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Love Interest Now Single (I think)


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Hey, ENA. 

So, this post asks an abstract question in the hopes that it may be applied to a particular situation.

The Question: How long - or at what point - is it appropriate and safe to pursue someone who left a relationship spanning some amount of months?

The Context: There is this person, K, whom I have known for over two years. I met her in my alma mater's ballroom dance club when I was in graduate school and she was in undergrad. We are friends. She and I have expressed interest in one another at different times. Unfortunately, one of us usually expresses interest when the other is in a relationship. We've each asked the other person on a date or said something which overtly shows interest at least twice. The last time she showed interest was last year during the pandemic (I was with someone) and the last time I showed interest was two months ago (she was with someone).

K and I have chemistry. We've been competitive ballroom dance partners (we're actually pretty darn good and have won dozens of ribbons). We have a "power couple" dynamic, which I like. She is very fit and attractive: a plus. Furthermore, she and I both seem to have our goals on children aligned: we've each said before that adoption is the plan. So, that's the logical part of my brain saying, "yes." But the emotional side also says "yes." I like this woman and I think it is rare that logic me and emotional me agree lol.

Here are the events that happened recently:

  • About 2 months ago, being single, I asked her to go social dancing with me. She was a bit evasive but then told me she had a boyfriend. I reacted positively and congratulated her on the relationship. 
  • I've seen her at various group functions, mostly social dancing ones. I've danced with her a few times (it is normal and platonic to dance with members of the opposite sex at Ballroom/Latin functions).
  • At one such function, one of the members of the studio came up to me and mentioned that K ran out upset, and her boyfriend went out after her. He said I should check on her and see if she is ok. I did - I went outside but she was nowhere to be found. I called and she picked up: it sounded like she and her boyfriend were in a fight ("who is that!?" he said. Yikes lol. I said I was just making sure all was ok, she thanked me, and then I promptly got off the phone to leave them to deal with their problems. It sounded like there was trouble in paradise. She then sent a text the next morning which said that she had fun dancing with me. I said something akin to "I had fun dancing with you too!"
  • Out of the blue (probably about a month ago), she invited me out to lunch/brunch. The request felt like a date offer, and I assumed (turns out, incorrectly) due to the trouble in her relationship that she was single. [I wrote about this on my last thread]. She didn't put effort into the meet-up (she is very attractive but it looked like she just rolled out of bed - while I had put effort into getting ready). Turns out she was still in the relationship. Even though we chatted about ostensibly "deep" topics, the conversation thus felt superficial - probably on account of me feeling "guarded" upon finding out she was still with her guy. I felt that what I thought was a date was more of (1) a friendly catch-up, (2) a "testing the waters" meet-up, or (3) something else to boost her ego because her relationship wasn't going well. Still unsure as to which one it was. 
  • About a week later, she asked me for advice on a tricky job situation. I gave said advice.  
  • A week after that, she messaged that we should go for a walk together sometime soon. I figured that she was probably still in her relationship -- I resolved to show interest in meeting up (we are friends, after all, and I'm not to the point where meeting up would hurt - being standoffish or distant would only hurt any chances in the long-run) but this time I was not going to put additional effort into seeing her. So, I told her something like "that would be fun" and then we never got around to it. 
  • Last week, she texted me to ask me for advice (she's done this plenty of times before about random topics). This time, it was about her relationship. She said her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend had been calling him - and K told me that her boyfriend admitted to her (K) that he still had feelings for his ex. I gave her advice like I would do for anyone on this forum: I said that anyone she is dating should not still have feelings for his ex-girlfriend. I let her know that if she needed to call or text for listening/advice, I would be glad to be there for her. After that, we haven't spoken.
  • Today, I saw she made a Facebook post that heavily implies that she and her (ex-)boyfriend are not together. She may still be with him, but the post suggests she is not. Either way, seeing the post started me thinking about this.

First, and most importantly, I am not going to be an inhuman opportunist. I do not wish her pain. I do not want to capitalize on it so that I can accomplish my selfish interest of maybe at some point sparking up some romance. That would be wrong and wouldn't be good for either of us. Primarily, before anything else, I hope she is okay and has space and time to heal if indeed she and he broke up.

Second, I fully understand that K may never be interested in me again. Maybe she will be and we go on a couple of dates and then it does not work. There are no guarantees - or even likelihoods - here. That said, at some point in the future, I want to show interest and ask her on a date. Until that time, of course, I am open to seeing if I can make any other connections. 

Third, I remember apt, cogent advice from my last thread: "slow down." I have not forgotten that. I have slowed down and slowed my dating expectations for now. Even though I have interest in K, I know it is in everyone's (including my) best interest not to rush anything.

