Advertisements

#670: Dudes who “just don’t form emotional attachments.”

Hello Captain!

Here’s a few things about me to help you understand my story. I am 23, a virgin, and have never had a romantic relationship with a man besides a date.

A few weeks ago I recently went for a night out drinking with three guys that I work with. One of whom, Greg, I invited along because I’ve had a slowly developing crush on him for the past few months and wanted to hang out with him outside work. The night was fun, but took a different turn than I expected once Greg started getting really drunk. We’d flirted earlier in the night, but once he was drunk he started hitting on another girl, clearly hoping to go home with her. She ended up leaving and when I approached him to say he should get home he asked me if I would go with him and sleep with him. I told him no because he was really drunk, but said I would give him a ride home. On the way he started talking about how it’s better to remain closed off because he’s opened up in relationships and put in a ton of effort and only gotten hurt, but wasn’t sure why he was telling me this because nothing would come of it. When we got to his house he invited me in and we talked for a while before we kissed. We started making out eventually and he asked me to spend the night. I did, but we didn’t have sex. The next morning was awkward, neither one of us saying much, and we agreed to just see each other at work.

The following week we had a discussion about it at his place and he said he didn’t want a relationship. I told him I’d like to get to know him better and to try to be friends and he agreed. We spent the night talking and watching movies and I slept over again, though nothing physical happened. A few days later he sent me a flirty text and we spent the night flirting, agreeing to meet up again. I went over later in the week and we talked, watched movies, made out (I initiated it), and played chess until 5 in the morning and I spent the night again.

This last week we’ve had conversations via text about personal things, getting to know each other. A few days ago we had another work outing at a bar and each of us said how it was a possibility we would go home together again. As we left the bar he texted me to say I should come over if I wanted, so I did. At his place he shared personal things with me and eventually we went to his room. We almost had sex, but I stopped it. He respected my decision, but I think he was upset and we did other stuff (which I enjoyed) without actually having sex. I wanted to have sex with him, but wasn’t sure if I should because we’re not dating and he doesn’t want to date me. He said he hasn’t fooled around with anyone besides me in a year and half, but said that we’re not exclusive, which definitely bothers me.

When I asked him what he would call us he said that we’re friends and that he is someone I can talk to about anything I want if I need to. He did however say that he doesn’t form emotional connections, which is confusing because it seems like that’s what we’ve been doing. I am a major overthinker, something he knows and has been trying to help me with. I struggle with opening up to him because I’m afraid of what he’ll think and he has been really great with trying to let me know I can share things about myself with him. He’s been very open with me.

We’ve left things saying that we’d like to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s fun and he told me I “shouldn’t ruin a good thing with my overthinking.” I want to enjoy this without obsessing about it too much, but I’m not sure how. My questions are:

Should I just relax and enjoy this despite the fact I want it to be something more?
Does Greg seem like a good guy?

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely,
Confused Overthinker

Dear Confused:

Are you “enjoying” a “fun” time with Greg or are you busy trying to figure out the secret formula that will make him form an emotional attachment to you and relationship with you?

I think it’s the second thing, so my advice is “abort!”

My reasoning:

  • He won’t form emotional attachments to you, but he’ll dump all his emotions and tell you all about his history of hurt from other relationships. “On the way he started talking about how it’s better to remain closed off because he’s opened up in relationships and put in a ton of effort and only gotten hurt, but wasn’t sure why he was telling me this because nothing would come of it.” OH NO HE’S SO BROODING AND VULNERABLE.
  • He’ll hit on other girls in front of you, but settle for you when he is super drunk and no one else is there.
  • You are bothered by the fact that you are not exclusive. This alone would be a reason to bail on the whole thing, because by definition, you are not relaxed right now.
  • You keep “almost” having sex and he’s upset when you don’t actually do it and you’re giving him way too much credit for being “cool” about it. Being cool about a partner’s sexual boundaries is not some favor he’s doing you, it’s basic humanity.
  • He tells you that you overthink things…things like “not fucking him immediately”…and sets himself up as your helper. Your sexy-but-emotionally-unavailable helper. Seems legit.
  • For the record, I don’t think you are overthinking it. I think you are trying to be true to your own needs, and that examining his behavior vs. his words is smart and self-protective of you.

He told you exactly what is going on: He is not emotionally attached to you, does not want to be exclusive with you, and does not want to date you. Believe this information! There are lots of things that people say when they want to sleep with you but not to actually be with you. Things like “I don’t really form emotional attachments.”I’m kind of an asshole” or “I don’t really want anything serious right now.” Try to get in the habit of seeing these as postulates and not theorems that need testing. I don’t think he is evil. I think he’s lazy, and careless with your feelings. And I think that he is using a very recognizable set of tactics to both keep you interested (so you’ll fuck him) and try to get you to go quietly (when he bails). He thinks that by being preemptively honest with you about all of the above that it absolves him from any responsibility to ever care about your feelings.

So, today is Saturday.

Late tonight, if he doesn’t find someone else to mess around with, I predict that he will send you a flirty text.

I hope that you will not get that text because you have already blocked his number. And when he asks you about it at work, you can be like “sorry, had other plans/changed my mind” and then never speak of it again. If he whines, you can say “Dude, I thought you didn’t do emotions. I was having fun, but then I thought better of it, so I stopped. Let’s just go back to being work buds.”

You are too cool to be some lazy dude’s sexual backup plan. I don’t think it’s wrong to have casual sex, and I don’t think it would be wrong for you to have sex with Greg out of pure horniness and curiosity and then text him again/never text him again as you see fit. as long as you do it intentionally and very, very safely. I don’t want to ruin this magical feeling of attraction and ‘maybe’ for you. It’s fun to have fantasies and make out with people. It’s fun to play a game of “almost.” It’s fun to have crushes and obsessions and stories of a misspent youth.

But you asked me, and I am old, I can see that you like him way more than he likes you. You think about him waaaaay more than he thinks about you. You already know that this is unbalanced and kinda doomed. Still want to do it? I promise you, whatever the really shitty movie that came out on Valentine’s Day says, having sex will not magically level up ANYTHING about your connection to each other. It will not make him nicer to you than he is right now, and he won’t grow emotions at you because you did it.

P.S. If you have a body that can get pregnant, and you have not already done so, make sure you are maximally protected against pregnancy and as informed as possible about sexual health and STIs. This dude has “it just happened!” written all over him.

P.P.S. #TeamAnne

P.P.P.S. Lazy dudes sometimes inspire really great songs after the fact.

 

Advertisements
210 comments
  1. Amber said:

    Is it at all possible that this dude is aromantic and either just doesn’t know it/know about aromanticism, or he is aware but doesn’t know how to put it into words/explain it so chooses to be somewhat vague and asshole-ish about it instead?

    I had problems explaining why I wasn’t interested in sex before I realized I was asexual, so maybe there’s a similar thing going on with this guy.

    • JenniferP said:

      Good point, though what would knowing that about him change for the LW, do you think?

      • My immediate feeling is that in that case, assuming he’s the decentish possible aro dude, then EVERYONE gets to feel like there’s something wrong with them if this goes on and then blows up. Giddy crushes are not thing aro folks enjoy inspiring, from all I’ve seen.

      • tawg said:

        I think it wouldn’t – the LW still wants things that the dude has made clear he is not interested in being part of (unless it’s on his terms and by his rules and for his immediate benefit). That seems to be the real issue here. I think that this dude could potentially have a lot of valid and legit reasons for wanting to conduct himself in this way but it still boils down to an incomparability in terms of relationship wants, and it’s causing hurt and distress to the LW who could just… not be dealing with this.

        • The other issue with putting a label on Dude is that people tend to see things that are specific enough to have labels as “conditions” that “can be treated.” Like Amber, I’m also asexual and didn’t know that was even A Thing until my mid-twenties, so I just thought sex just kinda sucked but that there had to be *something* that I, personally, could do about it. Obviously there wasn’t, and after I started trying to head off guys who I saw as potential friends and who saw me, uh, differently with that information, they’d get it into their heads that asexuality was a disease that could be cured by sex. Likewise, I’d worry that LW’s interest in Dude would make her unconsciously convolute his aromanticism, if that is indeed what’s going on here, into an issue that could be cured with romance, which, needless to say, is not how it works.

    • Except he sounds like a damn cliche. Lots of guys are selfish. Everything described here says “selfish.”

      • mamacitaconpistoles said:

        Ja. He could be aromantic AND selfish AND not know what is going on.

        Choosing to fool around with an experienced coworker who clearly wants some romance, when you do not and have told them so is not the only outcome possible.

        There is also saying “sorry, I am not interested in a relationship with you” and sleeping with folk who are into the same kind of sex-and-emotion intersection you are into.

    • But he sounds like a complete cliche of the selfish guy. There are plenty of them. That’s how it became a cliche.

    • neverjaunty said:

      Many things are possible. “He is aromantic” seems a lot less likely than “he just kinda wants to get laid if LW is available”, though.

      Plus, it is not really LW’s problem to figure out why he is being vague and asshole-ish.

    • Emma said:

      Yeah… we know he doesn’t want a romantic relationship with LW. The reason why he doesn’t want a romantic relationship isn’t really important – because whatever the reason, he wants friends with benefits and LW wants to date, and that combination isn’t going to go down well. So he could indeed be aro, but if whether he is or not, it’s not really relevant.

      • Light said:

        Agreed. He could be aromantic, or a jerk, or lazy, or secretly a robot. None of that really matters. What does matter is that the LW wants a kind of relationship that he does not. Neither of them is wrong, but their wants aren’t compatible. Pulling back to casual work friends seems like the safest option for LW.

    • Aris Merquoni said:

      As a heterosexual aromantic: This has not been my experience.

      I have friends with benefits. The thing is that these people are my friends. I do not jerk them around, I do not say things like “don’t ruin a good thing with overthinking”, and I make my actions match my words. I say things like, “This is fun! Do you want to have some no-strings-attached sex? Saying no is totally okay!” I say things like “I’m not exclusive, I’m seeing these other people for sex regularly, here is what I know about my STI status.”

      Even back when I didn’t explicitly identify as aromantic but had FWBs and no relationships, before I realized that aromantic sexual was a thing I could do, I had plenty of casual sex and wasn’t an entitled jackass about it. I didn’t whine to potential lovers about how my heart had been broken the last time I was in a serious relationship (even though it was true!) or tell them I couldn’t possibly give them the emotional support they wanted while asking them to touch my ladyboner.

      I think even if you don’t have a good way of explaining your particular sexual desires or lack thereof, or romantic desires/lack thereof, it’s not actually that difficult to make your actions and your requests line up. Maybe this guy just doesn’t know how to be a decent aromantic sexual, but I don’t think that being aromantic is the thing that’s wrong in this picture.

      To the LW: It sounds like this would be a less-than-stellar arrangement for you to have sex for the first time in–not because there’s anything particularly magical about virginity, but because any time you try something new and scary you want to be in a supportive environment. But there’s nothing wrong with choosing to go ahead! Just be aware that “I totally can’t” *makeout makeout* “be in a relationship with you” *makeout makeout* “But we could have sex if you want” *makeout* = “I won’t be in a romantic relationship with you, us having sex will not change that.”

      Be comfortable in boning, LW! Then go forth and bone exactly as much or as little as you want!

      • moseyonby said:

        This was a really great, sweet, lovely, accurate thing to say, and I just want to second the opinions laid out here!

      • Anon said:

        THIS absolutely hit it out of the park and as a non-romantic person I agree 100%!

      • cicatricella said:

        full points!

  2. Emily said:

    From a woman who has enjoyed casual sex from time to time: if you do decide that you want to have casual sex with someone, you have a variety of options out there besides this guy, which include men who will be patient and make you feel wanted and have intentions that line up with their behavior. (Also, they don’t work with you.) If that’s a path you do want to go down, I recommend looking for one of those men.

  3. Rosie Rose said:

    Oh man, LW, I feel this situation. I had a very similar affair with a very attractive man whom I liked very much. He warned me up front that he was a bit of an asshole and not looking for emotional connections, and then used me as combination lazy sex option / emotional dumping ground that he didn’t have to give anything to in return. And he didn’t feel the slightest bit bad about how heartbroken I ended up, because hey, he warned me.

    It is super easy to get invested in this sort of thing being a love story where you Touch His Stony Heart and he learns to love again! It is not. There is no love story. There is a you getting strung along story. I now have a rule: if a person you have a sexy interest in tells you something about How This Relationship Is Likely To Go, believe it. He says he’s emotionally unavailable? He means it. He claims nothing’s gonna come of whatever you have going? Well, he should know! And you deserve better, so that’s the moment when you say ‘cool, okay, bye’ because actually there are LOTS of interesting, attractive people in this world who are also capable of treating you the way you want to be treated.

    • JenniferP said:

      A touch to the Stony Boner does not lead to the Stony Heart.

      • VG said:

        And if by some fluke it did, imagine the hell of eventually trying to break up with The Guy Who Doesn’t Form Emotional Attachments, but Made An Exception For You, until you turned out to be Just Like All the Others Who Hurt Him. Even if you win in this situation, you lose.

        • YesVirginia said:

          YUP. Or he will eventually turn up the emotionally unavailable and go into brooding sadness that is all your fault BECAUSE you should have known how emotionally unavailable he was. (It is extremely flattering to be “the only one who can unlock the heart [boner] of stone.” It also comes back to bite you when a break up – which will inevitably happen – comes.)

        • keelyellenmarie said:

          Been there, done that, got harassed for a year after it ended. Ugh.

          • Zillah said:

            Ughhh ditto. Last time I heard from him was three years after we’d broken up. While I was celebrating Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend at the time, who was about a million times better. Ugh.

        • unlurking said:

          True.

        • ThatHat said:

          Not gonna lie, I think that’s already how this one’s gonna play out, even without sex. Because he Opened Up To Her and Showed His Emotions (about not having emotions). So when LW decides to stop playing the game before he wants it to stop (ie: before they’ve had sex), she’ll be One More Reason you just Can’t Trust Women With Your Emotions.

          It’s horsepucky, of course. But it’ll be the vibe he gives off, I’d lay Vegas odds.

          • Shaenon said:

            I guarantee the minute this non-relationship ends, the LW will be added to the list of Cruel Women Who Wronged Me Which Is Why I Can Never Love Again and Also I Get a Lifetime Pass to Be a Turd. It doesn’t matter if she ends it or he ends it or she gets abducted by the Reptilians to rule their planet as their lizard queen, that’s how he’ll remember things going down.

