we had a rom-com meet-cute…11 years ago. now what?
July 23, 2014 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Is this something worth pursuing? About 11 years ago, i went to a destination wedding at the Oregon Coast. I met a close childhood friend of the groom's at the wedding. Nothing inappropriate happened because he was married, but we hit it off that week. He was one of the funniest, fun guys I had met and I immediately developed a crush on him. Five years later, I had by then moved to Portland (he lived in DC), and we ended up at another destination wedding in the northwest with the same group of friends. I don't remember a lot of this second wedding bc I was emerging from a deep clinical depression and was on meds. I do remember again hitting it off with the same guy again—and again, nothing inappropriate bc he was still married and had a daughter by this time. Every once in long while, we would exchange an email message or a comment on FB, but as he was still married with children (by now two) and lived in DC, I didn't think much about him beyond a fondness every time I saw him post on FB.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago. I post a picture on FB. He makes a comment that leads to an exchange of comments between us and then an hour later, he starts to message chat me, and he's being very flirty, which confuses me at first because isn't he married with kids? Then it dawns on me that every picture he's posted on FB for awhile now has been of him and his kids only—no wife. Turns out they'd split up a couple of years previous. I look up his wife on FB, and she's no longer on my friends list (I didn't get to know her as well at those weddings but I always liked her). After we'd been chatting for about an hour, I mention to him that I'd always had a crush on him, and he tells me that he'd always liked me too (and he's remembered stuff about me from the second wedding that I don't even remember—starting with the fact that I had brought a date who he thought was a boyfriend!). Then we joke about meeting up (I'm still in Portland, he's still in DC) again and now it's become not really a joke. We've been texting pretty regularly since then, and he's the same funny, fun, charming, sweet guy I've remember.

I feel like I've been down this road before with an LDR with a divorced father of two young children with whom I'd had a history. I know that that divorced father of two who lives in another state is not this divorced father of two who lives in another state. And not to put the cart before the horse, but I do think this needs some consideration should things progress. Would I move? Because obviously I would have to. I love, love, love Portland, my house, my life here, and I could not fathom it in the previous LDR (for that particular location, for that particular guy) so that guy volunteered to would move because my situation was more stable than his. Needless to say, he couldn't in the end and things ended…not well. Could I fathom moving for this guy? I am not as absolutely opposed to it as I was with the other guy. But I also have deliberately tried not to really think about it. Because unlike with the other guy, this is not a short plane hop but a flight across the entire country every time we'd want to see each other. Not to mention, taking PTO from work, figuring out his schedule with the kids, etc etc.

Other maybe pertinent info:
• We are both 41
• We both have successful careers
• We've both been in therapy
• We both have the same fun, spontaneous, sometimes a bit scattered approach to life
• He and his wife had been together 20 years by the time they split; reason for split: they hadn't been getting along for awhile and were starting to argue in front of the kids
• His daughters are 10 and 3
• He has been in rehab for alcohol
• He has dated here and there since his split, but has made no connections with anyone
• I have never been married; I would love to be married someday but have fully accepted that it may not be in the cards for me
• I don't date very often but recently split up from a short (4 mos) relationship a couple months ago

So…do I pursue this? Is there something else I should be considering? Good idea? Bad idea?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think it depends what you want to pursue.

Just some fun dates? Why not, go for it.

If you're considering anything more serious than that - you frankly don't have enough information about the guy to be able to tell whether he'd be WORTH moving for, or whether you'd WANT anything more serious with him.

Listen, I get it - you're all excited about the possibility because you've made a great connection. I was kind of in the same boat with my current object d'schmoop when we first met. But it hit me that even though we have a lot of fun together, that's only when we are together in the same room - I have no idea how he fights, what his long-term goals are, where he even wants to live in a few years, how he'd handle things if I got sick, what he's like when he's angry or moody or depressed, etc. And uprooting my entire life before I know that doesn't make sense, so neither do the fantasies. But I can still have fun and just see what happens, and maybe after a couple years I'll have gotten a bit more information and I can decide then.

And that's an approach you can take too - thinking about moving across country or marrying the guy is WAY jumping the gun, after having only had a couple meetings and some facebook interaction. But it's enough basis for a casual-dating sort of "well, let's kick things up a notch and see what happens" kind of thing. Maybe you'll find out more about him and decide "never mind", maybe you'll find out more about him and decide "HELL no", maybe you'll decide "casual fun is maybe all we should do", but at least you'll know.

So think about what you COULD realistically pursue first. And if you think you can keep it casual and "let's just see" for a while, then go for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:46 AM on July 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Instead of asking the life-altering question, maybe ask yourself the month-altering question: do you have the time and energy and funds for one visit?

