#869: “My friend kissed me and then told me I don’t share his values.”

Dear Captain Awkward,

Since February I’ve been meeting a guy I matched on Tinder a year ago. We live relatively far apart so become online friends for the first half year, chatting sporadically while dating other people who neither of us seemed invested in.

This spring, he messaged asking if we could meet as I would be in his city for an event. I found him very charismatic and attractive in person. He messaged later that night to say “I like you and find you very attractive.” He’d been out drinking so I didn’t take it too seriously. I thought it would be obvious that the feeling was mutual since I’d flirted a lot.

After that he made little effort to meet, so I went on a date with someone else. I assumed we were friendly again, so never hid this. It was only recently that he “relented” in his words and met up three more times. Meeting him always felt like going on a really good date with great chemistry, except he’d just kiss me on the cheek at the end.

After dropping a lot of hints, I realised I should start dating someone else in case nothing ever happened with him. I went on two dates with a nice, though slightly dull man who was enthusiastic about seeing me again. I’ve always found it easy to find dates, while my male friend allegedly gets no response on dating sites.

Last weekend we met up again, and he worked out that I’d been on a date the previous night. He complained that I was leading the other man on, and generally acted like a boyfriend all evening. He kissed me for an hour. I was delighted since I’d waited months for it.

However, two days later he announced “we’re just friends!” When I told him I don’t kiss my friends he responded that it had been a mistake, stating that I don’t share his values – giving my vegan diet, left wing political beliefs and dislike of big weddings as reasons. I was shocked. He added that there was no chemistry and he’d always just viewed me as a friend and was sorry for leading me on. When I mentioned his earlier message about finding me attractive the first time we met, he said “Isn’t that a nice thing to hear? I have no idea how you could read anything into that.”

He’s very old fashioned in terms of gender roles. He said I’d probably challenge him too much. I also get the feeling he’s implying I’m ‘slutty’ for kissing one man on Friday night and him the following evening.

Can I stay friends? He’s ignoring me today.

Hi there!

I get the feeling that this guy is a lot of work. “I don’t know where you got the idea I was attracted to you when all I did was tell you I was attracted to you and then act like I was attracted to you to the point of getting wicked jealous when you went on dates with another dude and then also making out with you.“The fact that he’s keeping such close track of alllllllllll the ways you are not a good fit for him (You don’t like big weddings? Sure. That’s a thing he’s not only clocked but is actively holding against you? HILARIOUS.) tells me that he’s thought about all of this waaaaaaaaaay more than you have.

Then he’s blaming you for accidentally slipping and falling against his willing, open mouth. No. It’s okay to make out with someone once or twice and then quoth “Nevermore.” But can we all agree that when a person makes out with you and then implies immediately afterward that there is something wrong/”slutty” about you for doing so, he forever disqualifies himself from all future sexy touching on your part? That is a “change his name to ‘HARD PASS’ in your phone contacts + NEVER TOUCH AGAIN + throw in a slight grimace when mentioning him to female friends who might be tempted to make out with him”-level offense.

You can do whatever you want here going forward, but I’d fall short of calling it a friendship. Friends have to meet a higher bar for good behavior than anything he’s doing. At the very least they have to own up to their emotions and behaviors and not try to pin them all on you and your “challenging””sluttiness.”  If he wants to be a good friend, he can stop ignoring you and then stop acting like your connection was all in your head, not necessarily in that order. He can throw out an “I’m sorry, I realize things got confusing there for a bit, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted and I’m sorry I didn’t communicate well,” too. You could maybe build a friendship from there, if you had enough in common.

Here’s my three step plan for getting him out of your system:

  1. Do not get in touch with him. If MR. HARD PASS gets in touch with you, fine, but do not chase after him in any way. Consider deleting his number from your phone (more as a measure to remove the temptation to check to see if he’s contacted you than anything else). Unfollow, hide feeds, make yourself invisible on IM programs, etc.
  2. Distract yourself. Idle hands are the Devil’s/Bad Idea Makeout Partner’s plaything. When you’re tempted to contact him, call/text/hang out with an actual friend – someone who is nice to you, someone who is not full of ulterior make-out motives, someone who makes you feel great, someone who can remind you what a friend is and does.
  3. Let some time go by. Chances are someone with all his good points in terms of chemistry with you and none of his annoying, confusing, double-standard points will come along into your life.

Six months from now, if you’re like “I really miss that one awkward dude and our talks about how challenging I am,” you know where to find him. Until then, chalk this up as one of those near misses that many of us have: A fleeting connection with an attractive person who was ultimately not for you.

I know your head is still a bit spun but I promise you will laugh about all of this very, very soon.



185 thoughts on “#869: “My friend kissed me and then told me I don’t share his values.”

  1. :S is literally the face I’m making at this dude.

    He’s allowed not to be into you. He’s allowed to have thought about how you’d be together and go “yeah, no.” He’s allowed to have changed his mind after you kissed.

    What is not allowed is the mixed messages. To me, it does sound like he actually IS into you, but is rationalising it away for whatever reason. Whatever, it’s not your problem and all you can do is react to what he presents on the surface. Also, he’s gas-lighting you (I have, on occasion, told my friends they look hot. But not that I find them hot, that would be weird) in his effort to… do whatever it is that he’s doing. Really Not OK.

    He’s not being honest with you. Whether it’s because he’s fundamentally dishonest OR because he doesn’t have the emotional maturity to deal is irrelevant. Do you honestly want someone like that for a friend?

    (Also, I would have severe reservations about someone who judges what they think of as promiscuity, even as a friend. DEFINITELY not as a partner. You’ve dodged a bullet here, LW.)

    1. This is also what I take from this situation, with an added thought that his whatever reason for rationalizing away that he’s into you is that you weren’t immediately, obviously, and enthusiastically into him right back and now he might be WRONG. And VULNERABLE. And it is very important not to be this, so you must have made it all up as he is always visibly right.

      1. People who can’t deal with ever being wrong are NOT WORTH dealing with. The world is large and confusing, especially when it comes to stuff like what’s going on in other people’s heads, so all of us are wrong about things pretty much constantly. (On any given day, I tend to be wrong about nine things before breakfast.) Anyone so out of touch with such a basic part of being human is going to be a huuuuuge amount of work to work around.

  2. When someone tells you they find you attractive, and you assume that means they find you attractive, that’s called “a working knowledge of English vocabulary,” not “reading into” anything.

    1. N’thd the negging – perhaps it’s a conscious strategy, perhaps he just loves seeing you dance for his attention and trial and error has taught him that this kind of push me-pull you game will keep you off balance and determined to prove your worthiness.

      This is an exhausting and tedious dance, full of badly performed drama and confusion. It doesn’t end well, either, just in a heap of wasted time and hurt feelings. OP, you’ve good options and prospects here, and they probably don’t involve forcing yourself into a box of his making. Maybe in the future you could be friends, once he’s leveled up a couple of times in emotional maturity, but don’t put yourself out on his behalf. Go meet dude C through Z instead – there’ll be at least a couple of attractive, charasmatic guys who don’t play games with your interest in that cohort.

  3. I wonder whether this could be an elaborate form of negging? Keep ’em guessing so they’re always dancing frantically, seeking approval.

    1. Yes, I was thinking that this is a keeping-you-off-guard-and-exhausted strategy. Welcome to a wonderful world called “going out with me is an exercise in guessing and constantly being told you’ve failed to live up to an imaginary rule I just made up in my head”.

      LW, you can find much better friends than this!

    2. I was thinking exactly this, too. Dude wants to be chased, desired, whatever. He maybe reckons that the longer he stays just tantalisingly out of reach, the harder you’ll fall for him and/or want to make sexytimes with him. Then when he gets that kiss, he expertly pills back just enough to make LW freak out and have to write in to an advice page. Joke is on him though, because LW chose the infinitely wise Captain who actually gives the advice they need to hear.

        1. Still, though, a guy manipulating a woman this badly AND constantly blaming and criticizing her for everything he decides is missing from this (for lack of a better word) ‘relationship’… “Pills back” is an appropriate term for the sudden about-face after a period of affectionate behavior. 😛

          1. *HERE

            (What’s that rule about commenting on someone else’s grammar/spelling issues on the internet? ;))

    3. Add me to the list of people thinking this is some especially complicated negging.

    4. Coming here to say this exact thing.

      Especially combined with ‘I’m not interested, but I’m gonna judge you for not hanging around just in case I might be’, and ‘I made out with you, but you’re the one who gets judged for it’… like, eff THAT.

  4. People who do anything that could be mistaken for negging are way too much hard work, particularly when there are people who are much less work out there to appreciate the awesome that is you.

    1. As I’ve said many a time recently about someone who shall remain nameless: when your presidential campaign slogan basically a big ol’ PUA-type pick up line in the form of negging, it’s time to find another campaign slogan. I don’t need to be great again, thank you. I am cool with how great I am already.

      1. Wow, I had never before made the connection between negging and that slogan – what a great point.

        Oh, and also, yes, heartily seconding the idea that if you have to wonder whether or not someone is negging you, that someone belongs squarely in the “do not contact, is not your friend” category.

        LW, my ultimate bet is that this guy is some combination of insecure/controlling, and he (a) has lots of feels about potentially being the less-conventionally-attractive/less-desired partner in a pair, so he’s trying to set the stage for you to end up being the one who feels less-than so he can feel good; and/or (b) he’s into PUA b/s. Either way, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do collect more dates with other dudes who recognize your awesomeness and don’t disparage you for being you.

          1. PUA stands for pickup artist. Negging is a technique they use to bring down their target’s self-esteem, either via a backhanded compliment (“You’re pretty cute for a fat chick”) or am attempt to make them want to prove themselves (“I bet you’re too stuck up to talk to a guy like me”.)

            MRAs are Men’s Rights Activists.

          2. MRAs are “men’s rights activists,” a nice term they use in an attempt to hide the fact that they’re raging misogynists. PUAs are “pick-up artists” who basically treat women like objects on a gaming board. They use various “techniques” to get women into bed. One of those is “negging” whereby they chip away at someone’s self-esteem by making them feel bad about themselves until they finally give in and sleep with the guy on the basis that they’ve been led to believe that nobody else will want them or their standards have been too high for someone as worthless as themselves. It’s actually a worryingly powerful psychological technique.

          3. PUA – pick-up artist = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seduction_community#Pickup_artist (Basically emotionally manipulative, douchy game-playing in the name of stringing women along.)

