Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “Have You Ever Had Relationship Success With Someone You Initially Felt ‘Eh’ About?”

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I’ve been single for two years now. My last relationship was long-term but was not heading anywhere, and, since I wanted to move forward, I ended it. It was very hard and, admittedly, I built quite a wall up around myself after that. I couldn’t imagine letting anyone “in” again anytime soon. So I have been content being single, working on my confidence, and enjoying lots of “me” time, family time, and girl time. My well-meaning friends (all of whom are coupled) have all given me the same nudge to “get back out there,” telling me “you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince,” etc. I still hadn’t been too interested in dating, though (and frankly I hate casual dating).

In the past few months, however, I’ve been feeling more open to flirtation and talking to men again, and one night, while out with girlfriends, I met a guy who really piqued my interest. I was instantly attracted to him, and after laughing all night we traded numbers. After that he texted me every day for two weeks, seeming interested in getting to know me more. We went on a date I really enjoyed, and he said he had a great time and wanted to plan another. But a few days after the date, he abruptly stopped contacting me. I sent him two texts (spaced out by a few days) and he never responded. No explanation, just totally ghosted me. I was disappointed and felt stupid for getting excited and giddily regaling my friends with the date details.

I know that I can’t let fear of disappointment/rejection limit me. It has been awhile since my ex, and I would like to move on and find somebody. But a few weeks ago when a male acquaintance (whom I’ve met twice in group settings with friends) asked me to dinner, I hesitated. I’m not really attracted to this guy and didn’t feel a lot of conversation “spark” either time we met, but he does have a lot of great qualities and is a really nice guy. I felt that I should give it a chance to see how I connected with him one-on-one, and also I’ve been trying to “say yes” more. So I asked if we could make it lunch instead of dinner, explaining that I’d prefer something a little more casual, and he said that was fine. We had a decent time, and I could tell he’s very interested in me, but again there was zero chemistry for me.

It’s a shame because upon talking more, I realized he really fits a lot of the things I would describe an ideal partner as being (our mutual friends say we ‘make sense together’). But regardless of that, I still felt very platonic towards him. I’m seeing him again at another group event, and he’s already told our friend he’s eager to hang out one-on-one again, but I’m not sure how to handle it. On the one hand, I believe you can’t force chemistry. On the other, this guy is nice and perhaps I should see if attraction could develop? I mean the spark was there with Mr. Long-term Ex, and Mr. Ghost, but look how well those worked out.

I don’t want to ask my friends’ advice since some of them are trying to set us up, so I sort of feel like there are expectations on me. I guess I’m wondering if anyone you know, or readers, have a success story with someone they started out feeling “eh” with. – Confused Casual Dater

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

30 comments… add one
  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy October 23, 2014, 3:45 pm

    Short answer: yes.

    My advice is to go out with him one more time and kiss him if you haven’t. A kiss can change things! http://dearwendy.com/poll-does-a-kiss-change-things/

    If you still don’t feel anything after a kiss and second date, then you’ll know he’s just not a romantic match for you and you won’t have to wonder “what if.”

    Now, I’m interested to hear whether other people have had relationships result from initials “eh” dates.

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  • avatar

    emily85 October 23, 2014, 4:00 pm

    I was friends with my bf for about 10 years before we started dating. I obviously always liked him as a person, but it didn’t really change until we got a little drunk and kissed. It is a little different cause we didn’t meet/get to know each other in a potential bf/gf sort of way, but for a long time it didn’t even cross our minds. Now we’ve been together 2.5 years and live together and it’s really great!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 23, 2014, 4:01 pm

      See? Kissing. Works like a charm. And if it doesn’t, then nothing will and then you know.

