The Guy with a Harem

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
oh man, boys are so complicated. about a year ago, i met my friends new roommate, say his name is matthew. anyway, i didnt think much of anything until my friend, "nelle", called me up and said matthew wanted to hang out with me and to call him. she gave me his number and after a while i called him when i was bored and we ended up going to church together that night. okay so eight or so months later, matthew and i are still hanging out. nelle doesnt seem to like me very much anymore, and matthew is irritated with her. they go places from time to time. however, we are together usually every weekend due to the fact that he lives in orange county and i in san diego.

so we started going to movies and dinner and the usuals. soon he started paying for some dinners and movies. we had talked before about relationships (on the beach :) and he said he didnt want a girlfriend. the thing that struck me was when i asked him why he didnt feel the need to be physically close to someone. he said that he has plenty of female friends that he can hold hands with or hug at the movies. he said this very un-asshole like. i just dont know how to write it. he said this like two months after we met.

so its been almost a year now. we went to disneyland and were putting our heads on each other and holding hands and snuggling and all that mushy stuff. anyone would mistake us for a couple. i came out of a store and he was waiting for me and he was staring at me and smiled and i asked "what?" with a laugh and he just smiled and said lets go. thats the point when i started to think something cause what he said at the beach stayed in the back of my mind. hes such a gentleman too. he always opens the door for me and when i step up stairs he holds my hand and lets me go ahead.

anyway, now we're going to see radiohead together in september. the point being that its not just dinner and movies anymore. i said it was getting boring. i said lets go a balloon ride. he said yes without hesitation. i messaged him one nite asking if he would come to new york with me next year in autumn and he wrote back "i would love to go to new york with you." strange thing is, it seems like hes doing the exact same things with nelle. like they went to the fair together and they went to an 80's club one night and she also, oddly, asked him to go to new york with her this september '03 which i dont know will happen. its kinda short notice and she doesnt have a lot of money. but im just kinda jealous which is why im saying these things about her.

anyway, im trying to figure out what to think. i like him. i want a more romantic relationship with him, but when he said he has female friends to be close with and he doesnt need a girlfriend, it always stops me. in any other circumstance i would know for sure that the guy liked me. should i just do nothing but flirt and maybe hell get the picture or should i confront him? im stuck. help please. Advice
Well he definitely likes you, and he likes her, and as far as he's concerned he's getting everything he wants out of life. He has more than one girl so he's not "threatened" - if one of you causes trouble, he just runs to the other one. Apparently he doesn't have raging hormones and is happy with the affection he gets from both of you. He's always got someone to do something with and doesn't have to worry about pressure. He knows neither of you will bother him because you will both worry that he'll run to the other one's arms. Which is really great for him but sucks for you two girls. He in essence has two girlfriends, and neither of you have a boyfriend.

There isn't much you can do about this, really. He has his own reasons for avoiding a real commitment. You can't force him to want one. It's just not something he's interested in. And he's made that clear to you guys so it's not that he's been playing around with you. But if what you want is a real boyfriend, he isn't it. And trying to force him into that role - when it's not his way of life - isn't going to work.

It might be time to sit down with him and be very honest. That's what great friends do. Tell him that you are fond of him - and that it hurts you when he's with the other girl because you would rather be with him yourself. That to think of him doing things with her like going to New York hurt you - because YOU want to be the one doing that with him. That you've been friends for a year, but that he has become very special to you and that it seems the other girl feels the same way. That he is being unfair to you both in essence 'stringing you along' by his actions, so that neither of the two of you is willing to give him up (and therefore "give him" to the other girl) but neither can have him as a true partner either. That he's in essence 'locking up' both of you so you can't have a real partner in life, as part of his way to dance his way through life carefree. Sure, HE is carefree but he is actively damaging you two.

If you're this honest, then ask him to honestly talk about why he is so resistant to commitment. You can't go through life avoiding decisions. Life is about making choices and standing by them. He can't just keep using you guys for years and years as his 'girls on call', his little harem. Choices are hard, because they mean you are saying "no" to something. But that is one of those critical skills in life that you have to learn, and maybe it's time he learned it.

-- from Jenn
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