            I may have encountered this guy a few hundred times in my life.

        • Excellent point! Never never fall for Making-An-Exception.

          We hear it as “I’m exceptional!” but that’s not what it means. It means we have a temporary visa that the other person issues on their whim, according to their needs.

          Because if we were Exceptional, it would be a permanent state. Only, somehow, it never is.

          • “It means we have a temporary visa that the other person issues on their whim, according to their needs”.
            OMGoddess This!

          • thepaintedlady said:

            And it’s never “you’re exceptional so I chose this course of my own free will and because of my feelings.” It’s “I did this for you, so you better be goddamn grateful and never complain or want out!” This “gift” he sees himself as giving has so much string attached to it.

        • You are never the exception. YOU ARE NEVER THE EXCEPTION. If you think you’re the sole exception in somebody’s life story, you just haven’t waited long enough. If you are genuinely that different, the story would change.

          • gallantqueer said:

            “If you are genuinely that different, the story would change”

            Yes to this! Sometimes a partner does shatter your worldview about what is possible when it comes to sex, relationships, feelings, lifestyles, kinks, etc. When that happens though, the polite thing to do is not make them the exception, and thus put pressure on them, but change your narrative.

      • Goat Lady said:

        I feel like this should be on a fridge magnet.

      • piny1 said:

        I’m picturing one of those secret passages in old Victorian houses. Except those lead to crypts and priest holes, not Narnia. But yeah – and I hate to say it, but I think having sex with him will make him even more cruel, not less. It’s not “why buy the cow,” but this guy does seem to see superficial respect and emotional contact as the price of physical intimacy. He may respond by either abruptly losing interest or being cold and mean to head off the weepy girly love feelings that you will surely develop after sex, because men like this often think women can’t have sex without imprinting like ducklings.

        • I’ve commented elsewhere but I had a sitch with a guy like this in my early 20s too. He was older, very charming, and OH YEAH he was also a tutor at my uni. That wasn’t awkward AT ALL.

          Can I just say, even aside from the emotional torture I went through with this guy, after all the teasing and flirting and will-we-won’t-we, after I cracked it and said, right, we’re either doing this properly or I’m just done, the sex was WOEFUL? Like, crude, rough, physically painful for me, completely selfish on his end? Like, I occasionally freezee during sex now and I think it’s from that experience?

          If someone is giving you “selfish asshole” signs and talking about their lack of emotional wherewithall and are cruising on their sexy, insubstantial vibes, I give you full and free permission to fight those vibes by hearing everything they say as: “I am terrible in bed!” “I will not care if you get off!” “I will not go down/ask you what you want/do that thing you really like!” “I will not use lube!” “I will ignore condoms!” “You will feel like crap after sleeping with me!”

          • This! So much this!

          • tinyorc said:

            Oh my lord! Been there, done that, bought the cheap-ass poorly-fitting t-shirt!

            LW, selfish people don’t stop being selfish just because they’re naked in bed with you. I can guarantee you this guy will be no fun for sexytimes. You sound like someone who wants emotional commitment from your sexual partners. You also sound like you want your first time to be special, or at least fun and comfortable with a partner who will be considerate of your lack of experience. There are both totally legitimate and normal things to want. Greg is not going to give you either of them. Move away from the Greg-boner.

          • I may or may not have slept with tutor dude’s less educated/more tattooed/equally awful in bed alcoholic baby brother

      • LeighTX said:

        I think I may embroider this on a pillow for my daughter to take to college.

    • muddydone said:

      I once dated a guy who was astounded that I remained friendly with a couple of exes. He said that he wasn’t on speaking terms with anyone he used to date, and he thought this was usual. I shortly found out why when we broke up/how we broke up. No wonder no one speaks to you, dude! He was such an ass about it.

    • if a person you have a sexy interest in tells you something about How This Relationship Is Likely To Go, believe it.

      This is very close to what I was coming here to say, which I’m pretty sure I first heard here at CA (though I don’t remember from whom): When someone tells you who they are, believe them. This guy has told you that he isn’t going to form an emotional attachment to you, despite the fact that you feel like there’s one already there.

      *IF* you want some no-strings sex with a dude you work with (which has the potential to get really weird btw), go for it, but do it with the knowledge that that’s all there’s ever going to be. If you decide to keep hanging out with him, have condoms with you, because this has real potential for “it just kind of happened.” If your definition of “not really sex” includes oral, use a condom/dental dam as appropriate. (/former HIV Peer Educator)

  4. Anti Kate said:

    Oh wow. He has told you who he is and what he wants with words *and* behaviors. Believe him. While he gets points for honesty and consistency, it sounds like what you want is something else. I would say drop him like a hot rock, because it’s a serious mismatch. What YOU want is and should be so much more important to you than what HE wants.

    Also, any sort of relationship with a co-worker can be problematic, especially because it would be your first relationship. Depending on the workplace culture, the ripple effects of the news getting out to all the other co-workers could be stunningly bad.

    • Susan said:

      I don’t think he gets points for honesty. I think this kind of honesty (which isn’t really) is a tactic such men use all the time. In their words they make sure to associate the worst kind of brooding behaviour to themselves that could still be attractive to someone and yet at the same time gives them an out. And then they feel they can act however they want, even if it goes totally opposite to what they said. They get to basically do whatever they want, they assume, because they told you the truth. For the other person it’s deeply confusing because actions do speak louder than words, and the fact is this guy DOES want emotional intimacy, he just doesn’t want her emotional intimacy. He wants to be open and emotional and vulnerable, get all his emotional and physical needs met, he gets to flirt, feel sexy, have company and feel good touching, and she gets nothing out of this arrangement. But hey, at least he was honest right? Except he wasn’t. He never was. If he was really honest what he’d say is, “I don’t like listening to other people’s problems, and I don’t want to be any kind of emotional support to you. However I would like you to do all those things for me. And I want to be physical with you without considering what you want to do physically. Cool?” THAT would be real honesty.

      • It’s like… reverse-psychology “honesty”. He says he doesn’t want emotional intimacy, and that makes him seem open and honest and easy to talk to, so you trust him more and feel emotionally closer to him. He’s told you all about how he won’t give you what you’re looking for, but in a way that makes it seem like he will if only you do things right.

      • Code Wench said:

        I don’t complete agree with this. I think you’re right that he’s not being honest about wanting emotional intimacy. I agree that he does want that. What I don’t see is the part where he doesn’t have to be any emotional support to her. She specifically says that he’s been trying to make her feel she can share things with him. Would it be safe for her to do so? I don’t think we have enough information to know. I also disagree that she gets nothing out of this. Presumably she would also get “to flirt, feel sexy”, etc. She wouldn’t get what she wants, which is apparently to have an exclusive, committed romantic relationship, but she wouldn’t be getting nothing.

        I think he wants sexual and emotional intimacy with the LW. I think he just doesn’t want to make a commitment to do so, nor does he want an exclusive arrangement. I’d love to hear what happens if the LW were to go to him for relationship advice regarding another men she is interested in dating. That answer would be really telling.

        • wordiest said:

          Actually, it was the you can share things with me part that most makes me say “run away” from him. He is setting himself up to be her mentor/guide/adviser on how to be a person and how to interact with others. And he’s clearly giving her advice that all points towards “by having sex with me”. His “advice” boils down to something along the lines of: trust me without thinking about it and tell me information I can use to better manipulate you toward whatever I want.

          That he feels she “overthinks” things and that should change is a bright red flag to me. Personally, I’d strongly recommend the letter writer to consider cutting way back on opening up to him. Have sex with him if that would be fun and she’s interested in a casual fling with no strings attached, but do not open up to him, which seems much more dangerous. Probably do neither, as it doesn’t sound like she wants a casual fling with him, and as he is a coworker, she can probably find a casual fling that will be less messy to deal with. If she wants an adviser to help her learn to open up and better interact with people, a therapist would be a great choice. Someone who is actually impartial and has nothing to gain by it. An adviser who specifically states that they themselves don’t trust others or open up to them and think it’s pointless seems like an especially poor choice. And an adviser who is interested in having sex with you, but has stated they are emotionally unattached to you also seems like a poor choice. In fact, I can see no reason why he is, in any way, qualified to guide the letter writer. He’s trying to mold her, but why do we think that his patterns are better or healthier than hers, when all evidence points the other way around? So, his attempt to “help her” is really a bad idea. Even if he has good intentions, you don’t study how to do things from somebody who is terrible at it themselves.

          • “His “advice” boils down to something along the lines of: trust me without thinking about it and tell me information I can use to better manipulate you toward whatever I want.”

            Whoah-ho-hoah this is exactly the first guy I ever dated. Pretty much the only difference between me and LW was that I wasn’t at all physically attracted to him, which at the time I saw as a more legitimate reason to stop seeing him than all the ick-tastic red flags that were popping up with regards to him being an entitled, condescending, mildly manipulative douche. “Oh you’re so down to earth, not like my fake ex” *skin starts crawling*. “She hurt me so bad.” *skin starts twitching*. “But you’re not like her, you’re so pure and innocent!” *skin combat rolls out closing door Indiana Jones-style, grabbing its hat at the last second* Back then I had no idea why I felt so uncomfortable. Now it looks like a script from Ham-Fisted Manipulator the Musical. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable is worth examining.

            There will totally be other people out there who you’ll find exciting and sexy and who are interested in you without feeling like they have to manipulate you, and you are an awesome person. Whatever you decide to do, it’s a nice thing to remember.

          • tinyorc said:

            wordiest: “That he feels she “overthinks” things and that should change is a bright red flag to me. ”

            Yup. LW, when I read that this dude is “helping” you with your tendency to overthink, my immediate reaction was RUN AWAY.

        • Susan said:

          I agree with wordiest. To me I see someone who wants to do everything on his terms. So maybe yes, he does think he can give her the emotional support she needs but really what he again means is “the emotional support he wants to give in the style he wants to give it”, which means that instead of listening and supporting, he insults her by calling her an overthinker. I just think the idea of giving this guy any praise for honesty is icky. He isn’t being honest with anyone, with her and not with himself. If he was truly being honest he’d say this: “I’m a pretty selfish guy and I want things to go the way I want them and that’s it. I don’t do give and take. So I will dump all my emotions on you and then offer you advice which really only serves to make me feel good about myself as your helper but which will insult the way you express feelings and problem solve. Also I’ll get annoyed with you for not having sex with me but I’ll pretend like it’s okay. I’ll manipulate you to think you’re always in the wrong, and I’ll act in every way like we are in a relationship but still insist we aren’t in one. Does that work for you?” I bet if the guys who acted like this actually said all that they wouldn’t get nearly as much tail as they did. But even then, EVEN THEN, there still would be a woman who would sign up because she’s been taught by society (and 50 SHADES) that all she has to do is love a man and she will be able to change him.

          It’s all rather frustrating.

          • Team Greg said:

            For some reason I feel the need to defend this Greg. So here we go:

            (1) According to the letter, LW called herself a “major overthinker”. I don’t see where Greg insulted her.

            (2) Greg might have been imprecise with his words (“no emotional connections”). Maybe labels such as “relationship” or “dating” carry too much emotional baggage for him. All in all, especially considering his actions, he has been quite open with his intentions: He would like some kind of open relationship or FWB with LW. Nothing wrong about that.

            (3) I don’t see any evidence for his being particularly selfish. They spent time together, they flirted, he opened up and shared personal things about him, he’s said he’s prepared for her to to the same.

            (4) So he was disappointed when she wouldn’t have sex with him? And he tried to hide it but didn’t quite manage? What an utter jerk. Seriously though, what’s a man supposed to do in this situation?

            From what the LW wrote I don’t see any reason to doubt that Greg is indeed a decentish guy, certainly no Darth Vader.

          • wordiest said:

            Nesting won’t let me reply to Team Greg, but here is my short answer:
            Greg states that he thinks opening up to people is not worth it, and he should not do it.
            The Letter Writer states that she has problems opening up to people and that Greg is helping her to do so and to better trust people.
            Despite the fact that Greg states that trusting people is a mistake and has led to him getting hurt.

            So, why is Greg helping the letter writer to do something he says is a mistake and leads to getting hurt by people?
            How do you reconcile that with Greg being a good person? Or trustworthy? Or honest?

          • Team Greg said:

            Hi wordiest.

            So Greg told her he thinks it is better not to open up to people, but then he opened up to her anyway and encouraged her to do so as well. He told her once, when he was “really drunk” and probably frustrated about having gotten rejected by that other girl.

            You see somebody trying to manipulate LW. I just see somebody who is normally wary of opening up, but trusts LW enough to open up to her.

            Greg and LW are not a good fit, apparently. Greg has some emotional issues and might not be the best communicator. Which means he is normal. Greg’s communication might actually be better than LW’s. He told her from the start that he does not want a “relationship”. She has a crush but told him she wanted to be “friends”. She went along with the hanging-out and sleeping-over and flirting, even initiated a make-out session. Greg told her that they are not exclusive. LW tells us that this bothers her, but has she ever told Greg?

          • wordiest said:

            I took the drunkness into account, except he has repeatedly reinforced the same statement while sober, so his drunkness is irrelevant. Also, being drunk doesn’t change people. At the very minimum, most positive interpretation of Greg, he is somebody who is terrible at opening up to people. He does it very badly, and he has no judgement of who is and is not safe to open up to. Which means if he had any self-awareness and decency, he would not try to teach somebody else how to open up. He might sympathize with somebody and say he also is terrible at it, but he would not try to teach somebody a skill that he knows that he does not have and has never done well with. The fact that he is trying to change the Letter Writer in a way that he claims to be a failure at is not something I can overlook. And the fact that it 100% coincides with him trying to get his own personal advantage is too much to see as coincidence. So, that’s my view of Greg. At best, he’s doing some pretty nasty stuff out of total lack of thought. At worst, he’s aware that he’s doing horrible things, but does them anyway. The only difference between the two is the likelihood of him getting better with time. But either way, he’s red flag city right now.

        • peregrinations said:

          “I think he wants sexual and emotional intimacy with the LW. I think he just doesn’t want to make a commitment to do so, nor does he want an exclusive arrangement. I’d love to hear what happens if the LW were to go to him for relationship advice regarding another men she is interested in dating. That answer would be really telling.”

