DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I appreciate everything you do for people trying to connect with other people.
I have an issue, that’s probably not a really big deal, regarding someone I have gone on a 3 dates with. I am a 27 year old virgin (not an issue, I understand it doesn’t define me), and actually putting in effort to go on dates with women is so new to me. This is the first time I have decided to truly take my love life into my own hands.
Anyway, I have gone on dates with this wonderful person, who I think is very cute and I enjoy spending time with. She also seems to really enjoy my company as well. Dates that I have gone on with other women, especially conversation heavy ones, run very slow and the incompatibility is very clear, but when I sit and talk with her, time seems to fly by.
My issue comes about where I find her cute, but I don’t seem to be in a rush to be physically intimate with her. I definitely don’t have the lustful urges I have had for other women, and maybe that is starting to concern me a little. Because I’ve never made it past a first date before, or had sex for that matter, I don’t know if that is typical or if there is a time frame for this sort of thing.
I can’t tell if being nervous to be physically intimate with a women for the first time, is keeping me from that more lustful form of attraction, or I just want to be friends with this girl. I can’t help but feel the urge to decide now, before we go on more dates. I don’t want to lead her on if I end up just wanting to be friends, but I’m also not sure if I have given it a long enough time to know how I feel about her. I will say, that even if I found myself constantly lusting after a woman, I would still want to get to know them quite a bit before we have sex (that is a common behavior I have regardless of who they are), it’s just I don’t seem to have the lustful component with this one. I know all relationships are different, and some are more passionate than others, but this still has me worried.
I met her on Hinge, and she initiated the interaction by liking my profile. I immediately matched her because I found her profile attractive and wanted to talk to her. And honestly, if it doesn’t work out romantically, I could see us being good friends. I enjoy her company a great deal, and we have fun together and make each other laugh. I know it sounds like I want to just be friends, but I legitimately don’t know how I feel about her yet, and have no clue about how the typical dating process goes, or what to expect.
So, my questions are: what is the time frame people develop sexual desires for someone they don’t have from the jump? Is there a time frame? How do you know when/if you just want to be friends? If I do decide I just want to continue to see her as a friend, how do I make that transition?
Cue The Butterflies In Stomach
DEAR CUE THE BUTTERFLIES IN STOMACH: There’s no real standard timeline for love and attraction, CTBS. People are wild and varied, and everybody tends to have their own patterns and schedules. Some people know right away whether someone is a potential sexual or romantic partner, a platonic friend, or someone they’re just not that into at all. Other folks need time to decide; they may have a history of picking the wrong people or mistaking infatuation or sexual attraction for love and compatibility, or they may prefer to establish trust and connection before considering a sexual relationship. Some folks are demisexual and need time before they develop sexual feelings for another person. Some folks are asexual or aromantic and never develop those feelings for other people and may take other factors into consideration when deciding on what kind of relationship to pursue.
Since you’ve mentioned being sexually attracted to other women, it doesn’t sound like your demisexual… it honestly just sounds like you made a friend. And hey, that’s awesome; not every date (or series of dates) needs to fall into a binary of “relationship” or “go away forever”. Sometimes you meet folks who you have emotional chemistry with, but no sexual or physical chemistry and that’s fine. That’s just part of dating. Dating is, at its core, a numbers game, especially when it comes to dating apps. There’re a host of factors that dictate who we are and aren’t attracted to that can only be experienced in person — whether its their smell, the way they taste when you kiss or even just how they treat waitstaff or service industry employees. It’s incredibly common to meet folks on Hinge or Bumble or what-have-you who have great photos and who you click with over text… but who you discover you have no interest in when you meet up in person. That’s not a failure on your part or theirs; it’s just the nature of the game. You’re going to get false positives on dating apps; we’re a species wired for face-to-face, in person connections.
(You might get false negatives — people you swipe left on when you encounter them on the app, but you might have mad chemistry with if you met them in person instead.)
This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why I’m a big believer in getting off the apps and meeting in person as soon as is reasonable. You want to establish whether or not there’s mutual interest and chemistry as quickly as possible, rather than getting over-invested before you even meet and ending up disappointed when you get together for the first time.
As you continue to match, meet and go on dates, you’ll find folks that you like and are attracted to right off the bat as well as the ones that you’re just “meh” about. It’s just a matter of finding the right people.
Now all that having been said: I do think that in the case of your current match, it’s better to call it early. It sounds to me like you’ve made a potential friend, and that’s great. However, it’s better to let her know that you like her and want to be friends now — especially since you’re three dates in — so that she has the option to decide how she feels. Telling her now is the considerate thing to do. It means that if she’s only looking for a love match or potential romantic relationship, she won’t be spending time on building something with you that isn’t going to lead to where she wants. It’s better to tell her now, so that she can be free to find someone who’s on the same page as her.
Telling her now is also better if she is only feeling friendship as well; this means that she knows you and she actually are on the same page and she isn’t going to have to call things off with you, lest she end up leading you on.
As a general rule, I’m an advocate of telling people sooner rather than later. It’s kinder all around and means that nobody wastes their time. But at the end of the day, it’s very much a “do unto others” scenario. When and how would you prefer someone tell you that they like you as a friend, but not a romantic partner? Consider that and let it be your guide towards how to proceed with this woman.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com