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Can You Meet The Right Person At The Wrong Time?

I’ve been single for 10 years after an 11 year marriage. My longest relationship was 4 months which was my rebound relationship that I rushed into. This year I took a stab at online dating for the first time, and that resulted in months of learning how to weed out the fake relationship seekers with help from your TikToks I might add.

The last 2 months I’ve been dating two different guys who I have not been sexually active with. Both are genuine, kind, and communicative for the most part. One has asked me if I’m ready to be exclusive as he is, and he knows about the other guy. The other guy hasn’t asked, but I think he’s more attached which is making it difficult for me to broach the subject as I’m afraid feelings will be involved.

Both are so great, and the one downside is I’m thinking of making a decision because guy 2 has a school aged child. I do as well, and the thought of a blended family to me is a detractor.

How do I get the courage to tell him and not hurt him? Is it wrong to want to stay friends as over time I could be more comfortable with the situation?

I'm fascinated by this question because of the role-reversal. Usually, I'm getting letters from people who are in the position of the men in this story. They're involved with someone, they think things are going well, then they get the bad news: the guy doesn't want a relationship/doesn't see a long-term future/isn't ready etc.

I think, more often than not, when a man tells a woman they've been dating casually for a period of time that they aren't looking for a relationship, what they actually mean is, "I'm not interested in a relationship with you." That results in women believing that all the men on dating apps are just looking for sex or something casual. When, really, a lot of those men are committing. Just...not to them.

One thing this letter demonstrates is how people can commit while fully aware they might change their mind in the near future. Either, like this woman, they're dating multiple people and feel compelled to make a choice or it's a case of right person/wrong time. Yes, they do exist. Many times, people feel obligated to choose someone and lock it down out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of missing out on a great person. The intention behind the choice is benevolent more often than people realize.

This is a good explanation for why you might date someone casually for a few months and they might end things but still try to stay in your life. They're not quite ready to let go. They're not fully confident they're making the right decision.

How do you know if they're the right person? That's just it: you don't. It's only by taking the risk that you find out. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't work until it works. You have to be willing to put in the time and take the necessary risks to find a real lasting relationship.

As for your question, it sounds to me like you're not ready to commit to either of these men. The fact that you want to keep Guy #2 as a friend "just in case" should be an indication that you're not sure Guy #1 is the someone you want to be with long-term. Is it wrong to want to stay friends with Guy #1 in order to keep him in your life should things not work with Guy #1? I mean, yeah, but who ever said love (or life, for that matter) was fair? This is dating.

This scenario plays out all the time, most people just aren't aware of it.

My honest opinion is that you shouldn't agree to be exclusive with either of these men. You don't owe either of them anything more that common decency and honesty, but you need to first be honest with yourself. What - and more specifically who - do you want to be with. Think about that in both abstract and specific capacities. That way, when you're truly ready to commit, you'll have a better chance of choosing the right person.

Good luck! Please update me on how things work out.

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