Is this guy just too nice for me to stomach?
April 27, 2014 1:41 PM   Subscribe

A few weeks ago I met this guy through a friend during a night out. While our group was roaming around the city, the two of us walked a few paces behind the rest, absorbed in our conversation. I found him to be cute and smart, if maybe too nice and self-effacing. But I was hoping he would ask me out. Strangely, when he did I didn't feel the excitement I was expecting.

The night we met I left abruptly around 2am when a free cab finally rolled by us, so our goodbye was awkward and rushed. The next morning I got a message from him on facebook asking if I'd like to hang out with him on one one and "continue our conversation." I also found out from my friend that he had asked about me and was worried I had been annoyed because of my abrupt exit.

Usually, I'm thrilled when a guy I see any glimmer of potential with asks me out, but for some reason I felt a bit apathetic after seeing his message. I couldn't figure out why because he seemed full of potential and I enjoyed myself when I was with him. The day we were set to meet, I cancelled last minute. And then again. And again. In total I cancelled and rescheduled four times on him, which is shitty and unlike me. If anything, I'm usually over-eager and reliable when it comes to dating. I did want to see him but I guess not strongly enough to overcome the discomfort of getting ready for a date and managing my shyness. I expected him to write me off after the second cancellation, but instead each time I cancelled he was remarkably pleasant about it. Reliably, he would always message me on the new date I had suggested to ask what time I wanted to meet up that night.

Finally, I was able to make our date one night and we had a nice time. We went to a bar and then took a long walk that ended with us sitting in a park kissing (he made the first move). Mid-make out he stopped and asked in his fumbling, apologetic way if I'd like to go back to his place and admire the view from his roof. I thought his suggestion was premature for a first date and surprising because he had come off as otherwise so gentlemanly. (I'm generally looking for a relationship, not a hookup.) I told him nicely that I should probably get back home. He said that was fine and that he'd like to see me again and suggested we see a movie together next week that he had tickets for. I said that I'd love to. After I left, he sent me a message asking me to let him know when I got home safely and adding, "that was quite lovely. You are quite lovely."

After the date, I still wasn't sure how I felt about him. In the past I've often been obsessive when it comes to guys, sometimes even guys I'm not that into. Yet I wasn't thinking about him at all. I didn't feel much interest in figuring him out, analyzing his intentions, or fantasizing about our potential future.

Our next date (last night) was nice enough, although I immediately noticed that his breadth was bad from even a few feet away. That kind of killed the mood for me. Still I liked him enough to let him lead me to a bar after the movie, chat with him for an hour and make out with in a private nook. At 1am I told him I should head home, and he waited with me while I hailed a taxi. He didn't mention anything during our date about hanging out again, and he didn't text me after to see that I had gotten home okay. I was a little annoyed about that because he knows I live in a rough neighborhood. This afternoon (the day after our date), I got a text from him asking about the name of a movie I had mentioned and wishing me a "sunny Sunday." I responded but haven't heard back. I have a feeling he'll ask me out again, though.

So now I'm just trying to figure out if I'm somehow sabotaging something good. I can't explain why I'm so apathetic about him. He's cute. He's smart, animated and interested in the things I find interesting. He's nice and seems to have his life together. But there are things about him that bother me and I can't tell if I'm just inventing reasons because I've never had a truly healthy relationship. I have a history of dating assholes and I'm still getting over my ex (see my previous threads).

I don't like that he has a beard (silly but beards turn me off). I don't like the fact that he seems to be someone who likes everything and isn't very discriminating. I didn't like how he kept using trendy academic jargon like "hegemony" and "the other" when he was talking about his grad classes. I didn't like that he kept alluding to the guilt he experiences over being a white man. I'm very liberal but I'm turned off when somebody is so indoctrinated in academic trends that they insert jargon into casual conversation, and I find it un-masculine and pointless when a guy harps on his guilt about his race or gender. Am I being unfair? Do I need to do some self-reflection on why I feel this way? Generally, I'm attracted to guys who are a bit more sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense (probably because my dad is that way!) but those guys often turn out assholes, so my taste hasn't exactly served me well.

This guy is more diffident. He never disagreed with me and eagerly nodded and made sounds of approval whenever I expressed an opinion. But then he also made strange slips in civility, like when he asked me back to his place on our first date or didn't make sure I had returned home safely on our second. (Am I overreacting to these slips?)

I do like the fact that he has been reliable and hasn't cancelled on me once, despite my flakiness.

Sometimes it feels like the guys I meet are either too nice or too caddish and I can't find somebody who is just balanced.

Should I give this guy a chance? If it makes any difference I moved to NYC about six months ago and haven't had much enthusiasm about dating since that move. But I know that I really want to meet someone, settle down and have a normal relationship.
posted by caseofyou to Human Relations (57 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you aren't wild about him, don't date him. It doesn't matter why you aren't wild about him, or that on paper he's a great guy, or that you are worried about sabotaging yourself. You aren't into him, and while that 100% okay, it would be unfair (at best) to continue seeing him.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:50 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's OK to just not feel the chemistry. He can be nice and cute and everything else but not be right for you. It sounds a bit like you feel you should be attracted to him, so you are going out of your your way to find reasons not to be attracted to him. Either way, it sounds like your straining, so just tell hm you don't feel like it will go anywhere and let both of you get on with both your lives.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:51 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Usually in this situation I would say to stick it out -- it seems like you've been in super passionate relationships that were ultimately unhealthy, whereas this is your chance to explore something more like a relationship of equals, on a more even keel. Not being "gaga" all the time can actually be a good thing, I think you will find.

That said, I just don't think you like this person even enough to continue to try. The idea that you have to "stomach" someone you're ostensibly dating because you like them is not nice. How would you feel if your date were posting this online about you?

