Why Do We Only Want To Date People Who Don’t Want To Date Us?

Why Do We Only Want To Date People Who Don't Want To Date Us?

I do a lot of dating, but I’ve never really been one to look for a relationship. It’s partially due to some mild phobia of commitment, partially the fact that I have a large tight knit group of friends and family so that I never felt I was missing out on any type of love or support, and partially because I honestly just haven’t met anyone I was interested in dating seriously. The dating pool in D.C. is not ideal for ladies. In my seven single years here I’ve met less than five guys that I’ve ever really thought were attractive, intelligent, funny, kind, had their shit together, and weren’t geographically undesirable (spoiler alert: they were always married).

This brings us to that fifth guy: Physics Brad. We went on a date this past January and it was memorable and fun and rare. We had all the same weird nerd interests, the same sense of humor, similar upbringings, and were intensely attracted to each other. It was the kind of date that you see in a romcom montage where the couple slowly inches their chairs closer together as the night goes on, hands are clasped together, their heads gradually lean in as they stare into each other’s eyes, and they eventually look up at the waiter only to find that the restaurant is closing and they’re the last people left. We held hands and walked through a light drizzle to catch our Ubers, and we kissed in the rain under the neon lights of the deserted Chinatown arch.

I hadn’t imagined our chemistry. We dated for about two months and I was immediately all in. I hadn’t been really interested in someone since college. I had all the feelings, my friends were starting to get annoyed with my gushing, and I was ready to broach the exclusivity topic. Except… I wasn’t sure he felt the same way. To be fair, Physics Brad is in the last year of his PhD (in Physics… clearly…), which is an incredibly busy and stressful time. At least, that’s what I rationalized to myself as I stared anxiously at my phone, wondering why it took him hours to respond to my texts, why he never tried to plan our dates in advance, and why he would only come over about one night a week.

Finally, after about three wine-fueled breakdowns about whether he liked me or not and the exhaustion of my friends’ patience with my need to analyze every single text, I decided to break things off. He clearly liked me, just not enough to make time for me, and I liked him way too much way too soon. My feelings were being continually hurt by his unwillingness or inability to put in any effort, and I had had enough. So, I put on my big girl panties, stopped texting him, and got over him by getting under someone else. Or several someone elses.

I gradually forgot about him and only occasionally missed the amazing sex. I started my new job, which has been keeping me insanely busy, and I haven’t had time to date even if I wanted to. Then, on our last day of training, my new coworkers and I were released at 3 p.m. on Cinco de Mayo. There was, as you would expect, a lot of tequila and I hadn’t gotten laid in two months. I decided to just send out a feeler text… see if he would respond. I reasoned that I truly had no feelings for him, and now that I didn’t have time for him either we could relegate our situationship to a nice, clear fuck buddies arrangement.

Not only did he answer, but he eagerly met my friends and I out at the bar. He also answered the next time… and the next time… and the next… fast forward almost two months later, and we’ve been hooking up pretty consistently. It’s been the perfect fuck buddy relationship. I text him when I get drunk and see what he’s doing, he comes over and we bang, and then I say I have to get up early for work and he leaves. No cuddling, no cooking dinner for each other, no confusion.

So I thought. Last week, I mentioned that I had gotten a new TV but I wasn’t sure how to get it from my car to the living room, and he offered to drive all the way from Baltimore to help me move it.

“Hm,” I thought. “That’s weird…”

I took a Twitter poll and you all also unanimously agreed that it was definitely not a fuck buddy move. I drunk texted him again this week to see if he would come over. He was busy that night, which was fine, but then he followed up with, “This is why we need to make more plans in advance!”

Say what now? Fuck buddies don’t make plans. Didn’t I just break up with him because of his inability to plan anything in advance? He followed up with a clear ask to hang out this weekend. I really didn’t want to go down that road, so I kept it noncommittal and said, “I’m pretty free this weekend. Text me sometime Saturday and we’ll play by ear.”

Given his previous track record, I did not expect any texts at all. However, when I woke up hungover at noon on Saturday, I saw a text from him.

“Hey, pretty girl! What time are we hanging out today?”

“Ummm… I’m free after five-ish. I guess I’ll text you when I’m done and you can head over?”

“Do you want to go do something outside or around the city first? It’s so nice out!”

At this point, I was feeling confused, suspicious, and slightly pissed. When we were actually dating, I couldn’t get him to make plans in advance to save my life. Now that I suddenly didn’t have time for him he wanted to go do couple-y shit on a Saturday afternoon?

I was intrigued enough to play along to find out what the hell was going on. I agreed to some datey-ass plans to go to the free jazz concert by the water and then to a local brewery. I showered, shaved my legs for once, and went to my earlier drinks engagement. I’m embarrassed to admit I was entertaining the thought that maybe he had genuinely changed or his schedule had freed up and that he might be worth considering as a potential romantic partner after all.

Five o’clock rolled around and I texted him that I was almost ready to go, including some flirty winky emojis. He responded quickly.

“Er, bad news. I just found out one of my training partners is having a going away party tonight at like 8:30. Is it ok if I come by later tonight? Like 10 or 11?”

Nope. It was not ok. I mean I shaved my legs for god’s sake. The switch that had briefly opened the circuit for me to consider being interested in him again immediately shut off.

“Maybe. I’ll just go out tonight if we aren’t hanging. I’ll see where I’m at later.”

Spoiler alert: I never texted him that night or the next day and he never texted me either. We haven’t spoken since.

This left me with the question of what exactly had gone wrong in the two hours immediately prior to our plans. Did I start showing too much interest? Were my emojis too flirty? Did I answer his texts too quickly? The sudden change was enough to give me whiplash.

This whole experience has left me with an age-old question: why do we only want to date people who don’t want to date us? To be honest I’ve mostly been on the opposite side of the equation: fending off the advances of extremely overeager suitors. The harder they try, the more desperate it feels, and the less I like them. What is this universal impulse that makes us all balk and run the other way whenever anyone shows more than the most casual of interest? How are we ever supposed to develop feelings or open up and be vulnerable with anyone if the second we do, we start seeming desperate and clingy?

I obviously don’t have the answer to that question, so if you do please notify everyone immediately. In the meantime, I plan to stick with my tried and true strategy of one night only performances and deleting numbers immediately. Good luck out there, friends.

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Quinn Truflais

Formerly known as Queen of The Garbage People. Functional title still stands. Dog owner, whiskey drinker, Star Wars fangirl. #DoingItForTheContent

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