How To Deal With Mixed Messages From A “Sensitive” Man

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The Question:

Hi Rori,

John came back and he said how he had wished he’d heard from me the two weeks we were broken up. I thought it strange and shared the same sentiment.

Things progressed from little texting to more texting to him asking to see me, to him seeing me two nights in a row.

The 2nd he came over we cuddle, initiated by him and then things got a little hot’ n’ heavy. He wanted to be intimate and that’s when things went awry.

I shared with him “I want to go upstairs, however, I can’t be intimate with you if you’re dating other women.”

He replied, “Okay.” Then said nothing and pretty much wanted to me get off of him. I said, “Ummm, I’m just not comfortable doing that without commitment.” He said, “I would never ask you that. I haven’t asked. Because I know you’re a good person and if you’re here with me it’s because you’re not dating anyone else.”

I was soooo confused. I said “I don’t mean any disrespect it’s a question I’ve asked other men as well without this reaction.”

He got up and left. Then he went pulled back and went cold.

I text him and apologized for being disrespectful and said it wasn’t my intention. I was taking care of me and my comfort levels, and that we’re different is all.

He replied “yes we are”

Then that was it. That was the Thurs before Easter Friday and the next day he said he needed time to think. We ended up speaking on the Sat aft over the phone and it didn’t go well.

He reminded me again that we are not together and that he has different rules around communication when he’s in a relationship. And we are not in one. He said he couldn’t continue talking and to call him later if I want.

I reacted. I’d had enough of being stonewalled. I texted him how I felt and what I wanted and shared my perspective. I didn’t hear back until about 4 days later. Last Thurs night to be exact.

He texted me sharing that he felt sad because I disrespected him after I had promised I wouldn’t. He then wrote me about how he will always love me and how he will miss my eyes and my dance moves, etc and to treat the next guy with respect if he deserves it. – basically a break up text – although I’ve never received something that long and emotional from another guy before…

I replied and said I don’t want this. I softened and wrote him that I’m sorry for disrespecting him and that I do respect him and myself too, which is why I asked.

I heard nothing back. Then I got a text Sat morning “breakfast?”

We went for breakfast and it went well. No talk about the relationship. He took the long way back to my house and asked to come in for 15 min. Then when he left he gave me a long hug and a kiss.

He texted me after thanking me for breakfast (he paid). I replied “My pleasure. It feels good spending time with you.”  He replied “it always feels good spending time with you. Well almost always lol.”

Then I didn’t hear from him until Sun around noon.

He seems to be moving slower now. The lack of contact is triggering me and not knowing what the heck is going on. I don’t feel in control of my life and like he has all the power.

I’m an all in or all out woman. Commitment makes things successful. He had mentioned that he needs to see actions of me treating him with kindness and respect. I can tell he’s holding back but this is really hard and feels really painful.

I want to find someone to spend my time and my life with. Yes I would like it to be him but I don’t how much longer I can live in the grey and uncertainty of when I will see him or talk to him.

What do you suggest I do?

Thanks Rori xo

My Answer:

I’ve heard of several such men as this one you describe – and it’s all so similar, I now think it’s a “label,” though I hate to use those.

If what you wrote is what you said – then you did NOT disrespect him in ANY way.

…and are apologizing WAY too much for things you did not do (though it’s always fine to feel and say sorry when someone feels triggered and bad.)

What I hear is a man who is a totally not-ready for partnership fellow, is completely wrapped up in himself, is easily “hurt” and doesn’t mind talking about it (which is extremely feminine in a very unflattering way even for a woman), and I can’t even understand what you see in him or hope to get from anyone who acts this way.

I know this sounds harsh, yet this is the kind of man you RUN from, not “try to get.”

I wish you the best, and hope you are dating other men who are more suited to relationship, who are a little tougher and can handle a woman who needs a reasonable amount of “maintenance.”

Any man who’d feel disrespected by being asked if they were dating other women after a clear separation has got some agenda in his head I do not wish to understand.

Love, Rori


  1.  #1Indigo on June 20, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Wow, I am SO familiar with these kinds of men, and Rori is absolutely spot on. RUN. You did absolutely nothing wrong, and the constant digs to try and make you feel bad “Well almost always lol” are very manipulative and actually make me feel skin-crawly.

    Rori is totally right; this man is wrapped up in himself and not ready at all to make a relationship work. You will probably spend an inordinate amount of time dancing around his feelings, as you have probably found out already. I’ve been there, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s exhausting.

  2.  #2Rori Raye on June 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you, Indigo! Rori

  3.  #3Anna S on June 21, 2017 at 2:47 am


    I know how it feels to do a lot and run around him.. I used to think that being the best body and friend for your husband and pay for half of the stuff and be like a half men will bring you the glory.

    It will not.
    I used to have mentality that paying for him sometimes is good because we live in a ‘modern world’. We was fighting for our rights and now we want to prove how good educated we are and how clever. We compete with them so they instead of providing liturally compete with us.

    But I have to admit that nothing feels greater than lean back, seat and listen. When he speak I say yes,oh really? And I am suprised that I dont have to do nothing else. He loves me this way and anybody will do.
    If I have idea how to help him,I will say it very gentle. If he will say hunny this is not good idea but thank you for trying to help me I will be seating there relax about what I did. If I will make a dinner and he will eat it I will feel good but there is no pressure for me to do it.

    After running around like a crazy rubbit I seat still and I take all good what life give me.

    If he will not call for one week and then call me like nothing happen, I will say this doesnt feel all right, but without a drama and desperation in my voice. And I will feel okay because then I realize that he is not for me so I am happy that he want to keep distance. If he doesnt call I know I am so busy with my own stuff and I enjoy my life with him or without him. Thats a bless x

  4.  #4mary on June 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm


    I’m a little confused by this post as it relates to circular dating. And I’m confused about circular dating, too… as I’m out and about, trying it.

    I understand why the person who wrote the letter (above) wouldn’t want to make love to a guy who was dating other women.

