Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “He Won’t Commit. Should I Date Around?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’ve been dating “S” for about four months and I’m really enjoying our time together. When we met, he fell hard and fast and I think my feelings escalated quicker than usual because I knew how into me he was. He’s extremely sweet and caring and genuinely a good person. He makes me feel so special and beautiful.

A couple months before we started dating, though, he ended a long relationship (like 6 years) because his ex cheated on him. He said he had a rough patch after their breakup but had gotten himself together again and felt over it.

After we’d dated two months, I asked how he felt about making it “official” but he said he wasn’t quite ready yet. I was a little hurt but understood (it took me a very long time to get over my ex). The next day, I was grocery shopping and met a guy who asked for my number and I gave it to him. After a bit of texting, I was upfront with him and told him that I had recently started dating someone and although we weren’t exclusive — which is why I gave him number initially — it just wasn’t sitting right with me to potentially go out with someone else right now. I said I’d hang on to his number, though, and maybe our paths would cross again someday. He thanked me for my honesty and wished me well.

Since then, S and I have continued spending lots of time together, have met each other’s families, and gotten very close, but he still feels like he’s not ready to be “in a relationship.” He said it just seems too heavy for him right now and he doesn’t think he could provide what he’d need to, although he didn’t specify what that meant.

Some friends say I should move on but it’s hard to fault someone who has been so great, just for wanting to take it slow. Others say I should just enjoy the moment and not worry so much about the titles and see how things go. But I admit, I’ve been feeling a little antsy with things not really moving forward, and have considered texting grocery store guy. I have no clue if this dude would even want to talk to me (it HAS been like two months after all) but a part of me regrets not taking the opportunity to date around. If S were ready to make it official, I wouldn’t be thinking about dating anyone else but since he’s not, it makes me wonder if I should explore other things, even though I think it’d hurt S’s feelings if I did. Any input would be appreciated! — Feeling Antsy

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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.

89 comments… add one
  • avatar

    sarolabelle August 7, 2013, 9:11 am

    Say this:

    “hey, S, if we aren’t exclusively dating then that means we can date other people right?”

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    • avatar

      Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 9:29 am

      great answer! simple and direct.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna August 7, 2013, 9:39 am

      This works well if LW genuinely wants to date around a bit and simply wants to give him a heads up. I don’t think it’ll work if it’s used to get a certain response from the guy, i.e. “noooo, don’t date anyone else, let’s be exclusive!”. This would be a bad result because a) he might agree to be in a relationship for the wrong reason or b) he might actually be cool with it which would defeat the purpose for LW. We have to assume he knows what being exclusive means….

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    • bagge72

      Bagge72 August 7, 2013, 9:50 am

      I don’t think that really works, they are acting like a couple, he is just afraid to say it, and because of that she could kind of scare him off if she really does think this is a good thing she has going on with him.

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      • bagge72

        Bagge72 August 7, 2013, 9:54 am

        I guess I think this if she really does like him and see a future. If she really is sick of it, and wants to date other people she should say that. I just don’t think she should say that if her only reason is to get him to say he want’s to make it official.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie August 7, 2013, 10:24 am

        If they’re really acting like a couple, then she should be able to talk to him about how she feels. He might not be ready but that doesn’t mean she has to wait patiently if she’s not wanting to do that right now.

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      • bagge72

        Bagge72 August 7, 2013, 11:01 am

        I’m not saying she should way, if she really wants to date other people, she already has her answer, and should do that. Asking if she can see other people if that isn’t realyl what she wants isn’t talking about it. If she really wants to talk about it she should, just not that way.

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      • bagge72

        Bagge72 August 7, 2013, 11:05 am

        I’m not saying she shouldn’t date other people. If she really wants to date other people she already has her answer, and she should do that. Asking if she can see other people if that isn’t really what she wants, is not talking about it. If she really does want to talk about it, she should have a real convo, not ask that question.

