Should I continue pursuing her?
June 10, 2014 3:10 AM   Subscribe

Basically, there is this girl I really really like, and there are a few things that tell me that the feelings are mutual. But she has already told me... twice... That she just wants to be friends with me. The way she acts with me doesn't match what she says though.

*** First off, let me start by saying that this girl is 17 years old, and I'm 27. So we might have a problem right there. But the reason I still think it could happen is because I've seen couples being successful, and they started dating when either of them were really young. ***

So it's been on and off with this girl for the past few months (she will turn 18 in 3 months, and I wasn't pretending to date her before that, but it's something I was willing to talk to her about). For about one month, we were going out on dates. A few times. We holded hands almost every time we saw each other. And I don't think that a girl would accept my dates if she wasn't at least a little bit interested.

We always talked about stuff. And even in the small details, it made me feel like there's something that could happen. Again, little details. Example: She likes the music I listen to in the car, which is very important to me, since I'm a musician. She likes the music to be loud as well, just as I do. She likes to walk fast, and I do too. She told me she even likes the way I smell, which I think is good.

We talked for hours when we were together, we never ran out of subjects. And the way she thinks, it's something I've not seen in a girl I've had some chemistry with, and it's little things about the way she sees life, etc, that are JUST what I'm looking for in a girl.

Well, long story short, the day came, and she brought it up saying "my best friend and my mom have been asking me about you," and maybe I should have listened to her first, but I took the chance, since she brought it up, and I told her I was interested in a long term relationship with her.

And, that's when she told me she only wants to be friends.

So, after accepting all my dates, holding hands with me (even inside the movie theater. Twice), she tells me that? Well then, I told her I would be away from her for a while since she didn't feel the same way.

Something is not matching here, and I've been reading dating books the past few weeks to see what's going on, if I did something wrong. Maybe I was too much of a nice guy? Maybe I wasn't as cocky/funny with her, and it bore her? Or maybe she's playing with me because I have a car, and I'm older, etc etc etc...

Is this worth pursuing? I think I'm in love to be honest with you guys. I can't take that girl out of my head. And yeah. Any feedback/experience, is fully appreciated. I really really like this girl. Thanks again!
posted by AbePlaysGuitar to Human Relations (73 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you brought it up and she does not express interest, leave it alone. If she's not interested, your feelings for her are irrelevant.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:20 AM on June 10, 2014 [70 favorites]

This sounds to me like a lady who has the hots for you but realises, for whatever reason, that a long term relationship with you would be a bad idea. This reason could be anything, like
- the age gap
- she worries that you may be kind of a drama magnet
- she wants to concentrate on her studies now
- she also fancies someone else
- she does not want a long term relationship at all right now
- she thinks you are way more serious about it than she is

At any rate, if you don't want to treat her like a child then it's important to take what she says at face value and not go chasing around after her trying to change her mind like she is some kind of puzzle to solve.

She has done you a big favour by being adult in telling you this now rather than chickening out and stringing you along.
posted by emilyw at 3:21 AM on June 10, 2014 [32 favorites]

Respect what she has to say.

Someone saying 'I don't want to be with you' outweighs liking the same music by a factor of a thousand.

It's not on. This would apply even without the decade age difference, and I'm not even going to go there.
posted by chiquitita at 3:21 AM on June 10, 2014 [111 favorites]

Not worth pursuing; listen to her and respect what she's telling you.
posted by Fig at 3:23 AM on June 10, 2014 [6 favorites]

+1,000. People in general like romantic attention. It's very flattering to be liked and pursued. But if she is telling you — twice — that she's not interested in a relationship, walk away. This would be true if she wasn't 17, it's especially true because she is.
posted by janet lynn at 3:26 AM on June 10, 2014 [11 favorites]

If she says no, she means no. Be a respectful adult and accept that. Don't try and weasel a relationship out of someone (particularly a much younger person) that says no. That is creepy, predatory and awful.

Leave her alone. Your intentions are not platonic and you're not going to move on in if you're in her company and you'll make her uncomfortable.

The kind of age gap you're talking about is not generally considered reasonable when the younger person is as young as the person you're talking about here.

No means no, leave her alone and go no contact because you don't have a very clear head right now. The best thing for her is what she wants. Which is not a relationship with you. And if you care about her as much as you profess to, you'll wish her well and move on.

Your post makes me wonder if you'll listen to this or just look for validation for your "love". I don't see that happening.

I wish you well, and I wish you luck. But not with her.
posted by taff at 3:29 AM on June 10, 2014 [79 favorites]

When you're a teenager, a combined lack of life experience and hormonal changes make it easy to slide into a more intimate relationship with an older person than you necessarily want to. The romantic attention is flattering and the physical contact is exciting, and that makes it hard to hit the brakes and back off. I know this from personal experience when I was around 17 years old. It's to her credit that she's been direct with you about what she wants. That takes maturity. Listen to her and respect what she's told you.
posted by neushoorn at 3:31 AM on June 10, 2014 [33 favorites]

The age difference is a problem. No matter how you twist and turn it, there's going to be a power imbalance if you two decide to pursue a long term relationship (especially in the case of a long term relationship), not necessarily because of the difference in age, but the difference in life experience. It's hard for a relationship to work out with the parameters you've listed. (I mean, she's probably still in high school? Living with her parents? You're probably at extremely different stages of your lives.) It's probably for the best for both of you if you don't pursue this. I think (and hope) that she also realizes this.