Cut this guy loose. As you said, he has lots of nice qualities and he can probably use them to attract someone who doesn't merely tolerate him. And I'm sure that you are lovely too, and before long will meet someone else and give it another try.
posted by telegraph at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

You have no chemistry with him. Even less than that, possibly, given scoffing at somebody immersed in grad school for saying "hegemony." And while I am pretty picky about good manners I feel you are over-reacting to his 'strange slips in civility.' He suggested looking at a nice view; he didn't make a lewd proposition. And you get home unsupervised/checked-on all the rest of the time, right?

The nit-picking here just screams 'no chemistry' to a point where it sounds hopeless. He sounds like he would be a good guy to pal around with, so maybe think about floating a 'let's be friends' backed up with actual plans to do something together. Maybe he'll grow on you? But it would be one thing if you were just uncertain as to whether or not he was a suitable suitor. As is, you have been kissed and flattered and there are no butterflies at all; it doesn't sound like you'll want to jump his bones anytime soon.
posted by kmennie at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2014 [15 favorites]

So is this guy too nice or too forward? He can't win- because you don't like him. And that's okay. So, instead of analyzing his "slips" and whether it's okay for you to have a problem with them, just move on.
posted by spaltavian at 1:55 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?
posted by caseofyou at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're not in a position where you're really into him, then don't date him. He deserves someone who is really into him. And you deserve someone you're really into.

"Making do" is a horrible way to treat someone else.
posted by Solomon at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?

I don't see how this case will give you evidence? Find someone who gives you butterflies, ruminate. Even the healthiest sometimes just don't like people.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:02 PM on April 27, 2014

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?

posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:03 PM on April 27, 2014 [19 favorites]

Yeah, don't make this dude a "learn how to get butterflies from the nice ones" test case. That's what therapy/self-reflection is for.

If you're not feeling him, please stop seeing him -- if I were him and read this wall of text about how someone is not very into me, I would be really, really hurt.
posted by superlibby at 2:06 PM on April 27, 2014 [11 favorites]

Feelings shouldn't be coerced to fit a model which is different from the reality. Neither should cost-benefit analysis dictate whether you go on the next the date. You can do both you and him a favor by allowing you both to be the people that you are. You're not attracted to him and you're trying to force it and it ain't happening.

His dynamic is kinda weird, too. When someone cancels a few times in a row, a healthy response would be to push back a bit and say, okay, if you want to see me, let me know, because I'm not going to jump through hoops for someone I've just met. His eagerness to jump through hoops suggests a lack of self-confidence to me and I would be wary of entering into a partnership with someone who is so dismissive of their own needs. You're picking up on that, undoubtedly.

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?

There are lots of people out there who are assertive and self-confident without being assholes. Just balanced, as you say. Don't settle for less than that. I suppose in your shoes I would suggest you try to date lots of people and pay a lot of attention to the signals you get and how they make you feel -- and pay special attention to signals that your partner values both your needs, and their own needs. This one is all about you and denies his own needs. Cads and assholes are all about themselves and deny your needs. The middle path between these extremes is where healthy relationships lie. People tend to broadcast these qualitise about themselves through their behavior; we tend to receive these signals and then discount them for whatever reason; so the path forward is about being able to perceive things as they are free of distortion.

Maybe for whatever reason you feel attraction towards people who are all about themselves and deny your own needs. A lot of people feel this because they inwardly deny their own needs (low self-esteem) which produces a drive to recruit people who will externalize these feelings. So if you have unhealthy attraction tendencies here, the solution is to work on yourself, perhaps in therapy, to process why you feel you don't deserve someone solid, and gain a conception of yourself as a person who matters.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:07 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

If this guy was writing an AskMe about how apathetic he felt about dating you, would you want to go out with him again? I think you should do both of you a favor and find someone with whom you have more chemistry.
posted by desjardins at 2:07 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think the solution to "the kind of guys I usually get excited about turn out to be jerks" is "I will force myself to date someone I'm not into." Look for guys you are into, then keep a weather eye out for the signs that have heralded trouble in earlier relationships. While I wouldn't say you are "leading this guy on," it doesn't sound like there is much of a future for you as long as you have to keep forcing yourself to hang out with him, and the longer this goes on, the harder the breakup will be.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:09 PM on April 27, 2014

Beards. He'll, my boyfriend, soon to be fiancée has the hairiest fucking back I've ever seen, which would normally make me recoil in horror.

I say:

1) give another date or two. You don't have to make up your mind right away (that's why it's called dating)! :)

2) on your next date do something without any booze involved and during the afternoon/day (e.g. No 1am, 2am). Go to a museum, take a walk in the park, go for a hike, get ice cream, volunteer somewhere together, play a board game, sign up and run a 5k...

But doing something without the "social lubricant" may show you a completely different side.

Keep you mind open until you feel strongly in either direction, which will happen eventually.
posted by floweredfish at 2:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Look for guys you are into, then keep a weather eye out for the signs that have heralded trouble in earlier relationships."

The problem is every guy I've been very into has turned out to be an asshole.
posted by caseofyou at 2:12 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I didn't like that he kept alluding to the guilt he experiences over being a white man. I'm very liberal but I'm turned off when somebody is so indoctrinated in academic trends that they insert jargon into casual conversation, and I find it un-masculine and pointless when a guy harps on his guilt about his race or gender. Am I being unfair? Do I need to do some self-reflection on why I feel this way?

Yes, probably some self-reflection on these issues would be good. But you can break it off with him and still continue to think through your "bad boy attraction" issues (to paraphrase). If you're not into him, you're not into him. It's OK, even if you ultimately decide it was for a bad reason.

I find it interesting that you feel a need to cling to this one instance of the "right kind of guy" now that you've found one - are you worried you'll never find another non-"asshole" if you let this one go? If so you may want to think through that, too.

Generally, I'm attracted to guys who are a bit more sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense (probably because my dad is that way!) but those guys often turn out assholes, so my taste hasn't exactly served me well.