My tentative plan is to give space (not like "no contact" space, but like, space to heal) for some time. If she tells me about the break-up to vent or ask for advice (as said above, she does ask for advice semi-frequently), I will be there for her as any good person and friend would. I am not sure how much space or time is necessary to ensure I am not causing pain - or being a rebound. Maybe some of you would have some thoughts on this. 

Even if I sound like a rambling, type-A madman here, it does help me to word vomit on all of you. 😂. I would be open to thoughts, suggestions, and advice. What do you think, ENA?

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8 minutes ago, Pleasedonot5 said:

How long - or at what point - is it appropriate and safe to pursue someone who left a relationship spanning some amount of months?

Short answer to this main question: depends on the person and depends on the type of "relationship" and how that "relationship" affected, or otherwise, that person. 

The fact you have doubts means, well, that you have doubts.

What do YOU think?

 

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Posted (edited)

Hmm. I figured that would be a response: "It depends!" I think in even in this particular situation it might depend as well.

I know that she and he dated at some point in the past and several months ago they recently rekindled the romance. I actually do not know how long they were/are together. I know it was months and not years. My best guess is six months, but it could be less than that. Rekindling and then ending a previous romance can hurt more than just someone dating for the first time in many cases.

I know in my penultimate relationship, though we dated just short of a year, I wasn't over my ex for several years. I also know that I am 3.5 months out of a 1.5-year relationship now, but I feel over it - she was surely not "the one." I am wary not to rush into anything so as to not subject another person to being a rebound - but here with K I know there has been interest for quite some time. 

Quote

What do YOU think?

A few months, maybe? I don't know. Given the context, does that seem reasonable, safe, and appropriate? It would be ironic if her BF said he wasn't over his ex - I gave her advice not to tolerate that - and then we started dating while she was not over him. Lol. Hoping to avoid that: too much irony. 

(I very much enjoy that you just asked me what I think the answer to my question is and now it all seems a bit clearer. The force is strong with you. Haha).

Edited by Pleasedonot5
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I can only speak for myself.  If I had any inclinations of a possible romantic relationship with you, I wouldn't be going to you for dating advice.    A man that I would go to for advice would be a man I put squarely into a friendzone.  But that's me.

I'd be careful of her wanting to fill the void with your time. . at this point.   I personally think some distancing would be a good idea.  Maybe after she's had some time to heal she might see you as a potential romantic connection.  Right now you'd likely be a distraction.

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1 minute ago, Pleasedonot5 said:

Update: She actually just sent me a text that said "I am single!"

Ask her if she is "ready to mingle" 😆

Talk to her and see how is the situation. Different people take things differently. "The hurt side"(usually the one that was broken up with) takes more. The side that broke things probably less. Somebody can jump right away, somebody else takes months. 

However, I would be warry. She maybe liked you once, but now she maybe just seeing you as a friend. She didnt put an effort into meet up, relationship or not, girls kinda love to put an effort there to get noticed by other side. Which suggests that she doesnt care. And relationship advice. You dont ask potential love partner about that.

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Thank you both. That is good advice. 

Were it not for our "history" of showing interest in the other, and that she only ever asked me for relationship advice last week, I would probably agree. But sometimes being a confidant / seeking advice shows closeness / wanting to stay in contact. The advice last week was in the context of whether she should break up with her ex-boyfriend because of his expressed feelings toward his ex. It looks like she took the advice. 

I think in regard to moving forward, you're right: being cautious what I will do. I will be resistant to being any sort of FWB or fling with her. That would likely be hot/fun but probably wouldn't serve my romantic intentions. 

But, if she needs a person to talk to about the break-up, I will not be cruelly distant. I plan on being there for her. If it turns out down the line there is not mutual interest, or unrequited feelings hurt me too much, I'll have self-respect and will distance myself. 

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I would ask her out on a date -not share or confess feelings.  And soon -she wasn't with him that long.  She could be snapped up quickly particularly given the ballroom dancing etc.  It really does depend but if you ask her out you'll have your answer.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Batya33 said:

I would ask her out on a date -not share or confess feelings.  And soon -she wasn't with him that long.  She could be snapped up quickly particularly given the ballroom dancing etc.  It really does depend but if you ask her out you'll have your answer.

Yes, you're right: if and when I ask her on a date, I will play it cool. I will not share / confess feelings - that would be too much at this point.

On one hand, you are right that she will not be single forever. She is quite the catch. On the other hand...

1 hour ago, Capricorn3 said:

^ At this point I'd be more concerned about being a rebound.  How recently has she broken up with her boyfriend?

...there is this. She broke up with him today. While it is not out of the ordinary for us to send signals to the other that we are single, I share the concern of not wanting to be a rebound.

--

I think you are both apt in your advice. 

