Author Topic: Giving single friends feedback on da[color=black]ting[/color] expectations.  (Read 8672 times)

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blarg314

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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.


That sounds like a good theory. Young adult single with a pack of friends style, if you're at a party and talking one-on-one to someone outside of your pack for a long time, the odds are good that it's a flirtation.  Mid 30s, mix of couples and singles, you can just talk to someone at a social event because you think their conversation is interesting.

Or, he could be the kind of jerk who figures the only reason to talk to a woman for an extended period of time is because he might get to have sex with her.

I do think that if you're partnered, and in a potentially flirtatious situation (like a big party, or at the bar), then briefly mentioning your SO in conversation is polite. Then the other person knows that you're not available, and if that's all they're interested in, they can move on to someone else.



blarg314

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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?"

Oh, and I like this one. It's straight, to the point, and casual enough to get away with in conversation.

Mr Wigglybones

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If he's a friend then you can just be honest with him. Tell him 'no, she wasn't leading you on'. Maybe also throw in that women can talk to men without their being an agenda to it.
This guy needs to wise up.

thedudeabides

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Tell him to pull his head out of his butt and playing to the "friendzone" stereotype crap.  He needs to learn that conversation between two people, regardless of gender, isn't "leading someone on."  Don't beat around the bush.  Just tell him.

LadyR

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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.

This, I have a friend who is navigating the dating scene for the first time in several years (he had three long-term relationships with women in our social circle right in a row) and he's been commenting how different it is trying to navigate it at 30 than at 20, partially because he has differnet goals and just because the norms of dating are different and now he's one of the few single people in the group.

I have another friend who who sounds very similar to your friend Tom. My friend Greg has had a crush on my friend Anne for years, very one-sided. Recently we were at a party and the two of them were talking for a while (with other friends) and Greg insisted the fact that she was talking to him for a long time meant that her feeling towards him had to be changing, I pointed out that he initated the conversation, it was about her favourite subject and other people joined in. In no way did Anne show anything other than friendly interaction with Greg, but he didn't get it.


LifeOnPluto

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This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I do see where Ted is coming from.

No, I don't think that Amy was deliberately leading him on. And no, she certainly didn't "owe" him anything for the conversation. But if she was prepared to spend hours talking with Ted (including a significant amount of time one-on-one) the polite thing to do would be to casually mention her boyfriend in conversation. Just so that Ted doesn't get the wrong idea.

As for the advice I'd give Ted, I'd tell him:

1. If you're interested in a girl, and you aren't sure if she has a boyfriend or not, just ask her straight-out; and

2. If you fancy another girl (eg Lisa) you need to excuse yourself from your current conversation and go over and talk to her. If you're shy about going over to her, ask the host(ess) to introduce you.   

cross_patch

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This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I do see where Ted is coming from.

No, I don't think that Amy was deliberately leading him on. And no, she certainly didn't "owe" him anything for the conversation. But if she was prepared to spend hours talking with Ted (including a significant amount of time one-on-one) the polite thing to do would be to casually mention her boyfriend in conversation. Just so that Ted doesn't get the wrong idea.

As for the advice I'd give Ted, I'd tell him:

1. If you're interested in a girl, and you aren't sure if she has a boyfriend or not, just ask her straight-out; and

2. If you fancy another girl (eg Lisa) you need to excuse yourself from your current conversation and go over and talk to her. If you're shy about going over to her, ask the host(ess) to introduce you.

She was at the BBQ with her boyfriend. Ted asked after the fact whether that was really her boyfriend- he obviously knew. Why are you shifting the blame back to her? If you spend hours talking to someone and you don't have a boyfriend, but you don't fancy them, are you obligated to mention that so they don't get the wrong idea? This is definitely all on Ted.

Onyx_TKD

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This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I do see where Ted is coming from.