This may be true in your life so far, but it isn't ALWAYS true. People can definitely be sarcastic, assertive, and independent-minded without being assholes. Keep looking.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, my instinct is that you're sabotaging this in part because it has the potential for real intimacy and you're not ready for that yet. (Test: during all that rescheduling, if he'd pulled back would you have pursued?) I could be wrong; I'm just a schlub on the intranet.

BUT, even if that's what it is, then it's still clear that this isn't what you want right now. You want to want it? Okay, that's where therapy comes in. Don't drag this guy into your confusion.

On this butterflies question. There are two levels. The person you're attracted to. And how you relate. Those overlap obviously. But you CAN find sarcastic guys who aren't assholes. You've learned you don't want to date someone who treats you bad, but apply that lesson at the level of setting boundaries on how they treat you.
posted by salvia at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

The problem is every guy I've been very into has turned out to be an asshole.

This line (and the fact that every single one of your previous AskMe questions has been about related issues) makes it clear: you really, really need to work these issues out in therapy. Really.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [36 favorites]

You’re me. I’m you.

I hope any of the following helps. It’s mostly just me attempting to spill some complicated and meandering thoughts in a way that makes sense.

This guy sounds like a very “by the book” guy. Maybe he’s inexperienced. But he seems a little stiff, a little rules-y. When guys do this, it is a slight turn off to me. I think it is because I am Girl. Maybe even Cute Girl. But I am not quincunx, fabulous and strange human being. I am just Girl and he is Guy and we do this dance. And it’s nice though, sometimes, to be Girl, it’s not so bad all the time. It makes sense- you get the promise ring and the jacket and go to the prom and it all proceeds logically and goes according to the pattern and you know what to expect and you’re valued. Valued as Girl is at least sort of legitimately valued.

I also see a strange contradiction in that this guy is very hetero Guy in this dance you’re doing, yet hates himself for it. His actions don’t match his liberal fight the patriarchy words. I hate when actions don’t match words, it’s annoying and confusing.

Also, “liberal” dudes are sometimes loudly liberal around women for two reasons: 1. Easy free hippy love sex. 2. Because they think they have to be to impress Girls. Neither make any sense and are basically just signs of a traditional mindset with a veneer of bullshit. I just really dislike bullshit and would rather be honestly traditional than talk the talk but not actually walk the walk with being uber liberal, you know?

Anyway, I might come back and try to elucidate my thoughts better but I hope this kind of connects with you.
posted by quincunx at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?

Then stop dating until you get yourself sorted out.
posted by empath at 2:20 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


But then he also made strange slips in civility, like when he asked me back to his place on our first date or didn't make sure I had returned home safely on our second. (Am I overreacting to these slips?)

Yes, IMO you are overreacting. It is not 1952; sex on the first date is no longer socially unacceptable and asking someone back to your place after the first date is far, far from "uncivil" (pressuring, on the other hand, is another thing entirely). And thanks to the wonderful things that happened in the 1970s, women are now seen as autonomous and independent and no longer in need of a man's protection, so I'm not sure why you think it is "uncivil" of him to not make sure you arrived home safely.

These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:21 PM on April 27, 2014 [35 favorites]

This is a very deeply personal experience sort of thing for me, right now: if you find that the sort of person you are attracted to is bad for you, and the sort of person who you find to be good for you, you don't find attractive? That's something you really need to figure out on your own outside of a relationship, trying to do it while trying to date just really does not work.
posted by Sequence at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

But then he also made strange slips in civility, like when he asked me back to his place on our first date

Have you considered the possibility that he actually, genuinely WAS inviting you to admire the view from his roof?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:25 PM on April 27, 2014 [11 favorites]

OP, you've behaved like an asshole with this guy. And at the same time you expect him to be at his best behavior, according to your standards. Not cool.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2014 [24 favorites]

promise to not threadsit after this comment but just to clarify: @DarlingBri -- I actually omitted part of what he said. First he asked if I'd like to go back to his apartment. When I hemmed and hawed a little he said, "Well maybe you'd like to check out the view from my roof?" It was clear to me from the context that he was hoping to hook up, which is fine but just surprising to me that soon. (I've never had a guy make that suggestion on a first date.)
posted by caseofyou at 2:32 PM on April 27, 2014

The reason therapy is being suggested is that you say you want to be treated a certain way, which is in no way wrong or unusual or incorrect, and yet you also state that you always end up attracted to assholes who do you wrong, and presumably do not treat you in the way you would prefer. The fundamental dichotomy between these two desires is apparent to us, the viewers from the outside, and while it also seems apparent to you, you don't seem to be able to decide how to work this out. Therapy is one tool that is often helpful for letting you see things about yourself that are not apparent to you, and work out how to solve them, if that is your end goal.
posted by elizardbits at 2:34 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]

Other people are not therapy for your relationship baggage. You're sending him mixed signals. Why are you making out with prople you don't like? Cut him loose.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

And in case you feel I am attacking you in any way, let me reassure you that I am 100% on board with your not continuing to date what seems like an extremely nice guy if you do not feel attracted or connected to him. No good can ever come of forcing yourself to do something you feel is unpleasant relationshipwise, full stop.
posted by elizardbits at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Not necessarily what's going on here, but in the ball park and kind of legendarily wise: Ask Polly: I Am Severely Chafed By My Gentle, Compassionate Boyfriend.
posted by caek at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2014 [14 favorites]

"I fail to see why wanting a guy I'm dating to make sure I arrived home safely at 1am when I live in one of the worst parts of the cities is an issue to be discussed in therapy."

Perhaps it's because if this is important, then you dump him as he's not the right kind of guy for you. But you seem to be struggling on what "criteria" or "justification" you need to be able to make that choice. He's in a damned if he doesn't, damned if he does situation, mainly (from my read) due to your ambivalence. Therapy can help with this ambivalence. Please let him go (he can't win). Good luck.
posted by parki at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

"Generally, I'm attracted to guys who are a bit more sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense (probably because my dad is that way!) but those guys often turn out assholes, so my taste hasn't exactly served me well."

