should I feel like shit? cause I kinda feel like shit.
April 9, 2015 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I am new(ish) to dating. I went on a couple of dates(?) with one person, and with another person a platonic meeting turned romantic and now I feel really guilty. Can I get some goddamn perspective, please? (other stupid complications within, obvsly. Just look what website we're on.)

Me: closer to 20 than to 30, newish to dating, hella emotional and expert bean plater. I was in a very, very long term relationship all throughout high school and then some. After that I chose to be single for a while, and now I'm trying to date. So far I've dated 3 other people, but none of them developed into being boyfriends/girlfriends.

I met both of these people (A and B) on OKCupid. I do not use that site solely for dating, I've made more friends than romantic partners. I'm pretty open about this and it says I'm looking for people to befriend/make art/diy etc with, in addition to the normal dating expectation.

I started talking to A a couple months ago. We texted a lot, but due to weather and work and him being a shy person, we didn't actually meet until a few weeks ago. So far all of the talking was strictly platonic. Friend shit. A week goes by, we hang out for the 2nd time. Everything still platonic. Another week, and he admits he like-likes me. I tell him the same. We hang out again (no one ever uses the word date), but he's still reserved and we don't even so much as hold hands. I'm kinda like ??? but oh well. Then we hang out for the 4th time, he kisses me, there's cuddling, the end. Other than that small amount of physical affection, there's not anything very date-like about our meetups. We take separate vehicles, we buy all our own shit, etc etc. Since about 3 weeks ago when he admitted feelings for me, our text messages have definitely gotten flirtier, on one occasion talking vaguely but candidly about sex, and frequently opining about how we'd rather be in an embrace than wherever we are at the time. Also of note, we text around 5 days out of the week. He's been so far a very good person to have as a friend.

Person B I started talking to about 6 weeks ago. Again, our conversations have been strictly platonic. Mostly art and politics, etc. Person B lives in a city 2 hours away. This week was their birthday, they invited me up to celebrate, and I went. Before this we had never met in person. In the invitation he invited me to crash on their couch so I didn't have to make the drive back after working all day and potentially drinking. The party was tuesday night. He, another girl, and I were the last people at his place, watching a movie, but then the other girl bailed partway through. At this point it was way late, and I decided to stay. After the other girl left, he started flirting, which I found odd because our interaction had been platonic. I probably even talked more to some girl at the party than him. I didn't think I was sending any particular signals, and I hadn't really caught any from him (but maybe I'm bad at this). We stayed up late talking on the couch, and then he invites me to finish the movie in his room. I told him that I didn't wanna have sex, he didn't want to either. We cuddled watching the movie, and he says that's he's had a major crush on me. We ended up staying in bed until 3 the next day, doing basically nothing but being next to eachother. We didn't technically hook up, but there was a lot of non g-rated physical intimacy. Also a decent amount of emotional intimacy in our conversations. Just being next to someone for hours and talking and being with someone you just met, it was kind of sublime. He bought me lunch, hinted at coming down to my city, and then outright asked when he could see me again. I didn't give him an answer. I drove home, and that was yesterday. I texted him and told him that, even though I avoided the question, I'd like to see him again. It was just a lot to handle at once and I needed some time to regroup. He said no worries, just to let him know when I'm ready to see him again.

Other complications: Before I met either of these people I had been planning to move to the city that B lives in, 2 hours from where I and A now live. I had planned on moving further down the line, but I just found out that the house I rent a room in is getting sold, so I'm having to find a place sooner rather than later. I have told A that I'm looking for a new place and that I'm stressed, but he's not been responsive to that conversation so I haven't told him that I'm considering moving away from our city. When I told B this (before we met) he told me he was also looking for a new place, and we've had serious talks/plans about trying to find a place with another friend of mine who lives in that city.

The actual question part
What sort of implicit loyalty is there with someone you just met? I have no clue how dating works. In the movies there are people who date multiple people, and from what I gather, monogamy is rarely the default. Like, that is the next step after dating, right? So why do I feel like I've cheated on someone who I'm not in a relationship with?
Also, what do I tell A? That I'm moving so we should stop actively developing these feelings? Do I even mention B? That sounds absurd, to tell someone I'm not in a relationship with about another person I'm not in a relationship with, but I don't know. There feels like other questions I want to ask, but it's basically that I'm all muddy and don't know how to feel about any of this.

Please send help.
posted by FirstMateKate to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What sort of implicit loyalty is there with someone you just met?

I think the general assumption is "not much", but you have to do what feels right for you. It seems like it's bothering you to be trying to date/whatever multiple people at once... so don't!

