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Ask Sarah – Pumping the Brakes

Sarah,

I’m currently dating while separated with a pending divorce.  My profile is honest about this fact.  I’m also up front about the fact I’m just looking for new friends and expanding my social circles.  Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a person who has been single for the past 6 years.  After a week of flirty banter on text we made time to meet for dinner and drinks. I had the distinct feeling this person might be investing more emotion into the meeting than I was based on her single past and some of the banter we had so I was trying to be cautious not to lead her on too much.  Dinner went great and that lead to a venue switch over to the local bar with darts, drinks and eventually holding hands, brushing hair behind her ear and at the very end of the night after closing time very heavy petting.  I’m worried this person might get too attached too soon.  I obviously enjoyed her company but I want to take things slow and meet more than just one person right now.  Is there a tactful way to slow things down and let her know I’m still going to be meeting other people?
Sincerely,
Mr. Temptation

I am sorry to disappoint, but I gotta throw down with you on this.
To me…the problem in this situation… is you.
(ack! I know… not a great way to keep a faithful reader, but humor me for a minute).
First of all, you say that you’re up front about the fact that you’re “just looking for new friends,” but it’s obvious that that’s not true.  You wouldn’t engage in flirty banter, hold hands, brush her hair behind her ear or mug down with someone if you were honestly just looking for friends.  I mean – if that’s what friends do, then I’ve been SERIOUSLY missing out with my circle of friends…
I’ll globalize this for a minute – because I don’t think you’re the only person who does this…I think this is a huge disparity in the world of dating – the chasm between those of us who are shopping for a keeper and those who are JUST “having fun.”  To be clear – I have fun.  I have a TON of fun.  I, too, like to flirt, touch, kiss… but I’m searching for love.  And it is SO – SOOOOOoooo disappointing when you find someone you think may qualify to go on the short list of potential partners… and then, boom – s/he tells you s/he’s only “having fun” right now… and not looking to settle down.  I call BS.  I say, if you’re not looking for a relationship, then you shouldn’t engage in any activity which sends a message otherwise.  It’s not fair to the girl whose hair is being gingerly placed behind her ear.  It’s just not.
My guess is that, either:
a.  You are looking for love too, but don’t want to admit it because it’ll somehow look bad since you’re technically still married, or
b.  You really DO just want the fun of flirting/dating without the responsibility of hearts getting involved… and that’s pretty selfish/short-sided.
c.  You don’t really know yet (haven’t admitted it to yourself, even) WHAT it is that you truly want
In any case, the first step isn’t to figure out what to do with MissyMiss from the other night.  The first step is to search yourself, be really honest with yourself, and determine what it is you are TRULY looking for.  Honesty isn’t just something to be doled out to others… it starts by being honest with your own intentions/desires, so that you know yourself and can be REALLY honest with others.
If you REALLY are just looking for friends, get a group of people together and hang out that way.  Or meet up somewhere fun/playful and keep your boundaries in place.  Joking around is fine, holding hands – not fine.  Pick one or the other, because if you walk the in-between line, you just create confusion.
Secondly, I think it’s pretty crappy that you DID send a certain message and now are upset that she seems attached.  Dude!  If I went out with a guy who brushed my hair back and then smooched like that, I’d think there was something there too.
And phrasing it the way you did, …that you’re concerned she may get “too attached”…puts the onus on her when in fact, the responsibility for that (in this case, at least) falls on you.
You have to be clear.  That’s the second step.  First – honesty.  Second – clarity.
Know yourself, and then communicate your true intention.
Look, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m fine with the dating multiple people thing… until you find someone worthy of canceling your other dates.
But, you have to be careful about the message you’re sending in the meantime.
At this point, I don’t think you owe this girl any sort of explanation about dating multiple people.  I think that’s the standard fare and people don’t assume exclusivity until it’s talked about, or at LEAST until a few more dates in.  I say YES to going out with her again, but NO to sending any message that makes it seem like you’re in full pursuit of monogamy.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
– when talking about cool places in your city to eat/hear music/do fun stuff, don’t make comments about how the two of you will go there or see that or do that thing… talking about the future so easily makes it seem like you’re looking forward to an exclusive relationship – one that will still be going months from now.  Don’t say that unless you mean it.
– looking intently and intimately into her eyes – holding prolonged eye-contact.  This may sound silly, but we communicate this way and when you do that… it tells someone they are special.  Save that for once you’ve decided to hunker down with one person.
In the end, you and I may differ on what we think the purpose of dating is… and that’s ok.  You can be wrong.  😉
But, I think every man and every woman wants and deserves the truth.  If I’m going out with a guy who isn’t really looking for anything more than a night of fun with a possible make-out session at the end, and there’s NO chance it’ll turn into anything more, I need to know that.  So I can say no.  (which is difficult, given my love of the smooch).  I just know I want more.  And I’m worth more.
Honesty.
Clarity.
And keep reading the blog even though I didn’t take your side…  ?
That’s my advice.  🙂

One Response

  1. AJ

    It’s hard to believe this guy’s serious. If so, he needs some basic ethics lessons. For one, regardless of whether he’s leading this girl on (he is) and using her (he is), he’s also “heavy petting” while still married. There’s a word for that, and it starts with “A.” (Come to think of it, there’s a couple words for that starting with “A.”) My take: Slam on ALL brakes until you’re actually divorced, not separated. Doesn’t matter if he told this girl he was separated – that doesn’t mean it’s okay. If you’re not divorced then you’re… wait for it… Married.

    March 13, 2013 at 1:46 am

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