Who do I see?
May 23, 2018 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I’m in a place where I’m dating two people for a while and getting stressed out by what to do. Complication factor: queer woman seeing man for the first time in a while.

I’ve been seeing a woman long distance for a few months. We talk frequently but we see each other about once a month. I’m feeling dissatisfied with how infrequently we see each other and how our relationship feels like a text based relationship. She has many qualities that I admire — it’s really easy to have hard conversations with her, great sexual chemistry, she is very empathetic, remembers important details about me and my days, and is kind. But I sometimes wonder if we have something longer term as she seems to have a different approach to her career in that she is an artist and I am concerned about her future financial stability. I also feel distant from some of her friends and as we have no mutual friends (we met in a bar) I struggle with how I am going to intertwine my life with hers. I am also unclear in general about how serious the relationship is. My plan is that when she visits next I will have an upfront conversation about where it is going and what I want long term and what she wants long term.

I am also just recently seeing a guy for the past few weeks in my city. I have only dated women for the past five years, and I am nervous about dating a guy. But I also connect well with him in that we have the same outlook on life, appreciate art and books, and he makes me laugh. He really adores me, and I find it both refreshing (I’ve historically been only attracted to people who have treated me badly or don’t feel attracted to me) but also I feel myself pulling away and getting claustrophobic. I have so many mixed emotions about it, because I am getting confused about my sexuality (I thought I was lesbian). I would be very surprised if I ended up marrying a guy. He’s also a friend so I don't want to do anything to make it hard for us to be friends long term. As it’s progressing I’m getting more and more nervous about the prospect of having sex, and I can’t tell if it’s a reflection of my sexuality or normal nerves. And then I feel guilty for not having the same excitement he is. My friends disapprove of our dating as they think I am being selfish, while I feel that I can date whoever I want as long as I am honest and kind. At the same time I see their point and want to end something earlier than later if I don’t see myself marrying a man.

There’s a lot of emotions going on, clearly - but ultimately I want do the right thing. Do I break up with both? With one? Or keeping seeing them? Like I said, I ultimately want to end up with a kind partner who I see myself with long term. I'm also 30 and really want to settle down and so it's important that I don't waste time.
posted by treetop89 to Human Relations (11 answers total)
I'd suggest trying to have that hard conversation with your LDR sooner rather than later. It will be much easier to decide about exciting local guy if you have clarity on the longer term thing that you are uncertain about but seems feel good.

Especially mind your New Relationship Energy -- if you're getting that from local guy but haven't seen your LDR much in order to develop an ongoing chemical reaction there -- then the tingles and zaps from frequent contact with local guy could be altering your perceptions there too.

It's hard to look long term when there's exciting stuff right in front of you, but as you indicate that you're most interested in settling down, that's where you need to focus. Do you want one marshmallow, or two?
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:11 AM on May 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit but two other things - planning on waiting until in person visit next month instead of phone call (too long)? She asked she visit one more time before we decide anything (I’ve brought up my frustrations).

And second - I’m monogamous and not looking to do a poly thing. I’m dating multiple people as both are early.
posted by treetop89 at 9:19 AM on May 23, 2018

It's really hard to read other people, especially through indirect reports, but if you've expressed your frustration to LDR (which, good on you for communicating early/often), and she hasn't cut you loose based on that, and indeed still wants to visit and have time with you before you make any irrevocable decisions, that sounds to me like she might be feeling the same sort of trepidations about going all-in on a relationship with you, and wants to sort her own feelings out in person, with you, where you can both look at each other and decide if you want it to be an ongoing Thing, and what that might look like given the LD aspect.

What I mean is: I think she's probably uncertain yet open, much like you, which is totally fair. If you are going to be an Item then both your lives are going to have to shift significantly, one more than the other.

Since you communicate well, can you just be up-front with local guy, saying that you need to sort some things out before there's a chance to turn it into more-than-friends. Any reasonable person would respect that and give you space, though if you do come back and say "BFFs only" it would not be outrageous for them to cut it off if they are deep in a crush.

Some tough decisions, but remember you're planning for your next decades, not next week.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:29 AM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you haven't read anything on compulsory heterosexuality, it might help clarify your feelings surrounding dating a guy. It's the idea that women have been socially conditioned, unrelentingly and from a very early age, to find our value from male attention. You can read academic texts, but I found personal anecdotes from other lesbians to be much more helpful.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:17 AM on May 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

My friends disapprove of our dating as they think I am being selfish, while I feel that I can date whoever I want as long as I am honest and kind.

