“I met a guy on a dating site and we started chatting. In his first message to me, he said he “wasn’t looking for another big relationship” but was “always interested in talking to poly people.” I took this to mean he only wanted to be friends.
We’ve been texting now for nearly a year but never met in person because we live a couple hours away from each other and it hasn’t seemed urgent to meet in person. But I feel like I really know him well and I’ve gotten to the point where I’d really be interested in a more romantic/sexual connection, even though I know it would only be occasional because of the distance. He’s going to be traveling through my city soon on his way to a work trip and he suggested that we meet up for coffee.
What should I do? Assuming that I’m as interested in him in-person as via text/photos, should I point-blank tell him that I want to smooch him? Should I ask him if he’s interested in more of a relationship or assume that he is still in “friends-only” territory? Are there certain signals I should look for or that I should try to give off to get a feel for whether we are on the same page?
I feel like I’m putting a lot of pressure on this one-hour coffee meeting and I don’t know how best to use the time to suss out his intentions (as well as my own!) I don’t want to blow the friendship by making a move or having an awkward conversation that then makes it hard for us to go back to our regular friendly texting.
So, if you had an hour to spend with someone you may or may not want to be in a relationship with….but that you don’t know when you’d see again if you don’t both start making an effort . . . what would you do with that time?”
Dear Onions and Olives,
Dating is very vulnerable. Through dating, we are often put into an environment that makes us emotionally susceptible to heartbreaks and emotional entanglement. We are often hurt, challenged, and also nourished through meeting and connecting with people we might not have otherwise ever introduced ourselves to. The threat of rejection sometimes scares us to inaction.
Based on what you have shared, it sounds like you have developed a bit of crush on this person you matched with online over the past year. You also recognize that you are romantically and/or sexually attracted to this person, but you are unsure how interested he would be in you considering her first said he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with you. It is very interesting to see you take a couple steps back even in this post when you say that you aren’t even sure what your own intentions are. And because you can’t really know his intentions, you are getting very emotionally involved in figuring out what his intentions could be through his words and actions instead.
Let’s start with the obvious. You can try directly communicating this with him either before grabbing coffee together or during this coffee get-together to understand where his headspace is. But if that feels too abrupt, you can start by asking him about where his headspace is now after he has gotten to know someone polyamorous (i.e. you) over the past year. That question will allow you to get some visibility into how open he is to pursuing anything romantic or sexual with you. If there are positive feedback, it’ll be a natural segue to talking more about romantic or sexual intentions with each other.
I do think that even though the core issue is with dating in general, there is a poly-related addendum to all of this. When it comes to dating as a polyamorous person, there is a lot of nuances to keep track of. Non-monogamy is gaining a lot of traction in public space, but it’s still looked down upon in some parts of the western society. So being able to subtly pick up on differing levels of interests and make emotional investments appropriately is a skill that openly polyamorous folks need to develop quickly.
As someone who is naturally flirtatious, I have found it immensely difficult to associate intent behind acts of flirtation. Sometimes, folks just flirt for the sake of flirting even without any interest to pursue that interest. So to make communication a lot easier, I instead opted for directly communicating my interest when I am interested in pursuing a relationship with someone. That might not be a bad path for you to take even beyond this one person.
As for what to do, why not just get to know this person you’ve been talking to for that one hour? You must’ve gotten to know this person really well in the past year. So even if there isn’t a romantic spark there, just being able to compare the mental image you have established in regards to each other might be a pretty good discussion for you two to have.
Don’t worry about it too much. Go into it with the expectations to get to know this person better and step away from any of that internal hype. You’ll have a better time for it anyway.
Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.
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