How we saved one reader from wasting 3 months on a one-sided relationship…
Hi everyone, it’s Sarah, founder of IA.
Introverted Alpha readers are a thoughtful bunch, and I love getting emails from them every day.
Every now and then, I’ll have an exchange so meaningful and interesting that I want to share it with all of you.
I recently had an exchange like that with a reader we’ll call Andrew.
He reached out because he couldn’t tell if the woman he was dating wanted a relationship or not.
The ensuing emails (which have been edited for clarity, anonymity, and highlights) turned into an exemplary step-by-step solution that applies to anyone in a similar dilemma of wondering, ‘Does she want a relationship or not?’
So if you’re dating a woman but don’t know if she wants a relationship or not, read on.
Email 1: Andrew’s Initial Contact
Hope you’re well. In general I’m reluctant to send emails to people with large correspondences for fear of being a nuisance, but given your repeatedly stated enthusiasm for hearing from readers, I decided I’d drop you a note. ;)
Your email about meeting the “right person” resonated with me in particular. I’m currently dating a woman who, by all accounts, is in many ways the “right person” for me.
All of the stereotypically good elements are present… but there’s still uncertainty in the air.
Even after 3.5 months of dating exclusively pretty regularly, she’s still unwilling to commit to a relationship, and fluctuates between being especially warm in my company sometimes to seeming bored at others…
As a statistician, I always think in terms of sample sizes. Unfortunately, my current sample size is 1. This is the only relationship I’ve ever had.
So, I have no idea whether this confusion is normal in a relationship that’s around the 3 – 4 month mark, or whether these are especially bad signs.
I have time to mull over it. She’s heading to Europe on business for 3 months this summer, and neither of us want to try to change the nature of the relationship while she’s away…
But I must admit to feeling very confused a lot of the time.
I certainly wouldn’t expect you to write back a detailed reply due to the sheer number of emails you must get. Yet, I wonder if IA would write a blog post on the longer-term issues in dating.
It seems like very few people write about how to approach and think about some of the longer-term issues in relationships, like how to know whether problems in a relationship are normal growing pains or symptomatic of more serious problems.
You’re by far the best author I’ve read in the dating scene, so I’d imagine you’d have some great insights on the subject.
I’d be interested to read anything IA publishes on the mid-term / long-term issues that come with serious relationships.
Thanks for always putting out quality content, Sarah!
Email 2: My Response
Thank you so much for your thoughtful email!
It was a delight to read, you having written from a statistician’s analytical mind and a frank, open heart. I appreciate your concerns and the nuances you recognize in your situation.
I understand why you’re confused.
At the same time, I think the nuances you’ve observed in the woman you’re dating feel a bit “off”… her sudden lack of interest cropping up often, coupled with her reluctance to commit to a relationship, even after 3.5 months.
One month is a normal amount of time, maybe even 2. But 3.5… that’s quite a long time to be uncertain.
I personally want you to be free and untethered and learn the dating skills necessary to get a much larger “sample size.”
With an analytical mind, you cannot (and should not!) help but care about that.
It is a real thing, and it is natural and lovely that you care about it.
If I were you, I would either spend the duration of her business trip feeling things out with her or breaking it off.
I know you said you’d not make any decisions while she’s gone, but this is such a prime time of life for both of you.
I’d hate to see you sink more time in, becoming more attached just through the “sunk cost fallacy” of having spent so many months together already (at the end of her business trip, it will be 6.5).
It’s a slippery slope to stay in something you feel “off” about. I did that myself at 21, and I’d not wish it on another.
Remember that if you share how you feel with her and you break things off (see my exclusivity article here for guidance on that conversation), that is a gift to her.
If you are feeling something and not sharing it, that is deceptive and disrespectful because you’re not respecting her own ability to feel her way through and move on.
Versus if you do share honestly and transparently, you are giving each of you a gift.
Life is short and precious. From my cursory view of your situation, my tentative suggestion is that you don’t waste her time and yours in something you feel “off” about.
Does that make sense?
Any follow-up questions?
Email 3: Andrew’s Reaction
Wow — I have to say I’m very impressed and appreciative at the length and thoughtfulness of your reply. I was pretty sure that I would hear from you and suspected that you would probably offer a little advice, but I was expecting perhaps a couple of sentences at most.
I’m humbled and very grateful at how much time and thought you put into writing this reply for me. (I can only imagine how in-depth IA’s coaching must be!)
When I first read your email, I appreciated your advice but was planning on sticking with the course I’d outlined in the first email.
After continuing to think about it, however, I’ve decided to follow your advice. I’m going to speak with her honestly about this tomorrow.
In the past I’ve been hesitant to be direct about my own feelings for fear of making her feel unduly pressured.
I’d never thought about that from the perspective you mentioned. Doing so would be unintentionally condescending. It implicitly assumes she isn’t capable of dealing with her own reactions to the situation.
I hope that the conversation tomorrow will have a good outcome. Even if it does not, IA will be very high on my financial savings priority for the next several months. I’m consistently impressed with the quality of the content that you put out on the blog… but getting this email certainly solidified that belief!
Thank you again, Sarah.
Email 4: The Thrilling Finish
Hope you’re well. You might remember that we exchanged a few emails last week about my predicament…
[The woman I’m dating] and I talked Saturday. Turns out the entire time she’d never felt particularly romantically interested. She had no wish to be exclusive, and was going to leave without letting me know.
Talking to you saved me 3 months of pressured waiting and even more heartache at the end.
Thank you so much for your advice and help. I will need to set aside some additional money for a few months, but I 100% (an exact statistician’s figure!) intend to contact IA for a Clarity Consult later this year when I have finished the current transition to a higher-paying job and saved the money.
You’re a lifesaver. Thanks Sarah!
How to Solve Your Own “Does She Want a Relationship or Not” Dilemma
Even the most well-meaning women don’t always know how to offer clear signals. Relationships can twist in a gray area for a long time.
If you’re in one of these dilemmas, my recommendation is to clear things up within the next 7 days. Here’s how:
(1) Properly assess the situation to figure out if something is truly “off” or not.
(2) Don’t buy into the “sunk cost fallacy” of having spent so much time together already.
(3) Share your honest feelings. It’s respectful to both people’s time and ability to cope with the normal events of life, like breakups.
Like Andrew said, this conversation takes courage, but the clarity, growth, and emotional savings are well worth it.
If you’d like to learn more about taking the lead your dating life, then here are a few articles that can help you with those aspects of dating and attraction:
- Peruse all articles on the topics of conversation and flirting.
- Go through our 6,300-word conversation guide for introverted guys.
- Remember why and how you are attractive as a introverted guy.