            Negging – basically a backhanded compliment. Used by PUAs to make their targets feel insecure enough to want to date them.

            MRA – “men’s rights activist.” The kind of dude who complains about “feminazis” and “SJWs” oppressing men.

  5. Oh, lordy mcgordy, LW. This guy. My thoughts as I read through your message went like this:

    He’s got a girlfriend and is test-driving whether or not he wants to cheat.

    He broke up with his girlfriend, went out with you, then got back together with her.

    He’s a controlling jerk who is gaslight ingredients you because it’s a good way to groom friends/dates to accept more bad behavior.

    He is a self hating purity convention planner.

    He is a graduate of an off-brand PUA-type seminar who is practising his techniques for the MRA Olympics.

    He’s making you his back burner option when you’re actually a front burner, power-boil kind of lady.

    He’s really unclear on what he wants and who he likes and is gaslighting you to try and make himself comfortable.

    He wants to want to date women like you/women in general, but actually wants to date some other kind of person or no one at all.

    All those possibilities are interesting but ultimately irrelevant because the fact is, he’s not being nice to you and that’s what matters most.

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that for me personally, when relationshaping, I feel best when:

    * The person isn’t using plausible deniability tactics to obfuscate what they want from me.

    *That they own their share of the emotional work from the get-go, including admitting liking me and setting up dates.

    *They realize their preferences and values are personal, not laws of physics, and don’t judge other people, including date persons, for their consensual preferences.

    *My owning my desires and preferences and expecting people to not judge me for them is either what they expect or a pleasant then liberating surprise.

    *They tell me what’s on their mind (kindly or enthuiastically), then let me form my own reaction. They don’t try to mediate how I am going to respond or make assumptions about how I will react.

    Your Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps Fella doesn’t appear to be able to get over any of those bars. Rather than wonder what even is up with his (not so) rational(e) for your not being a good fit because values, ask yourself… what are your values? What do you appreciate about date-persons? What things do date-persons do to make you feel safe and welcome in their social space? How do you want your perspective on sex and kissing and relationshipping to develop as a result of dating right now?

    I have a feeling, whatever your values, this dude will struggle to get over your bars.

    So, can you stay friends witrh this fellow? I guess you can try? But you can also nope out and find people who actually like you, and act like it.

    Good luck, LW! I believe that you can do this!

    1. I love your criteria! Spelled out like that, they sound like Human Interactions 101. Actually, I’m tempted to print them out under such a title and give out to friends playing “let’s read the tea leaves of his eyes and sighs and stares”.

      1. Oh, thank you! That’s nice to hear. Trust, it’s hard won knowledge that formed that list.

        I forgot to add: by and large tells you “this is what I want and need/this is what I can and can’t offer.” Then let’s you decide and express if those are things you can accept. It’s not that they shouldn’t try and [not say or do suboptimal things]. It’s that “this would be great except [major insurmountable thing]” or “can I figure out what they want and contort myself to give it to them” are bad premises for good relationships.

        ie, tea leaves are terrible relationship guides, as you say.

      2. Auuuuughhhh I love this list too. The last time I was single I spent SO MUCH TIME reading tea leaves. It didn’t occur to me until just a few years ago that, while it can be great fun (especially in the early stages of flirtation), spending a lot of time analyzing every confusing text or odd behavior is a lot of emotional labor that I really don’t NEED to do (or enlist my friends to help with). I have a whole rant I bust out sometimes about how “He’s just not that into you” and (the much better, less-gender-specific/heteronormative, often-used-here-for-good-reason!) “People who like you will act like they like you” are fine platitudes are far as they go, but a lot of times they answer the wrong question. That is, the question implied by both answers is, “Why did this person I like just do this thing? Does it mean they like me or does it mean they don’t like me? Or is there some other reason I haven’t even thought about, like, say, maybe he has something in his background that makes him feel very conflicted about sexuality so he vascillates between trying to make out with his friends and then shaming them for reciprocating?”

        As it turns out, I am really good at people-watching games AND I am very good at coming up with possible reasons a person might do something the other person involved will find really weird or baffling! There was a chunk of a couple of years in my late 20s when I spent a lot of time engaging and fretting over men whose behavior confused me so much I found it FASCINATING. In hindsight I could have flexed the same mental muscles doing writing exercises in my journal, involving imaginary people, and spent my social time meeting real people who weren’t so much work.

        But anyway! What I realized is that a better question than “Why did this person say this thing, but then do that thing?” is “How do *I* feel about the thing that person just did?” Because I can speculate about another person’s emotions and motivations, but I can’t ACTUALLY know what’s in their head and heart. But I can know what’s in MINE, and I can choose to act based on how their behavior makes me feel. Also: a lot of my youthful tea-leaf-reading could probably have been avoided if I had simply done the work of saying, “I’m confused, what do you mean when you say (confusing thing)?” That’s 100% on me, I think. But from what I can see the LW did their best to clear the air and is still feeling confused, so there probably isn’t anywhere to go from there.

    2. Self hating purity convention planner was where I was thinking. Kisses you and then calls you promiscuous because you also kiss other people when you don’t have an established relationship with this guy? It’s almost like he was testing you. If she doesn’t kiss me, she’s frigid. If she kisses me, she’s a whore.

      1. I suspect it’s a more straightforward situation of extremely divergent double standards. That’s enough to be a deal breaker on its own, and it’s only one of the red flags here.

        1. I think I had that filed under he’s being controlling, in my head. But you are so right. That’s a plenty bad thing right there, and there doesn’t need to be any other red flag on a toothpick of doom to hold this guy’s club sandwich of relationship disaster together.

      1. That is a term from a series that ran on The Hairpin ages ago. So that’s not from me!

    3. Everything about this is gorgeous. My bff and I had a day where we went down the manosphere rabbit hole and now see MRAs everywhere – it’s like a (terrifying) game now.

      The prose, relationshaping, the adult beliefs and communication you are using, I want to be you when I grow up.

      1. Aw, thank you for the nice words. I am crossing my digits you don’t have to go through the Being Insecure Phase I had to go through to get there. Or, the In Need of Serious Counseling Era, or the Drawing Boundaries Learning Curve, or the Tunnel of Accepting Emotionally Unavailable Crumbs.

        Being where I am makes me really happy, though, even if I tried a whole lot of less quality procedures before I got here.

        1. “you don’t have to go through the Being Insecure Phase I had to go through to get there. Or, the In Need of Serious Counseling Era, or the Drawing Boundaries Learning Curve, or the Tunnel of Accepting Emotionally Unavailable Crumbs”.
          This is great! I want to read your book….

        2. i am just now coming out of the Tunnel of Accepting Emotionally Unavailable Crumbs and let me tell you, the light at the end of that tunnel is DELIGHTFUL. i plan to ride my bike in it all summer long

  6. Oh, memmmmmories….
    Like the corners of my mind
    Misty watercolor memories
    Of the way we were

    Anyway. He gave you mixed signals. He doesn’t seem to know what he wants. Maybe he wants to be with you, but also wants things that are (or he feels are incompatible with!) being with you.

    That doesn’t have to be your problem.

    I am strongly reminded of an acquaintance who denied he was attracted to me after several makeout sessions. He was also fat, but wanted to be a) thin b) marry a thin, straight, conservative woman who would help him c) achieve his goal to get promoted to a senior pastor position. Yes, he viewed his attraction to me was a problem that prevented his fantasy from coming true. Yes, I decided I had an elsewhere to be. I’m very glad of this.

  7. “Can I stay friends?”

    Oh sweetheart, why would you want that? Swipe him away! He has messed with your head, has judges you for meeting other guys while you’re single (OMG! The horror!), doesn’t share your core values, and has apparently had your wedding all planned out?

    Block him. Delete his number. Take your phone battery out and put it into a blender (pulse setting should do the trick), send your phone and other Internet capable devices on a little holiday to the centre of the Sun, and then get on with your life! I know you clicked with him, you felt a connection and you feel bummed out, but there are many, many fun, gorgeous, and witty out there in the world. Someone is waiting for you; someone who will respect and share your values and goals. I promise.

    Trust me, you’re better off without him.

    1. So much this. Upvoted.

      I had the same response to “Can I stay friends?”: why? Why would you want to be with someone who practices gaslighting as a recreational hobby? This guy will never treat you respectfully because his words don’t meet up with his actions.

      And it doesn’t matter why they don’t. That’s just how it is.

      He’s not a friend to you, and he never will be. Block, ignore, leave; find someone who really cares for you.

    2. Many of us are asking that, why would LW want to stay friends? Or “friends”, really. Having been here, done that (ugh) I would say the answer is in her letter: he’s charismatic. That’s nothing to sneeze at, it can be the sort of thing that pulls you right in. If you find someone charismatic, you’re willing to put up with a lot, unfortunately.

      The other reason i Psychology 101 : intermittent reinforcement. I’m not making a joke, it’s the reinforcement pattern that works the strongest. So with these two things going on, it’s hard to not want to stay with the person, despite what your rational brain and caring friends suggest (urge!). When a charsimatic intermittent reinforcer gets under your skin and into your unconscious, it’s can have the quality of an addiction. And as with addictions, even the idea of letting go, getting rid of, makes one shudder with the imagined emptiness of being without.

      Best of luck LW, getting this crazy monkey relationship off your back. Cold turkey, as suggested by many here (cut him out completely, delete number, etc. ) is your best, albeit unpleasant for a while, bet. I’m rooting for you!

      1. Thank you! I’m sure nobody means it this way, but I feel like asking “why would they want to stay friends?” is a much more mild version of “why doesn’t she just leave her abuser?” Maybe it hasn’t gotten to Cycle-of-Violence levels of abuse, but zephyr is 100% on point with charisma + intermittent reinforcement = a powerful drug.

        I very much second all the advice for LW to drop this guy cold-turkey and get him out of her system, but I don’t blame the LW for not immediately jumping to that conclusion.

        1. It was meant in a “You’re clearly an intelligent, likeable young woman who is (apparently) socially adept, so why waste time with Little Lord Vomitsponge” way. 1am me isn’t as coherent as normally medicated, well-rested me. Sorry.

