I thought I'd hit you up about an issue that has been on my mind the last month or so.
I am a fan of both your work and your perspective on things. Dare I say, you've both opened up my perspective on guys and the whole dating world and I've definitely learnt a thing or two along the way.
My question to you is, what are your thoughts on when a guy says he's not in a place to commit because he needs to "sort his life out?”
As a girl, I should probably take that statement for face value, but something within me is saying it's an excuse guys use because they don't want to be in a relationship with me.
I should mention these guys stated pretty clearly at the start that they were after something genuine and that they weren't a fuckboy.
But another possibility is that I could totally be meeting the wrong guys, that we're not right for each other, they didn't wanna hurt my feelings, etc. Honestly, it could be a number of reasons.
I've dated what I could say is a healthy number of guys. Some I've been in committed relationships with, some I've ended up becoming great friends with and others I've just cut out of my life completely.
My last boyfriend and the most recent guy I've dated for around three months have both said the same thing: They needed to sort their life out and couldn't commit to a relationship or more with me.
As a girlfriend and friend, I am really chill. I'm confident, independent, career-oriented, outgoing, love to laugh and love living my life. I live a very simple, drama-free, but social life.
I don't rush into anything when it comes to dating, as I genuinely like to take my time to get to know the guy I'm seeing.
But when a couple of months go by, and I'm ready to bring up the “what are we?” topic, I seem to get blindsided. Even when I thought things were going really well and heading toward something more, I end up in the friend zone because they're not ready to commit.
I've ended up calling myself “the stand-in girl” because I'm starting to think I'm the girl who guys date until someone better comes along — just someone to fill their empty, lonely lives.
So after the last guy, I decided that would be it for me on dating apps. I was on Tinder for a while after my ex broke up with me, and I vowed that, if things didn't work out with this last guy, I would delete the app and take on the traditional dating approach: meeting someone the old-school way.
Is that even possible anymore?
I'm honestly stuck. As someone who's naturally curious, I dig deep to find answers to things I don't know. I also like to take all experiences — whether good or bad — on board so I can grow as a person. I'm all about that self-improvement.
But honestly, this baffles me. And if I hear another friend of mine say anything along the lines of “there's more fish in the sea” or “it'll happen when you least expect it,” I will seriously cry.
I'm 28 years old and heading in the direction of settling down. If only I knew what was going wrong.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
First off, I want to thank you for the compliment. What you've reaped from our column is exactly what we wanted, so I want to offer my thanks for letting us know our goal has been met — that's awesome.
But now, let's get to what you really want figured out: why you've become “the stand-in girl.”
As a former “rebound guy” (a position I reluctantly adopted in my early 20s), I found the primary reason why I was so fit for the rebound was because I was the opposite of who these women dated in the past.
I had manners, I'd pick up the phone in the middle of the night when she'd call in tears and I was always available when she needed me emotionally and/or physically.
In other words, she wanted to “try on” a nice guy because her ex-boyfriend was an “asshole” — her words, not mine.
As such, she'd have her three-month fling with me, and then she'd be onto the next so-called asshole she (a mere month ago) deemed unfit for a relationships.
It was a vicious cycle, and I was a sucker. And I feel like you're doing the same thing here.
Like I had been, you've become too available.
The reason guys use the “sort their lives out” excuse (which is what it is — an excuse) is because it's an easy out that requires little-to-no explanation. It's his way of telling you, “Hey, it's been fun, but I'm moving on.”
Since you say this has happened repeatedly, it's obviously become a trend in your dating life, and you should do some reflecting.
What are you doing wrong? Why does this keep happening to you?
I admit, you do come off a tad defensive in your email, telling us how great of a girlfriend you are, when things of that nature shouldn't necessarily be said, but demonstrated through past relationships.
But based on your own testimony, your past relationships have been relatively short, which suggests maybe you aren't the kind of partner you insist you are.
Is there any chance you're coming on too strong with these guys? That when the three-month milestone hits, you push too hard for exclusivity, without having a mutual discussion?
Like I said, I think your eagerness to find a man is making others perceive you as too available or — dare I say — desperate.
I concur that you should delete your dating apps. If you're looking for something serious, odds are, you won't find it there, because dating apps are as low-investment as they come.
OK, so you're 28, and society leads us to believe the closer you get to 30, the more concerned you should be about settling down with a dude and popping out children.
But 28 is still very young, and you're certainly not helping yourself by looking for love on one of the most non-committal and immature resources available.
So if you are looking for something serious, I suggest you use a paid online dating service instead. Just try it on.
At least there, you'll find men who've spent money in an attempt to find somebody to spend their lives with.
Sure, there are “plenty of fish in the sea,” but you're not looking for just any fish, Annie. You want one of those trophy fish who are tough to catch. So instead of dropping your lure in those same, murky waters, find yourself another lake.
Best of luck!
First of all, I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you for the life history.
If nothing else, it illustrates exactly the type of young woman you are, which probably comes across more loaded a statement than it's meant to be.
It also illustrates you're one who has, for a least a good while, had more than a skeletal outline of how she thinks her life should play out.
And herein, I think, lies your problem.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being prepared (except that its dull) or with having a plan. But things aren't always going to work out according to plan. And when they don't, people often mistake that as a failure, instead of seeing it for what it really is: an inevitable outcome of lives we can't control.
It sounds like you think you should be in a committed relationship by now, or you should be married, or guys should be wanting what you want, or that you shouldn't be on Bumble at 28, or that you should be at a certain point — whatever that point specifically is.
But I like to tell people to throw the word "should" out with last night's empty bottles.
“Should” is such a trap, a box we build around ourselves and an unnecessary barrier.
By living your life based on “shoulds,” you're choosing to adhere to assumptions — assumptions based on other's people's lives, instead of on your own.
You're setting yourself up for failure because, by definition, everything you do is failure unless other people react in ways you assume they will.
Do you see how dangerous this is? You can't look for happiness on someone else's roadmap. You can't even plan your own trip. All you can do is start driving, see where it takes you and hope your happiness is there. It won't be, but at least you'll find some laughs looking.
Of course, I'm assuming, too. (That irony isn't lost on me.) I'm assuming this is the kind of person you are, but I'm also assuming it based on the description you provided, so my assumption has merit.
You wrote this letter like a resume, like a long-winded Tinder profile. You included none of your flaws.
You wrote it like you thought you should, like how you thought other people would want to read it. And in doing that, the only real thing you told me was the realest thing about you.
“I'm 28 years old and heading in the direction of settling down,” you wrote. “If only I knew what was going wrong.”
What you're doing wrong is trying to settle down. You're implying that it could happen with anyone at anytime, that it doesn't even matter who, as long as it fulfills some childhood fantasy and a letter you wrote to your older self when you were 16.
It all just reeks of entitlement, desperation and naiveté.
I can't speak for all of us, but guys like me don't like to operate under “shoulds.” We like to have an idea of where we're going, but we don't want to meet people who tell us where they believe we should go.
The “sort my life out” thing is a let-you-down-easy excuse — your instincts are right there.
But it's also close to the truth. We want our lives to sort themselves out, not to be pushed into a corner because of someone who thinks everything has a time limit.
Bukowski didn't write poems until his 50s. Louis C.K. wasn't funny until 45. The jerkoff in the White House didn't get the chance to bukake all over America until he was 70 (lucky-ish for us).
What I'm trying to say is, you're young. Rome may be burning, but you're fine... just maybe a little overeager.
Some very dull person will want to move to the suburbs with you soon. And then, you two will have forever to sort your shit out.