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Real Live College Guy Joel: You Want to Be Exclusive, But He Doesn’t Say What He Wants

Desperately trying to understand the inscrutable mind of the college male? Real Live College Guy Joel (replete with a name way cooler than those of RLCGs Joe and Joey) is here to help you out, call you out, write you a poem to show you’re great and to stop worrying, etc. From major emotional drama to the minutiae of social interaction, use him as your one-stop shop for guy advice.

I’m falling hard for Future Army Boy. We met completely by chance at a pool hall through his friend. We started flirting and it hasn’t stopped these last few weeks. We’re both naturally flirty people, but how he’s opened up to me and the amount of time we spend time together, it feels like it could develop. I’ll be honest – I want it to evolve into an exclusive relationship. I didn’t think I would want to go that far given my last serious relationship ended 11 months ago. Friends have asked us both, “So you and Future Army Boy are…?” I have to say, “I don’t know.” I felt like our status was being put on the spot. I decided I needed to talk to F.A.B. When I brought it up, he said we could date exclusively, hook up exclusive, keep casually dating – whatever I’m comfortable with. I wanted to tell him what I thought about going farther than that. He mentioned with the Army knocking on the door and Basic Training being eight weeks long, maybe a relationship wasn’t a good idea. Was that for my sake since I’ll be at college? Was he subliminally telling me he’s not interested in an exclusive relationship? I’m just not a very emotional person and I don’t do well with these kinds of sentiments. How can I open up to him about what I’m interested in without scaring the sh-t out of him? If he doesn’t want what I’m interested in, should I completely drop him? Do I keep avoiding the conversation entirely, let it be what it is, and wait for the next F.A.B. to come along? My head and my heart are turned completely upside down. – Confused at Kennesaw

Confused,

I can see what you mean when you say that you’re “not very emotional,” although clearly you feel strongly about your situation. You’re the type who usually prefers a rationally defined relationship, as opposed to just seeing where things lead. At the same time, you’re drawn to Future Army Boy with an intensity you’re not used to, making your feelings harder to articulate. It’s normal that you want a meaningful monogamous relationship with F.A.B., but I’m worried that you’re letting your heart get ahead of what’s practical.

Life is not a love song. Most relationships grow serious over time. I don’t know many adult couples who are deeply infatuated with each other from day one. Overpowering, consuming desire for someone you haven’t known for very long usually lasts temporarily. Serious, lasting feelings only develop over time through exclusive dating. This guy was willing to date you exclusively, but you want it to go “farther than that.” What’s farther than that? Getting engaged? You’re moving more quickly than most people feel comfortable with. It’s important to express where you envision your relationship eventually going, but you need to restrain this impulse to make an emotional mountain out of a relationship molehill.

F.A.B. clearly likes you and he seems pretty laidback. It does seem unfair for him to act like this is entirely your decision when he does seem to have a perspective. However, I think it was wise of him to make that comment. Many couples would feel that they haven’t been dating long enough to try long distance. He didn’t say that he didn’t want to eventually have a serious relationship, so stop mind-reading. It’s not like he’s going to a randy college campus where he can have lots of casual hook-ups; he’s about to go through a period of great physical and mental strain. Whatever opinion he has on the subject has merit, so he should have the courage to express his, as should you yours.

I want you to first stop thinking about outside labels. They really don’t mean anything when they’re different for every couple. Labels are only for code, as a way to explain what you have to everybody outside of your relationship, except that your relationship is no one else’s business. When your friends ask you what’s going on with F.A.B., say “we like each other and we’re seeing where it goes.” Resist the pressure to put a definition on your relationship.

Tell this guy that you would like to be exclusive. Don’t say that you want him to be your Nicholas Sparksian perfect boyfriend that writes to you every day from training and holds your hand all the time and thinks you’re the greatest person ever. Just say that you really like him and could see your relationship developing into something serious. Then (and this is the hardest part) straight up ask him to honestly tell you what he wants or doesn’t want. If he seems to have an open mind about getting serious, then don’t obsess over whether he means it. If he wants to keep things more casual, you should still give it a chance. Everybody moves at different speeds; he may eventually grow to deeply care about you. Try to approach this with an open mind, while also being honest about how you feel.

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