        2. I think too that as has been discussed here in prior Darth conversations (not wanting to upvote this guy to Darth; he may be, but that’s out of the scale of the letter), EVERYONE has some good in them, and if the good in someone else is something that resonates with you, then it’s hard to let go of that. (I would also add that I am the sort of person who almost never does the African Violet to a friendship, and am comfortable keeping someone I’m fond of but that I know has serious flaws in my friends group at a distant spot on the outside fringes so I can enjoy The Good In Them while not letting it trash the rest of my life. This may or may not work in this situation, but I understand the desire.)

      2. This is such an important point. I don’t think the guy is acting like a friend (or good boyfriend/sexytimes material) but there’s a reason the LW was attracted and she’s not silly for being attracted.

        1. Oh I didn’t think she was being silly, just that he does not deserve a microsecond of her time.

          Sadly I couldn’t add to that comment, to add just that sentiment in the form of a little Addendum, because it was in the spam trap. My reply to Zephyr seems to have just landed there too!

      3. I described my relationship with a charsimatic intermittent reinforce (love that phrase, BTW!) as being in an emotional skinner box. I’d hit the “button” (sending a text, IM, whatever), and sometimes – but only sometimes – they’d respond. So I kept hitting the button, trying to figure out how to get more emotional pellets.

        I actually *explained* this to the pellet dispenser in question, because *surely* they weren’t doing it on purpose and would help with the problem, right? Noooope. It was just a sign of me being crazy, and wasn’t it nice of them to listen to me about it even though they shouldn’t have to put up with me being so needy all the time?

      4. That comment I made was only the third one at the time, but it got Spam-snagged, that’s why it looks like I was Nothing everyone else’s reaction.

        Also, I actually know a great deal about positive reinforcement, having devoted a lsubstantial portion of my (all too brief) time in academia to studying Skinnerian conditioning WRT gaming (in both senses of the word, so in video gaming as well as in licensed gaming/gambling). So my “Why?” wasn’t so much a “someone please explain human relationship dynamics” as it was a rhetorical, sad old lady headshake at how an apparently intelligent, likeable, and attractive young woman has been played by some Pick Up Arsehole.

        One more thing, not sure if I’ve asked before, but ‘haversack’ is really regionally specific. North-Easterner? That would make this a small world indeed.

      5. Coming from someone who didn’t even get to the make-out stage with a fairly decent dude who was actually quite nice about letting me know he wasn’t interested: Rejection sucks. Even when the guy in question wasn’t a Sith lord in the making, it still sucks. I thought he was into me, or at least the tea leaves suggested he might be, but I was also chicken that we’d “lose a great friendship” and also make it really awkward because we were part of a bigger group and I wanted to be able to keep hanging out with them.

        Then I eventually got up the courage to ask him out, he shot me down. Said he only liked me as a “friend” and I clung onto that. I tried hanging out with him in that capacity, and I failed miserably. Then he got a gorgeous girlfriend and I still tried hanging out, and it was even more miserable. I eventually had to stop hanging out with the whole lot of friends, and made myself feel bad because nobody reached out to see how I was doing.

        The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, you don’t need to have had many profound interactions to feel invested in a relationship and wanting to salvage as much of it as you can (at least that’s what happened with me.) It gives you hope that after the awkwardness has passed, you can have a good relationship.

        I still hope. Stupidly. Not for love but maybe for friendship. Stupid, maybe, but totally human.

        I’m pretty sure that in order to be friends, both people need to put in an effort to hang out and talk without doublespeak and hot-n-cold signals. If the dude really did view the LW as just a friend, he would have owned up and shown a bit of respect for her by not gaslighting her.

  8. Methinks it is like a weasel.

    Seriously, you don’t share his values? Good for you, because his values are garbage. Likewise, I have serious doubts that he actually views you as a ‘friend’ – he may have said that, but the way he is treating you is not the way a person treats their friends.

    Think about it this way – in a way, you’re lucky. You’ve learned he’s a shithead now, rather than after getting into a long-term relationship and possibly/probably being emotionally abused.

  9. I get the impression that he is quite seriously attracted to you, doesn’t want to be, and has the confused idea that because the problem (in his mind) is your values, it should be upon you to somehow solve this problem.

    Unfortunately, his idea of a solution is for you to take all the blame and accept whatever version of events he’s currently trying to convince himself of.

    Except the actual problem is HIS values. Which are that it’s okay to mess people around if you’re conflicted, and that conservative = pure and any emotional discomfort about sexual contact should be loaded onto the ‘impure’ one. Which is coveniently not him, despite the fact that he’s the one who’s been making out against his beliefs.

    You were right the first time: friends don’t treat friends like a discomfort Kleenex. Kick him out of your social calendar and hold out for people who are both interesting and nice.

    1. I agree. It’s really great if you have the intellectual and emotional maturity to realize that the person you are attracted to is not a good fit to you, and that any attempt to have a serious relationship might lead to heartbreak. But, after you accept this, you have basically three ethical choises:

      a) you tell this person that you are not compatible, sever ties and go your own way to find a more suitable partner.

      b) you you tell this person that you are not compatible and remain friends. This requires that you have the maturity to act like an actual friend to someone you are attracted to, as in, you don’t express romantic/sexual interest in them or jealoucy/disapproval of their romantic/sexual life and you especially don’t engage in romantic/sexual activities with them. Generally, you resolutely squash anything remotely romantic/sexual about your relationship.

      c) you tell this person that you are not compatible as long terms partners and, supposing the other person is agreeable, you have a fling to get it out of your system and then move on. This carries a risk that you might end up in love with an incomatible partner (also the possibility that you can compromise on your differences, but it’s better not to bank on that).

      This guy is very attracted in the LW, but believes they are not the right partner for him; so far, so good. But instead of dealing with it like an adult, he is being a jerk: “we are friends”, “I find you attractive”, “I am jealous of your dates”, “let’s make out”, “we are only friends” “your values are not good”, “you are too promiscuous”.

    2. “I get the impression that he is quite seriously attracted to you, doesn’t want to be, and has the confused idea that because the problem (in his mind) is your values, it should be upon you to somehow solve this problem.”

      Spot on.

    3. This was my impression as well. I went to a VERY small college with a large contingent of VERY Southern Baptist dudes, and had several dates like this, where the guy was definitely interested and we “did things” and then felt VERY guilty about those things and blamed me for it because he had done things that were against his values, but not against his desires. One even wanted me to pray for forgiveness afterwards, which, no.

      The only solution, though, is to walk away from these guys. They have to either (a) make peace with themselves about the gap between their beliefs and their desires or (b) change one of those things, and either way, you don’t want to be around for it.

  10. Bullet dodged, LW. Don’t go throwing yourself into its path again.

    1. Dating ≠ Calvinball

      Yes! Very astute observation.

      Friendship ≠ Calvinball
      Family ≠ Calvinball
      I could go on…

    2. Best shorthand for this dynamic ever.

      Calvinball in the right context is fun. Everywhere else, it’s really, really not.

  11. I know you shouldn’t see a conspiracy every time someone is acting like a jackass, but… My money is on this being a deliberate strategy, predicated on a boatload of lies and half-truths and “I’m telling you what you want to hear, apart from when I’m not”, with a sprinkling of gaslighting. Does he want you to fall madly for him because he’s so unreachable?

    My money’s also on this being the reason he’s finding it hard to date other people… which may be why he keeps resurfacing like a bad penny. Provided he *is* finding it hard to date other people, which is in no way a given that dood seems to make a habit of saying stuff that is untrue (“I find you attractive” is only confusing if you’re somewhere with large magnets, and wearing a suit of armour).

    If this is all the result of dood not knowing what he wants, or fighting some kind of inner struggle… that doesn’t make it any better. That would, in fact, make him Chorey McChore, because you’d have to assume that that’s his normal way of handling anything potentially difficult, and that if he changes his mind about something after he’s started it, he will drop it without remorse.

    Maybe he’s not a bad person. But if he doesn’t know what he wants, or doesn’t know if he really really wants it, and he’s happy making you pay for the consequences of his uncertainty, I think that makes him a potentially very difficult partner, and probably too hard work even as a friend. He doesn’t seem to be acting like a friend now. Friends don’t risk breaking their friends’ hearts to scratch an itch.

  12. Run, LW, run. This guy sounds almost exactly like my ex of 3-and-half years. When he declined when I asked him out at first, he said stuff like “but let’s be friends!” and “but I like you a lot, just like a friend!”. It turned out that his “friends” involved a lot of cuddling, looking-into-my-eyes-longingly-and-sighing, and finally an actual relationship. It was the worst idea I had ever had (and I had microwaved an egg). The next 3,5 years (we even were engaged for two of these) he told me constantly things like:
    – I just like you, I don’t love you, but now I have to be with you because we slept together [he was very Catholic]
    – my true love is this girl from my junior high, look I just made an entire website devoted to her
    – you’re my true love, and thus I’ll be unhappy forever
    – you got fat and so I don’t love you anymore
    It was exhausting and confusing, and when he finally came to me and told me that he had slept with another girl and he doesn’t love me, to which I reacted with what I think was an appropriate “so it’s over, then? do you want the ring back?” HE was supposedly the one whose heart I callously broke. And also afterwards he came to me for “platonic” (no like hell they were) cuddles even while dating that other girl. Or living with her.

    (Also when somebody tells you “you’d probably challenge me too much” TRUST THEM AND RUN.)

    1. “and I had microwaved an egg” Lolololololololol

      As for the rest of your post, OMG, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. He sounds AWFUL. Wow. Thank goodness he is in the past tense.

      1. The egg thing was pretty terrible, true. 🙂 And concerning my ex: yeah, it sucked big time, and while I still regret some things that relationship caused me to do, it’s over and now I have a wonderful husband, two cuddly cats, pretty good job and so on – and some of these things are because I, for example, chose a degree that would have me close to ex-from-hell… [I really didn’t have great decision-making skills then). Also, I can sometimes think “man, I haven’t married that dude.” and feel all smart.

        LW, learn from my mistakes: just run from the guy, don’t waste your time on decoding him.

        1. The “microwaving” anecdote reminded me of one of my “jerk ex” stories. One of the truisms in his family was that his mom was The Dumb One. And truthfully, she was sometimes a bit careless, or whiny, or forgetful. And the moments in which she acted that way would get retold over and over again, including The Time She Tried To Microwave a Frozen Meal Still in Its Box. And yes, it’s a silly, inadvisable, possibly semi-dangerous thing. But it didn’t make her The Stupidest Person Ever.
          (Certainly it wasn’t as unwise as flunking out of college…twice.)
          But assholes-in-relationships, people who date people who they feel contempt for, people who maybe feel contempt for the entire damn world (or at least the subsets of it that they don’t belong to) because that’s how they were raised…they use stories about other people as subtle or not-so-subtle teaching tools for their partners. “My mom is an idiot” stories were a template for me–they were him saying “don’t you ever be anything less than 100% on your A-game, because otherwise I will ridicule you about it forever.” And no one is at 100% all the time.
          People shouldn’t have to be fake around their partners and friends. This guy in the letter sounds like he wants the LW to be someone different than she really is, and that’s not the basis for anything good.