Take it one day at a time. See how it develops. Thinking about moving in together and the kids and all that, at this stage - well, you're moving a bit fast. And I understand! I'm a planner. I like to know what might happen in the future too. It makes me feel secure. But with romantic relationships, it's important to focus on the present, too - especially at the beginning.

Good luck.
posted by sockermom at 6:50 AM on July 23, 2014 [20 favorites]

I'd go for it. Spend time together and see what happens. If it does turn into a relationship, you can always evaluate at that time what makes sense. If you do end up in love and contemplating a future together, it won't feel like a sacrifice to be together.

Finding people you mesh well with and have sparks with and who get you is rare indeed. Live in the moment for now, the future will take care of itself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

My feeling is that the older you get the more these sorts of connections can be really fun and interesting but not necessarily "OK if this works out I turn my whole life upside-down" things. I've been in a long term committed LDR for years now and it's perfect for me. It's not perfect for everyone. You'd have to take some time to see if it's perfect for you, or even something you'd enjoy (with this guy or any guy). If you're not angling to have kids right now, there is no real reason why spending some more time with someone you feel you have a connection with is a bad plan. Take care of yourself and be mindful of not losing yourself in the "OMG is this the one??" sort of trouble-borrowing and see what happens.
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can appreciate wanting to think through the possibilities, but you also don't have much information yet. You sound excited, though, and this sounds like a potentially good thing for you. I think you should pursue it and try to stay focused on the present. Will it be worth moving for? That will become clear in time. Plan a trip to see him, maybe, and take it one day at a time, and enjoy the experience, whether it leads to a permanent relationship or not. Congratulations!
posted by aka burlap at 7:34 AM on July 23, 2014

Do you pursue it? Of course you do. You can't just set yourself up for a world of regret that you'll feel if you don't. This is the moment, go for it.

But, go for it with open mind and open heart. Don't trouble yourself with all these questions about moving and kids and whatnot. That's way too far down the road. I'd be inclined to have him come to you rather than you to him. It seems more neutral than being there in his family home. Or maybe you meet somewhere in between?

Good luck and have fun. Don't be afraid when the time comes to be clear about what you want and what your fears are. No matter what, it'll probably be okay.
posted by amanda at 7:40 AM on July 23, 2014

Steps 1-100: fun weekend trips.
Steps 101-250: cultivating a relationship with his teenagers.
Steps 251-450: explicit conversations on your mutual expectations re parenting.

If you can get through those first steps, only then do you need to worry about moving.
posted by spunweb at 7:49 AM on July 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, don't go uprooting your life just yet. But totally plan a visit. If that goes well, plan another visit and another. If that keeps going well, eventually try to plan an extended visit, so you can see how regular life is together, rather than just happy fun vacation weekend time. If that goes well, THEN maybe start to seriously consider whether one of you might move cross country. But before you've even kissed the guy is way too soon to be stressing over the big life stuff.
posted by ktkt at 7:51 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't actually have to figure out if you you would move for this guy or marry him to go have fun visiting with him, or for him to visit you.

You should consider if he'd even be looking for a LDR, or any exclusive relationship at all, or to have the two of your move in together before you worry about these things, and you should get to know him better before considering these things as well.

With someone you've had a crush on for this long, I'd say go for it -- you'll always wonder "what if" otherwise.
posted by yohko at 7:51 AM on July 23, 2014

The Universe waited 11 years, you can give it like at least 1, right?
posted by hamsterdam at 7:59 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agree with everyone above who says to go for it. Keep your expectations low, and hey--even if it fizzles out or never materializes beyond "fling," you might have a handful of lovely memories to carry around.
posted by magdalemon at 8:04 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

(I'm still in Portland, he's still in DC)

I'd say go for it, with no necessary destination for the relationship in mind, but extremely mindful that getting to each other involves most of the day either on plane or in an airport, with at least one layover each way and $400-600.

Look, you two sound like you have a connection and that's great. But y'all don't live across town or even across the state. That can be tough on many levels and put a damper on things.

So go for it, but keep it fairly light at first and you should point out the difficulties of just getting in the same room, even for just a few hours. Where the relationship goes (if anywhere) should be on each other's mind.

Have fun!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't date very often

Why not? Perhaps dating more often would lead to a local relationship with a guy who has all the pluses of this long-distance crush, and none of the minuses.

Right now, all you know about Mr. DC is that he is fun and funny and charming. I actually consider that type of attraction a bit of a red flag -- it's all fun and laughs until suddenly it isn't, esp. with these long-distance type courtships where you have too much time in your own mind to build up a fantasy of the other person.

Frankly, no way in hell I'd uproot from a lovely life in Portland for some dude in DC. Talk about a culture shock, and a climate shock. Add a history of depression on top of that and, nope, no way I personally would make that move. It sounds like a sure way to tank your quality of life for something unpredictable (another person), and possibly jeopardize your mental well-being.

