If you’re torn between two guys, the right answer is probably neither

The Great Scot has been officially decommissioned. The Chilean Lecturer is due for the same fate.

When I was a teenager, I remember watching a lot of soap operas and reading romance novels; the take home message from them, plus my early romance experiences, was if you’re torn between two guys, the right answer is probably neither.

It’s a massive, sweeping generalisation, but it seemed, if neither guy is meeting your needs, to the point that you’re also considering the other guy, maybe neither option is right.

Maybe it’s bollocks. I think one common exception, would be when you’re torn between a good, stable guy you’ve been with for years, and a new Jonny Come Lately who gets your hormones going. In that situation, I don’t think the right answer is to bin both guys. I think the right answer, in that case, is to work on things with the original guy so he gets your hormones going a bit more again, and remember whatever brain chemistry Jonny New Guy causes you, it’ll wear off after up to 18 months and, best case scenario, he’ll be the new Mr Stable.

However, on this occasion, that rule about neither guy being right was true.

So, I met the Great Scot and the Chilean Lecturer around the same time, in December.

I met the Chilean first, and really liked him. I had a great time on our first date and was very impressed by him. He’s handsome, intelligent, very interesting and he’s into all the same things as me. He’d even written academic stuff I’d read before I met him. He seemed unashamed to admit how keen he was.

However, I’m not totally sure I’m attracted to him, he doesn’t always get my jokes and I don’t always feel comfortable with him.

I just wasn’t 100% sure.

Also, there was a lot of messing around arranging dates and some of the communication wasn’t great, so that paved the way for someone else to sneak in.

Then, I met the Great Scot about two weeks later. I really liked him too.

I had a dilemma. I kind of preferred the Scot. I felt more comfortable with him, was more attracted to him, and felt like we had more in common.

As soon as I met the Scot, I thought Oh yeah, I really fancy you and we also had a great time on our first date. I felt very comfortable with him, and found him handsome, funny, interesting and attentive. With both guys, we’re interested in the same things, but with the Scot, I feel like our personalities and sense of humour are more similar too.

He was a bit more forthcoming with communication and arranging dates, so it felt like we picked up momentum more quickly.

Rather than just thinking OK then, go with the Scot! I felt unsure.

This is because I’ve been having counselling recently, focused on relationships. I was worried I was more drawn to the Scot because he’s exactly the kind of guy I’ve always been with (with whom it hasn’t worked out in the end).

Every boyfriend I’ve had has had some kind of mental health problem. In some ways, I think basically everyone has struggles, because life is really fucking hard and we’ve got these weird and wonderful brains that have evolved over millennia, which make it really easy to feel anxious or unhappy.

I think everyone has struggles, and maybe I make it easy for boyfriends to tell me. Also, I’m attracted to people who are deep, humble and compassionate and those qualities can overlap with having had some struggles.

However, I don’t think that’s the full story.

I have had various encounters with threatening men over the years, and I think vulnerable men seem less threatening. Also, if a guy needs me because he’s vulnerable, I think yes!! He’s not going to leave me!!

So, I fall into a pattern of caring for the vulnerable little creature I’m dating – I’m happy because I’m in my element, and they’re happy because they’re being looked after.

Then, after a long time, I suddenly think hang on a sec! What about me!

Maybe they can’t give me what I need, because they’re too scared to do certain things. Maybe they take me for granted and stop trying to meet my needs, knowing I’ll accept it when their problems get in the way. Maybe we both get too used to the dynamic where they are the patient and I’m the therapist, so I don’t get my turn at being looked after.

The years of heartache and paused hopes become too much.

I end up feeling like I’ve outgrown them and end the relationship and it’s awful.

I don’t want that for my next relationship.

I felt more comfortable with the Scot. But I had also diagnosed him with at least three disorders in my head before the end of our second date. He was very self-deprecating and I challenged him early on for criticising himself so much.

Do I prefer the Scot because we’ve got more in common? and is his mental health is just a side issue I should try to handle differently this time?

Or am I just, wrongly, less attracted to the Chilean because he’s not vulnerable? Is he actually better for me, but I’m finding fault with him because I’m not used to being with someone like that?

I could genuinely believe the Scot was just better suited to me. I think he has better social skills. On every date with the Chilean, there’s been a point where I’ve thought I have not said anything for ages because he’s holding forth about something. The conversation feels more two way with the Scot. He seems to understand me more, and he’s funnier.

But I also could believe I felt less comfortable with the Chilean because being with him would be breaking a pattern. I’m not sure he would need looking after and maybe that feels uncomfortable to me.

The truth is, I think it’s a bit of both.

After our second date, I started feeling less comfortable with the Chilean because I found his messages pushed my boundaries a bit. On our second date, he kept saying sexual stuff and I had a sense he was trying to make me feel uncomfortable. I was OK with what he said, but then he kept sending me messages where he heavily implied he was wanking over me.

He was quite euphemistic and I took it as a compliment at first, but then it got too much. I’m not against sexual texts, but I don’t like it when someone is pushing things too much. Also, maybe it felt uncomfortable because I’m just not sure how much I really fancy him.

Then things went up a notch with the Scot. We slept together and I started really liking him and thinking he could be the one. I put the Chilean in the freezer and said I had too much going on, which he was really nice about.

