Am I getting strung along?
August 31, 2007 4:47 AM   Subscribe

Am I getting strung along or should I wait this out?

Hi everyone,

Corey here again. My question today is in reference to my previous post about whether my meeting with a certain guy was a date. It seemed that most of you thought it was a date. Well, let me give you an overview what has developed since then.

We met for dinner for 2 hours in the city he just left and enjoyed each other's company. His response was that he looked forward to more fascinating conversations in the future. I took this to mean that a second date was not out of the question. Well, now he has moved to my city and we have begun working as colleagues. We've met a total of two or three times, sometimes alone to go over work and sometimes in the presence of other co-workers to talk about not-for-profit issues (our field), how his transition is going to a new city, and so on. He's a very friendly guy in general, he makes a lot of eye contact with me, smiles, touches me on the side of my shoulder from time to time while conversing, and for the few days that we've spent at work, he seemed to be seeking out my company. Well, since I thought things seemed to be going well, I would inquire to see whether he's interested in a second date. So I e-mailed him asking him that I felt somewhat embarrassed asking, but that clarity is better than ambiguity in certain situations and would you like to meet up again at some point? If not, that's perfectly fine, and I hope we can remain good friends throughout our time at work.

His response was that clarity and communication are good things. He says he would like to get to know me better because he's enjoyed my company and already sees potential to be good friends. There is possibly the potential for more than that but two factors are holding him back. One is that he has just moved to a new city and has only related some of the stresses and worries involved in doing so. His housing situation is a mess and his parents are still with him visiting. He said it would be a few weeks before he settles down and gets out of "survival" mode and being emotionally closed. The other issue is that we're colleagues and will be working together. He said that while we're both adults and are capable of separating our professional and personal lives, he generally feels that it is a good policy to keep the two separate. This feeling is not an insurmountable barrier, especially if we really click, but in the interest of clarity, he wants to be up front with the way he feels. He then said we should sit down soon to talk about these issues. He's really busy right now but next week he'd like to chat.

So, my question is, do I go with this at face value, which is that dating is not out of the question if we sit down and discuss our concerns ... or, am I just supposed to take a hint that he's not interested and that he is just telling me "No" in a roundabout, complicated way. I don't know him that well yet, but he's so nice and friendly, that it's hard for me to imagine that he would string me along by saying "Maybe, and let's talk" because that would really be a cowardly way to turn someone down.

Your thoughts would be most appreciated, as always. Thanks!

posted by cscott to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hi Corey,

His story is consistent and reasonable. From what you have told us, there are no flags to indicate he is saying anything other than what he means. Have a chat with him next week, and see where it goes from there.

Have a good day,

posted by Aidan Kehoe at 4:57 AM on August 31, 2007

Only he knows what his motivations are. Some of the anonymous internet people will tell you to wait, some will tell you to take the hint, and some will tell you that you're obsessing over this in an unhealthy way and that you can't ask strangers on the internet for advice every time you feel confused about the actions of others. Ultimately, you're not going to find a sufficient answer here. The only way to resolve your feelings for this guy and decipher his motivations is to wait for him to settle down, keep conversing with him, and see if/how his actions change.
posted by billysumday at 4:59 AM on August 31, 2007

Eh. Just calm down and let him figure out his stuff. You're into him; he knows this. But changing jobs is harrowing, and then he's got the additional stress of having just moved, still settling in/buying things for his place, and having his parents there.

So ... go with this at face value, which is that dating is not out of the question if you sit down and discuss your concerns ... but not rightthissecond.
posted by limeonaire at 5:13 AM on August 31, 2007

