A Call to move on or a "rebound"? What should I do in this dating scenario?

Hi everybody thanks for considering my question! This is kind of long:
Roughly four years ago I met a wonderful young man. We will call him “Ben.” Ben is awesome: passionately Christian, intelligent, a true gentlemen, fun to be with, and my BEST FRIEND. Roughly four years ago something else happened: I fell for him. While I love Ben and would love to date him I have always had a standard I set for young men I consider dating- that they must pursue me. I don’t mean over the top pursuit, but they must be the askers- they ask on dates, make statement about feelings, etc. Ben never conventionally did this so we have never “dated.” However, he has always made me feel like we have a special relationship. He even jokes that I am his “wife” sometimes and when considering colleges he stressed out over how far away I would be. Things all worked out okay but he said he “couldn’t not stand not being able to see me on weekends.” We talk about everything: my call to youth-ministry, faith, values, T.V., travel, whatever, you name it. However, we have NEVER talked about dating, even though we’ve been on “dates” to social-functions. We have no physical intimacy or anything like that and are strictly “just friends.”
So 4 years come and go, me and Ben are STILL best friends but another guy has seemed to walk into my life. We will call him Matt. Matt is another good friend of mine. Not best friends by any means just a guy who I have been friends with for a long time. The difference is that Matt has a strong interest in dating me. But he also doesn’t share all the same values. Although this is something we’d discuss before dating he is a genuine and kind hearted young man. I don’t feel the same emotions for him as I feel for Ben, but they definitely exist. Originally I decided I wouldn’t date Matt. He wasn’t Ben and Ben was all I wanted. I knew I couldn’t date Matt also knowing that I would always want to have a relationship with Ben before him. However, recently he told my girl best friend that one of his core reasons for attraction to me is that he “is attracted to my innocence and sweet disposition.” But not in that creepy way. Just in a really pure way. I’ve been praying for weeks about this and feel God may have put “Matt” in my life as a man who treats me as a young woman should be treated, and even to date.
What do ya’ll think? Should I date Matt even though I would rather date Ben? Should I wait around in hopes that Ben may someday come around? Is that a possibility? Or should I take a chance on the great guy who happened to come around?

I think you should push through your strict standards about who should be the pursuer and let Ben know how you feel.

No, it’s not traditional womanly behavior, but so what? It is possible that Ben has feelings for you, but for whatever reason has not voiced them. Perhaps he thinks you see him as a friend, perhaps he thinks that his behavior speak for itself and he doesn’t need to overtly state his feelings.

If you don’t do this, it might come to be something you will regret for the rest of your life. “If only I spoke up, maybe I would now have a family with Ben.”

So push through your standards about dating (they have nothing to do with Catholic teaching anyway, and are just a personal choice of yours), and find out if Ben is interested in a relationship. If he’s not, move on and give Matt a chance. Otherwise you’ll always wonder what might have been, especially if Matt or whoever you end up marrying turns out to have flaws (which he undoubtedly will). Not a good way to live.

(As for making statements about feelings, not doing this is an issue too many men have. So don’t hold it against Ben, I haven’t met every man, but from my experience most are this way. It’s something that doens’t come naturally to them, but once you let them know you need this they will make an effort.)

Well, it would only be dating, not marriage. Why not go out with Matt if he has asked you? It doesn’t hurt to say yes, especially since Ben has never asked in all this time. It’s just a date, not a marriage proposal. I would say yes.

And you never know, it might knock Ben off that fence he’s been sitting on all this time, and push him into action. Time to change the status quo a bit, I’d say. Better than wondering another four years.

It might also make Ben believe that her choice to date Matt means she doesn’t like him, so he’ll see no point to pursue her even if he likes her and will try to move on.

That’s how I’d react, if someone I liked started dating someone else I’d decide to move on and get over my feelings for them.

It doesn’t sound like Ben has been pursuing at all. That is the problem. Time for Ben to get some balls and ask her out if he likes her so much. Or maybe it is only friendship to him since it has been four years.

Face it, if a guy really likes a girl and has known that girl for a while, he needs to act on it before she gets away. Otherwise, he’s a wuss.

Maybe the solution is for the OP to mention to Ben that Matt has asked her for a date, and ask Ben’s what he thinks about it. That would put the ball in his court and he could then reveal his real feelings.

It almost sounds like Ben might think they are already in a relationship. He might just be the kind of person who thinks it’s not necessary to formally ask someone out on a date. Or it might be that the OP doesn’t send him enough “I like you as a man” signals, so he thinks she just wants to be friends and doesn’t make a move.