And I'm saying this as one of those people in a succesfull relationship that started when I was "really young" (although a bit older than your girl) with someone approximately 8 years my senior. This is not going to work.

Oh and she already told you she doesn't want to be in a relationship with you. Needless to say, this is the biggest and most important reason to not pursue a relationship with this girl.
posted by leopard-skin pill-box hat at 3:34 AM on June 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

No means no, even if you think she means yes, she means no unless she explicitly states otherwise.
posted by Apoch at 3:34 AM on June 10, 2014 [19 favorites]

she has already told me... twice... That she just wants to be friends with me. The way she acts with me doesn't match what she says though. Therefore I will treat her as the adult I believe her to be and take her at her word and drop my romantic pursuit of her.

Whether she is ambivalent or not is irrelevant and not for you to determine. She said she isn't interested in you. Respect her - and yourself - enough to hear her words and walk away.
posted by headnsouth at 3:36 AM on June 10, 2014 [18 favorites]

It seems like what's happened is she did go on a few dates with you and she decided she doesn't want to date you any more.

You don't need to read books to decipher anything. She's already told you.

It happens when people are dating. They can have some common interests and even hold hands and even sometimes have sex, and still, one person can decide they don't want the relationship to continue.

She doesn't want it to continue. So you need to move on and leave her alone.

...and the age difference is a HUGE problem.
posted by kinetic at 3:38 AM on June 10, 2014 [18 favorites]

The fact that she has said explicitly that she is not interested is all you need to know. Actions are open to all sorts of fallible interpretations and wishful thinking, but the word no means no.
posted by man down under at 3:50 AM on June 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

But she has already told me... twice... That she just wants to be friends with me.

Your wall of text is irrelevant. She told you she just wants to be friends. Respect that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:55 AM on June 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

...and the age difference is a HUGE problem.

Here is the "half your age plus seven limit" rule shown graphically. Your green range is about 20 to 40; hers is about 16 to 21. Applying arbitrary rules of thumb to social situations is often silly - but this one does seem to hold up well because it happens to accurately describe the limits beyond which it is hard to have a relationship of equals rather than one which is exploitative.
posted by rongorongo at 3:56 AM on June 10, 2014 [15 favorites]

Age difference aside, I had a friend like this. It led to maybe a year of drama, angst and not being able to move on. He said he didn't like me like "that," but everything he did said otherwise. It was so confusing and frustrating.

You can't help who you like, and I liked him anyway. But I had to take his words at face value and decide that being his friend at all was better than being his girlfriend, and got myself over it. I got myself over it and didn't keep up a friendship under the hopes of it evolving. (This is important.)

I've also been on the other side of this equation. It's tiring to have someone who you have explicitly told to disregard your words. It's invalidating and annoying.

If she had gone out with you and held hands after she said she just wanted to be friends, that would be confusing. But all that happened *before* she told you she just wanted to be friends. People can change their minds after a few dates, it's not a crime. That's how it happens.

You didn't do anything wrong, and you don't need to be cocky or less of a "nice guy." You just need to be yourself and find someone closer to your own age to date. A ten year age gap is less noticeable around middle age but 17 / 18 - 27? The life experience people get in that decade makes the difference between a child and an adult. Leave her alone.
posted by mibo at 3:58 AM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

You may be misreading signals, or she may enjoy flirting but not want anything more, or she may like you but feel the age difference outweighs anything else so it would be a bad idea. You can't know. And it doesn't matter. Because she told you what she wants, so your path is clear now. Believe her and respect her wishes.
posted by Stacey at 4:01 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

She said no. There is no universe in which no also means yes. None. Not a single one.

Respect what she told you or get out of her life before you become the creepy media trope of a guy carrying a creepy torch for someone who tolerates you because you are in the outlying group of friends.

Move the hell on.
posted by zizzle at 4:14 AM on June 10, 2014 [14 favorites]

Most of the time 17 just isn't very mature, and she will do a lot of growing up over the next few years. Her behaviour may be more an effect of wanting to please adults, and your status as an adult. Or, it could be a teenager toying with you. Or, a bit of both. Seriously, you need to drop her, wait till she's in her early 20s. I am speaking as someone with a 22 year age difference in my relationship, I'm not a quicker by a ten year difference in general, but in this case I am.
posted by kellyblah at 4:15 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

We always talked about stuff. And even in the small details, it made me feel like there's something that could happen. Again, little details. Example: She likes the music I listen to in the car, which is very important to me, since I'm a musician. She likes the music to be loud as well, just as I do. She likes to walk fast, and I do too. She told me she even likes the way I smell, which I think is good.

We talked for hours when we were together, we never ran out of subjects. And the way she thinks, it's something I've not seen in a girl I've had some chemistry with, and it's little things about the way she sees life, etc, that are JUST what I'm looking for in a girl.

I think you'll find that if you talked to more women, you'd be able to find this sort of thing again pretty quickly. I mean, a 17-year old girl that likes loud music? What are the odds?!!

If she wants to be friends and you don't want to be friends, the decent thing to do is to end the relationship until it turns into a gigantic cluster-fuck. Believe me, if you talk to enough women, you can find someone else you're compatible with, without all the drama.
posted by empath at 4:19 AM on June 10, 2014 [26 favorites]

Most 17-year-olds are super inexperienced with interpersonal relationships of all stripes. Which makes her decision to just be friends particularly self-aware and courageous, and which makes it all the more important for you to respect it and let her go.