    But with circular dating, we’re asking the guy to date us while we’re dating others… right? (And I know Rori says that WE are the target… and that it’s okay for US to be circular dating, but not THEM… and she also says that we can make love to anyone… if we’re DIVA enough… but one way to do it is to be exclusive with just one guy… and continue to see others!)

    is that right?

    Okay, so that’s one question.

    * * * *

    The other question:

    How is it possible to do circular dating? My experience so far is that guys are not having it.

    I’m not finding to be possible. For one thing, some of the dating sites show times when you’re logged on, and if you log on and you’re going out with a guy, he automatically assumes that you’re dating others, even if you don’t say so… and he doesn’t want any part of that. He thinks you’re a player, and I, for one, have not even been able to defend myself. The guy just quits calling.

    Maybe it’s just our society now? Or what? It seems that there aren’t any guys who will tolerate competition for the woman they HAVE JUST MET, AND LIKE!

    Circular dating just looks so completely perfect on paper. I get it. I love it. I understand it. It’s a fool-proof way of dating and finding The One.

    So far I have been striking out. 100%.

    I’ve been asked out on SO many dates, with wonderful guys. When we go out, many times the guys will confess to me that they really just want to find someone (and that someone might just be me) and get married. They tell me I’m beautiful and cute and sexy and all those things.

    I don’t tell them I’m dating other guys.

    I just don’t sleep with them.

    Is that why they’re not calling back?

    I get dropped instantly. I go back over texts, emails, I replay phone conversations in my mind, and ALL of the interactions were just BEAUTIFUL. My clothes were great. I looked great. I’ve been to the dentist, etc., so no sneaky stuff happening with hygiene…

    And if I say, “maybe another time,” when they ask me to sleep over… I don’t hear from them again.

    What has happened to our society?

    Are all of you other women finding this to be true for you, too? How are you dealing with it? Am I the only one out there who wants to wait? (oh my goodness… I don’t even know the answer to this!) Serious concern here.

    Circular dating is not working for me. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? Maybe it’s too much to ask of any guy?


    Without it, aren’t we just grabbing the first guys we meet and like, with only one or two dates as “research,” and somehow we’re becoming willing to spend our time, our energy, our YEARS and our hearts on them? In the hope that one day they’ll be The One?

    That feels ridiculous, and I want to persevere with circular dating.

    Please tell me… is there anyone else out there who would rather wait to have sex with their dates until they’re sure of commitment? For me, having sex involves exclusivity, and that means that the decision is made… and my options are gone. Then it’s whether or not this one guy is the guy… and then I’m waiting in his waiting room for the proposal…

    I mean, if guys are not tolerating circular dating WITHOUT sex, they’re not gonna tolerate it if they’re having sex with me… that feels like a “for sure.”

    If I would give the hint that there is sex in the near future, I believe I’d still have all these guys calling me… especially if I could give them the illusion that they were the only ones on my horizon… (and THAT’S so counter-Rori – she says competition is what guys really want…)

    But something here is not playing out in my experience. I’m attracting the guys. They almost always ask for a second or third date. Then… poof… they’re gone…

    Is it about not having sex with them?

    Or is it about being non-exclusive?

    This is one confused Mary here…


  5.  #5Indigo on June 22, 2017 at 1:36 am

    Hey Mary,

    I totally understand you there. I’m not as “into” circular dating as maybe the rest of the Rori community (maybe that makes me a “bad” Rori follower, I don’t know, she can kick me out if she feels that :D) because I can understand it from the guy’s point of view.

    I believe in circular dating up to a point, and that point is exclusivity. And for me, exclusivity means you feel safe to sleep together, neither of you are dating others, there have been no red or amber flags and you feel as if this guy has the potential to be the one you settle down with. But experience has taught me that it’s also wise not to rush to this stage. If you feel like you want to take two or three months to feel safe enough to sleep with a guy and be exclusive, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    I do feel like we have an obligation to be kind to his feelings – if he is falling for us and we feel like we might be falling for him, I don’t think it’s fair to put it in his face that we are dating others. At the same time, we need to be respectful to ourselves. The situation has got to work for us too, and if we don’t feel ready to make that commitment or give ourselves in that way, then we should not do it. I now believe that it’s very healthy to hold back with a guy, and you should not just agree to things out of fear of losing him. Uh uh. No way.

    My experience tallies with yours in the sense that many of the guys I meet or go on dates with either want sex or want exclusivity, probably sooner than I do. But you still have to do what’s right for YOU. I still have to do what’s right for me. If they are insisting on sex or exclusivity within a couple of weeks, or even within a month or two, that’s not something I’m comfortable with. I want to let a guy reveal himself to me slowly and I want to do the same.

    As I say, don’t take what I say as being the “Rori way” because I’m not really into dating lots of guys at a time. I wouldn’t feel as if I was being true to myself for a number of reasons. But I do feel that you need to do what’s right for you, Mary. You don’t need to wait in anyone’s waiting room – remember, it is as much about your choice as it is about his, and you also need to evaluate if this is someone YOU want as a life partner.

  6.  #6Femininewoman on June 22, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Mary a guy who would be spooked off so early on if there is no sex is a guy who might be in it only for the sex. Maybe it might be good for you to be very clear in your own mind what is it you are looking for. Maybe your aren’t and this is making them uncertain. When you are certain about what you want I believe the guy can feel it,

    They know what it is to keep your options open because they do it all the time. Also if you are gonna communicate that you want to hold off on sex to keep your options open you could also let guys know that you feel turned on by them and kind of complement them before you tell them no about sex. You don’t want to come across rigidly following rules without the ability to be spontaneous.

  7.  #7Daria on June 22, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    “But with circular dating, we’re asking the guy to date us while we’re dating others… right?”

    He’s asking US to date him (while we date others). The perspective shift. We’re asking nothing, we’re open to our forever love. Guys ask us for our time, while our priority is being open to our forever love, not on understanding where now-guy is coming from or feeling bad for him or helping him get us.

