#629: I can’t stop comparing people to my “perfect” ex and #630: Why won’t he make a move?

Hi Captain,

About six months ago, I had to move to the other side of the country for a new job. My now ex-boyfriend and I decided to try out the long distance relationship thing, but then he told me that he would never move to be with me. We kind of floundered for a few weeks after that, then had an ugly, terrible fallout, and I stopped talking to him.

We haven’t spoken since then, despite his attempts to contact me.

Losing him has really messed me up. I was crazy about this guy. I know this is probably going to sound silly, but I really do think he was pretty much perfect. He had this incredible super hero jaw line, a wonderful smile, gorgeous eyes, and had the body of a Greek god. He was smart, funny, and unbelievably sweet. He was the nicest, most helpful person I’ve ever met in my life. We liked all the same movies, TV shows, music, books, food…and the sex was insane. I never had an orgasm until I met him. He was so fucking perfect he didn’t even have morning breath when we would wake up together. I swear, our relationship was like something out of a romance novel. I thought we were going to get married and be together forever.

I’m in therapy and on antidepressants now, because breaking up with him left me in such a mess (like “almost getting fired from my new job” sort of mess). But I’ve been trying to do the usual stuff to help get over a breakup: staying busy, deleting Facebook, hitting the gym, etc., etc. Also, being in a new city where I know no one, I’ve been going to social events to try and make new friends, which has been going well, all things considered. And…I guess I should mention that most of these events have been kinky and BDSM related events because…I am kinky and into BDSM.

I’ve been meeting lots of guys at these social events, and a few of them have asked me out, or asked me to play with them. I usually stand there and quietly compare them to my ex before politely turning them down. Which is very clearly and obviously a sign that I should not be involved with anyone right now beyond platonic friendship.

A few weeks ago, though, I was at another one of these events, and started chatting up with this guy who was super cute. He has this big, contagious grin, and his eyes would light up so bright when he would find out we both liked the same obscure TV show or comic book or whatever. He was one of the first people to make me laugh really hard since I moved here.

We friended each other on Fetlife (a kinky social media website) the day after we met, and he sent me a message asking me out shortly thereafter. I wrote him back, explaining I not interested in dating anyone, but if he wanted to hang out as friends, that would be super cool!

He never responded to that message, but we’ve seen each other at a few more events since then and…I just get the butterflies something terrible when he’s around. He’s just so funny and sweet and so full of passion and life. I mean, he sang to me the other night in front of a bunch of people and it was all I could do to not swoon into his arms. We’ve spent some time talking about our kinks and fetishes and they line up so nice. And what I think is most important is that when we’re hanging out, I don’t sit there and compare him to my ex.

But part of me is worried that we’ll start dating, and then a bunch of old feelings about my ex will resurface. Or I’m worried that this guy will just be a rebound for me, and that doesn’t seem fair to him. Ooorrrr…you know, I start dating him, and nothing bad happens, and it helps me get over my ex more quickly, and everything will just be awesome.

I dunno. What do you think, Captain?

Whips and Chains Hurt Less Than Heartbreak

Dear Whips & Chains:

If you don’t feel ready, give it some more time, but I think the script you’re looking for when the time is right is “I think I’d like that date now, is the offer still open?”

And if weird feelings come, let them come. We all compare the new people we date to our exes, unfavorably or favorably. Whatever your ex had going on (and he sounds hot) he had one major thing wrong with him as a partner for you. That thing is huge, that thing is unfixable, and maybe you can reframe your thoughts about him to take that thing into account more and puncture this image of him as perfect: He didn’t want to be with you. He didn’t choose to move with you. And you didn’t choose to stay where he was. When it came down to it, you didn’t choose each other. You’re not actually speaking to him right now (which is healthy, I think, but also kind of what we might call an indicator). That’s not “you are the perfect person for me,” that’s “you were a beautiful partner for as long as it lasted, farewell.” Try out that perspective for a while and see how it fits. Ticking all of the ticky boxes of things in common, chemistry, etc. that you want in a partner is great, but there’s no substitute for enthusiastic presence in your life. If he were so perfect for you, you’d still be together.

Seeing the things to like in this new dude is the healing process at work. Time is doing its work. You getting out there and meeting people is doing its work. Also, a date is not a relationship. A date is not THE ENTIRE FUTURE. A date is not a promise. A date is a few hours in the company of someone where there is some spark of possibility of future romantic or sexy connection there. “Dating” in the early stages means trying out somebody’s company to see if you like it and want more. I think (with the serenades and talking about kinks) you are already kind of sort of doing that, without the label. Great! You don’t know if he’s the “perfect match” or whatever for you, but you do know that he likes you, expresses it clearly, and keeps being nice to you after being turned down for a date. These are good qualities. Take your time and enjoy yourself and the company of this new maybe friend/maybe lover.

Hey Captain, 

So I recently met this guy, and in the span of a week we’ve hung out about 4-5 times. We’ve been out on dates and i’ve met his friends, I can tell he’s interested, just by his body language, and I don’t think he would keep making plans with me if he weren’t, but, he has yet to make a move! The only “move” he’s made is a super awkward hug. Captain, I’m not trying to say that I just want to jump his bones, but, I would like to seriously know if he’s interested, i’m having the most difficult time reading him! The past men I’ve been with recently ended up being complete tools, and they all made it very clear they were into me, especially because the majority of the time we made out on the first date. But, it’s been a week, we talk every day, we’ve hung out about 4 times, yet he still hasn’t made any move. Am I just over-thinking this? Or is this man just not into me? Or is it too early to tell? 

Help me captain! 

-Anxiously waiting 

Do you like him enough to want to put your face on his face? If you know that, it’s 2014. Make the move yourself. “I’d really like to kiss you. Would you be up for that?”

If you don’t know that you like him enough to risk putting yourself out there in that way, then probably he doesn’t, either, and another week or so is needed to gather information.





96 thoughts on “#629: I can’t stop comparing people to my “perfect” ex and #630: Why won’t he make a move?

  1. Ugh, perfect boyfriends. The hardest guy I ever had to get over was this guy who basically matched the fantasy I’d always had in my head of what a perfect boyfriend would be like. I never even expected to find that, it was just the kind of thing you daydream about! So it took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that he was not “perfect, except he broke up with me because he thinks the age difference between us is insurmountable so if I just lurk in his general vicinity he will eventually realize we are actually perfect for each other”. . .he was just not perfect, because he didn’t want to be with me. Don’t be me LW, forget perfect and go for the boy who actually likes you (whenever you feel ready, of course).

    1. For a slightly darker version: one of the main reasons I stayed in a rather unhealthy relationship is that the boyfriend so closely matched my daydreams. Sure, we fought a lot, and I felt scared and insecure often, and deeply questioned my own feelings and values when he was around…. but he was super handsome! and wrote poetry! and loved art and travel! and got along with my family and friends!

