Ambiguous not-dating friendship
December 1, 2013 4:58 PM   Subscribe

How should I interpret this man's behaviour? I met a guy on OkCupid. I'm confused by his behaviour and would appreciate some, any, insights from the Hive Mind.

I came out of a LTR in April and have no experience in online dating. My past relationships have always been straightforward in the 'we fancy each other, let's go out' way. Please help me figure him out!

Earlier this month, I got in touch with Adam on Okcupid. We met for a 45 minute coffee date two days later and established some kind of mutual attraction. We met a week later (Saturday) for drinks and dinner and he invited me to his apartment. We chatted about all kinds of things and and had a hot and heavy make out session. Five days later on Thursday, he invited me to his apartment again to watch a movie. We didn't finish the movie. We started making out and had sex. The weekend passed with little communication (we usually text) and on Monday, I went back to his place to finish the movie because I told him the movie's shit but I'd still want to finish it. This time there was no making out, nothing physical. I was initially confused because I was beginning to get a little more physically affectionate with him but took his cue and held back. I was fine with it because I thought the previous encounter was possibly premature and I didn't want whatever it was between us to go down the FWB route.

Through the evening, I started to wonder if he's cooling off because we had sex. He is friendly but the physical aspect is definitely down many notches. However, he slips in some suggestive phrases about being 'turned on' by me while we chatted about something else. Didn't make any moves though. By the end of the evening, I was convinced that Adam's body language told me he wasn't interested in me. It was slightly disappointing, but I wasn't too shattered. I would love to explore a little more with him, but our conversations remained shallow and noncommittal. We didn't talk about what happened the week before either. I can do Friend if that's what he wants.

He invited himself to an activity I had planned with my friends a few days later, on Thursday. The evening went well. After said activity, he hung around me and my roommate making small talk outside the bar. After parting ways, he sends me a text message saying he was 'disappointed' I didn't stay longer with him. I was surprised and responded with a 'I didn't know you wanted to spend time with me alone' and he said he wasn't sure either because my roommate was with me and I looked like I wanted to go.

Slightly encouraged again, I asked him out on Saturday to which he replied that he wasn't sure if he had work to do and would let me know the day before. Friday comes and goes and I didn't hear from him. I received a few messages after midnight from Adam saying he won't be able to make it because he had to be in the office after lunch. I replied 12 hours later saying that I didn't hear from him all day Friday and assumed he wasn't interested, no big deal.

He replied with 'ok cool' and I don't hear from him again till 36 hours later (Sunday night) with a picture he took while out on a walk and some superficial talk again.

Is he playing some sort of mind game with me? I get the feeling he's not interested in me romantically, but then he says he's turned on by me or he is disappointed he didn't get me alone. It seems like I am getting two signals from him. Should I talk to him about it?

I see him online and it is all fine by me. I just want to know what he wants from me - friendship? More? What?

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think the person you need to be asking is Adam.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I can't tell you what he wants.

But I think you should be asking yourself what you want, and not what he wants. Once you are clear on what you want, ask him if he can give you that. If he can't, move on.
posted by bunderful at 5:04 PM on December 1, 2013 [45 favorites]

There's no such thing as "signals" early on in a relationship, in spite of what so many people say. People are treading carefully, don't really know each other, and are reluctant to talk frankly.

I agree that you should be direct -- say that you'd like to go on a date with just him, and would he like to do that. Bunderful is right -- think first about what you want, tell him, and see what happens.

By the way, most guys don't lose interest because a woman has sex with them early on. More commonly, they're happy to have sex even if they wouldn't otherwise be wanting to date you. Also, if you have sex with someone before you know them, you or they can easily find out you're not a match on the next non-sex encounter.
posted by wryly at 5:22 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think he's the kind of guy who either (a) doesn't know what he wants, or (b) doesn't have the assertiveness/drive/character to make what he wants clear to you.

It seems like this relationship, if it were to become serious, could end up being quite frustrating for you because he doesn't say what he wants and waits for you to make the moves.

He also sounds very flaky. Not contacting you on Friday about the date you proposed on Saturday was very uncool and doesn't speak very well of his character or reliability.

I suggest you cut bait on this one.
posted by jayder at 5:24 PM on December 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

get the feeling he's not interested in me romantically
It doesn't sound like he is to me, either.

but then he says he's turned on by me or he is disappointed he didn't get me alone.
Wanting to have sex with you has nothing to do with wanting to date you, sorry.