Your friends are wrong and you are right.

I can't speak to the lesbian experience with men, obviously, but jitters before sex with a man is very common even amongst us heterosexual ladies. I find the run-up period horribly stressful even if I'm smitten.
posted by praemunire at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I feel that I can date whoever I want as long as I am honest and kind.

Do they both know you're dating other people in addition to them?

I ask because I agree with you, you can do as you please as long as you are kind and informative. But if you have this egalitarian, just mindset regarding dating (even in the early stages) I also believe both people should know your activities and intentions so that they can make informed decisions based on their own needs and desires. Otherwise you have all the power in the situation and that can lead to anxiety on your end and unnecessary pain on their end (i.e. feelings of being lead on or lied to by omission).

They may help make this decision for you.
posted by Young Kullervo at 12:22 PM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

You sound halfway on both, and you have a criteria longterm, so just end both if you don't want a casual and fun for the moment type of thing. You clicked with these two people! You can find your forever person!

I doubt the friendship with the guy will last, and it should end considering he likes you a ton and will struggle being just friends again.
posted by jbenben at 2:39 PM on May 23, 2018

Honestly, I stopped reading at this item in your inventory of reasons-to-date-the-man: "we both appreciate art". Ahem. You are dating an actual *artist*. But you don't seem to appreciate her art, you just seem to be focused on how much money she may or may not bring in with it. I concur that you sound "halfway" (if that) on the female dating partner, and I think you should let her go find someone who will appreciate her more.
posted by nirblegee at 3:24 PM on May 23, 2018

You sound like you have an avoidant approach to relationships (attachment style in relationships) - in addition to the description there, people with an avoidant attachment style often have an "ideal partner" and break up with people after the initial NRE wears off and they turn out to be human and imperfect. It sounds like you have reached this stage with the woman in your LDR. I would guess that if you got into a relationship with the man, you'd hit the same point. You're already looking for excuses for it not to work.

I don't think you should be with either of them. You'd be better served by taking some time off the quest to find the perfect long-term relationship and work on yourself, work on your own approach to relationships. Love and relationships rarely conform to an external deadline, no matter how urgent you feel it is to get it all sorted out soon. In fact, that pressure creates the risk that you force yourself to pick someone just so that you can be "settled" and then 3 or 5 or 10 years later you are back on the green asking what you should do with this relationship that isn't terrible but isn't very good either, or that is actively crappy, or unfaithful, or ...

I will suggest the MeFi standard, therapy.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2018

My friends disapprove of our dating as they think I am being selfish, while I feel that I can date whoever I want as long as I am honest and kind.

I think your bigger problem here is your friends. I would move the friends out of this discussion as much as possible.

That doesn't mean you can't be friends, but try to get their opinions out of your bedroom. Stop discussing it with them. Stop giving them openings to butt in. Etc.

Keep this between you and your lady and your guy. That will reduce a lot of the pressure you are feeling to hurry up and make a decision. It will do wonders for your ability to think straight.

It concerns me that your question is "Who do I see?" You are asking a bunch of internet strangers to decide for you. If this is representative of how you behave, your friends likely feel extremely entitled to tell you what you should or shouldn't do dating wise. This is not healthy. Women get an excess of this in the world. You need to find some space for making this decision for yourself.

The world will not nicely grant you that space. You have to intentionally carve that space out for yourself, often by actively throwing people's opinions out of your bedroom.

My general rule of thumb for such things: If they aren't sleeping with me, or trying to, they don't get a vote. At all.

I highly recommend you adopt a similar policy.
posted by DoreenMichele at 5:59 PM on May 23, 2018

I agree with DoreenMichele on limiting the noise from your friends. YOU are the one who is in these relationships, YOU are the one that has to live with your feelings and their consequences. Make this about you and what you want. Sit still or walk and just feel your feelings for some time, really feel them and hear them. I believe that will guide you towards what you know intuitively and in your heart about each person and what you really want. Thinking about things is really important but it doesn't always lead to answers, especially if you are good at arguing, reasoning, or imagining things. Seeing two people at once is exhausting, especially when you are hoping to narrow it down to one of them. As long as you are honest with each of them and not leading them on, I think it's okay, but you have to keep in mind that you are working to narrow it down and that one of them is not going to be IT (if either of them are IT).
posted by perrouno at 5:01 AM on May 24, 2018

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