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      • bagge72

        Bagge72 August 7, 2013, 11:06 am

        This is what I was trying to say. Just been trying to type really quick while in meetings!

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      • Nookie

        Nookie August 7, 2013, 12:32 pm

        mmm, I don’t know. I’d at least talk to him about it if were me, not as an ultimatum – just that if we’re not exclusive, I’m going to date. Cool? I mean, you’ve got to be honest and know what you want going into that conversation.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck August 7, 2013, 1:16 pm

        I think that’s weird. They both know they aren’t exclusive, so they’re both aware dating other people is on the table. If a guy I was dating and had already discussed not being exclusive with told me he was going to date other people, I’d think he was trying to make me jealous and/or get me to commit sooner than I was ready, and it would really make me question the relationship I had with them. It just seems juvenile game-playing to me.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie August 8, 2013, 4:28 am

        Maybe it’s just my experience but saying you’re not exclusive doesn’t always mean you’re not dating other people. It’s free rein of course but considering this fellow’s history, he might be scared to label the relationship but still not want them to see other people… so maybe they can find a compromise?

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      • avatar

        oldie August 7, 2013, 11:00 am

        Well, he is in effect telling her that he feels free to date other women. When he says that he is not ready to say they are official, that is exactly what he is telling her. It is perfectly fair for her to pin that down. She may not have anybody she wants to date right this minute, but if he is free to pursue his options, then she should be as well and not feel like she is cheating if she does so, which I think is what she would feel today. It is not so much an ultimatum and a possible protection from future beating herself up with guilt if she dates another guy and decides she is responsible for this sort-of-a-relationship dying by her cheating. This guy is not being fair. He has played ‘I was cheated on and now I’m hurting… and please, please don’t do anything that would further damage my little psyche and make it impossible for me to ever trust any woman again’ card, both to hold her in place in a self-imposed unilateral monogamy, while leaving himself free to explore anyone better who might come along. He really doesn’t take the approach he has if he isn’t thinking ‘there is almost certainly someone better out there’. Being ‘official’ is hardly an earth-shattering commitment. That he won’t make it says a lot, which LW is hearing, but refusing to admit she has heard.

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      • avatar

        ktfran August 7, 2013, 11:11 am

        I had this relationship. Treated like a girlfriend, but the dude couldn’t commit. Yet I was the “crazy” one if something he did upset me and I voiced that opinion. According to him, I had no right because we weren’t “official.”

        That relationship took a huge toll on my self esteem. It’s finally back. Thank god.

        This kind of relationship is more than friends with benefits, but not girlfriend status. I recently dubbed it the “stand-in girlfriend” role.

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      • avatar

        thatgirl August 7, 2013, 11:22 am

        And this is where I feel she is. Love the “stand-in girlfriend” label!!

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      • avatar

        stickelet August 7, 2013, 1:35 pm

        I had this relationship too. He eventually ‘cheated’ on me (I say cheated in quotes because while we weren’t official, we had agreed not to see other people) and we broke things off. A year later he was engaged, and to someone with a kid. It wasn’t that he didn’t want a commitment, he didn’t want one with ME. Which is fine, but I wish he had just been upfront. It’s ok if you don’t like me enough to not want to date me, I can handle it.
        It also took a huge toll on my self esteem, but like ktfran I am finally back too!
        I actually broke up with him after he said he didn’t want a commitment but stupidly went back to him, so it’s my own fault, really, but oh well, hindsight is 20-20.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay August 7, 2013, 4:37 pm

        “It wasn’t that he didn’t want a commitment, he didn’t want one with ME.”

        Yeah, I feel like this happens a lot. Sometimes a person doesn’t want a relationship at all or thinks they don’t, but even those people may very well change their stance if they meet the “right” person.

