What Do I Do When I Run Into a Guy I’m Seeing While He’s On a Date With Someone Else?

What Do I Do When I Run Into a Guy I’m Seeing While He’s On a Date With Someone Else

I’m romantically interested in a very good friend and I believe he is interested in me as well but the timing has always been off. When he was single I was not. When I was single he was not. He also travels 2-3 weeks a month for work and last year was barely here. We’ve agreed to date but not sleep together and see where things go. And he’s been spending time in our small town a lot more and we see or speak to each other 2-3 times a week. He’s met one of my sons, he sends his sons my Facebook posts he thinks they’ll like and they are well aware of me.

At the last minute this week, I went to a lecture at the Ivy league college in our town I thought he might also like so I sent the email invite from the college but he didn’t get it. No big deal.

However, he arrived and sat in the row ahead of me about 5 seats away with another woman. He didn’t see me until about 1/2 way through and he panicked. He didn’t acknowledge me, smile or wave and when it was over he bolted from his date, scooted across the room and stood in line to speak to the introducer. His date seemed utterly baffled at his disappearance and not sure if she should go or stay but finally left. I went to the bathroom and when I was about to leave, she was packing up her things and leaving. By the time I got to my car, within 15 minutes there was an email from him explaining that he was sorry he missed me but the introducer was a dear friend and he wanted to catch up.

I call this bullshit. He was totally panic stricken and had no plan if this should ever happen and so my question is, what is the protocol when you both agree to date others but you run into each other at an event with a different partner? Do you smile and nod, stop and chat, introduce the date? It’s bound to happen again.

I feel he should have at least smiled and waved. And it upset me. I felt dismissed and I think his explanation was not truthful. He even stopped half way across the room and did a little jig trying to decide what to do. I thought we had an agreement that if we dated anyone else we were going to tell each other so we wouldn’t hear through the grapevine. In his email he pretended he was there alone and just needed to catch his friend. But I am sure that isn’t true based on their seat selection and body language before the lecture started and when it ended. He acted like he was cheating and got caught.



Example 652 of why “casual dating” for long periods of time is a shitty idea.

Let’s begin:

Very good friend. Travels half the month. Dating casually without sex or commitment. Already introduced to your kids and has a relationship with them on social media. What could go wrong?

Another woman! That’s what could go wrong. Because when you are not having sex and you are not boyfriend/girlfriend and you’ve agreed to these terms, you shouldn’t be too surprised that there’s another woman. And yet you are. Furthermore, you’re SHOCKED that he would be blindsided by running into you on another date — as if he should have a graceful way to handle this incredibly awkward situation that completely took him by surprise.

Step outside your own shoes and it’s really easy to identify with him.

In other words, of COURSE he was panic-stricken. I don’t know if you’re dating anybody else (from the tone of your email, I’m assuming no), but if you were and he ran into you on a date, how would you handle it? Remember, this is the guy who has been seeing you 3 times a week and talking to your kids. Wouldn’t you feel embarrassed to be on a date? Wouldn’t you feel busted? Wouldn’t you feel like a cheater, although technically, you weren’t cheating at all?

Step outside your own shoes and it’s really easy to identify with him.

You just don’t want to do that: it’s easier to feel aggrieved that the man you’re casually dating is, in fact, casually dating you as well.

No sex. No commitment. No promises. Let’s “see where things go,” in your words.

I have no idea if this friend of yours is a good guy or a bad guy. But that’s neither here nor there. What I do know is that when you date someone without commitment, you’re not allowed to get angry that there’s no commitment.

You came up with the terms of the deal; you just don’t like the terms you negotiated.

In reality, Kathleen, you don’t want to casually date him. You want him to be your boyfriend. So may I suggest that, given your history with him, his relationship with your kids, and this new revelation that you step up and tell him the truth:

In reality, you don’t want to casually date him. You want him to be your boyfriend.

I want to be your girlfriend. I don’t want to see anybody else.

Either he will tell you that he agrees and wants to be your boyfriend, or he will tell you that he enjoys dating casually the way you are now. Which would mean you’d have your answer about where he stands and would (theoretically) be able to cut him loose and find a man who DOES want to be with you.

Without any judgment, this current arrangement is just not working for you. It’s up to you to change it.

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  1. 1

    OMG. I just cut a guy off this weekend who I have been casually dating for 8 weeks. We are both divorced (his is more recent than mine) and when we had the talk we both brought up that we had not dated others during this time. He, however, encouraged me to date other people and said he isn’t ready for a relationship. That’s when I knew I had to bail.

    It was very difficult for me because I REALLY liked this man. A lot. But not enough to compromise my own needs. It is hardly an earth shattering commitment to date one person after 8 great weeks. I just cannot handle being an “option” for an extended period of time. If I wanted to be with a man who was dating other women, I would have stayed married!

    1. 1.1

      ‘If I wanted to be with a man who was dating other women, I would have stayed married!’             Great line! lol

    2. 1.2

      Be glad you were strong enough. I just ended something that was 4 months of him not prioritizing me and while not dating anyone else, more than happy to be. I ended it, and feel really sad, but deserve to be a priority and focus.