      Reply Link
  • mylaray

    mylaray October 23, 2014, 4:07 pm

    This is interesting. I have had good relationships with people I didn’t feel the chemistry with at first. In my experience I tried too hard for someone to fit my type and mold that I would unknowingly judge them and be turned off a bit. I also have never felt a kiss really change things whether or not I like the person to begin with. I got to a point where I was single and happy and maybe too independent and it was scary for me to be with someone who was a great match for me. I had good “friend chemistry”, I’ll call it that, but it took me longer to develop dating chemistry with some people. It’s always been time for me. And maybe this is just me, but I used to get attached way too quickly that I retrained myself to not be so attached that often I would end up feeling “eh” about everyone because I set my standards and expectations too high.

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  • Miel

    Miel October 23, 2014, 4:09 pm

    I remember having crush on guys where the first time I meet them, I really don’t notice anything special about them, but then I would start imagining myself with them, and force myself to fantasize about them basically, and that would really spark something in my head. The next day I would be head over heels about them just because I caused myself to be attracted to them.

    I don’t know if that could result in long-term chemistry because I never ended up dating any of those guys.

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    • Ika

      Ika October 24, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Something (kinda) similar happened to me with my husband.
      When I first saw him I felt a flash of attraction. Then not so much, then like a month into knowing him I had a dream about him haha. And when I saw him the next day at work I was like WHOA. And that was 12 years and 2 kids ago!

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  • avatar

    Jennylou October 23, 2014, 4:15 pm

    WWS! I had a friend I’d known since high school. I’d never felt much attraction to him but thought he was an incredibly nice/fun person. He asked me out about 7 years after HS and I thought hey, give the guy a chance! It was fun but I still didn’t feel much chemistry – and then came the goodnight kiss. WOW. 🙂 We dated for a few months but discovered a major incompatibility, so we didn’t stay together, but he still ranks at the top of my list for chemistry.

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  • becboo84

    becboo84 October 23, 2014, 4:16 pm

    Meh, I’ve never personally ended up falling for someone that I was initially ‘eh’ about, but I totally believe it could happen. However, just a little personal anecdote for the LW: In my late teens/early 20s, I spent 3+years on and off with a guy because 1.) on paper, he was really great, 2.) lots of people insisted we were “made” for each other, and 3.) he was crazy about me and treated me really well. It wasn’t until I met and started dating my now husband that we became “off” for good.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar October 23, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I was friends with my husband for 18 years before I married him. He had a bit of a crush on me from time but I would always tell friends “he’s like family!” whenever they would ask way I wasn’t getting together with him. My lightening bolt wasn’t a kiss – it was getting his wedding invitation to someone else.
    Give the new guy a fair shot with an open mind if he is a nice guy and what you say you are looking for. The instant chemistry I’ve had with ex-boyfriends over the years can’t compare to what I have now…and while all my friends saw it clearly – it took a while for me to come around. If after a couple of dates you know that you have no romantic interest in him then fair enough…but there is no real down side to giving him a shot and you said yourself the guys that had great chemistry up front didn’t work out. Try another approach… and then tell us how it went!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 23, 2014, 4:29 pm

      Ooh, if you’ve shared this story, I don’t remember it. What happened after you got his wedding invitation to someone else? How much time between that and when you two got together?

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      • avatar

        MissDre October 23, 2014, 4:39 pm

        I’m curious too!! Tell us how this happened?? On another note, I’ve just started dating a guy who was just my friend for nearly 4 years and like others mentioned above, the first kiss changed everything!

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      • FireStar

        FireStar October 23, 2014, 4:56 pm

        Well the first thing that happened is that I fell. Quite literally. The whole legs giving out is a real thing. Who knew? After a lot of back and forth with myself I decided to tell him. It was difficult because I’m not a home wrecker type but I figured I would want to know. He asked the girl to postpone the wedding since he was no longer sure but she said no it would be too embarrassing for her so he went through with it. I went to the wedding and drank a lot of wine. A lot. We tried staying friends but just couldn’t… so I stayed away from him and he divorced a year an half later. We briefly tried dating after that but his dad had just passed away and I was less than understanding why he wouldn’t want to commit since we were both single. So I stayed away again. Five years later he emailed me out of the blue to tell me he still loved me and did we have any chance at a future…I said no…but we got together shortly after that. So from the wedding invitation that knocked me off my feet to our wedding it was about 9 years.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray October 23, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Wow, what a story! How long have you been married now?