She doesn't want to date you because she doesn't want to date you. She tried it and decided against it, so she knows. It's not because you didn't act in a certain way or were too "nice" or not alpha enough or whatever. If you believe she's mature enough to date someone ten years her senior, you should also believe she's mature enough to know what she wants and to see people as they are. She said no; take her at her word.

Practically speaking, a relationship with her is never ever going to happen, and you should proceed as such. Don't hang out with her unless you can keep things completely flirtation-free and view her as a totally platonic buddy. In other words, keep your distance until you're over her. It's simplest and wisest to end the friendship and go no-contact.

P.S. I assume you're a man; try dating women. I don't mean this in terms of age or maturity; I mean that by constantly referring to her as a "girl," it seems pretty clear that you're not seeing her on the same level.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on June 10, 2014 [42 favorites]

She is 17. She is a child.

You are a grown ass man.

Knock it off. Go date an adult woman who is actually interested in you.
posted by gsh at 4:37 AM on June 10, 2014 [119 favorites]

She's very young, so she hasn't been guarded with you. You are mistaking this for her showing a particular interest in you. Honestly, by the time she's in her twenties, she won't be talking freely to men she doesn't want to have a relationship with: it will have happened a couple of times that those men thought she was leading them on. She will have had a couple of 'friendships' go sour on her, and will hopefully have worked out why with advice from friends and older women.

It's a shame really, but it's one of those life lessons: how tricky it is for attractive outgoing young women to form actual friendships with guys without a lot of added drama. Especially older guys.

Seriously, leave her alone. You're just seeing what you want to see.
posted by glasseyes at 4:38 AM on June 10, 2014 [57 favorites]

Really liking her does NOT mean that she really likes you. It has no effect on her feelings towards you, or desire for a relationship with you, AT ALL.

When she said "I just want to be friends", that means that she just wants to be friends. It doesn't mean "the fact that I held your hand and walk quickly, coupled with the fact that you're super into me, means that I am open to a relationship with you". It's even possible that she's trying to blow you off but is trying to be nice about it.

Also, quit reading dating books. I've never seen one that doesn't have some bullshit game playing going on. Manipulating people to get them to have sex with you is not the behaviour of an adult.
posted by Solomon at 4:44 AM on June 10, 2014 [20 favorites]

She's very young, so she hasn't been guarded with you. You are mistaking this for her showing a particular interest in you. Honestly, by the time she's in her twenties, she won't be talking freely to men she doesn't want to have a relationship with: it will have happened a couple of times that those men thought she was leading them on. She will have had a couple of 'friendships' go sour on her, and will hopefully have worked out why with advice from friends and older women.

This probably bears repeating.

If you continue to pursue this, you are going to be the reason that she will be afraid to be friendly with men in the future. You're going to be a life lesson for her about not being too nice to people so that they don't take friendliness for flirtatiousness. Let her be a child for a little while longer, man.
posted by empath at 4:45 AM on June 10, 2014 [89 favorites]

What struck me here is that the reasons you list for liking her sound incredibly superficial. Maybe you can use that to help you get past this crush you have, without turning stalkery or feeling blue about it for a long time. You went on some dates, she said no, this happens.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:00 AM on June 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

And she's 17?????

Leave her alone.

You know what, "My mom was asking about you the other day" could mean?? "He's might be a nice guy but he has no business dating 17 year old girls. You have so much life to live." Or " What the fuck is a 27 year old man doing around a 17 year old girl?" Or still yet, "If he keeps at this, I'm calling the cops! "

My sister married a man 14 years older than she is. But she was 21 when she met him and 24 when she married him. She had lived on her own, finished college, etc. I'm hardly one to decry age differences between adults.

But she is not an adult. Leave her alone.
posted by zizzle at 5:06 AM on June 10, 2014 [11 favorites]

Leave it. Cut off contact, which will help you get over her. She told you she doesn't want to date you, so you should respect that, and besides this situation is not a good one.

Go find an adult woman who wants to date you, and date her.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:11 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

17 is not an adult, you yourself call her a 'girl'. I suspect that you're not a very mature 27, or else you wouldn't be interested romantically in a child, or worse, you plan on using the imbalance in your ages as a power lever, either's bad news.

That said, if you can't control yourself around her, then you can't even be 'just friends'.

If anyone you're dating is telling you that they want to be "just friends" as an adult, and a human, you need to respect that. A 17 year old doesn't know that liking loud music (we all did at that age) is some secret code for 'I want you, I want you, I want you.' 17 is too young to know how to handle attention from a much older person. Girls are still raised to 'be nice' and not to make a fuss. She may like you as a buddy, but now she realizes that it's a problem, and she just doesn't have the experience to deal with it.

But you're the adult. Stop dealing with her.

The tenor of your question is creepy, "Her mouth tells me no, but her eyes say Yes!" Her mouth said 'No' so you need to respect it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:22 AM on June 10, 2014 [21 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all for the responses.

In no way I mean to be creepy or anything. I could talk about my past, and how stupid (as in ignorant) I was when dealing with women, and how I'm sad that that's affecting me now that I'm older and so on. But this is no psychiatrist stuff.