      2. Sorry, an aside – try micrrowaving masacara to ‘soften it up and make it last longer’. Open it at your own peril. Midnight-black jet pack fuel! All over!

        1. My father told us that the correct length of time to microwave a potato is “until it explodes; next time, one minute less.” I’m still not sure if that’s some kind of deep philosophical statement on life or not, but it’s stuck in my memory really effectively.

          1. You can tell your father that he just made a stranger spit her coffee all over her keyboard.

          2. I have pleaded with my housemate not to microwave batteries, even “just for a few seconds”, to recharge them. I have shown him YouTube videos. He has maintained that those people just didn’t know what they were doing. He is 55.

    2. Also when somebody tells you “you’d probably challenge me too much” TRUST THEM AND RUN.

      Exactly. The correct answer to that is “Okay then, bye!” followed by never contacting the person again. Go find somebody who wants to be challenged by you, or better yet, doesn’t feel threatened by how awesome you are in the first place!

      1. yeah that’s the thing, it’s like a reverse friendzoning / grooming tactic. “You challenge me too much” is a neg looking for the answer “I’ll change for you, just let’s be A Thing Together” and once you’ve accepted the premise of not just doing but BEING what he wants, he’s in the driver’s seat and you’re in the trunk.

        Run, LW. Ride like the wind, into the sunset, take a few selfies while you’re there, and then keep on going.

        1. suddenly realizing that “you challenge me to much” is fishing for “sorry, I’ll be easier.”

          and like, wow. just. no.

          1. Yeah, it means “until you mould yourself into a person who is and does exactly what *I* want then I’m not going to give you what *you* want.”

    3. ‘Also when somebody tells you “you’d probably challenge me too much” TRUST THEM AND RUN’

      THIS OMG.

      Also: ‘you challenge me too much’ = ‘I can’t be bothered to keep up and will blame you for my discomfort about that’. KTHXBAI.

      1. If you don’t want to be challenged and grow, perhaps relationships with other humans aren’t for you.

        1. THIS. Oh my goodness, this. And I wish someone had told me this 10 years ago, when I could not for the life of me figure out why my relationships with AMAAAAZINGGG guys weren’t working out. It took me years to discover that i was deliberately seeking out people *exactly like me* (or as close as possible). The relationships stagnated VERY quickly and it took me years to figure out that it was at least partly because we had nothing to learn from each other and nowhere to grow.

          My husband and I challenge each other every day. For example, he challenges me by being extremely quiet and being content to hardly speak a word all evening. As a result? I have grown to communicate better without words, to listen to body language and to help encourage him to communicate with me in other ways. I think we have both learned a lot from each other.

  13. 1. I’m so glad someone brought up Calvinball. That was my thought too. Y’all are my tribe!

    2. LW, suppose you had initiated the kissing instead of waiting for him to start it. That could have resulted in (a) more kissing and (b) finding out earlier that Mr. Calvinball is a jealous gaslighter.

  14. LW, here’s how I envision this “friendship” going:

    Dude gets snippy when you go out with other guys, and acts like your boyfriend. Dude then insists afterwards that he never SAID he wanted to be your boyfriend, and that you’re not his type/too slutty/not good enough for him.

    Maybe you’ll pass up opportunities to meet great people because Dude is living rent free in your head. Dude then has you at his disposal.

    Dude will decide that it’s fine for him to do things (like kiss or have sexytimes) with you but the fact that you’re doing it means you’re a slut.

    Dude will bring the dramz.

    Do you want to live like this? I sure wouldn’t! A friend wouldn’t treat you like this. And let’s face it-you’re not interested in being friends; it sounds like you want more. That’s fine! But he’s said he doesn’t want more (though I think he wants more on his terms and he won’t ever be a real boyfriend to you).

    This is the second time in a week I’m telling someone to ghost, but fuck it. He’s not even worth the effort of informing that you’re not interested. Just block his number and email, block his profile, block him on all social media. Do fun things, hang out with your friends, have more dates, and move on from this PUA trainwreck. He’s beneath you.

  15. I wish to comment on this one bit of bizarro-quasi-negging as no-one else seems to have mentioned it yet:

    It was only recently that he “relented” in his words and met up three more times.

    What the actual fuck? Did he use those words at the time (“Okay, I’m going to relent and grant your humble supplications to meet up, but don’t let it go to your head or anything”) or later (“I didn’t want to meet up! I was going to remain stern and aloof, in my citadel of manly mystery! But I relented for a moment, several times, just like I relented and kissed you for an hour but I didn’t want to really”)?

    Either way: what the actual fuck. Friends meet up because they find each other’s company mutually enjoyable, not because one of them is “relenting” from their iron resolve to not meet up because of reasons (and then the other person’s supposed to be grateful for the favour, or ashamed of having imposed, or … what the fuck).

    Also: maybe this dude is all conflicted and confused about what he wants. This is perfectly possible. The thing is not to be suckered by it into hopefulness: “Maybe he *is* super-attracted to me, but he’s all conflicted! If I hang on and spend hours and days obsessing over what he might be feeling and trying to analyse his inner conflicts and not getting interested in anyone else, maybe I’ll be able to work out what’s happening in his head, and maybe there’ll be more kissing and maybe in the end he’ll come to realize that he does want me …”

    But the nature of such dudes (of any gender) is that, in the immortal words of Gertude Stein re: Oakland, there is no there there. Whatever vague half-arsed feelings he may or may not have for you are not worth a fraction of the effort you are likely to put into trying to figure them out.

    And you deserve better than someone’s half-arsed interest.

    1. Yes! I dated this guy, and then obsessed over him for three years and you just put into words perfectly the dynamic he engendered. It’s so frustrating to have someone act like this – the jealousy, the saying how attracted to you they are, but you’re always made to feel as though you are imposing. These guys suck. Don’t date these guys.

    2. I’m reading the “relent” a bit like Frollo and Esmeralda in the Disney movie… like, dude thinks LW isn’t “right for him”–that she’s too left-leaning, too non-traditional, etc… but she’s just SO TEMPTING! He just…gave in. To her untamed wiles!

      tbh, I have no idea how a relationship between a right-leaning dude and a left-leaning lady is even supposed to work. I figure they caaaan but…it seems like a lot of headache and heartache.

      1. Loled at untamed wiles!

        It’s possible. Spouse and I are a conservative/liberal couple. It takes a lot of understanding that it’s not so much that the other person is wrong, as that they have different ideas about accomplishing similar goals. Also a bedrock of respect and trust that the other person’s life experience informs their views.
        We share beliefs around personal autonomy, and people having the right to do or not do what they want with their own body and life, which helps a lot.

        1. Ah, I can see that. I guess it’s just more, like, if Conservative also means Has Certain Expectations About Gender Roles, etc. (Well, that, and if Liberal Woman didn’t personally /want/ to fall into those gender roles, since I have a couple of very feminist friends who are also more than happy in a more traditional role in their relationship because that works for them.)

          1. That’s interesting, because I can totally see being like “hey, this traditional role really works for me” so you’re in a relationship with someone who also prefers that…but I imagine it would be very hard for most feminists/left leaning people to be in a relationship with somebody who believed that *all* relationships should be traditional. Like, even if I wanted to fall into traditional roles I would still have a problem with somebody who’s attitude was “yeah, all women should X” as opposed to “I like X roles in my personal relationship.”

      2. From what I understand, it CAN work, but only if you have something else to base the relationship on, like, I dunno, actually CARING about the other person and liking their company. I’m thinking specifically of The Blogess and Victor here; they clearly like and care about each other, so their leftiness/rightiness doesn’t seem to be a big hindrance.

        For me, though, I couldn’t be bothered if that was something that came up at the START of a relationship. This dude… LW, I highly suggest you do whatever you need to to get him out of your system. Go to Costa Rica for three months or join the Peace Corps or something; it’ll be much more enjoyable than twisting yourself into a pretzel to try to “earn” his approval.

      3. “but she’s just SO TEMPTING”

        Yeah. I had a very brief fling with a guy like that once. He was on the rebound from a recent break up (yeah, I know…), and he held significantly more religious and conservative beliefs than he let on when we met.

        At the time, I was mostly looking for something casual and low-key and was very up front about that. At first he said he wasn’t into casual sex but wanted to get to know me as a friend. I was fine with that. He very quickly progressed to enthusiastically initiating make out sessions and then sex (all the while with me asking him if he was sure he really wanted that, given his earlier statements.) The day after we had sex the first time, he freaked out about how he thought having casual sex made him a bad person etc. etc. We met a few more times for platonic activities, and then he enthusiastically initiates sex again (and did an “are you sure” check in again.) The day after that, he flips out again, so I completely cut things off and never spoke to him again.

        1. … Did we somehow sleep with the same guy?

          Mine actually pulled the ‘but we slept together, I thought we were going to get married!’ line when I broke up with him. Like… NOPE. (Also, considering that the prior 2 months had been full of me saying ‘I think we are incompatible and have different life goals and maybe should discuss that’ and him avoiding the conversation… I have no idea where the marriage idea even came from.)

      1. Your cat has a fortress of solitude too? Mine likes my shower, and evicting her is hard. She does that weight manipulation thing that cats do, and is suddenly extra hard to shift. She avoids all the other cats by being there.

  16. I’m reading this and remembering all the previous letters where various gross individuals have accused LWs of ‘leading them on’ or kind, generous LWs have fretted about whether they are ‘leading him on’. I’m torn between googling for quotes on getting ‘leading you on is not a thing’ written on the moon and thinking maybe it is a thing after all? Cos that’s what this looks like.

    That said, even if this dude *was* leading the LW on, I notice that the LW’s response is to take the no at face value, then go *elsewhere* for analysis and advice, and question their own behaviour with the ultimate aim of taking care of themself while respecting his boundaries. So maybe ‘leading on’ can be a thing, but whatever it is, it is far less important than treating people with respect and decency and not using hurt feelings as a stick to beat people with. Huh, howabout that.

