Hi Dr. NerdLove,
Your column here and on Kotaku have helped me a lot in the past and I’m now in a situation where my friends are giving conflicting advice and I felt like this was the best place to turn for clarity.
There’s some context before I (she/her) get into this particular situation: I’m currently a graduate student in a program with a pretty small class size and that’s resulted in a somewhat toxic atmosphere where gossip reigns supreme. I’ve actually seen people lie to undermine one another in some bizarre popularity contest. I’ve managed to stay pretty under the radar with a fair amount of work, keeping my personal life totally private, deflecting questions, and making it clear I don’t tolerate BS when it comes to work. The worst my relationships with classmates gets is the level of distant but cordial coworkers.
I became close with only a few classmates and realized a few months ago that I have feelings for one of them. I was planning on talking to him about it and seeing if there was any chance he’d be interested, but recently things have happened that have made me question how well I know him. He and I are friends, but we’ve known each other for less than a year and recently he pulled some shit that prompted a lot of class gossip. I’ve heard about 5 different versions of events. Some have pretty clear, deliberate lies, some pretty obviously directed at his friends to see what our reaction would be.
A few of us were hurt by what happened, but we’ve talked to him about it. It was a really honest conversation and we’re all still close. I thought I had worked through it since the hurt was unintentional and what happened was all a collection of accidents and honest stupidity. The whole story was not even that bad it was just a series of stupid decisions in the worst possible circumstances.When we talked, he also seemed to realize that a lot of his actions came from the very typical guy thing where he didn’t unpack a lot of his reasoning before just diving into things. He seemed to be serious about trying to be better and to thank before he acts. However, I’m still hearing different accounts about what happened from different people, and some friends who don’t know everything have pretty negative opinions about him now.
My question is this: should I still have that conversation about dating with him? I still have kind of strong feelings for him, and I do trust that he told me the truth about what happened. But every time I hear a new story I have to question my evaluation of him as being just not the brightest with people versus actually manipulative. Plus I’m worried about what my friends would think if it works out. I don’t want to get sucked into this weird middle school drama my program has going. Is it selfish to be worried about my reputation? I really just want clarity but is that worth all the potential hassle?
Uhh long time reader first time asker etc,
So I guess I’m a former Nice Guy. Read every nice guy article on the internet and 8 years later, I super feel no one has like an obligation to love me, just like I don’t have an obligation to love anyone else. I started trying to fix myself, going to the gym, being more social, making better fashion choices, etc. I’m no longer afraid of “The Friend Zone” because that actually means I have friends. A ton of girls friend-zoned me in the past, but it’s no problem. It’s more like, cool now I have a bunch of super hot strictly platonic friends.
But also I’m like 27 and a virgin so something may still be wrong here. I think my issue may be more about expressing myself. I’m pretty good about making friends and talking to people, but I think I’m really bad about making my intentions know. A lot of times, I get interpreted as more than a platonic friend. I guess I’ve seen so many horror stories where dudes flip out or come on too strong OR doing what I’ve been doing and coming of….not strong enough. I have this tendency of saying “Hey friend, I have feeling for you and or I think your like super attractive” is like a weird thing that had no warning and came out of left field because I tend to have anxieties about that. So it all just sorta.. gushes out.
How do I make it very clear I’m interested in someone romantically without coming on too strongly… or coming on like I’m just a strictly platonic friend that isn’t at all interested in going on a date? How do I reconcile this with the fact that typically I’m usually not going to be attracted to someone until I’ve spoken to them a few times
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Hi Dr Nerdlove!
I’m an older-than-I-want-to-say woman. There’s a guy at my job who is the same age. We’ve been flirting for probably about a year now. I always took it as ‘play’ flirting, although he would occasionally mention that I hadn’t given him my number, his weekend could have been better (wink, wink), etc. I was reluctant because I wasn’t sure I was into him. Plus, I worried that we might end up hating each other if we tried to connect on a different level (hey, it happens sometimes).
About a month and a half ago, my feelings began to change. He has been really affectionate; always coming in for hugs and giving me sweet pecks on the face and neck. I thought he was really sweet and attentive. So I decided to give him my number. But, it was after I told him why I had been reluctant (didn’t want us to hate each other), and mentioning that I’m not really a phone person.
Well, he didn’t call me. I chalked it up to probably having scared him off, and didn’t take it personally. I privately teased him a little about being scared off, and things were basically the same. (For the record, to my knowledge, there’s maybe only one other person who knows about he and I). About two weeks later, he approached me and said he would call me. I was excited; I was off that weekend and hoped we could maybe spend a little time beginning to get to know each other better.
Well, he didn’t call me. I was a little pissed. I felt like he was trying to make a fool of me; just wanting to see how far I would take it. While I didn’t cease communication, I was distant. It was evident I wasn’t pleased. But he remained the same. He continued to reach out to me. Eventually I let it go and things went back to the way they’d always been.
In fact, things seemed to get even better. I should mention that I had never asked/confronted him about not calling me. I didn’t want things to be awkward at work for either of us, and I didn’t want it to seem like I was running behind him.
So the flirting seemed to intensify, and I finally felt comfortable enough to ask him why he never called. He said he’d lost my number. He then proceeded to give me his number. He seemed sincere and I was thrilled. Again, it was my weekend off and I had the same hopes as before.
That was Friday. I called him Saturday afternoon. I immediately sensed a shift. While I don’t think he was physically with someone based on some things he said, it was immediately evident that he wasn’t thrilled to hear from me. We talked about 15 minutes, he ended the conversation, and he didn’t indicate any interest in continuing phone contact. I was hurt and embarrassed. I decided that I was done. I don’t know if he has someone, just isn’t interested in me, or a little of both. Either way, it’s clear he’s not interested. It sucks, but that’s life.
The problem is he continues with the same degree of flirting. Initially I didn’t think I had an issue with this, but I find myself becoming increasingly depressed (this isn’t the only reason for this, but it’s in the top three). I have tried distancing myself from him, which isn’t too difficult at my job, but he seeks me out. He definitely notices that I am distant and goes out of his way to reach out. I believe my issue is that twice I have given him the benefit of the doubt, continued to play along, and both times been disappointed, rejected, and hurt. I’m reluctant to play along again. I feel like the joke is on me but I’m not in on it. He dangles a carrot in front of me and when I reach for it, he snatches it away.
I honestly don’t know what is up with him. I’m afraid to ask for fear of seeming desperate and of getting my feelings hurt. And frankly, it doesn’t matter. He’s obviously not into me. My question is: what do you think is going on with him, and how should I navigate this minefield at work? I don’t want things to be awkward and uncomfortable. But I also don’t want my heartstrings tugged and trampled every day.
Maybe Yes Maybe No