I just saw this girl, really liked her, started pursuing her, and I'm willing to learn all I can from the process. Of course it makes me sad cause I do have some strong feelings for her, and besides I've always had a hard time finding a girl I have chemistry with, that we can talk and stuff, and think about a possibility to take things to the next level. So I was excited about this one for that reason.

But you all are right. I should just let her go, and move on. Thanks again, this is one hell of a community here!
posted by AbePlaysGuitar at 5:37 AM on June 10, 2014 [31 favorites]

She's 17 years old. Regardless of how mature she may seem or how smart she is or how insightful she is, she is still just a young girl. She is smart enough to say no to a long term relationship. She is happy to spend some time with you because (I am assuming this about you) you have a job, you have a car, you have money and you don't have to ask your mom if you can go out on any particular night. More than half the problem of doing something fun has been solved by hanging out with you. She just has to ask her mom if it is okay to go out with you and that is it. Before you get yourself in any trouble (emotional and otherwise,) stop engaging with this girl. She said no already, move on.
posted by Yellow at 5:40 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

When a minor (or anyone for that matter) says that they do not want to have a sexual relationship with someone, believe what they say. And honor that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:41 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

In no way I mean to be creepy or anything. I could talk about my past, and how stupid (as in ignorant) I was when dealing with women, and how I'm sad that that's affecting me now that I'm older and so on. But this is no psychiatrist stuff.

Believe me, I 100% get where your head is at. You're not a bad person for wanting to hook up with a 17 year old, and I think you kinda knew it was a bad idea to actually go through with it before you even asked.

I think what you need to do is talk to more women. And not with a goal of hooking up. Just to be friends with them. Just ask them about their days, what they're into, talk to them about guitar or whatever. Get an appreciation for women as human beings with faults and imperfections and everything else. The more women that you know, the more likely it is that you'll find another one that you have chemistry with, and the less likely you'll be to put one on a pedestal just because you had a nice time talking to her.
posted by empath at 6:14 AM on June 10, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm a dude, but I've held hands with plenty of people I didn't want to date, so I wouldn't take that as any big signal. Take her at her word and move on. And next time, try to hook up with someone who is mature enough to actually date, which she is not.

In case it helps to note it again, your list of reasons she might like you (e.g. likes loud music) is really grasping at straws. I like loud music, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to be your date, for example. When someone who is a mature person really likes you, you'll know it because they'll say something like "hey, uh, I really like you!" on top of doing all those nice dating things.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:15 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

she has already told me... twice... That she just wants to be friends with me

That is all you need to know. End of discussion.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:20 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Consider that one reason her words and actions don't quite match is that she is seventeen. At that age, as I think someone said above, it's easy to be flattered and intrigued when an older person is flirting with you or wants to date you. I think as a 17 year old seeing a 27 year old, it would be very hard to say no. She has said no anyway, and it's good to hear that you will respect her wise decision.

I say this as someone who dated an older man when I was in my late teens. At the time, I thought that I knew my own mind, and I made a decision to proceed with the relationship. In retrospect, it was not a great decision for me long-term, but it was what I wanted at the time, so I am still glad that I followed my heart at that age. If I had been uncertain about the relationship as a teen, I think that now, in my 20s, I would feel really bad about it. It's true that some relationships that have age gaps and start when one partner is a teen do work out, but with the experience I have, I believe that it's very rare.

At 27, you are now far from your teenage years. I would strongly suggest that you rule out anyone under 20. If the issue you allude to in your follow-up has to do with lack of experience, I know that there are plenty of late-bloomer ladies out there who are around your age, and who would be happy to explore early relationship experiences with you.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:26 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

In terms of meeting women, engage in activities where you meet people (which women are, by the way. We're not mysteries or scary or out to intentionally mess with men.)

Find a meet up group or something with your interests and actually go to the events.
posted by zizzle at 6:50 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

No. Just no.

When someone tells you they're not interested, you have to respect that.

When someone tells you a second time, you really need to listen.

When that someone is ten years younger than you, and a minor, you need to back off. Even though she'll be eighteen in a few months. That's just way, way young. I would be wary of something like this even if she was enthusiastic, but the fact that she's told you multiple times that she doesn't want to date you? She really, really doesn't want to date you, man. Please leave her alone.

Someone who likes to listen to loud music doesn't necessarily want to go out with you. And, I mean, your evidence that she's not telling the truth here is that she held hands with you in a movie? Dude. Dude. Really?

Please back off before you end up in jail, or under a restraining order.
posted by Sara C. at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

At 27, you should be old enough to know better than to get hung up on a romantic interest. There are literally billions of women out there, and creepy age difference aside, there is nothing this one can possibly offer that makes her special. Go outside, look around, and lo and behold there are dozens within two hundred feet. Go talk to one and quit pursuing this poor uninterested girl.
posted by Willie0248 at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2014

"and besides I've always had a hard time finding a girl I have chemistry with, that we can talk and stuff, and think about a possibility to take things to the next level. "

So here's what you can take from this relationship, as her gift to you: Despite your past and how tricky it is for you to find someone you can connect with, it is possible. You're not too picky/sensitive/uniquely burdened to find someone you can love. This is great! Take some time to focus on the things you saw in her that really clicked for you. Make a list, if it helps. Then let that be your guidepost as you meet new people - things to actively look for in online profiles, or questions to ask or subjects to pursue when you meet in real life. And I would make an effort to reach out to women closer to you in age - they will probably have the added benefit of having more in common with you at the start, which will make your overall search a lot easier.

