Am I the douchebag?

“At least I’m self-aware,” I say to my friends. But it’s no excuse, really. I’m conflicted about how to behave in the dating gray area I’m in.

I’m all about intention. Meaning, I care what someone’s intention is with me – their purpose for interacting with me and their end goal. I am dating Bruce (which I think I still call it even though I’ve only seen him once for 45 minutes in 5 weeks, yet talked on the phone almost every day) with the intention of seeing if he’s relationship material. I have told him that.

If I have sex with Lewis, it’s with no intention of developing anything deeper. He is the same. We are aligned and clear on the nature of our “relationship”. Jake and I each know we have fun together but mutually agreed we won’t ever be anything more than sex buddies. We are both cool with that.

When intentions are aligned and mutually understood, I’m good. When one person’s intentions change – say for example starting with relationship intent then realizing it’s not going to work – and they don’t communicate that to the other, that’s where the crap starts. Less communication, ghosting, hurt feelings. If the opposite occurs it can put the other person in the awkward position of having to let the other down.

Ultimately, when sussing out who to connect with and meet, I’m first figuring out their intentions. If I’m looking for a serious relationship and they are too, if they meet my other criteria I will give it a try. But I eliminate those I know aren’t because right away there will be an issue.

Of course, intention has to translate into action. I can intend to lose fifteen pounds all I want, but unless I change my actions, it’s not going to happen.

Any frustration or concern I have about whether Bruce might be right for me is related to this. I think he still has the intention of a relationship, and he still likes me as much as he did when we first met. But whether he can translate his intentions into actions – relating to his ex-wife and his schedule, which seem to be the roadblocks – remain to be seen.

Here’s the complicating factor. I believed him when he said he didn’t have time to date more than one person. When he met me, he said he wanted to see where that went and not bother with others. I still believe him. Having experienced his life has reinforced it.

I told him there was nobody else in my life I was interested in pursuing a relationship with. This is still true.

I didn’t proactively mention there were some casual partners in my life. I figured I didn’t need to volunteer there are a few men in my stable who fill my need for sex. And Bruce didn’t ask.

After our first couple of dates, I went away on vacation. As Bruce proved to be very communicative, I told myself I was going to let the casual partners go. Not with any proactive pronouncements, but if they came looking once I returned, I’d tell them I couldn’t engage with them sexually.

When faced with the option to engage physically with Claude, I told myself he’s always transcended anyone else in my life, and felt no guilt about engaging with him. He reads my blog, he knows what I’m doing, and we both knew there was no practical hope for a relationship forged across the ocean. Our intentions with each other were the same, and it didn’t change my intention with Bruce.

But then I came back, and I had to face the challenge of Bruce’s schedule switch and his seeming reluctance to set boundaries with his ex-wife and make plans with me.

My intentions haven’t changed. I’d still like to see whether we have relationship potential. Right now the ball is in his court: will he be able to make it happen. I will write about the last ten days with him but suffice it to say, I’m not entirely sure it’s going to be able to happen.

And this is why I think I may be a douchebag. I have the right intention with the only person I consider myself to be dating, but it doesn’t stop me from engaging with others on the side. But if I was to see the right behaviour and feel the feels I need from Bruce, I would have zero hesitation cutting off the others.

Bruce and I haven’t had a conversation about exclusivity. I can’t help but think it’s because he’s not savvy enough to know he needed to. And even if we did, would I be ready to give it up for a guy who may not be able to see me regularly or move things forward?

And here’s the thing. I am ready to give him all the time and attention I have that I might otherwise spend with other men. I did it when I was away. As Tony once told me, it’s really wonderful to be the center of my attention, to have all my light shining upon someone. But Bruce isn’t asking for it, nor do I think he can handle it.

He’s not seeing anyone else, but he also has very limited time and attention to give. If everything was the same but I knew he was dating others, I’d be pretty sure he wasn’t into me at all. I believe he’s giving me all that he can.

