DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I present to you one of those eternal relationship conundrums: which is better, to be more or less into your partner than they are into you?
Years ago I developed a massive, “never spoken to them” crush on a guy in my large social club. I figured there was no way a guy like him was single, and so enjoyed my little infatuation while dating and falling in love with others. About six months ago, I broke up with my long term boyfriend, and by circumstance I and my crush ended up on a small “team” together, and ended up chatting a lot more. Eventually the chatting turned into hanging out outside of the club with other groups of friends, then alone, though always very platonic. My crush on him only grew more intense as I discovered that not only was he cute, but smart, passionate, incredibly kind and thoughtful, goofy, and frankly just one of the best people I have ever met… and yep, single. (How?!)
I finally admitted my crush, but made it clear that I completely understood if he wasn’t interested. He responded that he’d just been waiting until I moved out (stuck in lease with ex) to ask me out.
So awesome, right? I have somehow ended up with this amazing guy I’d had a crush on for years! Fairy tale ending! Here comes the but.
But… I’m pretty sure I am way more into him than he is into me. In the process of hanging out as friends, I learned his physical type, which is pretty much the opposite of me in every way: I’ve got a decent rack but he’s a butt guy, he likes em lithe and light and I’m round and dark, he loves tans and I’m McPastey of the Blinding White clan, and so on. The biggest shock though was that he’s actually incredibly shy around girls he likes (he’s never been shy around me), which is why he’s been single for… pretty much his entire life. He also joked about how he wished he was more of a player, and admitted that he’d never even really noticed me as a dating option until he got to know me.
My friends joke that I have this uncanny ability to ask out guys who are desperate and without options. I have a long history of being in relationships with guys who never really wanted me, but thought “Can’t tell a starving man not to eat at McDonalds.” (Direct quote, and I was unaware of their feelings until too late.) To avoid this, I promised myself I’d never again ask a guy out, and I’d only date guys who had lots of options so I knew he wasn’t picking me out of desperation or convenience. Yet here I am, accidentally breaking both my rules.
I’ve tried talking to him about it, but each time he just insists he DOES think I’m cute, is sure he isn’t settling, and the only thing he dislikes about me is my insecurity. I don’t think I can bring it up any more without the conversation becoming repetitive, and yet he’ll make the occasional comment (“Lean women are so hot!”) that’ll send me right down the rabbit hole of angst and concern.
I don’t know what to do. This guy is literally perfect; he’s attentive (wants to hang out way more than I do, actually), plans dates and always responds to texts, initiated “the talk” with no pushing or prodding (and in fact some reluctance) on my part, introduced me to friends and family without hesitation, and has pretty much done everything on a “Top 10 Signs He’s Into You” list (he endeared a ton of the most boring Dr. Who episodes JUST because I like them.) And yet… I’m not at all what he’s into physically, “pursued” him into liking me, and don’t seem to inspire any of the palm-sweating, heart-racing, gotta-have-her feelings that guys feel for women they’re really into.
Help me, Doc, you’re my only hope!
–Senpai Noticed Me
DEAR SENPAI NOTICED ME: Let’s start with the surface question here, SNM. It doesn’t matter what relationship you’re in, how egalitarian the both of you are or how schmoopy you may be – in every relationship, there’s going to be imbalances. One of those imbalances is going to be who’s more into who. It’s just the nature of the beast; you’re always going to have one partner or the other who’s feeling it more.
What people don’t usually talk about is how that ratio changes over the course of a relationship. There’ll always be times when you’re more into them and when they’re more into you. Life ebbs and flows; so do emotions. There will be times when they walk on the ground you worship and there’ll be times when they can do no wrong. There’ll be times when you love everything about them and then there’ll be times – possibly even long periods – where you find yourself gritting your teeth at the mere thought of them. But then things will change again and you’ll find that the things that were driving you crazy have passed or that you’ll have realized something new about them.
Now, there’ll always be people who’ll advocate being the one who cares less, because caring less means you have the power. And there are also people who romanticize loving someone who doesn’t love you back because it shows how devoted you are and the purity of your affections and why it should sway their cold hearts. Both of these are mistakes that only make everybody miserable. If things are roughly in balance – you’re both happy and excited to be dating each other – then not being at a perfect equilibrium isn’t really a problem.
But let’s focus on you for a second, SNM because the problem you’re writing to me about isn’t the problem you have. Your problem is that you’re not taking yes for a goddamn answer.
