Author Topic: Giving single friends feedback on da[color=black]ting[/color] expectations.  (Read 8318 times)

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LadyL

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LordL and I have a friend, Ted, who was in a LTR for about 3 years. After being broken up for nearly a year, he decided a month or so ago that he is definitely ready to date again.  I think because he hasn't been on the dating scene in a few years his perceptions of the behavior of some of the women he interacts with are a bit off. He is a good enough friend that I feel like I could give him some feedback but his ego is a bit fragile (being single is hard!) so I want to tread lightly.

The situation that came up this weekend was that we introduced Ted to a friend of ours, Amy, who was at a backyard bbq with her boyfriend. Amy is pretty much Ted's ideal physical type, and they also got along well and were conversing both alone and as part of a group  (that included Amy's boyfriend) for most of the bbq. When we left, Ted asked me if that was definitely her boyfriend and I said yes and asked why. He felt that if Amy was there with someone, she should not have spent so much time talking to him, especially one on one. Amy was not being overly flirtatious from what I could tell but simply enjoying the conversation as they share musical and other interests. Ted basically felt led on by the amount of attention Amy paid to him.

I think this is unfair to Amy - I know sometimes at a party I don't talk to LordL as much because I live with him and talk to him all day, and it's nice to socialize with other people. I would hate for this to be seen as some sort of amorous advance. I also think Ted was disappointed because he was hoping for an opportunity to talk to another girl, Lisa, who is also his "type" but whether it was due to lack of opportunity or courage, he didn't end up talking to her. I think he feels like he "wasted" time talking to Amy when it wasn't going to go anywhere.

Is there a nice way to say "no, I don't think she was trying to lead you on"? At the time I mostly said non-committal things like "that sounds frustrating."

Twik

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Basically, he's saying that time spent with a woman who's not going to let him get intimate (either physically or emotionally) is wasted time. Maybe next time he should try speed-dating. I'm not sure it this attitude is because he's been out of the dating circuit, or because that's the way he is.

It's not rude for one adult to converse with another, even without the intent of going to bed with them in the foreseeable future.

If he liked Lisa, why doesn't he ask for her number, and call her?
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TootsNYC

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just say it right in the moment.

When he says, "she shouldn't have been talking to me so much if she wasn't interested," you say "What? Dude, you're a little warped here. It's not all about sex and flirting. Sometimes women are just people."

And then do whatever it was you were doing.

You don't need to give him a big lecture or "fix" his basic perception. Just react naturally yourself, right in the moment.

Even if it's just giving him a weird look ("where'd that extra head come from?"). Or chuckling a little and saying, "Not how I'd look at it!"

Immediate feedback, specific only to the situation that has arisen and the comment he just said.

Allyson

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Ugh. This attitude is really toxic, the idea that if a man and a woman have a conversation, the only reason the man would be doing such a thing is for potential romantic escapades. It's often part of the whole 'nice guy' wail, of 'my female friends don't want to date me, they date jerks but always talk to me about their problems'. Well, yes. Friends. I have far more friends than romantic interests, as I believe most do.

Had Amy been Andy and they'd chatted about music and such, I doubt he'd have felt it was 'wasted'. And if Andy had turned out to be gay, then turned around and complained about how Ted was leading him on, I think Ted would be rightly shocked by this. The idea that the only reason a guy would make friends with a woman is if he wanted to date her is pretty obnoxious.

sweetonsno

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I'm less concerned about thinking that he "wasted" his time having a lovely conversation ( ???) than I am that he might feel that a woman who wants to converse with him owes him somehow. I suppose the two are similar, but the latter is more sinister.

You mention that his ego is a bit fragile, so perhaps humor would be a good way to go. ("Not all conversations are flirtations. You don't think that the guy at the record store is trying to hit on you, so why assume it about a person at a party?") I agree with Toots about bringing it up only if he expresses this sort of sentiment again.

cutecupcake

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I agree with some of the other posters, this guy's sense of flirting/behavior is pretty warped.

He's basically blaming Amy for not speaking with Lisa, which is really just a cop out. It's easier to blame her and keep talking to the woman that's taken than go out on a limb and try to hit it off with a single lady and face rejection. That type of mindset is not healthy and quite frankly pretty immature. If I were you I'd just sort of avoid trying to play matchmaker.

Also I'm not sure what you could tell him other than "Dude just because a woman speaks with you doesn't mean she's flirting. And maybe you should focus on just enjoying yourself at a party not honing in on "your type" of ladies and then circling them like gazelles."


TootsNYC

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Also--three years?

Seriously, three years is not so long that he'd completely lose any sense of how romantic relationships are supposed to go.

If this is how he thinks things work, that's not a function of the three years he was in a long-term relationship. It's a function of how his brain has ALWAYS worked.

TootsNYC

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He's basically blaming Amy for not speaking with Lisa, which is really just a cop out. It's easier to blame her and keep talking to the woman that's taken than go out on a limb and try to hit it off with a single lady and face rejection. That type of mindset is not healthy and quite frankly pretty immature. If I were you I'd just sort of avoid trying to play matchmaker.


