Not looking for a relationship, but will make an exception for the right person.

How often have you seen that statement in an online dating profile? Do you tell yourself you’ll make an exception for the right person, should they come along? That you only want casual encounters but are open to something more if you meet someone worthwhile, or the one?

If I think of my own history, the men I’ve dated while I was clearly (now) not emotionally available for a relationship – Johnny Id, Fox, HWSNBN, most significantly – they weren’t the right men for me anyway.

Or were they?

How much is the perception of people when you aren’t ready, or the people themselves?

If I met someone meant to be the one (or one of the ones, to be more accurate), would my emotional availability still be a barrier? Would that person’s entry into my life magically accelerate any remaining emotional progress I needed to make?

Or do we tell ourselves we will make an exception because a) it sounds less douchy that way and we don’t want to scare off “quality” people, and/or b) we can’t admit we actually aren’t ready for anything more emotionally?

If I actually meet someone who could be an amazing match, but I’m not ready, I argue I will still have to sort out my shit even if I’m dating them. I don’t think someone else can magically advance my personal progress. In fact, moving too quickly with that person could backfire if I’m not ready.

There are a few men with whom I’m been exclusive since becoming single. Some of you may remember the torturous back and forth with Johnny Id as we tried to sort out open versus closed. Johnny was BTE: Before-Tony-Era.

I’ve had two “After Tony” phases. The summer of 2015, and from this part January to now. That summer I met Fox. I thought I was emotionally available; I went a little wild after Tony for a few week period. Maybe it wasn’t enough. I knew I was still in love with Tony but told myself if I met someone with potential I would be ready.

Fox and I didn’t work out – I had doubts from the start – but was that because of my emotional state or because of who he was and his suitability for me?

And now I’ve met Alan, who is rather lovely. He’s got the magic combination of sweet and dirty which I need. He’s asked to be exclusive and I said I’m not ready yet.

So it begs the question – if he was a real potential long-term boyfriend for me, would I have any hesitation in saying yes? Or am I now just being too pragmatic and cynical? Is the reason I can be measured with him because I’m not overwhelmingly into him?

I haven’t been monogamous with anyone since the beginning of January, when I broke up with Tony. I’ve enjoyed the freedom to do whoever I want when I feel like it. I also have told myself if the right person comes along I won’t hesitate to jump in.

So why haven’t I?

47 thoughts on “Not looking for a relationship, but will make an exception for the right person.

  1. You tell us….so….why? We can only conjecture. Putting ourselves in your place for a question like this is an exercise in futility. Only you have had the experiences that have brought you to this place. I’d love to be the one to impart the advice that leads to eternal happiness, but I can only continue to read and hope…..

    • I’m interested in other people’s experiences. And with Tony I felt very ready. I wasn’t getting over anyone. I was emotionally available… hence why I didn’t include him in the same bucket.

  2. I think if you’re feeling it, you’ll jump in. I would. And this is why I’m worried to have the talk with Hayden; if he’s “not ready” for a relationship it only means he doesn’t want one. With me.

    At least that’s the way I see it.

    • I think I may need to edit my post because I’m really interested in what others experiences have been. So do you think if you were “the one” for Hayden, he would be jumping in? Is it not possible he feels that way about you but knows he’s my ready – for anyone?

      • It’s possible but, in Hayden’s case, I would be suspicious if he said he wasn’t ready. For example, he’s not recently out of a relationship and isn’t dealing with a lot of stress in his life. If he said he wasn’t ready, I would take that to mean that he wants to continue dating others and, in that case, it would mean something’s missing with me or else he wouldn’t want to keep searching for it.

        What reason did you give for not being ready to be exclusive with Alan? I’m guessing it’s because of Tony….? Does Alan know about Tony?

        If anyone I was dating and wanted to be exclusive with told me they weren’t ready for a relationship because they were still trying to repair a broken heart, I would back way off.

        • I told him there were a few reasons I want to take things slow. That most times I decided it quickly things ended badly, that I thought it was good to get to know someone well first, and that I need to be emotionally ready. I mentioned I’d had a bad and extended breakup. For me it’s not about wanting to see if someone else is out there who is better, it’s about making really sure I think there’s good potential with the person. I just don’t know enough about Alan yet, but still think there is potential. And yes, there’s a corollary benefit of helping give me time after Tony, which I definitely need.

    • I guess I’ll have to give my point of view here. I don’t think not wanting an exclusive relationship should be taken as someone not wanting one with you, or even worse, that you’re not enough for them (implication being you think someone else is going to be enough for them/better than you).

      My experience is this: some people have a very big heart that is welcoming to many. It doesn’t mean that one doesn’t take center stage.
      Some people need to keep flirting, to reassure themselves that they’ve still got it, that they are interesting. Or for whatever other reason they may feel the need to do this (the thrill of the hunt?).

      I have jumped into the relationship I’m in (in my own way), but he hasn’t. Yet… he is now just as deep into it as I am. It shows in different ways, but it shows. His friends know it. I know it. I suspect he’s still trying to hide it from himself, but… even he is aware of it to some extent.

      However, this all started as a ‘not looking for a serious relationship’ thing. It’s now 21 months in. And going stronger every day.
      Have I had doubts? Yes, of course. Has he? Probably. Do I see a future with him? Yes, I do. Does he? Based on things he’s said (talking about something that will have to wait for next year to happen)… yes, he does too.

      Are either of us ready to be exclusive? No. It’s also highly probable we will never be, and I understand that is something that is not for everyone.

      My lover has not been in any serious relationship lately. Not anything he would need to recover from. Except maybe his divorce a few years back. Or is it his marriage he still needs to recover from? I don’t know, he doesn’t say and I don’t ask.

      What I want to say is that the fact someone hasn’t just broken up from a relationship doesn’t mean they are not still recovering from one.

      I think you need to consider the fact that if he doesn’t want to be exclusive, it may be not that he thinks something is missing with you, but maybe that something is missing with him. I think my Dancer doesn’t believe himself worthy of a ‘serious relationship’ because he knows he can’t commit to being exclusive.

      Just my two cents. And you know what they say: free advice, worth every cent!

  3. I’m with nbratscott. However, I would conjecture that you simply aren’t ready. Pragmatic or cynical? Perhaps. But here’s the thing – you have been through a lot of lessons over the last two years. What is wrong with taking your time, or just riding the wave? Not all of the “Ones” have to knock you off your feet to be the real deal, do they?

    • Please see my reply to him…
      I know I’m not ready, and that is what makes me think about it. Would I be ready with the right person? Or am I not ready for anyone? What has your experience been?

      • If Tony came to you tomorrow and showed his signed divorce papers, told you that he’s told his wife, and that he is moving on and wants a life with you in it, would you be ready? I wonder. If I had to assess your position on readiness with anyone, I’d say you’re not ready. Maybe a little cautious.

        My experience was always to jump in with both feet, and ask questions later. Sometimes this was good, and sometimes bad. My younger self was always “ready,” if not a bit reckless. If not for Todd, I don’t believe I’d have been ready to be in an exclusive relationship with anybody for a long time after my divorce. But he’s a special circumstance.

        • I wonder about that too; my Mom asked me the same thing. I would be highly cynical of him, I would want to give him a few months but I know it would be hard not to fall back into something with him in that circumstance. Intellectually for sure I know he would need some time and space.
          I’ve generally just jumped in as well. My experience with HWSNBN really changed me – I can see that now with hindsight.

  4. My question is this. Is Alan willing to wait until you are ready? To build more of a friendship/relationship with you? He sounds great, but you haven’t been seeing him very long and maybe in the back of your mind it’s too soon for and exclusive thing with him or anybody for that matter.

      • My experience has been that I know in my heart that I’m now ready for a relationship, yet I have the bad luck/habit? of meeting men that for one reason or another are unavailable. I have met one sweet guy recently, but the physical attraction and the sex is less than stellar. I have to have that to be completely happy. He’s otherwise a wonderful guy but…..
        I’m so over guys who are players and are wanting just sex. Sure it’s fun for a while, but I want more. I scarcely log into AFF lately either. I think that is quite telling to me that I’m tiring of that lifestyle. I have big doubts that I’ll find what I’m looking for there. Or maybe I should take your approach and make the first meetings from AFF just that. A meeting and nothing more. I haven’t met anyone new from that site for months and I admit that when I have, we ended up in bed the same night if there is a mutual attraction that is. I’m changing, but in good ways.

    • Frankly, after your experience with HWSNBN, I wouldn’t want to jump into exclusivity too soon either. Maybe simple explain this to Alan and see what happens? I don’t think this is specifically linked to Tony, but maybe it’s the memory of moving too fast that bothers you still…

      • Whoops! It was too fast with both of them (although I didn’t agree to be exclusive with HWSNBN). But yes, I think I want to spend more time figuring out whether someone has long term potential before I agree to be exclusive. When this will really be tested is when I meet someone I fall really hard for.
        And yeah, I want time to heal a bit from Tony as well.

  5. If Alan is interested he will hang around, wait and keep seeing you. What about Leo, do you still see him? If you’re sleeping with both guys, eventually you need to ask their wishes. Either keep playing with both if it’s ok with them or be exclusive with one you feel you want to be with. Only time will tell. Good luck!

    • I haven’t seen Leo since he asked whether I was his girlfriend. He’s been in regular contact. I have been honest with both of them, although Leo wanted (and got) specifics and Alan didn’t want them.

  6. I think sometimes we put ourselves into situations with people that have all of the right qualities, but we don’t make ourselves emotionally available, because we are still looking for someone to “fix”. Wasn’t Tony the one still in and out of a relationship with his ex? So he wasn’t 100% available to you, which somehow made you want him more. I’ve seen myself do this shit before.

    • I actually didn’t include Tony in the examples because I was ready for a relationship when I met him, so there wasn’t a debate of being ready. Or not being ready but meeting the right person. That’s what I’m trying to “unpack”…

      I’m not big on fixing people – I know I have to accept them exactly as they are – but definitely try to fix situations.

  7. I haven’t read the other comments so I may be repeating someone here, but in my experience, when I wasn’t ready I simply wasn’t ready. This happened with my now DH and I when we were getting to know one another – I was ready for exclusivity and he was not, then he was ready and I was not. But we genuinely liked each other as people, stayed in touch, and finally reached a phase where we were both ready for a more steady, exclusive relationship both available, and both wanting to give it a try. My perspective – if it is something you both want, you will work through the process of dating others until your hearts and minds know you want to be together and exclusive. Maybe it works out that Alan has the maturity and the patience, maybe not. Or maybe he’s not one of the ones for you, Ann. It does not have to be more complicated than that.

  8. Maybe you just don’t want to be monogamous? And that should be fine, if true. And if someone is into you and who you are as a person and fully accepting of that, that should be okay with the other person, too.

    • There’s that, for sure. I do want a “primary” relationship – if that person is willing to share sometimes, that’s a good mindset. But I don’t think that’s a deal breaker for me if I met someone who was an amazing fit for me.

  9. Long-term relationships are based on the need of partners to conquer each other`s mind,to measure up with each other`s emotional involvement.In such cases ,the anatomy of the bodies and sex (all possible variations,including the most kinky with third persons) constitute powerful tools for capturing your lover`s intellect.Of course, other tools (either more or less noble) do exist for the ultimate purpose of wanting to be with someone (i.e kids,social status ,money etc) Nevertheless,attraction for each other`s body and sex are the most efficient and necessary: their absence is synonymous to misery in a relationship..
    On the basis of the above,your non-availability to exclusiveness means you are,for some reason,undecided yet whether Alan is (or he may become) your other half of the universe.
    Is there space for a really meaningful lover and companion next to you? I guess you will have a clear answer only when and if you meet him.Errors and failures in such a journey are unavoidable….

  10. Since you are asking for our experiences, I will tell you my own. I reflect upon the fact that it was very recently that your last goodbye happened, with Tony. If I look at myself, it does take some time before I can let anyone else in in a major way, into my heart, after having a last goodbye with someone… it is sort of like going back to work too soon when you have been really sick… often it doesn’t work, and your body protests, and you get sick again, but this time, it’s even worse…. so, my interpretation is, that this could be the same thing, only, emotionally…

    You could be in it a little bit too soon, and your heart can be protesting (even subconsciously) that it needs a bit more of recovery time. Still, Alan sounds like a good guy so you could see where things lead with him. If he is very into you, he will allow you a bot of time/space, to see if you have a chance.
    Just my 2 cents. 🙂 All the best to you! 🌸

    • Yes I suspect you are right. I’ve been reflecting about the various things I’ve been through since last December. I’ve had breaks but I am starting to think I need a real cold turkey kind of break. Maybe keep Lewis around because there’s minimal if any impact to my heart… but I just can’t take that heart leap at the moment.