    LW, the captain is so right. It may feel like a bad thing that this dude is apparently not into you after all, but imagine how exhausting he would be in a relationship if he can’t even agree on what ‘I’m attracted to you’ means. The gaslighting, the demands for mind-reading, yeesh, you do not need it in your life.

  17. LW, this dude either cannot make up his mind at all ever, or he is deliberately stringing you along. If you tried to be friends with him, I don’t really see him going, “Oh ok then” and becoming a good non-manipulative friend. I think instead you would be signing up for even more mixed messages and manipulation. You don’t need that in your life.

    On the plus side, it seems like you have plenty of options in the dating world and plenty of opportunities to make new connections, so there’s really no need to pursue any kind of friendship or relationship with this dude. I say let him slink off in a sulk and concentrate on meeting other people (or being single if that’s what you feel like instead).

  18. “He complained that I was leading the other man on….However, two days later he announced he’d always just viewed me as a friend….” What a shitty friend. You know what I’ve never done to my friends? Accused them of misleading their dates because I think they can’t possibly be romantically interested in another person given their overwhelming attraction to me. “I have no feelings for you, but you’re being really unfair to that dude given that you’re totally smitten with me. But since I’m generous, I’ll overlook your flaws and my lack of attraction and make out with you for a while.”

    And that egocentric interpretation is pretty much the best case scenario here. Lousy friend, lousier love interest.

    1. Yeah, there’s no charitable interpretation of “Lets make out, nope we’re just friends, why are you dating people you disgusting slut, let’s make out.”

  19. I am honestly wondering is this is my high school ex. Because this was his M.O. back then: we were friends, no we were making out, no were just friends and he had just “slipped up” because I was so damned HOT, no I wasn’t really that hot, he was just tempted because of Reasons and why did I go out with that guy last week anyway?

    LW, I spent all of high school doing a dance with this guy. It didn’t go well at all, for me or for him. It doesn’t matter whether he’s doing it because he’s consciously negging or because he’s just a messed up dude who cant’ deal with the cognitive dissonance of liking strong women and having conservative gender roles, this is rude and thoughtless behavior on his part. I doubt this can ever be a good relationship, friends, lovers, or otherwise.

    1. Hey, I dated that guy too! We were FWB – just sex, except when he wanted to hold hands or cuddle. When I did, it was all “No way, we promised we wouldn’t be doing that!” And when I insisted that he needed to treat me with respect because of the “friends” part (never mind the “human being” part), he said he didn’t have to because I wasn’t his girlfriend, except of course when he wanted to cuddle. It was exhausting.

  20. He’s clearly afraid of your independence^^ Don’t waste your time dating men who would rather be with feeling small you than with awesome you.

  21. LW, I believe that *you* can continue to be your awesome, interesting, and kind self, and you can even invite Mr. Calvinball to share in your awesomeness as friends. But I highly doubt he will stick to the script of Friend. Either you’ll go somewhere together, to do a totally platonic friend activity, and he’ll turn it into a Big Fraught Not Date full of kissing and sighing, or, you’ll go somewhere to do a totally platonic friend activity, and he’ll be a big mean jerk to you the whole time. Maybe even both in one night!

    Mr. Calvinball is made of bees.

  22. Oh, LW. The friendship you would have with this guy, is a friendship made of bees. If you try to hang out with him platonically I think you have a lot of not-dates-but-actually-kind-of-dates where he says you Look Nice but not That Nice, and he really likes you but he’s just *having a hard time right now* so you can’t actually date, you understand right? And he will be mean to you which keeps you hungry for every little scrap of affection, making it feel Special when he says something even remotely nice. Maybe all of these things at once!

    When he says he doesn’t like you that way, the best thing you can do for yourself is to believe him. These guys are such hard work – the super special dynamic where you constantly feel like you aren’t cool enough? Gets old fast.

    1. Also, if he’s all that into traditional gender roles, etc, if LW starts dating someone else, he’ll probably start implying that it’s inappropriate for her to be hanging out with him while she’s in a relationship, and that her doing so it “leading /him/ on” (which means clearly LW wants to Do Things with ol’ boy.)

    2. To be clear, bees are kind creatures however scary and probably wouldn’t be jerks like this guy.

      1. Oh yes, this is why the qualifier “evil” is necessary when discussing them! The Evil Bees at CA are not normal nice real-world bees.

  23. Can you just stay friends? Well, perhaps, but why would you want to? He’s possessive and jealous, but doesn’t want to form any sort of commitment to you. He doesn’t like your “values”. Really, what do you have in common? There are plenty of fish in the sea, move on.

    1. Seems like “shares my values” is a LARGER, not smaller component in a functional friendship, if anything. After all, maybe you can slide with The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants (I wouldn’t sink much effort into it, personally, but you could try) if you’re besotted with a basically good person who’s just from a world you don’t always get or appreciate. Sure. But with your friends, what the hell else is there other than, you know, talking to them? About your life and what matters to you and how to get where you want to go? If all that stuff is going to run aground on “I don’t like any of the things you are or want,” then what do you do with yourselves as friends? Unless you’re silent jogging buddies, I don’t see the point.

  24. I don’t think you should continue to be friends with this guy and indeed, should you meet Calvinball Mark II at any point, you should not be friends with him either. I think that at best, this kind of person is way, way too high-drama and at worst they’re actively jerking you around. I think that the best thing that can be said for this type of behavior is that it is un-self-aware and should not be rewarded with your time and attention.

    A friend of mine has just gotten done with something very similar to what you went through. My friend’s Ms. Calvinball was all cuddles and sighing and stuff and “soulmates” and then “but why did you ever think we could be together, our beliefs are incompatible because you don’t [participate in hobby] at the same level of intensity that I do” and if it hadn’t really upset my friend I would have been actively embarrassed for Ms. Calvinball. My impression was that Calvinball really believed that she was being “sincere” and “sharing her feelings” and that cuddling and sighing and stuff was “authentic” – I don’t believe that it was intended to hurt my friend, and I think that these Calvinball people can in fact not realize what enormous jerks they are being. But what a jerk she was. She isn’t talking to my friend, and I frankly hope she never starts up again.

    It is selfish, immature behavior and I think we will all be happier if we learn to bounce the people who engage in it right away. The world is full of actual friends.

  25. Just wanted to pick up also on this: ” I’ve always found it easy to find dates, while my male friend allegedly gets no response on dating sites.”

    It sounds as though he’s also playing the martyr card. Which can also be a pretty powerful trap for caring people, because you feel sorry for them and don’t want to be like “everyone else who has ever ignored or hurt them.” You are the Exception, until you aren’t, which means you are put in the position of having to be invested in continuing to be the Exception. Just another way to yank that chain.

      1. I love this! Not least because the incongruous image of incel monkeys entertains me way more than it should…

    1. Ha! When I read “my male friend allegedly gets no response on dating sites” I thought, gosh, imagine that!

      He obviously didn’t follow that revelation with “Can you give me ideas from your perspective about why people don’t respond to me?” so why would he even tell you that, if not to play the martyr card?

    2. Oh, yes. Anytime someone complains about their dating patterns, listen. They are telling you SO MUCH.
      “All my exes are crazy” is a sign that as soon as you are an ex, this label will be applied to you, too.
      “My exes all ghosted on me” can mean several things, but, the person who used that one on me likes to be chased. The exes probably didn’t ghost so much as stop chasing.

      My suspicion for the LW is that this guy likes being chased and desired. He let her catch him when she was distracted by another guy, and then ran again, sort of like when a cat loses interest in the shiny ribbon that’s out of reach, so you dangle it closer till they grab at it again.

      1. I’ve been Ms. Calvinball in this situation as a youngish teenager, and it was definitely because of the whole “feeling of being chased/desired” thing. The person doing this is attracted to the person they’re doing this to, and enjoying the kissing/sex/cuddles/drama/intensity/emotional attention/adrenaline/ego boost/whatever, but isn’t interested in a formal relationship for whatever reason (otherwise they would act like they were!), and instead of outright stating their needs and asking for a casual thing like a damn grownup, they’re being evasive and playing with the person, to draw it out & keep the relationship in plausible deniability land for as long as possible.
        Either they’re doing it intentionally, or (more likely in my opinion) they’re lying to themselves and making internal excuses for their behaviour (“I’m just not ready for a relationship yet! But it’s okay for me to act like I’m in one because we totally have an understanding! Uhh he said he loves me and I said it back but we both know this is just until one of us finds someone else. This is fine!! Because we said so even though I know neither of us meant it!! *nervous laughter*”).
        Either way, this will never go where you want it to go, and as soon as this guy meets someone he’s unambiguously into, he’ll bail. Maybe he’ll grow up eventually, but waiting on that is definitely NOT worth the LW’s time, especially since what he considers the deal-breaker seems like something neither of you should want to change for love (your political beliefs? thought that might be a rationalization). Also if you stay “friends” he’ll keep doing this to you as long as it works and he can get what he wants, and if it stops working, he’ll suddenly lose interest. I’d put money on it.

  26. This letter made me think of a thing that has happened to both my friend and me, but I don’t think I’ve seen it in a list of red flags before so I’m wondering if it’s a common thing in the sketchy guy playbook:
    -Guy becomes friends with shy girl with little dating experience
    -While hanging out, guy either kisses girl without asking or asks and then ignores girl’s hesitation
    -Guy says that girl’s awkward response to the kiss means she is not ready for a relationship or is not attractive to him.

    1. I am familiar with this particular maneuver, yes. Had it pulled on me, also seen it pulled on someone else. The details are different, but it’s the same “be aggressive + then pull back to get target to pursue and/or go further to ‘prove’ they’re ready” that some other sketchy plays also include.

  27. Dangit, internet ate the long comment, so I’ll just go with a short one.

    It sounds to me that he’s attracted to you, and is hoping that hearing this will make you Rethink Your Life and decide that you really want to host a BBQ, vote for Ted Cruz, and have a massive wedding with a big poofy dress.

    Basically, he either likes the idea of “taming” you–proving that really, all women want traditional gender roles–or else he finds your non-traditionalness “thrilling” but also not “girlfriend material.”

    Either way, he’s no good.

    1. My money’s on this. He sees “mutual attraction, but ultimately not compatible” as something wrong with you to be fixed rather than just a thing that happens sometimes.