      One day, weeping openly in the computer lab at grad school, I said to a patient and long-suffering friend that I knew I needed to break up with him but I’d never find anyone else who was as good for me. She said, very gently but firmly, “I don’t think that’s true.”
      Readers, it was a turning point. I now try to be that friend whenever needed.

      So, LW, this perfect guy is not only not perfect, but he’s also not the only guy in the world with interests and attractions that line up with yours. You’ll meet others. And you’ll also meet some guys that have most of what you’re looking for but not all, and it’s possible that you might date them and have a wonderful time and good memories later even though it doesn’t turn out to be a lifelong passion and wish fulfillment for both of you. So, have fun, be careful, don’t be so hard on yourself or the flawed but green-flaggy dudes you encounter.

      1. It’s also surprisingly nice when you date someone who has a lot of what you’re looking for but then also has other things that you’ve never considered but come to love anyway. Pre-husband I had only tried Coors Light and didn’t like beer but now husband has introduced me to microbreweries and all sorts of yummy things. Also I had not known that there were actually fun board games out there. I would never have put “beer-lover and player of board games” on my list of things to look for, but wow have they been nice qualities to find!

        1. Absolutely! I thought that someone who was really literary and liked word-games would be a good match for me (ex-boyfriend) but my new partner, an engineer who is really into other types of games and outdoor sports, is a far better match. I’m enjoying playing sports with him and riding on his motorbike. (I always had a thing for motorbikes but I hate driving – turns out riding pillion is my perfect compromise!) I also never thought that being with someone who loved food and drink would matter that much to me, except ex barely gave any shit about food and didn’t keep groceries in his house, and current bf is a very skilled and enthusiastic cook with whom cooking is a shared pleasure, and it is SO NICE and UNEXPECTED.

          There are also the bigger ticket things that I never thought to expect or get, like a super supportive partner who stays over the night before I start a new job so they can cook me breakfast and ride me to work. Or offers to make me soup and bring me ice cream after dental surgery. And finds it strange and gently points it out when I apologise for any part of myself.

        2. Yes! Spouse only checked off, like, half of my boxes. I almost didn’t start dating him because of that – yeah, sure, he’s sweet and smart and nerdy, but he’s a dog person and really into that exercise stuff I don’t care about and we don’t read the same books and and and… My best friend encouraged me to try it anyway since I clearly liked him and he clearly liked me. 12 years later, we’ve been happily married for 9 years, with a cat AND a dog, and I have discovered that I love all that exercise stuff I didn’t care about and he loves all the books I’ve introduced him to, and we’ve both grown as people in directions we never would have expected.

      2. I really, really needed to read this. Over the last couple of months I’ve been in the process of breaking up/things not working with a guy who really does have all of these amazing qualities – so, so smart, liberal and interested in politics, really into poetry, a talented writer, etc. But he also was jealous and insecure in ways that really tore at our connection together (including about the fact that i primarily date women) – it felt like he never really trusted me, and also he had a habit of yelling at me. I’ve been really struggling with “He’s ‘perfect’ in all these checkbox ways, now I’ll never have that!!” but a) that’s not true, and b) i will have something BETTER.

        It’s easy/immediate to just focus on the checked boxes, and i think we do that at the expense of ourselves. We don’t think about the emotional side, or the way we’re really being treated.

    2. Yes. It’s so hard when the reality is so close to the fantasy…except. I had an ex like that, who was exactly who I wanted to meet at the time that I met him. He was perfect for me…except for the cheating, addiction, lying and narcissism. Once I moved in with him and realized that things were Not Good, I remember this voice in my head saying very clearly: “Beware of getting exactly what you want.”

      After that, I decided that maybe it was better to trust that life could bring me a pleasant surprise once I let go of the fantasy. And it did.

  2. Going with the Captain’s analogy of checkboxes–

    You know how there are online forms where there’s a whole set of checkboxes that only become clickable/checkable once you’ve checked off an earlier box? When you have your imaginary online form for your perfect partner, some of the boxes can only be checked if other boxes are also checked.

    Basically, if you don’t check off, “Would move to be with me,” then you’re not going to be able to check off, “Absurdly good-looking” or, “Spectacular at doing the sex.”

    1. This analogy is correct but the order of operations is sometimes a bit off. That is: you often don’t get to the “would move to be with me” checkbox until after months or years of checking off “spectacular at doing the sex” and other checkboxes you really like.

      To me, the metaphor feels a bit more like learning Pluto isn’t a planet. But… it was always a planet! It should be a planet! You’ve always known it as a planet! Why isn’t it a planet anymore? Was it never a planet? This whole time?

      1. “What do you mean you want to live in [city] forever? I always thought we would build our life together closer to [hometown]!”

        It took two further years and a pile of other issues for us to break up, because I had so much trouble reconciling the (dealbreaking) words of the person I was with to my incontrovertible feeling that our dreams were compatible. It was exactly like being told Pluto wasn’t a planet; there was shock and disbelief and the feeling that this decision, which had not been arbitrary, would still somehow change back if I carried on like it hadn’t happened.

  3. A lot of us think we’re thinking of Person A, when in fact we’re thinking of Person A Plus Or Minus. It can be relatively benign (“The others I meet can’t measure up to Ex-Boyfriend-Plus-Higher-Level-Of-Commitment”) or not so much (“I love imagining my future with Lover-Minus-Alcohol!”)

    1. “A lot of us think we’re thinking of Person A, when in fact we’re thinking of Person A Plus Or Minus.”

      May I use this in the future? Cause that sums it up as perfectly as my first love minus Being-Three-Hours-Away was.

  4. LW 629, the rebound partner is often defined as “the first person you date after a serious relationship”. That is not actually a helpful definition because it doesn’t really get at the root of why the rebound is considered a problem. Most relationships that people consider rebound relationships are the ones people get into when they are still in the phase after a breakup when they compare everyone to their ex. Congratulations! You have successfully avoided that trap.

    If you are in to this dude and you want to try dating him then ask him out. The Captain’s script is good and if this guy is as nice as you make him sound he will understand your initial tentativeness.

    1. I also have to say that I have never got to the Perfect Magical State after a relationship where I was able to view that entirely separately from the previous relationship. It’s never mattered. It’s generally been the case that six weeks to two months in, it totally stopped being about “like / not like my ex” and just became about that person, because hey, they are there! And my ex is not!

      If you start off with someone slowly and say, “hey, I’m not totally sure I’m ready for this, but I might be, so let’s take things slowly”, see where you are after two or three months. If you’re still All About Your Ex six months or a year in, then yeah, there’s a problem. But I bet you’re not.