Just ask him what he wants. Actually, ask yourself what you want.
posted by sm1tten at 5:26 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

All you can do is ask yourself if you like talking to a guy who does things that make you feel confused. I was in contact with someone recently who I was really attracted to, and the contact and demonstrations of interest on his part were wishy washy. Sometimes he was clearly interested, and then sometimes appeared not to be, and since I liked him, I tried to be optimistic.

In my case, it seems he's not interested after all, which is fine, because I've met other people since then who are clearly and consistently interested and I really like how that feels. My lesson here is "Interested+not interested = DON'T BOTHER.

I say just ignore him. If he asks you out again or contacts you and you want to see him, go for it, but just ignore his wishy washy behavior and keep an eye out for someone who is clear on what they want and how to express that.

p.s. you could totally ask him about it, and he'll tell you something that may or may not sound plausible, then he'll probably continue acting the same way.
posted by Locochona at 5:32 PM on December 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

You guys are trying to communicate about a somewhat complex topic entirely with body language. That is a really challenging thing to do for people who have just recently met each other. Have you tried initiating anything?

Imagine a scenario where he is as stuck in his head about it as you are...

... We had sex that night and it was really fun, but then when we met again she didn't really push things in that direction and I didn't want her to think that was the only thing I was interested in so I didn't push it either. Over the span of a few days, I tried to casually joke with her about it or text her about it to break the ice again to give her a chance to joke back or initiate but she didn't. It could be that she isn't that interested in me romantically after all. To make matters worse, I had to work late on a night I wanted to hang out with her; ugh, super bummed. I got a 12 hour cold shoulder, I felt so bad! I may have ruined it entirely! At the end of a lonely weekend, I pinged her again to see if I could get things going again. I am totally confused... I just want to know what she wants.

If you are leaving him to take every social/communication risk while reading your mind, this is where it will lead you unless he is completely assertive on all matters.

1: Find out what you want
2: Take EXPLICIT steps towards achieving that if it is moving in the right direction

Do not expect a risk-taking mind-reader. Romantic comedies make you think that some guy is going to come in and sweep you off your feet through no effort of your own. Relationships go both ways.
posted by milqman at 5:35 PM on December 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

Why don't you make the moves on him and see how he reacts? You don't have to completely jump him or anything -- just hold his hand, be casually physical, maybe lean in for a kiss. If he drops your hand or adopts shielding "don't come any closer" body language in response to your physicality, you have your answer.

His text message exchange with you re hanging out with your friend vs. staying to hang out more with him makes me feel like he is probably into you and doesn't realize that you are one of those women who always waits for the guy to initiate every little thing.

Either way, not acting like one of those women who waits for guys to initiate every little thing will tell you very quickly what you want to know. So... initiate a thing!
posted by Sara C. at 5:35 PM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Considering he's texting you, having you back to his place, inviting himself out with your friends, etc, it actually sounds to me like he does want you but he's gotten a big case of the nerves since sleeping with you. Maybe it was a great night for him and now he's so scared that he's going to screw things up he's screwing things up. I think he's probably just meek and/or inexperienced.

If that's OK with you in terms of your compatibility with him, and you're genuinely interested in dating him, then you're probably going to have to do a lot of the "text each other silly nothing small-talk stuff" for a while, and wait for him to actually get it together to ask you out.

Things will probably have to go slowly. Personally, I would keep dating other people, and keep him on the back burner. So for now, I would text back conversational stuff and keep things friendly but totally non-committal, which will give him an opening if/when he is able to take some initiative without forcing me to wait on him. I wouldn't get aggressive about asking him out or push for more intimacy of any sort, because if he's still too nervous/shy to ask you out or push things to a more intimate level himself, that's just going to result in him either flaking or being awkwardly stiff yet again, and will probably do more harm than good.
posted by rue72 at 5:56 PM on December 1, 2013

Do the casual fade version of AskMe's usual relationship advice on the theme of "RUN."

It's Not Cool that the affection dropped off after you had sex with him.

No, please don't be all "whatevs" like it was no big deal. Even if he just wants to be friends, the type of guy worth befriending says so outright.

The text message game playing is also a HUGE turn off.

It's no big thing, but this guy is noncommittal and throwing up red flags all over the place (like placing the burden on you that you didn't hang out longer when he could have just asked you) and I think he's immature at best, or game playing at worst.

(actually, I think he's involved elsewhere and this is part of whatever mixed signals he's sending you...)

Rule of Thumb: when someone you've slept turns hot & cold, back away from them and don't get sucked back in by the mystery or drama they are creating. See that pattern of behavior as unattractive and move on.

This stuff never ends well and doesn't lead to friendship IMHO. He's not worth it. Do the fade and cease being intrigued. He's a drip. Move on.
posted by jbenben at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

jeeze, i really don't get the vibe from this at all that he's some kind of game player or loser or something. i think he's a combination of two things.

A. Kind of awkward, not super great at doing this sort of thing and a bit tied up in the "oh god i can't fuck this up oh god oh god" sort of zone

B. Has been told both by other guys, and his lady friends, and just kinda socially guided in general to think that he shouldn't be coming on too strong or he'll push you away. I think after the unexpected schedule change(which he totally could have not known about until right when he texted you, jeeze, uncharitable people on here thinking he's intentionally flaking at the last minute) then he was worried about seeming too desperate and wanted to sort of cool off on it and not be all "But we can meet up first thing when you're free tomorrow!" or something.

It's a knifes edge to walk between seeming too disinterested or hot&cold and too clingy too soon. Slide a little bit either way and everyone on here would be reaming him for the other thing and for coming on too strong.

I'll agree not only that you need to ask him, but that this is a sort of "not enough data for answer" type of thing. It's so early on to make a call either way.

Are you getting some weird vibe from him though? You don't need an excuse to listen to your gut if something just feels off. I mean, you did post this thread. Are you just confused, or does something not quite add up. You aren't obligated to give him a chance just because you can't put your finger on it.

Really though, the whole "cooling off because we had sex" thing, or playing some kind of push-pull game after doing that is the least charitable reading here. I totally see this as just being nerves, and trying not to come off too distant or too strong. Just overthinking it a bit.
posted by emptythought at 6:31 PM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Honestly, he doesn't sound interested in you. When it comes to people I want to date, I don't wait until the midnight before to cancel a date. I also tend to reschedule when I can't make it. It's also rather presumptuous of him to cancel so late and it shows a lack of respect for your time as well as for you.

I just want to know what he wants from me - friendship? More? What?

I think he just wants attention from you.

Nevertheless, because you guys hung out on Thursday and then attempted to hang out on Saturday, it's a little early to conclusively say he doesn't want to date you. I would suggest radio silence until he initiates a date. If he doesn't, he doesn't want to date you. If he does, go about the date like you would with a friend and don't have sex with him. I think you can assess then whether he wants to seriously date or become FWBs. Once you exclude the possibility of dating him, then you can consider if you want to continue being friends.

I say consider if you want to be friends with him, because I'm frankly annoyed at his last-minute cancellation and the whole cooling-off-after-sex then slipping-in-suggestive-words thing. No friend of mine would have so little consideration for my feelings, by disrespecting my time and playing with my feelings.
posted by rozaine at 6:49 PM on December 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

Meh, he sounds like too much work for me. Who cares what his feelings are, if he has them, because he's being inconsiderate by not caring how his behavior looks to you. I mean, durr, if you have sex with someone one night and then you go cool the next with no explanation, no "I'm sick" or "I'm into you but let's slow down", you're giving a rather clear snub. The beginning of a potential relationship is when everyone should be on their best behavior and trying hardest to make life easier for the other. This guy isn't trying - he's just being interesting enough to keep you wondering. Chances are, even if he does have feelings, this is typical of the attentive behavior you will get out of him for the duration (I am making a squinchy frowny face here) and the rest of the time will be like pulling teeth to figure out what he wants, if such-and-such is okay, etc.

He's too much work - he's got you running around trying to figure out what's on his mind and second guessing yourself. Life's too short for this. I wouldn't even go out of my way to be friends with him. Just let him slide. If he wants to get in touch with you and pursue something (benefit of the doubt, maybe there are extenuating circumstances on his end), let him do all the work for a while.

I just want to know what he wants from me - friendship? More? What?

Hah, who cares. What do you want? Is this it?
posted by griselda at 6:52 PM on December 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

Are you happy? Are your expectations being met? If not, dump him in an explicit way.

Don't put up with someone else's stupidity. Having sexy with another person doesn't give them the right to treat you with indifference.
posted by discopolo at 7:13 PM on December 1, 2013

Also, it sounds like you're dating a 17 yr old who lives with his mom. Please tell me you are completely sure you aren't.
posted by discopolo at 7:15 PM on December 1, 2013

From the OP:
- FWIW, we are both in our mid-30s, professionals.