  2. 2


    It’s easy to slowly slide downhill into these situations.   At the beginning you decide to “Let’s see where things go.”   The problem is that they start going somewhere for you.   You develop feelings and get attached.   But things stay the same for the guy.   You’re essentially in a friend zone situation.

    Evan is correct that the only thing to do is tell him what you want.   If that’s what he doesn’t want, cut him loose.   Take the time and energy you were putting into him and put it into finding someone who wants the same thing you do.

    A good book to read is “Why Men Love Bitches” by Sherry Argov.   And no it’s not about being a screaming shrew.   It’s about setting boundaries so situations like this don’t happen.

    1. 2.1

      Hi GoWithTheFlow,

      What would you do if you are talking to 3 different men online, been on multiple dates with each but you still can’t decide which you want more yet; and guy 1 spotted you out on a date with guy 2….

      What would you do in that situation?

      …    …    …


      In your opinion why do some people (men and women) think a person with options would wait on them and pass up others when the other man or woman doesn’t have the __ dating rule?

      The original poster’s was no sex (and probably no making out at all), but it doesn’t have to be sex it could be other “personal” rules people set for dates that are not normal.

      In your opinion why do people think someone with options would wait on them and their rules when they could just as easily date someone without such strict dating rules?

      …      …    …

      Last question, the term “a man or woman with “options” is thrown around a lot. Besides having great physical beauty, to you what else would qualify a person as having lots of options when it comes to dating?

      Or are a person’s facial beauty and sexy body the core ingredients to giving them more options?

      1. 2.1.1
        Emily, the original


        I’m confused by this idea of “having options” that you have referred to repeatedly in other posts. I’ll use a college friend to illustrate what I think of as “having options.” We were going to school in New York City. She had a long-term, long-distance boyfriend she met in high school who lived in Virginia. She met another guy in school and began hooking up with him, but he didn’t want a relationship. She felt very conflicted. So did she “have options”? Yes. Two options for sex and one option for a relationship. A lot of women would look at that situation and determine she had only one option: the boyfriend. The other guy wasn’t offering her anything real. I don’t know anybody who has several quality people waiting in line, clamoring to be with them in a serious, exclusive relationship. They may date a lot, but I think a lot of dating is casual until they find someone they are really interested in.

      2. 2.1.2

        Hello Adrian!

        “What would you do if you are talking to 3 different men online, been on multiple dates with each but you still can’t decide which you want more yet; and guy 1 spotted you out on a date with guy 2….

        What would you do in that situation?”

        Okay, that would be a highly unusual situation!   Usually people fall off quick and one contender comes to the forefront.   That being said, I have been in uncomfortable situations where you run across someone and either they’re with someone, you’re with someone. or both are with someone else and it’s awkward!   Depending upon the setting (and the backstory) it’s either let’s pretend we don’t know each other, or a brief acknowledgement of the other person with a hand wave or a nod.   Maybe if there is some brief private interaction I may say “Okay this is a little awkward.   But I’m not into scenes so carry on and I’ll do the same.”

        As for your second question, I think the rules were mutually agreed to at the beginning of the poster’s “relationship” with this guy.   Like Evan said below, there was a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in effect with regards to whether there was outside dating going on.   So I don’t know if it was so much that she was being unreasonable to “expect” him to go without sex.   Rather she started with a casual attitude about it and things changed for her but she never talked to him.   Maybe she was expecting him to bring it up, or she didn’t want to rock the boat.   And it sounds like he was fine with things as they are because he never said anything either.

        As far as to what having options in dating means, sure there are people that will be able to break up with someone on Friday and have a new date on Saturday.    I think those people are a rare breed.   A person has  options if they  are confident that there will be someone else out there for them, that the person they’re with now isn’t the last man or woman on earth.   That doesn’t mean they are in a new relationship the next day.   It means they know in the coming days, weeks, and months they will be meeting new people and will have new opportunities for a relationship.

        Lastly,  there is being comfortable with NOT being in a relationship.   I’m sure everyone has gone out on a date at one point and thought, I would have had a better night if I had done laundry and gone to bed early.   Being comfortable with yourself gives you the option to cut a person loose if it’s not a good situation for you without any expectation that a new romance is around the corner.   Kinda like, I’d rather be alone with a houseful of cats than put up with this!

    2. 2.2

      Hi Emily and GoWithTheFlow

      I just had a conversation with a few older women this week who were complaining about how much they HATE it when men make statements about how easy it is for women to date and to find someone.

      It took me back to what GoWithTheFlow once taught me about women and options and it clicked.

      If a woman has 50 guys asking for her number every week, it does not mean that she has a lot of options. There are no options for her if she is not even remotely attracted to any of the men approaching her; so as Emily said she has options but she doesn’t…

      I’m starting to realize that we men get so caught up on the quantity part of women’s on and off line stories that we never consider the quality part. How many of us would be bragging about receiving 100 emails a day from women we would not want to even touch with a stick?

      I must also add that for some strange reason we men seem to only focus on the really attractive women when we say “all” women have it so easy in dating. It never occurs  to us that not all women look like Jessica Alba or have the body of Salma Hayek from the famous “Dust till Dawn” scene. There are plenty of women who struggle getting dates or getting noticed by quality men.

      I wonder why we men as a whole can’t see that?