          Yes, this. LW, listen to the Awkward Army. There is much wisdom here. What I want to add to the chorus is an elaboration on Code Wench’s point. There is a variant of This Guy that Doesn’t Do Emotional Attachment….until you’re Emotionally Attached to Someone Else. Then suddenly he’s all over you asking for clarification of your Relationship – which, of course, he refused to acknowledge as such until the moment he saw you flirting with the other guy. Even more so if you’re actually in a relationship with another guy – then he’s got to pry you away to show he can, and of course will lose interest within a matter of days if/when he succeeds. This Guy also LOVES to be your advisor and tell you all about How To Person, especially if it a) benefits him, and b) makes him feel smart (that “overthinking” comment. Giant red flag there!). I’ve watched This Guy work through the younger cohort of one of my friend groups recently and, trust me, if you have one of these guys? Stay far, far away!

          • adorkable said:

            There’s another variant, too — the Guy Who Wants Things Casual Until You Do. This guy: 1. is flaky and impossible to pin down, but once you come to terms with that and back off he 2. becomes intense (calls all the time, says intense and romantic things), and just when you think you might be able to count on him he 3. becomes impossible to pin down again.

            As a bonus, he usually makes it very clear that he thinks you are crazy and don’t know what you want. But of course he has played no part in that…

          • olivia0330 said:

            The We’re Too Cool To Put Labels On This guy who strung me along for FOUR YEARS actually freaking proposed to me when the other dude I was seeing asked me to be exclusive. It was all I had wanted for years, except it wasn’t, because by that time I knew him well enough to know we wouldn’t even make it through the marriage license process.

        • eightysixed said:

          I’m with Code Wench on this one in not entirely dumping Greg in this situation. In addition to lots of people not being incredibly articulate about what they want romantically, a lot of guys who don’t want commitments or exclusive relationships are absolutely horrible in talking about it. Now whether it comes from a lack of personal awareness, assuming it’s not what girls typically want so they’re not direct about it, etc – I find that it’s just a conversation that gets fumbled more often than not.

          This guy might be a really bad Darth type guy. He might just be “not interested in being a boyfriend and lousy about communicating that”. I’ve met very few heterosexuals who openly, enthusiastically and positively talk about friends with benefits type situations – especially in their early 20’s. He might definitely end up being a multiple red flag disaster garbage fire of a partner, but I’ve just seen so many situations where the fall out wasn’t nearly so negative. It always hurts to be on the end of wanting more when the other person wants less, particularly when they express that poorly and are careless about how much more the other person does want. But in most cases I’ve been through and seen, it’s usually not such a cruel intentions dynamic.

          • Paulina said:

            It’s the bit where he’s taking it upon himself to “help” her with her overthinking, which just so happens to include him telling her that not having sex with him is due to her overthinking, that hoists up one of the biggest reddest flags around. That isn’t lousy communication, that’s pressure and attempted molding. He’s trying to convert her into going for friends-with-benefits, which as discussed above makes him a lousy friend (with his eye on what benefits himself).

      • dyserenity said:

        If someone thinks the best thing about themselves is that they’re honest, they’re honestly probably shitty. Being honest doesn’t get you an award. It’s basic decency to be honest to your sexual/romantic partners, and they must not have much going for them if honesty is their best trait.

        • Claudia said:

          “Being honest doesn’t get you an award. It’s basic decenc”

          Yes. Exactly. Bold and frame this LW. Many people hide themselves behind the “I’m honest” card as if this were a magic pass to behave like assholes and have no guilt about it.

        • Rana said:

          Yup. It’s the relationship equivalent of a cheap motel advertising that they have clean rooms.

      • Guava said:

        Completely agree. It’s actually very, very dishonest to say, “I don’t do emotional attachments” and then to encourage the LW, through every subsequent interaction, to get emotionally attached TO HIM. But always with the “I warned you” get-out-of-jail-free card hanging over their heads.

        • Guava said:

          Urgh, this was supposed to be a reply to Susan! My comment nesting abilities are broken today.

      • MissyM said:

        This x 1000

      • moseyonby said:

        EXACTLY this was perfect and sadly so accurate.

  5. Greta said:

    AMEN to this answer. There’s this old adage about “why buy the cow when the milk is free” – which I always loathed when i took it at its original meaning, I.e., why would a man marry a girl he’s slept with? But lately I’ve started thinking of it in another way – why would anyone put in the emotional work of truly caring for another person when that person is doing all the work already? If someone is giving them companionship/a sounding board/sex/affirmation while letting them act like a total asshole (“I don’t form emotional attachments,” ahem) — they’re never going to grow up. Definitely when I was younger, I wound up in more than one situation where I was giving a guy all he wanted – not just sex, but also sympathy, company on demand, etc. And it SUCKED. Never, ever, ever does that pan out the way your heart wants it to. Listen to the Captain, LW. Point out to the dude that you’re not overthinking things any longer – just taking him at his word.

    • I really like your new way of looking at a horrible old saying. This way makes a lot more sense.

    • neverjaunty said:

      A wise woman of my acquaintance rephrased this as “Why buy a pig when all you want is a little sausage?”

      • MamaCheshire said:

        Oh, that’s beautiful!

      • bostoncandylady said:

        Nice! My favorite response to that old chestnut is, “Well, the farmer is the one who does all the hard work in this scenario… the cow just stands there and gets off.”

    • Light said:

      This is a really good point. I think that “Don’t treat someone like a priority when they treat you like an option” also speaks to this.

  6. Myrin said:

    In addition to everything the wise Captain already said I have to say

    We’ve left things saying that we’d like to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s fun and he told me I “shouldn’t ruin a good thing with my overthinking.”

    is giving me red flag-y feelings. The words he told the LW seem very blame-y and pressuring to me. I can’t even put it into sophisticated words right now but it’s making me very uncomfortable.

    • Mercy said:

      Maybe it’s that he is still complaining about the LW’s supposed “overthinking” threatening to ruin everything when the LW has already agreed to continue on as they’ve been doing?

    • alannaofdoom said:

      The red flag is, if he were really being honest that statement would read: “shouldn’t ruin a good thing [for me, the guy] with my [being a person who has actual needs and desires].” If it’s only fun for one person, it ain’t fun.

    • It’s close to “you’re not like those other girls”.

    • muddydone said:

      Better to over-think it than to under-think it.

    • It’s pretty unoriginal manipulation, if you ask me.

    • It’s gaslighting. He’s telling her not to trust her own thoughts because they are “overthoughts”.

      • neverjaunty said:

        Exactly. How exactly, LW, does he think you would be “ruining” things by thinking about them too hard? Obviously, because if you think about them instead of just buying his bullshit, you will come to a realization that is not convenient for him.

      • notemily said:

        This thread has cleared up some stuff for me and given me some anti-gaslight ammunition the next time someone tells me I’m overthinking things. This commentariat is the best.

      • MellifluousDissent said:

        So true. Also, I hate the phrase “overthinking.” Like, is there actually a point at which you’re like “oh hey, I’ve thought too much about this and now ALL THE THINGS ARE RUINED?” My feeling is no.

        I was accused of “overthinking things” in many, many relationships – I think exactly the same depth and quantity of thoughts now, and function perfectly fine in a marriage. Nothing is ruined because I think in paragraphs instead of sentence fragments.

        “Overthinking,” coming from a dude like “Greg”, basically always means “you’re thinking enough to possibly detect that I am asshole before I get the opportunity to sleep with you and use you as an emotional sounding board for 6-12 months and then unceremoniously cut you off because you actually expected some sort of relationship commitment from me and I don’t have any intention of giving it, so please stop thinking so much so I can run my game, thanks.”

        • Angel said:

          “Overthinking” makes sense in some contexts, but not in others. My little brother is a master of “overthinking”, which also makes him highly prone to decision paralysis and intense overreactions. It’s definitely a thing he needs to work on. But with you in your marriage? Your thought process seems to work just fine, and it doesn’t make sense to call it overthinking.

          I’m somewhat prone to overthinking, and somewhat prone to avoidance, and the combination of those two things makes me miss deadlines because I keep pushing things back and when I finally get around to them I think about them for too long and they don’t actually get done. Additionally, not being able to put aside a topic until I’ve thought about it from EVERY! POSSIBLE! ANGLE! can keep me up for hours or distract me from making actual progress on something else (or seriously irritate my boyfriend/sounding board, who has to hear about the same dilemma for an entire week because I keep obsessing over the options).

          • Dizzy said:

            There’s ways to deal with a someone who is actually overthinking, but they don’t involve saying “You’re overthinking.” My BFF is definitely an overthinker–highly anxious, perfectionistic, tends to panic his way into decision paralysis. so I talk about different parts of the problem. “Hey, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, focus on one thing at a time.” “BFF, I have taught you how to chop carrots three times, stop asking me questions about it to mitigate your anxiety.” “BFF, I know for a fact you are a competent and capable person, so maybe do some deep breathing with me and then let’s think about this when you’re not about to have a panic attack?”

            The above things focus on observed actions–things I can actually see actually happening. It’s not about the quality of his character but about the things he’s doing. I’m also not trying to change the way he thinks or behaves (just how he behaves around ME, because his constant need for validation makes me CRAZY).

            But also? Unlike people who think you’re overthinking, when I deal with my BFF I acknowledge that the things he’s worried about actually exist. It’s okay to be worried about failing out of college. That is a totally normal and reasonable fear. Just, if you’re spinning your wheels and having a panic attack, maybe you’re not dealing with it very well?

            In conclusion, I run a “No gaslighting” house. It’s one of my rules and I feel very good about it.

          • Mellifluous said:

            I think for me, the problem with using the word “overthinking” is (a) it’s often used by people like “Greg” who are trying to gaslight somebody into doubting a perfectly legitimate concern; and (b) even if a person is an “overthinker,” calling them that oversimplifies a complex web of potentially problematic behaviors that are the actual thing that needs to be addressed (like decision paralysis, or overreacting, or anxiety, or procrastination, etc.). Someone who is trying to help you overcome a problem is going to focus on helping you address behaviors, as in Dizzy’s examples, not just flippantly tell you you’re overthinking it and you should do ::insert thing alleged-“helper”-who-isn’t-really-helping wants you to do here:: instead. In my personal experience, it’s just not a word that’s used constructively, most of the time, so I’m extra-aware and on alert when someone starts trying to tell me I’m overthinking, *particularly* if “stop overthinking it” appears to be standing in for “do the thing I want you to do without asking me any more questions about it.”

        • Jane said:

          I think “overthinking” in a relationship context nearly always means dismissing your feelings for a thought-exercise reality. In this case, I would say it could mean the LW is reasoning her way around the unpleasant churning of red flag soup in her gut. Unfortunately, if the LW is anything like me, they’ve also had the experience of passing up on a potential connection because they overthought and decided, No, those I-like-you signals I am getting, they are not real! I will not be pursuing those! Which can be confusing, when you expect an unfortunate behavior pattern to always have the same consequences.

      • Team Greg said:

        LW’s thoughts seem to be conflicted. In such a situation is is actually quite a good idea to try to silence your jerkbrain and to connect with your feelings instead (aka to stop the overthinking).

    • Hatchet said:

      It’s a big red flag when someone tells you not to think too much about something. That says the thing won’t stand up to much thought.

    • thepaintedlady said:

      Especially when he’s the only one who seems 100% convinced that this is, in fact, a good thing. It reads like, “Let’s not ruin my boner getting touched by thinking about things that might lead to it not getting touched anymore.”

    • Ananda said:

      This line really bothered me too. It’s a good thing to *him,* but LW doesn’t seem to feel the same way. This guy only seems to care about himself and whether or not what’s going on works for *him.* This seems like a pressure tactic to make LW 1) think they want the same thing, and 2) make LW feel bad for disagreeing or trying to consider their own feelings. Very much a red flag to me.

  7. moonb said:

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Yeah, there’s a reason that quote is famous.You’re not exclusive and that bothers you; I would listen to that part of you. And yes, like others have said, his being a coworker could listen to some problems, especially since you’re not looking for the same thing.

    He could care about you, sure. A good friend of mine has had this guy in her life for many, many years now, to the point of dating him and being dumped by him twice for other women, one of whom he married. But he keeps hanging around on the periphery of her life, keeping her on the hook in case he ever wants casual sex again. Because they’re friends. He knows she won’t cut him off completely, and some tiny part of her is still hoping he’ll love her. That’s not a real friendship or emotional connection.

  8. hypersquare said:

    Hypothesis: When a person says “you overthink things” they often mean “you think about things I don’t want to think about” and/or “if you think about these things you might come to conclusions that don’t suit me”.

    • Annafel said:

      Yuuuuup. My Darth Vader ex said that to me all the time. He mostly meant the latter, but probably sometimes the former too.

    • thepaintedlady said:

      I think this is one of those that only applies when the things that are being thought are about the person who is saying it. Granted, that still makes it very helpful advice. My mom, however, used to say it to me when I would go through all possible permutations of a relationship with someone who gave me pantsfeelings and had probably not even been out on a date with. It still wasn’t always the best advice because a) can’t stop my brain, and b) it’s actually one of the ways I decide whether something is worth the risk, by tossing about worst-case scenarios.

    • Depends on the relationship and the situation.
      If you are talking to a life-long friend, and have a habit of over-thinking what should be a simple decision (do I go to x or y for a holiday, or do I buy a concert ticket instead?), then a suggestion that you stop over-thinking things is probably the virtual slap-upside-the-head that you need.
      I know I’ve had these situations before, mainly because I have a strong tendency to think in worst-case scenarios. And man, did my over-thinking things nearly lead to the end of my relationship (mainly due to my own insecurities) when it had no need to.
      In this situation? Nope. Red flags abound! Definitely reads to me as more of the latter meaning.

      • Exactly this.

        There is a HUGE difference between a close friend who wants nothing from you telling you that you’re overthinking something and a dude who [pick your favorite!]:

        A) you don’t know THAT well
        B) wants to sleep with you, while you’ve expressed some reservations in that area
        C) has TOLD YOU that he doesn’t “do emotions”
        D) has TOLD YOU that he doesn’t want a relationship, though he probably knows that you want one
        E) doesn’t seem to put ENOUGH thought into a relationship that could backfire spectacularly (you work together!)
        F) demonstrably likes you less than you like him
        G) all of the above

        telling you the same thing.