As I said above, while I may be engaging with others, I don’t want relationships with any of them. He’s the one who is on my relationship radar. Even if I fucked Lewis and Jake and Tony in a week, none of that would change the amount of time and attention and affection I give to Bruce. That’s one of my measures – do the others diminish what I’m giving to him. The answer so far, is no. Nor does it change my ultimate intention with him – to see if a relationship would work.

I could have titled this post “Ann’s attempt at assuaging her guilt fucking others.” I hope it doesn’t actually read that way. But I am wondering whether I’m simply engaging in mental gymnastics to justify why I might still be letting other men between my legs. But the alternative is cutting off others for a man who hasn’t asked for exclusivity and who may not be able to be in a relationship yet.

So what else is a hedonistic woman to do?

39 thoughts on “Am I the douchebag?

  1. Intention doesn’t matter as much to me as behaviour.

    If some guy intended to have a relationship with me and I discovered he was fucking a bunch of other women, I wouldn’t give a shit what his ‘intentions’ were.

    “Yeah, but… REASONS”
    “Nah, don’t care”

    BUT

    I’m coming from a perspective where I can’t even entertain serious discussions with more than one person even if we haven’t met yet (I tried it only once, was honest and up-front ‘just to let you know’ and I had to drop one of them because it felt all kinds of stressful-wrong-unfair).

    For me, it’s more about matching expectations and that’s tough because you can’t know someone’s expectations unless you openly and honestly discuss it.

    To be clear, I don’t see that you are doing anything wrong. At all. And you don’t have to justify it (to yourself or to anyone else).

    Having said that, if you look at it less from that perspective and more from ‘matching expectations’, from what you have said of Bruce, I suspect if he knew, he would be out of there so fast your head would spin. Because I’m pretty sure he thinks what you are both doing is ‘exclusive dating for relationship potential’, and he would see your behaviour as inconsistent with HIS view of what that looks like.

    So unless and until you explicitly talk about it, you’re essentially taking a punt on his expectations matching yours (or talking yourself into believing that if they don’t match, he’s being unreasonable, hence the self-justification).

    Ferns

    • Yes you’re quite right. Intention without actions/behaviors are useless. Honestly the moment I see something from Bruce that gives me hope that he can move things forward, or even tell me what he wants… I would give everyone else up. Perhaps this is all self-protection. What if I give them all up just to be hurt again.

      I’m not having any kind of serious conversations with anyone else. I couldn’t do that after telling Bruce that I wasn’t.

      You’re right. I don’t know what Bruce’s expectations are. I’m afraid to ask, frankly, because I don’t want to pressure him. I also don’t think he even knows what he can do, because he hasn’t been tested yet.

      It’s funny because a few people in response to my last posts said things like “keep your options open”. Others have expressed dismay when I’ve moved to exclusivity quickly. And I haven’t even really acted on any of this, so I don’t even have much to “confess” to him if we did have the conversations. This is theory, really. I would LOVE for him to tell me he wants just me and be ready to do things to move things forward. I’m sure this will all be resolved in the next couple of weeks. But this crap is on my mind.

      • To me, it boils down to this:

        “Would this hurt or confuse this person I’m trying to build something with?”

        Even if there’s nothing wrong with the behaviour (which there isn’t: no promises have been made), you kind of have a gut feeling for the answer. I always find it easier to go with that gut feeling, then I don’t have to ask myself the ‘am I the douchebag’ question.

        I’d add that if one of your sexy-times partners contacts you, you don’t lose anything by saying ‘not available right now’ and I’m sure they’ll go ‘no worries, next time maybe’. There’s no ‘giving them up’ and no risk in it as far as I can see.

        I hope it all resolves positively in short order *fingers crossed*.