      …    …    …

      This is just my personal opinion but I believe that 99% of the time when you hear a “I can’t believe that they” story involving the phrase “we agreed” it usually means that one person actually did all the agreeing and the other person was just to afraid of rejection or being guilted to speak up for their own actual wants.

      1. 2.2.1
        Emily, the original

        Hello Adrian,

        I’m starting to realize that we men get so caught up on the quantity part of women’s on and off line stories that we never consider the quality part.

        I think you are confusing getting a lot of attention with having a lot of options. When I was in my 20s, I had a friend who was very attractive and had a charming personality. She was never wanting for male attention, dates or sexual offers, and though she had boyfriends from time to time, she struggled like a lot of people do with getting into a committed, long-term relationship with a person of her choice.

        1. Adrian

          Emily said, “I think you are confusing getting a lot of attention with having a lot of options.”

          Oh Em, isn’t that exactly what I just said (^_^).

          But seriously, I do believe that the majority of us men confuse attention and options. We see women receiving so much male attention from guys whom “we” perceive as being attractive good catches that we don’t stop to consider if those women consider the men attractive catches.

          Just look at the comments when certain topics come up.

          ….      ….      ….

          I have a question for you Emily; what is the female equivalent or do you even believe there is one?

          Is there something in regards to dating that women believe men have an unfair advantage in that you have found to be false once looking at it from a males dating perspective?

        2. Emily, the original


            We see women receiving so much male attention from guys whom “we” perceive as being attractive good catches that we don’t stop to consider if those women consider the men attractive catches.

          It’s not just about women getting attention from the men they find attractive. It’s getting a serious relationship from the men they want. Just being asked out on dates doesn’t necessary imply a woman “has options.”

          Is there something in regards to dating that women believe men have an unfair advantage in that you have found to be false once looking at it from a males dating perspective?

          I think a lot of women assume men have all the power because men do the picking and the approaching, but after reading male comments on this site I realize that’s not always true. Particularly if the man is rejected after, for example, the third date. He approached her, called her, planned the date and picked her up. By the time they reach the 3rd date, he assumes she’s into him and things are going well but he comes to learn that she was still trying to decide her level of interest — and then determined it was too low.

  3. 3

    I disagree with your assessment Evan. I don’t think she was shocked that he was with another woman, I think she was just dismayed and felt dismissed by his behavior when he saw her halfway through the lecture. She does not sound heartbroken or devastated (smart that she is not sleeping with him), that he was with someone else, she just sounds annoyed that he wasn’t more mature in his response to the situation. In a way, the incident revealed plenty about his character. He lied to her about what was going on and he put up a big pretense to try and cover his tracks, when there was no need to do so. Had he smiled, waved and casually introduced this other woman to her after the lecture, it would have been easier for everyone. Sure, she’s disappointed knowing he was there with someone else, but later, she could still take your suggestion and tell him the truth about her wish to be his girlfriend. If people are going to date several people casually at the same time, there should be a protocol so things don’t become a huge deal.

  4. 4
    Evan Marc Katz

    If people are going to date several people casually at the same time, there should be a protocol so things don’t become a huge deal.”  

    The protocol is called “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Incidents like this blow that up and there is no way of knowing (nor discussing) the best way to handle the thing that you’re not talking about.

    1. 4.1

      But when an incident like this does blow up, isn’t how the couple handles it indicative of whether they will be able to continue and weather other unexpected events?   Not everyone becomes exclusive so quickly so the casual dating thing can continue for some people for several weeks.   Sure, no need to discuss it beforehand but I think he could have handled it a bit better than that e-mail 15 minutes later. (And wow, leaving his date. I bet she’s majorly confused.)   On Kathleen’s part, it’s now up to her to decide how she can best handle it going forward.

      It’s blown up now.   I wish them both all well with it.

  5. 5

    Sex. No commitment. No promises. Let’s “see where things go,” in your words.

    Men want this all the time.   (Note I say ‘want’ not ‘get’.) I just took out, no sex, because they want sex too. So the ‘let’s see where this goes’ line can come from either pary.   I agree if you agree to be casual you should expect each other to be dating other people.   It’s actually more interesting if you’re not dating others.   I’m not sure what to call that situation. Early dating?

    That all being said whenever you meet the other person with someone else it’s awkward. It’s even awkward after a breakup.   Should she be friendly to the other date? The other date clearly has no clue.   I’ve never done this but even in a large city I have run into exes unexpectedly. Not when I’m with another date, but sometimes we meet a co-worker of mine (ugh) or at another dating event. It is always awkward even when another romantic interest person isn’t even involved.

    You’ve decided she doesn’t really want casual.   That’s fair from what she wrote. My question is, what if she or the guy really did want casual?   It’s still odd, Evan.   For me on other side, I’m supposed to be making the guy (or guys :-)) I’m dating feel like they are special. It would be weird for them to then see me someone else.   Even if it’s only been a few weeks, in those early weeks almost anything can throw off the momentum.

    What is the protocol for when you meet someone else’s date or they meet yours? I personally think be polite and even introduce the person.   Then move on with your evening.   If the person not on a date has an issue with it, they should bring that up later privately.   Some people casually date for a while.   If everyone knows and agrees to it, I just say be adult and graceful about it.   It’s not cheating at all, need to act or even feel guilty.   It’s awkward but none has done anything wrong.