        LW, you’re not “overthinking” anything. You’re thinking about this exactly as much as you need to. There are glaring inconsistencies between what this guy *says* (“I cannot emote!”) and what he does (“I am emoting at you!”). Those kind of inconsistencies SHOULD cause you to pause and think about what’s going on; it means your analytic and critical thinking abilities are in full, working order.

        LW, there is nothing in your letter that indicates to me that pursuing a relationship/sexlationship with this guy would benefit you. The two of you want vastly different things. It is okay for you to want to have sex in a monogamous, exclusive relationship. It is okay for him not to want that. But those desires can’t co-exist in a relationship between the two of you without one of you (spoiler: it will be you) feeling sad, used, and unhappy.

        • LW, there is nothing in your letter that indicates to me that pursuing a relationship/sexlationship with this guy would benefit you.

          That’s just a perfect comment

  9. My favourite thing is when CA comments devolve into a long thread of ‘don’t touch that boner’.

    The thing I notice, LW, is that there’s a lot of information about Dood in here; what he wants, how he feels, how past relationships have left him feeling… And not a lot about you. Are you wanting to Do The Sex in general, or on this guy in specific? Are you interested in long-term romantic attachments? Do you see yourself as being or becoming comfortable with casual sex?

    Because, like, all of these are fairly large factors in whether you choose to have sex with Dood or not. And Dood has reduced those to ‘you’re over thinking’, and whined about his ex-girlfriend and his boner some more. Which is… Not a fortuitous sign.

    • JenniferP said:

      I need to make an animated .gif of a boner and then me jumping in front of it in slow motion saying “nooooooooooooooooo”

      • You could literally just use it I imagine you could use that .gif to answer 50% of all questions asked about emotionally unavailable Gemini’s.

      • Myrin said:

        Now I’m thinking of this picture (NSFW!) and you slowly appearing in front of it. (Not as good as a gif, I admit, but it was the first thing on my mind.)

      • moseyonby said:

        Lololololololol forever!

      • Emma said:

        And for the more extreme cases, a boner lurching menacingly towards the camera, until you jump in and start beating it with a stick, shouting “RUN! RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN!”

        • Linden said:

          It’s a good time for this song.

          • Angel said:

            I think my eyebrows may be permanently lost in my hair.

          • twiggles said:

            I…whut?

            Thanks for sharing (I think?).

        • Courtney said:

          I think an image of a boner with a Darth Vader mask would communicate effectively as well.

      • Anothermous said:

        A++ would save this gif to my hard drive to drive off other hard things.

        /bad pun is bad

        • Plu said:

          Oh goodness, sorry! I’m new to the CA comentariat and I thought that would show up as a link. Feel free to delete if it’s inappropriate.

          • Myrin said:

            It’s inappropriately hilarious.

          • JenniferP said:

            I think I fixed it, no worries.

          • Plu said:

            Thanks! I promise I almost never introduce myself in new social situations by waving giant boners around, and I will make sure to use HTML links for potentially inappropriate GIFs in the future.

        • Mercutia said:

          *DIES*

      • Molly Grue said:

        All I can think of at this moment is the adorable gif of the cat and the owner saying “Don’t touch that hazelnut! Don’t touch it!” I don’t know why, it just cracks me up every time. (I will put a link here, which means my comment might not show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjdWf5dWAYA)

      • piny1 said:

        It’s the distaff equivalent of “Don’t Fuck That Lady!”

        • For female LWs It just needs a comma. “Don’t Fuck That, Lady!”

          • piny1 said:

            HA.

          • Light said:

            GENIUS.

      • Biogirl said:

        This is literally all I need in the entire world. I want to photoshop all the guys that pulled this on me onto the boner and have Jennifer protect me from them now.

    • kalvarnsen said:

      I often play a little game with myself where I read the letter, pause before reading the Captain’s reply to it, and try to guess how she will respond.

      90% of the time a guess that amounts to “Don’t touch that boner” is correct.

  10. Tabitha said:

    So I have two positive stories about dudes I got sexual with but did not date which the letter writer reminded me of because in both cases I am very glad they weren’t ‘Greg’.

    The first happened when I was single and horny and thought I might like to try casual sex. It turns out I am not suited to casual sex, something I worked out while lying naked in bed making out with a guy I brought home from a bar. I stopped and told him I needed him to leave and once he worked out that I was serious he got dressed and left. He didn’t pout, he didn’t try to argue me into having sex with him and he didn’t act like there was anything wrong with me changing my mind. He just left. If I feel bad about anything from that night it’s that I didn’t think to call him a cab.

    The second guy was a friend that I occasionally had sex with but didn’t date. He was kind and considerate and had showed himself to be willing to put himself out there for me when I needed him long before sex was ever a consideration. Neither of us wanted a relationship but he didn’t feel the need to hammer that point home over and over again as if I were a particularly forgetful goldfish. We had an emotional attachment and we were both on the same page about what it was and wasn’t and he never made me feel like there were limits on what I could ask of him.

    It doesn’t sound like Greg is a good guy. Is he really respecting your boundaries? When you stayed over the first time how much was because you changed your mind about just driving him home and how much was him pushing for more from you? Do you trust him to just stick with the sexual stuff you’ve done so far or do you think you’ll find yourself compromising more and more because he has a sad boner no one else can help with?

    It’s telling that he seems to think his problem forming emotional connections is all cool and you should just put up with that but you overthinking things is an issue he’s going to ‘help’ you with. I think that the moment you want/need something from him that doesn’t give him an opportunity to weasel his way closer to your pants you are going to find him mysteriously absent.

  11. Vorvayne said:

    I am so with GustyFlawless here: I suggest you take this opportunity to think about you. Ask yourself what you would like, what sort of connections you are looking for and what kind of sexual (or not!) relationships you would like to have.

    Because it sounds to me very much like you’re asking yourself, is it worth it to put up with [lots of bullshit] to get [some wilted version of some things I want]? And that doesn’t have much to do with This Dude. If he was actually an ideal person to be doing sex/a relationship of any sort with you would not have written to captain awkward – you would, right now, be happily hooking up with This Really Nice Dude I Know Who I’m Sleeping With On A Non-Serious Yet Respectul Basis.

    But This Dude is not Really Nice Dude. You aren’t getting what you want – you’re looking at what’s on offer and going, will that do? But the thing is, there will be other chances and other people who look more like Really Nice Dude, or even like This Guy Who Seems Really Into Me And We’re Both Looking For Some Emotional Investment Here, or whatever it is you decide you want. My experience is, it’s honestly better not to give your time or attention to people who aren’t worth it. You sound awesome, LW, and you deserve someone who appreciates your awesome in a way that suits you best.

  12. andemilybites said:

    Best. Cynical. Song. Ever.

    Sorry LW, I know the feeling of sexy new fun is amazing, but it sounds like this guy is just fucking you around. And you deserve to be someone’s first choice!

  13. bad at screen names said:

    “He said he hasn’t fooled around with anyone besides me in a year and half, but said that we’re not exclusive, which definitely bothers me.”

    Even if he’s not fooling around with anyone else, the fact that he tried to get a girl to go home with him in front of you, plus my considerable experience dallying around with my own Gregs tells me he would hook up with someone else in a heartbeat. If the idea of him being with other people is too much for you ( and it sounds like it is), you need to stop hanging out with this guy.

    • wordiest said:

      Oh yes. I would absolutely translate those two statements as, “I haven’t been able to get laid in a while. I am desperate. I am hoping you will fix this, but I will obviously have sex with the first person I am somewhat attracted to who will fix this.” There is no reason to think he won’t have sex with anyone who offers, unless he doesn’t find the person sexually attractive. There is plenty of reason to think his primary interest in the letter writer is a lack of other options. Which is not the most appealing of offers.

      To the letter writer, I know you’re young and haven’t had much experience yet, but you really can find someone who wants you for more than just being a reasonably attractive person. Someone who wants you for things about you. Someone who sees lots of positive qualities in you and focuses on them, rather than on what they think is broken and they can help fix. If you decide you really want to meet someone like that, it can take some effort. There’s a lot of advice about how to meet and get to know more people, so you can have better odds of finding such a person. But if that’s what you want, then I’d recommend investing your time into looking for that. It’s also totally cool to not really care whether or not you end up in a relationship right now. That’s always been my approach, personally. Focus on making my life as good as I can, and if relationship potential happens to wander into it, then I’ve explored that and decided what to do with it. The point isn’t how you should get a guy, just that if that is what you decide you want, don’t think that there aren’t options. It’s a common mistake to make when young, because you’ve had less time to find out how many people you might have some compatibility with.

    • thepaintedlady said:

      Yep. I don’t care how NSA you are (and good god, the strings here! Just not the ones that lead to LW not getting hurt and ending up happy in this) or how confident, there is no one in the world who benefits from hearing (overtly or implicitly), “You’re the best I can do right now. Wanna bone?”

    • Zillah said:

      Yeah, that stuck out to me, too. Either he’s lying to make the LW feel special (always a possibility) or he’s been unsuccessful despite considerable effort (since I doubt that his attempt to pick up the woman in the bar that night was super out of the ordinary). If it’s the former, he’s a liar, and if it’s the latter… Well, I have to ask why.

  14. Aurora S. said:

    Myrin: I think the phrase “you’re over-thinking things” might be giving you the red flag because there’s often a hint of gaslighting in it. “Trust my perceptions over yours, because I know Reality better than you do.”

    I don’t think he’s gaslighting the LW, though–I think he is being fairly up front about what he’s saying, and that LW should take it at face-value. He’s just being disingenuous, because while he’s technically being ‘honest’ with “I’m unable to make emotional attachments because I’m Damaged Goods” (and other cheesy romance novel stereotypes), he’s doing so with the understanding that LW is not going to take it that way. He’s manipulating her. And even if she *does* say, “OK! You’re right. Bye!” it’s no skin off his ass because it appears that she’s clearly bonus pussy to him.

    There’s so much cultural baggage associated with losing your virginity, especially for women. If he knows she’s a virgin and romantically inexperienced and he’s a total bastard, he might be taking advantage of her inexperience. He sounds like a HUGE douche. Time to hitch a ride on the NOPEWAGON to NOPEVILLE.

    • I absolutely think telling someone they are “overthinking” as a way to make them doubt the validity of their own thoughts is gaslighting. It goes right to the heart of what gaslighting is. And there is little doubt from the context that he told the LW not to “overthink” expressly for the purpose of convincing her not to trust her doubts about him.

      • Aurora S. said:

        I definitely think you can tell someone that they’re “overthinking it” without it being gaslighting. The Captain even has Overthinking It as a category link thing.

        We’re probably just splitting hairs, but the reason I think he’s not gaslighting is that he’s basically saying, “I am using my words to tell you these things about myself and what I want. You’re ‘over-thinking’ it by wishfully applying a hidden meaning to my words that isn’t there and I know this, so I’m using that to my boner’s advantage. I’m also covering my ass for later by planting the seeds of future plausible deniability to not look like the jerk that I am, at least in my own mind, and can ‘win’ on a technicality.”

        That’s not really gaslighting per se…but will likely lead to gaslighting. Because now, if she does sleep with him and gets heartbroken because he doesn’t want an emotional connection, *technically* he didn’t lie, and he’ll be able call her Crazy. Every woman knows how that goes.

        IMO, he tips his hand with the Tales of Woe. He’s trying to paint himself as the nice guy who has opened up and been so giving in the past in his relationships (plural), yet all of his vengeful exes have all just taken dumps on his poor little heart. He frames his “I just want casual sex” into “I can only have casual sex because BAGGAGE”. He garners her sympathy because he has an inkling that LW doesn’t “just want casual sex”, but she does want sex, so maybe PANTSFEELINGS can win the day if he plays his cards right. “Poor Greg. He can’t have a relationship with me because all of his ex girlfriends were evil bitches. I’m not an evil bitch, so if I can make him see that, maybe he can have a relationship with me. Right?” Riiiiiight…

        On a side note, LW: If he has unloaded all of his Past Heartbreak and he has ever called his ex-girlfriends Crazy, it’s a big ol’ red flag IME. Unless, of course, they actually did stalky things like burn their names in fertilizer on his lawn or beat the shit out of his work van because they suspected he might be cheating. It’s fair to consider those things crazy. But if ALL of them were Crazy, he’s the common denominator in all of his relationships and he’s talking out of his ass. Not good.

        • Yes, possibly entering semantic hair-splitting mode here, but I do think there is an important distinction to make regarding “overthinking”. No doubt that there are circumstances in which one can tell someone else they are overthinking without it being gaslighting. But in this particular instance, it seems pretty clear that his purpose in telling the LW she is overthinking is to cause her to doubt her own perceptions of the situation so that he can more easily manipulate the outcome to get what he wants. And that combination of trying to induce someone else to doubt their own perceptions for one’s own benefit is one form of gaslighting. It is more subtle than trying to create so much doubt that the person loses their entire grip on reality, but I would still consider it gaslighting.

          • MamaCheshire said:

            Two different types of overthinking it, perhaps? The type that talks you INTO a situation you’re not comfortable with (which I think is why CA has the tag?) and the type that talks you OUT OF a situation you’re not comfortable with even though That Upsets Other People.

          • When She Was Good said:

            Totally agree.

            You really want to go to a group event, but a former friend will be there, and you’re worried about whether it will be awkward, and what you’ll say the first time you see her, and what if you get stuck in a conversation with her and it’s awkward, and what if you say the wrong thing, but you really really want to go, and you don’t know what to do, and you keep going back and forth and imagining awkward situations, and your boyfriend says, “You’re overthinking this.” That’s not gaslighting.

            You express your reservations about what kind of relationship you can have with a guy who is trying to get into your pants, and the guy dismisses your ability to judge your own feelings and set your own boundaries by saying “You’re overthinking this,” and then tells you how you should feel about it, that’s more like gaslighting. And that’s what’s going on here.

          • Tabitha said:

            I think the difference comes when the person ‘helping’ you with overthinking has a vested interest in the decision you make. The captain doesn’t really know any of the people who write in and doesn’t have any ulterior motives when it comes to advising them so it’s a very different situation to Greg trying to get the LW to take the course of action he thinks would be best (for him). If the LW had said another friend had told her she was overthinking it I think the reaction might have been different.