Also, what do I tell A?

"Sorry, I'm moving away. Timing sucks!" I wouldn't tell him about B; he doesn't need to know about that.

(And you didn't ask about this, but I would really strongly recommend you not move in -- even in a multiple roommate situation -- with B. There's too much going on there, and given that you're new to all this it has way too much potential to turn really ugly. Get your own place or one with your friend and let your relationship with B develop separately.)
posted by asterix at 5:38 PM on April 9, 2015 [21 favorites]

What sort of implicit loyalty is there with someone you just met?

I can't answer your wall of text, but I can say to this "None!!!" None, my friend. There is no loyalty to someone you just met. Do not feel any obligation there, whatsoever. If it feels weird, run, run away.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

There aren't any hard and fast rules. The fact that you need to move to city B doesn't mean you should pursue things with B and stop with A. You should stop with A if you are no longer interested in A romantically, or if you are not interested in pursuing a long-distance relationship with A. You should keep going with B if you are interested in him romantically. These things are all very changeable, so agree with asterix that whatever you do, you shouldn't move in together with B. Much potential awkwardness no matter what happens.

If you break things off with A (incidentally, doesn't sound like there's much to break off) I would not bring up B at all. The relevant thing is either that you're not interested in him romantically, or you have to move to a different city and that's going to put a spanner in the works so you want to break it off.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:22 PM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: What sort of implicit loyalty is there with someone you just met?

So why do I feel like I've cheated on someone who I'm not in a relationship with?
Because feelings. And programming. This might lessen as you continue meeting people and start to get a sense of the patterns. With more experience, you'll get a bigger picture, and individual interactions won't feel as weighty.

Also, what do I tell A?
"I moved to City B! Let me know if you're in town. K thx bye."

Do I even mention B?
No. Maybe not even to B. As in, back-burner him while you settle into your new city and continue meeting people.

don't know how to feel about any of this.
There's no should. You feel how you feel. Feelings are fleeting, flowing, not facts. Oh and yes, situations like this can feel like shit, and you can find yourself overthinking them even when you know better. Especially when other things in your life are up in the air, like moving to a new city.

I have no clue how dating works
You have a lot of say in this, actually. Even in your age group, if you prefer to go on actual dates despite the prevailing hang-out/hook-up culture, you can do that.
posted by wonton endangerment at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2015

You come across as really passive - as if it's the two guys and their separate claims on you that define what should happen next in your life and in your bed. I don't really hear a strong signal from you that you actually want either of them to be your lover. Are there any butterflies?

I'd say, decide what you would like to happen most of all, and then choose the path that leads there.

If you're not really hot for either of them, date more people. .
posted by Omnomnom at 3:14 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

May I recommend a book?
When my clients have basic questions about dating, sex and finding a relationship, I always recommend David Burns' "Intimate Connections".

It was written in the 70's, but Burns is a pioneer in "distorted thinking" and he brings the fallacies from his best selling (and another recommendation) "Feeling Good" to "Intimate Connections".

He takes you step by step through those fallacies and has you do journaling and other exercises to clear your head and get you thinking rationally about dating, sex and relationships in general.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:31 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Like snickerdoodle said, exclusivity is generally something you talk about and agree upon at some point (or sometimes both people like each other so much they just kind of default to it without discussion). If you've just gone on a few casual dates with one person, it's not a huge faux pas to go out with someone else too.

That said, it's possible that dating multiple people at a time isn't really your thing and that's fine too. There aren't set in stone rules, "shoulds/should nots," it's just kind of what works best for you.

I would also be wary of moving in with a guy that soon, even if it seems practical. Keep in mind that with B you're still in that "honeymoon period" that all new relationships go through. Basically your brain is high on love and hormones right now when it comes to him, so now is not the time to be doing big stuff like moving in. If you really were planning to move to that city anyway (independent of you meeting B) then find your own place and date for a while. If things don't work out neither of you will end up having to move and if they do, you can revisit the idea later when you've come down to earth a bit.

If you're just moving to the city to be with B and otherwise wouldn't move at all I strongly advise against that.
posted by Kimmalah at 5:09 AM on April 10, 2015

Dating in our modern era is all fucked up. So you are right to be confused. The traditional date where a guy picks you up in his Studebaker and takes you for ice cream and he pays the bill and then drives up to Make-out Point is long gone, if it ever existed at all. It would be great if there was a single culturally universal standard for what a "date" is supposed to look like and what you could assume about the intentions of the person on the other side of the dinner table. But you can't.

