The Least Complicated

How to be up front with your mate.

Q: So I’ve been hanging out with this guy for a few months. We’ve been keeping it really casual … not saying we’re dating, exclusive or anything like that. Partly because he’s friends with my ex and it’s a little awkward, and partly because we haven’t wanted to complicate things. The truth, though, is that feelings have developed and we spend a lot of time together, and by most definitions, if you asked people, they would probably think we were together.

(cont.) I’ve been taking it slow because, even though it’s been six months since my last breakup, I still don’t know if I’m ready for a serious relationship.

To complicate things further, I met someone (really hot) this weekend who was in town for the holiday. I feel guilty about hooking up with someone else, but at the same time, I am technically “single” and can do whatever I want. Even though the guy doesn’t live here, he is coming back in a couple weeks and I will have another opportunity to see him. Needless to say, I’m a little confused and I feel like I’m getting myself into a potentially sticky situation. I always hear about those who date multiple people at the same time, but I honestly can’t figure out how they do it. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I have no idea how to handle this.—Holiday Hookup

A: Let me try to read between the lines: The guy you’re seeing just doesn’t quite light up your loins like you do his—or, for that matter, like the hottie from this weekend does. But, you figure, the constant attention and nooky is pretty nice, so why not keep him in the rotation? Plus, having your ex in common makes it much easier to avoid the topic, and if you’re not talking about it, it must truly be “really casual” and therefore you’re both free to do what you want, right? And too bad if he’s not taking advantage of that?

Or something like that?

As you’ve discovered, even doing our damndest not “to complicate things” doesn’t always prevent a “sticky situation” from cropping up down the road. If you truly don’t want to hurt anyone, and you think your current guy might be just that if he finds out about you and Hookup Hottie—or anyone else you might meet—then it’s time for a gentle chat about exclusivity. Explain that you enjoy his company and don’t want to stop seeing him, but that you want to be up-front about not wanting to be tied down. 

Oh, and the people who always seem to be riding the dating merry-go-round with a giddy grin? B.S. They’re not masters at it; they’re just masters at making themselves look in demand and unfettered by those pesky things called feelings.

Q: My girlfriend moved across the country for a dream job about six months ago. We were in love (I still am, I guess) for a long time (four years), but it’s just started to go down the tubes. When she moved, we continued things long-distance. There was a mention of me looking for a job out there, and I thought she might even be marriage material. But the last two times I have visited, things have been awkward. She was just so distant, and sex was lackluster—I even thought about leaving early. After I got back last time, she told me she thinks she needs some space. She said she really loves me, but she just needs time to figure things out. She said she doesn’t want to lose me, but she needs to do this. I asked her how long she needed, and she said she didn’t know.

We’ve spoken twice, and I miss her like crazy. I want to wait for her to come around, but I don’t want to wait if it’s for nothing. What does it really mean when a woman tells you she wants her space?—Crushed Cross Country

A: Ahh, space—that mysterious concept that, for decades, has drawn curious astronauts and flummoxed lovers the world over.  

Space is a good thing when it allows us to step back, get new perspective and come back to Earth with an expanded view of the way things look or are. Space is a bad thing when it leaves people in indefinite orbit; when that happens, Houston, we have a problem.

If you’re still technically a couple, you’re entitled to your say in navigating this unknown territory. How long does she need—a few weeks, a few months? Will you talk weekly, for example, or send occasional texts or e-mails? Whatever you do, remember that giving her the space she asked for can only help your chances. There’s nothing like the sharp slap of unavailability to make a gal wonder, “Why am I doing this again?”

You do have four years of history and what sound like earnest feelings on her part. Hopefully, that’s enough to bring this ship back into a smooth flight pattern. If not, at least you have enough real space between you—a country’s worth—to avoid falling into a black hole every time you see her.

1 Comment »

  1. But eventually you will end up hurting someone or possible that you can hurt yourself as well. If I were on her position then I will not go to the part that I will get attached to a specific person that much. The good thing i’ve noticed was you mentioned that since you are single then you all have the rights to enjoy life. Then I guess you should. Enjoy!

    Comment by Dom — June 30, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

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