    2. Yes. And it doesn’t take into account that everybody’s process is different. I’m one of those people who doesn’t get over a bad breakup until there’s someone to take my mind off it. I can’t explain it, it just happens that way.

      I’ve also had really good experiences with turning an initial no into a yes. “Hey, do you still want to go out?” Usually they do. 🙂

  5. I’m in kind of the opposite situation of LW 1, in that I have started seeing someone new and it is brilliant and wonderful but she has one or two speech patterns that remind me viscerally of an ex I thought I would be with forever. To the point that yesterday we had to have a conversation about please don’t call me this or that affectionate nickname because I don’t like it. And that was awkward, and I think her feelings were a little hurt, but now we are on the same page and I get to go back to appreciating her and our relationship for what she is and it is, and not comparing it to the ways my ex used to talk to me and the ways we were together, for better OR for worse.

    (I guess it’s obvious from above story that unlike LW I do not consider my ex “perfect,” even “perfect except for the breakup,” but I think LW and I both (correctly and healthily) can use experience from our failed relationships to inform our choices in new ones, but also (incorrectly and unhealthily) could obsess over that situation forever in ways that prevent us from meaningfully connecting with anyone.)

    1. I know how you feel. My first boyfriend ever was less a boyfriend and more a cycle of emotional manipulation and psychological abuse for several years, even after we dated. And yet he convinced me very early on that we were soul mates and would someday get married (despite at the time being 16 and each others’ first relationships), . We started calling each other “honey” very early on, I think because we were overexcited teenagers pretending to be married.

      There is no way I could ever have a guy call me “honey” again – my husband and I use “sweetie” as our default nickname specifically because of this. I also cringe easily at overly-flowery declarations of love or anything about “forever” or “soul mates” because it’s all so strongly associated with him. My relationship with him was over well over a decade ago, but some things stick with you.

  6. Anxiously Waiting, I was in my late 20’s before realizing that there are so many ways attraction can happen. When you’ve gotten used to partners who use the same shitty model, deviations from that are strange and scary.

    Different people lead with different parts of themselves, they show the parts they’re most confident in first. I was a sucker for people who led with their head, and wooed me though arguing and showing off their knowledge. Some people lead with the groin (raises hand).
    This guy’s leading with the heart (4-5 dates in a week and introducing you to friends), and if you’re feeling it, there’s no reason you can’t lead with whatever feels natural to you.

  7. If a guy is awkwardly not making a move, just wait for basically any awkward silence while the two of you are alone where you’re feeling like this would be the time to make out, and ask “so, are we gonna make out at some point or … ? because it seems like we’re gonna make out at some point.”

    It’s awkward, but it’s going to be awkward either way, and at least this way you’ll have instant relief knowing where it’s going (or not going).

    1. Maybe use a different wording though, because that one (“it seems like we’re gonna make out at some point”) makes it seem like making out is inevitable. Which would be unfortunate if the guy really likes the LW but for some reason is not into making out. Just a thought.

  8. LW #629, I think you’re totally right that if, when someone asks you out, your first reaction is to negatively compare them to your ex, you probably shouldn’t say yes.

    But now, when there is a person you like, who *doesn’t* make you think of your ex, it sounds like you’re still trying to treat him like he’s the other guys, or as if he might, at any time, become one of those guys who you only evaluate in relation to Ex.

    But he’s *not* those guys. You’re *not* thinking about your ex when you’re with this guy! That’s awesome! This new guy makes you laugh, he makes you swoon. I think that you should give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and your awesome butterfly-inducing dude.

  9. I know it’s 2014 and us ladies are feminist go-getters and all that, but… is it totally super wrong to still want a guy to pursue you a little in the beginning? I am all for an equal relationship where work is done on both sides, but I’ve found (and this is JUST my experience, no one else’s!) that if a guy doesn’t make the moves in the beginning of the relationship, he was either 1) never going to (aka, all of the romantic work was going to fall squarely on my shoulders) or 2) not into me.

    I know it’s wonderful and healthy to question prevailing social norms, but I wonder sometimes if there’s a risk of going too far in the opposite direction. As a young, hip gal, I was the one almost exclusively making moves on my partners. They would respond, sometimes enthusiastically, but I’d come to find out weeks, months or even years down the road that most of them had only responded out of awkwardness or “eh why not, she makes it easy” instead of genuine affection or lust. It’s happened so repeatedly and so reliably I can’t help but think there’s something to the advice that if a guy likes you, he will make it known. And while hanging out and talking every day is a good indicator he likes you at least as a friend, I fear that the advice to make a move yourself will land you in the exact same water I did…. either doing all the work for the rest of the relationship (who plans the dates? You do! Who remembers all the social events? You again! Who tries to keep things exciting or talk about issues or pick up new hobbies or do things to make your partner happy? You and only you forever and ever amen), or being merely tolerated.

    1. Take your second paragraph…don’t straight dudes wonder about that and risk that and worry about that, too?

      If you enjoy someone making the first move, great! But the idea that straight dudes are supposed to is toxic and I don’t think we should pretend that these choices exist in some magical plane outside of the dominant meta-narrative and cultural expectations (see also this).

      Either you like someone enough to risk putting yourself out there, or you want the reassurance of them making the first move enough to wait it out and see what happens. There’s no risk-free shortcut.

      1. I agree that the idea that straight dudes are supposed to make the first move is really toxic, but I think the fact that it’s still the social norm really complicates things. Because straight dudes mostly have the expectation that they have to initiate if they want to date someone. . .so in general, if they don’t make a move it’s because they aren’t that interested. At least, that’s been my experience. Currently, I’ll make the first move to ask somebody out, but I won’t ever follow up about a second date unless they do, because that has only ever led to half-assed flings with tepid dudes for me.

        1. Well, someone who is tepid, or not that into you, or someone who freaks out b/c you made the first move because “that’s not what girls do” isn’t a good match anyway. It’s not because you made the first move.

          Make a move.
          Or wait and see.
          But if you write to me asking what you should do/how you can tell, I’m gonna tell you to kiss the boy.

          1. Oh totally, I’d never say that the guy becomes tepid BECAUSE you made the move. It’s more like, because guys are socialized to always do the asking, there has never ever been a situation for me where I’ve asked for a second date after a couple of days and it turned out the guy was excitedly waiting for me to call– he’s always uninterested or at worst, interested enough to hang out if I make the initiative but not to really care. Guys have the same worries, but because many women won’t make a move at least when they do it’s a toss-up as to whether she’s really interested or not. It’s kind of a self-creating circle, and it sucks. But after wayyyy too much trial and error I just feel like it’s true that if you don’t hear from him, he’s not interested (this only applies to second dates though, I think making the first move for a first date has none of this baggage and I do it lots. Also you are wise and I am not so grain of salt with all of this).