One of the things you have to realize is that while people may have their “types”, having a type isn’t exclusionary. Someone may like busty redheads but also like petite blondes. Somebody can like skinny women and still be attracted to fat women. And – let’s be real here – sometimes a person’s “type” isn’t what they actually want, it’s what they think they should want; our culture isn’t exactly shy about telling men and women that they’re only supposed to find certain looks attractive. As many folks have experienced, there’re plenty of people out there who’ll date folks on the down-low but refuse to be seen with them publicly because of what others might think.
So while your beau may find lean women hot, that doesn’t mean he can’t also find you hot. And there comes a point where you just have to accept that maybe, just maybe, he’s not lying to you.
There’re few things that’ll poison an otherwise happy relationship like someone insisting that their partner is lying when they say that yes, they think you’re awesome and want to bang like a screen door in a hurricane. It’s one thing to say “Hey, I’ve had some awful experiences so occasionally I can be an insecure bag of slop and I’d appreciate some reassurance on occasion.” It’s another to ask for reassurance and then not believe them when they give it to you. It sets the relationship up for failure because it’s a no-win scenario; when there’s nothing they can say that you’ll accept as God’s on TRVTH, then it becomes an exercise in frustration.
So as I’m often saying: deeds, not words. Everything about this guy’s behavior suggests that he’s crazy about you. So you’re going to just have to accept that the dude digs you and let yourself be happy. You have a right to be happy, SNM. You have a right to tell your jerkbrain to shut the hell up.
So start doing that. Change that inner voice to, say, the rantings of a racist yam with a bad comb-over if that helps. But stop talking yourself out of happiness and just appreciate that you’ve got a cool guy and he’s into you.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: So, here is the deal,
I am gay and recently out, I met a guy on a gay hookup site. We hit it off straight away. We constantly message each other all day, the whole day. after chatting for about a week we decided to meet and got together for a movie, we had drinks before the time and conversation was flowing, the sexual tension was there and one thing led to another, we shared a passionate kiss and all was well.
About two weeks after our initial meeting, we decided to hookup and have sex, it was passionate and amazing, we had still been chatting everyday. When the subject about relationships came up he said he wasn’t looking for a boyfriend at the moment, and I accepted it but told him that he had the qualities I was looking for in a partner and that I was attracted to him.
(At this point I was starting to fall for him).
Conversation went on as usual talking every day, until it stopped from his side, I tried to initiate conversation, but he wouldn’t respond, so I left it and didn’t try to make contact again, about three weeks after not having any contact, I received a text at around midnight, I received a “Hey” I was sort of excited yet confused, left it till later that morning to respond, and conversation started flowing as it had before.
A couple of meetings later, some more sex and conversation followed. (We have been chatting for about 6 months). He started hinting subtly that he was open to a relationship, in small ways like if I would comment about the rain he would say he would like to cuddle with a boyfriend, I would respond that I would love to cuddle and he would change the topic, so I gathered he wasn’t interested. So I didn’t do anything about my feelings.
Which brings me to my question… last week we were texting and after more hinting and light flirting, I plucked up the courage to pop the question, I asked how he would feel if we were to date? My heart was pounding fearing rejection and the prospect of gaining a relationship with this man who I find irresistible and I would do anything to hook haha. The response I got was “I have thought about us dating, but think it would ruin our friendship, you are an amazing guy, you are sexy clever funny and make good money, so you are independent. And there just isn’t that spark… I hope you are okay with that” my heart sank, I immediately felt my heart sink, I was upset. responded that I was okay with that.
Until today we still text basically the whole day. We have made plans for a day outing after Christmas.
Am I stupid to pursue him hoping to stir up some emotion from him?
Will he change his mind about dating me?
Am I so far in the friend zone that I will never get out?
What the hell have I gotten myself into?
In Too Deep
DEAR IN TOO DEEP: Hoo boy.
OK, ITD, in order:
You’re not in the Friend Zone, you’re in the Booty Call Zone
I want you to look up to the top of this column, to Sempai Noticed Me’s letter. See what I said about relationship imbalances? That’s what you’re dealing with.
Here’s what’s going on. Dude likes having sex on tap. He knows you want to date him, and as long as he dangles the bait of “well… maybe I might consider it,” you’re going to stay on the hook and keep sleeping with him. As far as he’s concerned, there’s no reason for things to change. You’re not going anywhere, after all.
You have to decide what you want. If you’re ok with just being a casual hook-up for this guy, with the full understanding that he is NOT going to date you, then hey, more power to you. You do you. But it’s pretty clear you want more. And this dude is not going to give you want you want (commitment, a relationship).
If you want my advice? Ditch the dude. To quote another the excellent Alana Massey: dick is screwing and of low value. You can get laid, but this guy is just screwinging you over. If you want a relationship, then you need to ditch this guy and find someone who’s on the same page and – critically – not going to play games with your heart to keep your junk around.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)