If You Don’t Like Him, Why Are You Keeping Him Around?

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Yoann Boyer / Unsplash

“If you don’t like him, why are you hanging out with him Ashley?”

“Because he’s a bit of everything I want in a man, but he just doesn’t give me the butterflies. Maybe one day I could really grow to like him, but right now, he’s not for me. He’s kind of like an insurance policy and I’m just paying my premium.”

I’ll never forget the look on my brother’s face when those words fell ever so casually out of my mouth. Yes, it’s true. In case of a 45 yr old, single, no kid emergency, this guy will make sure I’m covered. Fully.

I know it might make your stomach turn to hear it like that, but the truth of the matter is, many women keep men on the sidelines in hopes that if nothing else works out and we have to give up on our fairytale– he will happily slide right in. He’s “in case of emergency” only. Typically this guy is attractive enough to make babies with, successful enough to support your desired lifestyle, and family-oriented enough to contribute to a legacy.

I surveyed 30 single women in NYC ages 24-36 and 50% of the women said they had a man they keep on the bench who’s capable of making the starting lineup but hasn’t quite earned a starting role. Some psychologists and dating experts call this process “breadcrumbing.” “Breadcrumbing” is when singles continue to leave traces of hope for dating prospects that they’re not actually that interested in.

When I shared this habit of mine with one friend, she asked me, “Ashley don’t you think that’s bad karma? Not being super interested in someone, but continuing to lead him on? Some guy you’re really into could be doing this exact same thing to you.”

It forced me to look inward. Why do I feel so inclined to hold on to a man who I have no genuine interest in to begin with?

Am I scared to end up alone?

It’s certainly a looming threat that I can’t ignore. I’ve mentioned before that in a world where my friends are getting married and having babies, I’m stuck in the dating game. It’s true, while I enjoy parts of this single life, the idea of being single forever reeks of rejection driven by pressure and hope.

Am I mature enough to let it go if I’m not completely interested?

Single Gal, Starting Over described it best, “No matter how long the list of reasons why I should keep someone around, why can’t I just go with my gut and say “no, thanks” when I am not interested anymore? I guess that I want to be really sure when I tell a guy I’m not interested. I’d almost rather let a guy disappear because we fall out of contact with each other. It’s passive and non-confrontational. Win-win for everyone, right? We just let it go.” To me, this is the safest way to go about it, albeit immature– just let the policy expire.

However, I’ve also had the opportunity to take the mature exit and it blew up in my face. I unselfishly let the “what if” guy go —within 6 months, he was dating some subpar woman and within 12 months, they were engaged. By 24 months, they were expecting and broadcasting it proudly across all their social media platforms.

This is when self-doubt begins to creep in and it usually ends with a phone call to a girlfriend of mine. “What’s wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stick it out? Why couldn’t I just stay the course? I’m sure I would have fallen for him one day!” Every time the answer is the same “You didn’t even really like him Ash!”

Am I capable of finding real love again?

“I have experienced enough of what feels really good, and I want more of that!” Single Gal, Starting Over proclaims. It’s true, I know what it means to stop, drop, and roll for the person you’re into. I know that when you’re into someone, the little things that you hate are suddenly tolerable. I know what it feels like to get the anxious tickle in your belly before you’re going to see someone you really like. I know what it feels like to desire to know even the tiniest details about him, like his favorite number or favorite color. I don’t want to believe that in order to be in a relationship, I have to settle for the guy that doesn’t capture me completely.

What’s a girl to do? Keep the guy around in case something develops? Which it likely won’t. Go with your gut and end it when you realize it’s not going anywhere? I’m not quite sure I know the answer, but I know feelings, and my friend is right, something in my gut doesn’t fair well with leading anyone on OR selling myself short.

If you’re like me, let’s vow to stop this today! Let’s stop giving our phone numbers to men who we have no intentions of developing real relationships with. Let’s stop investing time in men who we have no real potential of producing a return. Let’s stop holding on to men who don’t make our eyes light up when he walks in the room. Let’s live without a security net and free fall into exactly the man for us.

So fellas, if any of you stop hearing from me, you know what it is. 😉 Time to find another recipient because this policy is up. TC mark

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