Yet another relationships question
January 23, 2017 8:54 AM   Subscribe

We met 2 1/2 years ago when she started working here. Our work is tangentially related. For the most part we can see each other or not at work as we prefer. Since we met, I've casually flirted with her (nothing untoward). She is very professional and reserved in her conduct at work. For the first 2 years of that, I was seeing somebody so I wasn't too concerned about it, but then ...

... in early November, I ran into her into the hall, we started chatting. I mentioned I went on a hike to a beautiful spot over the weekend. She said that she "would love to see that". We had had a simliar exchange once before, so I thought perhaps this was a hint that she'd like to go on a hike. So I suggested that we go on the same hike this coming weekend. She demurred saying she had tentative plans. We exchanged phone numbers, but I did not expect to hear from her, which I didn't. So fine, that was done. She wasn't interested.

About a month later, I got a couple foster dogs. With the intention of getting the word out about the dogs I had available for adoption and to show what a wonderful human being I am, I texted her with a photo of the dogs and we exchanged a few messages about it.

Another month later, I ran into her in the hall and we talked about the dogs etc. It was a lively conversation as we usually have, but I had asked her out and she said no, so I didn't think much of it.

Later that afternoon, much to my surprise, she texts me asking if I want to meet for a beer after work. I say yes that would be lovely.

We've now had 5 dates in a week and a half. They've all gone great. We're both scientific types, we're both animal lovers and love the outdoors. We haven't slept together yet. By this point I usually have, I know pretty quickly for myself about these sort of things. but we're taking it slow at her request. The kissing, cuddling, hand-holding, making out has been great. I'm ready for sex, she is not.

In our time together, a couple of emotional things have come up for her I say tell me about that, what's the root of that? And she says in so many words, that she's not ready for that yet.

I'm willing to go slow for her because I see great potential for this relationship. I'm afraid I may get hurt though, becoming emotionally invested when she is not. I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together.

She wants to take it slow because we work at the same place. I get that in the general sense. Also, she had a bad experience at another place with a guy who she never even dated but was contacting her constantly (unwantedly, despite being told she was not interested). So I get that as well.

Add to that another complication. I've been on for several months and seen nobody I'm interested in. Just this weekend, a woman messaged me with a very thougthful articulate message. I'm somewhat attracted to her from what I can tell. I feel like I should not put all my eggs in one basket and meet her just in case the first woman doesn't work out. I feel bad that I could be using this 2nd woman as a defensive measure.

Should I continue down both paths?
posted by falsedmitri to Human Relations (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together."

It has been a little over a week since you began casually dating someone who you have worked with for two years, and you are completely freaking out that she doesn't want to have sex with you yet. Doesn't that seem strange to you?

You are not mature enough to navigate dating a coworker.
posted by cakelite at 9:01 AM on January 23, 2017 [74 favorites]

You've been on 5 dates. 5! Talking about "root of emotional issues" might be months and months of dating - think in the range of 30 dates before some women might start to get comfortable with that sort of thing. Some things may take years. Some things she may never share with you and that's ok.

I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together.

This is a really really shitty thing to think of women. Their physical readiness does not correlate with their level of investment - some are happy to be physical much earlier, some much later.

That said though - she's asked you to go slow and you're being really weird about respecting that. Do you respect her or not? Of course you might get hurt - you always might get hurt in any relationship. If you're not willing to risk that then you are not ready to be dating anyone.
posted by brainmouse at 9:04 AM on January 23, 2017 [63 favorites]

I'm afraid I may get hurt though, becoming emotionally invested when she is not. I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together.

So, if you slept together, that would then make emotional vulnerability okay? I want you to examine that, because I do not feel like those two are cause-and-effect. Correlative, absolutely, sure; but you are projecting this onto her, saying, 'Because I am worried about feeling emotionally connected to somebody, I need to sleep with them so at least we are on a level playing field and I can tell that they are emotionally invested as well.' On the contrary, in the context of committed relationships, I typically see emotional vulnerability as one of the predeterminates to actual physical intimacy, and not without plenty in-between.

If she is not moving quickly enough for you, then that is your prerogative to hold that opinion, but manifestly not her problem.

You are welcome to date around if you so choose to... but I have a sense that you feel badly because you are undervaluing the level of connection you have with this first person. I would take a hard look at your expectations, and work on not making them her problem to deal with. If she is important to you, make up your mind on that. It's okay to feel not totally settled, but you should at least have a leading emotion around it. I advise patience and compassion for her. Perhaps this is still tough territory.
posted by a good beginning at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2017

Do not date the office person. Date the person.


(Yes, dating at work is a bad fit for you and an especially poor fit for someone who has had bad experiences being stalked at work by someone she was never involved with in the first place! You seem blithe about her position, one week hardly is enough time to decide to be physically intimate + that's the super opposite of taking things slow! C'mon. You know 5 dates in a week is rushing things, don't you? Back away politely. This relationship is not for you at this time in your life. Develop some empathy and get some more interpersonal life experience. This relationship is a bad fit for you.)
posted by jbenben at 9:26 AM on January 23, 2017 [11 favorites]

Dude, it's been a freaking week and a half. 10 days. Chill out, unless your goal is to completely freak this woman out and drive her away from you, thereby ensuring years of awkward work encounters.
posted by scantee at 9:28 AM on January 23, 2017 [14 favorites]

I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together.

if you believe this then things are going great. you'd really have something to worry about if this woman was completely invested in a relationship after less than two weeks of dating.

you should know that if you choose radical honesty with her, and even though generalizations about women are abhorrent, no woman alive is going to believe that you need her to sleep with you to prove her "investment." We all got warned about the you-would-if-you-loved-me line back in high school. What she will hear is, "I will not become emotionally invested in you until you have sex with me." and I think this may even be what you mean.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:31 AM on January 23, 2017 [32 favorites]

This: She wants to take it slow because we work at the same place. I get that in the general sense. Also, she had a bad experience at another place with a guy who she never even dated but was contacting her constantly (unwantedly, despite being told she was not interested). So I get that as well.

Been in this position before. I've also told co-workers this same stuff before, and my motivation was essentially: I am a vulnerable person who has dealt with creeps before, and I'd like to keep my life and job as simple as possible by not letting creeps in, especially if they are colleagues. Is this what she is telling you? It does sound like you're coming on really strong, from what you wrote. From what you said that she's said, she is definitely not ready for a colleague to come on strong to her ATM. Also, I second all the above comments about your bizarre entitlement and interpretation of the meaningfulness of sex and on what timeline. She is taking a risk by even getting mildly involved with someone at work, and it could place her job/income and her mental health at risk. Women disproportionately bear the burden of losing their jobs in these situations, and are also shamed for being involved in these situations at work much more than men, although it seems clear that you are pursuing her.

I want to add: A woman being friendly does not mean she wants to have sex with you. That's just for future reference.
posted by erattacorrige at 9:41 AM on January 23, 2017 [19 favorites]

If you really like her, respect her decisions, wait, and wait patiently. Don't sit around on every date wondering if she'll sleep with you that night. Maybe pretend sex will never happen, as an exercise to focus on her and not on sex with her. Taking it slow is definitely the safest bet because you work together, and she needs to know that she's not jeopardizing her job or comfort at her job just because you want to get laid. For all you know, she may also enjoy sex early on but with people she doesn't have to work with.

That being said, I think it's totally okay to date other people. This is still a new relationship and you all are obviously not on the same page yet, so go out with woman and see what happens there too.
posted by greta simone at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I feel like a woman isn't invested in a relationship until we sleep together.

I often find that men become notably less invested in a relationship after we've slept together, because they have apparently gotten the one thing they actually wanted out of the interaction. It's likely she's had similar experiences.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2017 [44 favorites]

You say you're ready to go slow yet nothing you have written besides that sentence indicates in anyway you are ready to go slow.

Sex does not equal emotional commitment, emotional commitment equals emotional commitment. The fact you make a sweeping generalization about women and sex, specially in a generation where women use Tindr for casual sex just as men do makes me suspect you don't understand this.

Sex is great, sex can make you feel more connected to a person but even the best sex in the world will not make you feel connected to someone you don't trust. You need to take a deep breath & calm the heck down or you are going to scare her off, because even if she wants to be emotionally connected with you, you are not sending signals here that would make anyone feel comfortable doing that. There are no guarantees in any relationship. This relationship may or may not work out, sleeping with her will not guarantee it, it will not magically bond her to you. She has told you want she wants, you want her to feel an emotional connection to her, respect her wishes & actually take it slow. Show her she can trust you by being trust worthy. That is how you form an emotional connection.

You feel like the person asking "are we there yet?" every 10 minutes on a car trip instead of enjoying the journey.
posted by wwax at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

As delightful and compelling as this new dating situation is, you need to pick up a new hobby asap, one that you can throw yourself into and control the pace of.

Also, start some kind of meditation/mindfulness practice (i.e.: headspace) that can help you step back from your desire to hurry up and Relationship this woman.
posted by itesser at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

We haven't slept together yet. By this point I usually have, I know pretty quickly for myself about these sort of things. [emphasis mine]

Sounds like she knew pretty quickly for herself about this sort of thing, too. You're allowed to be disappointed by her stated preference, but be careful about implying that her choice is invalid or nonexistent simply because you don't like it.

Also, be advised that if you do go out with the woman from and if she has sex with you, that does not mean she is emotionally invested in a relationship with you. (Where are you getting this idea anyway? Plenty of women enjoy casual sex.)
posted by whoiam at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2017 [7 favorites]

So you've really only known this woman for a week and a half and already you're expecting that she has to sleep with you to help you manage your emotions about your 'relationship'? Yeesh, if this is the level of emotional (and physical!) labour you're expecting from her when you probably don't even know her middle name yet, what the heck are you going to expect from her when it does actually become something?!

People are saying don't date this woman at work - I'm saying, don't date women at all until you figure out that we don't exist as a mental bandaid for you.
posted by Jubey at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2017 [17 favorites]

Well if she has had past bad experience it will take her time to be serious about you, a bit more than 5 dates. You should consider her more of a date (if it happens it happens) and give more time to the new woman from What is unethical is to string people along on whilst you want this work woman date to really be serious about you.
posted by metajim at 1:38 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't tell from what you've posted if she is reluctant to date YOU, reluctant to have sex with you and leave herself vulnerable because she likes you so much, or reluctant to date someone in the office.

On the one hand maybe she digs you but there a few important things holding her back. Maybe the past experience with the annoying suitor has, as you suggest, put her on guard, but also inter-office dating can cause problems. Maybe she really wants to make sure there's the potential for a serious relationship with you before she "seals the deal" sexually or otherwise because there could be a job at stake, or at least a reputation at stake, since office gossip can hurt a career, especially, I'm sorry to say, a woman's career. (I'm paranoid and I actually didn't start dating a guy that was flirting with me in the office until the day I left my job there. I messaged him the next day to ask for a date.) Or, she really digs you and wants to take it slow because SHE doesn't want to get too emotionally invested without being sure it's serious and there's a potential future? I disagree with you when you say that "a woman isn't emotionally invested until you sleep with her," because it makes it seem like sleeping with her will "win" her over, but it's true that she will feel more vulnerable if she does sleep with you, so maybe she's playing her emotional cards close.

On the other hand, 5 dates and no sex is odd unless she is religiously conservative. Is she really so victorian in her mores? I would try to get more backstory on her and the other guys she dated so you have a comparison.

As for the person, if you are 5 dates in with this lady and have had no "talks" about your status nor sex you can certainly just meet the person for a date once. If it becomes more serious with either then you should disclose to both that you aren't exclusive.
posted by jacobnayar at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2017

I think this is pretty easy: you simply need to cultivate some patience.

I can see how you've known this person for 2.5 years and then suddenly you've gone out 5 times in ~10 days. The pacing is "uneven". It happens. For this relationship, I think you should try to think of it as beginning 10 days ago. Which is not a long time - so one might also see it as "fast", with 5 dates in 10 days.

I'm not a big fan of saying "you should wait N days" for relationship milestones - everyone is different. The important thing is that the relationship is moving forward. If you wake up one day and realize that she's pushed you into the friend zone (or vice versa) - then it's time to disengage.

Re the woman you just met on I that you are perhaps a bit more invested in the first woman than you should be (again: the 'uneven pacing'). If you was to ask me - which, essentially, you did - I'd say sure, go meet this woman and see what she's like. It might be good for you, give you a chance to stand back a bit from the other relationship and look at it a bit more objectively.

Good luck!
posted by doctor tough love at 7:16 PM on January 23, 2017

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