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      • avatar

        Marjoralynnia August 7, 2013, 8:05 pm

        Me three, and fairly recently–still trying to get over it. Reading all this sensible DW advice sometimes makes me feel especially stupid for letting myself get treated that way, but it’s nice to know others have been there too, and can relate.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck August 7, 2013, 1:18 pm

        How is he not being fair? He doesn’t want to be exclusive. He’s not telling her not to date other people while he continues to do so. He’s made it clear he’s not ready for a bigger commitment, and it’s HER choice whether to stick it out or not. She’s just as free to date around as he is. Whether or not she wants to doesn’t really matter.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie August 7, 2013, 10:22 am

      This! This is exactly what I thought! Lay it out for him, if he says he’s still not ready text the other dude if you want to.

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    • Cassie

      CassieB August 7, 2013, 2:25 pm

      I guess it depends on whether she wants to hold out for the possibility of being exclusive with this guy. If she really does want to wait a bit more to see if he is ready to label it, then I would advise against texting/dating others, especially since his past breakup was due to his ex cheating. A couple of months is a short amount of time for him to get over a 6 year relationship.

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      • Cassie

        CassieB August 7, 2013, 2:29 pm

        That being said, I definitely think she should make it known where she stands. It may be a wake up call that the guy needs. But if not, she has to decide if he’s potentially worth holding out another few months for, or if it’s time to move on to someone else.

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  • avatar

    Nico August 7, 2013, 9:14 am

    He can’t have his cake and eat it!
    I’d say, since he does not want to be exclusive, and he’s not ready, then that’s fine.
    But he can’t expect you to sit at home and wait around for him to “get over his ex”.

    I’d say there is nothing wrong with dating around, and your not official with him, so if he gets mad, then it’s umm.. his fault for not making it official.

    I am not telling you to go date like 20 dudes, but if you felt a connection with this other man, I don’t see the harm in exploring that possibility too.

    Women need to stop being all puritans about relationships like “oh he kissed me so I have to be 100% loyal to him even though he might not be that interested in me and shun all other men.”

    Relax, take it slow, and if you go out on a date or two with Mr. Grocery and he realizes what a catch you are and snaps you up, then all the better for you!

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  • avatar

    SasLinna August 7, 2013, 9:15 am

    I already commented on this in the forums. I want to comment on a more general theme that seems to come up a lot: The issue of women waiting for a guy to define things instead of being proactive in making their wishes known and having the guts to get rejected from time to time. While it’s completely OK to wait and see what this could turn into, I think it’s ultimately healthier to just say “Hey, I want to be in a relationship, and if that’s not in the cards soon, then I’ll have to move on”. It would put the onus on the guy to take a stand. And you dont’ need a justification to feel this way, if you want to be in a relationship, then that’s what you want and you can communicate it.

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    • avatar

      MissDre August 7, 2013, 10:09 am

      I did exactly this with a guy I was dating for about 3 months. I really did like him, but I wanted to be in a relationship and he didn’t want to define things as exclusive. So I pretty much said what you said, I moved on, and 2 months later I met the love of my life 🙂 And we’re still together more than 3 years later 🙂

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      • avatar

        feelingroovy August 7, 2013, 10:19 am

        Similarly, I was in the LW’s exact situation a few months ago with my current boyfriend (he had been recently dumped after a six year relationship). After 3-ish months of dating, meeting each other’s friends, hanging out and talking on the phone all the time, I told him that if he wasn’t ready to be call me his girlfriend, we couldn’t see each other anymore. That was back in March, and we’ve been very happily exclusive ever since.

        So, two good possibilities here: you become exclusive and enjoy a very happy relationship, or you end it and meet the love of your life a la MissDre!

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    • Nookie

      Nookie August 7, 2013, 10:37 am

      I want to like this 100x times. There are definite patterns and I think there somewhat cultural? But I think it’s really good that the patterns are being recognised and talked about, that’s how things change.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie August 7, 2013, 10:41 am

      I want to like this 100x times. There are definite patterns and I think they’re somewhat cultural? But I think it’s really good that the patterns are being recognised and talked about, that’s how things change.