    He might be a guy we will have forgotten when we’re in forever love, or he may be one that so gets us –
    without us compromising ourselves, our desires – that he will be the partner in forever love, and that will happen more quickly if we’re ‘about ourselves’ and make our forever love the priority.

  8.  #8Daria on June 22, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    “And if I say, “maybe another time,” when they ask me to sleep over… I don’t hear from them again.”

    I’ve done this – I’ll call it a brush off – too, and maybe another time is a shut down unopen answer in my case. A from the heart answer is a feeling message – probably going to spark an intimate discussion about what we both want. It feels so uncomfortable to talk about this for me!

    ‘ohhh… hmm… I feel… really uncomfortable, I really like you, and coming over feels like it may lead to sex, and I’m feeling so jumpy about that at this point, and I feel like I don’t know you well enough, and actually I can tell I’m feeling tense about sex. I feel interested in it in the future and don’t feel ready for it now… what do you think ?”

    errrr even writing it i feel like im blushing, and i love my blushing wow

  9.  #9Angeles on June 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    “He had mentioned that he needs to see actions of me treating him with kindness and respect.”
    I dated a man who said the exact same things this man said.
    I agree with Rori, this is a particular type of man, who isn’t ready for a partnership, a feminine man, who is probably involved with other women.

    And he’s not even bad, not a bad person-selfish maybe but not bad.
    He’s just not right for us!
    I sometimes think back to the men I liked, but didn’t want to commit to, I maybe slept with them, some were crazy for me, they were my friends, some I went back to when other relationships didn’t work, it was safe, it was fun, i enjoyed it ,they enjoyed it. But i never allowed it to proceed. I knew they loved me but I just did not feel it.
    I didn’t take advantage just didn’t commit, it was something that just didn’t cross my mind.
    I like to think this is how some men (the men like the one mentioned above) feel about some women, the ones that they don’t commit to.
    Maybe its like that for them too. We are just the ones that they hang out with, have fun with, have sex wit, but don’t commit to.
    And thats ok!
    Men just dont know how to be straight forward like us women.
    I feel in this situation its good to know that nothing is wrong with us. Its just not a good match!

  10.  #10mary on June 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Hello sweet friends! Indigo, Feminine Woman, Daria! So nice to hear from you.

    Dating is just such a roller coaster! And it’s great fun. And full of meaning. And so many little surprises and setbacks, too. You never know what will happen.

    I loved your comments. Indigo, and I’m beginning to see that circular dating really is such a useful tool and it makes the dating process much faster by getting rid of suitors who are not interested in us, giving healthy competition to those who are, and highlighting the guys who are interested in us enough to compete for us…

    It’s wonderful and challenging too, and it does everything Rori said it would, and more. I feel great! And I have many dates lined up, and I’ve already found one guy that I really like… I don’t know how long I can last with the non-exclusivity… as already it’s been difficult to avoid steamy hot passionate sessions… goodness!

    Feminine Woman, good advice to let the guy know I’m really turned on! I probably haven’t communicated that often enough…

    And Daria, HELLO! How are you? I love what you said here in the first paragraph. Gotta keep that in mind, always! I love this particularly: “Guys ask us for our time, while our priority is being open to our forever love, not on understanding where now-guy is coming from or feeling bad for him or helping him get us.” I’m just gonna write that somewhere and read it often. Thank you!

    Circular dating looks so great on paper, and when it’s working it works so well. And I’ve found that it does weed out the guys who are interested only in sex. They simply will not tolerate any competition at all. It also weeds out the pretty boys who aren’t used to working for a relationship. So I’m finding it very useful and fun to be “in the know…”

    Still, the heartache sometimes when dating! It’s a real thing… but I’m gonna continue to risk because I think my forever man is out there.

    Thank you!


  11.  #11mary on June 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

    circular dating…

    not working! not working! not working!

    guys are not having it.

    they’re dropping out. they don’t want to compete. they don’t have to compete. women are desperate. other women want them exclusively.

    they want me but not enough to compete.


    it looked so good on paper!

    i wish it would work. it felt so good in the preliminary stages.


    who of you are actually circular dating?

    i tried when the whole community was here. back in 2010. but i met a guy i just LOVED, and i talked with another relationship coach, and she did not get the circular dating idea – she said the guys would absolutely not go for it – so i went with that relationship. it did not go well and i wished i had stayed with the circular dating…

    so here i am.

    six years of my life gone.

    committed to really working it now… but it’s not working for me.

    the guys i like are dropping out.

    i had a date planned for tonight, and i got this email from the guy:

    “When I didn’t hear anything back from my text last night I was reminded that you have more men in your life than just me. And that’s good, it’s what you want. But it’s not good for me. I guess I’m too old fashioned. I’m not being condescending, we just view this in different ways. I was REALLY trying to go along with this, but I can’t. I feel cheap, like just another phone #. And I guess…I am.

    Anyway, I had reserved a really nice restaurant, bought a really nice gift, and had made all kinds of plans, just to let you know how I really feel about you. But I would imagine all the other guys do the same thing, …so what.? And I figure, if you need other men in your life, I’m obviously lacking, so you’re making the right decision.

    So, I wish you all the best. I hope you find a really good man that really loves you, and takes good care of you. You’re as awesome as it gets..!!! You really are.. this guy fell for you pretty quick.. : )

    God bless you wonderful lady…!!!!”


    i’m not sure where i am with all that!

    i could keep circular dating and stay single, for the rest of my life…

    anyone else having difficulty sustaining this?

    it’s like we’re working from one script here, and everyone else in the movie is reading from a different script… so when we say our lines, they don’t cue any other lines… the other actors look at us like “whaaaaaaa????” and act as though they’re personally offended…

    i’d like to get married and sail off into the sunset of my life with my forever man…

    i know you guys are helping me with more strategies, but hey… is circular dating really working for you?

