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How to tell if he is genuinely interested or is grooming me for sex?


elyssac
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I [26F] have been going out with a guy [31M]. We met online before the pandemic lockdown started in my city, have chatted/talked/gone on "video dates" for about a whole month before starting to see each other and have been seeing each other for an additional month after my city relaxed its restrictions.

I'd say we established some emotional and intellectual connection before starting to go out. I have been thinking for a while that he is genuinely interested but a few things that happened recently make me question it. I'd love to get others' opinion on this:

 

Reasons why I think he is genuinely interested:

- He initiates contact pretty much every day via texting and will chat for hours. I also initiate sometimes but he does most of the initiation

- We talk about a lot of different topics, ranging from sharing stories on how we grew up/ our family environment etc to intellectual topics

- He says he enjoys my company and loves spending time with me

- He remembers the things I say and I feel like he does indeed listen

- He has invited me to video calls with his friends to participate in some activities

- He makes plans to see me every weekend and sometimes weekdays. However, a few times he asked me the morning of the day and not really in advance

- Pretty sure he is not going out with anyone else right now and wanted to know if I was seeing other people. But... to be fair, I think this is mostly due to the pandemic, neither of us wants to increase our contacts much. So I don't think this means much given the conditions of the world today. It's possible he is bored and wants to entertain himself without going out with too many people.

- Has made a comment that his attraction "is not just physical" a few weeks ago. He mentioned that our dates have been progressing slower than how he would date normally but this was mostly due to the pandemic and he actually liked it: He says normally it is more difficult to figure out if the attraction is just physical or not.

 

Reasons why I think he is just grooming me for sex:

- When we were in the chatting phase, he mentioned that he has previously slept with women he saw no potential with. I mentioned to him that if I don't see a potential future with a guy, I just cut it off, I don't sleep with them. So, based on what he said about his past, it sounds like even if he isn't genuinely interested in me, he would still be interested in sleeping with me but now he knows that I wouldn't be interested in just a hook-up. So it is possible he could be trying to seem interested to sleep with me.

- On our 4th date, he asked if I would be interested in going over to and hang out at his house next time. At that point, I still had serious concerns about pandemic (despite lockdown lifting) and creating a chain of connections (we both have a roommate) so I mentioned this to him and said I would need to think about it. He still initiated contact that week but definitely came across less interested. Later in the week, he did still ask me out for a 5th date (in public, not to go over to his house), however. Not sure how to take this.

- On our 5th date, we kissed in a park (he brought up cooking for me for our next date so I think he plans on inviting me over again), and he has been *a lot more* flirty. He keeps mentioning how much he enjoys kissing me, asked to see me again the very next day (I was busy, scheduled something for later in the week), so there is a marked increase in his interest for sure. While we still talk about various different things as before, relationship feels a little bit sexualized in comparison to the past now. He now compliments me on my physical features (such as beautiful face, cute smile etc) instead of personality/intellect and keeps mentioning how much he would like to kiss me again etc. I think this sharp change (combined with the first two points) is what makes me question him the most.

- Sometimes he sees some funny video clip from a show we both like and he will send it to me to laugh. But recently a few times, these contained some quite sexualized content

- He seems very comfortable around me. I know this isn't supposed to be a bad thing, per se, but when I want to have a serious relationship with someone and not screw things up, I tend to get a little bit nervous. That was the case with my previous boyfriend, too. He doesn't really seem nervous around me at all.

 

I don't yet feel comfortable with him enough to bring up the question of what he is looking for from our dates (mostly because I don't want to accidentally slip into the topic of defining the relationship since I haven't figured out if I like him enough to want to be in a long term relationship with him. I thought I did but my recent thoughts make me question his genuineness a little bit, which changed how I feel about him). Do you think any of the above indicate anything particular about his intentions? I think I am physically attracted to him as well but I don't want to feel used in the end if it looks like he just wants someone to mess around with in the end.

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Lady, you're a grown woman. Where's your sense of agency? Don't want to "feel used?" Him "grooming" you? You're an equal player here. Have sex if you want to. Don't if you don't. Why the rush to play hapless victim?

 

You can't know this guy's intentions. And frankly, agonizing over what you can't know is a miserable way to be in general, never mind date. If you need to feel more secure with a person and your prospects with them before engaging in sexual activity with them, then you wait. It doesn't really matter what he wants or what his intentions are. All you know and can control are your own. Whether he is just in it for sex or if he's simply comfortable progressing things physically at a quicker pace than yours, you assert your own boundaries. Or if you truly are convinced he's only in it for a lay, stop seeing him. You don't owe any guy a day in court before deciding they're not with your investment.

