Sunday, September 21, 2008

Email from a guy with a dating dilemma

About a week ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Story of my life (like everyone else). There's this guy I've been talking to, but I'm not sure where he stands. He's 10 years my senior and a total stud; masculine, funny, in shape.

Luckily, I do know that he is gay because we started talking on a gay personals site. After talking online for a good period of time, I suggested we meet up. The first date is set but he cancels due to a sickness. Another date is chosen and he cancels again because of an emergency. The third time actually works out and we meet for lunch.

The date goes as follows: meet at a bookstore, eat at a nearby restaurant, drive around in my car, walk around a park, sit around the pond in the park and talk, and then drive back to meeting point. Pretty boring since there's nothing to do near where I live. Another important detail is that nothing exciting happened; just casual talk and then a goodbye hug. This was a couple of weeks ago and we haven't met back up. I've suggested that if he's free to let me know, but he never does.

Out of all the times we've talked online (25+ times), he has only initiated the conversation 3 times. I'm not sure if he is actually interested in me or if he is just being nice.

Should I keep trying to pursue or give up?


First impressions can sometimes be deceptive, however in this case, I have to admit that my first thoughts were that the guy doesn't have any interest in the reader. However I like to think about my 'Dear GB' responses, so I sent the reader an email telling him that I'll give his situation some thought, while admitting that on a quick read of his email it sounded as though he's wasting his time with the guy. A few days later, however, I got another email from the reader with more information:

Hey GB.

So, here's a mini-update slash another detail.

I have noticed that I was sort of impatient with our contact. I always messaged him before he had a chance to get to me. However, on the two times that I waited a couple of days (most recently today), he eventually did get around to initiating the conversation. Also, there were a couple of times he has said I was cute.

blah... i don't know what to think...mixed messages? or lost cause?

I replied immediately to say that this was important information, and within a few hours I received another email telling me even more:

another detail... (sorry for the sporadic messages)... whenever i suggest meeting up (playing tennis or whatever...also, we live about 1 hr away from each other), he doesn't respond back for a long while (if ever... sometimes i have to do a.. "ya there bud?" deal )...

so... another negative...

Assessing all the information, it seems clear that the reader is keener on the guy than the other way around. But that doesn't mean that the guy isn't interested in the reader. Given all the attention that the reader has shown the guy, the guy must know that every time he initiates contact that he's encouraging the reader to continue the connection, and most people wouldn't do that if they have no interest in developing the friendship.

As a general rule, guys that seem too keen give the impression of being desperate, and that's a major turn-off. Much better to play it cool and let the contact settle down to being more 50-50 in terms of who initiates it. It can be a hard balance to strike between seeming too keen and appearing disinterested, but in this case the reader probably does seem too keen compared to the other guy.

Even if there isn't much to do in the area where the reader lives, I can think of certain kinds of activities which both of them might enjoy! Admittedly jumping into bed at the first opportunity doesn't suit everyone, but I find that approach works for me. If the reader can't have gentleman callers for whatever reason, perhaps he should try and visit the guy next time because the older guy probably can accommodate that kind of visitor. From the description of the one meeting that they did have, I find myself wondering whether it was a situation where the reader was scared of asking the guy to his place for a bit of fun in case the guy turned him down, while the guy was waiting to be asked but didn't feel able to initiate that conversation himself.

Whatever happens, if the reader can work out what's going on in the guy's mind he'll be much better placed to understand the situation. But I don't mean just a simple "Does he like me or not"! Who are the other men in the guy's life, past or perhaps even current boyfriends, fuck-buddies, other 'friends with benefits'? Has the guy recently come out of a long-term relationship, in which case perhaps he's wary of forming new connections while "on the rebound", even if he likes the reader? How does the reader see himself fitting in to the guy's life? Presumably the reader is looking for some kind of boyfriend of fuck-buddy relationship rather than tennis partner, but given the distance, how would that work?

Good communication is vital in any friendship or relationship, so when the reader has a clear view of his goals, I think he should try and discuss everything with the guy. Using lines like "it might be nice to get to know each other better, you know!" or at least having a discussion about that aspect of their friendship would be good too. In any case, a frank discussion about the future would be much better than just giving up!

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this situation?


Charlie said...

Difficult one to judge there, GB. Gay guys seem to give off all sorts of strange signals good and bad these days that it makes it so difficult to tell. I'd say go quiet for a couple of days and see the other guy's reaction, does he remain silent/busy or initiate a chat.

Monty said...

A similar thing has happened to me on a couple of occasions and I agree, I've not contacted the guy I was interested in and just left it to him to contact me...if he's interested he'll contact...even if it takes a couple of days. I've had guys come back to me weeks later keen as mustard. The constant messaging can give off the wrong signals.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys!....the older guy is only interested in sex! cut the crap and set up a meet in a place where you can do it!

Ken Skinner said...

Okay, I read the guy's emails a couple of times and still felt there wasn't enough info to come to any conclusion. A couple of things did stand out, though.

First off, the older guy made the effort to travel an hour to meet you. Why? It suggests to me that he initially wanted something or that he believed he would like you physically or mentally (or that he likes the fact that you like him).

Secondly, nothing happened. Was there any chemistry at all? Did you touch each other other than the hug at the end. Eye contact... brushing hands... anything? If there was nothing then why bother even pursuing it?