One of the keys for me in dating is to really, really try to balance not driving myself crazy with with all of the what if and what does it means with being able to 'read the signs' when they're presented. It seems like you're putting undue weight on the possibility that there is really something else motivating his lukewarmness other than what he has very rationally laid out for you in his email. I would advise against this. He's giving you very clear, reasonable reasons for where he's coming from and what he thinks is possible now. Go with that, both because it makes everything less awkward (there's nothing worse than trying to relate to someone having made an erroneous attempt to read their mind) and because it also may indicate a desire on his part to try to get something going by building an honest foundation. Essentially, there is nothing in his message that could reasonably, objectively be considered a 'flag' or 'sign' that he's trying to send you a message that he's not interested. So let him figure his stuff out and see what happens in a few weeks/months. You're going to need to be patient and give him space. But things actually sound pretty good from my vantage point. The only caveat is that if he's still telling you the same story and essentially stringing you along for an unreasonable amount of time (many more months) then you should probably take it as a lame attempt to passively dismiss you. Doesn't seem like you're there yet though.
posted by smallstatic at 5:26 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Corey, I said it before and I'll say it again: you need to make some gay friends that are not of romantic interest to you. Real people, not Web-buddies. Guys you can hang out with and talk to, while you wait to see how this relationship goes. Or doesn't. Widen your social circle!
posted by Carol Anne at 5:27 AM on August 31, 2007

Sounds like you may have a shot, but you are going to kill all your chances if you don't really listen to what he says and act accordingly.

When you move to a new city, the idea of immediately jumping into dating someone can be really unappealing, because you just got there and want to look around a bit. He seems to like you, but he also seems to want time to settle in, explore his new terrain, and decide what his life there will be like. It's very possible that he'll decide to give things a whirl with you, despite the work obstacle. But you shouldn't take it too personally if this doesn't happen.

In the meantime, be a good friend-- and make youself scarce. If he notices that you're around all the time already when you're just friends, he may balk at the idea of escalating things even further for fear you'll glue yourself to the top of his desk .
posted by hermitosis at 6:28 AM on August 31, 2007

Listen to what he's saying. Let him go at his own pace. Based on what you wrote, I don't see any signs that would indicate he's not interested, he just needs some space and time in a new city.

for the few days that we've spent at work, he seemed to be seeking out my company
Well yeah, it's a new job filled with unknown people, except you. Familiar faces are always appreciated in a new city/job. Keep this in mind, and don't read too much into it (then again, if he didn't enjoy you, he wouldn't be hanging around you, so keep that in mind too).
posted by Meagan at 7:07 AM on August 31, 2007

People say this when they like the person and think that they might like to get it on with them in the not too distant future but want to leave a little wiggle room.

No one wants to jump into something when they first move somewhere, but if you do the friend thing right, it'll take no time at all. Let it go at his pace though, since he's the newbie.

Don't even think for a second he is not interested in you.

Best of luck!
posted by letahl at 7:10 AM on August 31, 2007


First off, I'd like to suggest that you stop inventing issues that aren't there. Please take a deep breath, look out a window, admire the squirrels, the birds, the fluffy blue clowns and then smack yourself with a balloon hammer. It's obvious that reasonableness in a potential boyfriend is a problem for you. Put yourself in his shoes and understand that everything he just said, and everything that he has done, makes perfect sense. If you had moved to a new town and were slightly risk adverse, would you jump the bones of the first thing that walked infront of you? If you answer yes, then that shows more about you then it does about him.

I'll second hemitosis' advice about being a good friend but be scarce. If you want this boy toy to be sucking your face anytime soon, you need to show, and project, that you want something more. Don't act like being friends is "okay" when you want something more. Be kind, considerate, wonderful, approachable but mysterious, flirtious, inviting and mind consuming. This really isn't as hard as you probably think it is. You've already started down the path. Let his life settle down a bit and, in a few weeks when his life becomes less crazy, he'll probably got after you like a fat man goes for cake.

Don't ruin this by overthinking and using your imagnation to create things that aren't there. Trust what he says, listen, and be scarce. If he's not lying (and there is no reason to think he is), then he'll pursue you soon enough. Be patient and post a non relationship question for once. You're becoming a one trick pony.
posted by Stynxno at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2007

Wow. You are just putting WAY TOO MUCH ANALYSIS into this, Corey. Please accept this as sincere advice and not criticism: You went on a date (or didn't), it may lead to another (or may not).

