Local computer scientist stumped by IRL stable matching problem
August 21, 2017 1:53 AM   Subscribe

I’m a queer woman. Should I ask out a guy who lives in the same house as me when I’m about to move back to the other coast in five days? How? Plus many more complications.

I’m a queer, pansexual, butch woman in STEM. He’s a cishet guy in STEM. We get along really well. There’s obviously a spark whenever we hang out, we’ve organized events together, and in the last 3 months I’ve lived in the same group house as him, we go out of the way to share each other’s company. But I’m about to move out of the house in 5 days, back to the other coast, since I was only on the current coast for a summer internship. Should I ask him out??

The pros of doing it:
  • We match really well intellectually! I don’t get crushes easily; he’s my real crush in 4 years or so. We also complement each other's interests very well, and have a lot to learn from each other. I want to emphasize this point: despite there being a huge list of cons below, I rarely feel this kind of intellectual, emotional, and collaborative spark from someone.
  • I’m a super ambitious, busy, aggressive, public, type-A kind of person. He’s an ambitious, chill, relaxed, private kind of person. I think we complement each other well. If I were to date someone exactly like me, the dynamic would be very competitive. (Though I do like a challenge....)
  • In terms of what I look for in a partner, he can do emotional labor. I’ve seen him clean house and play support for me when organizing events, and he's actively interested in my work.
  • If he says yes, we live in the same house and see each other very often, so it would be easy to spend a lot of time together, hang out in each other’s rooms… and so on. At this point I mainly just want to make out but who knows.
  • If he says no, there are only 5 days left to see each other in person, so it wouldn’t be super awkward.
  • I might regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t.
  • I can’t tell if he’d ask me out first, but I’m used to taking the initiative anyway.
I have a lot of emotional baggage that is not directly related to the person in question, since I've been in a similar relationship that ended badly. Here are the cons of doing it:
  • If we do end up having a great 5 days together, after I leave, it would be terrible to pretty much never see each other again for a few months, or even an indefinite amount of time, as I’m in the early years of a PhD program on the other coast. The prior relationship was long-distance too, and it was hard.
  • He and I have similar long-term research interests and are in the same (distributed) social scene. From prior experience, dating someone in the same research scene and breaking up with them is a huge hassle. I still have to avoid one guy (an ex) at social occasions and online for pretty much the rest of my life, and this has had some negative consequences for my career.
  • I’m queer and I have a ton of baggage around it, and am not sure whether I want to eventually drag him into it. For example, I have Feelings™ about being a visibly-queer woman in a heterosexual relationship, which was the prior relationship. It’s also not clear if I’m physically attracted to men in the long term, and it could be a huge disappointment for both of us to find that that the answer is no. I also have very niche sexual preferences and it could be a huge disappointment to eventually find out that we might not be compatible in this aspect, as opposed to dating exclusively within that sexual scene and knowing we’d be compatible right away.
  • As a woman in STEM, I have an inferiority complex regarding my skills compared to men in STEM. I’ve seen many friends (women in STEM) grappling with feeling bad that their partners (men in STEM) are “more technical” or “more mathematical” than they are. I've experienced this too. I’m a very confident person, but even so, maybe I don’t want to deal with that for the rest of my life.
  • I hate how breakups often entail complete cutting-off of someone who might be a great friend. It might be better to take it slow and let our friendship develop over the long term, instead of the possibility of a nuclear explosion at some point.
If y’all think yes, there’s still the question of what protocol to use….

Blurt it out in person? Contrive to for both of us to hang out in my room, then ask? Ask online? (I don’t really like the idea of leaving a paper trail of rejection, but I also don’t want to corner him in person.) Ask a mutual friend? (Probably not enough time.)

And what should I actually say? “Hey X, I really enjoyed hanging out with you lately—want to go on a date?” vs. the more overt: “want to try having a wild fling for a few days?” or the subtler: “want to talk more over drinks tomorrow?”
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total)
It seems like your statement of "just wanting to make out but who knows" is completely contradicted by everything in your "cons" column. Your "cons" indicate you're way, way overthinking things and might not be ok if this turns out to be five days of wild sex and then very limited contact...as opposed to no sex and then very limited contact which this would turn into anyway.

I'm an old married lady so on the one hand I envy you the possibility of having a wild 5-day fling with someone you have a crush on with what would probably best be handled by agreeing on no strings attached. If that's what you want and can handle then I recommend a fairly direct in-person approach. Saying "Hey I just wanted to let you know I have a bit of a crush on you!" gives him an option of saying he's flattered or whatever or that he thinks you're great but not taking things further. Try to be low-key about it. But if he reciprocates then great, if not I doubt it will affect your future friendship/acquaintanceship too much.