            It can be hard to tell if you’re the person who is ‘overthinking’ if the advice you’re getting is coming from a place of just wanting to help you or from a place of guiding you into a certain outcome. In When She Was Good’s example, if the boyfriend is totally cool staying home or going to the party then he isn’t gaslighting but if he really wants to go to the party then he’s being manipulative (even if he’s not doing it consciously or you end up having a really good time).

          • FlyBy said:

            There’s a big difference between pointing out that someone is putting out a lot of mental effort but not getting anywhere and they should probably stop and then try again, versus “you’re overthinking it, just do what I want”. One leads to the person being less confused, more in touch with what they want, and able to make better decisions. The other is a one-way ticket to jerkville.

  15. Politigal said:

    Pump your brakes, girlfriend, and then put his ass on a NOPE rocket to the sun. Fling with a co-worker? NOPE. RELATIONSHIP with a co-worker? NOPE. Wasting your precious time on some dood that has not and WILL NOT make you a priority? Being someone else’s emergency booty? HELL TO THE NOPE FOREVER. You can do so much better than him. You DESERVE so much better than him. YOU WILL DO SO MUCH BETTER THAN HIM.

  16. mamacitaconpistoles said:

    “He thinks that by being preemptively honest with you about all of the above that it absolves him from any responsibility to ever care about your feelings.”

    LW. So on the one hand, you are a grownup and can bonk whoever you like who wants to consensually bonk you. This person is not the boss of you. If they’re being honest with you about what they are going to offer, they’ve done their (very minimal) due diligence in that regard. (His whining about your not doing the sex to him is another issue. Grr.) They’re telling you what they want, now you get to choose.

    On the other hand, you can choose to sleep with guys who would *not* do what he is doing. The kind of person I want for you is the kind who says “I care enough about you to not go to bed with you because you want something I will never offer you and compatibility in this area matters to me.”

    On yet another hand, the Captain’s way of putting this is really relevant to you. He is telling you he will disregard you down the line as if that makes it just as appealing or acceptable or non-bad as if he regarded you and would always regard you, even when things end.

    There are much more appropriate people to bonk out there, for you, LW. You deserve their time and attention and interest.

  17. An Adult said:

    This guy is saying he doesn’t make emotional connections.

    If A) that’s true, then you can’t have an emotional relationship with him (e.g. a romantic one). Casual sex is on the table as always, but it sounds like you definitely need more than that, so it would not go well.
    If B) he’s lying, then that’s a shitty thing to do and you prolly shouldn’t be in a relationship with someone who lies about non-trivial stuff like that.
    If C) he isn’t lying per se, but is mistaken and just completely doesn’t understand whether he’s even emoting or not, then you need to wait until he’s at least at the minimum emotional maturity level of an adult before venturing into any relationship with him beyond casual sex and/or casual acquaintance.

    And as always, if people have casual sex, and one person wants an emotional/romantic relationship as well but the other person doesn’t, the first person will end up being hurt. Better to find someone whose wants and needs match your own when it comes to a relationship than find someone who meets some of them and hope/manipulate/whatever that they change and fulfil the rest of them. After all, if a person says they are willing to give abc in a relationship and you want xyz, then believe them, realise that any short-term satisfaction will be overshadowed by medium- and long-term emotional hurt, and find someone else instead of wasting both of your time with a unsatisfactory relationship that is doomed from the start. It’s even possible that in a year or more from now, he’ll have grown/changed/matured and is able to supply you with the relationship you need. But he isn’t capable of doing that now, so mourn for what could have been and move on.

  18. Hatchet said:

    Translation:

    “I don’t form emotional attachments…but I’m totally okay with you forming one. Speaking as someone with your best interests in mind, I think it’d be a good idea to have sex with an emotionally unavailable person you are strongly attracted to, and by ‘person’ I mean ‘me’. Me me meeeeeee.”

  19. Anonaconda said:

    One thing that stands out to me, LW, is that you keep spending the night with this dude and doing everything but sex, as if that boundary protects you from getting hurt. To a degree, it does; having sex for the first time can be very emotional, on a level that making out isn’t. However, you should know that there are many paths to intimacy and emotional investment, and just because he’s not getting the kind of sex he wants from you, it doesn’t mean that you’re not being used. I feel like women are taught that there’s power in withholding sex, that making guys wait for it will teach them something about how you should be valued. But that’s BS. The guys who value you will do so from the beginning, whether you sleep with them on the first date or the fiftieth.

    This guy doesn’t value you. I’m not saying that your first time needs to be with the love of your life, but it should probably be with someone who will treat you with kindness. It’s one thing to have a memory of losing your virginity that makes you roll your eyes; it’s another to have one that makes you angry and reopens a wound when you think about it. I’d just think deeply about what this guy has already told you about himself. Take care.

    • thepaintedlady said:

      Well, hello. Where were you when I was in college?

      Also, the reverse is true: having sex with someone will not make you automatically more emotionally invested. That was an amazing and awesome surprise I discovered once I decided to stop clinging to “other things” like my cloak of emotional invisibility.

  20. Chiaro said:

    It sounds like he is covering his ass by saying all these things mentioned in the letter. Almost as if he is expecting the LW to get attached(giving him more chances of getting the sex he has been trying to get) and this way he may feel it’s fine to cut things off when he’s done, because he ‘warned you’. Maybe I’m reading too much into things but he sounds like a typical asshole.

    If I were you LW I would get out of this situation. There are plenty of men out there who won’t play games like this and want to be on the same line as you.

    The whole ‘you are over-thinking things’ should not be used in this situation and definitely sounds like a red flag. It’s understandable that you are thinking about the situation between you two. Maybe take same time out to think things over?

  21. Plu said:

    Here’s my question for you: what are you getting from him that you would not get from a quality vibrator (also, he probably doesn’t vibrate, there’s a con in his column)? It sounds like he’s being pretty up-front about wanting sex for minimal effort, and if that’s a situation you’re down with then go ahead and ride that lazy, emotionally unavailable pony off into the sunset. But it really doesn’t sound like this is a situation where he’s going to give you anything more than you’re getting now on the romantic front, so it may be time to reevaluate your expectations.

  22. Anyanka said:

    Seriously, this guy sounds like he is playing you, LW. People who know that they are not good with sex/romance and are NOT assholes don’t manipulate people to give them sex/romance anyway. THERE ARE BETTER FISH IN THE SEA.

  23. Hi LW! I am super impressed by how self-aware you are, and by how you are getting second (hundredth…) opinions about this because the part of you that thinks his boner is groovy is warring with the part of you that says NOOOOO. This guy has said a lot of things about himself that suggest that he is not a great fit for what you are looking for. I started believing what people tell me about themselves a few years ago, and I think that’s really a good thing to do here. He’s told you what he’s about and what he wants, and what he wants from you. His actions have proved that what he told you is true. You had some sexy funtimes, which is great! Flings are fun! But if I were you I would draw a line under it, enjoy that the fling happened, and declare it over. You don’t have to make a big thing about it. Just treat him as politely and in as friendly a fashion as ever (if you want to) but don’t have solo drinks or dinner with him, don’t sit next to him at group outings if you can avoid it, all the usual stuff. And don’t ever answer a text from him after 6:30pm local time. 🙂

  24. SMK said:

    I think I’ve come up with ONE concrete example from my past of a casual, no-emotional-attachments type hook up that didn’t leave me totally shredded. We’ll call him Anti-Greg, or how about Aggie.

    Aggie and I were in the same crowd of friends in City, but we didn’t really click until 2 weeks before I moved away from City. I noticed him, he noticed me, we noticed each other noticing, and we noticed each other all the way back to his apartment, where we had something resembling the following conversation.

    Me: You know, I’m moving to Far Far Away in 2 weeks. You’re cool and all, but
    Aggie: No, I get it, let’s not torture ourselves. But The Sex Now? Yes?
    Me: Yes, let’s.

    And in the morning, he made me toast and a glass of orange juice and we shared a not-entirely-tame goodbye kiss, and I took off. Over the course of the next couple of years, IF I was back in City, IF I had time and I wasn’t there for some huge crisis, IF our paths crossed, we would each run down a short list of questions (Are you seeing anyone exclusively? You wanna?) and sometimes we would hook up again, complete with toast and orange juice in the morning. I wish everyone who wanted to have casual sex could have a partner as chill and honest and respectful as Aggie.

    Greg though? Not Aggie. Adding my voice to the chorus of “Don’t touch that boner.”

    • Ariane said:

      Honestly, one of the kindest moments I’ve ever had with a guy was with a true Friend-With-Benefits. We’d hooked up periodically for about a year – and then I fell, hard, for a man that I truly loved and could see myself staying with forever. Thanks to our having many mutual friends, FWB knew about this situation and backed off; when we ran into each other, it was totally cool, with zero sexual vibes involved.

      Well, guy that I adored dumped me HARD, at a time in my life that was already brutal for other reasons. About two months later, I ran into FWB again and — hoping for a boost to my spirits — hooked up with him again. I knew he knew about my getting crushed hard, so I didn’t have to explain anything. The sex was nothing special — not great, not terrible — but afterward I felt this incredible wave of sadness. You know, I’d hoped never to have sex with anyone but Adored ever again. I was trying to move on but my heart wouldn’t yet listen. Anyway, as I was sitting there in the immediate aftermath, experiencing this terrible sorrow, FWB took my face in his hands and leaned his forehead against mine and just sat there with me for the longest time. He didn’t say a word, just let me feel that sadness. It was generous, mature, and as I said, so very kind.

      So a Friend With Benefits can be a beautiful thing under the right circumstances. I don’t think these circumstances are met with Greg.

      • x, said:

        awww ❤ This is a great example of how casual sex can be emotionally healthy and positive! Yay!

  25. Jenny Islander said:

    Ugh.

    May I suggest a short story? Try this:

    http://www.apex-magazine.com/jackalope-wives/

    There’s a paragraph in there about the women who fall for the “Oh, my brooding inaccessibility, come and salve it with your quim” and end up with somebody whose entire schtick is sitting around hurting in their general direction. Also, the Greg in this story gets what he set up for himself. Very satisfying, if you’ve ever brushed auras with a Greg.

    • Jenny Islander said:

      “Hurting in their general direction” is a direct quote from the story, which is by Ursula Vernon. Whoops!

      • Jenny Islander said:

        Double whoops, it isn’t, but the actual text is even better. I need to go to beeeeeed.

    • That’s one hell of a story.

      • Jenny Islander said:

        Ursula Vernon, persons and gentlebeings. Ursula Vernon.

        • Vole Central said:

          I am working my way through her fiction. So awesome.

          • KL said:

            (You may already know that) she also writes (some truly excellent things) as T. Kingfisher.

          • Jane said:

            GO READ DIGGER PLEEEASE
            ahem.

            @KL : I didn’t know that! SO EXCITED.

    • Anothermous said:

      I saved this link for after I finished my assignment due tonight, and damn, was it worth the wait. Fantastic. Thanks so much for linking it here!

    • thegirlfrommarz said:

      That was a great story – thanks for linking it! I love that kind of blood and bone telling of mythology.

    • Bunny said:

      Thank you for sharing that link. Seriously. That was a fantastic read.

    • Oh my goodness, that was glorious.

    • Light said:

      Oh, my gosh, I needed this story so badly today. Thank you!

  26. Eri said:

    Oh god your unpacking of a situation is always just so thorough and on point! I never comment, just happily read and resonate…but I thought I’d
    drop in- re inspired songs on theme hehe…have you ever heard this song “Never fuck a woman that you don’t love” by Mieka Pauley?
    Leaving it here in case…

  27. RT said:

    At dinner tonight, a friend of mine said, “The difficulty for (mutual friend) is that he keeps just dating the first girl that comes along, without taking into account whether they fit into his life and what he wants or not. The thing is, you need to figure out what you want, and then make a space for that person in your life. Then, when someone comes along who fits just right in that space, then you know you have someone and something worth pursuing. But since he keeps botching around with any random woman who shows up because it’s better than being alone – except, with the drama, it’s not – he never makes that space for the right person, never has the time available for the right person even if they did show up because he’s too busy dealing with all the melodramas of the being with a person who doesn’t fit. And that’s going to keep happening until he takes the time to figure out what he wants and makes the space for the person who can fit in that space.” This is true for our friend, and it’s true for you, LW. The time you spend with Greg is time you can’t spend looking for someone who truly fits what you want. The emotional energy you spend on Greg – which you will not get returned, it will just disappear into a black hole – is emotional energy you can’t spend on yourself, or on someone who fits what you want. Your time and emotional energy are precious. Spend it wisely.

    Also, I am giving Greg the side-eye for his overthinking comments. He is setting himself up as the expert and you as the ignorant one, and that’s not a good dynamic. Also, any time someone has told me I’m overthinking the situation and to just go with it, it has turned out poorly for me. When I’m in the right situation for me – whether romantic, friendship-wise, or even as a co-worker – it works well enough that I’m not having to think about it. It just *works*. And I say that as someone who chronically ruminates on things. Someone who tells you to stop thinking and just keep going with a situation that benefits them isn’t being a friend – they’re telling you they’re afraid that if you think about the situation clearly enough, you’ll realize it’s really not a beneficial situation for you at all. “You’re overthinking it” in romantic relationships has the same effect as “If you would just be rational, you’d see ….” on me. I translate it as “why aren’t you touching my boner yet?” and it’s a huge turnoff.

    • make a space for that person in your life. Then, when someone comes along who fits just right in that space

      Oh, this a million times!

      When we are young, 90% of dating is figuring out what we like. Yes, we can err too far on the side of perfectionism, especially on the physical or material side: “Sorry, but I was hoping for less chest hair and a really cool sports car. Next!” but most of the time people negotiate with themselves on things that should be NON-negotiable, like Being Adored, which is on my own Top Five.

      Most romances in film and book perpetuate the myth that obstacles are inevitable, he or she has a good reason for acting like a jerk, and Follow Your Heart means just go after what you want and beat on people emotionally until they give it to you.

      When it’s real and potentially lasting, is so delightfully EASY. Unless we are a runaway royal from a country under siege by dragons and only our blood will seal the magic tunnel they use… then, there’s legitimate angst.

      The rest of the time, it should be pretty blissful.