You must fucking relax and let things go where they will. I'm not saying spend your life being totally passive. By all means, take some action, ask for another date, make an ultimatum, or just chill out at the movies and ignore the whole thing. But you are overthinking this WAY TOO MUCH.

Sorry for the caps and harshness, but it's said out of caring.

And what Stynxy said.
posted by poppo at 7:37 AM on August 31, 2007

OK, everyone's tackled the "you're reading too much into this" angle, but I really, STRONGLY, encourage you to tackle WHY you are reading too much into this. From my deeply personal experience, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would really be interested in spending time with me, and everything anyone says gets run through that filter. So, anything from "I have to wash my dog tomorrow" to "My mother's in the hospital" becomes "You're not worth spending time with." Point being, it doesn't matter what the other person says, I am going to interpret it according to what I already believe. The cure for this is steadily improving your self-esteem so that you can truly believe you're worth someone's time. Then when they say that they'd love to hang out with you, but they have to clip their toenails tonight, you can take that at face value with no fear, because you KNOW DAMN WELL you are fabulous.
posted by desjardins at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2007 [3 favorites]

Oh, and "just chilling out" won't work for the reason I gave above. You can't "just relax." Work on your self-esteem. The chillin' comes naturally when you feel good about yourself.
posted by desjardins at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2007

Like your previous question, this one presents a situation that's virtually ideal and turns it into a huge problem.

Why do I say it's virtually ideal? Well, just imagine if all communication were as straightforward as it was in this case. You would always know where you stand with people. Just think how many relationship problems would be solved.
posted by jejune at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2007

I think the 'why' of how Corey is acting over this is pretty clear: He's young and has met someone he likes! Must there be any other reason? I don't think so.

Corey, I'm a fossil, old enough to be your dad. When I was your age, the way you knew it was a 'date' was because one grabbed the other's junk. We didn't have time to play silly games. Today, I guess, gay folk are expected to act like those silly straight people, and beat around the bush. I don't know why.

But here's the real hard part: You met this guy through your job. It is generally considered unprofessional to pursue romantic interests through work. It is generally true that you don't want to work with someone with whom you are romantically involved. Of course, if you're not directly working together, than it isn't that bad.

What everybody else is saying about moving to a new city is very true. Triple true for the thing about his parents being there. He won't begin to feel settled or comfortable until they are gone, I'd be quite sure. So be patient, hard as that may be.

But Corey, listen to me: You're young and overflowing with all kinds of juicy hormones. You can not be entirely rational about such things when you're, err, needy. Personally, I think that was one nice thing about the old gay-way of having sex first, then getting acquainted. But I suspect it's terribly non-PC for me to dare say so (I dare lots of things, always have). But do also understand, 'need' in this sense isn't a simple matter of the sort one can relieve, err, manually.

What you are going to have to manage is the right combination of activity and such that will allow you to be patient, and not think of this guy every 30 seconds or so. I know, that's asking a lot! But still, if you want to be patient and not go crazy, that's exactly what it takes. Being over anxious is a sure-fire way of killing romance, strange as that may seem. Lord knows, I've killed a few romances that way, myself, and turnabout, as well.

So breath deep, get some exercise, maybe go dancing! Relax and enjoy yourself! Maybe find some project of your own to throw free time in. Next thing you know, he will be settled and ready for another date.
posted by Goofyy at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Corey, hon. You are getting the kind of openness and communication from this guy that very, very few gay boys are willing to give at this early a juncture--if, indeed, they ever are. Christ, if I could get that kind of forthrightness from the boy I'm currently smitten with...

1) He's into you
2) He's clear about where his head is
3) He's not pushing you away
4) Sit back, relax, take the advice from hermitosis.

Also, you really would do well to make some more gay friends. My email's in my profile, and I think hermitosis' is too. And Goofyy. We'll be your international fairy godmothers :)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2007 [3 favorites]

Still a chance? Yes.

What should you do? Absolutely nothing.

Have fun; hang out with your friends. Go out with other guys if the opportunity presents itself. Nothing is less attractive than someone who stops living to pine for someone. Keep enjoying your life; when he's ready he'll catch up with you.
posted by 26.2 at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2007

You can never go wrong taking people at face value.