          2. Derp also, I somehow didn’t notice there were two letters on this one and did not stop to wonder why this conversation was happening on a letter about perfect boyfriends. I actually think your advice here was spot on because the guy is clearly showing interest. *skulks away*

          3. I endorse this advice. There’s always a risk that someone isn’t into you for you, but I haven’t found that to be greatly reduced when they’re the ones making the first move anyway. (New people aren’t clear on what I’m really like, mostly, and often this comes with a side of “distracted by boobs.”) Plus, I am currently very happy with the last man I approached!

        2. Unless there’s been some other agreement, letting the other person arrange the second date seems like a really sensible model regardless of gender. Not expressing interest in another date is a nice quiet way of not having to actually have the “you’re cute and all, but I’m not really feeling it and don’t want to go on any more dates” conversation. CA threads recommend all the time to let the other person make a move when you’re feeling out becoming closer friends with someone; I don’t see why it should be any different for romantic relationships.

      2. I love that article. I’ve had exactly that really awkward conversation around name-changing with female friends. Because, I am friends with liberal, feminist people. Some more than me! And yet *every single* straight couple I know who’s married? The wife has taken her husband’s name. Every one. And I’m not talking a sample size of two, either. Any sideways mention of this is met with a flood of “but my reasons were that I hate my dad/my last name” even though no guy ever seems to have that problem. And liking somebody making the first move or taking your husband’s name or a million other things are perfectly fine choices to make. It’s the idea that one’s choices have absolutely nothing to do with social standards or the culture we live in that seems very strange to me.

        It’s like, I know many women who say “oh, I don’t wear makeup because of anything to do with the beauty standard; I just have really bad skin and don’t look presentable without it’. But…this is only ever a problem women face? Plenty of guys also have bad skin and are ‘presentable’ even though very few guys wear makeup. It’s not a bad thing to do any of this, but believing we’d have exactly the same desires, beliefs and standards if we lived in a different culture is probably not accurate.

        sorry tangent.

        1. /fistbumpofsolidarity

          Hells. Yes.

          I have refused twice now to take a spouse’s name because my name is just as good as theirs thank you very much and because have you ever changed your name? It is a giant pain in the butt! Do not recommend!

        2. The one friend I have who gave “but I hate my last name!” as a reason? Her last name = a common piece of sexual slang. She *can’t* register her real (birth) name on Facebook or a lot of other places online because of that, and I celebrated with her that she would no longer have to be Ms. PornyName. Contrast with a friend who just got married and decided to hyphenate because to simply take her husband’s name would mean her initials spelled something that would provide ENDLESS hilarity to the middle schoolers she teaches.

          Spouse and I decided when we got married that we were keeping my last name because Spouse felt very strongly about us and future children having the SAME last name, yet he didn’t feel strongly about either his biological or adoptive parents (both sets were abusive). And I’m the only child of an only son with a much less common last name. But people who have only known us since we moved and know us as “the Cheshires” often don’t know. Unless they notice that the person listed as “mother” on my Facebook has the same last name I do. I know one other couple who did the same thing we did with last names, one couple where both hyphenated, and one couple where Ms. MacSomething and Mr. Name became Mr. and Mrs. MacName. Other than that, it’s about a 50%/25%/25% split between “she took his name”, “everyone kept their names”, and “she’s hyphenating her name.” I also live in New York State, where the rules are that upon marriage, the couple may take the current or former last name of either spouse, a hybrid/hyphenated form, or some reasonable composition of the two names (such as the MacName example) with nothing further than filing it on the marriage certificate. I know a lot of other states make things much more difficult – and even Spouse had a really bad time with his name change and his employer, who insisted on referring to him by his former last name to the point that it really seemed like harassment.

        3. You are very right. My best friend from when I was little didn’t take her husbands name though. She’s not in my current feminist artsy crowd and I didn’t really expect her to be the one to challenge norms like that. But I could also never imagine her taking his name because he had a super boring name and she had a great one so when they did get married noone was really surprised that he took her last name instead of the other way around.

        4. My brother-in-law actually took my sister’s name! It was very surprising at the time, and I don’t know him well enough to second guess his reasoning (his public reason is he didn’t really like much of his family).

          It’s funny, I wonder how much my parents would have laughed if someone told them that when their three daughters were 30+ years old, they’d still have the ‘family’ name and it’s for a variety of reasons, none of them being because we’re spinsters.

          1. A friend of mine from high school got married last year, and he and his wife both took a hyphenation of their last names (hers is first, I don’t know if it’s just a rhythm thing or what) – but I don’t know if they both changed their names to that legally, or just use it socially/professionally. My mother never changed her name, but my brother and I have our father’s surname. Like someone else said, it seems like there are no elegant solutions to this – my mother may have kept her name, but she didn’t pass it down. If my friends have kids, and then those kids get married and want to hyphenate…that becomes a lot of hyphens, very quickly. I just got engaged and don’t want to change my name – but my fiancé is foreign-born and his family all still lives in his home country, which means we’d end up traveling with our future children, which is apparently made into an extra hassle if their names don’t match yours. (I’m still not changing my name, that’s just an additional little wrinkle there.)

          2. I always liked the Hispanic way where you’re FirstName DadsFirstSurname MumsFirstSurname and think it would work for hyphens. So Lucy Scott-White marries Sam Riddell-Piper and the kids are Joey Scott-Riddell or some other combination. It’s sort of a compromise between cultures where your surname depends on your parent’s name and cultures where there’s a long line (on the male side, usually) of the same name, unbroken.

            Incidentally, as a legally female person, I hated my very uncommon surname. So I changed it by deed poll. It can be a pain and the costs vary across jurisdictions and you can have to justify it a lot more (though I haven’t really found that much), and if you’re with someone you might marry that makes the obstacles seem stupider to bash through when you can “just” change it on marriage, but with the numbers of women who say they hated their surname you’d think more would do it.

        5. Women taking their husbands’ last names seems to have come back in fashion. I remember when I was a kid in the 1970s thinking that by the time I was an adult, all women would keep their last names if they married. But the idea seemed to just slowly fade away again over time.

          1. I think the reason this hasn’t happened is we haven’t come up with good solutions that allow people to have the same name. Hyphenation is confusing and unsustainable for multiple generations, and when you keep different names, naming the kids is confusing. Personally, I have my mom’s last name, and my dad’s last name is my middle name and it’s reversed for my brothers, which my parents describe as “a bad solution to a difficult problem”. I’m so glad I have my mom’s last name but I do wish I shared a name with my brothers, and we’ve spent a lot of time explaining to people that we aren’t step-siblings, our parents are together, etc. So I think people end up defaulting to taking the husband’s name because they can’t come up with anything better, which sucks. Two of my friends just decided that and I think the guy seems more concerned about it than she does. Personally, I can imagine if I ever get married my husband will take my name because we’ll both be excited about bucking the trend

        6. +1 !!

