A month ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of a year. The relationship was exhausting and left me restless and unhappy, so I ended it. Since then, we've seen each other (we share a lot of friends and frequent the same places) and have, on occasion, shared a physical connection out of momentary desire. I always regret it and stick to my word about wanting to remain broken up. He believes me, but he’s still a bit too needy for my liking. I communicated that I need space, and he's starting to get the idea.
Here’s where it gets hard. I've had a crush on a guy for a few years, even through my relationship with my ex. I never acted on it, but recently this guy has shown interest in me and I honestly can’t get this guy out of my head. The thing is, I'm a chronic dater. When I get out of a relationship, I usually find myself in another one pretty quickly. I don't want my crush to be a continuation of this trend, but I do want to pursue it — he's intelligent, interesting, pensive, and adorable.
However, if I start dating someone else this soon, my ex will flip, and he can be violently scary when he's upset with me — he would never do anything to hurt me, but I may not hear from him for a couple of years. I'm stuck. What should I do?
—Chronic Dater Christina
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Dear Chronic Dater Christina,
You say that you’re worried about your ex’s emotions, but you're still sleeping with him even though you know that he has stronger feelings for you than you him. That's certainly sending mixed signals, so sure, he's going to be very hurt by your interest in another guy. Break things off with your ex; that means no more fooling around, and I’d even take a few months away from gatherings of mutual friends. If you make it clear, without any question, that it’s over between you two, then while he’ll still be hurt, it won’t hit as close to home.
As for your tendency to hop into relationships too quickly, I don’t think that means that you can’t pursue a relationship with this other guy; it’s just a good reason to take it very slowly. Hold off from defining your relationship with him. Resist the urge to see him every day. Make lots of time for yourself and your friends. And most important, enjoy flirting and getting to know him. It's one of the best parts of a relationship, and often the most fleeting!