        Ferns

        • Funnily enough, when I had to tell a couple of them I wasn’t available they were super cool and were there for me when I was available again, after Jack. So yeah, I may have been slightly over dramatic with that comment 🙂

          I like the way you think about it. Upon further reflection, I think at some level I’m trying to protect myself from getting hurt badly again. Not that anything I wrote isn’t accurate, but if I don’t have anyone else filling up the time I’d rather give to Bruce, and then it’s just this empty space (yes I know I can fill it with other things) then what the heck do I do. Have to think on that a bit more 🙂

  2. She’s supposed to do what you did. And not feel guilty about it.
    And if the subject then comes up, it’ll be time to discuss it with Bruce then.
    Just a week or so ago, The Dancer learnt I’d had a threesome just after meeting him. I sent him the text. He was asking questions about things I never thought he would ask questions about. Did I enjoy it. Why not? Did the other man hurt me? The brute. And so on.
    You cannot know how things are going to pan out whenever that conversation may arise. And it may be a good way to explain your need for sex, and also that you don’t mind playing with many. That it’s not a must have, but that’s who you are too.
    XO

  3. If he has told you he is a one at a time man then he would assume you were the same unless you told him differently. I’d tell him “I’m ok to get to know you but for now I think exclusivity may be too lonely.

    • I have to write about it but the next couple of nights are a bit of a “test” to see what can happen with him. If I see a bit of progress it will make a big difference to me in how I proceed. I find it really difficult in the absence of seeing him in person or hearing from him that he wants to make it work. I think that’s the root of this conflict I’m having…

      • Ann, you sound like an awesome woman. I’m really rooting for you to find the one who knows the value of you and who is worth you. I enjoy your blog.

  4. Haaaa, I was going to suggest you give it a month to see progress and in the meantime make a pact with yourself to stop thinking things that make you doubt. Every action has a consequence but boy so do thoughts- reminds me of an old cuban joke of a man stranded in an old country road with a flat tire and sees a house in the distance. He decides to walk the long trek to borrow a jack to fix his tire and on the way there he’s thinking to himself: “I bet the guy is going to be a jerk and say no, I’m gonna walk all the way there and he’s going to yell at me for knocking on his door this late at night”, Bla Bla BLA such thoughts consume him. He finally reaches the house, knocks on the door and a pleasant man answers the door and says “good evening, how can I help you?” and he replies: take the jack and shove it up your ass”.
    Don’t be that man, Ann😃 Self thoughts that annoy us show in the way we talk and react to people. Unless he gives you a concrete reason to doubt him, or expect bad things, think the best- “we’re gonna figure it out”, “this may be different than what I’m used to but my self doubts are working against me and causing me undue stress”XO There’s potential because otherwise you wouldn’t make time to keep whatever communication you CAN have. Just give yourself a timeframe you’re comfortable with.

  5. Sophia, you pretty much said what I was going to but with much more eloquence than I can muster.
    Hang on Ann…
    And yes I feel that you two will work things out in due time.
    Patience….

  6. I think you’re being reasonable… but that probably doesn’t surprise you coming from me. 😉 It’s very early with Bruce. No need to stop seeing others yet.

    Like you, I have a very high sex drive. If I wanted to pursue a relationship with someone who couldn’t see me very often and we weren’t yet exclusive, I would absolutely see others on the side. I did this with Hayden… and only stopped seeing others when Hayden and I were regularly seeing each other 3-4x/week. Even though we didn’t have an actual exclusivity talk, there were declarations of love. I didn’t feel right dating others when I was telling someone else I loved him.

    You’re not there with Bruce yet. In the meantime, keep enjoying the side pieces. 😀

    • I know it’s early days… but when I know / believe someone isn’t dating others (which is rare, admittedly) I guess I feel some moral obligation to not have too big of an imbalance. Then again, I’m not “dating” anyone else, but just the act of being intimate with someone else may be an issue…. and then I think about whether its even a conversation I want to have. Lol… so glad I have this blog and friends to work through all of this!

      • It’s a tough predicament. I’d be having the same thoughts.