But I think you have a good idea for the OP to tell Ben that another guy is pursuing her. I still think it’s a better idea for her to simply tell him that she likes him and see how he reacts.

Ag (the Opening Poster), let’s take a look at some of the details you give. You say Ben is a true gentleman, intelligent, fun to be with and a best friend. Chances are he’s not one of the extroverted types who will display affection in overt ways and he might actually even be somewhat insecure. Certainly he might be afraid to hurt you, he might think you’re not interested in him and he might be somewhat reluctant to risk your friendship (friendships don’t really survive a romantic break-up, although there are exceptions). His jokes about you being his “wife” sound like you’re very close (as friends) or spend a lot of time together and at any rate, they also show, with some probability, that the very idea (that is of you being his wife, one day) is not odd or unpleasant to him. As for Matt, I don’t know from what source you know that he has a strong interest in dating you, but there are some things that he told your friend, which your friend told you. That’s not “the same” as what you’re looking for, i.e. a guy telling it right to you, openly etc.

Further - and this is a separate question - you say you and Matt don’t share all values. While it’s not necessarily true, I suppose values relate to religion and likely to issues of chastity. In short, if it’s a guy who doesn’t believe in what we Catholics do when it comes to marriage, you need to be very careful and preferably not go that way anyway.

I’m strongly against the idea of dating Matt to give Ben something to think about. That would be fair towards neither guy. With regard to Ben, it would be head games. With regard to Matt, it would be head games and using him. You have a bit of a stagnant status quo, but introducing unhealthy tension into it is not a way to cure it.

It is also true that Ben might decide that since you seem happy about going out with Matt, he isn’t going to interfere because he wants you to be happy more than he wants you to be with him. As for now, yes, it’s true that Ben might be thinking that you’re in a relationship right now - just a not very pronounced one.

As for you (last but not least :)), it must be said that you can’t just get over your feelings for Ben on a whim and go on with Matt. It would need to be a weighed decision that you would know why you made and that you would be ready to stand for (although obviously, as long as it’s not marriage, you can go back).

And finally, yes, some guys are like Ben, it’s true. Don’t let me sound bitter, but sometimes we feel like women expect us to be ready for everything before they tell us as much as if they aren’t repulsed by us. Fair or not, that’s simply not very healthy. There must be some symmetry in a relationship and you need to realise that if you wanted guys to come to you openly, it wouldn’t only be guys you’re interested in, but also guys you barely know or are downright repulsed by. You can’t have only guys you’re interested in come up - they won’t read your mind (unless you help them).

Personally, I actually stand on a position similar to Ben’s and although the reasons are probably different, I can tell you the whys. The way I was brought up, it is unfathomable to me that a gentleman would offer to a lady a romantic encounter or a potentially romantic encounter (a “date” is very open about it and there’s no denying) just like that and she would agree just like that. It is also unfathomable to me that such encounters would involve a pool of people rather than just one potential couple-to-be, while there is not enough reason to bind oneself to a woman (or man) one barely knows or isn’t decided about or doesn’t know if she (he) returns his (her) feelings. This is why I don’t call meetings dates. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my ways of showing affection, but I keep the showing proportional to the feeling, so to say. In this connection, by the way, are you sure that Ben isn’t showing any special feelings in any way, well, other than the “wife” jokes?

Now, if you want to give a guy some feedback or help him read your mind, you can tell or show him that his gestures, behaviour or some other behaviour are welcome, you can tell him how certain things make you feel, e.g.: “it’s lovely that you’d think about that”, “that’s very endearing”, “that’s sweet of you”, “I hoped you would ask”, “yes, I really think we should”, “I’m looking forward to that”, “thank you, that’s very kind of you”, “I appreciate that”, “you don’t look bad either”. There’s absolutely nothing demeaning for you in such reciprocation; in fact, it shows class and earns respect and confirms a guy in his belief that he chose right. Besides, if a guy pays you compliments or gives you small tokens such e.g. sending you a postcard from holiday, bringing you something from a journey, getting you a book he thought you’d like etc., then you can return the favour and there’s no dishonour of any kind for you for doing that (I’d say the opposite, again). Obviously, if you’re not interested, you say, “Thank you. I appreciate the gesture, but I’m afraid you have some feelings for me that I don’t return,” (after which, “a no is a no”). A guy doesn’t need to go the whole way to hear a no.

So, the standard that it’s the guy’s job to do the pursuing is a good one, but it doesn’t mean you need to leave it entirely in his hands, let alone attempt to keep a poker face. Guys make small passes too, they too probe the ground and they too can think about such things as losing a friend if it doesn’t work out.