    Should he have smiled and waved at Kathleen? Eh. “Shoulds” are tricky.   It would have been nice. Even if he didn’t and just later admitted he panicked they could have had a discussion from that.   Anytime you meet someone outside of the normal place you know them, it’s odd if they ignore you or pretend you aren’t there.   Even if you aren’t dating the person.   Usually those kinds of friendships, relationships, whatever, don’t go far.

    1. 5.1

      Hi S,

      I think the first thing that needs to be done is to understand who you are dating, how would they react emotionally. Most adults who date online know that a person is most likely talking to others while talking to them.

      So I would be curious to hear what others would do if they ran into someone that was on a date that they were talking to from online. You have no technical right to get upset but if you do are you wrong? If they called you afterwards and tried to act normal would you allow it or lose all interest and cut off contact?

      Saying we know this is how online dating works and actually being in that situation are two different things, especially when it is someone you really like.

      …    …    …

      As far as openly admitting to casual dating; again I would judge the person who said it. I once dated a girl in college who wasn’t sure she wanted a relationship but she wanted me to tell her if I dated someone else. Simple minded me made the mistake once of telling her about a date and her anger and jealousy was apparent.

      I personally think that many people in situations like the open casual want to have their cake and to eat it to (what a silly sounding saying… If it’s my cake of course I am going to want to eat it…).

      Anyway, I think many casual daters want the time and freedom to date around and see what they want but if the other person is a good catch   they don’t want them to actually date others (even if they said they could) because they recognize the danger of possibly losing such a great person to someone else.

      1. 5.1.1

        When I think ‘casual dating’ without sex, I think about the first few weeks to months when the people aren’t girlfriend and boyfriend yet.     Time goes by because of many things.   Travel, incompatible schedules, holidays, illness. It’s not unusual for several weeks to go by.   Some say that means they don’t really like the person. It my experience on both sides of it, it may simply mean you just don’t know the person well enough yet.   Not everyone jumps in with both feet in four weeks.

        After two months, I don’t know.   Is it still casual dating without sex? Depends on the couple and what they are doing together.   Not just physical intimacy but emotional intimacy.   I’m not sure if Kathleen was there emotionally yet with her person described above.   It’s hard to tell.

        If anyone who knows me, sees me elsewhere and doesn’t acknowledge me, I start to wonder how much this person really likes me at all.   And that’s kind of a snub, isn’t it? I can’t see a situation, dating or otherwise, where that’s okay.   You can always say hi.    That’s it. Then move on. If a man I was dating did this, what do I do? Pretend as well that we never saw each other?   This is way too much drama.   Just say hi. If it bothers you, bring it up. If it doesn’t, move on with getting to know the person. The thing is, why get worked up over a person you might not really end up dating anyway? That’s what I tell myself.

        If I really liked a guy or was sexually attracted to him and considering sleeping with him, then I’d think less about sleeping with him because I’d assume he was getting his needs met elsewhere.   I’d assume he’d think the same about me if the situation was reversed. 🙂   If it bothers either of us, one of us needs to initiate steps toward exclusivity.   If no one does, then maybe the other person (or people) are the better matches.   You’re right.   Great people don’t stay available indefinitely.   Eventually someone has to make a decision.

      2. 5.1.2

        You gave me pause for thought. I said this to my last (and only) boyfriend and if I really examine my feelings in light of this blog post and your comment whilst I said let’s just be friends with benefits,   I would have been really hurt if he slept with someone else!   It didn’t even occur to me that he may and that indicates a huge blind spot in my thinking because I can’t even contemplate sleeping with more than one person at a time. I also didn’t want to date others – I just didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep as we were long distance at the time. It was never about wanting to see others while seeing him. I was just trying not to get hurt. He wasn’t happy with the friends with benefits suggestion and wanted full blown commitment, which is what I gave him and I’m now glad that there was no grey area.   There was plenty of things wrong with that relationship but knowing that we were exclusive and stating it up front was, at least not one of them.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Kanga,

          So how did you find that balance?

          How does a person date around to find what they want in a mate, but also how do they keep themselves from losing a person they see as a great catch?

          For example if you have not dated in a long while and you still need time to figure out what things you like and dislike in a partner; what are deal breakers and what things you would except?

          BUT… Your first month back on the dating scene you meet a great person! Do you just commit to them or do you take the time to explore and sample the dating market more to see what is out their?

          How do you achieve that balance and not lose a great partner?

        2. Kanga


          If I was to do it again, I guess I’d date consecutively – kind of like I always have.   Go on a few dates with a guy and if it’s not happening end it swiftly – sometimes they remain friends sometimes it’s best to never see them again. Then do that until the one I want to keep dating comes along.   What I would do differently is tell him up front that I won’t date others while we are getting to know each other and I don’t want him to either if he really thinks we have potential.   If he doesn’t want to do that then I can’t be interested anymore.   The reason the last one didn’t last is I let my hormones/lust and the chemistry blind me to his batshit craziness.   I don’t want to get in too deep with the next guy that I can’t get myself out before I ascertain that he is a suitable human being to be in my life.

          It’s pretty exhausting for me anyway finding people and dating them and more than one at a time would be too much.