- Adam is fairly successful in his career and has an outgoing personality.

- I've never met/gone out with a guy like Adam before. My previous relations have all been with slightly nerdy IT types. Shy, not into playing sports, watching sports on TV or playing musical instruments. Adam is the polar opposite.

posted by jessamyn at 7:32 PM on December 1, 2013

Some of the advice in this thread making excuses for his behavior is making me cringe.

This guy is just jerking you around.
posted by timsneezed at 8:20 PM on December 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

I think he just wants attention from you.

So do I.

As a data point: I've never once met a guy who behaved like this because he wasn't sure I was really into him. Every single time, it was because he just wasn't that into me. (Caveat: have not dated every man in world, but as single 41-year-old straight sometimes feels like it ;).
posted by Salamander at 8:30 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wait. He's in his 30's and has already been fully sexually intimate with you?

Yes - he just wants attention.

Yes - he's too much work.

Yes - the advice to give the benefit of the doubt to this guy is cringeworthy.

OP, you've slept with each other. He has no excuse not to continue being passionate or communicative since you already gave him a big green light when you became intimate.

Bounce this time suck situation from your life immediately!
posted by jbenben at 8:54 PM on December 1, 2013 [14 favorites]

I have some theories as to what he's doing:

1. Jerking you around.
2. Being confused about he wants.

Here's what you could do:

1. Tell him to quit jerking you around or you'll walk.
2. Ask him what he wants and tell him what you want to see if your wants are compatible.

But . . . as a woman your age with many similar experiences, I wouldn't find either conversation worth my time. By this point in his life, he should have *some* idea of what he wants and, if nothing else, a basic understanding of how to communicate coherently. I'd do a slow fade and find someone else to date.
posted by mibo at 9:11 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like he just likes the attention/wants to get laid. FWB tops, but nothing beyond that.
posted by heyjude at 9:26 PM on December 1, 2013

I just want to know what he wants from me

He wants exactly what he's getting -- to blow warm and cold, to keep you hooked by dripfeeding you "hits" of attention, and to continue to troll for other chicks online.

My guess is he has you in his rotation, and that his belated "oops, too busy working" text meant he found someone else he wanted to bed that night.

Bouncity-bounce-bounce this one.
posted by nacho fries at 10:03 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, jbenben got this. This boy is an an attention-seeker.

Not in the normal way, but in the exasperating way.

Life's short. Nix this baby boy pronto toute suite.
posted by discopolo at 10:10 PM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

- FWIW, we are both in our mid-30s, professionals.

Wow, i wrote my entire post based on the behavior assuming he was well, 10 years younger than he probably is. I was also imagining a slightly awkward nerdy guy like what you mentioned him not being, once again based on the behavior. The entire thing sounded like "awkward dating after college" shit to me to a t. Guess not.

Disregard everything i said.
posted by emptythought at 1:33 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

It sounds to me like Adam doesn't want a romantic relationship, so much as he wants a no-strings-attached booty call. You should consider if that's what you also want. If that isn't what you want, then disentangle and look for someone else who can offer you what you want.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:08 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can't read his mind. You shouldn't have to.

What keeps you from speaking to him? Tell him what YOU want. "I'm really interested in dating and having a relationship. In order for me to continue seeing you I need to know that yoiu want a relationship too. If you don't that's okay, just let me know and I'll move on. But right now, I'm having a hard time understanding what it is that you want, and frankly, I don't think I should have to work this hard."

Of course YOU need to know and to be able to say, "I'm interested in dating and having a relationship." Any guy who would be frightened away by that statement is NOT a guy you should be talking to. Full stop.

Relationships aren't games, and anyone who makes you feel like you're in a game, is not the kind of person you want to involve yourself with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Use your words

They are the best thing for communicating your needs and desires to other people and for learning about their inner state of mind as well

Seriously this isn't charades you are allowed to talk
posted by ook at 6:49 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure whether he's interested in you or not, but it sounds like he is a) a poor communicator and b) inconsiderate.

Do you really want to date someone with those qualities?
posted by windykites at 8:25 AM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

The worst obvious thing he did was text you after midnight on Friday when he'd told you he would text you "the day before" Saturday. I suspect he'd argue that he was more or less technically under the deadline, because some people are like that. So he's a flake, maybe. It's hard to make sweeping statements about What He's Like because your sample size is kind of small here.