If you think you'd be an emotional wreck having to say goodbye and move and leave things there, to the point where it would affect your happiness and ability to make a life for yourself where you'll be living, then probably best to walk away from this.
posted by hazyjane at 2:23 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

I recommend you move on. I think you should look for a partner with whom you can build a relationship with on a daily basis. It is very, very difficult to build a relationship long distance. A long distance relationship could also make working through additional concerns more difficult. However, if you're interested in a fling, I say go for it.

You have a lot of concerns about some non directly related issues (being queer, being a woman in STEM, etc). I recommend you see a therapist to talk these thru regardless of what happens with this potential partner. It's great you are aware of these issues and talking them through with someone may help you in several arenas in life.
posted by Kalmya at 2:23 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Relationship: probably not
Makeouts: hell yes

It sort of depends on whether both you and he are the kind of people who can handle having casual sexual contact with friends and still happily keep on being friends with no expectations. Best case scenario here I think is that you tell him you think he's ace and you have a crush on him and would really like to make out with him but have no expectations beyond that, he is into it, and you two spend a few days (or just once!) getting into each other's business. And then you move back and you stay in touch as friends like you would have anyway and next time you see each other maybe you hook up or maybe you don't and it's all cool.

(I am also a queer woman in STEM with a cishetmale partner and I feel you on a bunch of those things but you're getting way ahead of yourself with this one. Make out, stay friends.)
posted by corvine at 2:38 AM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

How would you feel if it was just those five days and nothing more?
posted by Promethea at 3:13 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

You've known him for three months, so it might be worth thinking about why you've waited until you've only got five days left to make a move.

If it's along the lines of "took me this long to realise I had a real crush on this person" (and lord knows I have been in that position), that's probably okay and you could consider proceeding with the caveats the other commenters have mentioned so far.

But if it's more along the lines of "didn't want to make a move until I knew I was leaving anyway", it's probably worth thinking harder about why that is (and probably not proceeding).
posted by terretu at 3:24 AM on August 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

It sounds like the consequences of escalating this relationship might follow you around and cause trouble later. He's not separate enough from the rest of your career-life and you already mention having problems with another ex in the same way. Sure, he sounds great as a friend or a 5-day fling, but in the long run, what do you want out of him? Also, how easily do you attach/focus on someone? Can you easily shrug off five days of blissful sex and then not see him again for months or years and be genuinely cool with that? If he makes a great friend, and there's gonna be drama and problems in your career if it doesn't work out, is 5 days of sex worth all of that? It doesn't sound like this would just be a last minute vacation fling. If it was a no strings, no consequences, never seeing him again bonkfest, I suppose it'd be fine, but if you already have issues in this department with one ex, do you really need more with two? And if he's truly that awesome, how are you going to pass up not getting to have more of him once you cross that line?

I also note that you haven't had a crush on anyone in 4 years and uh, that's probably really influencing you right now on wanting to go for it. But I do also wonder why you've seen him all summer and it's only now that you're considering stepping things up.

I dunno, I tend to be the person who regrets the things I've done rather than the things I haven't done. If you can't live with yourself if you don't take the opportunity to boink him, then you're gonna do what you're gonna do. But it sounds like the potential complications of doing that are pretty huge and might not be worth the 5 days of sex in the long run.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:42 AM on August 21, 2017

I vote go for the makeouts. Enjoy life! The moon is blotting out the sun today, it's time to go wild.

Don't count on a long distance relationship, though—you can stay friends who once had a great five days of makeouts. Staying friends and not going for the LDR will obviate every con on your list!
posted by ejs at 4:29 AM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

This guy has some agency in the situation too. So, let him exercise that agency - put the ball in his court & see what he says to it. Maybe take the subtle option you suggested in the last line of your question, then tell him that you've got a crush & see where the conversation goes.

There's a range of possible outcomes - first, he's fully into it on the same terms as you & you have five great days & then you move & you stay friends (or maybe in variant 1b, you have LTR if you both want that). Second, he's really not into it & you both get over the momentary awkwardness, enjoy the next five days as friends, then you move & you stay friends. Third, he totally didn't see this coming & needs time to get his head around it - in which case it probably resolves to situation 1 or 2 ultimately, but the clock is already ticking on the five days while he makes his mind up which one it is.

Any way round, I'd say that whatever happens longer term after you move is a different problem for another day, which in any case only arises in situation 1b. The niche sexual preference stuff? - if you end up in situation 1a, then at some point you say "hey do you want to..." and either he does or he doesn't.

You can talk yourself out of anything if you try hard enough. Get it out in the open where he can see it too, then you can find out between you what will happen.
posted by rd45 at 4:32 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

No. If it is good it will hurt. If it is not good it will hurt. No.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:47 AM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]

While makeouts are super tempting, I'd encourage you to frame this as a reminder that there are great, chill, fun cishet guys in STEM and focus on your move and life transition.

I get it, because I rarely experience meaningful connections. My therapist always encourages me to seek out examples of people who are awesome, so when I'm feeling down, I can remember them and think, "oh yeah! Humanity isn't always the worst."
posted by nathaole at 6:28 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

What makes you think he will say yes? Why would he say yes or no? Look at this from his point of view. He may have been able to make this emotional connection knowing (thinking) that you, as a queer woman, were not likely to ask him out.

I have no idea the answer to these or any questions, but if it were me, I would rather preserve the hope that something could be worked out the next time you were going to be together for more than 5 days than the potential to screw the situation up just to make out with the guy. YMMV.
posted by AugustWest at 7:02 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

He may have been able to make this emotional connection knowing (thinking) that you, as a queer woman, were not likely to ask him out.

This is totally not universal, but yeah, I have had a lot of male friends where I'm like 95% sure that the only reason we were ever as close as we were was that there was an assumption that dating was completely off the table. That doesn't mean never, but I think people tend to be more guarded around those they perceive as being relationship prospects. Do you know anything about people he's dated previously? Would you fit within that "type"? Has he said stuff that has crossed the line into actively flirting before?

If you were sticking around but just moving out of the house, I'd say it couldn't hurt to ask. But I get the feeling that it is actually going to hurt if the answer is no, because you're nursing a crush, it's not just that you think he's hot. If you've got an actual reason to think that this closeness is more than friendly, that'd change my answer; if you don't, I'd say it's probably not worth it.
posted by Sequence at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2017

If we do end up having a great 5 days together, after I leave, it would be terrible to pretty much never see each other again for a few months, or even an indefinite amount of time, as I’m in the early years of a PhD program on the other coast. The prior relationship was long-distance too, and it was hard.

And if he isn't into it, it would also be pretty terrible. I think you answered your own question here. One factor you might not have considered is that this person is a hetero male, and you're leaving forever this week. There's a pretty good chance he's going to assume sex based on the situation, and you aren't, and that can also end awkwardly. The chance of this situation ending poorly seems high.
posted by cnc at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2017

Do you get attached quickly to people you get physical with? If you ask him and he says yes and you have a short fling and then you're separated by a continent and you learn he's met someone else a few months later, will you be able to think "Oh good for him" or will you be hurt?

I did this. I can't say I regret it exactly because he was a very sweet man and I was younger and more willing to make significant romantic mistakes. I told myself - and believed! - that I was very cool with the casual nature of our relationship although I secretly harbored hope that it might turn into an LDR and then into a same-city relationship. I was heartbroken when he fell in love with someone else soon after. I wouldn't put myself through that again.

If you're one of those lucky people who can have an excellent time in bed and then gracefully move on with fond memories, go for it. But I'm thinking, since you don't even know how he feels about you and you're musing about an LDR, that this is not someone you want to have a fling with.

Maybe consider telling him you have fun with him and considered asking him on a date - but not with the "and maybe we can make out now" tag - just to learn how he feels and if you turn out to have been on the same page, well, you can make a mental note that if you're ever living in the same state again and both single that might be something to explore.
posted by bunderful at 6:13 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't see anything wrong with some no-strings-attached making out, assuming he's up for the same thing. Transitions are emotionally chaotic anyway. You live in the same house and have chemistry; who could blame anyone if a little making out were to happen? Sometimes it's cathartic rather than entangling. It really depends on the individuals involved. But don't try to have it be the start of a long distance relationship.
posted by salvia at 9:17 PM on August 21, 2017

I noticed after posting previously that your first three "pro" bullets are all considerations for long term relationships. I don't think you should apply them to this situation. The chances that this kind of situation will turn into a long term relationship are quite small, just because it's so hard to make an LDR work, and LDRs are usually a thing people try when they have an established romantic relationship of some time and will be separated for a period of time with a known ending.

I do think this tells you something interesting about yourself that you can explore with someone in your new city.
posted by bunderful at 5:54 AM on August 22, 2017

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