          However, what you are talking about – meeting and dating someone great and then meeting someone else that also may be great has never, ever happened to me and I don’t expect it will. It’s hard enough just to meet someone let alone two someones who are going to ask me out!   I don’t mean it would be hard to meet someone who would f888 me – that’s easy and it certainly skews my view of men, that even at my age there are so many from 20 to 70 who would like to just use my body for their penis.   But men who ask me out respectfully and want to know me?   One every now and then and I follow that path and give each one a chance, as much as I can and don’t really have more than one going at a time.

          Does that even answer your question?   I feel like I may have just confused the issue even more!!   Good luck with dating!

  6. 6

    I   am confused here. They are not even sleeping with each other!! How is this “dating”? He owes her nothing and done nothing wrong. If I was the OP I would have pretended to not see him myself and went to a place where he wouldn’t see me to avoid inevitable awkwardness.

    1. 6.1

      Since when does sex alone dictate whether or not two people are dating?

      We all know that just because someone agrees to have sex with you doesn’t guarantee there’s going to be a commitment or that they  STILL owe you anything more than that.   Commitment is commitment alone.   Sex just happens to become a part of the deal -after- that is agreed upon, for some people.

      At least for me it does.

      If a guy can get sex out of a woman without any expressed mutual commitment, he’ll likely take that and not go further. And running into another woman can STILL and likely WILL happen.

      He is getting relationship benefits without the relationship, given that they both haven’t agreed to a casual sex deal…

      Overall, I think the OP and the guy need to have an honest and transparent talk about where they both want to go, relationship-wise.

  7. 7
    Karl S

    I thought we had an agreement that if we dated anyone else we were going to tell each other so we wouldn’t hear through the grapevine.

    Did you have actually that agreement though? Or did you merely assume he knew to do this? And even if he knew, did you ever reinforce explicitly that you’d be cool about it should the issue come up? It sounds like the only thing you’d really discussed was that you wouldn’t sleep together and you wouldn’t be exclusive. No wonder the guy panicked.

    1. 7.1
      Emily, the original

      Karl S,

      No wonder the guy panicked.

      He panicked because he didn’t know how to handle the situation, awkward as it was, but, let’s be honest, he handled it badly. He could have at least acknowledged her presence, and sending that email 15 minutes later telling her he wanted to talk to the introducer was ridiculous and painfully and embarrassingly transparent.

      1. 7.1.1
        Karl S

        Fair point. It would have been much better for both of them if he’d stepped up and owned the fact that he was with someone else.   Acknowledging her presence is definitely something he *should* have done as a matter of respect. They definitely need to some more honest conversation between them, that’s for sure.

      2. 7.1.2

        @Emily, the original

        I would say it depends. I take the panicking to mean that either he thought there was no good way to handle it, or that there was actually really no  good way to handle it. Sounds  to me like standing in line was a risk mitigator. If the OP came over to say something after seeing him, they would be standing in a line with other people and it wouldn’t look like he just walked up to some woman as started talking to her. I once saw a guy one a “date” when his girlfriend showed up. The two women started arguing and he managed to slip out and drive away in the middle of it.

        If he was on a real date with this other woman, I wouldn’t expect him to acknowledge the OP, go over and say hello, wave, etc. That could cause his date to have questions and could mess things up on that end.

        And he would panic at seeing the OP because either he knew they had this agreement to not see other people and he was breaking it, or as Karl S suggests, he didn’t know that they had such an agreement and still panicked becasue he didn’t want the OP to see him there with this other woman because it might upset one or both of the women, ruin a relationship with one or both of the women, or something along those lines.

        And if the women he was with was a genuine friend and not a date (I don’t think this based on the description of the way he acted by not acknowledging here), he may have been concerned that the OP would have a negative response if he told her that the female was just an actually platonic friend. That has happened to me a few times.   And it was ……unpleasant each time

        If they are keeping it casual and not having sex, this guy that travels 2-3 weeks out of the month is probably going on dates and having  sex. Could be another reason for the awkwardness and non-acknowledgement. But that’s just a guess.

        I can see why she felt hurt/dismissed, but honestly a guy that she doesn’t   see that much, doesn’t   have sex with, and is just “dating and seeing where things go” doesn’t have much reason not to test the waters elsewhere. And she really should be that surprised that this happened.

        1. Emily, the original


          The two women started arguing and he managed to slip out and drive away in the middle of it.

          Sounds like when Lionel Richie’s wife caught him with the mistress and he left the premises for the two women to fight it out. Sounds like a cop-out.

          ” … he doesn’t have much reason not to test the waters elsewhere. And she really should be that surprised that this happened.

          I didn’t say he shouldn’t test the waters. They aren’t exclusive. I simply said he should have acknowledged the OP … with a quick wave. If his date asked him who he was waving at, he could just say a friend. Why is that so complicated? It’s just common courtesy, and, frankly, human decency. But I also wrote that the OP shouldn’t expect an explanation as to who this woman was, date or friend. Again, as has been mentioned, they’ve taken out a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy right now because they are casually dating.

    2. 7.2

      I don’t know. The thing with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is there isn’t much talking so assumptions abound. I think the thing to do is to address it afterwards.   Seems more graceful.   There is a nuance and poise this kind of situation requires that may have been lost with Kathleen and the guy she was dating.

