad, but true, IME.

Any guy that really is into you is not going to be irrevocably turned off because you openly ask for what you want. Look out for yourself.
posted by Salamander at 9:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [26 favorites]

Best answer: Instead of "do you want to see me again?", why not "I would really like to see you again soon, are you up for that?". The former is a bit problematic, because he has to guess at what's going on internally with you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yeah, you've got to find out one way or another for sure if he's into you or it's going to bother you. I'd follow the advice above about how to phrase it.

If he responds positively, then great! If not, then at least you know and in time you'll be able to look back on what seems like a pretty fun casual relationship. You're attractive! Someone else attractive found you attractive! That alone is enough to hang your hat on.

Good luck!
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:52 PM on September 5, 2013

I'm annoyed with this guy on your behalf! It sounds like he is jerking you around a little bit. My gut instinct is to not text him - it is up to him now to suggest an outing for a change. And if you don't hear from him, then there's your answer. But if he does follow-up with you (which he absolutely should because you sound great!) I would absolutely bring up the here's what I need/exclusivity topic - I feel like that is a discussion better had face to face, so you can properly gauge his reaction, response etc.
posted by bahama mama at 11:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the comment that says that two months in, not offering an alternative date is notnecessarily a break-up or brush-off, all the more so because you're communicating by text.
posted by salvia at 11:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

And also, if you want to hang out, wait a few days and try again. Unfortunately, you may be the default scheduler now. Unfair, yes, and you can change it. You could say "hey, it's your turn to ask me out next time." But until then, I wouldn't let his lack of scheduling skill imply more than it does.
posted by salvia at 11:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

He sounds flaky, but I wouldn't write him off as uninterested. You could always text him variations on:

- so that thing you said were interested in - when would be a good time to do that?
- I'd like to see you again soon, how about you pick when and where this time?
- I want to explore new places to eat - let's go to your favourite restaurant

Basically things that get him to make some decisions. If he doesn't respond well, or at all, to those then you have some more information.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:23 AM on September 6, 2013

There's nothing wrong with chasing someone, as long as you're 100% OK with putting in all of the effort to get someone who is at the very least, not running towards you. There comes a point at which that person has to stop running away for you to actually have something with them. If this guy only stops running away to have sex with you, and is also having sex with someone else, then make sure you're on board with that.

The problem that I see here lies in the fact that you both seem to want different things. You seem to want something that much more closely resembles a relationship, where he seems to not be interested in that at all. Put the ball in his court and see whether or not he picks it up. I'm guessing that he probably won't. And that will likely have to be your answer. You're sending a lot of messages to him, saying that you're interested, but he isn't sending many back. If you're not OK with that kind of dynamic, then look hard and close at this thing actually continuing. He's unlikely, based on past experience, to put anywhere near as much effort in as you are.

Send him the text. Nothing passive aggressive about that, especially if that's how you generally communicate with the guy. Ask him explicitly for what you want. I'm not talking about going to a place and doing a thing. I'm talking about asking for a state of the relationship chat where you both make it clear what you want and state whether or not you're both OK with what is on offer. If either of you have doubts, now is the time to say. If he can't give you that conversation and clarity, then let things slide. Otherwise, you'll slowly drive yourself insane with all of the overthinking you'll do.
posted by Solomon at 1:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

We continued the casual dating. I ended things with a different guy I was seeing (also casually). B made an offhand reference that he was still sleeping with another girl.

I can't be the only one who reads this part specifically, and the rest of the situation peeling the orange out from there as a sort of thing where he wasn't trying to get any less casual with this and when he realized you were sort of just automatically drifting towards that he started pumping the brakes a bit, no?

That, and he was gone for a while. He gets back and doesn't want to just default jump in to hanging out constantly and end up defacto half way in to a relationship.

You're explicitly casual on paper so to speak, but it seems like you're slowly not approaching it that way. Consciously or not, it seems like that's not really what you want.

I can kinda relate to this guy on a lot of fronts of how he's approaching this. Especially since if he's paying attention to the signs and how this is moving he's probably realizing that this is getting un casual for you, and that that's not what you really wanted(and the breaking it off with the other guy thing was a huge flashing neon sign of that). It can be a bit "well uh, why did you say what you wanted then?" when this happens over and over with people who you explicitly say you want something casual with and then you end up here.

I could make some sarcastic comments about flaky musician dudes and casual relationships(being a flaky, hectic free flowing schedule spontaneous musician dude with a lot of similar friends) but that isn't really advice per say.

Most of my point here though, is i don't think you're going to get much more than what you've gotten out of this guy. Make a plan to hang out with him and ask him about it, but don't be surprised if you get a weird turtley answer. I would be some level far below surprised if where it was cruising at was pretty much exactly what he wanted from it.
posted by emptythought at 1:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Send the text. It will give you the answer you need (either directly or indirectly) and it models awesome communication behavior, something we all need to see more of these days. It can be painful — it puts you in a vulnerable position, asking for what you want — but the data you get out of it will get you to the next step of your life and the experience will make you stronger.