Finally, if you decide you need to act fast and you don’t have time, you can just tell ben something like (the actual text is just an example):
“Well, Ben, it’s been a couple of years. I can’t tell from your behaviour if you like me that way or not, but I’d rather know this before I move on.”
Or, if you want to tone it down and add some humour, you can say, preferably without too much pathos (but serious enough so that he knows it’s not a tease), something like,
“Well, Ben, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but guys are asking me out. I thought I would give you a chance to make up your mind. It’s been four years after all.”
And if you think it shows your interest too clearly, you can always ask him to clarify his intentions towards you (because you’re confused) and tell him to be honest and brave about it if he has those feelings or, if he doesn’t, then simply tell you so that you can stop worrying. In no way do you actually need to confess your feelings to him, ask him out or anything of the kind. It’s just a matter of finding a creative solution to allow him to be a gentleman and allow you to be a lady while getting things done. On the other hand, if you decide you’re goit to wait a bit, you can wait until he next makes the “wife” reference and ask him something like, “What if I take you at your word? Are you prepared for that?” and see what happens.

It is a mistake for women to be “best friends” with a guy. It never leads to anything good.

You have feelings for him, and are reluctant to share them based on (a) your artificial “rule” that the guy must ask you first and (b) probably some intuitive sense that any declaration by either of you will permanently alter your relationship.

If you declare for Ben, be prepared for three possibilities and be able to live with the consequences should one of the first two occur: (1) he doesn’t feel the same way… and your friendship will be ever-altered due to you having put it out there, (2) he does feel the same way, you date, you breakup, and your friendship is ever-altered due to the breakup, (3) he feels the same way, you date, and you stay together.

It is useless to speculate on what Ben may or may not be thinking. YOU have a decision to make. Declare your feelings to Ben or move on. I don’t think you can continue with this friendship which is really a crush forever. It’s unrequieted love, or crush, and you will just stay miserable.

Matt, OTOH, does not sound like date material. He doens’t share your values.

I do think you should stop the pining for Ben, and either tell him or set your will firmly to friendship and make yourself available to other men. Just not this Matt person.

Ben is your best friend… talk to him about Matt… see what he thinks =P

*:rotfl: the last poster made me laugh. lol That might open things up quickly. lol

In all seriousness…I don’t believe it’s an ‘‘artificial’’ rule. :cool: I had the same ‘‘rule,’’ and I held out for a man who took initative…and married him. I am old fashioned and believe that men should do the pursuing…it doesn’t have to be everyone’s rule…but it’s yours…don’t change your standards, because you will always feel that you compromised.

ALTHOUGH…I think that Ben HAS in HIS OWN way attempted to show you his feelings (the comment about not seeing you on weekends)…I am not sure how you could approach things. If you want to truly be more than friends, and really believe in that ‘rule’ then you might not be happy with Ben, if you do the asking. Because in essence you want a man who takes charge, and knows what he wants…and goes for it.

I wouldn’t date Matt if you’re not that into him…but, maybe have a heart to heart with Ben. :o You’re not asking him out in that case, just talking. lol :p*

I’m noticing that I’m in agreement more and more with you, flyingfish…in different threads. I think you could be right here. I think that when friendships go on like this for years, it can be subtle, the ‘‘advances’’ of men in these situations. He may sense that if she says no to dating, it would ruin the friendship. It is definitely not a traditional situation, where two people hardly know one another, and the man is doing the asking. So, in this regard, it might benefit you to open the subject, OP.

My keyboard got drooled on when I started laughing like an idiot. Having pulled my nose out from between the keys, I’ve got to say, “NO, DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT!!!111oneonesix”

Now let’s bug Whatevergirl a bit before calling it a day (I almost made a spelling mistake, so I really need some sleep)…

Yeah, stick with it if that’s how you feel, just don’t develop a pattern of thinking that a man is five social classes below you. Some women do get to that point and, needless to say, it takes a man with issues to like that kind of attitude. At the same time, don’t fall for a woman whose only virtue is initiative. Got to separate pure brass from true and justified confidence.

ALTHOUGH…I think that Ben HAS in HIS OWN way attempted to show you his feelings (the comment about not seeing you on weekends)…

By the tax code! I kept ranting on about the “wife” jokes and forgot about that one. It’s an obvious giveaway. A guy who sees you all the time during the week really doesn’t mourn not seeing you on the weekends unless you’re the sun on his sky, trust me on that one. :stuck_out_tongue:

I am not sure how you could approach things. If you want to truly be more than friends, and really believe in that ‘rule’ then you might not be happy with Ben, if you do the asking. Because in essence you want a man who takes charge, and knows what he wants…and goes for it.

Hey, you aren’t telling me that all those guys who make women fight for them don’t know how to take charge, are you? :stuck_out_tongue: Now, seriously, there’s no clear parallel between taking certain dating steps first or taking them by certain time limits, and leadership abilities in normal life. On the other hand, there’s a reliable parallel between courtesy, respect and tact shown in both situations. Plus, in defence of shy guys, that’s a trait more often found in the “good boys” than the “bad boys”, it doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done or take charge and it definitely doesn’t mean they’re going to allow themselves to be walked over. Just like shy girls anyway. In fact, they can be shy only around a particular woman. It happens sometimes and I can’t explain it, but I’ve had it a couple of times, even though I’m a not shy as you’ve undoubtedly been able to notice by now. I had the nerve to reply in French when a senior attorney (meaning just a couple of years older but earning a couple of times more :p) was calling on business (morning allocation of dirty work), and ask whether she was phoning to invite me for a coffee… and I went to that coffee. And stuff like that didn’t happen rarely when I worked out in the city. But not long ago, I saw a girl and couldn’t get a good afternoon out of me. Some of those I’ve actually known also have had such an effect on me… it’s more rare than the opposite situation, but it’s not a once in a decade occurrence, either. It’s possible something of this kind might be going on on Ben’s side, especially if he’s very protective of the Opening Poster and has a soft spot for her… or just cares a lot and caring so much inspires humility in him (similar to the difference between the girl you date and the girl you keep - you go about it in two different ways). I’m just speculating, but there’s a whole lot of room for such possibilities.

For the record, I agree with you on flyingfish being right. I was awfully subtle myself the last two times I made moves on a long-time friend, which was the last two times I seriously made moves on anybody anyway. The first one, I would drop hints but leave her the possibility to pull away, showing her I noticed she wasn’t a guy and I liked it better that way, plus shamelessly trying to seduce her with my best looks. The other one, that was more about choice of words and sitautions and processing a heckload of data on body language and other such things and trying to get the most information I could, see how far I could go without her jumping back (she did anyway) and more. To my defence, I was 22-24 and stupid.

It’s simple. If you have feelings for x, tell x your feelings. All the rest is dramarama. If you choose to keep your feelings private, then don’t complain or fret about it.

Thanks for all ya’lls input :slight_smile: Just to clarify I DO show Ben some advancement. i.e. if he compliments me I return the compliment, I tell him I care about him (in the friend sense), and I make sure I DO tell him when he does something sweet. However, flirting is not asking out, and that is the part he has to do. And that is not something I plan on changing. I respect everyones opinion about that and see NO problem with women asking men out its just not my thing (old fashioned :o )Regardless, I have been considering what all of ya’ll have been saying and see a trend in the not considering Matt category. I suppose we will see how that works out, but right now I am definitly not PUSHING that relationship so I have more time to discern it. Time will tell but for right now I guess I’ll be mustering up the courage to talk to Ben about how I feel. Thanks ya’ll so much for your advice and help. God Bless- Ag

Oh for pity’s sake, just tell Ben how you feel and be honest - and tell him - face to face, not over the phone or text or facebook. Human beings talking to other human beings - that is how relationships work.

Good luck. I’ll remember you in my prayers. You don’t have to rush it. Films and books are full of “so (when) are you going to ask me out/propose/whatever,” and being the girl, you can ask him about his feelings before telling him yours. You don’t need to come all out if you don’t want to. Though if you do decide to make a total exception from your standard, which isn’t a moral principle - if this makes you feel any better, that’s your call. I’ve done that once. I had a “nothing ever with a girl who once told me no before” standard until my last ex, which is a similar dignity-kind-of-thing as yours. Telling someone how you feel doesn’t take your dignity anyway. Plus, even if you tell him, it’s not asking him (you can tell him he’s gonna have to do the chase and you’re just tipping him off, if you want to - there’s almost always a way to keep the wolf fed and the sheep alive, as we say in Polish ;)). Anyway, sorry to see you so stressed. Hope it ends well.

Do what you feel comfortable with. Good luck to you. :slight_smile:

Winner,winner, chicken dinner! Kage has it right. Old fashioned or not, you’ve been doing this for four years and you don’t have what you’d like to. You can keep going at it that way, but it’s likely to result in more of the same- you still not having what you’d like to have. Talk to the boy about it!

:wink: Don’t over analyze my ‘rule.’ lol I’m old fashioned in this sense, sorry. :o But, no I don’t believe women are above men, and that is why the men should do the asking. It’s how I was raised…in a very conservative, strict Italian household…women don’t ask out men. That was how my sister was raised, that is how she raised me. That is how we are raising our daughter. But, to each’s own. No one is right or wrong here. :slight_smile:

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