Ah, got it. You really buried the lede there. Allow me to make a suggestion that may strike you, a young hetero female (correct?), as completely odd and possibly offensive. Go read up on some of the various strategies and gambits that the hetero male "pick-up artist" community espouses for making women want to sleep with them. Check out The Game by Neil Strauss and/or any old episode of the reality TV show The Pickup Artist. You'll see that apparently, there is a population of nubile young women out there who are seriously attracted to guys who act assertive, no-nonsense, confidently entertaining, a bit unavailable, and like leaders of men. Give that some thought. Sound like the way your exes carried themselves while courting you? Maybe you're a bit of a sucker for the type of guy who runs good game but whose true motive is not about pursuing a healthy, long-term committed relationship with you. (That could be why when the guy in your question asked you to his roof it rubbed you the wrong way. In the absence of attraction, you're able to see The Ask for what it is and it felt off to you. Yes, you get to feel that way - there's nothing wrong with you!)

As you correctly intuited when you mentioned your desire for "balance" - the solution is not to go from one extreme to the other. A so-called "Nice Guy" you can't stand and who needs a breath mint is not the answer either. The good news is the proverbial assholes have not cornered the market on confidence, intelligence, and sarcasm. There are acres of middle ground there.

Yes, you're right - this absolutely has to do with your dad's personality traits. We tend to be attracted to partners who remind us of a parent, and who perhaps stir up old wounds. This would be a really good thing to work on over a few sessions with a therapist if you are so inclined.
posted by hush at 2:44 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

The problem is every guy I've been very into has turned out to be an asshole.

...eventually you have to look at the common denominator in every relationship. Yourself. You should probably sort all of that out. Life and dating isn't that hard.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:52 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Google for past AskMes about spark / chemistry / infatuation / passion to read a lot more on the subject of spark and chemistry. There are several past conversations on your exact question about what to do when you realize you get sparks almost exclusively for people who aren't good for you. Here is a comment from ironmouth followed by a comment from me on exactly that topic. I link to two other threads in my comment, and check those whole threads out, too, especially the one from the guy who likes "sassy ladies." There are more out there. E.g., importance of passion (less on point) and how can I reprogram myself?. (I'm only finding threads I commented in, sorry; this is a hard one to google until someone invents a tag.)

But the question about how to recalibrate your sparkometer is separate from the question of what to do with this guy, which is so obvious that yes, 90% of answers will seem very glib.

This is a thing it will take you a while to figure out, and you don't want to be trying to hold together a relationship you're not into during that time. I mean, if you can barely muster the desire to date this guy a third time, how will you muster the desire to go on Dates #4-120?

That you don't feel spark for this guy but feel fairly certain that you should is a symptom that you need to embark on an effort to change what you like. But you can't ignore the fact that you aren't there yet. It's like: "I can't carry heavy boxes when I think I should be able to." The solution is to embark on a program of exercise, not to volunteer to move someone's piano anyway, even knowing you might break their piano and injure yourself.

Your idea, "override yourself when you don't like someone," comes with a lot of problems. How will you know when are the times you should override yourself and when are the times to listen to yourself? It will be much more sustainable in the long run to either find a sarcastic person who isn't a jerk or to get over your attraction to jerks.
posted by salvia at 2:59 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Generally, I'm attracted to guys who are a bit more sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense (probably because my dad is that way!) but those guys often turn out assholes.

I saw a young hetero female friend go through this--every time she introduced us to the new guy she was dating, he was a sarcastic, assertive, brash dude, to the point of being insufferable. They all ended up treating her like shit. Then she found someone who was a sarcastic, assertive loudmouth who is also a big teddy bear who openly worships her.

For all anybody here knows, the problem is you and therapy is the right path. But then, for all anybody here knows, you're just young enough not to have come across the right combination of traits in a person yet (imagine!), and your type is rarer than some other types. A guy with lots of stereotypically asshole qualities, minus being an actual asshole, might be like trying to find a really great cup of decaf: not easy but neither impossible nor irrational to look for. (The trick, obviously, is to learn to look for them without giving every asshole a shot.)
posted by Beardman at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Hmm. You want someone "sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense." You want him to be protective of you, have conservative attitudes toward sex, and to either take his privilege somewhat for granted or at least not be overly verbal and guilt burdened as he assesses that issue. And you want him to be smart, cute (no beard!), reliable, and animated; have discriminating taste and his own opinions; and share some of your interests.

Given that, I can really see why the current guy strikes you as too eager to please both you and the academic establishment. He doesn't seem quite like the right one for you.

I can see why some of these impulses might filter for jerks, especially if they're being sarcastic or aloof right up front. A lot of these things are a continuum. Do you want a guy who is VERY protective (paternalist and controlling) or unthinkingly entitled (chauvinist) or independent (callous) or sarcastic (hurtful)? Assuming not, then i don't think it's impossible to find a guy like this who is also fundamentally a pretty good, non jerky person (maybe a little jerky depending on whether you want unexamined privilege or just someone who has moved on from feeling guilty to another perspective).

I would be cautious and thoughtful about the fact that disagreeing with someone is kind of a Pickup Artist gambit, whereas downplaying differences of opinion is often considered polite. Don't let some person's courtesy and respectfulness obscure your ability to see his confidence and independence. You might have to work harder or listen a bit more openly to discover the ways that respectful guys disagree with you.
posted by salvia at 3:52 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

You have a great time when you're with him. Your objections to him seem like a conscious attempt to derail him. Go to the movies with him, go out for coffee or drinks again, to gain some clarity. Don't sleep with him unless you know you really like him.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on April 27, 2014

For interested parties, the OP's made a metatalk post regarding this question.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:00 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Superduper traditional guys often seem to be noble about women but turn out to be jerks because the belief that women are either fragile and pure or wanton whores kind of goes hand in hand. I think this guy isn't the guy for you, and that's fine, but I would do some self-reflection about the fact that you find someone revealing their education "unmasculine." Given your standards as you've detailed them here, it seems unavoidable that you'd be attracted to loutish guys. And it doesn't have to be that way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:57 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that what happens sometimes is that there is some kind of undefinable lack of chemistry with a person who "on paper" seems like a good match and doesn't have anything clearly wrong with them. To resolve this apparent paradox, we start grasping for small details that would justify our not liking this person enough to date him or her.