 

I'm by no means God's gift to women, and even so, if I wanted to hook up with someone, I didn't need to waste time, effort, and money on 5+ dates to do it. Most guys don't. Adding to that, I'm not seeing any tremendous red flags in your "grooming" list. 3, 4, 5+ dates in is a pretty common number of dates where people start ramping up the flirting and physical advances. It's perfectly fine if you're the type to take things slower, but I'd work on maintaining your boundaries without assuming the worst of guys who do take things at a conventional enough pace.

 

You'll get a lot further with a lot less headache knowing what you want and taking it upon yourself to act in your own interests rather than relying on the vague intentions of other people.

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I’d agree with the above. I’m not sure why you’d refer to it as “grooming.”

I’m sure he is interested in sex with you- most people who are dating are - but it doesn’t seem like he is only in it for sex.

 

If you’re not comfortable or not ready, that’s your prerogative, but it’s not unreasonable for him to be interested to take it to the next level with someone he’s dating and attracted to.

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I think "grooming" might have been the wrong term to use here. It's possible as a non-native speaker of English, I am not properly expression what I had in mind. But your response sounds reasonable (about focusing on my own things instead of trying to figure out his intentions).

 

if I wanted to hook up with someone, I didn't need to waste time, effort, and money on 5+ dates to do it. Most guys don't.

 

I am not sure if this is still true with the pandemic lockdown having affected people's willingness to go out :p but sure, in general.

 

 

Adding to that, I'm not seeing any tremendous red flags in your "grooming" list.

 

This is reassuring to hear. Thank you.

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The best thing you can do in this situation is not sleep with him.

 

It sounds like you've been involved for about two months. That's really not a lot of time to get to know each other. You are right to be somewhat wary.

 

- Pretty sure he is not going out with anyone else right now and wanted to know if I was seeing other people.

 

Why didn't you ask whether he was dating other people or not?

 

- Has made a comment that his attraction "is not just physical" a few weeks ago. He mentioned that our dates have been progressing slower than how he would date normally but this was mostly due to the pandemic and he actually liked it: He says normally it is more difficult to figure out if the attraction is just physical or not.

 

He still initiated contact that week but definitely came across less interested.

 

He keeps mentioning how much he enjoys kissing me, asked to see me again the very next day (I was busy, scheduled something for later in the week), so there is a marked increase in his interest for sure.

 

relationship feels a little bit sexualized in comparison to the past now. He now compliments me on my physical features (such as beautiful face, cute smile etc) instead of personality/intellect and keeps mentioning how much he would like to kiss me again etc. I think this sharp change (combined with the first two points) is what makes me question him the most.

- Sometimes he sees some funny video clip from a show we both like and he will send it to me to laugh. But recently a few times, these contained some quite sexualized content

 

my recent thoughts make me question his genuineness a little bit, which changed how I feel about him

 

I don't want to feel used in the end if it looks like he just wants someone to mess around with in the end.

 

You are the the one with boots on the ground in this situation. Always trust your gut. You are your best possible advocate.

 

If you feel he's 'grooming you for sex,' pump the brakes.

 

Worst case scenario, he kicks you to the curb because you fail to adhere to his sex schedule.

 

Wouldn't that be better than sleeping with him only to find out that he was using you?

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I would assume any guy who finds you attractive on the first date and goes on more with you is imagining having sex with you. It's a normal goal. And after the fifth date, it's normal to be flirting more after kissing, and commenting on looks. If a guy I went on dates with didn't, I'd be worried that we were just buddies and that he just wasn't that into me. He hasn't crossed any boundaries like groping you or asking if you want to have sex. It's really hard to sift through all the sand that's out there now to find the treasure. With all the OLD I did after my first marriage ended, I'm seeing this guy you're dating as a good prospect so far.

 

Of course, don't have sex until you're comfortable, but if you're unreasonable about the timeline, expect many guys not to wait around more than four months for this to happen. And just because you wait that long doesn't guarantee success. My friend waited 4 months to have sex with a guy. But of course you've barely scratched the surface of who a person is by that point, and during the next 5 months with him she learned he was an alcoholic and ended things.

 

A guy co-worker, oddly enough, shared with other co-workers that he and his wife had sex on their first date. They are happily married with 2 children.

 

The only control you have is to find out more about him including his past relationship history, because if he's never had more than a 2 month relationship, that would be a pretty good bet that your dating life with him would end up the same way. You look for must-haves and look for dealbreakers, and beyond that, if everything looks good, enjoy each date as it comes along and hope for the best.

