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Did I mess up my chances with a new interest?


Mick17
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I (31M) started talking to a friend and coworker (22F) over the last few weeks as we got to know each other outside of the professional course we’re in that started two months ago. This class is only 5 months long and we’re halfway thru it now. Afterwards she and I are going to very different areas for work (military).

It was always pretty casual and she and I texted a lot, very flirty and not serious banter. I knew she liked me but I wanted to take it a little slowly because we work together and don’t want to get burned too early. We probably met up 4 time just by ourselves. You could say those were dates. She was putting off very positive vibes in liking me, it was almost unreal.

Each time we met up was great and we shared a lot about each other. I didn’t make a move (kiss/hold) since I was still feeling it out and it was still early in our interaction. I’m also still getting over a 4 year relationship that ended a few months ago so I'm not exactly up to speed on the dating game. 

She got to asking what I was looking for in the context of dating and I replied with I’m open to anything and enjoying my time here. Basically wanted to convey that I am not seeking a long-term relationship. She seemed to like that answer.

On to the last interaction, we met up for dinner and dessert and she again asked what I was looking for in a relationship and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to say I like her and wanted to see where this could go, even for just a few months. I mentioned how I usually like to be in an exclusive relationship, and not see other people after a certain point of time. This may seem contradictory to my previous sentiment about not wanting a long-term committed thing.

She replies with "I’m not sure if I can give you anything exclusive at this point", and mentions that she started talking to someone else about two weeks ago, but that it was very recent and she was unsure how she felt about the other person. I ask if things would be different if I had told her I liked her earlier on, and she said yes maybe she could have given me something more exclusive.

I began to feel disappointed and it showed in our conversation that quickly became a bit awkward. We went to her place to talk more about it but I felt like I was digging a hole with nothing left to say. Some awkward silence ensued and I tried to kiss her but she was not receptive to it. More awkwardness. After a few moments I ask her to just cuddle on the couch and try to alleviate the tension. I eventually go home. I text her thank you for being honest and that I still really like her.

The next day she sends a message saying: “After giving this a lot of thought, I think right now I really like where we stand as friends and I don’t want to complicate things by adding in other stuff. I just feel very thrown off/uneasy about things ngl but that’s just on me not you. I really value you and care for you.”

I’m a bit thrown off too but I don’t prod any more and take it that she doesn’t want to do anything romantic now. Idk if she’s letting me down to see this other guy, or if she recognizes that neither of us will be here very long to have a committed relationship, so it’s best to remain friends and be casual. I recognize that talking about things like exclusivity and commitment in the context of a short-term relationship is pretty heavy stuff. I think I was still in the long-term relationship mode that I was used to for the last 4 years. This definitely soured the mood when I should have been non-chalant and playful. Thoughts? Is this budding short-term romance dead on arrival? Or recoverable with some time and space?

TL;DR dating interest pulls back after I confess I like her and I’m late to the chase

Edited by Mick17
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She said no. So I recommend you take her at her word. She knows how to get in touch with you if she changes her mind.

No, you cannot "get" her to change her mind and you can't "show" her that you really do want to date her exclusively. Not after she said no.

This wasn't going to be anything anyway, per your own words. 

Perhaps there are other women you can spend casual time with?

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In 2 and a half months, you will be moving to a new duty station. If she'd been game, why would you tie yourself in a LDR that would not have worked out anyway, since you two wouldn't have had time to establish a concrete foundation?

Especially since she's only 22 and her brain won't even have reached full maturation in the decision making part of the brain. This doesn't happen until age 25. Do you really think a pretty 22 year old, surrounded by numerous, handsome military men in her new location, will forsake dating them for someone she can only see on video chats?

I'd suggest concentrating on your training and seek dating opportunities after you're all set up in your new location. It's only been a few months since your longterm relationship ended. Better if you fully mourn and heal from that, and only then will you be able to fully give your heart to someone else. It's not really fair to seek a woman as a Band-Aid for your heart right now. Take care. 

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27 minutes ago, Mick17 said:

 Afterwards she and I are going to very different areas for work (military).

I’m also still getting over a 4 year relationship that ended a few months ago 

The next day she sends a message saying: “After giving this a lot of thought, I think right now I really like where we stand as friends and I don’t want to complicate things by adding in other stuff. I just feel very thrown off/uneasy about things ngl but that’s just on me not you. I really value you and care for you.”

It's ok. You're just getting out of a long term thing, and then moving on, so not much chance of this becoming anything anyway. Set your sights on your future location and  restart your dating life there.

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17 minutes ago, Mick17 said:

Thoughts? Is this budding short-term romance dead on arrival?

Unfortunately, yes. You did fine. However I am not sure that even if you tried before, it could made effect. People who want to be with you, would do just that. Just some guy she met 2 weeks ago, wouldnt matter. Especially short term. Plus, if she thought more serious about you, any guy that would show up wouldnt matter. So, dont think of it as too big of a loss. 

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3 hours ago, boltnrun said:

No, you cannot "get" her to change her mind and you can't "show" her that you really do want to date her exclusively. Not after she said no.

