(The Root) —
"I like a guy, but he has a girlfriend. He's flirty and admitted he's attracted to me, but I've been blunt that I won't entertain anything more than a friendship unless he's single. He agreed. Curious — is it wrong of me to reach out every now and then just to say hello?" —C.Y.
Let me ask you this: If it were your boyfriend who was flirting with another woman and she was attracted to him, would you want her calling to say hello? I don't think so.
Here's the thing about playing in dirt — you get dirty. And you are about to make quite the mess. You said the right thing to a guy with a girlfriend, and kudos to you for that.
I wish more women would recognize their worth and not settle for second place. You hardly ever get upgraded to "first" place. (Note: The type of guy who keeps you in "second place" to begin with will fill that slot with someone else if you ever get "promoted.") However, as good as what you said sounds, you actually have to exhibit the actions to back up your words if you want to be taken seriously. That applies to dating and anything else.
It's clear that you like this guy, but he's not available. You've told him what's necessary if he wants access to you. And if he really likes you or is that "attracted" to you, as he put it (not quite the same; actually liking you and wanting to have sex are two different things), he'll find you when he meets your most basic qualification of actually being single. You haven't asked for anything outrageous here.
Calling to say hello or "just" to stay in touch is saying one thing and doing another. You've said, "No, I won't entertain you," but calling him while he's in a relationship sends the message that you're still interested — i.e., open to entertaining him, girlfriend or not. Otherwise, why are you calling?
Let's be real clear: You and this man with a girlfriend are not friends. You're people who are attracted to each other, and he is in a committed relationship. Why do you really need to stay in touch other than to habitually line step by flirting and essentially carrying on an emotional "affair"? Further, who would really want to expend energy on a guy who has a girlfriend but doesn't think twice about flirting with another woman? You do realize that what he does to her is more than likely what he would do to you in a relationship, right? This is the guy you want to put in effort for?
If it seems as if I'm being hard on you, it's totally because I am. I've heard some version of your story more times than I can count. Too many of my clients have spent years of their lives in "relationships" with men who showed early signs that they weren't worth the effort, but these women proceeded anyway, thinking that their story of trying to be "not-really-but-let's-call-it-that friends" with a committed guy would somehow have a happy ending. For some woman, somewhere, I'm sure this has worked out to her benefit, but she was the exception, not the rule. The odds are not in your favor to be the exception.
If you want a boyfriend or even just some attention, save your flirting and sweet "hellos" for a single man who can return your call without ducking his girlfriend or can text you back without having to delete the conversation afterward. There's no sense in wasting your pretty (or your time, emotions or energy) on a man who isn't even available to date you openly.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.