      1. Yeah, I’m deeply suspicious that he feels weird about being attracted to someone who is “doing life wrong” by his standards, and is trying to make that LW’s problem instead of just accepting that sometimes “bad” (that’s a very, very sarcastic “bad”) people are attractive and that doesn’t mean anything about his relative “goodness.”

    2. Yeah. Vader Ex put a lot of time and effort into reforming all the qualities that had attracted him in the first place. Then after I’d been tamed, had learned to be smooth, unwrinkled, and bland, he used the potential for my slipping back into my old ways as a reason to control every aspect of my life, while cheating on me with someone who was untamed.

      So Misogyny 101.

  28. Even if this were all some weird complicated dance of negging and such aimed at making you want to date him…do you really want to do this much work? He sounds *exhausting* and I like romantic partners to wear me out in more amusing ways than making me overthink ever damn thing.

    There are better people out there who are going to be straightforward and non-slut-shamey and who, when you tell stories about this dude, will be amazed at how dickish he was acting toward awesome you.

  29. I vote we make “Calvinball boyfriend” an actual term, much like “Darth Vader boyfriend”. Seriously, though, wouldn’t we all like him a little more if he just came out and said, “You know what? I’m confused. I don’t know what I want.” At least then he’d be showing some self-awareness.

    1. I JUST watched a relationship fall apart because of a Calvinball boyfriend, some Geek Social fallacies on the other side, and a whole lot of Not Using Your Words on both peoples’ ends (I love both members of the relationship and it was maddening to watch).

      Alright, folks, how long before we can have an entire letter composed of CA memes and references?

    2. And it’s especially appropriate because actual Calvinball requires all partners to participate equally in the rule-changing; these sort of people are confused even about that.

  30. Ahhem. My reaction to reading this letter, in haiku:





    The End.

        1. I know I’m a few days late to this party, but just saw this on Monday, don’t know if any of you have seen it – http://www.cosmicnz.co.nz/the-no-button.html – I think it might be just the thing for awkward situations (pun fully intended). I’m going back to the shop today to get one…

  31. I get the strong impression this dude is trying to emotionally manipulate the LW into changing their political beliefs and dating behavior to conform to his own conservatism.

    1. @slythwolf, YES. Adding that that would be an impossible task, since HE isn’t able to define the values of his own conservatism.

  32. I have a lot of sympathy for people who are conflicted or are having a hard time knowing their own mind or wrestling with the question of what traits in a partner are going to be a problem for them down the road versus just annoyances that will pass in time. I think of this as “being human.” I have no sympathy for people who take no ownership of this and how it can be difficult for others, aren’t honest about their contradictions or changing/evolving priorities, and who make all their shit other people’s problem with not a hint of an apology.

    The heck with this guy. In the most generous possible interpretations of every single one of his actions ever – a greater amount of divinity than I personally possess – he’s still a difficult pain in the ass who never puts your needs and feelings on par with his own. It’s not necessary to decide if he’s pulling some PUA nonsense on you or hiding other relationships – all you need to see is that this is the calibre of concern and treatment he’s going to offer you when you’re out of step with what he wants.

    For my money that makes him a crap possible friend too but you can have your own priorities there. I’d at the bare min think he’s not someone you can trust or confide in.

  33. Meh. Mehfinity. Mehception of meh inside a meh inside a meh.
    I don’t care about whatever personal struggles or deliberate strategizing or casual indifference is behind his behavior. It’s tedious and draining.

    If you enjoy a quieter, more introverted guy, please know they are plenty capable of knowing what they want and using words to express it.

    Spouse, a conservative and introverted man of limited dating experience, was a friendly acquaintance for over a year, during which I dated several people. He told me of his romantic interest and kissed me. It was a good kiss. I wasn’t sure about my feelings towards him beyond friendship, but was interested, and suggested we date, while continuing to date other people. We grew closer, started dating exclusively, moved in together and eventually married.
    We both had our issues and struggles, which caused problems after the NRE wore off, but there was never a question of loving each other, and no slut/virgin shaming around our dating histories.

    People can be awkward or unsure without being cruel and dismissive. The right kind of awkward will be anxious that you are enjoying spending time with them, and worry about how their actions could affect you.
    Being cared for and supported is work, the right kind of awkward may not always hit the mark, but they’ll always keep trying. If a partner’s not making an effort in the beginning, it will only go downhill from there.

  34. Yeah, echoing other commenters, this reeks of some sort of PUA thing, though I’m baffled as to the point (which admittedly is true for most PUA strategies). It just seems too brazen and deliberate

  35. “stay friends”?
    You’re not friends now. At least, he’s not your friend. That’s not how friends act.

  36. Oof. I’m afraid you can’t *stay* friends because you aren’t *currently* friends, eg. this is not how you treat a friend. I really hope you don’t throw more of your energy down that drain, because your instinct to give him a friendly pass and move on with your dating life sounded correct to me.

  37. Getting this out of the way first: the dude is bad news, he treats LW like crap, and ze* is well rid of him.

    There’s one aspect of the letter that jumps out to me as an instance of a pervasive gendered issue in dating, and addressing it might help LW in the future when ze’s interested in men who don’t treat zir like crap (though it isn’t specifically one of zir questions):

    I thought it would be obvious that the feeling was mutual since I’d flirted a lot.
    …except he’d just kiss me on the cheek at the end.
    After dropping a lot of hints, I realised I should start dating someone else in case nothing ever happened with him.
    …I was delighted since I’d waited months for it.

    (emphasis added)

    LW, you are behaving passively regarding dating. That is your prerogative if you wish to do so, but in assuming that your dates are going to read your behavior the exact same way you do, not vocalizing your desires, and waiting for the other party to act, you may find that you wind up waiting a lot more than you like. If you can become comfortable with overt expressions of sexual interest on your own behalf, this can help you in two ways: men who are interested in you but who are feeling unsure of your feelings will be clued in so you can get to mutually enjoyable sexytimes sooner, and men who react badly to you taking the initiative are telling you something very important about themselves – they are not safe people if they consider you exercising sexual agency to be a problem.

    Nothing probably would have changed in this case, except that your ‘friend’ would have outed himself as a sexual-agency-shaming douchebag much sooner. I don’t think that you HAVE to take the initiative in all or even any cases – you get to conduct your dating life in whatever way works best for you (as long as that isn’t harming others) – but consider that it might serve you well. One of the concerns I often hear in response to this advice is that “guys don’t like girls* to make the first move”, and this is certainly true for many men (though it’s not nearly as pervasive as many women assume in my experience); those men have a problem with women’s sexual agency by definition, so turning them off is a feature, not a bug, unless one wants to date a partner who doesn’t respect one’s agency.

    *LW doesn’t specify zir gender anywhere in the letter that I saw, but ze did contrast zir experience on dating websites with zir “male friend” and mentioned the guy being “very old fashioned in terms of gender roles”, so I suspect that ze IDs/presents as female

    1. I was thinking along these lines. In fact, as I started reading the letter, my first thought was “LW is letting this guy do all the work.” But then my perspective changed when I learned more about him, and I don’t blame LW at all. Having said that, I think your advice is really sound for LW in the future. If you’re ALWAYS letting the man* take the initiative when building up to dating and relationships because you think you’ll scare them off or they won’t be attracted to you or whatever, then maybe you’re talking to guys who wouldn’t be so good for you anyway.

      * Obviously this applies mainly to female presenting people who are attracted to male presenting people, because of sexist norms yadda yadda.

    2. I dunno, I think in the commentariat here we’re often pretty harsh (for good reason) on people who ignore other people’s cues of disinterest, especially people who suddenly get touchy-feely without asking.

      From the LW’s description: they’d initially gone for sporadic friendship because of living some distance apart, had one very good maybe-date followed by Dude making no effort to meet up again. Given a few subsequent meet-ups where they get on well but Dude is consistently cheek-kissing — I feel it’s not surprising if the LW interpreted this as “okay, we’re just friends, he’s not interested in more, I shouldn’t read too much into one drunken message.”

      Trying to mouth-kiss someone who’s aiming for your cheek really doesn’t seem like a good move, and going “hey, wanna kiss me on the mouth this time?” if you’re pretty sure the answer is “no” takes a heroic level of social courage which I think many people could not muster.

      The LW desn’t sound like she was waiting around passively for this guy; whatever she may have been hoping for, she was reading his cues as lack of romantic interest and going on dates with other people.

  38. “Run like the wind, Bullseye!” (One of my favorite lines from Toy Story).

    This guy is either a) deliberately gaslighting you and enjoying the fact that it is doing what he intended and getting you to string along, accepting bad behavior on his part and trying to figure out what you’ve done wrong, or b) seriously messed up emotionally, probably at war with his inner alpha male and his inner monk and cannot for the life of him how to do this modern dating thing that all the kids keep talking about.

    If he is doing a), no way would I want to be friends with a sociopath who is guaranteed to create emotional pain for me on a regular basis purely to fulfill his need to control others, not to mention the possibility of volatile behavior if I continue to allow myself to be his emotional toy and then try to pull away later after he’s gotten his grappling hooks securely under my skin.

    If it is a matter of b), then I might be willing to be his friend but I would be brutally honest about the need for him to own his own issues and that projecting said issues as my fault is unacceptable behavior in a friendship and if that continues we won’t be able to be friends anymore. I’d offer to talk through whatever it is that’s causing him to be so conflicted, suggest he find a good therapist, and continue to date whomever I pleased. Maybe someday he’d figure things out and we could explore that chemistry again, or maybe we’d just be friends and go to each other’s weddings.

    Do you think you know him well enough to figure out which of the above more closely matches what he’s like?

    1. Regarding option b, the struggle with the inner monk: the letter did remind me of several occasions where one party ultimately decided that having compatible religious beliefs was a long-term requirement, and thus attraction shouldn’t be acted on. One was a friend’s long term crush and prom date, who declined to pursue a relationship; one was someone I hung out with a lot freshman year (and had a crush on), but after a summer of thinking about how we each do religion, I turned him down when he asked me out in the fall. Both of these cases were probably confusing and difficult for the person who was turned down. But friendships could continue because people owned their own issues, made it into incompatibility rather than criticism, and did not keep changing their minds about the decision.

      The most charitable interpretation is that Mr. Calvinball is genuine about his concerns, but not self-aware and has internalized really awful messages about dating that feed his cruel comments and make his encouraging statements and actions into sinful lapses. But if that were the case, he should be relieved if you took any dating/more than friendship off the table, and that should manifest in kind gestures of friendship that reflect the fact that he likes many elements of who you are. Frankly, I don’t see his words and actions fitting this narrative unless he is also very impulsive, judgmental, and confused.

