Reader A. G. writes:
I’ve been dating a guy for a few weeks, and we’ve definitely had the “we’re exclusive” talk. But I don’t know if that really means he wants to be serious or what. For the record, I want a real boyfriend that will someday be my husband, so I want to know if I’m wasting my time. How do I gauge his intentions this without straight up asking him?
Dammit, I was going to suggest you straight up ask him! Well, if you’re too chicken to just have a talk (which bodes poorly for your future together, btw), you could go in a slightly less obvious direction and play “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, pointedly, over and over, the next time you see him.
Also, you’re right about realizing that “we’re not sleeping with anyone else” does not mean “we’re going to get married someday”. A lot of (actually, I’d say in reality, most) people are plain out territorial and only want to sleep with one person at a time, or at least rest assured their partner is only sleeping with them. It’s partially a holdover from our “ensuring the offspring are mine” evolution, and part societal constraints, and part not having to worry about STIs (hopefully). But it absolutely does not mean he wants to be sleeping exclusively with you for the rest of his life. It is most certainly a separate conversation.
But if you really just don’t want to bring it up with him, I think, first of all, that’s a sign you should probably dump him. If you’re not comfortable talking about your future, then he’s probably not comfortable with the thought of being in your future.
If that’s not good enough for you, here are ten more signs he’s probably not “the one” (and really, any single one of these signs should be enough for you to call it quits, sweetums):
1. He doesn’t reciprocate. He should call, text, email, IM, and Facebook stalk you exactly as much as you do him. If you’re having a one-sided conversation on his wall, or on your phone, he’s not interested. (NB: If he’s IMing, texting, calling, or emailing you more than you are him, it’s a sign you’re not interested, capisce?)
2. Your friends don’t like him. This is a big sign. Your friends like you, and they know you. If they don’t like your boyfriend, it’s probably because he’s not good for you. The only problem is, if they’re smart friends, they won’t say so. But if they really don’t like him, and they let you know, get out, and get out fast.
3. He doesn’t like your friends, pets, or family, and complains about them. Even if you don’t like your family, he shouldn’t be complaining about them. It’s not something you can change. And he certainly doesn’t have a right to complain about your friends or family — that’s your job. If he asks you to get rid of your beloved dog, he doesn’t belong in your life. Sorry. Someone you “belong” with is someone you can grow with, not someone you need to completely rearrange your life for.
4. He won’t introduce you to his friends, or, if he does, he doesn’t invite you along to hang out with them. I don’t care if his friends are assholes (and if they are, a) why are they his friends? and b) why are you dating a guy whose friends are assholes?); he should be excited enough about you and him to show you off.
5. You only have sex. I don’t mean, you have sex and then he doesn’t cuddle. I mean, you don’t go anywhere together but the sack. Or maybe he leaves without staying the night every single time. If he’s not interested in dinner and a movie, you’re a fuck buddy, chica.
6. He is unavailable to be with you, but has no real explanation. I can’t emphasize this enough: If a guy likes you, he will find time to hang out with you, talk to you, hear about you, whatever. Even if he is 4,000 miles away. He will be in touch, I promise. If he often can’t hang out just because “he’s busy”, it’s not going to be a serious relationship.
7. He won’t do stuff you care about with you. If he’s going to marry you someday, he’ll go see the band you love that he’s never heard of. Or go to a wine tasting. Or just wander around the flea market with you.
7. a Bonus, extra special, totally-dump-him-now caveat: … even if it’s stuff he cares about, too. That is a total blow to the relationship possibilities. If he won’t go to a baseball game with you, or see “Serenity” in theatres again for Can’t Stop the Serenity, and you know he follows the Isotopes like a hound or watches “Firefly” three times a week, then, really, sweetheart, who are you kidding?
8. He lies to you, about anything. This only works if you catch him in it, of course, and often you won’t find out about the lies until after the relationship is totally over, but lying is a sure sign he’s got something to hide, which is a sure sign that you shouldn’t be with him. Okay, yes, there are certain lies that are okay — like, he’s lying about what he’s doing on Friday night because he’s actually throwing you a surprise party Friday night. That’s a good-natured lie, and the consequences are pleasant. If he’s lying about where he’s going to be on Friday night because he’s banging some other chick, or he just doesn’t want to go to your high school reunion with you, yeah, uh, dump him. Lying isn’t just about the fact that he’s covering something up; it’s about the fact that he doesn’t respect you enough to tell the truth.
9. He doesn’t appreciate all the nifty stuff you do. If you’re a great cook and he doesn’t ever acknowledge this, dump him. If he doesn’t just love the fact that you’ve planned a weekend away for his birthday, he doesn’t deserve your attention. In fact, if he doesn’t compliment you more often than not, get him out of your life. You deserve better.
10. You’re not actually into him. This is important. As girls, we get so wrapped up in just having a boyfriend at all that we forget that our feelings matter. Are you embarrassed to be with him in public? Are you not interested in what he does? Does he not stimulate you? Does he not pay you enough attention? Do you want more than he’s willing to give? Do you find yourself screening his calls? Are you afraid to have the commitment conversation with him? Then dump him and find someone new. If your priority is marriage, find someone you can marry.