So here’s the deal. I’ve been friendly acquaintances with this super hot dude “Pete” for six months. He works with a bunch of my friends and he just joined our coed touch football team. He’s had a girlfriend this whole time so I never considered him an option.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to hear a friend’s band play and Pete came up to me while I was talking to someone else, threw his arms around me, and leaned in so close to talk that our faces were touching. Needless to say, he was a little tipsy, but not falling down or slurring or anything like that. Just really, really enthusiastic. The guy I was talking to at the time asked Pete where his girlfriend was, and he was like, “I don’t know. Kentucky,” which the other guy took to mean that Pete and his girlfriend had broken up. (We live in NYC and, up to this point, the girlfriend had too.) So I was thinking, “Hmm, he’s hitting on me and he’s single now — awesome!”
The whole evening he was holding my hand or putting his arm around me. He barely let me out of his sight. But right as we were grinding to the music, he gives me this look like he’s about to kiss me and goes, “I’m really attracted to you, but I have a girlfriend.”
So, I kinda back off, but he still hits on me for the next few hours in this weirdly sweet way, gazing into my eyes and brushing my hair away from my face and telling me I’m amazing and stuff like that. He never tried to make out with me or anything. When we finally parted ways at the subway, there was just a tiny peck on the lips and that was it.
So, as I’m sure you can tell, I’m totally smitten with Pete, but I don’t know what to do. The story with his girlfriend, from what other people have told me, is that they dated in college and both moved here after they graduated, but she just moved back home to Kentucky to be near her family. She wants him to move back there too. (Did I mention he’s only 23 and I’m 30?) Pete wants to be with her, but he also wants to stay in NYC, so they’re kind of at an impasse.
In the meantime, Pete and I haven’t really talked about what happened. I emailed him a few days later and basically told him to let me know if his situation changed and that I’d try to leave him alone in the meantime, which is more or less what I’ve done aside from inviting him to a couple of large group gatherings. I’ve only seen him at our football games since and, of course, that’s not really conducive to being romantic. My concern is that maybe he’s avoiding me now because he feels bad about what happened. Or, he thinks I’m trying to get him drunk so he’ll hit on me again, which isn’t the case at all. He hasn’t showed up at anything I’ve invited him to, or anything that we were both invited to, for that matter. He didn’t come out drinking with us after our last football game and he might not even come to our next game at all.
So, I know I’m probably just being paranoid to think his absences have had anything to do with me, but the whole situation is making me kind of crazy and I really thought I was too old to get like this. The thing is, when he first hit on me I would’ve just assumed he was lonely for any lady affection, except that Pete himself went out of his way to tell me it was more than that, that he really did like me.
So what do I do, if anything? Is there any non-evil way to get this dude to bring his lovin’ on home to me? Half my friends are like, “We don’t know this girlfriend and she already left him, so have at him,” and the other half are like, “You can’t hit on a dude with a girlfriend! That’s evil!”
I don’t want to steal him away from someone he loves, but I also don’t want to be so respectful of his taken-ness that I make him think I’m not into him. Help!
Thanks for your super-sane advice, and keep up the good work.
Two quick asides first.
One, just because a drunk dude tells you he “ likes” you, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is so. It may well just mean he’s smart enough not to say, “You know what I feel like doing? Fuckin’.” Even Brett Favre knows that much, and he’s a grown man who takes dick pics in Crocs.
Two, coed touch football isn’t romantic? But isn’t there all kinds of potential for flirty “accidental” hands on hips or arms wrapped around your shoulders or falling over into a pile of dried leaves or something? Has every flannel drenched romantic comedy set in an orange Connecticut autumn been a lie? Someone get Kate Hudson on the phone right now!
But more to your question- The DW thinks you should trust the unfun, logical part of your brain that says Pete’s post-flirtation absences aren’t really about you. Well, they’re kinda about you. But about you as an idea more than you as the specific gal, A.
What the DW means is that you’ve stumbled across a dude still trying to figure out who he is. Pete is 23, which is a tough age for a dude to be, anyway, but even tougher when you are a dude going from a place like Kentucky to a place like New York. He’s got one foot still at home and one in the new place. He’s tied to his old life with the Old Life Gal he thinks he legitimately likes and pulled to a new life by a New Life Gal, you, he thinks he legitimately likes. He’s part shitty Southern campus dorm room, part slightly less shitty Northern city apartment. He has a vague idea of his career path, but isn’t fully settled in or competent at it yet. He’s not sure what he’s part of, what he identifies with yet. He probably still hasn’t figured out a lot of stupid shit like which home town football team he should root for. Who is he? Dudes have a great internal need as well as a great external pressure to answer that question, to Know Who They Are. None of that’s really there yet for Pete.
So, realistically, you need to temper your expectations for what you can get out of this guy. He’s confused. Torn. Trying to find his way. And this adds up to Pete having the capacity to be utterly sincere and honest about his feelings for you one minute and just as sincere about his feelings for the gf the next minute, and about neither the next, then guilty for flirting with you, then guilty for not moving home yet, then pissed his gf is forcing his hand, then he likes you again, then her, and back and forth and all over. He’s probably not lying to anybody, but it’s gonna feel like it sometimes.
Also, it’s a really strong possibility that you could end up winning him over as New Life Gal only to discover that your role, as such, is limited. Once you help Pete figure out he wants to take that giant step away from home, away from the gf, and away from family, it may well be that the last crucial step he has to take is away from you. Because at that point, ironically, you, as the person who helped his transition, will be the last link to his old life that needs to be broken if he’s to walk forward on completely original terms.
So here’s the thing. The best way for you to proceed for now is to let Pete have his space for a while. Don’t invite him to stuff anymore. Just see him if you see him. If he keeps avoiding or acting in ways you think are erratic or whatever, let him be. He’s making a whole lot of big decisions right now and there’s not a lot you or the DW or anyone else can do to help his brain sort out what the sweet Jeebus is going on in there. Seems like a lot to give up, the DW knows. But what are you giving up, really? Not a whole lot has actually gone down yet outside of your pitter-pattering heart. Or your lusting loins, as the case may be.
Pete may not come back to you, in which case you’ll know you saved yourself some trouble. If he does break up with the gf and come back to you, though, keep your eyes way the fuck wide open. He’s a young dude in serious transition and capable of being quite a well-meaning wrecking ball.
Here’s to this dude, or your next one, having his shit fairly settled.
Best of luck,