Thirdly... lunch meetup. That sounds like a very safe no-man's land setting. Much less chance that you'll end up getting it on than, say, if you met up at a bar or a late night dinner. Whose idea was that? His or yours... and suggesting a tennis match... what message is that supposed to send? I don't get it.

Overall, though, speculation is pretty useless. In my old age I have flashes where I just figure you might as well be direct.

You need to be realistic about what's actually on offer and what you can have in the short term.

You can't plan long term before you actually know the guy. I had a friend recently who started chatting with a guy overseas online then on the phone every night. Without ever meeting they got on really well and pretty much started planning a life together... what kind of house they'd get, what breed of dog etc. Then they met in person and simply didn't click. It happens.

If you genuinely found him hot and want to bury his face in a pillow then if it were me, I'd come out and say it... Worst comes to worst you'll find out pretty quickly whether he's interested in you 'that way' or not.

Maybe that's just me, though... It's too early on a Monday for all the posturing :-)

Anonymous said...

i would like to caution all the innocent souls out there with relationship issues who are asking (and taking) advice on their relationships from GB, as he has ZERO professional expertise in giving such advice. this message is addressed to you.
i know we all seek and sometimes accept advice from relatives and friends etc who are not necessarily professionally trained in relationship counselling, but this guy does not know you personally or understand your background or situation. his colorful personal life in his blog is interesting but such experiences do not make him an expert on relationships. he is in NO position to give you any advice and he is no Aunt Agony either. please seek help from appropriate channels. otherwise do exercise discretion in accepting such advice dispensed by the GB, no matter how good or well-intended they appear to be

P.S. GB - no offence - i enjoy reading your blog but i am seriously concerned about ill-advised people who are asking you for advice on their relationships and acting on them.

GB said...

Thanks for all the comments guys :-).

The anonymous commenter makes a good point because, as I've said several times, it's quite true that I've had no training to answer the emails that I get. Anyway, it's good to see that people aren't suggesting that I make up the emails any more!

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

any this gb my got what a imagination he must be really bored in his life

Anonymous said...

anononymous!!...are YOU bored or are are you just jealous?

Anonymous said...

Here's my take on this particular blog...

The original posters email gives us lots of clues especially in its use of metaphors which can be significant indicators of how the writers view of the situation presents itself (at that particular time)...

Taking the original text:

"Story of my life (like everyone else)."

The writer indicates a situation that has 'repetitive' occurences in his experience followed by a generalisation "everyone" which obviously cannot be verified in reality.

The use of generalisations may be a way of the writer to avoid the (repetitive) issue or being unwilling (or presently unable) to drill down into the details of the situation.

"He's 10 years my senior and a total stud; masculine, funny, in shape."

Age difference has some significance for the writer since it's unlikely to be mentioned otherwise. Quite what that significance i might usefully be explored by the writer.

"total stud; masculine, funny, in shape."

Clearly, the qualities of this person are being described in significant terms especially the three (excluding "funny") that are largely related to masculinity or more succintly, the readers view of masculinity and the importance he attaches to it.

"Another important detail is that nothing exciting happened; just casual talk and then a goodbye hug"

The writer explicitly states that an "important" detail is that "nothing exciting" happened. So, clearly, the writer had some expectations as to what an exciting outcome would have been - perhaps more importantly, the flip side of lack of excitement may be interpreted as boring.

...and here's the rub, if the writer was indeed bored (or became bored) at the time of the meeting, it's possible that this would have been communicated to the other guy at some level (often at a very subtle level that the most self aware person may find difficult to disguise).

Coupled with some idealisation of masculinity discussed earlier, the other guy may himself have been detecting some mixed messages during the meeting when he (may) have formed a few conclusions of his own.

"Out of all the times we've talked online (25+ times), he has only initiated the conversation 3 times."

Again, the writer is aware of the number of times (and is counting) that each party has initiated communication. Thus, an implied comparison going on almost as if a game is being played and one side is clearly down on points.

"Should I keep trying to pursue or give up?"

Then we have another metaphor in terms of the writer indentifying the situation in terms of a chase. What exactly is he chasing after and perhaps more importantly, why?

In contrast to you GB, I would suggest that it wouldn't be useful for the writer to go to bed with the guy in question at the present time.

My reasoning for this would be that such a liasion, may set-up a more complex emotional connection in a situation that is already potentially fraught with ambiguities for the writer.

In conclusion, it may be useful for the writer to reflect / consider / think about, what is it about this 'particular' guy (plus any previous guys that he can identify from his repetitive behaviour) that he finds so attractive and worth 'chasing' after especially with regards to his concepts of masculinity.

It's an old maxim that we can often identify and be attracted to in others what we, at some level, perceive to be lacking ourselves.


Anonymous said...

"as he has ZERO professional expertise in giving such advice" - Ha ! And how did mankind manage before the arrival of the dispensers of 'professional' advice ?

Anonymous said...

Never discuss the future with someone you have dated for less than a year. Unless of course you want the future not to include that person. Then you should discuss it ad nauseum.

Regards from Boston.

Anonymous said...

The idea that you need to be a "professional" relationship counsellor to give advice is pure B.S.