Getting Out of The Grey Area

Friday night Robert and I met up with Chris (Roberts brother) and Chris’ new girlfriend. Robert brings me to things with his brother often, so Chris and I get along really well. The four of us spent the evening laughing, drinking and dancing. Robert came over and leaned into my ear, so that I could hear him over the music, “Do you want another drink?” he asked. I nodded and before he pulled away, he lingered, letting his mouth brush against my neck.

Robert walked away, I stared at the ground for a minute and when I looked up, his brother was staring at me. Chris made his way over to me, and yelled over the music, “everyone wants to know what’s going on with you and my brother!”

“Um, who is ‘everyone’?” I yelled with a nervous giggle.

“Our friends, family… anyone who has ever seen the two of you together, has asked what is going on!”

If this were a commercial, I would just stuff a Twix in my mouth to keep from talking. I never imagined that I would be confronted about the relationship that Robert and I do/don’t have. Call me old fashioned, but I thought it was the mans job to define the relationship.

“Well, who are they asking?”

“They ask me, they ask Robert…”

“…and what does Robert say?”

“He says he ‘doesn’t know’!”

I bit my lip. I don’t know has been my refrain for longer than I’d like to admit. I don’t know why Robert muscled his way into my life… I don’t know why Robert can spend entire weekends with me… I don’t know why he cuts me off when I try to bring up other guys that ask me out… I don’t know why it feels so normal when his arm is casually draped around me… I don’t know why I’m on yet another unspoken double date….

“Well, if Robert ‘doesn’t know’… then, I don’t know either!”

When I told my sister what happened she mentioned that Robert saying “I don’t know” is better than him saying “Nothing, we’re just friends” but, I’m getting tired of the grey area. The way I see it there are two ways out of the grey.

1.) Start a relationship with Robert. 2.) Start a relationship with someone else.

Something I said in the last Curvy Conversation has been echoing in my head: I am always leery of “Placeholders”. Placeholders = Guys who make me feel like I have a boyfriend when I really don’t. When I have a Placeholder taking me to movies, dinners, being my +1 for events etc., he is filling the relationship voids in my life which feels good because… I don’t feel single! On the other hand, it makes it harder for me to open myself up to 100% committed relationships with other people.

Sadly, I’ve had more Placeholders in my life than I can count, and at first glance Robert seems like a classic Placeholder situation. The difference is that as much as I would love to take my relationship with Robert to the next level, I am 150% open to a relationship with someone else. I will do anything to get out of the grey!

I date… a lot. I cancel plans with Robert if a guy asks me out. I’ve been so desperate to get out of the grey area with Robert that I was willing to put up with things like long distance with Kevin or “baby mama drama” with Mike (heck, I even talked to a homeless man!) all for the chance of having a black and white dating situation.

I’ve been avoiding writing about Robert because I feel like everyone gets annoyed with me and as much as I try, I can’t seem to convey all of the dynamics (some his fault, some mine) that have us stuck in the grey. I wish it were as simple as “He’s just not that into you” or “He’s gay” or “He doesn’t like big girls” but its not.

Anyway, I’m going on a date with a new guy tonight. My fight to get out of the grey area continues….

41 thoughts on “Getting Out of The Grey Area”

  1. Why cant you just have a conversation with Robert? I would usually say if he wanted to be with you he would be, but it sounds like you are both in the "grey" on this.

    Cece its as simple as a 5 min conversation… and then it will be black and white for both of you.

    Dont go on dates with any expectations and you will never be disappointed.

    Have fun tonight

  2. Cece,

    I agree with Anonymous. I mean, it's been long enough and it seems like you two are friends at least. It's time to have a real talk with your buddy Robert and see where you stand. I understand feeling nervous about the whole situation … I mean I wouldn't want to be in your position but I'd rather know what was going on than not. Get some answers so you can move on with your life or just make the decision to but him in YOUR friend zone and no longer see him as a potential bf. I hope this helps.

  3. OMG I totally feel your pain. Placeholders are the most unstable place to be, but in the moment they are so nice. I also know how easy it is to say you're going to have "the talk" about the status of the "relationship" but that fear of uncertainty (or even rejection) is totally crippling. I wish you the best- it's a frustrating situation!

  4. I too really don't like the grey area. It is the hardest place to be in relationships, because you can see the potential and the pain all at the same time. Im in a similar situation so I wonder often what should I do.

    But I agree with the other ladies and think maybe you should have a conversation with him. It may provide you with the clarity that you need to move forward!

    Enjoy your date this evening!

  5. I've been down that road with a really good friend. We had so much chemistry we could start a fire! The world questioned him more than me about whats goin on between us. We both kept mum for the fear of ruining a great friendship. Eventually things happened but not the way I expected it to be.
    Cece, unless you're willing to let go of a great friendship, think twice. A guy loves the chase and the fact that you're always inaccessible (cuz of your other dates) keeping you around works like a challenge. If you burst the bubble, you just might lose it all.

  6. Cece,

    I have to agree with all the other ladies. Have a conversation with him. I know you consider yourself old fashioned and expect Robert to define your relationship but sometime you need to take the bull by the horns and initiate the conversation other wise, you may be in the gray area for a LONG time.

