What to do when you're No. 2

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2005

Got a problem with your love life? Ask LaRue for advice at asklarue@hotmail.com

Dear LaRue,

I recently started seeing this guy, although I've known him in passing for awhile. We were intimate, and he acted weird at first when I saw him afterwards. We talked about it, and things were fine. Then one night I was at the bar, and I saw him and waited for him to say hello. He never came up to say hello, but was staring at me most of the night.

As he was leaving, I ran up to him to say hi. As I did, another girl ran up to him, threw her arms around him and acted like they were leaving together. He looked uncomfortable, and I just turned and walked away. We sort of talked since, but not about that and he mentioned something about a string of ex-girlfriends coming around lately.

I really like this guy, but I don't know if I should pursue anything with him. Please help.

--Second Banana

Dating is not a deli counter, and so you shouldn't have to take a number. Of course, that's in a perfect world.

In the imperfect one where we date, we often don't listen to our better judgment, which tells us we should run for our lives from this oaf. Instead, we get intimate, and then we get involved whether we want to or not, making it harder to leave.

Pro: You seem to have good communication with the lad, as evidenced by the fact that when you called him on being weird it seemed to work.

Pro: He looked uncomfortable when the bimbo ran up to him. This may end up being a con. It's either uncomfortable because you're the one he wants, or uncomfortable like his hand is stuck in the cookie jar. I take back that she's a bimbo. She probably didn't know about you either.

Pro: Since you didn't talk about it, you don't know if anything actually happened with this girl. Maybe nothing. The fact is you don't know, but there is hope.

Pro: Staring at you is either a really good sign or just creepy.

Con: There's already this much drama, and it's just the beginning. This probably won't change the deeper you get involved.

Con: He seems OK with letting you come in second. Are you what he wants, or someone he does when there's nothing better to do?

Con: He stares, and he may have had his hand in the cookie jar. Potentially creepy and sleazy.

Given the fact you're writing for help, methinks you are not ready to walk away from this, which you should. So here's what I think: Temporarily walk away. Give him a little space to make room for you. Don't be so accessible, and let him miss you a bit.

He may genuinely have a string of strumpets on his tail wantin' time, and he wants none of it. But the harsh reality is he needs to weed the deadwood before he can thoroughly spend time with you. If he doesn't, and you allow it, expect to be waiting on his timetable. Expect to take a number and spend a lot of time hoping it's your turn before the store closes. I've been there. It's not fun.

Another way to go, if you can't stand the suspense, is to get the stones up to ask him. It's always hard to ask these kinds of questions. You don't want to seem needy or jealous or other four-letter relationship words. But you do have a right to an answer. You both come to the table with past lives and loves. It's OK to be understanding if he's having trouble with his past coming back to haunt him.

What you don't have to do is wait for him to choose you. You don't have to take a number to be with him, and you certainly don't have to compete with anyone. In short, don't be a doormat. Know before you go in what you are willing to accept.

Are you willing to wait for him to figure this out and risk losing out on your own? Are you willing to accept that he acts weird when you are intimate? Are you willing to accept that he did do something with this girl, thus choosing her over you, even for one night? Are you willing to drag this out and ultimately realize he was never going to choose you anyway?

It's your choice. If it were me, I would ask the question in a non-accusing way, but with a backbone. At least you will know whether this is the right line or if there is no waiting on aisle four.

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