I Don’t Want to Be a “For Now” Woman

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

In a past relationship, I had a situation where I found out my guy was seeing another woman in addition to me. Of course when the truth came to light, all the warning signs I’d been experiencing fell into place and I knew I’d always be on the look out for similar actions in the future. One thing that experience taught me (in addition to other, smaller, not-quite-as-bad experiences that have occurred since then) is how super-important it is that my guy likes me just as much as I like him. Although this may seem like a simple and obvious request, it’s often a lot harder to find than it sounds.

(I’m about to give a recent example, but I want to preface it with these words: This was the best-handled “we’re not seeing each other anymore” situation that I’ve ever been in. I feel no malice towards this guy at all, and I haven’t said anything negative about him or his actions to my friends — who, as we all know, are the ones who are destined to hear anything negative that we need to get off our chests.)

A few weeks ago, I stopped seeing a guy that I’d been dating for over three months. I dated several other people during that time (since he never technically became my “boyfriend”), but they were mostly halfhearted attempts at distracting myself from this other person. For the record, if I don’t have a commitment from a guy that he’s not seeing anyone else, I consider it mandatory that I date other people. There’s no way I want to be sitting at home, thinking about one person in particular, when he’s actually out on a date with someone else. Hell, no.

And yes, this is a self-protection mechanism I adopted as a result of past hurts; it’s been in place for less than a year. Sometimes certain things happen to us, and we end up adapting our future actions in an attempt to keep those scenarios from happening again — or at least keep them from having as much of an impact.

The short explanation with this most recent guy is that he likes me, but he doesn’t like me enough. For over three months, we saw each other at least once a week, and we had some form of contact pretty much every day. But when we had conversations about “us” — if we were seeing only each other or if we were also seeing other people — he wasn’t ready to say that I was it. He has a number of good reasons for not being ready to take that step, and for a while this situation was okay with me. We always have fun when we’re together, and I wasn’t ready to give that up. (Indeed, this is the same guy I referenced in the post I wrote about exclusivity — the guy I decided to keep seeing after he told me he wasn’t ready for anything more.)

When we talked about exclusivity again a few weeks ago (I’d like to note that the subject was brought up by him — it’s not always the female who has to bring up such things), he told me once again that he likes me, and that I’m awesome, but he’s okay with me dating other guys and he wants to keep his options open as well. I knew as soon as he said it that this time was different — I was no longer okay with it. It’s funny how that happens. They were the same words, but hearing them at a different time just caused something to click in my brain and I knew that I couldn’t continue to be his “for now” woman.

It goes back to what I said in the beginning — I need the guy to like me just as much as I like him. That’s what clicked for me. If I could see myself being happy with dating only this person, and I knew I wanted to see him more often and get to know him better…but he was telling me that he wanted to keep his options open? He doesn’t feel the same way I do. And rather than give it more time and risk being hurt, I decided to move on.

I’m not mad at him in the slightest. He could have told me what I wanted to hear, just to keep me around a little bit longer. I would have believed him, at least for a while, until my intuition kicked in, or something tipped me off, that something just wasn’t right. I’ve had guys in the past tell me what they thought I wanted to hear — something they didn’t really mean — and it’s always mystified me after the fact that they would go through so much trouble.

This guy has always been honest with me about where he stands, which I respect and appreciate — truthfulness is the most important thing in the world to me. I can take any news as long as I know it’s accurate. I’ve never been mad at someone just because they don’t feel the same way I do. All I ask is that you’re honest.

And now…here’s the funny thing. He and I have been in touch several times since that conversation happened (IM and email only). I decided about a week ago that I was going to write this post, and I’ve been working on it here and there over the past few days. I was finishing it up yesterday morning when I decided to take a break and go to the gym. As I left the gym, I saw that he’d sent me a text message. He’d just ran a 10-mile race, and he was in my neighborhood, and did I want to meet up for a few minutes? And of course my immediate answer was, “Yes.”

Before I agreed to see him yesterday, part of this post was going to read: “We’re going to be friends, and stay in touch, but we agreed that if we ever see each other in person again, it’ll have to be…later. You know, sometime down the road when we can see each other without being tempted to do something we shouldn’t.” Because, you know, we’d both agreed earlier in the week that that was the best way to handle things.