      LW, I think you are wise for seeking other people to date, and I hope that his denial of being attracted to you helps you quell your feelings for him. I suggest you take care of yourself, move on emotionally, and don’t initiate contact. If he makes friendly overtures, you have the opportunity to judge how that contact makes you feel and whether a friendship with him enhances your life.

      Good luck!

  39. Ugh, I wouldn’t put this guy in the ‘friend’ category – friends are people who make you happy, who are supportive and who you enjoy spending time with and don’t end up being saddled with feelings of guilt for being or not being around constantly. This guy does not meet the criteria of ‘basic decency’. He has proven himself to be very shaming, rude and overall not someone worth wasting another moment of your life on. I would just cut off contact with him entirely and find new enjoyable ways to spend your time, and people who make you genuinely happy without constantly questioning yourself.

  40. One of my friends dated this guy, or his smarmier brother. They met on a dating site, it was an LDR for a few months and then they finally met up and spent the weekend together. A certain degree of intimacy happened that weekend.

    Next day, Dud tells Friend that he’s concerned that she slept with him so soon after they first met in person, that he wanted someone who wouldn’t be so easy. (He didn’t QUITE say easy, but that’s what it came down to.) That he wanted a woman who treated sex as important. Cue friend dumping him like he’s toxic waste and crying on her friend’s shoulders for a bit . I wanted to toss Dud into a bed of cactus while naked, but settled for pointing out that:
    1. Decent people don’t set up tests to “prove” you’re virtuous enough for their taste.
    2. He’s a hypocritical dirtbag who was in that bed with you, and in fact started the action. If he wants to define you as easy, then what is he? A raging case of double standards with added slut shaming, that’s what. You’ll notice his alleged “scruples” didn’t keep him out of the bed.
    3. At least you found out what kind of creep he is before you got even more invested. (I did not point this out till much later.)
    4. How is “sleeping with my boyfriend of three months” not treating sex as important? I mean, I don’t attach virtue to someone’s sexual habits- as long as everyone involved is legal, enthusiastically giving informed consent and into what’s going on, then have at it. If you feel there’s some arbitrary time you’re supposed to wait before sex, then that’s something you should disclose up front. If it’s “no sex till marriage” then fine. But tell people. Don’t pull this crap.

    1. THIS. This is such a gross, manipulative piece of shit tactic, and sadly I have known several dudes who have pulled this (hmmm, it’s only been dudes, wonder what that’s about….), as though THEY ARE ALSO NOT HAVING SEX ON A FIRST DATE with someone. I am fairly quick to get into bed with people, while it actually takes me a long time to form an emotional attachment to someone and a VERY long time to decide I want to be someone’s girlfriend – so while I may sleep with someone within a week of knowing them, it might take me six months to make up my mind if I want to be with them.

      I have run into more than one dude who has decided that since I slept with them pretty quickly, I must be ZOMGSOATTACHED! because they’re just that awesome (uhhhhhyeahhno) and that means they must panic, or ghost, or start being a douche to ensure I don’t get too attached (meanwhile I’m having trouble remembering their last name).

      tl;dr, setting up intimacy as some sort of test you have to pass without knowing what the terms are, that you were being tested, that there even was a test, WHEN YOU DID NOT SIGN UP FOR A TEST, is super incredibly shitty and I, for one, do not think they are worth pursuing relationships with.

      Keeping someone off-balance by declaring they failed some sort of test that they didn’t even know they were being subjected to is a form of emotional manipulation and frankly I think it’s abusive. It’s a calculated move on the part of the person doing it to keep the other person unsure, scared, and to keep the balance of power in a relationship tipped in their favor.

      I have dated people who did shit like this, or did crappy things but insisted it was because I had or had not done (my personal favorite was a guy who said his terrible behavior was because I refused to be his girlfriend and if I just agreed then everything would be okay and he would stop acting like a jackass).

      LW, you don’t need this ish. Get rid of this dude and get some better people in your life.

      1. My Calvinball Dude actually concern-trolled me about whether or not it was Safe to sleep with dudes on the first date. HUGE TRIGGER WARNING: he took me to task for, I shit you not, potentially emboldening date rapists.

        NOPE TO A MILLION NOPES NOPE NOPE. Anyway, this guy reminds me a LOT of him – I was younger and didn’t know how to fully say “fuck off” to someone who waaaanted to be friiiiends but every time I failed to completely reject his “just friends” advances we would end up having sex. (I will also say that I was young and did not yet realize that my pants are not a good judge of character – I can be sexually attracted to someone who’s also just awful to hang out with. So when I kept being physically attracted to him I assumed that my ladybusiness was sensing some kind of unknown emotional depths. I have no idea why I thought that was a thing, but no, he was just an awful person.)

        1. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh wow, major side-eye at that guy. Your choices re: when to get intimate with someone “embolden date rapists?” Da fuq? What a noxious little ball of victim blaming, sexism, and slut-shaming all rolled into one disgusting package!

          MUCH SIDE-EYE.

        2. WOW…how would that even WORK? Like because some women happily consent to sex right away with a guy he’s going to expect every woman to do so and will be “emboldened” to rape them if they don’t? If a guy is actually thinking something along those lines, it’s the result of rape culture and male entitlement (and/or he’s sociopathic!) I’ve heard a lot of sexist bullshit in my time but “sluts who have sex too soon cause date rape” is definitely a new one for me. (Full disclosure: I am one of those sluts 😉 )
          And yeah while I *always* give the side eye for anyone who disparages a woman’s right to her sexual freedom, however she chooses to express it, I give the EVIL eye to the men who disparage a woman for having sex with THEM. Uh, dude, *you* were there too, shouldn’t you hold yourself to the same standards you judge others by?

      2. In happy news, my friend is now engaged to a great guy. No idea what happened to Dud.

  41. Some charismatic folk, though not all, have learned all about intermittent reinforcement and have the push/pull dynamic down. Whether they do it on purpose or not is irrelevant. Really, intent is not magic here. There’s a game being played, whether this person is playing by rules or just some internal Calvin ball does not matter.
    This person wants to be chased and desired. When the LW was doing that, he was happy as a clam. When she started to get distracted by someone ELSE, they did what was needed to pull the LW back in.
    But, then, they needed to get the chase dynamic back, so they pulled away again.

    I recognize this game. There was a dude that wanted me to chase him. I am the very most wrong person to try this on, because I am pretty incapable of chasing that way. So, in my case, the game playing dude got downgraded to acquaintance. He can show up and ask a friend and I out to lunch(split check) and we can catch up on general news, but, my heart is reserved for people who want to be with me, say they want to be with me, and make plans with me.
    Kisses and make outs are reserved for people who respect me and don’t try to make me feel bad for kissing anyone I damn well please.

    I’m pretty good at disengagement from game players. All I needed to do for mine was stop suggesting plans. The LW might need to apply a few blocks to achieve the same thing here.

    (Note: I wrote this out and THEN saw all the references to Calvin Ball above this comment. Wow, are we on the same wavelength or what? )

  42. He doesn’t seem like a very good friend or significant other material. Beware, OP. You deserve better.

  43. In response to your question, LW: no. No, you do not have my go-ahead to stay friends with a dude who jerks you around, plays irritating mind games, and blames you for the fact that he doesn’t know what the hell he wants. You cannot continue to grace this ambivalent jagoff with your challenging presence. I forbid it.

    If this seems harsh, complain to me in a few months after you’ve found some new friends who don’t neg you for being awesome, and some new makeout partners who don’t pretend to be unattracted to you for some dumbass reason they probably got off Reddit.

  44. Hey, LW. I read your letter and I have Some Qualms.

    Qualm 1: He’s old fashioned in terms of gender roles, and therefore, he has to lead you on for several months and then act like nothing happened? Clearly you’re an awesome person who goes on lots of awesome dates, so I know you don’t think that’s normal.

    I just feel like “old fashioned in terms of gender roles” means, like, he’s a farmer and you wear four turtlenecks. Or, he comes home from work at 5 and you’re waiting in pearls with a cocktail. Or, he hates gay people or people who don’t shave their legs or something. It has nothing to do with any of the behavior you mentioned. I got the feeling you listed that as some kind of potential caveat of his, like, “I know he values ‘traditional gender roles,’ so would he treat me better if I [traditional gender behavior]?”

    That’s not old fashioned values. That’s bananas.

    Do you honestly want to hang out with bananas? I don’t. They turn brown and shit, what’re you gonna do with brown bananas? Oh, you bake? Well, then this metaphor is useless.

    Qualm 2: The whole, “Everybody likes to be told they’re attractive. You’re so crazy and weird for thinking that meant I was into you.”

    Everybody here in the comment thread picked up on that one, too, but god, LW, I’m just so annoyed. If he changed his mind about you, or if he can’t figure out how to fit you into his life, that’s not your fault. That’s on him. The fact that he’s pretending like he cannot POSSIBLY imagine the LENGTHS to which you STRETCHED your IMAGINATION to make that mean he LIKED you makes me mad. The fact that he’s trying to save face by acting like you’re stupid for thinking his hitting on you and kissing you meant he was into you makes me so mad! I’m so mad, LW.

    That isn’t bananas, that’s just nasty behavior. That’s just straight some bullshit.

    Qualm 3: Like, honestly, LW? What’s your best case scenario here?

    In a perfect world, what happens with this guy?

    You stay friends with him and eventually he warms up to you and changes his mind about you being a slutty loudmouth small-wedding vegan liberal? Even if that happened, which it probably won’t, would you really want that? Do you want to have to audition for the role of Being Treated Kindly?

    So he’s charming and probably kind of hot. I get it. You had an awesome time on these dates and when he acted super confusing, you hoped there was a reason and he’d eventually get over it and be a cool S.O. But, like, pretend for a sec that he will always be weird and confusing. Imagine that there will be no moment where he comes out of the shadows and goes all like, “It turns out I was possessed. I’m all better now. Let’s date, for real this time.”

    Because I’ve been the guy who’s always up for it when Mr. Bananas comes back around. I was the guy who kept waiting for Mr. Bananas to eventually stop being bananas. And it never happened, dude. Weird and confusing is a personality trait with this guy, at the very least when it comes to you. There will be no friendship between LW and Mr. Bananas that isn’t weird and confusing. Do you will want to hang out with him?