I agree with PercussivePaul about the phrasing. Ambiguity is the problem. Be direct about what you want.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:18 AM on September 6, 2013

I'm not sure it's time to ask if he wants to keep dating in general. It could come off as somewhat jarring to be suddenly confronted about his intentions, considering all he did was turn you down for one date. You guys are supposed to be casual as far as he knows at this point and you see each other infrequently so it is not like he's suddenly blowing off your regular date night with no explanation. He may just really be busy and in the back of his head thinking it's no big deal to you because not seeing each other regularly is kind of the norm you've established. I wouldn't read anything into it just yet.

On the other hand, pulling back in hopes that he will pursue could backfire. You've also established the norm that you are the one who does all the asking and all the planning, and if you stop without warning he may interpret it as you not being interested anymore.

What I would do is give it a day or two and then text him one more time to make a date. If he accepts, move forward with your plan to

have another date with him to remember our dynamics and everything, then bring up the idea of dating exclusively after some more thinking.

If he declines another date, then I would just tell him "sounds like you're kind of busy, so why don't you text me when you have time to get together." That way at least he knows the ball is in his court. It also gives you the information that you are not a priority for him, and you can start making other plans for your dating life. And if he does get back in touch at some point you'll have a clearer picture of where you stand.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:51 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Definitely do not send that text. It is passive-aggressive and I can't imagine the text "conversation" is going to go well. Ask him again about setting up a specific date in a week or so and you can talk about things in person. If he declines again, well, I think that's your answer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:58 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looks like everything he's done from the very beginning has been broadcasting "I'm not interested in making an effort".

Until now, though, he has accepted most of what you've offered, but now he's turned you down because he has other things to do, and as you accurately observe, he wasn't interested enough to suggest anything else.

Seems like he just lets stuff come to him and doesn't feel the need to seek it out. My guess is that if you didn't contact him again, he wouldn't notice. If anyone makes an effort, it will have to continue to be you.

Sorry, but that's casual dating - it's explicitly done on the terms that neither of you cares.

Do what Percussive Paul suggests.

Also, at every moment here, you need to be clear about what you want. You are, as you say "explicitly casual" so you are therefore not permitted to care, and you got yourself into this situation so what right do you have to ask for anything - and yet you do care and do want to ask for what you want.

So do that. There's no possible consequence of seeking what you want that is worse than the known consequence of continuing as you are.
posted by tel3path at 4:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You should consider what it means for your relationship if you consider talking on the phone to be more serious than sexual activity

I'm 27 and have had a number of very healthy long-term relationships with some really great guys. The last time I called a boyfriend to talk was probably high school. Before I got a phone with legit texting capabilities, email or IM was the way communication was done. The idea of calling a boyfriend or guy I'm dating is just so supremely weird to me. In my world you don't call people unless someone has died or there is a legit emergency or you're talking to family, so yeah, a phone call feels pretty serious.

Please don't pathologize the texting thing.

OP, I'd give him another sort of open-ended chance if I were you. Text him, tell him you would like to go on a date next week, and ask him to let you know what day he is free. If he doesn't give you a concrete plan after that, then it's time to walk away from this.
posted by phunniemee at 4:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

My mother loved to give advice and while a lot of it was shite, some of it (this one in particular) has been true for me all my life (much as I did not want it to be):

"If someone wants to be with you, they will be. They won't let "stuff" stop them. If they don't make the effort, they don't want to, plain and simple."

This came after a guy told my friend he didn't have time to be in a relationship because school work was taking up his time. Three weeks after that, he met someone and spent all his time with her, working school stuff around it.

I had always been afraid that if I didn't drive that train (so to speak), I'd find out no one wanted me. So I pushed and pushed and pushed. It got me nowhere, just feeling crappier about myself more than ever.

Your situation feels that way to me. It's okay to let go and see what happens. And ... what happens is your answer. Period. Pushing harder does not make it so - take it from a chick who pushed with all her might so many times. (And I am embarrassed to admit that but it is the truth.)

Just let go and see.
posted by Mysticalchick at 5:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I feel bad for you right now because this advice is split directly down the middle: literally, as I'm reading this, the two top comments each have exactly 17 favorites and they're saying polar opposite things. I feel like if I were you, I'd read this, be utterly unsure what to do, and then second guess myself endlessly once I finally made a decision. So here's a little bit of 'meta' advice.

Both sets of answers are good. They're just rooted in different philosophies. The "don't text him, ball in his court, play it cool," answers are realpolitik answers. They are the answers that will most likely get you what you want, which presumably is to keep seeing this guy. If you want to keep dating a flaky guy in a band who's on the road and sleeping with other women, you do have to play it cool. That is just life. If you call any kind of emotional bluff right now,especially via text, he's likely to flee for the hills. Even just sending emotionally neutral texts trying to pin him down for a date could backfire (although it's not quite as likely) - the truth is that a certain degree of game-playing, in the early stages of a relationship especially, often works. Go out on other dates, be cool and fun and fabulous, be enjoyable and not intense and 'see what happens.' You may well see this guy's interest in you dramatically increase. Having spent a not-inconsiderable time in my twenties dating my share of flaky, commitment-averse musicians, this advice has my stamp of approval.

