Was he interested or not?
April 26, 2015 1:33 PM   Subscribe

An older guy flirted with me at work. I finally got a chance to give him my number but it's been awhile and he hasn't called. I'm VERY confused. Details inside.

Me- female, 25.
He- in his 30s.

A client at work flirted with me and said that next time (when he returned to get his stuff) he would take me out for coffee. Then he winked and left. This almost never happens to me, and I thought it was great because I kind of liked the guy.

Two months later he came back and at first it seemed like he didn't rememeber me, but after chatting for a bit I managed to bring up the subject and he said "oh, yeah! the coffee!" and after an awkward moment of silence, he said something along the lines of "we should get that coffee sometime". I gave him my number and he gave me a flirty wink (again!) and left.

It's been almost two weeks and I haven't heard from him. I have his number because he's a client, but I don't want to text him because 1) he didn't give it to me, so it's weird to use that information; 2) I don't want to insist if he's not interested.

So the questions:
1) Why would a guy show interest in you, ask you out kind of twice, and once he has your number, doesn't call you?
2) Should I text him? If so, what should I say?
3) If he was never actually interested, why bother asking me out and taking my number?

I am confused, a bit ego-bruised, and mostly curious about wtf might have happened.

Oh, also, despite all the winking, he seemed like a serious guy.
posted by divina_y_humilde to Human Relations (17 answers total)
some people like the possibility more than the close. chances are he was just flirting and only sort of asked you out again and took your number because he felt a little awkward. i wouldn't read too much into his initial flirtation or the lack of followup.
posted by nadawi at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

He's flirting for sport*, and saying he'd take you out for coffee some time was not asking you out. He took your number because you gave it to him.

*It's a pretty nasty sport. It was meant to demean you, put you in your place, remind you of his power in the relationship as a man and a customer.

Winking = "just kidding". He was being a dick.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2015 [28 favorites]

I don't think this was nasty from his side. I think he was genuinely interested in you and intended to get the coffee, but met someone in the 2 months inbetween your meets and now doesn't feel comfortable doing a flirty coffee. No worries!
posted by catspajammies at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2015 [16 favorites]

When I was a receptionist I used to get flirted with all the time. But the kind of guys who flirted with me never would have given me a second glance out on the street - they just got off on a little bit of banter and fantasy and flirting with the receptionist who had to be nice to them in return. A couple of clients were quite dreamy and I actually wouldn't have said no to a date if I had been asked, but I think it was actually nice to just keep it as banter.

He has your number; he'll call you if he wants to. Don't call or text him, especially not on a number that you only have because of the professional connection.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2015 [14 favorites]

I had a year in my 20s where it seemed like every single guy who was forward about flirting with me (without closing the deal, date wise) turned out to have a serious, long term (sometimes cohabiting) girlfriend or fiancee. They wanted the validation of knowing they "still had options," I think. He either met someone or he was looking for a shot of validation--I'm not getting anything from your story which suggests that cup of coffee is going to be happening. Don't take it personally.
posted by blue suede stockings at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing flirting for sport, though it doesn't sound mean-spirited from the way you tell it.

On the chance that you're an earnest, sincere sort (I am too) and given that you mention this almost never happens to you (it didn't to me either until I started working), this is a thing. I wish someone had told me ten years ago what I'm about to tell you now: take a step back from any flirting sent your way at the office, just smile at it, and don't give out your number unless/until there's a genuine, longer-term (weeks-months), reciprocal connection that you've built outside of your desk, whether that's at coffees or lunches. And during which you've been able to assure yourself that the guy's single. The number of men who go office-girlfriend/wife route is very high, sigh.

Responding to this sort of low-level flirting (yeah, this is low-level :-/ no worries, I didn't realize it at your age either) can seriously backfire for your reputation, given patriarchy et cetera. Take it as a given that men will flirt, some because they see it as making life happier for everyone, some because of power, some because of desperation, and a very, very rare few because of potential interest, and you'll have an easier time judging which are which. Hold back on responding to it, prioritize professionalism and your reputation will be fine.

The first time I was heavily flirted with and then winked at by a guy at work, I literally got weak in the knees. 50-odd men and uncountable winks later, it's like, "sigh, that old thang again." No worries, you'll figure it out with time and a healthy distance.
posted by fraula at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2015 [21 favorites]

Some people wink almost without knowing it any more. Sorry about your ego, but he was clearly one of them.
posted by Namlit at 2:48 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

1) Why would a guy show interest in you, ask you out kind of twice, and once he has your number, doesn't call you?

Ah, the old ego boost.

2) Should I text him? If so, what should I say?

This one's not worth it, sorry. He's this flaky and you haven't even gone out once? Move on and find someone who is more "Fuck yeah let's go out!"

3) If he was never actually interested, why bother asking me out and taking my number?

Because he very well might be the kind of guy who is ALWAYS exploring his options. And you don't want to get tangled up with the likes of that.