The thing is that you don't need some ironclad justifiable "reason" (and trying to find one is not reflecting well on you).

Here's a shorter version of your AskMe where the answer is a lot more clear:
I went out a couple of times with someone from my social circle, and I am just not feeling it. Should I keep going out with him?
posted by deanc at 5:03 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

You know what, I find I'm slightly aghast (disgusted, horrified, repulsed - ever so slightly, but those are appropriate words) when someone I'm not attracted to crosses a boundary it would be A-OK for someone I thought was hot to encroach upon. If I'm just not drawn to someone, all of a sudden, my standards of etiquette firm right up. If I think he's attractive, on the other hand, sure, go on, grab my belt-loops. You're clearly not attracted to this guy. So, do not date him anymore :)

I understand you're not confident in your judgement just yet. I don't think you should stop dating people until you figure it out - on the contrary, that's how you recalibrate. I think Percussive Paul is dead right (with every word) - the way to avoid working yourself up, or unintentionally hurting someone, is to date a lot (a lot) of people at once. Which as well as giving you more practice in different kinds of interactions, gives you plenty of opportunities to meet someone you like.

I think it's unfortunate that this guy's gotten caught up in your lack of certainty. The nice thing to do would be to make a clear statement of lack of interest, at this point, imo. (If you decide that's the case.) But, agree again with PP, this guy does sound a bit boundary-less (and a bit young and earnest), and may not be all that confident. Which, it's fair enough, may not be that attractive.

I actually agree with you that sarcasm's tricky - if it's someone's only mode of humour, it's kind of a shallow repertoire, imo. If it's also nasty, and only thinly conceals contempt for individuals (vs. ideas - also, if the targets are somehow weaker than he is), and/or defeated passivity, or smugness, or a lack of imagination or energy for actually doing constructive things, then yeah, that's worth staying away from. But there definitely are men who are confident and witty and kind.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

You don't sound like you're really attracted to him (the bad breath alone is a huge red flag there) and should break up with him before he turns into an ambivalent pumpkin. The End (or is it?)

Now for the important, I'm going to approach this from a different angle.

There's a question on OKCupid which goes: "Not talking whips and chains, but do you generally prefer your partner's behavior to be dominant, submissive or a little of both, depending on the situation?" (CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT REITERATING NOTE, LIKE SERIOUSLY IMAGINE IT IN RED BLINKING MARQUEE TEXT: This is not about sex and it is definitely not about kink, this is about personality.) Clearly, you prefer men with more forceful personalities (note: this is not synonymous with "masculine.") Which is totally fine! There's a tendency to call women weak or antifeminist for seeking out relationships that jibe with their natural personalities. For instance, I am the most feminist person I know. I am also not a planner. The idea of planning, especially planning dates, gives me tremendous anxiety that often takes the form of literal panic attacks. Even when it isn't that arguably unhealthy, I generally don't like doing it. As a result, the sort of guys who handle all the logistics, reservations, venue choices are the sort of guys who make me swoon. I also usually find myself attracted to men who have strong opinions, the kind where I feel like I could spend my entire life just learning what they have to say about anything and everything. Does any of this sound familiar? It sounds like it might.

The problem is, if you sort primarily for those traits then, yes, you run the risk of dating assholes. You want to minimize that risk. So you don't have to date assholes - if someone even mildly strikes you as being an asshole in early dating then stop the early dating - but you're conflating a lot of axes -- "asshole" with "likes sex" with "masculine" with "forceful" -- and also "feminist" and "weak-minded" and "nice" -- that are all separate axes. It's sort of like the Madonna-Whore complex for women, and it's not really serving you well.

So I have another idea: How old is this guy? You mention he is in "grad classes" and in another question also mention you are 30-ish. This makes me guess that he is younger than you. Assertiveness and independent-mindedness are traits that tend to correlate with age. They don't always, but they tend to. A lot of guys in their 20s -- your typical Brooklyn millennials, as vomitous as the phrase is -- are still figuring out who they are and how to behave in relationships. The ones who care about not being misogynist assholes will usually default toward the "fumbling, apologetic" approach. This is totally fine, and a lot of women find this utterly charming. Clearly, you are not one of them. That is also totally fine! But if you find yourself dating a lot of guys who are younger or the same age as you, try dating older. (The upshot to this - and please don't take this the wrong way - is that you are old enough that by default you will filter out the creepy older guys who only want pliable 21-year-olds.)

As for the rest, there are a lot of legitimate concerns mixed with a lot that aren't. Offering to fuck on the first date is a total red herring. One of my longest relationships started with a first date where he literally asked if I wanted to go back to his place and see his records. (Conversely, there are a lot of "hookups" that happen that don't look like "hookups" because they take the form of having sex on the socially-approved third date, because the hookup-seeking dude thought he'd have a better chance by playing a longer game.) And burn the whole "I want to date my dad" thing, it's Freudian patriarchal crap that society needs to get rid of ASAP.

Hopefully some of this helped?
posted by dekathelon at 6:02 PM on April 27, 2014 [13 favorites]

I'm reading it totally differently here, and it just could be guessing. Take what you will.

I think this guy sounds kind of emotionally available and it's making you uncomfortable.

You're used to guys that jerk you around. Maybe even ones that play "come here... now go away" games. Yeah but blah blah blah I really want something different this time. But maybe you still want the same shit. Because when this guy was reliable, you felt apathetic. Did you feel like you'd won, and the chase was over? Did that bore you? And then you cancelled on him four times. I think you were testing him. Do you REALLY like me? Are you for REAL? Are you gonna stick around? What if I have FLAWS? You can't possibly just like me as I am. And so on.

Now your mind is fixating on all his flaws. It is a good way to avoid actual intimacy. It is a good way to give yourself all these reasons to run away. Six months from now, will you find yourself looking back and thinking "hmm maybe I kinda ran away there?" Bad breath is gross and in most cases easily fixed.

So what if he was a little eager to please. He likes you! Clearly he has some balls because he 1) saw you 2) realized he liked you 3) asked you out 4) made the first move to kiss.

So I would say just see where it goes. If his breath smells tell him. Remember that you do kinda sorta feel something. You originally found him cute and smart. You had a good time on your first date. Just see where it goes. See what feelings come up. You don't have to marry this guy.

And if you're at all the meditation / visualization type, I would sit and meditate on these feelings of disdain & pushing him away. Let them wash over, and feel what may be underneath. Imagine him getting close to you, both physically and emotionally, and see what emotions come up there, if you find yourself having attachment / engulfment fears or whatnot. Just sit with them. It's not the end of the world. It's just a feeling.

Good luck.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you are just not into him.

A guy who actually listens to you when you talk and seems to try to understand your point of view rather than go for the "neg" to set off an insecure need to get his approval? An educated person who does not need to resort to easy sarcasm to hold a conversation; uses (gasp!) four-syllable words to express difficult concepts; and understands heterosexual white male privilege? A dude who treats you like a full-fledged adult who can find her own way home just like every other grown person in this city?

What a loser! Definitely cut him lose.

(But send him my way. I'd love to get sexy on a rooftop apartment on a first date. But I'm old, so.)
posted by quixotictic at 6:40 PM on April 27, 2014 [14 favorites]

Should I give this guy a chance?

All other issues aside, I'd say that the fact that you react with dislike (and disrespect) to his academic studies, which are most likely the most important thing in his life, means that you have no long term future. Does the idea of a four hour dinner party with him and his peers talking about hegemony make you smile or roll your eyes?
posted by Candleman at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay. Had more time to reflect on this. Second go at trying to help here!

First of all, your question is making you sound bad, and I’m not sure if it’s because you’re kind of projecting your guilt onto the way you framed this and people are just running with it. Basically you’re asking, “Am I a horrible bitch who just likes jerks and not nice guys?” And I’m really kind of surprised MeFi is going with that. I think there’s probably more to it than that, and that’s really not the most helpful way of framing this, to yourself or to other people. Has a whiff of internalized misogyny.

Just drop “nice” from your vocabulary when describing this dude. What you really mean is passive, or perhaps even more to the point, passive-aggressive. Very few things in this world aggravate me more than passive-aggressiveness. This is because I am essentially, deep down, an honest and blunt person. I value the objective (and emotional) truth so much in life that to dishonor the truth is just unforgivably annoying in the long run for me. With some people, there is a fine line between “niceness” and “lying.” Social niceties and all, blah blah blah- we all white lie sometimes- it’s not always evil- but fundamentally, I am the type of person who likes to live in the truth, in the real truth, moment by moment, and that comes across as aggressiveness or bitchiness or impatience to some people. Maybe you can kind of understand where I’m coming from.

What I am trying to get at is that “niceness” is sometimes just lying. “Liberalism” is sometimes just buzz words. Guys sometimes just want sex just like they just wanted sex in 1650. You know? And sometimes even non-liberal but traditional “gentlemen” of the old-fashioned type are also just play-acting because they think they have to.

Douchebags can be surprisingly honest. Douchebags don’t hate themselves for being douchebags. They don’t make their inner conflict your problem. You know what you’re gonna get- pain- but not surprises.

From the start this guy isn’t reading you very well- he worries that you’re annoyed- and then he patiently reschedules with you. That can be a sign that he really cares for you, or it could be a sign that he thinks he needs to play by some rules- modern liberal ones or gentlemen ones, I really can’t tell and it honestly doesn’t matter that much- also that he’s not communicating that well with you.

And I see a lot of mixed messages here- he’s aggressive, but he’s fumbling, he’s pursuing, but he’s lukewarm with his compliments, one day he asks after you and the next he does not (perhaps only coincidentally after you refuse sex but who knows). That shit is just irritating, and I don’t really blame you for finding it so. Be traditional or don’t be, but don’t pick the best of both worlds. Also "sunny" and "lovely" are like...floral wallpaper to me. Near to damning with faint praise.

I am a person who values very, very, very highly 1.) honesty and 2.) freedom. All the other stuff is pretty irrelevant to me. Maybe you can kind of relate.

Also, damn that “agreeing with everything you say” thing is so fucking annoying, it really is. I would give you wholehearted permission to DTMFA for that alone. It's never completely genuine and it's a sign of neediness and ultimately, selfishness.
posted by quincunx at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

@St. Peepsburg, you definitely hit on something real. I do think I would have been more interested in him he had posed more of a challenge and you're right that I was fairly into him the first time we met so I can't explain the drop off in my interest other than my discomfort with emotionally available men.

I'm wondering if other people have had experiences where they were slightly lukewarm about somebody at the beginning because they weren't used to being treated well but grew to love the person? Or is that unrealistic?
posted by caseofyou at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2014

If you want somebody to text to check you got home ok, just ask them. It's really straightforward and maintaining your own safety shouldn't be dependent on their chivalry.

Honestly though, I don't think that's a great plan for first or early dates, because statistically it is likely to have been your date who has attacked you, if something does happen. You have also just told them that nobody else will notice if you don't come home. Instead tell a friend where you're going, and text them to say you are home safe. This does not directly address your question (my answer to that is nothing you mention sounds horrendous except the bad breath, but don't date him with no chemistry) but hopefully will still be helpful in future relationships.

This may be a cultural thing or perhaps I am just less trusting, but a random guy on a date should not be responsible for your safety, you don't know them. I'm also extrapolating here so ignore if not relevant, but have the previous assholes been able to be assholish because you've trusted them too quickly? It just seems like jumping the gun a bit to go from 'random guy' to 'only person who knows where I am' so quickly, and I'm concerned you're putting yourself in dodgy situations.
posted by tinkletown at 7:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm wondering if other people have had experiences where they were slightly lukewarm about somebody at the beginning because they weren't used to being treated well but grew to love the person? Or is that unrealistic?

