Can I tell a guy he’s moving too fast and not hurt him? I’ve met a really nice guy online, and I’m very attracted to him. He’s 39 and I’m 33. We’ve had 5 dates. After the 3rd date, he told me he was going to take his profile down. I was flattered so I agreed to do the same. He said I didn’t have to, but I said I would. My biggest problem is I’m too agreeable and passive. I did it to please him and be polite. But now after 5 dates, I feel that I never should have agreed to this before I was ready. I really like him. He is sweet, caring and affectionate. In the past I have always rushed into relationships and been hurt. This time I need to take things slow. I’m not ready for an exclusive relationship – I want to keep my online profile open for 2 months while I get to know him better. How can I do this without hurting him? I also want to tell him I’m not ready for a sexual relationship before the 3-month mark. I’d really appreciate your advice. I really like this guy and don’t want to hurt him. But I also want to move at a pace that is comfortable for me. -Lucy

It’s not a coincidence that I’m posting this question one week after the post about men who aren’t ready for commitment. I’m writing this before I’ve read your comments, but I predict that readers suggested that men are worse than women, men lie to women, or that a real man should know himself well enough to never hurt you and never waste your time.

Alas, the world didn’t get your memo that life should be fair.

This is not true.

This does not remotely reflect reality, any more than “Everyone should be rich,” or “It should be sunny every day” reflects reality. All it does is reflect your desire for others to act according to YOUR self-interests instead of their own self-interests.

And the more one remains stuck in a state of righteous indignance about how the world should treat you, the less likely you are to find happiness. Who’s got the time to be happy or smile at strangers or trust a new potential partner, what with all the fear, anxiety and complaining.

Alas, the world didn’t get your memo that life should be fair.

Which brings us, at last, to Lucy’s question, which if you read the comments here long enough, supposed to be the domain of selfish men:

“She’s nice, she’s attractive, but I’m not ready for an exclusive relationship. I want to keep my online dating profile up for at least two months while I get to know her better.”

Any women ever complained about this man before?

This is irrefutable proof that this type of behavior is not gender-specific.

People want to connect.
People want to fall in love.
People want to keep their options open, but act with integrity.
People want to find commitment, but aren’t always on the same timetable.

And this is the inherently tricky part about dating.

Because what’s good for you and what’s good for your partner are not necessarily the same things at the same time.

Lucy wants to date around for awhile before becoming exclusive with any man.

John might think it’s unfair that Lucy keeps her options open when he knows he wants to be exclusive with her.

Brenda thinks it’s selfish for Ted to go on four dates with her and keep his profile up.

Dating is pretty much always a “don’t ask/don’t tell” medium.

Ted thinks it makes perfect sense to date multiple women simultaneously, especially since he’s not that into Brenda.

It’s easy to say that the person who is the least invested, the person who has the most power, the person who doesn’t want to commit SHOULD tell the whole truth right up front.

But that’s not how it works.

Dating is pretty much always a “don’t ask/don’t tell” medium.

It’s not your job to let him know you’re seeing other people. Your active profile should give you away.

It’s not his job to inform you he had a great date last night. If he doesn’t call you after your date timely fashion, you should probably take the hint that he’s just not that into you.

Wishing for this to be another way is a colossal waste of time and energy.

Just pay attention to the signs: the effort of your partner, his willingness to follow up with you and make a priority out of seeing you, and his proactive desire to become exclusive within the first month or two.

As for you, Lucy, you don’t really have a challenging dilemma. If you want to act with more integrity than most men, tell him the good old-fashioned truth.

“I like you, I enjoy your company, but I really want to be smart before I make a commitment. You’re very nice and the last thing I’d want to do is hurt you. So if you can respect the fact that I’m dating a few people right now and that I won’t have sex until I’ve known you for three months, I’d love to continue getting to know you better.”

If he stays, he stays. If he goes, he goes.

But at least you did the right thing.

Which, of course, is all you can control, not how a man acts with you.