I have been in a couple of adult long-term relationships and done my fair share of short-term dating too. The ones who got kept around didn't get on like this. I'm looking at the guy sitting next to me on the couch. He said he would call and we would go out. And guess what? He called and we went out! Repeatedly. No bullshit or games.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:49 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Rather than assigning the worst possible characteristics to this man, I would like to suggest that something happened between Meeting 1 and Meeting 2, and that something is probably the acquisition of a girlfriend. He didn't tell you because... I don't know how you would even do that in the scenarios you describe.

Do not text him or call him using information he didn't provide you; that is unprofessional, creepy and inappropriate. But it doesn't matter because he has your number, and for whatever reason, this coffee is not going to happen.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:59 PM on April 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Saying "Let's get coffee sometime" isn't always flirty, either. I've ended lots of conversations this way -- when one person says it, they mean it, as if to say it's been fun talking to you, and it seems like it'd be fun to talk more. This isn't quite the same as asking someone out. I think this guy is probably a friendly, flirty guy who meant it in the moment, but the moment passed.

There's not really an interest on his part. I'm sorry this feels uncomfortable.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have more than a few coworkers who will flirt with any younger woman (and more than a few who are older than them). All of them are happily married and would never follow up, they just enjoy the process. I've never seen any of them get handed a number (probably since they are so over the top that it is clear they are joking), but if it happened of course they would never call or text, since the only romantic action they are getting is from their wives.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:20 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you guys!

I really appreciate that you're being completely honest and not trying to sugar coat things for me. I am definitely way too naive and expect people to always be coherent or something.

Just to clarify a few things:
He was a customer, he doesn't work there.
Given the nature of the service we provide, I know for a fact that he's not married.

Still, I agree with all of you. This probably meant more to me than it did to him and I should just let it go.
posted by divina_y_humilde at 3:39 PM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Winking is a weird behavior. I've had many people wink at me and NONE OF THEM were flirting with me. It's been mostly elderly women and one individual who is referred to by her coworkers as "The Winker." I think many winkers see this as a charming retro gesture signifying nothing.
posted by Morrigan at 5:04 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It works like this " I'm really enjoying our conversation. Can we continue it over coffee/wine/lunch/a walk/whatever floats your boat?" That is showing genuine interest. My take; you are doing what a woman I knew once called "futuring". When he comes back he'll actually make a date with me, you think. Pretty clear that's not happening. Don't put a reason on it. It could be another woman, lack of real interest, even fear to back up his braggadocio flirting. I call all that filling in the blanks. Let it go and don't text. Life will bring you another interested person. Oh, by the way, it's all right when the meeting with the flirting happens for you to employ that opening line. It may clear the air quickly and lead to that coffee....
posted by Jim_Jam at 6:24 PM on April 26, 2015

Man, if I had a dime for every time I got confused because I took other peoples' casually flirtatious gestures seriously ... I'd have lots of dimes. Lots of people say things like "we should get coffee sometime" or lunch, or drinks, or whatever. Often it's meant as a vaguely friendly gesture but without real intent behind it.

My rule of thumb is that it doesn't mean anything unless they immediately follow it up with specific plans. In this case, just forget it happened. If he comes in again, be professional and friendly; don't bring up coffee.

Maybe try online dating? It makes it easier to be clear about whether people are available and interested.
posted by bunderful at 6:42 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Two months is a long time to stay single when one is actively looking. He's probably just dating someone else now.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:42 AM on April 27, 2015

Best answer: You might be surprised at how many people just don't think about what they're saying. Some people (like you and me) understand that words have meaning, and that people will think about what we're saying and will make inferences based on that. Other people (perhaps like this guy at your job) will just say whatever sounds good or feels good at the time, and won't give a second thought to what their words actually mean, or to how people might react.

I get the impression that people like this assume that everyone else is like this too, and that no one takes anything that anyone says seriously, and therefore there's no point in thinking about it. I think it's partially a cultural thing: some of us were taught that words are a tool for communication, while others were taught that they're simply a social device, and that you just have to say the right things at the right time and you'll be fine. This can create a lot of conflict. I've encountered plenty of people who seem almost offended when I try hold them to what they say, or who act like I'm dumb for not getting that their words were meaningless. To me it would be insulting to assume that someone is a mindless liar, but apparently that's what they want me to think.

Like, I'm talking about the sort of people who say "we should get together sometime" when they have no intention of getting together at all. Or the sort of people who will wax enthusiastic about any interest you bring up, but who actually don't know anything about it. Or folks who say "I'm sorry" when they have no idea what you're angry about, or who say "I'll get right on that" when they have no idea what they want you to do. Or the guy who say "Let's get coffee sometime, *wink wink*," not because he actually wants to get coffee with you, but just because that's the sort of thing you say to girls in their 20's.

I'm not saying that this guy is definitely like this (how could I possibly know?), but lots and *lots* of people are, so there's a good chance.

(If I sound a little bitter about this, it's because my partner is just this sort of person, and it's the number one thing we fight about.)
posted by sam_harms at 1:17 PM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

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