Nope, that's my college boyfriend. He taught me how to be in a low-drama relationship with a nice guy after the teenaged dramafest that was my highly-compelling bad boy highschool boyfriend. It took me a good few months to get into College Dude, but everything after that was so much better.

It is also worth considering if one of the reasons you're not into this guy so much is because you are still hung up on the last guy, as you were a month ago. Drama distracts from obsessive heartache because drama is compelling; lack of drama, not so much -- but so much healthier.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:26 PM on April 27, 2014

I just thought of something else. Basically, I think your problem is the problem here.

I think all of the "he's emotionally available and you aren't used to that and thus may be scaring off your SOULMATE" talk is a red herring. Emotional availability is the minimum! Just because someone is emotionally available does not mean he is a good dating match for you. A lot of times this kind of thinking, while well-intentioned, can lead you into relationships where neither person is really attracted to the other, nor really a temperamental match, but remains in the relationship because, hey, they're nice, right? And they're not assholes, right? So they're the kind of guys I should be dating because literally the only other choice is being THROWN TO THE ASSHOLE WOLVES, right? This never ends well. It sort of reminds me of your last question -- I totally get the "guys only want manic pixie dream girls" thing, which is definitely prevalent, but I kind of think that maybe these guys never really learned what being actually attracted to someone means, and got it into their head through porn or limerence or any number of factors that if someone meets beauty norms, then that is the same thing as wanting to fuck them. But subconsciously they realize something is wrong, and eventually something snaps and they mumble something about "chemistry" without actually understanding what they mean.

This isn't just a guy thing, though. It can happen to women, too, and I am pretty sure it is happening to you. When you're close to him, do you feel anything? When he touches you, do you feel anything? When you're making out, do you feel anything? Or are you just looking around, passing time, mentally going "yep, we are definitely making out right now, I guess the next step is sex, gee huh, sex"? Attraction, sadly, does not correlate with not being an asshole, or being a good dating match. (Annoyingly, it doesn't even correlate with being good in bed!) I mentioned the bad breath is a clue for this. (There's a lot of snake-oil woo about pheromones or whatever, but it is A Thing that if you're attracted to someone, their BO and general stank suddenly starts to smell absolutely wonderful.) Another big clue: As you know, when you're attracted to someone, you gloss over a lot of their bad traits. The flip side to this is that when you are not attracted to someone, the smallest, most inconsequential shit (using a word like "hegemony," which, sorry, isn't trendy in the slightest) annoys the resurrected bejesus out of you. One Washington Post article called this the "taquito moment". So maybe you are not inventing reasons because you are doomed to have unhealthy relationships -- maybe you're just inventing reasons because you don't really want him. And that is fine! It is not a reflection on you or him. It just means you should not be dating.
posted by dekathelon at 7:32 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Clearly you fundamentally do not like this dude, if he gets on your nerves this much and you treat him like shit and then you hate him for putting up with your shit. Cut him loose so he can find someone who likes him like that. You're not converting yourself into liking a Nice Guy so far, it's not working.

There are dominant, sarcastic, assertive, independent-minded and no-nonsense dudes out there that aren't dicks. Hell, even I've found a few to date. However, it is entirely possible that uh, the dickish part is what you go for regardless of those traits.

I think you do need to do some therapy before you date again. Or perhaps have your friends pick out dudes for you that fit most of your qualifications without the dickishness.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:20 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with dekathelon that dating older would probably cut out a bit of the (20-something?) awkwardness you seem to dislike in this guy. (Which, you say you noticed and didn't so much like from the first moment, is that right? But there was enough about him to want to see what could happen.) With time, experience, and reflection, at least some of the clumsy and sweet guys grow to be more confident and less clumsy. And at least some of the more exuberantly dominant men mellow out a bit (after they've crashed and burned a few relationships). Not a certainty, as was said above, but people do tend to relax into themselves, in some ways, with age.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:00 PM on April 27, 2014

If you don't like him, then you don't like him, end of story. Just realize that other people are answering this question after just reading through your description of what sounds like a really nice guy and a good catch - all the while knowing that you are citing things that he did that were nice and that many people would find appealing as reasons why you were turned off by him.

When I was younger, I may have approached the situation much in the same way as you have been doing. Getting irritated with him for being so agreeable and willing to roll with rescheduling of dates, and so on. For me, I think it was a maturity thing. I'd find myself doing things just to try to get a rise out of my date or to see if I could make someone who genuinely was not a jealous person to feel jealousy. Yes, I had come out of a relationship in which I experienced jealousy and drama all the time, and having someone I was dating just be cool and calm and happy just seemed to rub me in the opposite way it should have. If that person wished me a "sunny Sunday", I'd be like "forget it man, I'm going to go find someone edgy and dark, none of this sunny greetings bullshit."

Anyway, a lot of things become way more attractive when you get older, like being stable and drama-free, and being reliable and willing to roll with a shifting schedule, and having a positive attitude too. I also think this guy sounds pretty gentlemanly - polite regarding contacting you to reschedule dates, kindly accepting it when you declined the invite to his apartment, etc. Not texting you to see if you were home safely at 2am, not a big deal at all to me - I don't like texting people at 2am unless I know for certain that they are awake. If you want someone to do that, you need to have an established set-up with them beforehand. So I'd say these things are part of what are prompting some of the many calls for therapy and slightly irritable responses. We don't want to see you ditch a nice guy, and you haven't given us much reason to dislike this guy other than "he's toooo nice!" And for anyone else who's like me, maybe some nostalgia as we think - "boy, I wish Ask Me had been around to tell me to get therapy, and to help me start dating nice drama-free guys… probably would have saved me a couple of years of heartache…"
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:59 PM on April 27, 2014

@quincunx -- Yes! I've been burned by pseudo nice guys so when a guy is incredibly polite at the start I do get wary. Maybe that's why I'm nitpicking his inconsistencies. It's hard for me to tell the difference between a nice guy and a weak guy, so I've been looking, maybe unfairly, for the cracks in his facade.