The other set of advice is good too, though, because it's asking you more broadly what you want. Essentially, it's saying, "This guy does not really sound like a keeper, so it's better to find out sooner rather than later and practice the skills of directness and emotional honesty that will serve you well once a real relationship comes along." I agree with that, too! The odds are this guy is going to hurt you, but even if he doesn't, it's exhausting to be with someone with whom you always have to hold yourself back. That can really eat away at your heart. Plus, if you do it for too long, and it can be hard to break out of that habit, and that's a bad thing. When you find the person you're meant to be with, it will be easier than this. Promise.

So really the question is, do you want this guy, or do you want the right guy? Both answers are fine. You're young and resilient. Make whatever call feels right for you and try to have fun along the way.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:44 AM on September 6, 2013 [50 favorites]

I'm hearing someone who is dishonest with what she really wants.

You said it was casual at the beginning but based on your actions and feelings, you want something that will grow from casual to serious in a few months. I'm not hearing a personality that naturally fits into this kind of casual hookup stuff. So leave this guy alone, don't chase him, forget him, and when the next guy asks what you're looking for say "I like it to start slow at first and then grow into a serious relationship." Don't play the "just casual" stuff to rope him in, you will get hurt.

I'm not interested in a relationship where I have to do all the work so that we can see each other... my willingness to organize our time contributed to my codependence and breakup in my last relationship.

This means you sit on your hands and do nothing, and wait to see what he does. Don't hold your breath.... just be curious to see what they do, because that will show you how they feel. Your dating anxiety is getting ahead of what you want here. You can't control, organize or otherwise force people to value you any more or less than they already do. Read that book "He's Just Not That Into You." Guys who will contribute their fair share in a relationship will... contribute their fair share in a relationship. Like, there are no guessing games with them. Value yourself a little more, and let them work for it a bit.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:05 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sending the text forces him to make a decision about whether to see you again. He's either going to say he's not interested, or even worse from your perspective, not answer. If he does the latter, you're in no better position than you are now. So sending a text is a kind of ultimatum. It's not really passive aggressive because it's what you need to make yourself okay with this situation.

Doing nothing and moving on is infinitely preferable. You save yourself the hurt of dealing with however he responds to your text.

Even if he responds and says "hey let's meet up," you can't change the dynamic of casual unless he wants to as well. Raising the issue of his behavior will lead to disaster. In his eyes, he hasn't done anything wrong. And he hasn't really. There's no graceful move.

The only thing to do is move on. If he wants to change his desire for casual he will contact you at some point. For now, be glad that you withstood the urge of contacting him and putting yourself through whatever would come of doing so.

Silence speaks louder than words when it comes to situations like this.
posted by vincele at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Where are the guys concerned the girl they're casually seeing doesn't seem to be responding to their requests?

Judging from the number of questions seems like these "casual" relationships really benefit the guys over the girls. Somehow, the girl "messes" up the script by realizing the casual thing isn't what she thought it was, and wants to try making more of a relationship. And for that, she gets criticized.

OP, you mentioned you may want more than a casual thing. That's good - however you may need to find that with a new BF instead of hitting yourself against the proverbial wall of "I like things just the way they are."
posted by Kruger5 at 9:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

If I texted a friend, especially a new friend, and suggested "Hey, let's get together next Wednesday for a movie, sound good?" and she said, "Nah, I'm busy" and the conversation fizzled, I'd sort of assume she didn't want to hang out with me all that much anymore and wait to see if she reached out to me. If she didn't, I'd know I was right (in fact, I'm dealing with this right now). That would be my first instinct with a guy I was dating, too.

That said, a sexual relationship is a little different. I might do one of two things; wait a week or so and send a "Hey, want to get together?" text. If he says yes, great. Go from there. If he says no again, and again offers no alternate, ask what's up. It's not unreasonable, and it isn't passive-aggressive. It's probably what I would have done the first time, but since some time has gone by it might be a little weird to out of nowhere send a "WTF" text now.
posted by jennaratrix at 10:39 AM on September 6, 2013

Response by poster: Wow, quite the variety of replies here. Definitely a lot of food for thought, and a bunch of things that I don't necessarily agree with (I'm certainly not hanging my self worth on this scenario working out or not). I'm not the best communicator in relationships either so I'm really glad I asked the AskMe community about this - you guys rock for reality checks.

I had never done a casual thing and wanted to give it a shot (note that I instigated this!), I dug it for a while, and then suddenly I didn't. I also learned that for me, "Casual sex+intimacy+dating and other date-like activities" = hella confusing!, which is something useful to know and apply in the future to minimize said confusion, regardless of how this current thing works out.

Anyway, the guy actually messaged me back today saying that his phone died last night and asked when I would be free next. Womp womp. When we hang, I'm going to reassess and be "direct and emotionally honest" with how I feel and what I want, and see how it goes. Worst case, I'm just practising for the real deal. Thanks team!
posted by thick woolen socks at 10:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]

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