I’ve been talking to this dude I’ll call JL for about four months, and things were cool. He said he wanted to take things slow, and I didn’t mind. Since he said he wanted to take things slow, I started talking to another guy. Well recently I was hanging with JL and he noticed I got a few text messages from the other guy. I think he thought it was a friend at first, but then when he got up, I was replying to a message and JL snuck up behind me and read a message or two. Then JL kind of bugged out that I was talking to another guy.
I tried to tell him he’s the one that said he wanted to take things slow, and he flipped it around on me because I’m talking to someone else. My thing is this, unless we are in a relationship, I’ve done nothing wrong. I really like JL, but if he wanted to be slow about getting into a relationship, why shouldn’t I explore my options in the meantime? JL and I haven’t stopped talking, but he’s definitely feeling a way still. What do you suggest in my case?
-Single But Not Cuffed
Dear Single But Not Cuffed,
Thanks for writing to me. The dilemma you currently find yourself in is one that single people have often had to navigate when dating. Based on conversations I’ve had over the years, there seem to be two camps individuals typically fall in. In one camp are people like yourself who believe until you make it “official” with a person, you’re single with the option to date other people guilt-free. And in the other camp, you have folks with the strong belief that you can only date one person at a time, even if you aren’t in an official relationship. If you’ve read through some of my previous responses, then you know I tend to land in your camp for the most part.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until you and a special someone have “the talk” and agree to be monogamously committed, then you’re free to date other people. The purpose of dating is to see if you can build a long-term relationship with a person, it’s not necessarily the start of a relationship. I’m going to drop a metaphor here so bear with me.
Let’s say a guy named Bill is ready to buy a home. He has his down payment saved and is prepared to take on the commitment of owning property. However, he hasn’t selected a house yet. So he views a couple of properties and claims he likes some and strongly dislikes others. But through a “vetting” process and time, he realizes one of the houses is perfect for him and purchases the home. If you’re tracking with me, then you’re probably nodding in solidarity. But before you nod too hard, let me present JL’s side of this argument in relation to this metaphor.
There are many people that are just as ready to buy a home as Bill in my metaphor, but see one house and are instantly drawn to it. They lock in on the house and aren’t interested in looking at other homes, yet are slow to buy. These folks aren’t slow to buy because they are having a hard time deciding between houses, but because they want to make sure everything in the one home is up to par. Hope I haven’t lost you.
Look, at the end of the day, you two have different understandings of what it means to date. Neither one of you is wrong, but you just need to get on the same page going forward. So, a conversation about boundaries and the direction of your situationship is needed.
On one final side note, while I believe dating doesn’t require exclusivity, I can understand JL’s frustration with the grey area that comes with my perspective. That grey area of non-commitment/commitment has more questions than answers, and requires him to be vulnerable enough to really get to know you while competing with whoever else your dating at the time. Just something to think about.
Suggestions going forward
- Have a face-to-face conversation with this man. Discuss some boundaries and come to an understanding about your dating situation. Keep in mind, you don’t have to give into his demands, but if he means something to you, as it seems he does, take what he says to heart.
- Not accusing you of anything, but make sure you’re not trying to subconsciously punish him for his suggestion you two take things slow.
As always nothing but love,
Oh, and make sure you check out my new scripted show, Majoring in Me the Podcast.