Breakups suck - but this isn't even that. This is a failure to launch. You didn't even get a chance to see all the ways she wasn't right for you - you may not even have had a fight yet. So you're probably still seeing her as all amazing potential, no downsides. No wonder she's hard to give up - she's more dream girl than reality, still. That's how all good relationships start - and more than a few really really bad ones. So remind yourself of that when you find it hard to turn away -- she may have clearer insights into why you two won't work as a couple than you do, and is saving both of you from the painful breakup that would have come later. Either way, there's no happily ever after.
posted by Mchelly at 7:35 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

She likes to walk fast? Listen to yourself: this is an absurd way to think of compatibility.

This girl has made it clear she's not interested. And the age gap is definitely inappropriate.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 8:06 AM on June 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

I think it's generally a good idea to believe what people tell you in situations like this.
posted by Ostara at 8:17 AM on June 10, 2014

Response by poster: Again, thanks everyone for the responses.

Perhaps I've got a ways to learn about relationships! And this really helps.

I'll let people keep posting comments, I know I'm not the only one in this situation, and this might be helpful for someone else. Everyone's input is highly appreciated!
posted by AbePlaysGuitar at 8:21 AM on June 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

When someone tells you they don't want to date you, you listen to them. You don't try and figure out how to manipulate a 17 year old child into changing her mind.

At 27, you should have figured out by now that just because you really really like someone does not mean that dating them is a good idea.

It's entirely possible that she did have some romantic feelings towards you, but that's entirely irrelevant, because she still doesn't want to date you.

Please stop reading dating books and go meet some women your own age.

Here's a thing about dating too, sometimes people go on dates with each other without knowing if they're interested in a relationship with the other person. Dating is about getting to know another person and spending time with them to see if there is the potential for more.
posted by inertia at 8:39 AM on June 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

I know I'm not the only one in this situation, and this might be helpful for someone else.

Indeed I think it is not that uncommon - especially with younger women and older men. The fact that everybody has told you "leave her" should be clear enough. But one adjunct - since I don't know where you live - would be to mention this list of age of consent by country (and US state). Dating somebody when it is a socially bad idea is one thing - dating them when it is illegal is still more serious one.
posted by rongorongo at 8:44 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

OP, I met a very mature man online, assumed he was in his mid-to-late twenties (I was in my early thirties), and continued talking to him. We fell in love. Then we had the age discussion. He was 18. I ~freaked out~. It took him weeks and weeks of talking me down, convincing me, and I was in love. So I proceeded with the relationship.

It was difficult. So many different cultural touchstones. He was missing so many life experiences that I felt I was keeping him from. It lasted about 10 years. (I moved across the country to be be near him. He went from staying every once in a while to living with me within a month.)

He has moved on, has a great gf, and, I believe, intends to marry her. I, OTOH, am alone, with many, many regrets about lost time, harm done, and being alone. From my own perspective I would say that it is much easier to date within a certain amount of years from your age, no matter what. Anything else is much more difficult. Take my experience for what it's worth to you.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2014 [12 favorites]

I've been reading dating books the past few weeks to see what's going on, if I did something wrong. Maybe I was too much of a nice guy? Maybe I wasn't as cocky/funny with her, and it bore her? Or maybe she's playing with me because I have a car, and I'm older, etc etc etc...

I would be curious to know what books you've been reading, and if you got these ideas from those books - because if so, you may have been reading some straight-up misogynistic bullshit that is doing the opposite of helping you.

It's great that you've gotten the message when it comes to this particular situation - this teenager doesn't owe you a relationship even if you do have a hard time connecting with people, and you should respect that people mean it when they tell you no. However, since you say you're interested in learning, maybe look up "nice guy syndrome" online, or at least check out Lore Sjoberg's article on it - and while you're at it, check out this previous dating advice thread for some suggestions that you may find helpful as you try to meet other people.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

She is 17 years old who is just getting to know herself and experimenting and has no idea what she wants. She likes the attention just as she likes any attention, from her mom, her family her dog. You are 27 and should know better. Not even sure this is legal in your State.
posted by jbean at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe I was too much of a nice guy?

Women do not decide not to date men because they're too nice.

Look, women are not a different species from men. We are fellow human beings, exactly like you. We do not monolithically have the same preferences and attractions and desires. We do not all think alike or act alike. We are not programmed by our biology to turn into sex-giving automatons whenever we meet cocky guys who drive expensive cars.

Here's a tip: stop reading any "self-help" material that is predicated on telling you "what women are like" and how you have to act to attract us. Concentrate on yourself. Think of the personal qualities that you admire most in other people -- not just in men and not just in women, but in people -- and consider how you can best cultivate them in yourself. For example, you may find that you really value things like kindness, humor, resilience, creativity, spirituality, etc. (Or you may find you value totally different qualities -- those are just off the top of my head to get you started).

Really, spend some time thinking about these values. Make a list of them, if you like. Now, think about practical ways you can cultivate those qualities in yourself, and how you might meet other people -- again, not just women and not just men, but people -- who also share those qualities.

Bottom line: what do you think makes a good person? Start being that person, and you will find people -- yes, including women who may be potential romantic partners -- that way.