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    • avatar

      oldie August 7, 2013, 11:07 am

      Huh? She did talk to him and made her wishes perfectly clear. She was rebuffed. What she hasn’t done is the second part of your comment — accept that he doesn’t want to be in an official relationship with her and move on or at least date other guys. He seems to be treating her as a convenient and pleasant place-holder while he gets over his ex without having to be alone, and before he moves on to another woman he sees as better for him. If LW finds time with him to be congenial, then she can treat him in exactly the same way. It is foolish to expect that time will cause him to want a relationship with her. The painful truth is that he just doesn’t think LW is good enough for him for anything but a temporary place holder. To be totally real about this, guys throw around ‘yes, we’re official’ without batting an eye, unless they plan on cheating in a way in which they are pretty sure they will be caught. So he’s just leaving himself the ‘sorry, babe, but you know we weren’t official or anything, I don’t understand why you’re upset’ excuse. LW has totally enabled this.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 11:12 am

        I don’t think we disagree. She may have made her wishes known, but she hasn’t attached any consequences to him diregarding them yet.

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      • avatar

        oldie August 7, 2013, 12:33 pm

        Yeah, I agree, we’re awfully close. I wouldn’t refer to ‘consequences’ however. That speaks to ultimatum. What I am saying is if the relationship isn’t formal, she should just clarify with him that this means she is free to date him or anyone else and see how she feels in a few months. Her current semi-relationship guy may want to make it formal a few months down the line. She may or may not feel that way, having dated others. By dating others now, even if she and current guy end up together, she will at least have gotten more experience and been surer that he is her first choice, but more importantly she will have shown that she isn’t a doormat in this sort-of-a-relationship. The worst thing about an ultimatum is what happens if the guy says ‘alright, in that case we are bf/gf’? What have you gained? He’s not saying it totally of his own free will and his level of commitment has not changed one iota. You just forced him to change his terminology. All that has changed is that if he now fools around with another woman that you can legit call it cheating. Likely doesn’t alter the likelihood of his doing the ‘cheating’. And it sounds like LW would be as bothered by ‘cheating’ as by cheating.

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    • avatar

      MMcG August 7, 2013, 12:44 pm

      Agree – though I wonder if it is less avoiding rejection and more conditioning to be passive, wait, etc. Plus those damn romcoms 😉

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    • Cassie

      CassieB August 7, 2013, 2:27 pm

      WSS!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray August 7, 2013, 3:23 pm

        WCBS!

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  • avatar

    j2 August 7, 2013, 9:31 am

    Maybe you should work backwards from what your goal is. Is it marriage? Kids within wedlock? If so, I think you need to date others even if it might hurt “S”‘s feelings.

    Yes, you risk losing him. Consider, though, that he had a six year LT relationship and yours with him might be just as long w/o him ever feeling ready to marry. etc.

    OTOH, if you simply want a less formal LT relationship, then your current semi-BF guy seems perfect. After all, he had a six year LT w/o ever getting married.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs August 7, 2013, 9:35 am

    LW I’m in a similar situation right now….only its been almost 2 Years for me!….i’m seeing a guy (more of a friends with benefits type relationship – which pains me to even write that)….and i have been asked out by three other guys during that time….i turned each of those guys down because i am so hung up on this other guy….its funny because the first thing i thought to say to you is go for the grocery store guy because you are free to do that (i’m better at giving advice than taking it i guess)….who knows maybe it would be the wake up call your guy needs to see that he could lose you….hope things work out the way you want them to (and hey….at least you have options!)