      Why did he panic? He did nothing wrong.   I mean he panicked with both women, potentially losing out on both of them just because of how he handled it.   It’s an awkward situation to be sure, but to literally run away?   Is that a normal, understandable thing to do in this situation?   It seems a bit much to me, but maybe it really was something he didn’t know how to handle.

      The exceptions to don’t ask, don’t tell is small towns.   Inevitably, you will run into to someone you know and if it’s not someone you’re dating, they know either person.   Best to just talk about it beforehand in that case.   Hard to be so casual in a fishbowl.

      1. 7.2.1
        Just Saying

        Hi S. He panicked because he was dating this other woman when he had agreed to let OP know in advance if he was going to date others.By “dating” I think OP meant “having sex with”. I can’t understand why it with party has to prenotify the other if they were seeing other people without having sex with them I don’t feel obligated to tell my friends when I am going out with my other friends, unless I am double booked in which case telling is no big deal. As if my friends will get jealous of other friends.

        1. S.

          She did say, “I thought we had an agreement” but it’s unclear of whether she just thought that in her head or if that was said by both of them in words.   It does seem weird that he’d agree to that, but if he did, he should be a man of his word and stick to it.

          In a big city, it makes little sense. In a small town, I get it.   That date could have been her third cousin twice removed or her dentist or in her book group.   Or someone else who knows them might have told her.   Just awkward.   The agreement way he’d know that he’d told her and would not be running away from both women.   In a big city, it’s so unlikely and anonymous that there really isn’t any need to stipulate things in advance.

          And friends do get jealous of other friends.   Let’s not assume.   People are human and feelings don’t have to make sense logically to exist.   These guys were not friends, though. Not boyfriend and girlfriend, but not friends. The possibility of sex in the future was still there which is why they both discussed that.   Don’t think that possibility exists anymore, though!

    3. 7.3

      I thought that too, Karl. She never says that was discussed prior to this incident – sounded more like an assumption – and anyone who’s dated for a while knows it’s most likely that it was never discussed.

      I know when a guy asks me out on a night I have another date, I’m always pretty vague that I have ‘plans’ that night. As it’s a bit brutal to specifically say you have another date. Like Evan says, it’s typically ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. I’d probably panic in this situation too!

      I get that she’s hurt, but would she really have wanted to be introduced to this other woman? That’s pretty awkward for everyone involved. He also probably wanted to spare the other woman’s feelings – hey this is another chick I’m dating -weird! Or have a stop and chat when he’s with someone else?? Again, that’s awkward and not great for the other woman – how is he supposed to introduce her? At least he sent an email – which shows he cares about her feelings. No matter what he did in this situation, it’s likely the OP would’ve been hurt.   I can completely understand her being hurt, but it’s not the guy’s fault.

      We’re all doing our best out there, and sometimes stuffing up! He sounds like a nice guy just trying to manage a difficult situation and avoid hurt feelings.

      1. 7.3.1

        Great comment Marika!

        Just because he handled the situation badly does NOT make him a bad guy

        There is no guarantee that if he did say hi that she still would not have been hurt

      2. 7.3.2
        Emily, the original


        I get that she’s hurt, but would she really have wanted to be introduced to this other woman?

        Probably not. He should have acknowledged the OP and then gone on with his date, instead of treating both women strangely. He really didn’t owe the OP an explanation, whether it was 15 minutes later in an email (where he lied) or the next day over the phone. They aren’t exclusive. I guess if I were in the situation, I would not have asked him anything. I would have been hurt seeing him there with another woman, but we did agree to date others, and, really, does she want a blow-by-blow of his date with someone else? I wouldn’t. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Sometimes you don’t need to know every little piece of information.

        1. GoWiththeFlow


          “He should have acknowledged the OP and then gone on with his date, instead of treating both women strangely.”

          It sounds like this was a twofer for him. He likely alienated both   women.

          I’m really curious as to how things went the next few weeks after this happened. I have my theory, as I’m sure others do.   I hope Kathleen stops by and let’s us know.

        2. Emily, the original


          He likely alienated both   women.

          I agree, but I’d be curious to know if the OP gave him another chance. What are your thoughts as to what happened? As far as his date that night is concerned, yes, I think he blew it with her.


        3. GoWiththeFlow


          Two theories:

          1)   Since the guy  was untruthful about being at the lecture with a date when he emailed Kathleen after the lecture was over, I wonder if he winds up just disappearing on her because he he just doesn’t know what to say.

          2) It seems like Kathleen may not be setting firm boundaries. She was essentially in a friend/support role and since men do what they want to do, if he had wanted to make it something more he would have.   Kathleen said they would see or talk to each other 2-3 times a week. Since he’s out of town for 2-3 weeks a month, in reality, they may have been mostly talking on the phone and actually only seeing each other 2-6 times a month.   So when she said this was casual what that may mean is they didn’t put in a lot of face time.

          If Kathleen does wind up talking with him  about what went down, I really don’t see where this progresses to a relationship. It doesn’t look like the depth of interest is there.

        4. Emily, the original


          1) I wonder if he winds up just disappearing on her because he he just doesn’t know what to say.