      • Zillah said:

        Eh – I disagree with you about it being easy. I feel like that’s really oversimplifying it and is pretty minimizing of a lot of people and relationships that they care deeply about. Real and potentially lasting relationships are sometimes easy, but they can be tough, too. That doesn’t make them any less real, or even any less potentially lasting. That doesn’t mean you should keep on no matter what, but the simple fact of it sometimes being hard is not something terrible in and of itself.

        • omj said:

          I think it’s a matter of what *kind* of tough it is, and how quickly. If you have to put in a ton of emotional energy from the get-go just to make this relationship work on a basic level, it’s probably just a bad fit. If you have to give up on basic desires (like in LW’s case, wanting to be exclusive) in order to make the relationship even happen, it’s definitely a bad fit. In the beginning stages, the toughness of a tough relationship should generally come from external things, like a nightmare ex or long distance or some other circumstance. I think, especially in the beginning, the world of just you and this other person should be pretty easy. You shouldn’t be thinking, “This will work as long as I can change myself to be/like/want X and Y things.”

          Later on, maybe you get more of that internal difficulty, where some big question of life compatibility comes up and one or the other of you has to make a big compromise or get out. But it comes after you’ve built up a foundation of general trust and openness and acceptance and ease with each other. That’s what lets you get through that kind of tough time.

          • Zillah said:

            Absolutely. If you’re trying to force yourself (or someone else!) into a hole that clearly doesn’t fit, then it’s probably not a relationship that’s going to work, even if you’re both decent people who truly care about each other. That’s true of any stage of a relationship (and personally, I feel like the exclusive/not exclusive issue is a really huge one, even in an otherwise good thing – if you’re not both on board with the same thing, there are likely to be a lot of hurt feelings and resentments). And, even if the conflicts you’re bumping into are surmountable, huge incompatibilities in the beginning don’t tend to lead to puppies and rainbows later on. If you can’t agree on the super basic aspects of your relationship, it’s unlikely to be a good one in the long run.

            I just have an issue with the idea that:

            When it’s real and potentially lasting, is so delightfully EASY.

            Because… I think that’s both frequently untrue and minimizing of people who successfully work through significant conflict. My parents were separated for several months before they had children, and they really didn’t think they’d make it. It wasn’t at all easy. But, they managed to work things out, and have a very strong marriage now. Conflict isn’t always a terrible thing; it’s about the specifics and how you work through it.

    • bostoncandylady said:

      “The difficulty for (mutual friend) is that he keeps just dating the first girl that comes along, without taking into account whether they fit into his life and what he wants or not.”

      Thank you. This is wisdom I needed to hear right now.

  28. kesjalyn said:

    Longtime lurker delurking because this post is super relevant to my life…
    I’m a bisexual, aromantic woman. I always tell potential sex partners up front that I’m not and never will be interested in any kind of romantic relationship. Which is not to say that we can’t be friends- I’m friends with lots of people that I am having or have had sex with. But lots of times, people just won’t freaking believe me when I tell them that romance is just not on the table, and act really surprised and hurt when I’m not interested in being more than fuck buddies and/or friends. Both men and women do this, although in my experience women seem to be a bit more prone to it. I honestly don’t see how I could make it any more clear that I’m not interested in romantic relationships. Lots of people in the comments are concurring that the guy in this letter is not being honest, but… he seems to have been pretty clear about his intentions? Like, I personally would not continue trying to pursue sex with the LW just because it’s obvious that she’s not going to be happy with just sex and friendship, but I only reached that conclusion after having similar situations blow up in my face a few times, so he might not have had enough experience to figure that out yet. What do you think the guy in the letter should have done differently in order to not be “dishonest”? How do you convince people to actually believe you when you say that romance is not a possibility?

    • This dude didn’t say he’s aromantic. He said he doesn’t “form emotional attachments” … and then he went and formed what suspiciously looks like an emotional connection with the LW. Even if that isn’t intentionally dishonest, it’s legitimately confusing.

    • Aris Merquoni said:

      Enh… I think that some of the phrasings that this guy is (reportedly, admittedly) using are just off. The flirtatious texts, the whole bit with “it’s better to remain closed off because he’s opened up in relationships and put in a ton of effort and only gotten hurt, but wasn’t sure why he was telling me this because nothing would come of it”, the whole “I’m drunk, you’re nearby and a warm body, want to have sex?” thing… okay, it’s coming across in a negative light, but it really smacks to me more of someone (possibly unintentionally!) being manipulative rather than someone being honest about their relationship style. Because I don’t know about you, but I form emotional attachments to people, they’re just not romantic ones. They’re friendships, which are still… emotional and important.

      So if I were that guy? And an aromantic, and someone from work that I might be into took me home when I was drunk, and we kind of got a flirty thing going? I would say something like, “FWB yes, dating no,” and get clear on “What do you want from this relationship and can I do that.” I’d be all, “I can do fun work outings, I can hang out and chat about things, we can even go out to dinner and drinks as friends–but I’m not going to fall in romantic love with you, I’m not going to be your partner, and the thought of being in a romantic relationship makes me freak out and run. Do not count on it.” And then not do things like talk about how I’m wounded by love. Not talk about how it’s better to be closed off because relationships hurt. And not tell the person that they’re overthinking it when they think they want more from the relationship than I do.

      You’re right that sometimes people just don’t get it, but… either this guy is aromantic and bad at communicating, or he’s not aromantic and bad at communicating. Or dishonest. Whatever the case is, he doesn’t sound like a romantic prospect for the LW.

      • Myrin said:

        Reading your first paragraph just reminded me of what else I found a bit weird about the whole situation – that the whole “opening up is bad and I need to remain closed off” happened at what sounded like the first time LW and Greg ever had a more in-depth discussion. Obviously I could be wrong but LW said she specifically invited him along so as to be with him outside of work (which sounds like a first time thing to me). And, regardless of intent, I find this a weird thing to talk about at such a hyper early stage in a relationship and it would seem like an extreme case of oversharing to me (even if the explicit goal had been sexytimes – which it wasn’t as per the LW – this is not something you spring on someone first chance you get; an “I only do casual relationships”? Sure, that’s a good thing to know when you’re potentially about to hook up, but this whole “opening up” thing? Nah).

    • calcifer said:

      Honestly I think what you are doing is enough. I think that having a serious conversation about it and making it very clear that you are not interested in romance is all you can do. You can’t really control other people’s decision to not believe you. Of course, there is a huge difference between being honest and making it clear that if it’s a problem then sex is off the table and being honest but still trying to push the other person to having sex, even when they tell you it might not work for them. Which is the problem here.

      Greg wants sex from the LW. He has made this abundantly clear. However even though he knows she wants a romantic relationship, even though he knows she’s questioning if this is what she wants, he still (1) shares personal information with her and spends a lot of 1-on-1 time with he, (2) is very much pushing her to sex, and (3) tells her she’s “overthinking it” when she’s trying to decide if this is what she wants. And the last one is the biggest red flag. The other two, sure, you can maybe chalk it up to inexperience (though the 2nd one is still really awful in my mind), but the 3rd one is very much a manipulation tactic and very much Not OK. And quite frankly, I have seen a lot of friend’s with “maybe boyfriends” who definitely took advantage of the “I don’t do emotions” shtick to get the physical stuff they wanted and be able to dump emotionally without ever having to get anything in return. I’ve seen it happen way too much to just assume it’s inexperience, but YMMV. I take it as he’s being dishonest and if he wanted to avoid that, he should’ve backed off instead of told her to stop thinking about it and “ruin a good thing” (for him).

      Long story short, regardless of why he’s trying to keep the LW in this FWB arrangement, it’s still a shitty thing to do. Whether it’s inexperience or not, I still think it’s quite manipulative of him and I think it’s in the LW’s best interests to nip that situation in the bud. And quite frankly it doesn’t sound like inexperience to me. (And I’m sorry if that seems kinda rude to you, kesjalyn, it seems slightly cold in wording to me and that’s not my intention, but honestly I don’t think this guy is truly being decent and honest to the LW whereas you sound like you do your best to be decent and honest to any partners/potential partners and that makes all the difference in my mind.)

    • Phospher said:

      “I don’t do emotional connections… because I have opened up emotionally so much to other women, much like I’m doing to you right now, and been oh so hurt before… OH SIGH,” is very different from “Hey, want some casual, no-romance fun? I do stress that’s all I do.”

    • thegirlfrommarz said:

      Even if Greg is trying to be totally honest (which I doubt, for the reasons which cinderkeys has mentioned below), I don’t think it matters as it’s the LW who asked for advice, not Greg, and she is confused about what he’s offering.

      It’s not so much what Greg says that makes me give him the side-eye, but that it conflicts with what he does. He says he can’t form emotional attachments, then encourages the LW to use him as a sounding board which will build her attachment to him. He says he is damaged by past relationships, not that relationships aren’t his jam. He says she is “overthinking” it when she is trying to decide whether or not to sleep with him, rather than letting her work out in her own time whether this is right for her. There is an implicit suggestion, deliberate or not, that if she is Cool Girl enough, she might be the one to “heal” him from his past damage.

      It sounds like you’re someone who wants to make sure that anyone you hook up with is very clear on what’s on offer, and that it isn’t a relationship. You are upfront about your boundaries and I am sure that you follow through on that. Yes, there will always be some confusion between sex and love because people are complex and our culture is saturated with the idea that sex=love, but you sound to me to be coming from a very different place to Greg.

    • Anyanka said:

      The difference here is that this guy isn’t being clear on wanting to be friends or fuckbuddies or acquaintances who want to have sex. He’s using her feelings for him *against her* and purposefully giving weird signals and mixed messages to keep some power over her. It’s not the same thing as being upfront and then people being surprised/disbelieving at your upfront-ness.

    • neverjaunty said:

      I think you are seeing way more of yourself in LW’s “Greg” than you ought. Having been in your situation way too many times as a young thing, here is what you can do:

      1) Understand that ‘we all have 100% control over our feelings’ is a geek social fallacies, and some of your partners will develop stronger emotional attachments to you even though you have been clear, and even if they intellectually agree with you.

      2) Always be clear, not just in your actual words, but in your behavior, because if you are being unclear in your actions or behavior, that will confuse people.

      I mean, unlike the guy in GW’s letter, you are not telling your partners that the reason you don’t do romance is that you were Deeply Hurt by Terrible Exes, right? You don’t shut down people who want to talk about having confused feelings by accusing them of overthinking things? Do you tell people that you “don’t form emotional connections”, rather than simply that you don’t do romantic relationships? You present the reason for not wanting romantic relationships as that’s simply what you do, rather than a result of your Wounded Heart Not Yet Healed? Right? These things are why Greg is dishonest (no scare quotes) and you are not.

      Also, 3), don’t be pissy at people when they confess they are starting to have REALFEELS for you. You’re not obligated to accommodate them, but I will say from experience that as long as they’re being honest – rather than up and demanding you be exclusive with them, or blaming you for their emotions – it’s better to be kind and direct, rather than treating it as bad behavior on their part.

    • wordiest said:

      I think there’s a huge difference between saying you don’t do romance and saying you don’t do emotional connections. I’m emotionally connected to my family and friends. Now, if he actually doesn’t do emotional connections, telling the letter writer that would be good, but it certainly would frame all of his emotional intimacy as massively manipulative. He started trying to create emotional intimacy in the car ride after the letter writer stated she wouldn’t have sex with him – which is a suspicious time to start upping the emotional intimacy if he doesn’t do emotional connections. He did that by talking about how wounded he’s been in the past. Doing so in a way that says, “I totally can, do, and have done romantic connections, but it’s so very sad that I don’t do them now, because of how hurt I am, and I clearly need some kind soul to save me, but I’ve given up all hope, because nobody in the world has been good enough to me.” That’s really manipulative and is an emotional connection. If he truly doesn’t do emotional connections, he should keep his wounded past to himself to deal with by himself (or with a therapist).

      Then he told the letter writer he wants to help and guide her into being a better person… help her with her overthinking. This is a very suspicious thing to do with somebody you want to have sex with. I’m all for guiding and helping people, I think it’s great. But there’s a reason we have therapists for the tricky stuff, and a large part of that isn’t even just because they are trained and less likely to accidentally do more harm than good, but because they don’t have anything to gain by steering you in particular directions. And we can make some nice ethical guidelines that therapists ought to follow, like no treating friends and family and no having sex with clients. When somebody’s advice for how you can be a better person is “by sleeping with me and not thinking about why you shouldn’t” I get a little suspicious that maybe they don’t actually have the best intentions, but instead are being manipulative. I also think you should be very, very careful about mixing sex and relationship power imbalances. I’m not saying people should never do it, but they should do it consciously and with care. He has created a power imbalance by setting himself up as the letter writer’s guide and teacher who knows what is best for the letter writer, while the letter writer is not supposed to be guiding or teaching or changing him. He also set up a power imbalance because he’s not emotionally invested in them, while the letter writer is actively encouraged to regularly open up to him and trust him as safe to open up to. Which makes zero sense, because someone who can’t form emotional attachments is pretty high up on the not safe to open up to scale – especially when you are also coworkers. Emotional attachments are protective. I know my friends won’t just use what I say in whatever way would be maximally useful to them regardless of my feelings, because they care about me and value me not getting hurt – that’s an emotional attachment they have to me. Without that… You’ll note this is very different from you, because you talk about friends you aren’t romantic with. It’s kind of like how some people do friends with benefits where they actually treat people as friends (with benefits, sure, but friends) and some people call it friends with benefits but don’t act like a friend. He is saying he can’t be a good friend, but encouraging sharing and trust. This is red flag city for me.

      And finally, to cap it all off, is the don’t overthink it. I can’t say how much it worries me. I’ve been in situations and seen situations where people had some mismatched desires, but were considering sex/relationships anyway. Sometimes it’s even worked out. But in all of those cases, the people were encouraged to take all of the time and thought they wanted to decide if this was something that could work for them. Sometimes, you decide that something that didn’t match what you were looking for might actually be worth pursuing… and sometimes it is. But it’s definitely a good time to take it slow and give it lots of thought. I would have lost a lot of respect for any of the people I know if they had tried to push the other person into going further with less thought than made them comfortable. Yes, it means sometimes the person decides, this actually isn’t what I want. But that’s a risk you’re supposed to accept. And it sounds like you do. It sounds like you don’t push people to have sex with you before they’ve decided that it is right for them, if they do decide that way. And that’s a really big thing. All I see from this guy is constantly pushing boundaries – constantly pushing for more, while saying that he should not be held accountable for anything he doesn’t want, like exclusivity or a relationship he needs to feel bad about ending whenever he chooses.