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  • avatar

    TheOtherOtherMe August 7, 2013, 9:42 am

    What is it with guys who say “I’m not ready to be in a relationship” when they clearly ARE, for all intents and purposes, IN a relationship? I mean, LW and this guy see each other regularly, have met each other’s families, are very “close” in her words (which I assume means they are intimate). Yeah, I get that he’s still gun-shy from the breakup of his last serious relationship, but please guys, let’s call a spade a spade. It’s not fair to pretend you are not in a relationship with someone just because the thought scares you. It is what it is, no matter what label you put on it (or don’t put on it).

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    • avatar

      SasLinna August 7, 2013, 9:48 am

      I think it’s naive to believe he just doesn’t realize he’s ready to be in a relationship. Labels actually do matter a great deal because they indicate a person’s intentions and commitment level. If you’re not bf/gf, you can walk away any time without even a proper break up – or at least that’s what I think the social convention is. So it does matter. And it’s not really hard to see why doing all sorts of relationship activities without officially being in one can be attractive. You get to be close to someone, share some fun, etc., without any of the pressures of being official.

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    • avatar

      oldie August 7, 2013, 11:11 am

      It means they are either not willing to be monogamous, period, at this point in their life or they just don’t see any future with the woman they are dating. It’s not difficult. Women make it difficult by fixating on a guy and deciding that the sort-of-relationship is more than it is, and that time and their extra-specialness will bring him around. Rarely works. If you want a relationship, ask the guy ‘do you want to be in an actual relationship with me’, and he says no, then you just MOA. Can’t get much simpler than that.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest August 7, 2013, 9:48 am

    Do whatever the fuck you want, because you are single. You don’t have to ask him if you can see other people. You don’t have to feel weird seeing other people. You are single. Go forth and have fun. If he asks you to be exclusive, then decide if that’s still what you want (now that you know he’s happy to drag you along for a bit).

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    • avatar

      Nico August 7, 2013, 9:49 am

      AMEN!

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    • rainbow

      rainbow August 7, 2013, 1:49 pm

      I love you.

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    • avatar

      eljay August 7, 2013, 2:48 pm

      Perfection.

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  • avatar

    Sophronisba August 7, 2013, 10:03 am

    If you have a whole raft of expectations of what will follow “making it official” (after only four months) with someone who told you he’s not ready, I think you’re in for disappointment. He may be great, but he’s got one foot out, so go ahead and live your life, for you, dating him and others. Dating is to find who goes with your life, not who you can chivvy into compliance.

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    • avatar

      TheOtherOtherMe August 7, 2013, 12:04 pm

      Huh?

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    • avatar

      Jubietta August 7, 2013, 4:14 pm

      >>>Dating is to find who goes with your life, not who you can chivvy into compliance.

      Nicely stated! I think it would be very healthy and comforting to find the person in life whose strengths and weaknesses align with your own rather than trying to change the other person into something they aren’t.

      It sounds like you want someone who will be committed to a forever relationship with all the cultural symbols. He has told you that isn’t him — and his track record confirms it. If you accept him at his word (and have had those words) do him the favor of respect and don’t try to change him. (Remember that time is a dimension to life and relationships, and if he ain’t ready, he ain’t ready.)

      There are no “perfect” people, but there are people whose quirks and wounds and idiosyncracies don’t drive you batshit. As you are not committed to “S” yet, why not see if someone else out there is a better match?

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  • avatar

    Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 10:06 am

    LW, I might be splitting hairs here. But you aren’t “in a relationship” but it might be “exclusive”. So I would ask that. This is a guy that has been cheated on so he might be more sensitive to it if you just “go and date.” I would ask and then date around. You should date lots of boys while you can. Then settle down with the one you like.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest August 7, 2013, 10:11 am

      That’s such bs if that’s what he’s thinking. How can you be exclusive, but not be in a relationship? F that.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 10:18 am

        You can separate the two. For example, two people might be dating casually but have no interest in seeing others & thus be exclusive even though they’re not serious. And there are also couples who are serious, but not exclusive (open relationships).