          I think that we get ourselves into a position where we decide that It’s Not Okay To Make Unfeminist Choices Ever, Therefore If I Made A Choice It Must Be Feminist. But it is okay to make unfeminist choices sometimes! You have to pick your battles. I shave my legs every day, not because it is a feminist action, but because I have internalized the idea that shaved legs = attractive, and fighting that is just a battle that doesn’t seem worth my limited energy stores. Same with makeup.

          I am planning on keeping my last name when I get married (and my fiance wants to take my name). But you know what? I’m anxious as hell about it. I’m anxious about the social pushback. I’m anxious about the legal complications that exist in our state. I’m anxious about having to explain to people who notice the last names of our parents on Facebook. I can *totally understand* someone saying “screw this, I’m just taking my husband’s name.” I think it is perfectly reasonable to decide that you don’t want to fight that particular battle.

          But we should still talk about it. We should talk about why our faces need to be “presentable” in a way that men’s don’t. We should talk about the legal and social factors behind name change after marriage. And we should support the women who decide to take a stand on one of these issues, even if it’s not the battle we personally chose to fight.

          1. Absolutely! I think that this also comes from a desire that our choices be totally our own–which is reasonable. What’s not is the idea that somehow our choices are always completely unaffected by the society in which we live. They never are. I see this also with beauty standards, like the guys who say “I *just happen* to be attracted to women who meet X and Y conventional requirements” and do’t seem to think of the fact that perhaps if they’d been born in a different time/place that might not be what they found attractive.

            It’s when we can’t even have the conversation that I get frustrated. Like you said, we should be able to talk about it. We should be able to talk about *why* certain things occur in society without it becoming about individual people’s decisions. I totally see that women often end up criticized for every decision they make or don’t make, and feel like they hear it if they do or don’t take their husband’s last name/work outside the home/wear makeup etc. But I think that’s made it hard to talk about these issues in generalities as people do end up feeling personally targeted.

          2. “And we should support the women who decide to take a stand on one of these issues, even if it’s not the battle we personally chose to fight.” Love this. Personally, I’ve always intended to keep my name, but I also quite like the idea of merging.

        7. I know it’s a bit of a tangent, but we really need to make it easier for people to change last names. I have many married friends who didn’t just go with the wife takes husband’s last name path, and they ran into variable amounts of difficulty. I remember some of my male friends complaining that they had significantly greater hurdles when trying to take a new last name because of their marriage. Most of the married women I know took one of the following three paths: took their husband’s last name, they and their husband both took a hyphenated last name, they and their husband both took a new name that felt representative of their union/new household to them. It’s still a bit unbalanced, because it’s very rare for a husband to take a wife’s last name and a lot more common for a wife to take a husband’s last name and very few women I know simply kept their last name intact, but at least within my social circle there actually have been a lot of varied decisions about what to do with the last name. I completely agree with the comment about it being difficult for those who want to have children, since multiple family names does create extra headaches. I think this has been part of the motivation for the couples that decided to take a new family name for both of them and then pass it on to the children. It does avoid the need to start dropping names when two people with hyphenated last names marry, since I think three hyphens in one last name would get unwieldy. However, merger or invented last names upon marriage aren’t acceptable in every place, and so it can lead to more difficulties getting the name change done. Thus again, we really need to work on making these things easier on the paperwork end of things.

          1. When my spouse and I married, I kept my last name as (a) it’s in the scientific literature already, (b) I’m not Japanese and having a Japanese name seemed like it would be endlessly confusing.

            Then we adopted a ten-year-old with an already-hyphenated name who did not want to change it. Social workers advised that we make him change it as part of “claiming” him but we weren’t willing to do that. (I think we made the right decision.) So now we are three people with four last names.

            It’s awkward at times but it works. It helps to have something that demonstrates the relationship: I have a medical insurance card for him that has my name on it as policy-holder, and before the adoption was finalized both my spouse and I had laminated foster-placement paperwork, for fear that someone would ask why this Japanese guy was trying to get medical care for a European kid with a totally different name and throw a fuss at a dangerous moment.

        8. I totally get what you’re talking about, but… I’m totally taking my husband’s last name if I get married, unless it’s *worse* than mine, in which case we’ll pick a new one together. My sister-in-law hyphenated, which I don’t understand because I can’t imagine *choosing* this last name for myself and my Schrodinger’s children*, but to each their own.

          *I’m undecided on the subject of having kids, so based on the whole Shrodinger’s cat thing, they both exist and don’t exist at the same time, right?

    2. I’ve had this experience a number of times as well, and I don’t know what to make of it, either. It might be that when the prevailing social norm of “guy makes the first move” comes into conflict with the idea of “girl makes the first move,” the other prevailing norm of “girls who make moves at all are slutty/desperate/needy and can be used but not taken seriously” comes into play.

    3. I think it’s totally legit to prefer being asked to asking, but that’s a You thing, not a How Men And Women Work thing.

      I’m queer, and on whole I prefer to be asked. It took a few goes both ways around to work that out, but eventually I’d decided that for casual flings I definitely found it sexier to drop hints and flirt and see if I could get them to do the asking: I liked that validation. And that’s OK! But obviously if that was true for all women, we wouldn’t get very far. (And with me and my partner of ten years, we’d be hard-pushed to say which of us went first: it was pretty mutual and simultaneous.)

      Maybe asking someone out is a total turn-off for the LW, and they just don’t want to do that. Fair enough! But if you’re starting from the point of view that a relationship between a man and a woman is less likely to work out if the woman does the asking, you’ve got three options: ask them out anyway and risk having a relationship that doesn’t work out; hope they ask you and risk having a relationship that doesn’t work out (because you run that risk anyway); or risk not asking them out and risk that they don’t ask you out either because they’re shy or they prefer to be asked too and bother, you never even got to TRY that relationship. It is totally legit to decide that having someone definitely demonstrate risk and interest by asking you out is the price of entry for dating you! That’s just as reasonable a decision as, “I don’t want to do Internet dating” or “I don’t date people more than fifteen years older than me” or whatever else works for you! But better to make it as a conscious choice because it’s right for you, rather than because They Man and You Lady. Don’t let it be an unexamined choice.