 

If you've used your brain and heart, they're in sync, and so have sex and it doesn't work out, tell yourself you'll survive and move on.

 

Relationships are always a risk. More will end than survive, and that's reality. Learn to be resilient because achieving the goal of gaining a lifetime partner is worth all the frustrations and heartbreak that normally happen until you find "the one."

 

Relax your brain because nobody wants to be with a shaking worrywart, sleuthing for underhanded motives. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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Nothing wrong with slowing down the pace if it feels rushed to you. Let him know you are physically attracted to him but don't want to have sex so soon. I personally would find videos with explicit sexual content from someone I've been on a few dates with off putting. If his comments or behavior make you uncomfortable, gently let him know and if he gets defensive and rude, then you know you are not a good match.

 

 

I don't yet feel comfortable with him enough to bring up the question of what he is looking for from our dates (mostly because I don't want to accidentally slip into the topic of defining the relationship since I haven't figured out if I like him enough to want to be in a long term relationship with him.

 

You can and probably should talk about this. It doesn't have to slip into defining your relationship - however, the longer you wait before touching this topic, the more likely it will. In my experience most of the guys I go on a date with will ask some version of the question "so, what are you looking for?" within the first 2-3 dates. At that point there is almost no risk of being cornered to define our nonexistent "relationship." However if someone I've been seeing 3 months but not in an official relationship with asks this question? It would sound like he wants to know where we are.

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Why didn't you ask whether he was dating other people or not?

 

He actually volunteered this information himself in our last date. We didn't have any exclusivity talk but when talking about contact tracing, he told me that apart from his roommate I was his only contact.

 

It sounds like you've been involved for about two months. That's really not a lot of time to get to know each other. You are right to be somewhat wary.

 

That's actually how I feel like, too, but it seems like I am much slower than other people around me (or the dating norms around me). It's nice to hear that other people feel similarly, though. I mean, I am attracted to him and can see myself sleeping with him but I guess I haven't got that comfortable with him yet.

 

Thanks for your response!

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I personally would find videos with explicit sexual content from someone I've been on a few dates with off putting.

 

Honestly, I did, too. I didn't really know how to respond so I tried to take it lightly and made a joke about the video, but yeah, I feel like stuff like that is pretty awkward early on.

 

You can and probably should talk about this. It doesn't have to slip into defining your relationship - however, the longer you wait before touching this topic, the more likely it will. In my experience most of the guys I go on a date with will ask some version of the question "so, what are you looking for?" within the first 2-3 dates. At that point there is almost no risk of being cornered to define our nonexistent "relationship." However if someone I've been seeing 3 months but not in an official relationship with asks this question? It would sound like he wants to know where we are.

 

Yeah, I kind of wish we talked about it earlier on because I find myself trying to guess (which isn't good) but I also can't bring myself to ask, either. I don't want him to think I want to rush into a relationship because I really don't want to. Do you think "so, what are you looking for?" would still be appropriate to ask now?

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Honestly, I did, too. I didn't really know how to respond so I tried to take it lightly and made a joke about the video, but yeah, I feel like stuff like that is pretty awkward early on.

 

I would probably at least not reply, or he might think you actually enjoy it and be encouraged to send more :upset:

 

 

Yeah, I kind of wish we talked about it earlier on because I find myself trying to guess (which isn't good) but I also can't bring myself to ask, either. I don't want him to think I want to rush into a relationship because I really don't want to. Do you think "so, what are you looking for?" would still be appropriate to ask now?

 

I think you can ask it in a generic way, like "what are your goals regarding dating at this point?" "what would an ideal relationship for you look like?" I've also had guys asking "do you believe in the institution of marriage?" "what are your plans for life in the next 3-5 years?" "at what age do you want to have kids?" Lol. Some of these questions might scare some people off. But again it doesn't have to be an all serious conversation. You are still in the stage of getting to know each other and relationship goals are an important aspect to learn about a potential partner. If he reacts negatively to something that means much to you, say, a long-term relationship, then again you can find out early on and avoid wasting more time on a poor match.

 

I wouldn't assume that just because a guy invested in a few dates with you he must be looking for something more serious than hook up. But I wouldn't care too much either as their intentions generally get revealed over time. If you feel any hesitation, queasiness, etc. about having sex with someone, just don't. I would be even more cautious now due to the pandemic. But here is the thing - even if he's looking for a serious relationship with you, and you two have had sex, it might not work out. You might break up in a few months because of other incompatibilities. Would you be okay with that and not think "I should have known he was just after the sex"?