  11. I think you are being pragmatic and you are not overly into him. You would jump in if you perceived him as a valuable prospect that you would not want to slip away. He has made a request of you, and you have every right not to be exclusive. It is his decision whether that is acceptable to him or not. You know that you are not able to fulfill his request; you know he is probably disappointed, even if he chooses for now to continue on your terms. The relationship is not likely to deepen much in this context, though–I doubt he feels very secure in your interest. You are choosing to maintain your freedom over and above meeting his stated desire to be exclusive. Certainly your feelings or his could shift if you continue to spend time together. It’s really hard to answer whether you are ready for a relationship or not–that depends on so many different things. I would submit that one is ready for a relationship with a certain person when one values that relationship enough to want to meet that person’s stated needs, and feels that one’s ability to meet those needs is naturally aligned with one’s own needs and desires. Whether we say it outright or not, we humans always tend to make an exception for the right person at the right time.

    • What if it’s the right person at the wrong time?
      I’m not suggesting Alan is my “right person” – I think you are partially correct in your assessment – but I’m wondering whether for the right person we can magically become ready?

  12. For me the answer is simple: Because he is the right person (at least for right now.

    While my online profile has never explicitly said “not looking for anything serious” … it’s always kind of implied it. Before I became involved with my now boyfriend, both of our profiles outlined that we had upcoming plans that would make a serious relationship difficult. And his profile said, that although he wasn’t in a hurry to jump into something serious, he was open to something that would head in that direction.

    When he first asked to be exclusive I listed all the reasons it probably wasn’t a good idea. He was patient with me. His behavior wasn’t punishing and he even convinced himself that in a few months we could have a conversation about being serious once some stuff settled down. Well, it didn’t take that long for me to bring it up. But it did take some prodding from friends who thought I was crazy to pass up on a chance of happiness with a great guy, just because situational things were messy and complicated. I’m glad I listened to my friends. And I’m glad he was patient with me for the few weeks it took me to come to the conclusion that exclusive with him was what I wanted. Every day I’m in awe of how amazing he is. And I’m so grateful I didn’t let my logic get in the way of starting a healthy and supportive relationship with a gem.

    • That’s a lovely story – thank you for sharing it. I’m glad it only took a few weeks for you to sort yourself out. I’m not sure what kind of timeframe I will need… maybe a week, maybe 3 months. I’m not sure there’s any way for me to know at this point.

  13. You asked for our experiences. I truly believe that The Dancer is one of the ones. And I believe that I am one of his ones. Did I know it right as I went into it? I had inklings that it might be (the way I noticed him before I even met him, the way I felt after the first or second encounter), but certainly no proof. You know very well all the times I had doubts. I have no way of knowing what HIS doubts are/were, but I know there were/are many.
    We’ve been jumping into that love very slowly over the past 21 months. Him probably slower than me, but… both of us had our reservations at one point or another.
    So no, I don’t believe that you can be ‘not open’ except for when you meet the one and then you know and everything changes all of a sudden.
    Will that one help you grow faster than you otherwise would have? Probably. But not overnight. Things will happen that will make you want to reconsider where you stand, where he stands, and what you want. This is my experience 🙂

    Hang in there Ann. Things will work out.

  14. I think you might be confounding “not making room for the right person” and “a willingness to gradually, slowly, respectfully making room cautiously for someone who may or may not be the right person, without ignoring the scar tissue and baggage you’ve inherited from previous relationships”.

    You aren’t saying “no never” to Alain. You are saying “I cant give you that commitment at this stage”. Don’t see that as indicative of an incapacity or unwillingness to make room for a potential right person. I see that as acknowledging where you are in your Tony recovery, and your needs. #respect #allgood

What do you think?