          Quite possibly. He came off as a bit spineless in the way he handled the situation and may opt for the easy way out.

          Since the guy  was untruthful about being at the lecture with a date

          Why did he do that? It was so obvious he was lying. I don’t like to be manipulated, especially so badly.

          2)   if he had wanted to make it something more he would have. …   I really don’t see where this progresses to a relationship

          I feel bad for her because she obviously has feelings for him, but it doesn’t look promising.

  8. 8

    Had some version of this happen twice. Both men expressed interest, pursued me instead of the other way round, were very involved in my life. Both were very compatible with my lifestyle and apparently with my values. A big deal in a region where compatible men are non-existent. There was never any talk about “casual” or dating others so I assumed we were getting to know one another organically. Both men turned out to have girlfriends elsewhere; both times the gf’s turned up on public by surprise. It sucks, it’s embarrassing as heck but all you can do is walk away with head held high and behave with dignity.

  9. 9

    A bit late to the game here, but , I’ve adopted a “protocol” (ha) after a few dates, when it appears the datING may continue. I casually say (key word is causal, with a light heart)   ” so, I’d like to say something so that we’re both on the same page and it may sound a bit premature or odd but I’ve learned it’s good to actually verbalize this. So, if we see each other some more and while we’re getting to know each other better, please know I may be dating other guys, and you’re free to date other girls OR guys! (a bit of humor works well here)   and if either one of us wants that changed, there has to be a conversation, no assumptions. Sound good?”

    So, that way, I am free to see others, if I choose and know I’m being totally honest and not misleading anybody- as is he!

    It goes over REALLY well. Honestly.   The less assumptions in relationships (any kind) , the better!

    1. 9.1

      Hi Sophia,

      I am curious about your “protocol.”

      What caused you to need to verbalize it? Don’t most people realize that many people multi-date?

      …    …    …

      How do you make sure that what happened to the guy N in comment #1 was talking to does not happen to you?

      I can see many people getting the impression that you are not really into them if you feel the need to verbally tell them what is often already understood; especially if you choose to tell them this “After” you have had a few good dates as you mentioned.

      So here and this guy are after maybe 3 or 4 what he thought were good dates and he is thinking you are really into him and then BAM! You hit him with the good old “I will be dating other guys and you can date other girls.”

      I can see a person (man or woman) getting the they are just not really into me vibe from that and then they will start backing off.

      1. 9.1.1

        If a guy, I went on a few good dates with, tells me he is going to date others and I can too, it will be a major turn off for me, just this statement will show me that he is not that into me and I will probably cut him off. If he does date others I don’t want to know until we talk about being exclusive or whatever talk we have. If I am into someone I don’t want to date other men, my thoughts will not be there and it’s not fair to them. I mean this situation can last how long, few weeks? I can’t imagine dating someone for more than few weeks and still seeing others. There were men who took it slow with me and I lost interest after few weeks or met someone else who was more exciting. The guy I am dating now didn’t really leave me time to date others, he wants to see me all the time…

        1. sophia


          So, just to show how different we all are….one guy asked me to be exclusive before I was ready and I told him this in a nice way. He replied, that while he could not wait forever, he was very willing to wait longer – he was way into me and that response shortened his waiting time.    🙂

          We dated for over a year and I learned great lessons from that relationship- and we’re very friendly when we run into each other.

          So, there ya go!

      2. 9.1.2

        Adrian, I get what you’re saying, really. And I wish I could recall if there was a specific incident that made me start verbalizing this, but I can’t. All I remember is I was dating a guy and HE thought we were exclusive and I felt rather guilty ( I know, I know…) so I thought I’d just start  being honest and transparent. And, while “most people” realize that people multi-date, SOME do not, hence, my “protocol”. (I’m only using that word ’cause someone mentioned a protocol and it just stuck, by the way).

        Personally, it would take more than 3-4 dates for me to really be “into him” as you say and again, the key is – right time, right delivery.

        Guess what? Sometimes, it’s had the opposite effect- many guys have pursued me MORE after this little chat- not sure why. All I can say is, if this actually turns them off (and my tone is friendly and light), then adios! We are not a good fit and I LOVE finding that out sooner rather than later.

        And, so that’s the answer to your question regarding “how do you make sure what happened to the guy N in comment #1 not happen to you”- see, it’s not my job to “make sure” that doesn’t happen to me. It’s my job to be ME, and respectful and kindly honest and let go of the results.

        (Why oh why did I not know this in my 20’s!….sigh.)



    2. 9.2

      Hi Sophia

      I completely agree with you that being up front is the best. I do the same thing you do. I date multiple women until the woman that fits with me becomes apparent and each one knows I’m dating other women.

    3. 9.3


      That’s a great way to broach the subject.   I may have to steal it!

      1. 9.3.1

        Thanks, permission granted! (ha ha)

  10. 10

    This guy sounds an absolute twonk. The gracious thing to do would have been to have come over for a chat – or at least to say ‘hello’ to Kathleen – and if the situation permitted, introduced the two ladies. As it is, he’s abandoned his date – who for all we know is still wondering what happened – and was, at best, very rude to someone who’s been a friend for a long time, by running away. This is the stuff of adolescent boys, not adult men.

    From the way the original letter is worded, he and Kathleen owe each other nothing. Could be that he had a similar arrangement with the other woman. If Kathleen hasn’t felt she could be honest about her feelings towards him, that’s a separate issue, but if they’ve discussed ‘the parameters of their relationship’, and she’s agreed to them, it doesn’t make sense for her to feel put out when he abides by them.

    On the basis of the way he handled the situation, I’d be questioning whether this was someone I’d want to be involved with anyway. But if Kathleen DOES want a relationship with him, she needs to say so.




  11. 11

    I am really surprised why people agree to those weird relationship arrangements and then are getting hurt by other side’s behavior. What does it even mean to date and not sleep together and see where things go? And tell each other if they date others? Did she really expect him to tell her that he sleeps with other women? No guy would do that. His reaction was clearly a fear that he was caught doing something wrong and he was afraid to face her. Why did he feel that he was doing something wrong? He was afraid of both women’s reactions, that’s why.

    It says a lot about his character and I’d drop him right there. He ran away from facing an unpleasant conversation and do you really want such a man in your life?

    Many years ago I was in love with a guy who didn’t want a relationship with me, we had sex and went out but he didn’t want to be my boyfriend. There was a show in town I wanted to go and he didn’t want to go there with me. I told him I am going with friends then. I went with another guy and group of friends. The first guy changed his mind and wanted to surprise me there by dropping by and thinking I’d be happy to see him but he only surprised himself. I didn’t even blink, I said hi, smiled and passed by. I wasn’t feeling I did something wrong at all but this guy did. So, I think there is something else there we don’t know.

    1. 11.1


      Your story brings up a good point.   Many times in these longish “casual” entanglements one person wants it to be more than the other one.   The one who wants more accepts the lesser arrangement to have some kind of tie to the object of their affection, and to see if they can get the other person to increase the attention and commitment level.   It rarely succeeds.

      Essentially the one who wants more doesn’t have the confidence or the ability to set good boundaries to protect their heart and keep from wasting time on someone who will never return their affections.

      1. 11.1.1

        Before I read this blog, I was clueless, now the situation I was in, not even possible. In the last year I cut off two guys who only wanted to see me once a week and contacted me once a week as well. I gave both of them 6-8 weeks to step up and just told them that it doesn’t work for me and I want a real relationship. One guy didn’t even reply to my text and I never heard from him again and second guy wanted to see me more but I met my current guy at the same time and the first guy didn’t stand a chance. He still texts me periodically asking if I am available again.

  12. 12

    Spot on, Evan.

  13. 13

    I agree that the arrangement is weird, etc. but isn’t that beside the point?   OP’s arrangement is either casual or it’s not.   If it is then they are both allowed to date other people without embarrassment.   Sure, it’s awkward to run into the woman you’re dating on another date but it’s hardly a reason for panic assuming they are all adults.   I think I’d be upset too if the man I was dating casually happened to run into me when he was on another date and behaved as if he were a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.   Fine, he panicked in the moment and ran away.   But then he further compounded his stupidity but emailing to tell her that he was alone? 😛   Now he’s both lying to her and assuming she’s stupid.   Run away, OP!

  14. 14

    I seriously hope the OP dumped this guy. Awkwardness is one thing. But lying to avoid conflict is a big, red, burning flag of NO. That’s not a miscommunication or lapse in common sense, that’s a character flaw, which should never be dismissed.

  15. 15

    Evan you didn’t address the issue of the man lying to her by email about being friends with the instructor. I understand being surprised and not knowing what to do in the moment  but is it ok to give  people a pass for lying? If a woman really liked you and lie to you about something to cover some of her flaws wouldn’t you be ticked off?

  16. 16

    Or Kathleen, if he agrees to wanting to be your boyfriend, but it feels like, and seems like he’s stringing you along, it’s because 9 times out of 10, he probably is. So my advice is to be crystal clear and detailed about what specifically a committed, exclusive relationship means to you. Put Everything that you want, and need to be satisfied out there, so he can make a well informed decision. Make your expectations fully known early on. Again, if he agrees to be your boyfriend, I would watch his actions very closely, and ensure that they coincide with his words. Also, be kind, and inviting, and give him a secure place to be completely honest with you. Let him know that it’s ok if he doesn’t want a relationship with you. Let him know that you want his complete honestly more than anything else, and that there will be no hard feelings on your end if he decides that he does not want a serious relationship with you. Wish him well and be courteous and respectful and move on.

  17. 17
    Kirstie Jorgensen

    I had a similar experience.   We were not exclusive and he liked me but did not want a relationship,   I thought we were friends. So when he brought another”friend” which he said he was i was ok u til he treated me as if he did not know me or embarrassed of me. Amongst a group of my friends even and my niece. He later explained she had different intentions and did not know what to do, even asked my advice. I explained actions that back up your words are powerful. He said thanks. Didnt get it at all. We remained friends. He didn’t want us to meet until one night he went out of town with friends and asked me to meet up with her at a concert he was going g to go to her with knowing I and all our friends would be there. I gave him a piece of my mind,   called him a coward a child and disrespectful.   I treated her like a best friend and introduced her to everyone.   Not saying a word. And cut him out of my life. Friends treat me with more respect than that anything less is unacceptable

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