But please, for your sake and for the sake of every woman you meet from here on out, stop reading dating books that are predicated on the notion that women are anything other than fellow human beings.
posted by scody at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2014 [66 favorites]

What you need to learn is that a 27-year-old who has an interest in banging a high schooler is automatically creepy and most likely illegal and that the only relationship advice you need to be listening to will come from a counselor. You need to seriously look at your life unless you're ready to explain to a police officer why you're pursuing a statutory rape situation.

I speak from direct experience having reported underage clients' relationships with late 20s and early 30s men to the police as was legally and ethically required in my profession. You're basically asking if you should pursue setting yourself on fire. Even if you manage to avoid legal issues, she has made clear that she doesn't want a relationship. Even if she did, it would not work.
posted by Benjy at 9:36 AM on June 10, 2014 [10 favorites]

I know a young man who keeps finding himself interested in girls who are still in high school. Not young enough to make him a creeper but not a good fit anyway. For him, it's about his own confidence. He doesn't believe he's good enough/accomplished enough to date a woman because he doesn't see himself as a man. But he is, and you are, a man.

My advice to him and to you is to ignore the actual age difference and look instead at the "stage of life" difference. Does she live in the same world you live in? Is the rhythm of her days similar to yours? Are her milestones (prom, graduation) the same as yours (apartment lease, annual review)? That's where compatibility begins. (there's a long way to go from there to see if you're truly compatible, but it's a nonstarter without at least that basic connection)

And as stated above, no means no.
posted by headnsouth at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm very glad you aren't going to pursue her further. This was NOT a good situation. It is actually very troubling and disturbing to me. Also, your grounds for believing that you would be a good pairing were incredibly superficial and weak. Liking loud music? Both liking to walk fast? Seriously? These are not traits upon which healthy, adult relationships are built. You need to do a LOT of thinking on what sorts of things actually are indicative of relationship potential, and I will tell you now that stuff like walking fast and loud music aren't on the list.

Just for future reference...

Age differences between dating partners is tricky. I am married to a man 8 years older than I am, and we are very happy. The difference? I was 29 when we started dating. I was a grown up. I had a job/career. I was living on my own and was fully self-sufficient and independent. I had relationship experience. I had WAY more maturity than I did when I was in my teens, etc... He and I were (and are) in the same life stage, and THAT is the clincher. We are both adults, established, experienced, and on fairly clear paths that happen to overlap with each other. At 17 there is simply too much that she hasn't done or experienced or thought about. Also, at 17 very few people have the maturity to be able to handle a mature, grown up, adult relationship, let alone even making a rational, responsible choice as to whether such a relationship is right for her. You are 27 and you should be mature and responsible enough to know that.

Moving forward, since you seem to be struggling with it, maybe limit yourself to dating anyone that isn't in a similar life stage as you are. And no one under the age of, say, 24.

And dating people in high school is only acceptable if you are in high school as well.

And her best friend and mom were asking about you not in a "Oooo! Details!" way but in a "Who is this creep preying on this young girl" way. I know you didn't intend to come off as a creep, but basically everyone is going to think it to be very inappropriate and disturbing for a 27 year old to be dating a person still in high school.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:42 AM on June 10, 2014 [6 favorites]

The first couple of years I was in college, a similar pattern played out amongst men and women I knew--who were not much older than the young woman you're interested in--in which a man and a woman would start hanging out together and going to dinner or seeing movies, and at some point the man would assume this meant romantic interest, would do something to clarify that, like use the word "date" to refer to what they were doing, and the woman would backpedal and say "No, no, I said we were going out AS FRIENDS!" and there would be hurt feelings on both sides

What was going on? I eventually figured out (years later!) is that the women, for the most part, did feel that the men were friends, and started behaving towards the men with the emotional and physical demonstrativeness that they used with their women friends. The men, who didn't have much experience with this, assumed that the frequent touching and hugs, and the deep talks and confidences were romantic interest, not realizing it was the way these particular women expressed friendship.

Why did they do this? Youth and inexperience, and exploring the wider world for the first time, realizing that hey--men and women can be just friends!--and not understanding that generally, in the culture we were embedded in, men and women are socialized to express friendship differently. This stopped happening by the time we were 21 or 22 and had spent several years learning about the opposite gender, and both genders adapted their behaviors a bit.

Don't know if this relates to you, but certainly it's something to think about.
posted by telophase at 9:48 AM on June 10, 2014 [16 favorites]

Honestly, she comes across as more mature than you in your first post. And I understand the appeal of a young, interesting vibrant woman. Being interested in her is not necessarily Wrong or Evil- and is in fact pretty natural. But. You have a significant age/life experience gap. And she has said- pretty clearly- no. And, as you seem to recognize, you have one option there: No means no. Sorry. But recognizing that you have to respect that, maybe grieve a little (in private) and move on, is a very good thing.

I firmly believe that psychological damage sort of 'freezes' us at the age we were when said damage occurs. Not in all aspects of our life, maybe, but the theory that past damage is hurting you in regards to ladies is likely a good one. I recommend exploring this with a good therapist. The good news is, the healthier you are, the healthier people you attract. So that's win-win!

Good luck. I don't think you are a bad person, or will stay single too terribly long.
posted by Jacen at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2014

The way she acts with me doesn't match what she says though.