That's the thing, I realize I do not intend to date exclusively (even though I said as much), after giving it some thought it would be disingenuous to ask for commitment/exclusivity for such a short union. I guess the question now is if she would believe be saying that I am comfortable with something casual, after I said I preferred exclusive dating. 

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3 hours ago, DancingFool said:

First thing is never poop in the water you might have to drink later, aka keep things professional in a professional setting.

Second thing is your age. She is 22 (do you remember what you were like back then?) and you are 31. You are a lifetime apart in terms of life stage and life experience. She is being exactly who she is at 22 - flirting, testing the waters, trying out her powers on older men (yup, to a 22 year old you are an old grandpa), dating around kind of sort of, figuring what and who she does and doesn't want.

You are fresh out of a long term relationship and in a completely different life stage. You didn't do or say anything wrong and you didn't blow anything. You are just messing yourself about with a woman who is way too young for you and acting her age. Flirty, flighty, but ultimately not interested in anything other than trying out her powers, spreading her wings, and experimenting with what she can do and get away with.

Please take some time out and get over your break up so you don't make a fool out of yourself like this again.

I agree with everything you mentioned, especially the age gap and differences in life stages. It was a point of humor initially but the "old man" joke has worn off already. Funny enough she thought I was treating her more like a younger sister when I failed to make any moves early on. "Sisterzone" as she put it. When I corrected her by saying that I was interested in her, the conversation began its slippery slope towards the awkward conclusion I described. 

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25 minutes ago, Mick17 said:

That's the thing, I realize I do not intend to date exclusively (even though I said as much), after giving it some thought it would be disingenuous to ask for commitment/exclusivity for such a short union. I guess the question now is if she would believe be saying that I am comfortable with something casual, after I said I preferred exclusive dating. 

That would be trying to "get" her to change her mind.

As I said, she knows how to get ahold of you if she decides she wants something casual with you for a few weeks.

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3 hours ago, Kwothe28 said:

Unfortunately, yes. You did fine. However I am not sure that even if you tried before, it could made effect. People who want to be with you, would do just that. Just some guy she met 2 weeks ago, wouldnt matter. Especially short term. Plus, if she thought more serious about you, any guy that would show up wouldnt matter. So, dont think of it as too big of a loss. 

That's true, thank you for the insight. I was caught up in the idea of her being attracted to me that I never thought of the end game (split up upon leaving).

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5 hours ago, Mick17 said:

I guess the question now is if she would believe be saying that I am comfortable with something casual, after I said I preferred exclusive dating. 

I don't think it would make any difference at this point, to be honest. 

She isn't interested and has met someone else. In her mind, she's already on to the next guy. You guys enjoyed each other's company but there's nothing more to work with.  As the others have pointed out, the upcoming departure and her age make this unlikely to have worked out anyway. 

Chalk it up to experience, and keep moving. 

Edited by MissCanuck
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Update for y'all. We are still on good terms and met up a couple times last week, both in group setting for a social event and one-on-one. Our interaction was back to being fun and a little flirty with light touching but I did not try to hug or kiss her again. She seems to enjoy spending time with me still. I did not bring up the awkward conversation about exclusive relationship and I don't plan to unless she brings it up again. 

I still find myself wanting to hang out with her on a regular basis. Like go to shows and do fun activities with just her. Are these feelings that I should put aside? I genuinely enjoy my time with her. We have a lot of good conversations when it's just me and her. I guess deep down I'm hoping this could develop in a short casual relationship where we enjoy some aspects of dating without the commitment. Is that a ridiculous thought? 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Mick17 said:

I did not bring up the awkward conversation about exclusive relationship

 I guess deep down I'm hoping this could develop in a short casual relationship where we enjoy some aspects of dating without the commitment. Is that a ridiculous thought? 

Kinda.  It's still pretty ambivalent and contradictory.  

It's ok if this is what you are seeking.  She may be seeking something entirely different.   No bad guys here.  Just two different ways of viewing it and chalking it up to bad timing. 

You do realize your message is rather mixed.  She likely caught that.

I can't help but think your interest went up when you felt her slipping away.  Could this be more about your ego than Ms-Right or Ms-Right-For-Right-Now showing interest in someone else?  It's ok.  Our ego's can play tricks on us.  It is however helpful to call it for what it is.

Edited by reinventmyself
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36 minutes ago, reinventmyself said:

I can't help but think your interest went up when you felt her slipping away.  Could this be more about your ego than Ms-Right or Ms-Right-For-Right-Now showing interest in someone else?  It's ok.  Our ego's can play tricks on us.  It is however helpful to call it for what it is.

I think it does have a lot to do with ego and the perception of not being good enough. It leads me to think that I made a mistake somewhere, and that the situation could have been remedied if I didn’t make that mistake.

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6 minutes ago, Mick17 said:

I think it does have a lot to do with ego and the perception of not being good enough. It leads me to think that I made a mistake somewhere, and that the situation could have been remedied if I didn’t make that mistake.

Very insightful . .something to think about for sure.

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