Essentially, there are competing interests here: (1) not dilly-dallying, because she could end up with someone else, and (2) taking precautions (including giving space/time to heal) to protect myself from being a rebound, which I do not want.

Edited by Pleasedonot5
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How long was she with him ?  My husband and I started dating again shortly after he ended a one year relationship.  I’d ended a serious relationship 5 months earlier and a shorter term about a month or so before.  He was supposed to leave town for a few months and he asked me to get back together shortly before.  We’d reconnected three weeks earlier, platonically

.  I’m glad he didn’t wait and I actually had been on several dates with someone else. 
I wouldn’t have liked him asking me while he was away.  As it turned out he ended up staying in town another several months so we weren’t long distance right away. 

one of his friends suggested he wait. He told me this later.  Again I’m glad we decided to be together when we did and neither of us worried about rebound.  His ex did try to win him back which probably was because it was fairly recent.  It didn’t work. 

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I really like the "so are you ready to mingle" response. I think that you do just need to play it by ear a bit and kind of feel her out so to speak. Nobody can really tell you or guess where she is truly at emotionally and there are no hard and fast rules for that really. I've left an ltr and have been ready to date the next day because I was that done with it, and it's taken months to get over a brief dating fling. You just never know.

I don't think that it's a good idea for you to just disappear or go cold or distant for several months because then you may well end up with the she is with someone/you are with someone dance. Always off step with each other. She may well read your distance as not interested anymore and act accordingly if she is looking to date by dating others.

I kind of think that you need to take the nothing ventured nothing gained attitude and take a chance. Otherwise, you'll just keep sitting around wondering what if. People get way too wrapped up in what if's sometimes to the point of paralysis of fear. Just be realistic as in you may keep your head in the clouds, but keep your feet firmly on the ground. If she seems ready for a date - ask. If she says no, at least you can cross her off your list and if she says, take it from there one date at a time. It's really a win/win approach.

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That her boyfriend explicitly told her he still has feelings for his ex could have firmly tossed him out the window in her mind. You would know her best and how she thinks since you know each other quite well. If someone I was dating was in contact with their ex and told me he still had feelings for her, there would be no love lost.

Ask her out on a date when you feel it's the right time. That's very relative to each individual. As previously mentioned, I also have felt ready to date quite quickly after the end of one relationship but have taken much longer with another one. You can probably start to see when she's feeling more like herself and less absorbed about the previous relationship.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Pleasedonot5 said:

...there is this. She broke up with him today. 

I share the concern of not wanting to be a rebound.

Ok, speaking for myself only, if any guy called me and told me he "broke up today and is now single", I'd probably wait a while.  Yeah, I think rebounding and monkey branching is not a good recipe for a successful relationship, but that's just me, lol.

Oh, and if I "miss the boat" and they move on to another in the meantime, then tough luck on me. 

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IMO, she sounds rather upset about all that. So, do not approach her with any expectations.

Be there as a friend.. no more.  Like you have been.

If some guy I was into led me on.. to nothing- That is playing with someone's feelings!  Pathetic, selfish behaviour 😕 .

Then. yes, she is hurting.  She needs her time now to work thru all of this.

Give her a while.. and don't 'give in' in any way.

I say at least 3+ months.... who knows.

Edited by SooSad33
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I understand your concern with her 

1) Not being as interested as you hoped

2) Being at risk for a rebound

3) Being at risk to see someone else and be pursued by them and get into a relationship that last with them

All of those are valid in my opinion, based on what you stated.

I'll outline the reasons I think they're valid and appropriate in retrospective order for you (LOL this is so much fun for my OCD brain!):

1) Because like you said, she did not put effort into looking good when you met with her last. That isn't a good sign, as others have pointed out.  It really does mean she wasn't interested enough to put effort to look attractive, which is odd for women personally speaking.  Although it could be she's depressed being in a relationship like that, and now if you see her put more effort into her appearance, she's probably feeling more like herself and happier without this guy.

2) I think she could be at risk for rebounding, but I also believe rebounding is very overestimated.  I've personally experienced having two men very interested in me, to the point of taking me out on dates but outright telling me they didn't' want to be my, "rebound."  They wanted very much for it to workout, were marriage-minded etc, but both were too worried about me, "rebounding," so they pursued me, but were trying to go so slow that it was a turn off.  I mean from the woman's perspective, that's like a rejection.  "I want you later, but right now, I'm too afraid you'll leave me."  They both ended up missing out, because the next person I dated was my husband (who didn't care if he was a rebound ❤️ , still took it slow but allowed it to develop naturally), and one of those men was immature enough to let me know he was upset.  You sound like you're much more mature and would be able to handle that disappointment.  The second man that was interested handled it in a more mature way, moved on after awhile, and married someone else.