      I also strongly suspect from all the emotional dumping he’s been doing on the letter writer that he will get whiny and problematic at attempts to back away. But he hasn’t done that yet, so I can’t hold it against him. But I really put this as a high risk – after all, he started whining about how other people treat him so badly on the very first night and that is never a good sign. I mean, using “the people I’ve been with in the past were terrible and hurt me so bad” (in essence) as your pick up line.. that’s worrisome, and that doesn’t sound at all like what you do.

  29. the neaked monk said:

    I learned this too late in life~~ Don’t – -i- where you eat. Go find a real date / potential partner far outside the work environment.

  30. Kat said:

    I cringed at the overthinking it bits. I’ve been mentally ill and (as I’ve lately discovered) autistic my whole life, and I’m a woman, so over the past few years I have had to unpack a metric shit ton of internalised ideas that I’m always overreacting, overthinking, hysterical, irrational or whatever else. My previous relationship was one with a man who, like Greg, was ‘understanding’ about my many flaws and ‘helped me through them’ and that doesn’t immediately sound like something harmful except for the undertones of “other people will not be so understanding” and “I deserve all the cookies/relationship bargaining chips for being so patient with you” and also “I want this thing and you don’t, but it’s ok, I know you have all those flaws that would cause you to feel that way, I understand. *heaving sigh*”

    I would seriously warn against men – especially men you’re confused about anyway – who want to police your thoughts and feelings, even in a gentle and patient way, even if you brought it up.

  31. Andrew Glasgow said:

    “I don’t want a relationship” = “I don’t want a relationship WITH YOU.”

    “I don’t form emotional connections” = “I don’t foresee forming an emotional connection WITH YOU.”

    Sorry to put it baldly but that’s what these things mean. He isn’t that into you. He’d like to sex you, but doesn’t want anything more than that with you and will not want anything more than that with you unless he goes through significant changes in his life, which are not things you can cause to happen.

    “You’re overthinking things” = “You’re coming to conclusions I disagree with or would prefer you didn’t come to.”

    • Guava said:

      Yes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard those words…only to find that Mr. “I don’t want a relationship” fell madly-forever-in-love with the woman he was chatting up at the party, while I was in the bathroom.

  32. sorcharei said:

    Put aside the emotnional games he is playing. He has said you aren’t exclusive, and that’s not what you want. He could be the greatest guy on the planet, honest, kind, considerate, trustworthy, enotionally available, funny, interewting, interested, cute, and everything else you could want, but “not exclusive” when you want “exclusive” is reason enough to put on the brakes.

  33. Stayce said:

    LW, many have said it before, but I’m here to say it again: I am voting that you listen to the many times he has explicitly said you are not dating, he doesn’t want a relationship, etc. Believe this guy when he tells you this stuff. He may well be saying it with the hopes that you will assume that if he SAYS one thing but DOES another, you will believe in what he does (makeouts, sharing (his) feelings, talking about your ‘hangups’) and not all the times he said you can’t expect anything from him. That way lies hurt feelings. I have also let attraction and wishful thinking and pantsfeelings talk myself into dating someone who isn’t a good fit/ is a total darth vader. If you take a look at the Captain’s old post on relationship green flags, how many boxes does he check off for you? Any of them? It might help to look at a list of ‘stuff you want in a partner.’ And remember, you can definitely definitely meet someone who does meet criteria like ‘wants an exclusive relationship’ and ‘respects my feelings even if they don’t serve his wants’ and ‘is fun to be with, in public, in the daytime’ and ‘is as cool as my friends’. Jedi hugs and good luck to you, LW. Resist the dark side of the force.

  34. roramich said:

    Hey LW, I just saw this graphic come across my FB feed and it seems relevant to your situation: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” Maya Angelou. I know, I know what they say about quotes on the internet, it might not actually be from Dr. Angelou, and maybe “never” is a bit inflexible, but I think it’s worth thinking about all the same.

    • Chiaro said:

      Whomever that quote may be from I like it. I’m trying to come up with a situation where being an option is okay but it’s difficult. Someone should never make you feel like an option is any situation.

      • wordiest said:

        I think it’s okay in a caretaker-dependent relationship. But those are very different from most relationships. Like, it might be okay for a parent to do this with a child or for a pet owner to do this with a pet. But I would definitely worry about doing this in any relationship intended to be one of equals.

  35. Molly Grue said:

    I just wanted to underline and bold and put sparkles around this one quote from the Captain:

    “You are too cool to be some lazy dude’s sexual backup plan.”

  36. Pqw said:

    LW, I “dated” a version of this guy, also a coworker, 25 years ago. (At least I wasn’t a virgin at the time, but I was very inexperienced sexually and romantically.) After I got more life experience, he became My Chaotic Evil Ex-Boyfriend. Because my guy didn’t *tell me* he was an asshole who was screwing all the other women in the office too – but he took them out on dates! Not me. I was just his booty call. Oh, and he was engaged to someone living in another state.

    The sex we did have was… terrible. He was a selfish and hateful “lover”.

    After I dumped him, I found out my evil boss was friends with him. That made my life a living hell.

    RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!!!

    • crooked bird said:

      Wow, I’m sorry that happened to you. What a dog-pile of bad shit, right to the end.

  37. Alcor said:

    I think there are totally people for whom this guy would be a fun lay and a casual good time. I also think the LW is in no way one of them.

    She wants an emotional connection; he’s not willing to give one; she’s intent on trying to fix that by the power of being a cool girlfriend and True Love, and that’s not at all going to work. My motto is, if a guy doesn’t say he loves you after about a year, or if he says he doesn’t think he “can love anyone,” if you want love, bail. For this guy, he did it on Day 1, so go ahead and leave. He didn’t even want to *try*, and he’s not going to. If you want him to be in True Love with you, you’re barking up the entirely wrong tree, LW.

  38. storyranger said:

    LW, I want to come at this from a slightly different angle.

    “we did other stuff (which I enjoyed) without actually having sex”

    I’m going to take a run at this from the assumption that you are classifying “sex” as PIV sex. Now, I want you to think about the “other stuff” you did that you enjoyed.

    When the other stuff was happening, did you ever feel the need to stop and give directions? Did you? How did he react to that?
    Did anything hurt? Did you feel safe and comfortable enough to speak up and tell him that? Did he stop hurting you and change things up to make it feel better?
    Did he ask before you moved on to something new? (Asking doesn’t have to be verbal, though at first it’s often a good idea if it is. Asking can be gently caressing near where someone wants to move the action to, nudging you with the part they want to put on your part, etc.) Did he give you time to make up your mind? Did you feel any external (from him, from societal expectations, etc) pressure to say yes?
    You say when you stopped him he went along with it, but did you show signs of discomfort beforehand that he could have maybe picked up on and taken as a cue to ask permission to keep going, rather then you always having to be the one setting the boundaries?

    I’m asking LW because these are all BASELINE FREAKING 100% NECESSARY AND STANDARD EXPECTED things you should be getting from the person you are having new sexual experiences with. If you don’t feel safe asking them for these things, they are not good for you. And from one “virgin” to another (quotations because virginity is a super f*cked up social construct) I want you to be with the best person FOR YOU. Who will make YOU safe. And make things nice FOR YOU. This is a time to be selfish. There are very few other times where it is this important to be selfish.

    Also, please consider reading The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti because I think it will be super interesting and applicable to you.

    • Jane said:

      Hey storyranger — I just wanted to thank you for this comment. I am also a [[totally]] sexually inexperienced person, and while I’m not sure what context I would prefer my first experiences to happen within relationship-wise, I’m fairly anxious about trying to not have a super crappy debut. It’s nice to have some concrete pointers on how to figure out if a physical interaction is going well besides the ever-nebulous “feeling good.”

    • Guava said:

      Seconding what Jane said – this is such a great comment.

  39. “I am a major overthinker, something he knows and has been trying to help me with.”

    I read this and nearly screamed out loud (in Starbucks), “Noooooooo, don’t go in there, Letter Writer! The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE. RUN RUN RUN.”

    Maybe that’s hyperbole, but serious creepyflag right there. Dude who “can’t emotionally attach” stringing you along trying to get you to sleep with him just HAPPENS to be “helping you” with a “personality flaw” that just HAPPENS to be keeping you from sleeping with him?

    I am also old like the Captain, LW, and one of the things that comes with age is a major skepticism of such coincidences. It’s possible there’s details behind that particular statement that would make it perfectly fine, but the way you worded it does not give me the warm fuzzies for this guy.

    • Yes, this has been bothering me a lot too.

      LW, did you actually ASK him to help you with your overthinky tendencies? Or did you mention that you’re an overthinker and he started coming up with tons of “helpful” suggestions? Or (worst of all) did you NOT mention that you’re an overthinker, but he labelled you one and designated himself as a therapist-figure to you, to “help” you put aside all the “pesky” questions you’re (entirely correctly) having about him?

      Because unless you SPECIFICALLY ASKED HIM to help you overcome some overly-thinky tendencies that you have, then this guy is not being a Decent Person. It’s not okay to appoint yourself a Personality Fixer to someone who hasn’t asked you to help them with an issue they are having. Even if you were objectively The Most Obvious Overthinker on the planet, it *still* wouldn’t be okay for him to “help” you with this unless you asked.

      I have a friend who is the Platonic form of an Overthinker. He sometimes comes to me when he thinks he’s overthinking something and *explicitly asks me* if I think he’s overthinking it. I give him my opinion. This is okay, because he my opinion and because we have a deep and long-standing friendship based on mutual respect (and my advice to him is never ~seeeeeeecretly~ motivated by wanting to have sex with him).

      I have another friend who is chronically unable to make up her mind. Sometimes when we talk about something that she needs to make a decision about, I feel like I’m BURSTING. The answer is so obvious [to me]! Why can’t she see [what I see]?! And yet I do not say these things, nor do I try to “help” her with her “issue”…because she has never asked me for help with it. She’ll talk with me about her decision-making processes, but she has never said “Hey…could you give me some advice on how to make decisions?”. Unless and until she says that, it is *not my place* to give “advice” or “helpful tips” about her decision-making processes — she doesn’t need my unsolicited “help”. Just because *I* think she could be more decisive or faster about making a decision doesn’t mean anything; I am not God, I don’t get to say what makes a Good Decision Maker.

      Please take a look at where the dynamic of “LW = Overthinker / Greg = Mr. Fix-It For All My Overthinkery” is coming from. Unless you *explicitly* asked him to help you out with this***, then I’d be VERY leery of a person who took it upon himself to “fix” you.

      ***Frankly, even if you DID explicitly ask him to help you out with this, I think you might want to reconsider that decision. Greg doesn’t seem to be exhibiting a great deal of emotional maturity, and that’s a prerequisite if you’re going to try to help someone with an issue like this.

  40. Oh honey, no. Please think the better of this and move on to better things.

    I’ve been you. I’ve been the younger woman in the thing with the older guy who’s all tortured and emotionally stunted and doesn’t want to date you but does want to string you along/feel you up in movie theatres/call you at 1am and tell you all about another girl. And it really fucked me up. It messed with my head, it lowered my already low sense of self worth. It fucked with my uni studies (more below). It – he – was nowhere near worth it.

    There was even the added power dynamic in my situation that I was a uni student and he was a tutor in my department. Ick. The fact that your guy is a colleague? Means that this could get well and truly awkward for you at work, even aside from the high potential of your heart getting all bruised up. I also really don’t like that he’s willing to be your mentor in terms of stopping your ‘over-thinking’. It is very much in his interest that you don’t think this situation through and act in your own best interest – i.e. stop seeing him. And letting him take on an advisory/reality check function for you is too much responsibility and trust given to someone who hasn’t shown themselves willing to take responsibility or worthy of trust. Let that job be the job of a trusted friend who loves you to bits and wants what’s best for you, or a disinterested, qualified third party who gets paid by the hour and only gives a shit about you, not him.

    You’re seeing it as an upside that you two are getting emotionally close, sitting up all night playing chess, despite the fact that he’s said emotional connection/exclusivity is not what he wants/what he’s capable of. This isn’t a sign of you being able to push through his emotional reticence and it’s not a sign of you being the exception to his no-strings rule. It’s a sign that he’s drawing you in, making you feel invested and listened to and trusted, to get what he wants out of the sitch – which is an audience, fun, sexy times, but no commitment. He doesn’t want to be there for you. He wants to get all the benefits and nice-feels of being your boyfriend or even a trusted friends-with-benefits without that actually being the situation.

    I hope you hear the Captain’s advice and read the comments and decide not to see this guy again – but frankly I remember being so wrapped up in my guy that there is no way I would have walked away that soon, even with all this great advice. So I want you to know that there’s no judgment here. Seriously, sometimes these things just seem to have to play out and you kinda know that there’s a fair chance you’ll get hurt and that you’re not going to get what you want from this person and whatever, it’s a thing that we do, especially when we’re young and we have a crush/we’re infatuated and we’re horny and the person is hot and smart and charming. OK? You’re not doing ANYTHING wrong if you choose to see this through to the end. But please stop before the point where I did, which was when I was completely emotionally wrecked and couldn’t tell the ground from the air, and blaming myself because there were plenty of signs that it would be a terrible disaster and I still didn’t walk away. Plus I have emotionally masochistic tendencies, so I reckon if you have any of those and you know it, RUN, don’t walk, because I am sad to bet that this situation will bring them all out.

    I wish for all the good things for you, LW – including a sexy, fun, laid-back first-sexual-partner / boyfriend / friends-with-benefits / whatever-you-want. I just honestly don’t think this guy’s it. And I think the fact that you wrote in to the Captain shows that deep down, you don’t either.

    XX

    • Jane said:

      He wants to get all the benefits and nice-feels of being your boyfriend or even a trusted friends-with-benefits without that actually being the situation.

      I hope you hear the Captain’s advice and read the comments and decide not to see this guy again – but frankly I remember being so wrapped up in my guy that there is no way I would have walked away that soon, even with all this great advice. So I want you to know that there’s no judgment here. Seriously, sometimes these things just seem to have to play out and you kinda know that there’s a fair chance you’ll get hurt and that you’re not going to get what you want from this person and whatever, it’s a thing that we do, especially when we’re young and we have a crush/we’re infatuated and we’re horny and the person is hot and smart and charming. OK? You’re not doing ANYTHING wrong if you choose to see this through to the end.

