Sometimes they are actually nice?
November 4, 2007 7:00 PM   Subscribe

So I've met a guy. I'm working an angle that I have never tried before. Blunt honesty about what I will and won't put up with next time I get into a relationship. He isn't put off by it at all. He says he repects it and me for knowing exactly what I want... He has asked me out on a date for next week. Help me learn how to trust that he might actually be cool.

Actually it's my bff husband's friend who I had mentioned a few posts ago. I went the rather chicken route and started talking to him online. He was immediately receptive. Every so often the topic of conversation steers toward relationship stuff. It is as though we are feeling each other out to see what the other person is looking for. It is usually him who initiates these conversations either through flirty baiting or straight to the point. He knows all about my recent history. I am taking the approach of stating exactly what I am looking for in my next relationship. When he asks, I tell him the truth. That I will not settle for anything less than exactly what I want. He tells me what he is looking for, what his long term goals (relationship & life) are, how he views marriage, children, lifestyle, everything. It's strange. We joke, we give each other a really hard time about everything (in a sarcastic, flirty way), and he isn't at all put off by my frankness. He thinks it's great! He asks so many great, thoughtful questions that are very straight forward, and I'm intruiged. I don't really know him very well, but I feel like I do because of my bff (he and her husband have been very close friends for a few years). And because of this, we treat each other as though we have known each other for longer than we have when we do hang out at social gatherings. Maybe that is where this fearless honestly is coming from in me- I'm not one to 'expose my weaknesses', so easily.

We have decided to go on a date next week. Just him and I.

I have some trust issues on a personal level- I have a lot of male friends and they have no problem discussing their crude ways of bagging a woman. I don't want to fall prey. I have no reason to believe he is like this (other than being male- just kidding).
I'm also still a little sceptical from my last relationship, which is why I'm chosing to vocalize all my expectations up front to weed out the men who aren't looking for the same things as myself. He told me he has a lot of respect for me, for everything I have pulled off in the last year (moving, changing careers, going back to school, leaving behind a 10 year relationship that wasn't giving me what I needed).

Please give me some advice on how to chill out and actually try to trust a guy and his genuine-ness.
posted by MayNicholas to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Sometimes they are nice and sometimes they are dicks, but I think in the beginning stages it is best to keep it light and fluffy and not really get into a bunch of demands or requirements or what you are willing to put up with and what you aren't willing to put up with. Telling a guy you aren't going to put up with something in advance is just leaving some baggage for them that isn't theirs, you know? They haven't done that thing you won't put up with yet and maybe it isn't in it for them to do it. Light and fluffy...light and fluffy...see how it pans out and yes, chill out.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:08 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think being upfront is bad, though I would try to keep it in positive terms -- that is, stating what you do want, not just what you don't want.

But I think it's important to assume good intent, and to take people at their word, until they do something to disappoint you. As 45moore45 says, it's not totally fair to put all your baggage into someone else's hands and blame them for it.

Just take it slow, pay attention to whether he keeps his word, and try to continue to be honest with him about what you're feeling and what you need. I think you'll also find (or, at least, I found) that guys in their 30s are often a hell of a lot more emotionally aware and emotionally mature than guys in their 20s, and that such honesty is much more expected and appreciated this time around.
posted by occhiblu at 7:14 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, FWIW, when I met my husband I said, flat out, I don't date more than one guy at a time. I like you, and I want to date you. But if you want to date other people, let me know, because that is too much damn trouble. We talked about politics and religion on the first date. It worked out. I think I was at a similar point then that maybe you are at now - I had had it with the psychotics I'd dated previously, and also with the guys who could not cope with friends-with-benefits. So I put it out there, said this is me if you want it, because I like you, but don't fuck with me because I just don't have the time for that shit, and it worked out beautifully.

So I think you will be OK - regardless of how this goes. I know it sounds cliche, but keep that in mind, too.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:14 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whoa, I can relate.

First of all, yes, in response to your title of this question, sometimes they are actually nice.

And as you are a thoughtful person who Gets Things Done when it's what you need to do, nice, good, honest, trustworthy people are going to be attracted to you, as long as you are coming from a good place.

I also moved, changed jobs, ended a ten year relationship, all this year. How long ago did your relationship end?

I ask this because from your post - well, you are way overthinking. You feel excited because you are being honest and open and someone is being very responsive to that. It makes you feel seen and understood, and after you've gone through all of these dramatic changes, it skews your perception on how fast good things can happen for you.

