Emotional responsibility/breaking up with someone you still have to see
January 7, 2017 10:52 PM   Subscribe

How responsible are you for someone else's feelings in the midst of uncertainty? Also, what is the best way to break up with someone when you will have to keep seeing each other around all the time afterwards? (Somewhat convoluted backstory inside...)

I have been seeing this guy for a couple months. He has a great personality, we have similar interests, and are both looking for the same thing (marriage eventually). Despite all this great stuff, I am reluctant to get into anything too deep with him because he has a young child/ex-wife and I don't think I'm capable of facilitating that kind of complication.

I knew he had a child when we met and was optimistic about it being workable, but having never dated anyone with that situation before, I didn't really know what to expect. Turns out the idea of having an effect on/being responsible for someone else's child scares the hell out of me.

Part of me wants to wait a bit and see if I warm up to it/maybe it won't be so scary, but I also don't want to waste his time while he could be meeting someone else.

I would normally have no problem breaking it off in a mature way, but it turns out we are part of the same non-profit group and will be doing a lot of group things together this year. Other people will be a part of the activities, but it is not a large enough group to effectively avoid each other and any tension is likely to be felt.

What is the best way to go about this? It would be really great for me if we could casually date or at least be friends, but I ultimately want to do what is best for him.

I already tried to break it off a couple weeks ago by explaining the above to him and he was okay/wanted to stay friends, but in subsequent hangouts neither of us had any self-control and ended up all over each other. (Did I mention he is really attractive?)

I am happy to continue seeing him casually, with the acknowledgement that it will never progress into something serious and we can both see other people. He said that was fine - he isn't sure what he wants right now and just wants a good relationship with someone. Also, he said he likely wouldn't see anyone else. For some reason I don't trust that... (He wasn't *super* enthusiastic about it...)

(I am already seeing someone else that I also really like, who seems to be a better fit for me/I would seriously consider for long-term potential.)

Should I just trust his word that he would like to keep seeing me under the terms that I proposed and go with it?

Or should I end it now to avoid him potentially being seriously hurt down the line?
posted by prism4tic to Human Relations (9 answers total)
In case anyone is wondering, the other person I am seeing is the person from my previous question.

(I made words come out of my mouth and we are working it out.)
posted by prism4tic at 10:56 PM on January 7, 2017

but I ultimately want to do what is best for him.

I already tried to break it off a couple weeks ago by explaining the above to him and he was okay/wanted to stay friends, but

Pro tip: Telling someone "I only want what is best for you" is never a good way to put a stop to the relationship. All it does is make them want you more.
posted by Michele in California at 11:15 PM on January 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

You two are obviously in very different places regarding this relationship. Neither of you seem to be able to state what you want / need and follow through with that.

If you want to be the far-sighted adult in this scenario, find a different non-profit to work with, and break things off with him. It will be better for you both in the long run. If you stay where you are, you will both keep circling around your attraction, and if you're not fully in with a 'hell yes', that is extremely unfair to him.
posted by ananci at 11:26 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Or should I end it now to avoid him potentially being seriously hurt down the line?

Yes, because you're already seeing someone else, and he will be pissed off about it. Get your resume in order as suggested above.
posted by benzenedream at 11:35 PM on January 7, 2017

I think you need to end this before it gets even messier.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:45 AM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

After re reading your post I still don't understand what you want out of this situation. Do you *want* to date multiple people casually? I don't buy the "I just want the best for you" bit, I think you're being dishonest with him and with yourself about what you really want here.
posted by deathpanels at 8:20 AM on January 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

At the beginning of the question, I was thinking that the kid was the problem. (I was going to ask if you had even met the kid, because I've always said I'd never date someone with a kid, then actually did, and met the kid, and liked them, and it wasn't a big deal ...etc.)

But clearly, the real issue is that there's someone else, and you like them more. I think you need to make that really clear to the first guy; from what you've said, I don't think he gets it. If he does realize you're seeing someone else, and is happy to see you casually, and guy number two is ok with it too, great! But I think first you need to really spell that all out. If it turns out he's not cool with it, I think you could try to be friends, but you need a cool-off period first, where you don't see each other alone, or you'll just keep falling back into bed with each other, and feelings will be hurt in the end.
posted by catatethebird at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's paternalistic to do something because you think it's best for them. Assuming he know you're seeing someone else and are not considering him for a LTR, take him at his word.
posted by metasarah at 1:46 PM on January 8, 2017

I would just end this now, not because you're responsible for his happiness, but because you are responsible for yours. And despite the fact that this dude is hot like fire, if you were really that interested in seeing whether you'd warm up to the fact that he has a child you wouldn't have tried to break it off and started dating someone else.

I'm all for casual dating but that's not what's actually happening here. This is drama in the making.
posted by sm1tten at 2:22 PM on January 8, 2017

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