I never lied to a man and told him I wanted to be with him when I didn’t. But I will admit that I never bothered to disclose that I had no interest in him in not just the present, but the future as well.
To me, I was honest. I would tell the poor guys that I just wanted friendship at that particular moment. I would continue to hang out with them despite their intense feelings for me (not just for free meals before you begin to assume and judge). It was usually because I enjoyed the company, though in a platonic way. Nonetheless, they thought there was hope for us. I thought I was being upfront and honest in my own way, but after a similar situation happened to me, I received the wake-up call I needed. I realized that, for years, I was the queen of leading men on. When the tables turned, so did my way of doing things.
What most fail to realize is that although you may verbally state your feelings, if your actions prove otherwise, you’re still being somewhat deceitful. I didn’t get that, until recently. Before my revelation, one of my best friends would argue me up and down over what she considered a selfish notion, stating that I subtly gave men the wrong impression. My justification: I always told them I wasn’t interested in a relationship. Her rebuttal was always something along the lines of “If you don’t want to be with them, and they want to be with you, why hang out with them?” For a while, I offered several reasons that I believed were justifiable. She never agreed. It took years of me uttering the words “let’s just be friends” to several guys before I finally accepted her point of view.
While dating a man who told me that he didn’t want a relationship, I allowed myself to spend most of my time with him. He wanted to hang out, and so did I. I’d heard what he said about not wanting to be in a relationship; and at the time of his statement, I accepted it. After all, I didn’t necessarily want to be in a relationship either. But then my feelings changed. I wanted more than a platonic encounter. I expressed this. He, however, still felt the same about changing his relationship status. He had no problem stating it. Still, he continued to pursue a friendship with me and often asked to hang out. For the record, these were not sexual encounters. We went almost everywhere together and spent most of our time on the phone when we were not in each other’s presence. The communication was everything I wanted from a man, but the problem remained the same: He didn’t want a relationship, at least not with me.
“So why is he wasting your time?” my friend asked. I defended him by reminding her that I was grown, and he had been upfront with me. Her stance on the subject remained the same even though I was on the other end of the situation this time around.
For a while, I justified our relationship. He verbalized his disdain with commitment and wanted us to simply be friends. I understood. Then my understanding turned into anger. If he knew how I felt, why did he “allow” us to spend so much time together? Why did he make it a point to ensure that I was in his life, at least for the moment? If he didn’t want to be with me, why was he wasting my time? Suddenly, I realized how some of the men in my past must have felt. At that moment, I vowed never to lead anyone on again, though it was never my intention to do so in the first place.
Still, my feelings vary on the issue. Ultimately, you decide who you hang out with, what you allow, and how much time you invest in a person. So is it really leading someone on when feelings are verbalized but actions say something different? While my shattered ego says yes, the responsible adult in me allows room for self-accountability. I would argue that I, like many of the guys I’d hung out with in the past, had chosen my own relationship fate. You live and you learn.
Where do you draw the line?