  12.  #12mary on June 24, 2017 at 9:44 am

    or maybe i just keep going!

    maybe there are some men out there who love the chase? (do i really want THOSE guys?)

    maybe there are some men out there who love to compete? (what would that look like inside a marriage when there is no more competition, except with my appointments to: get my nails done, work, go out with girlfriends, etc., but no REAL competition for my heart?)

    or may i settle in with someone to see if we can make a go of it?

  13.  #13mary on June 24, 2017 at 11:13 am

    so here’s an idea…

    i might agree to date a guy exclusively for a certain length of time, and at the end of that time, there is a meeting of the minds… where are we going? is marriage in the future? how long until we get there?

    things like that…

    but i really would prefer not to… i’d prefer to be free and dating the world and happy as a lark… but truthfully there is so much pain when i’m dropped by these non-competing guys…

    and where will i get a pool of men large enough to keep going with it? there are not that many men on the dating sites! (that i like…) and i’m willing to go out with almost anyone…

    and where is the care for their feelings? i do NOT want to lead men on…

  14.  #14mary on June 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Wishing for the community here…

    I called the guy above. He was in a neighboring town and because we made a date earlier this week, I had scheduled a tea with an old friend in his town before the date. She asked me to bring some stuff from her daughter’s house, near me, so after he canceled, I called him and told him I was gonna make the drive anyway. We could have the date or not. I understood his position and I respected him.

    He had planned a beautiful evening. He decided to carry on with the plans. A gorgeous restaurant. Dancing. An expensive gift. And then I drove home. I drove to him this time because he drove to me twice already, and because he was making things that he wanted to show me in his garage… he has a new idea and was excited to share it with me… not possible to bring it with him in the car.

    I don’t know… I care about his feelings. If our feelings don’t match, it seems as though I should say so. He is not dating anyone else.

    Just the classic circular dating scenario. It feels awful to keep the focus on me! “Date at least three, keep the focus on me, until I have a ring and a date…” I see him having a difficult time! Spending money. Spinning tales of the future. I like him a lot but I don’t feel my heart getting involved… I’m not sure why! He’s such a good guy though that I want my heart to catch up.

    The guy I really like is waiting. For what? I don’t know. But I think he’s embarrassed to take a place in line…

    Every man wants to be the winner! I see how circular dating sets this up. It’s just \ brilliant, Rori! And it has given me some excellent choices now. And I will be the decider.

    And it is a tough thing, to have to tell someone that you’ve chosen someone else. So what is the alternative? Only one choice? To choose one guy as soon as there is “chemistry?” And hope to stuff a square into a round hole? I’ve done that.

    Now that I have the scenario happening around me…

    … and it took WORK to get this going…

    … now what?

    Another brilliant thing… I just wait? I do nothing? I let the guys decide whether they’re in or out? I keep going out with them? It’s painful for them.

    But I choose to believe that this pain is what they want? That they’re geared for it? I believe that, but it seems – these days – that the competitive gene is way in the background of our men’s lives. And I’m in a little older generation, so that may have a bearing on everything. Guys have been going to war at work every day for their whole lives. Do they want to have to spar to be able to get a girl?

    Maybe they do want a wife who is worth having. Worth fighting for. Worth waiting for. And it’s not about whether or not they want to fight for her. They have to fight because she has options.

    I wonder how long the dating period usually lasts? how to tolerate their angst until a proposal is made?

    Oh, I really have to say I’m having fun! What an adventure it is! It is a very fun experience. And it is creating a truly amazing vibe. Of not being too invested… of being open, and curious…

    I’m a giving person. I like to give. And when we’re all honest with ourselves, who doesn’t like to receive? Of course I like that too. I feel more comfortable giving because it feels powerful. Receiving requires more humility and I am growing that humility by receiving time, effort and monetary gifts (so difficult!)

    I will start reciprocating in my own way, like the water wheel tool…

    This is the most difficult thing in the world.

    This is the easiest thing in the world.

    Do I tell the guy (last night) exactly how I feel about him? Do I owe him that? Do I tell him that I WANT to feel things for him that I don’t feel yet? I did tell him that I’m not into extreme sports. I told him about the people who love me, who would normally and naturally and lovingly take care of me if something ever happened to me! And how I could see taking a risk to drive my car, which could be involved in an accident, but how I couldn’t see taking a risk that was unwarranted, for their sakes…

    I’m just talking to myself here. It feels weird…

    All i know is this:

    My whole life has been about integrity. Prayer, careful consideration, looking for the greater good, even if it involves suffering for me, and going through with action plans based on my highest values.

    Circular dating feels selfish. I know that’s attractive, in some way, to a guy… it just feels so foreign and unnatural and unlike me.

    I’m trying to come to grips with the pain that I feel, coming from the guy… a few guys understand! I don’t feel their pain! But this guy… I don’t know!

    I’d love to hear what you have to say, whether you’re circular dating too? Is anyone out there having these kinds of feelings?

    Say hey…!!!



  15.  #15Sangelina on June 25, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Mary, I’ve been following your processing, and I’d like to chime in
    I’ve been coming to this blog regularly for at least 5yrs but I post only occasionally.
    I’m in my early 50s and have circular dated on and off for the past few years.
    I’ve encountered all the issues you’ve mentioned above..I don’t believe one has to follow all the rules/suggestions blindly since everyone’s situation is different. I live in the US but I’m aware that men in different parts of the world handle the idea of dating a woman who’s dating different men differently but my overall impression is that they don’t like it. It gives the impression that they are lacking something and we’re are still dating till we find someone better, then we drop them. My experience has been that once they realize you are dating others, they tend to downgrade you and focus more on other options.
    Circular dating has been great for me when there is no particular guy that I’m very keen on.
    Since I am looking for a serious relationship, I don’t keep dating anyone I don’t see myself settling down with for longer that 3months, usually shorter. If there’s compatibility, I give myself some time to see if chemistry grows, if not, we have a lovely discussion and I offer friendship, if the guy wishes.