    Whether it’s because he doesn’t know how to fit you into his life, or because he’s bored, or because he’s manipulative, or because he’s a secret agent and he’s not allowed to date because it could compromise him emotionally but he’s so into you that he’s thinking about leaving his secret agent spy job but if he gets caught it’s lights out, do you want to be treated like this for the duration of your friendship? Did that hour of kissing make up for it all? Is that sparkling conversation worth this aggravation?

    Is he worth it, LW?

    If so, all aboard the banana boat. If not, if you’re looking for somebody who uncomplicatedly likes you and acts like they like you, please do me a personal favor and take this radio silence to mean y’all are done.

    Qualm 4: The point might be moot, anyway. In my experience, a list of all your “transgressions” followed by radio silence means “I meant to end things but I fucked it up and don’t know how to proceed.”

    I think the best case scenario is he leaves you alone forever, and then six months from now you get five million dollars just because you’re great.

    This has been another episode of LW Deserves Better.

    1. MMMmmm, banana bread. Also, excellent take-down 😀 I hope the LW finds someone awesome and non-weird/PUA tactic-y. As someone back in the dating pool (and OkCupid, GOD HELP ME) I understand how stressful and bad dating can be.

    2. I KNOW, rite? How could LW have EVER thought that “I like you and find you very attractive” actually meant “I like you and find you very attractive”? Such stretch, so assume, wow!


  45. Sounds like dude is living in his own version of a romantic comedy/romance novel where he’s all like “no, we can never work” and then makes out with you and then goes “nope” again and then acts jealous when other guys are around you. There is a place for fiction in life and it pleases us in many ways, however, when you’re not both on the same page, it’s just plain confusing and hurtful. It would have been one thing if you wanted to play Lizzy Bennet to his Mr Darcy, but from the sound of it, you’d rather not. Which is all the more reason to listen to the Captain and leave him be. Find yourself someone who causes you less grief in life.

  46. I think what I have to say piggybacks on a lot of other comments. You said that he’s very old fashioned in terms of gender roles. But your interactions with him (other than being online and long distance) have been super traditional! We could move all of this back to c. 1900 (or earlier) where instead of matching him on Tinder you’d be introduced to him at a large party by a mutual acquaintance.

    You both were attracted to each other, but he showed no interest in pursuing anything serious, so you moved on to others. You met him in his city and flirted, but apparently followed the rule that ladies do not chase, they are chased. He declined to chase after that meeting and you moved on again.

    Finally last weekend he acted like he wants to court you. Two days later he said that, no he doesn’t want to court you and you’ve misunderstood. He could never really court you! You believe in suffrage for women!

    The thing that some conservatives seem to forget about this magical time in the past with traditional gender roles is that when a society has a designated sex that pursues directly and a designated sex that indirectly indicates openness to being happy about being pursued, there is a corollary that if a member of the sex of direct pursuit opts to not directly pursue, then the member of the other sex (assuming that the person of this sex is interested in marriage/a committed partnership/other mutually agreed upon relationship/etc.) is expected to move on to someone who will directly pursue. There is a finite amount of time that one can wait around on the edges of the ballroom/party/whatever fluttering one’s fan and hoping that the signals will be properly decoded.

    I guess we could argue that you were too Jane Bennet in your flirtation. But this guy clearly is not Charles Bingley. When Bingley meets Elizabeth Bennet in Derbyshire he at least kind of acknowledges that possibility that in the time since he ghosted Jane, she might have met and married someone else. (I’m not by any means claiming that Bingley is some sort of ideal man.)

    As to the question you asked about staying friends, do you mean you want to know how to get him to stop ignoring you? As so many people have said better than I ever could, for all his “traditional gender roles” this guy likes being chased. I’m sure there’s some way of telling him that your vegan diet, your left wing political beliefs, and opposition to having a big wedding are open to negotiation. And apologizing for the truly terrible, heartbreaking crime of having gone out with and kissed another man before your friend ever bothered to say that he wanted an exclusive relationship with you and how did you feel about that?

    Or do you mean is it okay to stay friends with him? Other people have weighed in better on that than I can.

    I’d like for you to consider ending things with him in the manner of your choice. Because like a lot of other people here, I dated someone just like your friend. (Which is how I know that he’s unlikely to persist in ignoring you.) To be with him romantically or platonically will require a diminishment of yourself that will eventually shift from being uncomfortable to extremely painful. None of us want that for you.

    But zephyr haversack and TyphoidMary are right that what he’s got you on with the charisma and intermittent reinforcement is hard to break free of. And sometimes we have to live through something we really don’t want in order to have better confidence in asserting what we do want.

    So I wish you luck with your decision and hope that regardless of what it is, we hear from you again someday when you tell us that you have found a happiness that does not desire you to be anyone but yourself.

    And sorry for how long this is.

    1. I think you are giving LW’s ghost faaaaaar too much credit to mention him in the same paragraph as Darcy and Bingley (I also object to his being elevated to the status of Calvinball) but you are correct that he’s not playing fair by traditional “rules.”
      To put it in simple terms, he is at best a flake, but more likely a user.

  47. I’d just like to point out the ironic dichotomy of “I don’t like you because reasons” coupled with “and one of those reasons is differences in desired wedding size.”

    1. Yeah. If ‘I don’t want a big wedding’ is a deal breaker value for him, he hasn’t given important things in life much thought, has he?

      1. And, like, for cryin’ out loud, that’s also a difference that can be overcome. My ideal wedding was ‘city hall, followed by restaurant with family and a long trip somewhere cool’. My now-husband’s ideal wedding was ‘something that acknowledges the importance of the community I grew up in and want to live in’. And so I wound up standing in front of 130 people to speak vows, white dress and all.

        Like, is it my ideal NOW? No! It never was! But a wedding is (relatively) inconsequential in the context of an entire relationship, and you can compromise on things that are important to your partner if you trust and respect each other.

        Saying that someone is incompatible to date because of their opinion on weddings that may or may not occur with maybe-but-maybe-not-this-person in an eventual as-yet-to-be-determined timeframe is, erm… lacking in respect for agency and open communication and ability to problem-solve and compromise. Which seems to be something pretty key in ANY relationship, unlike a wedding.

        1. How does he even get as far as considering that the LW doesn’t want a big wedding, if he supposedly is not actually attracted to the LW?

          Or do people (who aren’t wedding planners) normally start having as a concern the potential for mutually-compatible wedding-preferences featuring people that they’re not actually interested in?

          No, Mr. Calvinball is attracted. He’s just a manipulative ass about it. Avoid.

      2. The fact that it’s even a “value” for him would be a deal breaker for me.
        Makes me think he’s spent way too much time thinking about relationships in a very weird way. Add the “relenting” and “challenging” comments, and I’d beat the nopetopus to the door.

      3. Seriously. On my list of ABSOLUTE DEALBREAKERS are things like
        1. Drug dealer
        2. Pedophile
        3. Animal abuser.

        “Doesn’t want a big wedding” isn’t even on the blush pink flags list.

        I mean, I know people who do want a big wedding, but then big is in the eye of the beholder. For some people a 500-person wedding would be big, for others a 50-person wedding. Things can be negotiated, and compromises can be made. But not with him.

  48. I agree with everything you said, except “throw in a slight grimace when mentioning him to female friends who might be tempted to make out with him”. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky here, but I’d warn nonbinary and male friends who might be tempted to make out with him, too. This guy is just bad news for *everyone*.

  49. LW,
    Years ago (long before Tinder and just before cell phones) I became friends with this guy “Craig”. He was introduced to me by a friend who thought we’d hit it off. He lived a fair distance from me so our get togethers were not as often as I would’ve liked. I twisted myself into knots for this guy. We’d get together and the chemistry was great, we’d make out, we’d talk about future plans (always initiated by him because I was doing that thing where you pretend you don’t care because it might scare him off but inside your head you’re planning the future to the most finite detail). Once the date was over and we reconnected on the phone a night or two later he’d be distant and say things like “I want to focus on my music” “I really want a woman who will help support my dreams” and “I like you but I just don’t feel like we’re ‘there’ yet”
    Seriously…I twisted myself into knots for too long for this guy. He wanted me there for all of his milestones, he would get jealous of time I spent dating other people, and the chemistry… these were things that a guy who likes you would do, right?
    I was so wrong. I turned down dates, made myself available for him, and did everything I could to be that person. Then one day he called me to tell me that he was engaged…and we could still be friends, right? And I found myself telling him yes, that I would be his friend. The friendship was worse than what I thought we’d had before. We’d hang out and he’d say negative things about his fiancee and say things like “I wish I could be with you” “I just want to kiss you right now” etc. He got angry when I met the man who is now my husband, called me and told me that I was making a huge mistake. I changed my phone number after that call. I don’t know what happened to him. I don’t care to know.
    Sometimes you can’t be friends. This guy you’re dating doesn’t seem to want you as you are. He’s always going to find a reason why you’re not right for him right now. Politics, wedding, the day of the week, the tie he’s wearing that day…all of it can be a reason why he just can’t make it work with you. And his idea of friendship will always seem to work itself back to how attracted to you he’s always been and how it’s a shame that the two of you just couldn’t make it work (like you were ever saying no).
    Do yourself a solid and just swipe him away. Good luck

  50. LW, are you sure you want to be friends with this guy? I mean, yeah, of course you can try. I see why breaking contact isn’t your first choice.
    But he has muddled all the friendship and relationship boundaries and obviously can’t communicate what he wants. It doesn’t sound like someone you can put in the “friend” category and then hang out with and not expect them to try to make out with you again – and then of course very publicly regret it afterwards.
    I would, personally, not trust a person that has acted the way he does, to be just my friend. And to act in my best interest, as a friend. He obviously has problems where to draw the line. When you go out and have fun, the last thing you need is a “friend” that acts jealous and tries to shame you for it. A friend that says he doesn’t want to come over to Place You, but acts like he has the keys.
    I just want to clearly point out that I in no way think that it is your fault if you try to be friends and he keeps on with the kissing. I just think that he doesn’t sound like a safe friend option. And the other options for him to still be in your life he either isn’t interested in or doesn’t seem suitable for.
    You go out and kiss new people, that doesn’t act like this. Have fun.

  51. “Can I stay friends?”

    Why would you WANT to? Dude sounds like a fucking jerk.

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