    4. Agreed. I am a feminist. I’ve also vowed, at this point, to never chase a man again. To not make the first move. “eh why not, she makes it easy” is exactly what I’ve experienced and it causes nothing but pain and insecurity for me. There *are* some (maybe socialized, maybe biological; it doesn’t really matter) differences in the ways men and women experience and demonstrate love, attraction and interest in people, and that’s OK. In my own experience, if a man doesn’t pursue, he is not interested. He could take or leave me and might as well use me as a placeholder ’til he finds someone he really wants. Or he is just passive. A passive partner won’t work for me, so nope. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

      1. Yeeeah, I would venture to say “there are some differences in the way men and women experience and demonstrate love” etc doesn’t necessarily apply outside the US and probably not as much as you think in the US (there seems to be a lot more gender role pressure and slut shaming in the US than NZ). Because that is not my experience in the slightest, and I couldn’t say that there is anything resembling a consensus in approach in people I know (though expectations of female passiveness etc are still there and absorbed).

        Bearing in mind that a guy from the US once commented to a group of NZers that he had no idea how to deal with NZ women because we/they didn’t really “get” dating, and all the women there laughed about how if they found someone attractive they would just take them home (see: expectation of men to always be “up for it”) and dating is pointless. (Myself and most people I know see dating as something you do with someone you are seeing, and I’ve never really encountered the “dating to get to know someone” thing here, though I’m sure it exists for some?)

        I don’t even get the word “chase”. There is no chase. You spend time with someone, you find them attractive; you tell them and it’s a yes or a no. I’ve been on both ends of both. I do tend to be the initiator and this really has not been a problem with me. I’ve had nos from friends with no impact on our relationship, I’ve had one night stands and regular fuckbuddies without being treated with disrespect, and my partner was someone I told I’d like to sleep with him, so we did that until we realised we loved each other.

        So yeah. I will always call bullshit on “men and women do x”, no matter how much social expectations make one behaviour more common.

        1. First of all, I wanna move to NZ, good lord. Also, I totally agree with you that this isn’t an issue of men and women being innately different, I think it’s entirely socialization. It actually goes entirely against my nature to not initiate and I find it endlessly frustrating because I’m the type who just wants to know if they like me back and ask directly, but after innumerable frustrating experiences I’ve just found that the only real way I can find out if a guy is truly into me is to wait and see if he makes a move.

        2. Except I allowed for the possibility that it’s cultural/conditioned/whatever. It still doesn’t matter because if I’m the aggressor, or the one making the first move, etc., it means it’s not going anywhere. He doesn’t like me enough. I may spend the rest of my life alone and cobwebs may grow between my legs but the end result–anxiety, insecurity, not feeling desired–is the same in both cases.

          1. Yeah, but personally my point is that that socialisation is not as strong outside of the US/maybe your area of the US. Thus, it doesn’t pan out that way everywhere. So if it’s how it works out where you are, that makes sense.* But it’s not very applicable outside of your specific context.

            *I still don’t think I (personally! Not judging you) would be able to be “chased”. I dunno, I’m kind of allergic to the idea, and either I wouldn’t get what I wanted or possibly I’d move, because that whole dynamic makes me really uncomfortable.

        3. I don’t believe that it’s a “women and men naturally do this,” but I do think waving away gender/local-area socialization, as if gender equality has been completely achieved and gender roles no longer play into dating at all, is not a universal experience.

          For me, the problem was not that I was getting a “yes” or a “no.” When I initiated, I was getting a…. “yes-ish.” As in, they seemed open to my initiating…. continued to kiss me, agreed to date me… while it turns out they weren’t actually THAT interested. They were 60% interested; interested enough to go along with it if I did most of the work (initiating, planning dates, making the moves) but if I had left it up to them, they wouldn’t have done anything. So it was neither a no, nor a yes, and by initiating I would tumble onto a one-way road of interest where they would reciprocate *just enough* to keep me around, but I was still doing the bulk of the romantic work.

          Essentially, I just found that not initiating was the fastest way to avoid 4-6 months of a lukewarm boyfriend.

          1. This is what I’ve concluded also. Also, unlike LW, I’m in my 40s. A grown man at this stage of life should know how to ask someone out using his words. If not, there’s too much relationship remediation required for me to be interested. I’ve refused several baits dropped in my path by half-hearted men using this method and I’m all the better for it.

          2. I don’t think horotvinir did “wave away local socialisation”, so much as say that what’s true for some people in the US is not necessarily true everywhere for everyone. And after all, we don’t know where LW is living!

          3. Heh, I’m kind of bemused by “as if gender equality has been completely achieved and gender roles no longer play into dating at all, is not a universal experience”, since my point is that sarahplainandsmall was talking as if her and your experiences were universal.

            I think what you describe sucks, and I believe you that that’s how it is where you live: do what works for you! But it is absolutely not true in all Western countries and from other people’s experiences I do not believe it’s true in all of the US.

            P.S. We are not in some sort of gender role-free paradise. We have all the same issues as the US, mostly on a smaller scale. So I’m glad I live here, but experience the same frustrations as women I hear from in the US. I imagine from not-English-derived countries the issues could sometimes be so different (worse in some, better in others) as to make the US blogosphere kind of frustrating. /speculation

          4. “They were 60% interested; interested enough to go along with it if I did most of the work (initiating, planning dates, making the moves) but if I had left it up to them, they wouldn’t have done anything.”

            Hang on…this isn’t actually about men vs women or making the first move. This is about *relationships* – any relationship, between any two people. If, in a platonic friendship, I was the only one suggesting new times to meet and new things to do, I’d begin to start worrying that this friend didn’t actually want to hang out with me as much as I wanted to hang out with him or her.

            Similarly, if I’m dating someone (in the UK), and *all* the enthusiasm and initiative-taking is coming from one side (male or female), I would begin to worry that perhaps the person not taking any initiatives, ever, is possibly not that enthusiastic about the relationship. This is nothing to do with sex or gender, and everything to do with how people convey enthusiasm for something.

        4. This is really close to my experience in the UK, which also has no real dating culture. Asking people out in the US sounds like a right faff sometimes.

          1. Yeah, I think we’re still very culturally similar to the UK, though a little less macho than at least parts of England. Thank goodness. 😛

      2. I’m kind of uncomfortable with all the gender essentialism up in this thread. I’m a bisexual guy who doesn’t make the first move on basically ANYBODY because of my social anxiety disorder. Yet, anyone who knows me will tell you I’m anything but passive, and I tend to state my opinions and preferences very adamantly. There are lots of other issues which cause men to be this way, too: shyness, wanting to buck cultural norms, whatever. Genders are not monoliths.

        It’s totally fine that you want a guy to approach you first, of course. But there are ways to express that without falling into really gross binarist tropes.

        1. You get down with your bad self. 😀 I hope you have a good, supportive community where you can be you. I try not to make it sound like NZ is all sexism/gender-role free because noooooope.