Here's the first thing I think you should ask yourself: What do you risk by trusting this guy and having him turn out not to be all that you'd hoped? If you were strong enough to move, change careers, go back to school, and brave enough to end a 10 year relationship that wasn't working for you, don't you think that you're strong enough to handle a disappointment, if that's what this all turns out to be?

People are going to tell you that it's important to take this slow. You can try to do that, and it is important for you to try and do that.

Still, the place that you're in, I was there, am still there in a lot of ways, and I have people telling me I shouldn't invest myself too much in something, or that I need to cave for a while and not date anybody, or that I am overthinking things when I do, and I can tell you really only that I listen to them, understand where they are coming from, understand that they may be right, but at the end of the day, they are not me, and I need to do what feels right for me.

I think the question is not whether or not you should trust this guy. The question is whether or not you trust yourself to be able to handle what happens. Do you trust that the reasons that you are drawn to him are healthy? Do you trust that you will always do right by yourself?

Ask yourself what you're afraid of. Keep yourself in check. Remember to breathe. Remember that you can only control yourself. Try not to hang too many expectations on this guy, but also, be kind to yourself. Remember that you've gone through a lot of changes, and no matter what happens, if you go in with eyes wide open, remain 100% honest and as kind as you can be, you're going to learn more about yourself, and in the end, that can only be a good thing.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:25 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

I have no reason to believe he is like this (other than being male- just kidding).

You're not really just kidding, are you?

I was recently in a relationship that didn't work because of the other person paranoia about getting taken advantage of. In many ways, her relationship with me had more to do with "men in general" than it did with me personally.

Try to make sure you're developing a relationship with him personally.
posted by specialfriend at 7:30 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it's great that you guys have talked about things. But... talk is just talk. It can't replace the process of building trust that comes with seeing someone's actions over time. The talking that you did and are doing will hopefully form the basis for a great relationship, but I don't think it will allow you to skip ahead through those steps of learning that you can really trust each other.

He has to show in actions that he respects you and your positions. And you *may* have to show in actions that you really won't tolerate what you say you won't tolerate.

But it sounds fantastic and precious and I wish you the best!
posted by Salamandrous at 7:31 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Specialfriend- you just hit the nail on the head. No, I wasn't totally kidding. I am afraid of being taken advantage of because I allowed it to happen to me for so long in my last relationship. Never put the two together before. Thanks.

That is what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of being taken advantage of again and feeling like an ass after- like I should have know better.
That would probably explain my cynicism- it's easier to expect the worst because then the fall is never that far.

I guess I need to let go of some of that pride, be willing to be vunerable, and if I get let down at least I will learn more about myself in the fall.
posted by MayNicholas at 7:44 PM on November 4, 2007

"No, I wasn't totally kidding. I am afraid of being taken advantage of because I allowed it to happen to me for so long in my last relationship."

this is what's known as "projecting". I've found out (the hard way) that it's a really good way to torpedo good results in any friendship/relationship. It means you immediately go on the defensive, kind of block yourself off to any positive growth, and by default kind of set yourself up for failure.

Don't. Do. It. This is what gives folks the impression (rightfully or no) that one has shedloads of baggage. People in general don't like to be the recipient of negative expectations, because this presents a nasty, treacherous swamp of ick and hassle for them to slog thru to get to the Really Cool MayNicholas that may be on the other side.

Now, to bring it up in kind of general terms, politely, and then let it go is okay. But if you go on about it, I guarantee this will give him the impression that you may be more of a pain in the ass than you're worth (not saying this is true, just saying this is the perception you may give off).

I agree with the other posters. Fercrissakes, you're just in the first-date getting-to-know-each-other stages. Your OP there reads a tad bit like a high school kid with their first crush. Soooo, um, maybe dial the intensity back a bit, and just get to, y'know, really know the dude first. Getting to know him, in person, I guarantee you, will likely be quite different from your perceived notions of him as your bff's friend. Just, um, be an active listener, and really listen to what he tells you, don't just sit there waiting for him to stop talking so you can start, kind of thing.

Starting off on the right foot with a new friendship/relationship requires balance and mutual sharing. It shouldn't necessarily be a mutual bitch-fest, nor a checklist of this-is-what-I-will-not-tolerate. Accentuate the positive.

Let me put it this way, maybe it will help. Keeping some of this stuff to yourself, and/or not dwelling on it so much, is analogous to not dumping the entire contents of your purse out onto the table at a fancy restaurant, and then inviting your dinner guests to analyse why you carry around four shades of lipgloss, condoms, dirty Kleenex, tampons... "oooh lookie there, so THAT'S where those panties from last week went!" kind of deal.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:19 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

One would think considering his fairly close connection w/ you through your BFF & her husband that he would know better than to dick you around and that he's being honest.

