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Home » The Vine

The Vine: March 6, 2013

Submitted by on March 6, 2013 – 9:53 AM26 Comments


I’m attending a local community college and working in a student leadership position. I met a younger guy about nine months ago in a class I was a TA in last winter quarter. We got to know each other better as we both campaigned for different student leadership positions. Through summer training I think we really made a connection. He is great — but although everyone I asked has told me it’s not true, his Facebook relationship status says “in a relationship.”

I’ve asked him who he was dating and he has changed the subject. Twice.

I might be misreading his actions — but I am incredibly confident he’s got it as bad for me as I do for him. Should I pursue this? I could let this fizzle, but I do care about him. A lot. I am older than him — but I probably have less experience dating than he does, and I don’t really know what’s going on. I know I want to be with him and he is really into me — but I’m worried he’s playing games with me because he’s got me up on a pedestal — since I was a teaching assistant, and he might think I think I’m “above” him. I don’t.

Help me out here. Please.

(Not Much) Older Woman

Dear Much,

I doubt it’s the TA thing, or your age. He has another situation happening, and he’s afraid that, if he’s forthright about that, you’ll go on your way because he’s unavailable — and he doesn’t want you to do that, because he’s into you.

…Probably. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter why he’s “playing games” — he’s playing games, not answering direct questions, putting it out to others that he’s not dating but then not dating you either. Is that drama you want to deal with, short- or long-term?

I’d say no, so as to pursuing it, I’d say yes — but very directly, and only to a point. Invite him out. Make it clear that it is a capital-D date. His reaction will tell you what to do next, and anything that is not “I’d love to, what time?” means you need to move on. “Eek, a girl did the asking” faces? Move on. “I, uh, well, let me just bargain this down to something less fraught like coffee”? Move on. “Sure! Except let’s go to this weird roadhouse 15 miles out of town for no reason I’ll admit to, and can you wear this wig?” Move on.

I believe you that he likes you, and that in and of itself is not shady. Maybe he’s trying to ease himself out of this other situation; I don’t know. But as the lady once said, if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it has a girlfriend, and no matter what the truth is about his FB relationship status, if he’s not willing to move his status with you forward, he’s not, and that’s that.




  • attica says:

    I agree. The reasons for the upshot, however tantalizing, don’t change the upshot. A squirrelly dude, to my mind, isn’t tragic or romantic or complicated. He’s squirrelly. A big fat quacking squirrel.

  • Maria says:

    He might be into you, but it doesn’t sound like he’s THAT into you. I wouldn’t even try to escalate it, I’d just move on and leave it be.

    I know you think he has a lot more experience than you, but you could be really wrong about that. There’s no savoir faire here. He sounds like a stumbling toddler, even if he is hot and you’ve enjoyed spending time with him.

  • Bria says:

    He’s got something going on with someone else. Whether it’s a girlfriend, a FWB, a boyfriend, a sometimes ex he hangs out with a lot…it scarcely matters. Find another guy; they’re making them every day.

  • ferretrick says:

    He’s definietly got something going with someone else, and my money is that it’s not a woman, but I think Sars has given you good advice. Call the question and propose a date. The answer (or lack thereof) will tell you what you need to know.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Definitely got something going. And it’s a little ego trip for him that an “older” woman grooving on him, so he’s trying to maintain radio silence so he doesn’t feel guilty.

    Ask him out, watch him stumble like a baby pony trying its legs for the first time, move on. You can teach him a life lesson, but make it the “Facebook is actually available to all and sundry so trying to be all Rico Suave about my relationship status is stupid” lesson, not the “How far can I go before its actually cheating CUE THE DRAMA TORNADO” lesson. The former will take up soooo much less of your time and energy then the latter.

  • Liz says:

    This screams “young gay man not ready to come out of the closet” to me.

  • Jen S. 2.0 says:

    Word to all of the above. It sounds like you’ve given him plenty of green lights, and he hasn’t responded (… which is a hint in itself).

    If you really want to go out with him, ask him.

    But frankly, whether he has another girl or boy is just barely relevant.