No, I don't think that Amy was deliberately leading him on. And no, she certainly didn't "owe" him anything for the conversation. But if she was prepared to spend hours talking with Ted (including a significant amount of time one-on-one) the polite thing to do would be to casually mention her boyfriend in conversation. Just so that Ted doesn't get the wrong idea.

As for the advice I'd give Ted, I'd tell him:

1. If you're interested in a girl, and you aren't sure if she has a boyfriend or not, just ask her straight-out; and

2. If you fancy another girl (eg Lisa) you need to excuse yourself from your current conversation and go over and talk to her. If you're shy about going over to her, ask the host(ess) to introduce you.

She was at the BBQ with her boyfriend. Ted asked after the fact whether that was really her boyfriend- he obviously knew. Why are you shifting the blame back to her? If you spend hours talking to someone and you don't have a boyfriend, but you don't fancy them, are you obligated to mention that so they don't get the wrong idea? This is definitely all on Ted.

That's what I was wondering. I'm single and I chat with guys all the time, sometimes for extended periods if we're having an interesting conversation. It doesn't mean that I'm flirting with them, or leading them on. All it means is that I'm having an interesting conversation with another human being. If I couldn't have an in-depth chat with a guy without either showing that I'm "taken" or being assumed to be flirting, then I'd be in trouble. I would rarely be able to chat in depth about my field or one of my major hobbies, since they're quite male-dominated. Conversation at ballroom dance events would be severely curtailed, since I'm usually dancing with guys. Not to mention the awkwardness in talking to my male apartment-mate...

Plus, as PPs have mentioned, there are homosexual people out there, too. Do we have to identify our sexual orientations and availability up front if we want to talk to anyone in depth lest they "get the wrong idea"?

Raintree

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Quote
Do we have to identify our sexual orientations and availability up front if we want to talk to anyone in depth lest they "get the wrong idea"?

Exactly. Sometimes people just talk to other people.

I had a guy get annoyed with me for being at a gathering at all once he found out I had a boyfriend. It was actually an organized activity, followed by beverages in the pub. In the pub, he started talking to me, and after a while I might have mentioned my boyfriend just as part of normal conversation. He then demanded to know why I was there without my boyfriend (reason: because boyfriend doesn't enjoy/do the particular activity this outing was for). Then my relationship was questioned: "Well I just don't get why you'd date someone that doesn't have the same interests." Then came, "Well if I had a girlfriend I wouldn't like her coming out to these events without me." Yeah, a real catch he would have been.

Sorry, but sometimes people are just out to interact and enjoy common interests, not to date. I think the guy needs it spelled out for him. ie that at a party, people mingle, and some are single, some are not, but most people find it worthwhile to have conversations with others that they are NOT evaluating for date-worthiness.

LifeOnPluto

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Raintree, I think the key word is "mingle". Generally, at parties and other social events, people move around, and talk to various people. The OP states here that Amy and Ted spent "most of the BBQ" talking with each other. Assuming the BBQ lasted several hours, this is a significant amount of time.

A half hour chat at a party? Sure, no need to mention your significant other. But to spend several hours at a social event, talking one-on-one (rather than moving about, talking with a variety of people, as one normally does at a social event) to me indicates a level of interest that MAY go beyond "having a friendly chat with a random person at a BBQ".

So to answer cross_patch's question, I'd say that if you are going to spend several hours having an in-depth conversation with an eligible member of the opposite sex, then yes, you do need to slip into the conversation that you're taken. It doesn't need to be a major production. It can simply be something like "Oh, you like art? So do I! My boyfriend and I happened to see the recent Monet exhibition at the National Gallery the other week and it was wonderful. What do you think of the Impressionists?" etc.


Hmmmmm

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The OP said they were conversing alone and as part of a group for most of the BBQ and that the boyfriend was part of the group. I think you are invisioning something different than most of us.

cross_patch

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Raintree, I think the key word is "mingle". Generally, at parties and other social events, people move around, and talk to various people. The OP states here that Amy and Ted spent "most of the BBQ" talking with each other. Assuming the BBQ lasted several hours, this is a significant amount of time.