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Do you think "so, what are you looking for?" would still be appropriate to ask now?

 

Totally. What I would say is "appropriate" is anything you need to figure out if this is something to continue to invest in, and something you can feel secure exploring. You have as much agency in this as he does, after all.

 

Along with the others, I don't see any red flags on the "grooming" front. Some immature tone deafness in his mode of flirtation, perhaps, but nothing that reads super icky. Of course, if it's not landing with you that's okay, and you can kindly let him know. How he responds to that might help you gauge your level of compatibility.

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I have gone out with women who were “strategizing” more than “allowing things to unfold” and it showed. I could tell they were always second guessing and trying to decipher the hidden meaning of every interaction. Their guarded nervousness in turn made me nervous. In fact, after a certain degree of familiarity has been reached it’s almost insulting to be doubted rather than taken at face value. I don’t know about the man you’re dating, but I definitely pick up on those vibes.

 

Try to relax and enjoy your time with him, it sounds like you both really like each other’s company...?

 

If at some point you want to have sex then do that, you’re both consenting adults. If you aren’t interested in sex with him then let him go. Most healthy people want to be in a relationship with a fulfilling sex life.

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If at some point you want to have sex then do that, you’re both consenting adults. If you aren’t interested in sex with him then let him go. Most healthy people want to be in a relationship with a fulfilling sex life.

 

Just want to point out that many people do subconsciously get pressured into having sex before they feel completely ready to. They "consented" at the moment only to late regret it and feel bad about themselves. It is sad but it happens with well-grown adults. And the other party doesn't even have to be overtly pushing in their advances. You might be surprised how many people are so reluctant to upset/disappoint other people that they suppress their own needs instead. This "if you aren't interested in sex you're leading them on" argument certainly plays a role in it. Taking more time to know someone before starting a sexual relationship is different from depriving them of a sexually fulfilling relationship.

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Why would he have sinister motives? Are you still hurting for your last bf? He's dating for a relationship and yes not a platonic friendship. So asking him is rhetorical. No one can forecast after a few dates/weeks.

 

If you are not ready to date, that's fine. If you want to wait for sex, fine also.

I [26F] have been going out with a guy [31M]. That was the case with my previous boyfriend, too.
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If you don't feel good about something just communicate it with him. There's a possibility there's a misunderstanding there. From your account of events, yeah, I'd consider his behaviour slightly off. Get to know him a bit more. He may have an extremely high libido and you both may not be compatible sexually. All that was muted at the start of your conversations and due to the lock downs.

 

I'd also find out more info on when he ended his last relationship as people often carry over previous dynamics and unfinished business/issues from a past relationship into a new one if they have not taken enough time out to heal or recover. Most of the red flags I've discovered in dating were from carry-overs from fresh break ups or break ups where individuals have not completely healed. I've dated men who've said their partners dumped them due to their high sex drive and one who said that was the case and then I realized he still lived with his wife.

 

If you feel off about it, get to know each other more and find out more details about him. Keep in mind also that you can get along intellectually with someone but realize also that you're vastly incompatible sexually.

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Two months in and you two have an emotional and intellectual connection, as you put it. You better hope he's thinking about having sex with you. Because if he isn't at this point you are now becoming attached.

Normal, healthy men will be thinking about have sex. The only way you get to know his intentions is by asking. Not by trying to dissect every nuance through a microscope. You ask that question because you believe you have value.

 

Asking someone what they are looking for isn't putting pressure on them. You are merely asking him what his purpose for dating is. Not necessarily what he wants from you.

Experience and maturity has taught me that before I cross that line with a man, I tell them what it means to me. That I don't enter a sexual relationship with someone unless we are on the same page and there is an agreement of exclusivity. I tell them where ever they are at is perfectly fine and I am not asking them for anything. I am just sharing my values. When it comes from a place of confidence, men respect this.

Even with that there are no guarantees, but it's moments exactly like this where learning to trust yourself is more important than putting all the responsibility for your self care on someone else.

It's an accumulation of actions, words and time invested that will give you best answer whether to move forward or hold back.

From what you've shared, if he was grooming you for sex, he would have likely moved on by now.

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Just want to point out that many people do subconsciously get pressured into having sex before they feel completely ready to. They "consented" at the moment only to late regret it and feel bad about themselves. It is sad but it happens with well-grown adults. And the other party doesn't even have to be overtly pushing in their advances. You might be surprised how many people are so reluctant to upset/disappoint other people that they suppress their own needs instead. This "if you aren't interested in sex you're leading them on" argument certainly plays a role in it. Taking more time to know someone before starting a sexual relationship is different from depriving them of a sexually fulfilling relationship.