He picked me up, and we drove down to the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, and walked around, and talked, and shared an ice cream cone. It was comfortable, and it was friendly, and it wasn’t weird. I like being on good terms like that. And also, the only time I touched him was when our fingers met while passing the cone back and forth, and that one time I punched him lightly in the shoulder because of something he’d said, and then when I gave him a hug goodbye.

Things may not have worked out the way I thought I wanted them to work out, but in the absence of that, I feel like I’m privileged to know someone that I consider a very cool person.

Related Reading:

Free and Flawed is having a hard time getting over a relationship that ended a year ago, and is wondering if anyone has “any clever tricks on how to move on?”

Baby Tea Leaves said that she and her man “broke up a zillion times for every reason in the world (like he slurps his soup).”

Liv it Luv it reminds women not to forget about “the nice guy.”


  1. really good post and really positive perspective on the whole situation. I really admire you

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:28 am #
  2. Thanks so much. I needed this today. I’ve also always appreciated honesty over anything and I don’t quite understand why someone would go through so much trouble…and i’m quite afraid I am a “for now” woman.

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:30 am #
  3. Being the ‘not right now’ kind of woman can be odd – but at least you found someone who you can talk to and share a smile with on occasion…there are always plenty more fish in the sea to occupy your time! :)

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:45 am #
  4. The positive just jumps off the screen. Personally, however much it may “hurt” the other person involved, I play the honest card. It is the right thing to do – for both parties involved.

    Or maybe I’m just old fashioned

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 8:28 am #
  5. Great post! honesty is always the best policy :-)

    I have to say that I’ve made some good friends from online dating. You never know when you’ll enjoy someone’s company but not quite want to date. It’s win-win, in my eyes, as long as everyone is upfront about it all.

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 8:32 am #
  6. You have such a healthy attitude about dating – I love it. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but if I’m dating someone and after a few weeks am just feeling like they couldn’t be or aren’t *the one*, then I move on. So many people tell me to “hang in there” and “give it time,” but I don’t want to waste someone’s time. And I REALLY wouldn’t want them to waste mine.

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 9:04 am #
  7. My sister can do the whole don’t get deep, let’s just enjoy now thing with guys but I never could. It was either fireworks and exclusivity or I wasn’t interested. Friends are friends, but making out with someone who is making out with someone else tomorrow – not my thing. Besides, when you meet that most-amazing person ever – you can hardly eat much less think about being with someone else (at least in my experience).

    I’m glad you are moving on… I know you will find the right guy for you. :)

    One thing I’ve heard a few times, from different people, and really believe is true: “you will know it is right when everything is easy”

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm #
  8. You have great perspective and a very reasonable, mature outlook on it. I know you’re going to meet the right guy and it’s going to be clear (and easy) from the very beginning.

    Posted April 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm #
  9. Sometimes it takes a while for feelings for another person to develop and for people to know that they want to be together. Things that are rushed into usually end just as abruptly.

    Sorry that I didn’t respond last night. I washed my car, then went for a walk on the river trail then a late dinner. It was almost 11 before I read your message…

    Posted April 28, 2009 at 9:12 am #
  10. Good for you!! I think too often women hear those words from a guy, only to keep giving it multiple changes or think he will change, when in fact the guy was very upfront. Then when something happens, they blame the guy for not committing.

    When someone tells you something, believe them. I had a guy I was having a FWB relationship with. He told me straight up that we would never be in a serious relationship and truth is, I didn’t want one with him either. But we are always honest with each other, and we had ground rules for what we were doing. Had I wanted something more, well I hope I would have had the good sense to end it.

    Anyway, you’re a very mature person.

    Posted April 28, 2009 at 10:00 am #
  11. Nice work Zan. It’s always tough to walk away from something like that, even if it’s just an “okay” relationship. Stay the course though, I’m sure Romeo is waiting for you somewhere… :)

    Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:15 am #
  12. Aw, thanks darling. And this post was amazing, mature, and so, so true. Many of us never get to the point where we’re able to recognize those signs and cut our losses without getting hurt. I’m glad that you have.

    Posted April 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm #
  13. awww z – sorry it didn’t work out for you. that sucks. but you are so cool about it. i am glad you made a friend in the process.

    Posted April 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm #