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Is He Just In It For The Sex?

Nicole asks:

I have a question about online dating and exclusivity that's sort of tangentially related to your most recent piece on whether or not first-date sex is always the kiss of death. My specific question may be a topic you've covered in a previous blog, but I can't find anything similar in the archives so I thought I would ask it again.

I've been on Bumble in my area for a little more than 2 months. I've gone on a fair number of dates (I think I've met 12-13 people in that time), but I've only felt strongly about 2 (in one case, I was into the guy but it wasn't reciprocal, and in the other case the guy is not only geographically undesirable but geographically impossible. He lives in CA and I live in VA).

Anyway, I finally found someone that I like, and we've been out on 4 dates in the span of 8 days. The dates have gotten progressively better/more comfortable and yes - things have gotten physical. Everything in this guy's profile -- and everything that he's said while we've been out -- indicate that he's looking for a girlfriend, and not just looking to screw around. (And yes, I know that he could still be full of sh** about this, but the sense I'm getting is that he wants a girlfriend.)

So here's the deal: I know that this is Bumble, and that with this dating app (and with any online dating site) you have to assume that the person you're seeing is seeing multiple other people at once. I'm positive in this case that this guy is (or at least should/could be) seeing other people; he's 33 and extremely attractive and educated and successful (He's a unicorn, really). I can't fault him for this and I know it's way to early to ask for (or even discuss) seeing each other exclusively.

That said, I don't want to be the girl he is f***ing while he looks for a "real" girlfriend, if that makes any sense. In other words, I am happy (OK, not *happy,* but at peace with) being one of multiple people he's seeing before deciding on which one to consider his "girlfriend." But, because I slept with him relatively soon (on date 3), I'm concerned that he's not considering me "girlfriend material" and that I'm just in his "rotation" for possible sex when he's bored or otherwise available.

Is there any way to delicately broach this in conversation (ie, ask him if he sees any LTR potential with us or not) or do I just let it go and ride it out until he either a) dumps me, or b) we end up dating exclusively? Like I said, I know I have to accept he's going to be seeing other people, especially since we've known each other a week. But if he doesn't consider us to have any LTR potential, I'd rather cut my losses now and take myself out of the running before I become too emotionally attached.

Thoughts? Are there signs I should look for that will tell me that I'm just someone to sleep with and not a potential GF? Or can I come out and ask?

Let's change the narrative a bit here. Rather than obsess over whether or not he considers you "girlfriend material" (not a thing, by the way) why not ask yourself if he's relationship material? Unicorns aren't real. They're fantastical creatures that appear in fairy tales and mythical stories. You know nothing about this guy other than he possesses qualities that many women find ideal. I mean, it's cool he went to college and has a great face, but what are his values? How does he handle conflict? Since the company we keep speaks to our character, what are his friends like? You know nothing about this guy that tells you what kind of partner he will be.

Any man that decides you're not relationship material because you did something he did as well isn't worth the mental energy. When you decide to have sex is not what makes you girlfriend material. (Once again, NOT A THING.) If this guy is the type of person to use such shallow criteria to help him decide whether or not to bestow upon you the title of Girlfriend, dump him. He'll be far more trouble than he's worth. Never forget: He doesn't get to decide if you're girlfriend material. You do.

You're relinquishing all your control to him as though he has the final say when he doesn't. You don't have to ask him anything. Take the reigns and tell him what you're looking for and let the conversation unfold from there. You get a say in this, too.

Just keep in mind that when you do have this conversation, however he responds is just words. Even if he says he's only dating you and wants to be exclusive, you will never ever EVER be able to see into his brain to know if he's being honest. Nor will you be able to see into the future. Eventually, you're going to have accept that you can't control anything except how you react and respond over the course of this process. Don't broach this subject with him until you're prepared to take a leap of faith and accept whatever it is he might say, even if it doesn't align with what you want.

He very well might say he's not looking to commit too quickly. That's okay. He's allowed to say that. He's allowed to decide what his boundaries are. You'll then be faced with a decision: are you comfortable sticking with the status quo or do you need things to be more definitive? Decide what your response will be before you even have the conversation.

And then stick to it.

This is critical. If you compromise your standards and just go along with his request to keep things undefined knowing that will eat at you, walk away. Tell him you appreciate his candor, but you know yourself well enough to know you need more or else you'll get hurt. Then suggest you and he regroup in the near future when he has a better idea of what he wants. It'll be hard. It'll suck. But it will be worth it if it means you don't get invested and attached and he pulls the rug out from under you a couple of months later.

Right now, you're smitten with an ideal and not something real. Real is messy and complicated and flawed, but it's also more reliable and safe.

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