          My personality tends to attract other people who are like me so it’s only really recently since my friend circle at university has expanded to people who wouldn’t normally be attracted to me/vice-versa that I’m really experiencing that there are lots of people around me that experience the world through much more traditional expectations. It’s a bit weird.

      3. There is a difference in chasing and making the first move. I made the first move with my boyfriend. I did not chase him. He made the second move. We took turns. None of us chased the other. You can make a first move and then wait for him to make the next.

        1. Personally, this really seems like the best way to me regardless of who starts it off. How else do you both know you’re both into it otherwise? And it’s how you normally interact in most other human relationships.

      4. How about “don’t chase people you would like to kiss” because that’s a really rape-culture consent-ignoring generally poopy way to approach people?

        Seriously, this way of thinking plays right into the idea that only male desire matters, makes it easy to ignore consent, makes gender-boxing mandatory, and a whole plethora of other problematic things.

        Please please please examine your ideas more closely. Not just Sarahplanandsmall but everyone who finds themselves nodding along with this sort of thinking. Unpacking these ideas will help you AND your society as large.

    5. Or he’s just shy. There are all kinds of ways to take initiative. When I got to know my current boyfriend, I waited for him to ask me out, and he did. He would plan things, and do thoughtful things, but he didn’t kiss me because, as it turned out later, he had never kissed a woman and so it was a rather big step. So I kissed him. And we’ve been together Happily Ever After for three months now. He still plans things and does thoughtful things. There are other indications about whether he’s into you than just who makes the first move.

      1. Agreed, there are lots of ways to initiate. If a guy has initiated in one way (asking me out), I don’t mind initiating in another way (going for the first kiss.) It’s when the initiation or signs of interest are mixed, or could easily be attributed to Becoming Friends, that I draw the line and wait for the guy to bring it into romantic territory.

    6. One time, this guy and I became good friends right before he moved away. We had a conversation once that I thought made it clear that he wasn’t interested in me romantically, while HE thought he was making it clear that he would be interested if he weren’t about to move away, but didn’t want to get involved because of that. This miscommunication was not cleared up for a VERY long time. We spent the next year becoming closer friends: talking online a lot, on the phone occasionally, and hanging out nonstop when he would come back to town to visit every couple of months. I was *pretty sure* nine months later that he was attracted to me, but he was still not making any moves, and so I was confused and things dragged on a few more months, until I finally kissed him at a party nearly a year after he left.

      Things progressed quickly from there, and next July we’ll have been married for ten years.

      It turns out he had very, VERY little experience with girls at age 20-21 when we were doing all this circling around each other, and so was really awkward about it and didn’t really know how to make a move.

      Yes, there are probably guys out there who are lazy about this shit, but there are also guys who are just shy and awkward and scared or who can’t read your signals for shit and have no clue how to go about making the first move.

      I’m guessing if the guy is a lazy ass or not that into it, there will be other signs pretty early on. Like, yeah, if you plan several dates in a row and he shows no interest in planning them, even after you suggest it, that’s a big red flag, run away. If it’s another problem, though, then you might wind up regretting all the time you wasted waiting for him to get up his courage.

    7. thwartedneedle: I know that feeling.

      I struggle with this, myself. It has been the story of my life: the work of being romantic, falling on my shoulders. All the First Steps, all the offers that led to relationships: mine. All the relationships I have ever had have been the result of me asking the guy out. None of them have really worked out all that well; some have been lukewarm or “eh why not” on the guy’s part, some of them were a case of us both being in a relationship because we liked the idea of having a partner and it didn’t really matter with whom, and some of them have turned out to be awful people and I’ve had to back out of the decision fast.

      I worry that this means there’s something wrong with me. I surely have made some poor choices in partners, but it’s not just that. I’m an unusually tall woman, I act in ways that people apparently perceive as masculine/mannish/butch, and I use a lot of big words when I talk because that’s just how I grew up talking. Nothing wrong with that, but… I think men are frightened of me. This gets me right in my heart. I would like to be treated as if I were pretty, or special, or desirable, and no one does treat me that way. And also, men don’t ask me out, I have to do the asking out. These two things go hand in hand. Maybe “men are scared to ask me out” doesn’t automatically mean “men don’t find me pretty, special, or desirable,” but I tend to feel they’re the same thing. This is the point at which I see myself as this horrible stereotype of a man-hungry spinster running after guys begging them for love while they flee my approach.

      What the hell, self? I thought I was a feminist! I thought that meant I would be able to admit that I wanted to be loved and that this was a reasonable human urge to have, and empower myself to go out and find some loving. But when I do, I feel like a woman-hating cartoon straight from the bad old days of gender roles. So what else am I going to do? Take the crappy patriarchal advice that A Man Pursues, A Lady Waits To Be Pursued, and act passive? Because (a) that’s bullshit advice, and (b) at the end of the day, that STILL means I’m sitting around alone hoping against hope that a lover will appear.

      No one really talks about this specific problem. Maybe women like me are scared of being made fun of. I know I am.

      So, I ask guys on dates, and we bumble around for a few meetings and nothing comes of it. Or I don’t ask guys on dates, and I sit around and feel resentment and am lonely. It is very hard not to throw myself a pity party sometimes. I guess I’m doing it right now. I can hear myself turning into Nice-Guy-Woman whining about how nobody appreciates my offbeat good looks. I swear, I don’t think I’m entitled to guys’ love or sex or affection. But it does make me sad that I can’t have those things. I can’t help it; it does make me sad. I wish I didn’t always have to ~be brave~ and ~take the initiative~ and ~risk my ego~. I’ll go on trying to be and do all that, of course, because I still have the tiniest fraction of hope that this process will not suck forever. I just wanted to comment that it is weary hard sometimes.

    8. I’m female and have also almost always been the pursuer. And, yes, there have been cases where someone went out with me because I made it easy– where probably nothing would have happened otherwise.

      Among other things, I want to be with someone who interests / attracts / delights me enough to risk sticking my neck out. I’m pretty risk-averse; if I actually get excited enough about someone to ask them out, that means I’ve noticed something that I find compelling enough to risk current (or future) rejection for.

      Yes, I do feel insecure about it sometimes. But not enough to give up on the clarity that pursuing someone provides.

      Perhaps a contributing factor: I can’t flirt to save my life, unless you count saying, “I find you distractingly nice to look at / listen to / be around; how would you feel about kissing?” as flirting. My options seem to be chasing or Firthing, and I have resolved to Firth no further.

      1. This is maybe similar to my experience — of the dates I’ve been on, roughly 70% were initiated by me. Of unreciprocated declarations of interest, 100% have been on my part. I am also painfully risk-averse with regards to dating — my fear of being publicly humiliated by a dudeperson (as a fat ladyperson) for my interest borders on a phobia.