Then, it all started going tits up with the Scot. He started having major problems at work, and with his sleep and asthma, and he didn’t cope very well. I was ready to wrap things up after our 6th date.

Since then:

  • we had a few days where the texts were quite good. One of my concerns with him was not that he has problems, but that he didn’t seem receptive to advice, encouragement, hope or even empathy. But then one day I sent him a sciencey message about exercise and stress and cortisol and he seemed really enthusiastic, sending two messages saying “that science was really interesting.”
  • I also felt hopeful because I sent him a message saying it was the anniversary of my ex-boyfriend’s death that Friday. I thought What do I even want him to say to this? Then I thought I want him to say “how are you feeling?” and then he replied “how are you feeling?” Then I sent another one saying what my plans were for the anniversary and he said “that sounds like a really brave way to cope with it. I can’t imagine what it must be like” and I thought that was pretty perfect.
  • then it went downhill as that week progressed. He was massively struggling at work and his messages were achingly bleak. He became impossible to cheer up.
  • on the day of the anniversary, I texted him saying I was nervous because I was meeting a group of my ex-boyfriend’s friends, and I was worried they blamed me for his death (which turned out to be completely irrational). It took the Scot hours and hours to send one sentence back (“hope it goes well.”). I found that a kick in the teeth after I’d tried so hard to make him feel better all week.
  • He didn’t suggest meeting up and suddenly two weeks had gone by. I sent a couple of messages asking when he was free and just said “let me get back to you” and didn’t
  • Valentine’s Day came and went and wasn’t mentioned or referenced

There was about a week where every time I read a message from him I went “oh for God’s sake” out loud because it was so self-absorbed and woe-is-me.

For example, one evening he was really upset and hating his job. I was sending encouraging messages with a combination of empathy (“I’m so sorry it’s so tough right now”), compliments (e.g. “I know you’ll find a better job soon. You’re so hard-working, kind and intelligent, any employer would be lucky to be have you”) and facts about mental wellbeing and careers.

He just seemed impervious to positivity and said things like “I’ll never find anything better as I don’t have a degree. Single people without degrees don’t get to have quality of life.” He even talked about the machines taking over.

I kept saying to friends “I wouldn’t mind going out with someone who is achingly depressing, if only they were a bit more receptive to being jollied along.”

Because of his moroseness, self-absorbed lack of support and not seeing each other, I sent him this message:

“Great Scot, I really want to see you again soon, but I think we might need to adjust what we’re aiming for.

“I like you so much and everything I said about you being special is true. But I’m getting the impression that right now, you don’t have the time or headspace to give me what I need in a relationship or dating. I don’t want to add your stress but I do want you in my life, if possible, so I was wondering if you want to be friends?

“Like, proper friends, not just something you say to fob someone off. I appreciate you might not want to – might think it’s too awkward or that you already have enough friends. But if you did want to, I’d love to have you as a friend. You’re so fun and kind and intelligent.

“I want to see you because I care about you and I’m worried about you too. But also because I always have fun when I see you.

“In some ways I don’t want to send you this text that might add to your stress, but I also am worried if I don’t say something, we’ll just drift into not seeing each other again or it’ll drift somewhere stressful. I just want to sort it out so we still get to hang out and maybe I can be there for you, if you want, without putting pressure on you or making things worse.

“Anyway, think about it and maybe we can meet up next week, if you have time? Maybe Monday?”

I was worried how he’d respond, especially after my experiences with the Whippersnapper. I thought maybe he’d block me, or send me some abuse. But then, a few hours later, I got this:

“Hey. Yeah that would be good. I’m really sorry. I thought I could have a relationship but at the moment I think I need to focus on my health. My last 4 days off in the last 2 weeks have been spent exclusively in bed as I’m absolutely burnt out. I’m worried about the outcome of this grievance. Don’t think I’ll be normal until it’s settled. Hate being in limbo. I’m quite emotionally selfish at the moment I apologise.

“Yeah I could do Monday probably. I’m on holiday for a week from Sunday!”


I was so pleased when I got that. I really want to have him as a friend because he’s so fun and lovely and I really think he’s an excellent person. Also, he has the same taste in music as me and I never have anyone to go to gigs with.

Also, if we were the kind of friends who met up and occasionally got drunk and had ill-advised sex, I would be totally OK with that.

(We did meet on Monday, which I’ll write about asap. (It has been non-stop recently!).

I also had my third date with the Chilean recently too, which I’ll also write about asap. )


15 thoughts on “If you’re torn between two guys, the right answer is probably neither

  1. I find negativity in people incredibly unattractive. It’s one attitude I can’t handle in people. I’ve been there with people I’ve met, people I’ve dated. They drag you down to their level and it becomes like torture. I know I responded to one of your messages about this guy before but I think it’s time for him to let him sort his life out first. You’ve only known him with these job problems lingering around him. Maybe when things go great he’s a lovely positive guy but if he crumbles at every hurdle (and life has a lot of hurdles) it’s going to get pretty boring, pretty fast.

    I go with gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right about someone I take that as a red flag.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Part 2: if you’re torn between two guys… | Dater Analysis

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