Dear Dr. George:
I'm a 45-year-old single mother. I've been doing the online dating scene for years. I recently met what seems to be an age-appropriate divorced father. We've been out about five times since August and have been intimate a few times of late. He plans to go to my company holiday party with me in December. He has expressed his admiration for my body and my "brilliant mind." But both of us are still on the dating site.
When is it appropriate to ask, "Do you really like me, or are you still exploring?" I have not stopped looking either, as I am afraid to put all of my eggs in one basket... been burned before.
I am hoping he will ask this dating question of me... but. from what I can tell, he doesn't seem to care. I, on the other hand, am always thinking, "Is he going out with others?" Again, I am still on the site, but I always have him in the back of my mind.
I guess I'm afraid to hear he doesn't have enough interest in me to date exclusively, so I'm afraid to ask.
Any thoughts on how to proceed?
---Dating Mysteries, San Francisco
Dear Dating Mysteries:
Is he really into you? In the past (meaning before 2000), women never knew if their man was still playing the field. They had to guess, based on his actions. Were his kisses passionate enough? Did he do the little things like opening the car door or buying flowers---traditional symbols of affection and respect. This is why, evolutionary psychologists believe, women developed such a heightened sense of intuition.
But now, you have a digital diary of his whereabouts; a veritable emotional compass which shows the direction of his intentions. No longer do you have to trust your female instincts. Now a woman has irrefutable evidence: his unwillingness to change his "single" relationship status on Facebook or (in your case) his continued presence on a dating site despite your physical intimacy with each other.
In my opinion, your guy's emotional compass is pointing away from you and towards distant unknown and uncharted waters. There is a possibility that he's thinking you're not into him either, based on your own continued presence on this site. That's doubtful, though. Most likely, he's taking that as a free pass to continue to be intimate with you and chart a course for fairer seas.
You need to find out where he stands by actually asking him. Clearly, you would like more of a commitment from this man. So tell him. See how he responds. The lesson for you here is to speak your truth early and often. If this man doesn't respond in the affirmative, I'll bet another man will.
And to answer your question: "When is it appropriate to ask, 'Do you really like me, or are you still exploring?'" The right time is now.
P.S. I encourage readers to offer their own second opinions. Scroll to bottom of the page to give Dating Mysteries your comments.
It's tough out there in the real world. So many questions without good answers. My goal is to provide insight into life's more difficult dilemmas, offering sound clinical judgment mixed with a straight-from-the-hip attitude. Email me for free advice on any subject.
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