I think you might want to put more effort into locally-sourced gentlemen. Really throw yourself into finding someone near you, taking a healthy, sloooow approach to getting to know guys, maintain your local support system to keep depression at bay, and continue to build the life you've invented for yourself, rather than tossing it all away to chase some guy.

I think you can do just as well, or better, without the huge upheaval. There's no man shortage. This guy is low-hanging fruit. Reach higher.
posted by nacho fries at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

OP, are you actually me posting from the future? Because I've had the whole meet-cute connection thing going on for a few years with a very sweet, very married man too. While he's obviously definitely off-limits as anything other than a friend right now, I'm so very fond of him, and if I ever find myself in your position down the road...

Go for it. See what's there. It's absolutely too early to worry about things like moving, but visit him, or have him visit you, and see how it goes. Connections like this are worth pursuing. Good luck, future version of me!
posted by QuickedWeen at 9:33 AM on July 23, 2014

I would want to take this really slow. DC is so different from Portland, and if you love the Pac NW life, DC is unlikely to be for you. So, this guy really has to hit all your buttons for that to happen.

Right now, you know he's fun at parties and that he's sweet in electronic communication. You need to know what he's like in more contexts in order to get a sense of whether he is so amazing that you would put up with a major change in lifestyle to be with him. You need to get a sense of his faults and shortcomings before you can start thinking like that, and those generally don't come out as clearly at parties and over text messages.

I would start out with a weekend trip somewhere in the midwest to see how you connect in that context. Then, I would move onto visits to each other's places. If he is really the man that makes you feel great about yourself and has flaws that you can live with, then you have to think about moving. If not, hopefully you had some fun times, some good sex, and are happy knowing that you gave it a shot.
posted by ohisee at 12:40 PM on July 23, 2014

• He has been in rehab for alcohol
• He has dated here and there since his split, but has made no connections with anyone

I think these two pieces of information are important individually, but moreso, taken in combination.

My concerns here would be: How long ago was his stint(s) in rehab, and what is his current relationship with alcohol? What actionable, practical processes does he have in place to prevent relapse (support systems, coping mechanisms, etc.)? Was his drinking related to the marital issues?

These would be concerns with any budding relationship with a guy with his history, but the fact that he is thousands of miles away introduces an extra level of wariness. You won't have in-person access to him on a frequent basis during your courtship, so you won't have the evidence of your senses to let you know if he is staying the course with his alcohol rehab. I'm not assuming you are naive to these things -- you're 41, so chances are, you've had experience relating to others with addiction issues, or perhaps even had issues of your own -- but I did want to call it out as something to pay careful attention to.

The fact that he hasn't had a deep connection with anyone since his divorce (he is divorced, right? Not just separated?) potentially puts you in the position of being his rebound girlfriend -- the one who helps "make him whole" emotionally and perhaps sexually after years of inactivity. It's not uncommon for a woman to fill that role, get the guy all fluffed up and pumped up and back on his feet, and then...he jogs on to someone new (and local to him). If you are at all the type of person who your friends might characterize as: having a big heart; being loyal to a fault; being super nurturing; and so on, it could turn into a dynamic where you Florence Nightengale this guy, and you get very hurt.

The combo of addiction issues + relatively newly single + not yet had a serious relationship = a sum total that gives me pause. I apologize for being such a party-pooper / worst-case scenario thinker, but this situation just has my Spidey Senses all a-tingle.

Even if you go in with the mindset of keeping it casual (does that ever work? Never has for me.), and pacing yourself, there will be an opportunity cost. The time spent pursuing a slow-mo relationship is time that isn't being spent seeking someone else; and the potential recovery time if it all blows up, means more time spent on the therapist's couch rather than your potential (different guy) husband's couch.
posted by nacho fries at 1:05 PM on July 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

A re-direct of advice, your honor!

Even if you go in with the mindset of keeping it casual (does that ever work? Never has for me.), and pacing yourself, there will be an opportunity cost. The time spent pursuing a slow-mo relationship is time that isn't being spent seeking someone else...

This is only true if you choose to not date anyone else while you're pursuing something with D.C. Guy. And that is something to consider - is if you're going to honestly be open to dating other people at the same time as dating D.C. Guy. And I think doing so is wise, if you are able to handle it.

I don't mean, like, "jump on OKCupid and set up a whole lot of dates now with guys you don't like" or whatever; I mean, date locally the way you honestly would if D.C. Guy wasn't in the picture. And, brace yourself for the possibility that he is doing the same.

It honestly does help. I have other details that may ring true for you; MeMail me if you want me to elaborate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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