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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Things Start Getting A Bit Too Exclusive

Dear Bro Jo,

I'd like to start off by saying thank you for your blog!

It's helped me make decisions I never knew I would need to make.

I've been thinking a lot about something and I guess I just need some advice (who doesn't at one point or another, right?)

I'll start off with a bit of background: I've been dating someone from school. Not exclusively, but we've been "closer" and have spent more time together than I have with others. Yes, we go on dates with others. Yes, we spend time with others.. but sometimes it feels a bit too exclusive for my taste.

I know that it's not good to exclusively date, especially when I'm only 17 and supposed to be dating around, but it's a little bit hard when everyone assumes that you're completely coupled off and expects you to stay together "forever and ever" even if that's not the way it really is.

This last school year, for the girls' preference dances I decided to ask those that didn't think they'd be asked. I thought that it would be a fun way to get some dating in as well as ask those that were feeling down about themselves. The main problem was that after I asked someone, it became a dramatic issue with (.. let's call him Andrew) the guy I talked about in the second paragraph.

He got upset and wouldn't talk to me at all, even when I tried calling.

When I finally DID get a hold of him to see what was going on, he got extremely snappy. It made me feel like I had to take it upon myself to apologize (I know I shouldn't have. Especially when I'm supposed to be dating others as well.)

We solved the problem by talking but the same thing happened two more times!

Even after I asked him to a dance. I guess you could maybe chalk it up to jealousy on his part?

At the same time, however, he's been flirting with several people, one in particular.

Now I haven't gotten jealous, because it's not really my right to do that. It's not like he's my personal property or anything. I guess I just don't understand how it's okay for him to be extremely flirtatious with others while at the same time if I get asked on a single date he becomes hostile.

 Here goes the actually relevant part of my story:  Recently, I've been thinking about what to do about the situation. I've been feeling like I need to break it off so that we can each do our own thing. I've been praying about it but haven't really known how to approach the situation. I don't want to lose him as a friend because I truly do care for him.. I just don't think that I care for him on the same level that he is feeling for me. I've heard a lot of his past from not only others, but he himself about how he has a very hard time forgiving people if he likes them and then they let him go.

(I suppose that should have been a red flag telling me not to proceed but I thought that I would be fine!)

On top of that, I feel like he adds a lot of drama to my life as more than a casual friend. I always feel like I'm walking on eggshells just to keep him from getting upset.

Don't get me wrong!

He's truly a fantastic guy with many talents and abilities that anyone would be lucky to have in their life, I just feel like he's playing too big of a part in mine right now.

Another difficult thing is that we share all of the same friends and will have classes together next year. I still want to keep those friends and keep my life from getting awkward.

I guess to sum it up:

1. How would I approach this situation in the first place and begin this conversation?

2. What could I say to him that wouldn't offend him but that would get my point across?

3. Do you have any tips on how to keep people from feeling awkward?

4. Should I completely break EVERYTHING off with him or should I talk to him about dating just with more dates and time with others in between?

5. How can I keep him as a friend?

Thank you for taking the time to read through this most likely confusing email! Let me know if there is anything at all I can clear up or clarify. 

Thanks again!

- Conflicted

 Dear Conflicted,

1.  I think the best way to begin a conversation is by going up to someone and saying hello.

2.  Probably not very much. Smiling politely might help break the ice. Tell him the truth. Tell him you like him and have fun dating him, but you're worried about the two of you being too "exclusive". Who knows. He might agree.  Get your point across by being honest and direct.  If he gets offended . . . that's his choice.

3.  Time. Awkwardness goes away with age and experience. But it never fully goes away. Prayer helps. I had an employer observe of me once "you're pretty comfortable in an argument", to which I replied "it's pretty easy to be comfortable when you know you're right". Same thing is true here.

4.  I think you should talk to him about Casual Group Dating, and the Dating Rules, and how you don't want to be a "distraction" for a guy you know is going to be a great missionary. Tell him that you love dating him, but you don't want anything to get too serious. (see #2 above)

5.  You're not "just friends" now, so you can't really "keep him as a friend".

You may very well be "friendly", but as I've said many, many times, "Guys can't stay 'just close friends' with Girls". You're classmates, dating pals . . . whatever you want to call it, but to him every girl is either a potential spouse or a Never-date, so stop using "friendship" as a relationship crutch, please.

 Good luck! And have fun!

 - Bro Jo

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