But if I could suggest anything, don't put all the weight of your next relationship on this guy and what you want and don't want. Build a friendship and as Salamanrous says you'll see what kind of person he is through his actions.

IMO, it sounds like you're off to a good start. Good luck!
posted by lannanh at 8:24 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sh*t, I already dumped out the purse. He seems amused picking through it to figure out what everything is and where it came from and what I don't need to carry around. I dumped it out because I figured it's probably too soon to consider anything serious for me, so why not- what do I have to lose? Can't hide those panties now. Maybe I'll see about getting us another table. I have known him for several months now- and have been forming my own opinion of him outside of what my friend said- I knew he wouldn't care about the purse. I've gone through his man purse several times too- he leaves it open on the table in case I cared to look. It was what got me interested in the first place.
posted by MayNicholas at 8:38 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hello, I will be your contrarian voice of the evening.

I don't want to fall prey.

Then don't fall prey.

Whatever the heck that means to you.

Your empowerment screed is great. Rock on with your powerful self. But then it falls apart when you start talking about what you think is actually going to happen.

Prey? What, are you an antelope? The big bad lion is going to jump out at you from the bushes?

No, you're an adult. An adult that takes risks and makes decisions and choices all along the way. If you fall prey (again, whatever the heck that means to you) it will be because you decided to do something, despite whatever risks were present, and if you feel bad about it afterward, it will be because you decided to feel bad about it.

everything I have pulled off in the last year (moving, changing careers, going back to school, leaving behind a 10 year relationship that wasn't giving me what I needed).

You are not prey. You decided to do all of the above, and were apparently quite good at it. High five. But it sounds like the person you have trust issues with is not this guy. It's yourself.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:48 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

I am a guy who is in a relationship with a woman who told him what she would and would not accept at the beginning of the courtship.

From my perspective, there was nothing in what she told me that I found questionable in principle. I had just met her and while I wanted to give things a shot and see what it would be like to date her, I couldn't say for sure that I would, in practice, be everything that she wanted me to be. But I decided that I would try and my intentions remained good.

Be skeptical, sure, but give him the benefit of the doubt. Not every guy is out to do whatever it takes to get some.
posted by roomwithaview at 9:37 PM on November 4, 2007

Salamandrous nailed it. Until such time, (if ever) that his actions show otherwise, be positive about it and show him how positive you are about it.

I also really like occhiblu's advice, to frame what you need in positive terms rahter than " I won't put up with this" I mean it's not hard to say, "I really appreciate X"

We all come to relationships with baggage, despite all the talk you've had up to now, the two of you are building a new relationship unique to you two. How much the baggage impacts is impossible to guess. But try not to close yourself off to a new experience because of a past one.
posted by Wilder at 12:38 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am in a similar situation at this point , even if the relation isn't that close, but just a lot more friendly that flirty.

In "studying" her behavior I often forget to check out mine first :-) probably because she's much more interesting than me :)

Yet I would fault myself greatly if I didn't consider my own behavior and why I am into getting to know her better, why I haven't reached a point of asking "her out" which is no more no less another way of expliciting interest, yet I often see her and talk to her because of a common course we follow ; it's a curious flirting-not-flirting situation , which is probably a less performance anxiety situation for anybody (or at least it's a lot less full of rather cute, but sometime nerve wrecking "what nexts" and "oh noes" moment, in which you'd rather have said or done something else)

Some friend told me I was just "chickening out" , which is the rather "crude" way of saying I am afraid of putting a closure to the situation and eventually getting rejected ; to an extent that is true, in the sense that I would rather not be rejected at any level by anybody, but I'd rather handle an interest with some foretought rather then jump in headfirst into a nice hormonal fuckfest, just to discover she is far far far from the idea I have got to her

"I have a lot of male friends and they have no problem discussing their crude ways of bagging a woman. I don't want to fall prey. "

And that's a parallel, my dear, to what happenet to me at a point in time. In which I discovered a woman I really really liked was a seriously wicked person ; one would call her an asshole, I'd rather say she the most arrogant, racist, sexist , most insecure person I had ever met. Clearly my assesment of her was _plain wrong_ as I had exactly the opposite sensation and was pleased with that sensation, only to have it shattered by reality. Yet I was, arguably, lucky because I saw all of this before anything more complicated happend, like an actual relationship.

Similarly, in your situation listeing to male friends talking about bagging women gave you the sensation that you'd never would be the one they actually bag out, in the sense that , correct me if I am wrong, you enjoy the idea of a good old sexual release (male crude and maybe rude version is "fuck silly") yet you are grossed out by the idea he is into you ONLY to prey your body, using you no more no less than a sexdoll.

Now you may have formed the idea that all males think like that ; it could be that you are perfectly fine with and enjoy sex a lot, but the uncertainity of not knowing that he's NOT ONLY into you for sex is a significant threat, making you anxious.

Yet NOT ALL male think like that ( I am one living proof) ; but out of purely seeing you, out of your visual aspect/grace/femininity I could certainly find some interest in "fucking you silly" and probably it would be so much written all over my face It would be embarassingly funny. At this point in time you may find this rather evident expression of desire annoying, because you may be thinking I was just thinking about USING you.

yet you will definitely find an expression of desire in a man you like, more so because you like him and so would rather read "he is into me!" when he looks attentively at your curves and trying hard not to make you notice then "he is checking out that pimple on my fat ass ! "

So I guess you will have to come to terms : any man will show desire to have sex with you, but that doesn't mean they necessarily want to have any relationship with you that would please you. You can certainly choose not to entertain ANY relationship with any person, for any reason ....but please don't let the irrational fear of "any man wants just to bang me" make you waaaay too anxious ,as not everybody is able to spot an anxiety, work around it.

That's the "baggage" somebody over there is talking about. You are responsible for this...not in the sense that you are to blame if are somehow anxious (not at all , sometimes very bad experience lead the smartest people into the weirdest conclusions) BUT in the sense that you have to gradually unload this sensation, any man isn't necessarily the CAUSe of what you feel...but if you keep on reading that any sexual interest in you means they want to JUST FUCK you....obviously you will see mean exploitation in any act that could also be just the natural way sex happens.

Don't be anticipate being afraid...or as some say .." don't be afraid of being afraid".
posted by elpapacito at 2:35 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Help me learn how to trust that he might actually be cool.

It sounds to me like that's not what you want to hear; you want to hear that if you do everything "right", this relationship will be perfect forever. And it most certainly will not be. There will be times where he won't say what you expect, or he'll accidentally say something that will hurt your feelings, or he'll actively decide to stop dating you, or he'll just stop calling one day. I hope this isn't discouraging for you; I say it as a way of freeing you from the pressure you are putting on yourself. This relationship will happen the way it will happen. Let go and let the experience, however it ends up, be fun.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:22 AM on November 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've gone on a few dates with women who laid out all of their wishes and fears under the guise of "being blunt" or "truthful" or not wanting to "play games."

It was all very freaky.

I understand that relationships (dating) can be stressful and that some women are "programed" by their family, friends, or the magazines they read to demand certain behavior from men they spend time with... but gezz... come on.

We haven't even got our drinks yet and you're telling me the middle child to be a girl.

I always thought dating was something you do as you grow emotionally so that when Ms. or Mr. Right comes along you're ready for them. I suppose if you wanted to skip past the emotional growth part and get straight to picking out window treatments you're on the right path...
posted by wfrgms at 7:34 AM on November 5, 2007

I have some trust issues on a personal level- I have a lot of male friends and they have no problem discussing their crude ways of bagging a woman. I don't want to fall prey. I have no reason to believe he is like this (other than being male- just kidding). I'm also still a little sceptical from my last relationship, which is why I'm chosing to vocalize all my expectations up front to weed out the men who aren't looking for the same things as myself. He told me he has a lot of respect for me, for everything I have pulled off in the last year (moving, changing careers, going back to school, leaving behind a 10 year relationship that wasn't giving me what I needed).

"I'll show you the meaning of the word respect."

Listen, if he is a normal male, then it is safe to assume "bagging" you is part of the interest he has in you. No kidding. If it is a large part, a small part, or the only part, has a lot to do with how you two relate across the board, where you are in life, etc.

Your expectations are your own. In my experience, women with trust issues generally run men off because they present this laundry list of "expectations" which come across very much like a demand for an up front commitment - something no healthy, rational, normal male would do without knowing you a whole lot better.

The best way for you to handle your trust issues is for YOU to avoid making any emotional commitment to him until some of the smoke clears. Hang out, date, and let things develop at their own pace. Not all weeds are weeds.

BTW. If you want to get "bagged," do it because you want to. You make it sound like some prize he might win from you against your will.

Relax and enjoy yourself. Dates are supposed to be fun.
posted by three blind mice at 7:44 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

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