One other thing happened that I forgot to mention. While making out we were sharing a seat in a tiny nook that had two cushioned seats facing each other, buggy style except they were only about two feet apart. This random guy comes by while we're going at it, pops his head in, and asks if he can sit in the opposite seat. I couldn't believe he asked and I was even more surprised when my date said, "actually we were just about to leave." When the dude stepped away my date whispered, "sorry I didn't know what to say to him." I just felt like it was passive for him to not find a polite way of telling the guy "no, sorry dude."

@Dekathelon -- To answer your question, when I'm around him I'm in a good mood and I want him to make a move, to kiss me, to show some sign of interest. I feel happy when he kisses me but I don't feel sparks.

It's possible that the fact that he hasn't been more demonstrative has dampened my interest. I'm somebody who usually gets more interested when a guy is clearly interested in me. Sometimes unfortunately that makes me vulnerable to sweet-talkers. I know that seems to run counter to what I said earlier about his not being enough of a challenge, but I guess I first need to feel that a guy really likes me to care enough when he gets flaky later on.
posted by caseofyou at 10:55 PM on April 27, 2014

He sounds like a perfectly decent guy who will treat someone really well. It sounds like that person is not you. This is not the fault of either of you, sometimes you just don't have that extra something. Do him a favour and don't string him along in the hope you might learn to appreciate him. Set him free, he deserves better.

Do yourself a favour and date a wider range of people - some nice guys, some guys next door, some weird guys with a great sense of humour, some loud-mouthed opinionated guys who tell everyone else what to think but listen to you. Whatever. Get to know people of different types, work out what you find attractive and think about why. Don't think of it as "this person is a potential Relationship" but instead that "this person has some interesting stories to tell and things to teach me" (and vice versa, of course). Listen more, appreciate them for what they are rather than trying to make them fit into the mould you have available. If it turns into a relationship, great. If not, you've had a good time, or possibly just accumulated some more interesting stories.

It does help to talk through things. If not therapy, trusted friend/s. Outside perspectives, reality checks, etc.

Another thing to think about with regard to your predilection for bad boys: are they just avoidant? The book isn't a bible and doesn't have all the answers about relationships, but it's an interesting perspective and may help explain the allure of the unattainable.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:57 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here is the other bit I would add:

After reading the followup, yeah this guy is not it for you. You will destroy him as you constantly search for a type of strength that isn't there. You don't appreciate his kindness and flexibility. You're looking for a very narrow definition of strength.

It's hard for me to tell the difference between a nice guy and a weak guy

Throw away those black and white terms. They're bullshit.

If you're compulsively into dick-ish guys, but you want a decent dick and not a true asshole, then you need to develop your own confidence & strength. To date a decent dick, you need to be a decent dick. So develop your inner Bitch (Being In Total Control of Herself). Say what you want, stand up for yourself and don't suffer fools.

Christ almighty, George Clooney just got engaged. Is it one of his dainty little sidepieces? Nope. A 36 year old lawyer from Britain. 10-1 she's a Bitch.

Until you develop your inner Bitch, you will be weak yourself, and a weak person attracts assholes.

Think about that next time you're compelled to attack weakness.

And as a throwaway, because I'm feeling generous: since your dad was a sarcastic asshole, you learned to hide and denigrate weakness. Maybe the weak part of you recognizes the 'weak' part of this nice guy and then is compelled to destroy it, to protect you from dear old dad. What would dad say about this guy? How would that reflect on you? The horror.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:00 AM on April 28, 2014 [8 favorites]

(I promise this is my last response here! Seriously go read this, it will be helpful.)

So: "I feel happy when he kisses me but I don't feel sparks." -- yeah, thought so, and that's game over. (For now. Maybe if you hang out as friends/with your friends the sparks will develop, but maybe not, and either way it's comparatively unlikely to force them through dating-dating.) As for the rest -- do you want him to make a move because it is a sign you are doing something right and that he likes you, a green checkmark on some checklist that starts at "hello" and ends in A Relationship, and are you happy in the way that it makes people happy to feel liked and like they're doing something right -- or do you want him to make a move because you want him, to make a move? Do you want him to show some sign of interest because you feel like you have a giant sixth-grade crush on him? There's a huge difference. I'm harping on this because I have to keep myself from doing the same thing, and I recognize a lot of what's going on here (yes I read the MetaTalk thing, yes I think it's still relevant).

Again, this does not mean you are doing or being anything wrong, more than it means he is. It just means you two should not be dating, and that's fine; there are billions of people in the world, both amazing guys and predatory creeps, that some others of those billions should not be dating. If you don't feel it, move on. This will both weed out the ambivalent guys who will accidentally or purposefully hurt you by being all "enh, she seems to like me, why not go along with it, sleeping alone kind of sucks after all" -- and prevent you from becoming that person.

Final note: You don't have to pretend to be a "bitch" if that's not your personality. No matter what Sheryl Sandberg says, there is not a bitch-to-weak axis but a bitch-to-non-bitch axis and a strong-to-weak axis, and they are separate (and shit, I'm sure Oscar and Golden Globe winners/nominees Renee Zellweger and Eva Longoria will be pleased to hear they're just "dainty little sidepieces," let alone the models who, modeling aside, are still actual women). Pretending to be anyone other than yourself will attract people who would love to date anyone other than yourself, and it won't even filter out assholes! It's a bad idea all around.
posted by dekathelon at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sometimes it feels like the guys I meet are either too nice or too caddish and I can't find somebody who is just balanced.

I'm such a broken record on this, but please check out Baggage Reclaim. It may be hard to tell, but the site is wide and it is deep and likely has something helpful to take away.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:24 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

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