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      • FireStar

        FireStar October 23, 2014, 5:06 pm

        Five years in January…and our munchkin is 15 months tomorrow. The ex-wife went on to marry too and has two boys. It all worked out how it was supposed to. But my husband considers that he didn’t just stop the wedding when he wanted to his biggest regret since we could have been together that whole time (and had the six kids he wants…which good luck getting now.)

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet October 23, 2014, 4:38 pm

    Almost all of my past relationships started with a “meh” first date. I say definitely give him another chance! Try a more intimate date (i.e. at night, with wine if you’re anything like me) and see if you feel a spark. Day time dates are often TOO casual. Like business meetings or catching up with an old friend. Especially first dates, which often feel like interviews, anyway. I met my husband at a coffee shop and although I really liked him as a person and thought he was attractive, I got more of a friendship vibe until we hung out again- at night, with wine. That night ended with a makeout session by my car as I was leaving and the most intense chemistry I’ve ever had with someone.
    .
    I think it’s normal to feel “eh” about a guy before you get to know him, but after a few dates you should know if there’s going to be chemistry. Dating is awful and exhausting if you’re going out with someone who doesn’t do it for you. So give him another chance (a group setting doesn’t count) and if you still don’t feel anything, at least you’ll know!

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  • something random

    something random October 23, 2014, 5:15 pm

    I ended up having a lot of chemistry with someone who I initially didn’t think of as my “type”. I felt really comfortable with him and he was funny. So we dated. And the first kiss felt like lightning. I still smile thinking about it. I ended up marrying someone who I had instant lust-at-first-sight with. I actually wasn’t going to go out with him because I thought the timing was crummy. Glad I did. I say stick it out a little more and see what’s there.

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  • avatar

    captainswife October 23, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I was dating someone when my husband and I met. I didn’t even really notice him, to tell the truth. We worked on some projects together. One day, I realized that he was kinder to me than my boyfriend, and it all clicked.

    We’ve been married 24 years and are still very happy together. Friendship is a WONDERFUL basis for marriage, and outlasts any sparks (yes, we do still have sparks, but still…the friendship kept the sparks going, imo).

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  • Astronomer

    Astronomer October 23, 2014, 6:18 pm

    Nope, not me. Barf. Any time I’ve tried to force attraction, the results have still been “meh.”

    I feel like life’s too short and there are too many good people out there left to meet to force someone who’s just a “meh” into a “yay.”

    Reply Link
    • Portia

      Portia October 23, 2014, 6:36 pm

      I’m with you, my experience has been that anytime I’ve started out with some kind of forced attraction, the rest of it was forced, in a way. Like, I had fun, but it did not turn into love, even after multiple years for one.

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      • Portia

        Portia October 23, 2014, 6:39 pm

        Technically me and Bassanio were friends first for a year, so I get the friends to more thing. But I was instantly attracted to him, butterflies and all, we were just dating other people and both were very stubborn.

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      • Astronomer

        Astronomer October 23, 2014, 11:55 pm

        That’s different. And hot!