My advice: instead of being frustrated and flustered about this, be explicit about what you want and what you expect from your date. Be proactively open and honest and communicative about things like sex, monogamy, and exclusivity. Make it your own responsibility to communicate your desires about these things. You may need to do some soul-searching of your own to decide what you really want in this case.

For example, you mention not being comfortable with the implied monogamy commitment. If that's the case, you can tell your prospective dates up front, "I'm seeing other people at the moment but I would still like to get to know you and if things go well we can discuss being exclusive then." Now you've gotten rid of the mystery, and your date can decide whether or not he wants to continue the relationship. Put the ball in his court, so to speak.
posted by deathpanels at 5:26 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Guy C! Guy C!

Guy A is doing that thing where he slides into dating you because you are there. Maybe he doesn't have other options, or whatever. That's kind of lame.

Guy B is doing that thing where he woos you way too hard and moves in with you right away and it's so DEEP, and then he figures out you do laundry and get sick and throw up sometimes. Or whatever.

You need Happy Medium Guy.

To answer your question, though, you are fine until someone actually says "I want you to be my exclusive girlfriend."
posted by quincunx at 12:54 PM on April 10, 2015

Make a list of everything you want in a partner. Now make a list of everything you really dont want: dealbreakers, the 'you do X, so you have zero date potential' (smoking, alcoholic, child status/future child plans, etc)

Congratulations, you now know more what you want in a partner!

+1 you aren't exclusive/committed/owe anybody anything till yall make that pretty firmly explicit, somehow.

+11111, please don't move in with a potential romantic relationship right off the bat like that. Sure, there is a non-zero chance it will all work fine, but extricating yourself from the potential messes make it WAY not worth in my opinion.
posted by Jacen at 2:39 PM on April 10, 2015

Best answer: You are a free agent until someone (you or them) gets serious and there is a define the relationship talk. Personally though, I would RUN from them both:

A sounds like he's doing that annoying thing where he lets things continue on only because he doesn't have the stones to say that he's only 'meh' about things. It's NOT you. You want someone who is PSYCHED to be with you! I went through this so many times and came out each time feeling bad about myself before I swore this type of stuff off. YMMV.

B sounds like he is moving WAY too fast where this could quickly become really creepy real fast. He's trying to fast track your feelings which is not a good thing or a respectful thing to do. I had this happen in the past and ended it after a few weeks and GEEZ what drama. I got hate mail, hate email, "please reconsider flowers" sent to work, apology emails, shit left on my doorstop...yikes. It's also NOT you and should you choose to do the same just get prepared to ignore. No phone calls, emails, texts, carrier pigeon or fax. There will be a nasty tantrum but it will fizzle out just as quick as it started.

For me there were also Guys type C and D but you haven't met them yet.

I ultimately married Guy E: the most calm, stable (which is great for us anxious types), funny, kind, caring, interesting guy who wanted to be my friend. He saw me at my absolute worst and we were buds. Three months later we both had crushes on each other and it just ended up working! There was nothing to over analyze, nothing ambiguous, everything was crystal clear. This Drove me crazy until I realized it's just how it is, because I bean plate the hell out of EVERYTHING. Then we got engaged and married and our dogs are no longer bastard children and it's awesome.

You're doing great - just listen to your gut, think about how you're feeling about it all, be honest and be kind. Good luck!
posted by floweredfish at 8:51 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Everyone is great and had a great answer thank you all so much!

I am not seeing guy B for a few weeks at least so I can get my head on straight. As floweredfish predicted, I'm hella anxious and got kinda whirlwinded with the unexpected romantic encounter.

Asterix, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it might be bothering me to date multiple people. It does. But like, the other option is to only date one person, and most likely that other person will be dating multiple other people, because that's the standard, and that's even worse. So this is the lesser of two evils.

I am still moving to City, because that's been the plan for about 6 months, but no. I am not moving in with B. That's absurd, you're right. And it's weird he suggested the possibility of roomatehood when he was crushing on me? But at that point there was 0 romantic exchange and I was pretty distant. But, yeah. After what happened it'd be a very bad idea to try and get a place.

I told A I'm moving to City. At first he was detached about it and was like "go you, yayy" etc. But then he confessed some srs feels for me, but he's just kept them to the side because I'm standoffish. (This is becoming a thing with me? Apparently I keep my guard up too much). Also because he knows I'm somewhere on the ace spectrum, and he didn't wanna cross that boundary. Idk. This isn't relevant but I always wonder what happens to askme posters, so I'm just filling in for the casual reader.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:39 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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