He wants to be exclusive but not formally committed. What is this guy trying to do?!

kelccc asks:

I met Peter* a few weeks ago and we completely hit it off and have been talking all day every day since. We have seen each other several times and have had a great time. We have slept together and discussed the fact that both of us like each other a lot.

He mentioned that a girl asked him to dinner, and he turned her down. I asked if it was because he wasn’t interested or if it was because of me. He said it was because of me, and that he may talk to other women but he’s not hanging out with them or sleeping with them. He said that he’s still on Tinder for “shits and giggles” which makes sense since we send each other funny profiles and it’s a funny topic of conversation among him and his friends etc. but he promised he isn’t using it to ask women on dates. (Is this bullshit?)

We established that we’re only going on dates with/sleeping with each other. He’s very honest and upfront about everything even if it’s something I may not want to hear (like him still being on Tinder). So I’m almost inclined to believe him. However, he claims he doesn’t want a label. It’s like he wants the commitment without the commitment? He got out of a relationship in February so he said he doesn’t want a “formal commitment” right now i.e. FB official, boyfriend/girlfriend titles… but I was under the assumption that exclusively dating/sleeping with each other was just that – a commitment. 

I don’t know if I’m getting played or what. Before I met Peter* I was casually talking to another guy, Steve*. I feel like maybe Peter* is trying to manipulate me into only seeing/sleeping with him while he still is out screwing around. I’m hesitant to break things off with Steve* because I’m not 100% sure of Peter’s* intentions.

What do you guys think?

Unsurprisingly, this sort of situation is actually pretty common. I’ve been in this sort of quasi-relationship plenty of times, in both your position and Peter’s* position so I think I’m in a good position to give you some insight. First, let’s lay out what your questions actually are:

1. Is he being genuine about not wanting to date other people even though he’s still on Tinder?

2. If he wants a monogamous dating situation, doesn’t that mean he wants a relationship?

3. Is he trying to manipulate me into not sleeping with other people while he is out sleeping with other people?

4. Should I break things off with Steve*?

To quickly answer your questions:

1. Probably Yes

2. No

3. Probably No

4. No

Do I think that Peter is being sincere in his expressed desire to be exclusive with you even though he remains on Tinder? Yes, probably. He’s a newly single guy and his behavior is pretty common for newly single guys. I’m assuming that what Peter is doing is getting all the things he enjoyed out his relationship (monogamous sex, open communication) without the things that would make him feel like he’s actually in a relationship (publicly calling you his girlfriend). He might not even realize it but what he’s doing is kind of like what smokers do when they quit. They either quit cold turkey, which in this case would be no monogamy whatsoever, or quit with a nicotine supplement, in this case, supplementing his need for a relationship by doing 50% of what you need in a typical relationship. The backbone of most hetero-normative relationships is monogamy, so he’s getting that from you (or is trying to) without having to commit to you publicly. If he’s being honest which I think he is, the reason he’s on Tinder checks out PLUS part of it is him keeping up the idea that he’s still a desirable single man with options. I think it’s pretty likely in this is the case for him, especially since he’s only been single for about 2 months. He’s still in a weird limbo where he’s used to relationships but is probably enjoying his new-found bachelor status.

Does that mean he wants a relationship? Definitely not. What he wants is someone who will sleep with only him while he keeps his options open. I say this with confidence because when I dated, that was exactly what I would have done, and it’s what most of my male friends did as well. I’ve referred to this before as “Dating Limbo” I often tried to maintain my bachelor status while also monogamously casually dating someone. It’s completely bizarre I’ll admit, but you get the best of both worlds if you have a unresolved feelings regarding commitments and what the label “girlfriend” would mean to your independence.

Do I think he’s trying to manipulate you into NOT sleeping with people while he gets to sleep with people? Probably not. You said it yourself, he seems like an open, honest person. He’s not trying to manipulate you into not sleeping with people, he’s telling you that’s exactly what he wants. A better question would be do I think that if someone came along that he fancied more than you that he’d drop you and move on to her? Definitely Yes. I will say this, he sounds like the sort of guy who would tell you if someone new entered the picture at the very least.

Finally, let’s answer your final question: Should you break things off with Steve. Absolutely Not. In fact, I would take it a step further and say that if Peter is adamant that you cut things off with anyone else, drop him. I’m a big believer in open, honest communication when you’re dating, but I’m NOT a big believer in compromise when you’re casually dating. If you’re unsure about Peter’s intentions and still want to date other people, tell him that’s what you want. If he doesn’t like it, don’t compromise. End it. This Peter guy sounds cool and all but what do you gain by sacrificing your being single for a guy who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you? That’s a rhetorical question, you already know the answer.

Good Luck Out There.

6 Replies to “He wants to be exclusive but not formally committed. What is this guy trying to do?!”

  1. I agree with the advice given here. I was seeing someone and I was kind of the “Peter” in that situation. I was monogamous with the guy, but I just was not ready for a real relationship (I was forthcoming about this). I said to go going with him to a family party and things like that. So while I enjoyed my time with him, eventually I had to break it off; he wanted a relationship and I was not changing my mind on my NOT wanting one.

    1. Thanks Kat! It’s tough when you’re in a non-traditional situation because usually one of the people involved wants to turn things into a more traditional sort of relationship. I’ve heard of (and been involved in) countless situations where one party wants a monogamous dating situation minus all the relationship focused things (meeting family and friends, planning a future, etc.) and usually someone has to call it off because the other person tries to force their traditional relationship ideals on the other person.

  2. I just got out of this situation. I thought I could handle this type of arrangement since I wasn’t looking for a relationship either. However, I felt “tied down” to someone that didn’t want me to be with other people but could possibly leave the moment someone else better came along. I was always worried that one day, some new girl will waltz into his life and he would fall for her. I couldn’t take that risk. Was it my competitive nature? Was it feelings of love? Jealously? I really can’t point out why it would bother me if someone stole him away even though I didn’t want a serious relationship either. You would think it was an ideal situation for us but it wasn’t. He was constantly getting annoyed by men hitting on me in front of him. He even got into two actual fights over me. I ended up sleeping with someone else and that caused the split between us. Even though he wanted to be exclusive, I didn’t think it would bother him so much since he was very much against having labels and being a couple. I will say this. I miss him as a close friend but I’m glad I got out of that situation. I feel more at ease not having that burden of constant confusion on how to act around him.