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        lets_be_honest August 7, 2013, 10:21 am

        The way I see it is that you can be non-exclusive, but in a relationship, but not the other way around.
        I guess I don’t see why anyone would say they are just casually dating, but exclusive.

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      • avatar

        thatgirl August 7, 2013, 10:24 am

        Agree!! Casual dating is exactly that….casual….not exclusive

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      • avatar

        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 10:31 am

        I agree that it’s not really common, but there can be reasons, like a fear of STDs for example. Or just a situation where neither is interested in dating multiple people, but not interested in a serious relationship either.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest August 7, 2013, 10:34 am

        Yea, I guess that’s true, but even still, if someone in say, a FWB “exclusive” relationship met someone else, they would leave the FWB for it, it wouldn’t be cheating. I guess exclusive until someone better comes along, like all relationships, haha.

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        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 10:40 am

        yes, I took “exclusive” literally, meaning they’re not dating anyone else, or having sex with anyone else & that a change in that would have to be communicated to the other person. I know exclusive is usually connected to being committed for most people, just a pet peeve of mine that you can logically separate them.

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      • avatar

        oldie August 7, 2013, 11:15 am

        This is a temporary state of affairs, however, where both parties know that this is not a serious relationship and are on the look out for something better. It is a holding pattern.

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      • avatar

        Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 11:20 am

        I am not saying I would put up with this. But I would hate for her to ruin a good thing because she didn’t communicate her intentions. A lot of people on this site will say they were “cheated on early in the relationship” and I wonder if it is this exact ambiguous situation we see here.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay August 7, 2013, 2:55 pm

        If a guy who repeatedly told the LW that he didn’t want to be in a relationship got that angry at the LW for dating other people when they hadn’t agreed to be exclusive, then he’d be at best kind of dumb and at worst really controlling.

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      • avatar

        feelingroovy August 7, 2013, 10:26 am

        My current boyfriend and I were exclusive (not intentionally, though) after our first date, but we didn’t call it a relationship for about three months. He had also been hurt very badly after his ex of six years broke up with him, and he wasn’t quite ready to label it yet. My friends all told me to MOA, but as usual I didn’t listen; it worked out this time, though and we’ve been together since December 🙂

        This LW has been with him for four months, so I do think it’s time for a shit-or-get-off-the-pot talk.

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      • avatar

        Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 10:56 am

        This was exactly what I was thinking. Like, don’t sleep with other people but not ready to introduce you to mom.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay August 7, 2013, 2:57 pm

        I think they can be separate, but I think it’s nonexclusive unless determined otherwise.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger August 8, 2013, 10:55 am

        Lots of people (including me) do this for ICK factor of sleeping with someone who is sleeping with someone else. Like, feel free to date and “keep looking” stuff, but if you sleep with someone else, you have to tell me/you won’t be able to sleep with me anymore. Which is fine and ok and no hard feelings and isn’t cheating, which is the difference between that and a relationship.

        And my ex and I did this after we broke up but were still living together for a month (and sleeping together) so there was no confusion and no ending on a terrible note because of misunderstandings.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie August 7, 2013, 10:46 am

      I agree. I’ve been in quite a few relationships start where exclusive is implied instead of outright stated. And considering his history, she at least should tell him that she’s thinking about dating others instead of just going ahead and doing it.

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      • avatar

        Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 11:17 am

        right, some people can only date one person at a time. so they get upset if they are only the Friday night date.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie August 7, 2013, 12:35 pm

        I can only date one person at a time, I don’t do the whole ‘let’s see if we like each other’ thing. I date people I know I like, then work out how much I like them. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I was ‘dating’ someone and they didn’t feel the same.

        I still think for her piece of mind she should tell him that she wants/needs to date if they’re not going to make a real commitment to each other right now. Because clearly that’s what she wants.

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      • avatar

        Bunnycsp August 7, 2013, 12:45 pm

        So Wait, what if you are asked out on the street or at a bar? How do you proceed to get to know someone without going on a few casual dates?

