What is the difference between giving into something and accepting it?
July 21, 2016 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I've been single for a minute. I met somebody that makes me feel good, act happy, and ticks a lot of my boxes. There are, however, a few differences in our world view and life experiences that are deal breakers for me. I can never see myself dating this person, but we have fun. Do I break it off, or continue feeling good and have a breezy time? Snowflakes inside!

Me: I've been single for about a year. My last LTR was extremely emotionally abusive. I took some time to heal up from that. Between then and now I had some casual encounters and some crushes that largely left me wanting, hurt, or generally unfulfilled. I've been married and divorced (previously, previously), and I'm not looking for that again. I want a life partner in crime. I've got a good support network of close friends, lots of interests/hobbies, a somewhat demanding job, and financial independence. I'm at a good place in my life to be dating. I'd like to be dating seriously.

I briefly switched on an old online dating profile, and started chatting with someone pretty neat in the week I was active. We met up. It was good. We kept meeting up. It was great. We text/speak on the phone almost every day. Even when we don't, I don't feel stressed out or anxious. It's all very easy and breezy and just nice.

The good: I like spending time with this person, but I don't feel 'butterflies'. They would be considered very conventionally attractive, but I don't find myself thinking, ever, about their face or body. I don't find myself thinking much about them at all when we're not together or communicating directly. We talk about a lot of things, have a lot of overlapping interests, enjoy many of the same activities, are really quite sexually compatible. They absolutely strike me as being intelligent, fun, interesting, affectionate. Everything's great on paper.

The bad: They have a few conceptions/philosophies that are absolutely contrary to my own. At the most extreme, it's stuff like 'vaccines cause autism'. At the least, 'I'm definitely going to live past 200 as I practice regular fasting, vegetarianism, take an array of supplements'. They've mentioned more than a few colourful conspiracy and geopolitical theories. Nothing strikes me as being particularly harmful, just a little silly. The conversations are always interesting and intelligent, even if I don't agree. I don't hide my own perceptions or feel the need to. Generally it feels like a bit of youthful lack of perspective with a hippie/anti establishment vibe.

Further to this: They've only held a couple of jobs over their lifetime, the current and longest with their family's business. They still live at home (not uncommon as they're still twenty-something like me). They have no professional or academic qualifications, with no interest in pursuing anything further. I can't imagine their life in five years would be wildly different to their life now.

I don't want to date this person seriously. I can't see myself ever wanting to date them seriously. The lack of butterflies and general nonchalance is one clue. Their rather alternative world view is another. The giant question mark as to where a life with them would realistically lead is yet another. But I like having fun with them, and I love how easy this feels. I genuinely find myself feeling happier because they're in my life, even though I don't want them any closer. Is this ok? Is it sustainable? It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if like turned to love (though I really don't see that ever happening), but would sticking around to see if it does not be settling in some way?

We haven't had any discussions about status or applied any labels. My perception is that they're pretty keen, but happy to see where the journey takes them.

What's the fairest way to approach this situation and avoid self sabotage?
posted by Vrai to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You want to be dating seriously. You can't see yourself being serious about this person. Dating them, therefore, is not what you want. I would say that you should break it off kindly. Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 9:26 AM on July 21, 2016 [11 favorites]

Seconding sockermom: if you want to be dating seriously, but don't want to date this person seriously, then don't date this person.

Although if you'd like to be dating seriously, you need to get back on the dating site or take other measures to meet more people. You're not going to find someone you want to date seriously if you're exclusive with this person, casual or not.
posted by headnsouth at 9:34 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

What are his goals? Does he want to be dating someone seriously? If so, you are wasting his time as well as your own.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:43 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

The only way I can see this working is if "they" feel the exact same way about you (i.e., that they like you, but don't want relationship with you) and you're both open about feeling this way. If so, enjoy each other for the time being and end it as soon as things get too serious for either of you. Don't just fall into a relationship with someone you don't see a future with just because they happen to be there.

I like spending time with this person, but I don't feel 'butterflies'.

Butterflies are a really bad way to determine whether someone is a good fit in a long-term relationship. It's important to feel excited by the person you're with, but a lot of people get butterflies for people who are really bad matches for them. I'm a married middle-age person and am mostly surrounded by other married middle-age people and my observation is that by far the happiest couples at this stage, by far, are those that started out as platonic friends. They respect, love and (yes) desire each other in long-lasting ways. The butterfly people? Mostly divorced or unhappy.
posted by scantee at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Could this connection maybe be turned into a friendship? Of course, that also depends on how the other person feels about that and about you. But if you enjoy each other's company so much, it might be worth a try. You'd need to open up about your wants and needs, though.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:47 AM on July 21, 2016

Best answer: I say don't worry about it. You're having fun with this person, and they're having fun with you. You want to date seriously, but in the meantime you can enjoy this other person's company. If you meet a person you think is a good candidate for serious dating, you can break it off then. If not, you'll probably eventually decide to move on anyway. (I predict this person's strange views will eventually start to annoy you more than they do now.) That's how dating works! You're not settling, you're enjoying an experience.
posted by ejs at 9:52 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're fine not caring about them and you say you'd also be fine if you started to care even though you don't expect to; if that's true then there's no risk for you, just for them.

Also, you met on a dating site, meet up to spend time with them, enjoy the same activities, and have sex with them but yet you can't see yourself dating them? Do they actually know that in your mind, the two of you aren't dating? I'm not sure how they would know that.

You don't need status conversations when you can reasonably assume you're both on the same page but this does not sound like such a time.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:56 AM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, you met on a dating site, meet up to spend time with them, enjoy the same activities, and have sex with them but yet you can't see yourself dating them? Do they actually know that in your mind, the two of you aren't dating?

Seconding this. You are dating. The difference between dating and dating seriously may be clear to you, but it's probably not clear to the other person. It would be fair and honest and also smart to talk this over.

I think it's time to have that conversation. Everything else will probably follow from what happens when you have it. It's likely that this will answer your questions and it's certainly the fair way to go.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

'vaccines cause autism'. At the least, 'I'm definitely going to live past 200...'


A fairly high degree of mutual respect is really critical to sustaining any sort of relationship. I don't think it will take long before you start feeling embarrassed for Mr Living to 200 here, and that will be the death knell for any sort of relationship between you, unless it is a sort of mentor/mentee one where you are taking pity and trying to help them.

(Nothing will come of it. It's not clear why this person is 'intelligent' and 'good on paper' -- they sound paranoid and very deficient in basic how-to-think skills. Those are not 'hippie/anti-establishment views'; they are delusional. This person has some mental problems and you are too busy telling yourself that he's a nice guy to see the huge red crazy-dude flags.)
posted by kmennie at 10:08 AM on July 21, 2016 [16 favorites]

I agree with others above that you need to talk and see if you're on the same page. If you're both cool with casual dating and seeing where things go, great! No need to borrow trouble. But if you have different expectations, you both need to know that. There's only one way to find out.
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:14 AM on July 21, 2016

I don't see any harm in the two of you continuing to casually date and have fun, but I really think you owe it to them and to yourself to have a casual, friendly conversation about it just so that you can both be sure that you both understand that that's what's going on. That way, when you meet the person you do want to date seriously, you can both move on with no hard feelings.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:19 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Why are you even bothering with dating this person? Look, you have had a bad history so far, and you want a life partner, so forgive me if I'm a little blunt here but: You are looking for a life partner. Look for them! Do not waste your time dating people that will not be your life partner. Your instincts are correct about this person. If you want this person to be your friend, let them, but do not let the person seep into your dating life like an unwanted virus; before you know it, it's too late and they have taken control of your system. Meanwhile your future life partner -- everything you ever dreamt of, someone to travel with, someone who has complimentary interests, someone you LOVE spending time with -- will observe that you are dating another person, and so out of respect (because they are respectful and kind), they will choose to politely maintain a respectable distance out of concern for your relationship.

Your future life partner has high standards. Be the person whom your future life partner would want to be with -- single, open, with a great friend network, independent, and does not put up with suboptimal relationships.
posted by moiraine at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, it is one thing to disagree -- my beloved husband and I simply cannot see eye to eye on Israel/Palestine stuff, and hence it is a topic we do not discuss -- and another for a partner to have convictions that are, sorry, loony. Vaccines = autism and veganism = eternal life are loony, loony views. The conspiracy theories are too. Looniness is a huge red flag. The inability/disinterest in holding a job also hit me as red flags.

I agree with others that not having butterflies isn't terribly revealing -- lots of inappropriate potential partners might inspire those -- but the nuttiness of this person's views and their lack of job stability sure are.

I'd move on, myself. At best I'd view this as a temporary, casual dating relationship while you stay ready for something permanent when it comes along.
posted by bearwife at 10:34 AM on July 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Get more experience in dating, i.e. date more people - that will do you the most good. As a divorcee myself, I know it's hard to not latch on to the first people you feel any kind of connection with, but you have to have faith that you will continue to meet people - it's ok to break up and keep looking.

You will get along with a lot of people "okay" and often find amazing bed-mates. Though enjoyable company, you will learn that there's more to finding a good partner than just these things. And you'll figure out what it is you're looking for.

The point where you get to "giving in vs. accepting" is pretty far down the line - you don't start a relationship like that, it's for moving towards the long-term. You have to feel like things are 90% on point (having learned all of the above), with 5-7% of stuff to be "accepted" and worked on together (communication and learning to co-habitate/compromise), and remaining 3-5% of stuff you just have to "give in" to because people aren't perfect but it's not a dealbreaker and you love them anyway.

So enjoy the brief companionship, the potential drama without great ramifications to your personal life, the collection of weird dating anecdotes. Makes for great storytelling fodder while on your quest for lasting companionship.
posted by lizbunny at 10:45 AM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

You don't want to date them seriously. You really like dating them casually. You're dating them casually. What's the problem? Sex and friendly companionship are super underrated, imo.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

People in their early twenties do change over time. What people believed at age 21 is something they often point and laugh at decades later.

It has been my observation that Very Serious types are often drawn to people they view as "flakes" and are then super judgey towards the so-called flakes. When two people are equally serious and ambitious and hard charging, it can be impossible to make things work. Things tend to go better when two people are complementary. Two people who are both very My Way Or The Highway aren't complementary.

You should perhaps leave because you have no respect for this person at all (which is 100% on you, not them). But you should probably also spend some time wondering why it is they add so much obvious value to your life if they really are a worthless piece of crap like you think they are. Perhaps your mental models could use a bit of tweaking.

posted by Michele in California at 10:52 AM on July 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

You should perhaps leave because you have no respect for this person at all (which is 100% on you, not them).

posted by vignettist at 11:07 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you are enjoying being with this person, and you feel like you have time in your life for a casual relationship as opposed to a serious one, and you can treat this person with honesty and respect, then go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. I'm not at all sure from your question though that all three of these conditions are met. You sound like you would prefer to be looking for a serious relationship rather than spending time in a casual one, and it's not obvious that you have a lot of respect for this person or that you've made your intentions toward them very clear.

If I were you, I would seriously reevaluate whether or not I was doing the right thing (which it sounds like you're doing, since you're here and all) and unless I felt able to answer a firm Yes to all three of the conditions above, I would politely break it off. An "I like you, but I just don't see this going where I want to go" template would be perfectly appropriate under the circumstances.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:42 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't see a problem with it as long as you are 100% honest. I had a relationship like this in my 20s with a guy who was completely a misfit for my long term goals/desires for a serious relationship, but was a lot of fun. We were both really clear that things were casual/not going anywhere serious from the beginning, and things worked out just fine. After about 6 months or so we ended up moving on with positive feelings on both sides. Have met up as friends for drinks/dinner a couple of times since then (although now live in different cities so probably would not do that again). I think as long as you're not misleading him, there is nothing wrong with just having fun and hanging out with someone you wouldn't normally interact with.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:13 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sounds like self sabotage. Why worry about tomorrow when it's today? You say you're not looking to abandon your financial independence and you don't want to get married, so why would an unambitious life partner be a worry? Are you embarrassed to be seen having fun with this person? Do you want to be with a high earner? Do you want to have kids, and that's why contrasting views seem like a downside? Do you think this will end in a dramatic split if it goes too far? If not, why not see where it goes and if the relationship splits on its own then so be it?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:14 PM on July 21, 2016

You should perhaps leave because you have no respect for this person at all (which is 100% on you, not them).

Mmm, gonna nope here. People who believe conspiracy theories / are anti-science are blatantly challenging others to have no respect for them. I know I couldn't do it; I would be suspicious if someone could (suspicious that they were also a flat earther.) I think it's a kind of test - how much anti-intellectualism can you put up with from me? And then, what else can you put up with?

posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 5:33 PM on July 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

This would do my head in. I don't really see the point in dating someone who I wouldn't want to date seriously or even be close friends with. Casual dating, when your ultimate goal is a partnership, is for dating people you aren't sure about. "Not sure about" means you MIGHT move towards serious dating, that the possibility is there. If you're sure this person isn't a possible serious match then I do not see the point in dating them casually. To use them to feel good about yourself and have sex? Why not find someone you might be seriously interested in to have a good time with and sex?
posted by Polychrome at 7:12 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

The fairest way is to start by telling him you enjoy his company and the sex but don't see this ever getting serious. If he's not on the same page, that's your answer. If he does feel the same, I would even dial it back from casual dating to more of a friends-with-benefits type situation. Don't see each other too often or talk on a daily basis. Actively date other people. The biggest reason I see to avoid a casual situation is that it might not leave you enough time/attention/desire to find what you're really looking for.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 8:14 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of the best fun I ever had was dating my ex-husband for a couple of years about 4 years after our breakup. He wasn't and still isn't the best husband material (I am friends with him and his current(3rd) ex-wife, who is living with him. She knows him well and will not re-marry him.) The great thing about that time was that I could enjoy his company and have fun with him, knowing it wasn't going anywhere and not having to be concerned about where he was when he wasn't with me.

It was really good for me to have a relationship where I didn't need anything. I learned so much about how to have a relationship and retain myself and take care of myself.

Just my two cents....
posted by Altomentis at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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