It may turn out that what they said was not what they actually meant, but then that means that they were unclear or dishonest, which is their fault, not yours. If someone says "yes" but means "no," then it's their responsibility to fix it and to learn to communicate honestly and clearly. It is never your responsibility to invent 50 different possible meanings for each person's statements and prepare yourself for each of those imagined worlds.

When I figured this out, dating became fun, rather than hellish, and I got a lot better at being fair and honest in my own communications as well. It's a good skill to have, and a good assumption to make about other people.
posted by occhiblu at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2007 [6 favorites]

What occhiblu said. It's kind of a drag to be the person that is doing their damnedest to be honest and straightforward, only to have the recipient get all wiggy about what it all really means.
Even if this relationship doesn't get romantic, having a friend like this guy seems to be something to strive for. Perhaps instead of puzzling over every little gesture and word, you should spend a bit more energy doing other things and meeting other people. Be interested and interesting, and don't allow yourself to be that drippy person that bores all their friends to tears by rehashing and analyzing every move made by the object of their affection (not saying this is you, just do your best to avoid it). He sounds like a really genuine guy, and there must be something pretty cool about you for him to want to (at the very least) be friends.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2007

Response by poster: Hey guys,

Thanks for your helpful advice. I guess I'm the chief overanalyzer on MeFi hehe. Well, in my defense, I'd say that I'm asking all these questions and second-guessing myself because I've never dated anyone in my life before even though I'm in my mid-20s. This is because I only came out of the closet recently. I feel as though my instincts must be wrong because I'm inexperienced and because when you like someone, you try to cling to any hopeful gesture or word. Getting other people's input helps.

I actually have made a few gay friends in the past few months and I'm still working on expanding my social network. Anyway, I suppose the best thing to do is just be cool and friendly as I would be with anyone else and if he really does want to negotiate the issue of dating, then he'll say something. The ball in his court. In the meantime, I do plan on moving on and meeting other guys when I get the chance.

posted by cscott at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2007

his story makes sense and is believable. it's nice of him to take the time to explain all that to you.

his points are valid--it is hard to date someone right off the bat when you move, and it is hard to date someone at work.

at some point you might invite him out with some other friends to show him around the city. that way you will establish and out-of-work presence with him. but let him make the first move in terms of dating. if he doesn't, don't say anything about it again. that will keep work less awkward.

also, i know it's hard, but try not to analyze so much. just let it happen, let your mistakes happen (but learn from them) and go with your instincts. it's the only way you'll refine them. i presume you ultimately will want to conduct a relationship without the input and guidance of hundreds of strangers online, so practice, practice, practice!
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2007

Take at face value. He's really straight up which only bodes well for you--no string along.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2007

Sounds like you're doing everything right, Corey. Good luck!
posted by lindsey.nicole at 3:38 PM on August 31, 2007

Corey, as a gay man in my mid 20s as well, I can say that there's a lot of great advice here. That said, my biggest advice is to stop asking these things in a forum like this. No one here really knows you personally, and it's public, and it's archived. A good, local, friend will listen, and a better one will tell you if you've overstepped any bounds. Putting pressure on this guy at this time would certainly be overstepping those bounds.

I hope that if he, or anyone you date in the future runs across this, that he sees this as you've put it in this moment of your life. Frankly, that kind of vulnerability can be attractive, but some might see it as a red flag.

I know that you're not confident about your dating ability, but you'll get there. No one knows but that guy what his true intentions are, but the one thing I'm confident about is that you'll get more confident over time.

Good luck.
posted by kenneth at 4:51 PM on August 31, 2007

If he was not interested, he would tell you he was not interested. Or at least he'd have flimsier excuses than the very real and credible reasons that he presented to you. Those are definitely items that would impact whether or not it's a wise choice to get into a relationship with you (or anyone) at this point.

He sounds like a reasonable guy, just take him at his word for now and see where it goes.
posted by ml98tu at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2007

Oh, and by here, I meant in this post already. Not in what I had to say.
posted by kenneth at 11:53 PM on August 31, 2007

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