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      • Nookie

        Nookie August 8, 2013, 4:36 am

        mmm from memory I’ve never been asked out on the street or the bar. Things don’t work like that in England!

        I think most of my partners have been through friends, once or twice through work.

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  • avatar

    thatgirl August 7, 2013, 10:21 am

    If he won’t commit, and you want a commitment, then go forth and date until you get what you want!! Why why why are you waiting around wondering when he has made it very clear he just wants to be friends, NOT be in a relationship! I don’t get why women do this to themselves!!

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    • avatar

      feelingroovy August 7, 2013, 10:27 am

      His actions are saying something very different than his words, though. Dudes don’t introduce f*ck buddies to their parents.

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        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 10:34 am

        Not usually, but it’s always dangerous to make assumptions. For example, my bf has very laid back parents who know all his friends well, he might very well have introduced me to them before being serious (thought probably as a “friend”, not with the “fuck buddy” title, haha).

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      • avatar

        thatgirl August 7, 2013, 10:55 am

        But he didn’t introduce her as his “girlfriend”. She is his “friend”. Meeting the family does not make it a relationship and if she wants more than that, and he isn’t ready, she needs to go find what she wants, not wait for him to change his mind.

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        SasLinna August 7, 2013, 11:27 am

        I think we agree, I was saying that introduction to parents may happen even though he’s not serious.

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        thatgirl August 7, 2013, 11:52 am

        Yes, we do agree…i “replied” on the wrong comment 🙂

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        oldie August 7, 2013, 11:18 am

        Sure they do, if it get’s Mom off their back.

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        MMcG August 7, 2013, 12:48 pm

        Exactly… bring a girl home now and then to make your parents feel like they are involved;)

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        starpattern August 7, 2013, 4:03 pm

        Haha, yep!

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay August 7, 2013, 1:50 pm

        I’ve been introduced to parents of fuck buddies. It depends on the person and the circumstances.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. August 7, 2013, 10:34 am

    Go ahead and date the other guy. If S calls you out on it, be as honest as you were with the guy in the supermarket. Say something like, “Well, since we’re not exclusive, I feel I can do this.” Let him know what “not exclusive” means. Don’t be a doormat and wait for him to make up his mind. If he wants things to change, he’ll have to step up. And maybe Grocery Store Guy will step up first.

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    starpattern August 7, 2013, 11:01 am

    LW, you’d be perfectly within your rights to just start dating other people, no explanations necessary. I personally think you should alert the guy you’re with, though. As someone else pointed out, you risk losing him – but you also risk that if he finds out on his own and gets pissed, and it really sounds like the better alternative to waiting for months and months further to see if he feels ready to commit, when it’s possible he never will. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just something like, “I’d really like to be in a relationship with you, but I know you’re not ready for that, so I am also going to be seeing other people.” I don’t think you should *ask* if it’s ok, but I think it’s good to just lay it out so you’re both on the same page.

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      zombeyonce August 7, 2013, 11:27 am

      I think this is excellent advice. Tell him what’s going on and he can decide if he wants something more, and you can decide if you want it, too.

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    candyintherain August 7, 2013, 11:19 am

    Be upfront with him about this. And ask him, point blank, what would change about your relationship if you guys were to make it official. It sounds like nothing. I’ve seen guys use the “I’m not ready/over my ex/into labels/etc.” To keep girls on the hook while they try to find something better, though, so be wary. Don’t commit to him if he can’t commit to you.

