Dating a new kid on the block

Yesterday’s letter was very interesting, especially when it came to assumptions about the letter writer’s gender. For the record, I don’t know if the letter came from a he or a she (the e-mail was ambiguous from start to finish), but I found myself interested in the debate about whether gender was relevant -- and whether the letter writer’s language was easily identifiable as “female.” Somebody should go write a Women’s Studies paper about all of this. Today we have a letter about bad timing. I have it on good authority that the letter writer is a woman, so feel free to assume.
So…here’s my story. I’m sure it’s ridiculously common at this point, but I’m just not sure how to handle it. After years of unsuccessful dates, I managed to go out with someone that I actually liked. Let’s call him Steve. Steve just moved to Boston about three weeks ago. so I recommended we meet up at a local place for drinks. After an hour or two of conversation, we parted ways and made the awkward “we should do this again” hug good-bye. The next weekend, he called randomly to see if I’d be up for getting together. Fast forward a few hours, and we’re having an amazing time. Twelve hours later, we’re still on the date … lunch turns to drinks, which turns to dinner, which turns to going to a bar to meet a few of his friends. Now, here’s my dilemma – on our fourth date, he brings up the topic of being exclusive. He said that he’s not usually a ‘casual relationship’ guy and although he likes me, he doesn’t want to have a serious relationship within his first few weeks of moving to a new city. I totally agree, and admitted that if he had wanted to be exclusive with the girl he met within the first few weeks of moving here, I’d have been a bit freaked out. We ended the conversation by agreeing to keep going out – we have an awesome time together … inside jokes, holding hands walking down the street, hanging in to watch movies, etc. But I said that if either of us meets someone else that we would like to start a serious relationship with, we’ll be up-front about it. We only hang out about once or twice a week, and with him exploring the city, there’s plenty of time for that to happen. My question is…do you think it’s possible for me to turn this into something exclusive after a few months of dating, or do you think that since Steve and I have a good (and casual) thing going, he won’t see any reason to change the status quo and I should just walk away?

– Can casual turn into committed?, Medford

CCTIC, the timing is bad, but all that really means is that you have to go slow and give him space to adjust to the city. I will say that I’m a little confused about your pact. You’ve promised to tell each other if you meet someone else you want to date seriously -- but shouldn't that pact apply to the two of you as a couple? After a few months of twice-a-week dates, aren’t you allowed to re-evaluate your level of commitment and step it up if it feels right? I think going slow is fine. He made the exclusivity speech after four dates -- when the relationship should be going slow anyway. You ask what’s in it for him, why he would ever want to up the level of commitment if he has a good deal now. The answer is: after time, he should want more of you. I’m not sure how old you guys are, but if he’s spending two nights a week laughing with you, talking to you, and sharing his new community with you, he wants a relationship. He’s allowed to be cautious and slow as he finds a place for himself in this city. But it shouldn’t take him forever. If more emotional intimacy between the two of you doesn’t develop naturally over time, you’ll know it’s no longer about being the new kid in town. I just think your pact shouldn’t be about him looking for someone else to date seriously. Perhaps you should redefine those terms. Enjoy it for now and keep high hopes like you would with anyone else after four dates. And know that yes, casual-to-committed, for this reason in particular, is very possible. Readers? Am I wrong? Does being new to town mean that you can’t have a girlfriend? Should this be about dating other people? Is anybody going to write a Women’s Studies paper about Love Letters for me? Share here. Twitter here.

– Meredith