        I haven’t been in the same situation (i.e. knowing that someone definitely wanted to pursue a relationship with me) and honestly don’t know what I’d do. But I’d be bent out of shape about the flipped custody schedules, especially when he doesn’t seem too interested in making a big effort to see you when he does have the kids. I am a strong believer in “when there’s a will there’s a way”.

  7. As you and I have discussed in the past, I’m MUCH more conservative (sexually speaking) than you and I see a lot of myself in the way you describe Bruce, so here’s my opinion…for what it’s worth.

    The kids will always come first. Were I him I would try to adjust my schedule so we could have time together (or suggest that we both try to alter our schedules), but would expect understanding if something came up and I needed to be with my kids.

    I have a feeling that if Bruce knew you were still seeing other men (no matter the intentions) he’d drop you like a dollar bill in a stripper’s thong. I understand that some people have a need for sex and make it a priority, but I would have trouble trusting a partner who has that many…connections. Assuming Bruce is anything like me, I’m guessing he would, too.

    You’re outlook on the situation is practical and your logic sound, but I just have a feeling you and he probably have a different outlook on sex and relationships. He may or may not understand your need to fill your sexual desires, but will likely not understand your need to fill them elsewhere.

    Just to be clear, there is no judgement here. I’m simply playing devil’s advocate by attempting to explain what Bruce’s point-of-view most likely may be based on your descriptions of him.

  8. I am still new to your blog so catching up but it would seem to me that Bruce and you are not at that stage yet to even discuss exclusiveness particularly if you have spent 45 minutes with him in 5 weeks. You owe him nothing at this point and quite honestly the reverse is true for him. But do ask yourself, how would you feel if you found out that Bruce was fucking others, if you are okay with it then I state again, you owe him nothing but if you are not comfortable with that then to should have a discussion with him so you can both decide where you want to go with it

    • Thanks Jad! Here’s the thing… I have lots more time to give him but he can’t make use of it. So the way I see it, any of my casual partners take nothing away from what I can offer Bruce. However the reverse isn’t true… he seems to have very little time to see me. So if I found out he was using some of that time for something casual, I’d question what his real intention is with me or his ability to make any change. If I was getting all the time and attention I would hope for at this stage, I’d care far less since as you say, it’s early days.

      • What is keeping his time and attention away from you? I would be concerned about 45 minutes in 5 weeks. It takes time and care to nurture a new relationship. Is distance a problem? I really need to get caught up on your blog but I am actively reading about 4 blogs from their beginning now, yours is on the list but I have not yet made the time. I promise I will though

  9. Well, yeah, when you put it that way, you’re being a douchebag and, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions are all well and good but this thing we call life and living doesn’t give a flying fuck about your intentions and will sometimes sabotage you at every turn and, oh, yeah, just because you (not you) have intentions on doing something with someone else, that doesn’t mean that the other person is able to go along with them.

    You know I understand the exclusivity thing but what kinda has me smiling is how you, in a douchebag kind of way, want this Bruce character (or any other guy who shows potential) to be committed to a relationship with you… while you’re still exercising your right to screw anyone you find appealing; I’ve seen you fall off the wagon too many times to think that you really want total exclusivity and not have your options available to you.

    It’s one of the things I really like about you.

    • Nope. I did not say I wanted him to be committed to a relationship with me and I expect to be able to screw anyone. I’m saying in the absence of him being able to see me in person, let alone committing to anything, is it wrong that I’m continuing the existing casual stuff I have.
      If he was able to move thins forward I wouldn’t hesitate cutting the others off.
      Whether I want exclusivity down the road is a whole other discussion.

  10. I agree with the timeline option. Maybe a month? I have always found them to be helpful with over analyzing. Timelines have allowed me to be in the moment and let a relationship flow organically if I’m not sure where I stand. When that day comes, I usually don’t need it anymore.

  11. When you start dating someone, why not just clarify that you may continue to date others (as you expect he may as well)but that you are open to conversations about that changing over time. It seems like you end up dancing around this issue over and over. If being up front scares a guy away, he probably couldn’t handle getting to know the real you anyway.