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    lets_be_honest August 7, 2013, 11:31 am

    fwiw, it doesn’t sound like he is necessarily looking to date around, just that he’s nervous to get into another relationship.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark August 7, 2013, 11:51 am

    The rush to couple exclusivity is often a mess. I say, date both. But be honest about it.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow August 7, 2013, 11:56 am

    I dunno what I would do, honestly. Do you *like* grocery store guy? Or do you just feel like you’re “wasting your time” or “holding yourself back” by not pursuing other options? If you genuinely like the grocery store guy, then sure, go for it. If not, maybe give your commitment-phobe a bit more time, knowing that if you do happen to meet someone else you can easily pursue it. I know it hurts to let yourself get invested and not have it work out, but look at the bright side here. You’re enjoying many perks of a relationship while still having an “easy out” if you happen to find someone else you like better. Enjoy the freedom!

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    painted_lady August 7, 2013, 12:00 pm

    I dated so many guys in my terribly misguided youth who weren’t “into labels.” This isn’t precisely this guy’s case, but it sounds like he wants all the perks of a relationship but to still be able to say to you, “I don’t know why you’re mad about this – it’s not like you’re my girlfriend.” He sounds great, but so were a lot of the guys whose lines I fell for. I agree with all of the people who say – and I said this in the forums – that you need to tell him that you would like a relationship with him, but that looks like it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, if ever. As a result, if he can’t commit, you’re going to have to start also dating other people since you’re single and free to do so and would like to find someone who would like to be in a relationship. It’s not a threat or a manipulation; you’re just explaining to him that his indecision has affected you and this is how you need to behave to remain comfortable.

    My hopes aren’t high, but I would also not be completely shocked if he decides that losing you is worse than keeping some arbitrary boundary regarding words you use with each other. But I think it’s probably not going to happen that way. Whether it’s timing or just that he really doesn’t care about you enough to commit to, he doesn’t want a relationship with you, and waiting around for him to maybe someday change his mind is both unfair and humiliating to you. And I really buy into Wendy’s advice that a guy who wants to be your boyfriend will waste little time acting like anything else. And this guy is wasting time, both his and yours.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay August 7, 2013, 1:47 pm

    I sort of assume that things aren’t exclusive unless said otherwise, especially if a guy says he doesn’t want a relationship. And I understand not being ready after a long-term relationship ends, but I think it’s silly to expect the LW to walk on eggshells in order to not “scare him off.” If a person can get scared off by the other simply asking what he wants/if they’re exclusive, then he’s clearly not anywhere close to being ready to be in a relationship.

    On one hand, four months isn’t that long, but on the other hand, I probably would want to know at that point whether there was any hope of things moving forward or not. Because just because a person says they aren’t “ready now” doesn’t mean they will ever be ready.

    Personally, I would not agree to be exclusive unless I knew that the other person and I were on the same page.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay August 7, 2013, 1:48 pm

      Also, I said this in the forum, but just because you act like a couple with a guy doesn’t mean he wants to be one or that his actions are speaking louder than his words. Sometimes people (guys or girls) just enjoy doing those things and spending time with one, when they know full well that they don’t want to be with that person long term.

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    Scooze August 7, 2013, 4:21 pm

    Sorry, LW, but after four months, if he was crazy about you he’d be falling all over himself to show it to you.

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    WatersEdge August 7, 2013, 8:04 pm

    Can I just say, I was recently in a very similar situation. I was dating this guy, I wanted to be exclusive, he was cagey about that idea, someone else asked me out. I asked the guy what he thought about us seeing other people and he said he thought it was fine because we weren’t exclusive. At first I was really hurt and disappointed, and my first date or two with the other guy was kinda tainted by that feeling. However, after a few dates, I began to really appreciate what the other guy had to offer. He wanted to be my boyfriend! No label fears! Everything was easy and straightforward! Now the “other” guy is my boyfriend, and I’m so, so happy that we’re together, and that I gave myself the opportunity to get to know someone who could meet my needs.

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    Lucy August 7, 2013, 11:34 pm

    I feel like this is the perfect example of “he’s just not that into you.” If you don’t want to break it off entirely, go ahead and date other people, and take a few steps back from Mr. UnBoyfriend. If he doesn’t want to call it a relationship, then stop treating it like one.

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