  7. i DONT agree with all the other girls. if he was REALLLLLLY into you as much as you DESERVE, he would have made it official LONG ago. i've been there and done that. and it's not a good place to be. my husband made me his girlfriend a week after we met and asked me to marry him 3 months later and made me his wife a year and a half after that. i dated lots and i went out with 'placeholders' too. i even had a guy friend who seemed interested, we went out a whole lot but nothing ever came of it because i met my husband. ya snooze ya lose! lol point being, i think every girl deserves someone who is crazy about them! and if robert was crazy about you, you wouldnt be here. 🙂 i hope the date goes well tonight and i really hope you don't settle!

  8. I thought I was going to be alone in my opinion tonight until I read Kristin's comment.

    Although I don't think he's not into you. I mean obviously he is, he's shown it over and over. But I, like you, am old fashioned and don't think that's a bad thing. I don't think it's your job to have to bring this conversation up to him.

    He probably thinks about being with you a lot, but apparently it's not strong enough for him to put himself out there. Which I truly believe he would do, if he wanted you to be his girlfriend so bad he'd go for it.

    Guys go for what they want as far as women are concerned. And they don't stop until they have exactly what they want from us (or get shot down so bad their ego needs resuscitation.)

    My mom never talked to me much about guys but she always said, if a guy wants you, he'll go after you. You should never have to chase him.

  9. As someone who's been stuck in the grey area for a looong time, I just gotta say that nothing will change unless you act. Yes. It has to be you.

    And although I do agree with Kristin and Punky that he should make the move if he was really interested, fact is, guys can live in the grey area. They don't mind being in that ambiguous place. Because there are no set rules. He's having his cake and eating it too. Which it looks like you're doing, too, so I guess no harm, no foul. But if you want definition in your "relationship," it's something YOU will need to define.

    Like you said in your original Friends with Benefits post, "we're just not wired that way!" Except this time, it refers to being able to live contentedly in that uncertain and nebulous grey area.

  10. He seems to not want to have any conversation about it, so you have to either accept that he will only be your friend and you have no "love/like" feelings for him, or ask him about what's going on, and if he isn't into you, move on without him in your life.

    Seems harsh, but ask yourself, do you really want a "friend" in your life that uses you for company until he finds a real girlfriend? Answer: No. If he doesn't want to date you he's using you for female companionship, because if he was really just a friend he wouldn't act inappropriately.

  11. all i can say is do what's best for you.
    we're only getting a portion of the story.
    we're not in your relationship with robert,
    so we don't know the full truth,
    but i trust that you're making the best decision for you.
    hope your date went well!

  12. Hi Cece,

    I've been a lurker for awhile, but I wanted to give my 2 cents here!

    A lot of people seem to be saying that if he were really that into you, you would be dating. But, are you really that into him? Why has it taken you so long to have the talk with him, why are you dating other people? Sometimes a placeholder should remain a placeholder. Don't feel pressured into making the relationship more than what it is!

  13. I feel like we're all repeating each other, but anyway, my two cents:

    By continuing to go out with him without demanding that he "define" anything, you are basically telling him that a grey-area relationship is okay. If you make yourself less available (especially physically – don't let him touch you, move away from his arm over your shoulder, etc) he is going to get the message that this is NOT OKAY.

    I'm not saying be mean, I'm just saying that right now, this guy gets to spend time with you, be affectionate, enjoy your company and all without any kind of risk. Who WOULD want to mess that up?

    Listen, if you don't confront him directly or pull away indirectly, he is just going to keep doing what's worked for him. You say you are 'traditional', that it is up to him to 'define' your relationship. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE'S DOING. He's defining it as undefined, and you are letting him. Shame!

    Traditionally, women didn't put up with men who played with their hearts (they couldn't afford to – the risks were too high). So be a traditional women and stop giving him everything he wants for nothing. Be unavailable. Stop agreeing to go on dates-that-aren't-dates! Stop letting him snuggle you! Stop letting him monopolize your emotions!

    Either directly (a la conversation) or indirectly (a la changing your actions) you are going to have to find out if he wants more, and if he doesn't, make some boundaries and stick to them. You can certainly be nice about it – be sweet as pie! You can still be flirtatious and fun- when you're out in big groups, or for five minutes at the office. But stop letting him 'define' the relationship as 'I don't know'. You're worth more than that!

    End Ridiculously Long Rant.

  14. If you were that interested in Robert, or if you honestly thought it was going to go places, you'd invest the time and energy in that relationship and only that one. So I imagine you are using him as a placeholder because you're keeping your options open, which isn't a bad thing, except…

    Been there done that. In the end, I lost both my "Robert" and my guys on the side. I wasn't sure "Robert" really could have a serious relationship or that he wanted one with ME so I kept my options open. If I had it to do over again, I would iron out the grey sooner. Good luck and I enjoy your blog!

  15. It sounds like a "comfortable" relationship. Dudes like comfortable. Like meatloaf. Not that he thinks you are meatloaf but it doesn't sound like that you are insisting that you are a filet. If you need to define the relationship, then you need to demand it.

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