    • It usually does come up at the beginning, but honestly it’s more simply understood when you’re online dating. I don’t know that it comes up that often with me – it did with Jack but that’s because he clearly asked for exclusivity right away.

  12. Here’s how this post reads to me….

    Let’s say it all works out great with Bruce, and at some point after you and he are together and exclusive, he somehow realizes you had multiple FWBs during this time when you were dating and occasionally having sex with him. I can imagine Bruce might ask you “Ann, I’m curious why you never mentioned these ongoing FWBs while we were dating”. You propose in this blog post that your honest answer would be something like this: “Bruce, I knew you needed us to have a conversation about exclusivity at the time. But you weren’t savvy enough to know you needed to ask the question. I knew this, but I intentionally didn’t bring the subject up.”

    Am I reading you right?

    If I am reading you right, I think this blog post reads as “Ann’s attempt at assuaging her guilt fucking others.”

    My 2 cents: If you want a real and long term relationship with him, tell him who you are from the start. Don’t make him think you are somebody other than who you are, which is a woman for whom the physical part of sex is really really important, and who is at point in her life where she’s not living without it.

    Which by the way is part of why we all read your blog!!

    • It’s a good question, and what I would say to him is this: while I believed you weren’t engaging with others, I wasn’t ready to be proactively exclusive with you because you and I hadn’t found a way to make things work yet. You hadn’t proven to me or yourself that you could create the boundaries with your ex needed to actually date. And I also knew being exclusive would mean I put more pressure on you to be there for me more than you could be. But I dumped those mofo’s the moment we figured it out 🙂
      ^^ that’s the truth, and that’s what I’d tell him.

      • But again, why not just be clear and honest? The explanation above sounds like you are playing games to avoid potentially hard conversations. But if you are honest from the beginning, there’s less chance of anyone getting hurt.

        • You like him so much that you don’t want to tell him, but if he finds out all he will see is you can’t be trusted. About anything. After having jumped the hurdle of conflicting schedules (which we cannot ignore it is an issue now because of the phone call that alerted his ex that he is now dating you). Ay Dios Mío.
          All guys who have commented said “Danger, Will Robinson, danger”.
          Baby out with the bathwater is a strong possibility. Is the brief reward worth the risk for a guy who rings many bells for you? After all, your FWB guys will be there for you always for just that, not to move things forward or dry your tears. All I hope is that you know (for what you’ve written about him that we’ve surmised) that it will be the end of thatXO
          Pop the painful pimple of deciding if you’re all in or out. Ponder why you don’t want to pop it. This is deeper than a conflict of schedules and a need for sex, Bella.
          PS. Boy has this thread taken many turns since I last read!🙈😃

  13. So if you feel you’re not doing anything wrong, why were you not upfront with Bruce that you could not be exclusive. The “he didn’t ask” is not a good enough reason. It is each person’s responsibility to be honest especially in the area of sexual relationships. Sounds to me as if you were/are trying to hedge your be, and like way too many people today “you want your cake and it too

    Wayne

    • I think I said this but could be wrong – I was ready to let the others go when I went on my vacation. Not because he asked but because it felt right. But with things changing as a result of the blow up with his ex wife, the things I’ve learned about his actual process of separation and his inability to have boundaries in place which would allow him to date, and his inability to make any time for me… I’ve realized we aren’t in a place where there’s much moving forward. So exclusivity isn’t really on the table nor is it something that even needs to be brought up at the moment.

  14. I agree with you on this, Ann^^^ You don’t owe him any explanation as, so far, the relationship isn’t moving forward, yet! You have to do what is right for you, it’s your life!

  15. The correct term is “douchebaguette”.

    And no, right now I do not think you are one. I think you are behaving in an acceptable manner. As you said, its a grey zone. Some won’t agree with it, some will, if you are comfortable with your actions, own them, and voilà.

    Committing when you haven’t been asked to do so is a major recipe for getting hurt. So good on ya for avoiding that trap.

What do you think?