 

It sounds like you’re saying I think she is leading him on?

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It sounds like you’re saying I think she is leading him on?

 

No, just a general observation. I do get this impression sometimes (not so long ago from another thread here regarding sex/kissing in the early stage of dating) that when a person (typically a woman) feels uncertain about getting physical with someone they just started dating they can be criticized as leading them on.

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He's dating for a relationship and yes not a platonic friendship.

 

I am not really questioning whether he is interested in a platonic friendship, I am questioning whether he is only interested in a hookup or a relationship.

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Just want to point out that many people do subconsciously get pressured into having sex before they feel completely ready to. They "consented" at the moment only to late regret it and feel bad about themselves. It is sad but it happens with well-grown adults. And the other party doesn't even have to be overtly pushing in their advances. You might be surprised how many people are so reluctant to upset/disappoint other people that they suppress their own needs instead. This "if you aren't interested in sex you're leading them on" argument certainly plays a role in it. Taking more time to know someone before starting a sexual relationship is different from depriving them of a sexually fulfilling relationship.

 

Totally agree. A lot of people will present specific experiences as general facts, and it can feel very alarmist:

 

-- Most men/women won't wait past x amount of time

-- It's normal to kiss after x dates

-- If you feel x, then you need therapy

-- If you want to wait past x dates to have sex, then really you want a sexless relationship

 

Etc...

 

Obviously, if you believe this stuff, you're going to feel a lot of pressure. Those are the awful voices of self doubt speaking to you and you have to snuff them out.

 

Fact is, none of this is proven. People can only speak for themselves and their own experience. And our experience is limited to the people we attract into our lives.

 

When you're worried about the potential of a new relationship, it is easy to forget that 'advisors' aren't predicting the future.

 

So, a lot of people second guess their own instincts and succumb to that pressure.

 

That's unfortunate, because what you want really is out there. But you can only find it if you trust yourself.

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I don’t know about the man you’re dating, but I definitely pick up on those vibes.

 

Try to relax and enjoy your time with him, it sounds like you both really like each other’s company...?.

 

I think you are right that I might be giving off those vibes and that wouldn't be fine. Thinking about "letting things unfold" like you said would be a good idea. We do enjoy each other's company quite a bit I think.

 

Most healthy people want to be in a relationship with a fulfilling sex life.

 

Yeah, you are right, and so do I. I am interested in sleeping with him but I am not interested in a hookup. I guess I couldn't express myself clearly. I am not against having sex with him, in fact, I find him quite attractive. But I am interested in sleeping with him to figure out our sexual compatibility as part of a potential relationship, not to satisfy short term urges and I'd rather spend my time on someone who wants similar things. I guess that's what I am questioning.

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Are either you or the guy in question dating with the hope for a chaste relationship?

 

Would you prefer a man who expresses no sexual interest in you?

 

Good luck in finding that in a dating situation.

 

What does this have anything to do with the original post?

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Just want to point out that many people do subconsciously get pressured into having sex before they feel completely ready to. They "consented" at the moment only to late regret it and feel bad about themselves. It is sad but it happens with well-grown adults. And the other party doesn't even have to be overtly pushing in their advances. You might be surprised how many people are so reluctant to upset/disappoint other people that they suppress their own needs instead. This "if you aren't interested in sex you're leading them on" argument certainly plays a role in it. Taking more time to know someone before starting a sexual relationship is different from depriving them of a sexually fulfilling relationship.

 

 

 

Totally agree. A lot of people will present specific experiences as general facts, and it can feel very alarmist:

 

-- Most men/women won't wait past x amount of time

-- It's normal to kiss after x dates

-- If you feel x, then you need therapy

-- If you want to wait past x dates to have sex, then really you want a sexless relationship

 

Etc...

 

Obviously, if you believe this stuff, you're going to feel a lot of pressure. Those are the awful voices of self doubt speaking to you and you have to snuff them out.

 

Fact is, none of this is proven. People can only speak for themselves and their own experience. And our is limited to the people we attract into our lives.

 

When you're worried about the potential of a new relationship, it is easy to forget that 'advisors' aren't predicting the future.

 

So, a lot of people second guess their own instincts and succumb to that pressure.

 

That's unfortunate, because what you want really is out there. But you can find it if you trust yourself.

 

I agree with these, too, thanks for putting these into words so well! :)

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