Falling for a guy who has a girlfriend

-- Question for John --

About half a year ago, I noticed that a guy in my dance class was doing the stare-game with me: whenever I would (accidentally) look in his direction, he would turn his head away pretending nothing happened, then the same thing would happen minutes later and that for weeks. It was only then that I noticed him, before that he didn’t really strike my attention.

After that I fell for him hard. However, two weeks after I decided to pursue him, I found out he had a girlfriend (all along)… I was devastated and couldn’t understand why he would do the “stare-game” if he was committed to someone already. What made it more confusing, was that he would (out of nowhere) congratulate me on my results for my dance exam and would smile at me as if we’d known each other for years. We didn’t even know each other “officially” during that time, we just happened to be in the same class and had mutual friends, that was it.

Then he became my dance partner.

Of all his partners (he has a four or five), I’m the only one he looks at during dancing whenever we’re not talking. Also, if he doesn’t know a person (yet) it takes a while before he can act familiar with him/her (just like with everyone), but with me it was the “I’ve-known-you-for-years”-attitude right from the start. Another example is that whenever he greets the dance group, he looks at me until I say “hi” back.

I don’t know what to think of it…

I still like him a lot, but he has a girlfriend, I don’t know if he likes me back in the same way or just finds me attractive. Either way, it’s getting worse every time (maybe from both sides, maybe just from mine…) I see him and getting myself another dance partner (I’ve considered that) is harder than most think, knowing there is 3 ladies for every man at my studio.

I don’t know what to do. Does he like me back? Or is he playing a game with me? Should I still pursue him? Or find myself another dance partner after all? Thanks in advance, I appreciate your time!

-- Answer from John --

He stares at you because he finds you attractive. And the “I’ve-known-you-for-years” thing is probably the same chemistry at work. It may be a game, in addition.

Usually for men, there is a lot of energy in the “hunt” phase of love. And when they finally get a girl, after awhile the energy eventually settles down into some kind of secure, more steady thing. But their “hunter” part is still alive, after all, and so they keep looking around. Maybe it is just being flirtatious, and they can self-manage their own chemistry to keep it from randomly spreading seed all over the planet (as young men are notoriously said to be biologically programmed to do).

That chemical attraction thing is a kind of mock-soulmate feeling. It’s the “in” part of falling “in love” — you fall into it. Actual statistics show that this feeling is a very poor predictor of relationship success, however. It does not at all mean that happiness is just around the corner. It could also easily mean that great and compelling drama is there — the painful kind.

Regardless of the feelings, I always recommend you also use your head. Which you are doing, in fact, by reaching out and asking for a second opinion. So here is my opinion, offered…

To know what to do, you first need to see the big picture — and sense where your own values line up when you see it.

How can you see the whole picture? Let’s start with the following visualization of one possible future scenario: Imagine that in some way or other, you do in fact become his girlfriend. Imagine that things have been great and exciting for the past year of being with him, but now it is a year later and things are more secure and longterm, and things have gradually settled down. Sense that you are indeed steady, and as far as you are concerned they are pretty sweet….

Here’s the kicker… imagine he is next in some new dance class, and his “hunter” comes out to play with some other new attractive girl who generates all that warm chemistry for him. He’s staring at her and somehow ends up her partner. Sit in the position of being his girlfriend as he does this, for awhile, and feel it all the way through your heart and soul. Get a sense of what that is for you as his girlfriend.

Now imagine you are talking with that new girl in that new dance class of his, and tell her what your heart and soul has seen in this visualization. Give her your best advice for what she needs to know and consider in this situation.

Life is a learning experience, and sometimes we need to act on impulse to find out how that works for us. The visualization is an attempt to see things from all points of view, and, yes, to recognize that if you start a relationship as “the other woman” then down the road there is a distinct possibility that you will trade places eventually with some new “other woman.” I have learned the advantage to myself (and others) to keep relationships as clean as possible of triangular dramas, and that messy starts usually predict messy endings — and that the optimal way to start a fresh relationship is when both you and the other prospective partner have clean slates and have emotionally “completed” all previous chapters and interludes in your love life.