I think this is one of those situations where you can safely ignore advice from anyone who tells you what he's thinking. No one here has any idea what he's thinking. Is he playing games? Maybe. Don't know.

Based only on what you've said, and my own meandering experience, it sounds kind of like both of you are waiting for the other to send clear, explicit signals. Kind of the opposite of a Mexican standoff.

milqman's advice is really good. I think you need to take slightly more initiative here. My rule of thumb with online dating was, if someone flakes out, blows me off or says no to a date twice in a row, I'd move on.

You don't have to have a Big Talk About Us, and in fact that would be a bad idea this early on, but just, again, take more initiative and if you want something, ask for it. I would not at all be surprised to learn there's some parallel universe where he's posting the same question about you.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2013

Also, recognize that he's already disappointing you. There's a wavelength mismatch.
posted by discopolo at 9:47 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Pay attention to his behavior. He sounds, at best, ambivalent. Back off a little, in case you've been a little too anxious. He'll respond, or not. Don't pin hopes on a guy you meet online until and unless he is obviously, blatantly committed. Too many people are online to date, not to have a relationship - they stay online while people who want a relationship find one and get off line. So you have to be persistent.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

There seems to be a pattern here. You went from dinner, drinks, and foreplay on the second date to having sex with him on the third. Neither of you bothered to suggest going out and doing something fun on the 3rd date so you could continue getting to know each other slowly, it was 'my place for movies,' which for my male friends means 'come over so we can hook up.' In my opinion both parties are to blame for what happened. And yes I do think sex that early on is a big mistake and usually leads to a superficial power play and ultimately the demise of what might have been a decent courtship. I've heard of people hooking up on date one or two and eventually marrying, but it's not common.

It seems to me like you've become someone who will be there when he's bored or wants attention, because you've allowed yourself to fall into this role. I think you need to take control.

In my experience, if a man is genuinely interested in me he won't try anything physical for a long time. He'll keep his suggestive flirtations to a minimum and ask me to go out and do fun activities with him (no 'my place' for this or that). The ones who do ask me over for movies early on get denied, and I'll suggest doing something that doesn't involve either of our homes. The ones who are just looking for sex and attention give up after the second shot-down 'my place for movies' invite. The ones worth paying attention to are always more imaginative and they put in the time, patience, and effort to get to know me. Call me old fashioned but I think sex can and should wait. If I were you the next time he invites you over to 'his place,' tell him that you'd rather go to a show, movie, or grab coffee. See if he's game, if not, you're his booty call.
posted by OneHermit at 10:29 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

(Also, you did nothing wrong by having sex with him early. You took one for the team and got to know who he is faster than if you'd taken it slow. Taking it slow is no guarantee of respect or a relationship.)
posted by discopolo at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

One more quick thought: Don't take his flakiness as a response to anything you did. You don't have control over other people's actions and that's just how it is. In dating, there will be guys who seem nice and probably are, but lack character and integrity and a sense of responsibility to other people to be a good person. It's just how it goes. He'll do this to a lot of women, maybe he'll be a real jackass and blame you for sleeping with him too early or whatever but it doesn't matter. Just throw this one back in.

By the way, good luck of your journey through the Minefield of Caddishness. just laugh all the disappointments off and keep moving forward.
posted by discopolo at 10:42 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've heard of people hooking up on date one or two and eventually marrying, but it's not common.

I would like to see a citation for this. Oh wait! It's just a generalization that's based on nothing but personal bias and isn't helpful to the OP. Never mind.

OP, you could have held out and had sex with him at a later date, and this dude would have pulled the same stupid, flaky shit. If someone just wants to get laid, that doesn't mean that they aren't willing to wait and play the long game sometimes. Holding out a sex carrot doesn't necessarily get you a boyfriend, but, if your feelings are super hurt by this, wait a little longer next time. Or don't. Whatever works for you.

I think you are making an error in considering this a potential friendship, though. He doesn't sound like much of a friend prospect. He sounds like someone who's text messages you should ignore.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

From the OP:
Following my post on Sunday evening, I received another ping on Monday (at almost midnight) to which I replied with a generic courtesy and received, and I quote, "Lol. Can't believe I took that long to answer you" reply on Tuesday, late afternoon.

Yup. This one is going back to the pond. Thanks everyone for your insights!
posted by jessamyn at 6:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

« Older What are some examples of field trips in movie/TV...   |   Examples of a sense of play in public spaces? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.