What are we? Where are we? We’ve been hooking up forever.
So, um, why are we not dating?
Phrase it how you may, the (in)famous “What are we?” inquiry is one that you’ve maybe outright asked and more than likely considered. It’s one that he probably dreads and—unfortunately for an already over-analytical breed of collegiettes—one that’s answer isn’t always so simple to decipher.
One would think college is the perfect place to couple off. But those of us who’ve moved on from the fantasies of freshman year without our future husbands to show for it have likely observed a variety of common behaviors from the male college populace:
- The Serial Monogamist: He’s probably that charming boy who had a girlfriend all through high school and is ready to transition to the next one before you can say pre-orientation. Snatch one if you please.
- The Always Single, Not Looking to Mingle: A self-explanatory rarity who makes for a great friend (and might have other cute friends to share). He comes in an array of types, among them the Asexual, the Very Religious and That Guy Who Doesn’t Get Much (writer’s note: go for him).
- The Player Turned Obedient Pup: He kicks off college on a mission, spreading spit and mono far and wide. Then wham, he gets hooked by what he thought was just another random hookup. Spellbound and resembling a loyal little puppy, he makes a surprising and refreshing transformation into Boyfriend.
And finally (and most problematically when it comes to dating):
- The Chronic Deep Sea Fisherman: Whether he spent all of high school tied down, making his way around or just couldn’t get any, this is the guy who gets to campus and finds that the pond of prospects is now a deep sea. And he has no interest in coming back to shore any time soon. He’ll hook up with you—and maybe even just you—but no matter how much you kiss and cuddle, he just doesn’t seem to be asking you to be his girlfriend.
Type IV is a type that some girls are fine with; they may also be in favor of the casual, non-committal situation. But then there are those who want to read into his every text, to “take it to the next level,” or, understandably when you’ve been hooking up and hanging out so much that it feels like you’re a couple, figure out what he really wants and means.
Whatever his excuse is for why you shouldn’t be in a relationship, a useful but difficult distinction to make is whether he doesn’t want it or doesn’t want you. And while every circumstance is obviously unique, boys’ excuses as to why it’s not going to work right now usually aren’t all that original.
What follows are five excuses you’ve probably heard before—ones that guys admit to using when explaining to girls they’re hooking up with that they just can’t be in a relationship. Here, these real live college guys are going out on a limb and offering up their mansight on how to distinguish a true commit-o-phobe who really likes you from a serial maker-outer not worth keeping around. They reveal the lies and the truths they themselves have told the girls they don’t want to—or aren’t ready to—really and truly date.
ROSS, AGE 21
What I told her:
Your [friends/parents/second cousins/dogs] don’t like me.
How to tell that I didn’t mean it:
When I want to let a girl off easy, I make a big deal out of small things. Like I’ll tell her that her friends and my friends don’t get along and that I don’t want to cause tension between our social circles. If I really wanted to be with her, having a problem with her friends would never be a determining factor in ending anything. But if I’m looking to let her down easy, it’s a good way out that she can’t really argue with or do much about. And if she says she’ll disown her friends for you, she’s a stage 1 clinger. Run.
Question to consider:
Has he spent enough time with my friend/parent, etc. to decide that they don’t get along? Has he even met my dog? If no, it’s probably an excuse.
GRAHAM, AGE 19
What I told her:
I don’t want to get hurt again.
How to tell that I meant it:
If I’ve been talking about any of my past relationships with someone I’m hooking up with, it usually means I see her as more than just a hook-up and feel comfortable confiding in her. So then if I bring up a situation she has heard about before and express that I’m hesitant because of that, it’s probably legit. But if a guy who isn’t really the sensitive type who has never made any mention of a bad history or told you much of anything about his past goes and pulls that, sorry ladies, but chances are he’s lying.
Question to consider:
Was he, to your knowledge, recently in a messy relationship that really impacted him? If yes, consider giving him the benefit of the doubt. Boys have feelings too.