3) I think the solution for this in-between scenario you're in is probably a time limit of 2-8 weeks.  I know that's exact, but anything before 2 weeks is too fast, and in my opinion, if you DO wait longer than 8 weeks, she'll be at a very high risk of getting with another man who notices her.  2 weeks is early and seems fast, I know, but you could go for in between 3-4 weeks 🤷‍♀️.  And all of that is to say, #1's concerns may mean she just isn't that interested.

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Kudos to you, though!  You sound so in-tune with the way women think, and have already basically figured all of this out on your own!  Mostly I just wanted to valid what you were already thinking, and add in that strange phenomenon of the timeframe you were requesting (probably 2-8 weeks).

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21 hours ago, Capricorn3 said:

Ok, speaking for myself only, if any guy called me and told me he "broke up today and is now single", I'd probably wait a while.  Yeah, I think rebounding and monkey branching is not a good recipe for a successful relationship, but that's just me, lol.

Oh, and if I "miss the boat" and they move on to another in the meantime, then tough luck on me. 

Agree. 

Announcing a breakup with exclamation and asking this person for relationship advice, it just feels like a friendship to me.

I would still be guarded and be a friend and ask her if she wants to get coffee and vent. That will help you get more of an idea if you're still friend zoned.

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On 7/12/2021 at 8:33 PM, Batya33 said:

How long was she with him ?  My husband and I started dating again shortly after he ended a one year relationship.  I’d ended a serious relationship 5 months earlier and a shorter term about a month or so before.  He was supposed to leave town for a few months and he asked me to get back together shortly before.  We’d reconnected three weeks earlier, platonically

.  I’m glad he didn’t wait and I actually had been on several dates with someone else. 
I wouldn’t have liked him asking me while he was away.  As it turned out he ended up staying in town another several months so we weren’t long distance right away. 

one of his friends suggested he wait. He told me this later.  Again I’m glad we decided to be together when we did and neither of us worried about rebound.  His ex did try to win him back which probably was because it was fairly recent.  It didn’t work. 

They were together for four to six months. They had some amount of previous history. 

Thank you for your advice. I will not drag my feet. I will. however, plan to hold off for some amount of time. After all, she just broke up with him yesterday.

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On 7/12/2021 at 9:05 PM, DancingFool said:

I really like the "so are you ready to mingle" response. I think that you do just need to play it by ear a bit and kind of feel her out so to speak. Nobody can really tell you or guess where she is truly at emotionally and there are no hard and fast rules for that really. I've left an ltr and have been ready to date the next day because I was that done with it, and it's taken months to get over a brief dating fling. You just never know.

I don't think that it's a good idea for you to just disappear or go cold or distant for several months because then you may well end up with the she is with someone/you are with someone dance. Always off step with each other. She may well read your distance as not interested anymore and act accordingly if she is looking to date by dating others.

I kind of think that you need to take the nothing ventured nothing gained attitude and take a chance. Otherwise, you'll just keep sitting around wondering what if. People get way too wrapped up in what if's sometimes to the point of paralysis of fear. Just be realistic as in you may keep your head in the clouds, but keep your feet firmly on the ground. If she seems ready for a date - ask. If she says no, at least you can cross her off your list and if she says, take it from there one date at a time. It's really a win/win approach.

Thank you for your response. Haha, the "so are you ready to mingle" response is good - missed opportunity there. As mentioned above, I have also taken various amounts of time to heal. It appears there is no solid rule, as you said. 

I do not plan on going cold or distant for several months.

I think there is merit to the nothing ventured, nothing gained approach. However, it may have its limits here. I mean, she did just break up with her ex-boyfriend yesterday. In every break up I have ever had, I have typically been willing to entertain sexual endeavors right away but serious romantic advances would be too much for me. How long I would need - as we both agree - varies depending on the situation. 

So, I plan on adopting the nothing ventured, nothing gained approach, but I'll probably give it a short amount of time first. 

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23 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

That her boyfriend explicitly told her he still has feelings for his ex could have firmly tossed him out the window in her mind. You would know her best and how she thinks since you know each other quite well. If someone I was dating was in contact with their ex and told me he still had feelings for her, there would be no love lost.

Ask her out on a date when you feel it's the right time. That's very relative to each individual. As previously mentioned, I also have felt ready to date quite quickly after the end of one relationship but have taken much longer with another one. You can probably start to see when she's feeling more like herself and less absorbed about the previous relationship.

 

 

Thank you for your reply, Rose. I think this is a solid approach. I especially like the boldfaced part: if someone is talking about their ex all the time or posting sad or snippy end-of-relationship quotes, they are probably still making sense of the situation. I think I'll have a good idea when she seems ready - in general - to start looking. It may not take long at all for the reasons you mentioned. 

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