      Thanks, easypeasysleazy. I think these two points are both really important — one, pay attention to what is really happening, LW, and not what you would like to happen or your rosiest interpretation of what is happening. Two, even if you chase this through and get burnt, you’re not a bad person and you’re not stupid (and Greg is still kind of a douche for feeling like he is entitled to your time and attention and body without any reciprocal effort on his part.)

      It takes time and experimentation and sometimes a lot of really crap experiences before you can: A. understand a situation clearly B. know what you want in that situation C. ask for what you want in that situation D. take appropriate action given on the information you have received.

      I have had problems with every single step of that situation — A. I am often unable to figure out if I am attracted to someone or if they are attracted to me B. I usually can’t figure out if I want to be friends, date casually, have le sex, have a longterm relationship, or have nothing to do with the person at all C. even if I can figure out I usually try to talk myself down from whatever I want to something lesser OR the thought of asking for what I want makes me have crying fits and panic attacks and D. if the other person gives me information that my hopes/expectations are not going to be met, I usually ignore it or just can’t absorb it at all.

      I would focus really hard on WHAT YOU WANT, LW, both generally and specifically, and for now, until you get really good and confident at advocating for what you want, REFUSE to take anything less than what you want. Do some thinking about what you want in general (sexytimes? a committed relationship? friendship? with one person, more than one person? how much do you want/can you invest? blah blah etc.) but also what you want from certain situations and people. I encourage you to only enter into a casual occasional fucking relationship with a person if that is what you SPECIFICALLY want from that SPECIFIC person. (This could occasionally happen! Though I postulate that is more likely to happen with people that you feel some emotional distance from. I generally do not entertain FWB ideas about people I want to date, period.)

      This sounds awful and mercenary, but if the kind of relationship you really really want from a SPECIFIC person is not the kind of relationship you can get from that person, BAIL BAIL BAIL. I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that some people can reset their expectations and not get emotionally shredded by settling for less than you wanted, but a LARGE PERCENTAGE of us cannot, and it is safer to assume that you cannot.**

      **I hold this to be true for friendships as well, to be honest — if someone is consistently rebuffing my efforts to be friends, I would rather cut that person out of my life altogether than adjust to friends-lite. I got shit to do, man. I don’t need a bunch of pseudo-friends cluttering up my life.

  41. BAIL BAIL BAIL. You are headed straight for a shitty non-relationship. He will do just enough vaguely romantic/relationship-y things that you feel weird about seeing other people, but never enough for you to actually be satisfied. The sex will be VERY one sided. He may put bizarre amounts of effort into making sure other people don’t find out that you are sleeping together (to broaden his options). His life advice will definitely be terrible, since it’s based around convincing you that you need to be “fixed” and also touch his boner. I can see this dude dumping you for other people, then trying to cheat on them with you multiple times. He will suck up a whole lot of time and energy that you could be giving to people who actually like you but it’s okay, any time you’re interested in another dude he will sulk or try to make them sound like losers or ramp up the fake affection so it’s not like that was going anywhere anyway. If he can find other women who want to touch his boner, he will flaunt them in front of you/talk about their sexual prowess in way too much detail/threaten to have them stay in his house for a stupidly long time (“I think she’s planning on staying like, 2 weeks to a month, probably not more than a month but who knows”). He knows that this will probably upset you, but if you try to express those upset feelings he will just be like “BUT YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE FEELINGS OR NEEDS WE AREN’T DATING” and somehow you are the problem. This guy is actually deeply mediocre, if you really want to waste your time there are plenty of other identically selfish dudes who you don’t work with.

    • Yep, it’s totally unfair and gendered and shitty and not something that the LW should have to think about, but I can see Greg all-too-easily play the “oh, yeah? it’s so cute yet sad, LW has a thing for me and I told her I wasn’t up for a relationship and she just won’t get the message” story at work where he injects JUST enough truthful details to have others believe it and leaves out the whole “and we were at my house playing chess and kissing all night” part, to undermine LW, protect his rep, keep being able to hit on other women, play the suave-older-guy-who-has-luck-with-younger-women-but-isn’t-a-SLEAZE-or-anything persona etc. *rollz eyezzzzzz*

      • Ahahaha, either this guy gets around or there are a hell of a lot of them. *sigh*

  42. Bat said:

    I think in some ways I am that type of person LW is talking about. I tend to be crappy at emotional connections (for all that it’s a continuous work in progress) and a big part of that is because I tend to be fairly terrible at self-disclosure; it takes me forever to share anything personal about myself with anyone and usually any time I do share something it’s followed by massive doses of self-doubt and days of beating off my jerkbrain’s mantra of “Why the hell did you tell x person about yourself? X person is totally judging you and you can never take it back ever.” Which means I’m wincing because I’ve found myself on the opposite side of the interaction LW describes where someone I like is interested in me but I have so much trouble getting beyond the flirting stage because the idea of exposing too much of myself fills me with massive anxiety. I have even done the thing with insisting that I’m not dating someone and that I’m bad at connections because I’m trying to give the person the opportunity to ditch me and find someone better, knowing that it might be months or years or the rest of forever before I’m ready to take the next step and not wanting to hold the other person back.

    So while I agree with the Captain that you have no obligation whatsoever to wait around for this guy, if you do want to keep on giving it a try I’d recommend (a) trying to be as honest as possible with stuff like “I’m bothered by the lack of exclusivity we have going on and I’d like to give monogamy a try if you’re willing to go for that, and if not then I guess we should remain friends only” so he knows where you’re coming from (b) trying to respond to his emotional sharing with nonjudgmental positivism and some disclosure of your own (and ditching him if he doesn’t give you the same courtesy) and (c) being aware that it’s not necessarily going to work even if you give it your all, which sucks but is not even slightly your fault.

  43. Aurora S. said:

    Greg aside, one should always be wary of “dipping your pen in the company ink” at any job. This is something people do a lot (I have), and it’s more prevalent in some industries than others (see: any type of hospitality job). People get romantically or sexually involved with people that they work with because work is where a lot of people spend most of their time. How much do you like or value your job?

    If it’s a position that you can take or leave or it will be easy for you to find another in your field, less is at stake. Worst case scenario is that the other person is a complete asshole and is impossible to work with if it doesn’t work out, and very worst case scenario is that you are the one that ends up leaving to preserve your mental health/safety. If this is a job you like, pays well, and was hard to come by, there’s much more at stake.

    One must not be blinded by PANTSFEELINGS. Does your company have a “no fucking the other employees” no-fraternization policy? I’ve worked at a couple places in which that is the case (they generally make exceptions for married couples or long term partners). The reality of the matter is that when you mess around with someone at work, you’re sticking your neck out and putting your job on the line in one form or another.

    • Therese said:

      Well, my brother married a co-worker and they’re very happy; but then, they don’t work in the ssme department, not the same type of job or same chain of command.

  44. ism said:

    This behavior irritates me so much. I hate how the term “friends with benefits” is used by men to just mean “casual sex.” Most of the FWB arrangements I’ve been in were with guys with whom I was friendly, but not like sharing secrets and emotional support friendly. So, fuck buddies. Not FRIENDS. I take the word “friends” very seriously and will not have FWB sex arrangements with guys who can’t actually handle the legitimate friendship parts. And yes, friendship is a kind of relationship. It is a kind of emotional attachment. Been hurt by people who threw the word “friend” around before and next time I’m going to make it abundantly clear. I don’t want a boyfriend either, but I do want the person(s) I have sex with to be a FRIEND who would do things like listen to my bad day, call 911 if I’m hurt, etc. Too many guys who called themselves my friend with benefits wouldn’t bother. Too many tears.

  45. Ms. Heathen said:

    OK everyone else has talked about the dude, I wanted to offer a different perspective. As a young professional woman, it’s really a bad idea to date co-workers as you’re just starting your career. I find office dating policies to be paternalistic and sexist, but they supposedly exist to head off the kind of tensions and complications that a relationship in the workplace can bring up. It’s not right, and it’s not fair, but sexist gossip in the workplace can negatively impact your career. It’s not right, and it’s not fair, and it’s incredibly sexist, but if management sees a conflict due to dating they’re more likely to blame you for the conflict. They could tell you to break it off, they could try to move you to another position, they could start shutting you out in the workplace, and if there’s a firm policy against dating co workers they could fire you.

    You like this guy but he’s not going to reciprocate feelings. The best you can hope for is the odd booty call (that’s all those “flirty texts” are), and for this you might lose a lot of professional ground. The world is full of guys, nice guys, hot guys, rude but hot guys, sensitive funny brilliant emotionally available guys, the majority of whom aren’t working where you are. Read any of the Captain Awkward guides about meeting people when you’re single, or try speed dating or your church’s singles events, ask your friends or your family or even the people you work with if they know someone. There’s no need to rush headlong at the glass ceiling for a guy who can’t even give you the bare minimum of what you’d like from him.

    This even gives you a neutral thing to say “I’ve decided it’s probably not a good idea to be involved with someone I work with.”

  46. JS said:

    Dear LW – from one overthinker to another – when I was in my early twenties I dated a guy who was very selfish, a liar, and a cheater. My gut instinct knew all of these things (plus I kept finding evidence) but instead of calling him out on his behavior and then dumping him, I just sat around thinking about it a lot and feeling anxious and miserable. Whenever we did fight, he would accuse me of overthinking things, which got to me because I know that I do indeed have that quality. Only much later did I realize this: I may be an overthinker, but that’s entirely beside the point. The point is not that I over think, it’s that I UNDER ACT. As in – I did not take any action based on my thoughts. Of course my thoughts were going around and around in an obsessive circle – I knew something was very wrong and yet I wasn’t doing anything about it! So if I were you, I’d worry less about your tendency to overthink, and concern yourself more with whether or not you’re taking action based on what your thoughts are telling you. You currently aren’t too happy with the way this relationship is making you feel, and the evidence you have collected strongly suggests that he isn’t going to change (and may in fact get worse – is very likely to get worse if you do sleep with him.) The thing about overthinking is that it distracts us from taking action, (which can be really scary) by making us feel that we’re doing something productive. But taking action is the only way to get these anxious thoughts to calm down. And if I were you, I would take the action of kicking this dude to the curb.

    • Team Greg said:

      JS, I find your thoughts about overthinking very cogent and enlightening. Thank you.

    • Queen of Scarves said:

      “The point is not that I over think, it’s that I UNDER ACT.”

      That is such a great point, JS! I don’t know if the “should this be on a t-shirt” section of this site is still active, but this should definitely be on a t-shirt, or better yet, a cross-point/embroidery pattern.

    • twiggles said:

      This!!!!

      As a fellow over-thinker, I strongly believe the difficulty comes when I a) think myself in circles and keep going round & round because I am trying to find an outcome that is more pleasing (e.g., feeling unhappy about the way a guy is treating me and then thinking up all the possible reasons for why he’s treating me that way, what I could do to change the situation, etc.) or b) thinking and planning gives me a sense of control over a situation, so I plan and plan and scheme, and just don’t act.

      OP, while it may be true that “you are thinking too much about the nuances of this relationship, and about what he says vs. what he does,” the uncomfortable thing you are avoiding is that he is treating you in a way that does not feel good. And the action you are avoiding with all that overthinking is “walk/run away.” Someone with hot best interests at heart would be “helping” you with your overthinking by encouraging you to trust your first reaction, and cease the liaisons.

      Also, please pay attention to what people are saying about the disconnect between what he says and what he does. It’s the hardest lesson (and I am not sure I have totally learned it, but I am out of the dating game, thank goddess), but you need to trust whichever of the two — words or actions — is the worst. Lowest common denominator. Seriously. If someone says “I can’t be in a relationship, I don’t know how to love, people have hurt me too many times…” but then calls you at all hours, snuggles while you are watching movies, touches you tenderly, takes you to meet parents, let’s you into hir life? You are not in a(n exclusive) relationship. You are not and will not be partners. You might have the exquisite agony of watching your beloved embark on truly fucked up relationships (not with you), but you will not at some point love them into health and an epiphany on how to treat you well. I may speak from experience, and with someone I truly admired and still consider a friend (well, okay, after a period of great distance after being disgusted with their behavior towards all friends during one messed-up affair).

  47. sphinxxnz said:

    Hi LW. I think you are indeed overthinking, that is you are ignoring the intuition that things are not right with this relationship in favour of thinking of what could make it better.

    I know your intuition is sparking “Warning Warning Danger Danger” because you have written to Captain Awkward. That’s a dead giveaway that there is a problem. There is that pesky mismatch between what Greg says and what Greg does, always a bad sign. Intuition is not a perfect way to run your life: financial investments and quantum physics are not the realm of intuition, but it does very well for relationships. (I think that is what intuiton is for.)

    So to say “I want an emotional relationship; you can’t offer one; therefore these tentative advances must stop” is a perfectly reasonalbe position. You might be wrong, he could be wonderful, but why not concentrate on more available men? You are not International Emotional Rescue. And you are 23 so there is so much scope for meeting great people. Don’t shut yourself up with second best because you feel that he might be the best you will get.

    Begin this new phase of your life, of relationships and love, in the way you wish it to continue. Concentrate on honesty of word and deed and on seeking the best for yourself and your potential partner. It is an adventure. Listen to your own truth and it will be a great one.

  48. ism said:

    Relationship and emotional attachment thoughts aside, here’s my opinion on the question of casual sex/hookupstuff with this guy.

    As a virgin, IF you want to have sex or get more sexual experience along your discretionary road to eventual non-virginity… THEN this is NOT the guy to explore with. At the very least, do that with someone who is actually willing and able to do moderate emotional support. This could totally be a good, established platonic friendship, or an honest to goodness boyfriend. Up to you. But not Greg!

    I’m glad, personally, that my first time was with someone where we mutually and explicitly expressed and demonstrated care for each other’s feelings. That relationship didn’t last; alas youth; but if my first time had been with a guy like this Greg, I’d have learned a lot of bad lessons about my sexuality and my body and my intimacy and my boundaries (!) that might have stayed with me throughout life. Don’t start there. Start with someone who cares about these things and is willing to discuss them. Sex brings vulnerability with it and you don’t want that in his hands.

%d bloggers like this: