Should I Reconnect With A Man Who Isn’t Looking For An Exclusive Relationship?

Dear Evan,

People say “It will happen when you least expect it.” Well, I’ve been “least expecting it” for more than 10 years since my divorce. I’ve been “least expecting it” while raising my daughter, finishing college and managing a home and career.

 

Shortly after I was separated I dated a man casually. We spent a few long weekends together and he told me before we became intimately involved that he was not seeking a monogamous relationship. We were both in the same place. We never really had closure. I always felt good about not chasing him and knew that if he was interested he would contact me again.

 

Fast-forward 10 years. I was having a “least expecting it” morning sipping tea when he contacted me through email. He told me he had two exclusive relationships in the last 10 years but never married or had children. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon that led to dinner that led to him spending the night. It was as if we were never apart. The attraction was greater than before. I told him I was not in the same place and not interested in a casual relationship. He was much more openly affectionate and forthcoming with his feelings than the first time we met. We agreed to take things slowly. I just felt like a game-playing high school girl if I were to send him home that night and withhold sex. So I took the chance.

If you lived in a cave in Mongolia, it would be safe to say that you wouldn’t expect to fall in love, wouldn’t it?

 

He didn’t rush out the next day and actually stayed most of the day. He called the next day and said “we should do it again some time.” Okay, that was an odd comment. But he called again the following day and we made plans for me to visit him. He told me how wonderful it was to be back together. How much he wants to spend time with me. He wanted to enrich my life and not cause stress. Words – I know. Actions – I know.

 

Here’s where it goes awry. I go to his house. It’s a very passionate erotic scene and then the reality hits. I am unnerved being at his house again, flashing back to my last time when I walked out and didn’t see him for 10 years. I became that woman. That needy insecure woman. I couldn’t shake the feeling and I am sure he noticed the shift in my energy. I told him that I was feeling anxious. He asked what he could do to make me feel better. So I told him that I did not want to date other people and wanted to know what he was seeking. Then I heard exactly what I dreaded: he does not want an exclusive relationship. He was open and honest and I respect his position. Once again I walked out of his house not knowing where he stands or plans to go. He called that evening to make sure I was home safely but did not ask to see me again. I don’t plan on calling him and chasing him. I made my feelings known and was clear about what I value in a relationship.

 

 

Evan, here is where I need your guidance. I feel he is worth spending time with and taking it slowly to see if it will grow into a wonderful authentic and loving relationship. How do I not lose my “least expected” moment?  -Toni

 

Dear Toni,

Respectfully, your email has absolutely nothing to do with “love happens when you least expect it”.

If you lived in a cave in Mongolia, it would be safe to say that you wouldn’t expect to fall in love, wouldn’t it?

And if “love happens when you least expect it”, then you can certainly predict that Mr. Right will come knocking on your cold stone Mongolian door, right?

It’s ridiculous to live your life around these kinds of fantasies – to the point that I have an emailed newsletter called, “Love Happens When You Least Expect It – NOT!”

So once we get past your fantastical expectations and puncture the idea that “not trying” is a smart strategy for finding love (personally, I like going on one online date a week until you find a boyfriend), we can look clearly at your situation.

Thankfully, you made it really easy to advise you.

Your salient query: “I feel he is worth spending time with and taking it slowly to see if it will grow into a wonderful authentic and loving relationship.”

His stance on relationships: “He does not want an exclusive relationship. He did not ask to see me again.”

 

What part of “I don’t want a girlfriend. I don’t plan on seeing you again,” makes you think that he wants a wonderful, authentic and loving relationship?

Losing sleep about a guy you slept with once is like losing sleep when you didn’t win the lottery but you got two numbers.

Your question – so very common in these parts for the past four years – is pure blindness, emotion and wishful thinking, and not at all based in reality.

And the hard part is that you know this. You said it yourself.

“Words – I know. Actions – I know.”

 

The good news is that it’s really easy to logically jolt yourself out of a fantasy.

Ready?

You’ve gone 10 years without this selfish douchebag in it.

If you excised him from your life tomorrow, your life wouldn’t be worse for wear. It’s hard to miss something that you never actually had.

Losing sleep about a guy you slept with once is like losing sleep when you didn’t win the lottery but you got two numbers. You didn’t lose $10 million, sweetie. You never had it.

Finally, if 10 years of not expecting love (and not getting it) hasn’t convinced you that it’s a losing strategy, perhaps this latest failure will do so.

Dump the dick, pick up Finding the One Online, get on Match for 20 minutes a day, and tell me in a year if you’re still waiting for love.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Cheryl

    Toni- I’m sorry for your anguish. I feel your pain.
    Evan- I love you! In a completely platonic way. Best and funniest advice ever.

  2. 2
    Steve

    Great advice all around.    Letting things happen isn’t the same as doing nothing.   You have to do some food prep and get a pot on the stove cooking before you can “let it happen”.    I don’t agree with painting the guy in a bad light.  He was completely upfront and honest about his intentions.   I do agree that she doesn’t have a future with him and will get more happiness looking for someone.

  3. 3
    Ruby

    I’ve always felt that “love will happen when you least expect it” line was b.s. too. It certainly won’t happen with a guy who tells you upfront that he’s not interested in being your boyfriend. I’d have been doubly insulted knowing that this man did have 2 exclusive relationships with others. But guess what, those didn’t work out either! And I fail to see how “taking things slowly’ includes sex on the first meeting after 10 years apart. It sounds like a line he used to string the OP along again.

    I would put the guy in a bad light because he should have told her prior to sex that he wasn’t looking for anything serious. But he knew he might not get laid if he’d been more honest. And Toni knows exactly where he stands now, she doesn’t doesn’t want to accept it.

  4. 4
    Helen

    “Love will happen when you least expect it” is as true as “Pregnancy will happen when you least expect it” – in other words, almost never.
     
    I agree with Ruby’s second paragraph.

  5. 5
    SS

    It’s really disappointing to hear that people equate withholding sex until exclusivity to being a “game-playing high school girl.”
     
    Yeah, how’s that working out?

  6. 6
    LK

    Taking things slow means not having sex for three to four months, not jumping into bed with the guy on the first date after not seeing him for 10 years. I wonder if the guy just got out of one of these exclusive relationships and randomly had a fond though about the OP and decided to get in touch with her.
    I also disagree with the ‘things happen when you least expect it’. Things happen when you stop trying to control a situation, which most people interpret as giving up expectations, but in actuality these are two different things. Not controlling the situation is letting the guy lead the pace of the relationship or letting a guy that’s not good, go or giving a chance to someone who you don’t expect to be right for you. Giving up expectations is packing up your bags and moving to a nunnery where you’ll never see a man again. I mean sure, you might develop a secret affair with a priest or the garden boy so the not expecting love statement would apply, but considering that ratio of men/women in a nunnery, the chances are pretty slim to nil.

  7. 7
    Terri

    Toni:
     
    The fact that he had two exclusive relationships in the past 10 years and tells you about it – whether they worked out or not – tells me he is garbage.  He contacts you knowing you had feelings for him and betting on easy sex.
     
    I have heard of situations where a man tells a woman he does not want an exclusive relationship but then meets someone who really zaps him and changes his tune.  What he is really saying is “I don’t want an exclusive relationship with YOU.”  Sorry to be so blunt.
     
    Remember the words of this song “In this world only you make me do for love what I would not do.”  Don’t recall singer or name of song but this has stayed with me for years.
     
    Research tells us that men fall in love earlier in a relationship than a woman.  You deserve  better than him.  Check out some online dating sites that specialize in your interests to start.  But do not have anything to do with him again.
     
    I feel for you and wish you the best…..
     

  8. 8
    Jadafisk

    … wait, what? But unexpected pregnancies happen all of the time.

  9. 9
    Venus

    So he had two exclusive relationships AFTER he dated the OP was absent for ten years, wanders back into her life with the message that he is not looking for anything serious.  WOW!!  I agree with Evan’s advice.  Candid and hardhitting. 

    I will risk some ostracism here however by suggesting that since you have already slept with him and he has made himself available to be used,  go ahead and use him.  Get your groove on then dump his behind saying “this was fun but I want more”  and move on with your life. 

  10. 10
    SS

    Remember the words of this song “In this world only you make me do for love what I would not do.”  Don’t recall singer or name of song but this has stayed with me for years.
     
    Bobby Caldwell, “What You Won’t Do For Love.”

  11. 11
    Fawn

    Dump the dick….  I love it!!!

  12. 12
    Liz

    @Venus – That sounds like it would completely backfire on her, as she is likely to develop more and more feelings for him the more time they spend together.

  13. 13
    Diana

    I feel sympathy for the writer. I greatly sense that he contacted her at a time when she happened to be feeling vulnerable and lonely. Her letter kind of taps into something that Nathan posted in his comment #186 in the “Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single” thread which is (to paraphrase) how people end up twisting themselves into something they don’t want to be, in order to have someone in their life, especially someone who isn’t a great match. The writer wants exclusivity, and he clearly stated that he does not, but she’s willing to work through a casual dating arrangement and subvert her needs in the hope that more time will give her the authentic, wonderful relationship with him that she’s hoping for, while not being authentic herself.
     
    When she writes that she “took the chance,” this sounds to me like she decided to chance that even though she wasn’t sure on that night if he wanted the same thing as she did, she felt that being intimate might help to persuade or influence him on the issue. This sounds like high-school, and not the other way around.
     

    I think she also read too much into his words. Yes, he thought it was wonderful. Yes, he wants to spend time her her. Yes, he’d like to enrich her life and not cause stress, and take things slow. But this does NOT mean he wants exclusivity. Of course, since he’s been involved in a few relationships, he may have very well known how she’d interpret all of his platitudes, and didn’t care to further explain because he hoped to continue being intimate with her.
     
    My advice is to move on, and don’t ever look back to him again. While I think they both played their part, I liked Evan’s final parting words! :)
     
     

  14. 14
    Tish

    Dang Evan!  Talk about keeping it real! LOL  I like what you said, this guy is a friggin selfish douchebag.  What I find and have learned from reading your book and newsletters, etc. is that guys will do exactly what you allow them to do.  She appears to be allowing him to string her along.  Ten years, PALEAZE!!!!  That’s not love, that’s somebody who’s got nothing else better to do or no one else better to email!  LOL  Dump the dick is right! LMAO!!!

    Still the man Evan, still the man. . . . .

  15. 15
    Starr

    Yep, this guy doesn’t want an exclusive relationship with her.  Girl, take Evan’s advice.  Get on match.com and give it a go.

  16. 16
    nathan

    I find the comments that this guy is a douchebag questionable. From Toni’s letter, it doesn’t sound like in neither case did he lead her on. Both times, he told her he didn’t want to be exclusive. Ten years ago, it sounds like neither of them were really keen on having an exclusive relationship. Now, their goals are totally different.
    To me, the only thing that stands out is that he told her he’d had two exclusive relationships in the meantime. So, either he’s not into her enough to commit, or he’s not being upfront about something. Perhaps with more information he turns out to be just an ass, but with what we have now, it’s hard to tell.
    However, then there’s this:
    Then I heard exactly what I dreaded: he does not want an exclusive relationship. He was open and honest and I respect his position. Once again I walked out of his house not knowing where he stands or plans to go. He called that evening to make sure I was home safely but did not ask to see me again.
    Just reading those sentences shows that she heard exactly where he stands, but hopes maybe things will change. I have been in that place before. It almost never changes, and who wants to spend huge chucks of their life waiting for something that has only a small chance of coming? Too many do, so Toni, if you’re reading this, I hope you choose to let go of him.

  17. 17
    Natalie

    This is why you’re one of the very few blogs that I read – you cut through the fluff and you made me laugh at the end.

    What this man did was do what a lot of unavailable men do – test to see if the door is open. He exploited the history and ‘nostalgia’, pressed the Reset Button as if he’d only been gone a hot minute instead of 10 fricking years, and he even through in a spot of fast forwarding and swept her off her feet for an evening. He probably thought she might realise that he’s not the relationship kind. Then he thought she might go along with things. Then he had to clarify that not a damn thing had changed in 10.fricking.years. This guy is a pisstaker! The best thing she could do is meet this man as a closed door and stop letting herself be an option.

    Should you reconnect with a man who isn’t looking for a relationship? is like asking ‘Should I reconnect with a disconnected man that only wants to connect for a casual relationship? ‘

  18. 19
    Detha

    I think that most people have been too hard on this guy! He was upfront with the OP when she expressed the sort of relationship she is seeking. More guys should be as honest as he was.

  19. 20
    Andrea

    Wow, this is why I love Evan.  He tells a woman what she needs to hear even it if is painful. 

    What I am wondering about though is why Toni feels that witholding sex even when a woman is still not sure about a man is “childish high school girl.”  Evan says to have sex when you feel safe that a man is becoming your boyfriend.  That means calling regularly and making her a priority.  I am pretty sure I read that.  It seems to me that the childish high school girl is actually dating in a more mature way.

    I am wondering if it is because he contacted after 10 years she feels he must have been thinking about all those 10 years and she thought that meant they were meant to be together.  But it sounded like it was more convenient for him to hook up with a very willing ex.   

    Toni only had a few romantic words to go by and certainly not the actions of a boyfriend.  It is almost like she is saying that if a man says romantic words  and gives us hope for a future we must give him sex.    Is sex a reward for sweet talk? 

    I hope Match will bring her someone will be where authentic love is.

  20. 21
    starthrower68

    One of the hardest things to learn to do is not be blinded by those emotions and see these situations for what they are.  Maybe the dude is a selfish jerk or maybe he is a good guy who took advantage of available sex.  And I don’t think the OP should beat herself up.  After some time and distance she will see this situation more clearly.  Whether we hurt ourselves in such a situation or not, it still hurts.  The OP has my sympathy as I have made this mistake a time or two.  I have learned that if they are not in regular contact with you – and I don’t mean constantly checking in, etc. –  that’s the point to fade out and move on.  When a period of time passes and they call you again, you know you’re just a booty call, HJNTIY, etc.

  21. 22
    Angie

    “Love” when you least expect it… nah.
     
    “Amazing, incredible sex when you least expect it”… absolutely!
     
    I think the problem is that the number of men we can have incredible mind-blowing sex with is far less than the number of kind-hearted men who want relationships with us.  That’s the real problem.  :-P

  22. 23
    Margo

    I’m so sorry, Toni. Wow! What a royal douchebag this guy is. This guy played her twice! And she let him!This is what I want to know Toni: The second time he came around, why didn’t you ask him if he was interested in an exclusive relationship with you BEFORE you slept with him??

    He’s scum. He’s a user. Please lose his phone number and don’t answer his calls. He doesn’t want a relationship now anymore than he did 10 years ago. He jiust wanted to get his rocks off. Can’t you see that?

  23. 24
    Margo

    @Nathan#17, Um… You’re incorrect. The second time this snake slithered back, he told her he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her AFTER he got in between her legs, not before.

  24. 25
    Andrea

    No I don’t think that the OP should beat herself up at all and may of us have been there.   I believe she was sincere in thinking this had a chance to being something more based his talk until he realized she wanted more, then he was more upfront.

    But I would suggest that she re-think the stance that not sleeping with a man equals childish high school game playing.  It is just something two adults agree on and if that is what she wants to do then fine.  This was essentially a first date after a long absence and a lot of women would be happy to go on the date but not sleep with him so soon after reconnecting.   While I have no moral judgement of whether it is right or wrong I don’t understand why sending him home after a wonderful date without sex is considered game playing and high schoolish.

  25. 26
    nathan

    Margo – I’m guessing you’re the same Margo from the other thread – here’s what I read:
    She goes over to his house. She starts to feel anxious and he asks her what’s up. She tells him she doesn’t want to see other people and asks him to tell her what he wants. And he tells her he doesn’t want an exclusive relationship.
    Now, I totally think she should move on. They don’t at all seem to be on the same page. He should have been more clear about his relationship desires before they slept together. And/or she should have asked him before they slept together.
    But it’s really too easy to just say “dude’s scum” when there really isn’t the kind of glaring nastiness or red flags contained in stories about men, dating, and relationships. Just as others could easily just blame Toni for being a sucker, childish, a fool, etc. here.
    Perhaps I’m wrong to give the benefit of the doubt to this guy, but the main reason why I don’t think it’s helpful to just call someone an asshole, and blame it on them, is that you have less incentive to check your own role in the situation.
    Which I why I think Evan’s focus on calling out the unlikely reconnection fantasy is great advice. It focuses on what Toni might look at in herself, and what might help her move on and find someone who actually wants to be with her. If Evan had just called the dude a dick and told her to move on, that would have done absolutely nothing to address her part in the situation.
    Also, I totally agree with Andrea at #25. I have held back from having sex in at least three situations I can recall off hand where I didn’t feel comfortable with being that intimate with the woman I was with. It wasn’t about game playing; it was about being honest with where I was at. No one should feel pressure to have sex. And I think it especially makes sense to wait when it’s the first time seeing someone, or seeing someone again after a long absence.

  26. 27
    Gem

    I don’t see why he or she would have assumed it appropriate to be exclusive upon seeing/sleeping together once after a 10 year absence. As much as I can understand powerful attraction and the feeling that no time had past, time DID pass. Ten years is a long time, and taking it slow to get to know each other again would have been a good idea-if for no other reason than to avoid this.

    I’m all for grown adults doing what they want sexually, but clearly, sex put her at a disadvantage emotionally and now I think she’ll likely wind up hurt if she continue any kind of connection to him.

    I’d stone wall him. Seriously…I wouldn’t answer his calls or texts (if he even tries) and move on. If she talks to or sees him again, she’ll probably wind up in bed again. I wouldn’t set myself up for that heartbreak.

  27. 28
    starthrower68

    The OP may have thought after he said he didn’t want to have an exclusive relationship that she could handle sex without a commitment.  Sometimes we try to fool ourselves into thinking we can and find out otherwise after its too late.  Proverbs 4:23 beloved….”Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life”.

  28. 29
    Josie

    Totally feel for the writer….as 10 years is rather long time.
     
    More or less like false expectation on someone whom she has feelings for…
     
    But at least he can be open and honest about it, not every man will tell you upfront what they want.
     
    Move forward as you deserve better~
     

  29. 30
    Mika

    Toni, you have my sympathy as well. This mind-blowing passion is like an addictive substance and once an addict — always an addict. That’s why you should stay away from this guy because you totally lose a sense of yourself and rational thinking ability when you get to taste this substance again — as everybody here sees that the guy was quite straightforward with you as to what his motives were, but you did not get the message.  If he ever calls back, thank him for the wake up call and wish him all the best.
    I appreciate that Evan called the guy a dick and many others scum- or douchebag as the guy was clearly fishing for an easy catch, but at the same time, I don’t see anything from the OP’s letter that would suggest that he led her on. Emotionally unavailable people do it all the time — it’s easier for them to go back to their former lovers to fill the void instead of finding someone new.
    It would be interesting to find out who’s more inclined — men or women– to getting “quick fix” aka rebound relationship via reaching out to their ex-es versus finding new connections. Would you guys please share your thoughts?
     

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