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  • avatar

    blue skies October 23, 2014, 6:53 pm

    I feel like I was in a very similar position to the LW, just a few years ago. Long term relationship, followed by being happily single. And then I decided to ‘get back out there’, and I went out with sooo many dates that just ended up being duds. I wondered if it was me. If I was just incapable of feeling a spark. Or if I had just built up my walls too high to avoid getting hurt. I went out with men that I had NO attraction to for weeks and months. And you know what? When I broke up with them (after trying hard to ‘make it work’ because they were ‘great on paper’) they were pretty angry with me. And now I get it. I knew from Day 1 (or 2) that I really wasn’t into them. I wasted their time. Essentially, I led them on. I didn’t MEAN to. I just kept hoping that my feelings would change, or that I’d suddenly fall in love. But in my experiences, it just didn’t happen.
    All of this to say…I think everyone experiences relationships, and love, differently. I’m just not someone who feels a lightening bolt. With my current BF though, I definitely felt attracted to him. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to be with him. And that’s how I knew it was right.
    LW, if this guy is a mutual friend, I would say give it another date. Kiss him if you’re feeling it. But don’t keep going out with him if you’re not interested. I think you need to be extra careful with someone who is a mutual friend, as the story of how you broke their heart will make the rounds…

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  • Lyra

    Lyra October 23, 2014, 7:29 pm

    I wasn’t sure if I felt the sparks with my boyfriend (Navy Guy) right away. I was sure that he was a fantastic guy and I was sure that it seemed like we could talk about lots of stuff — our first date was a lunch date at a Mongolian grill that ended up being 3 hours — but I wasn’t sure if I was feeling the romantic side of things. Yet, the 3-hour thing plus after a (mandatory) subtle butt-check as we left the restaurant I decided I definitely wanted another date which we set up before we left the parking lot.
    .
    I’m definitely attracted to him physically but the biggest thing that kept me dating him at the beginning is that he is one of the most compassionate, caring, sweet, genuine guys I’ve ever met. He listened when I told him something, whether it was a story from my past or something I like or whatever. For example, we started dating last November and had agreed on no Christmas gifts because we really didn’t know each other very well at that point. One day in late December when he came to visit me, he presented me with a tin of chocolates that had cat pictures on the front (I’m a crazy cat lady) and a tiny stuffed cat similar to the one I REALLY wanted to adopt at that time. He told me: “I can’t get you the cat you want, so this is the closest I could get. Plus I saw this tin of chocolates at the grocery store the other day and thought of you because I know you love chocolate and cats.” That moment was when I realized that I had a genuine nice guy. My long term ex always claimed that he was a nice guy, but NEVER in the 3 1/2 years we dated did he prove himself like Navy Guy did in that one simple gesture.
    .
    Obviously we do have our differences like every couple and we’ve fought like every couple, but the fact remains that our values match up and he treats me better than I’ve ever been treated. He’ll make me coffee and bring it to me in bed when I’m visiting him, then he’ll make us breakfast. He opens doors for me all.the.time. He accepts the fact that I’m a crazy cat lady. He understands my sometimes crazy job and supports me in every way possible. When my family dog died in June the first thing he asked me when I called with the news was: “When can I come down there to be there for you?” Not to mention I am probably at my worst when a pet dies and it meant so much that he saw me through a full 12 hours straight of ugly crying and helped me say goodbye.
    .
    My long winded point here is that you should give this dude a chance LW. Nice guys are the absolute best!

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  • Cassie

    Cassie October 23, 2014, 7:30 pm

    From what I’m reading, it sounds like many people started out as ‘eh’, but then something changed their feelings to interest and/or chemistry. I say go out with him a couple more times, but if it doesn’t change to interest or chemistry on your part, then don’t force it just ’cause he looks good on paper. I don’t think you can happily sustain a long term relationship when you’ve only ever felt ‘eh’ towards someone.

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  • avatar

    Ems October 24, 2014, 1:12 am

    I’ve been lurking for a bit, but in my own experience, if you think someone is a good person that you would want to be friends with, just friends and not in a romantic sense, you should see where it goes. My fiance was friends with my former roommates and he needed help with a school project. Since I had a car and knew he needed to prop shop (film major classes) I offered to drive him/be in his movies if he needed a female actress. I knew him through my roommates and enjoyed his company when he visited. Of course he needed a female actress and I was in his movie. While I wasn’t romantically interested in him in the beginning, after spending some time together, I realized how much I cared for him.