        I would really, really like to be asked out by someone sometime, but practically speaking it seems like if I wait for dates to float my way I’ll be waiting for a long time. I don’t know if this is because I’m not frequenting the proper locales or if because — as a less-than-conventionally-attractive woman — I am just not the kind of person to trip someone’s trigger on first sight.

        Honestly for me the hardest thing has been reconciling my emotions to my reality. I know I should be okay with the one who always does the asking, but I’m not. I want the practice dating (and maybe low-stakes practice making out/doing other stuff, because I’m worried that being inexperienced, afraid, and tense will fuck up any chemistry I might have otherwise had with a promising date,) so I’m going to keep asking. But it’s stupidly crushing and exhausting to not be able to match up any part of your actual life to any narratives you have seen in real life or media about how dating and romance works. I don’t think I have any paired-up friends where the woman was the initiator.

        I think it’s important to fight harmful cultural paradigms, but knowing you should do something and having it be emotionally easy or satisfying are definitely not one and the same.

  10. Just a word about “rebound” relationships.

    My husband, Mr Hypotenuse, currently working downstairs in the house we live in with our children and various animals, was a “rebound” from the serious relationship I was in before him. That was 17 years (and change) ago. So….just because Relationship B happens shortly after Relationship A doesn’t mean Relationship B is doomed to failure.

    1. Same. Mr. 0330 was totally a rebound to the point that I referred to my ex-boyfriend and I being “on a break” on our first date. I wanted all the cards to be on the table. He still teases me about when I’m going to get back together with my boyfriend! 🙂 We’ve been married 11 years.

      I was his rebound, too. He and his first wife had started the long, arduous process that is divorce in our state only 2 months before.

  11. Perfect boyfriends. I had a 6’3″ New York City firefighter who made my toes curl and I have literally never felt more safe or loved with a man than when I was in his arms. But…well, it didn’t work out. And the lesson I am trying to learn hardest (and I hope LW1 is learning it too), is that no matter how much they look like superman or speak to the deepest, quietest part of your soul, and no matter how much you love them, you have to love yourself more. You have to love yourself ruthlessly and trust that it’s better to be alone than make yourself smaller for any situation or partnership. So far that’s been the toughest part of my situation, but I think it will end up being the most valuable. Good Luck LW!

  12. This probably says more about where my head is at right now than anything else, but: the only thing I can see in that first letter is the therapy, antidepressants, and ‘almost getting fired from [hir] new job’. OMG, girl*! Less than 6 months is not a lot of time for getting antidepressant meds stabilized, for therapy to have a strong impact. But seriously, what about that job, tho! That job you moved to the other side of the country for!

    Also, while it is great you are focusing on self-care and getting out and meeting new people, a maybe slightly easier/clearer way to make new platonic friends is to seek out groups that are not oriented around sexual activities. Maybe switch it up and join a crafting group, too?

    *girl in the gender-neutral sense.

    1. Nah – a lot of BDSM/kink isn’t particularly sexual; and in my experience, most people in those communities are happy doing the fun stuff with or without sex depending on who they’re playing with. Not to mention there are lots of couples and poly groups in those communities who are there to socialise and have fun, not to find new partners. If you like being single, you can be single and active in BDSM spaces quite happily.

      Ofc, adding other interests and groups to your social life is still – always – a great way of meeting new friends and doing more fun stuff, so if your social brain isn’t full yet, then it’s very much worth doing nonetheless. 🙂

  13. LW #630 – you say it’s been a week and this guy hasn’t made a move. That’s…not a long time? Many people wait a bit longer to really make a move on someone they’ve just met (outside a hooking up context), and some people wait *a lot* longer. Personally, I would want to know someone for months.

    This is not to say there’s anything wrong with moving fast or anything superior about moving slowly! If you’re feeling it go for it – you can ask this guy out if you like. Just, if he hasn’t made a move yet it doesn’t seem that weird to me, because I think a lot of people would still be feeling out what they think and making sure that the initial impression sticks at the one week stage. It’s not necessarily a sign that he’s not into you. It might just be a sign that he moves more slowly than you’re used to.

    1. Personally, a week would feel crazy fast to me. Even if I liked them, I’d be like ‘Woah, we just met! You’re basically a total stranger!’

  14. #630, I was in pretty much the same boat as you. A general history of getting pretty unambiguous “I want to jump your bones” signals from people early on. Then I dated someone who was a bit more nervous, a bit slower-paced. So on our second date said “Were you planning on kissing me?” and he said “Yes”, and then the kissing happened, and everything was all pretty unambiguous.

    You are allowed to ask. Asking is good. Asking answers questions (affirmatively or negatively).

  15. “there’s no substitute for enthusiastic presence in your life. If he were so perfect for you, you’d still be together.”

    Aaaagh, so true. There’s nothing worse than being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t *really* want to be in a relationship with you. Truly, rejection is a favor you do for someone to spare them those horrible feelings of insecurity and unwantedness. A person who doesn’t want to be with you is incapable of fulfilling your emotional needs.

  16. Another personal anecdote to hopefully encourage LW1. My adored, awesome spouse of nearly ten years did not have several of the qualities I had deemed a “must have” for my theoretical life partner: he didn’t sing or play an instrument, he wasn’t a churchgoer. He even had one trait that I thought would be a dealbreaker: he smoked. And yet, he was really sweet, and really smart, and had all these interesting hobbies I’d never even thought about getting into, and he was kind and respectful to my friends and nice to waiters and small children. And he was really into me, in the way that all my arty religious musical crush-objects hadn’t been. So I gave the relationship a chance, and I’m really super happy that I did.

  17. I’ve recently found myself in a similar situation as #630 and being extremely socially awkward am wondering if I handled it in the right way -using my words. I had a colleague who I was very attracted to. I never disclosed my attraction as we are both attached to other people. I left that job but missed him very much. I started emailing him just to keep in touch. Mixed messages ensued. Sometimes he would reply, sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he would send a reply in the middle of the night. So today I sent him an email that went like this:

    Hi Missed Friend,
    I was going to email to ask you how you are but before I did I wanted to check if you want to keep in contact and that my contacting you is not unwanted or annoying.  Please don’t be diplomatic – I’d appreciate honesty.

    Was this the CA way?

        1. What you had was a sort of casual friendly acquaintance thing going on. Now there is a weird ultimatum of feelings and pressure. What did he say?

          1. Nothing yet. I was trying to keep it casual and friendly but it was always me who initiated the conversation – sometimes we had some really nice exchanges, other times he would not reply for weeks. The last time we spoke I told him my son was hospitalised and he has not replied since. I pretty much took that to mean he didn’t want to keep in touch but I guess wanted to check one last time.

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