Is There a Dating Manual for Men?

I was pumping gas today when it struck me that more than one man who I have dated in the past gave me the same answer, nearly word-for-word, to a question I asked. I am now wondering if this is a “recommended answer” provided in some How The Be A Sneaky Dater Manual for Men.

In passing conversation when I’m getting to know a guy (generally a few dates in), I’ll ask if they’ve ever cheated on anyone.

I’m realizing this might be the flaw here – that I even ask that question.

I have known men who told me flat out that they’ve cheated, but I can see how others would not be so honest. It benefits no man, I think, to say early on “Red flag! I can not be trusted!”

The answer I have gotten twice now, from two different men, is a variation of “I was seeing someone and she felt more serious about us than I did. One time she saw my phone and saw that I was messaging other women. It really hurt her.” Both delivered this with the appropriate amount of contrition, and both implied it was “a kind of cheating”.

I now view this answer with different eyes and suspect that how it actually goes is “The implication was that we were exclusively dating each other, but I was looking around at the same time anyway. Then I got caught. I was forced to face the hurt I caused and that made me feel bad. I hurt someone, but also I got caught. I still do this of course, but now I know to not get caught.”

Looking at this story from this new angle makes me feel like a total moron for understanding it as it was said to me (“We weren’t that serious but she thought we were. I felt awful for hurting her and I’ve never done it since.”).

It also has me thinking about semantics.

I might say after dating someone for a while, “I’m at a point now where I want us to be only seeing each other. What do you think?”

And their response may be “I’m not seeing anyone”. I take this to mean they feel the same way.

Now it occurs to me that this could mean “I’m not seeing anyone…but I am talking and flirting with other woman online cause it makes me feel good about myself and it provides a backup for me.”

Perhaps even having casual sex with other women counts as “not seeing anyone” since “seeing someone” implies exclusively dating one person and casual sex is not dating? I don’t know, nor do I want to, really.

I tend to believe men when they answer my questions, and I take their good treatment of me when I date them as the sign that I’m the only woman receiving their affections until things don’t seem to work for us anymore.

I assume this because that’s how I am. When I’m dating someone, I am not “looking around”. I want to get to know them and enjoy spending time with them. Not expend energy on others at the same time.

And that’s where I am flawed. I assumed these particular types of men also have what I consider to be basic dating integrity. (I type this knowing full-well that someone’s tendency to “look around” does not define them. Good people can sometimes do hurtful things.)

Kind of a weird epiphany to have while gassing-up my car.

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