A half hour chat at a party? Sure, no need to mention your significant other. But to spend several hours at a social event, talking one-on-one (rather than moving about, talking with a variety of people, as one normally does at a social event) to me indicates a level of interest that MAY go beyond "having a friendly chat with a random person at a BBQ".

So to answer cross_patch's question, I'd say that if you are going to spend several hours having an in-depth conversation with an eligible member of the opposite sex, then yes, you do need to slip into the conversation that you're taken. It doesn't need to be a major production. It can simply be something like "Oh, you like art? So do I! My boyfriend and I happened to see the recent Monet exhibition at the National Gallery the other week and it was wonderful. What do you think of the Impressionists?" etc.

Actually, my question was what do you do if you are, to use your terminology, 'eligible' and you *don't* fancy them- should I be saying, sorry, I'm single but no chance, so if you're looking for something else you'd better move on? Because I cannot emphasise enough how much I disagree with the concept that you appear to be espousing, which is namely that if you are partnered and you don't mention that to someone you are conversing with you are somehow leading them on.

LadyL

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Raintree, I think the key word is "mingle". Generally, at parties and other social events, people move around, and talk to various people. The OP states here that Amy and Ted spent "most of the BBQ" talking with each other. Assuming the BBQ lasted several hours, this is a significant amount of time.

A half hour chat at a party? Sure, no need to mention your significant other. But to spend several hours at a social event, talking one-on-one (rather than moving about, talking with a variety of people, as one normally does at a social event) to me indicates a level of interest that MAY go beyond "having a friendly chat with a random person at a BBQ".

So to answer cross_patch's question, I'd say that if you are going to spend several hours having an in-depth conversation with an eligible member of the opposite sex, then yes, you do need to slip into the conversation that you're taken. It doesn't need to be a major production. It can simply be something like "Oh, you like art? So do I! My boyfriend and I happened to see the recent Monet exhibition at the National Gallery the other week and it was wonderful. What do you think of the Impressionists?" etc.

Actually, my question was what do you do if you are, to use your terminology, 'eligible' and you *don't* fancy them- should I be saying, sorry, I'm single but no chance, so if you're looking for something else you'd better move on? Because I cannot emphasise enough how much I disagree with the concept that you appear to be espousing, which is namely that if you are partnered and you don't mention that to someone you are conversing with you are somehow leading them on.

This is relevant to the current situation as well, because an acquaintance seems to have a crush on Ted and he does not feel similarly, and he tries to avoid talking to her completely (even just passing small talk). He seems to think that if he is seen chatting with her people will think he is interested, or she will think that and then get jealous if he talks to other women. I think that it is rude to avoid basic social niceties like small talk unless you are making some sort of cut direct (and this girl hasn't done anything wrong). But his view seems to be that he is not looking for friends, he is looking for dating partners, and any other interaction is not a good use of his time.

Honestly he is living with his parents in an isolated suburb and I think it's getting to him, that he only interacts with people his own age when he hangs out with us. It makes the stakes seem really high. He is planning to move closer to our city, and I think that will help, if he can socialize more than just once a week. But there are also some underlying attitudes with him that might be partly cultural (his family is pretty socially conservative).

I am starting to think my friendship with Ted was a lot simpler when he wasn't trying to date....

thedudeabides

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This line of reasoning is offensive to many people, LifeOnPluto, because it treats members of the opposite sex as sexual objects and not as people in their own right who are interesting enough to have a conversation with.

Twik

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It's also desperate, and desperation turns off potential partners.

I understand how it has suddenly hit him - once you're out of school/university/first few years on your own, you discover that your social group no longer presents you with an unlimited supply of unpartnered people of your own age. I was joking originally about speed-dating, but I think Ted should look into dating services. That way, he can meet lots of people who *are* interested in finding a partner, and not hope that the "right one" will one day show up at his friends' gatherings.

My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."