The thing is, now he barely talks to me outside of work. He used to text me at least three times a day and in the past week he’s only texted me twice. At work he’s perfectly normal, but he hasn’t mentioned hanging out again. I guess my questions are as follows: did he just want me for sex? Or has he mistaken physical intimacy for relationship status? (e.g. Is he not pursuing me because he wrongly thinks that I’m not interested in him because I wouldn’t go further?) And, in case this ever happens again, how can you backtrack physically without backtracking emotionally? — Let’s (Not) Get Physical
ANDREW: Let me get this straight: this guy’s attempt at seduction involved making you hang out with his mom for a month and then getting you drunk on White Russians? And for some reason you didn’t want to have sex with him? How unusual.
The problem isn’t anything you did or didn’t do. The problem is that this guy has no idea what he’s doing. He probably hasn’t called or texted back because he’s mortified. I can picture him now sitting on the couch with his mom watching the Big Lebowski for the 40th time wondering where it all went wrong.
You’ve been out of the dating pool for a while so here’s quick reminder: you can do a lot better than this clown. Enjoy being single. Date different guys. Sooner or later you’ll meet one you actually want to sleep with. Or at least one who doesn’t have a milk mustache when he tries to make out with you.
DAVID JAY: The two of you just ended up on different pages. Apparently, after three make-out sessions, he assumed you were ready to step it up a notch. When you asked him to slow down, you unknowingly slammed the door on his ego, and now he feels like he put himself out there and got shot down. He isn’t about to let that happen again, so the next move (whatever you decide to make it) is yours.
I don’t think he just wanted you for sex. If that were the case, there’d be no emotional damage on his part and he’d still be trying to bed you. He clearly had some real feelings for you, and wasn’t planning on rejection being one of them. Physical intimacy, when properly administered, serves as a testimony to relationship status, but the two of you are measuring things with different scales. You cannot backtrack from what happened, so just face it. I recommend you give him a call, open with a silly apology for what happened, and see if you can arrange another date where the boundaries are well-established. Good Luck!
JAREK: To answer your last part, which I think will help to understand why this guy is acting the way he is, it is always best to qualify your request to slow things down. Be it “I just got out of a relationship” or “I only get physical with people I’m dating,” or whatever. If you don’t let the guy know why you don’t want to take things further, he’ll assume the worst. He’ll feel more comfortable knowing he is not the reason you want to take things slowly, but rather you have your own personal reasons.
The drop in communication from this guy, giving him the benefit of the doubt, could be due to embarrassment. He may feel bad he tried to take it too far and thinks you’re upset with him. This is especially true if you have not been texting him or making plans to hang out. Even if you have always relied on him to initiate plans, he’ll now associate your lack of texting with the incident. Guys, unfortunately, do often equate intimacy and a romantic interest; if you don’t want one aspect of the equation, we tend to think you don’t want the other. So do what a lot of people who write in forget to do: talk to him. Or text him. Or in some way initiate contact. If you do and he still avoids you, things may not work out. If things start to go back to the way they were, discuss what you’re looking for and find out what he’s looking for as well. Communication will sort, if not explain, most relationship issues.
DENNIS: Now, hold on a second. Have you actually gone out on dates with him? Did he pursue you previously and stop recently? Or have you only hung out, presumably as friends/coworkers, with the occasional impromptu make-out session thrown in? Because from your recounting of events, it sounds to me like he’s seeing you as more of a random, casual hookup, but you’re wanting more. You talk about things like “relationship status” and “backtracking emotionally,” but honestly, I don’t see what kind of “status” you have, or what there is to “backtrack” from at this point. Yes, the two of you have spent a lot of time together, but I just don’t get the impression that he’s all that interested in anything romantic. Of course, all those details may have been in the “long story short” part that you left out, so don’t let my dubiousness depress you too much. You can certainly take the initiative and just tell him that you’re interested in taking things further, but you just want to take it slow.
On the other hand, a little more information about this dude might help. Does he come across as the “player” type? Is he a smooth talker and comfortable around women? Or does he strike you as not being all that experienced with women? If you work together, you should be able to get a good feel for this. The reason I ask is that the back-off-and-ignore ploy is a pretty typical gambit for the guy who’s looking for a hookup. But, if he’s the more socially awkward type, then he may sincerely be backing off in an effort to abide by your wishes. In that case, you may have to take the initiative. (Huge caveat, though: Some of the best players are the ones who exude a very slight aura of shy awkwardness, but in fact know exactly what they’re doing.) So, figuring out his “type” may help you decide whether you should make the next move, or wait for him to do so. My opinion, given the limited information you’ve given us, is to wait. Because if several more weeks pass, and he’s made no mention of hanging out again, then you probably have your answer.
ART: Here’s what I see: you said “don’t pursue me so hard!” to him and now you wonder why he’s not pursuing you as hard as before. I can’t tell you if he just wanted you for sex (but probably not—playing the long game for “just sex” is dumb), but it’s now your job to drive the relationship, because from now on he will think he’s a step or two ahead of you. You weren’t wrong to tell him no, but he’s not some mechanical monkey that keeps walking forward no matter how many times he’s pushed back. Men have feelings too, you know.
* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.