    A) If he liked you enough, he’d likely be man enough to do something about it. If he’s not doing anything about it, he either doesn’t like you enough OR is not man enough TO do anything about it.** Either way, he’s not your man.

    B) If he DOES have another situation — here’s where the barely relevant comes in — you were not put on this planet to be the other woman. He can clear things up elsewhere and approach you, or he can moon around and not clear things up and not approach you, but there can be no middle ground of approaching you and not clearing things up.

    **Re man enough to do something about it: I have one of these right now. A friend of my sister’s has had a crush on me for years. I’m single, he’s single, I’d have a cup of tea with the boy if he asked, and he’s never manned up and done it, except once when he asked, I accepted, and then he freaked and backed out (!!!). The more he is not man enough to do anything about the fact that he likes me, the more I KNOW he is not my man (which is precisely why I’ve never asked HIM out).

  • Jennifer the Umpteenth says:

    Whoa whoa there, the “man enough to do anything about it” standard is REALLY subjective and sexist.

    If you need *your* guy to be confident enough to start things up on his own, that’s OK. Not everyone does, though, and not all guys who are very shy about asking-outing are scrubs in other important categories.

  • Kara says:

    Yeah, he’s taken. The fact that you asked him a direct question about his relationship status and he dodged it twice is proof. If he were in a more ambiguous state (in a relationship that’s ending, in a relationship but they’re trying out seeing other people, etc.) I think he’d have said so.

    So ask him out on a date, see how he responds, and respond accordingly – but be prepared to move on.

  • Jen S. 2.0 says:

    I meant “man up” and “man enough” a bit more gender-neutrally; people of any sex have been known to man up, ‘nad up, sack up, ovary up, boob up, whatever.

    I also started with the point that she should be thinking about asking him out herself because he hasn’t whatevered up. So no, she doesn’t need him to be confident enough ask her out if she’s ready to do it herself; she is more than welcome to do so, which I noted.

    But I stand by the point that either his actual interest or his availability is just a wee bit suspect if she’s made it clear that she’s receptive, and he seems very interested … BUT isn’t doing anything about it.

  • M says:

    Life becomes much simpler if you judge people’s actual actions and respond to what “Is”, not what might be.

    Motive matters in mysteries, not so much in normal, daily interactions.

    From this letter,Much, I think that the guy doesn’t want to involve you in his personal life. He could have told you who he was dating or that he’s not dating anyone. The fact that he didn’t tell you suggests that he doesn’t want you to know at all. If that’s the case, it’s unlikely he wants to date you. College is a great place to meet people. You probably need to broaden your scope and relegate this guy to a friend who you used to crush on.

  • M says:

    I must note that attica’s “big, fat quacking squirrel” gave me the giggles. Great mental picture!

  • Bria says:

    Can someone elaborate a bit on why Much should bother asking him out? He’s dodging questions about his status and acting interested but doing nothing. Regardless of the reasons behind his behavior, what good can come of asking him out now? If he says yes, then she’s going out with someone who can’t give a straight answer about whether or not he’s dating someone and who plays flirty games without ever taking action. That’s…good? This just seems like a pile of potential drama that would be so easy to nip right now before it gets more dramatic. Am I missing something?

  • Thing 2 says:

    His Facebook status says “In a relationship”, but everybody you’ve asked has said it’s not true? Those things don’t get tripped by accident. And if by some weird chance they DO, when asked about it people say things like, “Damn, how’d that happen”, and then change it to “single”. Or they say, “Damn, I thought I’d changed that after the breakup”, and then change it to “single”. Or they run away and hide because they’re dating someone else and were trying to be sly and forgot people could actually, y’know, SEE the status. The fact that he hasn’t changed it AND he won’t answer a direct question tells me he’s a) lying and b) really, really bad at it. Everything about this screams unnecessary drama. Pat yourself on the back for being able to attract the attention of a younger guy, and then run away.

  • kellyu says:

    He’s got someone else already.

    In my case he had TWO other people already, and inadvertently I got to be one of the non-drama llamas in his life. I was the local one. The second woman lived in another country and the crazy-ass drama llama lived in another state.