Why anyone would want to be with people who act like they are into them but insist they are not? I see all sorts of people doing this to other people and for the life of me I cannot understand why they hang on to something that is a perpetual reminder of rejection.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on June 10, 2014

Aside from the smart comments here,let me note that I was sometime ago in a position to be around girls that ranged from 18-23...I was older. As a generalization, a girl has to be about 22 before she seems fully to posses a developed sense of self--what she wants,who she is, etc...This is of course a big generalization but that is what I found more often than not.
As others have said: move on.
posted by Postroad at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2014

[Ignoring the age difference stuff]

I had incredible chemistry and very much loved someone (or at least I thought I did at the time. But, no matter how much I wanted to be with him, there were red flags, and I went with my gut feeling (aka intuition, aka subconscious reasoning) to never actually hook up with the guy. It was an excellent decision. It would have been disasterous.
My point is, perhaps this girl knows something is off, something wouldn't work out, and she's trying to avoid disaster. Respect that.

Back to the age thing. She is a girl. You are a man. She needs to date boys. You need to date women.
I don't know where in the world you are. A decade age difference isn't unheard of in certain parts if the world, especially in societies in which there is a greater power difference between men & women. Think about that for a while.
posted by Neekee at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2014

The reasons you give for believing she is compatible with you aren't really compatibility things, tehy seem more like that early infatuation, butterflies in the stomach feeling of a crush, which are fine feelings to have, but should not be confused with genuine love and should be analyzed with caution as they tend to blind you to obstacles in teh reality of having a relationship with that person.

You sound like you are confusing the 2 due to lack of relationship experience. That also sounds like why you would for any reason think it's ok for a 27 year old to date a hig schooler. That's a WTF?! to society at large.

You need to gain some confidence and date women around your own age, liek +- 3 or 4 years. You will need to learn to see them as people. Tehy are independant people, they don't need you, you aren't gonna roll up like some prince charming, saving the helpless girl from daddy's castle or some shit. She might make more money than you and have her own place. She might be established in music. Basically, you have to date women that can be equal to you, not helpless adn lost without you. A lot of men who lack confidence seem to go for "helpless" women because it give them some security that the women will not leave them for a better dude. This is usually a toxic relationship dynamic for both people. Go get some confidence, find an equal partner, and complement each other's lives ratehr than looking for comfort in some bogus power dynamic.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2014

MetaTalk post.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something is not matching here, and I've been reading dating books the past few weeks to see what's going on, if I did something wrong. Maybe I was too much of a nice guy? Maybe I wasn't as cocky/funny with her, and it bore her? Or maybe she's playing with me because I have a car, and I'm older, etc etc etc...

The kind of dating books you've been reading are not going to help you find a lasting relationship with respect on both sides. Throw them away!

In no way I mean to be creepy or anything.

This is another helpful lesson to learn: you might not mean to be creepy, but that does nothing to change the fact that you are acting in a creepy way. Nothing. All that will change that is acting in a different, non-creepy way. Concretely, in this situation, that means following the advice you've been offered here and not pursuing this girl. In general, it means believing women who tell you they're not interested and not thinking you know better because you can read it in their eyes or some other bullshit.

I have been a teenage girl who grew up being scared to say no, to any request, especially from men. I didn't realise that till years later, though. I have been "pursued" by men who wanted to be in relationships with me that I didn't want. It can be fucking scary. Don't be fucking scary.
posted by daisyk at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

Consider how you would have felt if 17-year-old you were friends with a 27-year-old man who took you to the movies and gave you car rides and then kept "pursuing" you after you rejected his advances.
posted by Benjy at 1:48 PM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have read very little of the responses but I thought I would pop in to say that, when I was age 17, I did not think of hand holding as some kind of sexual signal. I held hands while walking with my mother or sister through the mall. I held hands with my female best friend while walking down the halls at high school. I held hands with a male friend while at a Six Flags so we wouldn't get separated in the crowd. I also did not see hanging out with friends as necessarily "a date."

Now that I am 49, I have a long list of reasons for being more hands off generally and I am more inclined to interpret touching in terms of "seeking sexual intimacy" (in part because I now understand the degree to which other people intend or interpret it that way) but at age 17 it did not mean that to me at all. I gave all my friends, of both genders, back rubs. I hugged all kinds of people. I was a very affectionate person and I in now way felt that affection should be interpreted as sexual interest. It annoyed me when people assumed it was. It often simply was not.

So I will suggest that your interpretation of her actions may be way off. It may not mean to her what it means to you.
posted by Michele in California at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since you're open to reading up on how to improve your compatibility with women, I highly recommend reading some Carl Jung and his anima/animus (inner female/inner male) concepts. I discovered his ideas after my last big disappointment in relationships (same stage as you -- much smaller age difference, however, was stuck trying to decipher what to do with the unusually deep feelings the friendship with the other person had incited). Reframing my fixation on this fellow as an exercise in better understanding my inner masculine component has helped me tremendously to move on and (even better) feel hopeful about possible future relationships.

Personally, I think the whole older male/younger female tendency is result of generations of men who do not acknowledge their inner feminine component (thus stagnating it in immaturity until, in older age, they encounter a younger woman who embodies that inner immature female phase). I think the same can happen for women who find themselves irrationally intrigued by immaturely behaving men -- that it's a similar failure to bring one's inner masculine component to maturity. It seems pretty clear to me that the ideal pairing is that of a man who has consciously fostered maturation of his inner feminine side with a woman who consciously fostered maturation of her inner masculine side... internally emotionally mature people don't have much need to rediscovering unclaimed parts of Self in younger people, but I could be wrong...

Another coping hack: I've learned to look for traits I found attractive from my last experience of good chemistry in any men I encounter -- so that I can get better at recognizing those traits and recognize them more quickly in a man my age. So if you're open to using this experience with this younger woman as a potential lesson in self-awareness, do take stock of what qualities were genuinely valuable to you, and make a point of seeking them (or at least thinking about what happens to those qualities, and how they turn up or transform in women around your age). Perhaps that will help you to see, too, that what appears attractive in youth does survive and endure with age -- especially when you find someone who values their inner landscape like you do. Best of luck!
posted by human ecologist at 2:15 PM on June 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all for the responses.

I've made my decision to not pursue her anymore.
I didn't do anything jail worthy.
I asked for advice before I took it further, which I consider to be a good thing!
I made a mistake, but I'm changing what I need to, and moving forward.

Isn't that what this life is about? We make mistakes, but as long as we're willing to seek for advice, and change the direction we're taking if necessary, aren't we doing the right thing then?

That's all I'm doing, and I'm sure lots of people here will relate to me, as there are SO MANY guys that consider dating an underage. And if that's you that are reading this, I hope you found this thread/decisions/comments useful. I certainly did.

Thanks again to all of you for the kind comments. And for the not so kind, thanks for your input as well.
posted by AbePlaysGuitar at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2014 [12 favorites]

Take a moment and read Empath and Scody's answers again — they were right on times a million. Good on you for learning from this and moving on.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

You like the same things, you enjoy each other's company to the point of holding hands, and can talk about stuff for hours on end... sounds like you've made a pretty damn good friend.

I'm not making with the corny "glass half full" stuff ... consider whether you might learn to appreciate just being friends rather than walking away because she doesn't want "more". (Scare quotes because "more" is usually in the end a lot less than an actual friendship might have been.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:56 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she tells you she just wants to be friends, she just wants to be friends. You have to take her word for it, because that's what good people do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2014

My husband is 11 years old than I am. We met when I was 18 and he was 29. There was never a point in our dating relationship that I told him I wanted to just be friends. We were friends, and we still continue to be friends, but there was always a mutual sexual attraction as well. You can't force a girl to like you that way, sorry. We split up for 25 years and got back together and I still love him. He calls me 5 times a day to tell me how much he loves me. Walks in the door with a flower. I make him treats and we hug and watch our favorite shows together. Hold hands while we're doing it. You just can't force that connection on anyone, no matter what their age, sorry. It has to be mutual.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:18 PM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

I am the 17 year old who dated a 27 year old and we are coming up to our 15th wedding anniversary. I didn't say 'let's be friends' when he asked me on a date, I said something along the lines of "yes, please, yes yes".

I did say 'let's be friends' to people who wanted to date me but I didn't want to date - often not because there wasn't chemistry but for other reasons. The guys who listened and stepped back, I hung out with. The guys who still kept asking I avoided because they didn't care about me, only a potential hookup.

You like this girl and respect her enough to be concerned about correctly figuring out what would work.

If it's too weird to be friends with her when you feel attracted, step back and hang out with other people instead. If your feelings mellow and you can handle it, be friends with her and look forward to dating someone else with whom you have chemistry AND who is interested in a romantic relationship.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:22 PM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree that no means no, and that respecting her is extra important because of your age gap and what is probably asymmetrical levels of maturity (whether you have noticed yet or not).

However, if it really confuses you, which it sounds like it might, there is nothing wrong with politely and gently asking her directly about it - not so you have more information to continue pursuing her - but so that you know what went wrong for other girls. In the future. But yeah. Don't keep pursuing something that has said no because if you really like someone, you respect their wishes. There are no exceptions to this.
posted by dinosaurprincess at 11:44 PM on June 10, 2014

besides I've always had a hard time finding a girl I have chemistry with

I'm not sure if anyone has specifically pointed this out yet, but chemistry isn't something you can have in only one direction. You can't have chemistry "with" someone who doesn't feel chemistry (or something like it, possibly described in different words or left unsaid) back towards you.

Sort of like how you can't shake hands with someone unless they are shaking hands with you as well.
posted by yohko at 2:19 PM on June 12, 2014

chemistry isn't something you can have in only one direction

I'm embarrassed to say that in my younger years I would have understood this to mean that if I am feeling fuzzy feelings for someone, they must be feeling them as well. It couldn't possibly just be me. I made a lot of really dumb moves believing that.

But yohko, I think you are saying that for one person to say they have "chemistry with" another person, that person must also be experiencing and expressing that they feel chemistry. However fuzzy and excited one person might feel, it's not chemistry unless both parties experience it.

In this case, OP is experiencing feelings, but the object of his affection has told him that she wants to be friends. Therefore it would be incorrect to say they have chemistry.
posted by bunderful at 8:05 PM on June 12, 2014

bunderful has explained this better than I did.

I should have pointed out that the other person is clearly not feeling any chemistry, thus there is no way they can have chemistry "with" each other. I suppose it is less obvious than when one is trying to shake hands with someone who is not shaking hands back.
posted by yohko at 6:28 PM on June 15, 2014

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