Yeah--it's not like he had NO CLUE that Amy had a boyfriend. If he didn't want to waste his time, he should have gone to talk to Lisa right away.

WillyNilly

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It sounds to me like he's having a hard time realizing that he's in "grown up" dating world now. IME dating at 22 is a whole different world then dating at 32 for example.

When people are teens, and even in their young adult stages of dating, lots of people are single, and they flirt and are looking to meet new dating prospects. The coupled people are either super into only each other, or they are very casual about being a couple. But as we grow up, the scene shifts a bit. More and more people couple up and stay that way, seriously. The pool of single people is much smaller. And the people who are coupled up, are comfortable and therefore don't need to be constantly super into their partner at parties.

It seems like maybe the shift happened in your group over the last 5 years or so. So 4 years ago when Ted was single, there were more singles in general, and parties were more about meeting a prospective date, and now where less people are single and so parties are more about catching up with someone other then the person you see every day. And the problem is, because he is single and that's how things were when he was last single, he expects things to be skewed towards singles and flirting... only they're not.

When you become single mid-adulthood after initially coupling up during young adulthood its not so much about getting out there and dating again, but learning a different way to get dates (and different types of dating) then what you last participated in.

katycoo

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He's throwing the blame.

He knew Amy wasn't available.  He wanted to talk to Lisa (who I assume is available?).  Ted is a big boy now.  If he needs to extract himself from a conversation, he needs to learn how to do so.  It isn't Amy's fault in any way shape or form.  She's not to know Ted's only mission in life right now is finding a new partner.

Hmmmmm

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I agree that you should address these comments in the moment. If you still want to address it maybe the next time you are around him point out the absurdity of his comment through humor.

Friend:  LadyL, your quiet tonight.
LadyL: Well, I don't want to talk to you too much or you might think I'm leading you on or planning to dump LordL for you. Wouldn't want to give that impression.

or if humor is not good with him, maybe open up the discussion as defending Amy.

LadyL: You know friend, I'm still a little ticked at you for thinking Amy was leading you on. She is a really sweet girl and a good friend. You don't really think women in relationships shouldn't develop friendships with men do you?

NyaChan

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It sounds to me like he's having a hard time realizing that he's in "grown up" dating world now. IME dating at 22 is a whole different world then dating at 32 for example.

When people are teens, and even in their young adult stages of dating, lots of people are single, and they flirt and are looking to meet new dating prospects. The coupled people are either super into only each other, or they are very casual about being a couple. But as we grow up, the scene shifts a bit. More and more people couple up and stay that way, seriously. The pool of single people is much smaller. And the people who are coupled up, are comfortable and therefore don't need to be constantly super into their partner at parties.

It seems like maybe the shift happened in your group over the last 5 years or so. So 4 years ago when Ted was single, there were more singles in general, and parties were more about meeting a prospective date, and now where less people are single and so parties are more about catching up with someone other then the person you see every day. And the problem is, because he is single and that's how things were when he was last single, he expects things to be skewed towards singles and flirting... only they're not.

When you become single mid-adulthood after initially coupling up during young adulthood its not so much about getting out there and dating again, but learning a different way to get dates (and different types of dating) then what you last participated in.

I think you really hit on the underlying problem here.  There comes a point when the social gathering isn't a boy-girl party anymore where everyone who stops to talk with you is a potential date or crush. 

Surianne

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just say it right in the moment.

When he says, "she shouldn't have been talking to me so much if she wasn't interested," you say "What? Dude, you're a little warped here. It's not all about sex and flirting. Sometimes women are just people."

And then do whatever it was you were doing.

You don't need to give him a big lecture or "fix" his basic perception. Just react naturally yourself, right in the moment.

Even if it's just giving him a weird look ("where'd that extra head come from?"). Or chuckling a little and saying, "Not how I'd look at it!"

Immediate feedback, specific only to the situation that has arisen and the comment he just said.

I agree.  Don't make it a lecture or about trying to fix him (which won't go well -- if he's anything like me he'll tune you out!), just respond as a regular friend would in the moment. 

TootsNYC

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Is there a nice way to say "no, I don't think she was trying to lead you on"? At the time I mostly said non-committal things like "that sounds frustrating."

In answer to your question, yes there is. You say, "No, I don't think she was trying to lead you on." Right away.

and you *don't* say non-committal things; you say, "Dude, the world doesn't work that way. Why do you think it does?"

Daydream

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Is there a nice way to say "no, I don't think she was trying to lead you on"? At the time I mostly said non-committal things like "that sounds frustrating."

Please say the first part above to him sometime soon, if possible.  By making the second statement, it sounded like you were agreeing with him.  I know that's already been done, but maybe you can "undo" it a bit by saying what you really feel now.

I'd also tell him, "If you're interested in another woman who's single, just tell her that and ask for her phone number.  She wouldn't be 'leading you on' just by talking to you, though, and if you're interested, you have to tell her."