    After I broke up with him I sent him a text so that he could return my key and pick up his stuff. I got a “hands off my boyfriend” text sent to me about 5 hours later, which was how I found out that the drama llama one had flown into town.

    Long story short, the second woman and I get along famously, and haven’t seen him since. According to her, I believe that particular trip was the trip the drama-llama gave him herpes.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Bria, I’m with you, but for her own sake, so she can tell herself, “I did everything I could, I know for sure,” and put it to bed without wondering, I think she should ask him out. Odds are he will be squirrelly, but again, at least she knows and then she can let it go.

  • Anony for this says:

    Oy. Having been there & done that, my advice is to run far and fast. Try the Capital-D-Date if you must test the waters, but be prepared to cut & run.

    (Then again, in my case, Boy was in fact a closeted gay man AND in a serious relationship with Jesus, so YMMV.)

  • Bria says:

    Sars – that makes sense, though I think she should be *really* clear with herself ahead of asking that squirrelly reaction = move on. Personally, I would have had a really hard time with that in college and the several years after, but I can see the value in asking just to be able to really put it to rest.

    Vaguely appropos – in college, I had to give myself a big NOPE on indulging a crush I had on a guy who was in a play with me. Why? His last name was Butt. I knew the chance of us working out for the long haul was spectacularly small, but I could not see any possible way I could a) face life as Bria Butt, b) tell someone I loved I couldn’t face life as Bria Butt, or c) have children with the last name Butt (“have you seen the newest little Butt?” – I mean, really). Did I miss out on something fabulous? Always a possibility, I suppose. In the end (heh), it’s all good.

  • Maria says:

    Much, I just gotta say…wouldn’t it be SO much nicer to be actively pursued and desired by somebody, than trying to figure out what this hot little mess isn’t telling you?

  • kellyu says:

    @Bria, my Great Aunt Mildred refused to marry a man. I believe that she had more than one reason to refuse, but the only reason that stuck in my mind was the fact that his surname was Pigg. She *would not* allow herself to become Mildred Pigg.

  • Emma says:

    @M, ‘big fat quacking squirrel’ struck me as an immediate candidate for the TN lexicon as soon as I saw attica’s post.

  • Amy says:

    He could be poly. That would explain the relationship on FB, but disavowed by friends thing. Some poly folk are better at being open about it than others, and I could imagine that a poly person in an academic setting might not want to get into it with a colleague.

    Point being, if you want to know, you have to ask. (That first “if” is a doozy. Do you really want to know? Or just move on?)

  • pomme de terre says:

    He could be on the down low, but it reminds me of another common college scenario: he has a long-distance significant other, and while he has little to no intention of cheating on that person, he’s enjoying the local crush-attention from Much. Sometimes it’s a huge jerk move, an ego boost at someone else’s expense. Other times, it’s less consciously done, when the paired person doesn’t recognize or acknowledge behavior that would read as flirty between two singletons. Either way, something to steer clear of.

  • AR says:

    Put me down under the don’t ask, move on column. I feel like this kind of ambiguous or ambiguous-seeming relationship is kind of a rite of passage in college. And the thing is, it doesn’t really matter if he has the *feelings* inside, because he’s unable or unwilling to go forward. And I know, he does things that makes it seem like he wants to be more than friends, but ultimately, it sounds like you’ve left the door open enough that he understands that you’d be up for it if he asked. And he really hasn’t.

    I wish now that I’d just cut my losses on these “does he like me” quasi-relationships earlier, because it wasn’t worth the time or the angst. I’d spend the time trying to meet other people where you don’t have to wonder.

  • Eli says:

    Another vote forthe don’t ask and move on column. Either he is getting a thrill out of having you be into him without ever having to do anything, or he actually wants you to pursue him despite his many red flags, so that whatever happens will be your fault.

  • Cat_slave says:

    @ferretrick and Liz I thought exactly the same: gay. Probably a bit unsure / uncomfortable with it. But, by all means, ask him out. Just to show him that a person who know what s/he wants persue it.

    I don’t get Facebook. I suppose he could think of you as SO? No, probably not.

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