This week I'm featuring a letter - along with my response - from gorgeous Maddie, who's wondering if the man she's been seeing is actually interested in a committed relationship or if he's just playing with her heart.
Here's her story:
I have a question for you.
Some background information: I have known this guy for 6 years (we briefly dated 6 years ago and have remained in contact on and off in this time, both as friends and sometimes a bit flirty).
Over the last 5-ish months we have gotten quite close again.
He had a girlfriend so we never spoke or did anything sexual. He spoke to me about some of their issues and I gave advice as best I could.
They broke up around 6 weeks ago and since then he and I have spent time together and gotten a lot closer.
He has met my friends multiple times and even added some of them on social media, bought me a present just because it reminded me of him, was messaging me every day, telling me he missed me and how did he go so lucky to deserve me and then gave me red roses for my birthday.
We posted photos together and tagged each other in flirty things on facebook.
He also spoke about our future and meeting my family and even joked about marriage a few times. There hasn't really been much physical contact minus some hand holding and "PG" kisses.
We haven't slept together, not 6 years ago and not as of yet.
Anyway, before we hung out last time things were feeling a bit different (like he seemed a bit distant).
I went to his house which is where he gave me the flowers and we sat on the lounge watching TV and cuddling for a few hours. The initial plan had been for me to stay over but we decided to see how it went as I had had surgery earlier in the week.
Anyway we went out for dinner (where he forgot to pay for me even though he had originally offered. He did end up paying but it was a bit awkward).
He then walked me to my car, gave me a few small kisses goodbye and left so he could go watch the football. When I got home I sent him a playful message asking why we hadn't made out. He messaged back saying "taking it slow bro".
I was a tad confused by this as while we occasionally call each other mate - the use of bro when talking about kissing kind of sends an odd message.
The next day I asked him for some reassurance that things were progressing, even slowly, as things had been feeling off and it felt like we had gone back to being more friends. He said he didn't want things to progress too fast and he didn't want me to fall head over heels for him.
The conversation progressed, basically ending up him saying while he likes me he isn't sure he wants to jump into another relationship right away as he usually does this and ends up being unhappy because he isn't fully committed.
He also said he hasn't felt very strong feelings for someone since an ex girlfriend a few years ago (a bit of a slap in the face).
The conversation ended with him saying he is still attracted to me but doesn't want to go into anything he can't promise. I'm thinking he might have gotten freaked out that things were progressing faster than he had anticipated.
My question to you is did I get played?
Does he actually like me and want to be with me or am I better off not waiting around? I have a strong connection with this man and he makes me feel happy and secure and beautiful (for the most part when I'm not trying to work out what this is).
Am I being an idiot for thinking this could actually be something? Should I move on with my life or keep him as an option while he figures out what he wants?
Thanks in advance.
There are two things I’m going by here in my answer to you, Maddie.
First and most important of all, it’s your intuition, your gut feeling that something’s changed, that this time was different then the rest, and that you’re even questioning if you’ve been played.
90% of the time, I’d base my entire response to you on that question alone.
Because you’re there, because you’re the one with him, you’re the one who senses and feels and are looking for clues to his behavior trying to figure him out.
When we’re invested in someone and genuinely care about where our relationship's going, we’re finely tuned into every piece of information we can gather from them. And yet, because we usually have our hearts more set on a positive outcome than a negative one, we have a harder time believing our own selves when we sense those red flags.
We always want to believe there’s something we missed, or we’re overreacting, so we can ignore those inner gut feelings when they aren’t showing us what we want them to.
That’s why we want that crystal ball so badly, or someone outside of ourselves to tell us what we're not always ready to hear.
There’s an important lesson here for you, for all of us.
When you show up with a question that needs an answer, you’re showing up with the opportunity not only to get the answer you think you're looking for, but also, and even more importantly, to get an answer you didn’t even realize you’re actually looking for.
In fact, it’s this answer that once you have it, will keep you from ever being in this position of not knowing ever again!
The problem, of course, is that we’re not wrong. Rarely, in fact, if ever. The problem is that we don’t understand this part of ourselves or how this works. We don’t understand that we can trust ourselves - that we have to trust ourselves - ever single step of the way.
And since I mentioned there were two things, let’s look at that second one now.
It’s his response to you when you brought up the fact that you didn’t make out when you reached out to him after you were back home. We can almost overlook that he left you to watch the football game (almost). But what we can’t overlook, is the rest of his response to you that ended in the word “bro”.
It doesn’t matter if he’s used terms like that before (that’s concerning in itself because it clearly shows you’re friends and nothing else), but it’s the context here where he uses this term in the same sentence where you’re talking about making out or the lack of.
You’re not a “bro” or a “mate” if you’re truly dating someone and especially not if you’re getting romantic with someone. That’s precisely why this choice of words on his part, even if it was off the cuff, spur of the moment or whatever other excuse we might give it, is the part that provides the final clarity to our being very clear already with everything else you were sensing.
Were you played?
I don’t know if he honestly meant to play you, Maddie. You’ll have a better sense of that answer, too.
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that since you have a friendship with him already, that he didn’t know he (once again) wasn’t going to be capable of sustaining a committed, romantic relationship with you this time around when he reinitiated something more with you.
Yes, there are players, yes there’s self-serving narcisists out there, too. But most men who aren’t available emotionally, mentally, or physically don’t realize the extent to which they’re incapable of sustaining real, lasting love relationships and keep believing it’s all about finding the right woman with the right timing and not about their own deeper issues.
My question for you then, Maddie, is regardless of whether you’ve been played or not, look at where you are now.
Look at your last date. The night when you were planning on staying over depending on how you felt after your surgery, the night there could have been something more intimate between the two of you but there wasn’t (and in this case, I think it’s a good thing because of what you’ve now found out!), and instead, you got a whole lot of information for you to know use to decide where YOU want to go from here.
Let’s be clear about one thing in particular. This is about the two of you. You’re very much here, too.
If you’re only a “bro” or a “mate”, if he’s choosing a football game over you, if you’re sensing that he’s playing you and that he’s getting distant and pulling away, listen to every part of your being that’s trying to make this information crystal clear to you!
You can trust yourself.
You can trust what you’re feeling and use this information to make the best decision you can to know where you want to go from here with him.
Yes, he likes you. No, you’re not an idiot. And if I were you, given all this information you’ve collected with your own eyes and ears and intelligent mind, I would definitely move on with your life instead of waiting for another repeat of this whole process as many times as it serves him while he figures himself out.
You’d be the first to know if he was ready, Maddie, and then, more importantly, you could decide for yourself if his being ready was enough for you.
Because honestly, you deserve someone on the same page as you who you don’t have to spend all your beautiful time and energy waiting around for. Don’t kid yourself if you’re only being his friend because you’re waiting around for him.
You deserve someone who’s ready for you when you’re ready for him, and if you can wait, make sure he’s worth waiting for. From where I stand, no one’s worth waiting for. But someone like you is worth living your own beautiful life out loud for!
What do you think gorgeous Maddie should do in this situation? I'm sure a lot of us can relate. Tell her your thoughts, stories and words of encouragment in the comments below.