    Give this guy a chance. You never know.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie October 24, 2014, 8:09 am

    We’d been antiquated for 10-11 years but not “attracted” to each other. After she broke up with her SO she shared a house with my best friend and his wife so I so saw her often. Over the next 4 months of them prodding us to spend time together we went on a date and she wouldn’t kiss me goodnight. The next weekend was Labor Day and I’d decided to give it one more chance. She came to my place for dinner, we kissed almost immediately on that Friday evening and she didn’t go home until Tuesday morning. That was 26 years ago and we’re still together.

    My answer is no you don’t need to have chemistry and make sparks fly (until you get naked between the sheets) to have a solid loving relationship. To be simplistic: if you have common goals and values with a minimum conflicts you can make it work without too much effort.

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  • avatar

    lonemirage14 October 24, 2014, 9:50 am

    I had a similar experience where a friend set me up with his friend. The friend was a really nice guy, great job, looking for his own apartment, etc, but I just felt absolutely nothing for him. We went out twice and then I gently let him down. It made me realize that I crave creativity and adventure in a guy, and this person was just very … white bread. I think to him, he saw me as this alternative girl with an exciting life and maybe that is what he was looking for. I knew that no matter how many dates we went on and how good he looked on paper, I was going to get bored really quickly.

    Maybe just keeps things on a friends level for now and see if something grows from that?

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph October 24, 2014, 12:23 pm

    On one hand, I had a little crush on my husband but wasn’t really that into him and didn’t foresee it going anywhere at first… and three years later I married him. Our first kiss was pretty spectacular, I’ll admit.

    But, before that, I dated a guy who was perfect-on-paper and I just felt no chemistry at all. I forced myself into that relationship thinking it was me and I had a wall up (coming out of a messy breakup) and that if I just gave it time I’d learn to love him (very arranged marriage Fiddler on the Roof style thinking). Only I didn’t. And I let it go on for a couple months, which was way longer than I should have, thinking I just needed to “give it time.”

    I agree with what others are saying about the kiss and a couple dates. Don’t let it go on too long in the spirit of “giving it time.” Either you like to kiss him or you don’t.

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  • avatar

    shakeourtree October 24, 2014, 12:51 pm

    I did not feel an immediate connection to my now-boyfriend. He is good looking (though a lot skinnier than guys I normally date), and we would talk for a long time without awkward silences, but I didn’t feel that pull that I have felt with other men. Even our first kiss (second date) and our first make out (third date) didn’t completely convince me. I kept going out with him because we had similar values and good conversations and I wasn’t getting any better offers at the time. Obviously, I’m glad I stuck it out because our chemistry grew, and before I knew it, I was hopelessly in love. It snuck up on me. But I also wasted quite a bit of time with a man who seemed totally perfect on paper, but we just didn’t have any chemistry. The biggest difference between that guy and this guy is sense of humor. The other guy definitely had a sense of humor, and so do I, but for some reason, they just didn’t really overlap.

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  • avatar

    greymama October 29, 2014, 5:28 pm

    Oh my gosh, blue skies, you just put all my confusion into words! I’m in the same boat as LW. I’m on the far side of 40, have a young daughter, and after a broken heart and long dating hiatus have realized I really want to meet someone and get out there again. However, I don’t really meet any single men in the course of normal life. I go to the gym, played on a kickball team, try to get out to new places but it’s tough around here.

    Realizing Mr. Right wasn’t going to pop out of my DVR, I joined eHarmony. I’ve gone on a few blah dates, and am supposed to go out Saturday night for a second date with someone. However, I’m contemplating cancelling. He seems like a really nice guy, but…talking seems like work. On paper we have common interests, but our conversations are just so blah. There is zero attraction so far but I keep thinking, “Maybe I just need to give him a chance.” My friends keep telling me that I need to be open and attraction takes a while to build sometimes, but I really feel like I’m wasting both our time, though.

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