    I am a giver just like you, after the first few dates, I offer (and they often accept) to pay for some of the dates or buy tickets to shows. If things end, I do not feel guilty about money the guy spent. I am fully present when I’m on dates, I make them fun and we usually have a great time and whatever happens, I feel we had fun while it lasted and I don’t worry too much about his feeling. Guys can handle their feelings. Usually, I do not initiate circular dating discussion with any guy, If asked, I say I’m open to accepting invitations to have a drink or whatever from others until I’m exclusive with someone. He cannot assume we are exclusive, without a discussion around it. If he never brings it up, I leave the topic alone while I’m figuring out if he’s my match. As I said earlier, I give myself few weeks-3mo to figure that out.

    While circular dating 4.5yrs ago, I met a guy who I immediately clicked with and within 2wks we became exclusive, it lasted 3.5yrs and we broke up a year ago. I was undecided then if I wanted to settle down or not.
    This time around, my goal in dating has changed and so has my selection process. I am circular dating again, was recently dating someone else for 3mo (no sex), I was hoping that chemistry might pick up but it didn’t and about 2 wks ago, we had a talk and transitioned to friends. I did get the impression at some point, that he assumed a relationship so I mentioned sweetly that we were just dating and we’ll see what happens, he got the message and I noticed he was always “active” on the website we met. He was disappointed but he’s fine. During the 3 months I dated him, I went on several 1st dates and some 2nd dates but it never came up and we didn’t discuss anything regarding it, I didn’t throw it in his face. We had 2 nights a week that we always go out and I didn’t book anything those nights. Circular dating can be done respectfully. My goal is to do so till I meet someone that is a good match then I focus on that person for some months.

    Just saying that I believe a guy who truly likes you and is emotionally involved will feel very hurt if he knows you are seeing other guys, if you don’t care about him that much then that’s ok but If it’s someone you equally like and are considering a serious relationship with, you risk losing him if he is doing everything right and you still want to see other guys. If the guy is not rowing the boat or moving things forward, that’s where circular dating is a must, for me.

    I’ll be following your story, writing this out is helping me clarify my thoughts..

  16.  #16mary on June 25, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Hello Sangelina,

    How beautiful and wonderful for you to respond. I thought I’d just check tonight and didn’t think I’d find anyone here so what I nice surprise!

    I feel I have also been wonderful and beautiful when talking to guys about dating and my process. For some reason they always ask me if I’m seeing other guys. The dating site lets them know when I’m online and you’re right; their feelings become very hurt if they see me on it after I’ve met them and had a date or two with them. They ask me if I’m seeing other people. I tell them very sweetly that I’m seeing people until I become exclusive with one person, and they simply don’t like it. They feel offended. They look at me and act towards me like I’m a loose women, when I am the complete opposite. So in that way, circular dating isn’t working.

    It is working in that it provides me with dates (except that I got off the dating site!) and I so look forward to going out and being in the company of the opposite sex and talking and seeing who I am with different kinds of men. That has been lovely and it’s been such a revelation to me!

    Here’s another interesting thing! On the dating site, NEVER BEFORE have I ever showed interest, but I did that, and the guys I am dating now are all ones I picked. I think that is so very interesting! They just love it that I picked them!

    I like your idea of paying some. I like it a lot! It feels so one-sided for the guy to always pay.

    I’m sorry your relationship did not work out! And this time around I hope you find your forever man!

    Thank you so much for responding. I’ll write again tomorrow because I’ve found a man I really like, and I’m not quite sure what to do about it…

    Love, Mary

  17.  #17Clare on June 26, 2017 at 12:56 am


    I’m aware it may be a cultural thing because I’m in South Africa and men tend to be more traditional here, but my experience has been that when a guy wants you to be exclusive with him, he will have that discussion with you. If you say no at that point, and you really like him, then you do risk losing him, as Sangelina said. But my experience has been that men will generally not ask me if I am dating others unless they are ready to have the exclusivity conversation – mostly because, up until that time, there should not really be any expectations of exclusivity on either side.

    I completely agree with Sangelina that, if he doesn’t bring it up, I keep circular dating and use the time to figure out if we are a match. I also completely agree that I try to be the best date possible – I make an effort to look my best with clothes, hair and make-up, am present and fun and smiley and make good conversation and help us have the nicest time possible. So, from that point of view, I don’t feel any guilt about the money the man has spent on me. And my experience is that the guy doesn’t resent it either. If we go out more than twice, then I do not mind contributing financially to the date.

    The way I have dated in the past was that I always circular dated and usually had 2 – 4 guys asking me out, and within 2 or 3 weeks, the one I clicked with the most would usually have asked me to be exclusive or would be booking up all my time. I recently broke up with a guy whom I had been dating for just over a year. We had instant chemistry and became very intense in a short space of time. I loved him but there were some big red flags that showed up while we were dating and so, with a heavy heart, I felt like I had to end it. I’m still recovering but this time what I would do differently is date a lot more slowly. I now feel like I don’t have to let the first guy I like 100% into my life right away. That might seem obvious to others, but for me I’m a warm and open person when I decide to open up and I need to remind myself that that loyalty should be earned and built up over time. It’s as much a reminder to myself not to feel obligated to a guy as to anyone else.

    I’m going to have to force myself to take it more slowly because a relationship has to work for me over the long run as much as the guy. So I kind of feel that just dating, circular or otherwise, is a great way to slow things down in a healthy way.

  18.  #18Indigo on June 26, 2017 at 4:13 am

    Oops, that post should have used my blog name, Indigo. Didn’t mean to use my real name.

  19.  #19mary on June 26, 2017 at 5:35 am

    hello Indigo!

    I really love your thoughts here! Thank you so much for clarifying. If only I had understood this back in 2010, and this time around. I’ve read and re-read and re-read Rori’s stuff, and done searches, and I remember I tried asking the community here in 2010, but I did not ever get this kind of feedback.

    So circular dating is simply dating… to find someone… until they want to spend most of their time with you…!!!


    And that happens very soon when dating! Within the first or second date, usually.

    This is new information. Thank you so much! (Oh my goodness; I’ve been on such a wrong track!!!!!) Missed so many quality, wonderful guys with this circular dating! Oh my oh my oh my oh my… Mr. Musician, I am so sorry!!!!

    I’m sorry for your heartbreak, Indigo. I admire you that you were able to identify your red flags and say no to them (and him.) Me? I haven’t been so good about that, and that’s why the relationships, after marriage, have dragged on and on for so many years, even though I knew they weren’t working for me. Maybe, instead of circular dating the whole time, I should have been more willing to simply cut them off… oh my heart!

    I met a guy who is witty and fun and funny and very much a match for me in so many ways. I’d like to date only him. Chemistry is very good! To honor my faith, and for secular reasons too, I’d rather not have sex for a while. I thought about spelling all this out to him… maybe making a three month plan or something… just go for three months, then another three, until a decision, yay or nay, is made… (that makes sense to me!) That way the relationship doesn’t look like it’ll last forever in such a frustrating situation…

    At the moment we’re at a stalemate because he is refusing to be part of my lineup, as we did talk a little about going out with others. He told me that he was only interested in me. That he was not interested in anything shallow. That he was only interested in love. And somehow, I let all that go… this whole circular dating idea has really confused me… made it not natural for me to be myself in the dating process, which was always so fluid and natural before… before I would have just told him the same, and we’d be on our merry way… It’s almost like I never even dated, before. I actually didn’t ever date before my two marriages – they just happened… I met the guys, we spent all the time together in the world, and they wanted to get married. One had an addiction and we divorced. The other left me for someone else and broke my heart and we got divorced. So I started dating… and reading… and I became a girlfriend, and that wasn’t working, so I read more, and I found Rori…

    Now that I’m hearing this, I want to contact him! Tell him I’m in! But I feel that I should wait… I have contacted him before. He loved it! Last time I saw him I asked him if he was ever gonna call me (because I contacted him) and he said yes, but I asked him for space. I didn’t ask him for space, but I did tell him that I thought dating lots of different people was the best way to find a mate. Hmmmmm… I wonder if I should clarify? And if, the moment I do, interest will go down? I’d love your opinion on what to do, as this is a situation caused by a misunderstanding of the principle…

    Thank you Indigo and Sangelina and Feminine Woman and Daria!

    You are all helping me to understand this very important thing. Somehow I thought circular dating was the modus operandus for the relationship, but now I see it as only a selection process in the beginning, and something to use later to further along a decision…

    Yes! I might be getting it! I hope so…

    Still a lil’ confused though…


  20.  #20mary on June 26, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Just to clarify…

    The relationships that went on and on after marriage were Girlfriend relationships. (I wasn’t circular dating during the time I was with those guys. I was the girlfriend.) Girlfriend wasn’t a good longterm position for me, as there was no commitment. My last guy kept saying he was IN, but he flirted every time we went out and then we would have “discussions,” for hours about that, when I should have just left. But I was invested.

    So my whole thought behind all this and during the long relationship (and the previous one, where the guy couldn’t commit, as he was a former sex addict,) was that I should have been circular dating the whole time. Until a proposal was made.

    And possibly that could work with some guys who are very, very insistent…

    But for the more sensitive guys in our culture, I just don’t see them hanging on to a woman who is playing the field during the relationship.

    I do like the idea of not defining the relationship… just letting it be. That’s how it worked with my actual marriages. We just spent time together. We didn’t label it. And they weren’t long term either… there were formal proposals at about the nine month marker…

    I should have just seen the red flags, had some talks with myself, and exited via circular dating… or even through a time of nothingness… I just LOVED the guys though… the relationships were each four years, and there were proposals, but I wasn’t happy with them… so a sooner exit in both cases would have been better…

    Indigo, you’ve been spending a little time in a ‘tweener state, right? Has that been really painful for you?

    I have a friend that I admire very much. She dates and goes ahead and gives her heart… but she keeps her head on, and as soon as there’s a red flag, she’s gone…

    I’m just so forgiving and open and ready to think the best… in a way the circular dating idea was good protection for me…

    just regrouping here…

  21.  #21Indigo on June 26, 2017 at 9:45 am


    Can you clarify what you mean by “tweener state”? Maybe then I can answer you 🙂 I’ve been broken up with my ex-boyfriend for about two months now, but these past two months have been a bit of a rollercoaster. I’ve tried to give him a chance to see whether things would change, but it has not worked. I’ve called it quits completely for about two weeks now.

    I’d like to say that I do not think commitment itself is the ultimate goal or the ultimate prize. There’s a reason why Rori calls it having the relationship you WANT. It is no good having a man who is willing to give you his everything if that everything does not make you happy. That was the position I found myself in with my ex. He was 150% committed. He would never, ever have left me and would have married me, no questions asked, if I had been willing. He adored me, but he had serious issues. I was not happy. That relationship helped me to see that while commitment is extremely important, a relationship has got to work. It has to make you happy. It has to be sustainable.

    Mary, like you, I was so forgiving and willing to think the best. I was so drawn in by my love of this person and his apparent love for me. I think love is a wonderful thing, but I see now that we also have to be more discerning of men. Or I do anyway. It’s no good thinking that just because a man thinks *I* am the best thing since sliced bread that I can make it work. Commitment is not the goal; my happiness and peace of mind and quality of life is. A man should be worthy of relationship with him, of our heart, and of course, we of him. That is my view. And taking things more slowly, assessing a man, is the only way to see whether that is the case.

    And Mary, I am flattered that you admire me for my ability to see the red flags and say no to them, but it was not easy, it was exceptionally difficult. In fact, I willfully looked past many red flags. I only left for good when I could not take it any more. It was that one straw too many which broke the camel’s back. People will sometimes say “I don’t know how you put up with x, y and z for so long, I would have left long ago,” but I don’t think anyone can really judge your situation until they’ve been in it. Anyway, I understand why you stayed in relationships.

  22.  #22mary on June 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

    hi Indigo,

    By “tweener state,” I only meant that you’ve been taking a bit of time for yourself since the breakup. Rori talks about the “third way,” which would be jumping into (or continuing with) circular dating so that there is not really a blip on the screen… you just keep dating… but breakups are painful. That’s all there is to it.

    Yes, I agree with you that the quality of the relationship is the prize, not the commitment. Because what is the commitment if the quality is not there?

    I had a relationship with the former boyfriend, who had been a sex addict. Oh! I loved him so. I didn’t know about his past until I already loved him (he carefully crafted it that way,) and then he used my desire to refrain from sexual activity as his abstinence program. There were other things too, and in the end, he couldn’t gladly make the commitment, as he was always worried that he might fall off the wagon and hurt me in the process, so we parted ways. It was very painful!

    So I’m sorry you’re going through this rough time.

    I actually wrote a letter to the guy in the other city that I visited yesterday. He replied with “Good luck. Good bye.” Obviously he was mad that he gave his heart to me and I treated it with insincerity. (Or something.) I probably should have never even gone out with him. He wasn’t really my type.

    I think that I’m just gonna go back to the old way of dating. If someone really, really impresses me, I’ll go out with him. If not, I just won’t. Then at least my intentions, my heart and my honesty will all line up… and I don’t risk hurting another person, as I have hurt this man by keeping him in my cue… oh my!

  23.  #23Indigo on June 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Mary,

    Oh, yes. I always take a bit of time for myself after a break up. I find it absolutely essential. I’m extremely sensitive so I always feel a sense of grief and loss after every break up, no matter what the circumstances. My heart feels mashed up and I cry and feel extremely tender for at least a few weeks afterwards. So, emotionally, I cannot have a seamless transition. That is outside the realm of possibility for me.

    But I usually spend time with friends and family, and then when I’m ready, I start talking to guys again, and then when I’m ready, I accept a date or two. I always go according to how I feel and what feels right for me, not any rules.

  24.  #24Daria on June 26, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    haha Mary, your texter guy sounds just like the guy this article is about! RUN!

  25.  #25mary on June 26, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Daria, yes! I know! He’s a whiner. This was the THIRD time he did that and he’s the one I wrote to and he said, “Good luck. Good bye.”


    Dating is not for the faint-hearted!

    I just suddenly lost another guy today, the one I liked most! (I made the mistake of texting him… I should have leaned back, oh, i’m questioning everything now!) He was the one that I was having the stalemate with… we talked about dating styles, he decided he didn’t want to be one of the guys in my lineup, and he just never called, even though he said the most amazing things to me…

    It feels a little like the twilight zone. So easy to get dates. First, second, third… so easy to get asked over for the night! Then so easy to get dumped…

    ♥ oh my heart! ♥

    Indigo, I’m like you too, very sensitive! I feel like a steamroller just rolled over me…

    What to do? How to cope? Where is a shell where I can curl up and hide?


    I’m gonna go out and go dancing, right now… I’ll get there for 30 minutes of it… that’ll have to do…

  26.  #26mary on June 26, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I got ice-cream instead.

    And i came home, and you know, it’s just me again. Just me, Mary, in my apartment alone.

    I was forming attachments in my mind and my psyche was writing stories, against my will, about me and him…

    There will be another wonderful man that will come into my horizon and he’ll’ be razzle-dazzled by me and all that I have to offer… and it will be soon, and when I see him, I’ll know what to do… and we’ll get married and go into the sunset together…

    Goodnight sweet friends. Thank you for talking to me here! Feeling a strange peace now.

    I will be okay…

  27.  #27Sangelina on June 26, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your concern about my relationship that didn’t work out. I’m over it and I did learn a lot from it which is clarifying for me things that are important to me in a relationship. I hope we all find our forever men, and soon.
    May I ask how long you’ve been dating these guys? It appears you and them are doing a lot of “talking about the dating/relationship” instead of just dating and having fun. Perhaps you should minimize the talking and focus on seeing if it’s the right guy for you. My 3month guy, I told him I prefer to take my time to get to know the guy well before getting more physical and that helped slow things a little as opposed to me focusing on the fact that I needed to date others. I’ve never had a guy I told that I needed to date others and he fought for me, the opposite has been the case. Perhaps other sirens have been luckier than me. When I started dating again last year after my break-up, I met a guy I liked and on our second date, we got talking about what each of us was looking for in a relationship. I said I did not want to be a girlfriend, that I wanted to date until someone was ready to settle down with me. I think I felt very confident in saying this because i knew the guy was into me. However, after that date, he pulled back and I heard from him less frequently. Eventually we managed to go on a spontaneous date a month later, we bonded over that date and he said “you blow hot and cold, I don’t know what to make of you”. I asked what he meant, he referred to my statement about not wanting to be anyone’s girlfriend. He said that I sounded like I expected him to propose to me if he wanted to be in my life. I tried to clarify but the relationship had lost it’s steam. We limped along for several months thereafter but it never took off.
    I learnt my lesson and I’ve never and will never make that speech again.

    I take part of the circular dating concepts that work for me and I decide for myself what works for me and how to approach the dating process. I am willing to give exclusivity a shot with someone that’s a good match. There are no guarantees in any relationship, there’s always some risk. I’d rather take that risk than to completely scare away potential good matches. If it ceases to feel good, I hope I’ll be strong enough to step away.

  28.  #28Sangelina on June 26, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    You said “I just suddenly lost another guy today, the one I liked most! (I made the mistake of texting him… I should have leaned back, oh, i’m questioning everything now!)”
    what happened? did he respond to your text? what did he say?
    I wish you’d stop second guessing yourself so much, I don’t see what’s wrong with sending a text.

  29.  #29Sangelina on June 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    My dating
    So about 5wks ago, this guy L contacted me on a site. He’s 6yrs younger, appeared successful and quite good-looking, I responded without giving it much thought (I prefer guys around my age). He was consistent and we progressed to talking on the phone within 3-4days. We had a really nice convo and he sounded so stable and old-fashioned (I like that) that I got excited and thought I could open up to him. He wanted to meet that weekend but I was leaving town. He texted me to check up on my trip, I responded, then he texted to wish me happy mother’s day, I again responded but never heard from him again. I also noticed he removed his profile from the site. Naturally I assumed he met someone else. I texted to say I noticed his profile was gone and teasingly said it appears he met his match, he said nope. He kept popping back into my mind and 2 days ago, I texted to say “Hi”. I thought to myself there was nothing to lose. He quickly responded and was glad to hear from me. He suggested we talk on the phone. Today he called, we had a long nice conversation during which he revealed that he liked me and had enjoyed our earlier conversation but got the impression that I wasn’t interested in him! I was shocked, I asked what gave him that idea? He said I never called him back, I only responded to his texts, never initiated one and that I didn’t even wish him a happy father’s day! He said he took down his profile because he was not interested in corresponding with many different women (said he wasn’t a serial dater), he just wanted one. I admitted that I did like him but that I’m old fashioned and believed that if a man really likes me that he’ll put in the effort. He said I needed to make it clear that I am interested so that the man will be motivated to make the effort. He was really happy that I reached out.
    An hour after our convo, he texted me that he enjoys our convos and would like us to get to know each other better, if I was interested. I am.
    Just shows that guys need us to show interest as well, not to lean too way back or they perceive that as a lack of interest.

  30.  #30Indigo on June 27, 2017 at 7:46 am


    I agree with you! I’ve never had a guy who was genuinely interested in me be put off by me sending a text. Personally I like Dominique’s philosophy on it when she says that it’s fine to initiate communication if you can do so with no expectations. I don’t second guess myself when I send a text now either. If I want to do it and I have nothing to lose by doing so, then I do it. It’s just a text/email and a relationship will not rise or fall by it.

    I also like Matthew Hussey’s take on it when he says it’s fine to initiate communication now and then, just make sure you are not the one doing all the work. Keep an eye on the guy’s investment. He should be investing in you, making an effort for you, communicating with you as well.

    I think leaning back is a great guideline to follow in two scenarios:

    – Where you are trying to gauge a guy’s interest. (early stages of dating, hot and cold guy etc.)
    – When you have already communicated and are waiting for a response. I firmly believe we should never overdo communication from our end.

    I’ve also been out with guys who have said things like “I thought you’d forgotten about me” or “I wanted to know you liked me too” or similar things too, so I do think it’s fine to show a little interest 😉

  31.  #31Indigo on June 27, 2017 at 7:49 am

    I too would give exclusivity a shot with a guy I thought had real potential. As I’ve said before, I think it’s the only way to get to the next level of intimacy which allows you to see whether you might be a long-term match. And like you and others, I have also found that the men I’ve dated won’t tolerate other men in the picture once they are very interested in me.

  32.  #32mary on June 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    oh frustrating!

    I just sent a really long comment and I guess it didn’t post…

  33.  #33mary on June 27, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Date tonight… oh fun!

    I love what you’re saying here, Sangelina and Indigo!

    Daria, I read that post about what to say about not getting intimate right away. Loved it!

    More later…

    Makeup, high heels, hair and smiles…

    I do really love dating.

    More later!


  34.  #34mary on June 27, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    or as i said to this guy…

    who said, “hey, we’re going casual, right?”

    i said, “well, wear whatever you like! i’ll probably have on high heels and rhinestones, black satin ribbons, ruffles or velvet or chantilly lace”

    oh my goodness he said, “chantilly lace and a beautiful face” about five times that night…

  35.  #35Daria on June 27, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    go Mary! I’ mfeeling smily

  36.  #36MissStix on September 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I feel so inspired. I feel light bubbly tingly feelings. Life holds so much promise. I miss writing here, reflecting, appreciating.
    I couldn’t have known all those years ago the experiences I would have. The intimacy. The deep satisfaction. What a gorgeous feeling.
    I feel nostalgic. Everything has changed these days. So much newness. Differentness. I feel myself opening to embrace it all. Life is so beautiful and I feel immeasurably blessed to be here on the ride. Wow. Than you.
    Thank you thank you. Amazing.

  37.  #37Christine on September 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Wow, I love Rori’s response here!

    I have a “sensitive” man in my rotation. I don’t know if I’d call him sensitive or just lazy, though.

    He was full on in the beginning and then after a few encounters (ha ha) he stopped putting any effort forth. I called him out about his lack of effort on the third date, but he blew me off — and then it just got worse. I leaned way back, and stopped even thinking about him. Then, he drunk texted me for a booty call out of the blue at 3 am one weekend. I was underwhelmed by his lack of effort at that point and told him not to embarrass himself.

    A few days after that, he texted me to ask if I was mad about the drunk text. I thought about that phrase that says “anger is an investment” and told him that I wasn’t mad — but that I didn’t think we want the same things.

    And frankly — if you have to ask me if I’m mad about something, doesn’t that imply that he knew the text was inappropriate? I think so.

    I told him that I was not mad, but that I didn’t think we were on the same page — that he was self-absorbed, and had stopped making any effort.

    And oh, the drama! He made a power play along the lines of, “Well, you have my number and you let me know when blah blah blah…”

    Who do these men think they are? I basically told him “peace out” because I have better things to do with my time, and it’s not like he’s my only option. I told him he could step up or step off — that I’m not going to jump through his hoops for some crumbs.

    A few weeks after that, he invited me to lunch, although he still asked me to meet him in his part of town, which was my first clue that he wasn’t particularly interested in what I want. I thought we straightened everything out but I think it was just an elaborate ploy to get me to have sex with him before he left on vacation, because I haven’t heard from him and I haven’t texted him.

    I am really proud of my own progress here. I’ve been working on being less reactive, and managing my emotional investment in men who don’t step up. I have (had) several of them in my rotation and since the eclipse in August (it was conjunct my natal Mars, signaling an upgrade in how I deal with men) I’ve been a lot more discerning with men. I think I am going to let most of the men in my rotation go because I’m over whatever it was that attracted me to them in the first place.